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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was looking at about 10 different companies that offer built modular shortblock and the only two that are reasonably priced are: DTA performance, D.S.S. racing. DSS has a bad rep but I have never heard anyone who has any of thier motors, and DTA is supposed to really do quality work and he had a group purchase going for 3200 not that long ago. I looked into the componets and who offers what and for what pice and this is what I came up with. Modular performance sells this kit and so far it is the cheapest I can find.
Stage II Kit $1600
ModMax 17cc dished. in std, +.020, +.030 pistons
ModMax rings, +.005, +.025, +.035
Manley H-beam Rods
Federal Mogul Rod Bearings
Federal Mogul Main Bearings
ARP Main Stud Kit
All you need if you want a new block is order one from Ford-XL3Z6010CA bare block $ 300
and a cobra crank and flywheel(for some) 700

Why do shops charge like close to $4000? The majority of the parts here are should put you at 2600(excluding shipping and an oil pump) so where does the other 1400 bucks come from. Is it labor or what. I think I have everything you need for the shortblock right I am not missing anything am I.

I was curious to see what it would cost to have a shop machine my block for the new crank and then just add the new stuff into it,or is it better to just buy a new block I only have 4850 miles on the motor.

I just think that the final price is high based on the parts listed also I am afraid to take the motor to someone who doesn't know modulars because of the risk of it being done wrong.
 

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The parts you listed can be had cheaper,just remove the modmax name.Aka cp pistons or j\e.Arp studs can be gotten cheaper from summit racing.

Also machine work isnt cheap for good quality work.
You also have to figure if they build it correctly ,the measure and make sure everything is in proper specs with real gauges and precision tools.Not plastic gauge.Aka adds more to the final assy.

Shop around there are others place to get all this from:D .

you figure a good torque plate bore,balancing,hand filing the rings and assembly is not cheap.
 

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Its not that expensive to build a mod motor. However, it does seem like the few companies offering short and long blocks are on the high side. Keep in mind that it will cost around $400-$500 to have your block prepped by a "good" machine shop. The mod motors I've seen need a torque plate bore and hone, a square decking, and some need an align hone. If yours only needs a bore/hone and decking, thats about $250-300, PLUS, you need to have your reciprocating assembly balanced, which is usually between $150 and $200. Obviously, the shortblocks SHOULD have all this done. There is more to it than just the parts. The rest is labor. Honestly, I think a trained monkey can put a motor together, but maybe thats just me.

If you decide to build your motor (you should), be careful with machine shops. In my area, there is only one shop with mod motor torque plates, and I don't like that shop anyway, so I'm bringing mine to a good shop about 125 miles away.

Lastly, consider that any good small block buildup will include a $1200+ set of heads. The mod motors don't need aftermarket heads.... That makes the cost of mod motor buildups and small block buildups about the same.
 

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well i just bought a sb from DSS on Dec. 23 should be shipped out tomarrow they said . i bought the pro mod sb with forged cobra crank , rods ,and pistons for about 3200 thats everything including shipping also bought canton oil pan and ol pump from em. so i l let you know if it holds up or not.
 

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Most shops farm out all their machine work plus balancing. Even on a good deal that is not leaving that much profit for an engine builder. God forbid letting people make some $$. Just think if you can do it yourself and mess it up. You will spend the money twice.
 

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I am with PK on that all you guys want to cry about machine shops charging money for there services. How about you start building shortblocks and sell them for what you have in them and see how long you stay in buisness.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I dont mind machine shops charging money, but I think that we are getting overcharged by many but not all of the shops. I cant believe some of the prices for modular stuff.
 

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ModularFox:

Why do you say that you'll spend the money twice if you build your own motor? That is a really lame and ill-conceived statement. With a good shop manual, there is NO reason why someone with a "reasonable" mechanical aptitude can't build their own reliable and good motor.

I don't want to slander anyone that builds motors, but it is NOT rocket science. You don't have to be Werner Vaun Braun to put an engine together right. But if you had to study the directions and then ask the corral for help for your Tri-Ax installation, maybe you shouldn't build your own motor.
 

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Well if you have received as many calls as I have for replacement parts from people that have attempted to do their motor themselves, or their buddy works on Winston Cup or Circle track motors, so it should be no problem. I don't even want to get into replacement valves for the headswap guys who bend valves trying to get the timing right on a 2V. I have sent replacements to some people even 2 or 3 times before they realized to take it to someone or even turn the motor over by hand!!!!! I'm sorry but there are even engine builders out there can't assemble a mod motor correctly. Sad but true...
 

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I would rather pay for good machine work and proper installation ie: clearences than cut corners and save a couple 100 bucks then have it go to hell in a short period of time. I outsourced my heads and short block, the rest I am doing. No its not rocket science for the mechanically inclinded, but these modular motors arn't pushrod motors either. :D
 

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ModularFox:

Instead of saying you "will" pay twice if you do your own motor, you should have said that you will pay twice if you are dumb and don't build it right.

Being a mechanical engineer with an automotive specialty from the most prestigious automotive engineering university in the country, I consider myself intelligent enough to assemble an engine correctly. Not having an inferior intellect, I guess I don't understand the mindset and confusion of being dumb and bending valves. I've made plenty of mistakes in my day, which is why I doublecheck myself when things are critical and then have a friend (that knows what their doing) triple check the work.
 

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turbo54 said:
Being a mechanical engineer with an automotive specialty from the most prestigious automotive engineering university in the country, I consider myself intelligent enough to assemble an engine correctly.
FYI...we don't all carry those credentials. I'm a chemical engineer with a good mind for mechanicals. I can do alot of what you can do, but I don't have the time or money to "learn from my mistakes" on a project such as building a shortblock. You said it yourself..."I've made plenty of mistakes in my day..." Those mistakes cost money. For the guy who needs to build one engine and have it run, it's worth paying for the expertise of someone else who has made those mistakes already. Also, there is an investment in specialized tools. Big or small, that would be a one time investment for a one time use. It just doesn't make sense.
 

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You are right, if its going to be a one shot deal. If you are into cars right now, but this is going to be the LAST time you ever have the desire to build a motor, then your right... Its cheaper to just buy a shortblock. I have saved tons of money over the years by doing things myself, mistakes included.

This mod motor I'm building now... I paid $400 for a dohc core motor (including heads). $650 in pistons, $500 in rods, $125 in bearings, $99 in rings. It came with a forged crank, and I'll be spending about $450 in machine work.

Thats $2200 for my LONGBLOCK... But for arguments sake, lets say $2200 for the shortblock... DSS wants $3600 for a comparable shortblock....

Are you telling me the "specialized" tools add up to $1200??? No way. A good torque wrench is $100, and a ring compressor is about $15. A dial indicator and stand for it is $50. A micrometer and telescoping bore gauge is $75 or so. Not to mention, you'll have the tools if you ever want to build another motor.

If you are THAT afraid of messing it up, don't build it yourself. Thats clear.

When you save $1000 on just the shortblock, you can afford to make some mistakes and still come out ahead.

A friend of mine built a 393 stroker and forgot to put a spirolock into one of the pistons. Ruined his block. After fixing the problem with a new machined block, he STILL came out $800 ahead of the game than if he had bought a shortblock from someone.

Lastly.... If you think that the shortblock companies never make similar mistakes, you are very misguided. Plenty of people have paid lots of money for "professional" short and longblocks and blown them up right away due mistakes by the "professional". If you understand engines, there is no reason you can't do as good a job as some shmoe in assembling a motor.
 

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turbo54 said:
...and I'll be spending about $450 in machine work.

Are you telling me the "specialized" tools add up to $1200??? No way. A good torque wrench is $100, and a ring compressor is about $15. A dial indicator and stand for it is $50. A micrometer and telescoping bore gauge is $75 or so. Not to mention, you'll have the tools if you ever want to build another motor.

When you save $1000 on just the shortblock, you can afford to make some mistakes and still come out ahead.

Lastly.... If you think that the shortblock companies never make similar mistakes, you are very misguided.
Earlier, your labor costs for machine work tallied up to almost ~$1,000. Now it's $450. Obviously, you're in the biz, so you've got connections. The rest of us may not be so lucky. So, you can build one up alot cheaper and I can TRY to build one (for the first time) for a little cheaper. Don't forget the gaskets you'll need to assemble it. The professional's version comes with those. It's smart to put a new oil pump in it too. Most of the pro's shortblocks do. What are you going to bolt the rotating parts together with? The rods come with bolts, but you'll probably use ARP bolts down there, right? You'll have to add those in, because the pros do. What about the file to fit rings? Shouldn't you have that handy tool that files them evenly on both sides and parallel to one another? And you need to put a value to the experience of the person that's putting it together. That's part of what you pay for when a professional does it.
You see, when you really start adding it all up, you pay a little more, but it's being done by a pro. And, whatever I possibly could have saved by doing it myself couldn't ease the peace of mind knowing an experienced professional built mine and that chances are, it won't fall apart. Sure, they're human and mistakes happen once in awhile, but I'm sure they're MUCH less likely to make one than I would be. Hopefully, a reputable builder will stand behind the work and make right what was wrong. Finally, $1000 doesn't pay for many days of rental cars (did I mention this is my daily driver?). So you see, we all have our own little situations. You building one works for you, but for me (and apparently many others)...it doesn't make sense.
 

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Where did I previously state that machine work would be close to $1000??? I didn't. I said a torque plate bore/hone is about $150, balancing is about $150, and decking is about $100, and if it needs an align hone, that is about $100. So, its about $450 for machine work.

Next you mention gaskets.... What shortblock comes with gaskets?? Do you know what a shortblock is??? Its a block with reciprocating assembly, and sometimes (not always) an oiling system. Yes, gaskets will need to be purchased if you build it yourself, but if you buy a shortblock, you will still need to buy them.

A high volume oil pump is $35 from FRPP... I forgot to mention it.

Next you mention rods... All of the rods I've seen for sale come with ARP rod bolts..... So there is no extra cost there.

You do NOT need a piston ring grinder to size rings. While they DO make it a little faster, I prefer the slower method of mounting a bastard file into a vise. However, if you felt you absolutely NEEDED a ring grinder, they are $12 from Summit.

Yes, you pay for the so called "expertise" of the engine builder. I never disputed that. Obviously, the engine builder deserves compensation for building the motor. The WHOLE reason I do it myself is because I feel you pay WAY WAY too much for the "expertise". The "expertise" of building an engine, in my opinion, is not really too spectacular. The expertise of a brain surgeon is.... Thats why I would be willing to pay the $100,000 for brain surgery by a real brain surgeon, if I needed it. Would you pay someone $50 a day to tie your shoes for you? What if they had professional "expertise" at it??? Would it be worth it to you to pay for it when you can easily do it yourself? I assume that you learned how to do it when you were very young... You probably made mistakes the first few times you did it... Why didn't you give up and just pay someone to do it for you? I know that I am exaggerating a bit here, but to me, its similar.

Moreover, you mention that people are human, and humans make mistakes. One thing you said got my attention though: You said that if you buy a shortblock and it falls apart, "hopefully" the engine builder will stand by their work and make the situation right. GOOD LUCK! VERY few engine builders will build you a new motor for free when you blow the first one up. They will tell you "Its a high performance engine, these things happen, sorry!". Believe it!

I'm not trying to tell you how to run your life. If you feel that buying a short or longblock is the best thing for you to do, then by all means do it. I'm just trying to say that if you are capable of reading a manual, and using a torque wrench, you will have the satisfaction of having built your own motor, and a bunch of extra money to use on more go-fast parts... Or a hooker, or whatever you like to spend extra money on.

Lastly, if the car is your daily driver and you buy a shortblock.... You are going to pull your motor, swap over your parts to the shortblock and put your car back together in a weekend.... WITHOUT making any trips to the store for little parts???? Good luck.
 

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Boldface originally posted by turbo54
Where did I previously state that machine work would be close to $1000??? Oops. Sorry. I added all your numbers earlier. Didn't realize you were breaking down the $500. Yet another good reason to buy a shortblock and not build it myself. I am still not a "mechanical engineer with an automotive specialty from the most prestigious automotive engineering university in the country."

Do you know what a shortblock is???
No, please enlighten me, oh Wise One. PS: No need to get hostile.

Next you mention rods... All of the rods I've seen for sale come with ARP rod bolts..... So there is no extra cost there.
My thoughts got ahead of my fingers back there. The assumption was your rods came with ARP bolts, but the crank needs to be bolted in too. Should I assume your block comes with ARP main bolts?

You do NOT need a piston ring grinder to size rings. While they DO make it a little faster, I prefer the slower method of mounting a bastard file into a vise. However, if you felt you absolutely NEEDED a ring grinder, they are $12 from Summit.
Yet another reason for me to buy mine from someone who knows what the hell they're doing.

The WHOLE reason I do it myself is because I feel you pay WAY WAY too much for the "expertise". The "expertise" of building an engine, in my opinion, is not really too spectacular.
To your skillset, it may be too much money. To mine, it may not be. I work in an industry where our company's prices are FAR from WalMart-lowball prices. The people that purchase our services pay premium dollars, and for that they receive industry-leading expertise. To someone who knows what we do equally as well, that is not valuable. To the average operator, it is VERY valuable. The average operator could try to limp along and save a few bucks, but because he sees value in what our company provides, he hires us. If he tries to "save a buck or two" (props to Carrot Top on that phrase), he could end up spending MUCH more in the long run. See the difference? In our little scenario here, you're the equally knowledgable one, and I'm the average operator (along with, if I may be so bold to assume: vrtical, dhg1667, etc).

Would you pay someone $50 a day to tie your shoes for you? What if they had professional "expertise" at it??? Would it be worth it to you to pay for it when you can easily do it yourself? I assume that you learned how to do it when you were very young... You probably made mistakes the first few times you did it... Why didn't you give up and just pay someone to do it for you? I know that I am exaggerating a bit here, but to me, its similar. If me not knowing how to tie my shoes could cost me multiple thousands of dollars, you bet your sweet a$$ I'd find value in paying someone to tie them for me. Probably not $50 a day, because that is likely more than the market would bear, but some reasonable amount? Sure. Luckily, this is a skill I picked up early in life and am quite confident performing on my one. :D

"hopefully" the engine builder will stand by their work and make the situation right. GOOD LUCK! Well, I'll bend over and you can pull the lucky horseshoe out of my a$$, because I've got one that stands behind his work.

I'm not trying to tell you how to run your life. If you feel that buying a short or longblock is the best thing for you to do, then by all means do it. Understood. It makes for interesting conversation though. :D

Lastly, if the car is your daily driver and you buy a shortblock.... You are going to pull your motor, swap over your parts to the shortblock and put your car back together in a weekend.... WITHOUT making any trips to the store for little parts????

Luckily, we are a two car family, so I can use the other one for the trips to the store. And as far as getting it done in a weekend...well I'm aiming for that and giving myself a few extra vacation days from work. I just don't want to have to use a few more to pull the one I tried to assemble on my own and goofed, fix it (or wait for someone more experienced to fix it this time, since I'm obviously incompetant by this time), and then use a few more of those precious vacation days to put it back in.

What it all comes down to is this...it's all perceptions. You perceive there is no value in paying someone to do this kind of work. I'm betting every one of those professional engine builders feels the same way. You collectively have the skills to do that work. And it must take skills...you went to "the most prestigious automotive engineering university in the country" to learn them. Many of us didn't, so there is value in paying someone who has those skills to do the job for us. Ever consider starting your own business?

PS...all this typing is making me tired. :snore: I don't think I can keep up with you. And, in case it's not clear, I'm not trying to be nasty. Just trying to make my point. ;)
 
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