Vulcan Never Believed in a “Throwaway Culture”

There’s finally some meaningful pushback against this:

But significant amounts of that waste could be avoided through repairs. According to a study by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, only 40% of electronics breakdowns in France are repaired. But surveys have found nearly two-thirds of Europeans would rather repair their products than buy new ones. Much like Imene’s kitchen scales, French officials believe the current system is broken and needs to be fixed.

In an effort to defuse this vast amount of avoidable waste, France’s National Assembly last year voted to introduce an index of “repairability” ratings for appliances such as washing machines, lawnmowers, televisions and smartphones. In doing so, the French government hopes to increase the electronics repair rate to 60% within five years.

“Planned obsolescence (as it used to be called) is a problem that’s been around for a long time; it’s just gotten worse with the introduction of computer technology to just about everything.

Vulcan, for its part, never subscribed to this kind of mentality. It’s hard to find a product which still needs spare parts after 120 years, but the classic Warrington-Vulcan hammer (and its Super-Vulcan cousins) were designed to be repairable. In the late 1970’s, the offshore contractor McDermott’s equipment manager, O.C. Rogers, liked to ask the rhetorical question “How long can you repair a Vulcan hammer?” and give the answer “How long did Methuselah live?” The answer to that question is here:

Methuselah lived a total of 969 years; then he died.

Genesis 5:27 GW

In the past it was more common for contractors to repair their own hammers (up to making parts for them) than it is now. The biggest obstacle to that (in the U.S. at least) is the scarcity of people with the mechanical skills to repair a simple product like Vulcan’s.


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