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Old 31-12-2007, 21:59   #1
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Is there an ongoing scam???

Hi all. In the process of searching for the perfect boat for us, I've noticed that all of the common electronic gadgets on boats are WAY over priced. I do understand with the nautical stuff that is very specific, but I'm talking about just normal stereos, tv's, etc..

These items, if you include them in the build, will cost something like 4-5,000 each when you can get the same items for 800. I always knew that marine stuff was way over priced, but this is ridiculous!! Is it just better for us to order the stuff that isn't obvious and get the rest after market??

Or is there something that I'm missing like special wiring, installation, etc.. Just curious what everyone did or has done with the everyday common electrical fun toys.

Cheers!
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Old 31-12-2007, 22:06   #2
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I would think the installation would be a big part of the costs, especially on a new boat where the customer wants it to look perfect and professional.
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Old 31-12-2007, 23:38   #3
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Would an after market installer be able to do it as well or are there a totally different certificate for marine?? Or is it possible to just have all of the wiring preinstalled and I connect what I want later??

Just not sure how that works. Thanks for your reply.
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Old 01-01-2008, 00:01   #4
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The usual reason for price difference with add on electrical accessories TVs Radios Stereos etc is due to marine grade wiring ,anti rust components ,stainless steel ect.as far as fitting basically same as car fittings T.V aerials and boosters also straight forward now about the price.Nothing wrong with cheap TV stereo radio just chuck em and replace after warranty runs out when you cant fix However any safety gear VHF etc buy the best you can afford.l
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Old 01-01-2008, 05:36   #5
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Quote:
Hi all. In the process of searching for the perfect boat for us, I've noticed that all of the common electronic gadgets on boats are WAY over priced.
If you look at the installation of all of them the labor when doing it right is quite huge. Most anything I can do on shore takes me three times as long on the boat and that is the stuff I actually know how to do. We don't need to consider the stuff I learn on the job. It can get pretty bad.

After market installation of a wind instrument installed on a keel stepped mast is going to more than double the purchase for the unit. Pulling the mast and pulling the wire harness, re bundling the wires, and finally running the wires and power to the helm. Deck stepped masts might be a tad cheaper. If a crane rental is the only option for pulling the mast you'll need two of those. One out and one in in needed since the crane can't wait for you to finish.

As far as preinstalling the wiring I'm not so sure you save anything. For a wind instrument you really can't just install a just piece of wire. It has to be the transducer cable that runs from the sending unit you intend on buying though the mast to the junction at the end of the mast. It can't just be any wire as it needs to be the one that goes with the unit. You can't fish it down the inside of the mast or the wires flog themselves to the breaking point. They all have to be neatly bundled. Depth and speed log need two holes in the bottom plus wiring running around the boat. You can't just run wires without attaching them to something solid all along the way or they flop around and eventually break themselves. Running wires in a boat already completed is a pretty slow process - done right. You can't just connect a wire it has to be be properly sealed at any connection. Drilling a hole in the boat (almost any place) requires a few steps to seal them. Even someone that knows what they are doing is going to take a while to deal with all the little steps it takes.

One good estimate I had was from a guy that installs auto pilots after market. As far as I know he is about as fast and good as they come and been at it 30 years. He takes a full day to install one of the below deck units and that assumes he does not need to fabricate any mountings. Then you have a few hours on the water to calibrate the unit and test it. 10 to 12 hours labor adds up to real money.

Most everything on a boat can be installed poorly. It's one of the reasons CF exists. It's not easy to do any of this stuff yourself without a lot of planning or some prior experience. Just when you see some easy way to do something quick you post the idea here and we start throwing out all the reasons it won't work. It builds patience though<g>. It always takes more time and money than you think.
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Old 01-01-2008, 08:38   #6
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When we bought our current boat we spent the better part of a week removing abandoned wiring. You can't just grab wires and start pulling, every thing must be traced out so you don't pull wires that are needed and in use. We (four of us) pulled three 55 gallons drums of old wiring before we were down to essential ship wiring. I shudder to think what the cost was to put all the wiring in or what the marina would have charged to remove all that abandoned wiring. Example of the removed wiring: stereos, sailing instruments, engine panels, computer cables, old lighting, telephones, ssb, and on and on.

Quality marine installations will cost $65 to $85 per hour. Do what you can to keep it simple.
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Old 01-01-2008, 09:00   #7
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I think "scam" is an inappropriate term.

When you order a boat new and they offer to do some of the extras for you. They are offering a service at a price. The price is dependent on what someone is will pay for the service. If your capable of doing the add-on your self then delete it from the order. In the end it might or might not save you some money. Depending on what the project is.
There are a lot of people who prefer to do all of their add-ons with their check book and boat builders are more than happy to oblige at a price. Look at how many new houses are built with "upgrades" at a price that has driven housing to almost unobtainable levels.
If we were still a self suficent society we would be building our own boats and homes that were paid for, each and every nail or screw. This American society has been trained for a few generations to buy now and pay later. Making the "good life" fast and easy at just 999.00 per month.
It all come at a price, dollars or freedom and independence, you choose.
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Old 01-01-2008, 17:39   #8
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Understood the answer wanted was for the price of TVs Stereos and not for navigation and safety electronics .Once again almost anyone can install and plug in TVs Stereos Radios etc almost identical to fitting in a vehicle.Nowadays with the price of these items and being subject to a salt water enviroment cost effective items can be purchased .Regards Geoff.
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Old 01-01-2008, 18:55   #9
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Thanks for everyone's reply. I was only using the word scam as a general term not to accuse good people with excellent skills. And Jacana is right, I was only referring to the extras that are pure luxury, not the essential stuff. As PBlais was stating, I would never want to skimp on professional installation of stuff that is critical to the working and navigation of the boat. With those items, I am more then happy to spend whatever it takes to have it professionally and properly installed.

I was more looking at the items that they were offering by way of extras, like normal LCD tvs, stereos, etc.. I was seeing as a standard on most boats that the same 20" LCD tv was for nearly $5,000 as for the same TV in a store was barely $600. I was just wondering what was actually different. Was the installation that much?

Not really a huge issue with me as I'm not that close to purchasing a new boat yet, and by the time it does happen, that price is nothing compared to the overall price of the boat, so it won't really bother me anyway. I was just more curious then anything.
Cheers!
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Old 01-01-2008, 19:36   #10
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My father's old boat was called the 'Bout Two Weeks. Back then, and now, nearly every quote (whether it's for a part, a guy to come and look at something, or whatever else) is "about two weeks". I was tempted to name our boat the 'Bout Two Grand, since that seems to be a common price.

If you want to sail cheaply, have less doodads and learn to do all the work yourself. If you have a fancy boat equipped with a lot of gear, you will spend *a lot* of money. Far more than an equally furnished home would ever cost. And the maintenance costs go along with it. Figure 10% of the value of your boat, every year, in regular maintenance.
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Old 02-01-2008, 04:31   #11
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I would never want to skimp on professional installation of stuff that is critical to the working and navigation of the boat. With those items, I am more then happy to spend whatever it takes to have it professionally and properly installed.
There is professionally installed and then there is installed like a professional. Extra items not critical still need quality installation or they soon don't work. They are however great do it yourself projects if you are willing to do things like the pros do. About all you can't do is install the gadgets as the boat is being built.

I reinstalled a small 15 in. LCD TV that the PO tried to do poorly (he was a success). It was inside a TV cabinet that pivoted out. It didn't fit right so I had to remove the cabinet and rebuild the inside so it would. It takes a while just to remove the cabinet and haul all the stiff back to the shop so you can do the work. It came out quite nice but it takes time and patience to do these jobs. In this case I really don't want the TV to be bouncing around inside a cabinet under sail. It has multiple inputs and shares a CD player too. Routing all the wires and then adding a new input selector also takes time since you are working in cramped spaces.

That is a very simple example of doing such projects. A pro might have been a bit faster at it but not a lot faster and would have done a similar job of it.
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Old 04-01-2008, 19:15   #12
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Off-the-shelf tv & stereo

I've always installed off-the-shelf compact stereos and tvs for the best quality and price. Use some careful thinking on how to install the components so that they stay put in case of a knockdown. If you are fananatical about keeping rainwater and sea water from getting down below you will not have a problem.

I've always used a good inverter to drive the goodies so that there are no specialty 12V appliances to cost too much and perform below that of the normal 120V devices.

More recently I've added a Sharp 19 inch HD LCD tv mounted on an accordian type device attached to the mast. This way I can swing out the tv and tilt it for a perfect view from the comfortable position on the salon "couch". If the viewing area was larger I would have to move it back so there is no point in having a larger tv.

The audio is cabled to my stereo which has a compact sub-woofer. The view and sound are wonderful. With this system in the main salon area there is no need for more watts or large components. I see no advantage, only disadvantage, to buy special "marine" components or a car unit.
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Old 19-01-2008, 16:52   #13
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Marine electronics and Installation

I work in the aerospace electronics manufacturing field as a Quality Engineer, so I'm very familiar with building electronics that are the equivalent (or stronger) of what could pass for "marine" electronics.

What it boils down to is using what is called a "conformal coating" on the circuitboards after everything is connected/soldered together, and using connectors and circuitboards that are higher strength than typical consumer items . We have boards that will literally be covered in condensation, water dripping off them due to rapid change of altitude of the aircraft, but still running radars just fine, because they've been coated and sealed to be able to withstand exposure to these elements. (in case you're wondering, you can't seal aircraft electronics
air-tight, or the cases would blow open as air pressure changes...the instrument areas are usually not pressurized).

I can't say 100%, but I seriously doubt there's ANY consumer electronics besides the simple "in-dash" marine car stereo unit, that is actually being built to these construction standards.....no conformal-coated circuitboards on any LCD TV's for instance.....

I'm pretty confident that the pricing "scam" you're referring to in boat entertainment electronics is a combination of the "what the market will bear" mark-up of luxury-class items on a boat, i.e. they think you're rich, otherwise you wouldn't be thinking of buying a new boat, so they think you won't blink at the cost ("...if you have to ask the cost, you can't afford it")....

....and the installation-costs people have already mentioned here. And I agree the majority of the cost is probably installation-time, IF they're doing it after the boat is built.

If they're installing AS the boat is built, I'd say it is a scam, because of course it's a LOT easier to install wiring during boat construction, when it's planned from the beginning. Then they don't have an excuse for charging $5000 for a TV. But how could they do that, unless they predeterimine where they, not the customer, wants the TV, stereo, etc., mounted ?

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Old 20-01-2008, 00:02   #14
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That's what I was thinking too is that if it was being installed while it was being built, and this is part of their everyday inventory list of items, then where DO they justify that extra HUGE cost since these are their default items and/or options.

I do totally understand if the installation was done after market when they have to really take things apart and wire everything from scratch, etc.. But, those prices straight from the manufacturer, I don't think so nor do I agree!!
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Old 20-01-2008, 00:19   #15
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I always go in and add conformal coating (Techspray has some good stuff) to any circuit board that is not in a sealed enclosure, being careful with connectors of course. And I also add VCI (Vapor-Phase Corrosion Inhibitors) inside enclosures with a lot of electronics, especially the homebrew stuff.

As to the wiring harness, a few rainy-day projects can make future maintenance a lot simpler. Two tools are required: a wire-tracing system (transmitter and receiver - I have a cheapie from Harbor Freight, though there are much better ones available), and a decent labeler that can do cloth wire lables (I use the Brady IDPAL, which is very nice.) By identifying every wire in the harness and labeling it at both ends as well as one or two places in between, you can get a very clear picture of how things are connected... making future repair and installation projects a lot easier. This is also the time to start a binder of drawings of what is really on board, which is a lot more real than the pile of manuals and scrawled notes of unknown lineage.

Also, there's usually no good reason to rip out old wire if it's in good shape - just label it SPARE at both ends and terminate with tape. Next time you want a cable run from point A to point B, you're ahead of the game (assuming appropriate wire type and no wicking corrosion).

By the way, I've been amazed at how many "marine" products cut corners in the wiring department. A few years ago, I bought a big-name VHF from the marine megalomart, and installed it in a micro-trimaran. 2 weeks on the water included one good pounding with waves in the cockpit, and when I decommissioned the boat I decided to do a post-mortem on the harness. The in-line fuse-holder was one of those cheap nylon open-cage things, and it had gotten wet during the flooding. I started cutting the wire back, closer and closer to the radio case, and at every point it was black from corrosion. I finally opened the case, and salt water had wicked all the way to the PC board, where greenish crystals were already migrating between positive and negative! And this was a "marine VHF."

I would assume that most professional installers are cognizant of all this as well as ABYC standards, but all bets are off with a used boat. The process of documenting your wiring harness is an opportunity to sniff out problems before they bite.

Cheers,
Steve
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