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Old 21-10-2015, 15:38   #1
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Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

So I'm a lurker on here. Someday, I'll try a fresh water cruiser for the experience, but I really want to get near the ocean. That said, why is everything so expensive to refit on a boat? I've seen estimates in the threads to spend 10s of thousands of dollars rebuilding engines... small diesel engines. What gives?

I readily admit to being ignorant, and if some other ignorant person has asked this question, please direct me to the post.

Thanks
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Old 21-10-2015, 15:56   #2
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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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Old 21-10-2015, 16:12   #3
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Well. I don't think you see tens of thousands for rebuilding a small diesel as a new one is about 10k or less. But it can be expensive to get the engine out of the boat and the labor to rebuild.
Now rebuilding the whole boat can easily be 10s of thousands!


But keep in mind that many of us on this forum think in terms of sailing over oceans. "the sea is a harsh mistress" meaning, often things you would never thought would happen may happen.


There are a lot of things you don't have to do though, to sail locally.
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Old 21-10-2015, 16:58   #4
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Lots of reasons things are expensive on boats. Have to be corrosion resistant, e.g. stainless steel. Engines have different parts that may need rebuilding over and above what a small land/vehicle diesel would have, e.g. heat exchangers, water pump">raw water pump, etc. As others noted, getting them in and out of boats can be a real challenge. My binnacle has to come off. My cockpit floor has to be removed. Then a forklift has to be carefully maneuvered over the access hole between the bimini above and over the rail. I want to remove a "new" genset that the PO installed behind my main engine. He got it in while the main was out being rebuilt and I think I may have to take it out to remove the genset. And that won't be easy. I can't ever get to the oil filler cap on the genset.

And, if all that isn't enough, the market for boats for specialized parts is much smaller than mass market engines for cars and trucks. It all adds up. We all hate it.
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Old 21-10-2015, 17:09   #5
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Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

The problem with boats is small volume production, materials have to stand up to the marine environment, and quite often the working conditions put 3rd world sweat shops in a good light. Also, there are a lot of people on here who don't lift a finger to do anything on their boats. Hiring everything done gets expensive right quick. You can save money by hiring independent contractors that were proud to be called 'boat *******'. A lot of talented people who were free lance doing almost everything that needs done on a boat but couldn't live with punching a clock for someone else. If you hire a third party to arrange to get the work done, you have to add their profit and expenses onto what the guy actually doing the work gets and that often gets close to 3 figures an hour to hire work. When we were building our boat was amazed at how large the cash underground economy that revolved around keeping a yacht a yacht was.

You should be able to get a complete thorough rebuild of a diesel like a 4-107 done for around $4-5,000 dollars. Top end work and/or just replacing the liners and pistons will be less. There are often significant expenses in getting the engine into and out of the boat, however. Can save a lot by doing the dumb muscle work like disconnecting and reconnecting everything yourself. Amazing how much time is involved getting the engine in and out.

So costs really vary on how far you want to go in doing it yourself, hiring labor, and managing the project. In no way is boat ownership cheap, however.
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Old 21-10-2015, 17:12   #6
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Quote:
It all adds up. We all hate it.
...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.
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Old 21-10-2015, 17:13   #7
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

It's the much lauded "boat buck".

Doing all your own work can yield a 75% savings in ongoing maintenance and refits. ALL your own work.

A boat buck becomes $250 dollars.
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Old 21-10-2015, 17:32   #8
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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.
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Old 21-10-2015, 17:34   #9
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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.

I also appreciate the marine environment. The sea just chews up stuff, and going through waves just adds to the stress.

I still need to think about that propulsion system. Can't do much for boats in the water now, but if you could get boat designers to standardize on a set of dimensions - really, think about it. It's a motor that connects to a prop...

Genset - had to work on that but that would be a generator set? Again, no reason why one could not modularize that puppy.

Hmmmm.
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Old 21-10-2015, 17:40   #10
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pirate Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Coz if you can afford a boat. You must be rich..lol
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Old 21-10-2015, 17:50   #11
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

yeah boatman61 - I think you've hit the economic nail on the head.
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Old 21-10-2015, 18:25   #12
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pirate Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

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Originally Posted by cgilley View Post
yeah boatman61 - I think you've hit the economic nail on the head.
Just wait till it comes to the Female crew... that's an arm and a leg..
Makes the boat seem a lot cheaper though..
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Old 22-10-2015, 06:40   #13
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

In the end, it is ALWAYS about "what the market will bear." This is a limited market, with a limited number of suppliers, and so competition is limited.

Smart business-people charge what they have to in order to maximize their revenues. If they can sell 100 units per year at $50 each, that's $5,000 per year in revenues. If they raise the price to $55 and their sales volume only goes down to 95 units per year, that's $5,225 per year in revenues and so they will leave it at that price. If, however, by increasing their price to $55 per unit, that reduces their volume to only 90 units per year, that's only $4,950 per year in revenues and so they will reduce their price.

This is the essence of pricing. The smart business person prices their goods to produce maximum revenues. So, supply and demand, what the market will bear, and attempts to find the price point that maximizes revenues. That explains how all products are priced by companies that understand economics and wish to maximize their profits (and companies that do NOT wish to maximize their profits rarely stay in business very long).
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Old 22-10-2015, 08:14   #14
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

+1 on what's already been said.
Then, on top of that, stop & think about what makes up a boat; literally, dozens of systems, with thousands of hand fitted parts in it.

And the upkeep on a boat, of any size, is on par (more or less) with a light aircraft. In terms of how much TLC they need per hour of operation. With the caveat that, boats, unlike their lofty distant cousins, they're immersed 24/7/365.25 in about the most hostile & corrosive environment that there is... barring a few hyper-exotic ones.

Gotta love that ever present salt mist, on & around the ocean. It's so pervasive, & destructive, that one of the less favored tests by engineers, is the X, or Y hours of Salt Spray (exposure) test.
One which has various specifications on time of exposure, & percent of salt in the air or water, to which the items being tested are subjected are specified by Uncle Sam.

Now add in the fact that everything onboar a boat is continuously being routinely run through millions, & millions of cycles of fractional, positive, & negative G-loadings, per year... and that's just sitting at the dock.
This alone being damaging enough so that in many countries, some items have to be replaced By Law, every 8 or 10 years, due to the work hardening that it creates in metals. Such as, a sailboat's standing rigging.

Then, when you take boats out onto the ocean, those "fractional" G-loadings routinely exceed several G's, in some/many of the systems onboard (in non-storm conditions mind you) simply in routine service. As well as all kinds of other wear & tear... from the obvious, like UV degradation, oxidation (rust) & a couple of dozen others.

And if you want an unquestioningly professional insight into the matter, Nigel Calder has some unique, & sage wisdom on such things in this article. http://www.cruisingworld.com/how/refit-reality-check
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Old 22-10-2015, 08:48   #15
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Re: Why is everything on a boat so expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
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.
The big cost difference in Stainless versus normal steel is not materials but maching time. Takes 3-4 times longer to machine a piece of stainless than soft steel.

When producing 10,000 versus 100,000 it is not the setup time, but materials cost.

The real issue is that when we are talking boat parts - many are almost handmade with production runs of only a few hundred - here set-up times become very important.
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