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Old 22-10-2015, 09:19   #16
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Cgilley, expensive? Naw.... Cheap by a long shot compared to aviation. My best friend just overhauled a 4 cyl. turbo charged aircraft engine to the tune of $40k.

Think about the cost of a Class B AIS transponder starting at $400-500. The equivalent in the mandated 2020 equipment for all aircraft flying into controlled airspace starts at about $5k with installation and goes up.

Boat stuff is cheap by comparison .... And you can as mentioned above do the work yourself for even more savings.
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Old 22-10-2015, 09:50   #17
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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It's not the parts for the engine that are expensive, it's usually the labor.

For instance to even access my engine one either needs to be a contortionist or a midget(preferably both) but to rebuild it requires removal that takes time and equipment....then of any of the Marinized parts a shot, pull out the checkbook!! These parts are quite expensive because they don't have the economy of scale that something home or automotive has.


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When changing the wallas heater in my boat, yuo need to be a midget with orangutang arms. I managed it together with a friend and a mirror. My arm though a hole behind the heater and my friend's arm from the other side and him guiding the work via the mirror. 45 minutes to attach a hose clamp!
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Old 22-10-2015, 10:38   #18
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Buy an airplane, everything else will seem really cheap.
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Old 22-10-2015, 10:50   #19
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Agree on parts--tractor or automotive when you can get them is much better than paying prices (in the USA) from most marine stores. I did find, in Southeast Alaska, the boat engine parts places were just as reasonable as an automotive supply place would be in the lower-48. In one case, the local (independent) NAPA had as many boat parts as auto parts and all were great deals. We bought an extra alternator (high output) and ordered several items for the engine spares because pricing was so reasonable. Given there are few to no roads up there and everyone's getting around using a boat or float plane, that sort of makes sense. The average Joe isn't going to put up with getting ripped off on parts pricing -- boats are not a luxury item, they're just what people need to get around.

The labor does have a lot to do with it--and the suppliers doing things in labor intensive ways. I've become spoiled by automotive and scientific machine shops that I regularly do business with -- where technology is used when it can improve the product and/or reduce cost. So I'm surprised by the marine machine shops I've been in. The last time I was in a marine machine shop, there they were they were manually making several items that should have been using a computerized hand's off process but yet there they were with a guy hovering over the lathe or mill doing 1 by 1...

Similarly, I note that boatwrights and shipwrights in the wooden boat world (ours is a wooden boat) do things in labor intensive ways for no reason. In our boat's major rebuild, we were lucky to have hired a very thoughtful shipwright who had spent a number of years running his own furniture company--when he could automate a process, he quickly did so and when something could be done with unskilled labor, he'd tell us that project was looming and we might want to pick up a worker off Craigs List or add it to the DIY part of the job if our plates weren't already full. I segregated the work into that which required high skill levels and didn't pay a high wage for basic tasks. In our projects, we made several jigs to manage repetitive processes and used power tools appropriately but yet see some of these guys doing things by hand (e.g. hand planer vs power planer, manual screw driver on planking vs pneumatic driver...) or otherwise wasting client money. Example? many of these woodboat shipwrights destroy the patterns used for a particular boat's bronze castings (bobstay iron, rudder gudgeon/ pindle, spar fittings, mast cranes, etc, because they expect the boat owners to pay them again to make another when it is needed. That's in the wooden boat world, but that thought process/culture extends into the regular boat world as well--the culture breeds an attitude among the independent workers, generally, along the lines of "I'll do what I want to do and you'll pay for it." This is NOT the way ALL service providers will behave, but it is the way a large percentage of them do. When you find a service provider who is giving top quality and thoughtful about their processes, don't lose their number!

There is a price to pay for quick service and if your project can be the back-burner project for a guy (that you have good reference on!) you can also save money. For several years, we were active in SCCA and rally automotive racing events. We were going through transmissions like candy. I located a guy who was THE tranny man for a local car dealer and who did transmissions in his spare time. He charged dealer labor times but only the labor rate that he earned (1/4 of what the dealer charged) and we'd take the transmission out of the car and get it to his house where he'd do the project in the evenings. Big savings.

Best of luck to anyone who is working on a boat project--we all need it
-Brenda
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Old 22-10-2015, 11:07   #20
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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It's the much lauded "boat buck".
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Old 22-10-2015, 11:16   #21
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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...and wherever possible use hardware stores vs. chandleries, and if your engine is basically a tractor engine, source the parts from the tractor dealer, one spends a bit of time finding alternate sources for *stuff*. And it is still not cheap.
Volvo name brand filters (oil and fuel) are quite expensive. But the $5 Fram equivalent from Canadian Tire is a perfect fit.

A stainless steel anchor shackle from West Marine costs 3 times the price of the same SS shackle at Home Depot.

When you buy a boat, you are really buying an engine, with a boat attached.

Some stuff like new sails (above) and cushions (below) are custom made for your boat dimensions, and just don't come cheap...unless you start sewing them yourself. This can work with cushions, but I would leave sailmaking to the experts. Sail repair on the other hand...not so difficult.

One of the great things about sailing is learning to be fully independent. Doing your own repairs, fixing your own stuff, its challenging and awesome!
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Old 22-10-2015, 11:28   #22
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

I recently replaced my solid fuel smokestack, cap, and deck iron. I checked 3" ss stovepipe at home depot and other non-marine online stores... my local chandlery was about 1/2 the price.
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Old 22-10-2015, 11:32   #23
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

There is more to be said about marine engine's spare parts. The big engine manufacturers a almost giving their engines away to the high volume boats manufacturers and by doing so they create a captured client base which will be ripped off for spare parts.
Very few of us know how to find a substitute part for the original one which cost a arm and a leg. Add to that the ever existing "threat" of "void warranty" and the end result is a fairly sizable market ready to be ripped off.
To demonstrate that get a price for a fuel transmission pump or alternator from your engine manufacturer, and get the price of similar part from a car or tractor supplier. The results will speak for themselves.


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Old 22-10-2015, 11:57   #24
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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guys - this is all fascinating and very enlightening. I appreciate all of the comments. I'm an entrepreneur by heart - I can't make enough $$ at employee salaries. I see no reason why a sailboat's propulsion system could not be modularized. I'll have to noodle this.
Sailboat's propulsion systems have been modularized for a long time. Outboards. But since you were interested in a diesel engine I googled up this fella; Don't seem too popular, but another mousetrap. About the same price as an inboard diesel, with all the shortcomings of an outboard.



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Old 22-10-2015, 12:05   #25
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Substitute parts are a challenge, especially for Yanmar.

Example.... I needed a freshwater pump. If I recall correctly it was $320 from Yanmar.

A fair amount of Googling, starting with the Yanmar part number and a casting number on the pump led to a manufacturer named Aisin in Japan. Identical pump except has a carbon ceramic seal assembly was $120 and in stock in USA.

Installed myself four years ago, no problems.

How much would that have cost a checkbook sailor?

I enjoy the challenge to save money, my time is cheap.
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Old 22-10-2015, 12:13   #26
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand
Having said that, there is now more choice and lower prices than in the past.
I found that following these forums and asking for advice from this community to be extremely useful. Trick is to not sacrifice quality for price. Everything on board becomes critical at sometime or another.
I just purchased an older quality boat (Morgan OI 37) with good bones BUT a total refit of the cabin and applicance is about to happen.

Good luck!
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Old 22-10-2015, 12:16   #27
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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Just wait till it comes to the Female crew... that's an arm and a leg..
Makes the boat seem a lot cheaper though..
Well said.
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Old 22-10-2015, 12:17   #28
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

I won't deny that labor on boats is expensive, but even when I do all my own labor, the parts still seems to be extremely high priced. For instance, I recently put new lines on my 19 foot sailboat. The cost for the rope + one jib shackle + one splice was well over $250. I chose the least expensive of the cruising performance rope, or lesser quality. My research when shopping for rope and other sailboat parts has lead me to these two observations:

1) For most parts there are more than one manufacturer making similar parts at similar quality levels. There are numerous retailers that sell those parts; the prices are similar. With all that competition, I'm guessing that not many are price gouging.

2) I could buy cheaper rope at a hardware store, but it would not last long, so it would cost me more over time. I fully expect the rope that I bought to perform, without degradation, through five or more years or continual exposure to UV and all the other elements that a sailboat is exposed to. Whether it be the halyards up in the sun, or the swing keel pendant that gets stepped on, or the mainsheet that gets constantly adjusted through multiple blocks, I can count on that rope. With all that in mind, $250 is not that expensive. ( I hope the rope sellers are not reading this!)
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Old 22-10-2015, 12:27   #29
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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The thing I never understood about small volume production vs large (and I should understand, as I used the numbers a lot in my job) Is:
Let's say you build a million cars and the tooling to produce them is a million $. That's $1 per vehicle.
Let's say you produce 100,000 marine engines. And the tooling is $100,000. That's $1 per engine? Heck, let's say it costs $1 million... still only $10 per engine.
Does it really matter either way when it comes to the price for the end item? not really... it's insignificant.
I suspect it's more of a "what is it worth for us to make these? How much profit for our trouble?"
Then there's the concept of producing 100,000 at a time vs 10000 at a time. Setup cost is involved here, but again... is it significant? Let's say it costs you $50,000 in setup costs to prepare the computer programs and machines to make the specific item.
For 100,000 items the cost is $2 per item. For 10,000 items the cost is only $10 per item. Still doesnt jive with asking $300 for a water pump.
Carry this concept further: Stainless steel vs steel. SS maybe 6 times the cost per pound of Steel. If a widget weighs 5 lbs. The cost difference is minimal.

so in your example for reduced production a normally $2 part will cost $10 so then why does a $300 water pump not make sense. not many $60 waterpumps to be found for new cars. also you are looking at production cost we dont buy from the manufacturers. by the tim ed the part goes from the manufacturer to z distributor to you the price just goes up. they all need to make a profit including the shippong companies


if you really think it can be done cheaper, go for it start a company build good products sell them for much less and you will have plenty of buyers. feel free to start with a replacement injector pump for my md6b
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Old 22-10-2015, 12:37   #30
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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Volvo name brand filters (oil and fuel) are quite expensive. But the $5 Fram equivalent from Canadian Tire is a perfect fit.

A stainless steel anchor shackle from West Marine costs 3 times the price of the same SS shackle at Home Depot.

When you buy a boat, you are really buying an engine, with a boat attached.

Some stuff like new sails (above) and cushions (below) are custom made for your boat dimensions, and just don't come cheap...unless you start sewing them yourself. This can work with cushions, but I would leave sailmaking to the experts. Sail repair on the other hand...not so difficult.

One of the great things about sailing is learning to be fully independent. Doing your own repairs, fixing your own stuff, its challenging and awesome!
that home depot shackle might look the same but I doubt it is an equivalent quality.
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