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How to get the most out of bad products

How to modify a Bosch/Siemens vacuum cleaner so you don't get the exaust blown into your face

How to mount standard loudspeakers into a Volkswagen Golf

How to tune a Volkswagen Golf for use by excessively tall people (above 160 cm / 5' 4'')

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N. B.: If you decide to use these tips for anything other than making purchasing decisions, you do so at your own risk. If you're likely to be annoyed about having damaged something trying to fix it, don't try.

How to modify a Bosch/Siemens vacuum cleaner so you don't get the exaust blown into your face

Vacuum cleaners by Bosch and Siemens are designed so that when you pull the device after you, the exaust air flow is accurately aimed at your head. Presumably their product testers love their job and all that comes with it.

This can be fixed with the help of a fretsaw, the type of bow saw used by children for plywood cutouts. First you have to remove the plastic part containing the grating which directs the exaust air. In my machine (Bosch sphera 22) this was easily done because it is integrated into the lid which gives access to the dust bag. Loosen the blade of the fretsaw, insert it in between the grating and fasten it again. Then saw once around the grating. Remove the grating, turn it by 180 degrees and put it in again.

How to fasten it? Not so easy. In my case it clamped in place after pressing it in. Otherwise heat-resistant glue might be required.

Alternatively, you could attach a cardboard wing outside the air outlet, which would redirect the air away from you. Or buy a different vacuum cleaner in the first place ;).

How to mount standard loudspeakers into a Volkswagen Golf

Speaker mounts in a Volkswagen Golf consist of a circular hole in the dashboard with a ridge running around it. This ridge fits precisely into a groove in the bottom of speaker systems made by the well-known hifi manufacturer Volkswagen.

Unfortunately, all other manufacturers of car loudspeakers stubbornly refuse to adhere to the Volkswagen standard. Their speakers are customarily fastened by four screws placed symmetrically around the circular speakers. Also, the diameter of the speaker base may be a couple of millimetres too large to fit into the hole in a VW dashboard.

What to do? The solution is to saw a ring out of plywood which can be glued on top of the speaker holes in the dashboard and on which one can screw the speakers with wood screws. Its inside diameter should be something like 11 cm for standard-sized speakers; but one should measure it exactly just for caution. The outside size and shape of the ring is best made to resemble the shape and size of the speaker including its fastenings. Since that is almost certainly larger than that of VW speakers, one may have to chip away part of the dashboard with a sharp and strong knife to make room for them. Alternatively (or additionally) one can treat some spots on the edge of the plywood ring with a rasp.

The inside of the ring is cut out by boring a hole close to the inner circle, inserting the blade of a fretsaw, fastening it and sawing round the circle. This cannot easily be done with a different type of saw. Once you have cut it out, it is best to paint the ring black, or it will reflect in the windscreen and impair your vision. Purists probably would use wood paint, but an Edding permanent marker will do just fine. It saves work to connect the speakers and screw them onto the ring before gluing the ring on (important: put the wires through the ring ;)). The windscreen tends to be in the way of a screwdriver once it is in place. The screws should be small enough so only the tips emerge at the lower side of the wood. There is no need to drill holes for such small screws.

How to tune a Volkswagen Golf for use by excessively tall people (above 160 cm / 5' 4'')

Seeing the lights

As is often the case in smallish cars, from the driver's seat of a Golf a person of average height can't see the traffic-lights when being first in line at the crossroads. This can be fixed with a flat fisheye lens customarily sold as a parking aid.

The lens is usually rectangular. On one side, one can see concentrical circles. (They break up the lens's curvature into narrow rings which makes it possible to make it so flat. This is called a Fresnel lens.) The centre of the rings is usually near the top of the lens. Cut three rectangles out of it as indicated in the picture. It is important that all of them touch the centre.

Fasten them to the windscreen in the position and orientation shown in the picture below. The corner or side with the circles' centre should point towards the centre of the windscreen. This ensures that the field of view is extended to the top and the sides of the screen. Because the centre of the lens touched the rim of all the parts, everything one would have seen through the patch of glass on which they now sit is still depicted, small-scale, within the image of the lenses.

See your lens's instructions for how to attach it to the glass. Mine stuck to the windscreen with the smooth side after being wetted. If this doesn't work, sugar water might provide a better glue. Don't buy a lens which is attached to a support and can be swivelled away from the glass pane. If you cut it up, you won't be able to fasten the bits.

Seeing the instruments

It seems to be company policy at Volkswagen/Audi to hide the instruments behind the steering wheel. At my height and sitting position I cannot see part of the speedometer (60 to 130 km/h) or the control lamp showing whether the lights are undimmed. People I know who are shorter than me and also drive VW or Audi often seem to have the same problem.

In the Golf, this is surprisingly easy to fix. The instruments are encased in one plastic unit which can be loosened and attached somewhat lower. To get at it, first the cover of the steering shaft has to be removed. Its upper and lower part are fastened together with two screws accessible from below. Then one can remove the plastic "tunnel" in front of the instruments. The two screws with which it is fastened are exposed by removing the base of the light switch which is fitted into the dashboard on the left and the corresponding cover to the right of the steering wheel. In addition to the screws, it is snapped to the dashboard left and right near the top.

Now the instrument unit is exposed. It is fixed with two screws on the left and right and snapped fast at the bottom. The trick for lowering it consists in screwing two metal strips to the supports (coloured grey in the picture). The instrument unit can then be screwed to their lower end. The metal parts can be cut out of sheet-metal, and holes drilled into them. The distance the instruments are placed lower is the distance between the holes in the metal strips. For me, two centimetres were sufficient. The instrument unit has to be moved behind the supports to which its bottom was clamped to put it any lower. To fix the lower end of the instrument box, one can wedge a piece of foam rubber or wood behind it. Closed-cell foam is harder and therefore better suited than sponge-like open-celled foam.

The tunnel-shaped cover in front of the instruments has to be sawed off at the back to accommodate the differently placed instrument panel. Also, it is useful to completely saw out its lower part (see picture) because otherwise it will all but hide the control lamps at the bottom of the panel which now sit very low.

Seeing where you're going

The Golf has a very large rear-view mirror which provides a good view of the back. For drivers who are not very small, however, the view to the front is rather restricted. Here's your view of someone crossing the street you're turning into (see arrows):

Unlike the previous two bugs, this one is not so easy to fix. The first thing to do is to go to your local scrap-metal merchant and buy a rear-view mirror of an old car which can be screwed onto something. (The mirrors of more modern cars are usually glued to the windscreen or fastened in some other way which makes it impossible to attach them somewhere else.) The roof of the Golf is doubled back on the inside above the windscreen for some centimetres. This is where one can drill holes with a power drill and fasten a replacement mirror. To get at it, one has to cut away the inside covering of the roof above the middle of the windscreen. The original mirror, by the way, can be removed by turning it by 90 degrees or by just ripping it off.

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Some years later:

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