So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Thursday, September 19, 2019
Twilight of Manufacturing
In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that couple who were traveling around the world using human power had been using second hand $100 bikes. They’ve been on them for thousands and thousands of miles with few problems.
However, it wasn’t just luck. One of the travelers, Zoe, has a background in Industrial design. She’s firmly convinced that a lot of older stuff was put together much better. There was a small weight penalty for going with older bikes, but they aren’t racing. It’s more important that the bikes hold together. The last thing you want is some major breakdown on a Peruvian back road in the middle of nowhere.
My auto mechanic is not a big fan of modern manufacturing techniques. One of his big complaints is the amount of cheap plastic built into cars these days. They use plastic on critical components that used to be metal. Even expensive cars use cheap plastic.
It’s not even good plastic. It’s possible to make good plastic parts that last. Like everything else, the good stuff cost more money. Instead they use junk that’s guaranteed to fail.
Marine stainless steel is something else that’s taken a huge tumble in quality. US made stainless from the 70s is much better than the junk coming out of India and China. People have been known to seek out junk boats just for the steel hardware to put on new boats.
Recently I was talking to a restaurant owner who uses a lot of induction stoves in his business. I happened to mention that my old cast iron works just fine. He told me that a lot of the new “cast iron” doesn’t have enough real iron in them to work right. The guy claimed that magnets won’t even stick to some of them.
So what’s going on here? Have we forgotten how to build stuff? The main issue appears to be money. Things are being manufactured as cheaply as possible. Personally, I’d rather have a few good things that last than piles of broken junk.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.