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24273 Views 198 Replies 33 Participants Last post by  Cougar5.O
I started this thread a while back and I never finished what I had to say. I needed to cool down a bit. I'm not sure if this is the correct sub forum to post this in so feel free to move it. Thank you.

I purchased a 347 short block from CHP. It vibrated from the start. Upon disassembly at 500 miles by a professional mechanic; various issues were found. The rotating assembly was off a total of 64ozs causing the imbalance and bad vibrations. It then came to light in the past few weeks that my harmonic balancer, flywheel and pressure plate I sent to CHP, was never used in the balancing process. The owner did admit this after months of going back and forth. Metal debris was found between the main bearings and caps. Main bearings were gouged and ruined. The thrust bearing was worn on one side as if it were never squared. The front cam bearing was gouged as if a tool had slid across it. Tobi at CHP stated that camshafts are sharp. That was his explanation for a bearing that should have been replaced. The mains had never been align honed and two caps were tapered. I was told by CHP that they only align hone an engine if it needs it. The bores were tapered upon inspection by my machinist as well. Maybe this explains the terrible oil consumption that the engine suffered from. It was also discovered that one of the head gaskets may have leaked and that is on me. I didn't check the head surface for trueness before installing. It was later discovered that my new AFR head gasket surface was .005"-.01" from true. The heads are now resurfaced. CHP consistantly brings up that the leaky head gasket could have bent rods and such. Very true but what does that have to do with their bad machining and balancing? I didn't complain to CHP that the head gasket leaked. I complained about the bad vibrations, machining and balancing. CHP attempts to railroad the facts at every turn.
Also; my new harmonic balancer rubbed the bottom bolt boss on the water pump. The rubbing between balancer and water pump is common place with aftermarket parts and some paint from the water pump transferred to the balancer. Google this rubbing and you'll be rewarded with many posts/threads discussing it. I was told by CHP that the slight rub damaged the balancer thus causing the vibration. The balancer is fine and being used on my newly rebuilt 347. I received the balancer rubbing excuse repeatedly until the Martin of CHP admitted that they had messed up the engine balance. That balancer rubbing was my bad but did not cause any damage to the engine. I also had an issue with two freeze plugs blowing. My mechanic did a cooling system pressure test as well as the blue die test to see if any combustion gasses entered the coolant. He found nothing. I'm still baffled why the tests showed nothing but I do believe the head gasket seeped as I never had to add coolant.

CHP offered to have me haul the engine from Phoenix to California so they could put it on an engine dyno. I would leave the engine there and drive back home. I would then drive back to California after the engine was repaired, pick it up and drive back home. Being such a long haul; I would have the expense of a hotel room during both trips along with fuel and meals. The other choice given to me by CHP was to strap the engine to a pallet and have a truck haul it there and back at my expense. Nearly $500.00 each way. My thought process is two fold. If CHP couldn't build the engine correct the first time; do I trust them to do it correctly the second time. I also considered the cost of the two options given to me by CHP. Ship it or drive it there....Both are not cheap alternatives. I was originally given the two alternatives by the employee who sold me the short block. I have all emails where I was asked to ship or haul the engine at my expense. I decided my money was best spent having a local and unbiased party re-machine the block and balance the rotating assembly. I was eventually contacted by Martin from CHP who argued and denied the whole mess even though I presented facts and photo documentation. I received a very condescending attitude. It was as if their employees could do no wrong. After months of email correspondence; CHP admitted partial fault and asked what I wanted. I asked for $1000.00 to cover the re-machining and balancing of the block/rotating assembly. This didn't begin to cover the [email protected] of the engine nor any other expenses that I paid out. At this point I was unaware that I was speaking to the "Boss" at CHP. The boss attempted to lowball me stating that they only charge $80.00 for a balance job to anyone who walks into the shop. I challenge anyone to find a shop that charges so little for a balance job that can take hours to do. At this point I was going back and forth with CHP on a fair settlement. The boss (Martin) then stated that their company's return policy differed from what I was told by Tobi and that I should have known this. So at this point; I'm suppose to know that an employee/salesman from CHP misquoted the correct return policy and that supposedly; I could have shipped the engine to CHP at no cost to me. The customer service staff is there to assist me; the customer. If you tell me that shipping or hauling the engine to CHP and back is going to cost me; I believe you. Who would know the policies better than the salesman?

I also provided the contact info of my local machinist to Martin at CHP. Martin refused to call the machinist to collect info on bore, crank and mains. I'm not a machinist and I sometimes could not explain how measurements were taken and what certain measurement values were. Martin had the chance but instead chose to insult my machinist on several occasions. I offered to have Martin or one of his reps inspect the block and it's parts at my machinist. Again; he ignored the opportunity.

CHP also enjoys railroading the actual issues by bringing up the fact that I called Tobi at CHP for advice on some elementary things. Now I've built a few engines in my 55 years but by no means am I a pro. I've asked plenty of questions here as well. CHP has chose to take those questions and spin them around to show that I didn't know what I was doing. What CHP doesn't tell you is that the engine was assembled by an ASE certified mechanic who is a award winning hot rod builder who has even been featured in magazine articles. I'm bragging but he is a very humble guy. I'm just curious by nature and bent Tobi's ear to satisfy my curiosity. Tobi was great to me up until the engine came apart and I sent photos of bad machining, metal debris from assembly, toasted bearings, pics of measurements being taken, etc....I took a bunch of pics that are undeniable evidence. I've saved every email and they often prove that CHP customer service are far from truthful. Tobi also attempted to railroad the issues in the beginning by stating that CHP/CPR did not build me a long block so they are off the hook if metal found it's way to the main bearings during head and intake install. I always get this defensive attitude from Tobi and Martin. If I exposed the engine to metal debris; how did metal debris get sandwiched between the main bearings and caps? That can only happen during assembly of the small block.

CHP/CPR also enjoy bragging how they build trophy truck engines and such and there is no way that their guys screwed up. I heard this over and over and in the end Martin from CHP/CPR admitted fault with the balance job and issues with the mains. He never apologized and I guess that really bothers me as I think it should.

I'm sorry that I've taken up the bandwidth but I've had enough of CHP/CPR's non-existent customer service. For those who may think I'm biased and such....I'm a repeat customer. I have another CHP 347 with the 5.315 rods and originally had the old Probe SRS 10666-030 pistons. I was very happy with that engine and it was just rebuilt to go into my son's car.

In the end; Martin offered me $707.00. I asked for $1000.00. Martin and I went back and forth via email for a couple of weeks. Martin's attitude pushed me to the point of considering a legal avenue and I told him so. His offer of $707.00 was pulled and here we are. Am I pig headed for not accepting Martin's offer after months of receiving the worst customer service ever? You betcha! It is the principle of the matter.

You are all free to judge me as you please, but I know in my heart that I have typed the honest truth here. I still have all of the photos, emails and damaged parts.

Buyer Beware folks. People deserve to know who provides great customer service and who doesn't. Somehow these companies get away with it. I'm so thankful that I sent the engine to a local party who is unbiased. To this day; my machinist does not know who built the short block originally nor did he ask. He did get a chuckle out of Martin's insults though.
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No engine builder I've ever known will warranty work unless the engine comes back to them.

Nor should they. It was nice of him to offer the $707.00.

I wouldn't have.
I'm not ignorant; Mark. Re-read my post as the info lies in there.
Isn't this the second time you have told this story?

May be confusion this with another story I read here recently. Very similar story though. OP didn't want to name names in that one.
Re-read the first sentence of my first post above.
I don't understand why you are happy with the first engine they built for you but you wouldn't figure out a way to get this second engine back to them to give them an opportunity to fix it. Then you expect them to just send you money based purely on your word or the word of a third party. It sounds like they screwed this engine up pretty good but they are just people, not robots. You should have given them the chance to fix it and yes that includes being somewhat reasonable about returning it to them so they can at least look at it.
Would you have driven to California and back twice on your dime? This includes hotel rooms, food and gas. Would you be willing to pay nearly $500.00 both ways to ship the engine on a pallet? I was never told that I'd receive any compensation for shipping or hauling myself. Not once! This is a company who did screw up my engine and frankly I did not trust them to do a better job the second time. Would you? It would be different if it were just the balance job being off.
It's the same one. I know who the guy is, who the local shop is, and who built the motor. I still owned CHP when the first one was built.

I'll allow for messing up a balance job, that can happen to anyone, but I know the shop and the personnel far too well to take the rest of it on faith. And I never take the word of another shop, unless I know them very well. 99% of the "problems" they find are the result of "it wasn't built here." CHP's engine builder is not a fancy guy. He's rock solid, seldom lifts his head above his work, and builds every motor in exactly the same sequence. His comeback rate, over the course of 10 years, was less than 1%. There was no metal in the mains when it left their shop.

Anyone that guarantees a short block beyond basic workmanship and materials is insane.
Please enlighten us Mark. It's ok for CHP to question my machinist's integrity but not ok for me to question CHP's machinist/builder? Do you also know that I asked Martin to have you drive over and see the engine for yourself? Martin stated that your health wouldn't allow it. I have nothing to hide nor does my machinist. He didn't badmouth you or CHP. Why is he being questioned and insulted?
Wow, so much misinformation that one would think this was some sort of political post. As you can see, I don't have to hide my identity, in fact many many customers have my cell phone number so that I can help them further, not many people do that.

CHP sold you a shortblock with camshaft, we did not build a complete engine for you. The issues you had from the beginning were that freeze plugs were blowing out and we asked you to do a leak down and coolant pressure test because it seemed you were pressurizing the cooling system. You kept talking about how you have been working on engines for years and that there was no way you could make a mistake. During your build process you kept calling us for advice, which is fine with us but you did not seem to know a lot of engine building details. Now it was a friend who was building the engine? We did see the pics of it being finished outdoors in front of a garage, not really sanitary conditions for a build. I am sure your friend is a great mechanic and a nice guy but that does not qualify him to build engines. We have a mechanic at our shop and I would trust him with my brakes, clutch jobs, LSX or SBF swaps, setting up a fuel system but not to build my engines.

So your expert machinist could not give you or us main dimensions, piston to wall clearance or bore dimensions but he can tell you that the block was not within spec, seems fishy. You were also told that the reason your freeze plugs were blowing out was that they were concave from being slammed in too hard(EPC-30B freeze plugs are made that way) and that it was our fault the cylinders were rusted, maybe your forgot to tell them you improperly installed the head gaskets, maybe overheated the engine, I mean .005-.010 is huge on a head. It's amazing that you called very happy about the engine making 400+HP to the wheels with what your new machine shop says was improperly built. Funny that you want to downplay facts but engine builders with 2000HP plus dragsters and $500,000 Trophy Trucks not to mention thousands of Hot Rodders have come to use for machine work and builds, even with what you were TOLD about our work. Dampers rubbing a water pump or anything rubbing is never a good thing, google clearance water pump and you will see what knowledgeable people do. What is worse than a damper rubbing a water pump and loading the crank is coolant seeping from a leaky head gasket and trying and to compress it, damaging bearings and possibly bending rods. You saw the dark spots in the cylinders and said it was somethnig we did though any knowledgebale person would have known otherwise.

We have been doing this for many years and if you were sure the problem was with something we did, the engine should have come back as any reputable shop would have wanted. Seems the issues like freeze plugs, rubbing dampers, incorrectly installed head gaskets/maybe overheated engine, balancing, rusty cylinders, and who knows what else were things that you did not want us to see but simply pay for. Nobody is perfect, people make mistakes but you can't buy a tool from Snap On, take it to the Matco guy and try and have him warranty it, we tried and the Matco guy just tried to sell us on his torque wrench. You were asked to bring the engine here as there is no way we would know what is wrong with it but threatening us with bad reviews while not returning the engine seems strange.

Now you start attacking my character and saying we were essentially mistreating a customer? That is a bold face lie just like the one about the returns. You state that I asked you to bring/ship the engine to us which is true, then you state I did not tell you about our return policy and after that state you did not trust us with the build? So which one is it? Just too many contradictions to keep it straight.

You talk about principle, truth is by principle the engine should have come back, we are not some backayard shop but have 25+ builds going at any one time and not moving anywhere but forward so we have no reason to ignore customers.

We provide the best customer service we can before and after engine sales and there is a reason we have the business that we do
I have nothing to hide. My name is Eric Bellinger and my name is listed right on my Google review of CHP/CPR.

Wow; so my friend isn't qualified to build engines. Anything else I should know about someone you have never met?

Show me the pic of the engine being finished outdoors. It doesn't exist. The engine was completed inside and I'll be posting pics to prove it. Another lie.

I'll be posting a pic of one of the freeze plugs your guy installed and leave it to the readers to decide for themselves. I told you via email that a coolant system pressure test was conducted along with the blue die test to test for combustion gasses in the coolant. I have discussed this with you and Martin countless times via email, which I have saved. Again; you grasp for straws and attempt to turn this around on me. The tests were completed and nothing was found. I did what you asked. Plain and simple.

You never asked the machinist for measurements. You had his contact info and neither you nor Martin bothered to lift a finger to call him. I'm not the Machinist; he is. I also have the email that I sent to you with the contact info. I spent time at the machinist's shop and was shown how things were measured and why the numbers were out of spec. That sealed the deal for me.

How can head gaskets be installed improperly? They are aligned by dowels and as long as front is front and rear is rear; it's pretty self explanatory. I used Cometic MLS gaskets which were spec'd by you and also purchased through you. I will post a pic of the possible area of concern.

Again; it does not matter how many engines CHP/CPR have built and who they were built for. Mistakes can and were made regardless. You and I hashed this out since last year and all I heard was how your guys don't make mistakes and there is no way your guy screwed up the balance job, you stated the block did not need align honing and there is no way that metal debris could get on the bearings in your clean room. I'll post pics showing otherwise and let the readers decide.

There we go again. First Martin and now you referring to backyard shops like they are a bad thing or inferior. Martin already insulted my machinist with that remark and now you? Martin got his start in a garage building custom headers and such. Did he not? Do you realize how many great shops are run out of small shops in someone's backyard? We have a local machinist who has a beautiful shop in his backyard. He does machine work for Million dollar Ferrari GT's and such. He worked on the original Shelby Super Snake twin Paxton Cobra. After he finished; it sold for $5.5 million at Barret Jackson. I know of at least two guys on this forum that use him as well as I. By the way; my machinist/builder has been at it since before you were born. That doesn't make your shop any less qualified but you did bring it up.

I do believe I was mistreated. Remember how quickly the AFR head deal was resolved by AFR? Top notch customer service right there. They even set up a CNC program to correct the guide plates. CHP on the other hand would rather drag things out for months and not admit or consider any possibility of fault. Given this; should I feel comfortable sending the engine back and feel confident about it?

The real kicker is how Martin asked me to ship the short block back to CHP for a full refund after it had already been machined by my machinist and was in the process of being assembled. CHP would have received a nice short block that I paid to re-machine and assemble and I would have received a refund for the original purchase price minus the money I just put into the engine! That makes no sense. I lose again.
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I really do love these" point the finger" threads.

Op, you have learned a hard lesson. Deal locally. Deal with someone you can see over the counter. Deal with someone who is recommended by word of mouth not internet search engines.

CHP, there is always that one customer will never be satisfied.
Would you have been satisfied?
I always wait until it’s a light mist outside with a good stiff breeze before I pull my engine outside and work on it. My cousin who’s done like 7 LS swaps told me the mist helps settle the gaskets into place.
Don't be so quick to judge. The engine was not built outside. I'll post pics.
I always dump cigar ashes in the oil. I was told by a guy who built dozens of record holding 409's that cigar ashes settle gaskets and seat bearings better than assembling in the morning mist.

All that aside, it's a race car. About half of what I buy doesn't fit, last, or work like claimed. It's part of the cost of any hobby. If I had an engine mess up and it was partly my fault and someone offered me $700, I would take it and run.

You have to roll with this stuff and not let it eat you up. Live and learn.
Live and learn is correct Tom. I have done this all of my life. It does get old at times. I did learn and this is one of the reasons I did not ship or haul the engine back to CHP.
Pics of engine top end being assembled.


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Back of main bearing showing indentation from debris that matches indentation on main cap. (Circled in red).Notice the debris was trapped between back of bearing and face of cap. This can only happen during bottom end assembly.
The white circles are embedded metal debris on the inside of main cap.


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Notice how beat up this core plug is from installation. It literally looks as if it were driven in with a 12 pt. socket.


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Gouges in cam bearing for which Tobi's reply was that "Cams are sharp." This bearing should have been swapped out.


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Thrust bearing worn on just one side.


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Main bearing metal debris. Sorry for the poor pics. I'm not much of a photographer. The black dots on back of the blurry bearing are all debris indentations.


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Yes, I would have. Are you in Arizona? If you are in Arizona per your profile then you are being unreasonable. I just don't know of any other way to tell you that. Good engine builders are like gold, you stick with them. I'd do it in a heartbeat. If a couple hundred dollars of travel expenses are going to break you then I'd suggest you may be in the wrong hobby. This stuff isn't cheap and the parts we buy certainly aren't durable.
That is your opinion and your right. I , on the other hand; saw first hand how the customer service was at the beginning and secondly; I would not trust this builder again after more and more mistakes popped up. I know the local builder and his quality of work. My budget short block from CHP was just that. In the long run; I paid more to have it done right the second time. Have you checked hotel room prices in California? The price of fuel? The pickup is a gas hog. We are talking 1-2-3-4 trips here.
Poor head gasket fitment? Notice how the gasket seems to have overlapped the water port. This was a 4.08" bore gasket. I installed the gasket and completely missed this. Opinions? Again; the gasket was located by block dowels.


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Check out the main taper. The cap was cut once and the align hone run through. Two mains were tapered like this. An align hone would have fixed this.

Next pic is bore gauge being inserted into mains bore to measure taper. I watched this process and could see the taper via the gauge as it was passed through each bore.

Third and fourth pics are the gauge as it's moving through a tapered main bore. The gauge pics do not show the full amount of taper. These measurements were just the beginning of the taper.


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Rates are seasonal so you can't judge by that. I'm sure there's some roach motels that are bottom dollar. I'm not high maintenance by any means, but....

You made your point. I stated mine.
Two text that I received from the machinist. Notice he is making light of Martin's insults.


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