I enjoy watching car auctions on cable television. Some of my enjoyment comes from the commentators telling stories of similar cars they had in the past and how much they lamented selling them. Perhaps if I had driven a better type of vehicle I would “miss” some of my old rides too. Looking back on my “fleet,” most of them deserved to be crushed and recycled.
Modern cars routinely last fifteen or twenty years while reliably providing more than 100,000 miles of transportation. In my youth it was considered very brave for Chrysler to offer a 5 year/50,000 mile warranty; most cars come with twice that coverage now. The downside of this improved reliability is cost and complexity; few car owners would undertake replacing a complete engine in the driveway as we did back in the “good old days.”
Our industrial products have gone through a similar transformation. Back in the “through hardened” days we expected gears to show surface distress after only a few hours of service. It was not uncommon to replace many speed reducers after three to five years, and we did not get much blowback from the end users because every manufacturer had similar results.
Today’s hardened and ground gear technology rarely suffers from premature failures in ground-based applications. We have much more accurate machine tools to make our parts on, and if a customer called with a tooth flank damage complaint it would result in a major investigation.
The car auctions increasingly feature old cars that have been stuffed full of modern running gear. The “resto-mod” philosophy is “All the cool and none of the hassles.” We can do the same thing to older through hardened gearboxes. This is a good way to improve “up time” at older production lines without having to re-engineer the entire place. If your gearboxes are deeply integrated into your mill, why not ask one of our advertisers to quote a thorough modernization program? You have nothing to lose but your overtime bill.