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Old 01-24-2009, 05:31 PM   #1
peelrubber
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Default LS7 >>> BAD Experience with **LATE MODEL ENGINES**

I’m posting this as a public service to the gearhead community so that others can avoid the unfortunate experience I had with Late Model Engines (LME) of Houston, TX.

In lieu of buying a crate motor from GM, I ordered a forged balanced/blueprinted LS7 short block from LME in January of 2008. As many of you know, LME is an established engine builder with a reputable record among the hot rodding community. With regard to LME’s warranty coverage, the technical and legal aspects are not discussed herein. Suffice it to say that LME offered to “take care” of me after a standard 90-day warranty period for any build defect. I was comfortable with LME’s coverage as it is generally in line with warranties offered by other vendors. In fact, other vendors’ warranties might be more restrictive, yet their customers are treated fairly. As an example, I understand Texas Speed does not warranty their engines unless installed at their own facility. Yet, for an off-site installation, Texas Speed would stand behind an issue caused by unsatisfactory workmanship. I’ve read many posts on CF where numerous vendors stepped up to the plate to “take care” of their customers. On the other side of the spectrum, vendors such as SDPC and Pace have liberal warranties, yet they will continue to accommodate customers after a liberal policy period has technically expired. This policy is very equitable particularly when a major build defect is involved.

As background, my new engine was properly broken in by my tuner who is reputable and well known. Prior to initial startup, PCM maps from a similarly equipped LS7 were uploaded, the fuel system was charged and pressurized, and the engine fired up immediately, thereby no fuel wash occurred. Break-in oil was non-synthetic Castrol GTX 10W30 as recommended by LME for the first 1000 miles. Before driving on the road, the engine was run up and down to mid-RPMs on a Mustang dyno (inertia load) in order to apply ring pressure against the fresh bores during both accel/decel phases. Car has never been tracked, engine never abused. There are no oil leaks and not a single oil stain on the garage floor.

Well, at 600 miles the DIC advises me to check the oil level. So I top it off with 1.5+ quarts as needed. That didn’t seem abnormal, as I had anticipated some oil consumption during the break-in period. But at the 1,000 mile mark, which is just 400 miles down the road, I had to add another quart. This consumption rate continued to the tune of one quart of oil every 400 to 600 miles. I mentioned this to LME several times, and each time their response was “put on a few more miles.” By this time, the warranty period had already lapsed. During latter discussions, LME’s repeated responses were “I can’t think of anything that would cause this.” And “we’ve built many of these engine combinations without any problems.”

Finally, 8 months later with 6,000 miles on the new engine, I had the LS7 pulled for diagnosis. I notified LME that I was going to have my tuner and a local machine shop (in Portland) pull the motor to trace the oil consumption problem. (I did not request/offer to return the motor to LME for their personal inspection. I was already unimpressed with LME’s apathetic response to date. In the end, that proved to be the correct decision because LME’s possession of the block would have provided them with leverage to charge me for the cost of suspect inferior new parts. As mentioned below, LME’s policy - as it was stated to me - is to provide only warranty “labor services”. LME’s policy does not cover the cost of replacement parts such as new rings or pistons.)

The local machinist determined that the pistons were rocking in their bores thereby causing the ring lands to become skewed unsquarely against the bores. The result was oil wash entering the combustion chamber. Refer to the first pic below. In area “A” there are deep parallel gouges and striations along the piston skirt. In area “B” there is significant/severe wear at the bottom edge of the piston skirt. In area “C” just above the rings is evidence of oil wash. (Note: the actual damage is worse than what you can see in these pics.)

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Pic Below: I use a GZ Motorsports vacuum pump to purge crankcase blowby gases to atmosphere. The intake tract has been isolated from oil ingestion commonly occurring with the LS series engines. Thus, the carbon buildup on the pistons is not from intake oil ingestion.
Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

I arranged a conference call among my Portland machinist, LME and myself. The technical aspects of the discussion were above my head and primarily focused on piston design and ring integrity. But a discussion of any probable root cause was irrelevant. It seems that LME had already made a decision prior to the conference call, so the points of discussion fell onto deaf ears. LME reiterated “We’ve built and assembled many of these engine combinations with no problems.” LME’s statement is hardly justification to absolve itself of any responsibility for a defective product. Analogy? GM has built many great Z06’s. But a lemon occasionally passes through. Example: a Seattle GM dealership sold a problematic Z06 to a customer. After many months of troubleshooting at the dealership, GM HQ eventually agreed to pull the engine for examination. Diagnosis: elliptically shaped bores. Result: GM did the right thing and replaced the engine. The moral of this story: GM did not rest on its laurels; GM did not take the position that their success in building thousands of identical LS7s precluded them from the possibility of producing a single defective engine. GM stepped up to the plate and accepted responsibility for a freak engine.

I asked LME to help me out. The R&R was going to be expensive. My request was open ended, and I was hoping for a reasonable response. After an uncomfortable silent pause during the conference call, I specifically asked for reimbursement for new pistons. Nada. LME policy is labor only, no parts, but a re-hone was available. WTH? Labor cost of a fresh hone is negligible, and was an insultingly “token” offer to me. Hell, the roundtrip cost of freight makes no sense whether the customer or vendor picked up the shipping cost. It’s more practical, logistically and economically, for a mere re-hone to be done locally. Finally, as a polite and graceful means of exiting the discussion, I asked if LME would contact Wiseco about piston design. LME would only offer to forward the pistons to Wiseco for assessment. (Wiseco would accept RM requests only from vendors.) Otherwise, LME was not willing to intervene on my behalf. The burden of proof would be entirely on my shoulders. (Fault me for not following thru with Wiseco, but my expectation was that the piston manufacturer would treat me no better than I was treated by LME.) I had to bear the entire R&R cost of a fluke engine. Yep, I was fluked!!

To emphasize, I do NOT want to hear from satisfied LME customers. In my view, a good product or the rendition of satisfactory services are normal expectations. Customers pay to attain these expectations. There is nothing special about normal results. And kudos and accolades have their own time and place when the product or service is excellent. I’m sure there are many satisfied LME customers out there. But that doesn’t ameliorate the fact that “exceptions” do occur and a few customers get screwed and tossed out into the cold. If post-sale warranty service isn’t necessary because 99% of customers are satisfied, how hard is it for a vendor to offer a reasonable amount of time, effort, resources and finances to assist the unfortunate/infrequent 1% that happened to receive a bad batch of rings, poorly designed pistons or substandard machine work?

I may be soft-spoken with an easygoing personality. But LME has misjudged me. I’m not laying down or going away. *****I’d like to hear from all the “exceptions” out there. If you are dissatisfied with LME, and your issue with LME has not been equitably resolved, please post your experience here. ***** Considering your circumstances and the urge to rant, please be as factual and as objective as you can possibly be. If you know of anyone on other forums (F-Body, LS1-Tech, Digital Vettes, SmokinVette, etc.) having issues with LME, please link them to this post or vice versa. Moderators: Please advise if this is against the rules.

Footnote: My LS7, rebuilt by my local machinist with custom Arias pistons, and installed by my tuner, no longer has an oil consumption issue. FWIW, query why the rebuilt motor does not consume oil? And my machinist has given me a 12-month, 12,000 mile warranty.

Footnote: I’ve been informed, admittedly through hearsay and second-hand information, that many LME engines allegedly have ring issues. If this is true, and you are a victim, please post up here.

Footnote: A CF vendor, Jeff @ TPE, has emailed me. He has severed ties with LME. Jeff, I hope that you would elaborate here.
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:03 PM   #2
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sucks dood! for what it's worth, i will not select LME for any of my future builds!

hope you get that sled up and running soon!
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:17 PM   #3
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Sorry, man. Thanks for the heads up on LME, though.
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:55 PM   #4
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I can understand your frustration, and your post is credible and intelligently written........I once fought with a trans and brace builder on my C5 for months, with his attitude simply one of condescension and sarcasm (in the extreme --- he was just a $%ith@ad about it!!) and they were supposed to be one of the best. Many satisfied customers posted -- but I still PM those looking for trans work and tell them to go with someone else....and its been two years since he treated me that way....
By the way, that scuffing on the piston skirts speaks for itself. What an incredibly sloppy build and a failure to step up and accept responsibility....very sad.......glad to hear that you had access to a competent mechanic for your repairs, and that he tried to go to bat for you with them.....Again, a very well written post. I admire the ability to get your message across that well.......no rant, all fact.

Last edited by C6NRED; 01-24-2009 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 01-24-2009, 07:18 PM   #5
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"...vacuum pump to purge crankcase blowby gases to atmosphere." ???
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Old 01-24-2009, 07:28 PM   #6
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Default Good reason to stick with stock

Wow. I have heard of these type of thing with aftermarket work on sportbike engines but this reinforces that unless you actually race your car of bike. Staying stock is best. The new LS3 is powerful enough, 436 HP, for anything that you can need for the steet. Sorry to hear about your problem but lesson learned.
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Old 01-24-2009, 08:43 PM   #7
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Thanks for the headsup.
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Old 01-24-2009, 08:56 PM   #8
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This looks like a discovery document for a pending lawsuit to me.

Be very very careful on what is in an e-mail or INTERNET post, when this case hits the lawyers this post will be subpoenaed.

Good luck with your situation.
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Old 01-24-2009, 09:04 PM   #9
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Those pistons look like they've been in service for a couple of hundred thousand miles.

Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:03 PM   #10
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Have you had the piston to cylinder clearance measured? I'd find Wiseco's spec for those pistons and see where it is at.

I'd make sure the bore hasn't been ovaled out by that scuffing. Some brands offer a slightly oversize piston you can hone out to, to perfect the clearance for a new set of pistons. Get the exact clearance spec and have the builder set up in the middle/toward the tight end slightly.
Those you have look like they must really be loose.

A lot of short skit pistons I see have the skirt coating to avoid scuffing like that. You set those up tight, use 5w30 synthetic oil, and the coating helps prevent cold scuffing.

Why wouldn't you go with a GM crate engine? A warranty including labor and pistons validated for the engine? Do you need forged stuff for a supercharger or nitrous?

Your going to be giving up some horsepower with pistons that loose too.
I build performance Harley motors and I can always make more power with tight fitting coated skirt cast pistons. Better cylinder sealing and lighter weight. If someone insists on forged, I'll go with CP or JE and be real careful to get the clearance perfect. Then with those forged you've got to be real careful to really let it warm up quite a while before laying into it hard because they can suff the skirts like that when cold and loose.

You need tighter pistons and synthetic oil from day one.

When the LS7/Z06 was first coming out, everyone griped when they found out it had cast pistons. Even some early literature said forged pistons. You've found the reason they use cast with coated skirts.
Pistons that big, when forged are going to need much more clearance - and if not done to perfection - scuff city. A smaller bore motor (like the ZR1) is easier to get away with a forged piston if carefully fitted.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuego View Post
Sorry, man. Thanks for the heads up on LME, though.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hunts187 View Post
So they mess up one engine and now they suck? Everyone messes up sometimes but if they messed up they should fix it. . I know 3 people that have there engines 2 are nitrous motors and the other is fi. All of them have had zero problems with them they are a very good shop. If you would like I can have them chime in. Also I know lme helps lmr build the motor that is in the record setting stock suspended f body thats a pretty big deal if you ask me. I wouldnt not recommend them to anyone, I would try resolving the problem before making a big thread about it just tell them that you will be making a big thread about it if something isnt done.

"To emphasize, I do NOT want to hear from satisfied LME customers. In my view, a good product or the rendition of satisfactory services are normal expectations. Customers pay to attain these expectations. There is nothing special about normal results. And kudos and accolades have their own time and place when the product or service is excellent. I’m sure there are many satisfied LME customers out there. But that doesn’t ameliorate the fact that “exceptions” do occur and a few customers get screwed and tossed out into the cold. If post-sale warranty service isn’t necessary because 99% of customers are satisfied, how hard is it for a vendor to offer a reasonable amount of time, effort, resources and finances to assist the unfortunate/infrequent 1% that happened to receive a bad batch of rings, poorly designed pistons or substandard machine work?
"

cant be that good to F up like this.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:43 PM   #13
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Man that susks, thanks for the heads up.

Unlike another poster has stated, it isn't that they messed up only one motor (anyone can do that) but rather it is that they would do nothing beyond a token gesture to help correct the situation that really defines the quality of that company.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:46 PM   #14
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It isn't about how right you do things. It's about when things go wrong, how do you try to make them right. The moral of this story is, read and comprehend.

And if you need a further example of how to do it right, in the face of when things go wrong, take a look at forum vendor MGW. I have. He knows how to make things right and KEEP his customers, and make new ones just from his word and deeds.

That's the real story of a businessman.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:53 PM   #15
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Default Fix It

Quote:
Originally Posted by hunts187 View Post
cant be that good to F up like this.
O thats right cause I forgot everyone in this world is perfect like you have never screwed anything up in your life. So does that make you a piece of sh*t? For all you know this could have been a rookie machinist that put this motor together and I did state which you forgot to read that they should pay for it. The old saying is true bad news travesls faster then good news.[/QUOTE]

If you make a mistake, FIX IT. Don't stick you head in the sand someone might just kick your a$$.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:53 PM   #16
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this is what separates some shops from others......CUSTOMER SERVICE. if they are at fault even though we havent heard LME side of they story.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:58 PM   #17
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I replied to this on Ls1tech since it was posted in the Gen IV internal section there. My name is El_Diablo over there if the OP is interested. I've been on the very petty banned wagon from here once and I don't intend to be again so I will not reply here other than to say that I hope you got things taken care of. I wish you the best of luck with everything.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:59 PM   #18
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Appreciate the heads up. One of my future projects involved LME. Not any more.
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:13 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peelrubber View Post
I’m posting this as a public service to the gearhead community so that others can avoid the unfortunate experience I had with Late Model Engines (LME) of Houston, TX.

In lieu of buying a crate motor from GM, I ordered a forged balanced/blueprinted LS7 short block from LME in January of 2008. As many of you know, LME is an established engine builder with a reputable record among the hot rodding community. With regard to LME’s warranty coverage, the technical and legal aspects are not discussed herein. Suffice it to say that LME offered to “take care” of me after a standard 90-day warranty period for any build defect. I was comfortable with LME’s coverage as it is generally in line with warranties offered by other vendors. In fact, other vendors’ warranties might be more restrictive, yet their customers are treated fairly. As an example, I understand Texas Speed does not warranty their engines unless installed at their own facility. Yet, for an off-site installation, Texas Speed would stand behind an issue caused by unsatisfactory workmanship. I’ve read many posts on CF where numerous vendors stepped up to the plate to “take care” of their customers. On the other side of the spectrum, vendors such as SDPC and Pace have liberal warranties, yet they will continue to accommodate customers after a liberal policy period has technically expired. This policy is very equitable particularly when a major build defect is involved.

As background, my new engine was properly broken in by my tuner who is reputable and well known. Prior to initial startup, PCM maps from a similarly equipped LS7 were uploaded, the fuel system was charged and pressurized, and the engine fired up immediately, thereby no fuel wash occurred. Break-in oil was non-synthetic Castrol GTX 10W30 as recommended by LME for the first 1000 miles. Before driving on the road, the engine was run up and down to mid-RPMs on a Mustang dyno (inertia load) in order to apply ring pressure against the fresh bores during both accel/decel phases. Car has never been tracked, engine never abused. There are no oil leaks and not a single oil stain on the garage floor.

Well, at 600 miles the DIC advises me to check the oil level. So I top it off with 1.5+ quarts as needed. That didn’t seem abnormal, as I had anticipated some oil consumption during the break-in period. But at the 1,000 mile mark, which is just 400 miles down the road, I had to add another quart. This consumption rate continued to the tune of one quart of oil every 400 to 600 miles. I mentioned this to LME several times, and each time their response was “put on a few more miles.” By this time, the warranty period had already lapsed. During latter discussions, LME’s repeated responses were “I can’t think of anything that would cause this.” And “we’ve built many of these engine combinations without any problems.”

Finally, 8 months later with 6,000 miles on the new engine, I had the LS7 pulled for diagnosis. I notified LME that I was going to have my tuner and a local machine shop (in Portland) pull the motor to trace the oil consumption problem. (I did not request/offer to return the motor to LME for their personal inspection. I was already unimpressed with LME’s apathetic response to date. In the end, that proved to be the correct decision because LME’s possession of the block would have provided them with leverage to charge me for the cost of suspect inferior new parts. As mentioned below, LME’s policy - as it was stated to me - is to provide only warranty “labor services”. LME’s policy does not cover the cost of replacement parts such as new rings or pistons.)

The local machinist determined that the pistons were rocking in their bores thereby causing the ring lands to become skewed unsquarely against the bores. The result was oil wash entering the combustion chamber. Refer to the first pic below. In area “A” there are deep parallel gouges and striations along the piston skirt. In area “B” there is significant/severe wear at the bottom edge of the piston skirt. In area “C” just above the rings is evidence of oil wash. (Note: the actual damage is worse than what you can see in these pics.)

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Pic Below: I use a GZ Motorsports vacuum pump to purge crankcase blowby gases to atmosphere. The intake tract has been isolated from oil ingestion commonly occurring with the LS series engines. Thus, the carbon buildup on the pistons is not from intake oil ingestion.
Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

I arranged a conference call among my Portland machinist, LME and myself. The technical aspects of the discussion were above my head and primarily focused on piston design and ring integrity. But a discussion of any probable root cause was irrelevant. It seems that LME had already made a decision prior to the conference call, so the points of discussion fell onto deaf ears. LME reiterated “We’ve built and assembled many of these engine combinations with no problems.” LME’s statement is hardly justification to absolve itself of any responsibility for a defective product. Analogy? GM has built many great Z06’s. But a lemon occasionally passes through. Example: a Seattle GM dealership sold a problematic Z06 to a customer. After many months of troubleshooting at the dealership, GM HQ eventually agreed to pull the engine for examination. Diagnosis: elliptically shaped bores. Result: GM did the right thing and replaced the engine. The moral of this story: GM did not rest on its laurels; GM did not take the position that their success in building thousands of identical LS7s precluded them from the possibility of producing a single defective engine. GM stepped up to the plate and accepted responsibility for a freak engine.

I asked LME to help me out. The R&R was going to be expensive. My request was open ended, and I was hoping for a reasonable response. After an uncomfortable silent pause during the conference call, I specifically asked for reimbursement for new pistons. Nada. LME policy is labor only, no parts, but a re-hone was available. WTH? Labor cost of a fresh hone is negligible, and was an insultingly “token” offer to me. Hell, the roundtrip cost of freight makes no sense whether the customer or vendor picked up the shipping cost. It’s more practical, logistically and economically, for a mere re-hone to be done locally. Finally, as a polite and graceful means of exiting the discussion, I asked if LME would contact Wiseco about piston design. LME would only offer to forward the pistons to Wiseco for assessment. (Wiseco would accept RM requests only from vendors.) Otherwise, LME was not willing to intervene on my behalf. The burden of proof would be entirely on my shoulders. (Fault me for not following thru with Wiseco, but my expectation was that the piston manufacturer would treat me no better than I was treated by LME.) I had to bear the entire R&R cost of a fluke engine. Yep, I was fluked!!

To emphasize, I do NOT want to hear from satisfied LME customers. In my view, a good product or the rendition of satisfactory services are normal expectations. Customers pay to attain these expectations. There is nothing special about normal results. And kudos and accolades have their own time and place when the product or service is excellent. I’m sure there are many satisfied LME customers out there. But that doesn’t ameliorate the fact that “exceptions” do occur and a few customers get screwed and tossed out into the cold. If post-sale warranty service isn’t necessary because 99% of customers are satisfied, how hard is it for a vendor to offer a reasonable amount of time, effort, resources and finances to assist the unfortunate/infrequent 1% that happened to receive a bad batch of rings, poorly designed pistons or substandard machine work?

I may be soft-spoken with an easygoing personality. But LME has misjudged me. I’m not laying down or going away. *****I’d like to hear from all the “exceptions” out there. If you are dissatisfied with LME, and your issue with LME has not been equitably resolved, please post your experience here. ***** Considering your circumstances and the urge to rant, please be as factual and as objective as you can possibly be. If you know of anyone on other forums (F-Body, LS1-Tech, Digital Vettes, SmokinVette, etc.) having issues with LME, please link them to this post or vice versa. Moderators: Please advise if this is against the rules.

Footnote: My LS7, rebuilt by my local machinist with custom Arias pistons, and installed by my tuner, no longer has an oil consumption issue. FWIW, query why the rebuilt motor does not consume oil? And my machinist has given me a 12-month, 12,000 mile warranty.

Footnote: I’ve been informed, admittedly through hearsay and second-hand information, that many LME engines allegedly have ring issues. If this is true, and you are a victim, please post up here.

Footnote: A CF vendor, Jeff @ TPE, has emailed me. He has severed ties with LME. Jeff, I hope that you would elaborate here.
What a nightmare.
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:40 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hunts187 View Post
I need to read and comprehend? I dont see where in my past 2 posts that you cant comprehend that I said they should pay for it. But to say that no ones makes mistakes is plain old stuipd everyone messes stuff up. And for all those that cant read my post I said they should fix it but to say a shop doesnt do good work is not called for I have seen plenty motors they have done awesome work on.
No offense but while your posts are "technically" supportive of the original poster, you really are coming off as a jerk with the way you are expressing your thoughts.

I think it's perfectly within the OP's right to say that the shop didn't do a good job. If he's having to spend extra time worrying about his car and this problem due to the work of the shop then that to me qualifies him to be able to be critical of the shop.

It sounds like the pistons were outsourced, if so I can understand having to share some of the blame with them, but in the end this guys' hard earned money went to just that job, and now he has problems galore.

I thought his original post was factual, cool, calm, and collect. He wasn't harsh at all and just wants the RIGHT thing to be done. I think it's a rather crappy that he specifically requested NOT to hear from satisfied LME customers, yet you keep talking about their awesome work.
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