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Vacuum Cleaner Had an Unserviceable Filter

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tekochip
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The iVac?
tekochip   4/25/2014 5:59:24 PM
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Judging by the way batteries have become non-replaceable in consumer products, perhaps vacuum filters have become non-replaceable as well?


Nancy Golden
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Re: The iVac?
Nancy Golden   4/25/2014 7:03:25 PM
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Unfortunately that is probably a valid observation. We are seeing more and more products that were once user-serviceable but no longer. The mentality of making a quality product that lasts and is serviceable has sadly fallen to the throw-away marketing strategy that guarantees repeat business which may very well include a non-replaceable filter strategically placed to limit the lifetime of the product.

Battar
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Re: The iVac?
Battar   4/28/2014 9:50:22 AM
Nancy,

         One item that drives all design reviews in applicance manufacturing is, how much does it cost? The only way to keep your product on the shelves of Bestbuy or whoever is to be a dollar cheaper than your competitor, and one very effective way of reducing manufacturing cost is to design for assembly, not dis-assembly. Sure, there are customers out there who are willing to pay for a quality product, but they are the minority - ask any salseman - there aren't enough of them to keep the cash flowing. 

My father taught me, always ask which is the cheapest model in the shop, and never buy that one. 

tekochip
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Re: The iVac?
tekochip   4/28/2014 10:12:38 AM
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Very true Batter, I used to design appliance controls and nearly all decisions were driven by cost.  Months were spent engineering solutions that sometimes saved fractions of pennies.  Don't get me wrong, we always met the specification, but by no measurable margin.  The product had to just barely work..... every time.

TJ McDermott
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Re: The iVac?
TJ McDermott   5/8/2014 2:32:23 AM
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Tekochip, your statement "...just barely work... every time." makes one think of rocket boosters.

They have to just barely work.  Any excess redundancy just adds weight and takes away from payload capacity.

If we knew the life for which consumer products are designed, we could make better purchasing decisions.

Take cell phones - wireless companies push 2 year plans so one can make a good guess cell phones aren't designed to last much longer.

AJ2X
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Re: The iVac?
AJ2X   4/28/2014 10:27:58 AM
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As pervasive as the "design for minimum cost" requirement is, making something serviceable (or not requiring service) need not cost more, any more than making something beautiful is necessarily more expensive.  But it does require a commitment from all involved in a design, including marketing and the bean counters, that the product be an actual value to the user, and not just to the stockholders.  Ideally, you want something that the customers will WANT to buy again, not something they'll HAVE to buy again.  In such a way, the company will build a reputation that will carry it through the long haul (if anyone actually cares about that anymore!).

Battar
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Re: The iVac?
Battar   4/28/2014 10:40:18 AM
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AJ2X,

         Designing an appliance that is servicable does cost more. A screw is more expensive than a plastic snap-fitting, but the snap-fir will break the first time you try to open it.

It is virtually impossible to design an appliance lo last a lifetime (whose life? the products'? the cats'? your mother-in-laws' lifetime?) so you have to design for a specific life, usually measured in hours. A vacuum cleaner might not need to work more than 150 hours a yesr, unlike an air-conditioner, for example. Most people would be happy with a vacuum cleaner that lasted 1500 hours. No one is rewarded for over-engineering a product.

AJ2X
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Re: The iVac?
AJ2X   4/28/2014 11:09:02 AM
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Battar,

While you are quite right that designing something to "last a lifetime" is a fool's errand, making something serviceable is not.  If snap fit tabs break off, then they shouldn't be used to access a part that needs service (and in this case, I'm referring to the original poster's need to service a filter).

KenL
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Re: The iVac?
KenL   5/23/2014 3:34:15 PM
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I wonder if that filter was an afterthought.  Someone realized it was needed to meet some requirement after everything else had already been desinged.

 

 

rickgtoc
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Re: The iVac?
rickgtoc   6/4/2014 7:50:35 PM
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Your comment about "the minority" caring about quality/maintainability reminded me of of one panel of an old Dilbert strip, where pointy-haired boss declares,

"We don't care what smart people think.  There aren't that many of them."

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: The iVac?
OLD_CURMUDGEON   5/27/2014 8:29:17 AM
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It is NOT only consumer items that are made as irrepairable.  We have an OMRON counter on one of the production machines.  This counter is an electronic design, and utilizes a 1/2 AA battery to maintain the last count.  After about 10 years, the counter has failed, but it failed because of the battery!  The PANASONIC battery is tab-weleded into the small circuit board.  The replacement counter is due to be here today or tomorrow....... Cost?  $65 + Tx + Shppg!  ..... ALL because a $3 battery cannot be easily replaced!

Battar
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Re: The iVac?
Battar   6/5/2014 2:14:11 AM
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Old_curmudgeon,

                          Our compamy sold a product with the same type of soldered 1/2AA lithium thionyl battery, but we have since changed the design to use non-soldered types. But there is method in the madness - first, the soldered types wouldn't bounce about and cause voltage drops if the unit was knocked or dropped (we had to design a special battery holder to get round that one), second, most of our customers know how to solder a couple of tabs to a circuit board, and third, very few, if any of our customers use, or intend to use, the same product 10 years straight.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: The iVac?
OLD_CURMUDGEON   6/5/2014 7:33:54 AM
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Battar:  This counter is embedded into the front door of the electrical control panel for this floor-mounted machine.  I'd venture to guess that MOST often counters such as this one are mounted in similar enclosures, NOT subject to the forces of an F-16 in full rollover mode.  Furthermore, you couldn't fit an extra feather into this 1/16 DIN case of the counter.  The battery has welded tabs to its terminals, and these tabs are soldered into the small P.C. Board.  So, even IF I wanted to unsolder the dead battery, I would not be able to source a new one to replace it that had the welded tabs already fastened.  It was just a poor intial design.  The replacement counter utilizes a coin cell, which IS much more practical, since I'd be willing to bet that OMRON received many complaints about the initial design.  You have to realize that production-line machinery IS usually designed to last decades, not just years.

ADIOS!   

far911
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Re: The iVac?
far911   4/26/2014 7:10:09 AM
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Ths is true....it really looks like that we are getting everything disposable now a days. You use them and be sure that you will have 2 replace it neither repair it.Same goes for the vacuum filtre.

William K.
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Re: The iVac?
William K.   4/28/2014 8:51:43 PM
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One thing that usually works to make a product non-repairable is the design for assembly mantra. Plastic snap fits that may work well with new plastic, but after that plastic has aged a few months the snap fits will break every time, rather than allowing a product to be taken apart for servicing. 

And as for minimizing cost, I would be happy to pay 10% more for a product that would last and could be repaired. I had a Hamilton Beach hand-vacuum cleaner that had belonged to my grandparents, I believe. It still worked well after a whole lot of years w2ith no maintenance other than emptiing the bag on occasion. It was heavy cast aluminum and my wife gave it away because it was "too heavy". It did weigh more than any of the six replacements after it.

Nancy Golden
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Re: The iVac?
Nancy Golden   5/27/2014 9:54:00 AM
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@William K. I completely agree with your statement: "And as for minimizing cost, I would be happy to pay 10% more for a product that would last and could be repaired."


Unfortunately the current marketing trend is driven by the consumer response that cheaper is better and thus quality is sacrificed as manufacturers shave every penny to be cost-competitive. In that type of marketing environment we aren't even offered that option any longer because companies simply can't compete.


William K.
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Re: The iVac?
William K.   5/27/2014 7:41:56 PM
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Nancy G. I read an interesting paragraph in a blog a few weeks back, where, at the start of the paragraph the author stated that designers were attempting to satify "The consumer demand for more features", but then at the end of the paragraph the author commented that "The designers were using all of these new tools in attempting to create designs that would CAPTURE THE CONSUMERS IMAGINATION", which I see as an admission that consumer demand has not much to do with the proliferation of useless and bothersome features that so many products have. It is not about consumer demand, it is about marketers seeking that holy grail of "product differentiation" that is responsible for the drop in actual quality of many products.

Nancy Golden
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Re: The iVac?
Nancy Golden   5/27/2014 7:59:41 PM
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William K. - you reminded me of the good old days when choices were limited because the focus was on quality. From http://www.hyperwrite.com/Articles/showarticleshort.aspx?id=90

One of Henry Ford's famous quotes about the Model T was, "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black."

The Model T only came in black because the production line required compromise so that efficiency and improved quality could be achieved. Spraying different colours would have required a break in the production line, meaning increased costs, more staff, more equipment, a more complicated process, and the risk of the wrong colour being applied.

Here is a fun link to the 100th year celebration of Ford:

http://www.autonews.com/files/indices/ford100_1-25_3.html

Jim_E
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Nice diagnostics and repair
Jim_E   4/28/2014 10:20:24 AM
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Good job tracking down the problem and fixing it.  Crazy how difficult some things are to take apart now.   I guess they really don't expect people to repair stuff anymore.

Speaking of vaccuum cleaners, I really don't miss the old disposable bags!  I much prefer these fance new bagless units, even though the release door mechanism on my Dyson failed and I had to do some strategic plastic repair....

With long haired women in the house, I wish there was an easier way to clean the beater brush on a vacuum.  That is a dirty, irritating job to do on both our Bosch and our Dyson.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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I think they're all similarly designed
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/28/2014 11:30:27 AM
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I recently had to completely recondition a vacant house which a bad tenant had left in a disgraceful mess.  Left behind were 3 very low-cost vacuum cleaners in a shambles in the garage.  All were stuffed to the max with cat hair and debris to the point of non-functionality.  However, each of them were relatively easy to take apart, empty, and get back to working order.  Coincidentally, each of these three different low-cost brands all had the same rectangular felt-filter as described in this article; and all 3 were packed solid with blocking debris.  But just a quick rinse and now I have 3 working (albeit cheapies) vacuum cleaners to give to my kids for their apartments.

tekochip
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Coin Op
tekochip   4/29/2014 8:07:51 AM
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I should mention that while I designed coin-operated games, serviceability and reliability were at the forefront of every design decision.  Diagnostic software is always included in the games, components are often socketed DIPs or through hole (remember those?), and access panels were constantly tested to make certain that it was easy to access components that may need to be examined or serviced.
 
Of course, consumers don't buy coin operated games, though.


rjnerd
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This might explain...
rjnerd   4/29/2014 4:53:05 PM
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At a kids makerspace I am involved in, we do a lot of take-things-apart.  Gets tools into the hands of 8 year olds, and from learning how stuff gets put together, they learn how to build thier own things.

 

Anyhow, last week was school vacation day camp, and of course many things fell under tiny hands with screwdrivers.  Suprising to me was a sudden influx of upright vacuum cleaners.  At first I assumed that it was typical student moving out happening a bit early.  (many came from "curb depot")  Your filter explanation might be the real answer, since only one had an easily diagnosable failure (the brush ate a sock, and the motor melted thru the drive belt).

 

Luckily they were still mostly phillips'd together as kids don't start with the idea that torx means they have to match driver sizes.  What did surprise me a little, was the one electrolux, that I thought was commercial duty, as it was the hardest to get apart. We gave up trying to unsnap things, and took a jigsaw to the case.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: This might explain...
Cabe Atwell   4/29/2014 11:30:36 PM
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I am absolutely convinced that appliances today are either engineered to fail after a certain amount of time or are unserviceable by the average person. To that end, I'm still using a 100-year old Kirby vacuum that hasn't quit yet.

Amclaussen
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Re: This might explain...
Amclaussen   5/9/2014 2:32:58 PM
Me too, but mine is an old RAINBOW vacuum with a "water filter" system that cleans the air by passing it through water, wetting most of the dust and retaining it into the water, that is very easy to use because you just throw out the dirty water instead of having to deal with dusty bags.  My vacuum was probably more than 30 years old when my mother passed away and left it to me.  I've serviced it several times (mostly brushes and some bearing changes) and the damn old thing keeps working as new every time!  Even the serviceman that sells me the replacement bearings has expressed more than a couple of times his desire to buy it from me! (In case I wish to get the newest model, that I don't find as well assembled as the old model BTW).

For me, this shows the deplorable "state of the art" and the very stupid position of present day designers that keep producing plain bad designs. The  only thing aspect that my old Rainbow Vacuum cleaner that is not up to modern standards, is that it is Noisier than newer ones, but the difference is not that much.

It was made by Rexair Inc, Troy Michigan.  My hat is off to those designers. Every time I use it, I feel their commitment to quality and client satisfaction.  The fact that the Rainbow Vacuum cleaners are still made today attest to the fact that when an item is well made, people will buy it, and the name brand can and will survive. Amclaussen.

 

Cadman-LT
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Re: This might explain...
Cadman-LT   5/13/2014 5:06:31 PM
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Too funny!

Cadman-LT
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Re: This might explain...
Cadman-LT   5/13/2014 5:08:48 PM
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I don't know how many times I have said it, but I am certain that these days they make stuff to break(fail) so that you have to buy a new one.  It's sad.

Cadman-LT
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Re: This might explain...
Cadman-LT   5/13/2014 5:10:21 PM
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Think of all of the little parts. Like a plastic washer instead of a metal one. They saved one cent, but it made your equipment fail!

Turbineman
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Re: This might explain...
Turbineman   5/23/2014 3:41:07 PM
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Remembering my Mother's Rexair vacuum from the early 1950's, I decided to buy a new one 30 years ago.  This one came with a powerhead (motor and brush), where my Mother's didn't.  After about 10 years, I got tired of taking the powerhead in to replace the burned out motor and threw the whole vacuum system away.

William K.
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Re: This might explain...
William K.   5/23/2014 8:04:00 PM
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Cabe, what we have here is a classic case of "design for assembly" taken to the extreme of not considering servicability. Those snap tabs that work so well when the plastic is new a nd a bit more flexible will break if they are flexed after a few months. And the tolerances for the fits assure that they will indeed need to be bent a lot to get the thing apart. This magazine has published a few "design for assembly" stories in the past, and the only thing touted was the cost reductions. There was never a comment about the product ever being repairable.

The fix for some of those snap-tabs is to carve away some of the latch so that they can be released. Not always possible, but it works when it can be done.

Of course there is also the opposite, appliances so incredibly complex that they are not serviceable. The Keurig coffee maker is a great example of that. In addition to at least 75 screws the device also has a few snap fits, and a dis-assembly sequence designed to assure that one is never taken apart in a manner to allow it to be re-assembled correctly.

Mr. Wirtel
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Re: This might explain...
Mr. Wirtel   5/25/2014 12:17:44 PM
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@Cabe: I think this is very true with items involving technology. My MP3 player cost $150 and performed phenominally. I had over 15 hours of my favorite music on it which I recorded from CD's and vinyl. I drove from St. Louis to Washington DC in bliss listening to my music and never heard the same song twice. It got misplaced and when I found it the battery was totally drained. I was able to charge it enough to play for awhile and I did that several times. Now it will no longer even accept a charge. I called the number that came with the accompaning paper work for support. The lady laughed and told me that model was obsolete and I should just replace it with a better newer model which was far cheaper than what I had. I did not want to replace the unit, I just wanted to know where to send it to have the battery replaced. "Oh nobody does that." 

I still have the device in hopes I will stumble across someone who can fix it.

armorris
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Platinum
Programmed obsolescence
armorris   5/23/2014 4:24:37 PM
From time to time I have been asked to repair things for friends. Recently, and on two occasions, I had been asked to repair (Chinese-made) dual cassette recorders. As expected, belts were worn and had to be replaced. I had plenty of belts on hand from my VCR repair days. I don't think you can even get drive belts any more. I threw away all of my other VCR parts. Anyway, both cassette recorders/copiers had the drive motors running anytime the power switch was on, even if it was not playing or recording. Since they both used small DC brush motors with a limited lifetime, I'm sure that was done intentionally to shorten the life span of the device. Both tape decks had switches that could have controlled the motors. Instead, the switches just told the electronics which deck was being used. Since one of the dual-deck units had a wired remote pause feature,  I connected a couple of diodes to those switches and moved a resistor in the motor control circuit so that both motors stopped when neither deck was in use.

TRCSr
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More than vacuum cleaners
TRCSr   5/23/2014 9:38:04 PM
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The automobile industry has taken this technique to the moon. Visit any forum dedicated to any brand of automobile and you will find many similar stories to this regarding cars and trucks with "unserviceable" components. I agree with the poster that this may be a part of the "planned obsolecence" theory.

fire-iron.biz
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Re: More than vacuum cleaners
fire-iron.biz   5/24/2014 8:36:09 AM
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Unservicable is one thing but nothing beat the '08 Ford Diesel pick-up truck engine with the cartridge oil filter on top of the engine. As soon as the housing seal is broken to remove the filter cartridge, the backflow of oil runs all the dirt out of the filter and back into the engine.

Amclaussen
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Re: More than vacuum cleaners
Amclaussen   6/18/2014 1:26:54 PM
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And what happens if you empty the oil pan completely before loosening the filter?

fire-iron.biz
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Re: More than vacuum cleaners
fire-iron.biz   6/18/2014 4:29:37 PM
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Amclaussen,

What happens with the oil pan does not change the fact that the oil filter is mounted on the top of the engine. When the seal on the filter housing is broken, the backflow of oil flushes dirt/debris stopped by the filter back into the oil passages. Stirring up dirt means premature death in any lubrication system. There are two primary reasons why properly designed cartridge filter housings allow the cartridge to remain in the bowl as it's being removed: 1. All trapped materials remain in the housing; 2. the filter & housing can be pre-lfilled before installing to minimize dry-run periods.

Amclaussen
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Re: More than vacuum cleaners
Amclaussen   6/18/2014 4:38:29 PM
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Now I see.  You are right, of course! (I was guessing the system could pressure drive the back flow, now I see it is not the case).

And I suspect the placement above the engine could have other disadvantages too. (Air pockets?)...

I personally hate when filters are not mounted vertically with the mounting face upwards... horizontally mounted ones always tend to spill some oil on engine or on the floor.  I have the practice of minimizing lack of lubrication trying to fill fliters as much as possible before screwing them to the engine block.  When assembling a new or rebuilt engine, I used means to turn the oil pump in order to prelubricate the entire engine before the critical first start-up.  From time to time, I found engines with some problem like one rocker arm not feeding oil, and dirt dislodged from dirty oil galleries from not properly cleaned engine blocks. But knowing that Ford designed such a filter on top of the engine only raises my disbelief on that company designs and products. Amclaussen.

fire-iron.biz
User Rank
Gold
Re: More than vacuum cleaners
fire-iron.biz   6/19/2014 10:26:24 AM
I'm in my twenty-ninth year of experience serving industrial clients and nothing surprises me anymore. I used to ask, "How much more stupid could they get?" and not a month passes without the trophy passing to a new recipient. To be fair it's not just Ford or even the automotive industry (though they are leading the pack) it's everything from waste shredding/compacting equipment to residential refrigerators. Brand new air conditioner, how brilliant to use a non-corrosive plastic condensate tray then attach it with steel rivets that will rot out in a couple years. How brilliant to locate the completely unnecessary and overly delicate electronic control directly above the oven vent on kitchen range where it gets blasted with steam and 500°F heat. Failure to install <$500 worth of bearing guards to prevent a $65k failure on a $1.2 million machine. Total loss of a machine and over $2 million in damages resulted from a short-circuit that would have been prevented had engineering not considered a $100 fuse assembly "unnecessary".

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