I’ve recently been searching for parts here on Ross Island, only to find we might not have them (it has to work its way through the system before I know for sure), but it reminds me of something I have observed before: It is important to standardize essential equipment, and useful to standardize other equipment.
Here at McMurdo Station we have buildings that were installed over five decades, so the mismatches are somewhat understandable, but every time we switch manufacturers we need a whole new supply of spare parts because the manufacturers (naturally) don’t want to standardize when they can assure themselves a captive market for parts. That may not be a big deal when you can run down to the local supply house and get the part you need from a wide selection, but when the nearest supply house is thousands of miles away, you need to provide your own supply house – and when you are using a dozen varieties of the same piece of equipment, you need a lot more space to store spare parts.
There are several solutions I can see: stick to a single manufacturer (which has its own problems), use your buying power to ensure that manufacturers will supply equipment with standardized, interchangeable parts – at least for essential equipment – or maintain the capacity to manufacture necessary parts on the spot. This last choice may be the best in many cases, in light of recent developments in “desktop fabrication”, the “fabber” or “maker” movement, in which machines can manufacture complex parts from a template. However, the ability of this machinery is still pretty limited at the moment. Of course, out on the ocean you will have a greater ability to import necessary parts in a timely manner than we can here, where weather and sea ice restrict re-supply by ship to once per year, so these measures may not need to be strict.
Which brings to mind another point: I know that many of the people here are American, but I propose that seasteaders settle on using the metric system whenever possible, in order to standardize with the majority of the world rather than just with America. Now is the time to make such decisions.
Most of the cruisers carry 2 of “everything”. For the seasteaders I would assume @ least 4-5 of “everything” just in case the next supply is 6 month away…. I grew up w/ metric, then had to switch to inch. I do think that metric is more user friendly. But you are right, seasteads should go metric, not neccesary for the sake of standardization but for the simple reason that spare parts will be easier available in metric. But try to tell that to an American,….Wait,….you will hear a lots of arguments 1 foot x 20 yards long why 1 inch is better than 25.4 mm.
Metric makes sense for a lot of things, imperial english makes sense for others. Like aircraft separation (1,000 feet vertically, easy to see on the altimeter, 300 meters requires actually looking and interpreting the gauges).
For most scientfic purposes, metric is far superior. However I do like to write prescriptions to the pharmacist in drams (the pharmacist is my wife).