spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar

spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar

risk the failure of a large enterprise by trying to economize on trivial things.
The expression originally referred to the use of tar to keep flies off sores on sheep (ship represented a dialectal pronunciation of sheep ). Ha'p'orth is a contraction of halfpennyworth .
See also: of, ship, spoil, tar