Your experience sounds eerily familiar Phil. As to brand loyalty the same thing happened to B & D. I have an old 1/2" metal bodied, single speed, forward only drill that is maybe close to as old as I am and the damn thing is indestructible. I use it to mix buckets of mortar and cement. Then in the 70s they started making junk and they couldn't sell the good quality stuff anymore. They had to name the better stuff DeWalt so they could sell them. I've looked at the new Craftsman tools since B & D Stanley took over and they appear to be red Dewalts for the most part so the only issue with them should be whether parts will be available later.
Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.