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  • Writer's pictureStudio Engine Werx

Sentiment Around the Engine Machine Industry MUST READ!

Updated: May 23

Studio Engine Werx

I received this from a friend in the San Francisco bay area who has 55 years of involvement in the industry. This is the sentiment around the engine machine industry.

Private Equity Firms [PEF] are in the process of destroying our industry. Buyers beware!

If you are wondering why it is taking so long to get things done, here it is!!

....this on Facebook 

~ Buzz ~

Caption for attached:


Due to the dwindling supply of quality machine shops and very poor quality aftermarket parts as well as a lack of people interested in learning the engine building and machine shop trades, I regret to inform our many followers and current as well as past customers that we will no longer be taking on any new engine build orders unless it is for a car we are restoring. Since Covid, we have had to do rework on multiple engine builds due to poorly manufactured parts that failed during break in or machine work that was below our standards due to all the old farts like me dying off with no younger workers interested in taking their place. For example, rod bearings are now made too thin resulting in 390 and 401 crank grinds needing to be ground .0085, .0185 or .0285 under standard rod journal size yet all but one machine shop in the entire Phoenix area refused to do anything other than the standard .010, .020 or .030 grinds. Even worse, when the one shop that will grind the cranks the way we tell them we need them loses their crank grinder to retirement in another year or two, they do not plan to replace him. Machine work that used to have a turnaround of 2-3 weeks now takes a minimum of 2-4 months due to an acute lack of people interested in learning machine work and doing manual physical labor. In fact, one engine block was at a machine shop for a year and when we got it back hey did such a poor sleeve job in one cylinder that it was not even useable so it is now a 250 lb paper weight.  

About 15 years ago I nearly bought out an aging gentlemen's machine shop and continue to regret not doing so due to the lack of availability of places to get the work done.  

As for poor quality parts, Edelbrock aluminum heads are now such poor quality and filled with so much manufacturing machining slag that we have to completely disassemble them, reset the valve stem and spring heights and even sometimes have them resurfaced because the slag scratched the head gasket surface. Similarly, there are only a couple of camshaft manufacturers remaining that harden their cams correctly and nearly all flat tappet lifters are now such terrible quality and inconsistent hardness that we are no longer willing to risk losing a cam due to poorly made cams and lifters. In fact, we now only use either rollers or custom ground flat tappets with Johnson made lifters from Howard or Herbert. For example, we have probably used 50 or more Summit cams over the past 15 years but the last 4 we used did not even make it through break in so they too are now off the list of acceptable quality parts as well.  

So what does all of this mean? We will honor whatever engines builds that are not part of a full restoration that we already have in the queue however we must warn all those who have been patiently waiting for their engines to be built that supply chain constraints in addition to rapidly declining parts quality along with a lack of qualified machine shop workers is resulting in our anticipated wait times to get an engine built often doubling in duration. And if anyone is tired of waiting and thinks they can do better elsewhere, we will fully refund their deposit and wish them well.  

What used to take a couple of weeks to get back from a machine shop can easily now take 2-4 months or more resulting in our overall engine backlog now being 15-18 months. The bottom line is that custom engine building is on its way to becoming extinct and it won't be too many more years before all of us old farts that currently do this work either retire and/or die off resulting in engine building within the collector car hobby becoming nearly impossible to find And when you do find someone, don't be surprised if they are backed out 2+ years or more and that they only want to do Chevy builds and know zero about our beloved AMC engines. "The times they are a changin'."

And any know it all's that are not in this business who try to show everyone how smart they think they are by declaring that these conditions do not exist, despite literally hundreds of others saying they are experiencing the exact same thing, will have their comments deleted because they are clearly talking out of their ass.


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