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Old    9Drozd            06-14-2012, 11:50 PM Reply   
When comparing all the boats people throw around the words "quality", "fit and finish". So my question is, what do these have to do with making a boat a better boat than the competitors. I've been around boats all my life and have seen my dad design and build many race boats from the ground up. I know exactly what goes into the whole process. From every boat I've been around the hulls are all laid up virtually the same as well as the vinyl and components put into them. So in my eyes the quality people refer to is all pretty even across the industry. Now "fit and finish", is this what everyone is considering the extra bling put into the boats?

This thread isn't meant to declare any boat MFG better than others, but I'm just curious as what these words/phrases mean to everyone that has bought a boat and why they feel the way they do.



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Old     (Orange)      Join Date: Jun 2012       06-15-2012, 1:13 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by 9Drozd View Post
When comparing all the boats people throw around the words "quality", "fit and finish". So my question is, what do these have to do with making a boat a better boat than the competitors. I've been around boats all my life and have seen my dad design and build many race boats from the ground up. I know exactly what goes into the whole process. From every boat I've been around the hulls are all laid up virtually the same as well as the vinyl and components put into them. So in my eyes the quality people refer to is all pretty even across the industry. Now "fit and finish", is this what everyone is considering the extra bling put into the boats?

This thread isn't meant to declare any boat MFG better than others, but I'm just curious as what these words/phrases mean to everyone that has bought a boat and why they feel the way they do.



Disclaimer:
I am not responsible for any hurt feelings or egos.
I also approve of any and all photoshopped pictures used in this thread.
Post away and enjoy.
What has better quality, fit, and finish - a $70,000 Lexus or a $20,000 entry level Chevy?

Not all boats are built the same. Hull construction and support are different, designs are different, manufacturing techniques and tolerances are different, even the vinyls used for seats can have different look, feel, performance, and fit and finish (quality of seams, risstqnce to tearing, etc.). We can all argue which brands are better than others, but make no mistake... Some boats are Chevys and some are Porsches. There are real differences between boats.
Old    DBC (ixfe)      Join Date: Aug 2008       06-15-2012, 1:45 AM Reply   
Here is how I think about it. This is 100% conjecture and opinion. But my opinion is based on years of experience as a finance guy in a product development environment (not boats). So I'm well versed on the realities of product development and how it typically works.

Building boats is not rocket science (relative to other more complex products we enjoy such as automobiles, smart phones, pc's, or the semiconductors that power them). The "bones" of these boats are all the same. We're talking about fiberglass tubs with old technology engines in them, carpet, vinyl, glass, etc. You get the picture. I don't fundamentally believe there is that much difference in construction quality when it comes to these fundamentals. In short, they all build strong boats. Sure each company has slightly different methods, but there are only so many different ways to spray gel coat, lay down glass, rig engines, join topdecks, bolt on towers, etc. In large part they use the same raw materials purchased from the same ecosystem of suppliers. This part of boat building is probably similar in cost for most of the companies... if anything the big guys enjoy some economies of scale and have slightly better cost structure. It's sort of like production home builders. At the end of the day, the bones of all new houses are the same... 2x4's, sheet rock, pvc, hardy plank, etc. Does DR Horton nail them together better than Centex? Do either really spend more on these "bones" than the next guy?

Where the differences can be seen are in three main places:

1) Design - Obviously this is huge. Some designs are just more appealing than others. I think design is really what sells boats. It's what creates an emotional attachment to a boat... the shape, the color pattern, the interior layout, etc. The various boat companies offer tons of variety in terms of design. It's design that draws us to the boat show each year... to drool and gawk over the sleek, sexy, wake machines that look like they are jamming down the river even when they are standing still. My guess is that some boat companies spend lots on design using teams of CAD artists and probably even scientifically studying water flow and how different shapes influence it for a desired wake size/shape. They are willing to make the investment of building a mold as a trial only to scrap it and build a slightly different mold until they get it where they want it. Other companies I suspect invest less... maybe they hand draw it. Maybe they use clay models. Some haven't changed hulls in 10+ years. Beyond hull shapes I would also put windshields and towers into this category. Some guys design custom glass and proprietary towers. Others use generic glass and towers from Samson.

2) Features - Once again, huge differences hear from manufacturer to manufacturer. This can be either standard or optional features - it doesn't really matter. I'm essentially talking about what the companies "sprinkle" over the raw fiberglass tub that's been designed and built above. Vinyl and carpet quality is talked about a lot. But it's not just that... it's where they put it and how far they extend it. It's also electronics, towers, racks, sound systems, lighting, ballast systems, coolers, batteries, and all the stuff you guys like to call "bling." None of this makes a "higher quality" boat, but it certainly can drive costs/prices up and it's a major factor in why people buy one boat over the next.

3) Brand - Boats are a luxury item. The purchase isn't really a rational one from the beginning. So brand often comes into play for many people's purchase decision. Let's face it, we are all consumers and we have our favorite products. Our opinions have been molded over the years by advertising, perceptions, anecdotes, word of mouth, personal experiences, etc. Some boat buyers throw this out and try to make a decision based solely on research and practical thinking. But many many buyers are at least in part influenced by brand. Some boat companies invest a lot here with professional videos, magazine spreads, pro riders, event sponsorships, vast dealer networks, etc. All this is designed to keep the brand at the front of your mind. Other companies don't have the scale to make such investments so they rely on word of mouth, and a smaller, loyal dealer network. None of this makes one boat higher quality than the next, but it does drive costs up for the big boys.

In summary, the expensive brands are expensive for lots of reasons. In general, I don't believe it's because they use better fiberglass or fancier stitching. That's why I push back so hard when people make the "high price = high quality" argument. It's not because I'm defending a particular brand. It's because I believe the difference is largely driven by deeper R&D investments, additional features, plusher accommodations, advanced technology, more marketing, etc.

There's one other reason the Big brand boat companies charge more... BECAUSE THEY CAN! Sometimes price of a product isn't so much correlated to it's cost, but rather to the market's willingness to pay.
Old     (Orange)      Join Date: Jun 2012       06-15-2012, 2:25 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by ixfe View Post
It's sort of like production home builders. At the end of the day, the bones of all new houses are the same... 2x4's, sheet rock, pvc, hardy plank, etc. Does DR Horton nail them together better than Centex? Do either really spend more on these "bones" than the next guy?
Yes. Yes they do (or can... I don't know these two builders). They can use different quality lumber so your walls are straighter. They can use sound insulation inside interior walls so each room has more privacy. They can install more ac outlets to make the room more functional. They can have better skilled carpenters that make sure each door and window is square rather than just good enough. They can tape drywall seams better so you cant see the joints. They can spend more time and money on quality control of their product.

Ending the metaphor and bringing it home to boats, there are different materials and manufacturing techniquest to choose from for boats as well. Not all hulls are the same thickness. Not all gel coat is as smooth. Not all interiors use the same quality cushions or vinyl or glues or snaps. Some manufactures choose engines built with lower technology or lower manufacturing tolerances to cut cost (and make it more affordable to the consumer). Even the guts of boats can be dramatically different in quality, reliability, and durability, so let's not kid ourselves that all boats are equal in quality.

That doesn't mean that the cost of the boat defines its "quality", that more expensive boats by definition perform better, or that many of the expensive boats on the market don't have a huge component of bling and sex appeal driving their cost and reputation... I don't doubt that for a second. Let's not however try to simplify this to the point that we pretend there aren't real and measurable differences between some boat models and manufacturers that are much more than skin deep.

Last edited by Orange; 06-15-2012 at 2:27 AM. Reason: Forgot something
Old     (nitrousbird)      Join Date: Sep 2008       06-15-2012, 4:55 AM Reply   
Boats are not built the same across the board; neither is their quality or fit and finish. Go sit in a loaded up SeaDoo or Yamaha Jet boat, then sit in an entry level Moomba; prices may be similar, but the Moomba (being on of the cheaper inboards out there) is clearly a nicer, better built boat.

Hell, sit in an Axis vs. a Malibu - may be made by the same company, but you can tell where corners were cut to save some money on the Axis. Not that it is a bad or low quality boat, but they had to save a few bucks somehow to meet their price points.
Old    Preston (Bamabonners)      Join Date: Jul 2011       06-15-2012, 8:10 AM Reply   
It seems that this type of discussion goes on with all luxery items or hobbies. Go look at the 1911 pistol boards and you will see huge arguments between brands like Colt, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, Kimber, Les Baer, Nighthawk, etc..

We all know the typical sales person fodder used against each brand, it is no different with guns.

Bottom line, we will never come to an agreement on the subject because so much of it has to do with percieved value and emotional attachment to brands.

BTW, Companies spend loads of money to get you to believe in the perceived value and have that emotional attachment for this very reason.
Old    DBC (ixfe)      Join Date: Aug 2008       06-15-2012, 9:10 AM Reply   
Great post, Orange. A few comments below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orange View Post
Yes. Yes they do (or can... I don't know these two builders). They can use different quality lumber so your walls are straighter. They can use sound insulation inside interior walls so each room has more privacy. They can install more ac outlets to make the room more functional. I put this in the "features" bucket, like cup holders or LED lights in a boat. They can have better skilled carpenters that make sure each door and window is square rather than just good enough. They can tape drywall seams better so you cant see the joints. They can spend more time and money on quality control of their product. Yes, all theoretically true. But in practice, can anybody tell, and can it be measured? If not, it's just a theory.

Ending the metaphor and bringing it home to boats, there are different materials and manufacturing techniquest to choose from for boats as well. Do you know this for a fact? If so, give examples? Who is using cheaper materials and how do you know? Not all hulls are the same thickness. Really? Then why do almost all 21 foot boats weight about the same? Not all gel coat is as smooth. In theory you are right. In practice, is this really an issue anybody has observed? Not all interiors use the same quality cushions or vinyl or glues or snaps. This is for sure true, but if you look at my post I purposely put seating materials in "features" section, not the "bones" section. Some manufactures choose engines built with lower technology or lower manufacturing tolerances to cut cost (and make it more affordable to the consumer). Which engines are you calling out here? Don't they all use essentially the same block? And aren't there only 3-4 guys marinizging that block? Even the guts of boats can be dramatically different in quality, reliability, and durability, so let's not kid ourselves that all boats are equal in quality. All your points are valid in theory. My post was basically saying that in practice, I don't believe the variances in the bones of these boats are that big (remember, I'm talking the basics like fiberglass, gel coat, engine, transmission, running gear, glass, etc.). The reason I believe this is because as much as we fight about perceptions of "well built" vs. "not well built" I have never once read proof of this. Never once has someone come on here and given any sort of specific reason. It's always platitudes and cliches. Remember, I am talking about bones here, not design, features, or brand where the differences are huge. Just the basics. I personally believe that when it comes to these basics, they are all so close the difference is imperceptible until somebody posts some proof otherwise.

That doesn't mean that the cost of the boat defines its "quality", that more expensive boats by definition perform better, or that many of the expensive boats on the market don't have a huge component of bling and sex appeal driving their cost and reputation... I don't doubt that for a second. Let's not however try to simplify this to the point that we pretend there aren't real and measurable differences between some boat models and manufacturers that are much more than skin deep. I don't consider design, features, or brand "skin deep." They are real and they drive cost for the manufacturer and real value for the consumer. Back to houses... all are made with 2x4's and nails at their core. But a $250K house has a very different looking kitchen than a $500K house (among a long list of other "feature" differences that justify the price being 2x). Are those high-end features "skin deep?" My wife says no!
Old    Brett Yates (polarbill)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-15-2012, 9:31 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by ixfe View Post
Great post, Orange. A few comments below.
It would interesting to gather info on each builder and their main processes/materials so we can actually compare. I would like to see if every/most manufacturer's use the same number of layers or woven roven, fiberglass, etc..., what thickness of Vinyl, if the foam cushions are wrapped with plastic before the skins are added, if all the hardware(thru hulls, hinges, screws, bolts, etc) are SS, if all manufacturer's screw and laminate the deck to the hull, quality of carpet, quality of wiring harness, etc...

My guess is a lot of those things are more similar across brands then most realize. Personally I see no reason to compare engine's as they are near identical(at least a lot more similar then most seem to believe).
Old    9Drozd            06-15-2012, 12:30 PM Reply   
Quote:
Boats are not built the same across the board; neither is their quality or fit and finish. Go sit in a loaded up SeaDoo or Yamaha Jet boat, then sit in an entry level Moomba; prices may be similar, but the Moomba (being on of the cheaper inboards out there) is clearly a nicer, better built boat.
I would have to respectfully disagree with this statement. One of my relatives husband is a local dealer for seadoo jet boats and I have had the pleasure of spending plenty of time in one. He always has a new 230 wake edition every year, and even though they do not make great actual wake boats, it is a very well built boat and I would even go as far as saying the interior seams just as nice as some of the nautiques that I've been around. If you are referring to the fact that they are priced similarly, he told me it was because Yamaha and Seadoo manufacture every part that goes into these boats and therefore can control costs. the motors, hulls, etc.The new base model Moomba's that I have seen, have been more on par interior wise as my current 2001 tige. I'm not knocking their brand but just stating my observation.

I find this a very interesting thread so far as everyone's opinion differs.
Old    Tom (boardjnky4)      Join Date: Dec 2011       06-15-2012, 12:52 PM Reply   
Fit and finish is all in the details.

How well do all the panels line up? Nice straight lines.
How do the gauges match the rest of the boat? Are the guages nicely lined up and sitting flush? They shouldn't look like an afterthought, they should look like they were made to fit there.
How does the vinyl look? Seems should be perfect. Lines should flow well from cushion to cushion and line up perfectly. There should be plenty of cusioning, no sharp edges and nice plush high-end vinyl
How do the latches feel? They should be nice and solid with good, substantial feel to them. They shouldn't feel like they aren't going to break ever.
Hinges should be mounted nice and straight, and again, they should feel solid. No squeeks, no wobbling.
All brackets on the boat should mounted straignt and sit flush.
There should be absolutely no rattling of panels or anything coming loose over time. All pressure pistons for hatches should continue to work well and hold well over time.
Hatch doors should close nice and tight to other panels, but not too close that it requires force to seat them in.
Carpets should line up nicely around the edges and snap down nice and tight. The carpet should be high quality and resist wear over time.

All of the above should be that way when the boat leaves the dealership and STAY that way over time, even as the boat is put through it's paces. Nothing should come loose over the course of a few years. Vinyl shouldn't has issues ripping on sharp edges because of a design flaw.

A lot of these issues are something that most manufacturers don't struggle with on brand new boats. But go look and compare 10 year old boats and you'll start to see which manufacturers got it right and which ones suffered from flaws. Cars are the same way. Compare a 10 year old BMW interior to a 10 year old GM interior. The GM will show much more wear and tear. That is because the quality and fit and finish sucks in them.

Last edited by boardjnky4; 06-15-2012 at 12:55 PM.
Old    Jeff Hill (hillbilly)      Join Date: Aug 2002       06-15-2012, 11:12 PM Reply   
I own a Moomba and Love it. Do I think it is as plush as other mfgrs.....no.
But it has a good wake and runs when I need it to.

It comes down to the amount of pride each employee puts into the boat!
One lazy or bad worker can make any boat seem cheap if the next guy doesn't fix it or catch the sloppy work.
Old    Preston (Bamabonners)      Join Date: Jul 2011       06-16-2012, 10:05 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by boardjnky4 View Post
Fit and finish is all in the details.

Compare a 10 year old BMW interior to a 10 year old GM interior. The GM will show much more wear and tear. That is because the quality and fit and finish sucks in them.
I am calling BS on this one. It mostly depends on the owner and well it was taken care of.
Old    Michael Hunter (mhunter)      Join Date: Mar 2008       06-18-2012, 6:23 AM Reply   
The owners of high end boats will argue theirs are built better. The owners of cheaper boats will argue they are the same. Go out and look for yourself if you cant see any difference than buy the cheapest boat you can and be happy you saved all that money.
Old    Tom (boardjnky4)      Join Date: Dec 2011       06-18-2012, 7:44 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamabonners View Post
I am calling BS on this one. It mostly depends on the owner and well it was taken care of.
Same can be said with anything. If I store a G23 outside, under a tree, with no cover and use the boat every day, the interior would be shot within a year. If I store a bayliner in an air conditioned garage with a cover on it and never use it, of course it will look like new.

If you compare similarly maintained BMWs and GMs, you will certainly find the BMW to hold up much better over time.
Old    Cody Kauzlarich (codykauz)      Join Date: Jul 2007       06-18-2012, 9:29 PM Reply   
I believe that there is something to be said for the difference in quality of boats. If you look at Supra and Moomba both are made by the same company, using the same techniques, the majority of the same materials. But some people have hit on it, the biggest differences come in the R&D and the tolerances. Even Moomba had to develop the new Mojo, but its about the time and attempts it takes to tweak something into exactly what they wanted when they started, or just calling it good enough for how much we're selling it for. Even the Supra comes with dual density foam cushions and a much softer more pliable vinyl. Not to mention on the under sides of seats they have Supra stamped into the plastic, whereas the Moomba's are just plain black. Supra may spray an extra layer of fiberglass, wetsand an extra time before gelcoat, and use more glue- I have no idea and am not in a position to speculate. But I can tell you that there is a $30,000 difference between a comparable Supra and Moomba. Even with the other upgrades, the printed carpet, digital dash, and polished cupholder, I can't see near that much of a cost difference in production. Just like the $20,000 Chevy and $70,000 Lexus, do you honestly think that it costs Lexus 3 times as much to produce that vehicle, or that it will run that much better, last that much longer? I sure don't. It may ride a little smoother, be a little quieter, and the seats may be a little softer, but not $50,000 softer. You still pay for the badge, you pay for the status. That is what it really comes down to.
Old    Seahawks #1 Fan Robert T (cwb4me)      Join Date: Apr 2010       06-19-2012, 7:47 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by boardjnky4 View Post
Same can be said with anything. If I store a G23 outside, under a tree, with no cover and use the boat every day, the interior would be shot within a year. If I store a bayliner in an air conditioned garage with a cover on it and never use it, of course it will look like new.

If you compare similarly maintained BMWs and GMs, you will certainly find the BMW to hold up much better over time.
If you think a Bring Money Withya will hold up better than a General Malfunction your dreaming. Everyone knows a Found On Road Dead and a Drips Oil Drinks Gas Everyday are much better! Hell even a Had One Never Doit Again and a Cheap Heap Every Valve Rattles Oil Leaks Eventually Towed are better!
Old    Seahawks #1 Fan Robert T (cwb4me)      Join Date: Apr 2010       06-19-2012, 7:50 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by codykauz View Post
I believe that there is something to be said for the difference in quality of boats. If you look at Supra and Moomba both are made by the same company, using the same techniques, the majority of the same materials. But some people have hit on it, the biggest differences come in the R&D and the tolerances. Even Moomba had to develop the new Mojo, but its about the time and attempts it takes to tweak something into exactly what they wanted when they started, or just calling it good enough for how much we're selling it for. Even the Supra comes with dual density foam cushions and a much softer more pliable vinyl. Not to mention on the under sides of seats they have Supra stamped into the plastic, whereas the Moomba's are just plain black. Supra may spray an extra layer of fiberglass, wetsand an extra time before gelcoat, and use more glue- I have no idea and am not in a position to speculate. But I can tell you that there is a $30,000 difference between a comparable Supra and Moomba. Even with the other upgrades, the printed carpet, digital dash, and polished cupholder, I can't see near that much of a cost difference in production. Just like the $20,000 Chevy and $70,000 Lexus, do you honestly think that it costs Lexus 3 times as much to produce that vehicle, or that it will run that much better, last that much longer? I sure don't. It may ride a little smoother, be a little quieter, and the seats may be a little softer, but not $50,000 softer. You still pay for the badge, you pay for the status. That is what it really comes down to.
I visit the Lexus dealer every week their the busiest shop in my territory. Lexus must be worth it their customers keep paying for them repair after repair.
Old    Rob (DealsGapCobra)      Join Date: May 2010       06-20-2012, 9:13 AM Reply   
About 8 years ago I was looking at new boats. One of the local dealers had changed brands due to what he said were "quality" issues with Malibu and talked on and on about how great their new brand (which I will not name) was. I walked between two of these boats and it took about 3 seconds to see what I will call really poor quality. There were some minor gelcoat issues but the big thing was what appeared to be a vertical seam about 1/2 down the hull...I have no idea what it was but I was done looking at that second. I don't even know what the interior looked like as I just walked away.

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