I too use stereo gear from the 70's for the simple reason that they have yet to wear out. Except for turntables and changers. Them I buy at garage and estate sales. When the motors wear out or the belts start slipping, I pirate the stylii and/or cartridges to recycle in another unit down the line. The most obvious difference I find is how much better the old stuff can pickup and broadcast AM radio. That is very important in St. Louis if you expect to hear Cardinal baseball or Blues hockey. At home I still listen primarily to vinyl, much of which is 40+ years old.
tomintx: I wouldn't say you have a weakness... HiFi equipment from the 70's is frequently known for its excellent performance and outstanding assembly quality, that was available in those great years. After the 80's, manufacturers of HiFi and Stereo gear started to fall into the nebulous, "exotic" or even "esoteric" class of equipment that was frequently promoted on false premises(akin to Black magic!). With the popularity of personal computers, video games and other hobbies, people's interest in genuine High fidelity started to be lost, and things never returned to those golden days. Even when many examples of better and better equipment have been produced on the last 20 years, many fine examples of perfectly good (and extraordinary) equipment persist today. Actually, many of today's FM Tuners are well BELOW the performance of older tuners. Probably the only performance aspect that tends to be better today is stability, but everything else was better in the 70's (I remember having installed and aligned many tuners on those days, and had the pleasure of listening to good FM stations through what was probably the very best example in FM tuners of all time; the Sequerra Model 1, very expensive but exquisitely hand made!. (http://www.google.com.mx/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDQQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhometheaterreview.com%2Fsequerra-model-1-fm-tuner-reviewed%2F&ei=mvlsU8a1Esup8QHOkIGoBA&usg=AFQjCNHEc5crmoq5N-NV0h2pu22i4uqSFQ&bvm=bv.66330100,d.b2U)
Amclussen, The alternator output does need to rise as the temperature drops becaause the voltage to push a charge into a lead-acid battery rises as the temperature drops. But sometimes the clibration of the voltage regulator is a bit off, and a high ground resistance in the regulator circuit will also raise the alternator output voltage. A check of the battery voltage with the engine running will reveal a calibrationproblem but not a problem of excess resistance between the alternator output and the battery terminals. That check requires measuring the voltage between the alternator positive output terminal and the battery positive terminal, and then checking the voltage between the alternator negative and the battery negative. The total drop should be far less than one volt.
Thanks for the insider's view. Everything you say certainly makes sense. of course, "Nothing's designed to last forever." Of all places on the internet, I think user's of this site would be the first to agree with that point.
I think oldjimh's comment makes even more sense. (i.e. presence of a cottage industry, etc.)
The philosophies you've expounded ignore the entire issue of the vehicle resale/resuse market. That vehicle buyers get a replacement every 3 to 5 years is a myopic, product-volume-centric assessment.
I think its a bit of a stretch to take the conversation from soldering a screwed-in "consumable" part to discussing "over-designed and every system backed up with multiple redundancy."
And, consider this: if this sort of issue occurred in a government contracted item & got publicized, it would go down in the annals of infamous engineering history with the [ $300 - $2000* ] toilet seat and hammer.
* - I don't recall what their prices were, and I'm not going to research it.
In fact, Jeff's story is a Double-Monkey Winner:
Story #1: removing all the needles in a guageboard to replace a single lightbulb
Story #2: soldering in a screw-in consumable item
(in my background, a consumable part is one that's expected to need replacement before too long.)
I submit that the better answer is something along these lines:
In the corporate decision process: The objective of maximizing product volume wins over the objective of establishing the brand as a reliable, well-designed product.
The originator of the post failed to specify simple data like Model Year, and mileage!
After all in Auto Industry not a single vehicle is designed to last "forever" and 82% of NEW Vehicle buyers get a replacement every 3 to 5 years.
No vehicle is ever made and no Company would financially survive to cater to the 5% of New Vehicle purchasers who intend to keep it "forever" but in reality only 1.8% do, that is 288,000 vehicles annually out of 16 million or more that end up to be "forever" cars with just one owner.
If every part would be over-designed and every system backed up with multiple redundancy the cars would not cost $20,000, but several times that amount.
Some sytems display a strong temperature dependence: the one in my old 1991 Spirit R/T allows voltage to climb above 16 volts on really cold days! I found out that my modification to add headlight relays started to blow the halogen H4 bulbs frequently as the regulated alternator raised the voltage as the temperature went freezing cold.
That the issue has created a 'cottage industy' as an earlier poster noted tells me it's not an uncommon failure for this line of vehicles. Surely it was a manufacturing decision to save a step, perhaps manual insertion of the lamp. Chances are the panel itself is subcontracted.
When i get really mad i go to the manufacturer's website and click on "investor relations". Then i find the CEO and write him a personal, handwritten note explaining he has a problem with either his design or procurement department which if unchecked will destroy his repeat customer business.
A sample panel from a junkyard would really make the point.
But to an immediate preventive action - incandescent lamp life is inversely proportion to about 12th power of applied voltage. Running your instrument lamps just a little below full brightness will extend their life for years.
I have this weakness for 70's era mid-high end stereo gear (no tubes, I'm not insane). I have an FM tuner which has these nice little Left/right bulbs which help the user to tune right to the center of the frequency. Of course they long ago burned out. I managed to replace them with LED bulbs in the right colors, and it actually works pretty well.
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