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Old 11-13-2002, 05:26 AM
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Unhappy Heidts addresses their so called faultey product.

The following is a letter from Gary Heidt concerning the problems one person had with his product. The orgional “warning” post can be accessed here. <a href="http://www.hotrodders.com/cgibin/ubb/18/000592" target="_blank">http://www.hotrodders.com/cgibin/ubb/18/000592</A> In all my dealings with Gary, I've found him to be an honest guy and it's extreemly unfair when one guy (out of thousands of customers) has a problem and the company's reputation gets trashed so easily. Gary wrote this letter to another web site hoping his side of the story will get out as fast as the "problem" did.

Letter follows:

Here is our response to the situation and the actions that we are taking to resolve the problem, and I hope that it spreads as fast as the first one. Thank you very much, Gary Heidt.

I thought that I should keep you up to date on the situation with Jeff Fennema (Cosmo) and his 46 Ford. We have sent replacement parts to The Roadster Shop to repair his car, at no cost to him. I felt that we can certainly afford to help him out, especially since he is in a delicate situation with some personal problems. I would be lying, however, if I said that I thought that there was a problem with our parts. This crossmember and control arm design has stood the test of time. An estimate of all the manufacturers in entire street rod industry would show that there were probably a total of 30,000 sets of control arms and 40,000 crossmembers sold in the last 10 years combined. Of all these products out there from all these companies, don't you think that if there was a genuine problem with this type of design that there would be hundreds and hundreds of failures, not just a hand full? Perhaps Jeff thought that he did a correct job when he built his car but I feel that this was just an isolated case of an improper installation of the product.

I personally know an NSRA rep that has one of our suspension systems on his car which he installed about 12 years ago and he now has over 100,000 miles on it. Yes, that is a 1 with five zeros behind it! How many pot holes do you think he has hit in 100,000 miles. Going to the shows and listening to people tell us about how much they enjoy driving their cars with our suspension kits on them and how they have driven 10,000 or 20,000 or 50,000 miles makes me feel very confident about our products. Then one incident like this comes along, where after 15,000 miles there is a major problem with a particular car. After all the kits we and all the other street rod companies have sold through the years I just cannot believe that there is a design problem with the product. Then I am held responsible, even though I had absolutely no control over the installation or the way the car was maintained or driven. It is just as if you were to install a new set of American Racing aluminum wheels with the conical taper lug nuts. Everyone knows that they must be retightened a couple of times until the lugs seat into the aluminum or they will come lose. If the wheel falls off because they were not retorqued after they were installed, American Racing is now held responsible for the damage? They did not install the wheels, nor did they have the opportunity to maintain them, just as I did not. It is very disappointing that all this happened, but it is just as disappointing to be accused of creating faulty products, just as American Racing did not create faulty wheels. I did offer an explanation to Jeff about how I thought his car failed, even though he said that I did not and it is very disappointing when you are misquoted. I have given my life to this company and this industry, and the products we sell have stood the test of time. I don’t believe we would have won all the awards from the NSRA if were selling faulty products. As far as testing our products, we introduced our Superide Independent Rear Suspension kits recently. I installed the first one in my `57 Chevy pick-up. It was a great opportunity to test a new product, as we left the box off the truck for two weeks so we could do torque and force measurements easily. I pounded on it as much as I could for those two weeks, literally driving through every pot hole and railroad track I could find. This kind of testing was great, as it showed that the design was sound. So yes, we do test our products. Also, if you notice the little fish in our logo, you will know that I answer to a higher authority than the people who buy our products. It is for that reason if no other that we are working with Jeff on his car. I will keep you posted as to the progress of the car.

Yours truly, Gary Heidt

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Old 11-13-2002, 06:22 AM
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Yep I saw that also and agree it was handled well by Mr. Heits. Well done.
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Old 11-13-2002, 01:04 PM
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Hey Gary: It might be good to get NSRA involved from a safety and independant observer point of view. They have a Safety Representative in every State and local region. I am sure these guy's if asked would inspect the product and installation and give an independant report. DAVE SHANK
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Old 11-13-2002, 01:19 PM
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Heidt's answer is partly satisfying. They did stand behind the failed part which is good. However, they did not address the undeniable evidence that their design is flawed as shown in the photographs. Every intersection of the side plates and the bottom plate on the x-member showed fatigue cracks. Regardless of how the driver maintained the car, these cracks are a result of continued FATIGUE overstress @ the point of a stress riser designed into the product. The part obviously could stand up to the maximum tensile, compressive, and shear loads it encountered as evidenced by the fact that it didn't break welds, collapse or bend out of shape. However, fatigue strength is different from the other three mentioned above and is quite a bit lower in value. It is not only a function of the metal dimensions but of surface condition (presence of rust pits or grind marks = stress risers), metallurgy (presence of weld heat affected zones = stress risers), and sharp intersections of surfaces. While the tensile strenght is plenty large enough for a static load, it must be reduced by a significant multiplier for each of the mentioned stress riser sources when addresing fatigue strength. Heidt's contention that they tested a new product for two weeks over really rough roads is not comforting either. Fatigue failure is more a function of number of cycles, not of severity of the individual cycles. Engineers design products such as this to a minimum 1,000,000 cycle fatigue strength and that milestone is not achieved in two week's testing on a lightly loaded bedless pickup frame. They do have a point that there are many of their products out there and the vast majority haven't failed. That is why I contend that the owner bears part of the blame here because he must have overloaded the part past the normal intended load which forced earlier than expected failure time. Regardless, the design is flawed and prone to forming fatigue cracks exactly as happened here.

[ November 13, 2002: Message edited by: willys36@aol.com ]</p>
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Old 11-13-2002, 04:24 PM
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while this has nothing to do with the original issue, the example Heidt used in his letter has me screaming again "HOLY CRAP!! WHERE IS MY LUG WRENCH?? I GOT SOME LUG NUTS TO CHECK!!!!"
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Old 11-13-2002, 05:13 PM
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Talking

like they say, there's 3 sides to every story...

i wonder, though, if Gary still would have fixed cosmo's car had there not been so much bad publicity concerning this situation.

Notice that Gary quotes #'s for ALL companies who build these products, not just his. He does not mention how many similar instances have occured previously with his company. I don't want sound like i'm getting on Gary's case, but these parts are man-made. And just like anything man-made, it can break. If I were Gary and this happened, the first thing i would have done would be to fully inspect the problem in person, not by emailed pics, and i certainly wouldn't have given any kind of response as to how i would proceed until i knew exactly what had happened.

my $0.02

JB
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Old 10-12-2003, 01:03 PM
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I came across this thread while doing some research for a front clip/frame swap Knowledge Cluster, and compiling the new Suspension Discussions section of our Knowledge Base. I realize it's 11 months old, but I couldn't resist replying.


Heidt's letter sounds to me like a combination of conveniently-presented math and liberal generalizations that cloud the truth.

Quote:
We have sent replacement parts to The Roadster Shop to repair his car, at no cost to him. I felt that we can certainly afford to help him out, especially since he is in a delicate situation with some personal problems. I would be lying, however, if I said that I thought that there was a problem with our parts.
If there wasn't a problem with the parts, then why were they replaced? To help out a guy with personal problems? Otherwise, he seems to be proposing a borderline coincidence whereby the same person who feels that his part failed due to a structural problem is the person whose part he replaced due to a faulty installation procedure and/or personal problems. Manufacturers do not typically replace parts for these reasons, and they should not be expected to. The act of replacing the part comes across as a partial admission of guilt, not as a kindhearted gesture.

Quote:
An estimate of all the manufacturers in entire street rod industry would show that there were probably a total of 30,000 sets of control arms and 40,000 crossmembers sold in the last 10 years combined. Of all these products out there from all these companies, don't you think that if there was a genuine problem with this type of design that there would be hundreds and hundreds of failures, not just a hand full?
Heidt refers to "this design" as every unit manufactured by "all the manufacturers in entire street rod industry" over the last 10 years. This conveniently places the number of failures against the largest possible number of parts manufactured. The 30,000 and 40,000 numbers can most likely be significantly reduced to present a more accurate analysis.

When I spoke with Fatman Fabrications on the phone regarding recent failures of their crossmembers, they employed a similar logic after acknowledging that they had a faulty "batch" of bolts. If they knew that the batch was bad, then why didn't they say that "x units out of this batch of xxxx units failed, which is x percent"? Instead, it's "x units out of every one of these units we've ever made has failed".

Heidt repeatedly implies that the fault of the failure lies in an improper installation procedure, but is the damage to the part in this situation implicative of an installation or maintenance error? If so, what exactly was the installation error? One might think he would want to take this opportunity to warn hotrodders against a potentially fatal installation error.

Quote:
As far as testing our products, we introduced our Superide Independent Rear Suspension kits recently. I installed the first one in my '57 Chevy pick-up. It was a great opportunity to test a new product, as we left the box off the truck for two weeks so we could do torque and force measurements easily. I pounded on it as much as I could for those two weeks, literally driving through every pot hole and railroad track I could find. This kind of testing was great, as it showed that the design was sound. So yes, we do test our products.
It's shocking to me that a company that manufactures parts in which a catastrophic failure could easily result in death, chooses as its testing procedure for new products: "literally driving through every pot hole and railroad track I could find". Aftermarket parts manufacturers could make their reputations shine if they backed their products with a rigorous, professional testing procedure. Instead, it's pot holes and railroad tracks -- "literally".

I've never met Gary Heidt, and I've never used his products either. He may be a really great guy, with solid, dependable parts. However, I think that the way he chose to handle this specific situation was inappropriate and disrespectful to the hotrodding community.
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