What tools/devices last decades allowing for routine maintenance?
September 11, 2010 11:12 PM   Subscribe

What tools/devices last decades allowing for routine maintenance?

The recent ifixit thread reminded me I want a list of things you can buy once and will last forever. Examples would be binoculars, hammers, carving knives, clamps, mechanical clocks, stove top kettles - basically things that just don't break in ordinary operation, and will continue to work if looked after.
posted by bystander to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
High quality sleeping bags.
Pyrex or Corningware casserole dishes.
Many cars made before about 1970
Weber barbecues
Shoes made entirely from leather
Early Sunbeam Mixmasters
Aga stoves
posted by Ahab at 11:31 PM on September 11, 2010

Johnson brand pneumatically driven steam control valves. The design has not significantly changed in the past ninety years.


Eastwing brand hammers
posted by From Bklyn at 11:46 PM on September 11, 2010

Cast-iron cookware.
Hand tools.
Compass: drawing or magnetic.
A push mower.
posted by trinity8-director at 11:48 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by amyms at 11:49 PM on September 11, 2010

Not just manual focus lenses, but analogue cameras generally, especially before they got heavy with electronics. I have a Rolleiflex from the early 1960s, a Nikon FM1 from the early 1980, and an Olympus Trip-35 from sometime in the 1970s. They all work very well, though the Rolleiflex did indeed need some routine maintenance--there was mould on the lens--after it came into my hands about 5 years ago.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 11:50 PM on September 11, 2010

Part of the appeal of mechanical watches is that they last - and maintain their usefulness - for decades with routine maintenance.
posted by aladfar at 11:58 PM on September 11, 2010

Almost all my power tools are older than me (I'm 33)
posted by RustyBrooks at 12:29 AM on September 12, 2010

Snap-on tools
posted by nestor_makhno at 12:33 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Small cars. Our '89 Nissan Pulsar is still going strong two decades later. I'd still be driving my '91 Daihatsu Mira, and fully expecting to continue to do so well beyond next year, had Young Master Flabdablet not rolled it earlier this year. My '73 Leyland Mini was also giving me no reason to replace it in 1998 before the bus hit it.

Now that I've stopped lending my cars to other people, I fully expect my '95 Mira will still be a good car well after 2015.
posted by flabdablet at 12:53 AM on September 12, 2010

Tools with non-moving parts may last longer because there are simply less things to break.

Most high-quality tools that are well-cared for e.g. well-oiled, regularly sharpened when needed etc will last you a long time.
posted by titantoppler at 12:57 AM on September 12, 2010

Good knives, silverware, and dishware.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:44 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

>> Eastwing brand hammers

<pedantry> The company prefers that you spell it Estwing. </pedantry>

I also like their axes and hatchets.

Some people say extended use of a steel handled hammer will blow your elbow out, but these days, most people who hammer a lot are using air nailers.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:53 AM on September 12, 2010

Corelleware (I have a bunch of my grandma's!)
Bone china
Fine silver silverware

Bone china's pretty much more durable than any other dishware ... it's shockingly strong. There are probably modern methods that are sturdier, but really it lasts forever and takes quite a bit of abuse. Even more than the Corelle. :)

(I'm not sure the extended life of silver silverware is worth the extra maintenance, though. Hassle!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:30 AM on September 12, 2010

Most leather goods, if made from quality materials with good workmanship. Belts, purses/bags, shoes/boots (will need resoling), saddles and bridles (if bad pony! doesn't chew on them)...
posted by anaelith at 5:39 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anything with the name Craftsman on it. It breaks, they give you a new one.
posted by JohnE at 6:18 AM on September 12, 2010

Old Lionel model trains, before they started adding lots of plastic parts. I have a whole collection from the '50s and all I ever have to do is oil them occasionally.

Pre-mp3 era Sony clock radios.

I've owned one of these since before I knew how to walk. Still have it, still working without a problem.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:00 AM on September 12, 2010

Anything with the name Craftsman on it. It breaks, they give you a new one.

Only their hand tools, not their power tools. And no longer for their tape measures, either.

I have an ooold brace (type of hand drill) that has a Craftsman stamp. It still works really well. I used to get a kick out of just browsing the antique tools section on ebay and seeing what was still (supposedly) in good working condition. You can do the same at antique malls. Apple corers and (meat?) hand grinders seem like they have often outlived their original owners.
posted by galadriel at 7:24 AM on September 12, 2010

We have a Kenmore washer/dryer pair that are easily 20 years old. Still running. I had to replace a switch on the washe about 10 years ago.
Also, our 2001 Nissan Maxima just rolled over 350,000 miles. Our previous Maxima went to 315k before we sold it. Both got regular oil changes and maintenance and, of course, replacement of wear items, like brakes and clutches.

Of course, with both examples, I can't vouch for the newer versions.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:57 AM on September 12, 2010

Double edge razors basically never break unless you deliberately abuse them: People still seek out razors from the 1950's or before for everyday use, not only as collector's items.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:18 AM on September 12, 2010

Snap-On tools
Rolex Perpetual wristwatches
IBM Model M keyboards
Paul Reed Smith electric guitars
Herman Miller furniture
Meade telescopes
Wusthof knives
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:27 AM on September 12, 2010

Cast-iron skillets. I still use my great-grandmother's.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:37 AM on September 12, 2010

Sewing machines with all-metal parts are impossible to kill if you do routine maintenance and replace the belts from time to time.
posted by corey flood at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2010

posted by djb at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2010

Circa 1970's Kenwood Chef stand mixers.
posted by primer_dimer at 12:42 PM on September 12, 2010

Nthing good knives (no dishwasher ever, plz!) and cast-iron and enamel cookware. Actually most good cookware is probably going to last 20+ years - my parents's All-Clad set from their wedding registry outlasted their marriage and is probably still going strong in one of my siblings' starter apartments.

I ride around town on a 1985 Panasonic Sport-500 lugged steel frame bike. Still has the original tires, even. I'd only get rid of it if I moved cross-country, and even then I'd probably be able to sell it rather than junking it. If I did a fixie conversion and maybe replaced the seat, I could probably get real money for it.
posted by Sara C. at 1:38 PM on September 12, 2010

AK-47's. Seriously. Deliberately designed for manufacture in 3rd-world-grade machine shops, for highly reliable operation after severe environmental abuse (mud, sand, water ...), and for dead simple maintenance with simple tools.

Also, second on the pre-mp3 era Sony clock radios; my Dream Machine has run continuously for 23 years now.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:00 PM on September 12, 2010

When I got my first apartment, my parents gave me the Osterizer mixer they got as a wedding present. It's well past forty years old now and still going strong.

I am typing this on an IBM model M keyboard, and while they're pretty tough, I've managed to wear a couple of them out. Luckily, I have two more in reserve so I should be set until 2025 or so.
posted by tomwheeler at 2:14 PM on September 12, 2010

Neon Signs. Well constructed neon lasts for decades -- transformers may wear out at some point but the tubes can last forever, if unmolested (although sometimes, depending on the color, electrodes containing impurities can darken and corrode).

For example, still-working New York neon from the 1920s and 30s
posted by Rash at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2010

My Bernina sewing machine is 35 years old. I had a belt replaced for the first time last year.
posted by Joleta at 9:41 PM on September 12, 2010

If you can find a 1940's/50's tractor that's still in half decent condition, my understanding is those things will go forever. In good running condition some of them go now for what some other comparable tractors would cost new. (Someday, I will have one.)
posted by galadriel at 1:38 PM on September 13, 2010

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