How are boat propellers repaired? Are inboard and outboard propellers repaired the same way?
Walk into our propeller repair shop…
Inboard and outboard boat propeller repairs are similar in some ways and different in others. Depending on the size and material of a propeller there are different steps that may be taken.
When we receive your damaged boat propeller at our customer service desk it is tagged with your name and any special instructions for the repair technicians. Your propeller is assigned a control number to assure that we repair and return the propeller you gave us.
- Outboard propellers are generally easy to quote pricing at the desk, so the tags will be marked with a price quote and the work needed will be indicated.
- Inboard propellers are typically tagged for a “check and advise,” which means our prop technicians will clean up the propeller, check the condition of the metal and take measurements using our Hale MRI machine (digital pitchometer) before we call you back with a diagnosis and price for work needed.
Next, your prop heads for our NMPA certified boat prop repair shop.
- Outboard propellers are straightened and pitched using a pitch block. A pitch block is a precision machined dye of your boat propeller, which allows us to correct the pitch, rake, and track of your prop. The prop is then bead blasted to remove all paint, corrosion, and residue. After your boat prop is clean it is off to the welding station to weld back any missing blade area. Once welded, the prop technicians reshape and remove excess weld from your propeller. At this point your boat propeller is balanced, removing weight from heavy blades so that it operates smoothly and quietly. As a final step, your aluminum propeller visits the paint booth where it is primed and painted to protect the metal. Stainless Steel propellers are repaired much the same way. The material is less malleable than aluminum, which makes the process of repair take longer. Additionally, rather than visiting the paint booth stainless is polished by going through two separate polishing tumblers, first in ceramic, and then in a fine compound to achieve a high mirror finish.
- Inboard propellers also get put back in pitch, rake, and track. Dependent on the size and design, some inboard propellers fit pitch blocks similar to those used for outboard props. Some, however, are repaired by eye at the hands of our prop techs who have been honing their skills for decades. Any inboard propellers measuring 13″ and larger will be measured on our MRI machine to make sure the repairs are correct. A copy of the final MRI is included with your propeller when it is returned. Like the outboards, damaged areas will be welded, reshaped, and balanced. Rather than a trip through the paint booth or tumbling machines, inboard propellers are refinished by hand. Check out our blog about inboard propeller materials.
After a final inspection in the repair shop, your boat propeller comes back to the front desk. Your paperwork is reviewed, and we call you to let you know the work is complete. If we are return shipping, we will give you a shipped total and take payment before sending the prop out. If you visit our shop, we take payment at the time of pick up.
How do I know if my boat propeller is repairable?
Tacoma Propeller repairs hundreds of boat propellers each year. Often our customers are surprised that their damage is, indeed, repairable. If you’re not sure, you are welcome to send us a photo and request a quote via our repair quote form or swing by our shop near the Tacoma Dome and we’ll take a look at it at our front counter. If it turns out your propeller bears too much damage for repair, or a repair would not be your best value, we are happy to help you choose a replacement.