Chinese Horizontal Engine Failure

Yes.. some of you had given up on hearing about what actually caused that failure of a Chinese Horizontal in Fiji?

Our friend and fellow DIYer Noel Douglas had been focused on other tasks, and was finally able to inspect those bushings, and guess what? Yes, we’ve seen it all before.

The oil feed holes were there in the block as required. The holes in the bushings were there as well, but the understanding that the two need line up? well.. that was missing.

 I have theories as to how this happens, and one is managers manage and those below them are simply grunts or less in their eyes. I do beleive when a mechanical Engineer in some cultures comes home with dirt under his nails, his mother cries.. how is it she raised just another mechanic? The divide?  Educated people don’t have grease under their finger nails.  Managers sometimes make the decisions as to whom are qualified to put an engine together and how.  Just how hard could it be to drive that bush in the hole? We’ll have the lad whose only previous job was slopping pigs in the country do it cheapest..

And yes.. this is the same mentaility we see at the DOE, just how hard can it be picking winners and losers? So I am not picking on Chinese….. or am I ?

Here’s Noel’s email to me.. but do remember.. Chang Fa is a company, but many put that name on the engine they assemble, since we request it!

Just arrived back from Australia and quickly on the job again. 

Took that Idler gear shaft ( also the shaft the crank handle fits ) out and found the problem.

The guy who fitted the cast iron bush in to the block did not align the oil hole in the bush with the oil hole provided in the block.

I have also found the same problem with a second 1115 ChangFa.

It looks like I am going to have to check this out with every new ChangFa before putting them to work. 



Noel Douglas
Matangi Private Island Resort
Box 83 Waiyevo Post Office,

*** I close with this thought… you remember that joke.. where the Dr. tells the Mother… yes.. your Son is fine, but I have a bit of bad news.. your Son will likely grow up to be an engineer…. this of course is followed by the Mother crying.. her son to have dirty stained hands, and to be frustrated with management all the days of his life…. She sees the future.. hours of scolding him for soiling his clothes, while other kids practice staying clean, he’ll be crawling under the family car looking at what? And taking every greasy thing apart to look inside..   

How rare it is to find highly effective managers who also have the Interests and some even the credentials of Engineers??  Yes… you guessed it, they are most often members of our DIYer tribe. Noel Douglas, and Soon Wah Lee..  I think they are in that rare group of people who manage well, and wrench well too 🙂    

Thanks Noel.. you run more hours that most in the world today… , your Island is like our endurance test  lab.


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10 Responses to Chinese Horizontal Engine Failure

  1. bob g says:

    thanks so much for the followup, this puts to rest doubts about the design and places the cause right at the feet of the assemblers.

    no i am not blaming the poor kid that put it together, he likely had no idea what the hole was for, because no one told him about it, and he likely has never put anything mechanical together before. he might not even know that the shaft turns within that bushing and there will be oil in the crankcase.

    hell he might not even know it is an engine he is building?

    classic example of poor management in my opinion, it starts at the top and filters its way down.

    you can bet the kid gets fired or worse should the problem come home to roost with a domestically sold engine, or group of engines.

    actually i am somewhat amazed the engine ran as long as it did without oil being fed into the bushing, a testament to the design i guess.

    bob g

  2. George B. says:

    It’s the same problem we have in DC right now.. we have people that don’t have a fricken clue what they’re doing.. I wish it were only a Chinese Mainland Management problem!

  3. Eliot says:

    Yet the general population will keep purchasing these inferior, artificially inexpensive products which are built in subsidized factories. That is fine buyer beware, but it is near impossible to find products of high quality these days because the manufacturers have either been driven out of business or have had to increase their prices to the point where average people cannot afford their products. The easy, lazy answer is government intervention which will give some short term satisfaction to some but as we know is cancer to our country in the long run. EDUCATE your sons and daughters. Teach them the value of hard work and raise them on principals of austerity and respect. Teach them to look at purchases items as investments and show them to invest wisely. If everything comes as easy as swiping a plastic card through a machine or easy payment terms (which will be around long after the Home Depot generator is on the scrap pile) then people will never make good decisions about purchases or who governs them.

  4. bob g says:

    we are (or rather were) stuck with chinese and indian engine’s not so much because of price, but because there was no american made alternative in the class of engine’s we need.

    no one to my knowledge in this country could or would deal with epa regulations on small diesel engine’s, for a miniscule market, when they wouldn’t even do it for a larger market.

    this left us having to go offshore for alternatives, the fact they were very well priced was a help for sure, but once everything was factored in, the deal was fair, not excellent.

    now we can’t even do that! why? because of the long arm of the epa and its regulations.

    even though these engine’s have their issues, in my opinion , if we could still import them, they are still an excellent value, even if we have to dismantle them and rebuild them properly. why? because there is no alternative.

    yes we can use the japanese two cylinders, but those well priced are in short and sporadic supply, and the new ones are quite expensive. although the use of a japanese engine is still going off shore.

    which leads us back to the core problem, we don’t build these engines in this country, and we ought to be asking why? well actually we don’t need to ask why we already know the answer to that question.

    nobody wants or can spend 5-10 grand for a epa compliant american made 12hp watercooled diesel engine!

    even if we could spend that kind of money, what sense would it make to do so? it would pencil out no matter how you analyze it.

    so there we are, stuck without options

    bob g

  5. bob g says:


    “it would pencil out no matter how you analyze it.”

    should have been

    “it (wouldn’t) pencil out not matter how you analyze it”

    bob g

  6. SW Lee says:

    Hi Noel, thanks for sharing the write up. if you could have a pic taken on the problem engine with serial number, pls send to me. if you wish to, i could take up this matter with Changfa.

    these cheap engines are sold even cheaper with about 70% of the buying price subsidized by the Chinese government if used as part of an agriculture machinery for their domestic farmer.

    all parties are thus happy. the farmer get a new engine when the old one failed prematurely and retain the failed unit as spares. the manufacturer…well sell another new one.

    every one wins until it is sold out of the country supply chain.

    sw lee

  7. Nate says:

    I have no problem buying offshore. The Chinese will build to your specifications…either quick and dirty or quality. Everyone wants other countries to buy our locally produced products but then how can we say not to buy theirs? Who cares if their government subsidizes the factories. Sure, it makes it tougher to compete but why not accept their charity and resources. (I disagree with the whole concept of subsidizing businesses, just throwing that out there).

  8. George B. says:

    There is every kind of person in China as you will find here. And I’m quite sure that Noel in Fiji doesn’t beg for lowest price. he and I have been talking for a number of years, and I’m sure his agent in China knows it’s quality he needs. But often.. those agents are office workers, not hands on mechanics, and I doubt they can do more than take a supplier’s word for how it was built, and what kind of tools do they have for QC acessments?

    Lee makes a point about how things are better in the home market, and I may have missed his point when he made it. In china.. when an engine is replaced or returned, it’s likely negative feedback of some kind, and if every engine were returned, heads would roll. Until there’s a repair center near you that honors a waranty claim, that feedback loop doesn’t exist.

  9. Dustin says:

    I recently had a similar stupidity done to me by a mechanic right here in the US of A.

    New complete head for my AHU TDI! She was due after 430,000 miles, eh? Why would anyone need to put holes in the gasket for the oil to flow? Sure, the head was on it, timing done, the engine ran just fine. Except for that whole thing of no oil flowing anywhere at all. Valves fried. Cam and journals shot. Turbo seized.

    It’s not his fault, he didn’t know…

    It’ not just developing countries. Stupid is the new cool, everyone is doing it…

    • George B. says:

      Dustin, we can hardly blame the assembler in the third world. It is the lack of training in most cases, and the lack of QC. I was just reminded of the first Chev small block, (the 265) that block needed a cam mod to oil properly, and many cams were fitted without it.

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