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first sailed january 2008
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Discussion Starter #1
So I was looking up my toilet in a futile attempt to figure out how to use it. Anyways bringing up the model linked west marine's site and it cost $199. I thought it would be $1000. It and a lot of other things got me wondering how they come up with what they are going to sell something for. I have blocks that cost as much as this whole toilet. And don't even get me started on how much I found out my propeller cost.

Are they throwing darts at a board with numbers or is there some sort of reasoning behind this?

I'm not saying boat stuff is overpriced, but that it seems inconsistent. If I don't know how much something cost I can't even guess. Like a refrifgerator. I have no idea. Maybe it's $200 or $2000. Is it just me? What's the craziest thing you have seen? Low or high, it doesn't matter.

I will say the only thing that makes sense is electronics. They seem to follow a pattern.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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NOB, as I understand it, boat stuff needs to be suitable for use in a marine environment because the 'marine environment' means lots of salt air (corrosion) and sunshine (UV radiation).

That means anything metal will be more expensive than you'd be used to eg. blocks should(*) be made from non-magnetic stainless steels, and plastic, canvas and paints should(*) contain UV-resistant additives and anything electrical or electronic should(*) use tinned-copper wires and resin-coated circuit boards ...and something like a marine toilet should not need anything very special at all.

In summary: Reputation means everything. Buy high-quality products from people like Jamestown Distributors and you're less likely to regret it later when miles out of sight of land. ;)


* = There are always shonky deals out there. eg. One reputable-but-cheap maker of sheet blocks uses cheap stainless in some (but not all) of their range to keep costs down and increase their competitiveness. Buyer beware!! :eek:
 

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first sailed january 2008
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Discussion Starter #3
That makes sense. But I would have thought that the toilet also would be in the more expensive marine group. I mean, they flush with salt water right? And that's corrosive, they need special lube and care. Also, unlike a regular toilet, they need locks and hand pumps and different in hoses and out hoses. So I would have expected them to be priced higher.

Don't think for one second though, I ever cheap out and get china blocks, or the cheap fishing store blocks and gear. It's all name brand. Except for the old car batteries I found in the dumpster that are powering my "house". But I have ten in a cardboard box in the bilge so it works.
 

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As in all other industries.

The price is not based on production and development cost.

The price have to give revenue.
The price i based on what the customers are willing to pay.

That's why you can find the same product in different markets with different prices.
 

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With many items, marine or otherwise, price is based on cost to produce. Volume of sales is a huge factor in this. A Jabsco twist and lock manual head is made in vast numbers and the price is quite low - $169 here - as it is used on all types of boats from the basic small sailboat or powerboat to larger boats. Blocks and other items of hardware are not built in as large numbers and that has an effect on pricing.

Inlet and outlet hoses are not part of the head and are not included in the price. Top quality sanitation hose is about $10 per foot for 1 1/2".
 

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Many marine products are only built in small numbers. That drives the price up as the development costs have to spread out over a much smaller number of sales. It explains why a 10 inch chartplotter costs more than a 50 inch smart TV. If something is a minor modification of something that is sold for other uses, that can keep the costs down. I suspect marine heads are also used in things like RVs and that helps keep the cost down a bit.
 

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Take a look at the rebuild kit price for the Jabsco and you'll feel it's price is more 'marine'. As others said Jabsco makes a lot of toilet bowls and salt water isn't going to corrode the bowl.

As for blocks I've got some on my boat that are 20+ years old and going strong. When you consider the enviroment they are in I'd say they are worth the cost.

West marine story. I bought a starboard cockpit table (~$250 I think) that locks into the pedestal without first checking if it would fit my pedestal. It didn't and they only carried one size :( So the Admiral goes on the web and finds the company. Sure enough they make one that will fit our pedistal which we ordered from them and returned the other one. The kicker you ask? The company MSRP was almost a $100 less than what west marine sold it for.......

Brian
 

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Get as familiar with RV suppliers as you are with West Marine and Defender. You can often find the same part with the same item number for considerably less.

Our fresh water pump is also used in RV's. When ours went south I bought two, literally two pumps for less than the cost of one pump at West Marine. So now I have a new pump and a spare. :eek:

And yes it's the same model number pump.
 

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One of the other issues in pricing marine parts is the very slow turnover. A grocery store for instance expects to sell everything on the shelves in much less time than WestMarine, which allows the grocery store to make a smaller markup per item sold.

The inventory turnover ratio (number of times per year) for Whole Foods for instance is 20.6 so the entire inventory in a store is turned over a little over 20 times a year on average. The ratio for WestMarine is .47, meaning West turns their inventory about every two years. Obviously this has a huge impact on things like carrying costs, shrinkage, outdated equipment, ect...

Despite the fact many consumers tend to think that prices are increased just for the marine market, in reality most manufacturers don't enter the marine industry because margins are notoriously thin. There just isn't much money to be made from selling to a small market that required a lot of specialized engineering.
 

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The last time I read the West Marine annual report to stockholders their net profit was 3/4% on sales.

The pricing of West Marine private label goods is confounding. Some of their soft goods provide good value. On the other hand I've seen a WM labeled product priced at 50% more than the identical non-WM product shelved beside it.

I'm frequently amazed by the outstanding support that vendors provide.
 

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A marine head is a pretty simple machine and is made in huge quantities. They show up on every boat, not just sailboats. It is made of injection molded plastic along with a porcelain bowl, and that bowl gets used in RV toilets.

A block of the same price (around $175) would be something like a fiddle block with a cam cleat -- like what you'd find at the bottom of the main sheet. It needs to handle being pulled apart by about #2000 or more of force, and the sheaves need to be able to turn while doing so. It needs to work even when it is completely immersed in salt water and spends most of it's life exposed to UV. The $175 block like this is light and probably made of an exotic glass reinforced plastic (if you didn't care about weight you'd buy the $70 Garhauer block). It is made in small quantities -- the only market is for new sailboats and replacement hardware on aging sailboats.

The smaller the production quantities the higher the cost of manufacturing. The higher the precision and the more exotic the materials the higher the cost of manufacturing. So that $175 block is pegging the scale on all of those accounts, while the toilet is not.

If sailing was much more popular hardware would be cheaper because the scale of production would increase.
 

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... Except for the old car batteries I found in the dumpster that are powering my "house". But I have ten in a cardboard box in the bilge so it works.
Is this one of those times that you mentioned yesterday where you're being funny and it doesn't always come across as humor?

(hoping that's the case)
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Except for the old car batteries I found in the dumpster that are powering my "house". But I have ten in a cardboard box in the bilge so it works.
I hope you are kidding.

1. Did you load test the batteries after you dumpster dove them? Having your batteries go flat while out sailing is at best inconvenient (refrigeration stops) and at worst a safety issue (navigation lights and radio fail).

2. Cardboard boxes don't provide the expected gas separation and ventilation for wet batteries. There is explosive potential.

3. Cardboard boxes in the bilge will disintegrate. The bits and pieces will end up clogging the intakes to bilge pumps. That is unquestionably a safety issue.

What other problems do you have that you don't know about?
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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The explosive nature of wet battery fumes is no joke. I guess we only learn about wet paper in the bilge and exploding batteries by painful experience:)
 

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The marine industry prices things exactly the same way that ALL industries price things, and the same way that WE all price things when we are selling our own stuff... What the market will bear.

Yes, it really is that simple.
 

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That Drunk Guy
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Be glad you don't have a Volvo Penta engine. I bought a fuse for $82. The control panel buzzer.....$152. Impeller....$6000 (or some other outrageous amount) ;)
 

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Be glad you don't have a Volvo Penta engine. I bought a fuse for $82. The control panel buzzer.....$152. Impeller....$6000 (or some other outrageous amount) ;)
You might want to do some research, it's highly unlikely your engine requires a "Volvo Impeller", for instance... I'd be very surprised if Volvo actually makes impellers, after all...

For example, the popular Volvo 2030 is actually a re-branded Perkins Series 100 M-30, the same engine I have in my boat... Turns out they are both based on a block made by Shibauhara (sp?) Mfg of Japan, and is one of the most popular small tractor/industrial engines in the world... Parts are widely interchangeable and available, just takes a little (or a lot) of digging, to find out what you need...

One thing those folks at Volvo and Westerbeke are really good at, is painting over stuff :) That "Volvo" starter motor that you might need, and were quoted $800 to replace, might have been made by Hitachi, and can be had from Budda's Auto & Marine Electric on eBay for $179... Only those with more money than they know what to do with, necessarily need to be putting "VOLVO Oil Filters" on a Volvo 2030... :)
 

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Schooner Captain
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So I was looking up my toilet in a futile attempt to figure out how to use it. Anyways bringing up the model linked west marine's site and it cost $199. I thought it would be $1000. It and a lot of other things got me wondering how they come up with what they are going to sell something for. I have blocks that cost as much as this whole toilet. And don't even get me started on how much I found out my propeller cost.

Are they throwing darts at a board with numbers or is there some sort of reasoning behind this?

I'm not saying boat stuff is overpriced, but that it seems inconsistent. If I don't know how much something cost I can't even guess. Like a refrifgerator. I have no idea. Maybe it's $200 or $2000. Is it just me? What's the craziest thing you have seen? Low or high, it doesn't matter.

I will say the only thing that makes sense is electronics. They seem to follow a pattern.
I will start with your last comment.

Electronics are priced alike because they are all price fixed.
This technology is very old, and even an ipad makes them look slow and pedantic. So the manufactures set a price, and they all stick to it.
thats why a 15" chart plotter from anyone costs thousands.
And a 15" touch monitor cost less then $250.

To answer all your questions thou, they charge what people are willing to pay.
I have next to me a black magic 75MM block. Priced at $240.
Its a bearing, some aluminum, and some stainless. I could make one myself with a small 3D mill and some aluminum stock for about $15-$25.

This is also why I keep looking for a tiny 3D mill that can make things of aluminum. Right now they are expensive.

You want a desk fan for your car? $5 at big lots, you want a marine fan? $100. Sure, they are not the same, but they are also not much different.
 
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