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They Used To Last 50 Years (recraigslist.com)
1359 points by teslacar on Mar 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 860 comments



When we moved into this house 12 years ago, I got the cheapest, simplest, most "mechanical" washer and dryer set that Lowe's offered (I think it's branded GE).

Haven't had a single problem other than the light inside the dryer eventually burned out when a housemate left the door open.

I know that when one of them eventually fails, it will hopefully be a cheap and simple mechanical fix.

I have no desire to own a "major appliance" (W/D, dishwasher, fridge) that has LCD screens, Internet connectivity, or any of those features that you don't really need and are just another point of failure. I manage computers all day at work, I don't want to come home and have to apply a firmware update to my washing machine.


My problem with the current market is that it's next to impossible to determine the quality of a machine. I would gladly pay $3000 for a washer if I could somehow tell that it will be better built, with higher quality metals, inner parts, and overall longer lasting. But it seems that the extra money these days just buys more flashy bells and whistles that just increase the chance of failure.

Sadly my strategy has been to buy the cheapest possible appliances, understanding that they will fail within 2-3 years no matter what we buy, and then just replace them with less hard feelings. Disposable appliances indeed.

Did this with a display model Whirlpool dishwasher from Home Depot which we bought for $200. Had some dings on the stainless surface, and I was sure it was going to have a short life given it was a display unit. But ironically at this point it's made it twice as long as the fancy Samsung unit it replaced.


Could it be that the lifespan of a appliance is shortened because it his to be more energy-efficient? The old fridges (and car-engines, or antything) were not very economic. A few decades ago getting 10 km per liter of petrol was more or less standard. Now the engine with the same cilinders (1.6 liter for instance) easily get as much as 20 km for the same liter of petrol. The engine is highly optimized by cutting away all the heavy parts and replacing it with lighter ones, adding electronics and more moving parts, etc. This optimization is best seen in F1 racing, where the same 1.6 liter engine can deliver as much as 750 bhp.

Now the more you optimize, the closer you get to the boundaries of what the materials can handle. You squeeze out all the buffers, all the extra's. And quite likely, all these buffers made the device last longer but at the cost of running inefficient. So the fridge that the OP talks about - the one running for 50 years - will have used much more electricity than the ones you could have replaced it with. Likely, the lower energy consumption of the device will have paid back the investment in 7 years.


That is partially true, of course. Energy saving makes devices more complex, thus they have more things that can be broken.

However, it is also clear that e.g. control electronics is simply not made to last. E.g. they use the cheapest of electrolytic capacitors, which will leak and break in 5-10 years. Using proper ones might cost 1-2 cents more per device.

This also means that old dead TVs and stuff may often be repaired quite inexpensively - buy a 0.20$ capacitor and solder it in place - but it is still a frustrating thing that it breaks in the first place.

With cars I'd still say that despite the added complexity, the endurance of vehicles is simply amazing. We deplore that when the engine control unit fails, we have to replace the entire unit. But overall, you need much less maintenance on modern cars than you needed 30-40 years ago. Oil change intervals have gone from 5 000 - 10 000 km to 15 000 - 25 000 km. And 30 years ago, a car that had 200 000 km on the clock was really really worn out. Nowadays, it may work like it were almost new.


Just wanted to send a note to icantdrive55 of the sibling comment: your comment is dead for some reason. Looking through your history, you seem to have a long track record of making on-topic, non-glib, non-ad-hominem posts, so there's no reason you should be getting downvoted. But almost all of your posts are dead from downvoting (I guess?). Either someone has a vendetta against you, or an algorithm has gone rogue. Either way, might want to ping the admins and see if they can fix this.


Note that if you click on the time next to the comment to open the page for the comment, you can click "vouch" and at least help save the individual comment.


Whoah, thanks for the tip!


That is very true. We have a vehicle that is now.....13 years old from new, 300k miles on the clock, and it runs perfectly fine. The wishbones need replacing every 4 years or so, and we had to replace the compressor once. But other than that, no mechanical problems as such - and it's a hugely complicated car, with a massive V8 engine, adjustible suspension, automatic all terrain control, 3-zone AC etc etc. All of it works(ok, the CD drive doesn't, but I don't recall the last time I wanted to use a CD). I think I replaced the bulbs twice, as the Bi-Xenon bulbs last around 5 years of daily use(and over here you have to have lights on 24/7).

And then I remember my dad telling me that if you bought a new car in the 70s, if it wasn't a Merc, the best thing you could possibly do was to take it into a garage and get all hoses checked, bearings greased, nuts tightened, and then maybe you would have a trouble-free car for a year or two.


"That is partially true, of course. Energy saving makes devices more complex, thus they have more things that can be broken. However, it is also clear that e.g. control electronics is simply not made to last. E.g. they use the cheapest of electrolytic capacitors, which will leak and break in 5-10 years. Using proper ones might cost 1-2 cents more per device. This also means that old dead TVs and stuff may often be repaired quite inexpensively - buy a 0.20$ capacitor and solder it in place - but it is still a frustrating thing that it breaks in the first place."

1. More parts to break--sooner end of life. I agree. Finding that bad capacitor is not easy. First it's hard to find a bad cap to begin with. The repair shops, if your electronic device is under warranty; just replaces the entire control board. It's usually never in stock, and it always seems to take a month or two comming from China.

For the DIY'ers, there's no schematics to be found, and even then it's still very hard to find that faulty capacitor on one of the boards.

End result--the electronic item is thrown out.

I don't know how this is tolerated--on a lot of levels. It's bad for the environment, and just wasteful. T.V sets used to be repairable. It dose bother me. Hell--we used to get a few channels over the air for free. Sometimes--I feel gone backwards?

"With cars I'd still say that despite the added complexity, the endurance of vehicles is simply amazing. We deplore that when the engine control unit fails, we have to replace the entire unit. But overall, you need much less maintenance on modern cars than you needed 30-40 years ago. Oil change intervals have gone from 5 000 - 10 000 km to 15 000 - 25 000 km. And 30 years ago, a car that had 200 000 km on the clock was really really worn out. Nowadays, it may work like it were almost new."

1. Agree. A vechicle with 125,000 miles is not much. (I think my conversion is right?). Rebuilding that modern engine is a lot more difficult than rebuilding a Chevy 350 though. I know Toyota dealership mechanics who can't repair the Prius gas assist engine. They usually just pull a used engine from the scrap yard. I will give Toyota credit on a well designed engine, but working on it is another story.

2. Oil changes--yea I'll give you that one, but honestly, I always felt certain industries pulled those oils change numbers out of the air. I've always changed my own fluids, so that was never an expense.

3. The problem with modern vechicles is that automatic transmission--still. At around 135,000 those sensors, those plates, that OD unit just start to wear out. If it's just a pressures sensor, that's fine, but when it's the Over Drive unit, or the transmission needs a rebuild; that's where the anger sets in. A modern automatic transmission rebuild is not an easy task.

4. The plethora of sensors. I get it. They are needed for emmissions, and performance. And I get a computer. I don't get three computers, and systems so complicated dealership mechanics are learning of the customers dime. I just gave up on an older Dodge that would run at idle. I checked everything. It was a '98 so it wasen't nearly as complicated as todays vechicles. I had to bring it to the dealership, and reflashed reflashed the computer three times for a grand total of $1200. Let me rephrase that, they replaced a bunch of "suspected lazy sensors" before the three reflashes. No it wasen't my vechicle, but a family members who wanted her old truck. I don't usually ever bring a vechicle to a dealership.

4. I do forsee a generation of vechicles that will be scrapped because it makes no sence to fix them. That saddens me. Every time I see a new car commercial, and I see nothing but a electronic light show on the dash, heated seats, automatic cup holders, automatic everything, and I haven't even got to driver assist electronics; I get sad. They all look great, until something malfunctions. I guess this is what the consumer wants in a vehicle. I don't. As my deceased father used to say, "The day I can't roll down my window, put me out. And it's just something else that might break down. I want simplicity."

5. Just thinking about my Bosch washing machine that rings, but doesn't clean the clothes is making my headache worse. Just thinking about the two Mielde vaccume cleaners that are sitting in my garage with perfect motors, but bad blue tooth boards is making me thirsty, but I have no alcohol.

Why would they ever decide to replace a simple switch, and put in a blue tooth board in the handle? Good night people. I need to set up a small distillery in my room.


In my experience, if you prefer to stay with cars that are very low maintenance, 120-130k miles is a really good time to sell. The mileage is just low enough that the car will still have enough value to make it worth selling on your own. By 150k you'll be making minor repairs frequently, by 180k it get's expensive and becomes a question of how committed you are to keeping the car.


The problem with modern vechicles is that automatic transmission--still. At around 135,000 those sensors, those plates, that OD unit just start to wear out. ... but when it's the Over Drive unit, or the transmission needs a rebuild ...

I don't think OD units are a thing on modern cars anymore. That higher top gear is just going to be another gear inside the transmission. Indeed, on FWD cars with a transaxle, there's really no alternative because it's all a single unit.


Yes. I was very confused when I got a rental car in the U.S. in about 2004 and it had a separate switch and yellow indicator light for "OD". In Europe such a thing was so ancient history that I'd never seen one and I had to read the car's handbook to understand what it meant.


I thought the entire reason to have an OD disable switch is for towing.


I seem to remember something in the manual of an old car I had with an OD switch about it making it not change gears repetitively when going up a slight incline?


I have to disagree with this premise as it pertains to automobile engines. Automobile engines have improved tremendously in "lifespan" or Time Before OverHaul. In the '70's and '80's it was a challenge to get an engine to last 100,000 miles. They needed frequent oil changes, spark plugs replaced, had other short-life wearable parts (ignition parts), water pumps to replace, fuel pumps to replace, alternators went bad, oil leaks (rope seal packing), etc. In the early '90's some real improvements began to become apparent. Now cars routinely make it past 100,000 mi without replacing any of that stuff, and while producing more power per unit of displacement.


This is why I'm rather afraid of Tesla and their batteries - you know batteries, whether intentional or not, only last for about 1000 charge cycles, or in the case of Tesla for about 7-10 years, before they have to be replaced - which won't be cheap.

This will be an Issue that will be highlighted very soon. We'll see a huge devaluation in secondhand Tesla cars, since replacing the battery will be more expensive than replacing an engine in a car (I believe), plus it'll have to be done every ten years - while a car can keep the same engine for decades, especially when some of the wearables like timing belts and seals and such are replaced.

I hope Tesla will recognise this too and do something about it - battery replacement programs, preferably where they can replace batteries with higher-capacity ones as time goes by.

I don't see how owning a car in full can work for electric cars, not when the battery needs to be replaced every ten years. I don't know what the lifespan of the drive unit is either.


Yeah, based upon the 1000 cycle count, Teslas will start to depreciate pretty badly at somewhere between 215,000 and 350,000 miles.

Is that bad?


I'd like to know more about this too, and how Tesla and other companies plan to address it.

I'm particularly concerned about the potential environmental impact of dumping a bunch of batteries into landfills. Is there a battery reburishment/recycling program for these vehicles?


Tesla's battery recycling program sounds pretty impressive, and the cost of new batteries is lower every year. https://www.tesla.com/blog/teslas-closed-loop-battery-recycl...


I think at the 1000 charge cycle point, the batteries degrade but are not useless. There is an idea that they can then be used as grid tied storage or in places where AH/Kg does not matter as much.


I thought they took the guts out and seperated the constituent parts and put back in the raw material side of the gigafactory. Or did I just make that up?


In addition to the other commenters about EV batteries, note that 99% of the 12V starter batteries used in conventional vehicles in the US are recycled.


Yeah, they are high 90s% recyclable, depending on the technology.


The fear of battery degradation is way way overblown. You'll drive at least a few hundred thousand miles before you might "need" to replace it [1]. And even then, you could keep going.

[1] https://electrek.co/2016/06/06/tesla-model-s-battery-pack-da...


Presumably this is why they are getting into the battery market.


As a corollary, consider how much fuel (particularly diesel) and much more than that oil (lubricating oil) have bettered around those times.

AFAICT in "practical" mechanical engineering tribology:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribology

is one of the fields that made the most progresses in the 90's, thanks also to the introduction on the market of totally or partially sinthetic oil, that literally changed the game when it comes to car engines duration.

The (huge) difference in spark plug life depends more on electronic ignition, of course and that also became mainstream in late 80's and 90's.

When it comes to water pumps, allow me to disagree, however, once upon a time if a water pump leaked you just changed gaskets and maybe the ball bearings, since around the same time you are often forced to buy a new "whole" pump as they are not any more serviceable.


Yes, I agree that the oil has a major role as well.

As far as water pumps go, I've noticed that they often have alloy impellers now, and used to have stamped steel ones. I've heard of people rebuilding water pumps themselves (as opposed to buying a remanufactured unit), but never seen that done except in special cases (large stationary engine, rare obsolete engine).


I thought about this too while reading the article.

I would be willing to bet, however, that net the energy cost of assembling, shipping, running, and ultimately discarding 3 or 4 "energy efficient" appliances is greater than the energy cost of owning one the more reliable older "less energy efficient" models over the same time frame.


The technology to make motors efficient has been around for a century, not much has changed there besides controls and feedback. Engines on the other hand have greatly benefitted from modern control systems. Here is a primer on motor history: https://www.eti.kit.edu/english/1390.php And http://m.hpac.com/motors-drives/understanding-efficiency-mot...


The converse can also apply. Energy efficiency means less energy converted to heat, noise, and unwanted movement. All of which can contribute to wear and tear.

This is why people sometimes describe hard drives as "spinning rust".


I think the term "spinning rust" relates to the fact that the actual data is stored on ferromagnetic material, nothing to do with the energy usage.

I agree with you on the first paragraph.


"Could it be that the lifespan of a appliance is shortened because it his to be more energy-efficient?"

No. It's designed to fail as the article shows. Many components are like this by implication where they're designed for everything but quality and longevity. Things that reduce those two. There could be some extra effect on the two traits due to energy efficiency. The overall problem is there by design. It's also very profitable. ;)


For tools (think saws and drills) this is changing somewhat.

Check out AVE on youtube, his teardown are great!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChWv6Pn_zP0rI6lgGt3MyfA


I'm not sure if this is changing or whether it never really changed (in the past 50 years or so): professionals using tools just have no need for tools which might break quickly so there always has been (at least in my memory) a market segment for proper tools (high end think Festool, Hilti, ... but even somewhat lower end tools never seemed to had problems like becoming unusable/unrepairable within a couple of years). And even though some small segment of the market might now be taken over by ultracheap less decent tools, the segment with the decent tools is still going strong as ever.


Second. This is the best thing on YouTube.

If you like more workshop instructions, check out "this old Tony"


Absolutely second this, I love 'this old tony' and I have no experience at all with machining in the slightest. AvE by contrast is I think a bit of an acquired taste.


You should check out abom as well. He is a bit more hardcore as a manual machinist but I binge watched his whole channel and still catch up with him regularly.


The popularity of AvE is telling; clearly many people want to know what they are buying.

His detailed teardowns are very interesting; he shares a lot of knowledge about polymers and electronics and combines this with practical experience about failure modes and use cases. At the end of the day it's clear that you get what you pay for if you know what you're doing. Some of his assertions about how manufacturers use brands parallel this story.

I think a lot of the HN set would not be able to tolerate the guy, however. He is not 'reformed,' to say the least.


The Market for Lemons rule is that if consumers are unable to recognize quality and crap products while buying, after some time all the products on the market are crap.


Partially this, plus the monopoly position the post described: Three companies "won" the market and have no pressure to produce anything else then lemons anymore. And since a bad dishwasher is still better than no dishwasher, consumers will buy them even if they know it's crap as long as there is no alternative.


I know that thesis. But i find that the middle class usually has a propensity to buying the more expensive items (even if it ends up being only marginally better than crap) because of a different dynamic. and it always puzzled me, i see it as an uninformed, irrationally positive, outlook generated by the mean fact of paying more for a "brand", because "surely it is better".


But if the consumer has no way of telling which is better there's no reason for the manufacturers to use quality as the determining factor for setting the price. Instead they'll focus on making it look more expensive or add features you'll never use in order to win market share.


> I would gladly pay $3000 for a washer if I could somehow tell that it will be better built

Perhaps you should check out commercial washers. The kind that you find in laundromats are designed to take a lot more punishment than the residential ones.


I purchased my appliances with much the same idea in mind; I wanted something that would last, period.

Turns out around here (Scandinavia), the brand to beat is Miele, which also seems to enjoy a near monopoly in pro gear, from what I can tell (Just about every vessel I've ever sailed on carries Miele gear in their laundries. I cannot recall ever seeing anything else.)

Also, after asking around at a place repairing appliances as to what brands they trusted in their own homes, the answers were similar - 'Miele. Or, if you think that's a bit over the top, ASKO. Both are made to last and to be repaired.'

So far, the ASKO stuff has stood up very well - ten years in, both dryer and washer are still working flawlessly - and I've got three kids; running two machine loads a day is pretty much standard fare, and has been for years.


If you want a higher-end appliance, European is often the way to go. Miele is a great example, but there are others.

Especially when it comes to laundry, the 'European' style is to use longer cycles that are gentler on clothes, quieter, and usually more efficient (whether on water or power use).


I have a 20 year old ASKO washer and dryer. The brushes on the washer's motor have to be replaced every 3-4 years and the plastic drawer where you add soap is broken and ugly looking (and unfortunately replacement parts are no longer available) but otherwise they still work well.


Two a day? What on earth are they doing to require that much washing?


The oldest kid does track&field and soccer practice after school every day. Also, he swims once a week.

The two-year old runs around outdoors in kindergarten all day. More often than not, it is rainy and muddy.

The youngest still run through a couple of sets of babywear a day, down to a somewhat lackadaisical approach to her excretion of various bodily fluids.

We all swim weekly. Add to that the occasional nightly mishap by the child currently quitting diapers, and you're looking at lots and lots of laundry cycles.

Good thing water is free (It's not that we haven't got plenty of it to go around!) and power is cheap.


I have one 18month old kid. We average about 1.3 loads a day. Several sets of clothes, towels, nappies, sheets, bibs, ... It adds up very quickly


If you have three kids and one of them is a baby in washable nappies this is quite possible. You don't want the soiled diapers in with other items


Miele machines are small compared to most washing machines for the US market. I had an imported AEG and when I replaced it with a LG frontloader it seemed impossible how big the drum was. I used to only be able to wash 3-4 pairs of jeans at a time and now it's like 8-10.


I'm going to assume it's got to do with the multiple layers of clothing they no doubt have to wear in that climate.


Inner layer is always wool, which really doesn't have to be washed that much unless it's stained, but not everyone knows this so most still wash wool as much as cotton. Wool is very breathable, so just hang it out and it's as good as washed with less wear.


Generally speaking, purchasing commercial appliances doesn't work for a few reasons:

- The manufacturer of a commercial appliance usually won't provide a warranty for it if it's used in a residential setting. - Your homeowner's insurance probably won't cover anything related to using commercial appliances in your home. - In certain cases (probably not a washing machine, but certainly other cases like kitchen appliances), commercial equipment has different standards and codes that can be hard to accomodate for (this can be especially relevant for stoves and ovens)


This. Commercial stoves and ovens don't have any where near the fire safety constraints as consumer models. A typical commercial setting will include stainless steel jacketed walls, and a mandatory fire suppression system.

Install them in your home at your peril.


Presumably if you're installing commercial stoves in your residence, you're also installing all the gear that goes along with it in a commercial setting.


And they're designed for repair and maintenance too, since commercial operations care about total cost, not just up front cost.

The same goes for ranges, ovens, refrigerators, microwaves, you name it.


I go for this strategy for everything from audio equipment to washing machines. Pro gear is still well built.


Works for non electronics as well: restaurant tableware is much better value than the same brand consumer stuff (e.g. Wedgwood), as long you're happy with plain white and buying things in packs of 12.


webstaurant.com is awesome for getting restaurant grade stuff at reasonable prices. Pretty incredibly well designed website too in subtle ways. (no affiliation with them, just a fan)

I bought some restaurant grade coffee mugs that are just fantastic. Pretty much impossible to chip and guaranteed.


Another vote for webstaurant.com, I buy all my cheap flatware there in bulk.


At the cheaper end of $3000, I've heard great things about Speed Queens. The linked review below is meh, but people who love them love them because they're apparently built like tanks.

http://laundry.reviewed.com/content/speed-queen-awne92sp113t...


I bought a Speed Queen front-loader a few months ago. Although I can't say anything about the longevity, I was very impressed with the quality of the machine, going so far as to take pictures of the underside of the drum, drain plug, electronics package, and braces when setting it up. It's heavier -- about 250 pounds -- and quieter than the top-loader I replaced.

I worry a little about the electronic control panel, the same one pictured in the review you linked, but I have hope it'll last more than a decade. The warranty is exemplary, even though I haven't had to use it yet so I can't attest to how well it's fulfilled. And it's made in Wisconsin: it's not just another rebranded Electrolux or Whirlpool.


That is all well and good, but if a review write things like this

   For example, the similarly priced Electrolux EFLS617SIW removed 27 percent more stains than this
   Speed Queen on its Heavy Duty cycle and 13 percent more stains on its Whites cycle. We got
   similar results from Kenmore, LG, Maytag, and Whirlpool front-loaders

   Those stains remain in spite of the fact that this Speed Queen uses over 40 gallons of water for
   the Whites cycle and over 24 gallons for the Normal Eco. We estimate that this washer will cost
   around $85 a year to run. That's average for a top-load machine, but almost triple what a
   more-efficient front loader costs. A lot of our readers tell us they don't care about the
   environmental impact of their appliances. But, maybe they'll care about the extra $275 on their
   water bills over five years of ownership.
I'm skipping it sadly (unless their front loaders are any better.)


I don't have numbers in my user or installation manuals, but the previous model year supposedly used 11.7 US gal per load, or under 4 per fill. Living in the desert, I feel good about my choice of washing machine ($22-29 monthly water bill).

Regardless, it's less than the top-load I replaced. Front-load washers are supposed to be more efficient and use less water.


I've seen that brand in laundromats. I had no idea they made domestic machines too.


I bought a top-loading Speedqueen washer and dryer pair. My laundry closet isn't deep or tall enough for front-loading washers or stackable dryers.

They have worked well for over 4 years.

I have never caught on to front-loading washers.

The SpeedQueens are not EnergyStar, and you won't find reviews of them at Consumer Reports, but they are build well.


Buy the one with the best warranty. A warranty is essentially a bet by the manufacturer that it won't break.


Usually failure follows a bathtub curve. If you know your appliance will probably break in 10 years, you can still offer a 3 year warranty easily without costing almost any extra.


A 3 year warranty is not the best warranty. It's just the legally required minimum where I'm from. I was thinking more like 10-15 years.


Ha-ha 15 year warranty


Miele is the brand of dishwasher for you. They are expensive, and not perfect, but it will slowly and reliably get the dishes clean. The best part is that it never makes a peep, this thing is super-quiet. The worst thing is: no child control-lock (you try and get a curious toddler to disregard it for hours).


But it seems that the extra money these days just buys more flashy bells and whistles that just increase the chance of failure.

Gresham's Law / the market for lemons.


On a Dutch TV show they calculated that it's better to buy a cheaper washer that breaks down sooner. After it breaks you will buy a new one, which is often more efficient, saving you more money. Also, the quelity in washing results is often negligible.


That's easy to see if you're replacing an older model with a HE unit. The case is not so obvious when replacing a recent model HE unit with a newer HE one.


This doesn't really make sense. There's only so much efficiency to be gained in washing dishes or clothes; we're reaping a lot of gains here in the last 10 years or so because of electronic controls and sensors, compared to the very simple mechanical systems from decades past. But the efficiency over time will be a curve, with diminishing returns. Basic physics dictates that you can only make cleaning things with water so efficient. Maybe eventually we'll go to cleaning things with ultrasonics or something, but for now, if you're swishing fabrics around in a drum with water, or spraying hot water on dirty dishes, you can only make that so efficient. I'm sorry, but replacing a 2016 model dishwasher with a 2018 model dishwasher is not going to net you any significant efficiency gains (though replacing a 1985 model dishwasher certainly will).


They didn't say you have to replace it every two years, like a phone. Maybe european washers are better, but I've never seen a ~$400 washer fail within 5 years. You can buy 5 of these washers for the price of a $2000 washer. This means that in 25 years (if they fail every 5 years), you would've spent the same amount, but every 5 years, you get newer technology.


This isn't sustainable, these antics of these companies are basically negating any positive thing you try and do for the environment


For washers/dryers, go to an independent appliance dealer and get a Speed Queen top loader. They have 3-5 year warranties and since switching to electronic controls are offering a longer warranty on the controls.

The only downside is that they aren't "pretty", if you care about that and they run smaller than typical consumer washers.

I've had mine since like 2000. Every single person I've referred there has been super happy with it.


My university dorms had speed queens.

I was not delighted. Clothing was torn to shreds by the washer and then left still wet by the dryer. The machines were always getting called in for maintenance. I get that they were being ran 24/7, but the number of loads I had done correctly versus left wet and not so clean wasn't a very good ratio. :/


"would gladly pay $3000 for a washer"

Miele. https://9to5mac.com/2011/03/07/how-steve-jobs-picks-a-washer...


Miele

Seconded: the Miele that my family insisted on buying us for the wedding is well beyond 8 years and we haven't had a single problem.

10 years warranty but rumour have it they might easily last up 20 years although you might have to change parts somewhere between 10 and 20 years.

Oh, and I think it cost something less than USD1000.


Disclaimer: I work for Miele, but in the IT department. It is not really a rumor per se, I'd say - the internal idea at Miele is that the stuff should last 15 to 20 years with normal use. So of course it can break after 8 years, everything can, but it shouldn't - that's why Miele sells service certificates (extended manufacturer warranty) for 10 years etc.


that's why Miele sells service certificates (extended manufacturer warranty) for 10 years etc.

Win-win it seems? Miele has a reason to optimize for long life, customer has a basic expectation of a long device life time and a possibility to buy peace of mind?


The only thing I'm unhappy with about our Miele dishwasher is that I was told if I installed it myself, that Miele wouldn't honor the warranty. We're kind rural, and there's no local Miele dealer. I almost bought another brand instead.


I wonder how much more expensive an appliance would have to be if it were made to last as long as possible (within reason).

I think there's a market for a "heirloom" edition that costs 40% more and has a 20 year warranty.


Yes Miele - they are family owned and not part of one of the 4 groups referenced by the article

1995 - GBP50 for 2nd hand Miele tumbler dryer - looked 20 years old then (chocolate brown 70s stylecontrol panel) - repaired twice - quite noisy - but still going strong age around 40 years

2001 - GBP1000 for top-of-the range Miele washing machine (wanted 1600RPM spin speed) - rubber seal replaced twice - still going - would probably buy bottom/mid range now to get adequate spin speed

2009 - GBP900 for Miele fridge and freezer - no problems yet


Yes Miele, but get as basic model a model as possible as they also have these "1.000 features you will never use but that will break and stop your appliance from working" types. A basic Miele washing machine will caost around $1.000 and weigh around 100kg, so don't put it on a flimsy table, but it should last you well over 10 years.


I second that. The basic models already have sufficient features, unless you urgently need a special fature (which 99% of people don't). I do not know about prices in other regions of the world, but in Germany you should get a descent Miele washing machine for about €800 (roughly US$ 900).


> and weigh around 100kg

Yep.

I once carried a Miele washing machine up 3 flights of stairs with a friend. We thought we were about to die.

Later I looked up the specs in the manual: its counterweight weighs 120kg :´-(

The machine is (I think) around 30 years old, still going strong.


IMHO the most frustrating part about moving is having to carry stuff like dumbbells, counterweights etc, because they have only purpose: Being as heavy as possible.


With the counterweights, it'd be nice if it was easy to open up the machine and take the counterweight out. This would make it much easier to move a heavy machine up stairs.


Turns out it was, as I found out later.

I just have muscle than brains (and not particularly much muscle).


What machine was that?

I've had two front-loading washing machines now with counterweights, and neither one of them was remotely easy to remove the weights in.


Can't be bothered to got to the cellar to look at the type tag. But it was from the '80s I think. Some Miele domestic machine.

And I didn't pay attention to how hard it would be to remove it -- it was already moot by that time. But it is removable.


Good enough, I was just wondering about the brand. It being a Miele makes sense that it would be built that way. The machines I had were a late 90s Maytag (their first front-loader, the Neptune) and a mid-00s Whirlpool Duet. Both were definitely not designed for the counterweights to be removed for transport. You can take them out but it involves a significant amount of disassembly.


Another anecdote: My sister took over my apartment late 2014. Some time in 2015, the dishwasher (Miele) stopped working. She called support to see if it could be repaired. When she provided them with the serial number she was told that the dishwasher was in fact manufactured in 1994.

It had lasted through 21 years of regular use, by multiple owners.


A friend of mine did his training at Miele and spent some time in their QA. He was very impressed with their thoroughness. ;-)

My dishwasher is a Miele, too. I have owned it for ... 13 years now, and I got if pre-owned, so I guess it is at least 20 years old. Has not given me any trouble, yet.

(My washing machine is some no-name brand, though, and it has worked well for 11-12 years now, so sometimes one can get lucky.)


Yes to Miele: Very solid. Will cost about 2k / unit. Very heavy duty, very basic, and very reliable. We've had ours for 5 years now with zero issues.


With risk of sounding like a shill. Miele is the only thing I ever buy. We had an old washing machine that broke after 10 years, so I called a repair man. He came, and looked at it and said: "I have been working for 5 years, and this is the second time I see a broken Miele. They practically never break". It was an easy fix, and the machine ran for another 7 years until lightning killed every electrical thing in the house.

Bought another Miele, and that is running just fine after 4 years.


Ours is super quiet. I wish it hadn't cost so much, but I can't say I regret it.


I'd also like to say Miele is immortal.

My Miele vacuum was handed down to me by my mother when she died, and it's like a decade old and has zero issues.

And even if it does have issues, replacement parts for it are still sold (mainly because today's models are virtually identical).

Also, without the HEPA filter addon, it meets HEPA requirements (they're just not allowed to say so because HEPA sues anyone that didn't pay the idiot tax to license the name); and a box of 4 huge bags and both the inside and outside non-HEPA filters (you change them every 4 bags, comes in the box with the bags) costs around $20.

Most vacuums I've seen my neighbors own over the years cost like $15 for 2 bags, and you have to buy the filters separately. Miele TCO is dramatically lower, just a slightly larger upfront cost.

Also, all of the house cleaning people I've met over the years all swear by Miele, and they abuse theirs far more than I do mine.


I'm not sure about the current quality of their products, but I bought a refurbished Dyson "Animal" vacuum (the purple and grey one) in 2003.

We'd killed a couple of other vacuums previously (when you shave a St Bernard for a Texas summer...).

14 years later, I've never had to do any sort of major repair. Any problems I've ever had with the unit were fixed by taking it apart (without tools) and clearing the jam/clog.


Of the entire line, the Dyson Animal purple ones are the only acceptable ones, due to their complex filtering system attached to what is essentially twins of their highest end models.

Problem is, the HEPA filter in the Animal is about as good as modern Miele bags and non-HEPA filters... /w Miele's HEPA filter instead, it increases filtration rate 10x.

I looked into Dysons for my mom when she bought this... they're good vacuums, but they're not the best. I compared them to being an Apple or Cisco kind of product: everyone knows who they are, everyone thinks they're the best, but if you look around you can get something better.

As in, for every Apple there's a Microsoft (ala Surface), for every Cisco there's a Juniper, and for every Dyson there's a Miele.

I don't want the most expensive, or in some cases even objectively the best: I want something that has the lowest cognitive load of ownership: something that always works, something I don't have to question if I should have bought something else, something that has no killer flaws, something that is good across the board. Something I can be happy with.

Very few brands or product lines have ever made me a fan, all companies eventually ruin a good product, but Miele is on that incredibly exclusive list of companies that have made me a fan. When the end of this vacuum finally comes, I'm buying another Miele without hesitation.


Yep, Miele. Washing ~5 loads/week an a 27 year old machine. Replaced main water valve ~5 years ago (20€ part). Resoldered one relais PCB ~10 years ago (instructions on the internets).


Miele is definitely the best. Their vacuum cleaners are great too. I have two, and they are both > 10 years old, and showing no signs of wearing out.


Are those the ones that use 1/4 the water and don't destroy clothes?


Well, most mid- to high-range European dryers and washing machines do. But the Miele is of particular good quality for a consumer product.


Just the control board on a miele will cost more than a regular washer. The higher end units are basically junk once the warranty runs out.


However, Miele has a reputation that they don't care about warranty; if it breaks, even after warranty, they may fix it for free unless it's clear you've done something wrong (like it breaks because you didn't do regular maintenance and clean the filters as you should).

Worked for me at least: when I had a problem, and I will buy the same brand again.

There were other similar brands but they've all gone bankrupt or been acquired (I had a UPO Pesukarhu washing machine which was maybe 15 years old when I bought it second-hand as a poor student, and it worked another 10 or so for me, and I only got rid of it because the 1970's color of the device didn't fit the interior in our new house, and later I regretted this. Now I've had the Miele for around 10 years.)


Some of the control boards can be repaired, see https://youfixit.eu/en/ I did this after an electrical surge blew out a component.


I remember seeing on HN a year or two ago? About Samsung smart fridges calendar app not being updated when Google phased out the API it was using.

Also Blu-ray players don't get updates after a long while too I've heard as YouTube and Netflix changes their APIs - the devs of these devices don't keep them up to date.

I would prefer a dumb TV, and just buy a replaceable box with the computer part. The only way I could see embedded software lasting is if the company made the firmware/OS across all their devices and made it more generalized to work with all their devices of that class.


That's what I do. I bought the "dumbest" TV I could find; I just want a display with speakers and HDMI inputs.

Give me something I can plug the latest smart streaming box into and change that box as needed.


I just ripped the "smart" buttons off my remote and never gave the TV my Wi-Fi password. Wish I could have found a TV that was the same quality without the "smartness" but as another commenter stated, it is basically impossible.


Have a look at NECs 24/7 display series [1] (think pro devices for hotel lobbies etc). They even offer cool stuff like raspberry pi integration [2].

[1] https://www.nec-display-solutions.com/p/uhd/en/portfolio.xht...

[2] https://www.nec-display-solutions.com/p/uk/en/press/pressrel...


That's where we have a huge gap in device ecosystem. If you want one of the best displays on a TV, it comes "bundled in" with "smart" features. It's a shame that appliances industry doesn't let us customize exactly what we want (that lasts longer and hence would be comforting to pay a good price for).


"If you want one of the best displays on a TV, it comes "bundled in" with "smart" features. "

Not true.

If you buy a commercial display (you know, those panels you see in airports) not only will it be a far higher quality display than any consumer model, but it will also be the dumbest display you can imagine.

They're not that much more expensive - which makes sense, since end users are sometimes building video walls out of 10 or 12 or 16 of them ...


Will they really be higher quality displays for viewing television, movies, and video games? I would expect commercial displays to perhaps be brighter, but I would be surprised if they focused on things that matter more for home viewing, like color accuracy, refresh rate, and contrast ratio.


Some commercial displays are tuned for bright, static, signage, which would naturally make poor video displays. However, I suspect that their actual display technology is usually identical to the consumer versions. Certainly the panels themselves come from the same factory.

But for what it is worth, my NEC commercial display doesn't look as good as a 4K display, naturally. It isn't a great monitor for text. I can't imagine how you could make 1080p at 55" look great at only arm's length away, though. That's just too much real estate to fill with too few dots.

But it's more than sufficient, and I greatly enjoy gaming and the occasional movie on it. It looks much better than the 42" off-brand it replaced, but not as good as the 32" Samsung in the other room. I'd buy again and recommend them. I'm certainly a big fan of them having a simple remote and a serial port with a well-documented control protocol.

The biggest problem with NEC and commercial displays in general is that you aren't really going to be able to do any pre-sales checks. They're not going to have an NEC hanging on the wall at Best Buy to compare. So all you have to go on is people like me who took the chance and offer up terribly unprofessional reviews, that might be pretty deeply contaminated with self-justification.


What I worry about with televisions is they'll come out with new standards that will render my keep-it-for-30-years TV obsolete in three or four years.


Some one will come up with an external adapter that will do the conversion. Generally saw this with the PS/2 <-> usb mouse. usb <-> ethernet etc.


HDMI won't be going away any time soon. You can replace the receiver, and keep the good display.

Yes, TV broadcast standards will change. Over here, we lost analog TV a few years ago, and in about three years we'll lose DVB-T on only have DVB-T2.


Interesting, can you please tell us how to google those?


Keywords frequently include terms like "digital signage", and sometimes "industrial", "commercial", etc...

You might like the one NEC makes with a slot for a Raspberry Pi:

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/compute-module-nec-display-...

https://www.nec-display-solutions.com/p/hq/en/Launch.xhtml?i...


I think it should be that way with cars. Just include a screen and some buttons, then let people connect their smart phones.


Which is a fine idea, until you drive to a different country and the data connection starts costing a fortune.

I have a 2016 Hyundai Tucson. To obtain the traffic camera alerts, I need to tether my phone to the car. The car then uses my phone's data connection to obtain the latest traffic updates. However, whenever I drive out of my home country, which is quite often as I live in Central Europe, I turn off my phone's data connection. Otherwise, I'm slugged with a big bill for data roaming.

If I had to use the phone's data connection for, as an example, the entire navigation system, it would seriously degrade the experience once I'd left the borders of my home country. As it is now, I already lose the convenience of traffic camera alerts.

I appreciate there are options - OsmAnd with local maps, a better data roaming package or simply rely on paper maps. Nonetheless, I don't believe relying entirely on the phone for in-car functionality is viable until data roaming has been addressed.


So, use an app with offline data and maps for the areas you are roaming into...


Perhaps I didn't make my point very clearly. Relying on a phone for in-car updates, such as traffic, is already an issue due to data roaming. Relying entirely on the phone will exacerbate this.

I appreciate there are offline mapping solutions, which I noted. However, there are probably also other edge cases I haven't specifically considered.


How do you propose you get in-traffic updates without some sort of data feed? You can't turn it off in any apps? Also, does your in-built navigation have this feature?


I think we really are talking at cross purposes.

Yes, my in-built navigation system requires me to tether my phone to receive traffic updates. No tethering, no traffic updates or traffic camera alerts.

I don't have an alternative solution and understand a data connection is required for this functionality to work.

My point was that already I lose this service if I travel out of my own country and turn the data connection off to save money. If the car only had "a screen and a few buttons", relying on the phone for everything, much more functionality could become hamstrung without a data connection. I appreciate there are offline mapping solutions, but there are probably other service edge cases I haven't considered.


But the UI wouldn't be stuck with something from 5+ years ago for a car that should last 15-20 years. My year old car's screen came with a UI that felt dated out of the box. If it were my phone driving the thing, at least the UX would be current, and with data, even more could work... I wouldn't be any less well off, even without data, unless my phone were broken or forgotten.


So you're not responding to the parent comment at all? The comment:

> I think it should be that way with cars. Just include a screen and some buttons, then let people connect their smart phones.

Your situation as described:

A built-in navigation system which is quite a bit more than just a screen and some buttons. It just happens to use your phone for data connection.


He's saying that he disagrees with the parent comment. That just a screen is great until it means you can't navigate.


Right. Except he doesn't just have a screen. He has some navigation system onboard that happens to use the phone's data system. Not just a screen. If it was just a screen you could hook your phone up to it and see the phone's screen. And then on the phone you use any of the many offline navigator apps. Which is perfectly viable, if it was just a screen, which he doesn't have.


What other services would require no data if it were integrated into your car but would require data if it were integrated into your phone?


There is an FM system in use in some countries (I know it works for sure in Germany). You just need to have a GPS unit with this receiver. More info here https://support.garmin.com/faqSearch/en-US/faq/content/i34WV... (it is the last one mentioned)


At least the EU recognizes the increased importance of data roaming and are working to abolish the extra charges hopefully this year.


I live in Austria, so can relate. But "just a screen and buttons" does not mean "permanent internet access". It could/should work without inet as well. But really, who wants car nav systems, when Google Maps on my phone is so much better?


First world problems :)


On newer cars, that's exactly what they do already.

https://www.android.com/auto/ http://www.apple.com/ios/carplay/


On a similar note, I've always wondered why when MP3 players started to become popular in the late 90s and early 2000s but cars were still stuck in the tape/CD stage, no car offered a stripped down entertainment system with just speakers, amplifier, and a 3.5mm jack.


Because way too many buyers would be put off by that and not buy the car. Sure, some young technically-inclined people would have liked that option at the time, but most buyers would not have.


I don't even care about the speakers or too many HDMI inputs... I have an AVR for all of that.


This is what I also try to tell people when they ask me for advice on a TV. I got a sharp TV about 6 years ago and it still works perfectly and has more HDMI ports than most TVs coming out now, with none of the "smart" features.


NEC makes some commercial displays designed like this [1] - they have a Raspberry Pi compute module slot where you can install the latest version of the compute module.

Not sure about the longevity of that standard though...

(also another thing to note about commercial displays is that as they are usually on constantly, they frequently suffer heavy burn-in after a few years,so not sure if replaceable parts is such a big sell)

[1] https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/compute-module-nec-display-...


I bought a sony Android tv and are pretty happy with it so far - it's not bug free, but having a standard OS means the apps get updates. YMMV


I have similar preferences with kitchen appliances. I cook a lot, so I expect a lot out of my stove, but I hardly bake, so I don't care about having a fancy/enormous oven. In fact, I'd rather not have and oven, only a cooktop plus a portable convection oven, but in large parts of the USA a residence is not considered habitable without a built-in oven. Therefore instead of buying a range, I buy a $1500 gas cooktop with a 22,000 BTU/hr burner and the cheapest built-in wall oven I can find.


I had to go out of my way to find a dumb TV. But when I found it, it was a few hundred cheaper than smart TVs of the same size. I saved money and headache!


When my mother bought a new 55" TV a couple of years ago, she didn't even know it was a smart TV (Android 4.4-based) until I came to visit and pointed it out.

She just ignores and never uses any of the smart features.


Brand ? Link ?? (Thx)


I'll have to double check the model later but it's an RCA 55" LED display. I don't remember exactly how much I paid at the time, it was a few years ago.


Why would your fridge need a calendar app?


Probably so that you can show off cool new tech as a trade show.

IIRC, people have been trying to stick computers in refrigerators since the first dot-com boom. It made little sense then (and even less sense now), but it has a superficial appeal if you don't think about it too much: everyone in the family interacts with the fridge on a regular daily basis and many people use it as the household noticeboard. However, when you think about ergonomics, efficiency, and maintenance; the whole idea falls apart quickly.


It would make sense if 1) the fridge could somehow detect how much of various things you had left (milk, butter, etc.), 2) order these things for you automatically, and 3) there was an economical way of getting these perishable things shipped to you cheaply. It's sorta like Amazon with their buttons (I forget the exact name now), where you can press a little button in your laundry room and they'll immediately ship you some more detergent.

The problems here are 1) there's no easy way to automatically detect the levels/amounts of foods in your fridge with current tech, 2) shipping a single milk or stick of butter is horrifically uneconomical, and 3) shipping cold, perishable items is even more uneconomical. I guess you could configure the computer on the fridge with your favorite items inside, and then just press buttons on the screen when something runs low (so it's not fully automatic), but that doesn't help with #2 and #3.


After repairing my appliances one by one, finding the schematics, diagnosing parts and then searching for replacements I discovered the cheapest model and the most expensive model of most appliances by the same manufacturer share all the same parts except the exterior and control panel.

That dishwasher or washing machine with extra modes for $1,000 more? It's the same as the cheapest model, they just didn't put the extra controls on the panel.


An appliance salesman told me that decades ago. The dishwashers all had the same engine inside, the difference was usually the rack features.

This enabled the dishwasher maker to sell at various price points to different customers.


Yep and fancy handles.


After repairing my appliances one by one, finding the schematics, diagnosing parts and then searching for replacements

Where did you find the schematics?

I tried a few years ago to find just instructions for some appliances and gave up because of search engine spam etc.


Search for PDF < Model Number from appliance nameplate >

Prefixing your appliance model number with PDF cuts way down on unrelated sales material and spam.


elektrotanya is one good library.

~10 years ago I decided to obtain and review service manuals before buying machinery, to be sure I could have the documentation and to try and figure out what pile of crap I am getting into.


Some of them have them in a plastic sleeve inside the machine. Others you can find online. They're intended for repairmen.


I did that with a dishwasher once. Bought the cheapest same one internally and then swapped over the door and sound insulation from the expensive older one.

Also did that with a garbage disposal, the housing was identical and the sound insulation mounted perfectly over the new cheap one from the old expensive one.


Could you upgrade the cheap model, or is the takeaway that the expensive options aren't really valuable?


You can't upgrade the cheap models unless you found a way to buy the control panel and fit it to your appliance. Which might look pretty Frankenstein.


Buy the finishing parts from the better variant along with the control (or steal them along with the control if you raid a used machine?)


I've had many cars with electric windows. They all eventually failed, usually when it was raining, and the windows could not be raised. Fixing them would cost over $500. My truck now has hand cranked windows, and mechanical door locks. They're no trouble at all, and I'm happy with them.


Cars are still in the old mindset. They're unmodular, un-lego. Kinda like average laptops before 2006 or so. Tons of intricate parts stuck together. Coming from the computer world, especially now that you can plug and swap all kinds of parts, this looks insane. And the carmakers are leveraging this to take a premium on anything if you don't dare to try fixing it yourself.


"Lego" cars used to be really common. Old Hondas were exactly like this, which is why they had such a cult following in the 90s. You could build up a Honda using parts from pretty much any other Honda.

This also contributed to their popularity among thieves.


I got 375,000 miles out of 1986 Honda Accord. I think one time I went almost 5 years where the only thing I did was change the oil. (but, I drive like an old lady, slow starts etc.)


My newbness (or age) is showing. I wish I got to know these. And I believe it might come back since production may distribute closer to people (3D printing for non mechanically challenged parts)


I've had to replace the motor/regulator for my driver's side power window twice now ('05 Mitsu Galant). Fortunately it's just a $75-100 part and less than an hour of work.


Can confirm, window motor replacement's not terrible, and Youtube will probably tell you exactly how to do it for your make/model/year (did for our '01 Honda, which is the only car we've ever had power window problems with)


If you would like a challenge, get yourself a 1996 or newer Land Rover Discovery or Range Rover and try fixing the guaranteed to fail central locking or window regulators. A window regulator at a dealer is a 5 hour job. Owners who do things themselves avoid this job for as long as possible because it hurts to do it. Both of these systems can affect the alarm/immobilizer too, so enjoy being locked out of your car at a service station 100 miles from home.


Hardest is to dis- and reassemble the whole thing. Inside it's pretty simple.

I have to do this on my mother's car. Surprisingly both doors internals started to fail around the same year.


Mitsubishis have always been notorious for shoddy build quality.


I thought I was the only one who did this. I just about factory standard everything for my Chevrolet truck and nothing mechanical has broken down in the cab in 12 years. It is a mid-sized truck, too, which are more prone to breaking down. The only thing I replaced was the clock radio.


If you think of your car as any other tool you start to realize the electronic stuff might quickly get in the way of it functioning reliably whenever you need it. We have cranked windows, no AC, no other fancy electronics stuff (park assist? really? is that meant to unlearn people how to drive?) but electrical door locks. The one thing which ever let us down: the door locks of course.


And when your electric door locks fail, you can't even get into the car, nor can you open the hood to replace the battery.


I live in Europe, and my feelings About us cars is the same as the story about washing machines: somewhere in the '80 the quality got from superb to rubish. Where Honda cars of the nineties stil drive around, american cars dont. You see the old american cars of the sixties and seventies, but then you get a gap to only those almost new.


American here. Sorry, no: American cars from the 70s were complete and utter junk. The reason you see some (not a lot) still driving around is because their owners love them and put a lot of time into keeping them running. It's just like why you still see American cars from the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s driving around and at classic car shows; it's not because they're that reliable. Put enough work into repairing it and you can keep anything running.

You're absolutely right about American cars in the 90s versus Japanese cars from the same time. Hondas back then were bulletproof, really fantastic cars. American cars from that time were junk, not much better than the ones in the 80s (which were even worse). On top of that, the styling of American cars in the 80s was so awful that no one actually wants to keep them around. 70s American cars were ugly to me, but I could see how some people might like that kind of styling, but the 80s cars were just ugly boxes that were attempting to compete with the economical and reliable Japanese cars of the time, and failing badly. The 90s weren't much better, and had all kinds of bloated-looking American cars coming out. It's only been in the last decade that American cars haven't been horribly ugly as a rule. By contrast, the Japanese cars from the 90s were not only reliable but looked nice too.


It's not that older American cars are more reliable, but that they have enough charm for people to maintain them and a healthy aftermarket to support them. '80s and '90s American cars, on the other hand, were with a few exceptions ugly as shit.


I've got a 12 year old Dodge and the driver's side electric window only works when it gets hot enough. (and its not the switch). Drives me nuts... A mechanic friend of mine told me that changing out a window motor is a pain in the ass.


I wasn't able to do that with my last car but I did avoid air conditioning, the salesman just couldn't grasp why I'd wait a week and pay the same for a car with less features.


I didn't even know you could get a car without A/C


I'm looking for a truck with hand cranked windows. What brand is this?


Base spec Land Cruisers and Geländewagens still have hand-cranked windows. Whether you can still buy one in the so-called civilized world is another matter altogether.


Seriously! I'd like to know too. I thought these went extinct.


80's Bronco 2


Microwave ovens are another classic. We got ours 25 years ago, and it's still going strong. In fact several people who know about appliances have warned us never to ditch it - apparently the magnetron tubes for all modern microwave ovens burn out in a couple of years.


When we moved into this house, the wife made noises about replacing the "ancient" oven [0]. I asked "Has the technique of cooking food with heat, changed drastically since the 70s?" We left it in.

When I went to college in 1993, I was given my grandmother's original Amana RadarRange microwave from 1968 or so, the model with the two dials and the "done" buzzer that wouldn't stop until you hit a button [1]. It was huge, HEAVY, and we joked that it was full of lead shielding, but it got used for three years of college and after that was donated to my workplace when I moved to Austin. As far as I know it kept working there for another 2-3 years, and by then was most likely 25+ years old.

[0] https://goo.gl/photos/qrgoixCJDViks8am9

[1] https://i.ytimg.com/vi/hLhXgVAYoAE/maxresdefault.jpg

Addendum: I just realized that the microwave I have sitting in the kitchen was given to us as a wedding gift in 2001. The clock no longer works properly, but it cooks just fine.


One thing you might want to try is a sugar browning test [0]. I have an "ancient" oven - gas fired from the 1970s. It's a rental home and I don't feel like spending my own money on a kitchen upgrade, but it would probably be money well spent.

My own oven varies by over 100F plus or minus during regular cooking cycles. This is hugely significant when it comes to baking almost anything. If I put cookie dough in at the wrong time, they'll burn. I do my best to dampen the variability with a baking steel, but a more modern gas oven wouldn't have as much of a range of operating temperatures. Or, at least, a modern and high-quality one.

So, in response to your relatively sarcastic question: yes. Things have changed - not in how we cook, but in the quality of homeostatic controls for ovens.

http://www.xojane.com/diy/oven-calibration-article (technique from cooking for geeks)


"Has the technique of cooking food with heat, changed drastically since the 70s?"

Ovens? I guess not unless you go for very very high end.

I'd like to say a few nice words about my induction stovetop though: if anybody is in the market for an electric stovetop the induction based ones are vastly better IMO.

Heats pans faster. Does not heat if there is nothing on top of it. Cools down quicker.

Feels a bit magic.


I have a Sunbeam Radiant Toaster from the 1960s that I inherited after my grandmother passed away.

It still makes toast like a champ.


"Has the technique of cooking food with heat, changed drastically since the 70s?"

Convection ovens and steam ovens have become a thing since then. Modern ovens have also become a lot better at keeping a constant temperature.

Also my 'modern' (~8-9 years old) oven gets a lot hotter than my old oven.


well ... your wife refers to the oven (baking) and you respond to cooking. while I would still agree and keep the old oven, I have to say it does make a difference. modern ovens are much more easily regulated to and kept at specific temperatures. to give one example.


Ah yes, the Radar Range: https://youtu.be/uEywGpIt0vw?t=12

(That's Mike from Breaking Bad I think...)


I justs recently replaced a built in GE Microwave's magnetron and diode for around $75 with parts off of Amazon (it was 5 years old). To replace the Microwave would have cost me around $800 and to call a repair person would have been about $250.

Thanks to youtube and about 30 minutes of work it is working like new again. These days I fix everything myself. Appliances, cars, electronics, furniture, etc. I also try to buy quality instead of disposable but that is getting harder every year.


I have a Goldstar microwave that I bought about 30 years ago. I belive this company is now named LG. But it's been flawless and still works great.

I also have a chest freezer that my parents bought in the late 1970s and it's still working perfectly as well.


I remember our first VCR in the 80s being a Goldstar.

I believe that LG at one point stood for "Lucky Goldstar" as they eventually changed company name and branding.

Ah, from Wikipedia: "GoldStar merged with Lucky Chemical and LG Cable in 1995, changing the corporate name to Lucky-Goldstar, and then finally to LG Electronics."


A serious problem in the US was that regulation demanded clothes washer lids be locked when in operation. This led to forced electronics on clothes washers starting several years ago just to handle the automatic switch. I know Speed Queen was trying to delay this mess but I don't know if they are still manufacturing purely mechanical washers or not...


I don't know the nature of the regulation, but if all it demands is that the lid is locked while it is in operation, then I don't see the need for complex electronics at all. When the motor is spinning, lock. When the motor stops spinning, keep locked for 10 seconds. This can be done with cheap electronics known to work for 100.000 hours, more than enough hours for 30 years of service.


You're right that the electronics are cheap but they're still the first thing to break since they take quit a beating. They might last 30 years in a vacuum but not in a washer.

If you're willing to live without a lock or spend a few bucks for new parts then you can keep your machine running perpetually but you basically have to buy an old or commercial unit for the availability of parts.


How could a relay and a 555 timer possibly "take a beating"?

I can't think of more time-tested electrical components.


Is this true? I bought a (new) washer < 3 months ago that does not lock. Top-load, so maybe that's why?

I never understood front-load anyways. Topload fails safe. Front load fails in a giant puddle all over your floor.


Uh, no, a top-loader should certainly lock while it's running. When that thing spins to drain all of the water out, it moves dangerously fast. You should double check that there's not something wrong with it.

Also, after growing up with a top-loader, and having a front-loader at my current apartment, I'm amazed at how much water is used and wasted by a top-loader. It's like filling a damn bathtub.


> a top-loader should certainly lock while it's running.

By law, though, as GP mentioned? That surprises me, given my recent purchase...

> You should double check that there's not something wrong with it.

I'm 10000000% sure that the thing isn't designed to lock.

> When that thing spins to drain all of the water out, it moves dangerously fast.

Sure. We don't have any kids or pets, and it's in the basement where visitors have no reason to be. NBD, for us.

> I'm amazed at how much water is used and wasted by a top-loader

I'll definitely keep this in mind if I ever move to a water-poor region or a city with bad infrastructure debt.


I have a top loader that doesn't lock, but it immediately shuts off if it's in the spin cycle and you open it. Perhaps yours is like that?


Yes, mine does that. No braking as discussed below though.


Top loaders have no need to lock when they are running for the prevention of putting limbs in them while they are moving. The moment the lid is opened the lid switch is tripped which shuts the washer off. Maybe you are thinking of a locking mechanism to keep someone from drowning in one?


My top-load Whirlpool locks the lid when in operation.

It's also an utter piece of crap. No wonder the former owners of the home elected to take their fridge but not their washer/dryer. Do NOT buy a top-load High Efficiency washer. IMO, without an agitator (it just has a nipple-shaped thing at the bottom that serves only to twist drawstrings into knots that absolutely ruin the garment) and without adequate water, a top-loader cannot clean clothes properly.

My front-loader at my old place was vastly superior in every way. Probably used less water, too.


When the drum inside a top-loader spins to drain the water, it uses centrifugal force to squeeze the water out. This means it spins extremely fast.

For example, this model spins at 710 RPM

http://www.aaxon.com/blog/194-speed-queen-top-load-washer-vs...

However someone else pointed out that if they don't lock the lid, they might engage a brake and stop the drum's spinning if the lid is opened. This achieves a similar goal.


I was told by the guy that delivered my washer that the High Efficiency washers spin dangerously fast which was why it locked. Switching off immediately would still be capable of causing harm.


I second this. In NZ most washers are top-loading, and I've never seen one that locks during operation. Instead, if you lift the lid while it is spinning, it engages some kind of emergency-brake and that spinner grinds to a halt in a fraction of a second.


> it engages some kind of emergency-brake and that spinner grinds to a halt in a fraction of a second.

On an HE model if it braked that fast I think the whole washer body would spin around.


Front load is better in every other way: easier on your clothes, so they last longer. Uses less water and less soap. Can take bulky fragile items like a down comforter or a tent.


It's not better in every way.

Mildew. Having to leave it open so that the seals air out. Gravity - undefeated champion.

Replacement parts and repairs. Get ready to open up your wallet. Good luck working on anything yourself.


I hate our front loader. All our towels are moldy. I can never get the smell out. The machine emits a vile rotten egg smell during the spin cycle.

I hate all our appliances. Every last one of them. From the microwave that lasted a year to the freezer that leaks water and ruined my hardwood floors.

They're all garbage. Horrible, horrible expensive garbage.


Front loaders are the worst. I got stuck with one in a rental . I've managed to make it acceptable by doing 3 things.

First, I switched the hot and cold water inputs. My machine's idea of "warm" was actually more like "very very cold". Now, it gets enough heat. I also cranked up my water heater as high as it would go. These two changes effectively take care of all mildew issues. Don't listen to all of the horrible water temperature advice out there; they advocate for temps that optimize for bacterial growth. Hotter is better.

Second, I looked up videos on youtube to figure out how to make it use a lot more water. This is a relatively simple process that involved unscrewing and removing the case, using a hair dryer for 30 seconds to warm up a loctite covered screw, and turning that scree about a quarter turn. More water is always better.

Third, I ordered a giant sack of Sodium Tripolyphosphate (STPP) from a chemical supplier. Prior to that, I used to buy Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) from Amazon (make sure you get the real stuff). Both require hot water, need about a tablespoon per load, and work extremely well, though STPP is supposed to be better (I haven't noticed a difference). This has two big impacts. Your clothes, especially towels, will feel much softer and nicer. And also, your clothes will stop smelling "good", because STPP is a rinsing agent that helps get all of the soap out of your clothes. The only reason your clothes smell "good" is because modern detergents do a terrible job and the perfumes are added to cover the odor.

If you want to enter a time machine back to a magical era when appliances worked correctly, add a tablespoon of TSP to your dishwasher and run it on the hottest setting.


You know what's worse? A modern top-loader (a high-efficiency one). I'll trade you. My top loader is absolute shit, and the front-loader we used to have was perfect. It's not remotely difficult to leave the door open and never have a mildew issue.


Thank you for the STPP/TSP tip... I'm really sensitive to purfumes/dyes, and although I can get the purfume/dye free detergent, fabric softener without it is harder to come by. Sometimes use "baby" fabric softener or detergent.


I also have problems with perfume and softeners always get such a bad chemical smell very fast. Will try to get hold of TSP, thanks!


I've never had a problem with mildew but I also tend to leave the door open for an unspecified amoutn of time once it's done. I'll close it later if I can be bothered but the open door doesn't get in my way so I don't really care.

I also tend to empty it within an hour after it's finished so I have no problem with mouldy clothes or linen. I hang out all of my washing and live in Australia, though, so that may be different since it's permanently a million degrees here and everything dries quite quickly.

I'm very happy with my front-loader. My only worry was that the cycle times were longer when I go 'oh shit, I need this clean and dry in an hour' but it has a 30 min quick wash anyway and then i can toss it in the dryer or hang it out in the sun if it's a hot day. It's served me well.

edit: I also wash all clothes on the 'cold' setting aka what's straight out of the tap. Linen I'll let do at the 40 or 60 or whatever it wants to do it at because it seems to produce marginally softer results but I don't really care either way and prefer to save the electricity on my clothes washes which make up the overwhelming majority of my use.


I live in a very humid country and even top-loading washing machines suffer from mildew - here detergent is sold on anti-mildew properties and you can buy special washing machine cleaner liquids.

We had issues with mildew-smelling towels in our top-loader once during the rainy season (one month of non-stop rain and we hang-dry our clothes) but changing detergents solved that.


Newer front-loaders seem to come with a self-clean cycle that does the trick (especially when you add some vinegar or bleach to the four hour process).


Check your manual. There's usually information about running a hot cycle with bleach for maintenance.


Try running it with a double strong dose of Star San. In general, mildew can be avoided with star San and borax.


Run the hottest program once in a while ( 90 Celsius )


The only reason a front loader has less mildew issues is because the top is unsealed. Repairs are not more expensive in my experience, and why should they be, the basic principles are the same. A front loader usually washes better, saves you quite a bit on the water and electricity bills, and for all that you just need to remember to not close the lid when not in use.


How is leaving the door open a big deal? I just leave it open and pretty much only close it if it's been open for more than 24 hours or I need to use the shower (it's a small bathroom). No mildew or strange smells. I think the problem is that people these days don't want to deal with even a minimal amount of maintenance.


It's not even maintenance, it's a change of habbit. Which is hard for some people.


Recently replaced a mildewy washer with the cheapest top loader LG makes. Fuck it. I'm not buying another expensive appliance ever again. The previous one was barely repairable.


My LG front loader has a small hose behind a panel on the lower front where the drain pump filter is. When I am finished washing I take the plug out of the hose, drain all the water, then remove the drain pump filter and leave the door open until I next need to use the washer. Otherwise, there would be ~500 mL stagnant water in the plumbing of the washer, keeping the humidity inside the washer comfortable for mold.

Also, use warm water and half the suggested amount of washing powder.


All kinds of things will grow on the water pipes, drains and containers. That's normal. I can take all of them out super easy on our old siemens washing machine, we're talking less then 15 minutes. Rinse, put them in a dishwasher, put back in 15. that smell is gone for a couple of years. Good luck doing this on a more recent washing machine. I wouldn't recommend leaving the door open. Some rubber parts don't like it if they are dry for too long.


The secret to maintaining a front load machine is to leave the door open when you're not using it. That's it.

I live in a humid area and my washer is in a basement that occasiaonly floods. No problems with mildew or seal leakage after 7 years.

The only problem I've had was with the water inflow valve. I ordered a new part online and installed it myself.

And this isn't some fancy machine; I bought it a Sears scratch 'n dent showroom.


A top loader with no center agitator is almost as good, though it does still use somewhat more water than a front loader.


I've seen so many front loaders where the seals aren't regularly cleaned, and they just look gunky, moldy and or like they are drying out/cracking. Maybe it's just in Arizona. That alone doesn't appeal to me. Also, there's the load height, though with stands, it isn't too bad.


In Europe you will find nowhere toploader. We know they are poor engineering: Bad water and electricity efficiency combined with more stress and wear out for the fabrics during washing. Only plus side I can see is that it is faster... but wasting so much resources does not justifies it IMHO.


This is not true. Modern top loaders, such as Samsung High Efficiency top loaders don't waste water like the old mechanical top loaders. They weigh the clothing, adjusting the water levels accordingly. They also don't have agitators, and wear fabrics less than the spinning action of a rotating drum. For a 2nd story laundry, they are a no-brainer, because the spin cycle (which is much faster than an old-school top loader) results in significantly less vibration than a front loader.

Source: owned a front-loader, several cheap "old school" top loaders, and a modern, High Efficiency top loader. The last one, is the best by far.


No. They're fucking terrible. Don't buy one. Buy a front-loader. Trust me.

Why would a spin cycle wear clothes more when oriented one direction versus the other?


They also have ridiculously long cycles. No thanks, I'll take the front loader and 22 minute cycles.


Even Samsungs best top loaders still use significantly more water and energy than a front loader.


We had a top loader that spins around horizontal axis, just as front loaders do, should have the same water consumption.


Oh yes, that's true! In Europe they are also used when there is not enough space for purely front loaders... nevertheless they still spin around horizontal axis.


> Only plus side I can see is that it is faster...

I enjoy being able to wash my blankets. When I had a front loader, it was impossible to get anything large clean, especially with how many fabrics here in America at least are all synthetic so water beads off rather than being adsorbed. The only way to clean cheap linen here is to completely immerse it in water.


All front loaders I know (Europe) have programs for all use cases (it's more complicated for sure). But when I compare a usual top loader in the US with a usual front loader in Europa I can relate to the top loader having much more space (when you get space problems in any loader it will not wash good). Never had a problem to wash the largest blanket in a normal front loader here were I live (Germany) but we also do not like synthetics so much for blankets.


> All front loaders I know (Europe) have programs for all use cases (it's more complicated for sure).

My US front loader forced water saving mode, it sprayed a light mist of water, which quickly beaded off of synthetics.

It was otherwise a great machine, but until I moved out I had multiple large comforters I couldn't use.


A washer can rip a kid's arms off or worse if their sleeve gets caught in it while the lid is open.


You don't need electronics to do that. A solenoid hooked up to the timer would be enough.


The problem is not regulation or electronics. Rather the problem is designs intended to fail shortly after the warranty period expires.


Random note, seems to me that the *washers market has been a scam for a long time, the only difference between models seem superficial: interface aesthetics, a few programs and a new screen. Imagine if the rotor and fluid was decoupled and you could swap the controlling part ?


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