You may think I have all sorts of shiny new photographic toys at my disposal, but in fact most of the professional lighting and camera support equipment I own was acquired roughly 30 years ago, when I worked as a professional photographer in Los Angeles. One example is this Dyna-Lite fan-cooled flash head, which mates with a Dyna-Lite D404 pack. I bought the whole kit, which included two additional heads, used.
Before I bought it it had been used for a year by photography students at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After buying it I used it for hundreds of location and studio shoots. I even took it with me to Japan and back. It has never failed me on a job. I attribute this to its old-school made-in-the-U.S.A. construction. Nothing about it is digital. The electronics, switches, connecters, and cables are all military-spec. The knobs are bakelite. The rest of the hardware is either aluminum, brass, or steel. It was built to last, and it has.
The only time I had to repair the pack was 15 years ago, when the capacitors dried out. Power capacitors are nothing to trifle with, so I had the replacement done by a skilled repairman. Two years ago, the head you see above went crashing to a cement floor when someone tripped over one of the cables. If you look closely you can see where the U-shaped handle dented the aluminum cannister that encloses the head. Believe it or not, the flash tube and modeling light weren't even cracked. The head continued to work just fine.
That is, until two weeks ago, when the cooling fan stopped working. Given its 30 years of exemplary service, I had no cause to complain. I was surprised to discover, however, that having it repaired would cost almost as much as a new head.
I didn't want a new head. Although they're built just as well as the older models, they use a different type of connector, which requires an adapter cable to connect to my pack. Besides, I saw no reason to trash an otherwise functioning flash head. So I decided to fix it myself. I ordered a replacement fan for $45. When the fan arrived two days later, I disassembled the head by unscrewing a few screws and decoupling the cable from the housing. I un-soldered the old fan, soldered in the new one, screwed everything back together, and viola! I was back up and running with a new and very quiet fan.
Needless to say, this is not the sort of thing you should try unless you're comfortable with a soldering iron and can tell the difference between a resistor and a trigger capacitor. It's also the sort of thing that's not even possible with equipment built to last no longer than the next product cycle and for which replacement parts or software are all but nonexistent. You might to keep this in mind if you ever need to buy some pro equipment of your own.