I bought a Shop Vac from Wal-Mart in 2004 that had similar problems from wet/dry use in my basement and garage. It lasted about 3 years before the motor whined loudly and popped the fusible link. I was unimpressed with the alunimum fan and clip design, as well as the 3 "missing" Plastite screws between the motor housing and the top cover. I was least impressed with the open wire fusible link that showed signs of corrosion on the remaining terminals. I'm used to seeing encapsulated fusible links or TCOs in kettles, coffee makers, and toasters, but this fusible link design truly incorporated planned obsolescence.
I sprayed the motor with silicone spray and modified the top cover to accept a circuit breaker to replace the fusible link. After another year or so of reduced output and noisy service, the motor finally seized and I threw it in the trash. I will not buy another Shop Vac brand vacuum.
I'm not against cost-cutting or re-branding. I'm happy to find a good compromise between cost and performance, and some companies do a better job at striking the balance than others.
Dave, this story keeps showing up again and again in the Made by Monkeys blog. Once-great brands are showing up with problems. From shop vacs to dishwashers, washing machines, and fridges. Buy it in the 70s or 80s and it lasts 30 years. Buy the same brand now and it breaks in two years.
This has got to have some impact on the brand name. I would think it's expensive to to maintain a strong brand name. I would think it's costly to let cheap products erode that name.
As a follow on to this, my son (who had given me the vacuum this posting refered to) noticed a shiny new Stanley vacuum at our house. I don't know how long it will last but it had the features we wanted, namely an additional dust bag. When I told him that I paid $29.95 at Costco for this, he told me that the Shop Vac (yes it was that brand) cost him considerably more and he bought it because of the name brand. I bought the Stanley for 2 reasons, neither having to do with the name: 1. - it was light to make it easier for my wife to roll it throught the house, and 2. it had the features we wanted (dust bag, floor sweeper). I hope it lasts longer than the Shop Vac it replaced.
One comment I would add to some of the postings about slapping a known name on a Chinese import. I wonder if that is the best avenue for a company to take. People buy into name brands equating them to quality, get disappointed as I did with the Shop Vac, and the name is cheapened. I hope my Stanley doesn't follow the same route although I have lower expectations for this.
I have very nice shop-vac ($120) and i have used it a lot and i have had no problems with it, the only thing that i dont like about it is that the wheel assembly busted within a few months but other than that it is very great.
That's a very good point, Bob from Maine. I have a weed eater. I bought the cheapest one. With my current yard, I only use it two or three times during the spring and summer. The cheap one will last forever.
When I had a larger yard, I used the weed eater three or four times a week. I went through a couple cheap ones with that usage.
Every time I purchase a cheap (hobby grade) tool, I regret the purchase every time I use the tool. When it finally breaks (it always does), I research the tool more thoroughly and frequently decide it just isn't worth paying 4 or 5x the cost for a professional grade tool which I will only use 10 or 20 times a year. A basic shop-vac is NOT designed for continuous use, it has a commutated AC motor with brushes, busings instead of bearings, no oil retention or felts and will work fine for the 2 year design lifetime and you can't use it in an industrial environment without hearing protection because it exceeds OSSHAs acceptable sound levels, plus it costs less than $100. A high quality, quiet, continuous duty rated shop-vac costs over $350, weights about 50% more, will last 5 years of heavy duty and because it is usually metal, will dent when dropped and become useless because the lid will no longer seal. A hobbyist will likely need to replace a basic shop-vac once or twice per lifetime, which makes it a pretty good bargain compared to the continuous duty version which will last a hobbyist forever.
Where is it written that a company can only make one product line? Obviously Genie felt they could make different parts on the same equipment and then probably had separate divisions for assembly. One of our biggest customers make rocket launchers for today's Army helecopters,even though they started in business making office furniture. The two product lines existed in the same facility for several decades until the furniture line became unprofitable because of third world imports and the company reorganized as a defense contractor only.
When you are punching, bending and forming metal, it really does not care where it is going to be utilized. Whether it be an office chair or hardware to mount a 24 pod rocket launcher onto an instrument of destruction. We are a job shop and produce components for a multitude of product lines in very diverse industries. It is that capability that has kept me continuously employed through the whole recession. At least to this point. Praise the lord and pass the broad base of customers.
You what? Threw it away? I retrieved a 1.5 hp Shop Vac from a dumpster out of curiousity and checked it out - they poorly designed the motor assembly with 1 steel thrust bearing and 1 bronze bushing. The bushing is guaranteed to wear out prematurely - the motor chatters and eventually goes south. Some dimensional analysis shows the bushing housing is the same size as the bearing housing - bought a sealed steel bearing for $1.50 and now the things hums nicely - ShoVac wanted $40 for a new motor assembly compared to $60 for a new vacuum. What a waste. No excuse for this kind of shoddy design.
You're right about brand names not being what they used to be, 3drob. A quick perusal through the Made by Monkeys blog finds stories of disaster problems with many of the major brands of the past, from Maytag to Sears Craftsman.
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