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Old 04-11-2011, 19:24   #1
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Smile Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Hello,

I will appreciate your suggestions for cleaning a heavily fouled bronze propeller.

I have a two blade folding Flex-O-Fold standard propeller that did a great job of attracting barnacles over the last two years. Fortunately when the marina hauled the boat last week for the winter they got the actual barnacles off the prop but it is still covered with their remains, lots of little raised white circles.

I wrote to Flex-O-Fold for advice and they cautioned me to avoid scratching the blade’s surface and they suggested that I clean it with the same kind of acid you use to clean your coffee machine; well I clean my coffee pot in the dishwasher. If you have overcome this situation I will sincerely appreciate your suggestions.

Thanks
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Old 04-11-2011, 19:49   #2
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pirate Re: Suggtestions for removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Try soaking it in two litres of Coca Cola.... works wonders on jewelery...
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Old 04-11-2011, 20:00   #3
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Re: Suggtestions for removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

A scraper followed with scotchbright. Or a scotchbright roloc pad on a pneumatic die grinder. Wonder why they are so worried about scratching, probably just CYA, so you dont take a grinder to it.
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Old 04-11-2011, 20:05   #4
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Re: Suggtestions for removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

I also wonder why the concern over scratching the prop, especially since I plan to purchase a Flexofold. Cannot think of any reason why not to use a scraper or putty knife followed by polishing with fine grit sandpaper. That's what I have done for years with standard fixed blade props and so far none of my boats have exploded or had the prop shaft fly off.

Maybe ask Flexofold why the caution?
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Old 04-11-2011, 20:20   #5
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Re: Suggtestions for removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Quite by accident I discovered that Ospho, a chemical used to treat rust on steel boats, works very well to remove the critters and their waste left behind.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:20   #6
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

I would assume Ospho is phosphoric acid, used on steel a 4 to 1 or 5 to 1 water to acid ratio is usual.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:32   #7
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Plastic scrapers work well- I used to use old peices of lexan with the a sharp edge ground into them. Metal scrapers could damage the bronze. Someone will correct me if I am wrong but the steel in normal paint scrapers is harder than bronze. any budding metallurgists speak up now.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:54   #8
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

I cleaned my heavily fouled prop this summer using diluted phosphoric acid as given to me by a professional boat mechanic. It worked really well and removed all growth completely. Finished off by buffing the blades with a polishing head on a grinder. Perfect result. One warning though - if your cradle is galvanised metal - do not allow the acid anywhere near it or it will remove the galvanising metal for sure.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:39   #9
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Coffee-makers are usually cleaned with Vinegar (Acetic Acid), or Citric Acid.

“CLR” is an acid based calcium, lime and rust remover.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:40   #10
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

White vinegar is a cheap alternative. Acetic acid instead of phosphoric. Either way, it would be best if you could set up a soak system -- maybe a plastic bag attached to the prop, or a towel wetted out periodically.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:41   #11
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Re: Suggtestions for removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Try soaking it in two litres of Coca Cola.... works wonders on jewelery...
No affiliations... Honest...
I think that you should either swim faster, or take your jewelry off before entering the water.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:48   #12
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Do not argue with using citric, acetic or other soakings and, if you can get the critters off with plastic certainly. But still don't see why not a steel scraper. Bronze is pretty hard and I have never gouged or even made deep scratches in a prop with a steel scraper. Certainly left scrapes and scratches and the prop didn't have a shiny mirror finish when I was done but then I've never seen a prop more that a year that did.

Still interested to hear why Flexofold recommends against scrapers.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:55   #13
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pirate Re: Suggtestions for removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

Quote:
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I think that you should either swim faster, or take your jewelry off before entering the water.
ROFL.... Nice one Gord....
Actually its women who use this trick... several GF's over the years have....
And I figure something strong enough to remove human stomach lining should be good enough to break down barnacle mucus...
Never actually tried it... used to use a wooden wedge and vinegar/bleach myself...
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Old 05-11-2011, 06:43   #14
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

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Still interested to hear why Flexofold recommends against scrapers.
I'm guessing they're just taking theory to a logical extreme. Scratches and burrs on your prop cause mini-turbulence and mini-cavitation, and eventually loss of prop efficiency. In the case of barnacle scrubbing, probably nothing you could measure. But they just want to steer you away from the possibility. . . .
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Old 05-11-2011, 06:56   #15
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Re: Suggestions for Removing Barnacles from a Bronze Propeller

NEVER mix bleach and vinegar!
In fact, you really shouldn’t mix bleach with anything (except water).
Mixing bleach and vinegar, or any acid, releases toxic chlorine gas.
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