So, on Friday, I was digging some dirt out of an embankment with the backhoe for a Saturday landscaping project at the range. Not a big deal, just time to scratch out some fill for the project. I planned on it taking about 3 hours to get the work done in advance of the actual project to take place on Saturday.
2 hours into the work, I blew a hydraulic hose… Now, this is not a big deal, as it uses common fittings and is easily replaced. It took about an hour to have one made and for me to put it on. Easy-Peasy.
Easy in TODAY’S society, that is.
It caused me to think:
What happens to our machinery when such an event occurs if things aren’t like today’s world? What if we are living in a place where there has been a “Carrington Event”-like Solar Storm? Where there is no electricity, or no Internet, or other modern devices to look up and/or otherwise find the parts that we so easily get to fix our machinery? Bearings, hoses, belts, seals, filters: all are relatively simple things, but they are essential for the operation of our equipment. That tractor that tills the fields? A $30 belt is essential. Without it, that tractor is a large hunk of useless iron. Without the bearings for our machinery, they will cease to be useful. A simple oil seal failure will render the engine or transmission or axle unusable in very few minutes. Without those fittings for the hydraulic hose, or the hose itself, or the swaging machinery that is used to assemble that hose, your machinery is useless as soon as the hydraulic fluid is pumped onto the ground, and your machine grinds to a halt.
Where are you gonna get the wheel (or hub) bearing that fails on the axle of your pickup truck? Or the oil seal? Or the coolant hose? Yes, you MIGHT be able to scavenge one from another unit. But how will you know what other unit to scavenge from for a still usable bearing that will fit? Or an oil seal (If you don’t totally destroy the seal upon disassembly in the first place)? What other pickup trucks use the same length of belt as yours? Often parts don’t interchange even between the same model/brand from a different year. How about some of those critical sensors for your car or truck (or tractor). Even if you found a parts store that had a stock of parts (say axle bearings) which one fits your truck? Most are just part numbers on the box, unless you have a way to look them up….and these days, there are seldom parts books, only a database available only through the internet.
Yes, you can stock filters, and fluids, even some belts and hoses. How many do you stock? Which ones? You can’t stock a whole other tractor or truck (at least, very few of us can). Without that supply line, it won’t take more than a year for most equipment to shut down, even if you have a supply of fuel and lubricants.
You can’t make a modern hydraulic hose, or brake hose with a normal workshop. Nor can you make a bearing with fire and an anvil. Coolant hoses are pretty high tech, really. Oil seals too. Tires can be patched, perhaps, and they are more or less standard sizes with that info written on the side, so they, at least will be swappable until the supply runs out.
Think about it. Without today’s modern manufacturing, and without the modern information systems (much less the supply lines), most “soft” items on our equipment will be irreplaceable….and without those items, even the small ones, our machinery grinds to a halt quickly.
“For want of a nail……”