american manufacturing 37 replies, 9675 views

Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 10:13:00 AM
This is an antecdote from my personal life, on how "they don't make em like they used to". Its not really news to anyone, but it kind of is. I think we've all become quite used to manufactured goods being hard to/unrepairable and of quite low quality, but this type of incident was kind of a big eye opener on what our factories are capable of vs. chinese factories. (also i believe this showcases the effect large retail outlets have had on the quality of goods produced)


A month and a half ago my saw burned out. I've been using the thing for about ten years, and its last hurrah was a hundred feet of concrete saw cutting. It had a good run. - Skil was still making this model in the USA

I bought a used one for twenty bucks off craigslist that night to hold me over until i could lay hands on a new one. It looks to be about fifty years old. I used it for the week until i could buy a shiny brand new one. Get to home depot, the newer model is made in china and fifty dollars less than ten years ago. Bought it, smoked the motor inside of a week and a half- i've been using the old one ever since.

The moral of this story is that for a very modest increase in price over cheaper foreign imports, we can keep jobs in america and produce goods which last approximately 2600 times longer than their chinese counterparts. I also firmly believe that home depot (and other big box stores) are to blame for this sort of thing. Skil had no problem making their worm drives in chicago, and sold plenty of them for 200 dollars a piece since 1937- Then home depot decided noone wanted a two hundred dollar saw and told them to cut costs or it wasn't getting sold there.
Billy Crystals
12/13/2010 10:31:00 AM
Exactly why when I want to buy anything and I want it to last, from work boots to tools, I go out of my way to buy US manufactured stuff. As corny as it sounds it always seems built to last.
DeadlyHandSammich
12/13/2010 10:51:00 AM
didnt read
the cat
12/13/2010 10:52:00 AM
Bonsai
12/13/2010 11:02:00 AM
Foreign made work boots are one of the worst offenders. My dad's favorite shoe shop closed last year, and he was having a hard time finding his old brand so his wife picked him up 2 different walmart brands. Neither held up for more than 3 months. I eventually had to buy them online for him, but even his brand doesn't last like they used to. When we were kids, he got a pair for Christmas every year and they lasted all year. Stank like hell, but they were always still wearable and he usually wore them for another year as "dicking around boots" for grass cutting and walking around in the woods and whatever else. Now they don't always make it a year before they have to be tossed, and dude weighs about 150 less than he did 15 years ago so they're not being used as hard.

Small kicthen appliances also suck. I've twice picked up $12-15 wal-mart hand mixers in emergencies, and neither saw more than a few uses. The one burnt out the very same night I bought it. My mom had a $40 mixer from the late 70's that she got nearly 30 years worth of use from. Consumer grade products aren't made to last like that anymore at any price point.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 11:16:00 AM
Originally posted by: squanto



that wasn't built, it was a sheet of tyvek held in place by equal parts FM and air pressure. of course it collapsed. we have plenty of real roofs that haven't
sidney
12/13/2010 11:18:00 AM
some engineer did not calculate his snow loads very well
the cat
12/13/2010 11:21:00 AM
It's just the first thing that came to mind, I agree with the thread 100%.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 11:31:00 AM
i guess the funniest thing about it is the fact that cheap imports clearly make no economic sense for anyone, especially the end user, and yet they apparently continue to hold the lions share of the market- we all know we're buying the stupid shit, but its advertised to us so we keep buying it anyway. i still look for the cheap fruit of the loom underwear for instance, though i'm sure that for an extra dollar a pair i could get drawers that last twice as long. i'm just conditioned.
crunkmoose
12/13/2010 12:19:00 PM
Originally posted by: Billy Crystals

Exactly why when I want to buy anything and I want it to last, from work boots to tools, I go out of my way to buy US manufactured stuff. As corny as it sounds it always seems built to last.

That is because we don't compete as well in the world markets... because we are in many cases still building things to last, which cuts down on profits and repeat business. Sell a man a saw that will break in a few weeks but is relatively cheap, you can probably just get him to buy a higher end model from your company.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 12:36:00 PM
the saw in question cost in the two hundred dollar neighborhood in the sixties also, i believe. according to some internet inflation calculator, that amounts to approximately 1500 dollars today. I think this is a fairly accurate representation of things. the saw, which will apparently stand up to an entire lifetime of hard use, in addition to being able to cut 5 times as much stock as other saws, would be a bargain at 1500 dollars, but american advertising and chinese manufacturing would have you believe that a 99 dollar saw built to cut one board at a time and last 9 months doing it is superior
LastOnePicked
12/13/2010 12:47:00 PM
i was actually going to say pretty much the same thing moose said. I think you'd be hard pressed to find products these days that are really built to last 10-20 years. Things these days are built to last slightly longer than their warranty, and people have become accustomed to it. Why sell something once, when you can condition people to think they need a new one every couple years.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 1:04:00 PM
"Why sell something once, when you can condition people to think they need a new one every couple years."

i would remark that the answer to that question is to prove our superior engineering and manufacturing capabilities and dedication to quality for the consumer. i see nothing wrong with the companies charging a hefty premium so long as they provide me with a far superior product
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 1:08:00 PM
interestingly enough, however, if a company makes a saw for twice the price of another saw, no matter how good it is, they are accused of price gouging and raping the country and working man

though if a fellow takes your money, holds on to it, and pays you interest at half the inflation rate, or loans you money at twelve times the inflation rate, he is lauded as a pillar of the community and considered to have earned his money.
LastOnePicked
12/13/2010 1:17:00 PM
Originally posted by: Kevlar Moneyclips

i would remark that the answer to that question is to prove our superior engineering and manufacturing capabilities and dedication to quality for the consumer.

Unfortunately it seems people would rather make 5 times the profit by using cheaper materials and paying asian children $1 a week to assemble their products.
LastOnePicked
12/13/2010 1:17:00 PM
double
TP
12/13/2010 1:29:00 PM
Originally posted by: Kevlar Moneyclips

the saw in question cost in the two hundred dollar neighborhood in the sixties also, i believe. according to some internet inflation calculator, that amounts to approximately 1500 dollars today. I think this is a fairly accurate representation of things. the saw, which will apparently stand up to an entire lifetime of hard use, in addition to being able to cut 5 times as much stock as other saws, would be a bargain at 1500 dollars, but american advertising and chinese manufacturing would have you believe that a 99 dollar saw built to cut one board at a time and last 9 months doing it is superior

In your $1500 example it is a lot to drop at one time. I have a hard time dropping a bunch of money at one time on things even if I knew how long it would last. I don't know, I always feel selfish somehow. I am however absolutely fine with getting some sort of financing and paying things off.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 1:33:00 PM
I think a shift in viewpoint would allow companies to remain just as profitable by charging hefty premiums for their products- provided they produce things which last and stand behind them 100%. furthermore, if Americans would develop a healthy sense of outrage at the ways in which this mentality affects their country (and the working class would remember that this is fucking them the hardest in the end).

to put in another light- if a fellow standing on the street corner said "give me a dollar and i'll beat this ten year old chinese boy AND give you a shitty piece of plastic for your money" you'd slap him and call the police, and he'd be arrested. if a fellow on the next block said "give me ten dollars, i'll feed this man and his family and give you something quite valuable in return" you'd think he sounded like a hell of a guy, and you might just give him ten dollars.

it goes on just like that everyday, only when they make it a little less obvious people line up with dollar bills in hand
white trash dirt bag
12/13/2010 3:25:00 PM
well, not to hit a tired note, but in order to keep manufacturing here, you have to produce people with engineering and hard science degrees at the same rate as competitive countries, and in order to do that you need to adopt an equivalent approach to higher education, which in most cases is a free, socialized university system.

i don't think you get to where germany or japan or any of the other countries that produce high quality manufacturing are any other way.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 3:41:00 PM
the tail doesn't wag the dog here- we have the technology, engineers and factories necessary to produce high quality manufactured goods, we just don't have the ethos to support the industries. The saw in question was built in a time when college was rare and graduating high school was still a bit of an accomplishment. We're not lacking for educated men any more, but industrious men who care.

we have more people with engineering degrees and taking engineering classes now than ever, and our manufactured goods are at their worst in our history.

germany and japan have both produced cultures which value education and hard work. we have a culture which values college and high paying jobs
white trash dirt bag
12/13/2010 4:35:00 PM
i don't think we have the same vision of what a socialized university system would look like, because i agree with everything you just said and don't see it as being inconsistent with anything i just said. i think a lot of people think a socialized system would mean that everybody gets to go to college, but as i see it, a socialized system would make college much more difficult and much more competitive and harder to get into, so a lot of people would turn to trade schools instead.

as for producing engineers, we produce a lot of technical school graduates, but the number of americans with post graduate engineering degrees - the ones who actually design things - has been declining since the 1980's. and ironically, a decent number that our universities do produce are foreign nationals - which is great, because they are often their countries' prodigies and elevate the caliber of the schools they attend - but it doesn't really help our own domestic economy when they graduate and return home.

i guess my point is that you don't have a high quality manufacturing sector if you don't have high quality r&d, and you don't have high quality research and development if you don't have the best people going to the best schools. right now you have the wealthiest people going to the best schools, and whether or not they're the best people is accidental. a socialized system is just much more efficient at making sure the most gifted and qualified people get into the best schools, because it draws from the entire population, not just the ones who through an accident of birth just happen to be among the wealthiest 20 percent of the population.

as for the saw in question, yeah, america used to know how to do things well. it's no accident that of a lot of the families i know, it's only the seventy year olds that actually know how to fix anything. sad.

and actually, if it was from the 1950's/60's, it was possibly the product of america's one single, accidental foray into a socialized university system, when the massive percentage of american men returned from ww2 and went to college under the g.i. bill. we still have the g.i. bill today, but it affects nowhere near as many people as it did then. that was a truly unique situation, because in addition, many colleges had relaxed their admissions policies regarding women during the war to maintain enrollment, so when the men returned in 1946 and 47, you very often had double capacity. even ivy league universities had to truck in massive numbers of trailers to house them and hundreds of out buildings were converted into barrack-style dorms. many believe this was a major factor in the transformative economic golden age of the late 1950's and early 1960's.
LEATHERFACE
12/13/2010 4:47:00 PM
Originally posted by: Kevlar Moneyclips

This is an antecdote from my personal life, on how "they don't make em like they used to". Its not really news to anyone, but it kind of is. I think we've all become quite used to manufactured goods being hard to/unrepairable and of quite low quality, but this type of incident was kind of a big eye opener on what our factories are capable of vs. chinese factories. (also i believe this showcases the effect large retail outlets have had on the quality of goods produced)

A month and a half ago my saw burned out. I've been using the thing for about ten years, and its last hurrah was a hundred feet of concrete saw cutting. It had a good run. - Skil was still making this model in the USA

I bought a used one for twenty bucks off craigslist that night to hold me over until i could lay hands on a new one. It looks to be about fifty years old. I used it for the week until i could buy a shiny brand new one. Get to home depot, the newer model is made in china and fifty dollars less than ten years ago. Bought it, smoked the motor inside of a week and a half- i've been using the old one ever since.

The moral of this story is that for a very modest increase in price over cheaper foreign imports, we can keep jobs in america and produce goods which last approximately 2600 times longer than their chinese counterparts. I also firmly believe that home depot (and other big box stores) are to blame for this sort of thing. Skil had no problem making their worm drives in chicago, and sold plenty of them for 200 dollars a piece since 1937- Then home depot decided noone wanted a two hundred dollar saw and told them to cut costs or it wasn't getting sold there.

My grandfather sells power equipment and he says the exact same thing. Having worked as a machine operator, mason and general construction grunt I agree with him one hundred percent.

That being said, certain nations just have better standards for their products. I like using Stihl products a lot, they're German made and even when they snag up I can usually repair them on site. I have an old-ass Milwhaukee hammer drill that simply fucking owns on everything.

The biggest problem in the whole equation is WAL-MART; they buy the licensing rights from companies like Cub Cadet and simply slap a Cub Cadet sticker on a piece of shit that was built in a sweatshop.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 7:23:00 PM
"i don't think we have the same vision of what a socialized university system would look like, because i agree with everything you just said and don't see it as being inconsistent with anything i just said. i think a lot of people think a socialized system would mean that everybody gets to go to college, but as i see it, a socialized system would make college much more difficult and much more competitive and harder to get into, so a lot of people would turn to trade schools instead."

i could get into something like this- its not like i really attach significance to who pays for or how the money floats to a college. Its that I recognize that if our government socialized higher education tomorrow, we'd all be in a world full of shit. Your point about the foray into socialized education via the GI bill was pretty interesting, and while we can't simply reduce prosperity to the point that college was free, it has merit- of course, the education was given to "the finest generation" and specifically those who fought and risked life. Even the same bill applied to the same group today, we have a different type of young man with a different life agenda coming back from overseas. Overall, i pretty well agree with what you're saying however. I'm not suggesting that the education is unimportant, I'm just saying this shit needs to start from the ground up, not the top down
LEATHERFACE
12/13/2010 7:46:00 PM
From what I've seen, the only thing modern priviledge has produced is emo, people who believe that vampires are real, justin beiber, gay pride and a desperation to reincarnate the idiocy of the 60's.

on the other hand

I've always thought that the community college sector should be entirely socialized, and I'm not even socialist. I realize that university kids love to knock CC students all day long, but CC produces masons, electricians, operators, welders, etc.... Pretty much the people who make the country function. I would gladly pay tax dollars to support that effort and support production of high quality, competitive goods and services here.
Dianana
12/13/2010 8:10:00 PM
My sister worked pt selling appliances at sears and she told me that these stoves, fridges, washers and dryers are only meant to last 10 years tops.

My parents recently replaced a 5 year old Whirlpool washing mashine. They're about to replace their 7 year old dish washer. Their stove is a 28 year old Jenn Air. A new Jenn Air stove is about $1200.
Kevlar Moneyclips
12/13/2010 8:14:00 PM
the way i see it, cc has a bar generally set too low to do the job, and historically hasn't had the good instructors or the infrastructure in place to acquire them. i understand that this is less of a southern phenomena than a northern one.

the unions all have great infrastructure in place to do a more efficient, quality oriented training job, and probably for less money, (i said it costs them less, not that it doesn't end up being outrageously expensive) but there are far too many thieves and whiners occupying key seats in the unions to allow it to actually work on a large scale- the unions as they stand are completely unable to move into non-union areas.

The still quite common on the job training in the private sector relies on older tradesmen to vigilantly police the younger generation and business owners to demand nothing but high quality work from their employees. This third method is somewhat spotty in theory, but in practice is actually rather successful under most conditions. One tradesmen can quite accurately gauge anothers skill level in five minutes, and a quality concious owner with a good foreman doesn't need documentation or certification to know who to hire and where to place them or how to use them. (The structure of the trades and specifically training of workers has remained relatively unchanged for thousands of years, believe it or not. And while teaching theory certainly has its place, its really all hands on work. )

The problem then (as i see it) lies in the fact that contracts are consistantly awarded to the lowest bidder- such practice awards corner cutting and forces owners to look the other way while less skilled workers assume more responsibility than they probably should, and then everyone leaves mistakes behind because theres no time to fix them- furthermore, the more mistakes one makes without correcting them, the more mistakes one will continue to make. and thus, our workers skill levels are reduced.