0 Grumpy Old Git! February 2009

He's off on one again! This time it's manufacturers warranties that are the target of Terrain Aeration's David Green, our resident grump!

I pay for, and require, good products first time, every time. I purchase from approved dealerships and big name manufacturers, I do not buy from E-bay or backstreet discount dealers or buy second hand because I need quality, reliability and a good backup service.Grumpy.jpg

When I get delivery of a faulty part it costs me far more than the part is worth in labour time, hassle and delays. Take a recently delivered diesel fuel filter assembly, which cost just £20.00. Labour time alone to isolate and cure the manufacturing fault on that part cost me £75. Returning it under warranty would have delayed the build of my new machine for ten days or so. Fortunately, I was able to fix the fault after a lot of messing about.

Repeated exhaust muffler failures on my machinery have been blamed, by the supplier, on vibration, with no basis in fact to make that claim. Probably quite wrongly, I accepted that this was a problem unique to my application.

Were there any helpful hints from the supplier as to an alternative exhaust system to overcome the problems? No, the supplier was happy to keep sending replacement parts at about £75.00 a time. They were not under warranty and just kept failing again and again!

After trying various bodges, involving flexible pipe work and different mountings, I copied, more in desperation than hope, the exhaust system layout on another larger engine that I have had in use for some considerable time. The result was a complete cure of the problem, thereby kicking the supplier's vibration theory into touch. This change cost me about an extra £120.00 in parts per machine to implement, but finding and solving the cause of the problem cost several hundreds of pounds in labour time, replacements and machine downtime.

While on the subject of failing exhausts, one of my petrol engines used to shed exhausts with expensive and infuriating regularity. Again, the fault was excluded from warranty because it was said to be due to vibration. I changed the design of the muffler, promptly invalidating the whole engine warranty, by replacing the supplied lightweight exhaust mounting flanges with parts that I fabricated from good steel that was twice the thickness of the originals.

The replacement flanges were welded in place, not with the tiny welds of the original but with full depth proper welds. At the same time I beefed up the exhaust mounting studs on the engine, from the original 8mm to 10mm, because some of the originals had failed and had had to be drilled out by an expensive specialist.

Since this warranty invalidating modification I have had no more failures. This success came only after replacing several mufflers at £75.00 each, which just goes to show the feeble and cheapskate nature of the original muffler design.

Sorting out the problems on these four engines and their control systems, which cost together more than £10,000, has cost me well in excess of £750 or about 7.5% of the engine purchase costs.

I am just a layman trying to build some reliable equipment for my small business. I really do not need professional engine companies and suppliers casting me adrift to engineer my own solutions to their design problems by excluding my complaints under their much trumpeted warranty schemes.

I am happy to report that all four Honda petrol engines I have fitted this year have gone into service without any problems whatsoever - straight from the box - which is as it should be for all engines. Well done Honda, just a pity you do not make small diesel engines!

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