Boat Propeller Types

Posted in  
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Selecting the right propeller type for a boat is crucial to realizing the best overall performance the vessel is capable of. When selecting the right prop propeller type there are several options to choose from, all with key design elements that will influence particular performance characteristics.

At a high level most propellers fall into two categories, recreational or commercial.

Commercial propellers come in all shapes and sizes and are often tailored to the specific needs of the vessel’s intended use. Material type, propeller blade number, blade thickness and area, are just some of the prop design parameters that can be changed to provide optimal performance for a specific vessel’s needs.

Recreational propellers are generally focused on the performance goals of recreational users and include boats like high speed planning, semi-displacement cruisers, and large displacement yachts. Performance characteristics include cruising & top speeds, vibration control, and fuel efficiency.

Michigan wheel offers several types of recreational propellers, in an array of sizes, finishes and blade number.

Recreational Boat Propellers

Michigan Wheel’s classic line of performance pleasure boat propellers include, amongst others, the classic standard series Dyna-Jet, Dyna-Quad, and M-500. These are manufactured using the traditional hand finishing techniques that have been perfected after years of continued improvement. Hand finished standard series propellers available in 3, 4, and 5 blade prop models to cover a wide range of vessels. This series continues to be one of Michigan Wheel’s most popular series of propellers and are considered by many to be the standard in recreational propellers.

The standard series blade propeller designs provide a great balance of performance and durability versus cost for recreational boats and is also a popular choice for higher speed commercial vessels. 

Another extremely popular marine propeller series Michigan Wheel offers includes the newer DJX three - bladed propeller and DQX-4 blade CNC machine finished designs. These are a modern, high-performance line of propellers that fit a wide range of pleasure boats and faster commercial vessels. The CNC finished propellers are evolutions of our classic hand finished propeller designs, optimized to utilize the full power of modern engines. Designed with more efficient blade sections and increased blade area, CNC Series propellers are able to better manage cavitation and decrease vibration when compared to similar products.

Michigan Wheel uses CNC finishing that ensures a more accurate propeller than standard hand finished propellers. This results in higher quality propellers that meet stringent tolerance requirements. The CNC Series is the standard for high quality, performance oriented propellers, perfect for boaters who want to maximize their boat’s performance.

Custom Boat Propellers

Custom boat props are designed using state of the art hydrodynamic software, including proprietary code developed by leading propulsion experts as well as cutting edge CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis tools. Propulsion engineers modify every aspect of the design, including: section shape, camber, thickness, pitch, chord length, rake angle, and, skew for a truly custom design specific to each vessel.

The combination of state-of-the-art design and highly accurate manufacturing yields optimum performance for an individual boat. Custom designed propellers provide increased speeds across all engine loads, or lower engine loads therefore burning less fuel, for speeds observed with conventional propellers. Under heavy use, the fuel economy can pay for the propellers in less than a season. Noise and vibration are also reduced, leading to a quieter and more comfortable boating experience.

 Sailboat Propellers

Sailboat propellers are specially designed to have less drag while under sail while providing enough power when required to chase the wind. Sailboat series propellers are designed with just the right amount of blade area to optimize efficiency when motoring or sailing.

Commercial Boat Propellers

Michigan Wheel also offers several types commercial propellers designed to meet the needs of various marine and industrial applications, leading to better performance.

One of our newest commercial inboard propeller designs is the Power Tow. This propeller is designed to maximize pulling or pushing performance and provide excellent durability and service life. It is available in stainless steel and several Bronze alloys.

The Michigan Work Horse and Machine Pitch propellers are the best known commercial boat propellers in the world. Work Horse and Machine Pitch propellers are available in 3, 4, and 5 blade models to cover a wide range of commercial vessels. The blade design of Work Horse and Machine Pitch Propellers offers durability as well as performance for workboats that need to maximize bollard thrust when pushing and pulling.

Vessels operating at slow speeds can benefit from the use of a ducted propeller, which is a Kaplan style propeller operating inside a Kort nozzle. Switching to a ducted propeller from an open propeller is one of the most effective ways to get more thrust from a vessel for the same amount of input power.

Nozzles are available in Type 19 and Type 37 configurations in addition to custom designs. Type 19 nozzles are best used on boats where forward thrust is of highest importance and backing performance is less crucial. Type 37 nozzles are suggested when both ahead and astern performance is required.

Weedless propellers are specialized propellers used on mudboats in shallow weed infested waters. Their unique highly skewed blades allow the propellers to run freely without becoming tangled in floating vegetation. Thick blades and heavy duty edges add durability when striking roots and other submerged debris. 

Propeller types are specific to the requirements of the application. Michigan Wheel has a broad range of inboard and outboard propeller types available to meet the needs of recreational and commercial users.