View Full Version : Modern build quality

30th May 2014, 11:18
One had the necessity to replace a couple of electrical goods today and whilst perusing various departments in a store it screamed out at me that, in general, with a great many electrical items the build quality is seemingly ample, yet SO flimsy and/or cheap looking even in comparison from a handful of years ago. Most of that which one sees these days is on the interweb and most things seem to appear much better than they are in reality. I know, planned obsolescence and all that, yet even expensive items are starting to resemble visually the tat that can be purchased in £1 stores etc. Anyone else noticed this phenomenon ?


dubbleyew eight
30th May 2014, 11:27
the chinese manufacture what they are asked to manufacture ...and to the quality that they are asked to achieve.
China's standard machining is driven by GE Fanuc interfaces that can work to a thousandth of a millimetre.
You have to look to the fanatic zeal that designers optimise designs for manufacture to see the cause of the malaise.

the question is though if an item can be made for a dollar, why bother making it repairable when replacing it when it wears out/ stuffs up/shorts out etc only costs another dollar?

we really are entering an age where mass production costs are now so low that the dynamics of the user goods environment is changing.

30th May 2014, 11:41
we really are entering an age where mass production costs are now so low that the dynamics of the user goods environment is changing.
But the raw materials (and the energy to produce them) are being squandered.
On the 'positive' side it is ensuring ongoing employment (albeit for the Chinese).

dubbleyew eight
30th May 2014, 11:46
But the raw materials (and the energy to produce them) are being squandered.

even that is changing.
optimised designs usually last quite a while. (the benefit of optimisation?)
the materials used are recyclable so less vanishes into landfill.

30th May 2014, 12:32
I think in general it is true across the board, from T Shirts to whatever.
We really have entered the throw away society !
You still have some high end goods that have really high build quality
and price to match.

Most ends up in landfill !

"the chinese manufacture what they are asked to manufacture ...and to the quality that they are asked to achieve."

Very true statement. I would add "to the quality level the customer is prepared to pay for !

30th May 2014, 13:42
There are still lots of products that seem to be of very good quality and seem to last a decent amount of time before giving up the ghost, dare I suggest Apple products, although there are those that say that this is form over function :8

I appreciate that manufacturing has changed and tolerances have become more refined due to more accurate milling/molding etc, but what has changed with the all important buying public that 'allows' the offering companies to downgrade the quality ? Price must be a factor, but if things break or stop working quickly then the savings would have been illusory.


Ancient Observer
30th May 2014, 13:44
It is not just the manufacturer and the retailer. - The consumer contributes in a big way.

My daughters have a much more "disposable" view of stuff they buy. Whether it is clothes or shoes or leccy stuff.

I got excited when I found a man with a shed on Slough trading estate. He actually mends broken leccy things.

My daughters just think I am sad.

PS - Who else was forced to wear "Tuf" shoes when they wanted fashion? I was.

30th May 2014, 14:21
I had my junior work colleague lamenting the life of modern shoes whilst we were discussing a 100 year old cobbler's exhibit. He gets 4 years max out of a pair, normally 18 months. I mentioned I still have the pair I bought at age 17, 34 years ago. He was genuinely shocked. He had no idea this was possible, which I think partly answers SHJ's question as to why people put up with it. They've been resoled once and reheeled 3 times. The cost per year worked out at about half the price he was paying, and for much better shoes.
Point made.

Goggle 'Shoe Event Horizon"

Metro man
30th May 2014, 14:47
It's cheaper to pay a third world worker to make a new item then it is to pay a first world worker to repair something.

Therefore things are designed accordingly with little thought to ease of servicing and repair or durability. Little point is seen in designing stuff to last when it will be obsolete in a couple of years anyway.

30th May 2014, 14:58
I have two pairs of Florsheim Imperial shoes that are now 20 years old. Both re-soled twice and still going strong. I also have two pairs of Church's shoes, getting close to 10 years and they are not even close to needing a re-soling.

A 30 year old Sunbeam toaster (made in U.S.A.) is still going strong

30th May 2014, 15:11
How old is your sofa?

When my parents died in the early 1990s the sofa (though it was called a settee) and chairs that they had had bought for them when they married in 1934 (and the dining table and chairs and sideboard) were all still in use. They went off to the saleroom and were bought for further use.

What's more, how many sofas have you had?

30th May 2014, 15:28
I'm reminded of this…….;)

Trigger's Broom - YouTube


30th May 2014, 17:15
I too bought Sony in the past, however the last two Sony products bought have been rubbish.

I have also just bought a Bosch washing machine, and a NEFF oven, both good quality products, however even though I am pleased with them their knobs and sods look, well, just plastic. Everything these days seems to have a plasticy cheap feel about them, including so called high quality brands.

Talking of shoes, my other half still has a t-shirt from almost 25 yrs ago - a little misshapen but still perfectly wearable. And the very best cotton t-shirts we have bought, by way of still holding their shape, colour etc, have been from Hawaii!

The Flying Pram
30th May 2014, 17:56
My daughters just think I am sad.And yet those of us who still repair whenever possible, are always being told we must change our ways, and stop destroying the planet people like your daughter are going to inherit.

Carbon Footprint, my a£$e...

30th May 2014, 18:23
I still have my original Doc Martin's - London Punk era DM's :O ! I believe when I still see them in the shops that they are still made to the same quality !

"when it will be obsolete in a couple of years anyway. "

The word obsolete always gets me. It is obsolete in that something faster, quicker has been made but the item itself, if still working still does what it was made to do.

Digital Cameras are a good example. My old Olympus still goes out with me as it works, I don't mind if it gets damaged. The only two things my newer one does better is take a faster second photo and recharge flash.
The larger files Dig Cameras take, most of the info is thrown away by the user anyway as very few use the full 12 Mbyte file.

30th May 2014, 22:05
I bought a Sony Trinitron TV in 1983.I replaced it 2 years ago after 29 years.It was still working,but my older eyes were struggling to read the graphics on its 20 inch screen.I needed a larger display.

30th May 2014, 23:15
I only just threw out my small TV ghost was over 25 years old !

31st May 2014, 00:40
Chinese quality is improving, at least in machinery. There are still some problems with the thinking though...

31st May 2014, 01:15
even that is changing.
optimised designs usually last quite a while. (the benefit of optimisation?)
the materials used are recyclable so less vanishes into landfill.
That relies heavily on consumers (and the available infrastructure) to recycle such items.
I bet that I'm being real generous in saying that less than a quarter of it actually gets recycled.

I'd rather buy quality where available, regarding just about any purchase.

For the purchase of a great percentage of household items, quality isn't available. It's Chinese, or nothing.

31st May 2014, 01:35
Ten years ago - January 2004, I had just returned to Sydney from living in Hobart. The place I rented there provided white goods so I had disposed of my own. Funds were tight so on return was using a local laundrette.

The council used to do a large item refuse collection twice a year, and someone had put a washing machine out on the verge. It seemed in reasonable nick so with the help of a neighbour managed to get it into my garage where I hooked it up and had a look at it. The microswitch under the lid to prevent inadvertent opening whilst spin drying was in need of adjustment. A couple of turns on a knurled screw head saw it functioning perfectly. Still is ten years later.

When repairers say it's cheaper to buy a new item, I suspect it's because they don't now how to repair things anymore.

31st May 2014, 01:52
I've got a Roles Oyster Perpetual that I bought twelve years ago. It, as expected, still looks like new and, despite being clockwork, consistently loses 30 secs/week.

Cost me 200 yuan, then about £17, from a Chinese watch shop.

31st May 2014, 02:48
I bought a top quality Smeg dishwasher in 1995. It cost me $1500, a lot of money as compared to the cheaper brands.
That dishwasher was built with quality construction, it lasted 17 yrs before it died from old age and general deterioration of the electrics.
It washed dishes about 4 or 5 times a week, every week, for that 17 years.

As dishwashers go, it was effective, efficient on both power and water, and it only failed once in 17 yrs.
That failure happened because a flimsy glass broke inside the dishwasher and a semi-circular chunk of the glass fell into the outlet of the pump and blocked the pump from pumping out the water. I fixed it myself.

Roll forward to 2013 and I buy a replacement dishwasher - a Smeg of course, because of the previous excellent performance of the brand.
What a disaster. The new Smeg has no decent, proper control buttons or switches, it has an LCD panel with dinky little rocker switches each side of the LCD screen.

The instructions are sparse - the symbols on the unit are unintelligible to anyone but a Martian, and the program choices are weird. It ran for 3 mths before it broke down. The computer that drives it all failed. A weeks wait for the service man to be able to fit us into his busy schedule, and then when he arrives, he raves about what a great dishwasher they are - as he replaces the ECU.

The dishwasher fails 3 more times in 14 months. It just stops each time with an electronic fault, and point-blank refuses to go.
In the meantime, the serviceman arrives while the dishwasher is still going, and replaces another electronic part, "because it's a modification and the old one tends to give trouble".

At the 14 mth stage, and with the 3rd stoppage, I get onto Product Review and blast Smeg for the utter crap they now produce, by way of dishwashers.
Right after I post the review, I notice the website has a message. "Smeg management actively monitor this site". Good, I hoped they'd read it.

Then to my great surprise, I get an email from the National Manager of Smeg, stating that he'd read my disappointing review and he was offering to replace my dishwasher with a brand new one for free! - and it came with a new 2 yr warranty as well.

I took up his offer, as he explained there was a new, improved model out, and we would get that new model.
About a fortnight later, in rolled a new dishwasher, and I noted it had some minor changes to the design, but it was still basically the same dishwasher.
They took the old one away - apparently they repaired it, and sold it as "refurbished".

We cranked the new dishwasher up - and lo and behold - just 36 days after installation, it stopped - just like the old one.
The serviceman came again, after waiting another week again - and turned it off at the wall, turned it on again, pressed the little program buttons, and it fired up again on the spot!!

"Oh, you must have had a power spike", he says. "They're sensitive to power spikes and they shut down to protect themselves. You just turn them off at the wall and they'll reset themselves!"
"No-one told me that", I said defensively - "And there's nothing in the operations manual about that sensitivity!".

"Oh yeah, it pays to install a surge protector for them", he says.

"But I have a kitchen full of electronic devices, that have all been plugged in during the reputed power spike - and they're all still working just fine!!", says I.
"Yes, but these Smegs need a surge protector, they're sensitive to power surges", he says.
"Sounds like they're just a dicky piece of cheap Chinese electronics to me!", says I.

The serviceman went ahead and installed a new ECU, regardless, "just in case there was a problem with it".
It took all of 2 mins as he unclipped pieces of crappy-looking plastic parts, that looked fearfully like they would break any time I laid a hand on them.

Since that episode, the dishwasher got a surge protector - and it has stopped twice more.
Each time, we switch it off at the wall, press buttons, do a special Smeg dance-and-pray routine - switch it on again - play with more program buttons - switch it off again - switch it on again - and finally, it decides it will work again.

I can tell you right now, this dishwasher is heading out the door to the auction house - as soon as I can find a replacement dishwasher that doesn't have dicky electronics, cheap plastics, unintelligible symbols for instructions - and something that looks like quality build.

The only problem is - I don't know where I'm going to find that brand of dishwasher. :{

31st May 2014, 03:02
Onetrack, if it were me, I'd check out a Bosch.
More than happy (so far) with the reliability of our B w/m and clothes drier. Had 'em over 5 years.

Have a (locally made) F&P dishwasher which is pretty good. But the Chinese bought the company (pretty much) last year. I probably wouldn't buy one again.

31st May 2014, 03:08
I purchased my f&p washers in 1987. It died this year.
Not a bad run in my opinion. 27 years.

31st May 2014, 06:11
My Dad has a F+P washer.Still going strong after 15 years.

31st May 2014, 08:19
The w/m I grew up with was an old F&P - the agitator with the plastic lint filter on top. Manual controls. What you pushed was what you got.

It was still working well at least 30 years later. Probably still going, in a flat somewhere.

I don't have a similar level of confidence about the same brand these days, though.

31st May 2014, 08:27
Manual controls. What you pushed was what you got.
Son recently had his oven catch fire.
The insurance company arranged a replacement, but when it arrived it was too deep to fit the space (built-in).
The one that they eventually fitted has touch controls, and required 20 'touches' to heat a simple dish. :ugh:

31st May 2014, 08:52
Touch controls.....I hate them. We replaced our old hob with a touch control one. The old one had four round knobs which were simply rotated as required. This silly device has a panel on the right, under the glass. It requires up to eight touches on a minimum of three buttons to get the relevant ring to the required setting. If you decide to change the heat setting, you need to do that all over again. If you touch the wrong button, it switches off. If you let a spoon or something sit over the panel for more than a second, it switches the whole damn hob off. Not much fun if all four rings are in use because you've then got to remember what each ring setting was and spend the next few minutes setting them up from scratch. Hopeless!

31st May 2014, 09:32
The PS3 decided it wasn't coming out to play any more this week. Goes dead a few seconds after starting. Only 5 months old.

It made me swear when it worked and it makes me swear now it doesn't. Same stress release therapy, lower electricity bill, so I shouldn't complain.

31st May 2014, 09:41

Agree re touch controls.

The picture on them wears off a long time before the whole thing breaks.

31st May 2014, 10:30
It's all done in the name of short-term corporate profits. Wew've been suckered into thinking we need the newest, latest, and most fancy when actually most of us don't. So if you get the buyer to update their (fill in the blank) every couple years you don't need to make it last any longer than that. I've never owned a new computer and never will. Same for cars, many appliances, furniture, and so much more. It's not that I'm a skinflint (though I hate wasting money) it's that I am not going to buy new to propagate this corporate way of thinking- I'm not on their radar at all! And when I get something new to me, I already know from the original owner's reports what to expect from it so no junk ever enters the picture here.

There are still some very good products out there but they're getting harder to find as the race to the bottom continues. You can choose (as most do) to ride along or you can choose to be different. The time will come when your friends who used to poke at you about your old stuff will comment how well it's still always working while their new junk just can't manage.

Buy quality- that always pays off. Forget name brands- in today's world companies get bought out all the time then go downhill quickly (or they follow downhill to stay marketable). Buy used and let someone else find all the problems so you don't have them yourself. Research every planned buy- the internet and google are your friends.

And now you have more cash for the beverages of your choice, too!

31st May 2014, 11:45
Some people like to knock Beko products (made in Egypt?) but I have several that don't owe me anything.

Oldest is the 30 year old mini oven in daily use, the 20 year old analogue TV, and the Fridge/Freezer of the type said to catch fire hasn't yet in six years.

Philips kit is what has disappointed me in recent times.

31st May 2014, 12:22
Beko are from Turkey and now incorporate Grundig (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grundig).

Grundig audio and TV used to be good in the 1970s, but now seem to have gone 'down market' IMO.

Philips began to gradually accumulate shares in the company over the years, and assumed complete economic control in 1993.
Philips sold Grundig to a Bavarian consortium in 1998 owing to unsatisfactory performance.
Grundig AG declared bankruptcy in 2003, selling its satellite equipment division to Thomson.
In 2004 Britain's Alba plc and the Turkish Koç's Beko jointly took over Grundig Home InterMedia System, Grundig's consumer electronics division.
In 2007 Alba sold its half of the business to Beko for US$50.3 million, although it retained the license to use the Grundig brand in the UK until 2010, and in Australasia until 2012.

31st May 2014, 12:56

Very true statement. I would add "to the quality level the customer is prepared to pay for !

You nailed it there 500N.


31st May 2014, 13:21
Final product testing is now an end user responsibility.

I pulled apart my 25+ year old National VCR, not because it wasn't working but because I no longer had any use for it. Cost $1000 back in the day which was a lot of money. Geez it was built and designed well, kept the one-piece aluminium die-cast chassis for interest and one of the internal springs now operates the latch on the letterbox.

Bought a $10 drill from K-mart to keep at the holiday house (just in case it gets stolen). It has done a hellofalot of drilling and is still working 5 years on. I recall having to hold it from flying apart when drilling a number of 3/4" countersink holes in concrete, it got a little hot but it did the job.

I do like some of the modern rugged plastic finishes although you have pay more for them. The cheapo finishes just dry up and crack before their time.

I tend to stay away from any appliance that exhibits too much computing power unless it's a computer - I know too much.

Modern screwdrivers and socket sets are mostly garbage and break too readily. It's probably part of the plot to prevent repairing any crapware.

31st May 2014, 14:16
Beko are from Turkey

Thanks, I meant Turkey, senility made me say Egypt :ugh:

Windy Militant
31st May 2014, 14:27
My brother acquired a dish washer years ago from a place he was fitting a new kitchen into. They were having a new built in one as part of the kitchen and it would have cost them a few quid for the council to haul the old one off so he gave them a fiver for it just to keep things legal.
This machine outlasted the new built in machine and its replacement. I think my brother left it in his house still working when he moved to a new place.
The only problem he had with it, was one day there was a flash and a bang and it stopped working. After asking around he decided that getting a repairman out was a bit pricey he decided to have a go fixing it himself. Well it was buggered anyway so what did he have to lose.
After a bit of a poke around he established that there was no power getting into the machine after the switch which was built into the door. He dismantled the door took out the switch, and found half a fried earwig in it!
He bought a new switch and all was good as new.

31st May 2014, 14:30
From the early days of married life I used Black and Decker drills.
They weren't bombproof, but B&D operated a cheap repair scheme where you usually ended up with an exchange drill which was probably all new.
Then the frequency of burn-outs increased and the repair depots moved on to selling Bosch (IIRC) drills at greatly-discounted prices.

I've not needed to use a drill in anger for a number of years, but I now have a cordless drill from ALDI that seems to fulfill my requirements.
The battery might not hold its charge for very long, but given notice of the use beforehand I can have it charged with enough juice for a few holes - and it's so much easier without a cable trailing around the work.

31st May 2014, 14:30
I'm not a Luddite, but I do enjoy owning things that keep going.

Among my short list of these are:

My dad's 1971 Rolex Explorer II watch - clockwork, self-winding, and a 'certified superlative chronometer' which means that it is guaranteed to lose only up to 2.5 seconds per day in clean, lubricated condition (so a cheap electronic watch outperforms it in accuracy but is utterly inferior in every other respect).

A 1970's National Panasonic cassette radio which is beautifully made, very heavy, screwed together with tiny screws, and which sounds superb.

A Rotring 600 pen which has a finely machined hexagonal barrel and which I have used daily for over 30 years.

A number of hand tools - Stanley ratchet screwdriver, wood chisels, planes, Estwing hammer etc which are well over 50 years old and still doing perfectly the job they were designed for.

A pair of 1950s RayBan sunglasses with rolled metal earclips (?)

A 1984 Mercedes 230E whose superbly-made components are as much a joy to maintain as the whole is to drive.

However, being presently single and somewhat active in the relationship market, I have learnt not to boast of the long and faithful service of my various favourite possessions to any lady more than a couple of decades younger than myself. The aim is to present a 'hip' or 'with it' image. (Are those the right terms?)

31st May 2014, 15:10
G-CPTN - Black & Decker now own a bunch of companies, including Stanley, Porter Cable and DeWalt. They have therefore switched B&D-branded tools to the bottom end of the market (occasional DIY-er), hence the drop in quality. DeWalt is intended for professionals, and Porter Cable & Stanley for the market in between.

I've just hand-built a two storey, 4 bedroomed house with Porter Cable drills, etc - no issues at all. The precision stuff is best bought at the professional end because of build quality, so I have a DeWalt jigsaw and Bosch mitre saw. Sometimes you can get away with HQ cutting blades in a cheap tool. I have a Mastercraft (Canadian Tire) table saw with a Freud blade - the blade cost more than the table saw. With intermittent use, it does as good a job as a much more expensive table saw, and will last too.
I'm fortunate to live next door to a professional millwright & welder, so I've picked up a lot of good gen on tools. He has a top notch welder, but also swears by boxknives from the dollar store.

31st May 2014, 15:19
I forgot my King Dick girder type spanner. Spanner, hammer, plan weight, all in one. And a collection of Britool short-shanked, and very useful, spanners.

31st May 2014, 16:46
I think the oldest kit still working and in daily use has to be the Aiwa 6-band radio I bought for a month's wages in 1962.

31st May 2014, 17:19
Way back when I was using Black and Decker drills, the modus defectum was via sparking at the commutator which increased until the speed fell dramatically and ultimately ceased.

Of course this was probably directly attributable to 'overwork' and subsequent overheating.

cockney steve
31st May 2014, 18:39
DeWalt is intended for professionals, IMHO the only thing "professional" remaining, is the price-level
Recently stripped some De W. nicad batteries....they were "Black and Decker" labelled sub-C cells....unless bought in bulk from China, Nicad's are now an exhorbitant price, making it not worthwhile to re-cell orone converts to NimH and then has to re-jig the charger to correctly charge the different technology.
I bought a cheap sawbench at B&Q during a store-refurbishing clearout.
a bit mickey-mouse after a proper industrial site-saw, but cheaper than rewinding just the one blown field-coil.
I've virtually given up buying top quality as I won't live long enough to get the wear out of stuff and the kids don't appreciate that the old stuff is often far superior.

Bosch washers....some now italian/Polish/Turkish...BEWARE! tank is welded together....drum bearings go, or support spider collapses (common nowadays, as the low-temperature detergents eat away the aluminium-zinc alloy :sad:) you cannot open it to repair...only fit a complete tank/drum assy. which is almost the price of a new machine.
Not sure if ASKO (Sweden) make a dishwasher....think they are now part of MERLIONI (InDeShit, Electroluxe, Zanussi, and others) but, so far, they continue to make quality stuff, but you'll pay a grand for a washer.. (UK, badged ISE) 10 year domestic, 3 year light industrial guarantee. Son bought one and it is the dog's. even helps with his Eczema!
Forgot to say, Stanley is now mostly imported crap.

Little cloud
31st May 2014, 19:30
I only recently sold a working Eddystone radio, built in 1952, to an enthusiast who was going to replace some of the wearing out components and keep it going. Only used it occasionally, the sound was good, down to all those valves of course.

Washing machine is a Zanussi, a hand me down from the 1980's, I've replaced the brushes in the motor once and the door latch once.

Current car is a VW Passat with 370,000 miles on the clock, original engine.

Clutch of power tools are all Makita, purchased around the early 1990's, the brand recommended by a builder.

Last a/c I flew in was an Islander built in 1984, best of Bembridge, literally spare parts flying in close formation and a fair few extra rivets and repairs to the skin.

31st May 2014, 19:38
Someone mentioned Stanley.

I still have my black boxed set of screw drivers, 28 years old.
All still work, no damage as They are as tough as.

Part of the problem iis the consumer only knows price and night value
And the tff in chops don't knife the product of hoe to sell quality.

31st May 2014, 19:53
And the tff in chops don't knife the product of hoe to sell quality.

Translation please.

Is that Strine?

31st May 2014, 19:55
They say that you can remove letters from words and the brain will 'correct' the sense of the sentence, and, I suppose I can guess at what is meant - but what a struggle!

John Marsh
31st May 2014, 20:01
Aaaaahhh... what a great thread!:D

I've noticed the Sony decline too. I have used the first model of CD player they made, the CDP-101. Big, heavy, but damn-all noise on the output. Recently, I invested in their CD/radio/tape (yes, tape!) boombox. This one actually puts technological progress in reverse, by putting hum on the CD output. Just like a mass-market valve amplifier of the 1950s!

I had bought the Sony to replace a similar product by another formerly-decent manufacturer, Hitachi. That one hums like a really cheap mass-market valve amplifier.

Both made in China, of course. Such a shame that the fruits of years of complex R&D should be so misused.

Am I supposed to open up my purchases and 'fix' them myself?:8

dubbleyew eight:

the chinese manufacture what they are asked to manufacture ...and to the quality that they are asked to achieve.
Well, the good ones do. I have read of the benefits of 'island' factories in China, which are set up and monitored by the firm which designs and markets the goods. Some staff from e.g. JVC would always be present, to keep an eye on raw materials, training and quality control. (I don't know if JVC do this; I hope they do.) Otherwise, corners can be cut after the contract is signed.

31st May 2014, 20:10
Island factories are always better than combined factories in China.
And if they are owned by the company, even better.

You are correct, corners are cut if not watched.

31st May 2014, 20:13

31st May 2014, 20:26
The design of most things is c**p.
The World will slowly collapse as everything is made to such a low price.
Everything from can openers (When i was a kid we on one mounted on the wall for 15 years and always opened cans. It got thrown out simply because it looked seventies and dated. The last 3 years i have worked my way through about 6 can openers to find one that works).
Kettle too easy to catch the switch and it boils dry. Sounds like a Tornado on reheat when it starts to boil. I'm sure its cone shape acts like and amplifier, but it looks good, except laquer is starting to peel.
Keep catching the oven temp knob on cooker to max and burn me dinner! Why was it not fitted with detents so could click and hold set temp.
And keep forgetting i have left the door open and catch my leg on the sharp corner of the door. (Never had that problem on 35 year old Parkinson Cowen Prince One cooker with nicely rounded corners and spotless enamal finish).

31st May 2014, 20:43
Got back into motorcycling.
Boots i bought the zipper stitching became unravelled on first wearing and split open.
Leather trouser the pocket split on first use and loose change disappeared into lining.
The waterproof jacket in first downpour i got soaked through.

It goes on and on. Phone charger blew fuse in car cig lighter.
Wireless headphones that interfer with wifi, can't use both same time.
Bought quality car, knocking noise back axle and tail light fill with water.

31st May 2014, 20:45
Big End Bob

I agree re the design of things is crap. That is half the problem.

They design things that are easy to build, not easy or intuitive to use.

31st May 2014, 23:05
On my engineering course (81-84), they actually forced us to make half the things we designed. Oh boy, was that an eye-opener, but incredibly useful. Then they gave us a longer project which involved taking things apart and reconstructing bits (i.e. maintaining & adapting), which was another eye-opener.
They just don't do it these days (I was instructing prototyping at Uni 2 years ago, so I taught it, but the studes had clearly never seen it before), and it really shows.

Metro man
1st Jun 2014, 05:28
I bought a Maytag washing machine back in the early 2000s which had clockwork controls. It's still going strong but unfortunately I couldn't bring it with me when I emigrated. I compare it to an old American pick up truck, simple strong and built to last.

In my new country I bought a Maytag dryer thinking it would give similar service, big mistake as it constantly broke down. When the warranty was up I threw it out and bought a gas powered tumble dryer to replace it, calculating that the reduced cost of operation would soon have me in front financially. I'd never heard of the brand but it hasn't missed a beat on five years.

Supposedly Maytag changed ownership and the quality hasn't been the same since.

1st Jun 2014, 06:38
While there are certainly exceptions, the idea that everything was better build "back then" is largely a myth. What's changed is our expectations.

My mom used to brag about her Maytag washer/dryer that she'd had for 30+ years. What she conveniently forgot was that they had been repaired a half dozen times.

50 years ago, a phone weighed several pounds. It had to - all those mechanical bits, and the stuff to hold them in place, weighed that much. 30 years ago, the advancements in electronics meant that a phone need only weigh a small fraction of that. Problem was, people picked up an 8 ounce phone and thought "cheap". So many phone makers started putting a pound of pot metal in their light weight phones so that people thought they were quality :ugh:
Why is it that we equate mass with quality?
My first VCR was huge and weighed close to 10 lbs. It also cost $1000 (1980 dollars). It lasted about 5 years. I haven't seen a new VCR in years, but when I did see them for $50 a few years back, they were tiny, weighed less than a pound, and were miles better than that first one 35 years ago.
Back in 1960, as a five year old, my dad won a 25" color TV in a raffle. At the time, there were only a few hours of color broadcast each week (mainly during the weekend), and I honestly didn't know what the big deal was.... I knew our TV repair man (he had a daughter my age), and I'm pretty sure he made a visit to fix that TV at least once a year for the ~10 years it lasted. If had a new TV today that only lasted 10 years (without any repairs), I'd be pissed. Oh yea, that color TV was worth ~$500, in 1960, roughly 10x that today :mad:
I also remember the tube testers in most stores back then - if your TV or radio was acting up, you could take some of the vacuum tubes out and go down to the local 5&dime or grocery story and test them. Heck, as a 10 year old I literally helped dad fix our B&W TV (we were rich, we had 2 TV's in the mid 1960's!) by taking tubes down to the local store and testing them.
I suspect that's a large part of the so-called 'throw away' society. 50 years ago a 10 year old could take the tubes and test them. Today, items are so complex it takes a highly trained specialist to even know what's wrong. And once you know what IC chip went bad, likely the chip is obsolete and out of production, or costs as much as the item is worth.
Sure, there are some manufactures that are surviving on reputation rather than current quality (yes, I've a similar experience with Sony). That's nothing new - 40 years ago it was Maranz (and if you pay attention to American beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon - which really was a blue ribbon beer 50 years ago, until the bean counters figured out they could make more money by using cheaper ingredients, at least for awhile).
IMHO, a large part of the problem is because it's no longer cost effective to fix something. Years ago, if something lasted 5 years, then need it to be repaired, it was OK. Today, if it lasts 5 years, but needs to be replaced because it's cheaper to repair than replace, we think it's junk.

1st Jun 2014, 07:40
IMHO, a large part of the problem is because it's no longer cost effective to fix something. Years ago, if something lasted 5 years, then need it to be repaired, it was OK. Today, if it lasts 5 years, but needs to be replaced because it's cheaper to repair than replace, we think it's junk.I agree with this.
But frankly, I'd rather have something that I could fix - myself if necessary - at a reasonable price, that needed fixing every five years, than something that had to be replaced that often.

I think of all the plastic and stuff (precious metals, harmful chemicals, even old demolition timber that's now unobtainable) in the landfills. We're squandering stuff like there's no tomorrow. And if we don't start learning how not to squander it, sooner or later, there won't be.

I think a good start would be to make the cost of recycling an item built into the purchase cost, by law.
If it can't be recycled or re-used, and isn't made of sustainable stuff (plant based), it shouldn't be built.

1st Jun 2014, 10:53
Tarq57 is spot-on. We are buying multitudes of cheap Chinese-manufactured crap, only to see large amounts of it go to our landfills within a year or two.
We are effectively paying for vast amounts of short-life rubbish, to create some of the largest landfills the world has ever seen, full of useful metals and materials.

The local councils (West Oz) are continuously warning about how they are rapidly running out of landfill space - and how the cost of rubbish removal is going to continue to increase exponentially.

Rubbish tip costs set to rocket in W.A. (https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/23964697/tip-costs-set-to-rocket/)

I had the eye-opening experience of having to take a temporary job in a landfill operation nearly 20 yrs ago - and the amount of useful materials going to waste, even back then, would make you weep.
We would bury around several thousand dollars worth of metals and other easily recycled materials of value, on a daily basis.

The landfill owners refused to pay anyone to separate and collect re-useable materials, because they reckoned it wasn't viable to do so.
I believe all manufacturers should be compelled to have their manufactured junk returned to them for recycling.
It's just too easy today to keep producing junk and filling other countries waste dumps with it.

Re washing machines - I bought a genuine USA-built Kleenmaid Speed Queen in 1990, and it came with a 10 yr warranty on the machine and a 20 yr warranty on the motor.
It ran virtually faultlessly for 18 yrs before corrosion in the cabinet rendered it inoperative. The motor still had 2 yrs warranty left on it.
If I could have acquired cabinet panels at reasonable cost, I could have keep it going for probably another 5 or 8 yrs at least.

However, it was deemed too noisy by SWMBO, so it went for parting out.
We bought a fully electronic Fisher & Paykel washing machine to replace the Kleenmaid in 2008 - and surprisingly to me, it has performed faultlessly for 6 years.

1st Jun 2014, 11:38
From where and when did this short-termism pervade the 1st world ? Almost without exception everything is about getting a 'high' in the now with little regard for next week/month/year and so on. I understand how attractive that is, I see it all the time, yet once the 'high' has been experienced it's over and a void remains that seemingly needs to be filled. The problem being that almost no-one seems to be aware as mentioned in previous posts, that resources are becoming more scarce and more expensive to claim from the earth and at a certain point in the tomorrow, it won't be pretty….


cockney steve
1st Jun 2014, 11:39
The landfill owners refused to pay anyone to separate and collect re-useable materials, because they reckoned it wasn't viable to do so.
I believe all manufacturers should be compelled to have their manufactured junk returned to them for recycling.
In spite of the BS we are continually fed, about the earth's resources, it is cheaper to manufacture and fill a new tin-can than to recycle a used one.
We are told that it costs 10 times more energy to make a new aluminium can, than to re-smelt an old one.

A large lorry comes round for our recycling it collects plastics,glass and metals. even allowing there's a built-in crusher, there is the cost-per-mile of an urban stop-start vehicle.....as the transmission is some sort of automatic,clutch wear is not a problem, but brakes and steering are still punished and fuel consumption must be horrendous...... add the wages of a driver,at least 2 collectors and at least one sorter and tell me how much it costs to collect the empties from a 100-house street, consolidate and sort them...steel, aluminium, clear glass, mixed coloured glass...and how many grades of plastic?

Get the picture?...It's another political con-trick. recycling uses more than it saves, which is why goods boasting their "green" credentials are invariably dearer than those made with new materials.
I hate to see waste, hate to see appliances with minor problems scrapped. I don't have the answers, but I do know that domestic waste-recycling is simply an illusion to placate the masses.

1st Jun 2014, 11:47
“There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey.” - John Ruskin.

1st Jun 2014, 12:00
Steve - I don't think there has ever been a properly-researched "total-impact" cost examination for new VS recycled.
To do so, would also include the cost of regular rubbish clean-ups - as vast amounts of materials are regularly discarded by roadsides, on empty lots in cities, on beaches, and anywhere people can dump items that otherwise cost them to dispose of.

I'm reliably informed that fully 60% of aluminium cans here in Oz are recycled, and I don't see a major cost burden being imposed on us right at the moment due to that huge % of recycling.
In remote areas of Australia, the costs of recycling are rarely warranted because of the relatively low levels of material available to be recycled - and the huge distances that material has to travel back to recycling plants.

However, anywhere where there are sizeable cities, the costs of recycling must be economic when all the costs of simple dumping are taken into account.

1st Jun 2014, 12:30
Helo said:

I have also just bought a Bosch washing machine

Quality with a brand can change dramatically.

We had a Bosch dishwasher that gave sterling service for about 15 years.
Then one day it went wrong.
We decided that we had had good service and value for money from it, so rather than repair the old one, we bought a new Bosch. And had the delivery guys take the old u/s one away.
The new m/c was grossly inferior and took twice as long to do its job.

When we moved house we sold the Bosch rather than taking the trouble to add the requisite plumbing.

1st Jun 2014, 13:23
I've now read the whole thread, very interesting and entertaining!

Being an old fart, I like many of you, have some things that do seem to still have some 'quality' about them. Can I give mention to:

A Rolex watch that I bought 2nd hand over 20 years ago and a Nivada chronograph that I bought in Malta for £12-10-0 in 1959.

Cross writing instruments, guaranteed for life, and they don't often need the service.

Good quality hand tools, someone already mentioned Estwing hammers. They last for ever. This also applies for kitchen tools, we have a carving knife by Joseph Rodgers of Sheffield that was my wife's aunts. It looks grey as it is obviously made of high carbon steel, but it holds an edge for better than the overpriced, modern soft 'stainless' stuff from Germany.

We also have a Kenwood Chef that we bought in 1971, still working. I have changed the carbon brushes once.

At the other end of the spectrum, the throw away stuff, the latest example that I have had was my Canon Printer. It stopped with an error message saying that there was something wrong with the 'print head'. The cost of a new print head, which can be removed and refitted without any tools in 30 seconds, was 75% of the printer price, and the printer came with 5 Canon ink cartridges. 5 new ink cartridges cost 80% of the cost of the printer!!!

The print head and the ink costs 155% of the printer price.

This is economics gone mad!

With electric kitchen appliances, I have now decided that cheap is good. This applies in particular to toasters. They all seem to last about 2 years, the price you pay and the name on them don't seem to make any difference.

Must go an lie down now.

Metro man
1st Jun 2014, 13:27
In remote areas of Australia, the costs of recycling are rarely warranted because of the relatively low levels of material available to be recycled - and the huge distances that material has to travel back to recycling plants.

The quantities of empty beer cans to be found in Aboriginal towns would negate the need for any new mines.;)

1st Jun 2014, 13:29
Yes, have seen that, although not any more - most are dry areas now.

Now it would be Coke cans and Coke bottles, or Sprite or similar !

1st Jun 2014, 19:48
Where i live a committee of owners have bi annual meeting. One complaint was the gardener puts leaves on waste land on the grounds instead of in the 'Green bin' for the refuge collectors! :ugh:

1st Jun 2014, 19:52
That depends on the method of dumping - piles of leaves (or grass-cuttings) might not decay readily - leaving smelly piles.

It also depends on the quantity - we have a wooded area where all the surrounding residents dump their garden waste which accrues to the size of a skip during the summer and doesn't reduce significantly during the winter - when they dump tree and hedge prunings.

Of course the residents would have to pay a modest annual fee to have their garden waste collected - when they can dispose of it for free!

2nd Jun 2014, 06:35
Metro man - Yep, somewhere I have a photo of the beer cans outside the Wiluna pub, the day after welfare cheque day.
The beer can pile was as high as the window sills of the pub (1M high), and stretched out 3 metres into the street!
The Wiluna councils clean-up technique was to bring in the council front end loader, drive into them to load the bucket, and then dump them into a council truck! :eek:

2nd Jun 2014, 06:46

You will never see those type of things again.

I did see in the 80's the ground covered with them but I wasn't involved with Aboriginals then so it was only "visiting" a station up NT way.

Now it is just bloody rubbish everywhere - bags, bottles and Bentos Meat Pie dishes
- what seems to pass as the staple diet once the chips and coke have run out !!! ;)

John Marsh
2nd Jun 2014, 10:40
From where and when did this short-termism pervade the 1st world ?I wonder how long-termism was begun. Did pride play a part? - pride in making products so as to utilize technological progress in the best way. Showing fidelity to what's possible, instead of adulterating it.

When I was involved in industrial electronics, I felt some pride in the products I had helped to make. I wonder if the average Chinese factory worker feels any such pride.

Did WW2 play a part? The desire to rebuild peacetime life, along with homes for the demobbed servicemen. Quality appliances and brown goods to go in them, many built by firms previously running in high gear for the war effort.

2nd Jun 2014, 11:04
Perhaps, when raw materials were in short supply and goods were comparatively more expensive, shoppers were more careful about how they spent their money as things had to last. You could also poke and prod your possible purchase and get a feel for how well it had been made. Nowadays, we're in a more throwaway society (how many working 42" TVs are discarded as there's a bigger/better/HD model out?), and often, people are buying online so, if it looks good on the website, we'll have it irrespective of the quality. No real driver for manufacturers to incur higher costs making a better quality product.

2nd Jun 2014, 11:23
I enjoy repairing good older technology stuff. I don't always succeed, but it's fun. I have a large stock of radio valves (which are getting hard to buy, these days) which helps.

I came by a very nice, fairily modern, Japanese communications receiver with one of the concentric knobs cracked and falling apart. After failing with superglue, I phoned the UK importer. A complete new knob plus P&P was less than the price of a tube of superglue. Looks better, too.

We have the "replacement" microwave oven in the cupboard under the stairs (it was originally bought for the weekend hideaway,now of blessed memory). The original, bought when microwave ovens first arrived on the scene, is still working. It doesn't have all the clever buttons, only a "low - med - high" and a timer, but she knows how to work it.

2nd Jun 2014, 12:41
Not surprisingly, in my workshop, I still have the first microwave we bought, in 1974. It's a Sharp, and it has no electronic components in it, whatsoever.
The timer is a mechanical device that you just screw clockwise against spring pressure - and it then unwinds back to zero, whereby it hits the off switch.
The build quality of that early Sharp puts to shame the later Sharp microwaves we've bought - all of which were made in China, and none of which, have reached 5 yrs of working life - against the 40 yrs, and still-working performance of the early Sharp.

2nd Jun 2014, 20:55
But are there black shadows of your kitchen furniture burned into the wall opposite your elderly microwave?

2nd Jun 2014, 20:59
No, but one track keeps having to go to the doctor for weird lumps that appear and thick hairs that grow !!! :O

cockney steve
2nd Jun 2014, 21:08
Not surprisingly, in my workshop, I still have the first microwave we bought, in 1974. It's a Sharp, and it has no electronic components in it, whatsoever.

Transformer, MAGNETRON, CAPACITOR. (And, if they were wise, a bleed resistor across the cap.

NEVER, EVER mess with a microwave until you have used a large, well insulated screwdriver, or suitably-insulated device (a big nail through the end of a foot-long stick is good!) to bridge across the cap. terminals.
A big flash-bang denotes the bleed resistor had failed and you just cheated death :eek: it's very rare, but tell that to the widows of engineers who failed to check first.
I'm also currently using a clockwork one removed from a flat as "not working" to be replaced with a £40 Asda one. think it was £10 from a charity shop.....works, so why get rid?

3rd Jun 2014, 01:24
My father had excellent eyesight until he died when he was eighty-eight. My mother was the same, not wearing glasses when she went at ninety-two. I cannot remember any of my grandparents wearing them either but I started to need them when I turned fifty. That was about two years after we had bought our first microwave oven.

Any connection?

3rd Jun 2014, 01:49
Steve - Well .. when I said "no electronic components" - I was actually referring to the primary controls - where all the current designs contain LCD panels, touch-screen switching, and other flimsy electronic devices, that seem to be the primary failure point of most current models.

I've had the old Sharp checked for radiation leakage, and it's been found to be still within safe limits. They built better radiation seals on them in the early days, too. :)

3rd Jun 2014, 02:32
Fareastdriver:My father had excellent eyesight until he died when he was eighty-eight. My mother was the same, not wearing glasses when she went at ninety-two. I cannot remember any of my grandparents wearing them either but I started to need them when I turned fifty. That was about two years after we had bought our first microwave oven.

Any connection?Well, the docs tell us the amount light entering your eyeball is down to about half by age 50, and the eyeball is losing its fine processing ability with increased age.
I know I started to need reading glasses by about age 45 (1994) - but I don't really believe that decline is related to microwaves.

I'm under the impression that there's no serious level of leakage from microwaves, overall - and if there is any escaped radiation, the levels drop substantially, at a short distance from the oven, anyway.

My mother could still thread a needle without glasses at age 78 - but I suspect that was more to do with acquired skill as an embroiderer, than anything else.
She did have cataracts, that were removed in her early 80's, and her sight did improve thereafter.

IMO, it was the advent of large numbers of electronic screens in the form of computer screens that has led to earlier eyesight deterioration.
I noticed that in my local Caterpillar machinery dealership, all the parts blokes were wearing glasses within about 3 yrs, after the introduction of electronic/computerised parts records in the mid-1970's.

3rd Jun 2014, 11:58
I have a couple of colleagues who have had to consider the subject of obsolescence in new equipment that we are designing. For equipment that has a life of type in the region of 20-30 years, the fact that electronics manufacturers change the design of integrated circuits on a regular basis means that we literally have to buy enough spares to last the life of the equipment. So how ever many boxes you are building multiplied by the expected number of replacement items over the time period, that is the number of spare chips have to be bought and stored for the next 20-30 years.

As in years past, as equipment that is at the end of its life is removed and new equipment put in its place, these stores will be removed from shelves in store rooms and probably just binned, even though they may never have been used.

Perhaps the point is that we have always had to think sbout spares in the future and lay aside enough. Older mechanical and electromechanical equipment was relatively easy to bend metal, add discrete electronic components and stick in a box. Now we have the potential that numbers of IPads and laptops are stuck in stores waiting to be used as replacement parts and in 20 years those not used will be scorned as outdated and useless and thrown away.

3rd Jun 2014, 12:05
The thermostat on my 10 year old gas heater has just packed it in. I get full blast at a little over the 1 setting and pitot heat at a little under the 1 setting, and everything else inbetween this very narrow range.

So I pulled it apart to investigate. Turns out the mehanical thermocouple which has thin a copper tube that feeds the gas regulator moves ever so slightly up and down when the heater dial is turned. I am guessing that over the years this thin copper tube has fatigued and broken. Brilliant design not.

I'm thinking of doing a workaround to get me through this winter but I don't know how this mechanical thermocouple works, does it have hydraulic fluid in it? Anyone have any knowledge in this area.

This heater is an example of a really bad design. It used to gong, buzz and rattle until I dealt with it some time ago. The fan speed had 2 modes Low = utterly useless and High = raise your voice to be heard, so with a bit of sheet metal fabrication I replaced the motor with one sourced from a pedestal fan. I feel like I should dump it next summer but I find I am capable of fixing all its shortcomings.

cockney steve
3rd Jun 2014, 14:21
I'm thinking of doing a workaround to get me through this winter but I don't know how this mechanical thermocouple works, does it have hydraulic fluid in it? Anyone have any knowledge in this area.
A thermocouple is a junction-device of 2 dissimilar metals...often, on appliances, a thin tube wuth an insulated conductor within junction welded at one end (the probe) tube flanged for retention at the other end,the flange surmounted by an insulator,upon which is a metal contact from the central conductor.
Heating the junction(probe) causes a potential difference between the sheath and central conductor...the remote end is usually connected to a high-impedance solenoid coil which holds a valve open until the heat-source vanishes. seen in ovens and gas-fires, the pilot-light is normally placed to heat the thermocouple

A thermostat is used to control temperature. These are, for high temperatures, often bi-metallic....co axial tube and rod, anchored together at the "probe" end....the free-end sees a relative difference in length,as the metals expand/contract..can be spring-opposed and connected via linkages,to operate a valve or switch. Alternative types have a bi-metal leaf which bends with heat,thus opening/closing contacts/valves/switches. Again, variable spring-opposition can be used to alter the operating-temperature.
finally, there is a capsule linked , via a capilliary-tube to a cylindrical concertina-bellows the assembly being filled and sealed with fluid that will expand/contract readily with temperature. (alcohol is often used)
The mechanical arrangements are similar tothe other types metal-fatigue eventually causes cracking and fluid-loss. this type is most commonly found in a domestic fridge.

I'd guess this is what is in your heater,to detect ambient (room) air temperature.
google is your friend! sometimes a generic part is available, sometimes only the appliance manufacturer will hold parts.

In the UK it is illegal for unqualified persons to tamper with gas appliances or supplies. (I don't think there is a Legal definition of "qualified", though it's generally accepted as meaning "holds a recognised Trade-qualification"...aka has paid to join the cartel :8
It is NOT illegal to buy or sell parts or fittings to an unqualified person!

Do not dabble"out of your depth" normally, the smell of gas will make you queasy long before it approaches a dangerous concentration but getting it wrong can have devastating consequences.....in Shaw, Oldham, recently, a gas explosion demolished a terrace-house, made others unsafe and broke windows several hundred yards away.
In 1968, RONAN POINT a London tower block, suffered a major collapse due to a gas explosion! (later demolished and all gas removed from the similar towers.

3rd Jun 2014, 14:36
For example today, my 207 cc ( Peugeot, no girlie jokes) at the dealer, she was loosing 50% of coolant after about 600 miles, 2009 build and 20k on clock.

After pressure testing it was found there was a leak on a water temperature gauge, temp gauge working fine, but I need a new seal. Unfortunate one has to have a new temp gauge fitted incorporating the new seal.

Could not Peugeot just supply the seal/O ring....:{


Windy Militant
3rd Jun 2014, 22:26
my 207 cc ( Peugeot, no girlie jokes)

As it was built by a bunch of Froggies could you not seal it with a bit of

Kermatite! Boom Tish!

I know flippers, pond.

3rd Jun 2014, 22:28

Is it pink ? :p

cockney steve
4th Jun 2014, 11:44
@DazDaz Could not Peugeot just supply the seal/O ring...
They "could" but choose to take the profit in a gauge, rather than that on a 5p O-ring :*
Find a local Engineers' merchant / power transmission specialist / bearing stockist....or maybe even an engine-rebuilder or a "proper" local garage.
Any of the above will either have a stock of assorted Metric and Imperial O-rings (yup! they're different,even have different thickness /diameter ratios) -Or they should be able to point you in the right direction.
There's also the likes of on-line retailers and Screwfix (who'll sell a big boxful) but it should still be cheaper than a new gauge.
You could always Kludge with a lump of Plumbers' PTFE joint-tape. :}

4th Jun 2014, 12:11
Thankyou very much cockney_steve for providing enough information to identify the name for the part. Now that I know it's a capillary thermostat with a bit of searching I actually found a supplier for the exact replacement part.

(image too big for pprune)

I can see copper corrosion (green stuff) around the tubular wire near where it connects to the bellows and assume that this is where it failed. The looping of the tubular wire seems to be wishful thinking (or a method to fail after warranty) considering the bellows moves up and down about 1mm when the temperature control is rotated.

Seems easy enough to replace without removing the regulator, but seeing there is no hydraulic pressure left to push the bellows down I'm thinking of cutting the tubular wire and inserting a copper wire to push the bellows down and tie/clamp it all off at that point. This will then make the temperature control operate the flame much like a cooktop burner. I don't have a bellows to play around with so I'm assuming it's this simple in operation.

It would be nice to keep this 9 year old $1200 heater going for a bit longer.

Windy Militant
4th Jun 2014, 19:13
Cattle truck DO NOT cut the capilliary it's not a wire it's a thin bore tube.
The thing works by fluid expansion in an enclosed system. The bulb is full of a paraffin wax gloop which when heated expands and pushes down the pipe to expand the bellows, once you cut the capillary it will leak out and will not work.
Also you have to be very careful that you do not kink or flatten the pipe either, that's why it's coiled up very carefully in a nice radius. You have to unwind it carefully reversing the way it was wound up and not pull it straight or you will definitely kink it. Treat it very gently indeed.

4th Jun 2014, 23:45
I'm apparently doing something wrong (actually right :p). While there have certainly been exceptions, for the most part the new stuff I've bought to replace old, worn-out and/or broken stuff has lasted as long or longer, needed fewer repairs, been more efficient, and worked better than the stuff it replaced.
Granted, I haven't had much of the new stuff long enough yet to know if it'll ultimately last as long, but I'm pretty handy and often fixed the old stuff when it broke, the new stuff simply doesn't need fixing.

A few notable examples - clothes washer and dryer - bought new in 1984, had to make major repairs to both and they still only lasted 15 years (both were in dire need of repairs, again, when I trashed them). Picked up cheap replacements in 1999, after 6 years I moved them to my rental because I hated them so much (they got replaced last year), bought new Maytag. Maytag units have worked flawlessly for nearly 10 years, clean clothes better, and use less energy and water than either of the old ones. Replaced the refrigerator about six years ago when the old one crapped out - again a new Maytag. The new refrig holds a much more constant temperature so food lasts noticeably longer, it holds more, and it's so much more efficient that my average electric usage instantly dropped almost 25% (from ~26 KWH/day to ~20 KWH/day) - I figure it's just about paid for itself just with the electric savings. Replaced the dishwasher when the bottom rusted out and it started leaking - the new one (GE) has a plastic bottom that'll never rust, cleans better, is more efficient, and is noticeably quieter than the old. And don't get me started on cars...:uhoh:

As for recycling the old stuff, most appliance dealers around here offer free delivery and haul away to the recycle place. When I replaced the refrigerator, the electric company paid me $30 if they could come haul away the old one for proper disposal. Many electronics places (e.g. Best Buy) will take in your old computers, TV, etc. for recycling at no charge, as does the local Goodwill.

5th Jun 2014, 04:25
Windy, it's already leaked and not working. Got a quote for $100 for a replacement but I reckon subsituting a properly sized bit of dowel where the bellows sits would do the trick.

Old appliances used to be generous with the length of power lead, often over 2m. If they were any good I would cut them off and store them when disposing of the appliance. Came in handy last week when I needed to use the electric portable lamp (this thing is about 30 years old). The power lead being of the cloth variety had frayed so within 15 minutes it got a newer lead.

The last thing I repaired myself was this vintage K-mart Focal Siam Cat Optics Zoom binoculars. The zoom mechanism had broken on one side which just needed a bit of glueing. Being Japanese meant it was a delight to work with but one really had to stop and think how to undo certain bits that were cleverly put together.

5th Jun 2014, 08:24

I think you are missing the point that the thermostat, when working properly, is a feedback regulator.
You set a temperature on the control which either through a mechanical gas valve or electrical connection, activates the gas flow causing heat to be generated by the combustion process.
This, besides heating you, also heats the large copper bulb filled with Windy's paraffin gloop until such time as the pressure of expansion is transmitted along the capillary where the effect at the bellows end reduces or turns off the gas supply. As the system cools down, the gloop contracts and the gas flow is restored - ad infinitum until something breaks.
Voila! You stay warm as desired and nothing gets destroyed thorough overheating.

Inserting a piece of dowel for example will achieve exactly the same as turning the control as at present to the position where you get 'full blast'. In this position, the gas supply is permanently on and uncontrolled.

Although there are possibly if not probably additional safety devices to prevent serious disasters should the primary thermostat or other parts fail, you are getting very close to interfering with something that could cost you - or others living in your vicinity - well over a mere $100.

I would certainly recommend that this should be repaired by someone who knows what they are doing, this suggestion not excluding the realisation that in your part of the world, finding that person could be harder than finding the right part.

But please don't otherwise let yourself become the subject of a snippet in the local newspaper as your sooty soul departs upon its final voyage...


cockney steve
5th Jun 2014, 10:24
J G is exactly right! as are the others who expanded on the somewhat brief operational outline i posted.
The thermostat adjustment merely alters the point at which the expansion of the bellows cuts off the gas...If the bellows is substituted with something rigid (your proposed dowel), there will be no thermostatic reaction to move the actual gas-regulator.
you are unlikely to be able to pirate a capilliary assembly from another thermostat, to fit to yours. you are unlikely to find another , cheaper thermostat that will fit.

This is NOT impossible!- sometimes a standard, universal part is used for a particular application, the equipment/appliance manufacturer sticks it in their own packaging and then charges a "bespoke" price for it.
The net is your friend, look for "compatible" rather than the specific appliance-maker's agent
PLEASE HEED MY PRIOR WARNING IF YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR COMFORT-ZONE! (and, yes, I think you are, as you did not understand what the thermostat was doing, and how,)

Recent example....drive belt on a ride-on lawnmower. ONLY had the mower-maker's part number on it. Price £46.
Took it to a power-transmission dealer (chains/sprockets/belts/bearings and other engineery-stuff) Measured it, produced identical item......£11 YES! less than a quarter of the price. they also charged (the mower-dealer) over £2 for a 10p bolt and a similar figure for a washer about 4cm diameter .... As my daughter commented on her Audi-service..."they must have put Unicorn -oil in it at those prices"

5th Jun 2014, 11:45
Recent example....drive belt on a ride-on lawnmower. ONLY had the mower-maker's part number on it. Price £46.
Took it to a power-transmission dealer (chains/sprockets/belts/bearings and other engineery-stuff) Measured it, produced identical item......£11 YES! less than a quarter of the price.
I had an ATCO ride-on mower that was driven by a pair of drive-belts that also operated as the clutch (using a spring-loaded idler pulley).
They were heavy-duty and very expensive from an authorised dealer.

I discovered that identical (size and quality) belts were available for much less money from an industrial drive supplier (see above).

It turned out that the premium price charged by the dealer was because the belts were matched in pairs - something that the factor was prepared to do for no extra cost.

Windy Militant
5th Jun 2014, 18:34
Cattle truck

If you do use a dowel to fix your boiler, you better mug up on Parachutes!

So you can offer some good advice to the guy who'll be going downwards as your going upwards! after everything goes Kabloooe.

As the man said any one can hit it but it's knowing exactly where and how hard to hit it, that costs the money!:}

5th Jun 2014, 19:05
When repairers say it's cheaper to buy a new item, I suspect it's because they don't now how to repair things anymore.

I don't know how much dishwashers cost--ours came with the house--but I had to pay about $100 last year just for the parts when the plastic latch on the detergent dispenser broke. On the plus side, it's a new design, so clearly they realized the crappy little bit of plastic that broke wasn't capable of doing the job.

Someone else commented on Sony quality, and I have to agree. I still have my old Sony camcorder, bought around 1998, and it still works, though the microphones have failed due to a known manufacturing fault. My new Sony camcorder that replaced it cost four times as much, and broke about a year after the warranty expired, due to a design fault in the power circuitry. Fixing it would have required replacing pretty much all the boards inside the camcorder, as it fried just about everything.

No more Sony for me.

5th Jun 2014, 19:13
Re Sony, crap circuit boards etc.

It doesn't take much to make good circuit boards but I think they have got so far onto the "cheap cheap cheap" band wagon and cut so many corners it is not funny anymore.

5th Jun 2014, 19:17
Steve - I don't think there has ever been a properly-researched "total-impact" cost examination for new VS recycled.

Yes, it has. If recycling made sense, companies would pay us for our garbage, we wouldn't be expected to pay them to take it away.

I seem to remember a scandal around the time I left the UK where the newspapers discovered that, after forcing people to separate their 'recyclable' crap from their other crap, it was just being loaded on boats and shipped abroad to be dumped in big holes in the ground, because there was no actual market for it?

5th Jun 2014, 19:23

25 years ago we had the same scandal, the councils all stated to jump on the recycling band wagon.

Newspapers were collected and collected and eventually the owner of the recycling plant had to get on TV with photos of his storage depot saying, listen we are full, we can't store any more as we can't process it fast enough !

That was the same time I saw the recycling truck down at the tip :rolleyes:

Re new vs recycling - to do with packaging - 30 years ago I read a report written for a company that packaged - I think Shirts - in plastic wrapping - and they wanted to know about doing them in recycled paper.

The conclusion. From cradle to grave, it was more environmentally friendly to use the clear plastic made as a by product from oil than to recycle anything to make the wrapper and that included paper.

Cradle to grave cycle often kills off good ideas.