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Thread: Bad Experience with American Cycle Fabrication – Paul and Denise Friebus

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    18

    Default Bad Experience with American Cycle Fabrication – Paul and Denise Friebus

    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.” 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). Picture five is the rusty and crusty #4 cam they sold me as a good replacement.



    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.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    385

    Default

    The history with Bill and Paul go way back. Some people kiss Paul's cojones and some people won't touch them with a 10' pole.
    I'm the latter. Smoke and mirrors.
    AMCA #765

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    18

    Default

    UPDATE:

    On Thursday, Paul and I missed one another on the telephone. However, we did connect on email.

    Here's the skinny; per Paul and Denise, they have a new mechanic. That mechanic failed to bead blast, clean, and oil the cams before shipping == hence the rust issues. The pitting on the #4 cam teeth was just an oversite -- no one is sure how the tooth got chipped on the #2 cam.

    Paul agreed to exchange the #2 and #4 cams.

    This is really all I was after.

    I did run the #1 and #3 cams through the vibratory tumbler with course walnut shells. It took 72 hours to take all the rust off -- but they look good now.

    Once I get the replacement cams back; I'll post the full grind specs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    18

    Default Update 2

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckthebeatertruck View Post
    UPDATE:

    On Thursday, Paul and I missed one another on the telephone. However, we did connect on email.

    Here's the skinny; per Paul and Denise, they have a new mechanic. That mechanic failed to bead blast, clean, and oil the cams before shipping == hence the rust issues. The pitting on the #4 cam teeth was just an oversite -- no one is sure how the tooth got chipped on the #2 cam.

    Paul agreed to exchange the #2 and #4 cams.

    This is really all I was after.

    I did run the #1 and #3 cams through the vibratory tumbler with course walnut shells. It took 72 hours to take all the rust off -- but they look good now.

    Once I get the replacement cams back; I'll post the full grind specs.

    I got a message yesterday from Denise. The replacement cams are done and set to be shipped back to me on 7/17. I will post pictures when they arrive. Hopefully, this is the end of the saga.

  5. #5

    Default

    We here at American Cycle Fabrication have always and will always stand behind our work. I refuse to lower my standards to meet other people's time criteria. I have always strived for high standard and good quality work. Being in business 20 + years it’s not a practice to send our customers unsatisfactory work. Unfortunately, chuckthebeatertruck received his cams in unsatisfactory condition due to some negligence on my part. After I do the heel grind on cams I do a carbon impregnation to re-harden the surface of the cams. Once I'm done, my staff handles the cleaning, cosmoline and shipping. With the carbon impregnation a lack of protective oil to the cams before shipping will cause them to rust in an accelerated fashion. This was missed and we sincerely apologize. Be confident in the fact that this will never happen again. After speaking with to Chuck, I assured him we would make it right with the cams. I am sending him a matched set of early hollow shaft heel grind cams as replacement for the bad cams he supplied. I attached some photo's of the replacement cams.
    We will start again to photograph all of our outgoing work.
    P.S. This is Denise, Paul's wife. I can tell everyone that I have never spoke to any customer in an annoyed manner or in a rude manner. My apologies chuckthebeatertruck if it was taken that way.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by fireboxflame; 07-25-2018 at 10:37 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    18

    Default

    The replacement cams arrived today and they are as nice as in the above photos.

    I take Paul and Denise at their word on what happened. They made right on my complaint and I commend as well as thank them for this.

    Now, we've got to get down to finishing the motor and getting back in the wind.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    The First State
    Posts
    104

    Default

    Glad to hear everything worked out and have settled any differences.

    I will be contacting American Cycle Fab in the very near future about rebuilding my 45 Flathead.
    Craig (Delaware)
    AMCA Member #1011

  8. #8

    Default

    45" is so easy anybody can do it

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    The First State
    Posts
    104

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by duffeycycles View Post
    45" is so easy anybody can do it
    I did it the first time many moons ago but still had leaks and some other things I would like addressed. Plus I hear they do an upgrade to the oil pump.
    Craig (Delaware)
    AMCA Member #1011

  10. #10

    Default

    The stock pump works fine

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