HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Made by Monkeys

Shop Vac Flaws Grind Use to a Halt

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
If it ain't broke...
Ann R. Thryft   5/15/2012 2:52:22 PM
NO RATINGS
This sounds like yet another case of if the design/production processes ain't broke, don't fix them.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
Jon Titus   5/15/2012 4:14:07 PM
NO RATINGS
Sad to hear about the poorly designed shop vacuum.  I have a Shop Vac that continues to run well after 35 years. Wouldn't trade it for any other type.

Some time ago my son decided to get two goats as pets. He bought large alfalfa pellets but figured they might cause the goats to choke. So, how do you grind up large quantities of pellets to make a finer feed?  Use a Dispose-All to grind them and collect the bits in my Shop Vac connected to the Dispose-All outlet. Worked like a charm.  You never know when a shop vacuum will come in handy.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
Rob Spiegel   5/15/2012 4:49:09 PM
NO RATINGS
That's a pretty good story about the Shop Vac, Jon. I think the key to the sucess of your Shop Vac and the Genie (the vacuum he went back to) that Dave discusses in the Monkey story is the age of the vacuums that worked well. Not surprisingly, the older ones work better than the new ones. This is quite a theme in Made by Monkeys.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
Charles Murray   5/15/2012 7:44:04 PM
NO RATINGS
It's interesting to hear that old-is-better-than-new is an ongoing theme in Made by Monkeys, Rob. The auto industry has managed to boost its quality and reliability enormously over the past 35 years, so I can only wonder why so many home appliances and handhelds are getting worse.

jb222
User Rank
Iron
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
jb222   5/16/2012 9:53:52 AM
NO RATINGS
Yes, the auto industry has managed to improve their quality and reliability.  But car prices have also increased along with the improvements.  Home appliance manufacturers have been forced to add features and performance without adding cost.

In the 1960's: Average Income: $5,000 Average Home: $15,000 Average New Car: $3,500 Average dishwasher: $250  

Today it is not unreasonable to make $50,000/yr, spend $150,000 on a house or buy a car for $30,000.  But how many people would spend $2500 on an average dishwasher?  Even though that new ishwasher would be vastly superior to the model offered in the 60's.

We all want the latest and greatest technology and performance.  But with the excpetion of cars, we aren't willing to pay for it.

So the Genie vac from 30 years ago has held up well, even though it doesn't have the high performance of a newer model.  But would you be willing to pay ten times the price to buy one today???

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
William K.   5/16/2012 10:51:04 PM
NO RATINGS
Regarding the assertion that I want the latest and greatest technology, the truth is NO WAY do I want any of the bug-filled, current fad  gimmicks that seem to abound. Almost universally the products di deliver superior performance for a few hours, at which time they wear enough that they only deliver marginaly acceptable performance. 

My choice is a product that has been on the market long enough so that I can see if they live well past the warranty period. Of course many of them are obsolete before the short warranty runs out, which is the stated goal of many manufacturers.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
Rob Spiegel   5/16/2012 10:25:19 AM
NO RATINGS
Good point on automotive, Chuck. The cars that find their way into Made by Monkeys tend to be from the 60s and 70s. The types of appliances where the old ones seem to beat the new ones inlcude vacuums, washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and dryers.

roddalitz
User Rank
Gold
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
roddalitz   5/16/2012 10:32:16 AM
NO RATINGS
The old products outlive modern products ... That was a joke in a 1920's book about motoring: Q. What is the difference between roads made by the ancient Romans and modern roads? A. Roman roads have lasted until the present time.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
Rob Spiegel   5/16/2012 10:53:57 AM
NO RATINGS
That's good, Rod. For a lot of the new appliances that break down, the problems seem to be in the added electronics that didn't exist 20 or 30 years ago. Apparently, there are more things that can go wrong with the new appliances.

jhankwitz
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Shop Vac Doubles as Food Collector
jhankwitz   5/16/2012 10:10:39 AM
NO RATINGS
It's becoming obvious that manufacturers are focusing more on appearance, initial quality, and cost, and less on reliability and product longevity.  We're now unfortunately living in a throw-away society.

dnason@kicmail.com
User Rank
Iron
Poor quality due to high turnover
dnason@kicmail.com   5/16/2012 12:31:09 AM
NO RATINGS
Mentioned in another posting I read some time ago really rings true. Tribal knowledge goes a long way toward designing in quality. If the vac motor had been from an old school manufacturer with long in the tooth engineers teaching the next generation, then some guidance would have probably led to a lubricated design which would stand up to the use and abuse a vacuum takes. Often it's as simple as a washer here or a piece of felt there, not complex expensive solutions.

It is so true that auto quality has improved however repairability has gone way down. My '85 van fuel pump costs under $50 and takes about a half hour to change. The one in my 2003 Ford cost over $1000 to have the dealer empty and drop the tank and replace it with a $500 part. Granted, with Fuel Injection it's a different situation but apparently this pump is know to die at 8 years. Hmmmm...

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
Larry M   5/16/2012 9:27:34 AM
NO RATINGS
The one in my 2003 Ford cost over $1000 to have the dealer empty and drop the tank and replace it with a $500 part. Granted, with Fuel Injection it's a different situation but apparently this pump is know to die at 8 years.

Not many people know this, but the in-tank fuel pumps used on today's fuel-injected cars rely on submersion in gasoline for both lubrication and cooling. If you are one of those individuals who runs the needle down to empty every time and runs out of gas from time to time, you are asking for a fuel pump failure. Come to think of it, I tend to do this and need to change my habits.

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
3drob   5/16/2012 10:03:41 AM
NO RATINGS
My wife taught me to refill at 1/2 tank, a habit that has saved me a few times when stuck in traffic.  Alas, old habits die hard, and now that I have a hybrid, I routinely let it drop under 100 miles till empty (about 2 gallons estimated left in the tank).  My first car (a 1970 AMC back in 1983, when gas was under 1$/gallon) had a light that would flash when the tank was empty, and that light burned out long before I got my next car (which tells you how empty the tank usually was).

To someone elses point, appliances are not cars.  Cars are major purchases, and with only a few manufacturers left, bad quality DOES affect sales.  Appliances, on the other hand, are mosly built in China, and are cheap enough to be considered disposable.  And, with old (quality) name brands also being built in China, buying from past (good) experience no longer guarantees quality (only higher price).  This dilutes peoples experience and leaves only sticker price as a differentiator.  I still try to look for Made In USA when buying, but it's getting harder and harder.

The real question is, Did the vacuum live past Warantee expiration?  If so, according to management, it's designed properly.  And, judging by the fact he is still using a decades old device (my newest shop vac is over 15 years old), over designing them is also bad for sales!

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
Larry M   5/16/2012 10:00:32 AM
NO RATINGS
The manufacturer of the reliable vacuum cleaner was given.  Too bad the name of the bad product wasn't mentioned so the rest of us could avoid it.

 

We could look for weak caster attachments in the retail store, but I don't think most of us would tear down the motor in the store to evalute lubrication or impeller mountings prior to purchase.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
OLD_CURMUDGEON   5/16/2012 10:31:04 AM
NO RATINGS
I believe the two manufacturers were mentioned in the original post, GENIE & SHOP*VAC.

Concerning the GENIE units, we had several in our facility, some which were used on production machines, so they would run continuously for hours at a time.  While they may have been designated as "pro" quality, we all knew that under these operating conditions, they'd require replacement on a frequent basis.  We were mentally prepared for this, and would trek to HOME DEPOT for replacements.  The only saving grace was that these units were external to the machinery, so when GENIE made frequent design changes, it didn't affect our process.  The one BIG change that did affect our use of these vacuums was that HOME DEPOT stopped carrying the GENIE products, so getting the replacement bags became a nuisance.  My question had been, WHY was a garage door operator company selling vacuum cleaners?  Never made sense to me.  That's like TEXAS INSTRUMENTS selling hair shampoo!!!!  But, it's all moot now, since we've changed the manufacturing process drastically, and no longer need the constant supply of these vacuums.

As far as the SHOP*VAC products are concerned, we have several of them in our facility, which are used in the typical fashion.  However, one is used in the machine shop area to collect the metal shavings from milling, lathing operations, so it's used on a more rational basis.  We've had to replace it once, since the motor died.  Upon inspection, it was determined that the winding opened, and since they're basically a consumer item, it went directly into the dumpster.  The replacement unit has been working fine, although it isn't the exact same model, since the original once was no longer available from LOWES.  And, I have one at home, which I use in my shop & garage, and it has worked fine for about 10 years.

 

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
Larry M   5/16/2012 10:57:19 AM
NO RATINGS
Old Curmudgeon writes "I believe the two manufacturers were mentioned in the original post, GENIE & SHOP*VAC."

Ummm, I believe you are misinterpreting the article. The author (or Rob) stated "I was given a more modern shop vac as a gift."

That is clearly a generic use of the term.  We all refer to our workshop vacuum cleaners which do not pull the detritus through the motor as "shop vacs" regardless of the manufacturer. I still use a Montgomery Ward unit I bought on sale in 1971. It's often attached to my table saw to catch the dust.

Old Curmudgeon also writes " My question had been, WHY was a garage door operator company selling vacuum cleaners?"

The keyword here is "selling." They may well have been selling some re-logoed Chinese brand that they didn't specify, design, or manufacture because they had marketing channels into Lowe's and Home Depot, and the Chinese manufacturer didn't. All the big manufacturers do this. Dodge Sprinter, Mercedes Sprinter, Fruehauf Sprinter--it's the same truck regardless.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
OLD_CURMUDGEON   5/16/2012 12:07:56 PM
NO RATINGS
 

Ummm, I believe you are misinterpreting the article. The author (or Rob) stated "I was given a more modern shop vac as a gift."

Could be ..... I read through the posts rather quickly, and may have done just that.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

The keyword here is "selling." They may well have been selling some re-logoed Chinese brand that they didn't specify, design, or manufacture because they had marketing channels into Lowe's and Home Depot, and the Chinese manufacturer didn't. All the big manufacturers do this. Dodge Sprinter, Mercedes Sprinter, Fruehauf Sprinter--it's the same truck regardless.

The story that I related occurred some 15 years ago, BEFORE China became the dominant manufacturing force for everything from Q-Tips to rocket shps!  And, according to sources at the time, the GENIE brand vacuums were manufactured by a division of the GENIE Garage Door Operator Co. someplace in the U.S.A.  I want to say either OH or MI, but don't recall exactly now.  I do recall that we made several telephone calls in an attempt to secure more replacement bags, but found only an independent manufacturer who claimed to have equivalent replacement bags.  From what we later learned, GENIE completely abandoned that product line.  Maybe someone has more additional accurate info, but is it really worth discussing?

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
Rob Spiegel   5/16/2012 1:05:26 PM
NO RATINGS
When the author sent in this Made by Monkeys posting, he did not capitalize "shop vac," and that's how it ran. I assumed (maybe wrongly) that he was using a generic term and not singling out Shop Vac vacuums. 

dnason@kicmail.com
User Rank
Iron
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
dnason@kicmail.com   7/17/2012 11:06:47 AM
NO RATINGS
1 saves
As a follow on to this, my son (who had given me the vacuum this posting refered to) noticed a shiny new Stanley vacuum at our house. I don't know how long it will last but it had the features we wanted, namely an additional dust bag. When I told him that I paid $29.95 at Costco for this, he told me that the Shop Vac (yes it was that brand) cost him considerably more and he bought it because of the name brand. I bought the Stanley for 2 reasons, neither having to do with the name: 1. - it was light to make it easier for my wife to roll it throught the house, and 2. it had the features we wanted (dust bag, floor sweeper). I hope it lasts longer than the Shop Vac it replaced.

One comment I would add to some of the postings about slapping a known name on a Chinese import. I wonder if that is the best avenue for a company to take. People buy into name brands equating them to quality, get disappointed as I did with the Shop Vac, and the name is cheapened. I hope my Stanley doesn't follow the same route although I have lower expectations for this.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
Rob Spiegel   7/17/2012 12:04:29 PM
NO RATINGS
Dave, this story keeps showing up again and again in the Made by Monkeys blog. Once-great brands are showing up with problems. From shop vacs to dishwashers, washing machines, and fridges. Buy it in the 70s or 80s and it lasts 30 years. Buy the same brand now and it breaks in two years.

This has got to have some impact on the brand name. I would think it's expensive to to maintain a strong brand name. I would think it's costly to let cheap products erode that name.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
Tool_maker   5/31/2012 1:04:05 PM
NO RATINGS
Where is it written that a company can only make one product line? Obviously Genie felt they could make different parts on the same equipment and then probably had separate divisions for assembly. One of our biggest customers make rocket launchers for today's Army helecopters,even though they started in business making office furniture. The two product lines existed in the same facility for several decades until the furniture line became unprofitable because of third world imports and the company reorganized as a defense contractor only.

When you are punching, bending and forming metal, it really does not care where it is going to be utilized. Whether it be an office chair or hardware to mount a 24 pod rocket launcher onto an instrument of destruction. We are a job shop and produce components for a multitude of product lines in very diverse industries. It is that capability that has kept me continuously employed through the whole recession. At least to this point. Praise the lord and pass the broad base of customers.

dnason@kicmail.com
User Rank
Iron
Re: Poor quality due to high turnover
dnason@kicmail.com   5/16/2012 10:51:56 AM
NO RATINGS
Even though it was only recently dumped, I cannot with 100% certainty remember who the manufacturer was. I even spent some time looking through the usual stores to see if I could find it before I posted the story.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Forgotten Reliability?
tekochip   5/16/2012 10:36:41 AM
NO RATINGS
It seems that the newer products out perform the older ones, higher vacuum, lower noise, lighter, etc., but that the quality and reliability have gone down. An earlier post mentioned that as the older engineers leave, maybe their knowledge is not imparted on to the new engineers. I used Fender amplifiers for years, and for a while I had a newer amp that turned into a maintenance nightmare. Fender always had the control panel recessed slightly so that when (not if) the amp fell on its face the controls would be protected. This small design feature was now gone. Control knobs were always metal shafts on the older amps, but the newer one had plastic shafts and with the control panel no longer recessed, the amp would snap a knob off every few gigs. Older Fenders never used connectors inside the chassis, everything was hard wired so there were no connectors to vibrate loose, get filled with cigarette smoke gunk, or fracture solder joints from thermal cycling. These were all little nuances to the construction that the older engineers probably remembered well, but were forgotten by the company as people left. The new amp had better performance than the older amp, but it just couldn't hold up. I'm sure Fender didn't try to make an unreliable amp, they just forgot how to make a good one.
I went back to an older Fender, which only failed once when an exploding coke bottle showered the tubes. The plate voltage arced over to the heater supply in a dazzling, blue light show. The 6L6s died along with the hum balance, but that was the only damage.


ChasChas
User Rank
Platinum
Hobby shop equipment
ChasChas   5/16/2012 11:38:22 AM
NO RATINGS
 

There is quality equipment of all types if one looks for it and is willing to pay the price. So often people buy hobby shop duty equipment and expect it to perform commercial duty.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hobby shop equipment
Jon Titus   5/16/2012 11:43:25 AM
NO RATINGS
That's a good point.  Some people also want to pay a "hobbyist" price for professional equipment.

gsmith120
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Hobby shop equipment
gsmith120   5/16/2012 5:56:01 PM
NO RATINGS
So true.  Like my Dad use to say "you get what you pay for".  Generally, if you pay little you get little. 

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Hobby shop equipment
3drob   5/17/2012 8:00:21 AM
NO RATINGS
The problem with rebranding chinese product under older, known brand names is that you don't know what you are getting.  You may get what you pay for, or you may get a piece of garbage for full price.  The effect is to dilute the power of brand names as a badge of quality.  The end result for the consumer is that the smart bet to make (when they gamble buying a new product) is to put less money up front (i.e. buy cheap and pray).

Looking for the "Made in USA" branding along with the brand name is the only method left (even that is iffy, since there has certainly been some garbage made here in the USA as well, but at least the money I pay for that garbage stays here).

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hobby shop equipment
Rob Spiegel   5/17/2012 3:51:29 PM
NO RATINGS
You're right about brand names not being what they used to be, 3drob. A quick perusal through the Made by Monkeys blog finds stories of disaster problems with many of the major brands of the past, from Maytag to Sears Craftsman. 

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Hobby shop equipment
bob from maine   6/8/2012 9:55:42 AM
NO RATINGS
Every time I purchase a cheap (hobby grade) tool, I regret the purchase every time I use the tool. When it finally breaks (it always does), I research the tool more thoroughly and frequently decide it just isn't worth paying 4 or 5x the cost for a professional grade tool which I will only use 10 or 20 times a year. A basic shop-vac is NOT designed for continuous use, it has a commutated AC motor with brushes, busings instead of bearings, no oil retention or felts and will work fine for the 2 year design lifetime and you can't use it in an industrial environment without hearing protection because it exceeds OSSHAs acceptable sound levels, plus it costs less than $100. A high quality, quiet, continuous duty rated shop-vac costs over $350, weights about 50% more, will last 5 years of heavy duty and because it is usually metal, will dent when dropped and become useless because the lid will no longer seal. A hobbyist will likely need to replace a basic shop-vac once or twice per lifetime, which makes it a pretty good bargain compared to the continuous duty version which will last a hobbyist forever. 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hobby shop equipment
Rob Spiegel   6/8/2012 10:34:10 AM
NO RATINGS
That's a very good point, Bob from Maine. I have a weed eater. I bought the cheapest one. With my current yard, I only use it two or three times during the spring and summer. The cheap one will last forever.

When I had a larger yard, I used the weed eater three or four times a week. I went through a couple cheap ones with that usage.

Dozer789
User Rank
Iron
Re: Hobby shop equipment
Dozer789   6/26/2012 4:04:32 PM
NO RATINGS
I have very nice shop-vac ($120) and i have used it a lot and i have had no problems with it, the only thing that i dont like about it is that the wheel assembly busted within a few months but other than that it is very great.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hobby shop equipment
Rob Spiegel   6/27/2012 3:11:35 PM
NO RATINGS
Sounds good, but wow, the wheel assembly broke within a few months. that's not so great. What is it with the products we're seeing these days?

stewarth
User Rank
Iron
I Can't Believe You Threw It Away
stewarth   5/24/2012 1:53:40 AM
NO RATINGS
You what? Threw it away?  I retrieved a 1.5 hp Shop Vac from a dumpster out of curiousity and checked it out - they poorly designed the motor assembly with 1 steel thrust bearing and 1 bronze bushing. The bushing is guaranteed to wear out prematurely - the motor chatters and eventually goes south. Some dimensional analysis shows the bushing housing is the same size as the bearing housing - bought a sealed steel bearing for $1.50 and now the things hums nicely - ShoVac wanted $40 for a new motor assembly compared to $60 for a new vacuum. What a waste. No excuse for this kind of shoddy design.

wacdn
User Rank
Iron
Similar story
wacdn   7/23/2012 11:04:17 AM
NO RATINGS
I bought a Shop Vac from Wal-Mart in 2004 that had similar problems from wet/dry use in my basement and garage. It lasted about 3 years before the motor whined loudly and popped the fusible link. I was unimpressed with the alunimum fan and clip design, as well as the 3 "missing" Plastite screws between the motor housing and the top cover. I was least impressed with the open wire fusible link that showed signs of corrosion on the remaining terminals. I'm used to seeing encapsulated fusible links or TCOs in kettles, coffee makers, and toasters, but this fusible link design truly incorporated planned obsolescence.

I sprayed the motor with silicone spray and modified the top cover to accept a circuit breaker to replace the fusible link. After another year or so of reduced output and noisy service, the motor finally seized and I threw it in the trash. I will not buy another Shop Vac brand vacuum.

I'm not against cost-cutting or re-branding. I'm happy to find a good compromise between cost and performance, and some companies do a better job at striking the balance than others.

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Made by Monkeys
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made By Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Design News Webinar Series
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
12/10/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
11/19/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
11/6/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  67


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service