Stanley Black & Decker - Black & Decker Iron ENGINEERED TO FAIL / My how-to FIX

Posted on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 at 2:46am CST by Thom N.

Product: Black & Decker Digital Advantage Iron

Company: Stanley Black & Decker

Location: Stanley Black & Decker 1000 Stanley Drive


Category: Appliances, Equipment, Tools

DESIGNED TO FAIL; AND MY step-by-step how-to FIX.

Black & Decker Digital Advantage steam iron, with polished stainless steel surface plate (msrp $46.99). Seems that everyone has the same FAIL experience with this top-of-the-line B&D iron. The power cord has broken inside the unit. Opening the back of the unit to access the problem is made unnecessarily difficult by design. A small screw on the back plate of the unit has an unusual head requiring a specific and rare screwdriver bit. It is the ONLY screw of this type used in manufacturing this iron and, it is deliberate.

I found that fail of the electric cord also occurs by design. The "eyeball" design feature allows the power cord to rotate at the point where the cord enters the body of the iron. This eyeball allows too much flex and rotation of the cord inside the iron. There is so much movement that the rubber casing on the cord of my iron became worn, actually frayed and, eventually the cord breaks in two. The cord is also pinched on both sides in a plastic retaining clip which acts like a vice. The cord is pinched from both sides, crimped right through the protective rubber casing to the stranded wire. Eventually, the cord will break at this point too.

I think both issues with the power cord makes this a potentially dangerous appliance.

Both FAILS are so obvious, you cannot convince me they were not deliberately engineered into the design of this product. Shame, shame, shame, Black & Decker! The Digital Advantage Iron is their most expensive model I can find and it's made to fail. Then, repair is made unnecessarily challenging for the novice because of the idiot screw head. Most people will just throw it away and purchase a new iron. Awful! Why would the consumer even buy another B&D product as the replacement?

FYI, I gave my Sunbeam steam iron to a family member heading off to college. I've had that Sunbeam iron since I first went to 1981. It's had much use. The power cord never broke, the iron never failed. It is possible to manufacture products that will last for years.

STEP-by-STEP FIX: If you are so inclined, here is how I made the repair. It really is quite easy.

YOU WILL NEED: 1 crappy narrow flat head screwdriver to modify; small angular metal file or Dremel cutting tool; utility or pocket knife; fillips type screwdriver; small flat head type screwdriver (not to be modified); electrical tape, super glue & magnifier (optional, depending on eyes).

Only one screw needs to be removed to gain access to the inside primary electrical contacts. The screw is in the center of the back plate, covered with an ivory colored rubber plug. With small tweezers or other pointed tool, pick the rubber plug from it's hole to reveal the screw. Next: Make your own tool, necessary to fit the head of this screw.

Take the cheap flat head screwdriver you use for opening paint cans, or go to the local chain pharmacy and buy their El'cheap-o flat head screwdriver. You will need to made a notch in the center of the flat edge, called the BIT. Basically, you are making a flat head bit into a notched bit. I used a triangle shaped metal file or if you have a Dremel cutting tool, it will work as well. I suggest either is easier than trying to cut the notch with a hacksaw. It doesn't take a deep notch to make your driver fit this unusual screw head. Once the modified bit will fit the screw head it will take about six counterclockwise twists and the tiny screw is out. Pull the back plate from the top first. Then, using the silver metal rest bracket to help, work the bottom of the plate until it is free. This might take some effort, but don't get rough. The back plate is made of tough ABS plastic, so breakage is not likely but go easy and the plate will dislodge. Do not use screwdriver to pry the back plate.

Once the back plate is off you will easily find if a broken cord is at fault. 9 out of 10 it is! Remove the plastic retaining clip, held by two small fillips screws. Notice where the cord is separated at the end and each end inserted into a contact. Contacts are set into a white plastic bar at the bottom. See the three small flat head screws on the front of this white plastic contact for each contact point? Unscrew the first two, left screw being the first one, middle screw is the second. Notice a RED wire from the bottom of the left contact port. This is the HOT wire and it matters which side of the power cord is reinserted into this contact. The second, or middle, contact has a blue wire coming from the bottom of the contact port and it corresponds to the NEUTRAL side of the power cord. Loosen both retention screws and pull both ends of the existing cord from the top ports of the contact bar. Notice how much rubber has been removed, or stripped, from the end of the cord, leaving only copper stranded wire. You will need to replicate what you see on the new, clean end of the power cord.

The cord on the inside my unit was also tied in a knot. Unnecessary! Remove the cord completely from the housing and the external white rubber sheath. The sheath attached to the "eye ball" will just fall out. Now you will glue this part back in place with super glue.

Do this from the INSIDE....with it rotated up, toward the handle. This will allow the iron to sit steady on the back rest when in use. Let the glue set.

Pick up the power cord. Using wire snips, cut the cord back to a clean, untwisted, un-crimped, spot. Set the old piece just cut away to the side for reference.

Once glue has set the eyeball in place, feed the fresh cut end of the power cord back through the rubber sheath and the (now fixed in place) eyeball and slide the back plate further down the cord, leaving you with free cord to work and the back plate out of your way.

From the cut end of the cord, snip between both sides of the cord, in the middle recessed channel, then pull the two sides apart up the cord about two inches. Now you will strip the rubber covering to expose the stranded copper wire. Use the old wire to guide how much exposed wire is required. Do not strip off more rubber covering on the fresh end of cord than what you see stripped on the old piece of cord. If too much covering is removed, you will end up with exposed wire extending beyond the contact port, making a short or fire likely.

Using a sharp utility knife, roll one side of the separated cord along the knife edge with your thumb on top. Rolling the cord between your thumb and the sharp edge of the knife, apply enough force to begin cutting through the rubber.....rolling the cord back and forth, all around, until you feel the knife against the strands of copper wire. You can feel, with your thumb applying the cutting pressure, when the knife has cut through the rubber and reached the copper wire. Once the rubber is cut all around and down to the wire, roll or twist the cut piece around the wire as you remove it. This will twist the stands of wire. You should now see about 1/4 inch of exposed stranded wire twisted together. Strip the other side of cord in the same manner. Further twist the exposed wire if necessary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Study the side edges of the power cord. One side edge is ribbed, along the entire length of the cord. This is the NEUTRAL wire of the cord. The opposite side edge of the cord is completely smooth. The smooth rubber side is the HOT wire of the power cord. Any power cord of this type is manufactured with these same marking indications. When connecting the power cord to the contacts of the primary power supply, NEUTRAL WIRE MUST CONNECT TO THE PRIMARY NEUTRAL CONTACT AND THE HOT

WIRE MUST CONNECT TO THE HOT CONTACT OF THE POWER SUPPLY. (Same rule applies if connecting, or splicing, two pieces of the same cord type together, to make one long cord.) ALWAYS, NEUTRAL TO NEUTRAL, HOT TO HOT.

Insert the exposed wire of the NEUTRAL (ribbed) side of cord into the MIDDLE contact port. Loosen the front retention screw more if needed so the exposed copper wire fits easily into the port hole. Insert completely up to the rubber covering. No copper wire should be visible above the port hole. Hold in place and tighten the front retention screw until tight and the cord does not pull out.

Insert the opposite HOT side of the power cord into the far left port hole and fasten in the same manner.

Place the cord to the right of the center back plate screw hole. Do not pull the cord taught. Cord should just lay right of that center screw hole.

Next step: Determine what point on the cord will be pinched when you screw the plastic retainer clip back in place. I slipped a rubber washer onto my cord for this next step but electrical tape works and most of you will have it. Rap that area of cord with electrical tape. Be generous and rap the tape tight. This will protect the rubber covering of the cord from becoming nearly severed by the retainer clip. Hold the taped area of cord vertically, between the screw holes. With both screws slightly started in place on the plastic retainer clip, hold it over the taped cord, line up each side and screw into place. I get one screw started to where it will not pull out, then start the other screw. Once both screws are started, then go back and tighten the first screw, then tighten the second. (This method of placing screws in any piece of work balances the pressure and torque on the screw threads and the work piece.)

Slide the back plate of the iron back up the cord and fit back into place. REPLACE the idiot screw with a new, regular fillips or flat head type screw of the same size. (Mail idiot screw back to Black & Decker) Place the rubber plug back into the screw hole to cover the screw.

Plug in the iron and turn on. IT WORKS! NOW it will likely give you years of trouble free use if you take care of it.

HELPFUL TIPS TO MAKE YOUR IRON LAST: DO NOT leave water to stagnate in the unit. Empty and leave the water port open so the water tank can dry between uses. Best to use distilled water rather than tap water. Clean with white (clear) vinegar when necessary. Happy ironing! Your grandmother wishes she had it so good.


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