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