Last week, we launched a new book in the iFixit Store about one man’s adventures on the road. Dr. Ronald Mullisen’s book tells of harrowing breakdowns and creative repairs. Ronnie’s Roadside Repairs is as much a memoir as it is a celebration of on-the-spot repair—the kind that tests your knowledge, your mettle, and your resourcefulness. We wanted to celebrate that, so we asked our community to tell us their most epic roadside repairs. We picked our favorites; read them on our blog!
Listeners tuned in for his sagely car advice, but they trusted him for his booming laugh. On Monday, Tom Magliozzi—who co-hosted Car Talk on NPR with his brother, Ray Magliozzi—passed away of complications stemming from Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 77. Tom Magliozzi was both an amazing teacher and a captivating entertainer. And that’s because he approached cars the same way he approached life: with curiosity, exuberance, and joy. Certainly, the radio will seem a little less vibrant without him.
Driving through the Baja California desert in 1966 in a $50 Chevy Corvair, Ron Mullisen and a friend started having engine trouble—and dealt with it, on the spot. Ron Mullisen is the author of Ronnie’s Roadside Repairs, a memoir full of stories of road trips and the (inevitable) breakdowns along the way. Ron’s book illustrates something iFixit believes in: the power of resourcefulness, self-reliance, and mechanical know-how. Get the book in iFixit’s Store now, and get out there on the road!
Delia, along with her team—that she lovingly dubbed her “adopted aunts”—repaired thousands of garments every single year. Delia believed in repair. She saw the value in each piece of clothing that she touched, because it was a part of someone’s life. Delia didn’t just see a jacket. She saw a story. An adventure. A person.
If my phone were a person, it would be the Bionic Woman. Its body has been broken and rebuilt more times than I can count. Its brain has been modified, tinkered with, and improved. It is the phone that will not die—at least not if I have anything to say about it.
The thousands of stories our members have told us over the years only confirm, to us, just how powerful repair can be. It’s empowering, explorative, and restorative. In an effort to share more of those stories with you, we’re starting a new series of profiles on fixers on our YouTube channel. Our first profile is on Bonnie Brownstein—owner of Electronics Parts Supermart, a store she’s been operating for the past 35 years. This is her story.
My grandfather was typical of a generation haunted by the shadow of the Great Depression. Out of necessity, people like my grandfather eked every bit of usefulness from what little they had. They drove their cars into the ground, hitched them back together with baling wire, and kept driving for another 100,000 miles. They taught their children how to patch their tires and patch their jeans. So it makes sense that it’s people like my grandfather who are teaching the world how to repair again.
A group of young female students sit around a table, laughing and talking. But they’re not discussing school, boys, or music. Instead, they’re talking how to replace a dead hard drive, how to install a case fan, and how to salvage a water-damaged motherboard. This isn’t a new topic of conversation for the young women of St. Joseph’s Academy. These young women are computer repair experts—and they’ll run IT circles right around you.
Outside a grocery store in Zurich, Roland Roos is fixing a broken sign. The cracked sign that once said “Denner” now reads just “Denne.” Roland gets up on a ladder and replaces the cracked plate with a fixed one. An employee steps out of the store and nods approvingly: “Oh, finally there’s someone here to repair it! It’s about time.” But Roland doesn’t work for Denner. He isn’t a repairman, just an artist. He isn’t getting paid. He hasn’t even asked for permission to fix the sign—he just did it.
When something breaks, most people run through the usual gamut of emotions—disappointment, frustration, a feeling of helplessness. But over at the Fixers Collective in Brooklyn, they’re teaching people to approach broken stuff a little differently: with curiosity. For the master techs that make up the Fixers Collective, repair is the new Rubik’s Cube. It’s a puzzle that must be teased out by trial and error—a Sherlockian game of wits that pits man against machine. Can you outsmart entropy?
About 20 years ago, the mom-and-pop repair shops that used to be a staple of every community started to disappear—shunted out of business by an onslaught of goods designed to be cheap and disposable. And as repair shops disappeared, so did the possibility of repair for people without the skill or time to fix things on their own. So NYC residents Sandra Goldmark and Michael Banta started Pop-up Repair—and now they are filling the holes in our neighborhoods where repair shops used to be.
Here at the iFixit offices, most of us Reddit… hard. And while the “front page of the internet” is great for aww-some animal gifs, it can be a good resource for other things, too. There are around 70 million users on Reddit every month, and they can teach you how to make, build, hack, and fix just about anything—you just have to know which subreddits to look in.