Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

I had a terrible experience having cams for a UL reground by American Cycle Fab

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chuckthebeatertruck
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Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#1

Post by chuckthebeatertruck » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:32 pm

I am posting this as a warning to others about a very bad experience I recently had with American Cycle Fabrication and Paul and Denise Friebus.

I know many people think the world of Paul – and I did too, until I actually engaged him to do work for me.

Long story short, a couple of years ago I met Paul at a swap meet and we talked cams. It then took me two years to assemble a good set of UL cams for regrinding.

I contacted Denise Friebus to talk about cam regrinding and she was very responsive. I was promised a four week turn-around time, which seemed too good to be true. I also was assured either she or Paul would call me to discuss the recommended grind after they looked at my motor specs and the cam condition.

To prepare the cams, I washed them in solvent and then ran them through walnut shells in a vibratory tumbler, and then washed them again in solvent with a touch of oil to prevent rust. The cams came out beautiful. Not a single chipped or pitted gear tooth, and just minor pitting to the lobes. Even the shafts were in excellent condition – save the #4 cam which had an undersized shaft to deal with rust pitting. The plan was to make a custom bushing for it.

On January 16, 2018, I shipped the cams to them – along with an oil pump for rebuilding with their four vane rotor. I sent a detailed list of my engine specifications and all my contact information. According to the post office, they received the cams three days later.

From that point forward I did not hear from them. I started trying to get ahold of them in mid-February just to make sure they had my cams. I placed several telephone calls and they never went to voice mail. Eventually one of them did go to voice mail and I left a message, but they never called me back. I also sent several emails to Denise on their business account, a couple of messages via eBay messenger, and a message via Facebook messenger. I never heard a word.

I even went so far as to call Bill’s Custom Cycle, which is just down the road, to see if Paul was even still in business. They laughed and said, “We have nothing to do with them – and don’t want anything to do with them.” I should have seen the red flags right there.

Finally, I caught Denise on the phone after WEEKS of trying. She was clearly annoyed to talk to me and said my cams would be done that week.

Another month passed and I tried calling, emailing, and eBay messenger again. I got a message back on May 2 via EBay that my cams would be done that week.

On May 8, Denise called and said my cams were done. She mentioned my number 4 cam had an undersized shaft (I know it did) and it was unusable so they were selling me a “good, ready to run cam” for $100 and that they replaced a shaft on my #3 cam due to “drag marks” for another $25. I didn’t feel like arguing because I had been having so much trouble getting a hold of them. Denise then said that if I paid my invoice ($600) immediately, she’d ship them out that day. About half an hour later she sent me a PayPal invoice, which I paid in less than 10 minutes.

I then received ANOTHER invoice from Denise on May 15. After trading emails, she clarified that yes, I already paid and that Paul was finishing my oil pump and she’d try to ship my parts back on a Monday, even though they were closed.

Another ten days went by and I finally received notice on May 25 that a package was coming my way.

I received the package on May 31. I excitedly tore into it as I’d been waiting months on these cams. Mind you, I still have/had no idea what grind I was receiving and I never talked with them about what grind I wanted for the motor. There was no paperwork in the box to tell me the grind specs.

Like a kid at Christmas I started unwrapping the cams --- sooooooo excited to see what I got.

My heart sank when I opened the first cam. It was covered in surface rust and still had dykem all over the lobes and gear face. Embedded in the gear teeth were bits of the grinding wheel and other junk that had rusted into the surface. It was clear the cam was never cleaned after grinding and just left out somewhere.

And things got worse from there. Each cam I unwrapped was worse than the first one. By the time I got to the number two cam, I discovered one of the gear teeth was chipped. The bit of tooth was still hanging on and fell off the moment I turned the cam over to look for other chips. The cams were wrapped in a thick layer of foam and paper – so the damage was not from shipping.

When I got to the number 4 cam – I started screaming bloody murder. The cam was completely covered in rust, heavy rust. The shafts were rusty and the teeth were rusty and deeply pitted. This was the cam they sold me as a good used cam, ready to run! To make matters worse, the replacement shaft for the number 3 cam had bad bluing marks on one end, and deep rust pits on the other. I would have rather had the “drag marks” they said were on the cam.

Then, it got even more screwed up. The rebuilt oil pump was full of dust and god knows what else. You could see the grit between the rotor vanes. It was just tossed in the box with a piece of bubble wrap. Not WRAPPED in bubble wrap – just a piece up against the pump to separate it from the cams. I have to totally disassemble and clean it. So, I’m not sure what I paid for in an oil pump rebuild. They also did not include the “custom gasket” that is advertised with the oil pump rebuild.

I immediately took pictures of the damaged cams and sent Denise an email with the pictures attached. I followed up the next day – two phone calls that just rang and rang. I sent another email to their business account, through eBay messenger, and through Facebook messenger. They did not respond in any fashion.

So, I am letting the old bike world know about my experience.

I don’t believe in pointing fingers without evidence. So, here are photos of the cams I sent, and pictures of the cams I got back. Picture number one is of the cams after cleaning. Picture number two is the #4 cam – and this was the “ugliest” cam I sent them. Pictures three and four are the chip to the number two cam (which was perfect when I sent it). Pictures five and six are the rusty and crusty #4 cam they sold me as a good replacement.

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I’m very disappointed that a shop with the reputation of Paul’s would send back rusty, unusable parts. I’m more disappointed I sent them cams with perfect gear teeth and they sent me back one chipped cam and one rusted, pitted cam that they sold me.

And I’m extremely disappointed they will not respond to me in any fashion. I have never worked this hard to contact a shop in many years of restoring old motorcycles.

All I wanted them to do is make this right by exchanging the bad #2 and #4 cams for good units. But, I can’t get a hold of them – so I’m warning others of my experience.

Please understand I do not enjoy knocking anyone’s business and this is not something I do lightly. I tried for a few days to resolve this issue and they have not responded to me.

For those of you who have had good experiences with Paul, Denise, and American Cycle Fabrication – I’m happy for you.

My experience was terrible. Their customer service was non-existent, Denise was clearly annoyed when I got her on the phone and hurried me off the horn, and the work they did was unacceptable.

After months of waiting, I now have a set of useless cams that took me two years and a lot of money to assemble – a rebuilt oil pump I have to disassemble and clean – and I’m out most of mortgage payment for this “performance work.”

I’m guessing I’m going to get flamed like crazy by others who will defend Paul’s reputation.

All I wanted was some performance cams for my old flathead. All I got was a nightmare and a lightened pocket book.



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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#2

Post by svkiwi » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:30 pm

Well I for one thank you for posting this...I feel for you man. This whole deal stinks. You have every right to tell the world; hopefully save others from experiencing this angst.

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#3

Post by RUBONE » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:10 am

Thanks for the post, and for the great before and after pics, good to get detailed feedback and not just a rant. No worries on posting it as we all need to know what kind of vendors are out there and how they treat their customers. I have had good luck with Black Widow Cams in the past but recently heard they were also backed up and unresponsive. Hard to find anyone reliable, and the whole TROG thing has driven the flatty performance market to a different level!
Robbie

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#4

Post by Buddhahoodvatoloco » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:52 am

I feel for you big time.
That's why I prompt people to leave a comment, whenever i buy some thing, or get some work done, i make it a point to comment. I am just that unkewl.
But, that probably don't soothe the hurt.

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#5

Post by 1950EL » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:20 pm

A few years ago I sent my complete transmission and top to ACF for a complete go-thru. It took much longer to get back than originally quoted and response was slow or none. When I got it back and installed I found out that the shift drum shaft (o-ring) leaked like a sieve and the speedometer was reading off. He apologized and suggested I send it back. That didn't happen. Nice guy if you can get him but my experience was nothing to brag about.
Mike

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#6

Post by white1j0 » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:11 pm

Back in Feb. of this year I took my front head from my 52 Pan to him to repair the intake spigot, talked to him for over an hour, seemed like a good guy, told me 3 weeks and $350.00, 3 weeks came and went, 2 1/2 months later I drove all the way back, which is a 120 mile trip one way, beings he never answers his phone, or responds to his emails, my head was laying on a pile with other heads, and his worker had no idea when he would get around to fixing it, needless to say I left with my head and repaired it myself.

chuckthebeatertruck
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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#7

Post by chuckthebeatertruck » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:12 pm

Short Update:

Last Thursday (June 14) Paul and I missed one another on the telephone; but we did connect via email.

Long story short; per Paul, a "new" mechanic at the shop did not bead blast, clean, and oil the cams after grinding. We agreed to exchange the chipped #2 cam (still no idea how that happened) and the #4 cam that was all rusted and pitted. Per Paul; he did not see the #4 cam and thought it was a good one.

I ran the other two cams through a vibratory tumbler for 72 hours. It took all 72 hours to clean off the rust, which gives you an idea of what I was facing. Mind you -- the cams I sent had been through the tumbler and were polished like jewelry and oiled . . . .

I'll post back if/when the exchange cams arrive.

For those of you who have posted your own stories -- I"ve received about 3X as many stories about this happening with ACF in offline or private messages. Apparently, I'm just the first guy to finally speak up across multiple channels.

It makes me really sad; had I known this was going to happen -- I would have just shipped the cams to someone else and already been done with this and enjoying my bike.

I also got a few messages telling me that I shouldn't be hurting Paul's business. However, that is Paul's problem -- not mine.

I wouldn't have posted a single thing if: 1) They communicated in a timely manner; 2) Didn't send me rusty, chipped cams; and 3) Responded quickly to remedy the rusty/chipped cams.

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#8

Post by svkiwi » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:31 pm

I hope you receive the replacement cams before you send the bad ones back...if you send the two dodgy ones back before taking delivery of the replacements, you may be kept waiting.... I say this based on what you've said in your original post. Good luck brother.

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#9

Post by hplhd » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:44 am

I also got a few messages telling me that I shouldn't be hurting Paul's business. However, that is Paul's problem -- not mine.

hard to believe anyone would try to place his problem on you. whats bad for business is bad work.

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#10

Post by kitabel » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:03 am

Did he tell you that he grinds the cams in house?

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#11

Post by chuckthebeatertruck » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:40 pm

No, I was not told they were ground in house. However, from the description of "what went wrong," that was clearly the implication.

Is there something we should know?

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#12

Post by chuckthebeatertruck » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:53 pm

hplhd wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:44 am
hard to believe anyone would try to place his problem on you. whats bad for business is bad work.
Oh, you'd be surprised.

Some of the trolls just want to deeply believe in someone like Paul who they see as a master of their trade.

However, I have a very different theory.

Here it is in a nutshell: some people have assigned quite a bit of additional value to their bikes by stating Paul built the motor or trans. It's justification for a higher asking price -- sort of like how even the ugliest Ness-built bike is worth a good chunk of change.

If Paul's reputation starts to become mud, that awfully expensive engine rebuild may not be so valuable any more to an interested buyer. If his reputation nose-dives; then it could even be a liability.

I'd be pretty angry too if I dropped the kind of coin some people have with Paul. My bite was only most of a mortgage payment . . . for other people, it's closer to a down payment on their home.

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#13

Post by Scrap » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:07 am

RUBONE wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:10 am
Thanks for the post, and for the great before and after pics, good to get detailed feedback and not just a rant. No worries on posting it as we all need to know what kind of vendors are out there and how they treat their customers. I have had good luck with Black Widow Cams in the past but recently heard they were also backed up and unresponsive. Hard to find anyone reliable, and the whole TROG thing has driven the flatty performance market to a different level!
Robbie
What is the TROG thing please?

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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#14

Post by RUBONE » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:51 am

TROG= The Race of Gentlemen.


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Re: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fab/Paul Friebus

#15

Post by Scrap » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:48 am

RUBONE wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:51 am
TROG= The Race of Gentlemen.

Thank you, that was a fun Video.

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