Fox Coast High Performance 408 Throws A Bearing After 10 Months, 900 Miles... How To Proceed...

SadbutTrue

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Last year I replaced a long-running 351w in my 1966 coupe with a Coast High Performance 408. Classic car, but ultimately its an 80s roller motor, and more Fox/SN95s are running around with CHP motors than classics, hence why I'm putting this here (and probably in the classics too, and other forums, so apologies if you notice I'm spreading a wide net lol)

Cliffs: It failed after about 10 months of driving and about 900 miles, no heavy use/racing at all, and absolutely textbook oiling and break-in (much of it video taped and/or witnessed). The engines came with a 90 day warranty, which they extended due to a number of mistakes on their end that required extensive time (/blood/sweat/tears/gray hairs/fractured family relationships) to address. More detail on that in the next post, so as not to clutter the main point of this discussion

The main question is - how do I proceed dealing with CHP? They are a big name shop, and when I was buying was repeatedly told they'd help me out if there were issues after the 90 day period, but obviously phone calls and emails aren't contracts or warranties. What approaches have people had that have been successful (/unsuccessful)? Should I immediately involve a lawyer? This is ultimately a $6500 investment that I had expected to last many years, and which I had gone out of my way to follow their instructions to the T, and where I spent extra pennies (or hundreds of dollars) where they said it'd make the thing more reliable.
 
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SadbutTrue

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Some additional detail on the failure and prior issues...

Use: The car is parked in a garage away from my apartment. I would drive it roughly once a month to keep it oiled, charged, etc. I used 5w20 conventional oil as instructed, changing oil after 200 miles and 600 miles, and used break-in additives for the initial and 200 mile changes.

Failure: Went out this thursday, took a coworker for a drive in the car. After making a left turn and going into 2nd, noticed a "popping" sound. Pulled over, and opened the hood... the popping was loud, seemed to be coming from the valve train (top end). Further, a bearing whine was evident (I'm getting kind of good at that sound, sadly). When i drained the oil yesterday, I noticed the specks pictured along with shavings of iron/flakes of bearing material on the magnetic drain plug. I also noticed that the oil filter mating surface was very dry (and though there was some oil in it, it was less than 1/3 full and had less physical oil in it than my Ford Focus' (whose oil I changed at the same time, and which is a fraction of the size).

Slightly longer term - oil pressure on this engine has always been lower than my old 351w, at least based on the dummy oil pressure gauge in my 66'. Said gauge is hardly scientific, but I have always noticed that if I'm stuck at a light for a while, pressure would slowly dip below the 'OK' range. Once i got moving again it would gradually re-enter the 'OK" range. I'd also noticed a "thrum" sound that would increase with RPMs more over my last few drives. It sounded vaguely like lifter noise or an exhaust leak, hard to describe.. but it had gotten worse prior to my incident thursday.

Prior issues/Issues during Install:
Besides the simple failure itself, there were a pile of issues during install that were on CHP. We bought a long block and they offered to put the intake, carb, distributor, and timing cover all on for free.

We were certainly gracious for that, however, they made two mistakes that ultimately undermined all of that and where clearly we would have been better off doing it ourselves. THey include:
1) Didn't install the fuel pump, which required us to pull the engine after getting it in.
2) Once we put it back in, we filled it with coolant, and it repeatedly leaked. We took the timing cover off no fewer than 3 or 4 times thinking that the leak was our fault, some mistake we were making when putting things back together. 5 or 6 weeks later, it turns out that CHP didn't use the right water pump backing plate, which means the leaks were their error the entire time.

While the two issues above were (gigantic) inconveniences, the following were ones that would have caused an engine failure had I not caught/intervened fast enough:
3) The distributor used was an MSD from my prior engine, which was a hydraulic flat tappet engine. The 408 was a hydraulic roller, which requires the different (i believe steel/hardened... i had my research all up to date on it last year). They offered to install the distributor, so we took them the distributor AND the new gear, in a box, right next to it (all within the same box), with both a written note and verbal instructions to install the gear. They did not. We noted this in a last minute pre-fire check when going through boxes, and I saw the gear in box that looked like it hadn't been touched... scrambled to do research and eventually identified that it was the hardened gear that was needed for the roller cam.
4) Once it was running, in September, my oil pressure sender adaptor failed, as it was excessively torqued into the block. Eventually it sheared off and it started spilling oil, resulting in a cloud of smoke over orange county and requiring one of my many tow truck trips Obviously this is also the type of thing that could kill an engine, and this same adaptor had been used on my prior engine for ~15 years without any problems (and my brothers 302 has the same thing, again, no issues... it was simply installed too tight).
 

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hoopty5.0

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CHP is no longer in business. They were bought by someone and are currently moving the operation to Alabama. So, your legal pursuits will likely end fruitless. Mark O'Neil is still active on the Corral; have you tired contacting him?
 

CarMichael Angelo

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#1. have you pulled that distributor yet? I'm gonna guess that your cam gear is wiped. You installed it, so I'd ck to make sure that it is healthy before you pay one penny for a legal dispute. Cam gear positioning on the shaft is a critical measurement. if the teeth have been destroyed your ignition timing has changed dramatically. ( could also be contributing to the popping noise as a result of a backfire) Also since it is incumbent on the gear to drive the oil pump,.....well just thinking out loud.
#2. have you pulled a valve cover(s)? I'd be taking them off to see if all of your rockers are where they're supposed to be, and you don't have a bent pushrod/broken valve spring.

This is gonna seem harsh, but looking at it through an opposing lawyers eyes,...these are the things you're gonna have to justify to point a finger at the engine builder.

The water pump backing plate didn't cause the engine failure, and why you had to pull the engine to install a mechanical fuel pump when the engine was hanging in front of YOU before YOU installed it in the car isn't on them either.( Why you had to pull the engine after that to do the same is also beyond me) Your 15 year old oil pressure adapter was just that.......15 years old. A pipe threaded piece of mild steel fatigues through usage, the fact that they cranked it in there, and it broke did not lend to the failure as well. What may have lent directly to the engine failure was how much oil was spewed out of that sheared off adapter before you realized that it had happened. Again,...You are relying on a stock 50 year old oil pressure gauge to tell you a whether or not the oil pressure is adequate? That alone would be a point of negligence on your part. How long did you drive the car with ??? engine oil in the crankcase after the adapter broke off?

It sucks that you have spent good money on an engine that has now developed a problem, though I'd be curious to see what has caused the problem.
 
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84Ttop

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Has the engine been disassembled to see what exactly has failed?
 

SadbutTrue

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#1. have you pulled that distributor yet? I'm gonna guess that your cam gear is wiped. You installed it, so I'd ck to make sure that it is healthy before you pay one penny for a legal dispute. Cam gear positioning on the shaft is a critical measurement. if the teeth have been destroyed your ignition timing has changed dramatically. ( could also be contributing to the popping noise as a result of a backfire) Also since it is incumbent on the gear to drive the oil pump,.....well just thinking out loud.
#2. have you pulled a valve cover(s)? I'd be taking them off to see if all of your rockers are where they're supposed to be, and you don't have a bent pushrod/broken valve spring.

This is gonna seem harsh, but looking at it through an opposing lawyers eyes,...these are the things you're gonna have to justify to point a finger at the engine builder.

I'm certainly curious too (i'm an engineer and do failure investigations as my job, so i'd love nothing more than to break it down). Unfortunately dont have a garage currently (and the install used up all my garage credits for the next 5-10 years at friends/family options ). I could pull a valve cover, possibly the distributor and intake with some time.

I don't mind the harshness and cynicism - the purpose of this thread is to figure out how to approach the situatoin with them intelligently, without emotion, and in a way that has an optimal chance of a 'good' outcome. Its certainly good to consider what would be asked by their lawyer and what we'd need to prove if it came to that. I certainly hope it doesn't - I'm hoping they help me out in some mutually reasonable outcome. I also can't afford a $6000 boat anchor and I did everything they asked and then some, and as far as their customers go am about as low-risk as it gets usage-wise. And I do believe we have quite a few examples of errors on their end simply from the build process; combined with records of my oiling/break-in what have you.

The water pump backing plate didn't cause the engine failure, and why you had to pull the engine to install a mechanical fuel pump when the engine was hanging in front of YOU before YOU installed it in the car isn't on them either.( Why you had to pull the engine after that to do the same is also beyond me)

The water pump backing plate didn't cause the failure, but it was a mistake and negligence, and it also forced changes to their work (they weren't willing to re-do it, which isn't surprising, but I did ask and it wasn't an option). Same with the fuel pump. While it was nice of them to re-assemble these things, not including the fuel pump and assuming we were going electrical (when we brought them the fuel pump) forced dis assembly in order for the engine to be usable. And their cam gear mistake would have inevitably and directly led to a failure had we not caught it.

(note that a 66' with a 351w is a tight fit, while the fuel pump swap may be possible with engine installed in a fox, its not in my car... we tried).

Your 15 year old oil pressure adapter was just that.......15 years old. A pipe threaded piece of mild steel fatigues through usage, the fact that they cranked it in there, and it broke did not lend to the failure as well. What may have lent directly to the engine failure was how much oil was spewed out of that sheared off adapter before you realized that it had happened. How long did you drive the car with ??? engine oil in the crankcase after the adapter broke off?

I won't argue much here... you're right on this. It would be tough to link the adaptor directly to the failure. While I can harbor suspicions, there's nothing more than circumstantial evidence and I'd never be able to prove it impacted the end result or was evidence of evidence/mistakes on their part (unlike the other examples). And to answer your other question... less than 2 residential blocks.

And by the same logic earlier - they did not at any time state some minimum requirement with regards to accuracy for oil pressure gauges. These gauges have worked for millions of cars and it worked with a similarly high performance engine immediately prior, so if there was some special sensitivity of this engine to oil pressure (beyond the sensitivity of any) they should have specified that.

But, all in all, I do appreciate the response :) (and a frustrated random guy you've never met and whom you are arguing with on the internet actually said you're right about something, how often does that happen?)
 
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Boosted92LX

It's only an inch or two. What's the big deal?
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I'm kinda with @84Ttop here. You really need to determine exactly what failed before you can really pin point a cause. If you have a broken rocker, the waterpump doesn't have jackrabbit to do with the failure. This is why I hate paying people to do work for me... Because when you hand them a pile of parts and give them instructions on what you want... You have exactly a 50/50 shot at getting it.
 

SadbutTrue

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Has the engine been disassembled to see what exactly has failed?

Just the oil. There's bearing material in the oil which means its done; taking the valve cover and distributor out may or may not help with the 'why.'

Out of curiousity, if the distributor gear/cam was the ultimate cause of everything... would there be obvious damage to the cam gear? I'd be hoping to rule that out one way or another just by removing the distributor... if you have to see the cam that'll be much more difficult.
 

SadbutTrue

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I'm kinda with @84Ttop here. You really need to determine exactly what failed before you can really pin point a cause. If you have a broken rocker, the waterpump doesn't have jackrabbit to do with the failure. This is why I hate paying people to do work for me... Because when you hand them a pile of parts and give them instructions on what you want... You have exactly a 50/50 shot at getting it.

reasonable. i'll check back in a day or two when i get a chance to go to the car and pull things apart a bit more.
 

84Ttop

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Just the oil. There's bearing material in the oil which means its done; taking the valve cover and distributor out may or may not help with the 'why.'

Out of curiousity, if the distributor gear/cam was the ultimate cause of everything... would there be obvious damage to the cam gear? I'd be hoping to rule that out one way or another just by removing the distributor... if you have to see the cam that'll be much more difficult.
You will absolutely be able to shine a flash light down the distributor hole to inspect the cam gear if there is apparent damage to the distributor. ( Coming from a guy that has smashed an awful lot of valves and pistons with broken valve train parts )
 

Boosted92LX

It's only an inch or two. What's the big deal?
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reasonable. i'll check back in a day or two when i get a chance to go to the car and pull things apart a bit more.

You said it's an 80's roller motor. I apologize if I overlooked it, but does it have a roller cam, or hydraulic flat tappet? If it's not roller, that may be your culprit..
 

SadbutTrue

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The 408 from CHP was/is a roller motor, hydraulic roller. Used this cam kit: http://www.summitracing.com/parts/cca-k35-522-8

Prior 351w was hydraulic flat tappet. I bought the Summit conversion distributor gear for use converting the distributor from summit in the same order, thats the on they didn't install (just confirmed that the summit one was interchangeable with MSD's own gear, for what its worth).

And I have the email where I tell them thats the kit I'm using and that they should install that steel distributor gear.
 

SadbutTrue

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Minor update: CHP wanted me to remove the valve covers and examine the rockers, pushrods, which I did. I removed 12 of the pushrods/rockers (the other 4 were compressing a spring and didn't want to damage anything, lose a finger, etc by letting them out; probably over cautious but whatever). I can't see any visible bending or damage. Rockers all move fine, don't make noise. Pushrods appear straight.. I rolled them on a flat surface and while I *may* have seen a tiny wobble as a few of them rolled, I couldn't see anything that was really definitive as far as the human eye goes. Is there a simple test that can reliably verify they're ok or not?

One thing I *did* notice - the driver's side cylinder bank was much 'drier' with regards to oiling. I was marking each rocker with a sharpie (to keep track of which was where, seemed like a good idea). I had no issues marking any of the driver's side rockers. However, on the passenger side, every single rocker had a coat of oil on it that prevented the sharpie from working. IT seems like a minor difference, but it was applicable to every single rocker. Additionally, once I noticed, that, I noticed there while there were little pools of oil in the various grooves of the cylinder head (like you'd expect), there weren't many (if any, now that i think about it), on the driver side. I did the driver side first so didn't actively look for it on that side, but I'm pretty confident there were no pools.

I have pictures of the pushrods and access to both them and the rockers if they're helpful, but there isn't much to see

Combined with the basically empty/ mostly dry oil filter (and the generally low oil pressure throughout service..)... could this be evidence of an issue with the oil pump/pickup?

I removed the distributor. Gear looks like it did when we installed it, and no carnage evident in the distributor hole on the block. Also verified it is indeed the summit gear (see yellow dot) for roller cams, so we got that right. See pictures.
. IMG_20160413_154803a.jpg IMG_20160413_154714a.jpg IMG_20160412_170018a.jpg