Huffing gas fumes in shittown alabama

The following is the only email written by John B. McLemore, the main subject of the S-Town podcast, to James Howard Kunstler that Kunstler saved.

Huffing gas fumes in shittown alabama

So I am sitting over about 5 gallons of gas yesterday cleaning out my lawnmower engine parts prior to reassembly. after waiting about 2 fucking months we managed to break one of the brittle ass cast iron piston rings, and now I am fucked waiting around again for a replacement…no telling how goddamn long as this is a discontinued model. (Pay attention…I am going somewhere with this).

So I am using a precious resource to clean out an engine…now the fucking thing is sitting on the bench waiting for another goddamn piston ring (.020″ oversize, a fucking special order item).

Now, imagine the lawnmowers, weed-eaters, saws, etc. etc. etc. that are scrapped in the millions each year by persons not able to build their own engines. Appliances, etc.

Newer shit is made so sorry that a new washing machine has a life expectancy of about 5 years where as an older model typically lasted 30.

Whirlpools typically are tossed out in about 3 to 5 years because of a $20.00 plastic u joint between the motor output shaft and the transmission input. But most people don’t have the ability to even know how to go about replacing it….I made my replacement out of brass and steel…it will beat out the plastic gears inside the transmission one day…not to mention the teeny little plastic finger that rotates the drum during the spin cycle…I guess I can make up a steel one for that someday also.

When I spoke to you, I remember you expecting us to become a salvage nation at some point….BUT:

Many of the repairable objects of our former daily lives have already been melted down, scrapped, and turnted into useless detritus, where as newer objects from the past 30 years or so that still exist are non repairable due to poor manufacturing methods insuring that they will be Unrecyclable at some point in the future.

So we will not even have anything left worth salvaging. Consider Stereo Equipment for example: the Denon DND9000CD player was the most advanced disc drive system in the world around the year 2000…You can’t even get replacement drives for the fucking thing today. A victor Type II Automatic Victrola, however, is still restorable (assuming you have some discs to play).

The little Briggs engine block is already showing signs of inter-crystalline corrosion on the side opposite the cylinder head.

This is a common feature of older Aluminum castings..they just die of cancer (actually internal autoanodisation of the aluminum into Al2O3 and similar compounds. Once the outer anodised film is scratched, worn away, or otherwise breached, intercrystalline corrosion is the ultimate end of nearly all Aluminum alloys…they oxidise back to their former highest oxidation state (they way they were found in nature).

This is the ultimate Future of nearly ALL Aluminum block engines, Appliance parts, gears, etc. Ditto with Zinc Die Castings also.

The plastic gears in the Whirlpool washing machine transmission will em-brittle over time as Carbon bonds are broken even without photodegradation. Of course, plastics exposed to light are guaranteed to photodegrade to the point of uselessness within less than a century typically.

Some plastics (such as types of polycarbonate) are amazingly stable…but no plastic is typically stable for the long haul…Even UV stabilised plastics typically rely on a coating or lacquer which provides temporary stability…Plating tanks in industrial process operations for example, are considered “worn Out” in about 10 years. Same for Fiberglass Reinforced Polyester, and many of the other exotics that our complex chemical process operations rely on today.

And these Polymers are Not Recyclable…they can only be chipped up for use in lawn furniture, road fill, or end up in the giant floating garbage dump that was formerly known as the Pacific Ocean.

That is my take on the possibility of us becoming even a Salvage Nation.