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Need advice taking action against a bad engine builder

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Old 08-05-2008, 06:52 PM
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Question Need advice taking action against a bad engine builder

Seems like we hear a lot about this lately. Fortunately its not me (I build my own engines), but unfortunately its one of my best friends.
This all started last year around June when a friend of mine had an issue with bad (leaking) exhaust that wrecked his motor. With both of us being VERY busy at the time, we pulled the motor and took it to a local engine builder. We brought it to him as a complete Engine minus accessories. The motor is a bone stock 260 horse 350 Chevy, simple enough right? We told him to dismantle, completely rebuild and reassemble into a long block again. We also told him to put a little bigger cam into it, to get a few more ponies, like 275-285 horse.
We got the motor back about 2 weeks later and installed it. The motor ran good, but leaked oil EVERYwhere in the bilge. So we brought it back and the builder and us looked at it together. We determined that the leak was comming from somewhere inside the bell-housing on the back of the motor. Suckee-poo.
So the motor got pulled and the builder tells us he forgot to put one of the oil gallery plugs in the block. Put the motor back in and it still leaks inside the bellhousing. Motor comes out and he installs a new 1pc rear main seal.
Now we are in business, right? So we hit the water and run it up on plain, get up to 3500 rpm and the oil guage hits 0. pulls the throttle back and the pressure returns.
So back to the builder. Now he tells us we are full of $hit, and it must be the guage in the boat. So we hit the water, check the dipstick and verify the engine is filled. The engine builder then installs a mechanical guage and observes. Same results.
Now this time we make him pull the motor. He pulls the motor with this pile-of-crap forklift with no brakes and winds up running into the side of the boat and scratching it badly. Him and his greasy employees crawl into the boat to do the removal and COVER the interior with oil and grease. BTW after the Lake test, the engine was leaking oil again. So he pulls the motor out and it turns out the oil-pickup was pointing up and the oil pump was sucking air once the pan was syphoned down to a certain point.
Motor goes back in, and leaks oil like crazy.
NOW, it is 11 months later and half-way through ANOTHER boating season and the motor comes out again. He winds up pulling the crank grinds down the rear-main and installing a sleave. Crank goes back into the motor and the builder completely assembles the engine.


08-01-08- Here we are, good to go right??? We put the new motor in, dress it, and hook everything up to the engine. Now we watched the bulder put 6 quarts of oil into the motor and install an oil filter, so HE filled it.
My friend starts the engine, and begins setting the timing. 90 seconds later the motor seizes tight. The thing won't even turn over with a 2 foot breaker bar!!!
Now the business that built the motor was working with us to this point. Now almost a year later the engine is completely locked tight, with MAYBE 5 hours on it.
Now the bulder is saying the year warranty is basically over. You GOT to be kidding me!

My question is, what is the best direction to go from here? The boat is at a local Marine Service Center that a relative of mine owns. They were the ones who Professionally installed the motor the last two times. Should my friend try talking to him, or just pursue him legally now?

Any input, or advice appreciated!

Nick
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Old 08-05-2008, 06:57 PM
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BTW, after he put in a "performace cam", the boat ran 4 mph slower. And the last time it was dismantled, the marine mechanic discovered a blown head gasket.

O'h yeah, and my bad, its plane, not plain!!
Please excuse the type-o's
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:31 PM
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Well I probasbly wont have the popular answer, but I think it is time to cut your losses with that guy and have someone who knows what they are doing fix it.

If your builder tried several times to fix it and didn't....why would you continue to take it to him? The cost of labor to take the motor in and out several times (even if you did it yourself... your time is money) would pay to have it done right by someone else.

In his defense, atleast he tried to make it right... several times. I doubt you'd be able to make a legal case, but I have been wrong before.

I know its not the answer you were looking for, but why spend more time and money trying to get the builder (who couldnt build it right at first) to do it again? Just spend the money this time and do it right and be done with and get back on the water.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:52 PM
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Sorry to here the bad deal. It seems if the motor was bad from leaking exhaust you should have bought a new partial engine assy. Now that it is junk and an incompetent "engine builder" wasted your time and money it is time to buy the motor you should have bought the first time around. If you are determined to fight take him to court, but chances are it will only extend the torment. Maybe you will get a some thing maybe not.

Its ugly but I agree with nice guy. Next time do your homework.

Sorry again, It sucks.
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:12 PM
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Wink Don't buy your work twice !

Sorry for your trouble and loss !

Moral of this story again, take your marine high performance engines motors to proven, reputable, knowledgeable, with references MARINE HIGH PERFORMANCE ENGINE BUILDER !!!
These stories won't happen there!
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:18 PM
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So is this a local guy here in Michigan ??
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:39 PM
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Having been in a similar situation a few years ago, my advice would be to cut your losses and walk away. My nightmare went on for over 5 years and ended up with the guy threatening to sue me for malpractice because I gave some sample antibiotics to his wife for a cold when he was working on destroying my engines. Seems she was found to have some kind of breast mass two years later and he acused me of failing to diagnose it. Real nut case!

I have been really pleased with Scorpion Racing Engines in Livonia, MI. Call and talk to Frank.
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:45 PM
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what they said - I lost nearly 1 year of boating and my engines have both broken in annoying places like 200 miles from home and during storms. If they are under warranty give them one shot at it and they better do it in atimely manner...then you have to move on.

I went to better business bureau on mine and won my "case" but they have no power. You have to sue - which costs money and the guy that built mine had two guys ahead of me who won their suits but he had nothing for them to take ... what do you take, the guys tools? Lose lose situation I am afraid.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:13 PM
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Suing is a waste of time. Unless you're willing to lay out significant $$ up front and have the wherewithall to collect on the judgment, you're wasting your time.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:29 PM
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Fortunately, over the last year this guy did work with us, and all the engine pulls and repairs were free of charge and on his dime (as it should be). To me, I cannot believe this happened. How hard is it to rebuild a 1987 Mercruiser
260/ Alpha 1 engine? We are not talking about some radical custom engine with big HP.
For my friend, thats pretty much where he's at. Its time to cut his losses and get away from this guy. Ideally, it would be nice if this guy bought the motor back, or compensated him in some way, shape, or form.
I have a really clean 260 with 300 hours, he would like to buy from me. Dump it in and go!
I agree, I would have got away from this guy a long time ago, but he was willing to try and try again, and on his own dime. Unfortunately, even if he got it right this time, how could you ever trust that motor? Knowing all that you know, I wouldn't trust running that motor anywhere!
If he does wind up stuck with the motor, I'll wind up rebuilding it for him this time. I've never had a failure.

To answer your ? boatme, yes this is a local engine builder! An engine builder that I wrote off a long time ago!
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