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Beth Stackpole
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Modern day equivalent
Beth Stackpole   12/28/2011 7:28:56 AM
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Yet another example of a clearcut fix right in front of your nose that somehow you just can't see. I wonder with today's modern vehicles if there's any kind of equivalent problem that occurs. It seems like easy to fix switches have been replaced with software code that may be just as simple, but nearly always requires dealer intervention.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Modern day equivalent
Rob Spiegel   12/28/2011 7:47:31 AM
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Yes. What I find charming about this story is that the engineers -- and management -- of the late 1950s and early 1960s had no idea their products would still be around and loved decades after rolling off the line. Their customers loved these little Fords. Reminds me of the Bob Seeger song "Makin Thunderbirds," sung from the line workers' POV: "We were young, we were proud, we were makin' Thunderbirds."

Tim
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Platinum
Same issue?
Tim   12/28/2011 9:36:53 AM
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As a kid, we had the same symptons with a late 70's model Plymouth. It would "stall" at any moment. My dad spent multiple hours and a lot of money at garages to figire out the problem to no avail. I never remember him checking the shifter. To bad this vehicle has since been recycled, or I would tear it apart now.

jmiller
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Re: Modern day equivalent
jmiller   12/28/2011 10:25:14 AM
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The toughest part about fixing something like this now is the fact that there are two million switches on the average car.  Back then there was this one switch.  Now if something goes wrong on my car or truck I cringe at the thought of an electrical problem.  Because electrical problem has become synonomous with the term costly.

It appears this is not just an automobile issue though.  Everything has more switches, buttons, timers, and cycles.  Just look at the average coffee maker.  You can't just get one that turns on and off.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Modern day equivalent
Beth Stackpole   12/29/2011 9:05:36 AM
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Switches and software--the lifeblood of any product today, no matter how basic. We write about all of these do-it-yourselfers in the Sherlock column, but I'm wondering how many folks out there really still try to troubleshoot and fix their own cars, appliances, and gadgets today, especially those that are current generation (i.e., lots of switches and embedded software) vs. tinkering with the products of past generations.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Modern day equivalent
Rob Spiegel   12/29/2011 1:11:04 PM
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Good point, Beth. I would guess very few consumers are tinkering with their failing products. That is, with the exception of Design News readers. I think our readers leap at the chance to dig into a product, find out what's not working, and try to fix it.

jmiller
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Re: Modern day equivalent
jmiller   12/29/2011 1:34:23 PM
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Both my wife and I still like to dig in as far as we can go.  I think the most frustrating part is taking something apart and finding out the trail ends at an electrical component that you can't find or replace.

gafisher
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Gold
Re: Modern day equivalent
gafisher   12/29/2011 1:38:50 PM
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"... no idea their products would still be around and loved decades after rolling off the line."

Most manufacturers today seem neither to know nor care whether their products will last beyond the warranty; in fact, given the bailouts that some companies received for bad products, they might not care if their product lasts longer than it takes to drive it off the dealer's lot.

I can't wait for the day -- coming soon -- when everything from starter to brakes, from accelerator pedal to air bags, communicates through a single high-speed bus; when a stalling problem might result from a latched tire-pressure sensor or a bad dome light switch.  Happy days ahead!  (-:


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Modern day equivalent
Rob Spiegel   12/29/2011 1:42:52 PM
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That's funny Gafishder. I think large appliances are already suffering from your description of one item shutting down the whole system. The mechanics of washers, dryers, dishwashers seem to be in good shape for running smoothly for years. It's the control pads that seem to fail early.


jmiller
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Platinum
Re: Modern day equivalent
jmiller   12/29/2011 2:04:17 PM
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I agree Rob.  I wish or maybe I should say hope consumers voice calling out for quality would be heard by manufacturers who maybe take a few features off of their products and focus on building a durable product.  I would much rathe have a phone that never drops calls, than a phone that can take pictures, text, go on-line and all that other stuff, but drops a call every 5 miles.

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