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Old 03-18-2016, 06:46 PM   #1
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The worry of a cheap quote

I am in the process of changing-out my pilothouse windows for smaller versions, which require filling in the voids with 3/16 5053 marine aluminum to match the existing frames. I figured I'd just weld some pieces in, but since the void is over 6 inches in places, I opted to have new sheets of 5052 water-jet cut here in Sarasota or, as is the case now, have them lazer cut over in Stuart, 3.5 to 4 hour drive one way. The quote here in Sarasota was $1650 requiring three full 8 X 10 sheets, and the quote in Stuart for the lazer cut was $767! I can barely buy the material locally for that number.

I called both companies over and over to make sure we are comparing the exact spec's, and it turns out that every detail is the same, except the machine it is cut with. Both are new sheets of 5052, all 8 X 10 sheets, 3/16" thick, mill finish. Same quantity, 5 separate frames, all measurements identical. I've spent a lot of time checking and double checking for errors or misunderstandings. Both companies are high-volume fabricators with decades in business and good reps.

I just confirmed the order with the cheap guy in Stuart, and the savings will be well worth the day trip over there to pick the stuff up. So why am I worried?


"I'd rather be happy than dignified".
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Old 03-18-2016, 07:08 PM   #2
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When contracting out work, I keep my fingers crossed.

Lots of variables here. Perhaps the high bidder is full of orders.

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Old 03-19-2016, 06:30 AM   #3
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If you are buying something that is straightforward to specify, from suppliers who do this work routinely, then I think that you will be ok. Let us know.

But shopping for low quotes for complex boat yard work is worthless IMO. The yard is going to charge you what it really takes to do the work no matter what the original quote may say.

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Old 03-19-2016, 07:00 AM   #4
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Maybe the lazer can stack cut the frames or cut them faster or maybe one has a use or another job for the off fall and the other doesn't . He may be cutting a bunch of small parts from the plug at the same time he's cutting your frames .

When expensive material is involved yield comes in the picture. In milling lumber sometimes the profit doesn't start to show up until you begin making the small moldings from the tiny rips you get from watching your yield . All those tiny rips we have stacked at the yard (1"X1") are not your Mommas tomatoe stakes and we make pellet fuel from the sawdust .

When I quote a custom job with some high price lumber and I don't have a need for the off fall, the quote is always more and sometimes I don't get the job because of it .

I was a machinist before getting into lumber . I know that pricing can be all over the place .
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Old 03-19-2016, 07:12 AM   #5
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I am with Pack Mule on this one.

Material prices can be all over the place because of volume, excess, source, shipping, etc...

Labor too, as we saw in another thread and many businessmen chimed in....who wants the work, who has the capacity for the work, who is set up for the work and timing can give a broad spectrum of quotations.

That's where specifications for the job come in. Low bidding can be a function of legit conditions or it can be a function of shady practices and by shady sometimes that is nothing more than someone trying to grow their business and will take a few chances to get there, whether substituting good enough but not specified material, or other business practices.

Hopefully you already know all this and I am just coffee time rambling, so as long as a few bases are covered, you should be fine.

The biggest is trying to figure if one is a low bid, or the others were too high. Tough because it is in a different geographic area.
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Old 03-19-2016, 07:49 AM   #6
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I own both of those pcs of equipment. If the guy in Stuart has a latest and greatest laser then he's cutting at speeds around 80" a minute and is fully automated. The WJ guy is cutting at around 18" a minute and probably loading by hand.
The laser guy is probably giving credit for the window cutouts and Mr. WJ is not.

In summary go for the laser guy but if you really want to cover your bases ask for a material certification with the order. If they refuse or you can't see a blue inked print somewhere on your parts with the grade number then be suspicious of what material you may have received.
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

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Old 03-19-2016, 08:20 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by healhustler;
I just confirmed the order with the cheap guy in Stuart, and the savings will be well worth the day trip over there to pick the stuff up. So why am I worried?
Did you ask the Stuart guy this same question? I bet he will say what mbevins did.

I doubt I will ever need it but I learned more stuff right here. Good posts.
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Old 03-19-2016, 08:32 AM   #8
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Or sometimes a shop will give a lower quote to keep his employees working while waiting for a new project. Or he's trying to get into a new line of business. Good luck either way!
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Old 03-19-2016, 09:28 AM   #9
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The same goes for the rubber and gasket business. Yes ,I worked at a rubber and gasket company for a while also and for the record I hated it . We had to cut everything by hand . We didn't have a water jet .
The poor guy that ordered a rubber gasket 48" in diameter with a 1" face in one piece paid out the a$$ . The plug would go in a 55 gallon drum of off fall and any gasket after that is all profit .
We started cutting these gaskets with dovetail joints and hooking them together to make the large diameter . That way we could nest the strips and get plenty yeild.
Nothing is worse to cut by hand than something that won't stay still while you're cutting it . Sorry for going on but man I hated that work .
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:21 PM   #10
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After 15 years retired in Florida I have learned one thing. More money does not make the job more better. Be happy with the cheap quote and don't borrow trouble.

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