Expensive and Cheap

I spent Saturday morning doing a job that should never had been required. I was repairing the metal frame for the storm cab on my snow blower. Unlike the snow blower, the cab is not well made. Supporting the open rectangular vinyl shelter is a lightweight tubular metal frame. The segments that attach to the snow blower handle had been welded together. Unlike tubular frames where the joining ends are notched to fit around a section of tubing, these ends were smashed flat and welded onto the side of the tubing. Even I know that creates a much weaker joint.

The upright sections that support the sides and roof of the cab were bent and bolted together. Nuts and bolts make a nice joint but bending lightweight tubing causes kinks and weak spots. I am not a mechanical engineer, but I’ve made enough things out of metal to know that. In fact, there are three gates in our yard – all made from tubular steel – all notched and welded properly and all still swinging after many years of use.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to weld this frame back together. It has broken in all the spots where I’ve looked and thought, “that looks fragile” or “I would have put a gusset there.” If you search for “tubular steel joints” you will find hundreds of images showing methods of connecting steel tubes to other steel tubes. Hardly any will look like this support frame.

The problem with this storm cab frame seems to fall into the category of things that were either designed by people who never use the things they design, or a company that’s being run by accountants. Anyone who has ever walked behind a snow blower knows what happens when you hit a tuft of grass, an uneven joint in the sidewalk or a piece of ice – whump! The blower stops. In my case, the blower stops but the storm cab does not. The joints in the frame have to be able to withstand that shock. The joints in this frame never would. Over time, they all broke.

This time, since I’m retired and it’s not January, I made a preemptive strike against future failures. I added gussets – triangular pieces of metal welded into a 90° angle. I cut some sections of larger tubing (conduit) and made T-shaped braces to wrap around the joints which hadn’t yet broken. In the broken corner that had only been bent into shape, I inserted a piece of steel inside the tubing before welding it back together. I don’t like having to repair things that were made badly. It’s even worse when, like this storm cab, those things were expensive. I don’t mind paying for quality products. I don’t like paying for junk.

63 comments

    • I had the same thought, Judy. If I’m all prepared for a bad winter, maybe it won’t happen. Maddie is enjoying the cool morning walks. I need to think about putting the cover on her cot. I hope you have a great week.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I’m hoping that after all the work you’re putting into the snow blower storm cab, it really won’t be tested this winter because of mild weather! Well, a girl can dream, right?

    We have otherworldly mushrooms here too. Some are intriguing and some are downright eerie. I love the way Smokey comes right up on the deck for his peanuts…..so long as he doesn’t bother Maddie. The Blue Jay needs to keep her distance!

    Will you look at Old Glory kicking up her heels! Nice shot Dan. The sky after a storm is really an awesome sight.

    Hope this is the start of a great week for all of you.
    Ginger

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you and Judy, Ginger. Maybe if I’m prepared for a bad winter, it won’t happen.

      And.a great week for you as well. Maddie was asleep on the cot when Smokey came back for peanut number two. He’s also been foraging in the yard for things to eat – you know, like a squirrel:). Everyone was out when I took Maddie to sit, Smokey, Sammy, the blue jay and the bunny. Busy day.

      Maddie talked me into a long walk, that took us trough the memorial. That’s when the wind popped up the flag.

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  2. I understood exactly nothing in your description of your repairs except for your point, with which I heartily agree: I don’t like paying for junk. Amen! I couldn’t help laughing — ruefully — at your suggestion that things are made/designed by people who don’t use them or by accountants. I’ve suspected as much once or twice. So glad to see those geese northward-bound — may they keep going! And may your preparedness bring us a mild winter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you stuck with me, Maureen. This thing was designed to break. I swear the engineer that designed this never walked behind a snow blower. I’ve been around long enough to replace many things and to notice how little things change in order to save money. I’m sure they add up to.a tidy little sum, but they bring otherwise good products to the bring of being junk.

      I hope you have a great weekend, and allow me to shout that if anyone here hasn’t read your post today, they should hike themselves over to your site :)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope we have a winter like last year, cool weather lasting a long time. Hopefully yours will be warmer lasting just as long!!
    When I saw the flag today I thought of a post I had a while back about the flag and when the flag waves at you – wave back!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Unfortunately, more and more products are being poorly made (from computers to door knobs). I think it’s less about customer satisfaction and more about profit margin. Glad you have the skills to fix the problem (I wouldn’t). Happy snow blowing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good for you, Dan, for preparing for the W season and the S word. I also dislike cheaply made stuff and would rather spend a little more to have it last more than five minutes.

    Happy football win Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy heart attack football win to both of us. Oh my goodness!

      If these guys are so intent on saving a few cents on manufacturing, they should just raise the price. As for the companies that are designing appliances to fail four times faster than they used to, I just shake my head.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a shame the quality of things (or lack thereof) we pay for. The fix looks good, Dan. How did you take that photo of sparks flying–I like it! The flag waving–such a beautiful photograph. Smokey peeking on Maddie is so cute!! Have a great week!

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  7. I hope it works out very well for you this winter and all those joints hold now.

    The sky looks so pretty after the storms. We had about 60 geese fly by yesterday late afternoon…all heading northeast. I wondered where they were going?!!

    That’s a Blue Jay we don’t have. I love its markings! Smokey is adorable!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah. I keep trying to make this frame as strong as it should have been in the beginning. I still carry about two feet of wire in the snow blower’s tool kit in case it breaks while I’m using it.

      I wonder about the geese – I see them in the spring and fall, and they always seem to be going the wrong way. I tell myself they’re heading toward a pond or a field.

      I’d be happy to pack up as many of those blue jays as you want and ship them to you ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure you’ll be able to shore it up and make it better. I hope it doesn’t break too much this winter.

        We had another 75 or so flyby our house this morning heading north. I think you’re right that they’re flying to a pond. There are a few just north of me.

        Just a few please! 😂 Hopefully one day I’ll see one. Have you seen all the Jays in the US except the Pinion Jay now? Or have you seen that one too?

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It seems most things are not made to last- a zoom call to my son and his wife who moved to France last year proves this. Their ancient stone built home has a few outbuildings with original tools from centuries ago. All still in working order. We laughed as he said there were even six different types of crowbars they found – just one example.😀

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s amazing and funny. I have some of my father’s tools. He bought them in the 50s and 60s and they are still in good working order. I have tools of his that belonged to his father, dating back to the early 1900s. Tools used to be designed to be handed down from one generation to the next. The things they make today are designed to fail.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I always like seeing repairs done correctly. I can tell you that since the snow thrower is fixed it will be a mild winter. I used to live in South Bend Indiana where we got lake effect dumps of snow. I paid to have my drive dug out and always had to wait for the guy in the morning. I finally bought a snowthrower and that season never used it. So keep the fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hubby and I just had this conversation today, Dan, regarding quality. He had bought a box of neoprene gloves he uses all the time when he uses his work gloves to help his hands stay moist. The box said they were 4 mil. When he brought them home he used his micrometer to measure them and they were on 2 mil. He was just disgusted. Getting quality is tough these days but it can be done. Ya gotta have eyes in the back of your head, however.

    Sorry to hear you are having trouble with the cab. If anyone can repair it, you can. Full confidence here. Keep walking your talk, and persist on having quality. As I have been shown in my Mind’s eye, all this “garbage” that is being sold will no longer hold true some time in the near future when again quality returns versus Corporate Greed. Loved your gallery and I thank you for showing us a world that really does exist. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope quality returns, Amy. I think the biggest part of the problem is that people want things to be inexpensive. They aren’t willing to pay for quality. Some are, but there aren’t enough of us to create a market. My snow blower is a quality machine. I bought it from a power equipment dealer who sells primarily to landscapers. Of course, none of them bother with things like storm cabs. My guess is Honda outsources that to a different company. Sometimes, the only way to get quality is to buy a professional tool.

      The cab has been repaired, reinforced and I hope made strong enough to make it through one more winter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m with you, Dan, hoping that quality does return. In fact, I will not let go of faith that a day comes when folk like you and me show others by our example that quality counts and then eyes will be open and minds will be thinking. In a blink, consciousness changes and with much thought and planning, quality returns. That, Dan, is how I live my life even when I do not see what I am intending. Faith. I will NOT let go.

        So happy for you that you did get what needed repairing repaired. Applauding!!! I knew you would do it!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Thankfully, we have a very short driveway. But, we’ve been talking about the need for a snow shovel. Temps have dropped notably…into the 30s at night. You are an amazing engineer/craftsman Dan. Thank you for the step-by-step and the photos of your area. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You’re working on your snow blower and it’s not even snowing? Now you’re making the rest of us look bad!
    Thanks for the daily bunny. I’m savoring them knowing they’re soon to disappear.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yay! Another project. Hubs says he remembers when you were repairing it the last time. He shares your sentiments about paying for junk. You need that blower working! Love the Bluejay and Bunny. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is a cutie, isn’t he. I love how they can turn their feet around to hang like that. They really are amazing little critters.

      I’m more convinced than ever that people don’t want quality. They want things and they want to things to have the appearance of quality or luxury, but they don’t want to pay for it, and they don’t understand why it’s expensive.

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  14. Snowblower? What’s that? :-) We had a snowblower in Cleveland and used it extensively as we were in the snowbelt on the eastern side although better off than the other end of the snowbelt in Buffalo, NY!! I’d rather pay a fair price for something and have it last than have to keep buying a cheap edition.

    I especially enjoyed the downward dog squirrel on the pole, the tree fungus, and the blue jay. Hope your week’s off to a grand start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was available as an option when I bought the snowblower. It did come from Honda and was designed to fit. It actually does fit well, it’s just not strong enough at several points. The dealer I bought it from would have repaired it for free (at least during the warranty period of the machine) but he would simply repair the broken welds. I did that, and they broke again. The headlight was also an option. It also broke for the same reason. I wasn’t willing to weld that, as it’s very close to the gas tank. He did repair that, but had to repair it twice. I’m now moving it to a new location.

      Sorry if that’s more answer than you were looking for.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your answer was fine, Dan. My husband and I keep on tossing around the idea of heading north again, so I’m picking up bits of info as I find it on the off chance we do head north one of these days.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I suspect the world is now run by accountants – everything seems built to fail, so if you’re not prepared to fix it, you will need to buy another! They also seem to pay themselves very well, while those that do the work … well, not so much! Anyway, enjoyed your other photos too :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • We checked the item on line. When I bought the original, it was around $150. Now it’s $280 and it appears to be just as poorly made. At least it’s a poorly made product I’m allowed to fix. So many things today are not serviceable by the customer.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. The problem with this storm cab frame seems to fall into the category of things that were either designed by people who never use the things they design, or a company that’s being run by accountants. – Hahaha, Dan, I see you share my views on accountants and all things practical. You really are tickling my funny bone today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was worried about offending my friends in the industry, Robbie. I understand the need to cut costs, but you reach a point where raising prices would be better. Unfortunately, in my case, Honda has done both. The new cabs are as crummy as the old ones, but over $100 more. They did add a Honda logo ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

  17. “either designed by people who never use the things they design, or a company that’s being run by accountants” As my grandpa would have said, “Whoa, Nellie!” As a former accountant and daughter of a former accountant, I can assure you, accountants don’t run anything except the accounting department. Somebody else makes the decision of where and how to manufacture, and the accountants have no skin in the game. When pennies are saved by the company, you can bet the accountants don’t get a share of them. Everybody always blames the accountants! All we do is KEEP TRACK of the money. That’s why we’re called Accountants and not Evil People Who Make Money Off Selling Shoddy Products At A Premium Price. ::climbing down from soapbox, if somebody will give me a hand so I don’t break my neck::

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry to offend any of the good accountants out there – present company included – but I worked in companies that were, if not run, heavily influenced by accountants. We were constantly asked to trim our budget, and when we explained that trimming the budget would require making changes that reduced effectiveness, made it harder for our customers to contact us (voicemail wasn’t the communications department’s idea) or reduced performance because my people couldn’t be adequately trained – the accountants said “So be it.”

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