My Kingdon for a Horse!



So at present, until such time we get more visits we use this as a gap filler. Let me tell you about areas of concern in the spare parts industry and unfortunately how it is linked to your country of residence.

I was in Taiwan on business for a few months and was amazed at how many repair centers there were for motorcycles and scooters. Virtually every block has at least three. Because everyone drives one. I live in South Africa where scooters are becoming more and more popular – they are cheap and economical to commute with. A 200cc ”off roader” will set you back between 2000U$ to 3000U$. Now in bounces the issue. I know a lot of guys riding these bikes but very few can afford the servicing. In Cape Town for instance some commuters drive an average of 1000Km per month which is heavy going for a small capacity machine of 90cc to 200cc.  As we all know, motorcycles must be maintained daily – your personal safety depends on it. Yet most of these commuters cannot afford it. A guy I know could not afford a chain so when it came to the end of allowable adjustment (which was then past the safety gap) he removed a few links. Although he has good mechanical inclination and knew the dangers he could not afford a new chain. When he could afford a new chain he only purchased a chain, no sprockets. I asked him what it would cost for the chain and sprockets and I was overwhelmed when I heard the answer – 200U$. (for a 90cc) 1/10 of what he paid for the bike. So like the inkjet printers of today the dealers are treating chains and sprockets like consumables – “you want to buy a cheap bike I’ll make my profit off you somewhere else”. I am apalled by this but this is the nature of business. Motorcycle repair shops have enormous overheads. But also herein lies the problem – education. There are companies in Cape Town that can supply you with the same chain and sprockets for a fraction of this price because it’s their core business. These companies should advertise here. Chinese government should be looking at our infrastructure and have reputed dealers put into place – not fly by nights and scam artists. This is a developing nation and I’d like to see more two wheelers on the road, plus more education from the traffic authorities. I’d like to see complete small capacity engines been imported. I’d like to see the schooling system adapting training programs for the kids to ride motorcycles. I don’t see this because we are blinded by quick profits. This is what Parts-Ring is all about. Education and Direction.

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In the electronics sector we have a huge problem – we are educated to believe that if something goes faulty we must dump. How are the landfills looking? But yet, local schoolkids are not trained in or show an interest in electronics. Google has the answers. I deal with a lot of young people every day and the thing that surprises me most is the arrogance abounding – read “ignorance with attitude”.  Much of what we learn nowadays is on the internet. This does not make us an engineer. I would like to see schools training kids in electronics. Why? Because there’s maths and science involved – what a better way to show kids safely how maths and science can be used to build electronic circuits. A wonderful way to show the practical aspects of these two subjects coming into play. When I compare Australia to South Africa its very evident which country has the better schooling in place. With maths and science we may have engineers. With more engineers we have more ideas. We look past throwaway items and look into recycable items. We try to make things work before throwing them away. If we have to throw away we know what is organic and what is not.  Many faulty items do not get repaired because there are no parts available. In South Africa we lack electronic shops that focus on beginners. How many times when I was a young student being scoffed at for asking for a part which the guy behind the counter knew would not work in the circuit I was building. How many times I knew the guy was wrong but didn’t argue because I lacked confidence or may have thought that I was in fact dumb. Most electronic engineers that I have spoken to over the years (the guys with a degree behind their name) are not arrogant people – they are smart, understanding and want to help. Again it comes down to advertising what you are best at – good engineers come at a price, like school teachers. This website is aimed at beginners, students, teachers and yes, engineers. We need more electronic shops that focus on beginners and hopefully make young minds active. Everyone these days wants to become a computer repairman. Believe me, it’s not as glitzy as you think.  But to make your computer do something through one of the I/O ports is glitzy. Then you deserve a pat on the back. Electronics can be a very cheap and educational hobby.

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As we are all aware there has been a huge surge in the race to find alternative fuels. We have electric cars which are charged through our coal burning steam turbine driven alternators, we have hydrogen cells that can’t just be refueled anywhere and we have had attempts to make cars run on water. The cheapest and cleanest form of energy known to mankind is still nuclear so where does this leave us? We dabble with solar cells, wind and waves. We have brilliant scientists but lack scientists. We have brilliant engineers but lack engineers. With this in mind I often think of Shakespeare’s words of wisdom, “My Kingdom for a horse”. Are we looking at the root cause of our power problems, changing this intelligently so we always have a solution for future problems  or building on existing structures that are already so flimsy that an alternative fuel is not going to be a solution. I think we need to look at the population explosion. I think we need to look at how houses are been built currently without the option of various sources of power / energy been installed. I think we do need to look at our public transport systems. I think we need to look at why our children are been brought up to look for quick fixes and all things materialistic. Because right now I see ourselves heading for the dark ages again. “My kingdon for a horse”. 

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