The Flapper Valve and the Rubber Band


Well, what do these have to do with what is happening to our country?  Recently I’ve have had to replace several flapper valves in some toilets.  Looking at the valves shows a crumbly mass of rubber like something.  So we can send a man to the moon and return them safely, fly around the world non-stop without refueling and yet we can’t make a good flapper valve.  They don’t seem to be lasting as long as when I was a kid.  The valve really looked like fake rubber stuff, yuck.  The flapper valves from my friends and neighbor’s toilets looked even worse, some were only 3 years or so old.

So with the bad flapper valve for my toilet I embarked on a quest for a new flapper valve.  Down to several stores I went, wander through the plumbing section looking for a good flapper valve made in the good old USA.  Lost cause, I could not find a single valve made in the USA, all were from China, maybe China is exporting their pollution in the flapper valves using fake rubber stuff. 

No made in USA flapper valves.  Ignoring for a moment the fact that we can’t build military equipment without chips and supplies from China, what the heck is happening when we can’t even make a good flapper valve in the USA (or even a plain flapper valve).  And we wonder why our real unemployment rate is hovering around 20% counting discouraged workers and those without benefits (remember if you are not drawing benefits’ you really don’t count). No quality flapper valves, no made in the USA flapper valves.  Over 100 years of toilets and we don’t care enough to make a good flapper valve.

A few months ago I went and got some old things out of my mini-storage unit.  The box had been sitting in storage for well over 15 years, funny thing, in the box were some things held together with rubber bands.  Guess what?  The rubber bands were still OK, stretchy and not all dried up.  Contrast that to some things in my home that have rubber bands that are maybe 2 years old that have fallen apart.  15 year old rubber bands = = good, 2 year old rubber bands = = bad.  So is it pollution today or again just cheap stuff that dies soon.  Do we not really know how to make good rubber bands anymore?  Or do we just not care, as long as the rubber bands last for a few months that is good?

The box also contained an old box of paperclips, you remember the old ones, metal was really springy and would hold sheets of paper, did not tear the paper because the ends of the wire were really cut nicely?  Look at today’s paperclips, metal does not hold the shape, sort of like a piece of solder, not shaped well, no little grip indents on the wire.  A while back a college professor had a class project to design a new paperclip and he called out today’s paperclips, not holding the paper, tearing the paper and so on.   Lots of strange designs as only college engineering students can do.  My thoughts?  Well why didn’t anyone think to just fix the manufacturing crap and make the plain old metal paperclip like we did 30 years ago?  You know, good metal that is really springy, nice sheared ends, formed well.  Remember when you could use a paper clip to repair a piece of machinery?  Ok so not everyone has been a machinist or engineer in plants.  But the good old paperclip did on occasions come in handy from time to time.

What is the world coming to?  Junk flapper valves, broken rubber bands and paper clips that don’t really hold anything.

How about to borrow a phrase, lets have a made in USA Apollo project, a great designed and built in the USA flapper valve, real last a long time rubber bands and antique paperclips?  I still have a few of the old classic paperclips if our engineers have forgotten what a real paperclip is.

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