What work was he charged for but didn't get?
And while this post is shifting from a feedback post to "let's judge the OP and whether he should pay", and also, "did Nick Micale do good work", I'll re-emphase (can't believe I have to with some), that other than maybe the internal assembly of the motor, he threw much of the rest of it together. But far and away, most importantly, is the fact that his attempt to scam me on the transmission is 100% confirmed!!! I've already explained this several times. I'm shocked that so many people are just outright ignoring this...mind blowing. To yet again briefly recap: He told me he grabbed the wrong transmission. But he didn't know I still had James' number that he gave me from months earlier. So I call James to ask him about the new trans, and the conversation moves to the old one. James casually mentions that Nick intended to just give me a used trans from a customer who had recently returned it. And the proof is in the pudding - the trans was junk from day 1. It never shifted into 2nd gear from the day I got it, though it took a couple weeks to figure it out. I thought it wasn't shifting into OD (just counting shifts). I have videos of that...which I sent to Nick, btw. And when I dropped the pan to replace it because of the leak, it's literally loaded with black debris. So I take a pic of it, send it to Nick, and he tells me that's normal!!! Attached is one pic, after I drained the pan of fluid, along with much of the debris.
After getting caught, Nick made good on the trans. How could he not? He got caught red handed, after all. That was months ago, and I never said a word. I could've spoken up right then, but I kept quiet, even though Nick had confirmed that he had attempted to scam me. But when I discovered the lack of ported heads, that did it.
A BIG lesson to me about the pistons...I took someone's word prematurely who said they were "positive" I had hypereutectic, and they were mistaken. So I'm glad to clear Nick's name on the pistons - they are forged. But people just then focus on that, and forget about the confirmed trans scam, the lack of ported heads, no fuel pump when he swore it was in there, and bevy of leaks. These aren't minor issues that I'm just "whining" about. These are major issues. I paid top dollar based on his reputation, and he trying ripping me off, did terribly shoddy work (I'm 51...it's not the first time I've had a freshly rebuilt motor come back to me in a project car), and now he's got the gall to try an collect the remaining $2K? I'd say that would be quite foolish if he does.
If he makes good on the ported heads like he did the trans, proves beyond a reasonable doubt (meaning, the docs aren't forged) with build sheets regarding the machine work, and my cam, that I have the motor I paid for, according to our verbal conversations, then I will gladly pay him the $2,062 remaining (minus the...$175 I think I paid for shipping the trans to him), and a reasonable amount for the fact that I've spent probably 30-40 hours troubleshooting/fixing the issues he was supposed have addressed before the car ever left. Let's call it 35 hours at $20/hour = $700.
So...as soon as Nick sends new ported irons (with all the same "new valves and head work" as original) here to Colorado, pays for them to be installed on my car, we'll subtract $875 from the $2,062 for my time and the shipping of the trans back to him, then I'll pay him the balance, which is $1,187. Are you reading this, Nick?
There's your offer. You make it right, and live up to the "invoice" by providing ported heads, installed at a shop of my choosing here in CO, compensate me for the all the time I spent fixing your shoddy work and troubleshooting, at a reasonable rate of $20/hour, and I'll pay you the balance. Let's call it $1,200. That's probably your cost for ported irons anyway. All you have to do is pay for the install. But as compensation for all my grief, I don't want them done by you. You'll have to specifically tell me who'll be doing them, the extent of the port work, or just make them Champion Irons. I'd feel best with a well-known supplier, as I've lost all faith in you.
And for all those throughout the years that had good work performed by Nick, that's great. I don't doubt he's capable of it. I only know he screwed me royally. And above is his chance to clear his name and make it right. And I will do what I think is perfectly fair, and pay the balance, after being fairly compensated.
My last piece of advice, and maybe this is good for anyone, especially with job involving thousands of dollars. Ask for much more detail than I got on my invoice. Ask for cam specs on the invoice. If you don't like general statements when you first see an invoice, ask for more detail. Ask for build sheets. Be thorough and check as much as possible at the time you're picking up your car (which unfortunately can be impossible). Don't wait for things to fail. Try to pay with a credit card, so you can dispute it if there's a problem (I made payments by check). Wait to pay until you can verify as much as possible. Ask for pics along the way. Be wary of those who say "I'm not a computer guy and can't take pics" (like Nick claimed). Could be a convenient way to protect themselves. Do NOT trust people even who are well known and have favorable reputations. And whenever possible...deal locally!!!