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.
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.
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?
. . . 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.
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.
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?)
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.
Fifty-six-year-old Pasquale Russo has been doing metalwork for more than 30 years in a tiny southern Italy village. Many craftsmen like him brought with them fabrication skills when they came from the Old World to America.
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