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#1 Dishonest, Incompetent, Feckless ? You choose.

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:20 pm
by rfs1957
INTRO : this thread details problems I have had over engine-work, and begins with relatively minor - if highly irksome - over-charging for gaskets, regarding which I was told "you had a quote, and accepted it, end of story" ............ but as I had indeed been ripped off to the tune of £100, I did end up with a highly begrudging refund, minus any apology.

Minor, you may think.

However, if you persevere through the account you will see that being gouged for £100, and having to fight for it, was just the beginning of my worries.

BEGINS JULY 2018 : I am reeling from some recent exchanges and interactions with a "well-known" supplier and service-provider.

I won't prejudice the situation by naming names, or nailing my opinion to the mast, yet, although my choice of title will give you a clue.

However, whilst trying to resolve this "amicably", I wonder if I could have some help from Forum users regarding just one of the issues at stake, which regards engine-gasket prices.

I have just paid an invoice that lists (all prices include VAT) :

Stem seals (x6) £7.80 (these have been fitted by the supplier to my completed cylinder-head)
Composite head-gasket £84
Gasket set £ £84
Bottom end set £ 60
Composite head-gasket £108 (yes, listed twice)

Now, the actual parts supplied are shown here - two "sets", and one separate head-gasket.


One of the sets has been opened,


perhaps to remove the stem-seals that might have been contained within, and this set (marked CEE.542 and CE.542) includes a rather mundane-looking head-gasket - which is presumably "non-composite".

The other set is what you might call a "bottom-end" set, and is marked CEE.532 and CE.532.


Now, I can't see why you would be charged twice for "Composite head-gasket" when there's only one supplied, but I was told by the supplier

"£108 for the composite head gasket alone, £84 for the head gasket set which yes also comes with a tin gasket which we do not use"

Now if this is the case, this would suggest that the gaskets have been priced like this :


or perhaps more accurately the "top-end set" has been sold to me for £93, as the stem-seals that were in it have been taken out and sold to me separately for £9 extra.

So the parts I've been sold can be seen to look like this :


Without judging the actual prices, just yet, I can't square what I've ended up with against the lines on the invoice, which appear to boil down to :

Composite head-gasket £84
Gasket set £ £93 - CE542
Bottom end set £ 60 - CE532
Composite head-gasket £108

However you look at it, either this line

Composite head-gasket £84

or this line

Gasket set £ £93

is a duplicate, or in short an invoice for something that I have not received, and so I've been charged for FOUR items when only THREE have been delivered.

If I look at what one might call "market prices", the most expensive "composite head-gasket" available from SNGB is £66 inc VAT, compared with £108 that I've paid, and for £93 SNGB can supply an up-rated top-end set that includes both the composite head-gasket AND the top-end set - whereas I've been supplied separately at a cost of either £201, or £192, according to how you interpret the invoice.

Or more like £285 in fact as I've been charged for one or the other TWICE.

Could anyone can allay, or indeed confirm, my fears about having been taken for a ride both over the contents of my order and the prices of the contents ?

And later on I'll tell you about the rest of the griefs, including dragging my block across a (visibly) concrete floor to scrape and knacker the rear crank-seal dowels, and charging me some £250 to turn a cam-cover into a twisted banana (through welding) complete with linishing marks still visible (I paid for polishing).

Then I might tell you about being charged £86.40 for 6 threaded crank-bungs that are available for £1.20 each from just about anywhere else, and £35 for seven core-plugs that most places sell for between £1 and £2 each.

How did I end up paying for all this ? Because I TRUSTED the "well-known" supplier to charge fair prices, and because out of a misplaced sense of loyalty I didn't want to shop around elsewhere ........... whereas I could in fact have not only shopped elsewhere but, in addition, got trade prices to boot.

But I wanted to support a good-ol' machine shop.

Lesson learned.

Watch this space.

#2 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:26 pm
by cactusman the end of the day speaking very generally without reference to your issue, a supplier can set their own price. I am in the electrical business and if I supply parts I do mark them up over what I paid...usually 10-20%. I have to get them, pay for them if they come from somewhere I don't have an account with and store them. I am guessing your supplier does the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong in this. There is a line that separates adding a reasonable margin from rank profiteering but where the line is....who knows. Perfume Mark ups can be hundreds of percent. My personal view is that more than double starts to look dubious.

If you can prove that your supplier has managed to charge you for bits not supplied or has charged for a part twice then that is different. That would fall foul of the law I suspect.
From what I see they have charged for two gasket sets and an extra better quality head gasket and have supplied you with what they did not use although you suggest they may have charged for stem seals and a head gasket twice. Their price does seem significantly higher than if you had bought them but is it beyond reasonable? think not but it is not multiples of what you could have my view their pricing is high but probably not ludicrously so. I would politely query the stem seals and the possible double charge for the extra gasket and ask why their parts are so much more expensive than you might have paid elsewhere and see their response.
Work on cars is notorious for people getting unexpectedly high bills. Did you discuss an overall price for the works beforehand? It sounds like they did a lot more than just supply parts so, assuming the work was carried out to a high hint at not....was the overall bill in line with what was agreed at the start? If it was then really you have little to complain about in my view unless they have double charged for a part....or of course there were other issues with the works they carried out.

#3 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:18 pm
by Tony W
It looks to my rather (tired at the moment) eyes that theyve supplied the top end gasket set complete, which usually tends to include a head gasket as itd likely cost more to source all those other parts separately, hence you get it all in one set.

It looks also like theyve supplied you a head gasket that you asked for rather than the one in the kit which as you suggest is a bit mundane looking, with the sump set being just the bottom end parts.

If theyve charged you extra for the parts already supplied (stem seals) then theyre on thin ice as thats a wee bit fraudulent id say, unless of course theyve charged you fitting them.....
All looks a bit confusing.

#4 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:47 pm
by abowie


From a recent invoice for my 3.8. Price is ex VAT.

#5 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:43 am
by christopher storey
I think some of the posts have missed the point : you have ( inadvertently one hopes ) been charged £84 twice, once for the gasket set, and once for " a composite head gasket" for which you have also been charged £108. I am of the view that you are certainly due a refund for that duplication of £ 84( + vat presumably )

#6 Dishonest, Incompetent, Feckless ? You choose.

Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:34 am
by rfs1957
After my polite enquiries about the billing inconsistencies,the mark-ups, and the shabby work on the covers were met with total indifference, bordering on outright hostility with a big dose of condescension, I have kept calm.


And sort of gone to the dentist, as each point has been like pulling teeth.

So far I've had the rip-off on the crank plugs reduced from £72 + VAT to £12 + VAT, the "polishing" of £210 + VAT refunded, and the duplicate gasket-set reimbursed to the tune of £84 + VAT.

Not a single hint nor allusion to the SLIGHTEST apology, mind.

Next up for extraction will be a replacement for the "banana-d" cam-cover








that I actually bought from another Forum member - sorry Pete, it's gone down the pan !

Then we'll move on to their balancing of the crankshaft WITHOUT the oil-way plugs in situ, where I will shortly be able to report (from re-balancing it here in Montpellier) whether it makes any difference or not (as the supplier claims) - of course the plugs are all identical, but are they all at exactly the same installed radius ?

Unfortunately, so far it all adds up to proving the AFAC rule.

(All Firms Are Crap.)

#7 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:49 pm
by Tony W
Wow, that cam covers absolutely bowed!

Im looking at the design of these heads and cant understand why theres no standoff fitted to the studs, itd prevent such problems as cracking due to overtightening.
Material to use would probably be a nylon sleeve on the top of each stud so that it has a slight amount of flex.
Thatd be my fix for the issue.
Glad youve at least got some of your money back.
As for the plugs not being in the crank when balancing it- thats going to unbalance it when when theyre screwed in so youre right to be concerned.

Not all firms are crap though, it just seems to be that way sometimes, Hope you manage to sort out your problems.

#8 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:26 pm
by Series1 Stu
Hi Rory

You won't need to be told that the cam cover is now scrap. People think that just because they can weld aluminium they can weld cast aluminium. The truth is that not many people can.

I was well and truly stitched up by a well known race car fire protection and preparation company who confidently declared they could weld repair my cracked sump. Let's just say that they couldn't. Didn't stop them charging me a small fortune for the failed repair. Still, I got an extra half pound of weld metal for my trouble.

People should stick to what they're good at and leave the bullshit in the pub.


#9 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:51 pm
by Thor
For any specialist welding look at your nearest airport where you will find proper welding engineers! Ask me how I know ☺

#10 Dishonest, Incompetent, Feckless ? You choose.

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:39 am
by rfs1957
Thanks for all the input.

I would have thought that if you were a well-known XK engine specialist, regularly faced with crack-repairs on cam-covers, you would have a jig that enabled you hold a cover "on its back" as it were, with a series of pillar-bolts, to constrain the cover whilst welding ; you'd remove the stud where the repair was to be done, slide the cover over the other pillars, clamp them tight, and then proceed carefully.

Apparently easier to be lazy then accuse the customer of bringing a bent cover to start with.

My initial comments upon receiving the work (part of a £10.000 invoice) were :

The welded repairs to it have buckled the part so badly that there is now a 1/4 gap when it's in place, or approximately in place, as it's warped in the other plane too so the front studs no longer align ; I had imagined this work would be carried out with the cover clamped and constrained.

How about this for weasel-duplicity ?

The initial respnse was this :

If you wish we can skim the cam covers as we didn’t check the faces before weld. The amount of heat put into the cam covers wouldn’t have cause such bowing as the quantity of weld was limited. Skimming cam covers isn’t something we recommend or check as standard, as customers should notice serious bowing when stripping their engine. Particularly on old original covers.

and then this, when he still hadn't seen the cover :

Admittedly I didn’t check how warped your original cover already was, so sadly you have had the upper hand solely on a small mistake as we strongly feel the welding didn’t cause such distortion.

and now that the guy has SEEN the cover it's become this :

Taking a look at the return I’m not happy with the distortion either and admittedly this has been exaggerated by the weld. I do apologise regarding my lapse in not checking this before sending to you. I think it possibly already had some twist prior and the heat has just sent this further out.

Just how stupid does this guy think I am ?! Skimming cam-covers ?! The cam-cover came from Peter Crespin via the Forum and it was flat to start with - and anyway, how do you bend one ?

So I'm a liar, I'm stupid, and I've put one over him because - I quote - I have the upper hand ?

At this point I've been offered, and I quote verbatim :

(note the complete absence of any apology for anything)

I will be completing the following.

I will be refunding the following.

Crank bungs £60.00+VAT

Cam Covers Polishing - £210.00+VAT

Cam Cover Weld - £110.00+VAT

Gasket Set - £70.00+VAT

Supply original cover on receiving the one your not happy with.

Revenge is a dish best eaten cold. Let's see what the crank balance throws up.

I'll bite my tongue, bide my time, and throw the proverbial at the fan once it suits me.

#11 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:41 am
by Gfhug
Rory, I'm so sorry to hear of all your problems and just hope they can be resolved to your satisfaction, or as close as it is possible to do so after all the grief you've been put to.

We have to trust the people we send our cars/engines to, often based on views from others. It is such a shame to the classic car world when something like this happens and they are not willing to accept responsibility for the problems.

Good luck


#12 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:09 am
by Series1 Stu
Hang on!

There's no mention of pre-heating the casting before welding so no wonder it's distorted. I can't believe that they have ever successfully welded a cast part.

Clamping it down prior to welding would give interesting results when removing it. Possibly resulting in the cover cracking.

They are clearly inexpert in such matters.


#13 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:49 am
by JerryL770
Yes, I agree with Stu. Clamping the cover before welding is no use. What is require is even pre-heating of the whole part before welding. It would need to be put into an oven and heated to at least 200°C before welding, then there would be a chance of it remaining straight.

In my younger days I bought a Mini Cooper S which the previous owner had driven over a rock, punching a hole in the bottom which he plugged with body filler, leaving a lump of ally in the gearbox. :shock: You can imagine how that was chewed by the gears and went through the oil pump resulting in very poor oil pressure. Fortunately the oil filter removed "all" of this ally and the crank was OK. I stripped the box, replaced all the bearings before rebuild and took the casing in to work where a "foreigner" weld repair was done. We worried about distorsion but it was worth trying before podding out for a new casing. Anyway, I was lucky and it worked :smile:

Such a casing is of course more robust and resistant to distorsion than your cam cover. I doubt it is recoverable now and would recon the welder should get you a replacement.

#14 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:06 pm
by Series1 Stu

A couple of hours at 200C before welding would stress relieve the casting (which might, in itself, lead to distortion) and then maintaining it at about that temperature during welding would reduce the stresses caused by localised heating during welding. Then cool it slowly after welding. Even after that there's no guarantee that you won't get some distortion but I'm sure that it wouldn't be anywhere near as bad as what you got back from whoever did it.

I'm not an expert, but I know enough now to proceed with caution when attempting to repair castings. There are others equally capable, I'm sure, but I trust Brian at Stitchweld implicitly with such things. He managed to save my sump after the first attempt just made things far worse.


#15 Dishonest, Incompetent, Feckless ? You choose.

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:01 am
by rfs1957
Quick update.

I managed to get - begrudgingly, and dismissively - written advice about the correct fitting procedure for the lip-seal assembly. I had been promised this when visiting the company prior to the work being carried out, and initially got this, which is as good a sneer as I've had this year.

I had written - the lip-seal modification for the crank rear has been supplied with the carrier, but without the seal and without any instructions ?

The reply came :

Seal was placed in the shipment. As for instructions, most reputable engine builders have assembled this style of seal before. Basic mechanics. I will take it on board that maybe we should produce some though.

most reputable engine builders have assembled this style of seal before. Basic mechanics.

Helpful customer service, n'est ce pas ? And fitting one of these for the first time requires advice.

I was told to get camshaft instructions directly from Guy Broad as they themselves had nothing in writing - the irony of them having made the profit on the cams, but not feeling that they bore any responsability for helping me fit them correctly, was lost on them.

I got £540 refund for overcharging on the crank-bungs, refund of polishing and welding costs, and double-charging for non-existent gasket set, and was supplied with a good replacement cam-cover.

Not a single word of apology, regret, remorse, excuse - the whole exercise was conducted in a quite shameless tone, complete with requisite Hubris.


Other issues still going on, watch this space.

#16 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:28 pm
by PeterCrespin
rfs1957 wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:01 am
Not a single word of apology, regret, remorse, excuse - the whole exercise was conducted on a F--OffAndDie tone complete with requisite Hubris.
I think I spotted un soupçon of an excuse somehere in their correspondence Rory, but wouldn't swear to it!

Malheureusement, we live in a world where 'Oops, sorry!' can be parlayed by insurers into a denial of cover, be it professional indemnity, motor, household - whatever. If I sold you a cover as perfect and it was cracked, I'm sorry. If you send me a close-up of the external detail around the acorn nut recesses I'll see if I have a spare. Coincidentally, I was looking at D-type/LWE covers yesterday in the Denis Welch catalogue: GBP430 each, plus 148 for the pipe stubs! Got mine from NZ a few years ago for less than half that...

#17 Dishonest, Incompetent, Feckless ? You choose.

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:46 pm
by rfs1957
Yes, Pete, you're right ! There WAS an apology for not haveing looked at the banana before posting it, but the implication remained that I'd sent them a half-banana to start with.

And as you hadn't sold me half a banana to start with ..............

Don't you admire the hubris of

Admittedly I didn’t check how warped your original cover already was, so sadly you have had the upper hand solely on a small mistake as we strongly feel the welding didn’t cause such distortion.

at a moment when the guy hasn't even seen the result of his work ?

Does this count as Casuistry or An Exercise In Semantics ?

#18 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:28 pm
by PeterCrespin
rfs1957 wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:46 pm
Does this count as Casuistry or An Exercise In Semantics ?
Casantics, I think :smile:

#19 Dishonest, Incompetent, Feckless ? You choose.

Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:57 pm
by rfs1957
The list continues.

I had assumed the £120 plus VAT of con-rod bolts and nuts that were invoiced were indeed the parts that were holding the rods together, fresh from their re-sizing, honing, rebushing and balancing ............

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=13109&p=106658&hili ... on#p106658

No chance ; they were in fact the old ones.

No, the ones that had been invoiced were never sent.

Yet another curteous query, and the forgotten set is on its way.

Checking obviously not a priority, but then as there was no packing list either ........


and - on the pallet - there was no packing between the block and the studs on the cam line either, unless you think cling-film over 1/4" studs will resist 40kg on one side and 90kg on the other, what would you expect ?

#20 Re: Robbed by a supplier ?

Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2018 4:34 pm
by ralphr1780
Epic :wow: