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How to make a vintage appliance more saferer

Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer


As the literal dozens of you who saw my post two weeks ago may remember, I bought a 70's vintage percolator. There were a few reasons, foremost being that it takes up much less space than any drip machine of similar capacity. This thing can make 11 cups and it’s smaller than a football. Another reason was look how good it matches my kitchen! Look at it!!!

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Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer

Regardless, with vintage household appliances comes vintage electrical safety standards. Look at that tiny plug. It would be super easy to accidentally slip a finger off and touch one of the blades while plugging or unplugging it. You have to unplug it a lot, but there’ll be more on that later.

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Additionally, the almost fifty year old rubber cord (and they used real rubber back then, not plastic) was perished and so soft I could cut through it with my thumbnail. That’s not bueno.

Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer

Luckily that type of double-ended appliance cord is pretty universal. There are numerous retailers online or otherwise that will be happy to sell you a brand new one in any length you like for very reasonable prices. $9 and a few days later we have a cord with modern PVC insulation and a significantly safer flared plug.

Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer
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But, there’s a bit more we can do to make this better. If you look closely at the controls on the percolator, you’ll see that there is no “Off”. Yes, that’s right, this is one of those dastardly always-on devices. I have a whole rant on those but I’ll spare you from it today. After the brew cycle is done this thing will stay in “keep warm” mode indefinitely. The only way to turn it off (to say, clean it out, something that needs to be done every time it’s run) is to unplug it. Guess what? Turning a device off by unplugging it is hella bad for your wall outlets!

Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer
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So let’s add a switch. Amazon has a huge selection of switches for the DIY electrician. $7 snagged me a two-pack of a switch with an illuminated indicator. It says it’s for lamps but it’s rated for three amps more than the perc draws so it can be used in this application.

Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer
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Installation took all of five minutes. Just cut your cord where you want the switch and strip 3/4" from all wire pieces. The screw-down terminals grip tight and provide a good amount of strain relief. In this case it doesn’t matter what terminal the wires go into because both ends of the cord can be plugged in any orientation. Both wires in the cord can act as line or load. If you were dealing with a ground or polarized plug there’d be a specific way it’d need to be wired up.

Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer
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And now we slap it back together and test it to make sure the house doesn’t burn down.

Illustration for article titled How to make a vintage appliance more saferer
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Success! Now we can get that sweet, sweet bean juice in a safe fashion.

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