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Buying a Boat Propeller – What Factors Are Involved?

Typically, boating enthusiasts forget to consider the importance of their boat’s propeller. The propeller is what connects the horsepower to the water. Hence, before purchasing a propeller for your boat, be sure all the crucial considerations are made.

Getting the Right Shape and Size

Propellers can be purchased in an entire range of shapes and sizes. When it comes to sizes, measurements are taken in terms of diameter and pitch. First and foremost, be sure that the pitch is consistent with the manufacturer’s recommended WOT (wide open throttle) range. That means you have to be able to turn the engine’s minimum rpm the engine was made for with a fully advanced throttle. An increase in a propellers pitch leads to a bigger weight or limit for the engine to drive up to greater rpm’s. A 50-horsepower engine may only be capable of turning a 15-pitch propeller, while a 750 horsepower offshore race engine can turn over 30 inches of pitch.

Considering the Diameter

Diameter is another measurement that impacts rpm capabilities as well as other boat and hull personalities. A good number of the diameter choices are predetermined by the manufacturer for the user. In majority of low-performance applications, this works rather well. However, fine tuning diameter can improve general performance in drastic ways. Reducing diameter will often lower rpm, and the same is true the other way around. Changes in diameter will adjust the running attitude of the hulls as well. Changing the diameter is not always needed though as the stock diameters may be matched to different propeller types.

Number of Blades

Theoretically speaking, less blades mean higher speeds. This is based on the premise that more blades create more metal in the water, thereby translating to more drag. However, if you have an inefficiently running boat, more blades can give the boat more capability to “hook up” and improve its performance thoughout the torque band. The boat’s specific application will partly dictate the number of blades needed for optimal results.

Indeed, picking the right propeller for your boat can be daunting. Seeking the help of a trained professional is the best way to optimize your boat set-up. Most are happy to help by sharing their expertise. You don’t even have to meet them in person. Just participate in online forums and get tips from there.

Finally, the most crucial starting point is to be aware of your engine or engines capabilities. When you have this out of the way, the engine package can be safe from damage that may arise from improper rpm related to propping. From here, you can decide if you want to take it to the next level of performance.

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