Shop "trouble"...any advice?

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1,967
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USA
I'm afraid this may end up in court, but so be it.

Lets hope not but honestly I have suspected from the beginning that there is some degree of dishonesty on this guys part regarding your vehicle.

The entire operation ( the rebuild) is too straight up and well understood for the level of drama he has caused you.
 
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35,444
Location
NY
After running it by a college friend who's a lawyer licensed in Kentucky(my home state, and where the car is) he said there were some holes and suggested having him write it if I wanted to go that route. The holes he pointed out were in an unofficial capacity, but said he wouldn't bill me a ton to draft it and send it.

On his suggestion, I have communicated my firm intention to retrieve the car on Dec. 21s at 10:00AM via a message on Facebook that was acknowledged with an "I think I know the problem with it and will get right on it, so that's no problem." At least communication is sparse but open. My received advice now is that if I do attempt to retrieve the car and for whatever reason am not able to, then we can work on getting it back.

Fortunately if we were to end up in arbitration/court, I at least have written and acknowledged Facebook messages discussing timelines and amounts paid, so I have that on my side if he retaliates. I'm afraid this may end up in court, but so be it.
Now stick to the deadline, no extensions, and no compromising. If the car isn't back by the deadline and running properly, take legal action. This has gone on long enough. Good luck!
 

bunnspecial

Thread starter
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1,488
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US
And, after a few other unsuccessful attempt at contact after receiving an "I think I know what's wrong" message, I finally get a response today that the owner is in the hospital.

I am sympathetic to him personally, but he has other mechanics in the shop(including the one who actually did the assembly) and he's also had 8 months to get this done. It's looking increasingly likely that I'm going to be moving it not under its own power on the 21st, but so be it. All I can hope is that it's truly just a tuning issue that I can sort out and not something nefarious. Regardless, I need to get my car out of there one way or another.
 
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124
After running it by a college friend who's a lawyer licensed in Kentucky(my home state, and where the car is) he said there were some holes and suggested having him write it if I wanted to go that route. The holes he pointed out were in an unofficial capacity, but said he wouldn't bill me a ton to draft it and send it.

On his suggestion, I have communicated my firm intention to retrieve the car on Dec. 21s at 10:00AM via a message on Facebook that was acknowledged with an "I think I know the problem with it and will get right on it, so that's no problem." At least communication is sparse but open. My received advice now is that if I do attempt to retrieve the car and for whatever reason am not able to, then we can work on getting it back.

Fortunately if we were to end up in arbitration/court, I at least have written and acknowledged Facebook messages discussing timelines and amounts paid, so I have that on my side if he retaliates. I'm afraid this may end up in court, but so be it.
I'm afraid this place is just stalling for time trying to keep you off your guard, I bet he's lying his butt off with this comment.
 
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1,967
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USA
I am sympathetic to him personally, but he has other mechanics in the shop(including the one who actually did the assembly) and he's also had 8 months to get this done.
I wish no ill either yet I find the timing of this "alleged hospitalization" suspect- as you stated, that doesn't cover the last 8 months and really doesn't apply since this is a shop scenario and not him directly doing all the work. (I presume the shop is still open for business?)

I think it best at this point to secure official counsel and follow his advice
 

bunnspecial

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US
I've been in communication with my college friend this morning. He's turning me over to someone else in his firm that's a bit more experienced in this and also because his firm has a policy against friend/family representation. On advice, I won't be providing any further updates until-at the earliest-the car is back in my possession.

The warning signs were there all along and I ignored them. In retrospect, I should have just bit the bullet, rented a hoist, yanked it myself and called it a day. It would have been very inconvenient, but at the same time even accounting for backlogged machine shops I could have had this done in July and ready to go. I was furloughed all summer, after all, and even though I was working on moving then I still could have found the time. Worst case, I could have strapped it to a pallet and shipped or driven it up to Pennsylvania to the guy who sold me the new head and also guided me on the parts for for his "street performance" formula(cam+CR+street head porting). If I end up yanking it now, it may well get shipped up to him, or I may just have him build me one from an on-hand core.
 
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1,967
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USA
On advice, I won't be providing any further updates until-at the earliest-the car is back in my possession.
That's the correct answer. Every case I have ever been involved with- the first and foremost instruction from every attorney is SU and don't even speak of the case.

Don't beat yourself up, you made a good faith judgement that was abused against you. You have plenty of company (myself included)
 

pbm

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8,833
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New York
I think hiring a lawyer was the best move you've made so far...I'm guessing he'll use COVID as an excuse/defense.

A Church that operates out of an auto repair shop where the 'associate pastor' turns wrenches among other duties....wow...
 

bunnspecial

Thread starter
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1,488
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US
Well, I picked the car up this evening with a handshake and an agreement that we were square on price.

Drove it back to my parents house(about 5 miles) with my wife following and the car was a dog. With my foot buried in it, I had a hard time getting to 40mph. I was running down a 55mph road in 3rd gear hoping I could just keep going. I also could not get it to idle.

Get home, pop the hood, and plug wires 2 and 3 are reversed, something I'd mentioned to them a half dozen times(the distributor turns CCW, and of course 1-3-4-2 as on any 4 cylinder, so it's not an uncommon mistake if you're use to CW distributors and don't pay attention). In any case, I reverse them and it won't start at all.

I sat on it a few minutes, then went back out. When reassembling, it's easy to drop the distributor in in any orientation, although we usually consider "correct" on this car for #1 TDC to be the top right when looking down at the distributor. I start moving plug wires around, and finally when I put #1 on lower left(and the rest following in order) the car came to life with the most ferocious roar I've ever heard from it.

I hopped in for a test drive, and I could not hold the car back. I pulled out of my parents subdivision and was at 60mph without even realizing it. I've never driven a 4 cylinder MGB that drives like this-it was phenomenal.

I'll go through valves, timing, and mixture tomorrow morning, and we'll see how confident I feel to drive it back to St. Louis.
 
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229
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Rahui Pokeka Aotearoa
The dizzy has an offset dog, so only goes in one way...but the gear drive from the camshaft can go in anywhere it likes. Seems like a pretty dumb basic mistake...assemble an engine and just get the firing order wrong ? BTW, Fords are 1432.
 

bunnspecial

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The dizzy has an offset dog, so only goes in one way...but the gear drive from the camshaft can go in anywhere it likes. Seems like a pretty dumb basic mistake...assemble an engine and just get the firing order wrong ? BTW, Fords are 1432.

Yeah, I did a poor job(really poor job) of explaining it. As you said the offset dog will only let the shaft engage in one position. When you're dropping what I'm calling the drive gear, but I think is actually called the drive spindle(IIRC the "drive gear" is on the camshaft) the workshop manual tells you how to get it "correct" but at the end of the day it doesn't matter as long as you know. It's going to bug me to have it off like this, so I'll fix it, but it works for now.

And yes, I'm really, really shocked that they've been farting around since November with the firing order wrong and am not surprised that it never ran right. It's even more incomprehensible since when they were having trouble, I suggested checking that.

I'm tempted to take it back and say "okay, tune it now" but I've kind of lost faith in them.

I'm trying to wrap my head around how a 1-4-3-2 order would work. If it used the conventional crank layout of 1 and 4 then 2 and 3 moving together, would that not put 4 at BDC? Otherwise, are 1 and 4 moving in opposite directions? In my head, that would make for worse balance, but then I don't design these things.
 
Messages
229
Location
Rahui Pokeka Aotearoa
Duh, yeah - 1 2 4 3. That puts 1 and 4 on tdc. That's the ''Kent'' engine which was very common here. You can have number 1 where ever you like, but in the right place is better. I built plenty of those engines - just a quick squizz with the dizzy and drop the drive in, a tooth off is neither here or there. If you have a copper vacuum pipe, you need the dizzy in the right place so you don't have to bend it too much.

Anyway, great to see it running...and let us know how it goes after a bit of tweaking.
 
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5,904
Location
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Well, I picked the car up this evening with a handshake and an agreement that we were square on price.

Drove it back to my parents house(about 5 miles) with my wife following and the car was a dog. With my foot buried in it, I had a hard time getting to 40mph. I was running down a 55mph road in 3rd gear hoping I could just keep going. I also could not get it to idle.

Get home, pop the hood, and plug wires 2 and 3 are reversed, something I'd mentioned to them a half dozen times(the distributor turns CCW, and of course 1-3-4-2 as on any 4 cylinder, so it's not an uncommon mistake if you're use to CW distributors and don't pay attention). In any case, I reverse them and it won't start at all.

I sat on it a few minutes, then went back out. When reassembling, it's easy to drop the distributor in in any orientation, although we usually consider "correct" on this car for #1 TDC to be the top right when looking down at the distributor. I start moving plug wires around, and finally when I put #1 on lower left(and the rest following in order) the car came to life with the most ferocious roar I've ever heard from it.

I hopped in for a test drive, and I could not hold the car back. I pulled out of my parents subdivision and was at 60mph without even realizing it. I've never driven a 4 cylinder MGB that drives like this-it was phenomenal.

I'll go through valves, timing, and mixture tomorrow morning, and we'll see how confident I feel to drive it back to St. Louis.

Have you watched any Auto Auction Rebuilds Youtube channel videos on his MG? You might be able to give him some advice.
 
Messages
1,528
Location
California
I wonder if this business owner took advantage of your friendship, knowing you would be understanding when deadlines are not met.
And I wonder if they would do this to any other normal customer.
 

bunnspecial

Thread starter
Messages
1,488
Location
US
So, made the 300 mile trek from Central KY to St. Louis today with my wife following. The engine is still definitely breaking in, but oil consumption went WAY down in the second half of the trip so I think the rings have adequately seated.

Otherwise, though, not really a lick of trouble. I spent some time this morning-before we left-getting the carbs dialed in a little better since they were SUPER lean. At our one pit stop halfway through, I added a quart of oil, tweaked the carbs a bit, and went on my way. Back home now, it's lost about another 1/3 quart(eyeballing) in the past 150 miles, so that seems good. I'm chasing a vacuum leak somewhere since my idle was still ~1500 with the screws all the way off, but the carbs are coming off tomorrow anyway as the linkages are set up in a way that they're functional but not-to me-correct. It also didn't want to idle back down well coming off the gas. That's all stuff the shop should have fixed, but I'll take getting my car back since, TBH, I've worked on these carbs enough that I can set them up and tune them in my sleep. Of course I need to dial in the timing a bit better also-I didn't have a timing light with me, so did a quick and dirty static time just good enough to get me home(although they did at least get that close).

I picked the car up on good terms, and hope the mechanic will remain my friend but he most certainly will not get any further business from me.

Also, overdrive gets two thumbs up from me! It's so nice to cruise down the highway at 70mph and 3000rpms...
 
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