Skid marks

ďI am resistant to and suspicious of tech that doesnít actually improve the products to which itís appliedĒ

David Morley

MY WASHING machine has convinced me Iím a Luddite. Now, the literal definition of a Luddite is an early 19th century textile worker from England, revolting against new technology that might put him or her out of a job. Clearly, I am not quite that old, Iím not a native of Pomgolia and I wouldnít know a weaving loom from a giant squid.

But in the more modern sense of the term Ė that is, somebody who is resistant to and suspicious of new technologies Ė I reckon I am indeed a 24-carat Luddite.

I can see the advantages of fuel-injection over carburettors, and I know electronic ignition trumps points. EFI and solid-state ignition both make for a more efficient, more reliable ride. I get that. But what I am resistant to and suspicious of is technology that doesnít actually improve the products to which itís applied. And even worse is technology that reduces the lifespan and/or utility of those products.

This brings me to my washing machine. Now, Iím to having an electric motor do the sloshing and sploshing (beats turning a handle), and Iíd much rather have pump to empty the thing instead of me turning the upside-down every time to dump the grey water and bellybutton lint. But I do have a problem with the technology electronics being applied to control the various functions.

Putting a fragile, relatively exposed, printed circuit board a hot, streamy, vibrating environment is, if you ask me, asking for trouble. And so it was the other day when the bastard stopped dead.

With crossed fingers, I pulled the mongrel apart removed the brushes from the electric motor. Good as they were. At which point I was out of ideas. So I carefully removed the circuit board and took it to a mate who happens to be a gun dealer and electronics engineer. If he couldnít at least he could shoot it. He soon diagnosed a dud relay blown fuse, so I wrestled with the thing for an hour or so home to replace the spaghetti. But had it not been for my heavily armed propeller-head buddy, I would have been shopping new machine.

So, speaking as a Luddite, Iíd much rather see a washing machine controlled by a series of poppet valves, springs, bob-weights, bi-metallic strips and clockwork timers (quartz movement, natch) rather than those damn electronics. It might be a bit slower switch from wash to spin, and it might make a few boinging ticking noises, but I havenít slept in the laundry for years. alone in this desire for a simple mechanical world? I doubt it. what if somebody did make a washing machine with a purely mechanical control system? Would I buy one? In a heartbeat. y not opposed shing for me an electric machine ellygy of ions. rd in sking stard and new, efully ppens fix it, and a back eavily g for a chine ights, atch) er to and Am I And rely Iím of the same view when it comes to vehicles designed for remote-area use. Give me a big, old diesel with a mechanical fuel pump every time. Dust or vibration wonít stop it and I can drive it through a river. I turn the key, it starts. Nobody dies a miserable, choking, boggle-eyed death in the outback. The only electronics in such a vehicle should be the head unit.

Things are different for performance cars, of course. In that case, youíre chasing maximum performance through maximum efficiency. And if that means electronics and complexity. Fine.

And thatís a trade-off Iíll happily make, because sportscars get the wrinkles out. Unlike my bloody washing machine. M

ďI am resistant to and suspicious of tech that doesnít actually improve the products to which itís appliedĒ