Nothing remains the same

I’m sure we’ve this discussion before(being away a couple of years has dimmed my memory a bit) but what would you like see more standardized? It could relate to cars or anything,I have a huge assortment of oil filter wrenches for example and some devices like cell phones have a bewildering array of adapters and chargers and rechargeable tools also,I guess we are lucky there is such a thing as a “D” cell ,eg; and I suppose we are sort of standardized on hydrocarbon fuels(sort of).I’m always interested in peoples opinions on this.If I posted this not so long ago,please bear with me,I simply find this a fascinating subject-Kevin

Battery packs for power tools.

I completely agree with standardization of auto maintenance parts and other things as well. I called a major oil filter maker about 15 or 20 years ago and was told there were over 200 oil filter types. I found a link on the SAE web site and wrote them to ask if something could be done. They wrote back to say that was not part of their mission. The number of auto engine oil filters should be reduced to no more than a dozen. Same applies to air filters, brake pads, fuel filters, headlight bulbs, tire sizes and likely more items. Of course there needs to be provision for performance upgrades, cost reductions and quality improvements in standard interchangeable form if at all possible.

These are not auto parts but the variety of ink jet printer cartridges is beyond stupid.

It would be nice to see some cockpit standardization, that is all the light switches, wiper stalks, horn placement be the same. That would make getting used to a different or new car a lot easier. Imagine if some manufacturer decided to swap the brake and gas pedals in their vehicles.

Of three vehicles that I have right now, the wipers on one are activated by pushing the stalk down, on another you push it up and on the third, you turn the knob.

It is important if a standardized cockpit is designed, that it is the best and most intuitive design possible and not a compromise that selects only the worse. Once standardized, it will tend to stifle improvements or innovation.

I liked the “good old days” where one size fits all. My parents had a 1954 Buick, a 1952 Dodge, a 2 stroke LawnBoy mower and a roto-tiller with a Lauson engine. All the engines had spark plugs that cross-referenced to a Champion J-8. We could buy a dozen and a half spark plugs and tune up everything with two plugs left over to change out in the 2 stroke lawn mower. The Buick had to have detergent oil, but non-detergent 30 weight was fine for the Dodge, the roto-tiller, and to mix with the gas for the lawnmower.
I liked intuitive controls. On my first car, a 1947 Pontiac, the headlight switch was the only knob on the left side of the steering wheel–pull it out one notch–parking lights, two notches–headlights. The wiper control was on the top of the dashboard, not to be confused with any other knobs or switches. The starter switch was on the floor, right above the accelerator where all good starter switches should be. When you stepped on the starter pedal, it opened the throttle about 1/3 of the way, then pushed the starter pinion into the flywheel and then activated the starter switch. There wasn’t a starter solenoid to wear out and go bad. I did add a windshield washer. This was completely independent of the electrical or vacuum system. It consisted of a rubber dome with a check valve. Stepping on the dome expelled the washer fluid in the dome to the nozzles that sprayed the windshield and drew more washer fluid into the dome. There was no complicated electrical hook-up that actuated the wipers. Once you squirted the fluid onto the windshield, you turned on the wipers. By the way, the windshield wipers were vacuum operated interval wipers–no fancy circuit board. The wipers operated during the interval when you released the accelertor and the engine vacuum was high. Today, the controls are even different between our 2003 Toyota 4Runner and our 2011 Toyota Sienna. I guess even the Toyota engineers disagree on how the controls should be laid out.
I once explained to a computer science class that I taught that in approaching a new piece of software, learn how to do the essential things first to do your task. You can then learn the other features later. “It’s like driving a car”, I explained. “I know only 4 things to drive a car. When I turn the wheel clockwise, it goes to the right. When I turn the wheel counterclockwise, it goes left. The rightmost pedal makes it go and the pedal next to it makes it stop. I have no idea how the heating and airconditioning work. My wife freezes me in the summer and roasts me in the winter. My son has the radio blasting at 100 decibels and I have no idea how to shut it off. I’ve never figured out how to use the lights and wipers, but those features are for wimps anyway. However, I can get where I want to go by knowing the four essential things and when you know the essential things about the computer software, you can do your task”. I guess one gradute student in the class thought I was serious about how I drove the car. He had to see my wife, who was the associate dean of the graduate division. He saw my picture on her desk, put two and two together and asked her “Does your husband really drive the car without using headlights or windshield wipers?” When Mrs. Triedaq got home that evening, I had some explaining to do.

I’m going to step it up a notch. Beyond standardization, I’d like to see climate controls and audio system controls that can be adjusted solely by feel. My previous vehicles have always had slides for the ducktwork doors, rotary switches for the temp control, and radios that were at least quasi-friendly. I could make adjustments by feel, without having to take my eyes off the road. My current car has light-changing diode displays with sequenced pushbutton controls. I have to take my eyes ff the road and peer at a little LCD display, oushing the button until the display shows what I want. If I pass it, I have to continue through the sequence.

Controls that required the driver to take his;/her eyes off the road are, IMHO, unsafe.

There is something that I would like to see “standard” on every telephone. I want a phone that will only ring if the caller has their number on my internal list of authorized callers. Goodbye wrong numbers and goodbye telemarketers and the like.

@keith : I agree, we rent a lot of cars on our travels and business. After a long flight you get into a rental car and the controls are not where you think they are. I’ve gotten to carrying a small flahlight. The wiper/turn signal and light controls are different in a Volkswagen than the cars I’m used to, for instance.

When last in Europe I rented a French Renault Megane; a nice car but the rental company had taken the instruction manual out. I had to learn by trial and error after a long transatlantic flight. French cars do everything differently from Japanese and domesitic ones.

My goodness Guys, you have answeared my dream,I still try to actuate everything on my 2006 Dodge the same way I did on my 99 Frontier,it would be so sweet to have the same control placement, the same lightbulbs,etc;I guess I’m a fuddy-duddy,but changing things midstream confuses me.The Mack truck I generally drive at work has controls similar to 70’s autos-Kevin

Had to buy a special assortment of torx bits to change a signal bulb, Why not start simple!

Cell phone chargers, oil filters, inkjet cartridges, toothpaste, the list is endless. But I prefer it that way to over-regulation. Watch out for what you ask for…

I agree with Taxases – be careful what you wish for.

One thing I wish was standard:
Home Depot’s dimensional lumber. Sure, a 2x4 answers to the specification in that is really isn’t 2" by 4" but less. And ‘clear pine’ means a certain number of defects are allowable, etc.

If they could only sell it straight and not bent like a hula hoop.
Or sell it without bark on it…

Guess I kinda have to agree with Triedaq when I think back to the controls of the 50’s and 60’s. I always think its a waste of washer fluid compared to being able to step on the bladder and squirt a little on the windshield as needed.

I guess one thing I would like standardized is the location of the fuel filler. My Olds was in the center which made the most sense. Now I’ve got two on the left and one on the right. Seems like I’m always asking the wife which side its on when I’m driving with her. I’ve had to turn around a number of times. Yeah and the wipers and cruise control switches and just the opposite between the Acura and the Pontiac. It really wouldn’t take much to just leave them alone. And those stupid little international icons? Who can understand what those are? Is the little headlight symbol the fog or the head light?

I would like to see standardized plugs and battery chargers for laptops. 220 volts and standard wall outlets everywhere on planet Earth.
Oh and a metric system as well…

All automotive HVAC system controls should consist of three knobs to control all features (one for zone selection, one for temp, one for fan speed), plus two buttons, one for recirculate and one for a/c. Also, all cars should feature gauge panels with analog full instrumentation. For some reason, I like six gauges staring at me, telling me everything pertinent that is going on under the hood.

Thats true,I like gauges also,but on the other hand variety doesnt make up for poor quality.A few things I liked was that a timing set from an early OHV 6 cyl Ford would also fit the Y-Block V-8 and a whole lot of GM V-8 distributors would interchange,back in the day you could go to the gas station and get a lot of consumable parts for your Ford or Chevy-Kevin

+1 with @252525. I forgot about the metric system which is weird because I grew up with it and it took me forever to get used to what we use in the US.
Good call.

I can agree with the metric, but not the 220 VAC because it is at 50 Hz, The world needs to go 60 Hz

The congress adopted the metric system in 1889,its a shame the public didnt accept it.I do alot better with decimals than fractions-Kevin

I’m not certain that there was a lot of standardization of controls back in the “good old days” of the 1940s and 1950s. The starter was operated differenly on different makes of cars. My 1947 Pontiac was operated by a pedal just above the accelerator; my 1948 Dodge had a pushbutton on the left side of the dashboard; my 1954 Buick was started by depressing the accelerator; my 1955 Pontiac was started by turning the key to the start position. The Nashes and Studebakers with manual transmissions were started by depressing the clutch pedal and then giving it a little extra push. The Nashes with the automatic transmissions were really weird–you put the selector lever in “neutral” and then lifted it. The automatic transmission control wasn’t standardized either. On GM cars through the mid-1950s, starting at the top the ranges were P-N-D-L-R or just N-D-L-R (the early HydraMatic didn’t have a Park feature). The Ford and Mercury had the P-R-N-D-L arrangement. The Chrysler products through the early 1950s with the “lift and clunk” automatic transmissions looked like manual gearshifts. Reverse and neutral were where they were on manual transmissions. However, driving range was down in the high gear position and low range was up in the second gear position.
There were three different telephone arrangements to reach another party. On some telephones, you turned a crank which operated a magneto that sent a current over the line. This lit a light on the operator’s switchboard. She plugged into that jack and asked the number of the party you were trying to reach. On other systems, you picked up the handset and the operator responded with “number, please”. The third system was the dial telephone (the touchtone didn’t come until much later). The second system where, when you picked up the handset and the operator said “Number, Please” was probably the most convenient and personable. I remember the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show. Fibber would pick up the telephone to call someone and when the operator responded, he would say, “Oh, is that you Mert? How’s every little thing Mert?” The automated telephone exchange system took some of the sociability away from calling someone.