Monday, July 16, 2007

Let The Next Guy Worry

#268 Let the Next Guy Worry

It was a 1971 Pontiac and we called it “The Forestall.” That’s because the hood was so long you could land a small plane there – just like the aircraft carrier of the same name.

It was made in Canada. It had a cast iron engine block with cylinders that displaced 455 cubic inches. A monster. All metal except for some of the exterior decoration. Weighed almost three tons.

All the car stuff about it was everything you could expect from something that’s half sedan, half half-track. But then there were the little things.

Like the electric chair. Bench seat, really. Six way power seat. Forward, backward, up, down and angle. Hmmm. What WAS that sixth thing?

Anyway, a mile or two after the warranty expired, the six way seat became a no-way seat. Inspection of the underside of the bench showed that a small electric motor drove the motion, and it was connected to the mechanism with a small rubber tube, estimated value 59 cents, at the time,

The parts guy at Pontiac laughed. He said sure he could sell the rubber tube for a couple of bucks (inflation!) but that installing it meant taking out the seat, which meant undoing eight or ten welds, putting on the tube (no tools required!) and then, re-welding the undone welds. The job would take a week and cost almost as much as the car.

Well, we won’t have this car forever. Let the next guy worry about it.

Same car, 3,000 miles later. The “always on” ventilation fan dies. It is situated in a wheel well. Cost of the motor – ten bucks. But to fix it, you either had to take off the left front fender or cut a hole in its inside wall. Couldn’t they put a little door in that inside wall or do Canadians not know about doors? Or maybe they expect a ten dollar fan that’s always running to last forever.

This repair, unlike the seat, got done. But that fan also would have to be replaced eventually. Let the next guy worry about it.

Many years later, GM started putting in those little doors, so when the cheap fan motors burned out, as the inevitably did, they could replace them easily.

But the lesson didn’t carry over into the general manufacturing culture.

The desk at which this is being written was a drawer that won’t close all the way. No problem, just take out the drawer, fix it and put it back, right? Wrong. The drawers do not come out.

The desk is also Forestallish. Big, heavy, clunky. Solid. No assembly required. Took three guys to get it upstairs.

Drawer problem? Let the next guy worry about it.

But it’s not just cars and furniture. It’s international “relations, too.”

Idiotic, unnecessary war in Iraq?

Let the next guy worry about it.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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