We just added a the paragraph below to our article, “The OPV Recall: Illustrates why you should check all you gear today. (click for full article)” The article talks about the Toyota like response of Dive Rite to the problem of corroding springs in the over pressure valves of their wings.
(INSERTED PARAGRAPH) When we asked, “how did it happen,” both companies communicated a vague suspicion that “some employee at the manufacturer inadvertently loaded the spring machine with the wrong grade of stainless steel.” This sounded plausible to my US-centric mind; until read about the disturbing and common practice of “quality fade”. Paul Midler, in his eye opening book, Made Poorly In China, describes “quality fade” as the secretive strategy a manufacturer uses to widen their profits by slow reducing the quality of materials used in the product over time until they get caught. Midler says this practice is pervasive in China and there is no downside for the manufacturer. When, or if they get caught, they just blame in on an employee that was fired or some other plausible culprit. Given the numbers of springs involved here it, quality fade seems much more likely than one bad roll spring stock.
I am still trying to track down the actual manufacturer of the springs used by Dive Rite and Halcyon. I want to see if this information will help us learn if other companies have products using the defective spring. We have filed a freedom of information request with the CPSC.
Additionally, during a recent conversation with a CPSC investigator, she mentioned that it is illegal if a company does not notify CPSC immediately if the learn about a dangerous defect with there product. Recent news stories predict that Toyota may incur one of the largest fines ever holding of on notification. After I mentioned that all three staff we interviewed at Dive Rite admitted that they saw the spring problem well over a year before the recall, the CPSC investigator asked me to email her a copy of the article.