The Simple Things

Louie Bauman
The Simple Things
Step One: Locking tabs on Mercury locking ring must be disengaged, or in the case of other brands, the cotter pin must be removed. Step Two: Remove prop shaft nut, note piece of wood blocking prop rotation, props have sharp edges, do not use your hands for this. Step Three: Remove prop and thrust washer, note that washer seats on a tapered portion of the shaft. Step Four & Five: Apply marine grease to the splines and tapered seat of thrust washer. Step Six: Place thrust washer on shaft, replace prop, torque to OEM specs, engage locking tabs of Mercury lock ring or install new stainless steel cotter pin.

Another month has passed by and it's been a bit hot, especially out there in the shop. Getting a chance to come in out of the heat and write these articles for the GCC is a welcome relieve and gives us a chance to properly thank Everett and Pam and the entire staff over at Gulf Coast Connections for allowing us to be part of such a great magazine. I haven't ever come across another publication that has this much information, how to's, or just general helpfulness to newbie's as well as old to salts. Hopefully we have answered some of your questions and helped you along the way.

Now let's get back to the heat. Over the past month we have be inundated with an unusual amount of the same problem. This problem shows up every year about the same time and always with the same reasoning. The problem I'm talking about is propellers being stuck onto shafts. And the reason, they just never took the propeller off for service or maintenance.

If you have ever experienced this problem, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven't, please pay close attention. Using your boat in saltwater has many side effects. One is salt corrosion. That one was easy. Another is electrolysis, which is a bit harder to understand. When the two combine, you have problems. But just a little maintenance will make your life a lot better. I'm not going to get into much detail about what electrolysis is, what is does, or what it destroys. I am going to focus on how it costs you in propeller repairs if you allow it continue without simple maintenance.

Everyone knows that after a day on the bay that it is very important to wash down everything possible because the salt build up will deteriorate everything it touches. But after a long day on the water in the sweltering heat doesn't leave you feeling like cleaning and doing any maintenance especially if you have fish that you have just cleaned and are ready to start cooking. Your rods and reels always get cleaned because you know what happens if salt builds up in your bearings. Your trailer bearings get rinsed and greased because salt build up in those things causes a bad day. When you don't occasionally pull your propeller off and rinse and grease the shaft, you usually end up with a long day of beating your brains out and busting your knuckles before you call calf rope and give in to someone who can get that thing off for you, of course at a cost.

For those who don't understand since this is not a "moving" part, salt that dries up between the splines of the shaft and the propeller and when it is charged electrically, will cause the propeller to become "welded" to the shaft, thus making removal by hand impossible. The rubber cushioned hub of the propeller will need to be melted out and the propeller removed leaving the inner splines of the hub stuck to the shaft. An air chisel comes in handy here.

All of this frustration can easily be avoided by simply removing the propeller every 3 to 4 months and cleaning the old grease off and re-greasing with your standard non-metallic axle grease. Not a lot is needed as you only need to fill in the splines to keep the salt from building up in between uses. Also, when you have the prop off, this is the perfect time to remove the thrust washer from the shaft and inspect for any old abandoned fishing line that may have wrapped itself around the shaft and behind the thrust washer. Nothing will eat through a seal and bearings faster than monofilament turning at 2500 rpm's. This little safety check keeps the visits to your local mechanic down to a minimum.

When re-installing all the parts, make sure everything goes back as it came off. The thrust washer has a tapered seat so it only goes on one direction. The propeller goes next, followed by whichever washer/spacer, then nut and cotter pin if applicable. Inspect all pieces as you install to make sure nothing is worn down or brittle. Cotter pins should be replaced regularly and only use stainless. Self locking nuts and Mercury locking tabs should be checked and changed when needed.

Lastly, if you store your boat for long periods of time in a storage facility, it would be a good idea to remove the propeller and wipe the shaft down before leaving it. Grease will lose its viscosity in very high temperatures and the first time you run your boat after prolonged storage will be like not having any grease at all.

Once again, we appreciate all the calls and emails we receive from you and if you have a certain question or comment that we haven't addressed yet, please feel free to contact us.

Be safe on the water.