Archive for May 31st, 2011

American Steel: Breaking a Chinese-Made Master Lock Lockbox

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

Another high point in American-Sino relations.

Another high point in American-Sino relations.

I hate Chinese made junk.  What I hate even more is going in a place to buy something and finding that my only choice is: Made in China.

So this weekend a Chinese Made (the only choice) Master Lock lockbox failed.  On this type of lockbox you align a series of tumblers, press a button and the lockbox opens.  In this case the button wouldn’t depress.  It’s about two years old and in otherwise good condition.  But as I’m getting conditioned to expect that if it’s made in the PRC it will fail for no reason and fail fast.

This follows a month where a three-year-old Made-in-China toaster oven with the Oester tag failed.  The only moving part was the door, which I had to open myself.  Yet it just failed to heat one morning and that was that.  I have an Oester blender made in the USA circa 1968 that I still use and still works. 

This is topped by the failure of a no name Chinese-made alarm clock I’ve had for about a year now.  The alarm would ring, but then it wouldn’t shut off: you had to unplug it to reset it.  Now you plug it in the alarm just stays on.  The only moving part it has is an “on/off” switch.  They can’t even make a f***ing digital alarm clock that will last a year.

So getting back to the lockbox that wouldn’t work.  I decided to have some fun with it.

First I went out and bought a $54 American-made HK Porter 24-inch bolt cutter.  It applies 4000 pounds of pressure for every 50 pounds that I can generate.  It cut the hook on that lockbox like it was going through butter.

Then I took the lockbox over to an American-made Columbia 3050 vise so I could pop it open like an oyster.  And when I needed more leverage on the vise I pulled out an American-made ball joint puller and cranked down.

The poor lockbox stuck out it’s lip, quivering in supplication.  I freed it from it’s misery with an American-made Tru Temper Jet Rocket Hammer and a chislel, popping the sucker open.  With that I got my key back and an intense feeling of satisfaction.

It’s not that I don’t like China or any other country we import things from.  What I don’t like is the fact that no one in China that I buy products from will ever buy my products here.  They will never buy a home in St. Augustine.  They will never go on vacation in St. Augustine.  They will never spend a dime in St. Augustine.  Instead that wealth will go to a newly minted city of a million people in China that I have never heard of.

The HK Porter boltcutter?  I can’t find the factory that produces it…it seems to be some kind of state secret.  But wherever it is theres a solid chance that one of the workers, or suppliers, or support staff will at least vacation here and spend money here.   Which will eventually support my business.  And if they retire here that would be even better.

Keep that in mind the next time you have a choice in boltcutters, tires, cars, anything.  I even check the cans at Publix to see where the fruit is from.  It’s a matter of the job you’re saving may be your own, in fact the job you’re saving may lead you to a better job down the road.

St. Augustine Team Realty: An American-Made Company right here in St. Augustine!  Click for Buyer or for Seller and we can help!  

The Columbia 3050 vise that made life tough for a chinese-made lockbox

The Columbia 3050 vise that made life tough for a chinese-made lockbox