I know that just like a doctor's diagnosis, figuring out the source of an automotive problem involves picking away at the obvious. But its seems like with this example, they were into some pretty serious repairs, swapping out alternators and such. Perhaps a glance at the car's structure might have been in order? Seems like this is a classic example of every anti-best practice, from manufacture on the assembly floor to service in the shop.
I would hardly call a missing crankshaft bearing support 'obvious'. If the technicians had suspected the engine was assembled improperly or incompletely, my guess is that they would have replaced the engine and sent it to the engine manufacturer for analysis and tear-down. Even if they had a suspicion of a crankshaft support problem, I doubt they could have found it by dropping the oil pan for a visual inspection.
Beth, good observation. I have had lots of excperiences like this, although I was doing the wprk myself. After replacing a number of parts it tuens out that a major assembly has a problem that one did not expect. Once it was a cracked head. The push rods were bending. It turns out tha the head had been milled to raise the compression. This was a valid performance enhancement on another type of engine, but not on the one I had (an MG B). So, similar to the leaving out of a bearing, my friend had done something that was not valid. I treated the symptoms, not the disease. This is all too easy with an internal combustion engine.
Good observation, Chuck. Quite amazing. I wonder if the car company would take responsibility for this even outside of a warranty. Seems this type of error would extend responsibility to the car maker even outside the standard warranty.
Fortunately, it was still under warranty. This was quite a while ago - I think the engine was a 350. 350's were (and are) pretty tough motors. You really have to beat on one to hurt it. I've watched people try to blow them up (no oil, no water, full throttle - for an hour). It still ran. Smoked a bit though...
Pretty tough to diagnose this sort of thing. One always assumes that things are built correctly in the first place, and something has gone wrong.
Where should one start when diagnosing a vibration like that? When do you give up and pull the motor? I wouldn't want to be the one to make that call.
I once changed a water pump on the 350 in my Suburban. The motor shook like crazy with the new pump. How much rotating mass could there possibly be in a water pump? Evidently enough to shake the motor. A real GM pump solved the problem.
Many years ago (too many to admit) I worked for a local Heathkit Electronic Center on the "Jiffy Bench". I would take a look at kits that customers couldn't get to work, and try to fix them 'in a jiffy'. Usually it was just crappy soldering.
Sometimes, it was a bit more involved, and they had to sit in the Service Dept. for a few weeks before we could look at them.
One thing about fixing a kit - you must use a totally different approach to problem solving, as you could never assume that it was built right in the first place.
Some true horror stories (and some very funny ones) were generated in that place...
One kit I fixed had horrible soldering, but had worked for 25 years (poorly). I re-soldered everything, and turned it on. Bad idea. Some of the wiring mistakes weren't actually there due to bad joints. It blew up when I turned it on. Oops.
Glenn, how can they miss a part while assembling, that too crankshaft bearing. If it's a mistake from the service person, then obliviously they have to bear the expenses for repair and replacing the damage parts. Am not clear about when this story had happened; now a day's most of the service stations are automated and they used to maintain a check list for the spare parts.
Mydesign; First, I doubt it was the service person that forgot to install the bearing support. The engine was probably built at the Engine Plant, and then shipped to the Assembly Plant. At the Engine Plant this engine may have been partially assembled and then shift change happened, and the worker that continued to assemble the engine didn't notice the missing support and continued to the next step of the assembly. On the assembly lines that I have seen, one missing or extra part would not be noticed, especially not right away.
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