Propeller Tuning? Really?

Having a stainless steel propeller “tuned” can produce real performance and efficiency gains.

Having a stainless steel propeller “tuned” can produce real performance and efficiency gains.

If you’re looking at buying a used boat with a stainless propeller, but you’re a little concerned that it’s dinged up and needs to be replaced, be aware that stainless propellers can be repaired and in some cases can be made better than new.

If it’s a Mercury propeller, you can send it to Mercury Racing in Fond du Lac, Wisc., to be “lab finished.” It’s easy to spot a lab-finished stainless propeller because it has a brushed rather than a polished finish. Lab finishing is only available for Mercury propellers, but there are propeller shops around the country that can do similar work, and they’ll work on anything.

This kind of propeller work isn’t cheap, but it is less than a new propeller, and it can net you a few advantages. First, it can improve performance. Propeller technicians thin the blades in the process, which makes them more efficient in cutting through the water. It’s smoother because the technicians balance the propeller in the process, and they even out the cups on the blades. Not only does this improve performance, but it also can help them last longer.

The process is personalized, so it’s best to get a good idea of how a propeller performs in its current state, what you don’t like about it, and what improvements you’d like to see. In general, a tweaked propeller will get you an additional two mphor so, but not always. Lots of factors come into play.

You also can use the tuning procedure to achieve a “tweener” pitch. For example, if you have a 24-inch-pitch prop, which isn’t enough, but you know a 26 would be too much, you can have the 24 “tuned” to a 25 to get you the extra oomph you’re looking for. That’s part of the beauty of a stainless propeller.

So if you’re considering a boat with a stainless prop that’s a bit nicked up, you might be able to send it out for refinishing and end up with something better than new. Yes, really.


  1. Matt Campbell says:

    I have a 1996 Bayliner cruiser 23’ it has a 5.7L Mercruiser inboard,outboard I need to replace the repeller
    and not sure what to get, I want a stainless steel propeller, right now up to speed, has trouble plaining off,
    and no speed only running at 25 mph rpms ga. not working right running at 3.5rpm
    can anyone HELP ME Please on what spec. to order or model number.

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