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Thread: Engine rebuild update

  1. #1
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    Engine rebuild update

    My Sky Hawk has been at Thomas Engine Rebuilders in Deer Park LI for five months. Although I have no previous experience with this, it seems like an extraordinarily long time. While there were two cars ahead of mine, and it's a small shop with only three machinists, this still seems like a long time. They say that the reason is that they keep discovering problems which may have contributed to the engine's failure, though there's still no definitive answer to that. The have given me old parts upon my request, and the company has been in business for thirty years. Reviews are mostly very positive and there appears to be no unresolved complaints against that although I plan to investigate further. Removing the car and engine and taking it somewhere else to finish it isn't feasible, and neither is shipping it to someplace across the country on the recommendation of some of our members.The feeling of being helpless and at their mercy is very discomforting. thoughts?
    peter lee

  2. #2
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    not a new development. many shops "tie up" projects when better money comes their way, or more money comes their way. Be patient... others will chime in...

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    I rebuilt a carry in engine, out of the car, in 2 weeks. Including machine shop work, cleaning, boring, heads resurfaced and seats done, and 8 rods recondition.

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    Peter -

    What is their excuse for not getting on it, getting it done ?
    It's "really" not a big deal, it's just an internal combustion engine. The biggest thing to watch for is that pesky hidden pipe plug in the distributor housing in the block. That has nothing to do with the machining..!

    Mike

  5. #5
    Silver Hawk Member jclary's Avatar
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    Peter, I can identify with your concern. In addition to your legitimate questions regarding the "time" involved, is something I call "Separation Anxiety." Heck, when I'm out with my Studebaker, I don't like eating at a restaurant where there is no windows for me to keep an eye on my vehicle. Add to that, the fact that you have pretty much lost this "enjoyment season," and the disappointment is compounded.

    There is something to the old saying "squeaky wheel get the grease," but, as we know, especially those of us with "edgy independent mechanic" personalities, it's all about the approach. But, I will defer to you in how you interact with the folks you are paying. Perhaps, your best "humility hat," and an in-person visit (with a box of donuts) to inspect progress? Or, a question you would never hear from a CASO like me..."How much extra would you charge to "speed things up?"

    Whatever happens, my hope is that you get your money's worth, and future posts will be about the great times you are having with a good running car!
    John Clary
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  6. #6
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    Can only offer condolences. Slow service, large bills, and indifferent workmanship have become the rule. Establishments with previously good reps are not exempt. I've heard of this kind of ransomming before. Best thing is get it out and find a reputable mechanic by asking SDC members. If you have too much trouble with them--see a lawyer. A few experiences with shysters might help them clean up their act.

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    People who want to be in the old car hobby, but are not able to do their own work (for multiple reasons) are at a clear disadvantage when service is required. And service on old cars should always be thought of as "when", not "if".

    This shop is clearly not working on your car. Let's say they spent 1 day pulling the engine. Another day to disassemble the engine. Yet another day (thinking an 8 hour work day) to clean and measure the parts. Let's say they had to outsource some work, like magnafluxing parts to ensure no cracks exist....one week should have covered the logistics of getting them out the door and back. Let's also assume machine work to the block, crank, heads, rods (unless you really blew this thing up, we'll leave the cam out of the calculation) takes another 2 weeks. We've now spent 3 weeks and 3 days labor or services on your car. It will be interesting to see how your shop explains how they have been able to spread 3 weeks into 5 months.
    Lots-o-luck
    Mike Sal

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    5 month's is a very long time for an engine overhaul. I work at a restoration - hot rod shop on the weekends and a complete body off nut and bolt resto take's on average 2 years.

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    We used to have an engine shop locally called RPM Engineering. They had three or four machinists and did great work at fair prices. So good in fact, that they were the go to shop for many of the local race teams. If I took my engine in at the wrong time of year, you could wait six months as the race work came first.

    The difference was, they were up front about the time frame. They always suggested the best time was late in the year when budgets were used up and next years money was not yet set.

    Then they could turn around a block, crank and heads in a couple of weeks. That didn't include assembly. I did my own.

    It could be something like that but IIWM, I'd have a discussion about a time line and how they would meet it. Otherwise, you may never see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Bob
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    I'm jealous....my frame off resto project has been dragging along so long.....sure glad I'm not paying myself to have it done in a reasonable about of time.....

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    Don't be jealous Mike .. my last nut and bolt ,polish ,chrome , powder coat ,paint ,buff etc. Hot Rod was a six year project. I just sold it after owning it 25 years... The stuff I build now I drive the crap out of every day But there are still a lot of folks willing to pay craftsmen to build bad ass cars..thank goodness

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lumpy View Post
    5 month's is a very long time for an engine overhaul. I work at a restoration - hot rod shop on the weekends and a complete body off nut and bolt resto take's on average 2 years.
    My car took at least three years to be fully restored, including the engine. BTW, it's "months" and "takes" without the apostrophe.
    peter lee

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sal View Post
    I'm jealous....my frame off resto project has been dragging along so long.....sure glad I'm not paying myself to have it done in a reasonable about of time.....
    My body-off-frame (how do you take a frame off a body?) resto took at least three years. I had agreed to buy it at about the halfway point and had to wait a year and a half for it to be done, and even then there were some issues.
    peter lee

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    It took me 7 years on my E45.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jclary View Post
    Peter, I can identify with your concern. In addition to your legitimate questions regarding the "time" involved, is something I call "Separation Anxiety." Heck, when I'm out with my Studebaker, I don't like eating at a restaurant where there is no windows for me to keep an eye on my vehicle. Add to that, the fact that you have pretty much lost this "enjoyment season," and the disappointment is compounded.

    There is something to the old saying "squeaky wheel get the grease," but, as we know, especially those of us with "edgy independent mechanic" personalities, it's all about the approach. But, I will defer to you in how you interact with the folks you are paying. Perhaps, your best "humility hat," and an in-person visit (with a box of donuts) to inspect progress? Or, a question you would never hear from a CASO like me..."How much extra would you charge to "speed things up?"

    Whatever happens, my hope is that you get your money's worth, and future posts will be about the great times you are having with a good running car!
    I've showed up at the shop a few times, but as it's an hour's drive away it's not something I care to do very often. If I did, at this point If I'd show up at opening and wait the whole day and be as annoying as possible which, if you ask people who know me, I am very adept. I haven't figured out what's the best approach.
    peter lee

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    That's OK, Jim... I still don't have the glass installed that I got from you. Looks like my '58 Transtar V8 Auto is gonna take a while.

  17. #17
    Speedster Member RDWEAVER's Avatar
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    I took mine to a very well known race engine builder an hour away from me. That was the end of November last year. The agreement was it was to be ready by "spring". Well, spring came and went and so did most of the summer. I stayed in touch by telephone a couple of times over the winter. Then when spring came I made the excuse to come and get the oil pan for painting and then a couple weeks later the valve covers. He knew I wanted it done by the end of July when he finally finished it up. He offered to deliver it after the break-in and dyno tune and I told him that would be fine with me. He delivered it at no charge. The way he worked was everybody's machine work together. That is to say he ground cranks and balanced engines for two weeks. Then he did 8 or 10 sets of heads all at once. I suppose he has been doing this long enough he knows about what he can charge the customer. Once when I went there he had 5 identical aluminum big block Chevy engines all with blowers on them on 5 engine stands. He just got done assembling all of them and he said they were all 5 going in a tractor. In my case, I'm pretty sure I had the cheapest engine he built for the year. The tractor pull guy probably spent 10 times as much with him. But because the bill was less he gave me the same quality. He did all he said he would do and more and I don't have any complaints except it took longer than we agreed upon. I think my Studebaker might have been considered not as important by him and that is why he skipped over mine for somebody else's engine. It's too bad you missed most of the season but hopefully you can at least find satisfaction like I did in their workmanship.

  18. #18
    Golden Hawk Member StudeRich's Avatar
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    It is definitely TIME to have a serious Talk with this Guy to find out EXACTLY why it has taken him 5 Months to do 2 Weeks worth of work, AND it STILL must be barely STARTED!

    If there is some unusual "Problem" with the block or some part he should have called to tell you if you need another.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner




  19. #19
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    Five months to rebuild a Studebaker engine is nuts. There is no issue finding parts unless there is a problem with the block or crankshaft and there is no secret machine work that is necessary. I would be having a serious discussion with the shop owner if they took more that a few weeks to rebuild an engine for me. The shop that does the machine work for me never takes more than a week or 10 days to get everything back to me and reassembly of the new and machined parts shouldn't take more than a couple of days. Bud

  20. #20
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    If the car and engine are reasonably intact, I'd pull it and start over with another shop, I might not do that if the shop has engine parts, car parts scattered all over the place. In that case, you're likely better off sticking with the shop. You are definitely not a priority. If I get a bad vibe off a shop or service, I'm outta there. Trust your gut. Pull it, find another shop, get much better assurances from the new crew, and chalk it up to lesson learned.

  21. #21
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    At the very least, find someone from your local Studebaker chapter who is a knowledgeable mechanic to take with you to visit this shop. Another set of eyes will be very helpful in getting to the bottom of the problem and possibly a short term solution.
    Mike Sal

  22. #22
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    I got a call from the shop saying that the radiator was not cooling properly and also the temp gauge, both ow which would have lead to overheating. Previously I did see rust spots on the head gasket. It was explained to me that at excessively high temperatures engine oil becomes like water and that would account for the burnt bearings. This was discovered on a test drive, so obviously the engine's back in the car. Previous to that conversation I visited a highly touted engine shop not to far away, and the guy never showed up and there was a political sign in the vestibule which I found disturbing. Not that any of this is a political issue, but I felt that this kind of person would be difficult to deal with. At this point i feel that I'm going to let them finish it, as they include a three-year warranty on their work which I would lose If I didn't let them finish. Stay tuned for the latest.
    peter lee

  23. #23
    Speedster Member Endl98's Avatar
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    A better choice would of been bob at ACE crankshaft in deer park. I don't know where you are. But he is in deer park as well and is the go to guy . There are lots of rebuilders out here , I use Merkel for most my big cube performance engines and I had Richie a PCHS hand port my R2 heads with Tom Covingtons port specs. built my stude R2 myself.
    Last edited by Endl98; 10-14-2017 at 09:22 AM.
    1 Family owned 63 Studebaker Avanti 63r-1705 White with Orange interior , R2 4 speed.
    Just purchased 63r-3623 R2 was a auto now dressed to a R3 with a4speed.

  24. #24
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    At least the engine's back in the car and driven which is how the cooling issue was discovered. I want to get that first 1,000 miles on it and the oil changed so I can drive on parkways and expressways. Winter is not that far off and then I may not be able to drive it at all.
    peter lee

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    Update: I stopped by the shop and the installed a new fan but new it needs a new mounting plate to be made. Now I understand why it's taking so long. The manager shmoozes with people when he isn't doing managerial tasks. There's only two other men and one moves around like a zombie needing a GPS. There are both car and boat engines engines littering the shop floor. In some ways it reminds me of film making, where if you have to change the lighting or the camera angle everything else stops. My concern now is that we are closing in on winter and the attendant bad driving weather and the driveway will have to be dug out just to get the car in it. Any later than that, I'll be approaching that time when your family has "that talk"; you know the one, where they ask for your car keys shortly after you mow down two pumps at the Shell station?
    peter lee

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by plee4139 View Post
    Update: I stopped by the shop and the installed a new fan but new it needs a new mounting plate to be made. Now I understand why it's taking so long. The manager shmoozes with people when he isn't doing managerial tasks. There's only two other men and one moves around like a zombie needing a GPS. There are both car and boat engines engines littering the shop floor. In some ways it reminds me of film making, where if you have to change the lighting or the camera angle everything else stops. My concern now is that we are closing in on winter and the attendant bad driving weather and the driveway will have to be dug out just to get the car in it. Any later than that, I'll be approaching that time when your family has "that talk"; you know the one, where they ask for your car keys shortly after you mow down two pumps at the Shell station?


    Have you actually talked to the guys at the shop about the timeline issues? That might be more productive than complaining about them here.
    Last edited by mbstude; 10-30-2017 at 07:27 PM.

  27. #27
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    Yes I have discussed it with the manager, and his response is that they keep finding new issues.
    peter lee

  28. #28
    Silver Hawk Member studeclunker's Avatar
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    Looks to me you are stuck with these people at this point. Keep after them. By your description they need to be supervised. Your description of the reputation is a classic example of a shop that was either sold, or the son took over after the father and is a layabout. Squeaky wheel principle is going to have to be applied here, I would think. Just keep it as friendly and yet firm as possible.
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    Where the heck is Fawn Lodge, CA?

  29. #29
    Golden Hawk Member StudeRich's Avatar
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    You need to have him EXPLAIN exactly WHAT are these "Issues".

    Cracked Block?
    Cracked Heads?
    He bored it the wrong Size?
    He did the valves wrong?
    He screwed up the Valve Guide installation?

    Some "Issues" can be fixed, some are a lot harder or impossible to fix and you may need a replacement Block, Crank or Heads. He just needs to TELL you!

    Have you actually SEEN your Parts? If not ask to see them, they may not even be there, then you can SEE these "Issues".

  30. #30
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    After six months, we are apparently down to the proverbial wire, except that it isn't a wire, it's a hose. Radiator hose, thermostat, and housing are all a mismatch, and are being brought to spec. Even the restorer is getting antsy as many other people want to get their cars in the shop. It seems that the cause of all this misery (and expense) was a cooling system failure, as rusty water was found on the head gasket, causing the engine to run hot, thin out the oil, and cause the main bearings to fail. That's actually good news, as I was afraid it was caused by my putting Ripple (or was it Boone's Farm?) in the radiator. It was dark out and I was tired and well, you know...
    peter lee

  31. #31
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plee4139 View Post
    Radiator hose, thermostat, and housing are all a mismatch, and are being brought to spec....
    I hope you realize you are talking about a 1/2 day thing here, not a big deal. Assuming the block was tanked during the rebuild, there are not a lot of things left in the cooling system that will cause problems that can't be sorted in an hour or two. If the radiator is blocked, that should have been determined at removal time, not this late in the game, but in any case, a couple days for a rebuild should completely refurbish that. A thermostat and hose is a 5 minute stop at the local flaps. About the only thing that might delay a day or two is if the water pump is shot, and with a complete rebuild, I'd have thought they'd have replaced that as a matter of course! So, for my money, you are just being jacked around by a dishonest shop.

    (Back to my nap.)
    Corley

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by plee4139 View Post
    After six months, we are apparently down to the proverbial wire, except that it isn't a wire, it's a hose. Radiator hose, thermostat, and housing are all a mismatch, and are being brought to spec. Even the restorer is getting antsy as many other people want to get their cars in the shop. It seems that the cause of all this misery (and expense) was a cooling system failure, as rusty water was found on the head gasket, causing the engine to run hot, thin out the oil, and cause the main bearings to fail. That's actually good news, as I was afraid it was caused by my putting Ripple (or was it Boone's Farm?) in the radiator. It was dark out and I was tired and well, you know...
    Didn't you observe your gauges while driving the car? I think that the car would boil over before the oil got thin enough to cause severe problems.
    To me, it seems more like you had a head gasket failure and kept driving the car until you had other failures.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post
    Didn't you observe your gauges while driving the car? I think that the car would boil over before the oil got thin enough to cause severe problems.
    To me, it seems more like you had a head gasket failure and kept driving the car until you had other failures.
    Part of the problem is that the gauge wasn't working properly, so I had no way of knowing it was running too hot.
    peter lee

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corley View Post
    I hope you realize you are talking about a 1/2 day thing here, not a big deal. Assuming the block was tanked during the rebuild, there are not a lot of things left in the cooling system that will cause problems that can't be sorted in an hour or two. If the radiator is blocked, that should have been determined at removal time, not this late in the game, but in any case, a couple days for a rebuild should completely refurbish that. A thermostat and hose is a 5 minute stop at the local flaps. About the only thing that might delay a day or two is if the water pump is shot, and with a complete rebuild, I'd have thought they'd have replaced that as a matter of course! So, for my money, you are just being jacked around by a dishonest shop.

    (Back to my nap.)
    I disagree about being "Jacked around" as he showed me a list of customers waiting to have their engines worked on. Also, because the parts were mismatched, and then wrong parts were sent as well, delays resulted, so it's not just a matter of the time it takes to install them.
    peter lee

  35. #35
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    Looks like he doesn't need to make any excuses, as he has you to do it for him. When he runs over you, don't neglect to call out to him to back over you also, 'cause he missed a spot. :-p

  36. #36
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    Assuming I ever get my car back, I want to put a high-quality and correct gas in it. What does everyone else use
    peter lee

  37. #37
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    I try to only use gas without the 10% corn crap in it, and I add 4 ounces of Marvel Mystery Oil to each 10 gallons.

  38. #38
    President Member 345 DeSoto's Avatar
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    Alcohol free regular...

  39. #39
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    I suspect that on Long Island you will not be able to find any ethanol-free gasoline. If that is true, any name-brand regular gas will do fine. Would suggest that you add Sta-bil for winter storage, and some brand of anti-alcohol additive all year round. There are many different brands, and I'll allow others to suggest their favorites. Fuel blends sold during winter tend to evaporate and deteriorate more quickly than those sold during the warmer months.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Lackie View Post
    I suspect that on Long Island you will not be able to find any ethanol-free gasoline. If that is true, any name-brand regular gas will do fine. Would suggest that you add Sta-bil for winter storage, and some brand of anti-alcohol additive all year round. There are many different brands, and I'll allow others to suggest their favorites. Fuel blends sold during winter tend to evaporate and deteriorate more quickly than those sold during the warmer months.
    I agree with Skip but I'll add one caveat - Marina's around here pump ETOH free gasoline. It requires 5 gal cans but you might find it available there in your area. We have a couple of station that handle 89 octane ETOH free gas so I don't need the marina trick.

    Bob
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