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Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Engineered Sealing Systems
Ivan Kirkpatrick   10/12/2011 12:49:37 PM
I learned a long time ago while working on Submarine Design that sealing systems, especially, O-Rings are highly engineered solutions.  The design of the grooves and mating parts is critical down to a few mils.  The application of backing rings in some applications is also critical. 

For the new submarine, a change in o-ring material from buna-n to viton was a very big deal.  

Consider the o-rings used in the shuttle boosters, that is a highly engineered solution and  it failed in a spectacular fashion at a cost of billions.

As simple and easy as o-rings look and feel to a consumer they can be critical in many places and adversely affect a products reputation and reliability.  Systems that leak and create a mess for consumers to clean up, let alone deal with expensive failures are a painful testament to these highly engineered systems that look so simople.

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Root Cause?
Jack Rupert, PE   10/12/2011 1:47:32 PM
What did it seem the cause of the problem was with the o-ring?  Did the monkey in the "C" country use a poor material choice for the application or were the mechanical tolerances wrong?  (or something else?)

User Rank
Quick change
Tim   10/12/2011 10:08:39 PM
I have only had bad experiences with Quick Lube places.  Stripped out oil plugs are a common problem.  Also, I only had three quarts of oil put in my engine while it required 5.  Now, I change my own oil.

David McCollum
User Rank
The more work I send out. . .
David McCollum   10/12/2011 11:57:44 PM
. . . the more I figure I should have done it myself. In this age of outsourcing, I find that the money saved seldom equals the increased cost of poor workmanship and materials. Whether automotive work or home maintenance, I almost always try to do it myself unless it requires being on the roof or using an engine hoist. Even then, I find it necessary to surpervise most operations if I want it done correctly.

User Rank
Quality of service
Noswad   10/13/2011 9:37:07 AM
It is sad but it seems as if quality of service these days is hard to come by. I do all of my own maintenance and repairs on vehicles and around the house because I can't trust that anyone will do the job correctly. What has happened to the days of pride of workmanship? Attention to detail? It is frustrating to think when I get older and can't physically do these things myself what will I do?

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Cheaply Made Automotive Components
averagejoe72677   10/13/2011 9:58:29 AM
A disturbing trend has been occurring in the automotive replacement parts business over the last few years. Namely, parts made in China. I recently learned that my last trusted supplier (NAPA) is even sourcing some parts from China now. The terms precision, quality and durability do not appear to translate into Mandrin. A cheap price is about all they have to offer. As we all know, cheap and quality do not always go hand in hand. This has been my experience in my former job. I tested Chinese made components and assemblies for durability and function. Needless to say, most were graded "D" or "F". Despite the test results and my test reports the employer proceeded to source components and complete units from Chinese suppliers because they were cheap. In the end the company lost many of its valued customers and filed bankruptcy. I do much of my own automotive work and when I can avoid it, I will pay more and not buy Chinese made parts. 


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We can't always blame that C country
Dave   10/13/2011 10:52:09 AM
  Many of the companies based here in the US have their products assembled in that country. To maintain a good reputation, it is pertinent that the company in question ensure that materials used are to specification. Some o-ring materies are not suitable for use with motor oil (EPDM being one of them) and many companies require component suppliers to provide material certs to ensure the correct material is used. Our company has, in some cases, insisted that an out-of-country supplier of subassembles use only parts made here in the US but in other cases, other countries' suppliers were able to provide proof of material before a particular component was accepted both here and in the country of assembly.

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Re: Quick change
Dangela   10/13/2011 11:59:19 AM
Or just as bad, put in 5 quarts when it requires 3.5.

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Re: Cheaply Made Automotive Components
Amclaussen   10/13/2011 12:19:06 PM
averagejoe72677  wrote: "The terms precision, quality and durability do not appear to translate into Mandrin[sic]. A cheap price is about all they have to offer..."

While most of the blame on Chinese products is deserved, blaming all on them automatically is plain shortsight (no offense).  While I sympathize with your feeling sometimes, I invite you to carefully look around you in this very moment... The phones, computer, monitor, memory on your portables, your portables, cameras, TV's, tools... Gosh!, almost all them are made in China, and most of them work perfecly OK; Don't they?  ...These items HAVE enought quality. -SO, Where needs the blame to be assigned?

I guess it begins with the stupid, greedy CEO's in most american (and too many other countries) companies, that rejoice comptemplating the very few cents they are "saving" (or the many thousands in bonuses they are collecting for their "hard" work) when they send the production, fabrication, assembly, and even design to China or similar countries.

To put it clearly: Today many Chinese companies are more than able to produce the best quality in the world.  BUT, why are so many cheap, improvised, badly designed items reaching the buyers?  It is because the buying companies persist in lowering costs without even checking that the quality level of the goods is truly built into them.  Do the company buying/ordering/fabricating then in China bother to inspect the items? (or are they going to say it is costlier than fabricating them?)

One friend of mine is into the Model Airplane Hobby Business; He travels to Oriental countries yearly to check for their offerings.  He has told us that a given fabricator has up to SEVEN different versions of (almost) the same engine... at a range of prices according to quality, but the important thing is that even to his trained eye, the different versions look amazingly similar, almost equal!  Then the problem lies in the buyer or importer, or the company that fabricates them in China, more than anything else.  Besides that, he tells me that there are no american made model airplane engines still made today, other than a very few specialty ones, and some of them are made from components made in China!

Another aspect that needs consideration is that for a given product, there a hundreds or thousands of Chinese companies available to deal with.  Without a CAREFUL, slow and through revision, there is a possibility to make a deal with the wrong ones.

Next time you feel the urgent need to blame on a Chinese product, ask yourself if the people that produced it was asked to deliver their best effort based on COST or QUALITY by the persons making the deal.  And that the american (or any other foreign) businessman visiting the Chinese takes the time and effort to learn at least a little Standard Chinese (Putonghua / Guoyu / Huayu), not Mandarin, instead of specting the other side to fully understand and correct all the terms of the deal. amclaussen.


User Rank
Re: Quick change vs DIY oil changes
Amclaussen   10/13/2011 12:58:55 PM
Additionally, performing our own oil changes allows a lot of extra benefits:

1) You can visually check the appearance of the oil. Putting a couple of drops on a piece of white napkin paper will show discolorations; smell it, does it have the slightest gasoline odor?; how thick or thin it appears to be? Does it contain the slightest traces of visible metallic particles (under sunlight)?, How much oil is using your engine between changes? Ideally, you could even cut the oil filter to check the filtered matter... It is done in carefully maintained fleets.  There are some excellently designed filter cutters that make this more a fast move than a chore. How much do you love your engine?

2) You can be shure the replacement Oil and the Flter are of good quality, not something the Quick-and dirty- place buys in a drum size container...

3) You can add an "Oil System Cleaner" or "Oil Flush" before draining the used oil, allowing the engine to fast idle for 3 minutes, which will get more dirt out of the engine that only draining the used oil; specially with Turbo or Supercharged engines, since the Turbo bearings and oil galleries are thinner than those of the rest of the engine. Flushing the engine oil is safe as long as you Don't load it or rev it above fast idle.

4) You can allow the used oil much more time to drain out, much more than the "Quick Change" places allow... in the mean time you can take out spark plugs, change the air filter, or the gas filter; check the condition of the belts, the coolant and the brake fluid.

5) You can check the condition of the engine gaskets, re-grease the suspension in older cars, or just drink a cool beer in the meantime!

6) I've SEEN several "Quick (and dirty) Change" places just clean the outside of the used oil filter, instead of replacing it.  Not replacing the filter at EVERY oil change means up to 25% of the oil is not changed. One time I saw the old filter got a shining new STICKER with the date on it!

7) Be sure to carefully collect and dispose of the used oil and filter at a proper collection center, remember it only takes 5 quarts of used motor oil to render a full water truck undrinkable ppm's).

I have had the pleasure to disassemble some well cared engines, where the owner was careful enough, they are clean, free of dirt and goo... but also have seen some that appear to have the factory oil left in them! Nothing can be and look so different.

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