Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Tale of Two Roombas... Or Three

Back in 2006, DH gave me (or let me get) a Roomba robotic vacuum for our anniversary.  I brought it home and tested it out.  It worked great, but Yaya was afraid of it.  We decided to name it and call it our pet so that she'd feel more comfortable with it.  I suggested Rover because it's the perfect dog name.  Yaya, who was a huge Sesame Street fan at the time thought I said Grover, and so our first pet Roomba became Grover.  We loved Grover, and he kept our floors nice and clean... Until one day about 2 years later, he didn't.  He would start, move jerkily, and stop.  iRobot support told me he had a fatal wheel error and was irreparable.  They would let me trade him in to get a refurbished one for a mere $200.  I thought that was a bad deal, and just held onto Grover.  Despite the diagnosis, I was never able to "bury" him, so he's been sitting in our furnace closet like Snow White waiting for prince(ss) charming to revive him.

Grover and Elmo
Now, I had gotten used to having a pet roomba so although I didn't want to let go of Grover, I did want to get another one.  I searched craigslist and found a used Red Roomba for which I paid about $30.  This roomba needed a name, too.  Since he was red, we kept the Sesame Street theme and named him Elmo.  Elmo was a more basic model, but he got the job done, and we all loved him, too.  Bumble would even give him goodnight kisses when he finished cleaning and we put him down for his "nap."  Recently, Elmo started having problems.  I decided to try to fix him myself.  His initial problem was that he was bumping into phantom walls or thought he was approaching a cliff, so he would randomly halt and turn around.  I took his bumper off and thoroughly cleaned his cliff sensors. That helped some.  He was able to clean the entire kitchen, but he was still acting a little funny.  So, I gave him another check up and found that one of his wheels would not move.  Two Roombas, two broken wheels: the only thing to do was a wheel transplant.  DH wondered who I was and what I had done with his wife because I am not usually very handy.  In fact, I'm usually terrified of accidentally breaking something, so I just don't try.  This time, though, I felt I had nothing to lose...

Funny Guy
...Nothing to lose because I put an ad out on craigslist and freecycle looking for another Roomba, and someone had one she was willing to give me!  She hadn't used it in quite some time because the battery died completely and she didn't want to buy a replacement for $70 (the iRobot price).  I had a working battery so it was perfect.  When we picked him up, Bumble named him Funny Guy and wouldn't let us consider any other names.

Grover's Problem
Sadly, when we got him home, Funny Guy didn't work quite as hoped.  So, now I had to get busy on that wheel transplant for Grover.  I started by taking Grover apart.  I removed the bottom casing as far it possible, and then took off the right wheel hub.  With the hub removed, I instantly saw Grover's problem, and it was so simple I couldn't believe iRobot had claimed that it was irreparable.  His problem was merely a broken wheel drive belt.  I grabbed Elmo to begin removing his belt, but when I checked him again to verify which wheel I would be working on, both of his wheels were miraculously working again.  So, I set Elmo to run in the kitchen as a test, and I sacrificed Funny Guy to save Grover instead.  This may sound crazy, but I felt a little guilty about sacrificing Funny Guy.  I know he's only a machine, and we only just got him, but Bumble seemed to be attached already, and her fondness affected me.  Nonetheless, I began the operation and removed Funny Guy's wheel drive belt.  I transferred it to Grover and then closed up being careful not to pinch any delicate wires as I replaced the wheel hub.  Our one battery was charging from having been tested with Elmo.  When it was ready, I installed it in Grover and pressed start.  After years of supposedly being dead, Grover was alive and cleaning!

I'll remember not to believe iRobot when they tell me something is irreparably broken again.  I look forward now to the possibilities that await with two working Roombas to clean for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment