Friday, August 30, 2013

A hunk of metal

The propeller on Kintala is a chunk of solid metal; no moving parts. "How hard can it be to get another
one", you ask? Ah Grasshopper, grab a coldie to wash this one down.

So the propeller guru called the shop guru who called us. The propeller guru had our order for a new propeller and was pretty sure we had messed up somewhere. In a display of customer service kind of astounding given my experience in the marine industry, he was reluctant to spend our money for us until the shop guru checked it out. So the shop guru called us and started asking questions. As it turns out we had absolutely messed up ... by ordering the propeller listed in the Tartan spec sheet! What was I thinking?

In an effort to sort out the confusion the shop guru asked that we send him some pictures of the failing hunk of metal that had been our old prop. We were deep into a discussion about Walter V-drives and Hurth Transmissions, blowed up drive trains and shaft alignments, when the conversation took a strange turn. Did we want an "elephant ear" prop or a "sailor" prop? I, being the neophyte boat propeller buyer / installer that I am, had absolutely no clue what we were talking about. Would that be an African elephant ear as opposed to an Asian one? And, given that it is a propeller for a sailboat, what else would it be but a "sailor" prop? Is there a non-sailor propeller intended for use on sailboats out there somewhere? While this bit of strangeness buzzed over our cellphone connection the pictures showed up in his email.

"What kind of propeller is that? I've never seen one that looked like that before, is it a European prop?"

European prop? There are European elephants I never heard about? This boat has never been out of American waters, where would it find a European prop? It also seems that European props go on metric shafts, which would be a huge puzzle. I may be a sailboat propeller neophyte but I do know how to read a micrometer. When I replaced the shaft coupler to the V-drive the shaft measured 1 inch, the size of the coupler I ordered and installed. Unless Kintala has a shaft sized US on one end and metric on another ... (so paranoid am I of this boat that I actually put a mic to the the prop end, it was an inch). If it is a European prop it is tapered for a metric shaft. There should be no way to jam a metric taper on a US shaft except ... might that explain why it took a 7 ton puller to get that thing off? Probably not since the old prop has 16 X 12 X 1 clearly stamped into it. More to the point, if the East Coast sailboat repair guru hasn't a clue as to what has been hanging on the end of my prop shaft, what chance is there I have have a clue?

What I do know is that no one seems to know exactly what is going on with the working end of our drive train. Instead of a nice shiny new propeller, when Kintala gets east she will be met by various puzzled gurus. Instead of going in the water she will hang in the hoist until the gurus are puzzled no longer. Then they will help us spend our money and order the correct thing ... or things ... or multiple things (insert you favorite mechanic's nightmare here) needed to make our Tartan safe for blue water.

All I needed was a new prop. How hard could that be?


Bill K said...

I am no propeller expert by any stretch but have had a boat since 1969 and don't remember seeing a prop that looks like that one.

I don't know how you find all this odd stuff on one boat. ( shaking my head )

Good luck

Bill Kelleher

S/V Veranda said...

You can mark the "Bill's" as being oh for 2. I've never seen one either....

Mike M. said...

Makes me think of the old Monty Python question... "What's the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

In all seriousness, that's very interesting how a simple prop change can turn into such a project! Hope it all turns out well.


Unknown said...

as long as you are still in st. louis take it by central prop in st. charles. they may be able to help.

Mike Anderson
irish wake ll
grafton harbor

Matt Mc. said...

I could get you some kayak paddles to borrow...

TJ said...

Friends of ours have a Dehler 31, built in Germanay in the mid '80s. They bought a new prop for their boat and tell me it looks very much like the one we took off of Kintala. Mayber there are European Elephants after all?