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Reprint of an article in the March/April 2014 issue of The Engine Rebuilder, with whose permission it is reproduced.© The Engine Rebuilder 2014

Turner Engineering – everything Land Rover

Specialising solely in the rebuilding of engines of one particular marque is sometimes seen as a potentially dangerous strategy: should the selected marque “sneeze”, the engine rebuilder will soon “catch a cold”. As is usually the case there is however another side to that view for specialist knowledge, techniques and focus can provide the edge that paves the way to success. That certainly has been the case with Turner Engineering whose name is now inextricably linked with that of Land Rover for their rebuilt units of virtually every type and age, as well as parts. As with Land Rover though, there have been trials and tribulations along the road but Land Rover’s current success underpinned by their ownership (as Jaguar Land Rover) since 2008 by one of the largest vehicle producers in the world – Tata Group of India – is just reward for them both.

A key factor in the success of Turner Engineering is the personal, hands-on approach of the team at the helm – Richard and Frida Turner (no that is not misspelt – Frida hails from Holland). Their detailed knowledge of every aspect of the business which they established over thirty five years ago shows throughout: Frida’s knowledge of parts and processes plus the rapport she has established with regular customers is balanced perfectly with Richard’s machining skills to enable him to focus principally on that and the actual rebuilding. The latter, however, is something of a misnomer today for although Richard has rebuilt more Land Rover engines than some of us have had hot dinners, now that volumes have reached their present level he has to concentrate more on the machining aspects: two staff undertake the actual re-assembly under his watchful eye. Although a small team of only six in total (four and half in reality for three are full time, three part time), the company’s reputation now sees their engines being shipped to wherever Land Rovers are used – and that means all over the world!

The finishing touches are put to a 200TDI engine

The customer service they deliver is achieved by running the business as nearly as possible to a production line basis, so that minimised set-up times and tool changes assist consistency as well as efficiency. But then by using one of the benefits of specialisation, when there are orders for a number of a certain specification engine, their specialist knowledge enables them to add some for their own stock onto that run so it becomes a viable production batch. They can do this because, again as a result of their single focus, they know precisely which engines and variants are the ones which move plus they invest wisely in components and ‘core materials’ such as blocks and other major components to enable them to do this.

Stock V8 blocks ready for assembly. The control panel of the Mazak machine can be seen in the background beyond the Sunnen line borer.

Achieving such throughput and prompt turnaround has only been possible after considerable and timely investment. In the early 1990s Turner Engineering were one of the first engine rebuilders to adopt CNC machinery, when they took the brave but extremely shrewd decision to make the substantial investment in a new Mazak AJV 25/405N CNC jig borer. Thanks to the choice of machine and the way it has been maintained their decision is still paying dividends for the 8.5 tonne machine remains at the centre of the machining activity and just as accurate as it was on day one.

A bore gauge being used to measure conrod big ends following machining on the Mazak machine

Those who know these robust machines will know why and with some thirty programmes for specialist machining processes of individual bores, different blocks and cylinder heads all stored in its Mazatrol M 32 system it continues to make a major contribution to maintaining standards and efficiency. Flood cooling on this machine further assists accuracy whilst machining by ensuring the workpiece stays within temperature tolerances. For the same reason synthetic diamond tips are used in the cutting tools which are kept individually dedicated to each operation to maintain consistency. 

The machine is used in conjunction with Renishaw measuring equipment to ensure absolute accuracy in positioning and as many as five V8 blocks can be fully machined in one day with the work undertaken unattended. This fits perfectly with their “mini-production-line” approach and frequently when a number of items of the same type need machining others will be drawn from their core unit stock and will be added to the batch for their own stock. Once a sequence is underway other work can be undertaken on other nearby machines such as the AMC 1200U crankshaft grinder, Serdi 50 valve seat cutting machine or the Sunnen C100a horizontal line honing machine.

Cylinder head work including counter bores for inserts, valve guide reaming and cutting three angled valves seat is all undertaken in house.

Workpieces can be mechanically handled throughout most if not all of the workshop area thanks to several ingenious articulated arm cranes. Another benefit of specialisation results in special lifting brackets and rotating bosses for each engine block type which enable them to be lifted and rotated quickly through 360 degrees to simplify and speed matters even further. 

More CNC machinery was installed when demand for the V8 range of engines increased some eight or so years ago. This included a Sunnen SV210 fully automated vertical honing machine which is dedicated to V8 blocks, Richard finding it well suited to the close tolerance work required. 

All blocks are line honed to ensure perfect alignment, roundness and size of the bearing housings. Here again tooling is dedicated to each specific application with individual line honing bars kept for each: as Richard explains once a line hone is trued into size, which needs to be done on a scrap cylinder block, it will stay set for the rest of its life as re adjustment causes inaccurate work.

Quality of product and customer service run through every discussion and are to be seen not only in the workshop but also in the warehouse, with substantial and timely investment having been made over the years. Having had their processes certified to ISO 9001 for many years quality principles now come naturally and, as they should, they are clearly reaping the benefits from this .... as are their customers. Their investment in stock underwrites their commitment to their customer service standards: 80 – 100 engines are held in stock at any time. All are sealed with warnings, instructions etc attached ready for shipment straight from the heated warehouse: many are held on stillages to facilitate this and to protect them during shipment. The majority of engines are supplied with running-in oil and fitting gaskets.

Remanufactured engines safely in stillages in the heated warehouse – sealed, instructions & running in oil enclosed, ready for shipment.

Richard explains how with the different uses to which Land Rovers are put, knowledge of the application and the environment in which the engine is working has a considerable bearing on its life expectancy. He quotes the example of the same type of engine being used in one case by a gravel contractor who, in spite of acting responsibly and fitting inlet snorkels and correct filters, returns his engines for rebuilds every 10,000 miles due to harsh operating conditions, dust etc. Meanwhile, the same type of engine being used by another customer for a road application and has the engine oil changed regularly along with the filters, has now done more than three quarters of a million miles.

Their level of detailed knowledge about these engines can only be acquired through specialisation but this benefits their customers since it is brought to bear in maintaining the quality of their rebuilt units and the parts they supply: frequently it is the small details which make the big impact. Richard is more than aware how the failure of even a small, relatively inexpensive component can be costly both in straight financial terms as well as reputation. Accordingly new parts are fitted wherever their knowledge says it is prudent. This includes original or better seals and other items down to bolts and lock washers even or, in the case of the five cylinder engines, a new AMC head. Threads are checked and if there is any doubt, they are helicoiled.... and so on.

Shown right is an improved crankshaft seal now used: this has an additional felt type dust seal and additional fastenings.

Similarly, only ductile iron flanged liners from Darton in the USA are used in their V8 blocks. This is a much more durable material and Richard has learnt over the years that this supplier consistently holds the tolerances and specification he requires throughout large batches and from batch to batch. This means block castings can be pre machined even it another batch of liners is awaiting delivery. This aids the process due to all the tooling being pre-set for these parameters, as mentioned above. Turner Engineering Rover V8 blocks of 3.9, 4.0, and 4.6 litre capacity have proven themselves many times over and not only in straightforward Land Rover applications but also in race cars, dragsters and Paris - Dakar rally vehicles. 

An online store was set up in 2009 selling quality engine parts as used in their own production: this is run alongside the engine remanufacturing side of the business. Among the most popular items are TD5 AMC replacement cylinder heads that feature an uprated injector socket and the ductile iron flanged liners for the V8 block castings. Rear oil seals bought in bulk direct from original manufacturers are also popular with both trade and retail customers. The company was recently awarded the Gold Trusted Merchant Award for Excellence in Customer Service by the customer service feedback system Feefo. The award is based on feedback from users of Turner’s online store and comes as a result of a 99% aggregated customer rating over 2013. An online trade account offering discount on most online parts can be set up for any FER member: those interested should contact Frida Turner.

Richard and Frida continue to be strong supporters of the FER and are clearly dedicated to seeing their customers get what they pay for, saying “If you are selling a quality engine like we are, it is simply more trouble than it is worth to mess about trying to penny pinch here and cut a corner there. You cannot build a reputation for a company let alone an industry that way. I wish more people would recognise that”.

Turner Engineering is at Newchapel in Surrey and can be contacted on +44 (0)1342 834713Visit www.turner-engineering.co.ukor www.turnerengineering.co.uk for the online parts store

Reprint of an article in the March/April 2014 issue of The Engine Rebuilder, with whose permission it is reproduced.© The Engine Rebuilder 2014

 

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