When good things go badly...
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Do you now or have you ever owned a boat? How about a sailboat? If so, you know how quickly things can go to crap...And that's exactly what happened with our props! Read on!
The props that we have are called Max Props, even though they look ugly in that photo, they're pretty sweet and very high speed! The blades fold so that we can gain more speed while sailing. Basically they just go flat so there's little drag when you aren't motoring. Then they pop back to the angled position for motoring. Ours needed some work, we knew it once we got to Grenada.
These props require greasing once every 6 months or so. It can be done in the water but is much easier on the hard. You just hook up a grease gun to two ports and shoot a bunch of grease inside the prop. The previous owner, John, had the props serviced a few times even though he logged very few miles on the boat, one service was immediately before we bought the boat. Then we serviced them when we hauled out in Grenada. When we hauled out we could feel how stiff the props were...It wasn't normal. The blades usually just rotate freely (note, this isn't prop shaft spinning we're taking about, the blades rotate themselves on a set of gears located inside the prop which is where the grease goes).
They were stiff, we serviced them and they loosened up. Good for the trip back to the states.
We sailed the boat 1500 miles to Florida and then another crap ton of miles from FL to MA, then back to Florida again. Then to the Bahamas. We started to have some engine trouble in the Bahamas...When we'd put the engines into reverse, the engines would bog down and even stall sometimes. Jeremiah dove down and sure enough the props were stiff again. He serviced them and they loosened up but we knew they needed to be looked at. The props weren't feathering back to the reverse position which was causing the engine trouble.
Once we got back to Florida, we looked into getting them reworked. There is one place that is a master at it! PYI in Washington State is the number one source for this service. Once we hauled out, we shipped the props off to PYI and hoped for the best! The shipping was about $350 with $8,000 of insurance to cover them and off they went!
PYI received the props, there's a gentlemen named Jerome there that handles all the repairing and reconditioning. We told him that we'd like to get these things back to new condition if possible. He told us he'd have a look and let us know how much the repair would cost.
A few hours later we got a call, it was Jerome. While positive, he was also apologetic right from the get-go...Not good. He asked how long we had owned the boat, we told him 3 years. He mentioned that the damage inside the props didn't happen in 3 years but over a much longer period of time. The props had long term calcium deposits inside the gearing that really shoudn't even be repaired. If we did try to recondition them, he couldn't guarantee they'd even last a year. He suggested buying a new pair over paying the thousands of dollars (per prop) to do a questionable rebuild. We agreed with that as we always try to do it right, we aren't into bandaids for repairs as we do some serious offshore sailing.
The first owner of Calypso had done a couple of home repairs that we've had come back to haunt us, we believe Calypso sat in the water for the first 6 years or so of her life without any prop servicing...Allowing water to penetrate the prop and do the damage. It wasn't noticeable when you greased them but it would show once the grease wore off. John greased them and really didn't move...So he never saw it. The grease not only keeps them running smoothy, it also keeps water out. So that's probably where the damage came from. The salt water getting inside and sitting during that period.
The repair/recondition would cost about $6000, brand new props are $8000 for the pair. Jerome offered us a 10% discount and he would clean the old ones up to use as a spare if needed. So we went with that.
Usually when you haul out, you find something major needing work. This was certainly ours this time. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday times 10 for each of us! We are getting props as gifts to each other....Oh, and to Calypso. Merry Christmas, Calypso!
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