Blueprint Engines "383 Stroker" Warranty Fix & ReInstallation ProcessMy experience with Blueprint Engines contracting Dave's Auto Service for the warranty labor.
March 16, 2020
This morning I dropped the 1993 Chevy C1500 Indy Pace Truck off at Dave’s Auto Service in Madison, WI, and left it in the capable hands of Master Technician, Paul Buckham. This is the 2nd time I have delivered the truck to Dave’s. The first time was to diagnose the problems I was having, which resulted in an “internal engine failure” diagnosis on March 4, 2020. Here’s the game plan as I understand it from Blueprint Engines Warranty Department.
Dave’s Auto Service has been contracted by Blueprint Engines to perform the following warranty services:
- Remove the currently installed 383 Stroker (BP38302CT) from the truck and have it shipped back to Blueprint Engines, in Kearney, NB.
- In 4-6 weeks (my estimate) upon receiving the rebuilt and corrected 383 Stroker engine back from Blueprint Engines, re-install it in the truck along with several modifications and upgrades that will also be provided by Blueprint:
- Install a Holley Sniper fuel injection system on the appropriate manifold as supplied. This will replace the OEM TBI system.
- Upgrade the fuel pressure with a booster pump to bring it to 60 psi
- Install and program the Holley Sniper transmission controller for my 4L60E trans that bypasses the OEM ECU, and sync’s the engine with the new Holley Sniper fuel delivery system.
- Other mods that may be identified in this process
Paul has agreed to send me photos and updates on the process while the truck is in the shop so I can keep this blog up to date. I am cautiously optimistic and hopeful that this endeavor will work out well and I will end up with a truck and engine combo that really works well!
March 18, 2020
This morning I received a batch of photos and updates from Paul Buckham at Dave’s Auto Service. The engine is out and being prepared to crate up and ship back to Blueprint Engines. I’m thankful that the truck will be stored inside at Dave’s for the interim!
A shout out to Paul Buckham, Master Technician, for the progress photos and updates!
March 25, 2020
We have received notice from FedEx that the engine was delivered to Blueprint Engines on Monday, March 23, 2020. So, the work on rebuilding and correcting it can begin.
I have been in discussion with Paul at Dave’s Auto Service about doing some work in prep of the engine return and re-installation. This includes:
- Replace the 4L60E trans oil filter and fluids
- Fabricate new solid tubing trans fluid cooling lines
- Replace power steering low-pressure hose and fluids
- Radiator test revealed no leaks, but a leak was found in the water pump, so that will be replaced.
- Installing new coil springs designed to raise the front suspension 1 to 2 inches.
- Installing Polyurethane suspension bushings front and rear to tighten up the suspension
- Re-alignment after suspension work
April 9, 2020
Well, a lot has changed in recent weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In Wisconsin, we are all sheltering at home and practicing “social-distancing.” However, things are different in Nebraska, and I am told by the Blueprint Warranty Department that the original timeline of completing the engine rebuild by the end of April, still looks good.
I have not heard from Dave’s Auto Service in recent weeks as I am guessing that they are also staying home per our state requirements. We shall see if things change in Wisconsin, and the engine will be able to be received and re-installed in early May.
April 28, 2020
I received a call from Blueprint Engines on Thursday, April 23, 2020, letting me know that the rebuilt 383 Stroker was leaving their factory that day, on its way back to Madison, WI, via FedEx. Today, the engine arrived at Dave’s Auto Service, and I visited the shop to inspect the engine and its components and discuss the project with Paul Beckham. I also delivered some Eastwood Chassis and Rust Encapsulator Black spray paint for Paul to use on various sections and components of the front suspension and frame before the engine goes back in.
The dyno data sheet supplied with the engine today is very encouraging. This same 383 Stroker engine that I struggled with from the beginning was originally dyno’d at 332 HP and 426 ft.lbs. torque is now dyno’d at 363 HP and 437 ft. lbs. of torque. I assume the main factors for this improvement are the correct compression on all cylinders and the new Holley Sniper fuel injection system, with its related components.
May 1, 2020
We have hit an unforeseen and unexpected snag in this warranty replacement process. The shop that Blueprint Engines recommended, Dave’s Auto Service, has been working on this project since March 4, 2020, racking up hours and expenses. To date, they have not been paid anything by Blueprint Engines. As a small business, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic, Dave’s Auto Service needs some reasons to trust that all their work and expenses will be covered by a business they have never worked with before. As a result, Dave’s Auto Service has requested that Blueprint Engines make a partial progress payment toward the estimated total. Blueprint Engines has responded to Dave’s Auto Service by saying:
“Things are not in line with normal policy take time to make happen if at all“, and “…I have to go through my supervisors and get thing done through accounting it doesn’t happen right away” and “…Hope this answers your concerns… Thanks.“
From my perspective as the customer caught in the middle, it seems that there should have been a clear contractual agreement between Blueprint Engines and Dave’s Auto Service from the outset of this project. It should be an automatic part of the warranty process. Without that, these kinds of things happen and the customer is caught in the middle.
The customer (me) has cooperated fully with Blueprint Engines and Dave’s Auto Service. I have in no way contributed to this problem. I am using the shop that Blueprint Engines recommended. Yet, it is my life and financial position that is being affected adversely. Since the truck was my primary transportation, I had to buy or rent another vehicle b(thousands of $$) to survive while the truck was in the shop. I have to pay for the added insurance to cover another vehicle (hundreds of $$).
I am using the shop that Blueprint Engines found and suggested but am caught in a financial dispute between the two entities.
The rebuilt 383 Stroker engine is back in the truck, but there are mods that need to be made because of the recommended switch to the Holley Sniper system. The known issues as of May 1, 2020 were:
- Heater hose connections are in a different location and will need to be rerouted
- Throttle linkage bracket sent does not support the cruise control cable
- There is no place to attach a stabilizer bracket for the A/C compressor (mounted to the top of the intake manifold).
- Spark plug wires are not long enough
- No control for cruise or A/C if the ECM is removed
- We need to know what timing is set to check it and document it on Repair Order for future repairs.
- No AN fuel lines and fittings
May 4, 2020
There was no timely reply to the May 1, 2020 email from Dave’s Auto Service to Blueprint Engines about these issues. I sent a follow-up request for an answer on May 4, 2020.
I did not hear anything in response, so I called and left a voice mail for the Warranty Department on May 5, 2020. I received an email reply later on May 5, 2020, that included, “I think we have everything going forward at this time. I won’t know anything on the payment for a day or two.“
Even though “a day or two” was the communicated timeframe, as of May 8, 2020, I had heard nothing from Blueprint Engines about a resolution and way to move the project forward. As of May 10, 202, I still have no idea if or when a resolution between the two companies will be reached, or when I can expect to have my truck completed, running correctly and fully tested.
Ironically, I received another email as follows on April 27, 2020:
I’ll be happy to respond to this request as soon as the Blueprint Engines Warranty Replacement #83735 is completed.
So far, the rebuilt engine is back from your shop and is being put back in the truck and everything is looking good and promising. There are details to still be ironed out and as long as the good communication and coordination continue between BP, the mechanic shop, and myself, I see no reason why I wouldn’t be more than happy to share my positive customer experience story and to recommend BP.
So, things are not looking good. There is no way I’ll get this truck back by May 15th, and maybe not even by the end of the month. June 4th will be 3 months since the engine failure was diagnosed.
May 12, 2020
So, a couple of things have happened in the last 2 days. There have been emails between Dave’s Auto Service and Blueprint Engines Warranty Department concerning the request for a “progress payment” as Dave’s calls it, and the policy of Blueprint Engines to only pay for work once it is completed.
On May 11, 2020, Dave of Dave’s Auto Service wrote a long email to Blueprint Engines explaining the reasons for the payment request and what was meant and intended by it. Blueprint Engines responded with an email outlining more of their position but also opening the door to paying half of what Dave’s requested, and some additional payments later.
Later in the day, Dave’s accepted that compromise payment plan, and today Blueprint Engines responded that they ” …will submit for it (the check) today to go to your address.”
This means that by the time Dave’s Auto Service receives that progress payment, we will have lost at least a week of time on the project. I still have no idea of a project timeline or completion date.
And this is supposed to be a good customer experience? I’m supposed to recommend this to my friends?
May 15, 2020
Today, I helped a friend bring his 1973 Ford F-100 pickup to Dave’s Auto Service. While there, I was able to talk with Paul and Dave about the status of my truck. The engine is in the truck. The wiring loom was removed, and all unnecessary wires stripped out. The wires are now being modified for the Holley Sniper system, and the automatic transmission controller, which will bypass the Chevy OEM ECU module.
Also, on my dime, I had Dave’s install all polyurethane bushings in the front and rear suspension, plus new drop springs in front. The font is almost done, and the rear is in process.
Dave told me that he had not received the check from Blueprint Engines yet.
May 19, 2020
Today, I received a few progress photos from Paul at Dave’s Auto Service.
- A new A/C bracket brace needed to be custom made to connect to this Edelbrock manifold which did not have a connection in the same place as the previous manifold – see photos.
- This new Edelbrock Performer manifold also did not have a heater hose connection near the distributor like the previous one, so the heater hose connection needed to be moved toward the front where the temp sensor was, and the temp sensor moved across the manifold to an unused port – see photos.
- The new fuel booster pump, filter, and fuel lines have been installed – see photos.
- The headers have been installed – see photos.
- The throttle/cruise control cable bracket has been installed – see photos.
May 29, 2020
I stopped at Dave’s to check on the project progress. The A/C and heater hoses had all been connected, and the spark plugs, wires, and wire trays installed. It is looking pretty close to being ready to test-fire it up. Dave told me he thought they would be able to wrap things up the first week of June. He also mentioned that the biggest unknown would be how much time it will take them to get paid by Blueprint Engines.
If Dave’s Auto Service completes the project and submits a final invoice to Blueprint Engines by Friday, June 5, 2020, and assuming BP takes the same amount of time to pay that invoice as they took to make the first payment (May 12 to May 26 = 14 days), I may not be able to actually get my truck until June 19, 2020.
June 1, 2020
As promised, work has proceeded on the truck and 383 Stroker engine today. The fuel lines have now been completed. After firing up the engine (see video) he was able to clean up the engine bay wiring. I am not sure of the status of the suspension work. Waiting to hear about that.
June 3, 2020
I stopped at Dave’s today and was able to get an update from Paul, the Chief Technician. He had been able to take the truck out for some test spins. The new Holley Sniper intake system was in “learning” mode and barely ran at first. However, after making an adjustment to the throttle position sensor, it improved. Paul has really done a nice job in the engine bay with all the new wiring, sensors, and hose positions. It looks very tidy and professional.
The interior has some work yet to do. The new Holley ECM will be located behind the glove box, next to the original ECU. An LCD control panel will be stored in the glove box for access when needed. Another LCD panel will be mounted on the dash directly above the temp controls. This panel will give me access to any/all data from the engine and its sensors. It’s pretty impressive… I have a lot to learn about this new EFI system.
I asked about the oil they used. Apparently Blueprint Engines did not supply oil as they had originally promised, so Dave’s used high-zinc Lucas Oil that meets BP specs.
I also noticed the change in the front suspension height. The new drop springs raised the front at least a couple inches. The front is still lower than the back, but now maybe I won’t bottom out so often! I may raise the rear slightly later on.
We discussed timing and it looks like the truck may be completed sometime next week.
June 9, 2020
I’ve been told via email by Paul at Dave’s Auto Service that the Blueprint Engines 383 Stroker Warranty work was completed on Friday, June 5, 2020, and their warranty work order invoice submitted to Blueprint Engines Warranty Department. Today, four days later, I’ve asked for an update from Dave’s Auto Service as to when I’ll be able to pick up the truck. They have told me that Blueprint Engines has yet to pay that invoice. In fact, the only thing BP has done is to question their invoice, even though they were told and kept up-to-date during the process what the likely final invoice amount would be.
It has been over 3 months since the engine failure was diagnosed. I sent an email to the Blueprint Engines Warranty Department today, asking when I will be able to pick up my truck. I received an email back from them stating that they were wrapping things up with Dave’s Auto Service.
However, Dave’s Auto Service contacted me to let me know that Blueprint Engines was questioning the work they did to integrate the new Holley Sniper System into the OEM wiring harness! Since the Holley was Blueprint Engines’ idea and recommendation, this doesn’t make any sense to me. Because the OEM Throttle Body Injection system (TBI) used more sensors and ports, these all needed to be removed and cleaned up. If they weren’t removed, I would have ended up with a wiring harness with all sorts of dangling wires and connectors going nowhere, adding to future maintenance confusion, and just looking plain sloppy. I’m not sure why Blueprint Engines thinks that would be a good customer experience and outcome.
June 18, 2020
Yesterday on June 17, 2020, I visited Dave’s Auto Service. I paid the balance on the invoice for the suspension, transmission and A/C work that I was responsible for. Dave told me that he had not yet received the payment from Blueprint Engines for the warranty work they were responsible for covering. Therefore I could not take my truck home. A later email to Blueprint Engines Warranty Department asking for an update, revealed that they claimed to have sent the payment on June 12th. The payment did not arrive today on the 18th either. Obviously, “the check is in the mail” for 6 days is not normal or acceptable and it is very frustrating as a Blueprint Engines customer.
However, I did have a chance to take the truck for a test drive with Paul, the Chief Technician who did all of the work on the engine/truck. He showed me how the new Holley Sniper System worked, and how the new LCD display panel that came with it operated.
The performance of the rebuilt 383 Stroker was significantly better than when the internal failure (valve stem guides) was diagnosed over three months ago in March. The Holley Sniper makes a very different sound than the stock TBI setup – it sounds like a loud sucking sound. The Holley Sniper system is still in the “learning mode” which should improve its tuning and performance over time as I take it through a much broader range of driving scenarios and speeds.
Because we no longer use the stock ECM, two things will not work with this new setup – my cruise control and the brake warning light. I will be researching to see if there is a aftermarket cruise control that I might be able to addon. I will probably disconnect the brake system sensor so that my brake warning light isn’t on all the time.
June 19, 2020
I am happy to report that the final payment from Blueprint Engines to Dave’s Auto Service arrived today. Even with this good news, I am not yet able to pick up the truck because a transmission issue developed while I was test driving it yesterday on June 18th.
I’ve decided to start another page on the topic of the 4L60E transmission.
July 4, 2020
I still do not have the truck back from the shop because the 4L60E transmission needed to be rebuilt and upgraded. See the new page on that topic here.
July 9, 2020
After almost 4 months, I was finally able to pick up the 1993 Chevy C1500 Indy Pace Truck after taking it in to Dave’s Auto Service on March 16, 2020. It now has the newly rebuilt Blueprint Engines 383 Stroker and a rebuilt and beefed up 4L60E transmission. I now need to drive it and learn its new “feel” and then write my overall impressions and take-aways.
Now that the warranty process is completed and I have my truck and engine back, I have been able to experience driving it and learning about the new Holley Sniper intake system, and the changes made to bypass the OEM ECM. Here are my thoughts on the overall product and my customer experience.
Original Purchase of the Blueprint Engines “383 Stroker” BP38302CT
After doing several months of online research I called Blueprint Engines and spoke with a salesperson on DEC 4, 2018. After my initial questions were answered, I placed my order for this Blueprint Engines “383 Stroker” (BP38302CT, SN: 325021) on DEC 12, 2017, directly from Blueprint Engines. It was purchased to replace the original 350 V8 in my Chevy C1500 Indy Pace Truck with 135,250 miles.
You can read about the initial customer experience I had on the first page in this series located here: https://1993chevypickup.com/engine/blueprint-engines-383-stroker-engine-upgrade/
My Blueprint Engines Warranty Department customer experience
After the rebuilt/corrected 383 Stroker arrived back at my local shop, I received an automated email from Blueprint Engines President, Shawn Sterling. You can view it above, in addition to my initial response.
Now that I’ve had a chance to actually drive the truck and experience the rebuilt and corrected 383 Stroker engine, I followed up with an email on July 16, 2020. It was sent to: Shawn Sterling, President; Johnny McDevitt, Projects Director; and Kelli Callahan, Customer Service & Warranty – as follows:
Shawn, Kelli and Johnny,
I am now able to reply to this earlier email sent to me back on April 27, 2020. I assume it was automatically generated when the previously failed Blueprint Engines 383 Stroker was rebuilt and shipped back to Dave’s Auto Service, here in Madison, WI.
It was not until June 18, 2020 that I was able to test drive the truck for the first time with the warranty replacement 383 Stroker engine back in it since March 16, 2020, a 3 month duration.
Since additional work needed to be done on the 4L60E transmission I was not able to take final delivery of the truck until July 9, 2020. I’ve now been able to drive the truck with the rebuilt BP 383 Stroker in it for about a week and for a few hundred miles.
For what it is worth, here are my observations and feedback at this early point in my customer experience with your completed warranty process.
1 – The warranty process took much longer than I expected and was not managed well.
- I was told at the outset that the engine would be back at Blueprint Engines for 3-4 weeks, which was the case – thank you!.
- The best early estimate from the local shop was maybe 2-4 weeks on the front and back end to take the engine out and put it back in.
By way of reminder, I took the truck in at BP’s suggestion to Dave’s Auto Service for diagnostic work on March 4, 2020, and that was the date where we finally knew why this engine had been giving me problems for so long. I drove it home on July 9, 2020 – 4 months later.
- I understand that because BP recommended changes in the engine intake setup moving away from the OEM TBI system to the Holley Sniper EFI system, the re-install process was more complicated. To mitigate and manage this, it would have been better to have had a meeting with the local shop and your warranty department to work out and agree on a timeline for the re-install project, with milestone dates and a target completion date.
- The project needed a designated project manager who was responsible to handle all communications, coordination and to made sure the project hit the milestones and completion date.
- I never had a clear understanding of who the project manager was, or who was responsible for and running this warranty process. Was it Blueprint Engines, or Dave’s Auto Service? It felt to me like it was Dave’s Auto Service because they communicated with me regularly and BP did not. I never received a direct update from BP, unless I first sent an email and requested one.
2 – The warranty process was not well defined or communicated to me as the customer.
- I had never heard of or seen the Blueprint Engines warranty documentation until Ken mentioned it to me in an email on February 28, 2020. This was years after I had received the engine, installed it, and driven it, and had registered a number of warranty issues.
There was added confusion in our warranty communications because there were multiple “Warranty File Numbers” associated with my account – including 81197 and 83735.
- It was very hard to manage the warranty communication process through standard email. Several times since I purchased the engine, Ken admitted to me that he had not seen emails/photos that I had sent to him. These missed emails resulted in delays in figuring out my issues with the engine, prolonging the final date when the core internal failure issue was diagnosed.
- Once I understood that Blueprint Engines would cover the costs for the recommended “diagnostic work”, I had no problem agreeing to have Dave’s Auto Service do that work. All communication before that point had sounded to me like the responsibility for diagnosing the problem with this engine was mine.
- I strongly recommend that Blueprint Engines find and adopt an actual warranty process management platform where the customer and the warranty department have a single point of contact and all messages, photos, documents, etc. are contained in an easy to use and access platform, via computer or mobile device. Since I had a career in web design and web applications, I know of many industries that use this type of platform. This would seem to be the best practice for the world we live in now.
3 – The warranty process was not not well defined and communicated to the local shop you contracted to do the warranty work.
- There were avoidable delays in the warranty process due to unclear and undefined expectations between BP and the local shop. These issues were related to invoicing, payment schedules, what was covered or not covered, etc.
- A written contract/agreement between BP and the local shop for this type of warranty work up front, would have level set the expectations and billing details and avoided the several weeks of lost/delayed time on the project. This would have not only been a better business practice with the local shop, it would have made my customer experience better. I felt caught between two entities and at their mercy.
- The BP Warranty Process management platform needs to be designed to also include all messages and resources with the local shops that are contracted to do warranty work. There should be one central place where BP, your customer and the contracted shop can go to access details and documentation of the entire warranty project.
4 – Observations & Feedback to Date
Immediately upon driving the truck with the rebuilt BP 383 Stroker back in it on June 18, 2020, I knew that the original engine had never run anywhere close to the performance of the corrected engine. The difference was dramatic and extreme – way beyond the added performance from the Holley Sniper EFI system upgrade. The more I have driven it in varied conditions, the more this perception has solidified. The original engine never ran anywhere close to this! I could be wrong, but I suspect that the internal failure (valve guides) began a long time ago.
BP was correct to suggest the Holley Sniper EFI as the better way to go on round 2. Even though it complicated the re-install and I lost a few things along the way (Cruise Control, Brake Light is always on due to bypassing the OEM ECM) the performance and reliability difference is striking and it is more consistent. I am hoping this experience continues.
As I stated in earlier emails, one big takeaway for me as a customer is that at many times in the warranty process since I bought the engine, I felt like I was a nuisance and a second class citizen. This was partly because I didn’t always know what Ken and the warranty department were talking about (using their technical language), and when I asked for clarification and details, their responses seemed irritated and annoyed. Other times, when I would follow through on a test or a suggestion that they recommended that I perform, and I would report back my results, they were not believed or trusted. Again, it felt like it was because I was not a professional and therefore I was not taken seriously.
I spent many dollars, hours, sweat and mental cycles trying to figure out what was going on with this original 383 Stroker engine. I replaced many components in the process of trying to fix it.
- Sensors – air temp, knock, coolant temt, etc.
- Spark Plugs
- Ignition Wires
- Distributor and Coil
- TBI components, valves, sensors
- ODB-1 testing equipment, connections and software
- Fuel pump
- EGR valve, gaskets, and more…
I would like to note that according to Dave’s Auto Service, all of these components and the things that I had done to try to make the engine run right… were done within spec and had little or nothing to do with the actual “internal failure” problem. Not too shabby for an amateur.
I also would like to point out that I had to buy a car to use while my truck was laid up in the shop during the warranty process. Now that I have my truck back, I am hoping to sell that car… and hoping not to lose too much $$ on it.
So far, I have to say that overall Blueprint Engines has come through for me in this warranty process and has “made it right.” Your product now meets or exceeds the advertised descriptions and my expectations based on all the available research and brand reputation. It’s unfortunate what we all had to go through to get here, but I am happy that BP didn’t drop the ball and leave me hanging.
I have one unanswered question: What is the status of my warranty on this engine? Does it reset or is it based on the original purchase date?
NOTE: As of JUL 29, 2020, I have not received a reply to this email or answer to my question.