Returning to normal

We went through a pretty “bumpy” ride for the past several months.  Seems like everything we tried ran into troubles – parts not showing up, wrong parts showing up, parts that showed up and did not fit, had one fail on the dyno from a carb stud retaining nut that literally walked up the stud and jumped in to the carb – - you name it and we had it happen.

Seems like it’s finally settled down to a semblance of what passes for normal these past few weeks though.  I think we did four or five off the dyno in the past three weeks, along with a ton of heads, and rotating assemblies.  We still have some old projects in the shop, but the pile has come way down from where we were and I think we should – finally – be all caught up pretty soon.

Back to catching up

Been working on a bunch of new stuff – seems like it always takes twice as long and costs twice as much….

New cylinder heads are scheduled to be completed on the 26th of January, but just got an email saying we may get pushed back to the 8th of February now due to somebody else’s hot project.  Since that “somebody else” owns the foundry I can’t really do a lot about it other than gripe.

The famous Dr Tim has been back in the shop again, rewiring stuff in the dyno cell and adding some upgraded lighting.  Gonna need sunglasses in there when he’s done.

Been trying to finish up a bunch of long standing projects that are parked around the store – a couple engines, and a couple cars – including a really cool Mustang with RRS suspension and one of the prettiest 351 Cleveland motors you’re ever going to see.  Both should be magazine pieces once completed.

Burning through supplier inventory on stroker kit components left and right, but still improving the long standing backorder situation.  Mahle made us a bunch of pistons, we sold them all, they made more after a couple weeks dry, and we’re going through those pretty quickly.  Scat had cranks, ran out, we got half a dozen from one guy and half a dozen from another warehouse – now they are out – but Scat has them again so we’re waiting on UPS.

And I am getting started on building an engine for the Torino – intending to bring it out of retirement for the FE race in April.

Running out of parts

Seems to be the story of the past couple of years.  We are constantly running out of various parts.  In the past two years we’ve had major suppliers dramatically miss delivery on crankshafts, pistons, camshafts, blocks, heads, and a plethora of small items.  Sometimes without any warning at all.

FE engines have never been “top of mind” for suppliers, and we are very dependent upon them for delivery and availability.  Used to be quite a few companies out there to choose from, and if guy “number one” ran out of something critical we could get it from “guy number 2″.

As the tough economy of the past few years has taken it’s toll, a lot of those true manufacturers have consolidated or simply disappeared.  The result is a group of pretty leaned out survivors that run on a skeleton crew in terms of manufacturing capability.  They still quote instant availability or traditional manufacturing lead times – but if they ever really run out of something it can take far longer for it to get back into production.  The simply lack the inventory or capacity to make the oddball stuff anymore.

When the supply chain dries up we are forced into scavenger hunt mode – combing secondary suppliers to finish a project – ebay, craigslist, swap meets, abandoned projects.  All we can do these days is to beg forgivness when this kills delivery time promises – and longingly hope for the good economic times to return – as they always do.

Projects for the New Year

We have a few new things going on at the Survival HQ.

One of them is to update the web site.  It’s been a continuing collection of stuff that has grown pretty large over the past few years – but without any real attempt at organization.  As such, it is no hard to find anything – even I get “lost”.  I will start out with a new home page that will have links to index sections for each of the key areas of the business – parts, machining, and assembly.  It will also have areas for linking to dyno videos, engine build recipes, and media coverage – as well as to this currently invisible blog and a tech forum – the latter there “just in case” stuff goes sideways in the current Network 54 community.  Add a new products/featured product square and a news square and we’re done – no more than a dozen links in the front end as opposed to the dozens upon dozens residing there right now.

This blog – is just that.  A running update on what’s planned, what’s going on, and where we’re headed.  Might have tech stuff.  Might have rants about stuff.  Simply don’t know yet.  Since nobody’s reading it right now I can say anything I want….

The new forum is, as noted, a backup plan.  A basic Simple Machines forum with a few updates to make it usable.  no idea if it will take off or not – but I am too reliant upon the Network54 system and they have not updated it in decades.  Does not seem like a viable long term plan over there.  We need somplace to go if things go wrong.

Business wise we are hoping for better part delivery this year, after changing vendors on numerous items.  Key among this was a move to Mahle pistons under contract for the 445 kits  They provide an excellent quality part with skirt coating and a metric ring pack, along with availability in both .030 and .040 over sizes.


Starting Out

As a dedicated FE Ford fanatic I have lots of experience in building these old monsters.

As I get this software figured out (I am computer illiterate) I will try to use this area to update progress on projects, provide technical insight, and generally cause trouble….