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Old 04-11-2013, 14:53   #1
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Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

So first and foremost I am a less is more kind of person. The less complicated systems I have the less that can fail me when I need it the most. (otherwise known as what I call the air plane philosophy) Obviously this rule can't apply to everything, but it does take me a lot of research to upgrade to something that can fail or cause problems from something that is mostly fool proof.

All that being said, what is the maintenance like on folding or feathering props. Is growth an issue that would keep them from opening? can feathering props bind up or have one blade not "unfeather" and make motoring difficult to impossible?

I am a big "Preventative" maintenance person and tend to shy away from upgrading critical components that increase risk of failure (i.e. the prop not opening and I cant motor when I need to) . Am I being overly nervous or do you all find folding/feathering props just as maintenance and worry free as fixed blade props?

Thanks all
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Old 04-11-2013, 14:59   #2
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

We have a 3 blade Flex-o-Fold prop. At haulout time, we clean it, dissamble and lube it, and put prop speed on it. If that's too much maintenance for you, it's not for you. So far, we've had it 9 years, and are pleased with it.

Ann
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Old 04-11-2013, 15:05   #3
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

MY last boat had a MaxProp featherng prop - cleaned and greased it yearly (maintenance is the greasing)

Current boat I have a Flex-o-Fold folding prop - clean it yearly if it needs it (it hasn't needed it)
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Old 04-11-2013, 15:15   #4
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

There are many varieties of folding and feathering props with different types of mechanisms requiring different level of maintenance. Our Volvo folding props require no maintenance at all, except for my feeble attempt to paint them with antifoul every 2-3 years. We have never had them stick open/close, but do have to dive every so often and clean them. But that needs to be done for any prop.

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Old 04-11-2013, 15:31   #5
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

I have had a Martec folder on 3 different boats over the last 28 years (Tartan 30, C & C 38, Tartan 41/43). All were used boats when bought, all came with martecs. Never had any problems almost no maint. except I would send them back about the 10 yr mark for rebuild ($200-$400). Less complicated than folder and a lot less to go wrong, Tim -Northstar- Tartan 43cb.
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Old 04-11-2013, 15:35   #6
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

The only time I would worry about fouling causing either sort of prop to fail would be if not used for a long time. Then I suppose a large barnie buildup could cause a folder to not unfold. But if the prop is used regularly this will not happen because the forces acting on the blades are large enough to crush or wipe off small growth.

We have had either folding of feathering props for the past 30 odd years without a failure due to growth. One folder (an old Martec Elliptic) wore the pivot holes in the blades to the point where a rebuild was required, but that was after many years and around 30,000 miles of cruising. As Ann said above, our Flex-o-Fold is nine years and around 40,000 miles and is in like new condition other than not being shiny!

Cheers,

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Old 04-11-2013, 15:42   #7
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

I have a Flex-O-Fold. Love it. I don't apply antifouling. Not much growth on it. I dive about once every 2 weeks with a steel brush to clean it.

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Old 04-11-2013, 17:59   #8
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

Awesome thank you. That is what I was looking for. I don't mind maintenance at all (I probably have one of the nicest well maintained $80, 15 year old weed wackers out there. With me if it has an engine it is very well takn care of).

I think what got me wondering was reading a thread about someone having their prop pitched wrong and the engine wouldn't get up to speed and they had to haul out and pay a bunch of money to have it rebuilt delaying their trip. But from what you all are saying it sounds like they are worth the little bit of trouble of extra maintenance.
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Old 04-11-2013, 19:06   #9
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

The bottom line is that folding/feathering props do not require more in the way of maintenance (other than the occasional lubrication) than a fixed-blade prop. I mean, any prop is going to need to be cleaned now and then. And most of them are every bit as robust and reliable as any fixed-blade prop as well.
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Old 05-11-2013, 11:40   #10
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

Ok so now that my original question has sufficiently been answered (thank you), do you all mind if I ask which is better, folding or feathering? I know its a loaded question but if you prefer one over the other please tell me why or why not.

If you want specifics I would say for application on a Catalina 355 which has a 29 hp yanmar. Or if you want to make an argument for one over the other in general please feel free.

Thanks again
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:34   #11
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

Folding props are the best for sailing with the least resistance. Making fast stops and backing up they have a bit of a lag in thrust.

Feathering props have a bit more drag than folding props. Making fast stops and backing up will be with almost instant reverse thrust.
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:36   #12
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

You also need to consider the spacial dimensions. Folding props may hit your rudder.

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Old 05-11-2013, 12:47   #13
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
You also need to consider the spacial dimensions. Folding props may hit your rudder.

Mark
Good point, as a few here on the CF have order and installed folding props only to find they hit the rudder and had to be removed and sent back.

Measure twice.
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:56   #14
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

folding props are normally less expensive
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:57   #15
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Re: Folding prop maintenance/reliability?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
folding props are normally less expensive
That I like to hear
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