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MotorradMike
01-31-2010, 12:14 PM
Where does the best stuff come from? Why do I have faith in some makes and not others?

I have various measurement tools; Mitutoyo, Starrett, Fluke, Tektronix, Snap-on. All of those are trusted instruments, I don't formally calibrate them but I check them against standards when the opportunity arises. Always dead on.

I also have a 'Power Fist' clamp-on meter I got for $10 which works very well but I don't trust it.

There's a line of machine tool equipment such as vices, live centers etc. branded GROZ carried by BusyBee. It looks really nice but it comes from India and although I haven't checked, it looks as though they have figured out how to grind a beautiful finish and are hoping that's enough.

In todays global economy, how do we know where to go for the good stuff?

vpt
01-31-2010, 12:18 PM
I try to stick with the old stuff to get good stuff. If it has to be new and good I try to get american.

Tony Ennis
01-31-2010, 12:27 PM
In todays global economy, how do we know where to go for the good stuff?

That's the $517,630.56* question. I wouldn't sweat things made in the 1st world. For items made in the 3rd world, however, it's a problem. You can't trust it a bit as you don't know which factory made it and you don't know if the way it was made yesterday is the way it was made today.

Companies in the US that import this stuff can add value by standing behind the product. I know if I buy a lathe from Grizzly and it sucks I'll be taken care of. If they don't, they'll go out of business. To me Horror Fright isn't as solid as Grizzly but they sell the "same thing"** cheaper. So you lower your expectations and you takes your chances.




* adjusted for inflation.
** As far as anyone can tell. Maybe. But tomorrow, it could be different.

wierdscience
01-31-2010, 12:36 PM
Ask here before you buy,chances are if it's metal or woodworking related somebody here owns,has owned or at least lusted after enough to research most items used in the shop fully.

lakeside53
01-31-2010, 12:41 PM
You have to stay with the brands you trust. Where it's made is far less important that the company behind it. If my Mitutoyo says "made in xxxx", I could care less. You think your Fluke stuff is still made in Washington? lol... but it's still good stuff...

But.. more in context of your question... Unless "Busy Bee" has a hard specification and an active QC department, then no... you can't trust anything. I've seen some beautiful surface finishes on import machine vices, but the two I checked were 3+ thou out of wack side to side (4 inches). Might make good wood working vices, but...


If you're concerned, ask the supplier for a "spec", measure it when you get it and ship it back if it's not correct. Or... spend the $$$ on major name brands. We all want more for a lot less; sometimes you get it, sometimes not.

lazlo
01-31-2010, 12:45 PM
I have various measurement tools; Mitutoyo, Starrett, Fluke, Tektronix, Snap-on. All of those are trusted instruments, I don't formally calibrate them but I check them against standards when the opportunity arises. Always dead on.

In todays global economy, how do we know where to go for the good stuff?

It's very hard to tell. Fluke is still made in the Netherlands. At least, I bought a Scopemeter last year that was, and a Fluke i200S current clamp that's made in France. Both superlative quality. Textronix is all made in Singapore now. The 24xx series scopes are highly sought-after because they were the last Made in USA scopes.

Mitutoyo is still mostly made in Japan, although their entry-level calipers are made in Brazil. Starrett is slowly but steadily outsourcing to China, and there are a corresponding raft of complaints about poor quality with their hand tools (fish gauges, edge finders, etc).

Jim Shaper
01-31-2010, 12:57 PM
For me it's a political as well as a quality issue.

I'd rather put 100% of my money into an American's pocket buying a "used something" than put 20% of my money into the chinese economy buying something that cost someone here their job. That also means I want to prevent the other 80% of my money from paying someone here who sent someone else's job over there.

Then there's stuff I know I'll be hard on and can't justify risking the loss (digital calipers tend to have accidents around my shop) - so I buy the crappy chinese version solely so I have more control over the larger discretionary purchases.

lakeside53
01-31-2010, 01:01 PM
Fluke - made all over now. The Netherlands stuff is from the "Phillips" rebadged equipment.

Most of the smaller handheld stuff is made in China. Fluke has a big plant a couple of miles up the road from me, but not much being made there now. I haven't checked for a couple of years - maybe nothing now?

In a previous life I bought a small fortune worth of Phillips/Fluke instrumentation - more than my house is/was worth. I still like their products no matter where it made, and it has nothing to do with the free trip I got to Eindhoven:D

lakeside53
01-31-2010, 01:06 PM
For me it's a political as well as a quality issue.

.


Yep.. a tough choice sometimes. And buying current brand guarantees nothing in terms of county of manufacture. Take "Wilton" (a fine American Name) for example - how much and exactly what is made in the USA anymore?


At the opposite end of the spectrum - I grew up in New Zealand. Pretty much everything was imported so we never got into the "county of origin" as a political issue (unless it was ignorantly still associated with WW2). 30+ year here.. yep.. I can see the changes, the writing on the wall... and... and... but I agree. Unless someone (we) takes a stand and try to keep products made here by buying them, very quickly this will all be a moot point - import quality will be up, and that argument will be done.


Back to the orginal posters request... if you're not into the politics, then buy from someone that will stand behind the product. Great customer service is no replacement for quality and watch out for the "just send it back" - with Iron, freight can kill you.

Tony Ennis
01-31-2010, 01:15 PM
Take "Wilton" (a fine American Name) for example

'Pittsburgh' tools are made in Pittsburgh, China.

gregl
01-31-2010, 01:22 PM
Starrett is slowly but steadily outsourcing to China, and there are a corresponding raft of complaints about poor quality with their hand tools (fish gauges, edge finders, etc).

Hmmm. I toured the Athol factory last fall (and posted the story here). I specifically asked if they made stuff in China and was told that unless it is labeled "international", it is made in America. They do have some parts roughed out in Asia but all the finish work and QC for hand tools sold in America is done here. I saw the complete production lines for micrometers and indicators as well as most of their other tools and gained an understanding of why their prices are higher than many other makers.

They do not use Asian steel, even for the parts roughed out in Asia. It's either American or French. They have tried Asian steel but had too many quality issues with it.

lazlo
01-31-2010, 01:50 PM
Greg, Starrett was famously fined a great deal by the Federal Trade Commission several years ago for marking Starrett tape measures as Made in USA when they were in fact made in China.

Old-stock Starrett is superb quality, so when I see a flurry of complaints about modern Starrett hand tools, I'm suspicious they're made in Starrett's factory in Shanghai (http://www.starrett.com/pages/62_manufacturing_facilities_worldwide.cfm):

In this recent debacle, several Starrett thread gages (that were not Starrett International) had the same manufacturing defect. There was a similar thread on PM recently about edge finders that had the same defect.

Bad Starrett Acme Thread Gage No. 284 (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=36724)

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_pwdtJMC2EjY/SrmYotndmJI/AAAAAAAACV4/NKY_GZv0Atg/s800/P9220007.JPG

gregl
01-31-2010, 11:02 PM
Lazlo:

Yikes. Well, let's see what Starrett has to say for themselves. I've sent an email to both their marketing and sales departments asking for an explanation or clarification. I'll post their reply here as soon as I get one.

In the tape measure case, according to the FTC, Starrett agreed to remove the "made in USA" label from it's packaging because the blade of the tape measure was made in Taiwan. It appears that the FTC closed the case without a fine. Here's a link to the FTC letter to Douglas Starrett:

http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/madeusa/letters/starret.shtm

A couple of other Web sites state that Starrett's "Exact" brand products are made in Asia, but these are not Starrett sites so we'll have to wait until the company responds to know for sure.

Mcgyver
01-31-2010, 11:14 PM
Mike, I bought i product from the bee years ago, a set of collets. there was like 3 thou runout, back they went and didn't go back for years.
they were good about the return, i'll grand them that. next time was a year ago, finally weakened and though a cheap caliper would be handy for checking stock size etc. sr44 battery lasted about 3 weeks. :mad: with tools, two strikes and you're out

the made in india tools are the one the mainland chinese stay away from.

Add Schweitzer and Helios to your quality list, both made in Germany. I came into a bunch of their stuff last year and I think put it top of the heap. up there above Mit and Starrett on par Etalon and Compac

tyrone shewlaces
01-31-2010, 11:39 PM
It's worse than most anybody thinks. The owner where I work tries very hard to buy USA everything and pays more for it. Hardly anything we ever receive is made in the USA. We just don't make anything here anymore. Starrett, Jacobs, Kennametal stuff arrived at the shop last week and it all had a sticker saying where it came from. None of it from the US. Sad...

We can push money around like nobody's business up on Wall St., but when it comes to actually creating anything this country has really fallen apart. If we suddenly found ourselves in a position where we had to actually make something here, we'd be sunk. If they decided to bring jobs back inside the borders (won't happen) it would take at least 20 years before we were actually able to do it again.
I'm speaking in general terms here. There are tiny pockets of exceptions.

RancherBill
02-01-2010, 12:47 AM
Where does the best stuff come from? Why do I have faith in some makes and not others?

Things do not come from countries - they come from companies.

The companies that are 'quality' are hard to identify when there is no history and a language barrier. There are great companies and there are junk companies all over the world.

All you have to do is look at the restoration projects that people do here. The companies are long gone. Companies have there day in the sun and then they crater.

I like Power Fist stuff. I have low expectations for them because of their low price and they always exceed my expectations.

I understand your problem, when you have high expectations, will 'unknown' brands meet them?

My general solution is to go for unknown brands, with the saved cash I get several other additional tools. It works for me, because, I am a hobby metal butcher and I am starting from scratch.

vpt
02-01-2010, 12:53 AM
It's worse than most anybody thinks. The owner where I work tries very hard to buy USA everything and pays more for it. Hardly anything we ever receive is made in the USA. We just don't make anything here anymore. Starrett, Jacobs, Kennametal stuff arrived at the shop last week and it all had a sticker saying where it came from. None of it from the US. Sad...

We can push money around like nobody's business up on Wall St., but when it comes to actually creating anything this country has really fallen apart. If we suddenly found ourselves in a position where we had to actually make something here, we'd be sunk. If they decided to bring jobs back inside the borders (won't happen) it would take at least 20 years before we were actually able to do it again.
I'm speaking in general terms here. There are tiny pockets of exceptions.



All so true. I always thought if our government wants to make jobs in the us just shut down imports.

Greg Q
02-01-2010, 05:07 AM
Where does the best stuff come from? Why do I have faith in some makes and not others?


There's a line of machine tool equipment such as vices, live centers etc. branded GROZ carried by BusyBee. It looks really nice but it comes from India and although I haven't checked, it looks as though they have figured out how to grind a beautiful finish and are hoping that's enough.

In todays global economy, how do we know where to go for the good stuff?

Groz is Hindu for "landfill". Someone gave me a pair of c-clamps stamped Groz a few years ago. I am not kidding when I say that my then five year old daughter could bend them:eek: I have avoided looking at their stuff recently but recall a hand plane by them that was the crudest looking thing I think I have ever seen for sale anywhere.

Black_Moons
02-01-2010, 07:02 AM
Iv got some Phase II flycutters that the shanks are so gnarly one is oversized by 2mils and the others are undersized by 1~2 mils depending where you measure on the shank. Looks like they where turned with a broken insert with built up debrie on the tip at a high feed rate, allmost partial threaded. All companys make mistakes. Question is do they fix them :P

for the $20 set of flycutters I could'nt even be bothered to get a replacement as I just bought a set somewhere else for $20 that turned out fine, but I did alert the seller to forward the horrable pics of the shanks to phase II.
And now I bug the seller every time I buy something phase II from him just to 'look it over and tell me if it looks like a peice of #%@# or not' hahah. :P

Had some collets that had bad threads from e-bay.. simpley told the seller, sent pics, and he sent me replacements free of charge and forwarded pics to factory.

dexter
02-01-2010, 08:31 AM
I have a few Groz products including a small 2" swivelling machinist vise ($200) and they seem of reasonable quality for home shop use and a step up from BusyBee's (BB) other offerings.

The North American consumer has demanded low cost products, so in order to supply such products, corporations will go outside the US and Canada. Price is normally the most important consideration when buying and quality is less of a concern until after delivery. If it was the other way then we would not have stores such as Princess Auto (PA) and Busy Bee Tools (BB).

Generally you get what you pay for. Here in Canada, stores such as BB and PA are hit and miss, at best, for quality. Mostly miss. BB is slightly better than PA. Over the years our company has bought more crap from PA than I can remember and much has been returned broken. The most recent was a 60 gallon (industrial, LOL) compressor that lasted 2 weeks. Their return policy is unequalled, but it has to be because no one would buy anything if it wasn't. Some things seem bullet proof while others fail in no time flat. The only items I am truly satisfied with from PA are a floor jack and a set of Jack stands. If I buy a PA hand tool then it is for a one time or infrequent use. Otherwise it's high quality North American hand tools.

At one time I owned a BB Craftex lathe and was less than impressed with the quality, but for $900 how could you complain? You just tweak it to acceptable standards. In order to sell that 10" lathe for less than $1000 to the home user, they must cut costs of production. After much internet investigation, I was fully aware of the expected problems prior to purchase and accepted the compromise in order to get into the hobby, admittedly, cheaply and quickly.

I no longer will buy machinery anywhere else but through local industrial suppliers that carry brands (albeit similar machines) that typically have better QC on their domestic and Taiwanese products. I don't foresee any way around the purchasing of Asian machinery in the future if you want new, but some are better than others.

J Tiers
02-01-2010, 09:06 AM
Some of your "trusted" brands have gone off to china...... Starrett and Fluke. Fluke 100%, Starrett only partially.

A client bought 10 Fluke meters. All from china, of course. Five of them had faults, ranges that didn't work, or obvious errors of reading, where they didn't agree with any other meter by a factor of 2, etc.

The prior comment of products "not coming from countries, but from companies" is well and truly shown to be a lie by the above, and many, many, many other similar examples.

The best companies get the best performance from the countries with much sub-standard production. but they are not immune to the "country troubles".

lazlo
02-01-2010, 10:47 AM
Some of your "trusted" brands have gone off to china...... Starrett and Fluke. Fluke 100%, Starrett only partially.

Read my post Jerry. Just because your client bought Fluke DMM's that were made in China, doesn't mean that Fluke has 100% outsourced. The Scopemeter I bought last year was made in the Netherlands, and the i200S current clamp that I bought a month ago was made in France. Both excellent quality.

What DMM did you customer buy?

lakeside53
02-01-2010, 01:02 PM
And.. it's a Fluke problem, not China. There are many manfs that use China/whatever and produce the same quality as made anywhere. If I buy a meter from say 'Zapper' - China - for $10.. it's likely marginal quality. If Fluke... they have a vested interest in keeping the quality as if made where ever.

Mcgyver
02-01-2010, 01:13 PM
And.. it's a Fluke problem, not China. There are many manfs that use China/whatever and produce the same quality as made anywhere. If I buy a meter from say 'Zapper' - China - for $10.. it's likely marginal quality. If Fluke... they have a vested interest in keeping the quality as if made where ever.

agreed, if the company is 1) behaving like we'd rationally hope & expect they would; doing everything necessary to protect the brand etc and 2) that the implementation comes off without a hitch.

Not all people or businesses do what you or i might think is rational or what we'd hope for...look at the appliance companies reducing the lifespan. And on actually going about the outsourcing, even if its your own plant over there, is not a simple undertaking and is fraught with risk. Lots can go wrong and it can very difficult to get it all working smoothly despite the best plans

MuellerNick
02-01-2010, 03:08 PM
Re the good brands from Germany:
There are quite a few small companies making great stuff like high precision chucks for lathes. You'll never hear from them, you'll never be able to afford them.

But Helios is a brand of Preisser. And its not the very best.
Schweitzer is perfect quality like Mahr (German) or the well known Mitutoyo.
Also some ex GDR companies are getting closer an closer like FMS (Feinmess Suhl). I do have a set of mikes (got them for a ridiculous price) when they still were GDR. Russian look and feel, but very precise.

And I think Albrecht drill-chucks or Rohm (Röhm is the right spelling) lathe-chucks (some of their drill chucks aren't that well or even as lousy as Jacobs ;) ) are well know in the rest of the world.

I don't have enough money to buy crap!

Nick

nheng
02-01-2010, 08:56 PM
Fluke is made in many places. My company has built Fluke network testing products in NH and they have left in final Fluke packaging. The overmolded injection molded cases are made in China ... by one of China's best plastic molding houses.

Many companies fab their PCBs in China and many also stuff the boards in China, Taiwan, etc. The printed circuit board industry in the US has taken a real hit in the last decade. I don't recall the exact number but it is somewhere in the 60% - 70% range that are now from China. I've stood in a huge warehouse containing a number of complete PCB lines, all dismanlted and ready for sale or scrap. Got some phenomenal deals on electronics, materials and office furniture but it was not fun watching it being dissolved before your eyes. The owner still had a plant in Canada and one left in the Northeast but the future was uncertain.

Wanna have some fun? Fab circuit boards in China and have them meet all of your customers specifications. Then for an encore, do it again, and again ;)

If you are going to build in China, you really need to ride herd on the supplier. Simple problems become major problems, compounded by language and time differences. Getting the right material, proper durometer, mold texturing, color, etc. could drive any sane person over the edge.

A number of component parts that we were fabbing in China have been pulled back to the US ... permanently ! Just not worth the hassle for non-repeatable quality.

Those who have the most success in China generally have a presence there in the form of either owning the plant and operation or having manufacturing and quality control engineers on site, if not full time at least on a good enough sampled basis.

Another problem in dealing with China is the theft of your designs. Add to this the push by China for major business growth. China's internal market will eventually be supplied from within China. Unlike our penchant for European and Japanese cars, the need for many types of industrial and communications equipment by China will eventually be filled by ... China.

added - regarding the same product being made in China or wherever, I think it was SKF that issued a statement in this regard a while back. They basically said that you should expect neither a difference in pricing nor quality when parts come from China or elsewhere. Asian metallurgy still scares me though.

Den

J Tiers
02-02-2010, 12:20 AM
And.. it's a Fluke problem, not China. There are many manfs that use China/whatever and produce the same quality as made anywhere. If I buy a meter from say 'Zapper' - China - for $10.. it's likely marginal quality. If Fluke... they have a vested interest in keeping the quality as if made where ever.

Ah, that's a great theory. but it doesn't hold up that well. Sure it is a Fluke problem because of the name on the box...... but it is a generic problem of china as well.

China is known to have bad quality tendencies, mostly due to so many new inexperienced people in the manufacturing area, and the often very high turnover as people move to better jobs. It just is a lot more difficult to get high quality manufacturing in china than it is in places with a longer history of volume manufacturing and the highest precision products.

if you don't operate your own factory, as many do not, but one assumes Fluke would, then you get a different level of service. And not different in a good way.

And, there is quite a lot of counterfeiting and related activity in china, which sometimes catches the best companies...... as per the infamous stolen capacitor formula, which "burned" a lot of computer makers.

Lazlo: You mean they outsourced to OTHER places besides china? ;) No doubt..... But all the hand-held meters I have seen, from the 87 etc down to "lowest cost" ones, are from china. I don't know what the client had, they are almost out of business now, and we are holding some of their equipment against the bills they owe.

lazlo
02-02-2010, 11:22 AM
Lazlo: You mean they outsourced to OTHER places besides china? ;)

The ScopeMeters, for example, were never outsourced. Fluke bought the company in the Netherlands who invented the ScopeMeter. Likewise for the Fluke clamp meters -- it was a French company they bought years ago. That's not outsourcing.

J Tiers
02-02-2010, 08:56 PM
It is my understanding that in France, for instance, it is very difficult to close a factory and fire everybody.......... Not like the US, where you owe nobody anything, and can ashcan them on the spur of the moment........

So that may influence the continued existence of those subsidiary companies.

wcgutman
02-03-2010, 12:40 AM
A lot of parts in the computers that you are using are probably made in China.

Weren't we complaining about the stuff being "Made In Japan", during the seventies and eighties ? In five or ten years down the road, it will be too expensive to continue manufacturing in China, so the businesses will move elsewhere.

In the year 2020, "Made in Kenya", "Made in South Africa", or "Made in Iraq" ?

Americans are really good at whining and sniveling....

lakeside53
02-03-2010, 01:50 AM
IBM..err... "Lenovo" laptops are top notch.. all made in China and have been for several years. I just happen to be typing on one right now.

Most snow ski's are made in China... I ski one of the few brands not - Rossinol... France, but not because I choose "no-China" - I just like the Rossinol skis. All the major and most minor US manf. moved ski production to China, even our local fabled K2 guys.

Yes, there is crap made in China, and just about everywhere else. And.. we and "everyone else" is teaching China how to make quality. What's the real difference between Singapore and China? - just a few years...

If you want to delay China... a lot of people need to stop buying from them, but.. what would that do to inflation if the price of everything doubled.:rolleyes:

J Tiers
02-03-2010, 09:21 AM
Whining and sniveling?

Quit whining about that!

China per se as a country with trade is not the problem...... we have decent trade relations with many countries.

China is a problem because

1) they have set up the system in a "heads we win, tails you lose" manner, with trade policies, monetary policies, etc, designed to make absolutely certain that they have the cheapest products on earth, and that this situatin won't change until they have what they want..... "hegemony" (their favorite word)

2) There is no such thing as a patent in chine... not meaningfully, if even theoretically legally...... So everything is stolen daily.

3) Counterfeit products, bearing a manufacturer's name and address who has never even seen the product in question, are NORMAL. And they are sold within china as well as all over asia.

4) as a result, "trade" with china is essentially ALL one-sided..... you trade money for goods. They are not in the business of buying anything but tools from the outside world, and only the minimum amount of those. No parts, no products, no services, no outside buying at all is tolerated..... Even importing special parts for a product built in china is virtually impossible..... They want to make every part of it inside china, they ONLY want your money.

Essentially, they refuse to play by the rules, written and unwritten, but they themselves whine, and scream themselves silly if anyone else steps over the line by a millimeter.....

If this was baseball, the chinese would hit a fly ball to center, and even though it was caught, they would call it a home run. But a ball YOU hit over the fence in left center would be an out.

Whining?

Well there are two options.

1) "whine", i.e. complain about it and try to get it rectified.

2) Go to war with china.

You choose.

lazlo
02-03-2010, 12:13 PM
IBM..err... "Lenovo" laptops are top notch.. all made in China and have been for several years. I just happen to be typing on one right now.

Not to dis your laptop, but a lot of corporations including Intel used IBM Thinkpads almost exclusively until IBM sold off the division to the Chinese, and the quality dropped like a rock. We had so many hardware failures that Intel dropped the Thinkpad contract, and switched to Dell.

Almost all Apple products are made in China, and they're very well made, so it's definitely possible, but Apple seems to be the exception, not the rule. If you've seen pictures of the Apple factory, it's very modern, clean as a surgical room, the workers are happy and wearing clean, middle-class clothes.

Let everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

By the way Jerry: the battery in my Fluke Scopemeter is also made in Finland. I ordered a second battery, to have a backup in the shop, and it's made in China. It's a smart battery, and the first Chinese battery I got wouldn't charge at all :mad:

rowbare
02-03-2010, 12:15 PM
2) There is no such thing as a patent in chine... not meaningfully, if even theoretically legally...... So everything is stolen daily.

One might argue that patents are a license to steal to begin with. Especially the way they are awarded nowadays.



3) Counterfeit products, bearing a manufacturer's name and address who has never even seen the product in question, are NORMAL. And they are sold within china as well as all over asia.

And all of the unlicensed goods -- especially fashions -- that come off of the same production line as the licensed goods. Two shifts for you, one shift for me...




4) as a result, "trade" with china is essentially ALL one-sided..... you trade money for goods. They are not in the business of buying anything but tools from the outside world, and only the minimum amount of those. No parts, no products, no services, no outside buying at all is tolerated..... Even importing special parts for a product built in china is virtually impossible..... They want to make every part of it inside china, they ONLY want your money.

c'mon now, they do buy raw materials

bob

J Tiers
02-03-2010, 10:18 PM
One might argue that patents are a license to steal to begin with. Especially the way they are awarded nowadays.


And all of the unlicensed goods -- especially fashions -- that come off of the same production line as the licensed goods. Two shifts for you, one shift for me...




c'mon now, they do buy raw materials

bob

patents are not perfect, but they are a start........ Japan sent folks here, a hundred some years ago, to see what made the US so successful , especially with development of products. The researchers went back, and their answer was .... Patents"....... or so the story goes. Patents encourage development in a way that is unique.

The counterfeits I have seen were universally NOT of nearly the same quality, they had the obvious outside characteristics similar, but used far inferior parts where they were not seen. That was true of the copies of our products at my former employer.... they were not quite as nice looking, but basically outwardly looked the exact same, even down to many internal labels and marks. But the marks the chinese copied were never made in china, they were US marks..... we had no china manufacturing then, so no back door deals..

Then there were the circuit breakers I saw an article on, that had the case and the detented lever, and all the labels close to correct, but the insides were simply a length of heavy wire. Those parts could have come out the back door

Raw materials? Well when those raw materials , sold at "X" amount per ton, come BACK as finished goods, they cost "X" amount per POUND........

Selling raw materials and buying finished goods is known as a "colonial economy", and is a good way to lose your shirt. It may as well be 100% one-sided.