Unhappy/annoyed/frustrated/PO with the mobile marine mechanic

Joined
Mar 21, 2004
Messages
27,555
Location
Near the beach in Delaware
My boat is at a rack storage marina and they only want to service outboards. My boat is an VP I/O.

I found a guy on CraigsList saying he was a mobile marine mechanic and would work on VP. He seemed knowledgeable when I talked to him on the phone.

He told me his rate included $225 for travel and $125 per hour. Felt it was high but would save me from bringing my boat to a boat repair shop. And presently boat does not have a top. Being in indoor rack storage a top is not really needed unless I get caught in the rain out in the boat. Top is being repaired.

So when I could not shift the outdrive I felt the shift cable was most likely to cause and arranged for this guy to install a new one. He told me the shift cable was $189 without knowing the exact length. The price varies by length. The shift cable is more like $65. So $189 plus travel & labor.

He comes two hours early to work on my boat. It was still in the storage building and not on a work rack. He installs the shift cable and says the shifter is rusted and corroded and needs to be replaced. It looks rusty and the button to prevent an accidental shift would not go in. He leaves to get a shifter and an hour latter texts me it will have to be ordered. I assume he will order one from a VP dealer.

I got the part number from the Chaparral boat parts list. He has the old shifter. That may end up being a problem.

The next day I do some hunting around for the shifter. He texts me and says he found the mechanism on EBAY for $400. I ask him if the part number is the exact part number and he says yes. I look at the item on EBAY and it's $300 and it looks like it was installed and removed. It's listed as old/new stock. The seller will not take returns. And it has no part number. I call the seller and ask about a part number and no part number.

So mechanic lied about the part number and BS'ed about the price. At $400 it's getting closer to a new shifter assembly from VP. He tells me he is sure it will work.

I feel he has tried to take advantage of me more than once, has lied about the part number and adding in his travel charge will make every visit to my boat expensive.

We were looking at the old shifter and he pointed out that the micro switch in the shifter cuts out the engine just for a fraction of a second while shifting out of gear. So his knowledge now comes into play. That only happens on a Mercruiser and the micro switch for that is at the engine. The micro switch on the shifter is a neutral interlock to prevent starting the engine in gear.

I think it's time to cut him loose. Buy a shifter and get a boat repair shop to install it
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 15, 2003
Messages
38,134
Location
ME
This is one of those frustrating jobs where it's hard to keep someone employed and interested year round, so you wind up with dregs.

Add into it that your guy doesn't have a B&M home base, and he doesn't have much stick in the game.

Wonder what this guy does in the winter, teach ski lessons?
 

Donald

Thread starter
Joined
Mar 21, 2004
Messages
27,555
Location
Near the beach in Delaware
He said he had been in the Air Force and then the Army. I think working on helicopters for the Army.

The back of his pickup kind tells it all. A collection of old boating related stuff. Not trash but not a lot of stuff worth much either.

I was hoping he would have a scanner needed to read codes from my engine. It's $800. I do not think he has that.

My guess is he is retired from military and tries to earn extra $$ by being a mobile marine mechanic.
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2021
Messages
3,912
He said he had been in the Air Force and then the Army. I think working on helicopters for the Army.

The back of his pickup kind tells it all. A collection of old boating related stuff. Not trash but not a lot of stuff worth much either.

I was hoping he would have a scanner needed to read codes from my engine. It's $800. I do not think he has that.

My guess is he is retired from military and tries to earn extra $$ by being a mobile marine mechanic.

I've had an almost identical experience with a MARINE Mobile Mechanic, if you catch my drift. USMC.

My biggest issue is, that guy was a crook as well.. My biggest issue is that it is like stolen valor for me. Guys like that make pretty much every service member look bad. Marines, Army,.. every Marine, every Army soldier.. it's just horrible.

Says they can do everything.

Don't know a **** thing.

Did they basically brag about taking your money? They do stuff like that too.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2015
Messages
7,711
Location
New England
Found a guy on CL says it all. Good mechanics don’t advertise and go by word of mouth/recommendation.

CL like EBay is risky as you found out. Good luck fixing it.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
626
Location
South
Most of the boat dealers around here have a mobile tech on hand. I’m sure there is a backlog but I’d rather have a tried and true repair rather that a sketchy crook.
 

Nick1994

$100 site donor 2022
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
15,113
Location
Phoenix, AZ
All mechanics mark up parts, he had to do some research to find a replacement part.

But I agree the no part number thing is no bueno.
 

JTK

Joined
Aug 14, 2003
Messages
14,632
Location
Buffalo, NY
It's prime boating season. Everyone/place claims to be short staffed, backlogged and parts are scarce and expensive.

I doubt your average boat repair shop would treat you any better in terms of cost and shadiness at the moment, other than maybe insisting on OEM parts.
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
2,937
Location
Deep in the heart of Jersey
I've had several boats in my life, and the only way I could rationalize owning one, is if I could repair it myself. And that's what I did the whole time. I leaned what had to be done and went after it. One time I paid a guy to replace some parts in my old style outdrive. Everything from bottom painting, replacing a cylinder head, water pumps, cables, refinishing the teak, electrical work, oil changes,batteries, exhaust manifolds ect, I learned to do myself. Sure it would have been easier to pay someone else to do the dirty work, but I didn't have the money for that.,,
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
12,613
Location
Jupiter, Florida
I understand this guy may not be what you had hoped. But I can say without a doubt, bringing your boat to a shop would result in unforeseen costs that push your buttons too. I worked for a major marine company testing race engines (way back) and often watched how the shops operated. OMG is the only thing that comes to mind.

A recent example: Friend's Chevy powered, ancient bowrider needed a fuel pump, which was conveniently located under the engine. $5600 and one engine removal later, the electric fuel pump was replaced. If it were me, I'd simply professionally install the new pump in an accessible location. $400.

You might enjoy aircraft ownership! :) Mine seems to spend a lot of time like this:

R69WElHm.jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 3, 2002
Messages
8,907
Location
MI
The joy of boat ownership.
I had a boat for one summer in N.J. and that was enough, I learned the lesson.
I'm intrigued by people that have passion for boating, horses, and backyard swimming pools. I respect their interests and passion, I just don't understand it, LOL. For me, I don't have that kind of discretionary money, so it is a non problem. Heck, I still haven't purchased the canoe that I think/imagine that I want. Everyone marches to the beat of a different drummer!

I do empathize with Donald's pain. It's so hard to find decent trades people. I have a "personal mechanic" that is a professional MOPAR dealer mechanic by day, and a well equipped home garage mechanic after hours. I trust him thoroughly and tip him generously.
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2012
Messages
6,338
Location
Caldwell Idaho
I have had a few boats in my life I did all the work on them my self and they were lots of fun . I totally enjoyed the time I spent boating., Drag boats, outboard fishing type boats and a day cruiser inboard. You don't buy a boat or plane and expect it to be low cost. Hopefully you will get the bugs worked out and enjoy your time on the water.
 
Top