Replacements Man: Knobs, Dials and Rings

Have you ever thought about how things are made?

[I’ll warn you now, this line of questioning will inevitably lead you to considering the source of where everything comes from.]

Take a minute to think about the mind-blowingly huge nature of the world we live in.

It can be really easy to take the current modern world we live in for granted, but it’s important to remember that for every incredible piece of technology or innovation that we use on a daily basis there will be dozens (if not hundreds of parts) that will each have been designed by a team of people, which would then be sent away to a factory, which could hire hundreds more people to produce the part. These parts would then have to be shipped and delivered in bulk to another factory to be brought together by yet more people, before the finished product is sold on to retailers and finally handed to the consumer.

A single person could spend their entire life slaving away in a factory, performing a basic task that will combine with hundreds of other workers to create something as simple as dial for an oven or a computer chip for a budget LCD television.

Thankfully, my life’s work has not been spent in the service of creating such tiny parts or pieces.

No – my life’s work has been spent in the service of hunting down and fitting such parts.

My work as a handyman and procurer of specialist parts has taken me all across the country, hunting high and low for the small parts that are integral for appliances and consumer goods to function. Admittedly, my job is one tailored to my nature, that of an obsessive collector and hoarder. My London base, a nondescript cargo container in Hackney, is home to the thousands of parts that I’ve collected over the years – each of them has their own place in its own custom box, with a label, archived amongst hundreds of other similar boxes. Each label is given a code, unique to a system that I’ve created myself and means that I can easily locate the part I need, when I need it.

It might seem a little over board, holding on to all these bits of plastic and metal, but I’ve got a Father’s love for each and every one of them. Once upon a time each one of these tiny pieces were in abundance. Belling spare cooker knobs, Armitage Shanks taps, Magimix mixer dials – all of these weird little totems would have been mass produced in huge factories, but time and wear has meant that their number has grown fewer and fewer, until the point where they are now essentially collectors items.

For those like me, anal individuals who believe that the right part should be fitted to its proper place, my collection is a treasure trove of missing puzzle pieces.

For every faulty filament or lost gizmo, I have a replacement and I consider it an honour to reunite these parts with their long lost appliance.