Companies, engineers, and product designers should keep their eyes on Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition (MRRC), which comprises independent mechanics and parts retailers, has worked on a "right to repair" ballot initiative for the November 2012 election. The coalition contends auto manufacturers will not sell their members the same diagnostic and repair tools sold to the manufacturer's dealers. If passed by voters, the law would compel vehicle manufacturers to make tools and repair information available for anyone to buy. I suppose buyers in the Bay State could resell to anyone they wish, thus making the "close to the vest" tools and information widely available.
Of course, the authorized auto dealers want to protect their profitable repair and service businesses. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Opponents say 'right to repair' could give independent auto parts makers access to carmakers’ proprietary designs, leading to substandard knockoffs. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says 'right to repair' is unnecessary because car companies already provide repair information for a fee to mechanics. Backers of the measure say that information can be spotty and incomplete.
I remember a time when any shade-tree mechanic could go to the local library or auto parts store and buy a Chilton manual for his make and model car. The manual provides detailed repair and maintenance information, and I don't recall any problems with "substandard knockoff" replacement parts. People bought parts from a dealer or they purchased name brand parts from an independent supplier or chain store. Chilton manuals helped me repair brakes, replace a heater, add electrical controls to a car, tune up engines, rebuild carburetors, and so on. I figure if I buy something, I should have the option to repair it on my own.
Some people have complained about Apple's use of a "pentalobe" screw head in new products, perhaps to discourage people from opening their Mac computers, iPhones, and iPads. Of course, you can now buy a pentalobe screwdriver. But I see a big difference between reverse engineering a screwdriver and reverse engineering electronic diagnostic tools for an automobile, or for lab instruments.
Last week, a customer brought a Mercedes in to East Main Auto in Northborough. It had a problem with its transmission. East Main specializes in Mercedes repair, but owner Kenny Giles was forced to bring the car to a Mercedes dealership to buy the appropriate part. 'Mercedes wouldn’t release the part, because we’re not a Mercedes dealership,' said Giles. It took the mechanic an extra day to fix the car, and probably cost a little bit more money. It happens a lot with new cars. Independent dealerships aren’t given the software, diagnostic tools or parts needed to fix certain cars so owners are forced to return to the dealership for repair.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation? I have. I also have found manufacturers use their own cryptic part numbers, so even if you know a part has died, you cannot figure out what to replace it with. You must buy the component from the manufacturer or an authorized repair center. That's fine for something proprietary, but it stinks if the manufacturer's "QBX-81" transistor is simply a remarked inexpensive 2N3904. If you own something, you should have access to the same documents, tools, and parts as everyone else.
What's your opinion? Tell us in the comments section below.
It certainly would work to use silver solder, but a torch fine enough for fixing that camera would have been quite expensive. Remember the "Water Welder" of a few years back, (1970's)? Perfect for that kind of work but an expenssive tool to buy.
Use silver solder--solder with some silver in it. Get your surfaces clean, clean, clean and use a flux compatible with high heat amd silver solder. A small soldering iron won't work very well. I have used a MAAP-gas torch and know people who have used a Bernz-o-matic torch kit that includes oxygen and a flammable gas.
Don, the first step is to have the surface very clean, then I use a quite hot iron with standard (electronic grade) flux core solder, and possibly a little extra rosin flux. I melt a blob of solder on the surface and then scratch up the surface under the blob with a steel soldering tool. The trick is in removing the oxidized surface layer in an oxygen0-free environment, whicg is under the solder and flux. After a few seconds of scratching there is usually enough area tinned to make a connection. IT does take some practice and a bit of patience. The iron I have used most was a Radio Shack $5 unit, 25 or 35 watts, I think.
I don't know which alloy I have had the best luck with, since most things like that are not labeled as to alloy type, and I am not an SS expert.
Unfortunately this can't be used when soldering to battery cases because it delivers enough heat to damage the battery seals.
The comment about a repair tech's ability to fix CD players brings up an interesting experience of mine. I was given a CD recorder-player that had been declared 'non-repairable" because the laser had failed. It was an interesting challenge, because I had been thinking that it would be handy to have a recorder, so I opened the unit up and investigated it.
I wiped the laser with my finger and then tried to see if that made any difference, and the machine recognised the CD and started playing! So I cleaned the laser properly, with a Q-Tip and solvent, and the system still works well.
My feeling is that the original analysis was done without even opening the case. That would be OK for somebody not claiming to have any servicing skills, but for somebody who represents that they are competent, and charges for their services, it seems a bit unethical. But that is how that particular service organization works, it seems. So I would never recommend a place that sells new equipment as a place to get old equipment repaired. Of course, there may be exceptions, I know.
@WilliamK: The scenario you describe happens far too often and as a result, people often simply discard and replace rather than repair. I recently knocked a shelf off the wall which caused two CD changers to crash to the floor. As a result neither function. After more than a couple dozen phone calls I finally found someone who said "He worked on CD players". There would be a $50 charge to look at each item to diagnose and that would come off the repair bill if they were fixable.
"What if you cannot repair them?" In that case I lose the $50. I have no problem with upfront money to diagnose and then repair, but if the tech cannot fix the item, what guarantee do I have that he/she will even look at them and not just pocket my money? How do I know the tech even has a working knowledge of the items? I do not have any ideas beyond opening the cases and looking for loose wires, which I did. So rather than risk the money I will probably buy a new unit, because I have been too often burned by repair shops that cannot repair. Most recently a VCR. (Yes I still use a VCR, listen to vinyl records and even own a black & white TV, although it never gets used.)
I am not sure any legislation would solve the problem
LED MAC; So, 'the proper MORAL purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness' ?
I remember hearing the story of Union workers picketing a manufacturing plant, and the Owner calling the Governor to send in the National Guard, who proceeded to BAYONET the picketers. That may have made the Owner happy. Those at the pointy ends of the bayonets were probably less happy.
I also remember a story comparing laws to trees, and cutting down the 'trees' that the devil was hiding behind. The punch line was 'when all of the 'trees' are cut down and the devil turns on me, where is there for me to hide ?'
There is also a saying that ' your rights end at the tip of your nose'. I think I might like to have a few laws to protect me from your pursuit of your happiness. Your Utopia sounds more like Anarchy and Lawlessness to me. Please don't include me in your Utopia.
GlennA; I didn't purposely throw out a lure, but here goes... :)
I meant "Moral" in a Randian sense. All other economic systems rely on some form of coercion to dictate economic output, allocation and reward. Free-market capitalism relies on natural economic incentives to promote consensual market activity between free individuals. Key word: consensual
The "Right to Repair" legislation, on the surface, appears to be well-intentioned and innocent, but it IS a minor erosion of economic liberty and an incremental step further down the slippery slope of centrally planned economies. Automakers are coerced/bullied into providing goods/services that they otherwise did not plan to provide in the pursuit of their own economic self-interest.
In my view, the best case outcome here is for automakers to comply to the new legislation by NOT offering new vehicles in the Massachusetts market. I say this because I believe that this is indeed a model for a future national policy. I would rather that automakers be free to innovate, unencumbered by rules made by men and women who don't know how to produce anything besides rhetoric and rules.
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