Monday, February 11, 2013

Over A Barrel
By Michael

Given that Victoria's Chinatown is
more like a Chinablock, their celebration
of the Chinese New Year today was
pretty impressive, though difficult to
see over the crowds. We did pick up
some sparklers to play with tonight.
I’m wrapping up a big preventative maintenance job on our 55-hp turbocharged Yanmar auxiliary. It started small, I intended only to replace the coolant and pop the caps on the heat exchanger to see how the tubes looked. But if you give a moose a muffin…
The coolant drain cocks were clogged with crap and the coolant that did drain didn’t look so good. So I decided I would remove the heat exchanger from the block (it is also the exhaust manifold) and have it serviced. But if I pull and service the heat exchanger, I might as well do the oil cooler. And once these parts are gone, the raw water pump is irresistibly accessible. And if all that’s gone, it would be foolish not to service the starter motor at the same time.

Two weeks passed and the parts are flushed, dipped, serviced, greased, pressure tested, soldered, and painted. I’m beginning reassembly, happy to have found and addressed several problems.

The only sting was the total cost of the Yanmar OEM replacement hoses and gasket: $431. I’m talking about seven small hoses that pass saltwater and coolant and one gasket for where the turbo mates to the heat exchanger. Yikes.

Boaters complain about this kind of thing all the time: “Those bastards charge an arm and a leg because they know they’ve got you over a barrel!” And boaters complain for good reason, hapless mariners do get gouged sometimes by manufacturers or retailers who slap the Marine Tax on goods. But this is different.

Seven little hoses
from Japan
Only Yanmar-authorized distributors can sell Yanmar parts. And a Yanmar distributor can sell Yanmar parts only in their proscribed geographic area. This means if I find a Yanmar part online, with a distributor in California, that distributor cannot ship that part to me in Canada—they can’t even ship that part to Washington state.

Is this a big deal? It is in this case.
Take the exhaust gasket. Authorized parts distributors in Victoria sell it for $60.68. In Washington state, distributors have it for $14.63.

Take one of my U-shaped hoses (I need three of them). In Victoria, $67.44 each. In Washington state, $26.60 each.
My $431 Victoria parts bill shrinks to $157 in Washington state.

I don’t have answers for this discrepancy, but I do have a solution. Port Angeles, WA is 90-minutes away via a $32 ferry. I’m on my way.


There's no question the hoses need to be replaced. They
felt stiff, but once off I saw stuff like this.


  1. Sounds like the kind of price nightmare we had in Australia. My favorite example- those little 12v cabin fans that you can get for around $60? Not available for under $250 in Oz! Madness. At least you have the ferry. We are happy to be in the land of cheap now, but spare parts would be an entirely different store.

  2. Hey... I live in Tacoma, WA. If I can help you, say get parts here and mail them to you . Please let me know. Hate to see you get gouged like that... been a long time reader of your blog, this is the first time I have posted... great stuff! I will send you an email with my addy...

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