Well that’s not right!

After the rain the other day, I noticed a large area near the drill press that had been wet (and the sawdust in the vicinity was still damp), near the edge of the roller door.

Frustrating – the roller door edge must be letting water in I thought.  It was right below the switchboard, so I was looking around for signs the water had been coming in above the switchboard, but didn’t see anything.

It was a bit of an unusually coloured puddle – quite a black/purple, but again, didn’t think anything of it – who knows where the colour had leeched out from (a rag, some old sawdust etc).

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I needed to turn a pen later in the day, and the drill press is useful in that process, so I decided to have one last look, before writing it off permanently in my mind.

I recently got a new air compressor that had suspected problems with its starting capacitor (turned out not at all), and while investigating, I discovered how simple motor design is, with the capacitors tacked on the side.

So I wondered in this case, if was also a capacitor problem, and not something more serious.

Of course anything to do with motors etc is the job of an electrician!

Took off the covers to the capacitors, and one looked wet.  To the extent there were still droplets of liquid on the top, in the plastic retainer, and the ends of the ‘paper’ wrapped around the capacitor were also wet.

Bloody hell.  How did rain get in there?  But I couldn’t see how that was possible.  Outside, all the fine dust on the surface was undisturbed – there was no external source of water.  Something is not quite right here.  There was also a weird smell – acidic smell.  The capacitor (and it was only one of the two – the other looked normal) looked something like a battery that has leaked.  Can capacitors leak??  It felt lighter than the other one, but that is neither here or there – they are not rated the same, so that could be normal.  One way or another, that capacitor looked US, so I cut it off, with a view to replace it.

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When I turned it around, I discovered the answers to all my questions.

Photo 3-05-2014 8 58 19The capacitor had blown.  Literally.  Blew its top off.  The shrink wrap around looked melted in the vicinity.

1. The capacitor had failed, which is why the drill press had no power

2. The shed hadn’t rained on the drill press – the liquid in and around the capacitor was internally sourced.

3. The shed roller door may not have leaked – the liquid on the floor must have come from the capacitor (and there was a lot of it), so whether it had mixed with a bit of rain seepage, who knows.  But the strange colour (and very strange odor) definitely had come from the capacitor.

Sourcing a replacement isn’t so easy – the few placed I tried (including Jaycar) had nothing in that range.

Anyone know where a 50uF, 250V AC, 50/60Hz capacitor can be sourced from, let me know!

One way or another, I’ll be able to get the drill press back into operation, but it will find its way to the sale area anyway.  I need something bigger (as in more power).  It is 3/4 HP and wasn’t very expensive at the time, but my needs have changed!

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