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You may know me from the series of “Project Muscrate” articles (Yes, I know I have dropped that ball. I promise I am getting on it. But I digress.)
I build and dyno engines for a living. Sometimes I wonder why. I especially get tired of trying to sort through the seemingly endless cavalcade of sub-par, poorly machined, mostly off-shore “performance” parts that are available in today’s market at discount prices that anyone can buy from any of a number of online vendors. I try to choose the best ones to meet my customers’ budgets and still offer some sense of potential durability.
Perhaps a more disturbing trend these days is even some of the supposedly ‘American Made’ products are actually only finally assembled or packaged in the USA. I am a BIG supporter of “BUY American” and I also feverishly back supporting your local businesses and especially automotive machine shops.
I understand, from a purely financial view, the need for U.S manufacturers to trim the fat in every area so they can compete with the vast array of off-shore parts available for discount pricing. It’s a matter of simple economics: return on investment or ROI. It’s also a matter of what is known as garbage in, garbage out, otherwise referred to as GIGO.
Over the last few years I have slowly been winding down my involvement with a few American companies that supply speed parts because I can no longer trust that what I am selling to my customers is the same quality it had been in recent history and the product offers a reasonable ROI for both myself and my customers.
Lately, this problem has presented itself more and more in ‘solid’ roller lifters available on the market. If there is one component in a racing engine you do not want to fail at 8,000 rpm, it’s a roller lifter. I have been using lifters from a certain USA-based manufacturer for over 20 years. Up until the last four or five years I have never really had much trouble that could be directly traced to their lifter failing and causing trouble. Unfortunately, that has all changed in recent years.
Some of the US companies offer lifters with specially polished bodies and “specially selected” needle bearings that are made of better quality materials and have to meet a more precise standard of quality control than the “standard” lifters they still sell. Of course these new lifters come at a substantial increase in price. Funny thing is I used to be able to use the standard lifter in most applications and not worry about it breaking. Now, I can’t.