Ordering an oar is not quite as simple as firing off an email to me, although that is a good start. We’ll need to work out a few details such as the type of oar, the design and any other features such as mounting.
An outline of the costs and process
The costs involved in producing a trophy oar can be arranged in three main groups. The oar itself, the painting of the oar and the delivery of the finished oar. However there are many other costs which may affect the final result.
While many people come to me already with an oar in hand, many also ask me to source one for them. Often a rower can get one from their club or a friend. See this page for more details.
People who want a ‘blade only’ timber trophy need to either provide a blade or pay the full price for a whole oar. Accidents that ‘shorten’ the life and length of oars are not that common now with timber oars and a whole oar would need to be cut down to give the desired result.
Carbon fibre oars are in plentiful supply as they are the current oar of choice for competition. Many oars that are broken can be repaired to a suitable standard for use as a trophy. It is more common to get a ‘blade only’ with the carbon fibre shafted oars. I am able to provide the odd oar or blade as they come my way from generous clubs and individuals and the cost of these varies depending on the work needing done to them and any initial purchase cost.
Preparation of the oar
The oar often needs to be worked on before it is ready for painting. Sometimes this is a simple matter of an all over clean, sanding of the blade and an under coat. This can be a simple job but usually more needs to be, or is desired to be, done.
Timber oars often need small repairs to the blade. Edges are worn from use and the surfaces can be pitted from impacts. Large cracks and breaks can also be repaired by a skilled boatman. I have had a shattered blade repaired to a rowable condition by one boatman.
Many years of old paint can also be a chore to remove to allow a smooth surface for the new art. Difficult to move paint can add up to the cost as it is a dirty and time consuming task.
I usually leave the shafts in an ‘as is’ condition, but sometimes they will either need to be sanded back and re-varnished or the customer may desire a stained or improved finish. A full re-varnish would be about 2-4 hours of work.
Carbon fibre oars, if new, need only a wash and a light sanding. Older oars may need some light filling before sanding.
Design of artwork
The cost of design is minimal as most artwork (in the form of coats of arms, crests etc) is provided by the customer. There is little ‘original’ work needing done. Each design is mocked up on the computer and a PDF file is emailed for approval. This mock up then becomes the working design for the painting.
Working out the cost of an oar is not an exact science. There are three main factors that I consider. Firstly is the complexity of the job – usually based on the coat of arms or crest and the number of colours involved. Next factor is the quantity of work to be done – an oar for an eight has four times the number of names than for a pair, for example. Finally I look at the delivery date that is required (if any) for the finished job – an oar that is required quickly means I have to disrupt my every-day life to get it done and I need to extract my pound of flesh for that.
The most expensive blade I have done was over £800 (US$1100) including the blade and mounting. A fairly standard design for an eight with a coat of arms is around £350 (US$450) plus the cost of the oar itself.
Each oar is costed on its own merits and I will not give an estimate without collecting certain details about the design required first.
Multiple copies of the one design (ie a crew set) do not get a discount because each oar is individually painted and there are few, if any, areas that can benefit from economies of scale with such a manual task. It is also not a lot of fun, so I’d rather avoid this. There is a funny story about a school job for 13 matching oars that I initially declined…
Trophy oars are a little long for easy transport. International delivery of full oars is a serious cost item. I have used FedEx to get a mounted blade to the east coast of the USA and it cost more than both the client and I were expecting! Sectioned oars are much easier to ship.