How to Change a Boat Propeller
Removing and reinstalling a propeller is a basic maintenance task every boat owner should know how to accomplish. It’s easy to do, as demonstrated in this quick video produced by Quicksilver® Propellers and the team at Wired2Fish.
Pro tip: When removing the propeller, carefully note the order and orientation of washers and other hardware as each piece is removed, so that you put everything back in the right order. When installing a new Quicksilver prop with a Flo-Torq® hub kit, follow the installation instructions for that kit.
Tools You’ll Need
- Prop Wrench or Socket: A Quicksilver Prop Wrench (P/N 859046Q4) like the one used in the video floats and won’t rust, and is a great tool to carry onboard for an emergency. At home, you can also use a deep socket and breaker bar. Most Mercury® outboards over 40hp require a 1 1/16-inch Other motors or drives may require a different size.
- Prop Block: The handy Quicksilver Prop Block (P/N 8M0129072) is a plastic device designed to keep the propeller from turning as you loosen or tighten the prop nut. A short piece of 2-by-4 lumber will also do the trick.
- Screwdriver: Use it to bend the lock washer tabs used on some propellers. If there’s a cotter pin, you can use pliers and the screwdriver to remove it.
- Grease: Before installing a propeller, it is important to lubricate the prop-shaft splines with a quality marine grease such as Quicksilver 2-4-C Marine Grease to prevent corrosion that could make it hard to remove the prop in the future.
5 Smart Reasons to Remove Your Propeller
There are several common reasons why you might need to remove your propeller, and all of them contribute to longer propeller life, improved performance, or general maintenance and repair.
- Remove Fishing Line
At least once a month during the season, you should remove the prop to inspect the prop shaft for fishing line. Many types of discarded lines float and can get tangled in the propeller as the boat passes over. The line will eventually slip behind the prop and wrap around the shaft. The thrust of the prop could press the line into the rubber prop-shaft seal. If the seal is damaged, water can enter the gearcase and cause significant problems.
To check the prop shaft for fishing line, remove the propeller and the large thrust washer that’s behind the prop on some hub styles. The fishing line is often coated with grease and hard to see. Use a sharp pick or a small screwdriver to pull at the area around the prop-shaft seal to remove any line that may be present. If the seal is in good shape, reinstall the prop. If the seal is damaged, it might be best to consult a service tech to have the gearcase inspected.
- Prevent Theft
A great way to prevent the theft of an expensive propeller during the offseason is to remove the prop from the boat and store it in a secure place. The offseason is also a great time to send your propeller to a prop shop for inspection and repair of minor damage, which will ensure top performance next year.
- Change Performance
Changing the propeller can be a great way to improve boat performance. Using a lower-pitch prop might be useful for weekends where you’ll be towing skiers or wakeboarders with many people onboard. On a weekend when a long cruising adventure is planned, the ideal prop might have more pitch for improved fuel economy. Consult a Quicksilver dealer for advice on choosing the best prop for your boat and needs.
- Install a Spare
Smart boat owners carry onboard a spare propeller and the tools and hardware required to replace it. Ding your prop on a rock? It may be time to install that spare propeller, a job that will be easier if you’ve practiced a few times on dry land.
- Upgrade to New
A new Quicksilver propeller can often improve boat performance and economy and even change the personality of your boat. It’s a quick-and-easy way to dial up performance to match your needs.