The Repair Shops Steve Fletcher details upsetting restoration Its a real shame

The Repair Shop: Guest introduces his 'Influence Machine'

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Steve Fletcher had a first on this week’s episode of The Repair Shop while working on a device that the owner called a “lighting machine”. The family heirloom created by the great-great-grandfather of today’s guest had Steve excited and scared to touch it.

Since being on the BBC show, Steve has worked on a wide variety of artefacts, but this particular item came with unique challenges.

Nick Wimshurst arrived with a rare item that had been passed down in his family ever since his ancestor invented it. 

The Victorian electrostatic machine created energy by spinning glass discs and brushes, capturing the static charge, producing a mini lightning bolt.

A baffled Will Kirk, assisting on the item, said: “What is it? I’ve never seen a clock like that, Steve.”

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“It’s definitely not a clock, but it’s very exciting,” Steven said, smiling.

The Wimshurst Machine had been in their family for 135 years, and Will and Steve could hardly stop grinning on hearing what the machine had the potential to do. 

Unsure of why his great great grandfather made it, Nick said: “I’ve never ever seen it work.

Once the demonstration had been completed, Will commented on how it looked like a device that would have been used on “Frankenstein’s monster.”

Ready to get stuck in, Steve said: “Thank you so much; I am really, really excited but terrified as well. It’s going to be really excited to get this going.”

With the weight of preserving the legacy of James Wimshurst, Steve thought that the “mechanics look simple” but was not “100% clear” on how it worked.

“I wish I had taken more notice of my physics teacher at school,” he jested.

He started by taking the machine apart, taking care not to drop, scratch or break anything on this one of a kind device.


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On closer inspection, some elements were intact, and others did not fare so well.

He said: “There are a couple of the disks that are broken, and there a couple that have some cracks in, it’s a real shame.”

To get the item back to working condition, he would have to replace some of the original disks, and while he did, Will polished up the case so the item could be reassembled.

Delicately he had to work with fine wires to make sure the brushes could collect static, and he referred to making lead strips for the discs as “such fun”.

Like a big kid, he slowly pieced the machine back together, and on unveiling it, he said: “It’s such a rare thing… I have enjoyed this so much.”

The item’s owner was gobsmacked: “It’s unbelievable, it sparking, isn’t it? Wow, that is unreal.”

Nick was so impressed with what Steve and Will had achieved that he visibly looked emotional, and his voice cracked. 

After using the machine, Will added: “It is just genuinely kinda mind-blowing in some respects, knowing that he created it, and we somehow managed to keep this in the family.”

The Repair Shop airs Wednesdays at 8 pm on BBC One.

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