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  • "Rebuilt" engine- a lesson learned

    When speaking of engines, we frequently hear descrpitives like "rebuilt" or "refurbed" or "refreshed" or the like. But these terms are ambiguous at best.

    In my work I look at listings for hundreds of collector cars every week. It is very common to see cars described as "restored" to "all original". Of course, those definitions can mean any number of different things to different folks. But what about a "rebuilt" engine?

    The following story is true, but no names will be mentioned; that's not the point of the story.

    Several years back I bought a Studebaker engine from a well-known vendor. It was a special engine that I bought for a special project I had planned. The engine was sold to me on what I understood to be "refreshed"- new rings, bearings, turned crank, etc. It was even started in my presence. It had been assembled by the seller, who was well known, and with whom I had previously done business. So I bought it, thinking I had a big piece of my project ready to drop in and run. I brought it home, sealed it up, and kept it carefully stored in my best garage, like one would with any prize.

    Well, things happened, other priorities came forth, and the project got delayed for a few years. Meantime, plans evolved, and I decided I didn't want this much engine in this project after all. So, the decision was made to sell it. I sold the engine in good faith to a friend.

    Now the friend has possession of the engine. He decided to have the engine checked out in preparation for his project, and maybe do some performance mods.

    It was a good thing he did.

    Upon disassembly several problems were found: First was a scored crank... not freshly turned. The bearings were junk. There were areas that did not appear to have ever been cleaned. There were rings in the wrong grooves. This from someone who had a long history in the Studebaker world.

    The buyer has another well-known friend working on the engine. They sent me pictures of the above mentioned flaws. And anyway, they would have no reason to lie.

    I heard the engine run briefly in person one time. I never put it in a car, never tried to start it. So, I did it no harm. But I am coming out of my pocket to get it into the shape that he and I thought the engine was in the first place.

    I bought the engine in good faith, on the word of a trusted seller. I sold it in good faith, based on that same word. And, the buyer bought it from me in good faith as well. It's probably lucky he bought it; I would have likely put it in thinking it was ready to use and blown it up. But the fact remains, the engine was not as it was claimed to be.

    The common wisdom is that you are smarter to save up and buy a car that's already been restored; you can buy them cheaper than you can build them. In many cases, that is true. But you always run the risk that the work was inferior. Was there proper preparation under that shiny paint? Was that suspension rebuilt or just cleaned up and painted? And the engine- was the proper parts, cleaning, machining, and experienced assembly involved... or was it slapped together in somebody's home garage who did not know that there is way more involved than bolting the parts together?

    The lesson: Unless you KNOW the builder, and know that he knows what he's doing, and can verify every step. Otherwise, you are taking a gamble. Every time.

    As for this vendor: Again, it doesn't matter who it is. There's no point in calling him out- he has left the Studebaker world, so no one else has to worry about him. I didn't bother to contact him about this; these sales are as-is, and I bought it 5 years ago. But it does sting that I thought I knew the abilities of the seller.

    My recommendation- don't take a chance on a "rebuilt" engine bought second-hand. If you do, you had better have someone knowledgeable tear it down and check everything carefully. After 40 nyears of building race cars, I still do not trust myself with the intricate art of internal engine assembly. Get with a quality, reputable, experienced builder. You will be money- and heartache- ahead.
    Proud NON-CASO

    I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of honor...it is a symbol of despair. ~ William McKinley

    If it is decreed that I should go down, then let me go down linked with the truth—let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.- Lincoln

    GOD BLESS AMERICA

    Ephesians 6:10-17
    Romans 15:13
    Deuteronomy 31:6
    Proverbs 28:1

    Illegitimi non carborundum

  • #2
    I agree with Mr Andrews well posted. I bought a 259 from a fellow stude person, the engine was claimed to have been "rebuilt" and I don't know what that really means. It was claimed the car was totalled and the engine was hence removed to be resold. I purchased the engine however the engine was mostly disassembled, heads and all the front components removed. I wasnt too concerned because I was only after certain parts. But it beggs the question if the engine was so-called "rebuilt" why was it disassembled? The block is clean and with a cursery inspection it appears to be in relatively good condition. I have another 259 that I have installed new rings and bearings, new valves, reground cam and lifters and new push rods. I dont know what the correct term is other than "some new parts, some reconditioned parts, some labour and some money" maby restyled. Dave

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    • #3
      Originally posted by altair View Post
      /Cut/I have another 259 that I have installed new rings and bearings, new valves, reground cam and lifters and new push rods. I dont know what the correct term is other than "some new parts, some reconditioned parts, some labour and some money" maby restyled. Dave
      If you are asking what THIS Engine would be called, it is Overhauled, NOT Rebuilt.

      Rebuilt is when you do all of the above plus new Valve Guides, Bore, replace Pistons and turn the Crank.
      I am assuming "New Valves" means a Valve seat grind as well and maybe touching up the Valves for a 44 degree "wear-in fit".
      StudeRich
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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      • #4
        I know I sold Bob a R2 for well under market about five years ago for his "dream" project, but it had a turned crank. with new rings rods and mains. If it now has a scoured crank, I can assure you it did not when I put it together. If it was that engine, I would have loved to have had first bids to buy it back since my selling price was the value of the blower setup and still would be happy to.
        If we are talking about a different engine "never mind"
        JDP Maryland

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JDP View Post
          I know I sold Bob a R2 for well under market about five years ago for his "dream" project, but it had a turned crank. with new rings rods and mains. If it now has a scoured crank, I can assure you it did not when I put it together. If it was that engine, I would have loved to have had first bids to buy it back since my selling price was the value of the blower setup and still would be happy to.
          If we are talking about a different engine "never mind"
          I doubt it was you since Bob flat stated the vendor in question 'left the Studebaker world'.
          --------------------------------------

          Sold my 1962; Studeless at the moment

          Borrowed Bams50's sigline here:

          "Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"

          Comment


          • #6
            Sounds as what I've said a few times on this and other boards....a "good machine shop".....doesn't....need to know Studebakers or their parts, they just need to know proper machine shop practices, math, experience and a desire to do a good job of what they do. The "Studebaker" items will come naturally. I've seen it first hand.

            Sorry to hear of your problems Bob.

            Mike

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            • #7
              The one thing that was done meticulously on my project (apart from body and paint) was the engine rebuild. It went to the local engine shop and my guy was the retired former foreman of that shop. When it came back, he totally disassembled it again and corrected every mistake he found, and there were quite a few. I met him again when the car was on the road to thank him. He's a treasure.
              Dave Warren (Perry Mason by day, Perry Como by night)

              Comment


              • #8
                That's sad to hear, Bob. It stings bad enough when you buy something like that from a shop you don't often deal with. When you do so from someone with a history of good work that you have enjoyed a good business relationship with, it stings far more. It's more than a business trust betrayed...it's a personal betrayal on top of that.

                I agree with your not disclosing the name...since he's left the Studebaker world (I think I know who it is)...it serves no purpose after this amount of time. If it was someone still doing work within the Studebaker fraternity, he should be called out publicly...after he was given a fair chance to make good on his work and his word. If he made good on his work...he should be commended...if not...he should be shown to be a scoundrel.

                Good work should be publicized...so should bad work to the legal extent it can be without being libelous.
                Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

                Comment


                • #9
                  To give a fair shot to whomever "rebuilt" it the first time, it's possible they paid someone to do the work for them, and they themselves got taken without knowing it. Or it could be a hundred other scenarios, each of which involves no malicious intent. Without that person around, there's no telling what happened.

                  At the same time, I agree that any time you don't physically see a part, there's no assurance that the part is good. If you get a bargain on something like an engine, you should at the very least pop off the oil pan and anything easy to remove to have a look inside.
                  Last edited by JimC; 11-09-2013, 02:21 PM.
                  '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, child seat

                  "Your friendly neighborhood Studebaker evangelist"

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                  • #10
                    The guy who owns this engine is a good friend of mine. It was "built" by an individual, not a shop.

                    When he decided he wanted to build this car, I told him to buy a complete core engine and have it built by someone capable. Instead he bought this one, assuming it would be good to go, as he got burned on his last Studebaker V8 rebuild. Good thing he decided to open this one up and double check things.

                    Bob Andrews, the engine owner has had nothing but good to say about you, regarding how you sent him some cash to fix this engine's problems. A lot to be said for that, considering you didn't build or warranty the thing.
                    Last edited by mbstude; 11-08-2013, 01:22 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Sorry to hear that Bob, I KNOW what it is like to be burned here in the Studebaker world. On the other hand I also know what it is like to be treated fairly when buying an expensive part. I purchased a "re-built" powershift transmission at looked like it had been road hard,it was clean but unpainted, like you would expect a re-built to be.

                      Once bitten twice shy,...so after my fiasco with my "Not So Museum Quality" R2 Engine also built by a so-called reputable Studebaker individual who is now out of the Studebaker world but rears his head once and a while, I had my newly purchased powershift taken apart and looked at by a local transmission re-builder only to find a perfectly re-built quality transmission.

                      Win some lose some.

                      Allen.
                      1964 GT Hawk
                      PSMCDR 2014
                      Best time: 14.473 sec. 96.57 MPH quarter mile
                      PSMCDR 2013
                      Best time: 14.654 sec. 94.53 MPH quarter

                      Victoria, Canada

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                      • #12
                        ......funny thing is......if you've been around the Studebaker world long enough these guys cycle through a few years later with a new lease......

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                        • #13
                          Proud NON-CASO

                          I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of honor...it is a symbol of despair. ~ William McKinley

                          If it is decreed that I should go down, then let me go down linked with the truth—let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.- Lincoln

                          GOD BLESS AMERICA

                          Ephesians 6:10-17
                          Romans 15:13
                          Deuteronomy 31:6
                          Proverbs 28:1

                          Illegitimi non carborundum

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Bob...you're a gentleman and a scholar...and there are damn few of us left!
                            Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nothing like buying a 30,000, 289, complete with transmission, driving around 900 miles each way to get it, take it home and attempt to turn the engine and find out that the cylinders have more rust in them than my Lark does. Sometimes it is "buyer beware".
                              Jamie McLeod
                              Hope Mills, NC

                              1963 Lark "Ugly Betty"
                              1958 Commander "Christine"
                              1964 Wagonaire "Louise"
                              1955 Commander Sedan
                              1964 Champ
                              1960 Lark

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