Rare is only good for beef...


Do we collect rare things that need repairing? I suppose my wife is blessed that outside of her all our family and close friends, the only thing that floats my boat are classic cars. Expensive but a snip compared to yachts, a string of polo ponies (or mistresses) let alone a drug addiction that would trouble the resources of Pfizer. However I soft soap all this malarkey by saying that these cars have proved great investments. The truth is however if I added up all the money I have lost by selling cars too early and instead had kept them in the garage, my caviar pot would be so deep a soup ladle could not reach the bottom! A baboon could have made money in classic cars over the last decade as the market just shifted. If you had owned a car you bought in 2008 for £150,000 it could easily be worth £1.5m now without lifting a finger ...except you do have to look after it. And this is when 'rare' bites you firmly in the butt. If you own a Renoir sculpture, an 1851 Franklin stamp or even a Disney cell from Steamboat Willie you have to look after it but not repair it. Much of the upside of owning something that is rare evaporates when it is mechanical and you find the grobulator needs replacing or the elegiac couplet is worn out. Tiny bits of metal take on a value as if made from kryptonite and suddenly an engine rebuild on your rare Maserati requires a second mortgage (or third if you used the second to pay for the darn car). The sucking of teeth when I ask a builder how much a bit of point work will run me is nothing compared to the shaking of heads and look of pity were I to need a new handbrake for a 'Duesy SSJ' or even a gear knob for an Alfa Montreal. Remember that ten fold increase in the price of the car? Well the parts prices will have shot up at the same rate!  A nut and bolt have to be weighed out on jewellers scales. Luckily technology, if not originality, has come riding over the hill like the 7th Cavalry. 3D Printers. Forget worrying if these machines are able to whip up an ICBM for Kim Jung Un or a fancy set of shoe lifts for the small but perfectly formed President Putin; what really matters is in a few moments this machine can make a window winder for a 58 Corvette! Yup suddenly the cost of making a spare part at last is on nodding terms to the price it sells for.

...and another thing

Does the 3D printer herald a return to repairing things? I hope so. I mean a piddly spindle on my hand held blender breaks and I find it really is cheaper to get a discount on a replacement model than repair the original.

That of course is loony… yet over the past decade I can barely remember anything electrical I have actually had repaired. I assume because in the sweat shops in Asia where all this stuff is made (and we are all guilty of turning a blind eyes towards) no one knows how the things they make actually work! Only how they are put together! Repair? Spare part? Pah! Just buy another.

With the 3D printer I hope we can at last begin repair even some of the nonsense we have bought over the past 25 years. I cannot bear to think of the Antique Roadshow 2120 showing of a Singing Billy Bass or Tickle Me Elmo with the presenter having to sadly describe what these things did rather than let the audience experience it…..then viewers will realise why so many parents eventually thumped these things to bits with a hammer in the first place.

Go Back

Add a comment: