A SIMPLE ANALYSIS OF THE DEALER SERVICE PROBLEM
Do you have an older outboard? Get the feeling
that somebody has left you out in the cold? Well, don't despair! MASTERTECH is the place to find expert service information on your
older motor, and help in locating the parts you need to keep it
in top shape.
I grew up with the fun of boating on small lakes
in outboard boats, and I know lots of folks still enjoy using the
old family outfit on summer weekends. Not to mention the renewed
interest in earlier, simpler mechanical things, both from a practical
and nostalgic point of view.
a veteran of over 45 years dealing in marine product, I have
determined that the boating "industry" has
lost sight of one very important fact, that is PEOPLE
DON'T NEED BOATS! They would like
to have one, but it is not a necessity. But the MBA's in marketing
have attempted to create megadealers to football out new boats just
like the auto dealer down the street. This has created a number
of interesting, and fatal problems for the manufacturers.
First, boating is a seasonal business, even in
warm climates. This creates a period of time that the dealer operates
at an apparent loss, so they cut back on staff, and lay off techs
for the duration. The tech then is probably going to look elsewhere
for a steady job. Thus, most dealership techs are seriously inexperienced
in servicing. Many of them weren't even born when your boat was
Second, all these large dealerships are sales
oriented - - they have to be in order to achieve the quantity discounts
and volume deals required to make selling product profitable in
the competitive marketplace. Their service shops are primarily set
up to take care of rigging, pre-delivery and warranty. I know of
one large Northwest mega-dealership that will not even consider
servicing any boat over 3 model years old! Under these circumstances
do you think they are going to be interested in taking care of your
1978, 85 HP that needs a tune-up, water pump, gear case reseal and
has an intermittent miss?
Third, these large dealerships survive only if
they sell. I got out of the rat race when the Washington state sales
taxes I had to collect exceeded my net profit on a new package.
If the economy slows, where will these dealerships gain revenue?
the margins are so thin, they will no longer be profitable, and
serious problems will follow. After all, nobody NEEDS a boat...........
Lastly, drive down price, you eventually drive
down quality. OMC found this out the hard way when they tried to
outsource everything. Cost them their entire operation. A lot of
today's newer boating product is not up to the standards it should
be. Some current outboards are almost a throwaway product, difficult
to diagnose, repair and obtain parts thereto. Imported engine parts
are difficult to obtain and expensive. The motor manufacturers refuse
to cooperate in any significant way with independent service shops.
Boat manufacturers come and go. Package units are offered with poor
compromises for power in order to sell for less. As the old saying
goes "You buy cheap, you get cheap"!
If you've read this far - - here's the point.
There is a growing group of us who have spent our lives as marine
dealers that disagree with all this hype and BS currently spouting
from the megamarketers. Our commitment is to YOU, the customer,
not the corporate stockholders.
I have a commitment to service, not to sales.
It takes a certain mentality to be a good salesman, and I for one
don't like that sort of pressure atmosphere. Those large selling
dealers? In most cases I feel sorry for them. They could sell out,
get a better paying job in the IT industry, and sleep at night.
You thought I was kidding about all those restored
B Mercs? Well, here's photographic proof that they exist. And there's
a thumper and one more totally original one not in the photo. Look
close at these, this is NOT a trick photo. Some have short skegs,
some long. Some have steering bar bolts, some don't. These thumbnails
are links to bigger scans, so place your mouse over 'em to see the
For those of you who haven't a clue. This motor
was developed by Mercury in 1954 as a replacement for the KG-7H
"Hurricane" as the competition was fierce in class "B" racing, and
they were getting beat! It has a similar cranktrain to the Mark
25 service model introduced in 1955. However it used unique components
for most of the powerhead parts, not shared with the MK25. Originally
equipped with a Carter model "N" carburetor.
Champion motors developed a racing "B" called
the "B hot rod" that soon eclipsed the 20H, so Mercury engineering
got busy and developed a revision to this motor titled "new carburetor
and accessories". The "accessories" consisted of a new fully tuned
exhaust. This noisy item soon earned the nickname of "thumper".
This motor just died out with age, as the parts sources dried up,
and race sites banned the noisy critters. The motors seen here are
mostly "de-converted" with this tuner removed. Several are originals
though. This model is very collectible right now, as all those old
dudes (like me!) that raced 'em are wishin' they had'a saved one
There has been a renaissance of the old "B"
class runabouts using these 20H motors as well as the other contemporary
models of the 50's. Under APBA rules, boats and motors must comply
with the rules then in effect.
CREDIT must go to Charlie
Williams of Performax Marine in Puyallup,
WA for spending the time and effort to restore all these to as close
to original as possible. He can be contacted at OUTBOARDRACING.COM.
The rules for "Classic B" may be found there as well.
And for last, a pictorial of logos used by Mercury from
start to present (click picture for large image)
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