Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year Reflections

Happy New Year Everyone!

2010 was not a very pleasant year on the car front since I spent more time without my car than with.
But I've had it back now for over going on 2 months, it's been great to have it back so here's to 2011 being a much better year!

To kick off with a little rant of sorts: Someone pointed me towards a thread on 'that other site' from a few months ago where people were actually commenting on my build - wow I guess some people actually do read my blog ;-) While for the most part i've received supportive statements from people in regards to what happened, some of the comments ( well one in particular) I took issue with.

To summarize my build; I never felt comfortable putting blowers/cams etc in the engine without beefing up the internals. If I ever was going to make serious HP I'd make sure that everything in the engine was upgraded & top notch first. That way I could easily do things in stages. Get the engine bullet-proof first built by professionals who know what they're doing, then probably upgrade the transmission/rear diff/axles etc before finally slapping on a blower.  My whole approach - which IS backwards from most people - was: Build it right and Build it only once. Most people just go for the high-hp mods like slapping on maggies or 200 shots on stock internals and then just fix things like transmissions etc as they would break along the way. To me they were just asking for trouble. I wanted to get all the 'supporting' mods to hold any extra power in place first before adding the actual power.

Fast-Forward to the Moment of Irony: Many of those cars are still totally fine (just check out VegasNates!), while my 'never break' build died within 2 months basically because of some idiot at the machine shop installing a wrong size 10 cent piece of rubber... (Oil pump comes with 2 O-Rings and you need to pick one or the other depending on your particular application. Machine shop picked wrong..BOOM...)

That Said, Let's look at some of the comments I read that require some clarification:

"Well at least others can learn from his mistakes. ALWAYS change the O rings! lol"
As you can read above they WERE changed, by the machine shop who one would think knows what they are doing, to the WRONG kind. If I had personally installed the wrong thing , then yeah shame on me. "My Mistake" was thinking a machineshop that's been in business for decades knows what end is up.

"When I read "I'm not the richest man...", I knew he was ****ed. If money is in any way an issue, these types of things should not be attempted. Only go big if you can afford for everything to go up in a ball of fire."
Yeah You know I sorta agree with this guy - hence why I took me so long to finally do this build because I wanted to make sure everything was just right, I wouldn't have any issues etc. had some reserves in case it did etc. With any build there's always a chance of 'failure' but with all my meticulus prepwork & research I thought I had all bases covered. Though I don't feel I 'went Big' since my failure was not because of LOTS of HP/TQ etc (if anything i'm probably BELOW a lot of folks who go cam-only since I LOWERED my compression quite a bit), but simply an installer failure for what I considered a common stroker build. Again the one factor out of my control - the skill level of an individual at a shop - proved to be the down fall here.

Now the icing was this post:

"I REALLY hopes he likes that car when it comes back (hopefully done correctly) because he is gonna take a bath on that thing if he tries to just unload it.

This is a perfect case of a good car subjected to a not-so-informed & overzealous owner.
I see it all the time with guys that have Mustangs.

Sucks for him, but he brought it on himself."

Ok this guy .. what can I say.... Really??? WOW...
But Yes, I Like my car ('that thing') a lot better than I even did before after the first build, and it's done MUCH better by Ellis from Speed Secrets! I highly recommend him for anyone in the greater Seattle area for any work on your car. Thank you for asking :)

Now 2nd part "Not-so-informed & overzealous owner who brought it on himself".. Say what now? Seriously? Not-so-informed on what? overzealous how?

I spent months ( over a year literally ) researching, getting the right quality parts together, picking the brains of anyone who knew anything, talking to & screening vendors & shops, talking to their customers to see how satisfied they were with the job performed etc making sure that this build would be bulletproof. Machineshop selecting the wrong O-ring out of the oil pump box does not equate me being 'not-so-informed'.
To me, Not-so-informed would for example be trying to overbore the stock block to a 4.125"+ bore. Had they selected the right O-Ring my engine would still be running 100% strong.

Overzealous? a 300 Shot or running 25 PSI on a blower to me is overzealous..Someone trying a cam install by themselves while they dont even know what a torque wrench is , is 'asking for it'. But having a forged stroker built by (supposedly) reputable shops with quality parts with the entire premise being reliability so that you have room to grow over the years - that's somehow overzealous and 'bringing it on myself'? Not in a million years buddy!

In Closing - I think what perhaps some of these people were 'trying' to say may be the classic line: "You have to pay to play". Modify your engine and it dies, then you (or responsible parties should) get stuck with the bill. Some people would perhaps try to go to the dealership and try to pretend it was all stock etc if something like this happens, but since I agree with the 'Pay to Play' credo - and I knew it was because of this build, why should GM have to pay for my modifications? So it was on me - or actually it should be on the machineshop since their mistake was the root cause of the engine failure.

Unfortunately, they for along time denied any wrong doing. I tried to be very reasonable and work out an arrangement with them that most people would consider more than fair ( less than 1/4 of the value of new parts/labor required to get it back up & running etc) but they claimed they did not give warranty on performance engines. After more back & forth which ended up with them finally saying they'd 'look at the engine' after I had already lost confidence & had Ellis @ Speed secrets start working on it, it simply wasn't worth the stress & aggravation of trying to work something out (or going to court) and I ended up eating it all.

Lesson Learned is that when messing with the engine past the point of intakes & exhaust there is ALWAYS a chance of failure (then again, sometimes even with only intakes you can screw your engine as some people with hydrolocked engines can tell you - I'm sure they 'didn't bring it upon themselves' by simply installing a certain model CAI), and it's best to either EXPECT it to happen and/or at least be prepared for it so that in the unfortunate event it happens - and I hope none of you ever has to go through this - you can get it taken care of ASAP by a shop that knows what they're doing!