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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-05-2016, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
 
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Central Virginia Machine Service (CVMS) Review - A Rip Off

I decided to create a new thread on the junk CVMS is putting out their door. I want make sure my post pops up when someone is looking at CVMS.


I waited to make this post as I wanted to have all of the facts before writing. It’s a long post but I wanted to give details to the unsatisfactory workmanship by CVMS on my 389.

I installed and ran my freshly rebuilt CVMS motor June – October putting 2,437 miles on the motor during this period. Throughout this time the engine would consume 1 qt. of oil every 150 -175 miles. While I would see wisps of smoke through the exhaust at times when accelerating, it wasn’t alarming. I did contact Jim L. and told him the motor was running great but I was concerned about the excessive oil consumption. Jim told me "to keep driving it as the rings weren’t seated". He also told me when driving "put the car in 2nd gear run the motor to 5,000 RPM’s, let off the accelerator and allow the engine to brake itself, this will put vacuum on the cylinders and help seat the rings". I did this many times seeing a little smoke during acceleration and lots of smoke during deceleration. Jim was informed of my observations and he stated to “keep on doing this as the vacuum would help seat the rings”.

As oil consumption was not improving Jim believed the valve stem seals were allowing oil to be sucked back into the exhaust valves (?) which was why the motor was smoking so much during deceleration. Jim told me to find a good engine builder in my area to replace the seals, which he would provide and pay for the labor (which he did).

During my summer driving I was able to meet many Pontiac enthusiasts who highly recommended Mueller Auto in Auburn MI. I contacted them and arranged to have the seals replaced on 10/14/2016. When I picked up the car Don Mueller told me that he didn’t believe that this would correct my problem as when adjusting the valves the guide plates didn’t look like they were setting at the same height. He also told me that when doing compression tests cylinders 1&5 had ~45% leak down. I contacted Jim on 10/19/2016 with this information which he didn’t believe and told me to keep “driving the car” which I did.

From 10/14/2016 – 10/27/2016 I put another 483 miles on the motor which was running good but still smoked and used 3 qts. of oil. I contacted Jim on 10/27/2016 and informed him of this again with the same reply, “keep driving the car”. I put another 218 miles on the car in 2 days using 1.5 qts of oil. As my wife and I were leaving for a 2 week vacation I contacted Don Mueller in the late afternoon on 10/28/2016 about dropping the car for repairs based on what he had discovered. I did not contact Jim prior to doing this. As I was going to be out of the USA for the next two weeks I asked Don to contact me VIA e-mail.

On 11/02/2016 I received this e-mail from Don Mueller:

“From: Donald Mueller <[email protected]>
To: "zrsteve”
Sent: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 9:02 AM
Subject: Pontiac motor

Steve we have your Pontiac motor apart and it is not good the Pistons were installed backwards the valve job is terrible the camshaft is wiping out the block was shot blasted and never line honed or decked we need to replace the Pistons line hone the block and rehone it and reassemble it and do a valve job the crank needs to be reground that being said you will have about $4,200 to complete it. If you could call me that would be great. Don Mueller. I didn't expect to have to do a complete rebuild!”

I replied to continue with the rebuild as I needed the motor. I also forwarded this note to Jim on the same day with my comment:

“From: steve smith
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2016 9:27 AM
To: Jim Lehart
Subject: Fw: Pontiac motor

Hi Jim.

As we're on vacation I took the GTO to Mueller Auto for engine work. They are a very reputable machine/auto shop in our area and I don't dispute what they have discovered. I'm very surprised and very disappointed.

I know what the CVMS warranty states, but are you willing to cover half of these expenses? Please let me know and I will give you a call when we get home to discuss.

Regards,”


When I picked up my car from Mueller’s on 11/25/2016 some additional hand written notes stated:

Pistons installed backwards.
Rings have heavy wear from incorrect side loading. Main bearings wiping hard, #4 grooved from debris, bead blast residue.
Block was not line honed after bead blasting.
Heli coils in head were holding guide plates up allowing oil into oil intake runners. (I had CVMS replace the pressed in studs with 7/16” screw in studs and 5/16" guide plates).
Crank needs regrinding.

On 11/26/2016 I e-mailed Jim copies of invoices with descriptions of work completed and the parts that were replaced. I told him I would contact him sometime this week.

I contacted Jim on 11/29/2016 to discuss the engine. Without going into too much detail Jim felt I overreacted to the issue, he felt insulted as he knows the engine was put together correctly (IE pistons), he has pictures to document this (as do I as he sent me pictures of my motor during the assembly process) and I just should have brought the motor back to him for repairs at no cost, (I didn’t tell him I wouldn’t spend another 24 hrs. on the road to deliver the motor and another 24 hrs. on the road when picking it up just to have another poor rebuild). He stated “The guy doing your work is probably a Chevy guy and doesn’t know anything about Pontiac motors. I suggest you go get all of your engine parts now before you have an engine that won’t last a year is completed”. I replied “the rebuild is complete and the motor is in the car and I’m not concerned as it is now under Mueller’s warranty”. I asked Jim if he would cover the rebuild under the CVMS warranty and he stated “no”. I ended the phone call with a “take care”.

I do not like to provide negative feedback about any individual/company unless it is warranted. Therefore, I cannot/will not recommend CVMS for any type of service. The quality of their product sucks and people who want a quality rebuilt Pontiac motor should NOT contact Central Virginia Machine Service. I paid CVMS $6,000 for a fresh motor, I paid Mueller’s Auto $4,300 for that same fresh motor, which included a dyno test. That’s a lot of $$$ for a stock 389 Pontiac.

It was suggested to me when my motor was at CVMS “go pick it up before they do any damage to it!”. It was too late at that time. It’s ironic, as Jim L. suggested the same thing to me.

Caveat Emptor.
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Last edited by zrsteve; 12-09-2016 at 05:21 AM. Reason: Title edit
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-05-2016, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
 
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I filed a complaint this AM with the Virginia BBB. I don't expect any monetary resolution but at least Jim L. will have to take time to answer the complaint and this will also hopefully get the word out to the public that CVMS is not a reputable business.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-05-2016, 10:16 PM
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Sadly there is no B.A.R or any entity in Va. that can shut him down so he can continue to run this scam unabated.
Thankfully we have social media and search engines and people that use them will avoid his "service" like the plague and stop the cash flow forcing him to do the right thing and close his shop.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2016, 09:13 AM
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You can see in the build pic that the pistons are installed backwards, and that there is very minimal cylinder crosshatch. I feel terrible about your experience. But you should be ok with your current build...done right, they last for decades. Good luck.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2016, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
 
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I'm glad Jim took pictures of his workmanship, he provided a lot more pictures which I can't post as the file size prevents me from doing this. During our phone calls about the excessive oil consumption I asked Jim twice if he did all the work on the build of the motor and he stated "yes". During one phone call Jeremy answered the phone as Jim was gone and during our conversation I asked him if he did the build on the motor, Jeremy stated "no, Jim did all of the work".

Jim shouldn't feel insulted about the new engine builder stating the "pistons were in backwards", he should be embarrassed as his pictures prove they were.

Last edited by zrsteve; 12-07-2016 at 12:18 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2016, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geeteeohguy View Post
You can see in the build pic that the pistons are installed backwards, and that there is very minimal cylinder crosshatch. I feel terrible about your experience. But you should be ok with your current build...done right, they last for decades. Good luck.
Thanks for your comments GeeTee. It's gonna have to last as my wife would push it out to the road with a For Sale as is sign.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2016, 04:02 PM
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Even with the fresh build you will still be apprehensive, in my case I just drove it around town for break in and tweaking before I was confident enough to take it down the mountain and back up again.
I haven't driven it in weeks now because of all the idiot drivers here in Ca. and I won't be driving it until I can trailer it to the new place in Az.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-07-2016, 07:03 PM
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I rebuilt the 389 in my '65 in 1981, 50,000 miles ago. Still running strong. Could use new valve cover gaskets and a new pan gasket, but the rear main doesn't leak and it doesn't leave oil on the ground. So going on 36 years. I rebuilt the 400 in my '67 in 1988 90,000 miles ago. Still runs great. Did pull it and reseal it in 2011, and gave it a detail job. Uses no oil and leaks no oil. Have driven this car cross-country more than once. Once done and done RIGHT, these old Strato-Streak V8's really go the distance. I feel bad about CVMS, as it used to be quite highly acclaimed.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
 
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You're right GR. I was straining to hear any odd noises. Did not.

It took me 3 weeks (between rain and snow, no salt) to get the 500 mile break in completed. The new motor ran great and used 1/4 gt of oil during that time. I did notice several times at 2500 RPM's the oil pressure drop from 60psi to 50 psi (at operating temps) and then I would let off the accelerator and at 2000 RPM's the pressure would rise right back up. Is there a pressure relief valve in a Melling oil pump? Some times it wouldn't do this, and stay at 60 psi.

I parked the car in the shop for the winter. Needs a wash and then I'll put it on the stands for an oil change and just an end of the year crawl under.

BTW.... the dyno shows 330hp and 410 ft lbs torgue. Thought it would be closer to Pontiac's stated HP, but WTH, I'm past that day of looking for the weekend street races.

Last edited by zrsteve; 12-09-2016 at 07:33 PM. Reason: additions
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-14-2016, 08:50 PM
 
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Geez zrsteve this scares the hell out of me. I have been planning on rebuilding my numbers-matching 389 to my '65 GTO convertible, getting loads of sound advice from posters like Bear and geeteeohguy.

Since I live in the Omaha area, I plan on contacting Rocky Rotella after the holidays about a recommendation for a local machine shop that is competent working with the Pontiac engine.

I just don't feel confident sending my engine far away hoping it turns out right.

I hope your engine and your car is great for you for the long term.

Last edited by extinctmake; 12-14-2016 at 08:53 PM. Reason: spelling
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