Michigan Wheel’s Stainless Steel Propellers
Every major manufacturer of boat props offers a line of stainless boat propellers, and for good reason. Stainless boat props are characterized by a high level of both durability and strength, providing boating enthusiasts with reliable propulsion for a long time after purchase. This in part explains why typical stainless steel boat props cost more than their aluminum counterparts do. They are worth the extra money since boaters can expect them to generally last longer. This is a case of the old saying that “you get what you pay for” being true.
The saying is true, however, in more ways than mere longevity. Stainless steel props also offer a high level of performance and are generally regarded as providing boaters with higher performance than both bronze or aluminum propellers of similar size and dimensions. Part of this facet of stainless steel propeller derives from the fact that casting such propellers is a process that allows for very finely graded modifications. This allows propeller manufacturers to “tinker” over time until they achieve the perfect contours for the hub and blades of any given stainless steel propeller.
Some of the main types of stainless steel propellers on the market today are Ballistic, Apollo, and Michigan Match propellers. All of these are manufactured by the Michigan Wheel Company, a producer of fine stainless steel propellers for many years. Boaters can find the appropriate propeller for their particular hull and engine quite simply by using a propeller selection tool – this is a good idea, because the sheer variety of stainless steel propellers on the market can be staggering at first glance.
Design Features of Ballistic Propellers
Ballistic propellers produced by Michigan Wheel Propellers are designed for high performance in all categories. Key features of Ballistic props include the use of stainless steel in all major lines: the 3-blade, the 3-blade XL, and the 4-blade XL.
All Michigan Wheel Ballistic props feature leading edges that are tapered. This not only helps to cut down on drag, but also serves to help the blade design have the ideal amount of strength as opposed to thickness. Overly thick blades, of course, can cause weight issues that make the motor less efficient. Blades that are too thin are also a disadvantage due to the problem of warping under stress. Michigan Wheel has used advanced manufacturing techniques to create a blade geometry with optimal thickness across the entire volume occupied by the blade.
Ballistic props by Michigan Wheel also feature a mirror finish that is polished to a high shine. This adds aesthetic appeal to the propeller to be sure, but it also has a practical advantage. A quality finish lends itself to improved resistance to the corrosive forces of fresh water and, in particular, sea water.
Ballistic propellers are available with pitch measurements that range from 13″to 27″. In addition, all blades feature the “Power Tip” system, which improves efficiency by carefully aligning blade cup and tip contours so that an optimal design profile is achieved. This feature serves to reduce the loss in power that can result from cavitation.
Michigan Wheel Apollo Props
Apollo props used with outboard motors come in three basic varieties and are known by their series designation of A, B, of C. However, no matter the number of blades and other differing specifications, all Apollo propellers in the XHS line share some basic features that are key to this entire line of high quality outboard propeller.
Apollo XHS propellers are manufactured from stainless steel and are highly polished in order to deliver excellent and long-lasting performance. These propellers – available in a wide range of sizes that feature different diameter and pitch — can be used with most outboard motors, but interestingly enough, they are also suitable for use with sterndrive motors. The blade geometry has been designed using advanced CAD (computer aided drafting) principles in order to deliver peak performance.
Michigan Wheel Apollo Props are available in three- and four-bladed varieties. Boating enthusiasts should be aware that the four-blade design is recommended for water craft carrying heavy loads and is also an appropriate choice for all kinds of water sports, such as water-skiing, which requires a great deal of rapid acceleration. For very heavy applications, a large diameter propeller is advised, since the greater surface area of the blades is an advantage in this situation.
The XHS hub system is particularly useful for some boaters because with this system, Apollo props can be readily interchanged with the Flo-Torq II system from Mercury.
Apollo props vary from 12″ to 23″ of pitch depending on the motor installed.
Why Boaters Choose Stainless Steel Propellers
Three excellent makes for stainless steel props are Apollo, Michigan Match, and Ballistic. All are manufactured to exacting specifications by the Michigan Wheel company, and meet the needs of a wide variety of boating situations. To understand why these stainless props are in such demand, consider the advantages that stainless steel propellers offer.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Props
Stainless steel is a metal that can be cast into thin, light shapes while retaining great strength and durability. This strength means that stainless propellers will maintain their shape and remain completely stiff even when subjected to considerable stress. Boaters find this an invaluable feature — after all, churning through water for hours at a time is an inherently stress-laden activity that can deform a propeller over time, causing, for example, blades to change their angle relative to the hub. When this happens, a replacement propeller may be called for — but stainless propellers are tough enough to withstand a great deal of use even in adverse conditions such as stormy weather and rough seas.
Another advantage of stainless steel is that it is non-corrosive by nature; hence, it does not need to be kept fully painted at all times. Since most boating enthusiasts live a busy lifestyle on and off the water, a prop that needs less maintenance is a definite advantage.
It is true that stainless steel is more expensive than some of the alternatives are, but the old saying of “you get what you pay for” is certainly true in this case.
Purchase Options for Johnson Boat Propellers
Johnson boat propellers are available in both aluminum and stainless steel varieties. One of the first decisions any boating enthusiast must make when considering propellers is this very issue – choice of metal.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Aluminum
Aluminum is generally considered to be an “all purpose” metal appropriate for a wide variety of recreational uses. This is because it is less expensive than stainless steel. Johnson propellers that use aluminum are, therefore, more affordable for the average boater.
Although aluminum is indeed less strong per cubic inch than stainless steel, it is fully strong enough for most common boating uses. Pleasure crafts generally come equipped from the factory with aluminum propellers already installed. As long as a boater is careful to check that the propeller is from a reputable company and meets quality standards, it will be able to live up to the demands commonly placed on it during family fishing trips and other casual outings.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel, on the other hand, is a much stronger metal than aluminum. This not only makes it more durable and long-lasting, but it also means that stainless steel can both survive more abuse and remain reliable under more trying circumstances.
High-end boating is the kind of situation where stainless steel Johnson Props are preferable. This is because a stainless steel propeller will allow boating enthusiasts to accelerate much faster and will also permit higher top speeds.
The major disadvantage of stainless steel, however, is that it is a more expensive option than aluminum.