Cheap import tools and product liability (was: Violent Electric Drill Accident)

The recent thread "Violent Electric Drill Accident" got me wondering about places like Harbor Freight Tools and their product liability. The local
store sells an amazing array of dangerous tools. We all know how shoddy and defective some of them are, and notwithstanding the "electric drill accident", surely there are many cases where a faulty tool hurts somebody. What I cannot understand is how they can run a store and sell, oh, angle grinders for $14.99, since they must be getting sued all the time. So much of their stuff is obviously dangerous, and I don't mean in the usual power- tool-requires-common-sense way, such as the toys they sell for children (100 lb go-kart with no effective brakes!) that you can't buy anywhere else because no American firm could survive the lawsuits. Does the Chinese mafia come to visit if you have a "problem"? Does anyone know how HF is organized and defends itself?
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Richard J Kinch wrote:

Those are down to less than $10 this week! Time to stock up on stocking stuffers!
Jeff (Who confesses to being a loyal HF customer for his "hobby grade" equipment.)
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Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

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Exactly why do you think these things are so dangerous??
Is it based on personal experience, or just the assumption that since it is a shoddy piece of shit it will also hurt you? Exactly what, for instance, is the angle grinder going to do to you? The wheel will fall apart due to wheel defects, maybe, but what does that have to do with the grinder? If you put a decent wheel on it, it's going to be fine. Maybe the gears with disintegrate, but then you will be even safer since it won't be turning.
| Ian Stirling.

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means
Carrol
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wrote:

Cripes, if anyone had gotten electrocuted, the plaintiff's lawyer would have had a field day. No UL approval, I guess.
Best regards, Spehro Pefhany
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Double insulated tools don't need a third wire, even on 240V. The only possible problem (if it was double insulated) would be if there is a code problem with connecting a 3 pin plug to a 2 wire cord.
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On Fri, 18 Jul 2003 16:23:04 +0000 (UTC), the renowned Ian Stirling

True. If the tool was actually double-insulated to meet UL requirements. If it wasn't approved, we don't know. They might have used any number of substandard materials. Or maybe it's fine, just they have not spent the $5K to get the approvals. I've seen both situations.

*Surely* it's not permitted (by UL or CSA) to manufacture approved tools with FAKE 3-wire cords.
I'd look at it and assume the exposed metal bits were supposed to be grounded/earthed, safer than double-insulated in some situations.
Best regards, Spehro Pefhany
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As have I, and on 240V, it's a lot more fun.

You might, but is it actually prohibited?
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wrote:

AFAIK there isn't. It just helps enforce getting the hot and neutral plugged in correctly. Sometimes the different size blades don't get the job done because some ham handed person forces them in wrong. But with the ground prong too, they'd have to cut it off to get the plug in wrong, and that sort of tampering voids any claim they might have.
Gary
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Three-prong plugs are far less likely to "fall out" or get bent if stressed. The flat shape of the North American 15A live/neutral prongs is a big mistake, I notice that most overseas plugs use no flat prongs at all, an obvious improvement over the US design. In any event, the poor design of the US 2-prong plug is supplemented by a nice sturdy circular ground prong in the 3-prong version.
I do not like seeing any part of a live prong exposed under any circumstances, but with US two-prong plugs a slight sideways pull will leave some of the prong clearly visible. This doesn't happen nearly so readily with a three-prong plug, and I believe that's a safety advantage even if the ground isn't used.
Tim.
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On 19 Jul 2003 20:00:40 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@trailing-edge.com (Tim Shoppa) wrote:

America Basher :^)!! I would agree, but then again the US doesn't use 240VAC for your kids to play with :^). So the best thing, IMO, would be a better designed plug using only 120VAC. I can't tell you how many times I've shocked myself with 120, hurts a little but no damage. I imagine 240 has a bit more of a kick.
John
Please note that my return address is wrong due to the amount of junk email I get. So please respond to this message through the newsgroup.
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snipped-for-privacy@asdfasdfsdffff.com (John Flanagan) wrote in message

That connector has existed for many decades now: the 120VAC 15A Twist-Lock. In fact, a lot of the equipment I own has either 15A or 30A Twist-Lock plugs.
Now if the plug didn't cost more than most appliances, THEN we'd have a winner!
Tim.
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Is this a regional in store sale? I have seen many references to the $14.99 angle grinders and out of curiousity I visited our new local Harbor Freight. The least expensive angle grinder was a 4.5 " unit for $39.95. They didn't seem to know anything about $14.95 units. Where do you find them?

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I recently stopped into the locaal Evergreen hardware in AJ AZ to buy a nail (or screw) and noted a small angle grinder on the counter with a price of $6.95 on it. Yep-$6.95. I thot it was mismarked but they had a whole stack of them. I bought on. Haven't plugged it in yet.
Paul in AJ AZ
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My brother bought one at a flee market that appeared to be from Harbor freight. It was new and still in the box. I figured the guy bought a bunch on sale and made a few bucks on each at the flee market. He used it once and it died. I hear others have had better luck.
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Nearly any "house brand" item from Harbor Freight will occasionally be put on sale for 1/2 price. Currently I don't see any on sale but there are two on sale for Inside Track Club members. Item # 43471 is currently $15.97, usually $29.99 and item # 42203 is $12.97, normally $27.99.
But the best deal I've found is from Homier Mobile Merchants, http://www.homier.com . They have a traveling truckload tool sale that comes through the area a couple of times a year and the last two times they were here they had them for $5.99! I bought two about a year ago and I'm still on the first one. Of course the 2nd one may fall apart as soon as I take it out of the box but for that price I won't complain too much. :-)
On their Web site there is a link to sign up for notification of when they will be in your area. Since the Harbor Freight store opened here in Charlotte they haven't actually come to Charlotte but they've been to nearly every city around me, usually within 20-30 miles or so. A month ago they were in the area and had autodark welding helmets for $39.99!
Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com
"The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." -Eden Phillpotts, A Shadow Passes, 1934

$14.99
Freight.
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On Sat, 19 Jul 2003 05:01:04 GMT, "Keith Marshall"
Speaking of tool addictions...is there a 12-step program for that? <scritch, scritch, scritch>

I make it down to Medford every month or two for those HFT half price sales. What a selection! And some stuff is so cheap that it's great to use merely as a pattern for a real tool. Cheap tools are great fun.

Oh yes you will! You'll be taking the second one out of the box because the first one had died and then where will you be? Get that second one out and put the first one away. Then you'll KNOW you have two good (?) grinders. I picked up a Makita 4-1/2 for $35 and it has been a good little machine. Well, the little I use it. ;)

There was a junk truck like that coming around here earlier this year, but most of the stuff wouldn't have made Harbor Fright grade. Real Chiwanese trash. Wannabemetal pliers, annealed drill bits of the same "metal". Hah!

Ditto here. Most stuff is just OK, some is real trash, some real treasures.

or...
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for that? <scritch, scritch, scritch><<
I wouldn't know. I still enjoy my addiction too much to think about curing it. :-D

I can't afford the good stuff so I've learned to enjoy the challenge of doing good work with the cheap tools.

because the first one had died and then where will you be? Get that second one out and put the first one away. Then you'll KNOW you have two good (?) grinders.<<
Good point. I did at least pull it out and make sure it worked while the company was still in town though. I learned that one the hard way.

this year, but most of the stuff wouldn't have made Harbor Fright grade. Real Chiwanese trash. Wannabemetal pliers, annealed drill bits of the same "metal". Hah!<<
That's probably Cummins. Homier isn't too far behind Harbor Freight on most things but the stuff Cummins had when they came to town was pure garbage. I bought one of their 6-inch bench grinders and it wouldn't hardly sharpen a 1/4" drill bit without bogging down. :-(
Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com
"The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." -Eden Phillpotts, A Shadow Passes, 1934
pixelated:

didn't
put
two
comes
were
still
it
they
nearly
grade"
ancient science...)

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I don't want to make this a bash Chinese post because they merely exhibit the problems of an emerging economy as did Japan, Taiwan, India, etc. And I have scored some tremendous quality bargains in electronics and hard tools. Along the way I learned how easy it is to get fooled. Best to look for a product with a big name brand as they might be checking the quality more. I have seen radio knobs secured with paper, tools with no heat treating, lead paint, razor sharp edges, color that comes off on hands or anything else, and the very amusing directions that are often included. I consider it a challenge to inspect the products and determine the value. The Chinese watch that I am wearing cost fifty cents while a new battery for my old one cost $3. I don't expect to get hurt by it because if I do catch it in the $15 hammer drill it will rip apart before I do.
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How good were the dissidents at assembling power tools?
If they were really good, I'd be upset. But if they were doing crappy work, then I couldn't much care.
Gary
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Tricky choice when the alternative is to deal with people who ignore the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of POWs
Mark Rand RTFM
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