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Roger Hicks
11-14-2008, 11:46
Which is higher quality, more durable and more reparable: something hand-built, or something robot-built? A lot depends on your definitions, expectations and standards.

If you are buying something new, to use for a little while and then either throw away or pass on to someone who cannot afford new, machine-made almost always wins. If you want the cheapest available, it's usually machine-made by a mile.

But something hand-built is often designed and built for the long term -- and it is easier to make reparable, because what has been put together by hand, from relatively low-tech pieces, can pretty much by definition be repaired by the same process. It's going to be durable whether you buy it new (the ideal, because you can look after it) or second-hand.

Thus, although my 1972 Land Rover will require more servicing and maintenance than a new Toyota, it has already outlasted most Toyotas ever built. Which is more reliable and durable? It depends on your definitions...

This is why I live in a house that is, in parts, centuries old; why I have the Land Rover and a '78 BMW R100RS (and a 1960s Blue Mobylette); why I use Leicas (and Linhofs, and Alpa); why I wear an Omega Seamaster I've had since I was 16...

Who else has stuff designed to last? And what?

Cheers,

R.

Fred Burton
11-14-2008, 11:52
I have an obsession with beautiful, old woodworking hand tools, where you can see the impressions in the wood from the users hands over many, many years. They are still functional after so many years of use. My power tools produce much better quality pieces, but you can't argue over the quality of the old tools.

Tuolumne
11-14-2008, 11:55
The durability of your old Land Rover has nothing to do with how it was built. It has to do with what it was made of. New cars are built with alot of light-weight non-durable materials such as plastics. This is almost a necessity to meet modern gas mileage standards. If you built a modern car with modern techniques of manufacture but built it out of more durable components, it, too, would last forever, only it would be alot better built from the get-go.

Six-sigma manufacturing techniques are no pipe dream, and they cannot be achieved by hand manufacture. If we're talking about electronic devices, which I think we are here, we would not have the iPods, TVs, digital cameras, dvd/cd players we have today, if we depended on hand manufacture. Ever wonder how your computer with many millions of components can work so reliably. Ditto your TV, cell phone, Tivo, etc.? Well, it isn't because they were hand manufactured.

/T

Roger Hicks
11-14-2008, 11:57
I have an obsession with beautiful, old woodworking hand tools, where you can see the impressions in the wood from the users hands over many, many years. They are still functional after so many years of use. My power tools produce much better quality pieces, but you can't argue over the quality of the old tools.

Dear Fred,

Do they really produce better quality, or are they merely either (a) quicker for a skilled man or (b) easier for an unskilled man?

I ask because a friend of mine, who is a very skilled craftsman in wood, prefers hand tools for the maximum in quality.

I am not qualified to judge either way, except insofar as I find wood-butchery quicker and more successful with power tools.

Cheers,

Roger

Fred Burton
11-14-2008, 12:05
Achieving the level of precision with a hand tool that you can do with a good power tool seldom happens. That's not to say that the best of furniture or cabinets made with hand tools are not very good. A skilled craftsman is a skilled craftsman.

Some people do prefer to work with the old tools, though, just like some folks like to work with old photographic processes.

Roger Hicks
11-14-2008, 12:07
The durability of your old Land Rover has nothing to do with how it was built. It has to do with what it was made of. New cars are built with alot of light-weight non-durable materials such as plastics. This is almost a necessity to meet modern gas mileage standards. If you built a modern car with modern techniques of manufacture but built it out of more durable components, it, too, would last forever, only it would be alot better built from the get-go.

Six-sigma manufacturing techniques are no pipe dream, and they cannot be achieved by hand manufacture. If we're talking about electronic devices, which I think we are here, we would not have the iPods, TVs, digital cameras, dvd/cd players we have today, if we depended on hand manufacture. Ever wonder how your computer with many millions of components can work so reliably. Ditto your TV, cell phone, Tivo, etc.? Well, it isn't because they were hand manufactured.

/T

See my comment on things that are designed and built for the long term. To be sure there are things that are better made by machine, but they are seldom designed to be durable. I do not deny that they can be; I merely deny that they are. I also suspect that the price advantage of something machine-built, but designed and built to be reparable in the long term, would be very much less than the price advantage of something machine-built and disposable.

Incidentally, for a critique of the certainty delivered by 'six sigma' (or any other statistical tool), read Naseem Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan.

Cheers,

R.

P. Lynn Miller
11-14-2008, 12:12
I think the point of being machine built or hand-built has little to do with quality, durability or reparability . Instead design, specification and quality standards directly influence these three factors.

I have seen machines that are capable of producing parts and products of higher quality and tighter tolerances than you could ever achieve by hand. But at the same time, if time and skill is applied, then hand-built products can be of the highest quality.

How well built, durable and repairable a product is usually equal the amount of money your are willing to spend.

gb hill
11-14-2008, 12:14
I have a 73 Ford pickup with a 302 motor thats still going. The engine was recently rebuilt before my uncle passed away. It' an xlt & I can out haul any new truck built today. I remember years ago while putting a set of points in a car answering this question, Why don't you get an electronic ignition put in? (GM had the HEI electronic ignition system back then) I told him no way! If I break down on side of the road "and I have several times" a match book & sandpaoer will get me on the road again. With the HEI I ain't going nowhere until I replace the module. Last time I checked the points were $4 & the module was $20.

mfogiel
11-14-2008, 12:29
I think this hand built against machine built is a bit simplistic - the Chinese Little Big Furnaces from Mao Tse Tung's era come to my mind. A Leica, designed by finest engineers, made (mainly by machines) and assembled by highly skilled technicians is one thing, the primitive hand made product is another. In the world of cars, I drove Volvo and Saab cars for 20 years - those made today will not last as well as the ones made in the fifties, BUT they are making my life behind the wheel a lot more easier and safer... I think this concept has a lot to do with man's toys: cars, bikes, arms, cameras, watches, even these little metal flat flasks some use as companions on a winter trail... We tend to treat them as trusted friends, but often a modern product serves the purpose better, and costs less than the maintenance of our archaic tools...

Tuolumne
11-14-2008, 12:34
I have a Nikon FM3a.
I have a Leica MP.

Which is better built?
Which is more repairable?
Which is more durable?
Which has a soul?
How many FM3as can dance on the head of a pin?
How many MPs can dance on the head of a pin?

/T

photogdave
11-14-2008, 12:39
I drive a Volkswagen Vanagon (Transporter) Westfalia. I think it's an anachronism here because some aspects of the design are very much for the long term, and some should have never made it off the drawing board. Kind of like the M8? :D
When this version of the Transporter first hit the market in 1980 it still had the aircooled motor from the previous incarnation. A sturdy motor and fairly easy to maintain, but underpowered for the heavier Vanagon and more likely to wear out. In 1982 VW put a watercooled boxer-type motor in the Vanagon for more power and better reliability but it had a serious design flaw which cased coolant to leak into the motor. Finally, in 1985 (I believe) they were able to put a half-decent motor in the thing but by now the Vanagon only had another five years in its life.
My own van is a 1982 diesel which the previous owner converted to a 1992 inline 4 from a GTI. The original diesel was seriously underpowered (48hp I believe) but the GTI motor with 95hp is a dream. The van runs smooth, has enough power to drive uphill in third gear, and is very reliable.
The overall design of the van is fantastic. I have two double beds, 2-burner propane stove and a fridge that runs off AC/DC or propane. The van is not much bigger than a typical SUV, gets equal or better gas milage (definitely slower but I don't care) and handles great. The other design flaw, however is all the camper versions rust from the inside out. Water gets trapped from the city water hookup by the cheap fiberglass insulation in between the sheet metal. It stays there forever and starts to eat away at the body on the lower drivers side. Happens to almost every one of the camper vans with the water connection. I'm looking at a sizeable bill at the body shop but it will be worth it.
So what does this have to do with the OP? I guess what I'm getting at is that I drive a 26-year-old vehicle with a solid, efficient, unique design that as originally spec'd, had some serious design flaws. It wasn't hand-build, but there is nothing else currently on the market like it. So I will gladly keep this beast going for as long as I can instead of buying some plasticky high-tech new car. How many other cars can you have a slumber party in and cook breakfast the next morning?
The VW Westfalia is kind of like my Leicas in a sense. Everyone wants one, but many people are afraid to buy one, so they just keep fantasizing about it!

Roger Hicks
11-14-2008, 12:40
People seem to think "pre-fab" housing is low quality. I once heard this argument in its defense: Wouldn't you rather have components cut by a $150,000 saw with precision down to a thousandth of an inch than by a carpenter with a $100 saw making $35 an hour out working in the cold?


Not if the wood cut to 1/1000 inch has a 1.5x safety factor (understressing) when the wood cut by the carpenter is five or ten times as thick as it needs to be, and when one is designed to last 20 years while the other (undesigned) will last 500.

It's certainly true that 'machine made' vs 'hand made' is all but meaningless except perhaps as applied to hand-sewn couture clothing: a CNC-machined Alpa is a lot more accurate than you'd get with a hacksaw and file. On the other hand, those CNC-milled bits are put together and measured, 100%, by hand -- no 'statistical quality control'.

There are also a few things that are better, more precise and more durable when made by hand, which is why Leica and Zeiss prefer hand-lapped focusing mounts to entirely machine-made.

Cheers,

Roger

David Goldfarb
11-14-2008, 13:02
Two years ago I sent my Busch Vademecum set to Tim Sharkey (www.lensn2shutter.com) in Snohomish, Washington for mounting in a Copal shutter, and as it happened, there was major flooding in his area while he had the lens in the shop. Fortunately no lenses were damaged, but his shop did flood, and power was out for a few days, so here's what he did--

Well, mounting your lens has given us some interesting challenges. The last was no power for 4 days. Fortunately now it is back on. Feeling hopelessly lost in trying to get my orders out the door, I realized that we had turned the basic adapters for your lens just before loosing power. So with no other work that I could do, I mounted up your lens in my powerless shop and while everyone else was home enjoying the extra time off, I was hand turning the threads on your adapters. Literally hand turning as un turning the chuck of the lathe by hand. It gave me a real appreciation for the work that was done a century ago.

Surprisingly it produced superior results to the normal power operated lathe. The adapters threads are very smooth and were hand tested with every cell and extension tube to be sure that all fit properly.

ClaremontPhoto
11-14-2008, 13:12
I just went to get my shoes from the repair guy.

British hand made shoes by Grenson.

When I took them in yesterday he recognized the quality and gave them extra care even though it was just just a stick on sole and heel job.

I've had them 20 years and expect to wear them for another 20 years.

Uwe_Nds
11-14-2008, 13:13
I love the ticking of my - well, not so old yet - Nomos Tangente wrist watch and shaving with my Merkur Futur shaver.

Ok Roger, you may not comprehend the shaving part, though... :D

Cheers,
Uwe

kshapero
11-14-2008, 13:14
My Leica IIIa just ozzs all these qualities and yet I don't use often. ??

ferider
11-14-2008, 13:15
Thus, although my 1972 Land Rover will require more servicing and maintenance than a new Toyota, it has already outlasted most Toyotas ever built.

Dear Roger,

Your Land Rover has also out-lasted most other Land Rovers ever built. Conversely, there are still 1972 Toyotas on the street.

Machine-based assembly and manufacturing is used for (1) more efficiency (lower costs, higher fabrication bandwidth) and (2) for smaller tolerances.

I would think a modern Leica MP (relying on CNC machining) is more reliable than an M3. Same for a modern Lexus/Toyota when compared to a 72 Land Rover.

The key to "reliability" with cars, cameras, etc. is a quality manufacturing process, low tolerances and appropriate servicing. Not manual assembly.

Roland.

Plungefrog
11-14-2008, 13:17
An interesting thread. I must admit I can be a little obsessive about the quality and longevity of products, but somehow owning and using something which exudes quality -whether hand crafted or machine made -is satsifying, comforting and in the case of nice cameras inspirational.

I enjoy the hand-fettled feel of my vintage Leitz gear and use it all the more because of that. I also enjoy my daily transport of choice, a Saab Turbo which thus far has travelled 229,000 miles and while relatively 'modern' is still old enough that I can maintain it myself.

I find the ease of diy maintenence to be a significant factor in my purchasing descisions, and it does seem to me at least that the opportunities for buying almost anything new that is designed to be maintainable over a long term are diminishing.

Roger Hicks
11-14-2008, 13:24
The key to "reliability" with cars, cameras, etc. is a quality manufacturing process, low tolerances and appropriate servicing.
Dear Roland,

...and design, which was my original point: that disproportionately many hand-built products, because they are designed to be hand-built, are also reparable. By contrast, disproportionately many prodicts designed to be built by machine are designed only for ease of assembly by machine and for cheapness -- and cheapness, as already noted by others, is rarely a marker for durability or reparability.

Cheers,

Roger

Uwe_Nds
11-14-2008, 13:27
... and cheapness, as already noted by others, is rarely a marker for durability or reparability.

Cheers,

Roger

My grandparents used to say: "We are too poor to buy cheap."

Cheers,
Uwe

Roger Hicks
11-14-2008, 13:31
My grandparents used to say: "We are too poor to buy cheap."

Cheers,
Uwe

Dear Uwe,

The mirror image of that is, "The poor cannot afford to economise," i.e. they must always buy cheap because they cannot afford durable.

I prefer your grandparents' version and shall appropriate it forthwith.

Cheers,

Roger

Uwe_Nds
11-14-2008, 13:43
Dear Uwe,

The mirror image of that is, "The poor cannot afford to economise," i.e. they must always buy cheap because they cannot afford durable.

I prefer your grandparents' version and shall appropriate it forthwith.

Cheers,

Roger

Roger,
Well - if you buy cheap, you buy twice. So I also prefer to save a bit and then buy something durable, longlasting, repairable.
Most of the time, at least. :angel:
Oh, and I come from a cabinetmaking area in Germany and we inherited my grandparents' dining room furniture. About 70 years old and after re-covering the upholstery, it's like new. Try that with the Swedish furniture in flat, brown packets. ;)

Cheers,
Uwe

Cheers,
Uwe

BillBingham2
11-14-2008, 14:09
.....Thus, although my 1972 Land Rover will require more servicing and maintenance than a new Toyota, it has already outlasted most Toyotas ever built. Which is more reliable and durable? It depends on your definitions...


R,

Well I think it also depends upon where and how you use it. I've seen cars last well over 20 years in good climates driven year round. Where as I've seen cars die a sad death after ten years driven year round in Rochester NY. A lot of the engineering going on today is focused on functionality and cost. Put the functionality (range of features) as hight as possible (even if there are bugs) and keep the cost as low as possible. Much of what is done is engineered to fail after a time so it can be replaced, consumerism is what drives capitalism. Technology has such a short shelf life from many perspectives designing a laptop to last seven years is down right silly in many instances. Digital cameras are about the same. While I hope the D300 that I hope to buy some day will last half as long as my Nikkormat FTn has, I doubt it will.

My father had a friend in Detroit some years back who got asked to take the original 318 and make it cheaper to build and break down more often. Dealers were complaining that they never saw the original version of the engine come back for service. So they did, move from four bolts to three here, change the strength of this part or that there.

I'm very happy shooting with my old stuff, but if they made a digital camera with the simplicity of say my Nikon FTn or my S3-2000 I'd go that way in a New York Minute. Hand or machine made to me is not the issue, it's the design both in use and longevity. Few large companies have that long term a focus these days.

B2 (;->

FrankS
11-14-2008, 14:27
My 2 M2 Leicas and 2 vintage BMW motorcycles seem to be designed so as to be durable and easily repairable/rebuildable. Fewer and fewer products built today have those attributes. It seems that most consumers have a short term outlook and want to buy something as cheaply as possible, so that's how most products are built.

kevin m
11-14-2008, 14:55
This thread is, to some degree, just nostalgia run amok. If these hand-made devices offered some measurable performance advantage over their soul-less machine-made counterparts then there might be some argument to be made. But the beautifully-crafted M2 with its solid brass gearing can hardly make its shutter speeds run near correct, nevermind match a modern electronic shutter; the lovely M2 is flat trounced by a lowly Elan7. And that horribly outdated 1972 Land Rover really doesn't belong on civilized roads. The amount of unburned hydrocarbons spewing out its exhaust equal twenty or more modern cars with their electronic engine management. And its braking, handling and steering are more akin to an oxcart than a modern automobile.

The reason its so easy for a shade-tree mechanic to keep an old car running is that - compared to a new car - the things run like crap even when properly tuned.

It's not the "performance" of these hand made devices that's the appeal, it's the evidence that they've been touched by human hands. We make a connection to that, and it's both powerful and perfectly understandable. Accept it for what it is, but don't make up stories about "good old days" that never were.

MCTuomey
11-14-2008, 15:10
what kevin said

"progress" is inevitable, one cannot go back

we yearn to see human-ness in the indifferent march of time, and that seems to me to be the source of the nostalgiac regard for old things that define our selves: tools, clothes, furniture, etc.

nostalgia = greek-based compound of "nostas" and "algias"
"nostas" = a return to one's home, or the desire to do so
"algias" = painful

P. Lynn Miller
11-14-2008, 15:23
Roger,

I think I am understanding your point. Let me elaborate by example...

Bicycle hubs, which is more durable and easier to repair...

Set of Phil Wood hubs with sealed cartraidge bearings...

Or a set of Campagnolo Super Record hubs with cups, cone and loose bearings...

Both hubs are extremely well built, beautifully designed, and very expensive. The Phil Wood hubs are CAD/CAM machine-made with some hand-assembly, while the Campagnolo hubs were very much hand-built after the initial forging and machining.

The answer is not as simple as you think...

Phil Wood hubs are virtually indestructible, easily 80,000klms before needing any type of service and you can service a set of hubs in 10 minutes or less with a change of bearings, but the bearings are essentially unserviceable since they are sealed mass-produced, albeit very low tolerance, cartridge bearings. So while a set of Phil Wood hubs will last several generations, are the easiest to service, they depend on a disposable part for longevity.

Back to the Campagnolo hubs with loose bearings. With skilled and regular maintenance, these will almost last forever. But servicing the hubs requires an about an hour of a skilled mechanic who knows how to adjust the cups and cones since improper adjustment will result in ruining the bearings, which will require replacement of the bearing races which require even more knowledge and skill along with specialised tools.

So which one is more durable, I have seen Phil Wood hubs ridden by cycle messengers at the rate of 25,000klms per year for years in any kind of weather and conditions, without any service whatsoever. I have seen a set of Campagnolo hubs ruined in 6 months because the rider is sloppy with service and did not repack the bearings after a riding in a few days of rain.

There is a huge amount of engineering and design effort going to make things last longer with less maintenance. The product as a whole will not last as long as an older product, but will last longer than the older product with less service. The consumer wants to do less and less maintenance and would prefer to not think about something until it breaks, then simply replace with a new.

I do not necessarily agree with this philosophy, but then not everyone knows how or wants to know how to repack their wheel bearings, maintain their car, etc and etc.

So one hundred years from now, Phil Wood hubs may be irreparable if the required cartridge bearings are not available, while the Campagnolo hubs will stay able to be repaired and serviced if the knowledge, skill and tools exist. So yes, I concede products that are designed and largely made by hand may enjoy a longer longevity in the end...

gavinlg
11-14-2008, 15:29
For anybody that doubts the durability of a Toyota (along with lexus who actually is toyota) watch the episode of Top Gear where they try to destroy a hilux.
I know first hand how strong they are - they just keep on going.

I can't say the same for land rovers though, in fact I'd say the opposite - they're pieces of british crap. A 2 year old turbo diesel Defender nearly killed 4 of my friends out 4wding one day in the australian bush. While navigating up a really rocky hill it decided to throw an electronic circuit and lost all brake vacuum and assistance and engine power. Started rolling back and before the driver could figure out a way to slow it down it had rolled 2 times in a cartwheeling fashion.

The worst thing was that even though it was a relatively low speed and low impact roll, the chassis bent like a banana and both front pillars snapped, the roof nearly crushing the front occupants.

As you can tell, I don't like Land Rovers. The only british cars I like are Lotus's, but they now use toyota motors in the Elise/Exige.

aad
11-14-2008, 15:33
Some good ol' stuff really is good, and some is just old.

I'm a Guzzi guy, older Guzzis only, and they last as well as any modern bike, plus are at least as easy to maintain as any BMW-and they seldom need repair.

On the other hand, I had quite a few Land Rovers, and the philosophy behind their design requires regular maintenance to achieve any kind of longevity if used constantly.

How many miles can you get from the valves on a Series IIa? I figured on 75-100K miles. My modern Audis and VWs have never required valve work-or maintenance-of any kind, even at 300K miles. Maybe not the best example..I think with modern materials the Rover valves could be better. That stroke, though!

We like our sailboats tough and simple, too. International Folkboats seem to e where we're happiest. The best part is they're well made AND inexpensive. Best with no motor, though.

aad
11-14-2008, 15:36
Mr. Miller, I agree mostly,-but I find the Campy hubs easy to adjust, and have never had one fail.
Fdigital-I'd never own a modern Land Rover. Ever.

Mcpengy
11-14-2008, 16:50
This is an interesting thread, and something that seems to crop up with anything for which people have a passion.

I would enjoy using a camera more, or anything else for that matter, if I perceived it to have been made by skilled craftsmen- without necessarily assuming that it was any more repairable by anyone other than the same skilled craftsmen. However, if something was made before the dawn of modern mass manufacturing techniques, then it is likely to be inherently more handmade, whilst not necessarily being of 'better quality'. But because a user could, technically, learn to make the repairs himself, without requiring large mass production machines I feel that the lifetime of the product if not of the individual parts makes it of better quality and more 'durable'.

I'm sure many are familiar with it, but if anyone else is interested in the philosophical connotations, 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' is a wonderful book and makes excellent reading.

bmattock
11-14-2008, 17:01
My house was built in 1923, out of heart pine, oak, and brick. I am sorry it is where I do not need to be, so it must be (if ever possible) sold. I will miss it, it is a magnificent house.

My watch is an Omega Seamaster from 1953, a bumper-wind. I also wear a Seiko 5 from time to time.

I value things built to last. I also appreciate things not built to last when the technology is still in flux, so I don't really want to pay a lot for something that will be ticking away merrily when it is 30 years out of date. Like my Kaypro I C/PM computer. I bought an 8 port ethernet switch the other day for $14. Cheap as chips, probably won't take even a minor power surge, can't be repaired, and I do not care.

So it is horses for courses, I suppose.

Mackinaw
11-14-2008, 17:35
For anybody that doubts the durability of a Toyota.......I know first hand how strong they are - they just keep on going.

Yeah right, don't tell that to the owners of the U.S. Tundra pickup who had to suffer through catastrophic engine failures (snapped camshafts) and lousy automatic transmissions. Consumers Reports has taken Toyota off their automatic recommend list for a reason.

Jim B.

Beemermark
11-14-2008, 17:44
Sorry, I think my '05 R1200ST is way more reliable than my '83 R100RS. Doesn't mean I don't like the R100RS more. My $2500 Omega watch requires a CLA every few years costing around $450, it neither as reliable or accurate as a $20 Timex (course I wear my Dad's 1960 Waltham most of the time which loses about 5 minutes a day).

And as a 40 year veteran engineer I disagree that hand built is better than machine built - at least for mass produced items such as motorbikes, watches and cameras. Hand built required, for the most part, large tolerances and hand fitting to fit properly.

I think you confuse designing and building a product to last forever vs design and building a product to bare minimum specifications. The R100RS was way, way over designed (do you remember when BMW's warranty was 3 years and unlimited miles?). The new BMWs are designed to hopefully last 3 years plus a day or 36001 miles.

bmattock
11-14-2008, 17:50
http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-111408a.html

Steve Bellayr
11-14-2008, 17:58
When buying items on the secondary market it is always the condition of the item that is paramount.

charjohncarter
11-14-2008, 18:54
As always repair-ability is most important. Quality and durability are related and not as important. BUT they make repair-ability easier.

gavinlg
11-14-2008, 18:57
Yeah right, don't tell that to the owners of the U.S. Tundra pickup who had to suffer through catastrophic engine failures (snapped camshafts) and lousy automatic transmissions. Consumers Reports has taken Toyota off their automatic recommend list for a reason.

Jim B.

Hilux is a Japanese engineered truck built out of Japanese parts in a Thailand factory. It's extremely tough and here in Australia (one of the most demanding countries in the world for 4wds) the Army, the government and especially the Mining industry all have contracts with Toyota mainly for Hilux's and Landcruisers, the latter of which is one of the toughest cars around. A friend of my fathers owns a few massive mines in which most utes/pickups used are known to fall apart after about a years use. The Toyota Landcruiser is the only car that lasts in that environment. They recently trialed a whole lot of mazda pickups, Mercedes commerical SUVs and even some ford F trucks. The guy was telling me how in the ford trucks the Hubs at the end of each axle were giving way and bending from ruthless corregations on the mine roads, causing around -3.5 degrees of irreversible negative camber on each wheel.


Those tundras are American designed, american built trucks and I don't consider them to be in a different league to any of the other ****house american made cars. Don't get me wrong - some american made stuff is very well made like weatherby rifles for instance, but you guys can't make cars. :angel:


I agree with all the people that say that things handcrafted by master craftsmen have a certain soul to them, that mass produced things don't. I had a limited edition japanese Yamaha guitar - it was sort of in between a Gibson SG and a Les Paul, and it was handmade by all the old retiree yamaha instrument craftsmen that were called back to do a few last limited edition instruments. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I regret selling it to this day.

micromontenegro
11-14-2008, 19:01
We (actually dad, I was too young) got a Land Rover Series IIa in 1971, and a FJ40 Land Crusier in 1972. The Cruiser was far faster, more powerfull, more reliable, easier to drive-when new. It rusted away in, say, about 1981. The Land Rover is in my garage, and my 7 year old already claimed it when it comes her turn. It will still be there.

My 1955 Omega Seamaster was passed on to me by my brother when I turned 12. About five years ago, I gave it back to him. Still ticking.

My 1953 Contax IIIa I inherited form my dad. Was serviced for the first time in 2003, not because it had failed to perform (never did), but to celebrate its 50th aniversary. I just packed it in my hand luggage, as I am leaving tomorrow for Prague. No, I did not think about taking a backup camera-never needed one in the 35-plus years I have been using it.

gavinlg
11-14-2008, 19:02
As always repair-ability is most important. Quality and durability are related and not as important. BUT they make repair-ability easier.

Interesting point - in my experience build quality and reliability aren't always related. For instance my 5d isn't built particularly well in comparison to some of the nikons but they have proven to be extremely reliable in all conditions. I read an article the other day about a guy thats been on several antarctic expeditions with 2 5ds, and used them in mind blowingly cold conditions, each one now has over 100,000 shutter actuations on them and they're still going like new. On the flipside, the d300 I had scared the crap out of me on quite a few occasions, locking up and not focussing at all, showing weird flickering screens etc.

Another example is my Mothers BMW 320d. Gorgeous car to drive, beautifully solid and well built, but I don't think it will prove to be particularly reliable in 10-20 years in comparison with my Fathers Toyota Hilux, which isn't quite so well finished.

gavinlg
11-14-2008, 19:06
We (actually dad, I was too young) got a Land Rover Series IIa in 1971, and a FJ40 Land Crusier in 1972. The Cruiser was far faster, more powerfull, more reliable, easier to drive-when new. It rusted away in, say, about 1981. The Land Rover is in my garage, and my 7 year old already claimed it when it comes her turn. It will still be there.

Admittedly some of the 70s and early 80s Jap built cars were susceptible to rust - not as bad as some of the Alfa's mind you, but the fact that the defender is still around is due to it's aluminum body. The downside is they're seriously weak in the event of a crash, and you're probably safer sitting inside a giant hollowed out carrot.

micromontenegro
11-14-2008, 19:09
http://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll309/micromontenegro/Coast_guard_add.jpg

bmattock
11-14-2008, 19:12
Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov just celebrated his 89th birthday a few days ago. His most famous invention, of course, was the AK-47 machine gun. Cheap to produce, not known to be well-made, but it was in fact designed to function well despite poor manufacturing capabilities of many of the former Eastern Bloc countries where it was made. They're hunks of junk - but they were designed to be that way. They work and work and work. Quality - no. Durability and repairability? Yes.

micromontenegro
11-14-2008, 19:14
Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov just celebrated his 89th birthday a few days ago. His most famous invention, of course, was the AK-47 machine gun. Cheap to produce, not known to be well-made, but it was in fact designed to function well despite poor manufacturing capabilities of many of the former Eastern Bloc countries where it was made. They're hunks of junk - but they were designed to be that way. They work and work and work. Quality - no. Durability and repairability? Yes.

LOL... I was thinking about writing something about it, but was too lazy

Roger Hicks
11-15-2008, 01:33
I think you confuse designing and building a product to last forever vs design and building a product to bare minimum specifications. The R100RS was way, way over designed (do you remember when BMW's warranty was 3 years and unlimited miles?). The new BMWs are designed to hopefully last 3 years plus a day or 36001 miles.
That was pretty much my original point, but perhaps I should reverse the way I stated it, and refine it in the light of the helpful (and unhelpful) comments so far received.

'Premium' machines of any kind usually sell in much smaller mumbers, so it does not make sense to substitute capital for labour in constructing them: you'd never see your money back on the robots, so you pretty much have to assemble them by hand.

People who buy 'premium' machines often expect them to last, so reparability has to be taken for granted, which means over-engineering. And, as I say, the fact that these machines have to be assembled by hand also means that they are easier to repair by hand.

The Kalashnikov also well illustrates why I originally separated quality, durability and reparability, and why I said that a lot depends on how you define the terms. The 'quality' of a Kalashnikov may well be said to be a good deal higher than a much more sophisticated gun that is sensitive to dirt and subject to jamming.

Cheers,

Roger

oftheherd
11-15-2008, 05:10
Yeah right, don't tell that to the owners of the U.S. Tundra pickup who had to suffer through catastrophic engine failures (snapped camshafts) and lousy automatic transmissions. Consumers Reports has taken Toyota off their automatic recommend list for a reason.

Jim B.

The Tundra may be good or not. I don't know. I know that about 1975/6 Comsumers Reports did a review of the Fujica ST 901. They didn't like anything about it. Didn't win any points with me.

My 901 has been going since early 1975. It has had perhaps 10,000 photos taken with it, probably more. I used to have about 8,000 slides. It took a good portion of those, beside color and b/w rolls of film. Hasn't needed any real commercial repair yet. I did have to fix something under the top plate. I don't recall what it was, but minor.

The one thing I never forgot about that review was how they put down the shutter release. You push it partially to see what the exposure will be. The aperture is shown in a window by outside light. The near (but stepless) shutter speed by leds.

They complained about how they kept activating the shutter looking for the exposure. Almost every other camera manufacturer went to that within a couple of years.

I haven't cared for them since. Silly perhaps, but it was almost like a personal attack. :D

kevin m
11-15-2008, 05:33
They're hunks of junk - but they were designed to be that way. They work and work and work. Quality - no. Durability and repairability? Yes.

The Russians think the same regarding their military aircraft, too, I think. They think our military aviation "F.O.D. walks" are patently stupid, as you won't be able to do that in wartime; better to design your jet motors with the ability to digest a bird or two. :D

ClaremontPhoto
11-15-2008, 06:58
Sometimes the simple technology wins...

When the USA started manned space flight they spent millions developing a ballpoint pen with a miniature pump to deliver the ink in zero gravity.

Many years later they asked the USSR technicians how they had solved the same problem, and received the answer was that they had always used pencils in space.

dee
11-29-2008, 16:21
Hmmm .
We have a Citroen 2cv , which was literally designed for purpose from the ground up , nothing was carried on from a previous model .
It was hand built , but of dubious '' quality '' .
However it seems that it can be fixed indefinitely.
When I bought my 1932 Leica II , recent cla , I was in awe of an exquisite camera which , with CV 35 / f2.5 Colour Scopar , provides excellent photos - and , seem to be able to be fixed
indefinitely .
So , a contrast of that indefinable fixability .
dee

Gadge
11-30-2008, 14:03
<Your Land Rover has also out-lasted most other Land Rovers ever built. Conversely, there are still 1972 Toyotas on the street.

I don't think so....

According to this WiKi entry 75% of ALL land rovers made since 1955 are still believed to be on the road despite leading a far harder life than Toyota's used on the street only.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Rover

ClaremontPhoto
11-30-2008, 14:38
We have a Citroen 2cv , which was literally designed for purpose from the ground up , nothing was carried on from a previous model.

I know a young woman about to take her driving test.

She has inherited a Citroen Dyane (basically a 2CV with a different body), and she loves it.

I had a Dyane years back, and loved it too.

Mafalda's car must be at least 35 to 40 years old. She's looking forward to driving it to university every day.

literiter
12-03-2008, 07:20
My work background has been technical. That is, I've seen the innards of lots of gadgets old and new, handmade and machine assembled ( you will have to assume I can tell the difference, when I'm not sure myself sometimes ).

Much of the stuff was early limited production industrial machinery (photo-typesetters) which were hand assembled. This stuff was marvelously repairable. Linotype and printing equipment from the days before computers were things of mechanical beauty and superb quality.

I've seen the insides of Leicas Ms, Nikon F2s, Pentax Spotmatics and many elderly German Cameras like Contessas, Rolleiflexes and Ikontas. I had a cursory glance at the horrors contained within the innards of a modern digital camera and some modern electronics.

It is not apparent to me that modern equipment is built to last or be repaired but to be replaced, and I find this a pity.

bmattock
12-03-2008, 08:31
It is not apparent to me that modern equipment is built to last or be repaired but to be replaced, and I find this a pity.

Newspapers are not printed on fine paper. They quickly turn yellow, and begin to decay rather rapidly - but why should they not - they are ephemeral.

My first hard drive would no doubt be working like a champ if I still had it - a Seagate 5 1/4 inch full-height monster that held a whopping 10 megabytes of storage. It was well-built, and at the time I bought it, priced like it.

But what use was that? The excellent build quality added significantly to the retail cost, and it was eclipsed in short order - a 10 megabyte hard drive is of no use to me now, working or not.

Consumer devices continue to evolve at a rapid pace, driven by technology. First computers, then items which had computers embedded in them, and cameras joined that mix as they became digital instead of film-based.

Automobiles are another industry where many morn the death of the car which can be worked on by the average shade-tree mechanic, and I used to understand that point of view, but not anymore.

Now, I see traffic accidents that are truly horrific - the body of the car smashed and twisted and altogether mangled, and the driver escapes with few or no injuries - thanks to incredible advances in technology. I would no longer want my wife driving a 10 year old car when a newer car can protect her far better than the older one. I don't care if it wears out in 7 to 10 years, I'll be replacing it by then, hopefully with one that is even safer.

Since that march forward in terms of technology has not peaked, it does not make economic sense to build quality into an item that will obsolesce in a few years. Planned obsolescence makes economic sense.

There is nothing wrong with building things to be replaced when indeed, they are intended to be replaced because the underlying technology advances very quickly.

I saw a woman in a camera repair shop late last year, and she was inquiring about having her 1.2 megapixel Sony digicam repaired. The shop owner said yes, he could fix it, and quoted her a base price. She seemed shocked, and replied that she could buy a new 8 megapixel digicam from Sony for that price. Yes, that's right. And that's what she should do. Repaired or not, the 1.2 megapixel Sony is inferior technology now. Who wants it?

High-end mechanical quality is still available for those who want it and can afford it - witness Swiss and German mechanical wristwatches, fountain pens, and cameras, as well as the finest cars.

I do not see the 'pity' since I have no interest in paying more than I need to in order to buy a device which I will not be interested in using in a few short years, due to advances in technology. I have several old digital cameras that I bought in the last decades. I don't use them, and most likely never will again. That they work or do not work is immaterial. Who cares?

Likewise, I have cameras that are nearly 80 years old, and I do use them from time to time. But the results they produce rival my latest 35mm film cameras, so it makes sense that they were very well made - nothing in the core technology of exposing film to light through a lens has really changed.

It's horses for courses. Digital technology has changed the way cameras are used and more importantly for this topic, in what manner they are made. Since we are still on that steep upward climb of technology, it does not make sense to build pyramids when we are still moving about like nomads - tents make more sense now.

Gumby
12-03-2008, 08:38
Planned obsolescence makes economic sense.

In some things, yes it does. In others, though, there is a serious misunderstanding between the manufacturers and consumers as to how long that period-of-use should be. Often the economic benefit of planned obsolescence clearly fails to benefit the consumer. This is especially problematic for consumers who are on the lower-end of the socio-economic scale.

bmattock
12-03-2008, 08:49
In some things, yes it does. In others, though, there is a serious misunderstanding between the manufacturers and consumers as to how long that period-of-use should be. Often the economic benefit of planned obsolescence clearly fails to benefit the consumer. This is especially problematic for consumers who are on the lower-end of the socio-economic scale.

It's tit-for-tat, unfortunately. Demand drives manufacturing, not the other way around. Dollar stores proliferate because the poor demand items priced as low as possible. Those things are not well-made and do not last, which can in some cases necessitate rebuying them. However, higher-quality items are available - at a higher price. If the poor bought them and not the stuff at the Dollar store, no one would make things at that price point anymore.

Manufacturers make things to benefit their stockholders, not the consumer. The consumer, however, drives production through demand.

So I don't hold manufacturers responsible for making crap. They make what people want and/or will buy.

The only way to interfere with this cycle is through consumer education and changing demands (not likely) or government regulation mandating minimum standards. At this point, that level is generally set at 'safe' and 'unsafe' as opposed to 'quality' and 'junky'.

icebear
12-03-2008, 09:02
What you get is what you care for. If you are after the latest edition gadget you most likly would not bother about a 3year service contract for maybe +25% of the purchase price. In 12 month the new version will be more desireable, no matter if the current one still works like a charm.

There are obviously only a handful of people that cherish a well made item (mechanical film camera, cooking pots, chef's knife, record player etc.) Most of the industries target group is running in the hamster wheel of consum that drives the economy. Having long lasting things that may be repaired for a few bucks and last 5 more years (or 50 even, my '58 M3 is with Don) is not what the mojority of consumers thinks is desirable. Does it make any sense for the car manufacturers to come up with a new series of models every year ???

In the area of electronics the progress pace is so fast that every two years the power/capacity/speed is doubeling for the same price. No place for repairs - just replacement at best. It's much cheaper to pull a new item from the mass produce chain of supply than figuring out what wrong with the broken item and repair it - just dump it into recycling. That's how it goes today and most people are fine with that - they are most likely not users of totally old fashinoned RF's :cool:.

kully
12-03-2008, 09:14
As other posters in the thread have already said, it's not about machine vs. hand made, but rather design. The company that I work for puts electronics in the ground which will continue functioning long after I'm gone - all machine made.

As for things being made better "in the old days" - no, things made "for the masses" were not made better - look at clothes, utensils &c. for "the working man" from a century ago. I feel this idea comes from looking at what has survived the years, this is typically expensive stuff which most people could not have afforded (e.g. Omega Seamaster - 2(?) months wages for my Grandad, his cheaper watch is still working mind).

bmattock
12-03-2008, 09:14
That's how it goes today and most people are fine with that - they are most likely not users of totally old fashinoned RF's :cool:.

I agree with everything you said, but on this last bit, I'd like to say that I have no problem with disposable digital cameras AND I also like old fashioned RF's and value the high quality that went into them. It is not necessarily a one-way street. I just choose in what areas I prefer to pay more for higher quality, based on my desires and my pocketbook.

kully
12-03-2008, 09:17
I just choose in what areas I prefer to pay more for higher quality, based on my desires and my pocketbook.

Well said (pocketbook=wallet?)

Calzone
12-03-2008, 09:29
This thread is, to some degree, just nostalgia run amok.

The reason its so easy for a shade-tree mechanic to keep an old car running is that - compared to a new car - the things run like crap even when properly tuned.

I worked at an aerospace company called Grumman for over 17 years and the culture, level of precision, pride were very "German." Yes there is a lot of nostalgia. It use to make me puke when decades ago eveyone talked about Japanese quality, because use to be American products were universally highly regarded.

I learned to buy the best; because it has enduring value; is cheaper in the extreame long run; and because I have nostalia. Also learned never to regret buying the best because anytime I compromised I later regreted it, but I like to think I am lucky to have such treasures.

As for shade tree mechanics, I have an 84 Jeep Scrambler with a half cab. Kinda tricked out: ZZ3 350 HP Chevy Crate motor, Ford nine inch rear with Lincoln 12 inch disc brakes, NV4500 5-speed tranny...Although in storage now it gets the same gas milage as a a new Jeep. Kinda counterintuitive. I assure you this machine is highly tuned. Hand built American Iron.

Cal

bmattock
12-03-2008, 09:30
Well said (pocketbook=wallet?)

The term can refer to either a 'purse', a 'billfold' (or wallet), or as I meant it, one's financial resources. Sorry for the confusion, I should have been more clear.

Gumby
12-03-2008, 09:30
(pocketbook=wallet?)

Yes. Synonomous with 'credit/debit card balance'.

bmattock
12-03-2008, 09:41
It use to make me puke when decades ago eveyone talked about Japanese quality, because use to be American products were universally highly regarded.

American mechanical wristwatches were far better than anything made by the Swiss (or the Japanese) prior to WWII. "Made in Japan" used to mean cheap and crappy. Times change.

However, a Casio keeps better time than the best American watch ever made. So which do you want, a well-made watch or a crap watch that keeps better time for less money? That's the ultimate question that consumers must answer for themselves. When dealing with technology, do you want the latest, or do you want high quality?

This is the same question that Leica asks with their M8 and now the M8.2. Very high quality - but now people are already asking where the M9 is. There were how many years between the M3 and M4, the M5 and M6? Leica faces the dilemma I said they'd face - high build quality, but it is still obsolete in relatively short order, unlike the equivalent film-body camera. So how now, Leica? Starting building a new model every six months, or tell consumers to be content with what they have for five to ten years, while Canon and Nikon digital SLR's continue to carve Leica's guts out?


I learned to buy the best; because it has enduring value; is cheaper in the extreame long run;


I disagree. My parents bought a Curtis-Mathis B&W television set back in the early 1960's. For all I know, it still works ('the most expensive television set in American, and darn well worth it' as they advertised it then). So what? I don't want to watch TV on an old, small, B&W set. I'd love to have a '55 Chevy, but I have no interest in a '55 B&W TV set or kitchen appliances or a 1955 washer and dryer.

But even the 1955 Chevy would kill me in a head-on collision; but you could hose it out and sell it to the next coffin-stuffer. A cheap-as-chips Korean compact car would crumple up as designed, protect me, and I might walk away. Enduring value? Yes, but I want ME to be the enduring value, not the car.

My point is that technology in flux changes what 'enduring value' means.

MCTuomey
12-03-2008, 09:53
Demand drives manufacturing, not the other way around.

And marketing can drive demand. So what is your point in the end?

Strictly speaking, if you're right, there would never need to be an inventory liquidation (fire sale) ...

Marketing often is allied with manufacturing in commercial organizations. Demand is influenced by product offerings, ad campaigns, etc. You can't seriously believe that demand/consumption, production, marketing all somehow behave as single set variables in the actual world, can you?

So simplistic, your worldview ... it is a stew out there in the Eco-nomy, not a neat set of equations.

Gumby
12-03-2008, 10:11
So simplistic, your worldview

That's our bmattock. :D

If nothing else, it keeps the conversation going!

bmattock
12-03-2008, 10:23
And marketing can drive demand. So what is your point in the end?

Strictly speaking, if you're right, there would never need to be an inventory liquidation (fire sale) ...

Marketing often is allied with manufacturing in commercial organizations. Demand is influenced by product offerings, ad campaigns, etc. You can't seriously believe that demand/consumption, production, marketing all somehow behave as single set variables in the actual world, can you?

So simplistic, your worldview ... it is a stew out there in the Eco-nomy, not a neat set of equations.

You are right, I am oversimplifying for the sake of explanation. My point was simply to take an opposing view to the often-presumed belief that manufacturers 'make' people buy things that are shoddy or that are not desired. The 'evil corporation' worldview is one I do not share.

visiondr
12-03-2008, 10:58
I learned to buy the best; because it has enduring value; is cheaper in the extreame long run; and because I have nostalia. Also learned never to regret buying the best because anytime I compromised I later regreted it...l

I'd have to agree here. My father taught me that if something is worth spending my hard earned money on, it dammed well better be worth it.

Today, my standards have shifted somewhat. I now very seriously consider the environmental cost of the stuff I buy. The working conditions of those making the product (where those can be determined) also enter into the equation.

www.storyofstuff.com (http://www.storyofstuff.com)

Our disposable culture has and is getting us into heaps of trouble - heaps of garbage and environmental degradation, that is. There are also human costs to the consumer choices we make. Don't forget that when you pick up those soft cushy 'crocs' or croc knock offs at the local emporium.

An example: The environmental cost to produce a shirt from 10oz cotton fabric is the just a fraction more than that to produce one from 6 oz fabric. Of course more cotton needs to be grown and all the environmental issues that may pose. But, the end cost is vastly different because the 6 oz shirt will have to be replaced more often and thus more waste is produced at all parts of the production cycle while the 10oz shirt is going strong.

Yes, that Casio watch looks cool and keeps stellar time. But, LCD screens, batteries and plastics aren't exactly environmentally neutral. That old metal and glass mechanical watch will last longer and isn't nearly as environmentally problematic.

bmattock
12-03-2008, 11:04
Yes, that Casio watch looks cool and keeps stellar time. But, LCD screens, batteries and plastics aren't exactly environmentally neutral. That old metal and glass mechanical watch will last longer and isn't nearly as environmentally problematic.

Everyone has to decide for themselves what their values are surrounding purchasing decisions. But the market as a whole has chosen to value accurate, cheap, timepieces over well-made, expensive, mechanical wristwatches. And that would be why Casio makes them for the masses, and Omega makes mechanical watches at 10,000% more expense for those who value the latter.

If your choices are based on environmental impact, then your choices will be different from mine, or the market in general. But the market in general determines direction, absent government regulation.

Calzone
12-03-2008, 11:11
So which do you want, a well-made watch or a crap watch that keeps better time for less money?

TRUE STORY: Last month I took my four year old Rolex in to see about its value as a trade in, as the five year maintenance costs around $600.00. This Rolex has taken a beating. A cheaper watch of lesser quality I assure you would not be working today, but I was offered a hundred dollars more than I paid for the Rolex after wearing it for four years dispite all the wear and tear. The store was not interested in the box or the extra links from the braclet I had at home. I later learned that the going price on E-Bay is $100.00 for the box and $70.00 for each link.

Granted the dollar has tanked, but the replacement cost today for the same exact Rolex is now 64% higher. I could also sell my Rolex for $500.00-$600.00 more than I was offered on E-Bay as is because a new owner effectively gets a Rolex that is almost like new once the maintenance is done.

I ended up keeping my Rolex and buying another even more expensive watch.

**********

Leica faces the dilemma I said they'd face - high build quality, but it is still obsolete in relatively short order, unlike the equivalent film-body camera. So how now, Leica? Starting building a new model every six months, or tell consumers to be content with what they have for five to ten years, while Canon and Nikon digital SLR's continue to carve Leica's guts out?


I totally agree.


I disagree. My parents bought a Curtis-Mathis B&W television set back in the early 1960's. For all I know, it still works ('the most expensive television set in American, and darn well worth it' as they advertised it then). So what? I don't want to watch TV on an old, small, B&W set. I'd love to have a '55 Chevy, but I have no interest in a '55 B&W TV set or kitchen appliances or a 1955 washer and dryer.


The American Made RCA "cable ready" TV I bought in 1980 still works and is the only TV in the house. In February I'll be forced to replace it. In this case I'm just a cheap ******* who likes expensive watches and old cameras.

***************

But even the 1955 Chevy would kill me in a head-on collision; but you could hose it out and sell it to the next coffin-stuffer. A cheap-as-chips Korean compact car would crumple up as designed, protect me, and I might walk away. Enduring value? Yes, but I want ME to be the enduring value, not the car.

ANOTHER TRUE STORY:Had a head on collision with a 90's Caddy. The Caddy was doing 55mph on wet country road with no shoulder. I was doing thirty in a 1980 Checker Limo (yes like the cab). I walked away. The Caddy became about eighty feet of shreded plastic and torn metal and the driver was taken to the hospital after a scondary impact into maple trees. The Checker had a full frame, and the Caddy esscentially became my airbag.

AND ANOTHER: Also happened to t-bone a Hundai at about walking speed. That slow impact bent the car like a banana. A four-door Hundai instantly became a two-door Hundai. In most accidents the bigger/heavier car almost always wins, esspecially if it has a full frame. I was driving an 84 Jeep Scrambler. That 55 Chevy IMHO might do better in an accident than you think. Its just physics.

My point is that technology in flux changes what 'enduring value' means.

Great Point! I just hope film endures and I think it will.

Cal

Pherdinand
12-03-2008, 11:12
depends what it is, Roger.
If it has integrated circuitry, i would prefer non-handmade versions.
If it is a mechanical something, well, probably handmade is "better".

visiondr
12-03-2008, 11:28
Everyone has to decide for themselves what their values are surrounding purchasing decisions. But the market as a whole has chosen to value accurate, cheap, timepieces over well-made, expensive, mechanical wristwatches. And that would be why Casio makes them for the masses, and Omega makes mechanical watches at 10,000% more expense for those who value the latter.

If your choices are based on environmental impact, then your choices will be different from mine, or the market in general. But the market in general determines direction, absent government regulation.

I can't argue with anything here, Bill.
However, governments may begin to step in more than they do now to save us from ourselves.

Does anyone think that car makers back in the 70s (I think) were just "listening to the demands of the buying public" when they started making cars with reduced tail pipe emissions? Government imposed air quality standards and automobile emissions standards forced manufacturers to change for the good of all. In this case, the average consumer didn't have a choice to purchase a "cleaner" product. Sometimes government (I know some of you hate that word) has to step in and require minimum standards.

bmattock
12-03-2008, 11:35
I can't argue with anything here, Bill.
However, governments may begin to step in more than they do now to save us from ourselves.

Does anyone think that car makers back in the 70s (I think) were just "listening to the demands of the buying public" when they started making cars with reduced tail pipe emissions? Government imposed air quality standards and automobile emissions standards forced manufacturers to change for the good of all. In this case, the average consumer didn't have a choice to purchase a "cleaner" product. Sometimes government (I know some of you hate that word) has to step in and require minimum standards.

I accept that more than you might think. I have begun to re-examine some of my beliefs in recent years. I do accept that government has more of a role than I once thought it did or should have. I am slowly fitting the pieces of that into my core beliefs that a government governs best that governs least. It is a process.

kevin m
12-03-2008, 11:55
Does anyone think that car makers back in the 70s (I think) were just "listening to the demands of the buying public" when they started making cars with reduced tail pipe emissions? Government imposed air quality standards and automobile emissions standards forced manufacturers to change for the good of all. In this case, the average consumer didn't have a choice to purchase a "cleaner" product. Sometimes government (I know some of you hate that word) has to step in and require minimum standards.

Good points, all. The irony that the huge improvement we've seen in automobile performance came about because government regulations forced the industry to work harder is lost on most car enthusiasts.

A car like today's VW GTI, with a 2.0 turbo four, will flat smoke Burt Reynold's 70's-vintage, 7.0 liter V8 Trans-Am on the track and emits some twenty times less pollution while doing it. And we won't even mention gas mileage. :D


Sometimes government (I know some of you hate that word) has to step in and require minimum standards.

It's an entirely proper role for government to play: setting the standards, enforcing the rules. No one on the court much likes the ref, but the game's a mess without him.

visiondr
12-03-2008, 12:04
My belief is that if people really understood all the costs of their purchasing decisions(including environmental and social), then they'd make better decisions for themselves and ultimately, everyone else. Some people will still choose to buy sweat shop produced, disposable, toxic crap. But, at least they'd understand some of the consequences of doing so. Today, we're so isolated from the harvesting of raw materials, the production, distribution and eventually the disposal of all our "crap" that we simply don't know what's going on. I wish every 5th grader in America were required to go on a school field trip to their local landfill. I bet it would open a lot of young eyes.

bmattock
12-03-2008, 12:08
My belief is that if people really understood all the costs of their purchasing decisions(including environmental and social), then they'd make better decisions for themselves and ultimately, everyone else. Some people will still choose to buy sweat shop produced, disposable, toxic crap. But, at least they'd understand some of the consequences of doing so. Today, we're so isolated from the harvesting of raw materials, the production, distribution and eventually the disposal of all our "crap" that we simply don't know what's going on. I wish every 5th grader in America were required to go on a school field trip to their local landfill. I bet it would open a lot of young eyes.

I'm hip. But then again, I have no problem shooting my food. I know where meat comes from, and I've been to an abattoir, I know how it dies. I'm still a meat-eater. Everyone has their bugaboos.

visiondr
12-03-2008, 12:16
Shooting one's own food is an entirely reasonable way to acquire meat. But, I bet you didn't bag that buck with a disposable rifle! ;)

Roger Hicks
12-03-2008, 14:57
depends what it is, Roger.
If it has integrated circuitry, i would prefer non-handmade versions.
If it is a mechanical something, well, probably handmade is "better".

We agree pretty much on that one -- though I do have electronic ignition in my 1972 Land Rover, 'hand installed' by me...

Cheers,

R.

evergreen2253
01-04-2009, 22:33
Modern electronic things such as cameras are better than they used to be - I remember the Canon Ion, & even the first, red led display digital watches. I have an old Casio with a 10 year life battery. The strap cost more to replace than the watch !

We're in a throwaway society, I collect old cameras because I love the feel and quality of them, but they can be troublesome, with so many moving parts. I think this issue has a lot to do with taste, and not a little money sometimes. I have a Leica CL with a broken lens. The repair is on hold, & Leica is an expensive hobby.

I have two prime lenses for my Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, both from the Minota 7000 era and working well.- at over 20 years old. I can see where you're coming from Roger & I share your tastes. Problem is I can't always afford em :)

JoeV
01-05-2009, 06:35
Good engineering is good engineering and good craftsmanship is good craftsmanship, regardless of our predelictions to the contrary.

Yesterday I was tinkering in my shop, and had need of a calculator. So I went and got my Hewlit Packard HP-21. It was given to me by an old friend, years ago, who is an engineer, after he "upgraded" to one of those fancy graphing calculators. Red LED display, reverse polish notation, carrying case, instruction manual, even. From the 1970s. The thing about these old HP's is that the buttons were engineered to function for more than 20 years. They had longevity built in to their design. The main problem with these calculators is the battery packs, where HP figured on making money by requiring their customers to buy a replacement pack. So I was able to open up the pack and replace the AA-sized NiCad cells. So I attached the carrying case to my belt, via the loop, and carried it around yesterday, in all its nerdy glory.

Another experience with electronic products: I recently purchased a Panasonic Lumix G1 digital camera; my first "new" camera purchase in 30 years. The new camera lasted 3 weeks, before I had to send it back for repair because of an intermittent problem with it reverting to B/W with noise lines in the picture. That's my reward for being an "early adapter" of a new product.

Luckily I have a plethora of old cameras to satisfy my shooting needs until the G1 comes back from repair. But it doesn't comfort me. I know, in general, electronic components have become more reliable over time; but designers are also demanding more out of them, too.

~Joe

bmattock
01-05-2009, 07:29
Good engineering is good engineering and good craftsmanship is good craftsmanship, regardless of our predelictions to the contrary.

Yesterday I was tinkering in my shop, and had need of a calculator. So I went and got my Hewlit Packard HP-21. It was given to me by an old friend, years ago, who is an engineer, after he "upgraded" to one of those fancy graphing calculators. Red LED display, reverse polish notation, carrying case, instruction manual, even. From the 1970s. The thing about these old HP's is that the buttons were engineered to function for more than 20 years. They had longevity built in to their design. The main problem with these calculators is the battery packs, where HP figured on making money by requiring their customers to buy a replacement pack. So I was able to open up the pack and replace the AA-sized NiCad cells. So I attached the carrying case to my belt, via the loop, and carried it around yesterday, in all its nerdy glory.

Another experience with electronic products: I recently purchased a Panasonic Lumix G1 digital camera; my first "new" camera purchase in 30 years. The new camera lasted 3 weeks, before I had to send it back for repair because of an intermittent problem with it reverting to B/W with noise lines in the picture. That's my reward for being an "early adapter" of a new product.

Luckily I have a plethora of old cameras to satisfy my shooting needs until the G1 comes back from repair. But it doesn't comfort me. I know, in general, electronic components have become more reliable over time; but designers are also demanding more out of them, too.

~Joe

My first digital camera, an Olympus D220L, still works fine. It has a 640K sensor, that's 640x480, not even a single megapixel. It works, but I don't care; I'll never use it again.

Building quality into items that are essentially worthless in 2 years tops does not make sense. It makes the items cost more, and the fact that they still work when useless adds no value.

Your calculator is worthwhile because math has not changed. But digital cameras are not even close to reaching maturity as a technology. It makes no sense to build digital cameras to Leica standards when they will be utterly and completely obsolete in a couple years.

And isn't it strange that only the 'I hate digital' crowd buys digital cameras that break straight away (and apparently, we are to believe that they ALL break immediately upon purchase). I've bought bunches of them, never had a problem. I'm just saying.

Doug
01-05-2009, 21:32
It's said that electronic gear will generally either fail soon or last for a long time. With computers, for instance, I've found it's the mechanical bits that wear out over time... keyboards, mice, floppy/CD/hard-drives.

Some people avoid the Minolta CLE, nervous about "unrepairable" electronic components. And some CLEs have failed, apparently. I have two, one since new in 1984. Every ten years or so its meter starts acting oddly, and it's a mechanical part that needs servicing! Dirt accumulates on the switch contacts under the shutter speed dial. My local repair guy, now retired, told me that the circuitry pre-dates integrated circuits, so individual electronic components can be changed if they fail... the main trick is determining which part is at fault. But none of them seem inclined to fail...

I should look up the retired repair tech and seek instruction from him on how to disassemble and clean the shutter speed dial, as the CLE is a favorite camera I plan to keep using for a long time.

amateriat
01-06-2009, 00:21
I love the ticking of my - well, not so old yet - Nomos Tangente wrist watch and shaving with my Merkur Futur shaver.

Ok Roger, you may not comprehend the shaving part, though... :D

Cheers,
Uwe
Oh, heavens, I do: not only do I have that selfsame Merkur Futur, but a Merkur Vision besides (needs to go back to the factory after an iadvertent flight against the bathroom tile, which did moredamage to the tile than the razor). But wetshaving is yet another strange obsession for another forum.

My 2 M2 Leicas and 2 vintage BMW motorcycles seem to be designed so as to be durable and easily repairable/rebuildable. Fewer and fewer products built today have those attributes. It seems that most consumers have a short term outlook and want to buy something as cheaply as possible, so that's how most products are built.
Somewhere around here, I have a brochure for the then-new New Canon F-1 (the one with the "hybrid" electronic/mechanical shutter). In this brochure, Canon details part of the production process for the camera. Quite a bit of the procedure at the time was highly automated, but with crazy-extreme preceision (remember, this was in the wake of the high-tech production techniques that brought forth the Canon A series cameras from the mid-70s onward). I dare anyone to tell me the New Canon F-1 wasn't in just about every aspect superior to the camera it replaced.

This gets back to my favorite mantra: it's not what you do, but how you do it. Both my Hexar RFs are end-products of this philosophy. "Classic" (well, mostly so) on the outside, technologically well-endowed inside, without the need to flaunt it the way too many cameras do now. Yet, not built just for the moment (at least by intent). Upper-end digital cameras are built to a reasonably high standard, but most of them leave me cold for assorted reasons. And, Bill, as usual, brings up a thorny, uncomfortable, but important question: nearly all these upper-end cameras might well outlast their inherent desirability, given the nature of digital technology. What then?

I'm hardly advocating rapid obsolescence, and I rather doubt Bill is, either. But there's the question of things that should last versus those things where longevity is something of an empty virtue (though not entirely: there have been several artists pointedly utilizing "obsolete" digital camera technology to interesting visual ends).

I haven't bought a new camera in seven years. Then too, I haven't bought a new bicycle in thirteen years. And, to a certain point, that's how it should be. I'm pretty happy with what I have. Then again, I made my choices rather neurotically. ;)


- Barrett

Clark.EE
01-06-2009, 05:51
Who builds the machines that make the components that are assembled by hand?

skeletron
01-14-2009, 13:39
I think I probably put a much lower value on quality, durability, and ease of repair than the average poster on this forum. I actually prefer a certain level of transience in my possessions. The longer you have an item around, the more memories are associated with it, the more emotionally precious it becomes. Forming an emotional attachment to an inanimate object is, to me, worse than having to replace something because it ceases to function or was stolen.

I don't go out of my way to avoid well-made objects, but I don't place any value on the potential of owning something for more than 3, 4, or 5 years (home and transportation being exceptions, but of convenience more than anything).

Rui Morais de Sousa
01-29-2009, 02:27
Hi Roger,
I know this thread is already a little old, but I only saw it last night, and I wish to add my thoughts on it.
First, I think that I understand very well your point of view. It might be that we are a similar type of people...
To love and apprecciate some old stuff has not necessarly to do with nostalgia for it's sake: when my daughter undergoes heart chirurgie (she already did it three times) I realy want her to have the most modern and efficient technology, when I look at a TV or PC screen I prefer modern, DVD has much better image quality than VHS, new computers are much better than old ones, etc., etc. But there are many, many things that were better done, and if not exectly better, they at least have a lot of character that might appeal to you (Russian cameras for ex.).
Mostly it has more to do with quality and soul than with nostalgia.
That's why I prefer my 53 year old M3 or my 50 year old M2 to my modern everything-doing 1 1/2 year old Canon D30. By far!!
My old Leitz, Zeiss, Schneider,Rodenstock, and even some AIS Nikkors, are way much better lenses than two of my modern Canon zooms (one of them beeing a serie L that costed a fortune, if I take the ratio price - quality in consideration. I'm not only talking bad: I like my 70-200 2.8 L and my 400 5.6 L).
Back to old "stuff": I also prefer a lot of old houses to a lot of modern ones (I had the chance of photographing works by really famous architects like Mies van der Rohe and Álvaro Siza, so I am not talking for just talking), I prefer to live in the old part of town than in the new one, I prefer my almost 60 year old hand-carved archtop jazz guitar to a lot of new ones, although there are some very good ones too, I prefer my old Tannoy Arden speakers to many new ones, I prefer my 12W Class A Audio Note tube amplifier, or my Quad from the 60's to a lot of stuff you can buy now (I also run modern CD players and DVD through them, but also my old Thorens record player). I know that there are a lot of good and some even very good things out there, but I just don't feel the need to buy them. My two older suns work professionaly with sound equipment, they are also amazed how good this old stuff sounds. And what about that warm sound of a Polytone amplifier paired with a nice archtop? Why do you think that Fender and Gibson try to "copy" their vintage guitars and amplifiers? And why musicians love them? Or an old piano, cello, violin?
Yes, I prefer a new, energy saving, washing machine! Why? I don't care about it, I don't have passion for washing clothes, I prefer efficiens to character on this subject. It doesn't touch my heart and soul. I just don't care about washing machines, I just use them!
If I would win the lottery and would wish to buy a boat, you can bet that I would choose a nice wood made sail boat, and never a fibre glass (or whatever) modern looking one, no matter how potent the motor, no matter how confortable the bed, no matter how impressive the luxus.
If nothing more, it's just a matter of taste. That's also why I would prefer an old british sports car to many new ones. Who denies that an old Jaguar E is not much nicer than most modern roadsters? You don't agree? I am glad to see that we all don't love and think the same. It's good to know that we are not all equal. What a bothering place the world would be...
And Rogers, like you I drive a Land Rover, although of newer age (Nov. 2000). When I am off road, I am surely glad that it is old fashioned and doesn't have all that plastic crap that "embelishes" the new vehicles. I didn't buy it to look nice or have confort. I bought it to be ruged and utilitarian. And yes, I'd love to have an open Series Land Rover, or even a Lightweight, because of the fun.
Fun, passion, taste, soul, are not easy words to argue about...
Last end, it comes to the way each of us looks at the world.
Have a nice time,
Rui (http://ruimoraisdesousa.blogspot.com/)

Roger Hicks
02-12-2009, 01:01
Dear Rui,

Thanks for an excellent analysis, especially the bit about quality and soul. Yes, I've just bought a Miele dishwasher -- modern, energy saving, quiet, the best quality you can easily find -- but a dishwasher can't really have the 'soul' of a good camera or a Land Rover.

And:

Dear Skeletron,

I can't be assed to keep replacing things. Time goes fast enough as you get older, and 3 or 4 years pass as fast as one used to. I don't want to but a new camera every year (of subjective time).

Sure, they're just possessions, and they can be replaced. But why replace them if you don't have to?

Cheers,

Roger