Finding out that Stanley still sells replacement parts for an eighty year old hand plane reminds me of another old tool story.
When I bought my first house, my parents showed up with a load of boxes from their basement (mostly stuff I'd stashed down there post-college), and my dad's old Craftsman tablesaw, which he'd recently replaced. I'm not sure if the tablesaw was older than me or not, but it must be close, because I can't remember a time when it wasn't down there in the basement.
A few weeks later, I was down in my own basement making some sawdust when the saw quit working. Luckily, my dad is the kind of guy who keeps the manual, so I dug into it. I ended up with the saw strung out in parts across the basement floor, as I took a voltmeter to it, bridging each gap, trying to figure out which link in the chain was broken. The problem turned out to be the power switch.
I turned, again, to the manual, and found an exploded diagram of the saw, and noted the part number for the switch. All I needed to do, I thought, was find out if Craftsman still made that switch. If they did, I was golden. If not, I was going to have to get creative.
Manual in hand, I headed upstairs to check the Craftsman website and see what I could see. Then I noticed that there was a 1-800 number printed underneath the diagram of the saw. What the heck, I thought, and dialed the number.
"Craftsman parts" said the cheerful voice on the other end of the line.
The switch cost $9, with shipping, and was in my hands in a couple of days.