FAQ - Outboard Propellers

  1. Should I select a 3-blade propeller or a 4-blade propeller for my OBSD engine?

    We recommend 3-blade propellers for recreational boats with 3, 4, and 6 cylinder outboards and I/O engines. These propellers provide good hole shot and top-speed performance. We recommend 4-blade propellers for bass boats and boats with high performance hulls running high horsepower outboard engines. Compared to 3 blades, they provide better hole shot performance with less steering torque and less vibration at high speeds.

  2. What's the advantage of a left-hand propeller for my OBSD engine?

    Two propellers spinning the same direction on twin engine boats will create steering torque. In other words, two right-hand propellers pull the stern hard to the right and the bow to the left. Two opposite-direction propellers on twin engines eliminate this steering torque because the left-hand propeller balances out the right-hand propeller. This results in better straight-line tracking and helm control at high speed.

  3. Should I get an aluminum or stainless steel propeller for my OBSD engine?

    Most pleasure boats are factory equipped with aluminum propellers. Aluminum propellers are relatively inexpensive, easy to repair, and under normal conditions can last for many years. Stainless Steel is more expensive, but much stronger and durable than aluminum.

  4. Why do outboard motors of the same power sometimes take different propeller sizes?

    This is due to differences in lower unit gear ratios. Stock outboards are geared so that the propeller shaft turns at a slower speed than the RPM at the powerhead. This is usually expressed as a ratio such as 12:21 or 14:28, referring to the number of teeth in the drive gears. In the first example, the crankshaft gear has 12 and the propeller shaft gear has 21. This means the propeller shaft turns only 57% as fast as the indicated RPM at the powerhead. The lower the gear ratio, the larger the propeller that can be used and vice versa.

  5. How can I be sure my motor is operating within the recommended RPM range?

    This can only be checked with a tachometer. There are various kinds commercially available.

  6. Will a different propeller correct bad torque action (listing and hard steering)?

    Not usually. Most likely it is the result of any of several irregularities in the hull, the steering hook-up or the engine mounting. Steering wheel must be properly located relative to propeller rotation. If an engine has a right hand rotating propeller, steering wheel should be on the right or starboard side. This side normally would tend to lift as the result of torque action and the driver's weight offsets it. Modern outboards have built-in features in the lower units to compensate for torque. Engine tilt should be such that the prop is horizontal when underway. If it is up or down, the propeller can have a definite pull to one side. See that the engine is at the exact center of the transom and is setting level. Steering linkage should have enough adequate sized pulleys, properly swiveled and with the right cable tension. Check boat bottom for warping, distortion, which could cause difficulty.

  7. What is the correct transom height for my outboard engine?

    On average boats, it is best to mount the engine so the cavitation plate is approximately 1'' below the bottom of the keel, or 1'' below the bottom of boats without keel. For racing boats, better speeds can be attained by raising the engine to reduce lower unit drag and exhaust back-pressure. Best transom height can only be determined by experimenting. Get the engine as high as possible, or to the point just before the propeller cavitates excessively.

  8. I have a twin engine outboard. Can I get a propeller of opposite rotation and run one motor in reverse?

    No. This is a frequent question, and we would caution anyone against attempting to run any engine in reverse continuously at high speed. The power units are not made to withstand the reverse thrust and this type of operation can only result in lower unit failures. Some lower units have been available with reversed gearing so counter-rotating propellers can be used in a dual installation.

  9. What is the best tilt-setting or shaft angle?

    Proper tilt is extremely important, and is determined only through experimenting. In any boat, the tilt-setting can change as the load changes. Tilt adjustment determines the planing angle and if improperly set, the speed loss can be substantial or the boat may not plane at all. Tilting the engine in toward the transom pulls the bow down. Tilting it away from the transom pulls the bow up. Vary the angle to find the point where the boat assumes the best planing position.

  10. Is it advisable to have outboard propellers repaired?

    That depends on the material. Those made of sand-cast aluminum are repairable at about 1/3 to 1/2 the new propeller price. Die-Cast propellers generally are not repairable. The material is very brittle, breaks off easily in the straightening process and will not weld satisfactorily. (Original equipment propellers are usually made of die-cast). It is advisable to discard such propellers and replace with the more durable sand-cast aluminum. Authorized propeller repair stations located across the country offer extensive service.

  11. What is the purpose of the rubber cushion hub in an outboard propeller?

    It is not intended to prevent blade damage as is sometimes assumed. This device protects lower unit parts by cushioning the shock of propeller impact. Its prime purpose, however, is to prevent excessive breakage of shear or drive pins that otherwise would occur due to the jolt or shock that is experienced in the process of shifting gears.

  12. The rubber hub in my propeller seems to be slipping. Is this possible?

    It is a definite possibility, but it does not occur too frequently. Take a look at the propeller. If the blades are visibly bent or distorted, you very likely are experiencing cavitation and cavitation is often mistaken for a slipping bushing. Have it checked by a reliable prop service station. The bushing can be replaced if needed, it or the blades can be restored to proper accuracy to eliminate the cavitation.

  13. My outboard seems to vibrate excessively, yet the propeller hardly shows signs of use. Why?

    This is not unusual. Propeller blade damage very often is not discernible to the naked eye and blades can become bent or distorted without showing signs of impact or abrasion.

  14. Are there advantages to plastic propellers?

    Nothing to date has been developed that has all the qualities of propellers made of metals. A good propeller must be durable, repairable and above all, it must perform well. So far, the available plastic propellers fail to meet these important requirements.

  15. Is an adjustable pitch OBSD propeller possible or satisfactory?

    An adjustable pitch propeller permits more flexibility of operation than the standard props supplied with the outboard. However, it is only efficient at one setting since the blade is a true helical surface only at one particular pitch angle. Two or three well-designed, rigid propellers of different pitches (needed for different loads) will give better performance than an adjustable propeller.

  16. Can I troll better with a different sized wheel?

    Propellers with low pitch are always best for trolling. The lower the pitch, the better. Standard propellers with relatively high pitch troll too fast and in throttling down to extremely slow speed, they tend to overload permitting the engine to idle faster while moving boat slowly.

  17. Can a different propeller help me in water skiing?

    Yes, in most cases. Original equipment propellers are pitched a little on the high side. Not knowing the boat the engine will be used with, the manufacturer pitches the prop a little high so the engine does not exceed top RPM if placed on a light boat. However, on a heavier boat, or with water skiers, this propeller tends to overload the engine, resulting in poor speed, poor acceleration and sluggish performance, making it difficult to get a skier up. This is corrected with a lower pitched prop. We also recommend 4-blade propellers for water sports, as the added blade area provides better ''hole shot''.

  18. Why would I change my OBSD propeller?

    The stock propeller with which most outboards are equipped is a compromise. Since it has fixed diameter and fixed pitch, it is really limited in its use and it does not provide satisfactory performance for all the combination of hulls and loads that will be encountered once it is installed. One important fact to note is that the propeller moves the boat through the water at a specific engine RPM, and horsepower (HP) is directly related to the developed RPM. The engine cover is marked with a certain HP rating but in most instances the full benefit of the possible HP is never realized. Along with the HP rating equal emphasis should be placed on the RPM at which the rated HP is developed. This, of course, is where the propeller comes into the picture. Outboard engines are designed to run at peak RPM for full efficiency. Excessive RPM with its increased friction and wear is obviously harmful. It is equally harmful to run the engine so overloaded that it cannot achieve its rated RPM since this results in excessive carbon buildup in the cylinder with subsequent problems of poor fuel economy, pre-ignition, frequent spark plug failure, scoring of the cylinder walls and even burned pistons.

  19. Why do I shear so many pins without apparently hitting anything?

    The engine may be turning too fast in the shifting range. The shear pin hole or slot may be sloppy or oversized. The shear pin may be of improper strength for the amount of power involved. Or, the cushion hub may be frozen tight.

  20. What is the difference between thru-hub exhaust, over-hub exhaust, and non thru-hub exhaust?

    Over/Thru-hub exhaust propellers are a combination of thru-hub and over-hub exhaust propellers. This allows some exhaust to escape at lower RPMs, providing a controlled amount of exhaust flooding. These types of propellers will allow the propeller to be slightly easier to turn during initial acceleration, allowing for a better hole shot on some engine/boat combinations. Over-hub exhaust propellers have the blades attached directly to the smaller tube that fits over the propeller shaft, eliminating the larger exhaust tube. These types of propellers are often used for attaining maximum top speeds. (On some boats, the hole shot can suffer due to extreme exhaust flooding that occurs around the propeller blades during acceleration.) Non thru-hub exhaust propellers are used for inboards using shaft driven propellers, sterndrives using through hull exhaust, and on some outboards that don't route the exhaust through the lower torpedo.

  21. What is the difference between XHS and XHS II Hub Kits?

    In 2011 Michigan Wheel discontinued the manufacture of XHS Hub Kits for V4/V6 outboards, and all sterndrives, and introduced the XHS II Hub Kit. All hardware components that were used in XHS Hub Kits are still used in XHS II Hub Kits, with exception of the cushion hub. Our XHS II Hub Kits feature our new Delrin cushion hub, designed to spin following significant impact, to help protect your lower unit.