Why Fix Things?

You know, at a time in our history that we find ourselves sorting our trash, we see a pronounced drop in the quality of the bigger items in our lives. TV’s, VCRs, computer monitors and other electronic items are now failing at an alarming rate. Manufactures in their quest for the almighty buck and high stock options have discovered that if they use cheaper manufacturing techniques they can save money and have the added reward of things breaking sooner. So some people will buy a new one instead of repairing it.

So we now see items lasting only a few years. In fact it seems that things are made to last just two years.

But look at the effect this has on our environment. TV picture tube glass contains lead and so does the solder on every circuit board in every piece of electronics from computers to VCR’s to cell phones. And all of that toxic materiel, not to mention the energy and raw materials used to make the cabinets, circuit boards and picture tubes. And then all the energy used to make the boxes to ship it in and all the gas for the boats, trains and trucks to get it to a retailer. Then the dumping of the cardboard box and styraphom packing it was shipped in. And the darn thing only lasted two years. What a waste of energy and resources.

This is even more upsetting to me because I realized a long time ago that none of this was necessary and the corporations would have still made money. Not many people know that the best and most repairable TV sets ever made, has been made. And sadly, is no longer made. Zenith Corp made TV sets from 10 to about 5 years ago that where extremely repairable. You could change the whole chassis. That’s right, you could pull the whole chassis out send it to the factory for repair, like refilling a coke bottle and send it out again. You could even update it while there and make it better so it would last longer the next time and they did do this. Some circuits that where not holding up as well where completely redesigned and the new circuit did last longer.

If they where on the ball they could have sold this idea and made a fortune instead of filling for Chapter eleven Bankruptcy as they did a few years ago. You could have bought a Zenith TV and dropped in a new chassis with any new technology that had come down the pick and not had to buy a whole new set. In fact they could have made it so that you could have even change the cabinet style too. You could have keep that set going for easily thirty years.

If you where to do a comparison of who’s sets where still around by year you would find that Zenith made sets fare out lived others for this reason. There are more 15 and twenty-year-old Zenith TV’s still working because they perfected this technology. Then they sold most of their stock to a Korean run company, Goldstar. Who promptly killed the whole thing.

People think that technology is always getting better. But that is not really true. I would say that technology for some time know is just getting cheaper. Cheap technology is driving out better more reliable technology in the field of electronics. Yes, features are improving, some of them of questionable necessitty, but quality and longevity is at an all time low. Price is now driving the product, not quality, not how long it will last. Just make it last till the warranty is up and the stockholders will be happy. That is unless they have the misfortune of buying the product themselves. Zenith used to say, “The quality goes on before the name goes on”. I don’t thing they say that anymore, in fact soon as Goldstar became a major stock holder I receive a Zenith TV (made in Mexico) and found the Zenith logo in the box. It had fallen off in shipping.

Here is one reason things are breaking so soon. Take soldering for example. Every piece of electronic equipment is held together with solder. Years ago they had people hand solder every joint. Then they figured out that they could dip a whole circuit board in solder and do it all at once, less people. This wasn’t bad; circuit boards could last over ten years doing it this way. But then they figured out that if thy glued some of the parts on the bottom of the board they would not need to drill so many holes for the parts leads to feed threw. But, they could no longer dip the boards in solder, as it would destroy these parts. So they sprinkled solder dust on the board and hit it with a hair dryer. They also changed the formula for the solder so it would melt faster. Thus leading us to the new age of electronics. Items that come unsoldered in just two years instead of the previous ten. Quite an achievement when you think about it. Not only does it guarantee that the item will break in two years but they save money on production too and the environment be damned.

So that is a really good reason to fix things because when a tech goes in and solders those boards up by hand like they used to, you just added years to the life of that product and saved the environment too.
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