Shop "trouble"...any advice?

bunnspecial

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Why on earth are YOU ordering the parts and paying the machine shop. That is the repair shops job. Now it's just a case of who shot John. If the engine is bad, the repair shop can't go back to the machine shop because the repair shop didn't contract for the work. And the machine shop isn't going to deal with the repair shop because they didn't pay for the work.

To be clear on "paying" the machine shop-the shop I'm using dealt with them directly and paid them. I paid the shop right after they'd paid the machine shop.

Those particular parts that I supplied never actually passed through my hands-I had them shipped directly to my mechanic per his shopping list. It wouldn't normally be done that way, but he was willing to do it since at the time Moss Motors and the like weren't open and shipping parts.
 
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I did get a chance to give everything a visual after it came back from the shop, although I know it's not a measurement.

No but it does help and puts another set of eyes on it.

So, if we assume the parts are in spec then the next most likely culprit is the assembly tolerances. Everything from fitment, timing, alignment and so forth.

How certain are you all of that's done correctly?
 

bunnspecial

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If you can do that kind of work, why didn't you at least R&R the engine in the first place? Not sure what MG you have but they are pretty simple to work on so paying today's labor rates if you can DIY doesn't make much sense. Maybe on a $50K Jag but not a $5K car.

When there's a lot else going on in your life, being ABLE to do the repair doesn't negate that for your own sanity(provided that it gets done correctly) sometimes it's better to pay someone else.

I WANTED to build the engine myself. I was between jobs and without a place to work on it then. If it were the only option, I'd make it work.
 

bunnspecial

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No but it does help and puts another set of eyes on it.

So, if we assume the parts are in spec then the next most likely culprit is the assembly tolerances. Everything from fitment, timing, alignment and so forth.

How certain are you all of that's done correctly?

I didn't see much of the build process other than seeing the block on a stand with the crank/cam/rods/pistons in place and seeing it turned over. I watched them spin it by hand and also do a final torque check on the bearing caps.

The machine shop waited to get the pistons before boring, and the information I have shows that they measured and bored for the actual size of the pistons, not just the 30 over that the pistons were stamped.

That's all I know about what's going on in it, though.
 
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Go get your car. Yes it’s an expensive lesson but being rid of this ******** who is conducting a scam will settle your anxiety. Let him know that you will put forth a tremendous amount of effort (social media) to inform others about how you were taken. I wouldn’t want him or his flunkies touching my car after knowing what you know...
He’s just a common sack of horse dung.
 

bunnspecial

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Wouldn't that cause the engine to seize the first time the engine warmed up and the pistons expand? Or at least cause scuffing.
Sorry, what I'm trying to say and didn't say clearly-

Rather than just drilling 30 thou over as they determined was needed to bring it back into round(which would have been 3.19"), they measured the actual diameter of the "30 over" pistons and accounted for how they deviated from "30 over" when they bored. I don't remember exactly what it was, but it should have been the proper clearance for the actual piston size delivered, not just the marked size(if that makes sense).
 
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Do not under any circumstances take possession of the car until everything is worked out. Start asking for a discount if they cannot deliver it in perfect condition by xx date. At some point you have to be firm with your friend.
This. It isn't a matter of whether or not you can fix it, its a matter of if it leaves not running correctly then anything that happens he's going to blame on you.

I think you need to go there face to face and just tell him he needs to hold up his end and make it right and quick.

Even thought it isn't his problem you moved 300 miles away, it its his problem that he's failed to have it ready at the agreed time and has let you make the trip.

Ask yourself too, is he really a friend? Like do y'all hang out, go to car shows together? Like what level of friendship is it really (answer to yourself) If he really is a friend then he's taking advantage of your friendship, tell him so if you have to.

1500 seems more than reasonable to properly assemble an engine and RR it at a typical labor rate...
 
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I supplied a street performance cam from a fresh blank bought directly from the grinder. I actually have the one they pulled since I had considered sending it for a regrind.

Cams like this need a real break in with a high zinc oil (about 1800 ppm) at about 2000-2500 rpm for about 20 min right after starting the engine. If they used good ol 10w30 (or other non break in oil) and let it idle this part is suspect for sure.
 

bunnspecial

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Cams like this need a real break in with a high zinc oil (about 1800 ppm) at about 2000-2500 rpm for about 20 min right after starting the engine. If they used good ol 10w30 (or other non break in oil) and let it idle this part is suspect for sure.

They showed me a bulk drum labeled SAE 30 "Break in oil" that they use. I wasn't there for break-in, but they told me they do ~15 minutes right up to 2K and vary between 2K and 3K, then cool down and do another 15 minutes with the same procedure. That's followed by an oil change, then some low-speed around town driving followed by interstate driving.

I asked about that since I've had it drilled into me that the first 20 minutes or so of operation basically dictate how the next 100K miles or so will go on a flat tappet.

The two 15 minute runs were done, then around town. It fell apart when they went to take it out for the interstate run.
 
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Bit of a devil's advocate here:)

This is a tough one. Finding someone to work on these vehicles is not that easy, finding folks who can competently and acceptably work on them to ones' standard is much, much harder. Add in that the shop is willing to let you source and pay directly for some of the project and this may be a relationship worth saving. That said, I would be concerned and very irritated by the missed deadlines.

I would see them again and very clearly state your expectations; a complete and honest status of the car as it sits now, open issues and when the car will be finished. If you don't get the warm and fuzzies after this talk...then by all means move on quickly.

I don't use shops that often, but I am lucky, no make that blessed, to have a friend who owns a renowned Rover independent shop that works on most oddball stuff and am near a very good Porsche indy. Even then, I've had missed deadlines and the occasional charge that we have discussions over. I will gladly deal with the occasional hiccup to have folks work on my oddball (and that is key) cars who I trust and do capable work.

Also, sometimes s%&t just happens.... Just had our airplane down for 3 mos waiting on a part. After it was finally done, it is still not flying right, safe, but the rudder trim (one of the items we had noted) was off. Back and forth again, few test flights and another month. Mechanic is in contact w/ the manufacturer, drawings sent, etc. I then get a call that basically said 'we reassembled something wrong, it is a complicated component, this may have been wrong since you owned it but I cannot say and I'm not charging you.... He, the mechanic I've used for 19 years, had ~15hrs into the trim job. He gets a very nice holiday bottle or something.
 
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bunnspecial

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Bit of a devil's advocate here:)

This is a tough one. Finding someone to work on these vehicles is not that easy, finding folks who can competently and acceptably work on them to ones' standard is much, much harder. Add in that the shop is willing to let you source and pay directly for some of the project and this may be a relationship worth saving. That said, I would be concerned and very irritated by the missed deadlines.

I would see them again and very clearly state your expectations; a complete and honest status of the car as it sits now, open issues and when the car will be finished. If you don't get the warm and fuzzies after this talk...then by all means move on quickly.

I don't use shops that often, but I am lucky, no make that blessed, to have a friend who owns a renowned Rover independent shop that works on most oddball stuff and am near a very good Porsche indy. Even then, I've had missed deadlines and the occasional charge that we have discussions over. I will gladly deal with the occasional hiccup to have folks work on my oddball (and that is key) cars who I trust and do capable work.

Also, sometimes s%&t just happens.... Just had our airplane down for 3 mos waiting on a part. After it was finally done, it is still not flying right, safe, but the rudder trim (one of the items we had noted) was off. Back and forth again, few test flights and another month. Mechanic is in contact w/ the manufacturer, drawings sent, etc. I then get a call that basically said 'we reassembled something wrong, it is a complicated component, this may have been wrong since you owned it but I cannot say and I'm not charging you.... He, the mechanic I've used for 19 years, had ~15hrs into the trim job. He gets a very nice holiday bottle or something.

I've been sitting on this reply for a while, and you address some things that I've kind of side-stepped.

For one thing, I've been asked how good of a friend he actually is. He's a family friend, and yes we do interact social(those two relationships are kind of intertwined and convoluted, but such is the case with a lot of small town friendships).

Someone alluded to perhaps things going on in his personal life. Again, I know more than I care to mention here or really is my business to tell, but yes he has told me a lot about what's going on including some recent deaths and some strained relationships that came out of that. He also has some chronic health issues. Again, this is all stuff that I know and don't really want to get into.

To add to all of that, he really truly is a good hearted person, but unfortunately that can be a business detriment to his customers and I'm not the only one it's caused frustration for. As an example, it's not unheard of for a person to drop by with their 1997 Neon held together with duct tape and bailing wire with a dead alternator and he'll fix it(sometimes just for the cost of the part, sometimes no charge at all, or sometimes seriously discounted labor) so they can get to work that afternoon. He'll hire folks in need of a job to do odd jobs around the shop, although customers' cars only get worked on by either him or the other mechanic in his shop. There's more that I can go into, and I respect all of that and give him a pass for some of the delays(particularly since I don't HAVE to have my car) but at the same time my patience is wearing thin.

He does outstanding work, and when he's done things in the past I've basically always built in a cushion of a couple of weeks over the agreed deadline. I know things come up in any shop that delay a job getting done, and ultimately shops want cars out the door so they have space for the next job. Still, though, with the other mechanic I use, "I'll have it by Friday" usually means Wednesday or Thursday, and if something delays it I'll get a call explaining exactly why(part on backorder, etc). With this guy, "I'll have it by Friday" means maybe this Friday, or maybe some Friday next month.

As of now, my last communication was Sunday when he said he'd check the spark plug wires. He hasn't answered calls or texts since then. so again my patience is running very thin. Part of me wants to yank my car out, but part of me wants to see him through to the end even if that means that the engine has to come back apart. Since I'm now 300 miles away, I can't pop in and see what's going on...
 
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To me, if you still trust him to do excellent work AND you want to give it one more try, I would sit down with him and discuss the matter very frankly. I wish I could teach you a conflict resolution technique called active listening (Google it). It's a method that you steer the person to resolve "their" problem (timely repair of your car), which in turn solves your problem.

Best of luck on this.
 
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202
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Rahui Pokeka Aotearoa
I supplied a street performance cam from a fresh blank bought directly from the grinder. I actually have the one they pulled since I had considered sending it for a regrind.
Reminds me of when I fitted a 4.2 XJ6 engine into a MkII Jag, converting it to LHD at the time also as it was being exported. The carbs had been rebuilt a few years earlier, but were not good, and I was having issues getting it to run nice. I rang my mate who rebuilt the engine and asked if there was a performance cam fitted - ''Of course!'' he said, ''I was wondering when you would ask !'' I think he needs to take a closer look at the parts you have supplied - cams, carbs, head...they are not working together.

The story with the Jag got worse, I sent it to the carb shop for it to be set up correctly, on the dyno the trans failed, went to the trans shop, back to the carb shop - then into a container and out of the country ! There was never any problem with my work or payment, but it took a long time to get that money as the owner was overseas, and I no longer had the vehicle in my possession.
 

bunnspecial

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I think he needs to take a closer look at the parts you have supplied - cams, carbs, head...they are not working together.

The cam+head+C/R "formula" all came from one reputable engine builder, and even though it's not stock it's a common set-up. That same engine builder supplied the head and also rebuilt the carbs. I should have had him just build the entire engine, although at the time he was 6 months backlogged. In retrospect...well that's where I am now.

In any case, the cam card gave valve clearances(.016 cold, a tiny bit wider than a stock cam) along with the cam timing. The "formula" supplier said to run the same ignition timing as on a stock MGB-32º BTDC max mechanical-and the distributor is correctly curved with the correct vac can for this configuration.

Aside from that, there again there were no secrets about the parts. The exact specs of the cam fitted are known, we have a ballpark value for C/R(9.5:1) and it could be calculated exactly since I know chamber volumes that were supplied with the head and we know piston volume and stroke.
 
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If you want to absolve him, do so ( its within your decision rights) but your attempt to "justify" his actions falls short on the merits to any reasonable 3rd party observer.

but yes he has told me a lot about what's going on including some recent deaths and some strained relationships that came out of that. He also has some chronic health issues. Again, this is all stuff that I know and don't really want to get into.
Fair enough and its nobody's business but the reality is- nothing is happening to him that hasn't happened to anyone else. Got to man up and deal with it. Also your own post said where his shop manager called his hand and obviously it doesn't seem to effect the "whole" of the business- just YOU.

There's more that I can go into, and I respect all of that and give him a pass for some of the delays(particularly since I don't HAVE to have my car) but at the same time my patience is wearing thin.

Good hearted or not doesn't play into this. He has made commitments and frequently made the conscious decision to NOT adhere to them. Then he avoids conversations ( a clear indicator of consciousness of guilt)

As of now, my last communication was Sunday when he said he'd check the spark plug wires. He hasn't answered calls or texts since then. so again my patience is running very thin. Part of me wants to yank my car out, but part of me wants to see him through to the end even if that means that the engine has to come back apart. Since I'm now 300 miles away, I can't pop in and see what's going on...

Its your situation and your decision but my unsolicited recommendation is for you to get your head out of your 4th point of contact and look at this whole thing objectively without all the emotional baggage.

HE has made his decision and position crystal clear and in no uncertain terms. ( he has been consistent)

You need to stop making excuses and turn off your "suspension of disbelief" and handle this appropriately like you would with any other vendor.

Its the definition of insanity at this point.
 
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202
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Rahui Pokeka Aotearoa
The cam+head+C/R "formula" all came from one reputable engine builder, and even though it's not stock it's a common set-up. That same engine builder supplied the head and also rebuilt the carbs. I should have had him just build the entire engine, although at the time he was 6 months backlogged. In retrospect...well that's where I am now.

In any case, the cam card gave valve clearances(.016 cold, a tiny bit wider than a stock cam) along with the cam timing. The "formula" supplier said to run the same ignition timing as on a stock MGB-32º BTDC max mechanical-and the distributor is correctly curved with the correct vac can for this configuration.

Aside from that, there again there were no secrets about the parts. The exact specs of the cam fitted are known, we have a ballpark value for C/R(9.5:1) and it could be calculated exactly since I know chamber volumes that were supplied with the head and we know piston volume and stroke.
Have you seen it running ? Put a vacuum gauge on it - I bet it reads low.
 
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338
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Reno, Nevada
I feel your pain. I’ve had some bad experiences but nothing that dragged out this long. It’s not 100% clear to me if this mechanic is also the shop owner? If not I think it’s time to take this problem upstairs. BBB is pretty much useless but might help to get this guy’s attention.

You’ve been patient and bent over backwards so far that you’re now bending over forward. Nothing else has worked so it’s time to start filing formal complaints. He very clearly is not your friend so no worries about alienating him. Maybe not take the gloves completely off but he needs to realize that his life might start getting unpleasant if he doesn’t get your car running right and back to you. Just don’t do anything drastic that might get you in trouble.
 
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