"good ol days"

Thread Starter


Joined Oct 3, 2010
My dad was born in 1955. When I hear him and my grandparents talk about how things were, and more specifically to this thread, how things were made, I am envious. Not many things made nowadays will be around when I'm a grandpa. That makes me sad. I want things that are made to last. Nothing is made to last anymore. Is there a way we can get things made to last? Can we as consumers demand things made to last? if we demand it, will it happen do you think? I think not enough people care to organize a mass consumer demand of quality widgets.

side topic: I posted a similar post over on facebook and been in a debate with a mid-30's friend (10 years older than I) who says that "every generation says that the previous generation had it better. The world isn't going to hell in a handbasket, but every generation in their time thinks that it is."

I don't think so. Even my dad says he feels sorry my generation; we were dealt a bad hand. What do you think?


Joined Jul 27, 2011
I think the 00's were certainly a drag compared to the 90's, but you can find good and bad in every generation/era. There are some things I'd love to change back to the way they "used to be," and other thing I'm thankful have changed.

It's how you play the hand you're dealt that matters. :D


Joined Jun 7, 2009
I was born in 56' and have very fond memories of yesteryears. I can't imagine working in a plant that was all chains, gears, and belts though. Much rather ship that to the melting pot and install servo drives. Couldn't imagine hand cranking my car in the morning or adjusting the rabbit ears for better reception. Give me sirrius radio any day over a couple local AM stations.

We replace equipment not because it's broken, it's because the new stuff is better for throughput and efficiencies.


Joined Jul 9, 2011
IMO there are two things that play a major role in having nowadays the things that don't last.

First, things contain much more electronics and fragile mechanics, mostly in order to increase efficiency etc. So they break more easily.

Secondly, and that's the main reason IMO, the customer doesn't want to pay for longlasting products. We want everything as cheap as possible. Companies have no other alternative than to produce cheap and to be the first on the market in order to beat the competitor (first hand experience).

Companies develop products here and produce them in China to lower cost. Then there are asian companies themselves who develop their own products and bring it on the market... Everything these days is about lowering production costs, I have relatives who suffered the direct impact of this system.

We want laptops for $400 and then want them to last forever. There is a big discrepancy in wanting everything cheap AND wanting it to last. IMO the customer is controlling himself if he gets a quality product or not.

What's the main objective for a normal human being? Survive, feed his family and have a good life. Does he care much about the future? Does he car much about if the product he helps to produce/develop will last for 50 years? I really don't think so. Humans in general are not able to think too far into the future, that's why politics don't work neither.


Joined Apr 25, 2008
You have the good O"le days of the past and the good O'le you are living now.
You have to blend the two together as you live your live today.Never to
forget the past and look forward to the future. You have more to over come
going into the future. It don't have to be a tough road.


Joined Jul 3, 2008
Even my dad says he feels sorry my generation; we were dealt a bad hand. What do you think?
There are pros and cons to everything. My Grandfather, who died at age 92 in 1998, always claimed that the 1950s were the best time for him. He was a US born citizen, whose parents were immigrants. He worked hard, became a dentist, and had a great life with his wife by his side continuously (she died a week after he did). He had 2 kids (my mom and my uncle) who were teenagers in the 1950s. We should all be so lucky.

However, maybe a Black American (or other minority) at that time would have felt differently, given the institutionalized discrimination. Or, maybe a women who wanted a career would have felt differently given the social pressure to conform and be a housewife and Mom only in those days.

However, on the subject of quality. That was the time when "American Made" really meant something and those things really lasted (other countries were good too). My grandfather had 2 Electrolux vacuums that were about 50 years old when we (not he mind you) threw them away. His 1950s refrigerator was still working at his lakehouse when it burned down in 1996. It probably would have still been working today if not for the fire. I still have his motors, drills, grinders, hand tools, fans and other stuff that continues to work decade after decade. Yet, many things I buy myself are not likely to last even 10 years. Clearly, many things today are poorly designed, and some are actually designed to fail prematurely.

There are still things of reasonable quality nowadays, but they tend to be the exceptions. I can think of my Mac computers, my Weber grill and my John Deere tractor that seem well designed and well made and I feel satisfied with those purchases. Also, for the most part, automobiles are pretty damn reliable given what we ask them to do.

In the end, I think there is much truth to what your father says. But, I think feeling sorry for you is a little too extreme. If you think on it, I'm sure there are many advantages you enjoyed that he would have been envious of at your age. Think on it and make a list for him. ;)
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Joined Mar 24, 2008
I have a Heinlein view of the universe, in that over time things do get better. We think of better ways of doing thing, problems taken for granted get solved, and overall things improve.

One measure of this tends to be lifespan. Lifespans in general keep going up, but I think this trend has reversed somewhat over the last few years in USA, though I could be wrong. This relates to a quality of life issue.

Another quality of life issue may contradict my assertion, in that lifespans may be increasing. There was a time you could retire at 62, nowdays the philosophy seems to be going to work till you drop. Couple that with the tendency to save the best jobs for younger people and sideline people in scag jobs at 50+ it is getting less pleasant all the time.

It doesn't help that I believe we are in a borderline depression (the Great Recession is so much political spin IMO).

But in general, things do get better. We are just living the Chinese curse of interesting times right now.


Joined Apr 25, 2008
This also is a subject that depends on where you are looking at it from.
They are now predicting the job thing won't change till 2018.
They are also demonstating machines that guys on the Forum should
be able to operate and jobs available.They are computer operated
machines.We really don,t know what talent we have on the forum.
Some members have albums of there work,Bill and few guys show there


Joined Jul 7, 2009
You can still buy things that last -- you just have to know what to look for and where to get them. That, of course, can be a Catch-22.

It also depends on what you're buying. An awful lot of modern stuff is electronic in nature and reliability of modern electronics is, in a word, pretty bad (OK, that was two words :p) -- for a variety of reasons: consumers don't demand reliability, they aren't willing to pay for it, and it's difficult for manufacturers' engineers to learn how to design reliable equipment.

In addition, reliability tends to go down as part count goes up -- automobiles are a good example. But they've gotten better too through competition -- I remember buying cars in the 60's and a car with 50,000 miles was usually considered a junker because it was at its end of life. The last three cars we've purchased all had more than 150,000 miles on them when we bought them -- and we've gotten good service from them.

How the item is made is also a factor. For example, since I'm an amateur machinist, I've bought lots of machinist tools over the last 50 years. Early on, I decided I would only buy things by Starrett, Brown & Sharpe, and Mitutoyo. That has been a good policy, as their stuff lasts with care. I bought a Mitutoyo 0-1 inch micrometer in the late 1960's and it's still working perfectly sitting on my lathe. It reads identically to the baby micrometer in my shop -- a Starrett that I got in 1980 (and both check perfectly on the same gauge block). I'm still using a Starrett micrometer I got from my grandfather -- and he qualified as a machinist around 1910 (I'd imagine the this micrometer I keep in my electronics bench was made around World War 1). The manufacturing methods for such things are quite mature, so lasting quality can be delivered at a decent price. The other day I was using a beautiful old cast iron builder's/plumber's level from Starrett (I got it in new condition about 25 years ago for $20 from a tool store that didn't know what it was worth!) to measure a roof slope on a building I'm fixing and I showed the level to my wife and told her this thing was made for the ages. If it's taken care of, it will last indefinitely.

I've long followed the maxim "buy the best and only cry once". Finding the best forces you to do your homework (not hard for an anal retentive :p).

As far as electrical stuff, some of it was made very well. I have a General Radio 1650B impedance bridge that was probably made 40 years ago, yet it works just fine (if someone in the US wants to buy it, lemme know by PM because I have two LCR meters and I don't need it). When I was in college, I'd occasionally get to use really old equipment from the storeroom -- some of it was made in the early 1900's or late 1800's -- and it still worked great. My HP 3400A meter was made the same year I started college in the 60's -- and it's still working great. So some electrical equipment can be considered "from the good 'ol days". And it'll keep running as long as parts can be gotten for it.

However, as others have mentioned, the typical consumer wants low cost. This forces manufacturers to reduce their costs and reliability/robustness tend to be the things that suffer first. It can also happen because the manufacturer wants to maximize profit and is willing to chance losing some customers due to poorer quality.


Joined Nov 30, 2010
I'll recap a conversation I had with my neice.

In the 1950's, I spent summers on the farm and saw enough to understand that planting vegetables and canning them in Mason jars meant surviving through the winter, that sunrise and sunset were the only clock they needed, that building a pen and raising a couple of hogs meant they could have real coffee that year. I carried a bucket of water up the hill from the spring when I wanted a bath, and waited until it got to room temperature if I wanted a warm bath. I cleaned out the furrow that ran from the drain on the kitchen sink to the out house.

My mother and father worked in cities, bought their house instead of building it, and had a car. They had already forgotten which tree was the best one for the bottom beams of a house or which one was best for making shingles. I had electricity and water that came out of a faucet. I realized that I was the first generation of truly pampered wusses. Now, life is so easy that the kids don't believe they need to pay attention in school. With only a little bit of lying, they can send you to jail for making them do their homework.

In another vein, I don't believe that consumers wanting cheap products causes $30,000 cars with a dozen microprocessors in them. My 1948 Ford pickup truck had everything I wanted except air conditioning. When I got a 1976 Ford van, I designed and installed an air conditioner in it. When the transmission broke, I went to school and learned how to rebuild automatic transmissions.

When I want quality, economical operation, or long term reliability, I build it myself. I have the only street lights on my block and I built them because it was cheaper than paying the electric company $13 a month (each) for street lights. They paid for themselves in 2 years and have been running for 30+ years. When the high voltages from the local power company started burning out the heater element in my 1979 clothes dryer, I did the research and installed a Calrod heater that can stand 250 Vrms. It's still working. I have a 1938 drill press and the motorized knife sharpener that my dad bought in 1959.

If more "consumers" acted like me, somebody might build some quality into their products instead of claiming they have to make flimsy products or I won't buy them. Everybody wants low prices, but who in their right mind buys Ohio Forge tools instead of something like Milwaukee or Makita? I paid $250 for a laser printer and haven't spent a dime on it in 4 years because I couldn't get an ink jet printer to last 2 weeks because the ink cartridges clogged up if I didn't print something every few days. Recently, I learned on this site that somebody decided to put a "warranty timer" in a printer so it would shut itself off after X number of pages. The manufacturers are screwing us to death and blaming us for their decisions!

It's nice to have a rant occasionally. Thank you for your patience.


Joined Apr 25, 2008
@12,If you have a report of property missing or stolen and you want it found
and you want some effort.You are told,you don,t you have insurance to replace
the stuff. You buy stuff they want you to insure it,you are a bad guy if you
try to find your property. They want you to buy an alarm that is not answered
and if it is you are charged a fine for your effort. There an old saying if you need
help, yell fire and help will come.


Joined Nov 30, 2010
As usual, loosewire, your comment has nothing to do with what you claim to be replying to. I said nothing about anything missing or stolen, or insurance, or alarms, or needing help, or the sorry condition of the police.


Joined Sep 30, 2009


Joined Nov 30, 2010
I refrain from taking pot-shots at loosie because I can't understand him, but when he names me in his "reply" I feel I can respond to that without being out of line. No offense intended, just confusion or bewilderment.


Joined Nov 25, 2009
tsk, tsk, tsk... How can you people demand merchandise that will last for life? If you toaster lasts forever how do you expect our dear companies to sell their new model to you every year?

The nerve of some people...


Joined Mar 24, 2008
When I was a kid in school they claimed making things too durable was one of the reasons for the great depression. I was leery of that claim then, even more so now.


Joined Sep 30, 2009
I refrain from taking pot-shots at loosie because I can't understand him, but when he names me in his "reply" I feel I can respond to that without being out of line. No offense intended, just confusion or bewilderment.
Normally I wouldn't do my Loosie touches, but he entered the challenge a while back:) So I been 'touching the Loosewire' ever since. Now it would be hard for me to stop:) No offense meant, its basically the way my brothers and I talk to each other, so its just natural.


Joined Apr 25, 2008
Before they had divers,they use to drag the river for bodies.
Some of you guys have been dragging the river and have
found nothing. I am a airhead and I operate in a vacuum,
In a professional way.With help of weight" I can walk on
land" on the ocean floor. There Is more to me than the
ocean picture. I am bigger that the remarks that try to
hold me down. I am greater than the average man,I travel
in company that you could only dream about,like Shortbus
says Don't touch the Loosewire.
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