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The 80% Rule - Bitin' Me in the Butt

I have a proprietary maxim called the 80% Rule.  It peeves me no end.  Seems to me we (collectively)  have learned to accept less than stellar products and services as the norm.  I sent this to a guy that sold me a Colts pistol last year that fell far short of his promises.

Folks, tell me something. When did we turn into a nation where an 80% effort is good enough? When did an 80% effort become acceptable? I emailed this to Georgia Jeffrey when he took offense to my being ‘so particular’:

Maybe I am just naive in my expectations. I get disappointed in that respect almost daily.

One of the problems with this country is lowered expectations. I deal with it everyday with employees and vendors. 80% effort seems to be enough to get by — and they always have a most excellent excuse.

When I was dealing over the internet on the MEP military generator, I was asking the guy some very pointed questions about condition and capabilities of the machine.  I wasn’t exactly haranguing him but I was being pretty adamant.  Hell, I was fixin’ to send an internet stranger a goodly chunk of cash on his word alone and I didn’t know if his word was worth a squat.

I guess I chapped him when I asked why he was selling it….

I am selling because this is the sort of business that I am in. So your really buying this genset from:
Midwest XXXXXX
Mission Hill, SD 57046…
My business builds custom generators, custom power units, repairs gensets, full aftermarket control upgrades, diesel engine rebuild services and authorized sales & the installation of Generac generators. Oh and also sell large MTU/ Detroit diesel gensets.
Plus my business has a full CNC machineshop to manufacturer obsolete parts.
So what I am saying is that your not buying this from a hobbiest or weekend warrior whom thinks they can work on this sort of thing and do it well.
Does this help put your mind at ease??

Yeah, double ?? to finish off his email. I guess he was peeved and his strong response did convince me to write the check. If you are gonna talk the talk, I am hoping you know how to walk the walk. So when the diesel generator got here, I was pleased. It looked to be in good shape and it started right up. I spent the next few days going over the generator and learning as much as I could about a new to me piece of machinery. Miss K understood as did I that this part of the Terlingua Project had to be perfect to fill our offgrid power requirements.  It had to be 100% all the time.

MEP surgery

It wasn’t long until the generator was laying around in the caliche rock in various pieces.  I had been assured he had run the generator for a good test run under load and it was 100%.  Umm, not hardly from where I am standing. Every time I turned around, I was finding something not quite right with the generator’s function. The fuel level sender that initiates the pumping of fuel from an auxiliary source was bad even though it was supposedly a part that had been replaced and then checked for function.   The battery condition indicator showed low charge, indicating the alternator or voltage regulator might be bad.  The Big Talker had told me the voltage regulator had been replaced.  Man, every time I checked something out on this machine, I was tearing deeper into it and  spending more money on trips to town to buy parts.  Folks, I am not a generator mechanic so I was spending hours every day researching how to tear in to the guts of this beast.  The emails were flying back and forth between me and Big Talker and even though I was keeping cool, he knew I was miffed.  One of his emails closed with the line “I know you are capable of getting this done.”

Like learning Chinese arithmetic

Yeah, you F’n 80 per center piece of crap.  Why have I been working every day for a week on a machine you guaranteed to be 100%?  My patience was/is wearing thin and Miss K can tell I am at slow boil right now. She asked me what the plan was…. I told her ‘It is a test baby. I am waiting on this low life 80 per center to step up and be a man.  He needs to do something to make this right and I am not going to throw a hissy fit to force him to show his hand.   He will either man up or he won’t.’

I have had to re-wire fuel pumps that had wires just twisted together and taped.  I have had to take one end of the generator off and use a special tool (which I had to buy) to pull the blower wheel off the crank.  My hands are skinned up and my knees are raw from kneeling in the gravels. I told Miss Kathy to look on the bright side — we were gonig to end up with a 100% machine eventually. …  and I was going to know its’ operation upside down and sideways before this ordeal was over.

Burned wires on the stator. This is an obvious problem even if you are an Ignorati like me.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe I would be best served to throw this beast on a freight truck and send it back to South Dakota.  Problem is I would have to foot the freight bill and after all this hassle I would still not have a suitable generator for Terlingua.  Surely to goodness if Big Talker is actually running a successful business he is going to step forward and offer to take care of the expense and time involved with this whole mess?  Is that too much to expect?

Well whatever.  Even if he doesn’t I am learning this machine inside out and that will serve us well in the future.

 

 

End Note:  For What Its’ Worth by Buffalo Springfield.   Yeah, I  remember marching in the streets and protests 45 years ago.  History repeats itself as we well know.

This youtube video is a real blast from thepast.  It is part of a Smothers Brothers show.

 

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10 comments to The 80% Rule – Bitin’ Me in the Butt

  • Hey, Andy, you got that right! During my 40 year stint as a carpenter and builder, I was forced to work for some of those 80% bastards. The level of incompetence seemed to me to be a growing trend, and I believe that it certainly contributed to the failing housing market. The ongoing theme was “take the money and run!” I could not compete with fly by night builders and “craftsmen” who believed that once you get the money for an inferior product, you have made a successful sale.

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  • Joel

    Nothing new here. In 1971, Firestone started selling the 500 tire that it knew at the time was defective.

    Thus has it always been. Patent medicines, diet fads and phony medical treatments (remember Laetrile?) have been around for decades. Many people are drawn to the cheap short-cuts to health and wealth.

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    • admin

      Hi Joel,
      The flim flam guys and greedy corps have always been around. More what I am talking about is the acceptance of inferior products by the consumer. Seems to me like our consumer expectations are quite a bit lower.

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  • I don’t think this guy even measures close to 80%. More like 20%.
    He ripped you for sure. Thank goodness you have the mechanical ability to make this POS genny work right.

    Mr. 80% is lucky you’re in TX and he’s in SD, otherwise he might be sitting kind of funny…

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  • Joel

    This has been true for a long time. Think Budweiser (very popular dreck) vs craft beers. Think PCs (very popular unstable virus magnet) vs Macs. Think US-made cars from ca. 1970-2000 (unreliable, crappy mileage) vs Japanese cars. Think Eric Clapton (lazy blues lite) vs Luther Allison.

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  • coal

    Thats a bummer, but as you say, you will know the machine inside and out buy the time you are done, and that will come in handy down the road as most generators need some tweaking from time to time. I would have went with a used Honda myself. Ha hate to rub it in.

    I find your 80 % rule is true, but now I see it due to lack of money. I hear all the time, just get it running or repair it jus enough.

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    • admin

      No Hondas for me Coal. You are probably right about the band-aid approach–people have no money.

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  • don

    Sounds like you did get about 80% of a working gen set. But you do need something big and heavy to run everything at your new place. When you get it rebuilt you should have the real thing. How the devil are you getting it across Texas? DTB?

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    • admin

      Yep,
      One of the DTB’s (at least) is going to live at Terlingua as a water trailer.

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