<VV> Assembly Line screw-ups

RoboMan91324 at aol.com RoboMan91324 at aol.com
Mon Jan 19 15:51:13 EST 2015

Perhaps the "sidetracking" problem explains the worst assembly  line 
screw-up I saw.
At the time, I was working as a mechanic in a service  station.  A regular 
customer had an early 70s Cadillac that was still under  warranty.  Because 
it was under warranty, he took it to the dealership for  major things but 
brought us his other cars.  One day, he brought it to us  out of frustration 
with the dealership.  It ran rough and had less power  than he thought it 
should.  The dealership replaced plugs, wires, etc. and  couldn't find the 
problem.  They gave up and said he should drive it  because it would probably 
"wear in."  
I checked this and that and finally decided to do a  compression check 
despite it having very low mileage.  7 cylinders had the  expected compression 
but one had zero.  I slipped a dipstick into the  sparkplug hole and it just 
kept going.  I drained the  oil and pulled the pan off and, sure enough, it 
had a piston/rod assembly  missing.  There was no scuffing on the journal or 
cylinder wall.  It  ran surprisingly smooth for a 7 cylinder V-8.
GM/Cadillac failed but doo-doo happens.  For this engine  to get through 
the process without detection, huge mistakes had to happen at  several 
stations.  The guy who put the piston kits together might have been  the original 
screw-up.  The guy who fitted, honed and inserted the  piston/rod assemblies 
was the major culprit.  If there  was an incomplete  piston kit, put it 
aside and use the next  kit.  The guy who assembled the rod bearings and torqued 
the caps had  to know.  The guy who assembled the heads to the block had to 
 know.  The people at the run-in/final test station had to see  something.  
Somebody must have red tagged the engine at some point.   One disgruntled 
or hung over employee couldn't explain this.
The real failure was at the dealership.  First, how could  they sell a car 
that ran that rough without checking into it?  (How could  the customer buy 
it running that rough? Great salesman? Drunk?)  Once the  problem came to 
the service department, they had a testing  machine that they either didn't 
use or didn't know how to use.  One of the  tests available on those machines 
was a function where you can disable each  cylinder in turn.  You would 
observe the RPM drop.  A good cylinder  would drop the RPM more than a bad 
cylinder when disabled so the piston-less  cylinder should have stood out when 
there was no RPM drop.
Understandably, the customer was pissed when I showed it to  him.  He asked 
what I would charge to fix it.  I gave him a price  but told him that he 
should make Cadillac fix it under warranty.  I didn't  bother to reassemble 
what I took off and we had it towed to the  dealership.  Later, he told me 
that the dealership started to give him the  "voided warranty" routine because 
I had opened up the engine.  Maybe they  thought I removed the piston/rod 
assembly without removing the head.   Anyway, they fixed it and I had a friend 
for life in that  customer.  He referred several new customers.
In a message dated 1/19/2015 6:50:50 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
virtualvairs-request at corvair.org writes:

Message:  5
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2015 09:19:57 -0500
From: "dennis dorogi"  <dfamily at fairpoint.net>
To: "James P. Rice"  <ricebugg at comcast.net>,     <virtualvairs at corvair.org>
Subject: Re: <VV> Assembly Line  screw-ups
Message-ID:  <30AEC4CA115B4DB7B4AD8F5BB8FEAF26 at RuthPC>
Content-Type: text/plain;  format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";

Back in the early 60's I worked on an engine  assembly line at Ford Motor 
Co. One day they kept all the workers on the line  after shift working hours 
and rolled in a dozen or so engines that failed when  they test ran them at 
the end of the line (some with dramatic failures)!   Of course the company 
was blaming the workers but as it turned out the  defective engines were to 
be sidetracked to a repair line but the switching  mechanism on the assembly 
line failed allowing some of the engines to go to  the end of the line 
creating a real mess when they were started.  The  workers were not to blame. I 
will never forget some of those mangled engines  (rod bolts not fastened etc).

Dennis  Dorogi

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