Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Heirloom quality

I know that disasters are envitible,but I noticed during an insurance advertisment how much money was put out for rebuilding and damages,etc
(this includes everything) wouldnt the money be better spent beforehand on better planning and construction,so your car would last longer,your home truly be your castle and the lights stay on? Roads better designed to last(maybe a fraction as long as the Appian way or the old stone block arch bridges you see still standing,etc? Anybody here for better construction?-Kevin

I agree and especially about roads and interchanges. There is a big city interchange near where I live that needed rebuilding after about 45 years and another about the same age that will be rebuilt soon. Our state representative asked for ideas to save taxpayer money so I suggested that roads, bridges and interchanges should be built to last longer. That would cost more money up front but less in the long run. It seems that corrosion of steel parts due to road salt is a problem so why not use stainless steel or epoxy coated carbon steel rebar, more durable coatings on carbon steel structural parts, a richer concrete mix. Must we pay to rebuild such an interchange every 45 years into perpetuity?

Another possibility is to contract out a road, bridge or interchange including its maintenance for a specified time period with documented, verifiable specifications. That would encourage longer lasting construction quality.

Kevin…it all come down to money. I can build my house to survive a tornado but the cost would be prohibitive. My brother’s girlfriend inherited a 20 year old Rolls Royce from her father who was a successful surgeon. The car cost over $200,000 when new. It still costs an arm and a leg to maintain but it runs and drives better than any new vehicle I have ever owned. I just pay standard prices and take the standard risks like most people…with insurance of course.

Well in business and engineering, everything is a trade off. If you put more money into something to make it last longer, it can end up as obsolete and not usable anyway. It’s always a balance of cost and utility. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don’t. A house built in 1970 is woefully out of date utility-wise due to energy standards, modern usage and so on. Even commercial buildings become obsolete for the same reasons. Retrofit an old building for modern uses and it becomes cheaper to start over. So really the risk of obsolesce is as important as longevity. Just because a 56 Buick would still be running strong, wouldn’t mean that it would fit todays needs.


Many municipalities use coated rebar to extend the life of the prestressed components.

Rather than look at the cost of specific phases of a project, the managers should look at the lifetime cost. If replacement of a bridge deck can be done 4 times rather than 8 during its lifetime, the cost of the longer lasting deck might be well worth it when you consider the labor to remove and replace it.

Thanks guys for the replies, true enough about the obselecence,hospitals and things like are almost impossible to to renovate to put back in service,oft times its more apppropiate to sell the old property and build a new somewhere else,such as the economics nowadays-but I often look at the centuries old, old world buildings that are still in service and wonder,it can be done-Kevin

Regarding roadways, I remember reading an article about road construction many years ago in a trade publication. The details are fuzzy but I seem to remember that on avereage European roads are much better as compared to U.S. roads due to the way the ground is prepared.

It seems that in the U.S. they may prepare 18" or so of dirt before surfacing and in Europe it’s more like 3 or 4 feet. The cost was something like 15-20% higher in Europe because of this but over the long run the road surfaces held up much better and that extra cost paid for itself.
Whether that story is accurate I do not know; only repeating the basics.

Of course, if cars and roads were built to last over the long haul then that would put the hurt on a lot of car makers and state road contracts.

The roads around here were are enough anyway. The wind farm construction made a right hash of them as the British would say. The wind farm construction crew is gone and mangled roads remain with the odds of them being fixed at close to zero.

OK, I guess that you are none to happy that all that power that is generated in the panhandle of Oklahoma is being sent to the southeast TVA grid. I got a notice this week that the 600 kVDC transmission line is going by somewhere near here.

Double yech on the 600 KV line the structures are bad enough,we have a 500 Kv line here that goes to the pumped storage looks horrid,it “it Gerrymanders” all around the place(they claim they done this to hide it-600 KV? thats really going to pop and crack,the 500kv line will light a flourescent trouble light on a foggy night-no lying any commerce destroys the roads.The AutoBahn for instance is built to a much higher standard then our interstates-Kevin

I recall an interview with a European gentleman who was asked his opinion of buildings in the U.S. compared to those in the “old world”. He said we were essentially still “tenting” because we weren’t sure if we were going to stay. :slight_smile:

TT,that was a good one,thanks-Kevin

Keven, the 600kVDC line will not light up nearby fluorescent light bulbs. I don’t think you have ever been on the Appian Way either. It only held up for so long because it didn’t have to carry heavy loads at high speeds. Commercial vehicles are still not allowed an the few remaining sections today.

There is always a trade-off between buying or building something that will last indefinitely (or a long time) but become obsolete due to changes in technology or build something to last for a specific period of time. I thought I would keep my 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass for a lifetime, but sold it after 33 years of ownership. There were just too many improvements in cars–fuel injection over carburetors, distributorless ignition systems, multispeed automatic transmissions, along with new safety standards to warrant keeping the Oldsmobile. I have a Hallicrafters S-20R shortwave receiver manufactured in 1939. I am certain I would have a difficult time finding a type 80 rectifier tube. I had a really nice console Zenith color television, but with the new LCD flatscreens, it became obsolete. My brother has a GE refrigerator that was made in 1939 that came in an apartment building he bought almost 40 years ago. It still works and he uses it for a backup. However, it is so heavy that it is hard to move. It has much less space than today’s refrigerators and uses much more power.
As far as road construction is concerned, we could have made longer lasting highways. However, we are always adding extra lanes to the interstates and the interstates were practically overcrowded from the day they were built.

1 Like

I wonder if the “Yellow Brick Road” in Oz has required any maintenance.

Mrs. Triedaq

Simple-$$$. We don’t spend enough on our roads to maintain the ones we have. Where would the money come from to make them ‘heirloom’ quality?

“I wonder if the “Yellow Brick Road” in Oz has required any maintenance.”

Of course. The Munchkins were the laborers, and Elvira Gulch was the foreman. That’s why they called her the Wicked Witch of the West.

I perform many life cyle clost analyses for clients. In the energy business the life of an oil field has to be at least 30 years. The equipment has to be built to lowest livfe cycle cost. That means if stainless steel is more cost-efffective over the long term it is used.

Many energy installations, like refineries last a very long time. One I know of is over 100 years old. However, there is little left of the original equipment, since the product, processes, and envronmental standards have changed considerably.

In highway construction, however, like in Germany, the base and the concrete thickness ar much more robust, for longer life and stability at high speed, which needs a very smooth surface. Airport runways need a similar high quality design standard. Epoxy coated rebar is now widely used, perhaps not by contractors whom pave your driveway.

I was raised in a 100 year old farm house with wood frame construction and wooden shingles. The basement walls were nearly two feet thick and made of field stone and concrete The floor joists were trees sawed in half lengthwise. After my dad sold out, the new owner wanted a much bigger house and tore down the old one. It would still be standing if he hadn`t.

The Brooklyn Bridge is a good example of sturdy design and it`s now over 100 years old.

The overall defintion of quality is “fitness for intended use”. So, in residential construction, affordability comes into the picture as well as long life and low maintenance costs. In 1993 I rebuilt the full length deck at the back of my house. The difference between a poor quality and long life was only $2000 or so. My neighbour did it the same year (using untreated white spruce) the cheap way and his deck had to be torn down and rebuilt in 2008. Mine has only had to be restained a couple of times, and probably has another 10 years of life left.

I was also raised in a smilar 100 year old farm house that is still standing and occupied. I don’t believe that the carpenters who built the house owned a t-square–there wasn’t a straight corner in the house. However, it was really solid. When I was in high school, it was determined that the house needed to be rewired. After a couple of bids from electricians, my dad decided that he and I would rewire the house. He brought home a how-to book and a copy of the code that he made me study. The actual wiring wasn’t difficult, but setting the junction boxes in the attic was a real problem. The beams were old oak. I had to predrill a hole to drive in a screw to support the box. My dad decided that wire nuts weren’t as good as a soldered joint, so I had to twist the wires together with pliers, apply soldering flux, then solder the wires, then wrap the joint first with rubber tape and then with plastic tape. I did this work back in the summer of 1956 and I’l bet if anybody opened up a junction box after that, they would have had their problems undoing a connection.

Keith the 500 KV transmission line that is around a half a mile from house will indeed light up a corded flourescenttrouble light on a foggy night,you stand under the line and the higher you raise the light,the brighter it gets,this line sizzles like bacon frying and I know the Appian way is not a highway,what have we built that will last 2 millenium? Its about greed and planned obselscence,I know a good product will generate very little revenue after the initial sale(these high tension lines radiate more then you think)-Kevin

Folks here have been reporting problems with auto parts they purchase from retail parts stores. Both new parts and especially offshore re-manufactured parts like starter motors and half-shafts. I guess these retail auto parts stores offer good prices on their parts, but not always the best quality it seems. One place where quality is important in my opinion is auto parts. If you save $10 on a part, but end up having to replace it all over again, wasting $100 worth of time, that’s no saving. And if a brake component fails, well that’s an entirely different story … read on if interested, this web site has some pretty good info on this subject …