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Monkey with a mouse
 
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My Motormeister Story (Two Parts - Long)

Preface

I'm 35 years old now and have owned 6 911s including my present '72 hot rod T. My first car was a new '84 Carrera Cab, the second a new '86 911 Turbo, the third a 32k mile '84 Coupe, the fourth a new '90 C2 Coupe, the fifth a new '92 C2 Cab. After selling the C2 Cab I got married and had a beautiful daughter and didn't buy another 911 until my present '72 T about 3 years ago.

I was always aware of the great racing heritage of the 911 and had admired its shape since I was potty trained - but I was never a true 'nuts and bolts' type of 911 lover until my present T.

The Purchase

I bought my present '72 T from 'California Classix' on eBay, sight unseen. I was swooned by the ad and flush with some day-trading cash. I paid $12,600 via cashier's check in Santa Barbara and was soon headed back to La Jolla with my first vintage 911. Whatever defects this T had, including an early '70s acid trip, blue pin
stripes never revealed in the eBay photos, were defects that I planned on fixing.

I drove this car for a short while, then decided to sell it on eBay after spending about $7k in improvements. ( here is the listing as it appeared on eBay: http://911restorations.com/911Tsaleebay.html )

I had bids to about $12k, but a reserve set at $13k - no sale. I listed it again at $12k with no reserve. A potential serious bidder called me one night and we spoke at length. After this conversation, I took the car to Hoehn Porsche for a compression and leakdown test. Turns out the #6 cylinder was shot and making very little compression.

After learning of the news, I pulled the auction promptly and notified interested parties that there was a major motor problem.

Note: The point of this post is not to rip Motormeister, just a report of the facts as I see them. I do not feel anger towards Motormeister, but I do feel that I am guilty of not doing proper due diligence before diving into an adventure that would ultimately cost me about $25k.

My Motormeister Story - ca. September, 2000

After learning of the problem at #6, I called Motormeister and spoke to Roy for the first time. Roy said that he could have my car picked up that same day at the dealer! Roy told me to not tell Hoehn that Motormeister would be picking up the car; Roy said that many dealers use Motormeister and the dealer may try to talk me out of using Motormeister and that the dealer would then use Motormeister and charge me for a dealer rebuild at a much greater cost.

I trusted Roy and ignored the red flags that were appearing in my brain. My sheeesh.

Several days later Roy called and reported on the damage and problems of my MFI 2.4. I knew that the case had been align bored during a previous rebuild - Roy said that because of the cost of oversized bearings and my desire for more horsepower that a hot rod 2.7 was the way to go.

Later I learned that my transmission case was broken in a couple of places and I opted for a rebuilt 915 transmission case with a billet bearing case, taller 5th gear and kevlar clutch. Roy told me that he found something very odd; the tranny numbers had been ground off the case and were unreadable - perhaps this was a stolen case!?.

I know now where the numbers are stamped and it is not so odd for these numbers to be ground off as this edge of the tranny case is directly exposed to the road!

So, now I have agreed to a rebuilt 2.7 and rebuilt transmission. Add Webers, electromotive ignition,
Motormeister forged pistons, Nikasil cylinders (rebuilt), 2.7 heads (ported and polished), etc. and I have a build sheet with $19k at the bottom line. I also dropped my B&B exhaust, added a Dansk stainless OEM, one-out muffler, front and rear 22mm sway bars, turbo tie rods and some other minor suspension mods.

Roy also said that 10:1 compression was no problem with the electromotive EI, but now I know that the limit is around 9.5:1 with single plug. Roy even said that Steve Weiner didn't know what he was talking about when I sent Roy an email regarding Weiner's comments about high compression and single plugs.

I am a willing participant and have not done any due diligence here at Pelican or at Rennlist . . . ultimately I will pay for my own lack of research and ignorance. I blame no one else except me!

12 weeks from September 2000 is the expected completion date for this job. I pick up the car February 2, 2001. Even though it took longer than expected, I really don't have any complaints in this regard.

During the duration of the build process I immerse myself in Rennlist and the Pelican BBS. I buy Bruce Anderson's book and read it cover to cover. I try to become as close to a 911 expert as I can without the wisdom and experience that years of 911 motor building can bring. Of course, this research is a day late and $20k short!

I become alarmed that it seems about 50% of Motormeister folks have horror stories and about 50% have positive experiences to report! I keep my head up and try to be positive . . . into the abyss!

I call Roy in early 2001 to check on progress - Roy tells me that an 'accident' has ocurred - a food vending truck has backed into the right rear fender of my car! The next morning I drive from San Diego to Downey to investigate. I show up at about 9am and find my car covered, as well as all the cars outside. Roy doesn't seem too surpirsed at my appearance and gives my grandfather and I a tour of the rebuilding facility.

There are several folks at work inside and several older model 911s and 914s in the outside and inside area. Lee Marks (the head mechanic) gives me a ride in my almost finished car. Lots of smoke on start-up and bad stumble at 3500-4000 RPM, but the car does move! Lee says that he is still working on the carb jetting.

Water in the gas tank is suspected by Motormeister, so I pay to have the gas tank removed, drained and cleaned. I still don't know if this procedure was the culprit, but I was green enought to accept it.

Finally, on February 12, 2001, I pick up the car. I pay the balance due and head for San Diego. On that drive, a fellow in an early British sports car signals to me to pull over! We pull over on the 405 and he says I am leaving a trail of smoke. I tell him I just had a rebuild and I am breaking in the motor. I look back and laugh at this!!

I get home and notice that the motor is dropping oil on both the driver's and passenger's side. I also notice that fuel is spewing from the driver's side float bowl of the Webers! I call Roy and he says to just torque down the bolts on the Webers and that should fix it.

After $20k+, this is not good.

Roy says to drive the car and let everyting 'seat'.

I took the car back to Motormeister no less than 5 times to try to get the continued oil leaks fixed - it was never fixed. The last time I left Motormeister, the ignition wire to #4 was not even attached!! Ran on 5 cylinders for 120 miles . . . Roy assured me that no damage could be done from this. I now know what it sounds like to run on five cylinders!

It is important to note here that Roy offered to pull the motor and fix the oil leaks even though I was well beyond the warranty period of 6 months. He even said that if I had any problems that he would take care of them despite the lapsed warranty.

It should also be noted that despite the many problems depicted above, the motor runs very strong despite the smoke screen on start-up and the oil leaks.

**end Part I**

Last edited by kstar; 11-15-2001 at 10:12 PM..
Old 11-15-2001, 10:07 PM
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Part II

**Part II start**

November 14, 2001

Today I picked up my 911 from Black Forest here in San Diego. I decided to divorce Motormeister because of the comedy of errors that has preceded.

I had Black Forest install aluminum control arms, adjustable spring plates, bushings, bearings and perform a competition alignment.

I also asked Black Forest to take a look at the oil leaks - and had them pull the motor.

My oil leak at #3 was the result of improperly installed rocker arms. This is the leak that looks like it is coming from the exhaust at the head! Jeff at Black Forest showed me some heads with cam towers mounted and how the rocker shafts can lead to oil leaks at the interior, open area of the cam towers.

Black Forest fixed and sealed all intake and exhaust rocker arms. Black Forest also found a leak at the passenger's side chain box housing . . . Motormeister had used some JB Weld at the points where the pressed in pins enter the interior side of this box. Black Forest also replaced the topside cam covers because there was not much of a mating surface left for sealing purposes.

Black Forest also found a upper motor mount bolt hole that was stripped! $20k+ from Motormeister and this was ignored. Black Forest fixed this with a time-sert.

Also had a leaky #3 oil return tube that was fixed and replaced with a collapsible tube.

Black Forest said there was alot of oil in my heat exchangers that needs to be burned out!

Black Forest

I learned a lesson and did some research on Black Forest before I took my 911 there. I now live in Rancho Santa Fe, and a couple of fellows I talked to in my neighborhood gave Black Forest high marks. I also canvassed the Rennlist and Pelican boards and got only positive replies.

In Conclusion

I am not angry towards Motormeister. No one forced me to initially choose them and no one forced me to continue to use them. I blame myself for any hardships and high costs that I experienced.

Sometimes, our most important and most profound educational experiences are found through our mistakes. Sometimes, the more costly the mistake the more valuable the lesson. I learned a very important lesson!

Conclusion Note:

If you find a shop where 50% are very happy with the work and 50% are pissed off, decide if you want to take that chance.

One last note!

As I was talking to Jeff at Black Forest we were talking about future modifications to my '72 T. He said that they had done some RS type conversions . . . I mentioned that I like the 911ST look . . . he said "We have one".

He then walked me over to a real ST that I had seen for sale at Symbolic Motors. Seems the new owner took this significant and historic 911 to Black Forest for some work! That car, and many top notch race cars and street cars (3.6s, 3.8s and a very nice '73 S Targa among others), as well as the diligent service and attention to detail the Black Forest folks showed me, will allow me to get a very nice rest this evening.

BTW, my now sorted '72 'rides on rails', doesn't smoke on start-up and has stopped its leaking ways! The money I spent today at Black Forest was cheaper, IMO, then a free 'repair' at Motormeister!

Hope this novel of a post can help someone.

Best Regards to all of you good folks,

Kurt

Last edited by kstar; 11-15-2001 at 10:14 PM..
Old 11-15-2001, 10:08 PM
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I've seen the 50/50 responses concerning Motormeister. It's unfortunate that you had to learn this way, but at least you seem to have an amazingly good attitude about it.
I've tried to stay open-minded about them despite the other stories that I've heard; I don't think I can anymore.

Thanks for sharing your experience hopefully you can educate someone else and save them some time and money.
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Old 11-15-2001, 11:38 PM
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Wow, and I thought I had some gripes about lousy service. Your attitude is commendable. I hope others read your post.
I had a bad experience with C&R Automotive in L.A. I had them weld some rear fender flairs on my 72T. (My 72T had fiberglass turbo flairs riveted on the rear when I bought it. I wanted the stock look.) They welded both flairs on wrong. The right flair was welded about an inch and a half to low. The hole for the torsion bar tube was below the tube so you wouldn't be able to get the bar out if you wanted to. Not to mention it looked ridiculous. I took it back and the owner didn't seem to think it was a big deal. He reluctantly agreed to redo it. I offered up another flair but he declined and said he had it covered.
Well he didn't weld on another flair he just cut corner off just above the torsion tube and reattached it an inch and a half up. So now my right wheel arch is about an inch shorter in circumference than the left. Needless to say I'll never go back.
A funny sidenote to this is that I bought the flairs from Bob Anziano for a hundred bucks for the pair. He had some sitting around from some cars that he put SC flairs on. He told me about his 1st 911 that he owned and that he wanted to put larger fender flairs on it.So he took it to someone who did the same thing. Welded them on wrong. He thought he could probably do a better job himself. I don't know if you've seen any of the cars he's done but he was right. Anyway that's how he got started.
By the way, now that your 72T is sorted out. How do you like driving it compared to the other 911's you owned.

Bobby
Old 11-16-2001, 03:01 AM
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Thanks for the input Kurt. MotorMeister's ads look great, it's nice to hear from the "real world". Just chalk it up to a bad day of trading.
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Old 11-16-2001, 03:54 AM
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I have looked over Motormeister's website a lot and it sure looks good. I'd be very interested to hear their side of the story -- not just with Kurt's car, but on other horror stories written here. When dealing with mechanics, it's really amazing how several places can differ so widely on problems and solutions, which should be a matter of black and white.

I pray that I'm nowhere near needing an engine rebuild. But I research a lot of stuff, so I know what to do when it becomes imminent. Motormeister's prices look great, but the true cost Kurt ended up paying is outrageous. I tend to blame myself first, as Kurt did. Fool me once, shame on me....
Old 11-16-2001, 05:42 AM
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This tends to reinforce my prejudice towards using a local shop that I have gained trust in. It will cost more, but it is a tow truck ride away should anything come up, and usually I can spend some time working on the car on a lift should the tech. OK this.

I think that Motormeister, like Paul Weir (was), is a solution for many people that will fit the wallet, and let's face it our cars are expensive to repair. Allthesame, I hope that when the day comes that my SC needs an overhaul, I will have gained enough experience to do it myself with the help of a local mech.

We'll see...

Jw
Old 11-16-2001, 07:18 AM
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I like the stroy of the guy from Texaswho flew out just to go to Pomona to Beat up the guy from MM who ripped him off. Now thats Consumer Protection. Steve
Old 11-16-2001, 07:28 AM
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After reading that, I'm glad I do MOST of my own work. But i can also say that I have been screwed my self. Just not to that extent.
Looks like you have found a shop that wiil receive your business from now on. That's always a nice thing-trust!
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Old 11-16-2001, 07:30 AM
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Great Story, Kurt.

I have had several similar absurd experiences with mechanics, and I am not sure how they can sleep at night. I like to generally believe that people are honest, but I think even honest people are predisposed to shady behavior when money and their livelihoods are at stake. Not all people are like this and certainly not even all Porsche mechanics, but I know at least two who are. I also know of one on this board who I would go to without hesitation, but I am not driving distance to Seattle.

The things that really bother me are the little things... how can a mechanic do a $3,000 valve job and put old leaking valve cover gaskets back on? Are heater and vacuum hoses really that hard to re-attach? Why do they replace bad plug wires with used ones they have laying around the floor in the shop? How can they spend two weeks and $500 tuning a fuel delivery system and return your car to you with a heavily soiled air filter? All of these things are attempts at saving money, combined with laziness.

Eventually you have to take responsibility yourself. I have vowed to never again take my 911 to the people who have taken advantage of me, even though they are the only 2 P-car mechanics within 300 miles of my house. I will ruin something and re-do it myself before I get bent over and taken for a fool again.

Thanks for the detailed, honest and straight-shooting post.


JA
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Old 11-16-2001, 10:50 AM
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Sorry to hear about your engine woes, but it seems like you are doing the right thing. You can't get blood out of a stone. Find a shop who are enthusiasts like yourself and don't mind you picking their brain. It will probably might cost a little more, but what are you saving in the long term.



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Last edited by avi8torny; 11-18-2001 at 01:38 PM..
Old 11-16-2001, 11:03 AM
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I think it could have happened to any number of us at some stage or other. The car certainly looks beautiful - I think I remember it being for sale. What are you going to do now, sell it or keep it? If the jury was 50/50 on whether something is good or not I think, I think I wouldn't take my business there. That's easy to say with examples like your own, Kurt: thanks for your honesty and it's an enlightening story.....
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Old 11-16-2001, 11:19 AM
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Sorry to hear about your problems.

I'm confused about the $19k bill for a used 2.7L motor. I haven't been around Porsche's that long but couldn't you buy a new motor for that amount?
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Old 11-16-2001, 11:51 AM
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An instructive tale. At least you live in a large metropolitan area where you have choices. I live near Iowa City. The nearest shop that claims to be able to work on Porsches is 30 miles away and has ripped me off. After that, there are two Porsche dealers, one 100 miles west and one 75 miles east. The one to the east says they have to change Carrera timing chain at 60K, for a mere $1500 (where did they get that from?). If and when I need major work done, I will have to go 200 miles to Chicago ...
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Old 11-16-2001, 12:38 PM
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Kurt,

It's refreshing to hear someone who takes some responsibility for making a bad choice. Granted you didn't deserve it but at least you're willing to say that you made a mistake and didn't do your research. You did the right thing by telling your tale online where others can read about it.
Old 11-16-2001, 12:43 PM
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I think the key here is to educate yourself as much as possible when you need outside work. Ask questions, check references, and be sure there is absolutely no way you can do the work yourself (with all of our help, of course!). It may come down to not having the time, space, tools, or perceived ability, but reading and asking questions go a long way.
Regards,
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Old 11-16-2001, 01:37 PM
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Anybody who says "Steve Wiener doesn't know what he's talking about" automatically displays his or her own ignorance.

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Old 11-16-2001, 02:45 PM
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Kurt:
Sorry to hear your pain. Unfortunately, I think we all go through a learning & spending curve, when we get into what's sort of specialty vehicles. I live in the south bay of the S.D. area & went through the same thing, although not as drastic. I highly recommend Black Forest. I had an expensive similar experience (but only about $7,000 worth) with an established Porsche shop in La Mesa. Not until later on after I had started doing some of my own work & developing a small network with people who owned Porsches, did I figure out I had been charged a bunch for unnecessary repairs.
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Old 11-16-2001, 03:39 PM
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As someone who has been on the "911 Internet" for many years, I cringe whenever I hear someone contemplating MM.

Anyone who has been around long enough knows their reputation all too well.

I predict they will change their name and start up again under a new name once MM is soiled enough. And get a fresh new set of victims again.

You correctly point out that only half of MM's customers complain about them. That is probably right. The other half are probably cruising around in blissful ignorance, with their rebuilt engine with worn out rings, oval pistons, held together by JB Weld (has MM EVER put together an engine that did NOT involve the use of JB Weld???). The fact is, MM could build an engine for you and take all sorts of shortcuts, but you likely would not find out for years or if you cracked it open to see. That's the beauty of doing work that is basically hidden from view or inspection.

You do take a lot of responsibility for your mistake. I'm just sorry to see that another good person had to go through a MM ordeal.

Its amazing how many people (not you necessarily) are lured by a cheap price, and are willing to simply ignore years of red flags and then are surprised when they get burned.
Old 11-16-2001, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stephan Wilkinson
Anybody who says "Steve Wiener doesn't know what he's talking about" automatically displays his or her own ignorance.

stephan
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Old 11-16-2001, 06:20 PM
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Old 11-16-2001, 06:20 PM
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