Fixing My Wife’s Curling Iron

When my wife leaves her curling iron on top of a note that says “Non-connected wire somewhere? goes in & out of power,” my first thought is, who taught you English?; and my second thought is, I better stop making fun of her long enough to get this fixed before she gets home from work.

My belated third thought is, I finally get to see how the infinitely-spinning power cord connection works . . . and I bet it’s the problem.

It’s tough always being right.

Curling iron power cord connection

The power cord has a connector that looks a little like an RCA plug, except the barrel portion’s outer surface contacts the jack’s leaf instead of the inner surface contacting a barrel jack.

Curling iron power cord connection, closeup

You can see the pitting on the leaf where the contacts had arced, probably at least in part due to oxidation of the surfaces. Also, the leaf was twisted so it was making contact only with the leading edge of the barrel instead of with the whole face, which exacerbated the problem by reducing the contact area to a very small point that became completely pitted.

After smoothing the pitted area and polishing the tip and ring leaves and the tip and barrel with 600-grit sandpaper, I reinstalled the power cord and carefully twisted the barrel leaf parallel to the barrel so they mate over a larger surface area.

Once the whole iron was reassembled, I plugged it in and watched its power lamp while spinning the cord around. No further problems that I can see. So it now, ah, has a connected wire somewhere and only goes in power.

Update 16-Mar-2009:

Turns out the power plug fit loosely in the bathroom light fixture receptacle and I just needed to bend the prongs out a bit. Oy vey.

5 Responses to “Fixing My Wife’s Curling Iron”

  1. Jon says:

    Lol, I work at a Help Desk and hear that type of problem description all the time. :)

    Nice work!

  2. MikeS says:

    Your fix will work well for awhile. The curling iron lives in a “hostile” environment (high humidity bathroom) where the contacts will oxidize so the fix may be short-lived.

    Do you notice how battery contacts are pointy? It concentrates the force of the contact to a small point where it will tend to push through any dirt/corrosion/oxidation. While your fix is good because it has a large surface area contact it is bad for the same reason. You may want to make a dent in the sliding contact with something like a nail punch so it contacts at one point. I think I’ve heard it called a Newton force point but I can’t find any reference.

  3. follower says:

    Awww, we have have the “before” shot, but no “after” shot? :-)


  4. follower says:

    P.S. I do enjoy reading these problem solving “slice of life” accounts. :-)

  5. Keith Neufeld says:

    Phil, I thought about an “after” shot, but within the capabilities of my camera I’m not sure it would have looked that much different. The previously pitted area is still a coppery color because it’s still worn through the plating; it’s just smooth.

    I suppose I could do a 1950′s happy aproned wife curling her hair picture. ;-)

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