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timjet 10-28-2015 08:02 AM

Getting help when you can't or don't want to do it yourself
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I replace the impellers on my engines every 2-3 years. Before beginning our cruise down the ICW to home I decided it would be a good idea to do it. Anyone who owns a boat with Cummins B series engines knows what a pain this is. So after working on this for 2 hrs and only getting one impeller out I hired this out to a mechanic suggested by the marina. He did a good job but it cost $450. He was middle aged, owned his own business and had at least one guy working for him. Kind of high for replacing impellers. I had this done 4 years ago in Ft Myers by an independant mechanic for $70. As far as I know this guy worked by himself, no business cards and got referals by word of mouth.

Yesterday I had to replace 2 fuel lines and I did that myself but the fuel lines are held in place by 3 clips bolted to the engine mount and front of the engine. I could not get to these clips so I went to the marina office and Jason the mechanic that works for the marina came out and did the job in about 45 minutes. Marina labor charge is $95/hr. So for for 95 bucks it's done.
If I had hired this out to a stand alone mechanic listed in the yellow pages I know it would have been a bit more than 95 bucks.
Jason by the way is in his 20's.

Here he is working on the boat.

cardude01 10-28-2015 08:15 AM

Getting help when you can't or don't want to do it yourself
If I could find a good mechanic I would hire some jobs out. Especially ones like that where I have to stand on my head-- that's crazy! 😄

My impeller is in a terrible place also-- when I bought the boat I hired that job out. If I had to change out the impeller out myself for some reason in open water I would have hell-- easier to just remove the entire pump, but still not easy. Have to do it through a small hole in the bulkhead while laying down on your side. Definitely a 20 year old job!

psneeld 10-28-2015 08:20 AM

Depends on the job.....and the mechanic.

Outside mechs often charge for travel $450 for a half day job isn't great but not out of sight when many diesel shops and marinas are charging $125 or better an hour.

Also, some guys know an engine and boat well enough to know the tricks.

On my sport fish, the port water pump was nearly impossible to work on. Getting to the lower hose was insane if I wanted to remove the pump and do the impeller on a bench.

After a time or two...I learned to just remove the water feed pipe that ran along that side of the engine at the rear of the engine. That was a minute job and so was the upper hose. Now all I had to do was push the pump forward and now the lower hose clamp was accessible. Turned a long painful process into a few minute job.

So hard to call what's fair or not when it is boat work.

After 3 long years rebuilding my trawler, last weekend I was helping my son replace his master shower. I marveled at how easy it was to do the work in a large, well lit space where everything was accessible, went together with common tools, and was often at locations that didn't involve the cramping of muscles.

Comparing the two jobs...if I was billing an hourly rate, sure as anything the boat rate would be 2 to 3 times higher.

bayview 10-28-2015 10:33 AM

The local Cummins shop charges a flat fee ( $125??)for the truck in addition to the mechanic and travel time. Cant imagine any work for less than $500.

I use a guy who used to work for Cummins, much more reasonable.

timjet 10-28-2015 10:43 AM

What I've found is the young guys are faster and cheaper, especially if you tell them exactly what to do and not diagnose.

djmarchand 10-28-2015 10:55 AM

Timjet hits the nail on the head. If you have the skills to diagnose the problem, or get help here or on boatdiesel to do it, then you can tell the mechanic exactly what to do if you don't have the mechanical skill (or body shape) to do it yourself.

Having gone through a diagnostic drill with my home boiler/furnace and finding the old farts only know what they have learned by rote, give me an open minded young guy every time.

The best of course is an old fart who understands the system, thinks through the problem with an open mind and has the body of a teenager to get into the tight places. But I don't think that guy exists.


cappy208 10-28-2015 11:01 AM


Originally Posted by djmarchand (Post 383257)

The best of course is an old fart who understands the system, thinks through the problem with an open mind and has the body of a teenager to get into the tight places. But I don't think that guy exists.


If that were possible you would have (in desire) just described about every regular on this board!!!!

Now about my sore back, fat belly, and arthritis.

ancora 10-28-2015 12:28 PM

As a retired millwright, I cannot afford to hire a mechanic as good as I am. I hear all the horror stories about "mechanics" screwing up, (including sinking a boat on my dock.) In this area the Cummins and Cat dealers have good mechs but you gotta pay big bucks.

Retriever 10-28-2015 12:45 PM

I work with a few different independent guys for mechanical, electrical, and carpentry stuff. These folks are less expensive per hour than the big boatyards, but more importantly I know exactly who will be working on my boat (i.e. not the new guy) and I have their cell phone numbers if I have any problems when I'm out on the water.

I treat all of these people with respect, refer business to them, and pay my bills promptly. When things break that need to be fixed right away, they move me to the top of their list. If they can walk me through the fix on the phone, they do.

bayview 10-28-2015 02:49 PM

Nothing works as well to get future good service as paying your bills quickly and knowing what you want.

GFC 10-28-2015 03:54 PM

I guess I must be one of the luckiest boaters in our area. I have a mechanic that I have used for a couple of years. When I give him a job to do I always try to give him plenty of time to get it it at his convenience. He knows where my spare key is and can come and go on my boat at his convenience.

He was down there a few weeks ago trying to trace an electrical gremlin. I know that he and his employee were down there two separate days for about 4 hours each day. When I got the bill I was pleasantly surprised to see that he'd charged me for a total of 2 hours of labor, for a total of $180.

I asked him if that was correct and he said "yeah, we wanted to see where the gremlin was hiding and it took longer than I expected, but I charged you enough."

THAT is the kind of mechanic a guy likes to have around.

O C Diver 10-28-2015 07:46 PM

As already mentioned, I prefer to remove the water pump from the motor to replace the impeller. My charter boat originally had a B Cummins, now a C Cummins, so I understand tight spaces. Change my water pump now annually. It's easier to do it on a work bench. Part of the exercise is looking for wear on the internal parts and spinning the shaft without the impeller, to check for bearing play.


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