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Old 16-11-2010, 12:47   #1
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Boat Units

There seems to be a bit of boating common sense that whenever something fairly substantial goes wrong on your boat, it will cost one or more "boat units" ($1000) to fix it. I've had two recent experiences where something broke, reliable people started quoting boat unit (or multiple boat unit) prices to fix it, and with a little bit of perseverance and more research, I fixed the problem myself for less than $20 or so. Is anybody else having these kinds of experiences?

First example: I developed a badly leaking dripless shaft seal. Friends and family concluded I needed an emergency haulout and repair by the local boat yard. The quote was one boat unit. I went down to the boat, crawled into the bilge, called the manufacturer of the unit, got some advice from them, and ended up fixing the problem myself with $15 worth of material from the local hardware store (per the manufacturer's instructions).

Second example: I was repairing my diesel, broke a small part on the fuel injection pump, and started calling around the country for parts/advice on how to fix it. The first two outfits I spoke to- reliable, reputable folks- said I would never replace the outdated part and offered to sell me rebuilt injection pumps for three to four boat units. About three phone calls later, I located someone who sold me the replacement part for $5 so I could fix the problem myself.

What gives with this? Is anybody else running into these kinds of situations? I wonder if the growth of the Internet is producing this phenomenon.
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Old 16-11-2010, 13:08   #2
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It's kind of disgusting, but it happens with yachting more than anything else, it would appear. I honestly don't want to speculate as to why this phenomenon exists, but it certainly does exist.

I get that West Marine or the guys at your local boatyard would want you to pay a premium for their services and expertise. Heck, sometimes their expertise is worth more than they charge (but not often!).

I think another part of it is how dependent people have become on 'professionals' for every little thing. We get used to the idea that, since we have a high-paying job, we are better off just paying someone equal or even double our own earning power to do a specialist job, and we should just go work it off at the office. Problem is, boating is an expensive industry for all kinds of reasons (some legit, some not) and there's a good reason for sayings like 'A boat is just a hole in the water that you dump money into.'

I actually think the internet makes comparison and bargain shopping much easier, so for me it's a huge benefit, even if I have to wade through the scores of naysayers and Boat Unit prognosticators to get the information I'm after.
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Old 16-11-2010, 13:20   #3
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Had an engine problem, quite frightening as it happened at night in a gale in the middle of the English Channel. Limped into port and had a mechanic look at it the next day. After a couple of expensive hours of fiddling with it, he pronounced that the exhaust manifold must be cracked and recommended taking apart the engine and testing the manifold in an oven under pressure. The price -- a few "boat units" -- and UK boat units which are worth 1.6 U.S. boat units.

I consulted with people on this forum (bless you all), changed a fine fuel filter, reduced oil level in the sump (overfilled), and the problem was solved, for 0.0 boat units.

I don't think it is so much a matter of yachties being ripped off by service providers. I think it is a matter of knowing what needs to be done. How much time do you have to spend to figure it out? How much money?
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Old 16-11-2010, 13:30   #4
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I have run into this. For instance, fixing soft spots in a glass over ply deck. Lots of hours and lots of toxic chemicals. However, the final cost of all materials was under $200.

It doesn't look as good as a pro job, but then again, I didn't pay $1500 to get it done!
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Old 16-11-2010, 13:46   #5
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IMHO, if there were as many Benes as there are Chevys, or Oysters to Fords, pricing would be the same. The market always set the prices.
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:07   #6
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best example on my boat so far...

my transom hung rudder is held on with bronze pintles and gudgeons, well when i bought the boat the rudder had excessive play, and low and behold the top gudgeon (female piece) had sheared off at the bolt... i talked to some local fabricators about doing one in stainless or bronze, but no one local would touch bronze and it would have cost close to half a boat unit...

given a great idea by Alan Rosensweig (who works out of cracker boy riveria beach, shameless plug), i made a fiberglass one instead for about $30 in materials...

with the rudder in place i taped up a piece of pvc the the pintle fit inside perfectly, and filled the gap between the new pvc gudgeon guide with high density epoxy filler, onces that cured i removed the rudder wrapped atleast 10 strips of biax glass alternating with mat, tying the gudgeon into the hull...

i couldnt be happier with how it came out, a very out of the box idea that worked superbly... dont have any of the finished product but heres some progress shots so you get the idea...
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:20   #7
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I definitely would have gone with bronze, but whatever floats, I mean steers, your boat!
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:29   #8
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like i said that picture is not the finished product, there are 10+ layers of glass/mat tying it to the hull, works for me, and i never have to worry about it turning pink
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:32   #9
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I guess if it starts getting sloppy, it wouldn't be impossible to drop a bushing in.
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:42   #10
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I define my boat unit at 500 EUR for some reason.. My rudder got blocked and the local yard wanted to lift up the whole 25 ton boat on the hard (350 eur) to take rudder out (50 eur x hours) to investigate if it was stuck due to the stuffing box. I would guesstimate 1 of my units for diagnostics and at least 1 more for putting it back together/repairs, which makes it at least 1 of your boating units.

Turns out the bottom bearing had corroded a bit and needed grease. Poured some engine oil in there (my friends idea) - presto.
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:42   #11
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I'd say most of these elevated prices are caused by the CYA mentality of industry. Lawyers have made it impossible to do a minor repair for a repair facility, ie put a $5 part on when the upgraded version is available for some reason. The excessivness covers the possibilty of an angry owner coming back with some garbage about short lived shoddy work.
just my 2 cents.
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:51   #12
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Back to the OP. There are always people who are more than happy to take as much money from you as they can. Your choice.

For a fee you can hire a service that will change the oil on your engine. This is most important as there are people in this world who have never done manual work and have never lowered themselves to get their hands dirty by using tools to fix things.

The service industry was created to fill this need and a good protion of their revenue is from correctiong the mistakes of the clueless.

Some of us delight in fixing things ourselves and the marine industry really would like to discourge such activity.
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Old 16-11-2010, 15:13   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pressuredrop View Post
best example on my boat so far...

my transom hung rudder is held on with bronze pintles and gudgeons, well when i bought the boat the rudder had excessive play, and low and behold the top gudgeon (female piece) had sheared off at the bolt... i talked to some local fabricators about doing one in stainless or bronze, but no one local would touch bronze and it would have cost close to half a boat unit...

given a great idea by Alan Rosensweig (who works out of cracker boy riveria beach, shameless plug), i made a fiberglass one instead for about $30 in materials...

with the rudder in place i taped up a piece of pvc the the pintle fit inside perfectly, and filled the gap between the new pvc gudgeon guide with high density epoxy filler, onces that cured i removed the rudder wrapped atleast 10 strips of biax glass alternating with mat, tying the gudgeon into the hull...

i couldnt be happier with how it came out, a very out of the box idea that worked superbly... dont have any of the finished product but heres some progress shots so you get the idea...
Great idea but if the PVC is your bearing surface I would be concerned that it may wear or even swell (some plastics definitely swell when immersed permanently)

An even better idea that I have used on Rudder tubes on cats is to use mould release wax + PVA release agent on the rudder shaft.

Then get a nice build up of graphite powder-epoxy resin mixed to a peanut butter consistency and moulded around the shaft (as a bearing surface)

Wrap 1 or 2 layers of 440db around it to tie it together

When green, twist the bearing slightly so as to break the bond between pva/wax

Then build up your layers of glass so as to get a nice solid tube with an internal graphite bearing that should never wear out.
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Old 16-11-2010, 16:05   #14
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BTW

1 BOAT unit/credit = us$1000

Break
Out
Another
Thousand
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Old 16-11-2010, 16:32   #15
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It isn't just boats--took my car in for its smog test. The mechanic said it failed and quoted me nonrefundable $500 for diagnostic test and up to $1500 to fix. Went on the internet with the error code, found out it most likely a dirty flow sensor, bought a can of cleaner for $5, and problem solved.

Katadyn watermaker drive froze up, so I took it apart and asked them for a replacment bearing. Their response was "you aren't supposed to be able to take it apart, and you need a new drive unit for 2 boat units". Once again, (a lot of) searching on the internet found a replacement 'cam follower bearing' for $20.
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