View Full Version : TR4/4A Highway Robbery??? (TR4 Trunnion Bushings)

12-03-2004, 04:38 PM
Hi all,

I've had a bit of trouble finding a local machine shop to do a relatively simple job: Press new outer bushings into two TR4 front suspension lower A-arms and ream them to fit a new trunnion. These are the bronze type bushings and it's a relatively straightforward job I've had done in the past.

Has anyone had this job done recently on their TR2/3/4? Mind if I ask what you were charged per bushing?

I finally found a shop through what has been a pretty reliable, local parts store. So, I left all the parts (which I already had) with the store for them to send out to their vendor, and have been awaiting a quote for about a week.

The store called me a few days ago saying the shop didn't have a small enough reamer, could they drill them to size? I said "no, absolutely not" and they offered to check with other machine shops they use. I agreed to that and said I'd await their quote on the work.

Today they got back to me with a $90 per bushing quote! After I finished squealing like a stuck pig, they quickly dropped the price to just under $70 apiece. Still, in my head I had guess-timated something between $10 and $20 apiece, the latter allowing for the fact that here in Silicon Valley the prices of just about everything are roughly double much of the rest of the country!

So, I'm trying to find out the realistic cost of labor only (press out the old, press in the new and ream those to fit). I supplied all the parts. Heck the A-arms were even clean and paint-free, freshly sandblasted and degreased, and the trunnion is brand new!

What's worse is that they went ahead and did the job without providing any quote and giving me an opportunity to take my business elsewhere, and without my agreement to go ahead and do the work.

On the bright side, I only needed two bushings done. If it had been all four, at these prices I'd consider buying a press and reamer and doing it myself!

Thanks in advance for any info you can share!

12-03-2004, 06:12 PM
I just did the job on my TR3. The only specialized tool I needed was the reamer. I have a set of expanding reamers, so I didn't have to invest in that. As far as pressing the old ones out, and the new ones in, I just found and appropriate sized socket and whacked the old bushings out. I then used a vise to squeeze (press) the new bushings in. Then I took the hand reamers and kept reaming the bushings larger until they fit the trunnions perfectly. It took 2-3 passes per bushing. Total time spent on four bushings was a about a half an hour.

You don't need a press, and one 5/8" nominal (I believe that was the size) expandable reamer might have set you back less then $50.

Your original guess-timate of $10-$20 a piece is very accurate for the time spent. The problem with doing custom work like this is that it takes an operator away from what they usually do and what they're familiar with and time gets wasted on a small one shot operation that won't make them rich. As a result, they quote high, hoping you will disappear. If they then have to do the job, they want to at least make it worthwhile.

Edit: I just went on line to check out the expanding reamers needed for this job (19/32"-21/32"), and came up with a price of $13.05. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hammer.gif

12-04-2004, 02:07 PM
Alan, as a machinist, among other things, it sounds to me that the shop didn't really want to do the work, and figured to scare you away with an exhorbitant price. However, that doesn't explain why they went ahead and did it anyway!

12-05-2004, 05:55 PM
Hi all,

It's pretty scary when businesses try to chase customers away!

The retail shop I have most of this sort of work done through recently told me they have had a turnover of machine shops. All new ones within the past 4-5 years. The old ones went out of business (they use a half dozen different shops, depending upon what work is needed).

Next time I'll just buy a couple extra parts (as backups in case I make a mistake) and learn how to do the job myself! Meanwhile, the parts are back and I got a revised total, now just under $90. Still highway robbery, but half the original "quote after we've already done the work".

Thanks for the input!

12-06-2004, 04:48 PM

It’s pretty scary when all the machine shops in ‘Silicone Valley’ are going out of business because their customers begrudge them making a decent lively-hood, it’s okay for mechanics to earn wages equivalent to social security! It’s okay for shop owners to be forced to employ unskilled labor because they can’t afford to pay good staff. ‘Silicone Valley’ must have one of the highest income per person values in the world and yet mechanics are still expected to grovel for a living!

12-07-2004, 03:50 AM

Yeah, that occured to me too. I'm a freelance photographer, so I deal with unreasonable expectations all the time. People expect you to spend days prepping for and shooting hundreds of pictures, then feel they should be charged about $10 apiece for the five pictures they ultimately decide to use, and then flagrantly make copies and use the photos in various other ways in violation of copyright. This doesn't even consider the tens of thousands of dollars worth of special equipment and 25 years experience you bring to the project.

However, I feel there is a big difference between begrudging someone a decent livelihood and allowing ones self to get ripped off. I do not feel the $90 I ended up paying to have the two bushings installed and fitted was anything close to fair payment for 10 or 15 minutes of work.

To make matters worse, they were unprofessional to the point of not providing a quote in advance, as promised, or getting an okay to go ahead with the job. Still, it's better than what they initially tried to charge me, $90 apiece!

So, I paid the price and I've got the parts back and, frankly, find the fit only marginally better than the original bushings.

I see a lot of different possibilities why those machine shops are going out of business. Undercharging and overcharging can both be harmful to a business.

Next time, I'll buy the tools and install the bushings myself, making for one less customer for the machine shop and the retail store I worked through!