by Conrad & Judy Kreuter
Q: Dear Boat Talk: It seem to me that every time I have a repair during the summer I have to wait longer than I feel necessary. Why is this? Wanabee Boatin, East Norwich NY.
A: Dear WB: Because our boating season is packed into a few short months, any down time seems longer that it should. The best advice we can offer is to plan your emergency repair better.
Let us put you in the shoes of a marine repair shop. First off, a repair shop’s busiest time is the same time you want to be boating. Staffing, as you can imagine, is a real problem. To have the best-qualified mechanics, a repair shop cannot over staff just for the peak period and then be forced to lay off employees. Nor can he afford to keep extra employees during the winter months when there is less work and thus no revenue to pay his employees.
Another problem is the availability of parts. While most repair shops stock common maintenance items, few will have every part needed for your major repair work. Think about it! How many different pistons for how many different motors would a repair shop have to stock to insure having the right one for a major rebuild? The number boggles the mind!
Most repair shops are on line to the major engine manufacturers and can usually deliver parts the next day if ordered before noon. Problems arise when the part is out of stock at the manufacturer’s local warehouse. These out of stock parts may be sent from another warehouse across the country causing delay in transport. In addition, the manufacturer may be waiting for these out of stock parts to be supplied by one of their vendors making the delay even longer.
Major rebuilding jobs take at least two to three days of the mechanic’s time. Add to this the time to have the block sent out for machining.
What, you ask, can be done to lessen the time of repair? Take your engine to the repair shop even though the shop has told you they are backlogged. The shop, knowing your boat is there, may fit you in when another job is waiting for parts to complete. Do not call the shop every day. This only takes time away from the work that must be done. If you must call, wait until a few days before your promised delivery date to remind the shop you re still waiting. Hopefully they will be able to give you a realistic delivery time at this point. They may even tell you that you are done ahead of schedule!
Have your boat winterized and tuned at the conclusion of this year’s boating season. It makes more sense to do this if the fall rater than wait for spring when your repair shop is busy. You also save labor time by having the boat handled only once. This is the best time to check the lower unit for water ingestion and resolve any problems there may be rather than letting the gears and bearings rust over the winter.
Schedule major boat repairs such as fiberglass work, canvas repairs, or equipment upgrades in the fall to insure the boat will be ready in the spring when you want it.