About Boating

Tips from the toolbox

A certified marine mechanic talks about tips for proper maintenance and operation of your boat and motor.

Hey Folks!  Welcome to TIPS FROM THE TOOL BOX.

I'm Back! With some more on props, last time I gave you some info on PITCH.

OK let's take this prop thing into another spin in time, 4 Blade, 3 Blade, 5 Blade,

What would you want to water ski and be able to jump out of the water, ripping the skier from the floating crouch position, and launch them into speeding frenzy of uncontrollable, screaming , skiing thrill of a lifetime.

Well I would recommend the 5 blade it grabs the most water and gets the best bite and will give you that arm wrenching launch that you want. Hey here is also another benefit the more blades the better the hold in rough water.

Now that you are finished skiing you want to be the fastest thing on the water well I would then recommend a 3 Blade prop. Take off will be good but the top end will set you back in your seat and you won't have as good a hold in rough water.

What do you mean you want the best of both worlds then I would suggest a four blade -it's the happy medium between the two others.

With a tach in the dash, the right pitch and the right choice of blades you're ready to go! Well not quite - we haven't determined what material we want the prop made of - Aluminum, Composite, or Stainless Steel.

Well it's simple, Stainless is the best choice and is the most efficient and the best performing prop, but with that comes a higher price - the next choice will be aluminum, then composite.

The reason for the differences is the amount of flex in the blades from the different materials. Stainless is the hardest and doesn't have any give to it, which means a 17 pitch will stay pretty close to 17. A 17 pitch aluminum will flex and therefore not give you the 17 pitch push and a composite will flex even more than that. A further disadvantage of a Stainless prop can occur if you hit something with it. During a slight impact the prop would suffer very little damage since it is a lot harder but if you hit something at higher speeds, the impact can be transferred to the propshaft and can cause some very expensive damage if the propshaft has to be replaced! As well, repairs to a stainless prop will be about twice as much as repairs to an aluminum prop.

I have now filled your head with enough variables that you should probably come on over to a dealership and have them help you make the right choice for your application. The way you use your boat and your performance expectations ( plus the difference in prop material characteristics) will determine which prop is the best choice for you.

Until next time.