February 6, 2007
Cost of Piracy
Up to 10% of car parts sold in the European Union are thought to be counterfeit.
I have a personal anecdote to share on this topic.
I was a research assistant for a physics professor doing a short-range gravitation experiment in college.
There was a vacuum chamber with a small viewing window. The viewing window was held in place with 6 carbon steel engine mount bolts. My job was to replace the plexiglass window with a glass window.
He left the room. I had a small wrench and I began to tighten the first bolt. I turned and turned. It never tightened. All it did was stretch.
I took the first bolt to his office and handed it to him. He looked at me like I was superman. I told him that it wasn't me, it was the bolt!
He had me take the next bolt down to the shop and test it with a torque wrench. I tested it. I was able to stretch that bolt without even seeing a reading on the torque wrench. That's how easily it stretched.
He took the bolts back to the auto shop and got replacements. I tested those too. The difference was night and day. The first set felt like lead. This second set felt like the carbon steel it was advertised to be.
Somebody, somewhere, is driving a car with at least one engine mount bolt made out of lead. I truly believe that.
I offer this story as a warning to those buying precious metals. If engine mount bolts can be faked, then anything can. To this day, I would not be able to tell the difference between the bolts without testing them. That's how good the fakes were.