Tips On How To Work With The Folks That Work On Your Classic Boat

is it on?

One of the coolest parts of doing Woody Boater is getting to know so many folks, and getting to know restorers and the other great folks that serve and support our community. Its incredible what I hear, and never report. Mostly because most of it is gossip and negative crap. But there is a theme to most of it. Usually some rancid complaint about a supplier, sales process or restoration. But you rarely hear the other side of it all. Why? because the customer is always right. RIGHT? WRONG!

We are in a passion that to be honest is terrifying to a new person coming into it. Hell, the largest image issue we all share is that these boats are a never ending maintenance issue. And in some respect we are all guilty of perpetuation that. But, once someone has decided to get into it, fear of the unknown, by those that know can be terrifying and make you feel helpless. How is this or that guy going to rip me off? Am I being stupid doing something this or that way? BTW, it doesn’t add to it when your partner/spouse is rolling their eyes at you while taking the leap into the unknown vat of varnish.

She likes those Murder shows……

Here are some tips on how to get the best advice and service from all in the passion.

BE NICE. I have long thought that no one goes into this as a business trying to get rich, or in some sort of clever way to rip folks off. It just isnt the case. The situation may be the case. For example in my case, I told the guy when I started to do it all. Frames and all. I got cleaned out. Who is to blame? Me? Him? The Hobby? Folks tried to tell me, but I thought I knew what I was doing. Which leads to the next revelation.

I DON’T KNOW SHIP,  you know it, they know it, hell, I know enough to know I know it about myself. The best way to work with someone is to find someone that respects you. This goes for both parties.

THINK HOW YOU WOULD FEEL. – When a mistake wrong color bottom, or bad news happens. Like all your frames are rotten. Take a breath and think how you might feel if you made the mistake or had to deliver the news. Know that on the other side of the call is a person doing this because its their passion and well. Ship Happens.

In almost every case of some of the horror stories, the back story is just has horrific. So, today as you are getting your boat ready to be worked on, or looking to have a broker sell your boat, be honest with yourself. Do you have the money to pay the person? Are you going into this with an open mind? Has the company provided a strong estimate. Yes, you can get a fixed price bottom price, yes there are folks out there that are worth traveling across the country for. Or just click on one of the many banners here. All these folks are good, trusted and best of all. Human! Lets rise above all the politics today and treat each other like…well.. humans!

20 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    Most of my issues came from unrealistic expectations ,my lack of homework and trying to fog over the cost to my spouse. Of coarse the were also so real issues that I choose not to reveal here. On a separate note I exercised my right to vote this morning and since exercise always makes me hungry I’m reading WoodyBoater while eating breakfast.

  2. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    It’s the old supply and demand thing. A highly skilled craftsman in any of the trades right now is worth his/her weight in gold. If you want to play you have to pay$$$$$$$$. Or you could do it yourself.

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    My first rule of thumb is to deal with people that I trust, regardless of it being a boat guy, auto mechanic, appliance repair, or salesman. These people are seldom the cheapest, but it will save you money in the long run.

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    For me the other thing is to ask a LOT of others what their experience is. There are some suppliers/restorers that I will never use again, while some friends of mine would not go anywhere else. If you ask a lot of people and get 80% positive it should be good, but if you get 80% negative, I would steer away and find another source.

    Also, ask in private. This hobby is full of very classy people that do not want to speak badly of others in public, but will usually be direct if asked in private.

  5. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    “Today, I am not “getting my boat ready to be worked on”. I am getting ready to work on my boat!”

    My thoughts exactly Rob. Unless your pockets are REAL deep, learn to do basic and and more advanced work yourself. If something goes wrong (and it will due to Murphy) the only person you can blame is the one in the mirror. If something goes right (and it DOES happen) you can pat yourself on the back.

  6. Grant MacKenzie
    Grant MacKenzie says:

    We all shoukd keep this in mind;

    “The quality will be remembered long after the price is forgotten”

  7. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    One mistake people make is to assume a restorer can do all phases of restoration including engine work. Some might be able to, but most who are great at woodworking may not be mechanical adept. To ask them to “do the whole package” is setting yourself up for possible issues. Understand the strengths of your restoring (and their weaknesses) and make choices accordingly by sourcing a mechanic for engine work. But then make sure that mechanic can work WITH the restorer to complete the the job by fine tuning once the restorer installs the powerplant. You can really tax a restorer by placing the responsibility of getting that engine to work on him (or her). That final fine tune should be the responsibility of the engine rebuilder or at least, if he is remote, can either travel or work with the restorer over the phone without an attitude.

  8. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    I was at a well known shop near Lake George yesterday. They were tarping boats that belong to customers that would not come get them, would not pay the bill, or just plain would not answer the phone. I thought that said a lot. They took the time and materials to care for boats that belong to customers that treat them poor. It’s a TWO way street. Treat people like you want to be treated.

  9. Eric Z
    Eric Z says:

    I agree with Floyd, you need to act as a GC and sub out to the strengths or the restorers as needed.

    And the header is reminiscent of this Animal House scene…shes got a grip on where the engine is…

  10. Rick
    Rick says:

    Off topic. This Chris-Craft makes an appearance in the Rodney Dangerfield movie ‘Back to School’. Any info on this boat? Just curious.

  11. Richard Daley
    Richard Daley says:

    Currently in Las Vegas
    Thinking of doing a day trip to lake arrowhead in California.
    Do we have any woody boaters there that might provide some guidence?

  12. Jeff N
    Jeff N says:

    Wow this story hits home. Especially after going to the ACBS workshop at Robinson’s restoration this past Saturday. My boat is tucked away right now and I am a rookie who bought it about 6 months ago but haven’t been able to do much with it due to projects I’m trying to get done on my house. So for the time being I’m reading and trying to learn all I can. I have to admit after the workshop on Saturday I did tell myself…. wow this is quite a bit of stuff to remember / learn. I guess classic cars is somewhat the same amount of information and I’ve been around that for more than half my life. But the whole thing of boating is pretty new to me. Except my dad’s little out board while I was growning up. Thanks for today’s story Matt, hits home.

  13. Al Schinnerer
    Al Schinnerer says:

    Lake Arrowhead is a private lake. You can’t put a boat on the lake unless you own real estate there, except for the annual boat show.

  14. Dean
    Dean says:

    My Dad owned an Arkansas Traveller for a week after he sold our Lyman. It rode like a buckin bronco, beat the heck out of you. Got rid of that and bought a Thompson. Much better!

  15. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Restoring a wood boat can be like restoring a house. No firm can do it all , do what you are good at and have a good sub base to do the rest. We work on multiple boats in different stages of restorations in an assembly line fashion to save time. Our sub base is the best at what they do , chrome, engine rebuilding, gauges. The rest is in house including a local upholster. To accent our bottom work and keep the cost down we have invested in the best equipment including a horizontal resaw, buy mahogany by the truck load , screws and 5200 in bulk. It is easy after more than 60 5200 bottoms and having a system in place to expediate the project.

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