The two best days of a boaters life is when he buys a boat… and when he sells it!
Why does it have to be that way?
I have been dealing with an ongoing drama in my life that I have kept within a core group. Recently the group was expanded by the other party’s big mouth so I figure if we are opening our mouths.. Lets get a word from the masses. And I will leave out the names considering the other side is getting free legal advise from a guy that has yet to take the bar..
Over a year ago my wife and I purchased our first go fast boat. This was far from a introduction for me as I have been buying and selling boats for the last decade. I have been with Fountain, Formula, Cigarette, Skater, Outerlimits, Baja and Nordic dealers both in sales and teaching customers to drive. I have brokered boats all over the US and over seas and have been fortunate enough that most of my friends are in one way or another involved in the industry. When it came time to buy a boat I was ready. We purchased a 1984 Cigarette 38SC Flatdeck. This is a boat my wife can learn to drive for both fun and the Catalina Ski Race. Included in the purchase was an engine swap for two engines that a mutual friend and local mechanic had “Gone through”. In addition to a new trailer we opted to re-rig the boat with mechanical and cosmetic upgrades, the end result should have been impressive to anyone who appreciates the older wave crushers.
The boat was “completed” and given back without a sea trail, even though I requested that after $18,000.00 was spent at his shop the mechanic should at least go out on the boat for a trail run. I was assured the boat was adequately tested at his shop and off we went. 30 minutes to the launch ramp and 45 minutes out of the harbor, my wife could hardly wait to enjoy what our new boat could do. I throttled up to 4000RPMs the boat held for about 2 minutes and then started dropping power. Buy the time I completed a 180 turn the RPMs sat around 1700. I drove the boat 45 minutes back to the trailer and the 30 minutes back to the shop. The engine was toast. Upon closer inspection the inside was rotted away and should never have been put in the boat. The mechanics “Gone Through” came under scrutiny. As a matter of fact, the definition of “Gone Through” came under scrutiny. Apparently the engine ran on the test stand, so he billed the donation company that sold me the boat for an inspection… Nice!
The seller, myself and the mechanic split the rebuild evenly. I have to give an enormous amount of credit to the seller for the principal that shows. The boat was finished for the second time after a month. Again, no sea trail. We drove the 30 minutes to the harbor and proceeded to run it for 10 hours at or below 3500RPM’s per the mechanics request. This took three trips and you can only guess what the gas bill came out to ($3.35 per gallon at that time). We planned a trip from Newport Beach to Dana Point the next Saturday. After the 45 minute idle out we throttled up to 4200 RPM, fifteen minutes later Oil pressure drop, Oil temp rise and smoke billowing out the hatch. My wife grabbed the vests, phone, handheld GPS and VHF, and an extra extinguisher and ran to the bow. I lifted the hatch and found it was a compartment full of oil and the oil on the exhaust was about to ignite. The cause: Painting the inside threads of the valve covers and then forcing the oil cap on. I took half an hour to get the cap on correctly and clean the oil and we started back up. Oil pressure down, oil temp up and we pulled into Dana Point on one engine. I called the mechanic to pick up the boat and he informed me he could look at it sometime next week, and I needed to drop it off. We paid for a ride back to the truck and trailer and I picked up the boat the next day ($150.00 overnight fee). Sure enough, engine was toast.
With no final explanation of what happened I was told to pick up my boat. A list of $1200.00 in parts not replaced the first time around greeted me as I arrived. No Sea Trail, no nothing I took the boat to Lake mead for my next 10 hours of 3500RPM go almost fast boating fun.
Upon arriving back at Newport Harbor and ready for our first channel crossing to Catalina island to meet with SCOPE friends the engine pulled a strong 4200 RPM’s for all of 7 minutes. Oil temp up, Oil pressure down and back home we go. At this point my wife has been on the boat 1 time when we made it back to the dock on both engines. I called the mechanic on his cell phone to inform him that I was going to take the boat to another (Far better) mechanic I had found and send him the bill. He pleaded to at least look at the engine before it was torn down, after all he had been outsourcing the engine work and wanted to know what was wrong. We agreed on two terms:
1. He was not to open or attempt to “Fix” the engine.
2. The Hack engine builder was not to get near my boat.
I showed up Monday morning to find that the mechanic had gone on vacation out of state for a week. But this vacation had not begun before he and the exact Hack builder had showed up on Sunday to remove and tare down my engine. It wasn’t even at his place anymore. I called his cell and informed him I was filing a claim with my insurance company that my engine was stolen. His new plea was as fallows “Don’t turn me in and I will rebuild and dyno your engine, then I will sea trail the boat and give you a one year warranty that you can write. Now who in there right mind would turn down a chance to write there own boat engine warranty? Not me!
I wrote up a warranty that someone would have to be crazy to sign, 1 full year, all parts, pull and install, dyno, and if he ever contested it..no mediation he has to pay for my attorney. When he read it he even added “Boat must be run at or below 3500 RPM for 10 hours. Perfect, not only a signature, but an addition. Sighed , Dated, DONE!
I hooked up to my boat that now had salt sticking to the side from not washing or flushing it after the sea trail two days before, grease shoe prints and two rips in the interior that had not been there before. The Dyno sheet he gave me was suspect because the engine is a 525SC that has a 454 block (454 stamped right on the front) and another one of his customers had an engine at the dyno that very same day with a 502 block, the sheet read 502.
I ran the boat for the allotted 10 hours at or below 3500 RPM. 4th of July last year rolled around and we took some friends out to watch the fireworks. Running home that night the other engine gave out (Distributor shredded inside the engine). My new mechanic pulled it out, rebuilt it and had it back together in three weeks. He and I did an initial sea trail on the boat with another to fallow after a few more hours below 3500RPM. A week later we went out on the second sea trail, I mentioned that my one year warranty was up in another day so the timing was great. We spent 45 minutes idling out of the harbor and pushed the sticks to the wood. The boat hit 65 and was running great but the new engine felt like it was rally pulling the boat. Boat the mechanic and I watched the RPM’s drop down to 2200 without touching the throttle. Back at the dock a compression test showed what we both thought 2 dead cylinders. I called the old mechanic that night and told him the engine had to be pulled. “I cant do it till for 2 months” he told me. I asked him to review the contract and stated he would not do it at all, he would only receive a bill. “Okay, bill be” click, is all I got. I could see the writing on the wall.
I waited until Easter weekend of this year to have the engine pulled for financial reasons. I did not want a mechanic to do the work and not get paid the original mechanic not honor his warranty, that could lead to a lean on my boat and I was in not going to let that happen. So Friday the engine was pulled and at 8:00 Saturday morning I got the phone call that the engine had been opened up and it was a nightmare. The whole thing blew apart because the wrong parts were installed. High compression pistons were installed and overloaded everything. I called the mechanic and told him what we found. First I was accused of replacing parts. Then I was told it was out of warranty, then I was told that he wouldn’t talk to me until he saw the part himself. We had one more conversation in which I gave him the name and number of where the parts could be viewed and explained how he would not take possession of them or test them in any way. The mechanic who diagnosed the problem is someone he refuses business to and he needs to cut a check per his contract. Needless to say he never showed up at 3 appointments to view the parts and stopped taking my calls.
I recently retained an attorney to review the case and contact this mechanic. After close review he explained the two ways to go:
1. Get paid for the engine
2. Get paid for the engine, insurance, transport, fuel, storage, loss of enjoyment and a list of about 15 more expenses.
I had a letter sent to request only the amount of the engine and 30 days to respond. On the 30th day , a former president and board member of SCOPE contacted my attorney and went on and on with my personal background and why I am a shady character. Additionally he explained that if I should win that this mechanic will just declare bankruptcy and I will never see a dime. The conversation was cut short when he was asked if he was an attorney and why was he even calling.
So with all the drama of SCOPE board members getting involved without reason, more money going to the attorney than the engine, the threat of bankruptcy (What a dirt bag) etc. etc. etc. I call this mechanic one last time. I explained that I was cutting another check for $3500.00 to my attorney. That’s $3500.00 that per a very good contract I will be getting back and the longer this goes the more it will cost. He tells me that he never got a call back top look at the parts, he didn’t have a way over to look at them, and without looking at the parts he wont pay a dime. So I make arrangements to have my new mechanic call him, pick up all the parts from the machine shop and bring them back to his place and he even offers to have a chat with him about him being on the boat within the warranty time, doing a compression test, determining its dead, pulling the motor, finding the wrong pistons installed as soon as the heads were off. And do you think he got a phone call back???
So what’s a guy to do?
I'm debating on whether or not to say what I want to say given the growing number of people on this board who are routinely and repeatedly getting screwed on engine builds. Well, here goes!
First, there is no excuse for anyone to take advantage of other people in business, but unfortunately it does happen. If I were you, I would take all action necessary to get what I can from the scammer. Obviously, you will still have a loss, but minimize it as much as possible.
The world of engines and mechanics is not rocket science. There are some complicated aspects to it such as dyno tuning, flow bench testing heads and such, but for the most part, anyone can learn what they need to keep this type of thing from happening. If the people who have these problems had a basic working knowledge of high performance engines and how they work and go together, these situations could be avoided more often than not.
Back when I used to build street cars, I found a machine shop/engine builder I trusted. Even though I trusted him, I still would stop by every couple of days to check out progress. I would also learn about engine building beyond what I already knew on these trips as well. If I was to use a new builder today, I would research every detail about the engine he wanted to do. I would ask for the part numbers he planned to use and then I would research them. I typically took my own engines apart, so I could always diagnose the problem myself. If I didn't take the engine apart, I would ask to see the parts that came out of it and inspect them for myself. Just about anyone can look at a damaged engine part and tell whether or not it belongs back in a running engine. It is pretty much common sense.
I guess what I am saying is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you want a high performance engine in your boat, learn about them before the process and get deeply involved in the build. Can you still have a problem arise even after you've done your homework? Of couse, but if you are dilligent and knowledgeable on the subject, you are far less likely to end up in a situation like this.
I'm not trying to lecture or upset anyone, and I feel for your loss for sure! I hope you are able to recuop all of you losses and whoever the "builder" is that's involved gets hammered!
1800runsnew.com sells a NEW, GM, in the CRATE, 420 hp 454 for about $53XX. Man, your story is so similar to mine I could have written parts myself. My motors are being replaced for the fourth time, this time the new ones from GM will be going in, and a different mechanic is installing them.
I have gotten to the point I make it clear, I buy new stuff, I get a warranty from the builder/seller, I pay a mechanic and he is responsible if it goes wrong. I explain I am writing two checks, two checks only, one for motors, one for install, no BS, no excuses, no nothing, either it is right, or someone else fixes it. I try to pay with credit card, so there is an arbitration process already in place. I tell the mechanic "I am an anal accountant, I look for details all day, I am glad to pay for professional service, do not expect you to walk on water, if you screw up I will understand and let you fix it, on your dime, bill me accordingly, but you better stand behind your work".....
If they take that deal, we do business, if not, I look elsewhere. This came from a $41,000 lesson this year and a $30,000 last one (yes, I was not smart enough to learn the first time, but I damn well learned the second)...
That's why the only engine I will ever buy again, will say Merc on it, and have not been fuked with. Either Merc, or a Duct tape special. I'm on the third engine in one of my boats, and I bet I haven't gotten 15 hours on it in the last three years.
keeping in mind there are three sides to every story, here is my 02...IF everything is as you say, then you have a great case, if someone is willing to risk 7 years of crappy credit for 3500.00 then they were closer to bankruptcy than they even think. secondly you have a signed contract, and that will entitle you to judgement, so it's all in your favor if the sory is 100%, and I would go for legal fees as well...
Sorry about you bad misfortune.
I feel for you buddy......I just went through some B.S. with a different mechanic and he actually blew the boat deal
What a shame....The guy that IDRPSTF is talking about has a pretty good reputation here in SoCal. I know IDRPSTF has had alot of ongoing problems with this engine builder. This sucks!!! I am seriously done with boating because of all the f*cking scumbags in the industry....I do apologise to the "few" good ones out there.
It just isn't worth the headaches to me anynmore.
Last edited by Semper Fi; 08-09-2006 at 01:09 AM.
Just wondering why you still read Oso if you are seriously done with boating.Originally Posted by Semper Fi
This is all too common these days and I feel your pain and disgust.
However, if you've been selling boats for a decade, I would think that you know who's good and who's not mechanically. You should also know not to ever accept delivery without a sea-trial, even dyno sheets would work.
Lastly if your contract is solid and you can get a judgement, then go ahead and force the guys hand into bankruptcy. He sounds like a POS anyway.
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