How Civilization Ends

Tucker Goodrich is not optimistic, based on his experience with working on engines and machine shops.

Due to the dwindling supply of quality machine shops and very poor quality aftermarket parts as well as a lack of people interested in learning the engine building and machine shop trades, I regret to inform our many followers and current as well as past customers that we will no longer be taking on any new engine build orders unless it is for a car we are restoring. Since Covid, we have had to do rework on multiple engine builds due to poorly manufactured parts that failed during break in or machine work that was below our standards due to all the old farts like me dying off with no younger workers interested in taking their place. For example, rod bearings are now made too thin resulting in 390 and 401 crank grinds needing to be ground .0085, .0185 or .0285 under standard rod journal size yet all but one machine shop in the entire Phoenix area refused to do anything other than the standard .010, .020 or .030 grinds. Even worse, when the one shop that will grind the cranks the way we tell them we need them loses their crank grinder to retirement in another year or two, they do not plan to replace him. Machine work that used to have a turnaround of 2-3 weeks now takes a minimum of 2-4 months due to an acute lack of people interested in learning machine work and doing manual physical labor. In fact, one engine block was at a machine shop for a year and when we got it back hey did such a poor sleeve job in one cylinder that it was not even useable so it is now a 250 lb paper weight…

What used to take a couple of weeks to get back from a machine shop can easily now take 2-4 months or more resulting in our overall engine backlog now being 15-18 months. The bottom line is that custom engine building is on its way to becoming extinct and it won’t be too many more years before all of us old farts that currently do this work either retire and/or die off resulting in engine building within the collector car hobby becoming nearly impossible to find. And when you do find someone, don’t be surprised if they are backed out 2+ years or more and that they only want to do Chevy builds and know zero about our beloved AMC engines. “The times they are a changin’.”

I can attest to this problem of civilizational and technological decline. We’re installing a new machine in the bindery today. It’s a machine from 1961, and we bought it because it should work much better for our purposes than the new machine we bought in 2022.

If you’re looking for work, or to launch a business, you should probably look very hard at the opportunities in the machine shop area. Because it’s not just the car collectors who need metal parts machined.