Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fiberglass and other crimes

Sometime ago I got the notion that when you build something yourself you get to control how much violence you do to your environment and to yourself.  Your time is your own and you know how to price it when you're doing something for yourself and so you can make good decisions rather than the strictly economic decisions of someone who has no goal other than to make money.
If you buy something that's been manufactured disreputably, the seller usually takes great care to keep you ignorant of how much damage was done to the environment and the people who manufactured the thing. The seller usually tries to create a happy shopping environment that floods your brain with endorphins so that you forget all about the awful conditions under which the thing was made, assuming that you ever cared how the thing was made or were able to find out how it was made if you did. Or as someone once said about sausages, you don't really want to know what went into them. And so if you buy anything you probably don't want to know how it was made.

So when somebody actually says something honest about a manufacturing process, I am heartened, and so I quote here from Thomas Firth Jones excellent book, Low Resistance Boats.
"Fiberglass work is alienating, because no matter what suits are worn and fans are run, it's smelly and filthy and unhealthy.  It's possible to lay up a hull or two nonchalantly, but if the work is done steadily, alienation sets in. I've never known a conscientious fiberglass worker, and when opportunity arises, many will go beyond carelessness to sabotage.  Urinating into the mold is standard.  Beer bottles and pails of uncatalyzed resin are routinely chucked into keels.  Whenever possible, the work is done drunk."
Well, you get the idea.  Jones goes on to advise the prospective buyer of a fiberglass boat to get it from a shop that doesn't do enough fiberglass work to be alienated by the process.

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