Ha, Chuck, that is funny...and quite telling! I did sometimes feel when I was having a hard time getting answers that the only way to get the info you want sometimes as a journalist is to offer a company a "good" article about them. But that would be fair, would it? And isn't that the point of what we're doing--to be fair? Manufacturers of consumer goods in particular should be more, not less interested in this concept.
Yup, I had a Virago back in the Eighties. I enjoyed the low maintenance of a shaft (I once had a chain wrap around the rear axle of a bike and lock up the wheel at highway speed), but the shaft effect was a real eye opener. I learned to down shift BEFORE the turn, never IN the turn, and wouldn't loan the bike to anyone because she lived up to her name - if you don't mind a trip to the dictionary.
I was appalled when I read in the trades that shaft would not be tamed because of litigation fears. As an engineer I still find it astounding that a product would not be made better and safer because the company feared litigation on the basis that a change would not have been made if the company had not feared that the original product was unsafe.
I remember handling was a common problem with all the early driveshaft motorcycles (late 1970's-early 1980's), as I was an avid rider back when driveshaft motorcycles first became prevalent (I read those motorcycle magazines for years). [Actually, I believe the correct motorcycle term is "shaft drive".] When accelerating, the rear suspension of shaft drive motorcycles would raise the back of the motorcycle, due to the pinion gear climbing-up the ring gear. This was easily visible when watching shaft drive motorcycles while riding alongside (I always had and rode chain drive motorcycles). When letting off the throttle with shaft drive, such as going into a turn, the rear suspension would lower the back of the motorcycle, sometimes causing handling problems or pavement contact. This was the exact opposite way that chain driven motorcycles reacted (rear suspension compresses during acceleration, raises when letting off the throttle), so probably many new riders to shaft drive motorcycles needed a period of adjustment.
From my understanding, the reason for motorcycle driveshaft is for less noise and less maintenance than chain drives. Chain drive is more efficient, weighs less, and provides more power to the pavement, so used more on sport bikes. Shaft drive is used more on cruising bikes, since adjusting the chain is easier said than done on a large motorcycle.
Perhaps the best is the cog-belt drive used on many modern motorcycles; quiet, no need for adjustment like chains, and more efficient than shaft drive.
I don't ride anymore (I was a sport bike rider), now I'm just a "cage" driver (car driver), but I still admire and like to look at motorcycles, all brands and types, new and old.
Sounds similar to how some companies would deal with me when I covered the business side of the technology industry. It wasn't really industry-specific like this, though. Some companies had PR people that wanted to help and work together with journalists, while others, like appliance manufacturers, viewed journalists as the enemy. It's really a shame that they behave in this way, especially since it really hurts the consumer, who is investing hard-earned money and trying to make good buying decisions. They deserve the truth.
It is a real pity that our lawyers act like a bloodthirsty mob of hungry ants, and worse yet that the judges approve of this. So it goes, that many omprovements are met with "why didn't you do it right the first time? ", which is certainly an attitude that would tend to stifle any desire to provide real improvements. Even the quite intensely regulated auto industry suffers from it a bit.
As for the problems with the Whirlpool washer, they were about what I would expect to see. I know that is quite a cutting remark, but true it is.
Yes, Liz, most of the automakers have teams of PR people who help answer questions. Appliance manufacturers, in contrast, have PR departments, but they often treat journalists as adversaries, and seem to believe their role is to keep us at arm's length.
I read about a motorcycle manufacturer that had developed a driveshaft system for their bike. Unfortunately changes in torque, like accelerating or downshifting, would cause the the driveshaft to apply force to the rear suspension. The rear suspension would then get a little taller or a little shorter with the changing torque and this would change the rider's center of gravity, which would cause handling problems, particularly if the rider downshifted and then accelerated through a turn.
When the trade magazines reviewed the motorcycle the Engineering Department developed a new rear suspension that would have eliminated the shaft effect, but the Legal department said that making the change on the next model year would suggest that there was a safety issue with the previous model year and expose the company to legal action.
Elizabeth: Before the manufacturer can want to help, they have to admit that they made a mistake. Lawyers make millions from manufacturers who admit to a poor design. Perhaps they think it is better to be quiet and hope the problem goes away.
There is also the internal problem of finger pointing as to who screwed up. I have worked places where it is more important to lay blame than solve problems. I also think the earlier post about greenhorn engineers often plays a role in these messes.
That's really interesting, too, Chuck. So it seems like the automakers are a little more forthcoming about things, whereas manufacturers want to bury their heads in the sand. Like I said i my previous comment, this is not good news for people using potentially defective products.
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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