Post Number: 2344
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 07:14: |
What is going wrong or right, is it the result of
battery electric mowers taking a lead in the market?
Post Number: 3750
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 08:40: |
No - I think it is more likely due to the flood of cheap [Oz-speak for low priced] Chinese-made engines which are clones of well-known Japanese and other traditional manufacturers.
Following a recent underground mains power failure that took a week to fix, I enquired about hiring a generator until power was restored and was shocked at the charges involved. I then looked at the cost of purchasing a generator and found a Chinese clone of a 6kVA Honda construction site certified portable generator at a cost significantly less than the cost of hiring an equivalent generator from local hire outlets.
An easy decision to make and I now have the security of portable back-up power for our homes and my rental properties when needed. Years ago, this would have been a Briggs & Stratton powered product.
Post Number: 3070
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 09:49: |
The report from Bloomberg on this, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-20/briggs-stratton-stalwart-of-suburban-lawn-culture-goes-bust, covers pretty much all of the bases.
I can definitely believe the global pandemic, which has hit sales of lawn and garden equipment very hard, was the proverbial "final nail in the coffin."
You also have to add in that the government in the United States does very, very little to prop up manufacturing, and has not done so for many decades now. I used to live in Western Pennsylvania (Johnstown, specifically) and the end of my adolescence occurred as the entire steel industry was imploding in real time, taking virtually everything else with it, secondary to outsourcing and lots of "dumping" of government subsidized steel from Asia (at the time) on the world market at prices no one else could possibly compete with (and we won't get into why, but the nation Mr. Gore alludes to was a major player in the sea of dumped steel, but not alone).
I do not, and have not, ever believed that the globalization of markets could successfully be thwarted, nor should have been, but smart governments have routinely propped up industries considered essential to national security. Not my own, sadly.
Post Number: 3751
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 12:31: |
Same here - our steel industry suffered the same fate however this was a joint effort between complacent Company management blinkered by their belief the competition from imports from Japan was an aberration that would go away and Government inaction to protect local manufacturing industry from "dumped" imports whilst heavily subsidising the export of low-priced high quality iron ore to Japan where significant value adding and job creation resulted in the low-cost iron ore being shipped back as Toyota and other cars and other high value manufactured products.
I was employed initially as a product metallurgist and later as a marketing manager and a state manager in Western Australia for the Company for 18 years during this period and vividly remember going into an importer's warehouse in the mid 1970's and seeing huge stocks of high-value stainless steel sheet, coil and bar products imported from Japan by Sumitomo [one of the biggest Japanese trading houses dedicated to selling Japanese exports] for sale here. I reported this visit to my General Manager who cursorily replied "This is not a concern, I have seen this before and it will go away in time like past years."
Unfortunately, this didn't happen and imports increased exponentially until the entire Australian speciality steel industry was no longer viable and eventually ceased manufacturing these products. I had anticipated this eventuality and earlier "voted with my feet" when a "voluntary redundancy package" was offered in 1984.
The Company subsequently downsized substantially to manufacture railway wheels, tyres and axles and grinding media for the mining industry.
I attended the Company Centenary celebration in 2018 and the plant I remembered as a vibrant active business was a shadow of its former self with huge empty buildings stripped of the machinery that made essential products, provided employment and supported the Australian economy.
The bright side was the current enlightened management who had recognised the competitive advantages of experience, technology, flexible equipment and a committed workforce to make quality products that are being sold at a viable price in highly competitive local and significant world markets.
Post Number: 188
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 20:02: |
The Briggs story goes back a long way .
They bought up a pile of companies ( Victa included ) in order to recover their debts .
They used to encourage factories to use their engines by giving very generous credit securred usually against the debtors shares .
However if the company went bust then their shares were not worth the paper they were printed on so Briggs took them over.
However they had no contingency plans and stuffed up the take overs big time.
Prime example was their take over of Murray in 2008 .
The basically closed down Murray & sold the use of the Murray name to a Chinese company ( World Mowers ) .
The problem with this is Murray made around 30 different branded mowers so all of the off brand mowers shifted production to either MTD or AYP ( Husqvarna ) .So now there was duopoly for store branded mowers and MTD decided to use Loncin engines as Toro had already done and Briggs lost over 30% of their sales which meant they were making ( assembling actually ) engines at a loss
When Tecumseh went bust in 2000, Briggs took over their place as the cheapest engine on the USA market so they ended up supplying to a lot of very financially flakey companies.
And of course there is no loyalty amongst the bottom feeders.
Then there was generations of cardboard cut out managers who sold off a lot of the manufacturing and outsourced as many componants as possible so Briggs became an assembler of engines rather than an engine maker, further squeezing profits.
The restructured in 2018 and shafted a lot of their suppliers and got most of their dealership off side due to being unable to supply spare parts.
So when Covid hit they were already on their knees and when people had to stay home, funny enough the big demand was for parts to fix the old mower in the back of the shed rather than buy a new one But because most parts are bought in there was 5/8 of SFA profits in n up some one elses parts a few percent .
They then vassilated between going "core" and selling off all the whole goods divisions or going horizontal and expanding the whole goods divisions .
And again the one track mind "cookie cutter" management took the path of reducing labour costs & built new plant in NY so as to employ non union labour at a reduced rate trough labour hire companies.
The management defaulted on a $ 91,000,000 interest payment last month and at the same time paid themselves $ 5,000,000 in bonuses then awarded themselves over $ 100,000,000 in retention bonuses so no matter what they can not be sacked.
A cash management company looks like it will take them over.
They will rape & pillage , flogging off all the real estate while shifting all of the production to one of their 2 Chinese plants.
The other alternative is being an election year they will go cap in hand to the government for one of those "loans" that never get paid back.
Post Number: 2345
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 22:00: |
Very interesting, on the electric outage, hope to beat this as it may occur more often in the future and to make life easer in my old age.
Having a second Power Wall 13.5kwh with backup gateway installed with more PV array and of course the Zappi for the Tesla.
The backup is automated when the power is down.
Post Number: 2346
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 22:07: |
Trevor, what a shame as the product seemed good over the years when I used to repair them, still use a couple for mowing with the failing to start after left idle for some months but no fault on their part. [modern petrol]
Post Number: 189
|Posted on Thursday, 30 July, 2020 - 22:45: |
Will be interesting but of course the real problem is unvetted capitalism.
While there are 40 mower manufacturers in the USA, the government allowed Wallmart to be come so powerful that they could send factories bankrupt by refusing to stock their products.
They did it with Noma and then followed up with Murray
Not too different to what Bunnings did to Hills , Triton, GMC etc etc etc.
Capitalism only works when there is a reasonably level playing field , a lot of participants and a regulator with testicles.
But Briggs were just as culpiable allowing the money men to overide the engineers & then you have the green galoots who believe that petrol powered tools are going to destroy the planet so impose emission restrictions that are next to impossible to achieve.
So to be brutally honest the cheap Chinese Honda Knock offs are substantially better than anything that Briggs has turned out decades & of course 1/2 the price due to Chinese currency manipulation .
Kohler took the bit between their teeth and have been inovating for decades and finally the Chinese Kohler factory has got the totally machine assembled Courage engines running reliably .
All Briggs has done is make a very poor copy of the Japanese designed Vanguard and forced wages down.
The ultimate killer is the brain washing that whatever I want the market will supply and they will supply it at an ever reducing price .
Honda exited the large mower engine market because they refused to cheapen their name by making the trash that mower companies would pay for.
For the same reason the also exited the large ride on market & now only make the rear engine riders & push mowers.
There is a rhumour that they are shortly going to abandon the horizontal small engine market as well so only sell Honda branded generators & pumps as complete units
Post Number: 3071
|Posted on Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 01:09: |
To echo what Mr. Hodgekinson has said, one of my favorite quotations, from one who has definite bona fides in the field of economics:
'Well-regulated free markets' is not an oxymoron, but a necessity for good economic outcomes.
~ Peter Diamond, winner of the 2010 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
Post Number: 3752
|Posted on Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 08:18: |
I have a long-time family friend in the USA and I linked this thread to him as both he and his father lived and worked in Milwaukee for most of their lives. He is a very experienced millwright [fitter, turner and mechanic rolled into one] and has worked in a diverse range of industries - when I visited him in 1974, he was working at the Pabst brewery in Milwaukee and took me there on afternoon shift to have a look around culminating in a long session with him and his workmates in the tap room. What happens in the tap room stays in the tap room however I will say the hangover afterwards is still remembered.
He forwarded the following comments which may be of interest:
"I can't believe that I haven't heard or seen anything in the news about Briggs & Stratton going bankrupt.
I worked there from 1961 to 1964.
It was one other smaller plants in a city called West Alice
It was a foundry.
I honestly believe the thing that helped Briggs & Stratton was the introduction of Honda engines.
It was during this time that I worked there that they switched to aluminum blocks with cast-iron sleeves and overhead valves.
The last two Briggs & Stratton engines I had were called Vanguard. One was a 16 hp and the one I have now is a 20 hp commercial grade. I'm not sure of everything that makes it a commercial grade except the fact that it has a larger charging system. And an oil cooler.
Both engines are the twins and Vertical crankshafts.
The first engine had over 5000 hours. Both engines were in lawn tractors.
The 20 hp I had to replace the solid-state voltage regulator. Also I had to adjust the valves. For whatever reason they loosened up so bad that they were closed way too soon on the compression stroke and the starter was fighting to start or I should say spin it over.
I never figured out what caused them to loosen up as the Locking nuts were still tight.
One other note the maintenance procedure is to check and adjust the valves every year which I do.
If I were going to say anything bad the 20 horse power seems to use more fuel than I would've thought. There was one other problem that was hard for me to figure out. It wouldn't get any fuel when I was try to start it. I pulled off the fuel line to the carburettor and the fuel pump wasn't Pumping any fuel to the carburettor. I checked the fuel filter not a problem, pull the fuel line of the fuel tank no problems.
What it was , There is a needle in seat that connects to the carburettor actually screws in. It has a solenoid so when the ignition is on .The needle in seat Is open.The problem was it was stuck close. Of course I couldn't find any information out of problems like this. I went to the carburettor schematic and saw this needle in seat on the side of the fuel Bowl. Taking the carburettor off was a nightmare. It's in the box on top or I should say on the side of the motor between the V Block .There is actually two chokes. One is the standard choke in front of the carburettor second for what they call cold-weather starting is it blocks off air that gets blown across the heads and the block from the flywheel fins. This system actually pressurizes this box. This is done before the air enters the air filter. The instructions say only use this if it's very cold outside I've never had to do it. But I can see it being helpful.
I do put an additive in my fuel to stabilize it and it's supposed to act as a cleaner.
I do now add extra fuel cleaner in my gas mixture. Since I have a generator I was trying to keep around 50 to 60 gallons of fuel. So it's important to use fuel stabilizer. It turns out the generator has a specially designed Briggs & Stratton engine with the same carburettor with the extra needle and seat.
They idea of this is that there is no fuel once the ignition is off. This is supposed to stop any kind of a backfire. I'm guessing it works because the Motor never backfires."
Post Number: 190
|Posted on Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 10:53: |
Vanguard was originally a partnership between Toyota & Diahatsu.
In order to sell into the USA market they needed to be ""American"' so they sold 1/3 to Briggs who were caught with their pants down making obsolete side valve engines.
Toyota exited the deal in the 90's & Briggs bought out Diahatsu around 2010 and started to move production from Japan to the USA.
This has been finalized.
The "afterfire solenoid" is an EPA regulation in order to comply with idiot emission regulations as after the ignition is turned off some engines would spin nearly 20 time pumping that vast amount of unburned fuel into the atmosphere which of course will kill all life on the planet.
The first attempt to slow / stop this was to short out the alternator stator effectively turning it into an electronic brake.
However as emission standards became tighter engines ran so lean that the mufflers are verging on yellow hot.
Thus when shut down the unburned fuel would sit in the muffler till it got to a flamiable air:fuel ratio then be ignited & burn, or after fire as it was termed.
Next Tier ( III ) reqired an after burner ( catalytic converter ) to be fitted within the muffler so they will always after fire.
The OHV rockers loosen off because the depth of the single retaining/ adjusting stud is too small so the aluminium creeps and both the stud & the head itself moves under the pressure from the valve spring.
Generally they do it a lot for the first 3 years or so then stabilize but basically the head is too thin as is the stud.
This was not a problem when the head was originally designed as back then the engines were not running anywhere as lean as they are forced to now days so the heads never got anywhere near as hot as they do today .
Kawasaki overcame this by using an eccentric rocker adjuster
Post Number: 191
|Posted on Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 11:02: |
Globalization like everything else has both good & bad points.
In theory it should mean that things are made where they are most efficient to be made and so it should preserve & share global resources.
However like everything else that evil force MONEY comes along and corrupts everything so we got from the most efficient to the cheapest and in the case of China, it is cheap only because of deliberate under valuing of the currency exchange rate.
Singapore did the same as did Korea. The Phillapines tried to do it but it backfired .
Briggs gong down is part of the long term plan of the Chinese government to become the dominant world power & economy without firing a single bullet by using the unfetted greed of consolodated capital and to date it is working exceedingly well.
Post Number: 3753
|Posted on Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 12:42: |
My US mate has sent me more information about his time with B & S that will probably be of interest to you.
I would like to send this to you by a PM using the forum facility but your profile does not allow private messages to be sent to you.
If you are interested in this information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward it to you.
Anyone else interested in Briggs & Stratton are also welcome to this information.