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Durability vs. Reliabilty
Posted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:49 pm
To some, durability and reliability might seem like the same thing. However, this is not the case.
Durability: How well a soaker is constructed, and how well it stands up to abuse.
Reliability: How well a soaker stands up to the test of time.
To use some examples, many classic guns such as the SS 50 will continue to function for years and years, but bump one the wrong way, and it's toast. These blasters are very reliable, but not very durable. Meanwhile, you could probably drop kick an Arctic Blast without hurting it, but it WILL fail after a summer or two of average usage. In this case, we see high durability, but absurdly low reliability.
Just an interesting thought I had the other day. Anyone have any input?
Re: Durability vs. Reliabilty
Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:26 am
I used to differentiate between these in my reviews. I called this external durability vs internal durability. Not always the same as what you are discussing, but it is the internals that fail most of the time.
There was a period in time where Super Soaker made incredible tank like construction on the outside, but the insides were crap; particularly the max d valves. I actually have 2 Aquapak Devastators, my preferred sidearm of choice. You'll note that I did not list these in my Little Creek thread or in any previous war thread. I love them, but I haven't brought them to war because I'm afraid the Max D mechanism will break. If we have more time I'd like your help in d-max-ding them and seeing if there are other ways to ensure they don't fail. Actually, if we can get Ben and Scott involved too that would be great. Y'all are pretty good at repairs and modding to prevent breaks.
Half the screws on the Devastators already went bad, so I quite literally had to rip the plastic apart to get it open. I can close it back up and fire it, but it doesn't look pretty. I have said this before, but I don't think people get how serious this is - replace the stock screws as soon as you buy the blaster. My plan is to epoxy the cracked pieces so it doesn't look so crap, drill out the old screws, and replace them with new screws. If you want a real blast from the past, GNG used to advocate that you disassemble your blasters regularly to dry them out, clear out any rust, oil down parts with proper lubricant that won't corrode, etc. I think we should all do this much more often than we do currently.
My hope is that the newer WW guns are durable and reliable. Buzz Bee got criticized for using inferior plastic for a while, but I am more concerned about valves rusting out, etc. My Blazer's ball valve finally went bad, but when you consider the age of the blaster it's not really a surprise. Especially since I could never get it open to clean since *ahem* the screws were rusted out. Notice a pattern here?
Beginning with the WW Charger the quality of their internal components has improved. At least in my experience. I have 4 new Python 2s, well, new from last fall. One reason I purchased them wasn't because I was lacking in light primaries or that they were superior to my XP 310, SC 600, etc. but simply because they were new. When you buy a new blaster you can take out the old screws and replace them. That way you can clean out your blaster after every battle.
We definitely want increased reliability, but part of that is up to us. We need to up our cleaning and maintenance game.
Re: Durability vs. Reliabilty
Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:40 am
Classic SS are not necessarily fragile. The SS 200 will likely crack if you drop one while it's full, but the smaller ones and the 300 are surprisingly durable. The 300 lever mech can break, but you can put a screw through it for an easy repair. They just have so few moving parts that it really takes a bad crack in a pressure-holding/seal area to put one out. I often thrift SS 50s that are in terrible cosmetic shape with rusted screws, sun fading, dents, but if there's no cracks, you can still get them right up and running.
Buzz Bee used thin plastic, but my worst criticism was about the internals around 2010-2012. One of my colossi started showing rust all over the metal components after THREE uses. Not even a year, not even an event attended, yet it was showing the kind of degradation that my XP 150s do not show after TWENTY years (and they've all been heavily used). Buzz Bee is still using cheap metal after the Alex Brands takeover (Sentinel screws are super soft and easily stripped, the metal lever can snap), so I really wouldn't put high hopes on that paradigm changing. Just replace the screws the moment you buy anything, and examine the internals for possible weak points. Nerfers now have many aftermarket solutions that replace internals of popular blasters, but our community is too small for that kind of ecosystem.
The main reason that my core arsenal is composed of certain model soakers is for their proven reliability in heavy usage as well as usage over time. Greater variety is more interesting, but a headache in maintenance. 1000s, 1200s, and 150s obviously do break, but I tend to get more mileage out of them than anything else in competitive classes, and some are still even original.