I have been rebuilding Velvet Drives and other gears for almost 40 years. I know what the book says. Exactly what is "short term"?
Keep on letting them free wheel and you will be having your VD rebuilt in a "short term". Labor $375 + parts
, could be up to $600.
In addition a free wheeling prop creates more drag than one that is locked. Why do you think multi engine airplanes lock a prop on a stopped engine? Less drag. Ask any serious sailboat racers why they have feathering or folding props.
On my Cal
Cruising 46, which I have had since 1982, I have a Luke 22 x 22 feathering prop behind a Walters 3-1 redux vee drive and a BW VD 72C, Perkins
4-236. When sailing over 5 knots, the feathered prop will start freewheeling due to the 22" pitch
. The original owner of my boat, Jack Jensen (Founder of Cal
Boats), sailed her around the world. We have an engine room aft with plenty of room, so Jack had a large leather glove to stop the shaft and used a small pair of vise grips to attach to the output shaft coupling. A short piece of small line with a snap shackle is attached to the vise grips and this is attached to a bracket on the VD.
You must be careful!
I have my wife head
up into the wind
until we slow and the prop stops spinning, then I grab the shaft, hold it and attach the vise grips. Been doing this for 29 years of which 9 years were full time cruising.
I rebuilt the VD before we left SoCal in 1988. It now has almost 4,000 hours on it and works perfectly. I change the ATF annually or each 500 hours and always keep it topped off. Have someone stand by near the VD, shut off the engine and immediately check the dipstick before it drains back into the VD sump.
Tom Vandiver, Cal Cruising 46, SATORI, Hull
# 3, Swallowed the anchor
in Bayou Chico, FL