Prop Replacement


Member III
My absence from these forums is an indication of a busy winter. I now own a second boat. A Free from Craigslst McGregor Venture 22 which I have had to get seaworthy enough to motor away from her old home. She is 70 miles from my home base. Totally trashed interior, but sound hull and now repaired standing rigging. Running rigging needs to be redone, but have not been able to recruit a helper to unstep the mast.

Thus time I would have spent here has been going to the 70 mile trip and needed refit time on the V22. Once she is moved up to Brooklyn she will get a make over and then get flipped.

I expect to write of the work on Silver Maiden that I did over the winter once I have the finishing touches on it. I shall call it the winter of my discomfort.

Now on to the PROP question.

I have had a fine new three blade prop to put on Silver Maiden since last fall. Since she does not get hauled in the winter the prop is still sitting in a locker on board.

Spoke to the yard about a month ago and they quoted me $12/foot to haul it and hold it in the slings and $100 to change the prop. I thought well I am out of work, but I can swing that. I told them I would get back to them in a couple of weeks to set the date as I was tied up for a few weeks.

Last week I spoke to the yard owner and asked when worked for him. He gave me a date and changed the price to $20/foot and $200 for the prop change. That is just not in my budget!

There is a steel bulkhead in the marina where I keep the boat. At high tide there is about 6 feet of water next to the bulkhead and at low tide she is dry or nearly dry depending on the phase of the moon.

My thought is take the boat over to the bulkhead and tie her along side then as the tide goes out and the prop is above water change the prop from the dinghy. Probably need the dinghy even if it is totally dry as the bottom is soft mud.

I should mention the bulkhead is about 10 feet higher than the the high water mark. It means at low water the deck of the boat will be about 16 feet below the level of the ground. I expect I will have some line logistics to deal with as the tide goes out then in.

When I bought her in the 1980s the fellow laid her against a pier that dried out at low tide and had a gravel bottom for my inspection.

Other than meaning I am stuck a tide cycle does anyone see an issue with this plan?

Will a mallet serve to remove the prop or should I be looking at a steering wheel puller?


Member III
I will mention the fallback plan is to let the water get warm and just do it underwater. Tank rental is cheaper than a haul, but I hate diving the murky waters of the north east. Can not see if something wants you for dinner!


Member III
DO NOT USE A MALLET ! Use a puller. Hitting the prop away from the engine can damage the shaft coupling and possibly even the transmission.


Member III
I had my prop changed by a diver a few years ago. I watched the operation and even though I'm an experienced diver I felt my money was well spent considering the technique and experience the diver brought to the party. I had done an underwater prop change decades before on a previous boat so I knew the process which helped me make the decision to do it myself or raise the white flag. Pick your battles.

$175 in Southern California.

Mark David

Member II
a few items for you to consider.....

1. not sure if a steering wheel puller will be strong enough. the 1/4 6061 plate that was against the back of the prop shaft got dimpled pulling my 25 year old prop

2. found that a 50/50 mix of acetone and ATF fluid helped to motivate things. process was to torch the prop base, drip a tablespoon of the mix, the acetone seemed to thin it enough to be wicked inward by the heat and then evaporates leaving the ATF & detergent and repeat 137 times

3. do not stand behind the prop! I got to the point where the tension on the compression bolts was scaring me, so I walked away to think about it all and BANG! turned around and my fixture and the three blade fixed prop was ~10 feet behind the cradle

just trying to help (especially #3)


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Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
I hired a diver to clean the bottom and replace the prop. He arrived without a prop puller and I learned he had never pulled a prop. I made a hurried trip to the auto parts store and found a cheap gear puller while he scrubbed the bottom. I put a line on the gear puller and handed it to the diver. He grabbed it and submerged. Soon I saw his bubble trail moving around but not in the prop area. He eventually surfaced without the gear puller which had been dropped in the murky mud and never could be found.

He offered to come back with the proper tools the next week. When he returned he brought the same style of gear puller and spent a full tank of air attempting to pull the prop which would not budge. The gear puller was mangled.

After that I made an appointment with the local yard to have the boat hauled. I could hear the prop pop off the shaft from the other side of the building!

I suggest waiting until you can get the yard to do it, or find or rent a proper puller if you diy.

Good luck!

Dave G.

1984 EY30+ Ludington, MI
Curious how the yard validated a nearly 100% increase in less than a months time ? That's some serious inflation. If that prop has been on there more than 5 years it will need serious heat and force to get off. Maybe an experienced diver could get it off but I think not. I recently had to remove my prop and had to use heat and a serious puller to break it free & I'm in freshwater.


Member III
There are three travel lifts "nearby" two of them are owned by the same yard, but located at different properties along the same waterway. The other is at a notoriously overpriced yard that rents land from the National Park Service.

There is a yard about 70 miles away that can get me out for $6/ft but I do not know if I can get in to them. They are in a small inlet off Barnaget Bay. I think at low water there is only 2 feet at the entrance of their channel.

There is an outfit on Staten Island that often has an advert on Craigslist for prop changing. They do some REALLY BIG props on workboats, so I expect they will have the skill and equipment.

As far as I know my prop has been in place since 1974.

Perhaps I should check with other yards that may be some distance, but may be cheaper. I am not against traveling a day or two to get the job done.

Dave G.

1984 EY30+ Ludington, MI
Yeah $20 a foot seems extremely high to me. It's around $5 here as I paid $150 to haul and splash with about an hour of hang time in between. You may want to check your cutless and the coupler end of the shaft while you're at it. The old "project creep" theory I know but this would be the time to make sure ALL is good to go. I started similar project to replace the coupler as it had a broken set screw. Of course I am now replacing the coupler, shaft, and cutless bearing. I was hoping to get a new prop this year but alas all the stuff in front of it has eroded that budget.


Member III
Dave G. everything you speak of was dealt with last summer when I was on the hard for the stuffing box change. I should have changed the prop then, but since I had no track record with the stock prop on the new engine I opted not to get a new prop until I discovered I could not make full RPM and I was limited to 4.25 knots.

I wish the stuffing box had not been leaking too bad for me to run the engine on the shift to the new marina. Had I known the performance hit I would have changed the prop last summer.

Well it seems that if I am going to do it myself against the bulkhead I will have to make sure I have a good puller.

Perhaps it is time to call the professionals and get a quote for underwater. I suspect if I took the boat to them it would be somewhat cheaper than if they have to travel to me.


Member III
I pull my prop at every haulout, bring it home for a pass on the wire wheel and reinstall it with lithium grease on the shaft taper. It's part of my regular haulout maintenance the same as replacing the shaft and strut zincs regardless of their condition.