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::;ormula Contents _, _

Formula 1-1 Torque ..

Formula ] 2 Propeller Horsepower Curve _ ,.......... -+

Formula 2·1 Displacement Speed............................................ 10

Fornmhl2-2 Displaceruent-Length Ratio... 13

Formula 2-3

Maximum Speed-Length Ratio vs DL Ratio .

Formula 2-4 Crouch's Planing Speed Formula .

Formula 3-1 Anal ysis Pitch .

Formula 3·2 Pitch Ratio _ .

Formula 3-3 Theoretical Thrust ..



Formula 4-1 Developed Area to Projected Area Formula .

Formula 4·2 Mean- Width Ratio .

Formula 4-3 Disc-Area. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .

Formula 4-4 Disc Area Ratio vs Mean-Width-Ratio .

Formula 4·5 Developed Area vs Disc-Area Ratio .

Formula 4-6 Developed Area vs Mean-Width Ratio .

Formula 4-7 Developed Area for Any Hub Diameter and

Mean-Width Ratio .

Formula 4·8 Blade-Thickness Fraction........................ . . .. . . . . . . . . .. 3s





Formula 4-9 Rake Ratio.,................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 41

Formula 5·1 Apparent Slip."",.,',............................... 48

Formula 5-2

Slip vs Boat Speed .


Formula 5-3 Diameter-HP-RPM ....

. ) )~

Formula 5-4 Optimum Pitch Ratio........................................... 5,:),

Formula 5·S Minimum Diameter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Formula 5-6 Allowable Blade Loading...................................... 57 Formula S- 7 Actual Blade Loading............................ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S8

Formula 5·8 Thrust ,...................................... 60

Formula 5-9 Approximate Bollard Pull 6]

Formula 6·1 Taylor Wake Fraction........................................... 66 Formula 6-2 Wake Factor.................................................... 68 Formula 6·3 Speed of Advance.............................................. 68

Formula 6-4 Wake Factor vs Block Coefficient............................. b9


'Formula 6-5 Block Coefficient .



, .cknowledgments


Introduction ; . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x»

Chapter 1 Power: Understanding Engine Performance .

Chapter 2 Estimating Speed: Effects of Power, Weight, and Hull Type.: . 9 Chapter 3 Propeller Anatomy: Parts and Definitions....................... 18 Chapter 4 Blade Characteristics: Blade Shape, Cavitation,

Special Propellers, and Rules of Thumb. . .. . .. .. .. . . . .. ... . . . . . 27

Chapter 5 Crouch's Propeller Method: The Empirical Method for

Calculating Propellers Using Slip................................ 46

Chapter 6 The Bp-5 Method: The Power Factor Method for

Calculating Propellers............................................ 66

Chapter 7 Installation Considerations: Blade Clearances, Shafting,

and Propeller Weight 83

Chapter 8 Tugs and Trawlers: High-Thrust, Variable-Loading, Controllable-Pitch; and Dueted Propellers...................... 96

Chapter 9 Sailboats, Outboards, and Go-Fast Wrinkles:

Propellers for Special Applications .'............................. 107





pendix A Measuring the Hull: Procedure for Determining Displacement..................................................... 118

Appendix B Measuring the Propeller: Procedure for Finding Diameter

and Pitch.......................................................... 125

Appendix C Shaft Taper and Coupling Dimensions : , , 130

Appendix D Decimal Exponents.............................................. 143


Manufacturers and Suppliers,................................................... 145

Bibliography , "... 147

Index ,... 149

'Table Contents __ ~ _

Table 1-1 Recommended RPM for Continuous Operation. ~...... 7

'table 2-1 Buttock Angle vs SL Ratio~~~ _ _ _ ~ _~. 12

Table 2-2 Planing Speed Chart Constants................................... 16

'fable 5~1 Typical Slip Values.................................................. 50 Table 5-2 1\'10- and Four-Bladed Conversion Factors....................... 54

Table 5-3 Typical Slip Values-v-Twin-Screw Vessels ,............. 6]

Tableti-I Suggested Shaft Speeds............................................ 72

Table 6-2 8: Value Adjustments ,.... 74

'fable 6-3 Efficiency Adjustment Table _ ~ 76

Table 7-1 Minimum Tip Clearance............... 83

'nable 7·2 Shaft Material Characteristics. ... . .. . .. . . . . . . . . .. .. . . .. . . . . .. .. 91

11"l.ble 8-1 Nozzle Bollard Pllll ~ .. 103

Table 9-1 Sailboat Wake Factors (wf) , ,........... 112


_________________________ --=___ Formula Contents

l'ormula 6-6 Wake Factor vs Speed _ .


FUl'lnlllafi-7 Power Factor'. - ' _ . . .. 73

~-orllmlfl 6·8 Advance Coefficient - - - - - - .. , , . .. 73

Formula 6-9 Estimating Displacement Speed with Propeller Efficiency. .. 78

Formula 6-10 Estimating Planing Speed with Propeller Efficiency........ 78

j'!wflwia 7-1. Shaft Diameter _.............. 89

Formnla 7-2 Shaft-Bearing Spacing __ - .. -............ 93

1"or-mula 7-3 Propeller Weight Estimates _.......................... .. 95

Formula 8-1 Brake Horsepower vs LOA-Tugs _ '. 97

Formula 8-2 Towing Speed vs Brake Horsepower ,... 97

Formula 8-3 Weight of Barges Towed vs BRP _ ' _ 99

Chart Contents ~~~---=~=---~~_.,.-. ~---=~-_"'--~-'--@'_

Chart 2·1 Displacement Speed Chart-Including Scmidisplacemcnt ..... ll

Chart 2·2 5L Ratio vs DL Ratio " _ _ _ .. III

Chart 2·3 Planing Speed _ __ __ .. _ _ _ .. _ . - _ .. _. . . . . 16

Chart 4-1 Developed Area to Projected Area Conversion _........ 28

Chart 4-2 Developed Area vs Diameter. _ _ .. _.................. 33

Chart 5·1 Slip vs Pitch _ _ _ _ 48

Chart 5·2 Slip vs Boat Speed - - .. . .. .. .. .. .. 50

Chart 5·3 Diameter-HP-RPM Charts __ .. _ .. _ - - _ . __ .. _ .. '" _ - _ . . 52

Char! 5·4 Optimum Pitch Ratio _ _ _ _ . _ __ . 55

Chart 5-5 Minimum Diameter __ _ _ - __ .. __ - _.. .. S6

Chart 5-6 Approximate Efficiency vs Slip . _ .. - .. _ __ . '" -. . . . . . 58

Chart 6·] Wake Factor vs Block Coefficient _ _.. 68

Chart 6·2 Wake Factor vs Speed ... _ ....... :_ _ _ .. _ .. _........... 70

Chart 6·3 Enlarged Section of a Bp-S Chart _.................. 7 I

Chart 6-4 BP-o Charts _.......... 80

Chart 7·1 Shaft Diameter - -................. 89

Chart 7·2 Shaft-Bearing Spacing , ,...... 93

Chart 7·3 Estimating Propeller Weight _ , . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94

Chart 8·1 Brake Horsepower vs LOA-Thgs................... 97

Chart 8·2 Towing Speed vs Brake Horsepower-Tugs · ,...... 98

Chart 8·3 Weights of Barges Towed vs BHP-Tugs , .. . . 98



The author wishes to express his thanks tu the many individuals and companies who generously provided assistance and advice, A few who require special note are:

Spyroi' N. Garbis, who has been a source of guidance and encouragement for many years. Ted Brewer and Joe Peterson, both of whom pointed out a few errors before it was too late. Caterpillar Inc .. The Cummins Engine Company, Inc, , and The Michigan Wheel Corporation, all of whom went out of their way to provide much needed information. My editor. Jonathan Eaton, whose advice and patience have been much appreciated. And the real propeller expcrts-v-thc many, many researchers and engineers, from Admiral David Taylor to the present day-who painstakingly and expertly gathered the fundamental information without which this book could not have been written.


Introduction: Using This Book


ThiS book is not for Ph.Dis seeking the latest wrinkle in high-teen prorellu design.

Rather, it's for the average mechanic, engineer, fleet operator, port captain, serious yachtsman. and naval architect as a clear and easy-to-use reference for choosing the correct propeller for a particular design and service.

It is necessary to take the time to make sense of a few tables and graphs; however, all [he calculations can be done by anyone with a basic understanding of high-scbool math. In fact, every formula presented here can be solved readily using the simplest and least expensive scientific calculators. (Appendix D presents a quick refresher course in using decimal. cxponcnts.)

One of the more puzzling concepts in propeller selection is the degree of accuracy that is either desirable or attainable. A reference containing detailed charts, tables. and fOfmulas seems to call for extreme accuracy. Actually, all propeller selection is II process of approximation and estimation. It is important that you avoid mathematical errors when solving the formulas required or when reading values from a graph or table, but the degree of real-world accuracy you can achieve is limited,

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the interactions of the water, propeller, and hull with each other are so complex that no one really understands exactly what is happening. Even for a very straightforward installation, an engineer would have 10 be able to predict not only exactly how the water flow behaves as it swirls through the propeller blades, but how the shape of the hull affects that flow. Then, this engineer would have to determine precisely how these factors change-and they can change a great deal--at different speeds, loadings, and sea states. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Shaft angle, boat trim, rudder angle, stem gear, exhaust back pressure, water temperature, and so on all play significant roles in propeller performance and behavior.

The second reason that propeller selection remains an approximate undertaking is that for almost every ordinary vessel you will be selecting from the available stock commcrcial propellers. The variety of these propellers is more than wide enough to meet the needs of almost any application; however, it is nearly impossible to account for the many subtle differences between similar propellers of different manufacture.

A manufacturer of folding sailboat propellers recently ran a test series against similar propellers of other manufacturers. They found that, even after carefully selecting similar propellers, propellers of nominally identical face pitch actually measured significantly different pitches, When the radical differences in blade style, camber, and thickness were considered it became nearly impossible to find any two propellers that were really identical in measurements, even though many had a catalog specification of the same diameter and pitch. The selection of folding sailboat propellers is limited, so this is a somewhat extreme example; nevertheless, you can specify a commercial propeller only within reasonable limits. Diameter, face pitch, blade thickness, disk area ratio. and several additional factors serve to pin the design down fairly well, yet leave room for noticeable differences among propellers of varying style and manufacture,

11 is thus important, when selecting a propeller, not to let yourself get bogged down in a pursuit of extreme numerical accuracy. Engineers usc the term "significant digits" to indicate the degree of accuracy possible with a given amount of data, Computer programmers use the earthier "garbage in, garbage 011(." This simply means that your answer can never be more accurate than the information you started with.

For the vast majority of applications, simply working through the procedures in this book will enable you to select a propeller that will perform admirably For uses in which


Propeller Haudbook

extreme accuracy is required-squeezing the top nne-half of one percent in performance from a racing boat or obtaining the nth degree ofmaximum fuel economy in a tug ficctadditional investigation may be justified. In such cases tank testing and detailed computer analysis may be called for, but ultimately the final decision will be made by running rhe vessel over a measured course with a number of differing propellers and carefully evaluating the results. Except for such unusual and exacting installations, using this handbook and resting an array of the most promising stock propellers will give results equal to any other method known.

Factors in Propeller Selection

A common misconception in selecting a propeller is that it is only necessary to specify diameter and pitch. Although these factors arc the most critical-as mentioned earlicr-ethere are many other characteristics that must be considered. If, for instance, you simply want a propeller 24 inches in diameter and with a 20-inch pitch, on opening the manufacturer's catalog you would discover eight or nine very different types of propellers available in these dimensions. Which should you choose? Among other things, you have 10 consider the number of blades, blade area, blade thickness, section shape, and so 00. All of these characteristics are dealt with in detail in Chapter 4.

Understanding how blade shape, area, and configuration affect performance will enable you not only to specify general propeller dimensions, but to specify the most suitable propeller type and pattern as well. Attempting to select a propeller on the basis of pitch and diameter alone is like walking into a hardware store and asking simply for a 3/4-inch, number 8 screw. The shopkeeper would immediately ask you if you need a wood screw, sheet metal screw, or a machine screw; a phillips-bead or standardslot: a round head, oval, or fiat; one made of bronze or steel; and so on. Purchasing a 3/4-inch number 8 machine screw for a woodworking project would be nearly useless. It is equally important to specify the correct type of propeller.

Before you can properly specify and order the most suitable propeller for your application, you must specify most of the following factors, listed roughly in order of importance:

1 Diameter 2 Pitch

3 Number of blades

4 Hand (lett- Of right-hand turning)

5 Propeller shaft diameter and keyway

6 Blade area (usually using Mean-Width Ratio nr Disc-Area Ratio) 7 Cupped or uncupped blades

8 Supercavitating or standard noncavitating- blades- 9 Blade section shape (airfoil, ogival or combined) 10 Skew

11 Rake

12 Blade thickness J 3 Hub diameter

Items I through 6 must be specified J0r every propeller and every installation. Items 7 through 13 are of greater importance for differing types of craft and in solving specific problems. Skewed blades, for instance, might be indicated where vibration is a problem;



"ul'erc;!vitating blades are only called for on very high-speed craft; and i~iJck blades would he specified OD jaw-speed work boats operating in waters littered with debris.

Plan of This Book

II is the intent of this handbook to provide all the basic information required to select propellers for almost every ordinary type of boat, from a sai ling auxiliary, to a high-speed powerboat, to a trawler, and ~o on. If you are interested in one particular type 0(" vessel nr application, it is not necessary to study every section of every chapter. The best approach is to skim through the entire book, then concentrate on the sections that apply to your application.

(·i.(1pll'rs I nnd 2 cover questions in determining speed and power, ChapIN j describes the basic: parts and dimensions of a propeller.

C!rOI)II'I' 4 discusses and defines the differences in blade shape and propeller type,

CJwlJ/('" 5 covers the simpler "slip method" of propeller selection, best suited (0 pleasure craft, and most. notably to sailing auxiliaries.

Choptcr 6 details the mathematically more exact BP-o method of propeller "election. Chapter 7 answers questions regarding installations, such as blade clearance", propeller shafting. etc,

Clwplas 8 and 9 discuss some special considerations required for lugs, trawlers, sailboats and high-speed and outboard-powered yachts.



Chaater 1



Understanding Engine Performance

l j, ~ (_

A propeller must satisfy two basic requirements. It needs to match the engine's power

.1nJ shatt speed, and it must match the size and operating speed of the boat. But the size oi Inc engine affects boat speed, and the type of hull affects the choice of engine. This circular relationship, with one factor affecting another, which in tum affects the first fJCI(lr. is inescapable in propeller selection.

These basic requirements engender some of the most frequently asked questions about propellers: Why won't my engine reach its top rated RPM? Will more or less pitch irnpmve my boat's performance? Why doesn't my boat reach the top speed claimed by the manefacturer? Before we can answer these and other such questions, we have to investsgale power. engine performance, and speed in some detail.

Ohviously, the more power available (all other things being equal), the faster a boat will go. Accordingly, one of the very first decisions that must be made in selecting an engine and propeller, whether for repowering, for a. new design, or simply to improve performance, is rhe speed of operation desired.

Using the tables and methods in Chapter 2, you can calculate the speed that a vessel will make with a given power From there, knowing both speed and power, you will have two of the basic factors needed to choose a suitable propeller, using the methods in Chapters 5 and 6. Before we can jump ahead to estimating speed, however, we have to understand what power is and how it relates to torque and fuel consumption. There are, in fact, a number of different classifications or types of power relating to marine engines.


In the English system, one horsepower (HP) equals 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute, or 550 foot-pounds of work per second, a foot-pound being the work expended to lin a weight of one pound through a distance of one foot. One horsepower also equals 0.7457 kilowatt, wh ich is the metric measure of power. One kilowatt equal s 1000 joules pCI' second, or 1000 newton-meters per second, There is also a metric horsepower (HK or PK), which is equal to 0.9863 English-measure HP.

Rffective Horsepower, EHP

({fectiFf horsepower or EFlP is the power required to overcome a vessel's resistance at a given speed, not the power required 10 tum her own propeller and operate her machinery. This is very close to the amount of power required to tow the vessel.

Indicated Horsepower, mr

lndicoted horsepower or IHPis the power required to drive the vessel at a given speed. Indicated horsepower includes the power needed to overcome friction in machinery and to lurn the propeller through the water. The ratio of EHPfIHP is usually around 50 percent ill other words, the indicated horsepower is usually about twice the effective horsepower, but this will vary with the installation. Ncituer EHP nor IHP can he determined

without access to sophisticated lank test results or computer prediction programs, ,Hid neither figures in the propeller selection methods or this book,

Brake Horsepower, nlIP

The brake horsepower or BIt P of an engine is the maximum horsepower geltenHCU by the engine at a given RPM, as tested by the manufacturer, lt is important tv know whether the BHP has been measured with or without a reduction or reverse gear installed. (The reduction gear steps down the engine RPM to a lower shaft RPM, and the reverse gear reverses the direction of shaft and propeller rotation. In the great majority of small-boat installations, the reverse and reduction gears are combined in the Same housing.) Maximum brake horsepower is the maximum power delivered by an engine, almost always [It its maximum attainable RPM.

In common usage, brake horsepower, when used without an indication of RPM, is taken to mean maximum brake horsepower. Brake horsepower should be somewhat greater than indicated horsepower to allow for the power required by generators, compressors, and other machinery driven by the engine and not directly used to propel the vessel.

Shaft Horsepower, SHP

Shaft horsepower or SHP is the power actually transmitted along the propeller shaft 10 the propeller at a given RPM. Shaft horsepower is the brake horsepower minus the power used by all internal machinery; the power lost in the gearbox, about 3 percent (if not already deducted in the brake horsepower); and the power lost [0 the friction of shaft bearings, about 1 Y2 percent per bearing. Maximum shaft horsepower is the maximum power delivered to the propeller, almost always at maximum attainable RPM.

It is important to remember that SHP is the measure that should actually be used in making propeller calculations. In the absence of detailed information, maximum SHP may be assumed to be 96 percent of maximum BHP. Like brake horsepower, the term shaft horsepower, when used without an indication of RPM, is taken to mean maximum shaft horsepower,

Effects of Horsepower

Obviously, more power permits more work to be done in a given time. This means that an increase in horsepower in a given huH permits either an increase in speed OJ an increase in the load [hat may be towed. 100 little power will not drive a vessel at the desired speed, while [00 much will be wasteful of fuel, space, and initial expense.

Power and Energy Losses

It is interesting to see approximately where the energy from the fuel goes. About 35 percent is lost in heat to (he atmosphere. 2S percent is 10SI in heat and vibration 1<) the water, and 2 .percent is lost at .tbe p_t9pel)~! shaft. This leaves only about 38 percent of the energy in the fuel for propulsion. Of this 38 percent, as -it -v-er'irough guide, aboil['3' - percent is used to overcome air resistance, 27 percent to overcome wave resistance, .17 percent to overcome resistance from the wake and propeller wash against the hull; 18 percent to overcome skin friction; and 35 percent to turn the propeller. These are average

va \ lies only; actual values will vary greatly from one type of boat to the next.


In order for horsepower to propel a boat ir must be converted to a twisting force rotating the propeller. This twisting force is called torque. In the Eng!ish system, torque is a force in pounds times a distance ill feet. Picture a weight of 100 pounds applied to the end of

a IO-foot lever that pivots about its other end. The resultant torque is 1,000 pound-feet. 1\1111c metric system. force is measured in newtons,' n, 'or kilograms of force, kgf, and distance in meters, m By convention, engineers refer to torque as pound-feet, newtonmeters. or kilogram-meters.

In the English system, foot-pounds really means exactly the same thing as pound-feet; howcvcr=-again, by convention-this term is properly reserved for describing work, and nnt the. torque of rotating systems. Many engineers and references are sloppy about this convention, so you should be prepared to interpret foot-pounds as torque when appropriate.

For internal combustion engines torque, by long-accepted definition, is 51252 times horsepower divided by RPM. Thus, the lower the RPM and the higher the HI', the greater the torgue. This is why slower-turning propellers deli vcr more thrust-they are rcccivi ng more torque for the same HP. 'For example, an engine delivering 500 HP at 2 000 RPMs would be delivering 1,313 pound-feet of torque w the propeller. If a J: I reduction gear were installed. SHP would be reduced approximately 3 percent by frictional losses in the reduction gear to 485 HP. At the same time, though, the shaft RPM would drop to 6(:'7, causing the torque delivered to increase to :3.R 19 pound-feet.

Formula /.J Torque Formula

Torque == T

T == (5,252 X HP) -i- RPM Where:

HP = horsepower (English measure) RPM c-:: revolutions per minute


111e power and torque available from an engine are clearly defined by that engine's performance curves. These curves are available on performance curve sheets, distributed by most manufacturers, that. plot BHP, torque, and fuel consumption against RPM. A few manufacturers include the curve of SHE which will fall just under the BHP curve. Such SHP curves deduct power lost in the gearbox (also known as the transmission, of course) but do not include deductions for shaft bearings after the gearbox or for power used by auxiliary equipment. These power losses must still be deducted where applicable to obtain true SHP at the propeller,using 1 V2 percent for the power lossat each bearing and the rated horsepower of auxiliary generators, refrigeration units, hydraulic motors, etc.

Propeller Power and Fuel Consumption Curves

Two additional curves are sometimes included on the performance curve sheet. One is the theoretical propeller power curve and the other is the propeller fuel consumption curve.

The theoretical propeller power curve is an approximate representation or an average propeller's power requirements at various RPMs. For most fixed-pitch propellers that match their engines correctly, the propeller power curve crosses the shaft horsepower curve near the maximum RPM and maximum SHP. This means that when the engine is turning at top RPM, it will-in theory-be delivering exactly the power required by the propeller. (Intuition tells us that the propeller power curve is related to the indicated horsepower, IllP, but the relationship is not simple and not particularly relevant 10 the r'II')JOSeS or this book.)

The theoretical propeller power curve is taken Irum the formula:

Formula 1-/

f- C-

,-' I

L . c.,


rn _.. v r

. r , N

-: I'
-: ;. -
, \ \ Y? " (r\ I H
to ,
'i j :. r,
I I r .- J'
a ,. Propeller Haudbook

Formula 1-2

Figure 1 ~1

Typical performance curve sheet for a small marine diesel engine. Tile topmost curve (1) is the brake horsepower curve. Tile dotted curve (2) below is the s/wjt horsepower curve, which shows the p'!!~er delivered to the ~'haft just ablfjl the reverse/reduction gear. The dotted curve in tile middle (3) is a typiml propeller power curve, in this case based 011 the 2.7 exponent. Curve 4 is the fuel consumption curve for both brake and shaft horsepower (or the curve of specific [uel consumption), UtilI curve 5 is the propeller fuel consumption curve.

(Courtesy oj Cummins Engine Comparty, Inc.)

Formula 1-2 Propeller Horsepower Curve Formula

PUP = C,,,, x RPM" Where:

C"" = sum matching constant

n = exponent from 2.2 to 3.0, Wilt! 2.7 being used for average boats RPM = revolutions per minute

The sum matching constant, in this case, is arbitrarily chosen to make the propeller power curve cross the SHP curve at maximum RPM. In fact, much of the process of propeller selection detailed in Chapters 5 and 6 is-e-m effect-e-deterrnining this value exactly. Choosing the correct propeller pitch, diameter, and blade area win ensure that

~ ..

-TyJ.l-ijl nod A:s:plfl!dlim,~

.; Streke, In-line, .; Cylinder 8otltj- 'X SttOkb

4.02 X 4.72 in. (102 x 119 mm)

60 t
50 t
30 +
20 I
10. +
6. f
2. Curve Number': 4112·jA

Eng,11l e til I;) cial: 4B3.9·M


80 BHP (59 kW) at 2800 RPM






50 ~
40 :;,~
4.0 Z
3.S ~"2
3.D ::iiI
2.5 <II "

HI u"!
1.5 ill
.5 R~<TING CO~IDITIONS, Ralings are Mse-rI upon ISO :iC46 (SAE J1226) conditions 01 29.(\12 In. Hg (100 KPal. 81'F (27·C). and 6a'/, rl';!lalive numldity. S!1afJ Power rapreeents the net power ay;;aUabl~ atter typfca~ f8vefsi}}f<touctlon gear IOS5€15 and is 91 percent of rated power. Fuaol ccoecrnpuon Is based upon No.2 dteael tugl with a fuel weight ot 7.1 Ibs. par U.S. gal. (0.135 kgJIHrtll :BInd the power raqulremente of a I~pjca.j fix,e-d pucn pmpelhH.

1. 8raKLl Horsepower (BHP).

2. Shall Horoepower ISHP) wllh Rev.."" R.dUCtlon Gear.

3. Iypica! Pro-pellet Power Curve (2.1 exponent).

HIG K OUTPUT RATI"O; rnrs I,owar rating is lor "S~ In v~~abIO load application. wher~ lull PQwor Is lirnitell to IwO hours OU' 01 evory six hou ra 01 opnmuon. Reduced power operation must b. all"".12UQ RPM b<uow ,aiM RPM. Tnls "'lln9 Is an ISO luol .top powet tating (iSO 304o}, ~I.:id is 1m eppucnuoqs tl19t operAte less than 600 ncurs per yoar,

Naturally AspIrated OI:S'P1f,(:8ment

239 in.' (3.9 lltres)



/ / --_,L----


/ / /



¥/./ 'SOHP

..... _ -- 59kW

3 ,.




--·4.5GpH 17.1 LPH






4. Fuel Consumption io, Bmk.e and Sh.a.rt Horsepow'EH.

5. FUDI Consumpllon 10' Typical Prop&lI.r.

till' power requirements of the propeller match tile engine correctly. The propeller power curve Oil the engine performance sheets. however, is only theoretical. It is a good approximation. useful for visualizing the relationship between specific engines and propeller power.

The exponent, n, has been found by experience to be 2.7 for almost all medium- to high-speed pleasure vessels, passenger vessels, and light commercial vessels. Heavy commercial craft operating at low speed usually have high-thrust and high-pitch-ratio propellers, For such propellers, n should be taken as 3.0. At the other end of {he spectrum, ducted propellers, due to decreases in radial power losses, are best described with nn n of 2,2.

Propeller power curves are a useful adjunct but are not central to the selection methods discussedin Chapters 5 and 6.


One of the basic problems in selecting a standard fixed-pitch propeller is apparent 10 Figure 1-1. The BHP and SHP curves are shaped very differently from t.hc propeller power curve. You can get them to match at one point-the point where they cross-but they will not match at more than this one point, Since the engine must be free to reach its maximum RPM-or very close to it-you have no choice but to select a propeller that matches the engine power at close to the top RPM as well.

If you were to choose a propeller that crossed the SHP curve at well under full RPMcurve A in Figure 1-2-the engine would be be overloaded at any higher speed. It would never reach its full RPM, and if the RPMs are held too low the engine will smoke and foul its valves, A propeller power curve like curve A indicates excessive propeller pitch, excessive propeller diameter, or both. On the other hand, if the propeller selected had such low power requirements that it never crossed the SHP curve-curve B in Figure J- 2-the full power of the engine would never be used. Such a propeller would spin inef-

I ..


).PAOI"F."""'"'l. Po",",,,,/,; C(/Av~ t' ,F)v':;'/.AJ<'f' r'OL.../C-A ,:',.N" "'<!i /'1'6r;£:., Ar /'f,. )('N#'_'M R.pI"'I

/ /

Figure 1·2





______________ ,~~~~I

Engine and propeller power curves.

, '.


, .

, .,

t . j 1

Pl'QpdlerHan dbook

. (-. v


\ \ " i I ~ T-'

t '


( r" ~

.i-; p

I' '. \ .I

1.\' l

/_ ~ r: 1 [e

J i(.'.'-»' '\. , , (V~


\ r~. ~.J\ (,\


t \- I~ t C

Figure 1·3

Performance curves of another BIigin», showing torque and fue! eonsumption,

(Courtesy of Lii, Wesrerbeke Corp.)

fectually and produce little rhrusr-r-an indication of ,00 Ertle pitch and/or !00 little di· arneter. in extreme cases, such a propeller could allow your engine [0 Ti.1Ce over irs rop rated RPM anJ destroy itself.

Here we have given the basic answer to the question, "\Vhy won't my engine reach its top RPM?" The propeller has too much diameter or too much pitch Ior [he engine, ,HIe! switching to a propeller with less diameter, pitch, or both would allow [he engine to turn up to speed. You should not be too quick to rush out and change the propeller for this reason alone, however, Many engine manufacturers give the maximum rated POW{;[ of their engines at the maximum RPt\·1 attainable in ideal conditions. As w..: will St:", later, it is often a good idea [0 size the propeller to cross the engine powcr curve a bit below top fated RPM. If your engine is reaching 95 percent Or more of irs lop RPM, the propeller is probably sized quire well. If you are unable to reach 90 to 95 percent of the lOp RPM. there is reason to he concerned.

Etr,~ct of Low Propeller Power at Slow RPMs

In Figure 1-1 you can see that the SHP at I ,SOO RPM:; is about 60 (45 kw). At the same time, the propeller is using only about 22 HP (16.4 kw). Where did the missing 38 HP (28.3 kw) go? The answer is that the engine is not generating it. (The SHI' curve shows potential, not actual, output.) When you adjust the throttle of a marine engine, you are not directly adjusting fuel flow to the engine. Instead, you are adjusting a governor that regulates fuel fiow to. maintain a constant RPM-not unlike the cruise control on a car. Since the propeller only requires 22 HP at 1 ,800 RP~'ls, the governor limits fuel How to the engine, reducing the power generated at this RPM and-not incidentally-the fuel consumption. This lower fuel consumption is reflected in curve 5 in Figure 1·1, the propeller fuel consumption curve. At this lower RPM, additional machinery may be run off the engine without reducing RPM or slowing the vessel, although fuel consumption increases. As RPMs increase, however, the reserve or unused power decreases.




26(188) tl

25 {181l --; 24 (1741 ~ 23 (166) w

(loa.~1 110 22 (159) ~

(98.10) 100 1---t--'---+---+--+--;-'Y"--j---1 21 (I!) 2) e

II ':;, (78.9) 8 a


51 (&9.z) eo ~~-+r'-+-+---9----f--!

~1(39.~) 40I--H"---+-H-

(19.7) 20

1000 I~OO_ zooo 2!>OO 3000


The Iorque Curve

Figure J--l shows the performance curves of another engine. This manufacturer has jJlotled the torque and fuel consumption btu omitted ti rc theoretical propeller curves,

ft is important to note thac the maximum torque of most engines occurs below maximum RPM _ This presents yet another conflict for propeller selection. Although the ~,ropcllcr must be chosen so that the engine can approach very close to its top rated i{J'M, the RPM at maximum torque frequently is as low as 50 percent of top RPM on light. high-speed engines. The. only thing to do is compromise. and In so doing take fuel consumption and engine longevity into consideration as well. Specific hid consumption is usually lowest at around 70 percent of lop RPtvl, and torque at this RPtvl is still fairly high, For this reason, the most economical and efficient speed of operation of marty engines (particularly light. high-speed engines) is around 70 to 85 percent of the top rated RPM, and it is usually wise to choose an engine powerful enough to push (he h(lat at cruising speed at this reduced RPM.

Then a propeller must be chosen that will absorb the engine's power- output as efficiently as possible at 70 10 SS percent of top rated RPM while still allowing the engine, when necessary or desirable, to reach its maximum rated speed.

Keep in mind that the most economical operating speed varies with the engine. The exact RPM that delivers the best combination of high torque, low fuc] consumption. and longevity can be found 01\ the engine's performance curves and by discuss: ng your needs and intended use with the manufacturer.

- /


, 11, ... t



, ~ .:


Duty R:>.ting and Operating RPM

Marine engines are manufactured in a number of duty or power ratings. These ratings determine whether the engine is intended for continuous or only short-term operation at maximum RPM. Tablel-l gives recommended continuous operating RPMs (IS a percent ()f top rated RPM for various duty ratings.

TABLE i-I Recommended RPM for Continuous Operation

'TYpe (If Engine

% or max RPM

Light-dllty gawline and diesel automotive conversions l.ight-duty or high-output marine diesels '1" '. '-. lntermutcnt-dury marine diesels

Continuous-duty heavy marine diesels

!r ~ I, i ,-

70 -- 8 Mi· RO-1I5%




'J rr

, .'

S8-92'7r-' 08-1 ()()'J("

Continuous-duty marine engines can operateindefinitely at their top RP]\.ls, but there i, a penalty: They must be "detuned" to operate at lower top RPMs, which increases reliability and engine life but also decreases maximum horsepower and increases engine weight and cost per horsepower delivered. Iuterrnittcnt-duty marine engines arc intended f(lf operation at around 90 percent or more of top RPM for no more than six hours (jut or every twelve. They are a good choice for many workboats. Light-duty or high-output engines should not be operated at top RPM [or more than two hours ill every six of operation or for more than 500 hours per year; the remainder of the time [hey should be operated at 80 to S5 percent of top RPM. Because of their high power output for the weight and cost, light-duty engines and light-duty automotive conversions (engines not specifically developed for marine and industria) work) are used in most yachts and small commercia! vessels under 40 to 45 feet.




As a practical matter, eVeo continuous- and intennittent-duty engines should "be seleered so that they operate most of the time between 80 and 90 percent of top RPM. If such engines must be run at over 90 percent of top RPM to make average cruising speed, there will be very little reserve power for special conditions-heavy weather, unusual landing, and so on. On the other hand, if [hey are run for long periods at well under 80 percent of top RPM, engine fouling will result.


Chapter 2 Estimating Speed

(fleets of Power; Weight, and liull Type

Now that we have examined power and engine performance, we can determine what size engine to choose for a desired speed or load with a given hull,

Engine power must continually overcome the resistance of water and air-forces tbat arc trying to slow and stop the boat. If we could figure the exact resistance for the craft ill question at the speed desired, we could choose an engine and propeller combination that generates this much thrust and thus drives the vessel at speed.

Unfortunately, determining an actual figure for resistance-a precise number of pnl1nd~-is a fantastically laborious and time-consuming task. Any sort of accuracy requires extensive tank testing and detailed computer analysis of the results, and even then there is tS'Jd/for considerable error. For instance, it is rare for vessels 10 float on their originally designed lines. Even if a vessel starts out smack on its intended waterline, the addition of new gear is likely to set it down by several inches and put it somewhat out of trim by the bow or stern. Very small differences in trim and loading can significantly affect computer and tank test resistance predictions.

Of course, the original tank testing and computer analysis can be extended to cover varying trim and load conditions, but this makes the process even more expensive. Even worse, with all the advances we have made, there are still many unknowns involved in allowing for scale effects, especially with regard 10 such things as the point or change from laminar (smooth) to turbulent flow.

The cost of tank testing and computer analysis is a small enough fraction of the total design ~1Jd building cost of large ships to be well worth it. Further, such vesselsburn so much fuel that even a very small proportional reduction will easily repay the many thousands or dollars required for the analysis.

For small commercial vessels aud yachts, however, such costly methods are seldom justified. The solution is to use a set of empirical formulas for predicting speed that have been refined over the years. These formulas take into account such fundamental factors as hull type and shape, displacement (total weight), and horsepower and. when used with common sense, can yield remarkably accurate speed estimates.


One of the real keys to getting good results using these empirical methods is to lise an honest and accurate figure for displacement= or weight. The most important factor gOY" erning speed is the power-to-weight ratio. The greater the power in proportion to weight. the greater the speed. It does no good to make accurate power estimates from engine performance C\,lIVeS, only to use optimistic figures or guesstimates for displacement.

'The displacement of a boat is its fully loaded weight. This is also equal to the weight of the V()IUlllC of water the hull displaces or moves aside when it is lowered into the water or launched .. Thus. il is only necessary to determine the volume of the hull to its load waterline and multiply that volume by the weight of seawater per cubic foot (04 lbs.) or per cuhic meter (2.253 lbs.) to finn rhc I~IC \V('il!ht of the vessel. (For fresh water, substitute fiLS for 64 ponnds.)

') . "'( ~: ",

J~ I' ~'I r" ., ~I~· L

For yachts, in particular, the CU!Tt;r\( trcud is to grossly underestimate weight in advertising and sales Iiteruture, frequently gi vi ng bare 11Uli weight or light loaded displacement without fuel, crew, 01' stores. Such weights will yield unrealistically high speed predictions and result in choosing a propeller with too much pitch.

':k f\ P (', ,) , ;' ~:

:. 1-' !? (} \ r ,} "


Weighing or Measuring to Find Displacement

The best wily to determine the hull weight of a small trailerable boa! is to drive the bout to a truck scale and weigh her. For larger craft the ideal solution is to contact the original designer and haw him or her give you the displacement from the lines drawing based OIl the current, real flotation of the vessel. Measure the height from the Zli~Y' to the actual waterline at bow and stem, and the architect call [ell how many inches down (or occasionally up) the bout is floating, and give you {HIe displacement.

If yuu are considering a large vessel but have 110 information on her true displacement \' and lines, you have no choice but to measure her hull next time she is hauled out. It is

1i not actl!a~ly ne(;:ssnT~ to take otl" (he craft's lines in d~tail, but siJ~lply tci".r~';rdsure her at

,.; (\ .;' ,:r-\ 0 three Sections. 1 his-simple procedure may be accomplished In a single anernoon, ~U1d IS

described in detail in Appendix A.

Remember rhat the displacement or weight you use in your speed calculation must be the actual, loaded weight of YOlif vessel, as she will be in usual service. You must be sure

(0 include the weights of:

~ <' _. ; ..... _\,...4-'1.;..


'_I l,,~ (C.'l..

J, Full crew and passengers.

2. All normal ship's stores and gear,

>3. Two-thirds of all fuel and water tanks . • 4. Two-thirds (If all cargo.

Two-thirds of fuel, water, and cargo are used because this condition is a good, workable average of in-service loading. Most craft spend the majority of their operating hours wid) tanks and cargo at somewhere between 25 and 75 percent of capacity.


::;- Displacement Boats

Chart 2-1 gives boat speed (as speed-length ratio) as a function of power (in pounds per horsepower) for displacement and sernidisplacernent vessels. The curve is based Oil the formula:

Formul« 2-1

Formula I-I Displacement Speed Formula SL RATtO = 10_665 + ...yLB/SHP


SL RATIO = Speed-length ratio and SL RAT[O '= Kts _,- vIWL

Kts = Speed in knots = Boat speed or V SHP = Shaft horsepower at propeller

LB := Displacement in pounds

WL = Waterline length in feet

The speed predicted by this Iorrnula assumes that the propeller gives between 50 and 60 percent efficiency, with 55 percent being a good average (see the section on Propeller Efficiency and Performance in Chapter 6).

~,_ .. -..._------~--~------~,--------------------







....I (/)


o Ifl

o o

o U") <.0

o o N

o o C')

o o '<t

o o U")

o o <.0

o U")

o L[) N

o lf'l C')

o L[) "<t


Chart 2. I. This chart, an expansion of Formi .• la 2·/, shows the power necessary to achieve a bolli'S known maximum speed-length. ratio. It would !J,~ tempting 10 conclude from 'he "'WI'/. (hat fl'Ol II heavy-disptacemetu hull can achieve SL ratios of 1.5 or higher gillen enough power, inu ill pm(.{ice such an attempt would he unfeasible. For most moderate- to heavy-displacement vessels, ilitOlpomlillf!, more than one horsepower per" 500 pounds or so of displacement in {Ill cffon 10 {lchiel'e SL ratios higher than 1.3 to 1.4 is neither practical nor economical. Heavy hulls designed ""illi p/([I[illg (J( semiplaning underbodies may be driven 10 semidisplacement speeds. but only at a great cost in fuel consumption and power (as detailed in IIIi' text that follows). For lightweight l~'JSe/.l. llie commonsense approach is 10 determine the maximum SL ratio from Chart 2·2. and then ,Mermille the flower necessary to achieve thai speed from. this chart.

If for example you wished to determine the power required to drive the Salty Bell, a vessel of 220,000 pounds (99,790 kg) displacement and 70 feet (21.45 m) on the waterline at 1! knots, you would proceed as follows: Eleven knots on a 70-foot waterline gives a SL ratio of 1.31. [(70 t't.)o.~ = 8.37 kts., and II kts, -:- 8.37 kts, = LB..) From Chart 2·1 or Formula 2-1, the pounds per horsepower (LB/HP) required is 533. Then, 22{),000

lb. + 533 LUlUI' = 413 RP (308 kw) at the propeller. . ~

It is now important to remember the engine performance curves from Charter 1. AIthough 413 HI' (308 kw) is all that is required to produce 11 knots, this craft should operate continuously and economically at this speed. A vessel the size of Salty Bell will have an intermittent-duty marine diesel, which should be run at about 80 to 90 percent of lOP RPM. say 85 percent. Accordingly, we will need to specify a 485 HP (362 kw) engine for Salty Bell [4:13 HP -:- 0.85 = 485 HP (3(t2 kw)J.

In addition to this, we have to remember that Salty Bell requires 413 ['"iP (308 kw) at the propeller to operate at 11 knots. Accordingly. the horsepower required to run all auxiliary machinery driven otf the main engine. as well as any power losses due to additional gearing (such as vee drives) or shaft bearings, should be added to the total ellgi ne horsepower,

III the case of Salty Bell, a further advantage of specifying an engine that operates

o a r-,

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o It) r--

o o c»

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o a Q)

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II' r I 1)-1
r I
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,- '"
, I (1'
--or- (
·l~ l r ------~-.----~,--------~~------------------------~---------------

; LI I.LiS

, (i \ o 1'1 Ve ./cr. )
) , r.
1/' ,
(! ","-,' (' ,,( L). ,' .... ,) .. 1 ti ':' e .do 0 lit.

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~ .j .\),

Iliep SSO,'L IKn&?'::;_:,5kj



.1.5 <. 3.0

1 ]-

(.-:--.1·· I{ I_I

\, ( I

, '-

,TABLE 2·1

continuously at 85 percent of rop RPM is that such a power plant will provide that extra knot or so required for special circumstances _ Few engines generate their top rated horsepower in actual service, but it would be reasonable [0 expect Salty Bell's engine. rated at 485 HP (362 kw), to deliver bursts of 460 HP (343 kw) on demand. Chart 2-1 shows thar [his would give a top speed of abou t 11. 7 knots.

Although Chart 2-l goes up to 8L ratios of 2.9, no ordinary nonplaning or displacement hull can achieve such speeds. The old rule-of-thumb that displacement hulls can go no faster than hull speed (1.34 times the square root of the waterline length in feet) should be kept In mind at all times. This rule has actually been found to be a bit conservative . and SL ratios 1.4 or 1.45 can be achieved in heavy vessels with fair lines, but at a great cost in power. The curve in Chart 2-1 rises very steeply after SL ratios of 1.5. For most ordinary displacement craft, there is no point in installing engines that give more than one horsepower at the propeller per 400 pounds of displacement (one kw per 240 kg). For operation at an SL ratio of 1.3 (normal or traditional hull speed), one horsepower per 550 pounds (one kw per 335 kg) at the propeller is sufficient. Tugs and trawlers that need to pull heavy loads require additional horsepower for [Owing. We will deal with them ill detail in Chapter 8.

Semidisnlacement Boats s.e "" J pI<." '{\,5

Vessels that operate at SL ratios higher than 1.3 or 1.4 but below SL ratios of 2.5 to 3.0 (it is impossible to be precise here) are not true planing vessels. Such craft are called semidisplacement vessels or, occasionally. semiplaning vessels. You cannot convert a pure displacement-hulled craft into a serniplaning vessel simply by installing a larger engine. Such an exercise would be a waste of time and money. To reach semidisplacernent speeds a boat must have a hull specifically designed for the purpose.

There are three significant factors that govern a hull's ability to reach scmidisplacement speeds. One is the shape of her run (the shape of her underbody- aft); the second is her displacement-length ratio, since vessels with very light displacements for their length can achieve higher speeds; and the third is a conglomeration of her seakeeping ability strength, and comfort.

True planing hulls require tIat underbodies aft, providing maximum area for useful planing surface. Semidisplacement hulls require some of this same characteristic, more if they are going very fast and less if their SL ratio is just a bit over hull speed. It is this feature that determines how fast a hull can be driven, and whether there is any point in installing engines that give more than one horsepower at the propeller per 400 Pt)IHliJS (one kw per 240 kg).

/TEattock .4ngle Governs Speed Potential The best indicator of a hull's maximum speed ./ potential is the angle her quarter-beam buttock makes with the waterline when she is at rest at her normal loading. Figure 2-1 shows the location of the quarter-beam buttock and how its angle should be measured. (Appendix A shows how to measure this directly from the hull, if no lines drawing is available.) These angles indicate speed potential for semidisp]a~J~e_n~ b_~~ as follows: ... _ .... __.__ _ _ _ _ _

Table 2-1 Buttock Angle vs SL Ratio 11tble

Buttock Angle

SL Ratio

less than 2" 40

2.5 or higher around 2 around 1.5


G7uflRr£R..-BF.~"'" OVrTOCI<" AMQ.£

i/,v£, P~J'I2A~e:/_ 10 r;""," W"'''''€,I;!,L/NE


L- O~~:~J

Hulls with quarter-beam buttock angles greater than 7 or 8 degrees can seldom if ever be made to go faster than an SL ratio of 1.4. If the buttock angles are less. then powering

ror the scmidisplacernent speed ranges shown above isworthwhile. \f Q~I·C \" f r r,

For example, if tile same Salty Bell had a quarter-beam buttock angle of 3.8 degrees. we can interpolate from the table that she could be driven up to an SL ratio of about 2. J . This gives a speed, V, of 17.5 knots [(70 ft.)o.s = 8.37 kts., and 2.1 SL ratio X 8.37 kts, = 17.57 kts]. We can see from Chart 2-1 or Formula 2-1 that she would require one horsepower per 130 pounds to make this speed (one kw per 79 kg), which calls for 1.692 liP (1,262 kw) at the propeller [_220,OOQ lb. -:- 130 LBiHP = l.,692 HP]. It is Immediately apparent that achieving high SL ratio speeds is very costly in power. While Salr» Bell's hull design makes the SL ratio of 2.1 achievable in theory, her 220,000 pounds' displacement makes this costly in practice.

, & Bisplacement-Length Ratio Affects Speed Potefltinl Another indicator of a hull's speed potential is how light it is for its length on the waterline. Lightness is measured by the displacement-length or DL ratio, which is defined as follows:

Formula 2-2 Displacement-Length Ratio Formula

DL rario r= DispTf(O.OI x WL» \Vl1el1' :

DispT ,." Displacement in long tons of 2,240 rounds (a metric ton, mt, equals l.O 16 long tons)

WI. = Waterline length in feet

Chart. 2-2 shows the maximum SL ratio a nonplaning hull can achieve with regard II) ill D1. ratio. (A pure planing bull can achieve higher speeds than its DL rat io would indicate.) This curve is based on the following formula. derived by the author:

Iormula 2-3 Maximum Speed-Length: Ratio vs DL Ratio Formula SL Ratio = 8.26 -:- (DL RATIO)o.JLl


Sl. Ri\"/"I0 == speed-length ratio

DL Rati(1 ~ displaccrncnt-lcugth ratio

Figure 2-/

QlIarler-beam buttock angle.



~-- ,/

Formula 2-2

Formula 2-3


Pl:-opeHer Handboolc

CHART 2-2 51. RATIO vs Of. RA1'lO

I" , •

Chart 2·2. This chart. related to Formula 2-3, ",}JQWS the miUimum speed 111m a nonplaning hull can achieve (IS {I junction oj its displacement-length ratio. Enter a hull's D1. ratio, filld the conesponding 81. ratio, OIUJ then refer to Chart 2·1 for the power required toachieve this speed. Ther«

,are three ways in which a vessel can achieve SL ratios signifitmlily higher dum about 1.45.- One i:I t' ('9-ve " : c\ f!~ "i:"'(P:t'by means of Uglu weight; extremely light vessels having DL ratios of, sa)" 60 to ]00 CGJJ achieve

0 2.4
t'C 2.2
1.4 40



I. D L 'J 6 L

C \,\VTA

"2. 1

r; L )

() I, C

I, (j _s :;;) I (<;" tl 5(\C'

::;_ 0 ~~; ,;; 0, ! 0 o

V/~ f i, tos-o 'i' Po+
3, r~"i/¥. ~ 1 -<;f'I!.~ , .. ?!",:.r~r (()·, .. o ( 11)· .: .«, (,,;,;,-

l ,. - ,

DL > 180 '; L (. ).42

100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240 260 280 300 320 340 360 380 400 DL RATIO

SL ratios upward of 20 el'en with comparatively sleep buttock angles and other nonpluning hull characteristics. The second path 10 high SL ratios is a planing hull, which, given enougb power, e(ll) achieve high speeds even with moderateiy heavy displacement. An example is Sil.lry Bell, discussed in the uccvIJIPunyinr; text, which achieves all SL ratio of2.] despite a DL ratio 0/286. Sahy Bell essentially "breaks through" the displacement-hull limitations of the charted curve above by means of a good planing hull arid (I huge powerplani. She is typical of rile crew vessels that carry men, provisions, and heavy equipment 10 oj)s/Jore oil rigs. JlW third way It.J achieve high speeds is by far the mOSI_COrJIIIWU_=lI_cambinmion.o! lighT-weigh. and planing hull charactedstics ... - - -.

Very low DL ratios permit high speeds (high SL ratios) without actually planing. In effect, the curve in Chart 2-2 indicates where the true hull speed occurs for vessels at differing DL ratios. Of course, the vast majority of nonplaning vesscls=-borh pleasure and commercial-have DL ratios greater than 280_ You can see from the chart that ~Llch



"I:~<,cls an: limited to SL ratios below 1.42 or ~O, 'such craft could make scmidisplacct:i,:n( ~r.'cd~ only if their quarter-beam buttock angie" were low and if they had trerncniklus ~)II\'Vcr, as we discussed above.

If, however. we were considering a long. light vessel. Sea Rockel, 50 feet (t 5,2 m) Oil the waterline and only 30.000 pounds (13,608 kg) displacernent, her 1)L ratio would be 107. From Chart 2-2 or Formula 2-2, we see that Sea Rocket, even with a comparatively sk'rp quarter-beam hulloCK angle, could achieve SL ratios of abo\\t \ .9, 0'\ a 'V 01 \3 .,c\, KIJ()(S, We could then determine the horsepower required to drive her at this SL ratio from Chan2-J,

Generally. flat or shallow buttock angles and light weight are conduci ve to high speed potential. A hull with these characteristics can be powered to operate at high speeds. Attempts to power vessels with buttock angles steeper than 8 degrees and displacementlength ratios over 290 to 300 to achieve 5L ratios higher than 1.4 will not work.

iiul! Strength and Seakindliness Affect Speed Potential A final consideration in determining speed potential is the strength and seakindliness of the hull. Just as the power needed to drive a vessel increases geometrically with speed, so do the slamming and pounding loads. A shallow flat-bottom skill' will have a fairly low DL ratio and a very small buttock angle. Accordingly, such a vessel can easily be powered to reach scrniplaning or planing speeds. Unfortunately, the pounding that such a craft will take outside smooth sheltered waters will be unacceptable to the crew and may even damage the hull. Before considering powering or repowering for high speeds, take into account the conditions the boat will operate in. Wide, flat-bottom hulls can be made to go very fast in smooth water, but if you operate in rough or choppy water regularly, you will be forced \1' slow down so often that the extra speedand power can seldom be used .

. * Planing Boats

Vessels that operate at speed-length ratios over 2.9 or 3 are true planing vessels. Such craft must have quarter-beam buttock angles under 2 degrees. Most modern planing Vt~S,do have quarter-beam buttock angles of 0 degrees. In other words, their quarter-beam buttock runs exactly parallel to tbe waterline, Light weight is critical. as well. In theory, ev(~n very heavy craft could get up on a plane if they had enough power. The sheer size of the engines and the weight of fuel required to run them, however, makes light weight a rractical necessity in all but very exceptional cases.

Chart 2-3 shows speed or V in knots attainable by power craft plotted against their power-to-weight ratio, LB/HP. These curves are based on Crouch's formula with the constant. C, adjusted to give speed in knots:

Formuta 24 Crouch's Planing Speed Formula

Kts -= C -i- (LBfSHP)fj·~ Where:

Kts '" Speed in knots== Boa! speed, V

C '" Constant chosen for the type of vessel, being considered I.B "" Displacement in pounds

SliP = Horsepower at the propeller shaft

The speed predicted by this formula assumes a propeller has been selected that gives between 50 and 60 percent efficiency, with 55 percent a good average (see Chapter 6),


I,L '/2°0 .: nD

/.- ---


Formula 2-4


t.f) 98
:z: 88
z 78
UJ 68
if) 58
18 rrrrttrt: I I! 0 !! 1 l ~ :

, . I I I I • I I I f I

2. 4 6 8 10 12 14 1618 20 22 24 2628 30 32 3436 38,4042 444648 5052 5456 58 60


111( s-: if (~Jnl.'_',' Y::'~N c, 0, ~ i')1' .'0\(.

Chart 2-3. This chart, bused on Formula 2-4. shows the speed auainable by planing craft as " [unction of available shaft horsepower. See Table 2-2 to estimate the appropriate C value with whicli to enter th« table. This chan applies only to true planing vessels with. quarter-beam bunac« angles under 2 degrees and anainable speed-length' ratios oj at least 2.9 or 3.0.

K It/.i ¥~el) N ,1:- 2~

, '

SL 2\0 ~-_?~o

The key to getting reliable results from Crouch's formula is to use the correct constant, C. They should he chosen as follows:



__ ... C 150 190 210

average runabouts, cruisers, passenger vessels high-speed runabouts, very light high-speed cruisers race boat types

three· point hytkoplane8;"5(epped··hydwpJftne;,~-· ---

Type ()f Boat


230 racing power catamarans and sea sleds

plo();"~ C --- ISo

'( fI.r· ".; ;,. j II C -I> I 90 - l CD

(i _,. -2. i 0 _,. !'Q(I IlgL-(('

The vast majority of ordinary planing craft have C values of 150 or JUSt slightly higher, Achieving the speeds given by C values of 190 or 200 requires a relatively narrow and efficient hull with very little tophamper, in the way of cabin structure. C values of 210 and above can only be applied to vessels that take this strategy- to the ultimate degree. Additionally, such vessels require the benefit of small and well-formed propeller shafts and struts to reduce appendage drag to a minimum.

It is interesting to note that length is nor considered at all in Crouch's formula. This

===~ , Fr:

ri may seem odd. but in practice, at planing speeds. power-to-weight ratio alone and not

/ length is the overriding factor. Length cannot he neglected 'in your considerations. bow-


ever, Longer, narrower boat" (vessels with low DL ratios) should get higher C values. as

r~ ,

.. we discussed above. Additionally, long, narrow boats with fine entries can be driven at

f· ." high speeds in rough water, whereas wide, shallow-bodied craft cannot.

l ' We can work through the example of the Flying .)J1ruy. a 35-foot (10.66 m) twin out-

. ~ board runabout with weekender cabin forward. She is 30 feet (9 _14 m) on the waterline,

· dicplno:cs 10,)\90 pounds (4,940 kg), and should operate at a V of 25 knots (28.8 MPH).

~ < •

· Her displacement-length ratio of 180 is average to a bn light [\11: a planing powerboat of

lilis lype. On the other hand, the lower unit housings of her outboards arc not very efficient and create turbulence at the propellers, as well as appendage drag. Accordingly,

t ~I\ average C value of 150 is about right (from Table 2-2), From Chart 2-3 or Formula 2-


4; we see that Flying Spray would require one horsepower per 36 pounds at the propelle~'1

This gives 300 UP (224 kw) [10,890 lb. -:- 31 LBfHP = 302 HP]. Since we want to \ operate continuously at this speed we have to figure on running at 70 percent of fulll QuottJe-·-outboards are light, high-speed engines. Thus, we need engines rated at a total; 0[·130 HI' (320 kw) [300 HP -i- 0.7 = 431 HP], Twin 215 to 220 HP (160 to 165 kw) outbQ~Jds shou ld do nicely.

At this point, we can start to answer another of the frequent questions we mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 1: "Why doesn't my boat reach the top speed claimed by the maeulacturct?" You can run through the speed prediction methods outlined here to see how fast your boat~c!utilli' be ca~bl~_QLgo.h1gJ,Y_LtJ1.heugaI hO),MP.Q}:ySJ.1119 at her_reaLwcight Do not be surprised if yOIl discover that, after taking your V('n5SCl'S true

" 'li<:Cight into consideration (as opposed to the sates literature weight), her maximum cruisit.gspeed works out to less than claimed on the showroom floor. If, however, you discover 1 dial your engine has enough power to drive your vessel faster than you have been able to get her to go, then and only then is it time to consider a ncw propeller. This is particularly , so ifyour engine cannot reach top RPMs, or if it reaches maximum RPMs well below full throttle We will take a detailed look at propeller selection ill Chapters 5 and 6.




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Chanter 3


Propeller Anatomy

Parts and Definitions

Before we can begin to examine the propeller selection process in detail, we have to define clearly the propellers we will be choosing: How arc they shaped? What are the differences and similarities between them? What types of propellers do we have to choose from, and which types are best suited for which service'? We will answer these questions in the next two chapters.



flub The hub or boss of a propeller is the solid center disc, bored for the propeller shaft, to which the propeller blades are attached. Since the hub generates no drive, the ideal would he to eliminate it. As a practical matter, though, the hub call seldom be much less man 14 percent of the diameter in order for it to have sufficient strength

Keyway Most propeller shafts transmit the torque from shaft to propeller through a key. The key is a long, slender rectangle of metal along the shaft that fits into a slot or keyway milled (cut away) into the interior at the hub. Standard keyway, shaft and hub dimensions may be found in Appendix C.

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Blades The propeller blades are [be twisted tins Of foils that project out from the huh. It is the action of the blades [hat drives a boat through (he water,

Blade Face and Blade Back The bladeface is the high-pressure side, or pressure face. of the blade. It is the side facing aft, the side that pushes the water when the bum is moving forward. The blade back is the low pressure side or suction face of the blade, the side facing ahead,

Blade Root and Blade Tip The blade root is {he point at which the blade attaches to the hub" The blade lip is the extreme outermost edge of the blade, as far from the propeller shaft center as possible.

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Lcq(li JjJL nnd_ Trallillg _E'dge$ Thc_1e_oJling. . .edge of a blade is the edge of.the.blade. that _ ..

cleaves rhewater. The {railing edge is the edge from which the water streams away.


A critical aspect of propeller shape is its hand. A propeller thaI drives a boat forward when it rotates clockwise, as viewed from astern, is called a right-handed propeller. By the sarue token, a propeller that rorates counterclockwise, as viewed from astern, is leilhanded. You can tell a right-handed propeller from a left-handed propeller just by looking at it. As you view the propeller horn asrem, the leading edges of the blades will always be farther away from you than the trailing edges. If the leading edges arc to your right,

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Propeller Ami1mny


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the propeller rotates clockwise and is a right-handed propeller. If the converse is true, it is a left-handed propeller.

Propeller hand can never be changed. If you obtain a propeller of the wrong hand for your installation, you simply have to replace it with one that has the correct hand. You cannot change the hand by turning the propeller backwards.

Rigbt-handed propellers are almost, but not quite, universal on single-screw vessels.

In twin-screw installations, propellers and engines of opposite hand are used port and starboard. A single light-handed propeller will tend to push the stern or a vessel to star-

Figure 3-[

Propel/a anatomy.

Figure 3·2

Propel/us "walk" ill tile direction of rotation.


Revolutions per minute (RPM or N) is the number of full rums or rotations that a propeller makes in a single minute. Since the propeller rotates at the same speed as the propeller shaft, [his is often called shaft RPM or taii-shaj: RPM.

Shan RPM is frequently very different from engine RPM, the speed at which the engine crankshaft turns at a given thronle setting. On the vast majority of installations, a reduc-

_ .. __ . tion.gear is filted berwcenlhe_nankshafLand.the..taiLoLpmpeileL.shafLJ;he_p.urQ~ej)L _

the reductioD ge~duce RPMs at the propeller so that a larger-dii:!~r, mort efiicien( propeller may be IIsed with f1Dcconolllical, compact, high-sp~g,!ne

Some common reduction ratios are 2:1, 2.4:1 'and 3:1; however, a vust number of reduction gears are available with a wide selection of ratios. In practice, it is frequently most economical to march the propeller to the standard reduction gears supplied by the engine manufacturer for their various engine models. When this is not possible, you CUll find a number of companies that specialize in producing marine reduction and reverse gear for a variety of special installations. In many cases, the gears may also serve to solve engine placement problems. Vee drives, offset drives and angled drives can combine a reduction gear with radical changes in shaft direction.

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board wben g~Jjng Iorward (to port going astern). The reason-s-in simple icrrus-c-is [hut the WHtG!: at the bottom of the propeller is a bit denser and freer to now (there's no hull aboveit) than at the lOp of the propeller. This makes the lower blades a bit mort: etlcctivc, $0 the propeller and ihe SIeHl "walk" sideways j n the direction of rotaticn.

On a twin-screw craft the propellers should be out-turning. The starboard or right propeller should be right-handed, and the port or left propeller should be lclt-h.uulcd. This gives the best propeller efficiency Twin-screw vessels with propellers of the Sllllle' hand can experience serious handling problems.


Diameter, revolutions per minute and pitch are the three most significant factors affecting propeller performance and efficiency Although many other variables need to be considered, the vast majority of calculations for selecting a suitable propeller revolve around these three characteristics.


The most obvious characteristic of any propeller is its diameter (D). This is simply the distance across the circle swept by the extreme tips of [he propeller blades,

';; Effect« of Diameter Diameter is the single most critical factor in determining Ihe amount of pov:cr that a propeller absorbs and transmits. It is thus [he most imponanr single factor ill determining the amount of thrust delivered.

for the vast majority of installations, the larger the diameter the greater the efficiency.

The only exceotionis for high-speed vessels-over 35 knots or so-in which the extra

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wetter surface 0 arge-diameter S arts, eanngs, and so on causes excessive drag. A

small increase in diameter dramatically increases thrust and torque load (see section on tOIQt1 e in Chapter 1) on the engine and shaft. For this reason, the larger [he diameter, the slower the shaft RPM must be. In theory, a propeller with a diameter as large as one-third of the beam of llle vessel and turning at only a dozen or so RPMs is ~~.cie.nt.

Practical limits ou draft, hull shape, RPMs and reduction gear lOSSeS restrict diameter [0 far less than Ih is.

Revolutions per Minute



i t

Shafl speed or RPM may be calculated simply by dividing the c:ngillc PI' crankshaft :{I'M hy the reduction ratio. For example. an engine operating at 3,000 RPMs with a ~4J reduction gear would have a shaft RP,M of 1.250 [3,fmO HP]\1s ~ 2.4 reduction = _1,250 RPMsj.

Thr; reduction gear mechanism does absorb or waste power-roughly 3 percent-s-so li_'r the ultimate in efficiency, (he ideal would be to eliminate the reduction gear' altogether. This is seldom done because engines able to develop sufficient power at low enough speeds arc excessively large and heavy. using up valuable interior bun space.

High-speed craft. however, often use propellers that operate at engine speed. In fact, \ i~ SC)\11t' very high-speed racing vessels, ncc~ssary to increase tad-shaft RPMs above Illo~e of tbe crankshaft. Such vessels are 'fated With step-up gears.

~ffeclS (~r RPM Generally, high RPM;; are not conducive to efficiency except on very high-speed craft. For vessels operating under 35 knots, lowering the RPMs permits a rarger-diarncter propeller to he swung with the same size and weight of engine and the ~~ile fuel consumption, Since a larger-diameter propeller is more efficient in producing 111m,!. lower RPMs are generally desirable for most. installations,

011 high-speed vessels, where it is important to keep the size of the propeller and its wpporting structure small to reduce appendage drag, higher RPMs and t]1US smaller propellers. propeller shafts and struts can be beneficial.


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Blade twist and propeller pitch.

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A standard three-bladed propeller, showing the characteristic blade twist that gives constant, or helical, pitch.

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The term pitch. (P) comes from the old screw analogy used to approximate propeller action. This analogy says that a propeller screws itself through the water much .lS a wood screw works itself iuto soft pine. ln fact, the proper term for a propeller is screw propel/a

Face Pitch Just us a wood screw does, the propeller will--in thecry=-drivc forward a certain fixed distance for each complete revolution. [See also the discussion of virtual pitch below) This distance is called pitch _ A more preci se term for [his is jL7I.:e pi tell. as this defines the angles of the blade faces. If the propeller moves forward 10 inches (254 mill') for every complete tum, it has a .lO-inch pitch. Since the propeller is firmly attached (0 its propeller shaft, it pushes the shaft forward by the same distance. In tum, [he shaft pushes on a thrust bearing that imparts force against the hull itself. On the majority of small- to medium-sized engines, the thrust bearing is in the gearbox, or rransruission, attached ill the engine.

In each revolution, though, the propeller actually pushes the boat forward less distance than its nominal face pitch. The difference between the nominal pitch and the actual distance traveled is called slip. (We'll examine this in detail in Chapters 5 and 6.)

As with any other rotating object, the inner part of [he propeller (near the hub) travels much less distance during each full turn than the tips. For, say, a propeller with 16-inch (406.4 mm) diameter, the tips would be traveling along a 50.26-inch (L276.6 rum) circumference. By contrast, the mot of tile blades, right by the hub, would only be traveling along an l l-inch (279.4 mm) circumference each revolution. This is a very substantial difference. Since the tips of the blades cannot be allowed to race ahead of the inner part

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Constant iii/eli. blade helix.

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of the propeller, they are given a shallower angle. In this way, the tips end up at the same place as the blade roots every full tUI11. Carrying this principle evenly all the way along the length of the blades gives them their characteristic twist.

It's good to remember that the pilCh of a propeller is not the same as its blade angles.

FigllTc 3-6A is a sectional view of a propeller blade <1\ some cllstance out irom the shaft centerlinc. say 70 percent of the distance to the blade til), The blade is turning up out of Ihe plane or the page above the shaft centerline and down into the page below the shaft centerline. The blade angle for this section is angle a. the angle between the blade face and a plane. perpendicular to the shaft centerline. This (Ingle will vary all along the blade, as shown in Figure 3-6B, to keep pitch constant. In fact, Ole accurate name of the pitch we have been describing is constant face pilch-"constant:" because the pitch (unl ike the bJ;lde angles) does not change, and "face" because it really applies to the face of the blade alone. The faces of the blades of a propeller with constant face pitch describe a perfect or true helix with a pitch equal to the nominal pitch of the propeller.

Variable-l'itcll Propellers The majority of propellers have blades with essentially conslant pitch. but a few specialized propellers have blades with pitch that changes suostantiallY' from root to tip. This means that the blade angles do not vary in such a way as to keep pitch constant. The principal reason for these variable-pitch propellers is to take advantage of varying speeds of water flow to the propeller-as measured radially out Irom the hub-due to the interference of the hull ahead.

Propellers with truly variable pitch are outside the scope of this book. This type of installation is called for only on large vessels with special need for the ultimate in effi-

ciency However, many modern propellers do have a small amount of variable pitch intro-

duced near the blade root as a result of changing blade section. Frequently, they also

reduce [he pitch near the tip of the blades slightly from that of a theoretical helix. This is I 1~I!cdJ'J!~cI:_~e_f~e,(_?!__~e3!!J;O~, and it has been found to reduce the tendency for I' 1 '. t11l'1/aliolll0 start at the propeller tips (see Chapter 4). , <,"

C'ol/(rolla!;le-l'ifch Propellers The term controllable-pitch. propeller sounds similar l'O variable-pitch propeller, but actually it refers to a completely different concept A C()I1-


Virtuul pitch angle,

Figure 3-6B

The blade angle a (·hallges continuously from root to tip ill order to keep the pitch constant,


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!Toll able-pitch propeller allows the operator to change the pitch of the propeller blades at 1 will while underway, Usually, a hydraulic mechanism or a direct mechanical linkage permits rotation of the blades around the individual blade axes, independent of shaft 1

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Controllable-pitch propellers offer significant advantages in economy of operation for vessels that operate tinder varying conditions of load, such as tugs, trawlers and motorsailers. This is because the operator can adjust pitch to suit the thrust required for, say, running free or towing. Obviously, however, controllable-pitch propellers are considerably more expensive and complicated than ordinary solid propellers. We will deal with them at greater length in Chapter 8. .

Virtual Pitch The final consideration in pitch is called virtual or hydrodynamic pitch, 10 reality, a propeller does not <;lperate like a wood screw, although the analogy is useful Water enters the propeller blades at an angle (angle a in Figure 3-6) relative to a plane at





right nnl!le~ to the shaft line, and (eaves the trailing edge of the blades at a differing angie, i', This anale varies a n along the lellglfl or the blades, and the avernge of these eli Hering


~ngles is the virtual pitch. The virtual pitch is the reai or (rue pitch of a propeller. It is

II rever specified by manufacrurers; its importance lies in tile fact (sec, below) that it may vary among propellers having the same face pitch, and the behavior of these propellers r in usc will vary somewhat as it consequence.




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Almly.lis Pilch, Po Like virtual pitch, analysis pitch, (Pn), also called experimental i.'lith, is another way of measuring true or effective pitch. Analysis pitch is the pitch of a l'fllpc1Jer as measured by the water speed and RPM at which the propeller cannot keep lip with the water flow~·jn other words, the speed and RPM when thrust falls to zero.

When at a given speed through the wake, Va (see Chapter 6), at a given RPM, the pupcllcr thrust vanishes, the analysis pitch, Pil (in feet) is 10t.33 times the speed through Ihe wake (in knots) divided hy the RPMs at zero thrust, Nil' For a propeller delivering iN) ntJUS\ at 2,ROO RPM through a 21-kllot wake. the analysis pitch would be 0.76 feet r,[, q inches (231.5 mm) []OLJ3 x 2.1 knots -:- 2800 RI·M.s = 0.76 ft "" 9 in].

Formula 3-/

Analysis Pitch Formula




l I


AnaIY5i.<; pitch = PQ (in feet) Po = 101.33Va -i- Nn


Va '" speed in knots through wake at zero thrust No .~ shaft Rp·M at zero thrust

Pitch Comparisons Increasing blade thickness and increasing blade width Doth have Ihc effect of increasing the virtual pitch. Since propeller manufacturers specify their propellers bailed 00 face pitch-it would be a prohibitively complex undertaking to calculate vinual pitch-c-it is important to compare propellers of comparable blade thickness, blade pailcrn, and width; otherwise their real or virtual pitches will be different even though Ih'~ir specified [ace pitches are the same.

Even measuring simple face pitch poses some problems. Since the blade angles vary ;,11 along the length of the blades, from the fool to the tip, you would get a difreren! pitch measurement depending on where you took the measurement. By convention, however, the f'!£.~ .. i:~lwa¥SJllea~ured at 70 ~r::!n.!_ (~fthe radius out from the s.b_~t cen~~. For instance, a 44-inch ell n:6inol) uiameter propelfet: wOIdabaw_!-itdace pitch meaSLlflXI 15.4 inches (391.16 mm) out from tbe shaft center LoU" diameter ..;- 2 == 22" rsdins, anrl22" X 0.7·:=; 15.4"].

Pitrl! Ratio Pitch is defined in terms of inches oe millimeters; however, it is also very useful to define pitch asa ratio of diameter-pitch-diameter ratio, pitch. ratioot pld ratio. A lO-inch (508 mm) diameter propeller with a pitch of 18 inches (457. 2 m In) has a pitch ratio of 0.9 rls" + 20" = 0.9J.

formula 3-2 Pilch Ratio Formula

Pilch ratio = PID W1H:rc:

P =-" pitch

f) ",. diameter

Pitch ratios generally fall between 0.5 and 2.5; however, the vast majority of vessels operate best with propellers having pitch ratios between 0.8 and 18. Very roughly, a pil!'h ratio of n,R con be expected to produce efficiencies of around 0.65, while pitch



PJ"opciier Anatomy


Formula 3·1

Formula 3-2




Propeller Handbook

ratios 01' around 1.4 elm rcsul t in elliciencics as high as 0.7'::. At pitch ratios higher than 1.5, efficiency generally starts to fal! oil. Lower pitch ratios are usually suited to iUWL:t"speed craft, ami higher pitch ratios are best for high-speed craft.

A propeller that has a pitch ratio of] .O-say, an lS-inch (457.2 mrn) diameter ;i.llt ! I). inch (457.2 nun) pitch-is said to be a square wheel. In the past, some designers haw: given this proportion a son of mystic importance. III practice, though, there is uorlung special about a square wheel, although a pitch ratio of 1.0 is in a reasonably etlicient operating regime.

Eilects of Pitch Pitch converts the torque of the propeller shaft to thrust by ddkl.'ling or accelerating water astern. The formula describing this is Newton's Second Law: fOI"I.'t; (or thrust) equals mass times acceleration, or F = MA. In this light, 11 propeller drives a vessel [v;.ward exactly as a jet engine or rocket motor propels a plane or missile. The force or thrust is directly proportional to the mass or weight of water moved asieru rimes

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Since the mass being accelerated is water, thrust can be calculated <IS follows:

Formula 3-3 Theoretical Thrust Formula

Thrust = Force, F F = MA or

F = Wig (Vo-V!) Where:

W = weight in pounds of the column of water accelerated astern by tile propeller

g = the acceleration of gravity, 32.2 l'Usec, l

Vo = velocity of water before entering propeller in feet per second VI = velocity of water after leaving propeller in feet per second M = mass in slugs

A = acceleration in feel per second squared

In a similar fashion, the speed of the vessel is proportional to the momentum of the water according to the law of conservation of momentum, or MYI = ~V2' In other words, the mass of water accelerated astern times its velocity will equal the mass of the vessel accelerated forward times its velocity. This relationship is very much couiplicated by the resistance of the water surrounding the hull, which is constantly working to

slow it, -

Even on a large diameter propeller, wide round "blades" like baseball bats, without pitch or angle of attack, would not accelerate any water astern and so would do nothing but generate tremendous churning. Such a propeller would not drive a boat forward at all. Conversely, ordinary blades with too much pitch would attempt to force more water astern more quickly than the engine could accommodate. This would simply place such a load on the engine that it would slow and never reach its maximum RPM or raied output PQv,~L_'Ibjs i~ I)Q~h_iI1~D!~.ifnt ~.nQ..P.Qte:!J.j:j,#,UY. .9.illm;tgi.J}gJQ_th~ engine.. __

The fundamental task in selecting a propeller is to ~j.a'flCk\r tnat ~l generate the maxi mum tllIust E9ssiblc a~~g speeds w ithout overloading the engine. Jucreasing pitch increases thrust, but increasing pitch too much reduces tbe efficiency of rhe engine and propeller combination by slowing the engine. On the other hand, while too little pitch will not overload or slow the engine, it will not accelerate as much water astern and thus will not generate maximum possible thrust or speed.


'Effects of Multiple Blades

Four- or five-bladed propellers-s-and propellers with even more blades-are useful for '+ j ,I' I

two reasons, First, their extra blades create more total blade area with the same or less

diameter. Accordingly, an installation that needed a 20-inch (508 mm) three-bladed pro-

peller but only had room for an 18-incber (457.2 mm) could obtain sufficient thrust from,

say, a properly sized four-bladed propeller. The four-blader, however, would seldom be

as efficient as the three-blader because the closer blades create additional turbulence,

literally scrambling up each other's water flow,

Another reason to use more than three blades is to reduce vibration. If a propeller is in the habi t of producing ann oying, rhythmic thumping and humm ing, a propeller with more blades will often go along way toward turing the problem. Every lime the blades {If the propeller pass under the hull or by the strut, they cause :I change in pressure that causes a push (or a suction). If the push is strong enough it generates a bang. Lots or rapid bangs rqnnls vibration.

Chapter 4

Blade Characteristics'

Blade Shape, Cavitation, Special Propellers, and Rules of Thumb

Ifllhe preceding chapter, we described the parts (If a propeller, defined its overall dirnensi(\lls, and saw bow blades are twisted to create the pitch that generates thrust Nevertheless, it's important to hear in mind that two propellers of identical diameter and pitch could he quite different. For instance, one propeller could have very wide blades. and the other narrow or skinny blades. It's intuitively obvious that the wider-bladed propeller would absorb more thrust and horsepower, but we need to be able to define blade area, shape and width exactly to specify the correct propeller for a specific application. (Blade area is particularly important in determining if a propeller will cavitate or not.)

Likewise, the blades themselves may have different sectional shapes-c-diffcring thicknesses and contours-c-or, of course, two propellers of the same diameter could have a differing number of blades. Again, we need to be able to understand and describe all these variables exactly in choosing a propeller. Furthermore, there are specialized propellets, such as controllable-pitch propellers and ducted propellers, that are particularly suited to specific applications,


Number of Blades

Let's consider the question: How many blades'? Surprisingly, the ideal is one. A single blade does not have other blades disturbing the water flow ahead of, It., Unfortunately, trying to get a single-bladed propeller to balance is like trying to ~l1lpl>~hlh one hand, Having two blades is the logical answer. Both sailboats trying to reduce drag and very high-speed powerboats frequently use two-bladed propellers. The problem with twobladed propellers for most vessels is that such propellers require very large diameters to get the blade area required for effective thrust. As a result, three-bladed propellers have generally proven to be the best compromise between balance, blade area and efficiency

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'[he blades of a three-bladed propeller turning at 1 ,(JOt) 1(Pl\.1~ pa~;s under the stern 3,()OO rimes every minute, or 50 limes a second-a vibration of 50 cycles per second (cps), Of 50 Hz (hertz). Switching (0 a four-bladed propeller-e-still at 1,000 RPMs-would change this to 4,000 times a minute, or 66 cps. The more ra-pid tile cycles, the: smoother the feel-s-aud the less likely the-hull is to resonate (amplify the sound like the: .body of a guitar) with the vibration.

For reducing vibration, there is a further advantage (0 substituting a propeller with more blades and consequently smaller diameter. If, for example, a 3D-inch (762 nun) diameter three-bladed propeller were replaced with a 28-inch (7l1 mru) four-bladed propeller, the tip clearance (the distance between the hull and the propeller blades) would increase by 1 inch (25 mm). If t~e orig~~!tl~!lHl~ru:<H1QeJlad be.vo_A.5 ·lI)ChI&W.::l_l~ll), this wou].!L.gmQy'~R£[£~~J~ Increasing tip clearance will greatly reduce the fOia of the pushes that cause vibration. When dealing with an installation that hus been producing severe vibration, such an approach can be very effective in solving the problem.

:;f.. Blade Area-Projected and Developed CAp and Ad)

Blade area is the surface area of the individual propeller blades. The blade area bas a direct effect on a propeller's tendency to cavitate and on the power it absorbs, but because of the complex shape of propeller blades, it is not easy to measure directly. The most common ~ measurements are l!!2jected blnde area, Ap, and t!f!y.!!!?P~!l.. blade u!!!.q;_, Ad (also called expanded blade area). Projected blade area is the area of the blades as viewed from directly astern. Another way to visualize this is as the area of the silhouette or shadow cast by the blaqes with a light shining from directly ahead.

Since the blades are Mls~lf;<'the projected blade area is always less than the true blade area (the expanded or dever0r-led area). '~O find tbe developed blade area, a designer

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systematically expands (sfraig \tens out) I e curved and twisted area on a drawing and

measures this expanded area. This is the same as carefully fitting a piece of paper flush against the surface of the blade, cutting it to match the blade outline, laying it out flat OIl



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Chart 4-1. This Chart, based on Forrm~/a 4-1, plots the developed-area to projected-area ratio against (he pitch. ratio. If, for example, ;you know the projected area (Ap) and the pitcn ratio, you can filld the de veloped urea (Ad) by dividing Ap by the [actor show/! in tne chart.


the table ann measuring the area. (Sec Appendix S.) Dev~1Qd_hiadG area is the area mnst frequently used in making propeller cak1l1,lti'')!1~·,--:.J~ce it represents the true total areu actually absorbing thrust.

Developed Area to Projected Area Conversion Chart 4-1 gives the approximate ratio of (he developed area to the projected area as plotted against the pitch ratio. If you know tile developed area of a propeller with. say. a pitch ratio of 1.2. then Chart 4-1 gives the Ap/Ad ratio as 0,8. Accordingly, if the developed area (Ad) were 1,000 square inches (6452 em'), the projected area (Ap) would be 800 square inches (5162 em'). IJ the projected area is known, you can find the developed area by dividing by the ApI Ad factor from Chart 4-1. For instance, if the Ap (projected area) or a propeller with a pitch ratio ofO,9 is 500 square inches (3227 crn''), then the Ad (developed area) would be S73 square inches (3696 cm-). (The factor from the chart is O.H7, and 500 sq. ill. +- 0.87 == 573 sq. in.)

Chart 4-1 is based on the following formula:

Formula 4-1 Developed Area to Projected Area Formula

I\p//\d = 1.0125 - (0.1 X PRj - (O,()625 x PRl) Where:

Ap/Ad '" Approximate ratio of projected area' to developed area PR = Pitch ratio of propeller



J'-.,k,r /1~o.T;:(fEi)



/'fEAN Morl-l



I ~~_---,

;4"€[_~4 ,;:?,.c:" J?e<-I,4/Vr:;:.~€ C""',-".A.l.S ExP.4NOE"P


Figure 4·}

marie Characteristics


/' ((0-

Formula 4-1

Determining the mean width of a propeller blade.

Propeller Handbook

~--""! -0;


, r

L..J \

\_ -]..;----,

" " -'


Formula 4·2

0.'2 c. fI/\ vJ R. <... D. 5S

I \V< hi ," l~' d·?


, 1 (, I."f~:.' (.

Formula 4..'1

Figure 4-2

Disc area of a propeller.

A1eaH-·~~lidth Ratio or 1l1lVll In order to COrIlpu.fe propellers of different diuructcrs , ~~ number of ratios describing blade area are used. The mean width of a propeller blade is the width of a rectangle [hat has the same area as the blade and the same length of [he blade from root to rip--nOl [rom shoji centerline. Thus, a propeller 74 inches (I87l.l.6 rnm) in diameter with an ] l-inch (279.4 nun) diameter hub would have a blade height of 31.5 inches (800.1 rum) [74 in.-H in. "" 63 in., and 63 in. +- 2 ::;:: 31.5 in.]. lf lhe expanded blade area is 656 square inches (:)232 cm-). the mean width is 20.8:2 inches (528.83 mm) [656 in.2 +- 31.5 in. = 20.X2 in.]. The mean-width. ratio or MWR is simply the mean width divided by the diameter, or ill this case, MWR = 0.28 (21).82 ill. +- 74 in. = 0.28).

Formula 4~2 M ean- Width Ratio Formula

Mean-width ratio = ivfWR

MWR = average blade width..,. Dol'

M\VR = (expanded area of one blade -'- blade height from root to tip) ..,. D Where:

D = diameter

Mean-width ratios usually vary from about 0.2 to 0.55. MWRs of around 0.35 are considered normal for most moderate- to high-speed applications. Higher mean-width ratios are used for highly loaded propellers to reduce cavitation or to keep diameter down. Small mean-width ratios are most frequently used on propellers with more than three blades to keep the total blade area small.

Disc-Area Ratio or DAR Another useful measure of propeller blade area is the disc area, the area of the ,circle described by the maximum propeller diameter. For example, a 42-inch (1066.8 mm) diameter propeller would have a disc area of 1,385.43 square inches (8932 cm~) [11'42 iD.2 +- 4 = 1,385.43 m.2J-

The disc-area ratio is simply the total developed area of all the blades divided by the disc area. Thus, if the 42-inch (1066. g rum) propeller above had an expanded area of 24'2 square inches (1561 cm2) per blade, and had three blades, its disc-area ratio would be 0.51 [242 in,? x 3 blades = 726 in,", and 726in.2 +- 1,385.43 in.! = 0.51.],

Formula 4-3 Disc-Area Formula

Disc area'" 'l7D2 ..,. 4 (or O.7854D'~) Disc-Area Ratio = DAR

DAR = expanded area of all blades -'c' disc area Where:

________ , ~_~. •••• r __ • • ~~_, -_~ • _

D = diameter 'IT=3.14

_L)/$C AREA /s ANEA Or A {!/ikt. e MrH J~1Ht: LhA /Is P!?oP


C r c- ~~. 1'1

I~ V ,

I~ffects of Rlade Area A number of conflicting factors affect the choice of blade area. Propeller blades actually behave largely like airfoils or hydrofoils. (A foil is a shape specifically designed to generate thrust orJ!.f.v:yhen moving through a fluid.) Longer, narrower blades are theoretically more efficient. Unfortunately. very long. narrow blades call for large diameters and low RPMs, which are seldom practical.

C -I.' ,.)

~ Y' ... ,'



Figure 4-3

A four-bladed propeller with wide, n(lu·,.,keK'(!d blades o.ff_ullJ~.£giwtl (ftat-faced) section. The mean-

-wMirro(j~ of the bla~e.~ .is 0,33, I and (he disc-area ratio 1.10.61. Sitch a propeller is best suited to

,I low-speed, high-thrust applicatiQlls- workboats, trawlers I tugs, and so 011. The three-bladed pattern of this propeller has the same AfW"R bat (1 DAR 0/0.50. The smaller blade area a/tlie three-blader ~s it more suitable .for ligh0.!:.. displacement motor cruisers and moderate speed commuters.


(Courtesy of The Michigan Wher! Company)

Figure 4-4

Ii four-bladed propeller with 1I0rrow, fum-skewed blades of fully agival (}lai-faced) section. The mean-

width. ratio of the blades is 0.21, 'I

and the disc-area ratio is 0.43. FrQpellets such as this are intended to replace three-bladed propellers of the same diameter but with wider blades (blades (if the more normal mean-width ratio of between O.J(J and 0.35). This provides the additional smoot/mess oj four blades without the loss of efficiency from decreased diameter, though. there is still some loss of efficiency from the blades' being closer together. Such.

a propeller cannot be used if it rIMS not provide mfficicn( blade area to prevent cavitation,

(Courtesy a/The Michigan Wh,·{'/ Componv]

Propeller Handbook

StDCe propeller thrust is actually created by water pressure on the blades, this pressure can be described in terms of pounds per square inch (kilograms per square centimeter).

~ ;,\:",/,;, v',, Blades with pressures that are too high tend to lose efficiency and £0 cavitate (see lll\) discussion later in this chapter). Accordingly, lower blade pressures are desirable. Thus, to create a given thrust in the same diameter propeller, it's necessary to increase blade area. Wider blades, t1ioug11'>,lncrease the turbulence between blades and have greater induced ?:YragChip vortexes). Years of experiment have shown chat for most average applications, mean-width ratios should vary from about 0.2 to 0,5, and disc-area ratios from

"-?.. _. ,',1 t.e ,ab Jut 0.4 to 0.7. Generally, the smaller the diameter and the higher (he RPM, (he wider

,. t- f':O,.....~ :=.I';J 't:l .r F-f'(1,;(J

~ " the blades; thus, the higher tJ1C MWR and DAR.


/··I<.i,)Jt ). D t.: ~

Relationships of MWn. DAR, and Developed Area

r: Knowing just the propeller diameter, the number of blades, and either the mean-width

i\-.e...{.~~> ,~a,,~I; {"ratio or the disc-area ratio of the blades enables us to determine the total blade area exactly.' We will use this information frequently in checking for cavitation. Mean-width ratio also defines disc-area ratio (and vise versa), as follows:

~.:--,. \} .:,

2 c /\;1 .r.. f. L o. ::

L~ <: () J! i: .: J_ ~

tvl 'f'.; K + D p.., i? -1

Formula 4-4 Disc-Area Ratio V$ Mean- Width Ratio

DAR"" No. of Blades X 0.51 X MWR

LJ h.l,~C.l \'-l <,l~~




MWR = ------No. of Blades x 0,51

Formato 4-4


DAR = Disc-area ratio MWR = Mean-width ratio

Note: These ratios assume a hub that is 20 percent of overall diameter, which is very close to average. Small propellers for pleasure craft may have slightly smaller hubs, while heavy, workboat propellers, particularly controllable-pitch propellers, may have slightly larger

huh~. •

From this formula we find that, for instance, a three-bladed propeller with a MWR of 0.33 has a DAR of 0.5 [3 blades x 0_51 x 0.33 MWR ::: O.SDARJ,

Total developed area may be found from the disc-area ratio as follows:

Formula 4-5

Formula 4.5 Developed Area vs Disc-Area Ratio Formula Ad = 'IT X (D/2)' x DAN,

Total developed area may also be found from the mean-width ratio, as follows:

Formula 4-6

.!:I.!.:!.nllla±~ Dev§]ope!l~re{l vs_k!f!.u!.!:Width Ratio Formula Ad = 'IT x (D/2)' x MWR X 0.51 x No.9fDlades

Where, for both of the above formulas:

Ad = Developed area D "'" Diameter

DAR = Disc-area ratio MWR = Mean-width ratio 'IT=3.14

Thus a four-bladed propeller. witha MWR of 0.4 and a diameter of 42 inches (1,066 mm) would have a developed area of I,O:.!5 square inches (6613 em') [3.14 x (42 in.! 2)2 X 0.4 M"\VR x 0.51 x 4 Btades ::: 1,024.8 in!],



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DEVELOPED AREA (Ad) IN SQ. IN. Chart 4-2A, B, and C. These charts, bawd on Formula 4-5. give the del/eloped or eXI'(lIId(d urea of the blades 0.1 a function o{ diameter, mean-width ratio, and number oj Modes, Developed arra is useful /0 know when assessing the possibility (?{ cavitation. The values in the charts are bo.<ed on a propeller hub diameter 20 percent ofthe overall diameter, which is occuratefnr the vast m,\!only ofstandard-pattern propellers. {((Ill adjustment is necessary, use Formuln 4·7.

----- --_.-- - ------

Formula 4-7

Figure 4-5

Ogival and air/oil blade sections.

Charts 4-2n, D, and c plot developed or expanded area against diameter in inches ior three- and four-bladed propellers of varying mean-width ratios based on Formula 4-5, Remember that these values are predicated 011 an average hub sized at 20 percent of overall diameter. To find area from MWR for propellers of any hub dimension, the following formula should be used:

Formula 4-7 Developed Area for Any Hub Diameter and MWR Formula Ad = MWR x D x (l-hub%) X Df2 X No. of Blades, or


Ad = MWR x '2 X (l-hub%) x No. of Blades


Ad = Developed area MWR = Mean. width ratio D = Diameter

hub% = Maximum hub diameter divided by overall diameter, D

Blade Section Shape

If you cut or slice a blade at right angles to the radius-lopping oft', say, the outer thirdyou are looking at a section through the propeller blade. Such sections have a carefully



FAct;; /-/AY .BE rL,4T o--€' s./-/ G-h'rL)" CON~eK

_,(7oU.N' /.J E £) L£A£).hv6- E~Xi-'£:



determined shape that can dramatically affect performance, The two most common shapes for cross-sections through a propeller blade are ngivol and airfoil. An ogival or flu/faced blade is made with its face dead fiat--as expanded --and it, back syrnmetri,.Uy rounded. The leading and trailing edges of the blade are usually as sharp as possible, consistent with strength. The back or suction surface is rounded in a perfect circular segment, an ellipse, or a sine curve, with the maximum height or blade thickness exactly al the midpoint of blade width.

Airfoil blade sections resemble traditional airplane wing sections. The leading edge is roundcd-c-not sharp-and the maximum blad~Jhickness,. or chord, usually occurs about a lhird or the blade width aft of the leading edge. The blude-faceis generally flat, though some airfoil blades have a small amount of convexity to their faces.

Effects of Blade Section Shape Since propeller blades generate thrust by producing lifL~very much like airplane wings--you might expect that most propeller sections would have an airfoil shape. Interestingly, this. is generally not the case. The suction surface or an airfoil blade actually generates too much lift. creating local areas-just

l .,

"' \ '

Figure 4-6

Pressures on ogival and airfoil sectum blades.

s ~ c' ,,' "r ,~


Propeller Handbook

t - ~\ } IS:; T (~tJ. - ... j

behind the k:H.Eng edge-of ve:ry hlrge negative pressure (suction). This !cads to early cavitation (sec later sections in this chapter) _ To avoid this, most propellers usc [he ogival shape',

In many modern propellers, a small amount of airfoil section is worked into lilt blades at HIe rOOL This is because tile actual speed through the water of the inner parts of the blade is subsrantially slower than for (he sections at (he tip. Thus, the inner parts of the blade can safely be made to generate a bit of additional lift without creating excessive ueguii ve pressure and cay itation,

Following such blades out from the root, the airfoil section gradually disappears uutil-.<lt 55 to 70 percem of the blade length out from the h\!.b-the blades return 10 completely ogival section. Although such blades call increase performance, the gains are usually small-in the region of a 3- or 4-percen! inC,llib'i~_itl.$~.£~!?-£J" Since entirely ogival blades are easier and less expensive to prod lice, manufacturerscontinue to otler them, and they are more than satisfactory for most installations.

Blade-Thickness Fraction (BTF) or Axial-Thickness Ratio

Blalie 1ilickuess is usually defined rn terms of blade-thickness fraction cc axiai-thickness ratio, which is the maximum thickness of the blade divided by its diameter. Since a blade gets thinner as it progresses from root to tip, Ulf?_I!!_l'!.~iJl~.I:!! .. l!!ifJ~nes]_j~.Ek<;_n_at all im~!!~_QQlm...9tl_1!J!.haf~lq!.!.QS_ The line of the blade face is extended down to intersect with the shaft centerline at point 0, and the line of the blade back is extended to point A on the sha'ft centerline. The distallc;~OAru:Jo9.iy.14~ by the diameter equals the blads-thicknessfraction. Blade-~nlctions for .average-p-;'opellers-u-suilly faIl between 0.04 and O.O"1J(See Figure 4-11).

Formuta a-B Blade-Thickness Fraction formula

BTF = to ... D Where:

.BTF = Blade-thickness fraction D = Diameter

tu = Maximum blade thickness as extended 10 shaft centerline

" ,_r

Ellat.\' of Rhule Thickness All other things being equal, a thinner blade is more ellicientthan a fatter, thicker one. There must. however, be enough thickness to create the desired sectional shape. In addition, blade thickness must be large enough to generate stlffic:ient strength-s-if blades are too thin, they will break under extreme loading. A rough rule of thumb is tha:tthe blade thickness fraction should equal 16 percent of the mean}y"ichh pll"iQ CMYVR). Accordingl y, a standard propeller with a M WR of 0.33 'WOuld have a BTF of about 0.053 [0_33 MWR x 0.16 ::; 0.053].

t (["2,(,0 III order to keep highly loaded, high-RPM propeller blades from becoming excessively

t-,;<{~---.-thid~tmt-io-siTIg- efficienCY;--h!g;iFstrength-utlu £'5 me. h .o9Qfl1llY.}l..scd::..=..:pnrrtcutarty-iTl--:--f> r, ,. '" " If,' -, waters where there is substantial chance of floating debris .~angaflese bronze, is

actually a type of brass commonly used for average propellers ,,!l1ough vuiucrable to corrosioD. Stainless steel is used for propellers under high load, and Nibral or NAB (an ~noy of nickcLbmnz.e and aluminum), and also aluminum bronze, are indicated for

----- ----.........._._.

applications requiring extreme SITe~l[th a!~_g_Q.?_d_ ~O_~~:9sion~~~~~nce.

l~ r 1.1((

Blade Contour

The shape of tile blades as viewed from astern is their contour. Average propeller blades art; narrowest at the root and broadest about 50 to 66 percent of the radius om from the

I i )

i r







m~lde Characterjstic«

(,'ilk-dine, Such blades generally have maximum width, between 25 and. 40 percent of IIlell' rii;)Jnd :::TS,

The amount of blade area that can be driven by a given horsepower and diameter is lirtlited, so area is distributed where it will do the Ul0St good, Since the tips or the blades are traveling the greatest distance, they can do the most work. Thus, the natural tendency is 1(1 II)' to get ai I the blade area '!_S rOar out as possible, Obviously. the propeller cannot have liriy- S!l(lftS supporting huge plates at tbe tips. so we cornprom ise on the elliptical ,\l,IPC that is most common, That. way the root is strong enough t~) sllP.I22,!!.!}~~~~gs on the middle and tip, while the outer part of the blade is not SO-51g that it gets in the way of the water going to the blade behind it or bends excessively,

Very slow-turuing propellers customarily have their blade areas distributed farther out. ""'ilh the maximum blade~}Y,iQtI1_ occurring at (IS much as 75 percent of the radius, Propellers with f()ur,fi~~,~~ more blades frequently l"il\N~-long, narwvr!,!a1fes\)noW meanwidth ratio to reduce total blade area.

[~fJccls of Blade Contour Blade contour is very closely related to blade width, Since most blades arc roughly elliptical in contour, squatter, broader contours are associated with wide blades or blades of high mean-width ratio, The comments on the effects of blade width apply here, too.

Skew I,

When the contour of the blade is not symmetrical but ~ITP_Lback, the blade is said to have skn01rJke1tLb.CKl!:, Moderate-speed propellers usual Iy have J ittle or no skew, whi le medium- to high-speed propellers will bave a small amount of skew back,

EIfects of Skew Skew causes radial sections of the blades to enter the water sequentially, instead of all at roughly the same time. This can help reduce vibration, especially at high RPM,~, by ,easing the transition of the blades from the full slipstream to the much slower

L//vE ?J.-:=/'-7'Ax/~v~ BL.rl,06 7HU:KN'cS5


, . _.J

Figure 4-7

Blade with skew and rake.

Prupeller Handbook

, ~~ .)-1",,,: t"...\

slipstream in the shadow of the deadwood or strut. Where vibration is a problem, you can switch to a moderately skewed propeller of similar dimensions with little sacrifice in thrust.

& Y[ ~ i 4- Pronounced skew is usually seen on weedless or non-fouling propellers. Although these propellers have noticeably less efficiency than less skewed propellers, in weed-

t flU) c .,'. \.~ i3"<t'q, r ,A,. ""t infested waters, freedom from fouling more than pays back this loss. Specialized propel-

c ' ',", r : {,.. lers for large, high-speed craft, such as destroyers or sub-chasers, may show pronounced

_.. '-fu- 'iVf. _ ___L!u_ • ..,___o~ skew back to compensate.fer.radial the water flow tn.the.propeller blades., , .. _;__

,...: '~e '. 1,,,-:,.;' t;.' r' "~" v:>J as a result of hull interference, and to decrease propeller noise. These types of propellers, however, require detailed computer analysis and tank testing and are beyond the scope of this book.

Figure 4-8

Standard ogival section blade without skew.

(\ _., " f. -\.H'l'i. ('0'"' J D:,

,Of '":."-0. .:



P'(>O:rEGTEO OV'TL/Ne::.


Ra~{e and R~ke Ratio

When the propeller blades Jean or slope either forward or aft as viewed from the side they are said to have rake. Blades that slope aft have positive rake, while blades that slope forward have negative rake. Rake is indicated either as a slope in degrees, or by rake ratio. The rake ratio is defined as shown in Figure 4-l1. A vertical line from the tip of


Blade Character+ir ics

the blade i~ dropped to intersect with the shaft centerline at point 13, ami the face of the hlwk is extended to meet the shaft centerline at point O. The distance "cl-C) divided lly diameter is the rake ratio. When B fans directly on 0, the blades are vertical (have no rake) .

fflrlllllla 4-9 Rake Ratio Formula

Rake ratio = BO --:- D Where:

130 :.~ distance between tip of blade projected down to the shaft centerline and face of blade extended down to shaft centerline

D =- diameter

Ej'ect,' ()f Rake For ahnost all normal applications vertical blades arc opti mum. Blades raked aft nrc chiefly used to steal a bit of additional effective diameter in tight situations. This is because the raked blades have more length and thus more area than vertical blades of the same diameter. In addition, the raked blades, whose tips end farther aft, can take advantage of the fact that the bull sweeps up slightly, permitting a somewhat greater propeller eli ameter, Blades with _E.£gat:ive rake ~Jal1y fO~£I.~ on eX!!.~.!llelyJ!.~gh-s);!ced vessels and highly loaded pr~_ellers. In these conditions, the rake can help strengthen

,.....,-,-._- ------_ .. - .. _----

tnc blades,

FVLL >" OG-IVfiL SEcno/Vs




Figure 4-9

Blade with. airfoil section at root, returning to fully ogival section at 4()% diameter, and wiJh moderate skew.

Propetler Handbook

Figure 4 .. 10

A three-bladed propeller with 11Iod-

_ erately skewed blades. TIle mean-

width ratio of the blades is 0.33 and the disc-area ratio is 0.55. These propellers are best s'uited to lise Oil moderate- to moderately high-speed craft such. {IS yachts> fast comm uters, ligltt,jilstjishiJlg vessels, and so Oil. Fur vessels operating over 35 knots, this panernis available with cupped blades.

(Courtesy a/The Michigan Wheel Company)

, ec,-,,,,,,

'r"}1 '-r "('ft'-. !if' j3S.k;.~C'r· f! l' f ,·Jr.-


t (pH,"

, ,

r L.u:. ::{{!

f;.r}l~ ~I;-.

Figure 4-11

x Cupped Blades

Cupped blades are blades with hollow or concave faces. There are many variations of blade cup, but the most common is to introduce cup atthe trailing edge. Sometimes, this cupping is worked around and into part of the blade tip as well.

bJJects of Blade Cup Cupped blades have the effect of increasing true or virtual pitch.

A good rule of thumb is to select blades WLth 1 illCh or 5 percent less pitch t~an g.similar

Yllculm.ed blade. Cupped blades are very effective on high-speed vessels (over 35 knots), particularly with high-RPM propellers. For such craft, cupped-bladed propellers can produce speed increases of as much as 6 to 12percent. On a 4O-knot vessel, this would work out to approximately 3_6 knots.

Cupped blades also help delay or reduce cavitation, which is always' a potential problem in high-speed and highly loaded propellers. Further, the curvature created by the cup imparts additional strength to the blade, allowing for thinner blades and, again, highor


O/ /lD (0",- r,,) LJ/v"':'~':> By O/A,,",,~r4i".R £"'''''''' ...... err I

£)/S.TANC= 80 £!JV/-"£.CJ 8y LJ/A'_'JOr~ E<?<-,;A~':> R_"k6: P .... r rc»






dliclt'llcy ~t high speeds. In spite of tile many ,K]V;I!1;,lges clipped blades can offer high,j1:~cd craft, they sCr::': no_useful function on most vessels operating at under }O knots:


(~~tiOl~i~.!:I.~bJes of_Qartiaj_ va_f}l!-!.l..lJ ea.uscd by s:~c.:::::)si':.':J~r~~LJ~r speed y~ loading. To avoid this condition, the negative pressure on the blade back (the suction lace) must remain less than the local (ambient) pressure of ihe water at the propeller. For most installations the ambient pressure is equal to the pressure of the atmosphere <It sea level. about .14.7 pounds per square inch (101326 N/m2), plus the.pressure generated hy the head of water above the propeller and minus the vapor pressure of the water, Oil avcmge vessels this comes to around 13.9 PSI. Thus, if the lift or suction on any portion of the blade back exceeds 14 PSI, cavitation is very likely 1.0 occur.

lIigh-RPM airfoil sections that produce negative pressure peaks, large amounts of slip ($C;; next chapter), excessive pitch, and high tip speeds all tend to create or increase cavitation. Thus. cavitation is seldom a problem on low-speed vessels with slow RPMs. Keeping RPMs down, using ogival section blades (particularly at the tips), decreasing pitch sligh!ly at the blade tips, and keeping pitch ratios as low as possible all help elimi-

I!ale. or reduce cavitation. . -








i I I






t I






l~lfcct~ of Cavitation

Cnrtrary to what most people think, ~1iWn.g propellers can still generate plenty of Ihms! The problem is that the vacuum bubbles implode against the propeller, causing vihration and pitting. The vacuum bubbles form and implode irregularly, causing uneven Pressure both along the blades and between them. This q~'!tes_ vibration identical to having \~1!_b31aBc.ed q_r_"!:'!ill.@..<.!l!y eilchcd blades .. What's more, the force of the imploding bubbles is so great that it actually §1!<;ks-met'!Lxl@J_ illAJJJ!.< surface of the propeller. The resultant pitting 1 cads' to.~~~v::~, bad bal ance and ~~~l'-m~n.-'--

Superc[lYihlting and Fully Cavitating Propellers

Ve:;~d,'i operating at high .speeds (over 35 knots) and at high shaft RPMs are frequently forced into operating regimes in which cavitation is di fficult to avoid. One solution is to t use supercavitating or fully cavitating propellers, specifically designed to operate during ~ cavitation. Even though supercavitating propellers are not generally quite as efficient as ,(alld:ud noncavitating propellers, practical limitations on propeller diameter and RPM hcqucntly make supcrcavitating propellers attractive options.

In order !Q_ay.nid.1he._pittiQg_~nd vi[_Jration9l1l.lliUu cavitation. the bla1~£Q!! ... §llpercavitating propellers are shaped so the bubbles will not implode agains~n. Although there are a n~-of approaches 101Iiis~yol16inTiequent1y recognize this sort of propeller by its scimitar-like blade shape.







\fmli/atio/1 is often confused with cavitation, though actually it is quite different. Whereas 9lvi(atian comprises actual regio!l.!LQi..Q.~rtia!vac~, ventilation is caused b~~o~!er':t.S.u\,%ing air 90WI1 from the water's surface. This is not usually as severe a problem as cavitation, b;tit can I cad to . vibratiol1anctToss of thrust. Some propellers, such 3S sarface propellers, are specifically designed to work with air entrained ill the wake, but frr most propellers ventilation should be avoided. The best way to correct ventilation is to .Eel the propeneI' deeper the surface, which sometimes can be accomplished simply by reducing diameter. Using a propeller with blades raked an is also helpful in reducing ventilation, since the force of water streaming out along the raked blades reduces the tendency of air to he pulled into the propeller elise.

Hlade Characterlstics


r,,' '

\ !'" _r

I, '


l' , , .1"

I ,

b i I~I. .. ( --j r

Propeller Handbook

Supercavitating propeiter.


I., { r: SUPEK C",,,,T,-9T/A/6- -0.>v? 'II

~ J0TH' 7,:;?,...,,/,,:/YC;: &GES OF

1 --_ BLAOES' C",r .//.I-i//I y I



Figure 4-12


*' Dueled Propellers

Ducted propellers or kart nozzles are .surrounded with a closely fitted, circular shrOLHJ of airfoil section. The propeller blade,S ~,<~£,;,square-tipped, almost like standard elliptical blades with the outer 20 percent chb~ped off at right angles, with very little clearance between the blade tips and the inside of the shroud.

Effects of Dncted Propellers Ducted propellers can substantially increase the thrust generated by an engine of a given horsepower a§_corupare.d with standard propellers. This effect is significant only on low-speed vessels such as tugs and trawlers that operate under 9 or 10 knots and have heavily loaded blades. In such applications, the expense and complication of installing a~_uct:9....E!2P!p'~an be recouped in the ability to tow he.!!_Yicr ~s at high"r speeds. On most other vessels, the ducted propeller offers little if any advantage to compensate for its additional cost. We will investigate ducted propellers ill more detail in Chapter 8.

Sri/face propellers are designed to operate.roughlY_half in and half out of the water, This would lead one to expect that surface propellers would cavitate all the time, but just the opposite is the case, Since every blade is exposed to the air on~fl.:~volutioll, the S'.yrface 2_ropt:ller is actually fully aerated. Since cavitation i;!i....'@.Q!.1!!ll, the aeration pre-

vents cavitation from oc!.;mring. .


E'jfuts of Surface Propellers Surface propellers are in effect e1ficien(,..!!or.!f~'d~ting propellers that can operate at bjgh RPM on bigh-s~d ~ without cavitation problems. These propellers are ~fu]on vessels that operate regularly .Q..o,:.~.!2?_.Jc.2}9l§, with substantial gains appearing oEh at speeds over 40 knots. Originally, surface propeller> were installed on fixed shafts projecting beyond the transom, and vessels equipped with

--------rnem-were steered witJl ordill.:rry -ruifcleis--sltuated weDalf ~any modem lflsmllatiiiiiS-"'-place the surface propeller on a11 articulated shaft that allows steering like an outdrive,

thu s eliminating the rudder. -t>. 1 ' M. ': i\ rJ.,'1'I! , i ?,-,

Such installations permit the ultim~te in reduction of appendage resistance. Not only is there no rudder and no shaft :t';llf ahe .. d of the propeller, but only a portion of the propeller shaft and propeller is in the water. Some surface propeller installations also allow the operator 10 pivot the shaft up and down, as well as from side to side. Although this has little effect on boat trim, it effectively allows the o£eratoL1Q.._hav~JLvarjable- 9imD.eter "p2:", which is very useful in adjusting ihrll.~·and power _~~<;(~.r}~!lon. \Ve will discuss surface propelJer~ further in Chapter 9.


Tl1CI'e are countless rules of thumb floating around about propellers. Some ;lTC, useful and ~Jmc are worthless, We will lake a brief look CIt a few of them

I. One illch in diameter absorbs th« torque 411"'0 to threeinches; of pjtcb. This is a good wligh guide. Both pitch and diameter absorb the: torque generated by Ihe engine. Diarnercr is, by far, the most important factor. Thus. the ratio of 2 to 3 inches of pitch equals J inch in diameter is a fair gl.Jide. It is no more than that, however. Y0U could not select a suitable propeller based only on !hi$ rule.

2. !he h~,0..eJ!_ifchJ'Q!lr Cflgill.t; (_(ltUllnl I1far {(}Ill!_9..rsf;paJII!~[_g/]dJVM, the {ewer your hora call gJ}. This is also accurate as far as it goes. The greater the pitch, tbe greater the distance your boat will advance each revolution Since top engine RPi"J is constant, increasing pitch means more speed, Then, why aren't all propellers as small in diameter as possible. with gigantic pitches? " f" ,<~ J . r.,

The answer is simply that when the pi tell gets too large, the angle, of attack of the propeller blades to the onrushing water becomes I DO sleep and they ~ltilJ This is exactly the same as an airplane wing's stallillg in too steep a climb. The pitches and pitch ratios we explore in Chapters 5 and 6 are optimum. Within these limits it is worthwhile, on high.speed craft, to use the sm~st diameter and the greatest pitch 2ossibJ~,

3. Ton little pitch carl rilil! all engine. This is quite true if tbe pitch and diameter combined are so low that it allows the engine to race at speeds far over its designed top-rated RPM. Never allow your engine to operate at more than 103 to 105 perce!·rj)J§.Q..R£M. lf your-engIne exceeds tha~ figure, a propeller with increased pitch or diameter is indicated.

4. Ever}' two-inch il!c~£ase in pi!£h will dec~l!gi/1e ,~peed by 450. "'Flit!, alld vice versa.

This is a good rough guide for moderate- to ~'?£!;£fLul.~~!ilil, passenger vessels and crew boats. Like all rules of thumb, though, it is no more than a rough guide.

S. !:.!.'1!!:.~.lii!.../J._[QP.e1leJ:....wiJh_fWlr;.(Q01v?'..saJ:t.l'ufuI]J1elel' and pitclV.J!LJ~Uffi£.iE!!. This is not true. There is nothing wrong with a square wheel; on the other hand, there is nothing special about it, either.

6, !1!s sOllie J!_rol1!ille canr tjeliy__er both 11!g_!1.§J2..IT.rLQlld 1!l!.L1:imum COlVer, This i~_!_l_1Ie, A propeller sized for high speed has a small diameter and maximum pitch. A propeller sized Ior power Of thrust has a large diameter. For some boats you can compromise on an inbetween propeller, but for either real speed or real thrust there is little common ground.

BJ! Chaructcrlstics

·.t ~I t f

( '~rf ,




S l Pt' h·

1- /I r
% I !{'1('1't'1~
r (If. .r "")-- Lf
l,-' k EHP ->

Cflclpter 5 Crouch's Propeller Method The Empirical Method/or Calculating Propellers Using Slip

For many years engineers have used the analogy of a wood screw in soft pine to explain propeller operation. This analogy is so intuitive and has persisted for so lung that many propeller terms, including the terms screw propeller and pitch, are based on this assumption. In fact, in its best form, this analogy is still used by some designers, as embodied by the tables and formulas developed and refined largely by George Crouch.

Because it is so intuitive and because it is the "traditional" method of propeller calculation, we will examine the Crouch or slip method first. I recommend, however, that the Bp-S method (pronounced "bee.ESe delta"), which we'll~r il!__~~.E~~~_chapter, b~ usecrrorimal calculations when precision is neede§ Most modem propeller experts use The Crouch method only for rough estimates, relying on the Bp-o or other more mathematically exact methods for installations demanding efficiency. The slip method is perfectly adequate, however, when peak efficiency is not important, as for example in auxiliary sailboats.

A propeller must meet two completely different requirements; it must match the boat's hull, and it must match its engine. In Chapters 1 and 2 we discussed the selection of a suitable engine and what speed we can expect the vessel to obtain with that engine. Now that we have learned how a propeller's shape is defined, the question remains how to determine the correct propeller for a specific vessel.


(!JMatching Pilch to Speed

A hull requires a certain amount of thrust to push it forward, and we need to pick a propeller that will generate as much thrust as possible at the intended operating speed, Let us take, for example, Svelte Samantha, a single-screw cabin cruiser intended to cruise at 18 knots (a SL ratio of 3.3), at 75 percent of full engine Rl'Ms-s-she will have a typical light, high-speed engine. With this information, we can start to calculate the proper propeller pitch, QUI aim is 10 have the propeller advance the same distance the boat will at speed. Svelte Samantha's characteristics are as follows:

fI q ;j 1)L- _


0,"1 KC' '1 ----------------------------

F [.,-':'.11 I;>

-----. ----·-S¥~J..t"_Stttllafitha__

34 fl. 10.36 m LOA (length overall)
30 ft, 9.14 m WL (waterline length)
n n. 3.35 In BOA (beam overall)
10 ft. 3.05 In BM (waterline beam)
1.34 ft. 0.40 m Hd (hull draft)
12,7001b 5760 kg Displacement
18 kt 18 kt Desired cruising speed 1 I


I' 1







ij,ing Formula 2-4. we determine that Svelte Samantii« requires 182 SH f' (13G kw) at the propeller (0 achieve 18 knots (using a C (If .150. for an average cruiser). Accordingly, Stl'iII'Samantha's engine should be rated 240 HHP (197 kw) [182 Hp -i- n.7S = 242 HP], and the engine chosen delivers (his at :i ,000 RPM, with a 2.4-to-l reduct ion gear. This mcaus that Samantha's propeller will turn at 1.250 RPMs with the throttle wide open [3,OnO RPM +- 2.4 = 1,250 RPM1·

Determining Which RPM to Usc in Finding Pitch *)

. ,,-_/

Here, we lace an important compromise. We found in Chapters 1 and 2 that cruisjp__g ~cd .~"\()\lld be at 70 to 8~~fce~!:_ o~ top ra~~ e!_lgi_Qc R_P~ (<'IS is the case with Svelte SlIIIw!ill!a). Since our propeller will be of fixed pitch, however, if it is pitched for ideal ollcration al 75-percellt RPM, it will be way off at full RPi'vL A good average is (0 base pitch on or(:B.tiorull2.9J~.Lcent_Q(JJl.'J1< imum R£M. which will yield about 2_Q P~1_"9.!lli!: __ of the maximum SHP For Svelte Samantha. this works out to a shaft speed of 1.125 RPr-,·1 ai;~;u;ld 216- SHV (161 kw). Our cruising speed will be a bit below this, but we will \till he able to open the throttle up to get top revolutions when needed. We must now base our pitch calculation on speed at 90 percent of full throttle. Two hundred and sixteen SlIP yields 5R.8 pounds per horsepower (35.7 kg per kw). Formula 2-4 gives a V of 1.9.5 knots.

t Figurill~ Pitch Without Slip ::.:

·t.'~. Once we know our speed, all we have to do is !!._nd the. pitch that will give us theL§aml} forward distance traveled Qcr minute as the boat will go at 19.5 knQ!§} Since we know

the boat speed in nauticai miJesper hour (kr.)ot~) and the propeller pitch in inches and RPM, we have to find some common ground-in this case, feet per minute. To convert knots.\!.! feet per minute, multiply by 101.3 (to convert miles per hour to feet per minute, multiply by 88). Thus, Svelte Samantha is moving along at a V of 1,975.3 feet per minute [19.5 kI10tSX 101.3 = 1,975.3 ft.lmin.]. OUf propeller is turning at 1,125 RPM~. If we divide Samantha's speed of 1.975.3 feet per minute by 1,125 RPMs. we find that our

propeller should have a pitch of 1.75 feet (0.53 rn) [1.975.3 ft.lmin . .:.;- 1,125 RPMs = 1.75 ft.], Since propeller pitches are usually specified in inches, we multiply 1.:5 feet by 12 and find that Svelte Samantha requires a propeller with a 21-inch (533 mm) pitch.





I ! ! I


Crouch's Propeller Method

L /_


Figure 5-1 Apparent slip.

I. I



III reality, water is not like soft pine. It's a fluid and so a propeller slips or slide~ a bit as it rotates. It's more exact to view slip as the difference between th~4ista!!~~9Q:li_actu·· allY travels...ll!.ri!l!.W . .lhe~-in the time of one complete propeller revolution at her speed through the water, V -and the theo~?al dist~.s.~.~.9\llg. !r!i~el if _i_!:_ a£.~m::c(1 t~e fllil uitch 9f the ~ller (sec Figure 5-1). This difference is called apparelll slip (SlipA) and is expressed as a percent of theoretical propeller advance (pitch times RPM).

The only way to find slip exactly is to take a boat out and run her on a measured milt Carefully timing the runs gives the exact speed and, knowing RPM and pitch, you can usc the above relationship with the following formula to find slip:

Formula 5-1 Apparent Slip Formula

. (P112 x RPM) - (Kts x 101.3)

SlJpA= (P1l2 x RPM)

Which may be conveniently restated as:

Kts x 1215.6 p=

RPM x (l - SUpA)


SJipA = Apparent slip

P = Propeller face piteh in inches

Kts = Boat speed through \II,Her or V in knots RPM = Revolutions per minute of the propeller


135 80 75 70 65 60 55

f!? 50 g 45 )( 40

35 -31:)"


25 20 15 10


.1 I
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! ./ L. ~7,'"{; - ~
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L .. L 1" /" ./ /' L. /" /" . ./ "\'0 ./'
-- -'. -~ ............ V:t~/"/J/ ./ _.1"'1 /, ;;::--,V ... L L.. - 6' L. r'-
y • ..IJ .Y L /_ L /:,. . ...."\
v..... /"1/ ./ /' "'./ ....... V I.
~L IL/' ..' A L L LC ./ L :,-C"_. ,........;;-- .....c- - • ...J "\ tJ;' ..::::::.
LL L ./ V L V .,.,-:;;;:,
.. / rL. ./ .c ./" L . /. L '" ~.!.
L/ /./ L ./ .... /: L ...... -- ." ._d.
// // /. /' /' ./" /" .....- - /" L'" .L:. "\'2: y--_
// ./ .L L ../ ./ ./ ..-"" ...... ~
/./ :// ./ ./ »: V ./ ./ f" - ____... I.~
/LL '././ ./" ..r 2: L' L ~ .......... -"'- --- Q"
'I'// '// /. L J' ....... .~ -- ~ "\ .~
/, f././ / // V ./ /" ./ »: /' V" _...- --
// . ·~~5 0 L ...- r' ~ "2 f...::C- -- -C- r-_. ___ - . ... -- .. ~ .r." .........
'i/./" ./'" r . -- --
1~;:5 ...... _-
/ ..... . r e: V--:·-;:;:::::,",~···7 ~ ._ -~- ........ ~~- -.- ............ ;...--~ ..-~ ................
V ~ -'" _c.........._ ;.---.... --
V./".//' ./ ./ ...... ..<:: -- l
L'k'/ ........ <" ~ Z: ~.~ i:·:·_-t-·.-, ._-.., ._,,-, ..... _. r-~·-·i-"···- .. ~.......,. .... -~........-ro" .... ..... n .·.n·~ .......
- v .............. 7 - ..-:::: .. ~
- ~ ........... __.,..... ./ --- ._
~-L""'7 ~.;: _V~ _.t--=t ' j .~ ....... :.............. .- --.~ '"- ..... ·~···r
~ ~ '-" I
.. ~ .. l_ J. _t. I
I 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 a
I.() 0 I.() 0 I.() 0 1..0 0 1O 0 li)
C\l N M M v '<t U'} l(!
RPM ,i\\ili, •.



« ~o
-I rc
d «
:r 35
o 30
u. .,. ..
t 10 V
0. 10 -v 17"' : ~
ltv y,~ . ~ . . 'f+
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.rr I l !
v' vr , _l , . 1 I

20 25 30 35 40 45 PITCH WITH SUP R IN INCHES

1 5



Char! 5.IA and R. These charts, related to Formula 5-[. may be used in two ways_ In the first, apparellt ,I-lip can be estimatedfrom the results af a limed rUII over a measured mile. Enter Chari til1'ilh the measured speed and RPM, and read off the "pitch. without slip." Enter Chari B with this 1'(llrlC IIl1d Y()f!r propellers actual known pitch, and r-ead Orlt the apparent slip as a percent of theoretical propeller advance (pitch times RPM). [he second, more common use oj the charts is to calculate 11I1' needed propr;!!.e:r pirff1Jor a new boat design or a repowering, using the desired speed.. alld RPM and a,;-esrimaled value [or slip. A.l:aill, read our a value for "pitch without slip" [rom Chart A. Then en/a Chart B with this value and a slip estimate from Chart 5-2 or Table 5-1.

It is important to run a course between fixed points as specified on a proper navigation chart. Obviously, using a "measured mile" that W(l~ not an exact mile would throw your calculations completely off. Bear in mimi that buoy( can dr~g' suffiCiently 10 throw off their locations. In addition, the mile should be run at least twice, in opposite directions, nnd the results averaged to cancel out the effects of wind and current For really accurate work. run the course both ways three times. Since we are dealing with a new design, a repowering or a new propeller, we have to estimate slip. This is the chief drawback to ihe slip method of finding pitch. There is no precise way to determine slip short of putting ~ propeller on a boat and running a measured mile.

Estimating Slip fOI- Finding Pitch f-'

Chart 5-2 plots slip as a function of b~at speed in knots. It is based on the formula:

Eormtda 5·2 Slip 1'.5 Boar Speed Formula

SLIP = J.4 -i- KtsO_51 !

Where: \

Kts ,." Boat speed in knots 'I

This formula was derived by the author, and checks very well against known slip values from a wide variety of sources. [Note: Appendix D provides a quick math review for those who are uufamiliar with or rusty on decimal exponcnts.]

, i


Crouch's Propeller Methon

.1. ( I: I

(1,[ (

.. I ~

Formula .9·2



w 0.3
0.1 - _I I J
; I ! ! \ ~ I !
! i !
\ ! I I III I I n
I .~~. -r~[-r
11\ J I l )r- . +
I ~.- ~ .. -~r +'h
\~ .. - 4' . - ..
! ("r--. ! - . - . T
1 ....L.
I 'l"- I i !i I
, - - -1- - ... [t~
1 i'- ~ ! d ! ! ±I ! .
,..1 !
- - > I -s .. . "r 1--- n ~ ·t>~·
! rH-
- T I i !
I i ! ! I ! I
~ ! 5




25 30





Chart 5·2. This chart. constructed from Formula 5-2, shows slip as a function of speed. This empirical relationship, derived by the author, checks well against known values.

The results from Formula 5-2 should be averaged against the information in Table 5-1 to see if the slip value makes sense for the type of vessel being considered.


Type of Boat

Speed in Knots

under 9 9-15 15-30 3D-45 45-90 over 90

Percent of Slip 45%






Auxiliary sailboats, barges Heavy powerboats, workboats _ Lightweight powerboats, cruisers High-speed planing bouts Planing race boats, vee-bottom Stepped hydroplanes, catamarans

10% 7%

.Slip a~d Efficiency Are Not tbe Same

~ __ ~~ People.frequeu n!.I:'LJllislake___s1ip.1S1ipA).£oLef!kieocy, ahbreviukd as e m:_~G.recl:. __

~ ), r ~ ";:'1 T~: t> .... \ -~.'(. letter E, pronounced "eta"), and rims try to eliminate it altogether. Actually the two concepts are quite different-e-although they are very closely related. (See Efficiency vs Slip Chart 5-6.) Slip, in fact, is actually required to produce thrust. Though it's a good practice to keep slip fairly low, the slip values given in Table 5-1 are close to optimum. You cannot eliminate slip and would not want to if you could, for then you would have no thrust at all.

}"'iIlding Pitch with Slip

Using Chart 5-2 or Formula ?-2, we find a slip for Svelte Samantha of 27 percent. Let's check against the Table 5-1, Typical SHp Values. Svelte Samantha is a light cabin cruiser, With her accommodations, she is a bit heavier than a lightweight powerboat. The ruble



I !



I i I




! I '1

I' I 1


in(linlle~ J slip of 25 percent or so. Accordingly, we will compromise on a 26-percent ,lip, The next step is simply to increase the 21, l-ilh.:i\'(5~3 nun) pitch we derived earlier (the pitch without slip) by 26 percent to gel 11 26,5-inch (673 mm) pitch IJ. .26 x 21.1 in. z: 26.58 iII.]. (Pitches should be rounded down unless the decimal is 0.7 or greater.)

Slip v,'; Pi tell Chart 5-1 plots pitch against RPM and speed (V). in knots, for various apparent slips. H is based on tile SJipA (apparent slip) calculations (Formula 5-1) given ,r.[)vc. To usc this chart, enter speed and RPM on Chart 5-1A and findthe pitch without .lli)1. Next, obtain a suitable slip value Irorn Chart 5-2 or Formula 5-2 and Table 5-1. i'itch l1lay then he read directly from Chart 5-1 B. or pitch Ina), be calculated directly i!!;.ing Formula 5-1.


1~1ctors ContrQn~ ilgj)iameter_

We must now determine a suitable diameter. Two major factors control propeller diameler-I'ngine horsepower in relation to shaft RPM, and hull resistance. Except for highspeed craft, a larger-diameter propeller is always more efficient than a smaller one. In other words, you will get more thrust or push with the same engine and a larger-diameter propeller. Obviously. you cannot have a propeller as big as a helicopter rotor, Not only are there practical restrictions due to draft and hull shape, but your engine would never have enough power to move it through something as dense as seawater, no matter how ,lowly,

The key here, though, is that the slower the RPM, the larger the diameter an engine can turn, As we discussed in Chapters 1 and 2, shaft speed, not engine speed, is the important thing. The reduction gear ratio is critical here. The greater the reduction. the slower the shaft speed and the bigger the propeller can be, within the boat's draft and hull shape limitations. ;

)( Determining RPM for Calculating Diameter

When calculating e1!£!1, we compromised and I!iC-d 9_Q_.E.ercent of SlIP and RPM. In determining diameter, however, we must use 100 percent of full RPM or very close to

that. This is because diameter is the most important factor in determining the {lJll9.llOl:..Qf ]l.Q!y"cI...!.l..!?!:.opeller.~. If we were to base our diameter calculation on an RPM figure much lower than the engine's maximum, we would be holding engine RPM down. (It would not have enough power to tum the large propeller at full RPM.) This would limit

both boat speed and engine speed, and can damage the engine. Accordingly, for light- to moderate-weight vessels such as yachts, high-speed utility boats and light passenger ves- ". sels, diameter should be calculated at 100 percent of top RPM and SHP. This is, in effect, ensuring that the propeller power curve crosses .the. engine power curve at the latter's maximu!!b_ as discussed in Chapter 1.

For~, where maximum thrust and efficiency at CHI ising speed is more important than getting top speed when the throttle is opened wide, diameter may be calculated based on 95 to 98 percent of engine RPM. This will cause the propeller power curve (see Chapter 1) to cross the engine power curve just below the maximum. Holding the engine RPM down in this way is not harmful, and the larger diameter that may be obtained increases efficiency at cruising speed. The penalty, though, is that top boat speed (V) will be decreased slightly. :<;{

i I











I !


I '1 Finding Diameter From UP and RPM I


Diameter-H.P-RPM Charts 5-3A, B, C, and D plot diameter against SlIP and RPM at the propeller. They are based on three-bladed propellers of standard elliptical contour and ogh'aJ (flat-faced) section, with blade widths of about a 0.33 mean-width ratio. This propeller type will be found to give good results for almost all ordinary installations.

, ,

(1 !", "1

/ - f j

- ,



fr"··, ., u,»

~ {
;!: 1..,
~/ ~ H,\ _ f. <

I (" 1 '

(:,; .

I Ii;,·' I .



'r i .

D'r:lrY,{ k_.{


e{l)"~ Cli~~:,:e: '-i""


Propeller Handbook

The curves in Chart 5-3 are based on the formula:

Formula 5-3 DfA-fiP-RPM Formula

Formula 5-3


D = Propeller diameter in inches

, SHP = Shaft horsepower at the propeller RPlv1 = Shaft RPM at the propeller



:::i 0. a:

4500 \ \ \ \ \ \ i\ _\ \ \ :\ _ \ \
---t1--\- ft]-l-\ \ '-'t- \. \ \ -- -\ --\- ,'- -- --- _r ........... - --
1\ , l\ \ \
\ \ \ ~ \ -\-\ ---\ -\-- .-\- t\\ ,.
\ \ \ 'x \ \. --
4000 \ \ 1\ 1\ \ \ 1\ _~ \
.\ \l \ 1\ \ 1\ i\ \ \ \ \ \
i\ \ \ \ \ \ 1\ 1\ \ ,.
"\ \_ \ \_ 'I.
3500 \ \ \ \ \ _\_ \._ \ \ \ \ "- -, "-
\ \ -~ ~~ r\~ ~\ - \ \. \. '\ ,
K'~- ,_ " ,
\ \ \ \ "- "- ~ .
'--- \ \ \ \_) l~ \. , \ '" [\ ~ . ~. -1---
)\ \ \ \ _\ _\. -,
3000 ! !\ ! 1\ !\ \ 1\ _ ...... '..-- _ \ \. ,,"-
! \ . \ ! \ S~_ ,,~ e:-~~ -'>c-.-' ,
o.? v. S; .> .1"
~~~~o~ ·'bXO 'b r''V ~ Odx-6'~~;.._ ,
lJo ! ~.~ 1:0 ~ ~ ~!'. ,*,-,*, &- -s-..() ~ ~..()~-S-..o 'Y..o::--.. _ "
i '\ .'i\. _\_\,_ _" ,'l 'l 'J <. -, :
2500 , 6


1 0

'12 1,4, 16 18




24 '


Crouch's Propeller Method


0:. 1500 0::



42 48 54






Chart. 5-3. These charts, derived from Formula 5-3, plot propeller diameter against maximum mted .Ihafll1{lrsepower and RPM at the propeller, and. can be applied 10 most installations,




1 j !



I 1

Based on ]00 percent of RPM and SHP, Chart 5-3 or Formula 5-3 shows that Svelte Silmalllha's engine, delivering 240 SHP (180 kw), can turn a 26.2-inch (673 mm) propeller at ! ,2~O RPM. Accordingly, a 26.2-inch-diamctcr propeller with a 26,5-inch pitch (665,rnm by 673 mm) would do the job. In the U.S., stock propellers are manufacture-d in one-inch increments up to 36-inch diameters, and in two-inch increments in sizes larger than 36 inches. Thus, we would specify 26 inches (660 nun) for each measurenent. This just happens to work out to be a square wheel (pitch ratio of I).

... ::::- l (I ,--~ (:,' '(


;.:-:;.. .. l._, r· {Ir -.'

1'ABLE 5-2

'! S' e

q ('1 31;)0-(·-'"j

fN>fC lie.I

tho",,: e :] if i fft.1


2_ L1,., "-

:o_ ') r ~ s 13b1o~f.d f.-of' i /'h '

"7 ~1/' ?!

pr!c II C~t'dl'</'-l ft.!

V<; \)(2:lJ Sf{lOl .:::." 1'5




Adjusting Diameter and Pitch for 2- and 4·Bladed Propellers

To find diameter aud pitch for two- and four-bladed propellers. we Illultiply the dirncu-

sion~_!~r th~__§_tlm5lanL~hr~.:~laded propelle~_by the following quantities: ---


Two-Bladed Propeller Four-Bladed Propeller

Diameter 1.05


Pitch 1.01 0.98

EJliciency un


Accordingly, if we wished to install a four-bladed propeller on Svelte Samantha, \,'c would use a 24-inch-diameter by 25-incb-pitch propeller (610 mm by 635 nun) f2(; in. din. x 0.94 = 24.4 in. dia., and 26 in. pitch X 0.98 = 25.48 in. pitch]. Note lrlur the efficiency (e) or ('11) of [he four-bladed propeller would be only 96 percent of the three-blader. This will not actually affect cruising speed. Since we had originally planned on cruising at 75 percent of top RPM, we would now operate at around 78 percent of lOp RPM, which is acceptable. Top speed potential will drop off slightly, however, In return for this, the four-bladed propeller will have smoother operation, with noticeably less vibration.

Interestingly, a two-bladed propeller of 5 percent greater diameter (27 inches) would

? ffi . O'C. .... ·r.Jo,..t~J-;.."1.,

be _ percent more e crent than the standard three-bladed propeller. DrawbaGlts, though,

are that the two-bladed propeller could have noticeably more vibration than the three- .. blader, and tbe reduced blade area may cause cavitation as well, !


Checking for Optimum Pitch Ratio C. ~I1-A S-Ll_

Let's now check to see that the pitch ratio of the propeller we've selected is suitable for the type of vessel and speed we are considering.

Chart 5-4 gives optimum pitch-to-diameter ratios plotted against boat speed (V), in knots. These curves are based OIl the following formulas:

-f>. Optimum Pilch Ratio Pormfllas

Formula 54fl

Average Pitch Ratio = 0.46 x Kts,,·,6 Formula 5-4b

Maximum Pitch Ratio ~ 0.52 x KtsO_28 Formula 54c

Minimum Pitch Ratio = 0.39 x KtsO.D

These formulas were derived by the author and have been found to cceck well with a wide variety of vessels.

Generally, tbe best performance and efficiency will be obtained with pitch ratios close - to the average pitch ratio curve (see Formula 5-4a). Performance will be satisfactory however, as long as the pitch ratio of the specified propeller does not fall above or below the recommended rnaxi@ji1lOrnllIi"liilumcucV-;;8.1fthe pltcflraoo-aoes1anOiltSiUei11esc curves, the,i,shaft speed is unsuited to (he boat and must be changed using either a different ~ction gem ltllllio( al.ui~dOfadiife~~lt~RPM~-- - ~

1'1:O~eners. 0\\ twi.rH;c:re\N e;ratt ten(\. to h'J.'Ie b.i.'6het\i\l2h rati.os. th\U\ ~\tl:~k-'i.crt.w vessels ~\,\\(,_I";:,\\,\\:, \t\Q,.\'l\(),\'l:hl. \l"tIJ\lI;;.\\.'t{G.\_Qffi\:,\t,"\:.~ '<l!.~ ~TI:\:~\~"\:., \:)\).\ -m.e. I:t<.l..\\ \'i, ~\\.\\ 'i\..<l'l'.l.\\C\\\'t!,:'J ,l\<

r_ (" r c '_:,_,.

v I
,- '
" t, n .:/-"" L.I

_/ I



~ :: f::·Tt~ ... j:: .. !:J .. d .. ::t, ,:1:. :t.l.:t ... t. jt.,..,:l:. '"t .. +t:._p .. q_~. _:::l::i:::i:t+:t:; ~:t., j;:·~tHt'H···t~~t:L:t._i:+'; :t:h:l:,~:::t~t.~ttt't.B_ "'~~ ~_~~J4~:t"~

1.7 ~._ -~,j,r- '!'~f-: ~- I



1.6 -
1.5 s::
0.6 7
0.5 o I~ 0:

r o f-


MAX : t-
11.'11 " .. I11 .... ;t I-r
AV3 -
- ~
... - ........ - MIN -
~, , I , , t , I,Ll l~ ~J-
'It l_ I
T J •
0 lJ) 0 lJ) 0 lJ) 0 lJ) 0
CO CO Cl C1l 0 0 N • lJ)OlJ)OlJ)OI.OOlJ)OlJ)OlJ)OIO NN"''''V'<t-l()l()COmr--'''_


Chart 5-4. The relationship between optimum pitch-to-diameter ratios and boat speed in ,/;.runs, Related to Formulas 54a, b, and c.

same speed as a comparable single-screw vessel. Thus, pitch remai ns the same, or nearly the same, as with the single-screw version,

For Svelte Samantha. whose speed at the designed pitch is 19.5 knots, the average pitch ratio curve (see Chart 5-4 Or Formula 5-4ru_ gives a recommended pitch ratio of 0.99. This is virtually identical to our specified pitch ratio of 1, so this pitch ratio is suitable.

~ Determining Minimum Acceptable Diameter

It is also important to make sure that the propeller diameter specified matches the hull. A very small propeller turning at high RPM can offer adequate performance at full speed, but it will not provide sufficient thrust at low speed, while getting up onto a plane, or \luring maneuvering.

Minimum Diameter Chart 5-5 plots the minimum propeller diameter required for useful Ihru,( at all speeds, for both single- and twin-screw vessels, Propellers with smaller diameters than those given in Chart 5-5 should be avoided. TIle curves are based on the following formula:

formula 5-5 Minimum Diameter Formula

.---. --"--.--.-.-~-

D"" '" 4.07 x (BWL x Hd)OS Where:


Dmi" '" Minimum acceptable propeller diameter in inches l' .,:

BWL == Beamon the waterline infeet ;,iI,,' . , ·f·~

H" "' Draft of hull from the waterline down (excluding keel, skeg or deadwood) in feet (111111 draft is the depth of the hull body to the fairbody line, rabher.w~e hllll's''I;. intersection " ... ith the top of the keel, It thus excludes keel and/or skcg.)

11";,, far Twi n Screws = 0.8 x I) mi.

n";,, fill' Tril'k Screws = 0.65 'x D",;n

, ;

" A j
k I f
v ~ -; h, I t'


Formula 5-5



LU 70
0 60
Z 5D
a:: 40
\- 30
« 20
0 f ! ~ ! ~ ,1- _!J_ . ! r
- -~,-
! ! j Ll-, ! ! ' ; " .J,.,.l
I J }-I-- 1--1-+ _- ~P'" 'J
, U ! i ;.,..
~+- , '+ +'1- 1- e.~ ,1
!--r' r~- r-' i-<f-- ~,_ -- :--- ,--- --- r-r--- I--'~~ --I- F ....... ~
j. ~ ....
:t- ttl ! J I ! J, i"'" ! I ... t'
f-.,.... 1
j , ... i-" r I , .- "t
I I . l I ! ...Jooo 1 i<-~£.,ir 1 ,
± '11 I ..... ! ....t l ... ··1- ,._ .. -}. - r' , __ -- -'F-
• > -'r- - "1" "'j-' -~""'~-- ··t···"
loot , L J ;
-i tJ~ ! J, ...... ~. fi W-r\-+. ! {-.'+ .. H-'
rr- Y'i 1 ... "i Ll- ,....~'I- +1 I 1 1 \ 1 ~ ~ ±~
t~ ~ k·' 3 t , , - - SINGLE SCREW l _,
~l...r !
\- ~tr:fl- .. - .... "r:~ --!-- ._ -f .. ................ TWIN SCREW - ..•. , "'r-
~~! : 1 l I'-'
l+tH . l U I 1 I ~ I , t I II I , ! I ,- f-
l ' ! I ~ 1 j ~! I!!!! I I I I!! l!
. , o

o Ii)

o o v

o o

o io

o o N

o in N

o o (')


en UJ J: <» Z

Z a: !JJ IlLJ

:s «



o o -:r

o o r--

o o

00 0'

o o Ii)

o o c.o


Chart 5·5. Minimum propeller diameter required for useful thrust at all speeds. Based on Formula 5 -5.

" ,

In the case of Svelte Samantha, this works out as follows: Svelte Samantha has a 10· foot (3.05 rn) waterline beam and a 1 foot 4 inch (0.4 m) hull draft. Accordingly, from Chart 5-5 or Formula 5-5, her minimum propeller diameter is 14.9-inches (378 mm) flO It. x 1.34 ft. = 13.4 sq. ft., Y13.4 = 3.66 iII., and 3.66 x 4.07 = '14.9], We have already seen that Samantha'S engine and reduction gear combination can rum a 26-iDclldiameter (660 mm) 'Pro-peller, so we have no problem here-with diameter (at low and nlOQI!.f'6.te \;t.etU~) ,'oi'E:,'I!,et los. be.ttet,


If the propeller we came up with bad been smaller than the minimum diameter from Chart 5·5, we would have had to return tn tile bcg.innil1l: of our selection PI'\lCCSS and try a b;.~cr reduction gear and/or a slower-turning engine (0 allow an appropriate increase in diamctrr


... -._..--~-

(:avit~,tion Formulas Can Be Complex and Contradictory

The finaJ check we must make 1S for cavitation, As we discussed in Chapter 4. cavitation is vacuum bubbles~~~ex.c.essiye....hla_d.~. There are many methods of checkInfrot the"(;nset of cavitation, but most are excessively complex for use by small-craft designers, yard operators, boatbuilders, and boat owners, Not only that. but these complex methods frequently are no more accurate than simpler ones. since they don't allow for such lucrors as shaft inclination, strut and stem-bearing fairing, and xo on, which can

I make two otherwise similar propellers. behave quite differently, even at the same speed,

I Equnlly disconcerting is that two or three different methods of checking for cavitation

i call give two or three different results for the same propeller.


!®£~~~Iii1~M~~i~l:lUm AIlO\~able Bla.~e L?_ading __

The clearest and most direct method of checking for cavitation is to determine blade

.... ----

loading or pressure in pounds per square inch (PSC). (In the metric system, this is ex-

pressed as newton meters squared, N/m2,-:iIw'-C:'iTledJ)ascals, P.) Cavitation is a complex phenomenon and no single, simple formula can offer all the answers. The blade loading method that follows, however, is cnnservativ!!, and thus generally safe as well as simple. The author has developed the following formula based on information from the tank tests at Wageningen and from Barnaby. It gives the pressure at which cavitation can be ex-

pected to occ ur. " 1f

Formula 5-6 Allowable Blade Loading Formula "\

V '

r I

'" _") ~ r>' ( (I'

F' _,.

bc t -.., + l .J

PSI .." 1.9 ;X Vaos x Fto.os t


PSI'" The pressure, in pounds per square inch, at which cavitation is likely (0 begin. Va "" The speed of water at the propeller (s~<: DCAt c~1pter regarding wake Iactor) in knots.

FI -= EI1_c ~~E!h of immersion of the propeller shaft centerline, during operation , iJ~ feet.

To check for cavitation we must use maximum speed, RPM and max\mul)"\ SHY. For Svelte Samantha. with a 26-inch (660 mm) diameter propeller, we can assume that her \\vu\\ centerline will be just over a foot (0.36 rn) below the surface. I fer (UP speed ar 240 HP (J 97 kw) as taken from Planing Speed Chart 2-3 or Formula 2-4 is 20_6 knots. The speed of water at the propeller is just slightly less than true boat speed for planing vessels (see next chapter regarding wake fraction), We can safelyassume..9~L~oat ,speed, or 19.78 knots. Thus, the blade loading at which her propellers will start to cavitalc works out as follows:

PSI"" 1.9 x 19.78"' x 1.2,,·08 Therefore:

PSI"" 8.5 (58600 N/ml) for the onset of cavitation.


;~>t> Determining Actual Blade Loading on a Propeller

\Vr. must now find the actual blade loading on Svelte Samantha's propellers, as we have presently specified them. This is given by the following formula:

Crouch's I'rvpeller ?>,'htilmi


PS1- t

- i ,v.'


" r~· (1_

Formula 5·6

e·.~, -_( < "L~ .£. i i/"

{'j L luci' 'd/e'Lic. L ·(x;. J., ':J

orr G Pl"~")(l{-' ,





Formula 5-7

i (l_i,

t . -( -

[llt_N\I - vJ I J~ h Of vd[,,( J ('p"I /f\


4--) r~'['J')'"

Formula 5-7 Actual Blade Loading Formula

326 X SID> x e


a X Ad


PSI = Blade loading in pounds per square inch. SHP = Shaft horsepower at the propeller.

e = Propeller efficiency in open water.

Va = Speed of water at tht': propeller, in knots (see "Wake Fraction," next chapter). Ad = Developed area of propeller blades, in square inches.

Before we can apply this formula we must have some estimate of the propeller's ciency, When using the B.P-& method and the Taylor-Troost Bp-B diagrams from tbechapter. this value can be read directly. Approximate Efficiency vs Slip Chart S-6. ever, plots approximate values 0[' efficiency (e) or (1)) relative to apparent slip tS"l for propellers of various pitch ratios _ This chart is sufficiently accurate for the purfJ"~ estimating blade pressure.


(I) 0.7
Z 0.6
0 1- PRar' --
IJ... I /0"" 0.75
LL i
w 0.5 ..J __ -.-.J O.41-------~------_4------~~----~~------~------ 0.20

0.30 0.40


Chart 5-6. Approximate efJiciency relative to apparent slip for propellers of various ratios.

Entering Chart 5-6 with Svelte Samantha's slip of 26 percent, and running lip lu pitch ratio of I, we get an-efficiency of about 0.69. We Can now calculate the loading on the 26-inch-diameter propeller of the 0..33 mean-width ratio th~ll ',yo; specified.

From Developed-Area Formula 4-7 or Chart 4-2, we find that 11 typical three-U' propeller, 26 inches (660 111m) in diameter with a mean-width ratio of 0.33, has .\ panded area of 268 square inches (1729 crn-). Accordingly:

"1''1 _ 326 x 240 SHP x 0_69

F oS_.. - 9 8 2' , .

I .7 Kl5 x DO sq. m,


PSI = 10.2 (70320 N/ml) blade loading.



Crouch's Propeller Nictl:im:l

Adjusting Blade 'Width or MWR to Reduce made Loading

Th'~ !O.2 PST figure we've derived using Formula 5-7 is 20 percent over the allowable

In:lfling (>1' 8.5 PSI from Formula 5-6. Clearly, this propel lcr could experience some cav- t

ii:li;(H1. Generally. the best solution is simply to speci fy a propeller of increased blade

width Of mean width ratio (MWR). Entering a 20-percenHarger MWR of 0.4 in Formula

f-7 or Chart 4-2 gives a developed area of 324 square inches (2090 crn-). Substituting

11: i.e, we get:

! "I-



326 x 240 SHP x 0.69 19.78 Kts x 324 sq. in


P's{ - R.4 (57910 N/m') blade loading. which is acceptable.

Note that 324 square inches (2090 em') of develQpe(Lil~a will.!emai~otlt 111('. minimum acceptable for Svelte Samantha. Our speed requirement remains constant and thus hl'l'~epower must remain constant. Therefore, regardless 0(' the propeller chosen, the only real variable in determining blade loading will be small changes in efficiency with changes in pitch ratio.

In theory, the O.4-MWR propeller, with its greater area, will absorb slightly more power and thus hold RPM down and decrease efficiency. In practice, the difference is negligible (usually Jess than 4 percent) in mean-width ratios from 0.3 to 0.55 for rwo-, three- and four-bladed propellers. (See Table 6-3 for exact values.)




~ ·1



. l'

Increasing the Number of Blades to Reduce Blade Loading

Another alternative for increasing area to reduce cavitation is simply to substitute a fourbladed propeller of the same pattern as the three-blader. We can try this with Svelte


,'ii7.ffl011tfw's propeller. Earlier, we determined that we would lise a 24-inch-diumetcr by

25-inch-pitcb (609 min by 635 mm) four-bladed propeller, of a 0.33 mean-width ratio. In this case, Formula 4-7 or Chart 4-2 gives a developed area ofJ..04 S~illare inches (1961 cm-). This prmfuces aOTade loading of 8.9 PSI (61360 N/m~), whichis just 5 percent greater than the permissible loading from Formula 5-6. Although such a propeller might \\'ork acceptably. it would be safer to calf for a 24-inch-diameter, four-bladed propeller nr ~ 0.35 mean-width ratio, Its developed areU;J2f 322 S~!!9J:U!1£ (2077 cm-) would lowcrOJaaeIOading to just under 8.5 PSI (58600 N/m2).

Supercavitating Propellers

for vessels operating at speeds over 35 knots, with shaft speeds in excess of 2,500 or j,r)OO RPM, there is another option altogether-accept the cavitation. Propellers on such high-speed vessels are so highly loaded that cavitation actually becomes unavoidable, In these cases, the selection process would proceed as above for pitch and diameter, but you would choose a propeller model specifically designed to operate when fully cavitating. Since there is a wide variety of styles, make a final check with their manufacturers to dererrnine the model best suited to your application.

Cupped-Bladed Propellers

An intermediate step for vessels operating at moderately high speeds (between 30 and 45 knots) is often possible. If the actual blade loading as determined from Formula 5-7 is only 10 to 15 percent over the allowable blade loading found [rom Fonl1lila 5-6, a prorr'lIcr with cupped blades may be the answer. When specifying a cupped-bladed propelkr. find pitch and diameter in the usual manner, and then decrease pitch by one inch or 5 i"~n'cnL whichever is greater.



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Thrust at Speed

Thrust is the force, in pounds, generated by the propeller at a given speed It is parricularly important for workboats, which have to tow large loads and drive heavy hulls inio rough seas. For pleasure craft, actually calculating thrust is less important, except that the more efficient the propeller, the more thrust it can deliver and the faster the boat will go at (he same fIP and RPM.. Since we have worked through all the necessary calculations for Svelte Samantha, W'.· will work through a sample thrust calculation using her as an example. (See also Chapter 8 regarding tugs and trawlers.) The thrust developed by a propeller may be found from Forrnula 5-8.


I' T = 326 X SHP X e

• Va


i Where:

! T = Thrust in pounds

lIe.. SHP =;; Shaft horsepower at the propeller e = Propeller efficiency

Va ~ Speed of water at the propeller, in knots (see "Wake Fraction," next chapter).

Thrust for Svelte Samantha at maximum RPM works out as follows: Shaft horsepower is 240 (179 kw), efficiency (from Chart 5-6) is 0.69, and Va is 19.76 Knots:

T = 326 x 24.() SliP x 0 .. 69 19.78 Kts


T = 2,729 pounds thrust

At a lower speed, say 12 knots (an S1:. ratio of2.2), Svelte Samantha'S propeller would ~~_absorbia.g..about 106lIFT79kw), according to Chart 2-1 or Formula.J-l. Water speed at the propeller would be a bit lower, say 93 percent or 11.1 knots (see section on wake fraction, Chapter 6), Slip will be higher, say around 34 percent (from Chart 5-2 or Formula 5-2). Accordingly, efficiency will be lower-around 0.63 (from Chart 5-6). Thus we would get:

" 326 x 106 SHP x 0.63

i =_.

11.1 Kts


T = 1,961 pounds thrust (889 kgf)

These figures are approximations, since the precise figures for efficiency and 'slip are not known.

Static Thrust or Bollard Pull

With a boat running fr~, lower speed means lower tbrlJ£.f. When towing or tied to a dock, however, a vessel's low-speed thrust increases greatly because SHP goes up, while ~ Thrust at maximum power with the boat tied to a dock is called static thrust or bol!nrd pull. It cannot be properly estimated from Formul a 5-8 because it calls for dividing by zero.

, Determining static thnlst is primarily of interest to ~ts. Barnaby gives a formula for estimating static thrust or bollard pull from SHP and propeller diameter:

~ .. ,~--,~----------~~--~-----------=-------------------------------------=---=------------

Fortnllfa5-9 Approx;matf> Bollard Pull Formula

T, = 62 _72 X (SHP X D!12)Of7 Where:

T, ~ Static thrust of bollard pull. ill pounds SHP ,..., Shan horsepower- at the propeller

D = Propeller diameter in inches

This formula may also be expressed as:

Tjon = n,02S x (SHP x Dr,)0.67 Where:

T,toJl == Thrust in long tons of 2.240 pounds SHP = Shaft horsepower

}\ = Propeller diameter in feet

'You can see that even at tbc_~n~..2rseQ.92YQ,_11}t_lar]~r the 11ro[!eJ~~~!.~Ji-U!e gr_:!j!l~.!· t!!~Uhrust. This reiterates the fact that for thrust at low to moderate speeds. h~ ,(iiamstcr:,_i§__£sscntial. Vcss_£ls intended fO!_.l9~ are eqlllpped with large diameter pro-pellers having wide blades and low shaft speeds-frequently under 500 RPM.

Planing vessels, designed for free running with high shaft speeds, will seldom generate more than 70 percent of the static thrust indicated by Formula 5-9, while some displacement vessels-s-not designed for towing, but with low shaft speeds and large propcllers-cmay approach 85 or 90 percent of the static thrust indicated.

The rule of thumb for ballard pull is that a tug should develop about one ton of static thrust for every 100 BHP (75 kw) at the engine. This is a rough guide only. but it is bandy for quick estimates and checking results.


Most Calculation Factors Remain the Same

The calculation for pitch is nearly the same for twin-screw vessels as for a single-screw craft, using Chart 5-1. After all, both propellers still have to advance the same distance as the boat each revolution. However, for lower speed craft (under 30 knots) slip will be slightly less, since the twin screws see a cleaner water How without a skeg or deadwood ahead of them. The slip!}S.b~ar__L5_=2.s119l!1d 9Lave!_?,g__~Q .. _eg_?_~e value given in Table 5-3.

. ----- _- ----.~--.-.--


Type of Boat

Speed in Knots Percent of SUp

Auxiliary sailboats, barges Heavy powerboats, workboats Lightweight powerboats, cruisers

under 9 9-15 15-30

42% 24% 22%

Above 30 knots, slip may be assumed to be the same .for single- and twin-screw vessels. Use T:l.blc 5-1.

In the case of Svelte Samantha, the 27 percent slip [rom Chart 5-2 or Formula 5-2 (which was adjusted to 26 percent after comparison with Table 5-1) should be averaged with a slip of about 23 percent for a hcavyish lightweight cruiser, This gives a slip of 25 percent. In this particular case, the pitch still works out to 26 inches (660 rnm).

Formula 5-9

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TABLE 5-.1

Propelter Handbook

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Diameter is found bused on the SRP and RPM of each individual cnginc._Jf !j_vf!.lu Samantha '!_V~rc p0w~~eLl bl two engines deliver~~g l~9.Bli~i~_~~_~~) (~!QJ1.eJy1, and each engine were fitted with a 2:1 reduction geE,. ,shaft B.P-~.!L~QJJJg_be _ _1 ,,:iOQ. In this case, as we can see from\Chart 5-3 or F;r:~1I1a 5-3,F~I~I:.. ~~¥ille~~~~~_~~E!!...'l.21~i!lCh-

Idia~~~@_(59S m~!_ p~ge~_ Chart 5-5 or Formula 5-5 indicate it minimum twin-screw -dlurneter of .1 1-9 inches (302 mm), so a 20-inch (508 rom) propeller is more than adequare. Tile combined disc area of the twill screws (or triple screws) should be at least 25 percent more than [he disc area of a single screw. When estimating slip on a triple-screw craft, the procedure for a single-screw vessel should be used on the centerline screw, while the method for estimating slip on twin-screw vessels should be used on outboard propellers.

Finally, we must check the individual propellers for cavitation using blade-loading Formulas 5-6, 5-7, Approximate Efficiency vs Slip Chart 5-6, and Developed Area Formula 4-6 or Chart (~-2: however, the SHP and RPM for each individual propeller is used in Formulas 5-6 and 5-7, while top speed under both engines combined is used to find the Va fit the propellers. For the twin-screw Svelte Samantha, diameter = 20 in. (508

I mm); pitch = 26 in. (660 mm): pitch ratio = 1.3; slip = 0.25; MWR = 0_33; developed area = 165 sq. in. (1064 em'); efficiency = 0.72; and Va = 19.8 kts. Again, we find that blade loading with the 0,33 MWR propellers is 8.6 PSI (59290 N/m2)-just

, over what is permissible. Blades with 0.35 MWR reduce loading to acceptable levels.


When Draft or Hull Shape Limits Diameter

Up to now, we have been calculating propellers as if there were little or no restriction 011 diameter. For Svelte Samantha, we have selected either a 26-inch-di.ameter by 26-inchpitch (660 mm by 660 mrn) three-bladed propeller, of 0.4 MWR, or a 24~inch-diamdef

by 25-inch-pitcb (609 nun by 635 mm) four-bladed propeller, of 0.35 MWR. These propellers, however are both a bit large for a vessel w· 0 1 foot inch O.~ m) m aft of hu The total draft of such an installation could easily be 44 inches (1] 18 mm) or more. What if our Single-screw installation is li!nited to 16 i_Q_c..hes (406 n~) in diameter?

First we have to check Chart 5-5 or Formula 5·5 to see that this is not smaller than the minimum allowable diameter. In this case, tbe minimum diameter is 14.9 inches (378 mm), so there's no problem. If we were being forced to consider a propeller smilU~ thi;ln_ thisz.that'§_a cl\:ie that somethio is ant of kilter with the basic boat design. jThe onll

I alternative mi l ha e been to screws_

Now let's turn to DIA-HP-RPM Chart 5-3 or Formula 5-3 and determine the RPM required for this diameter. For Svelte Samantha, we find that her 240 SHP (179 kw) engine can turn a 16-inch (406 IDm) propeller at 2,264 RPM. We must now chouse our engine andreduction gear combination to give close to [his RPM at the propeller. Estimated speed (V) at 90 percent of RPM (2,037 RPMs) remains 19.5 knots, and slip remains the same 26 percent as calculated earlier. With this information we can find pitch from Chart 5-1 or Formula 5-1, which indicates a 15.7-inch (398 mm) pitch. Accordingly, we will specify a 16-inch-diameter by 16-incb-pitch propeller (406 nun by 406 nun). (Again, the fact that it is a square wheel is incidental.) Checking against Opt.imum Pitch Ratio Chart 5-4 or Formula 5-4a, we find that a pitch ratio of 1 is excellent for this

type of vessel. ¥",~J..,l .... '\

Next, we'll check for cavitation, as before. Depth increases k\l1owable blade loading:, only slightly, so we can use the same 8.5 PSI (58600 N/m2) we found earlier, The slip and pitch ratios have. remained the same; efficiency (e) or ('ll) remains 0.69. For a MWR of 0.33, Formula 4-7 or Chart 4-2 give a developed blade area (Ad) of 101 square inches (652 em'). Next, we find the actual 'blade load i ng from Formula 5-7:


326 x 240 SHP X 0,69

PST = -~---~ _

19,7.'( Kts x 101 sq. JIJ_


PSI ,.~ 27 (IR(i140 Nfm2)-very high blade loading!

This is in the sllperC3vitatinKLegion. But, of course, this makes st:nse, since we are trying to drive the same bo;twith a much smaller propeliZr:1'he same thrust is_.E£TIs.~ntrared ~<! sUllUJE.!_-'!!!:?, raising blade loading tremendously. ln fact, as we noted earlier, ~cStili require the same 324 square inches (2090 em') of blade area to reduce blade loading to acceptable levels. Even a four-bladed propeller with a mean-width ratio of 0.55 would provide only 225 square inches (1452 cm-) of Ad' Since the 18 to 21 knots at which Svelte Samantha is intended to operate is too slow for a supcrcavitating propeller, we can Dot drive her reliably with a propeller just 16 inches (406 mm) in diameter.

Determining Minimum Propeller Size Frm11 Blade Loading -Y

How small a propeller could we use? Entering our minimum blade urea of 324 square inches (2090 ern") and maximum standard mean-width ratio of 0.55 into Formula 4-7 or 5=hart 4-2 givcs a four-bla~~ropellcr 19 inches (482 mm) in diameter. We can-take th~-diameter and repeat the above process to find slip, pitch, and so on.

Drawbacks of a Propeller with Too Little Blade Area

().t.>'~,.:;I~\ ~r b l~..:: ~.,,,\- ~

What if you still want a bare 16 inches (406 rom) in diameter? This is a real problem. You'Il have to accept a noticeable loss in efficiency Either the propeller will cavitate at least some of the time, or a propeller with either very wide blades or more than four blades, or both, will be required. These alternatives will result in a loss of top speed and require operating the engine at higher ',RPMs to achieve cruising speed. The obVIOUS alternative is to use twin screws. In terestingly, if Svelte Samantha were a somewhat higher speed craft-operating above 35 knots-we could forget about cavitation and go to a true supercavitating propeller,

Drawbacks of a Propeller of Smaller Diameter

Assuming we settle on the acceptable minimum 19-inch-diameter (482 rnm) propeller, what have we lost by going with this smaller size? There are few disadvantages at cruising speed and above, At low speeds, however this propeller will deliver less oomph-crash stops will take longer, and working into ~'tigJ1t slip by reversing to back to port will be less effective. The small propeller will not be as effective in powering into a head sea, and it will take a bit longer to force the boat up onto a plane. Once at speed, though, the difference in performance will be slight.


Usc Smaller Diameters at Higb Speed

Whereas larger-diameter propellers are better on low- and moderate-speed vessels, for speeds over 35 knots it is desirable to reduce propeller diameter. This is because the drag force or the water rushing past the hull inc-reases as the square of boat speed, V Accordingly, the resistance or appendage drag of a large propeller, its strut. and its shaft quickly become serious drawbacks.

If all-around handling an~ I;~avy-weather performance are desired along with high speed, it may still be ~&inw6jl'c to use a large-diameter propeller and accept the somewhat reduced top speed caused by its drag. This is especially so for lower-end high-speed vessels. like sportflshermen and crew boats-v-vcsscls that operate in ail weather and sel-

Crouch's Propeller Method

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Propeller Handbook

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dorn exceed 40 or 45 knots. When all-our top speed is desired, however, and V exceeds 40 to 45 knots, propellers of the minimum diameter from Chart 5-5 or Formula 5-5 should be used,

Let's consider a flat-out, deep-vee ocean racer, Rambling Rockel. Her characteristics are:

Rambting Rocket

40ft. 12.2 In LOA (length overall)
r> 35 it. 10.7 m WL (waterline length)
10.5 ft. 3.2 i1l BOA (beam overall)
9 ft. 2.7 J1I BWL (waterline beam)
" 1.42 ft. 0.43 m Hd (hull draft)
9,6001b 4350 kg Displacement She is powered by twin engines delivering 450 BHP (335 kw) each at 4,400 RPM. We want to select the propellers that will give her maximum speed.

Determining_R.fM fur...Hnding Diameter and Pitch

... ----

Rambling Rocket is not a sensible bQllt. Economy of operation and long engine life are not important. We simply want her to be able to blast along as fast as possible. Since she ~ laid out from the start for speed, we c~m assume that Q2wer losses from transmission, .s.haftigg .... exhaust backpressare and auxiliary machinery are very lQw. Accordingly, we wi1l~t Rambling Rocket's propellers based entir~!L9.!!J2£~ngine_RPM t!!l<l.S1:lP.

Entering Rambling Rocket's waterline beam times her bull draft (a value of 12.71:1 sq. ft. or 82.5 cm-) in Chart 5-5 or Formula 5·5 yields 'a minimum diameter of 14.5 inches (368 rum). Since we are going all out for speed, let's round down and use a 14-inch (355 rom) diameter. Entering 14 inches and 450 SHP per engine in Chart 5-3, we find that shaft RPMs should be 4,393, which is so close lO the top engine RPM of 4,400 as to make no difference. rlns glves U~ direct drive, meaningfriciXea~l ge~r Eower losses'l ~t;~bati Llstifvjng_QULQP!i.mistic_J2ower loss estimates ....

Planing Speed Chart 2-3 01" Formula 2-4 predict a top speed of 64 knots (73 MPH) based on a total of 900 SHP (671 kw), or lD.6 LB/HP (6.4 kg per kw). Chart 5-2 or Formula 5-2.give a slip of 14.9 percent at tha! speed, while Table 5-1 suggests a 10 percent slip. We thus compromise on 12 percent. Pitch, from Chart 5·1 or Formula 5-1, is then 20.1 inches. Thus we specify two 14-inch-diameter by 20-inch-pitch propellers (355 mIT! by 508 !TIm), of a standard 0.33 mean-width ratio. This gives a pitch ratio of 1.43. From Optimum Pitch Ratio Chan 5-4 or formula 5-4£1, we can see that this is acceptable for a boat running at 64 knots.

Supercavitating Propellers at High Speed

Now we'll check for cavitation. Allowable pressure to cavitation, from Formula 5-6, is:

PSI = 1.9 x 64 ktsO.5 x 1.3 'FtOfj8 Therefore:

PSI = 15.5 (106858 Nfm') before cavitation.

Actual blade loading from Blade Loading Formula 5-7 is: 326 x 450 SHP x 0.78


64 Kts x 78 sq. in.


PSI = 22.9 (157900 N/rn2) blade loading.

;l1~ ~ ,j

'- V·'''.,



With blade loading this high. the propellers wil! be cavitating all the time. ThIJ~, we have to sr!_ecifL;;~~rca:ilating _prop~lleTs. wbid! are about 90 percent as efficient as comparable nq{!1g pr0I'~lIers- To avoid cavitation. we would have to specify a nll;cll[~rgcr propeller and much lower shaft speed. with substantially more area to lower the blade pressure. Unfortunately, at a speed of 64 knots, the additional appendage resistance from such a large propeller would far outweigh the relatively small gain in efllcicncy,


The slip method of determining propellers has been tried and proved for well over half a century. It is widely used by many "mall qan Q_e§ig_!l~ and representatives of some propeller companies, and is acceptable for vessels \.\-~re maximum efl1clell£}~_,llO_l£ritical, or for ~'1i1il1g auxiliaries, wh~r£_p~J:.EQrnlap_£_e under power ~Ig!y. Carefully applying the slip method win result in selecting a sat[~r;lcl{)ry propeller. for best results, though, particularly in commercial applications, the Bp-S method described in the next charter is more accurate. In any case, thecharts and tables of the slip method constitute an excellent means of making a preiiruinary propeller estimate, which may then be refined with the Bp-5 method.

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Formula 6-1

Chapter 6 14he Bp-8 Met110d

The Power Factor Method for Calculating Propellers

In the previous chapter we selected propellers by estimating apparent slip. In order to eliminate this estimate, we have to take a closer look at the relationship of the propeller's speed through the water, boat speed and theoretical propeller advance-pitch times RPM.


Real and Apparent Slip

Figure 6-1 shows these relationships graphically. P x N represents the total distance the propeller would ad vance if there were no slip, as we discussed in Chapter 5. V represen ts boat speed. This is the speed of the boat through the water, as measured far enough away from the hull so that wake is not a factor. SlipA (apparent slip) is the difference between boat speed (V) and P X N. This is all exactly as shown in Figure 5-1.

As a boat moves forward, it drags along a fair amount of water. Water slicks to the hull (and the propeller) sli ghtl y because of friction before falling away astern" forming the wake. Because of this, the water the propeller actually "sees" is already moving forward a bit. In other words, the propeller is not advancing through the water as fast as boat speed (V). If, for instance, V were 10 knots and the hull were dragging along a wake of 1 knot, the propeller would be advancing through the water at only 9 knots.

Speed of Advance (Va)

W on Figure 6-1 represents this wake. If the wake (W) is added to the apparent slip we get the real slip (SlipR). The difference between real slip (SlipR) and P X N (theoretical propeller advance) gives the actual speed of the propeller through the water it "sees't-> speed of advance through the wake. This speed is almost universally known as Va or speed of advance.

'Iaylor Wal{e Fraction (Wt)

Admiral Taylor defined rhe wake as a percentage of boat speed (V); his formula is called the Taylor wake fraction (WI).

Formula 6-1 Taylor nake Fraction Formula

V - Va

Wt = V or

Va = V X (1 - Wt) Where:

Wt = Taylor Wilke fraction

V '" Boat speed through water

Va = Speed of water at the propeller




The Up-8 Method

. ---------------------~

Figure 6·/

Slip, wake, and speed of advance .



Figure 6-2

The engine performance curve of a Cummins KTA38-M.

(Courtesy ofCummins Engine COIIIpany, Inc.)



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2300 ,", 37.7

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800 "'a.
0 u
600 :I:~:
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60 Ii'
.w ;.~
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20 °e
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Propeller Handbook

Wake Factor' (\Vt")

Obviously, in order to select a propeller as accurately as possible, we must allow for Ull: wake and use ViI, not Y, in our work. It is convenient when using Formula 6··1 to give the value "1 - we a name, and we will call it the )y?l¥jllCl_or (Wf). (This should not be conf'-ls~d with Fronde's wake fraction, which is 'also known as '~'-Wf" Froudc's wake fraction is seldom used, because it defines wake in terms of Va and not V. It is thus not as convenient for propeller calculations as the Taylor wake fraction, Wt.)

Formula 6-2 Wtike Factor Formula

Formula 6-2

Wf = 1 - We

From [Jus we can restate Formula 6-1 us:


Formula 6~3 Speed of A dvauce Formula

Formula 6-3

Va = V x Wf Where:

V = Boat speed

I WL ~:vy~~_[~~QL!

Wt = _T~yl~r_w~k~_fEacti9n

W.r ( ;;:::_t~ j .{

'\ _.o:,. >( iy~:" tf" J

Determining Wal{e Factor (Wf) From Block CoefficientDisplacement Vessels

Chart 6-1 plots wake factor CWf) as a function of block coefficient (see Formula 6-5) for single- and twin-screw craft, and is applicable to vessels that operate with SL ratios of under 2.5_ Vessels with higher block coeffidents\are' fuller-bodied (tubbier). Accordingly, water flows around [heir hulls less easily and their wakes are greater than those with finer, more slender hulls. As you can see, the srnaliestwake factor, and thus the largest difference between V and Va, appears for craft with large block coefficients.

·f -'--,




r·-·~··-t~ .. w~. ---~~-- ---"'"_.- r--~--- ~--~I--'~ -r--~--~

a.6! f


0.5 0_6




Chart 6-1. Wake factor as a fiUlflio.n of block coefficient for single- and twin-screw craft with S -L ratios of less than 2.5 _ Based 011 Formula 6-5.

The Bp-fi Method

Wake factors of single-screw craft ;J]"C smaller (there is more wake) than for twin-screw vessels because file single propeller is partially hidden behind the keel. deadwood and/or skcg. By comparison. each propeller on a twin-screw craft "sees" a relatively unobstructed water now (less wake),

The formulas below relating to the curves OD Chart 6-1 were derived by the author and arc based on data from Barnaby and from Caterpillar Inc.

Wake Factor vs Block Coefficient Formulas:

F01'11luia 6-4a-Sillgle Screw:

wr ;; 1. r r. - ((J.G X ell)

Formula 6-4b-Twin Screw:

Wf = Ul(j -- (0.4 x Ch) \'v'here:

Wf "" Wake factor (percent of V "seen" by the propeller) Cb "" Block coefficient of hull

Formula 64a, b


Formula 6·5 Block Coefficient Formula


ell == -W-L-x-n-WL--X' H--'-d-X-6-4-I-b.-/c-'U-r-t.

Disp = Displacement, in pounds

WL = Waterline length, in feet

BWL = Waterline beam, in feet

Hd '" Hull draft, excluding keel, skeg or deadwood, in feel

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r r: , -( • ~.


Formula 6-5

The block coefficient may frequently be found on the lines drawing from the original designer, If it is not known, it may be calculated using Formula 6-5. Should the quantities [or this formula be unknown, they can be found by measuring the hull as described in Appendix A.

(- r'_'; ~~ ( -


Determining Wake Factor (Wf) from Speed-Planing Craft


Chart 6·2 plots wake fraction as a function of speed for twin-screw vessels that operate,-those with SL ratios greater than 2.5. Values for single-screw vessels may be taken as 98 to 99 percent of those given in the chart. The final value for wake factor (Wf) may not exceed 99 percent. The curve is defined by a formula derived by the author, based 0.11 data from Du Cane, Lord and Phillips-Birt:

I '

\,V" '-_

Formula 6-6 Wake Factor I'S Speed Formula

Wf"" {),83 x Kts"-"" Where:

Wf "" Wake Factor Kts '"' Speed in knots

Formula 6-6


Propeller Handbook



Z 0.98
I- 0.97
< 0.96
UJ 0.95
« 0.94
0_93 , 1

j 1 !

Chart 6-2. Wake fraction as d function of speed for twin-screw craft operating at planing speeds. Based on Formula 6-6.



r Characteristics of Our Example Vessel-Oceml Motion


Now that we can determine Va, we can go ahead and begin to calculate a propeller using the Bp-S method. Let us consider the propeller for the single-screw Ocean Motion. She might be a charter boat, a dive boat, a combination boat, or a large motor yacht. K~ep in mind that tile Bp-S calculations and the other formulas given in this book will work for nearly every vessel, and Ocean Motion could have vastly differing specifications. Since we need specific numbers for our calculations, though, let's assume that her characteristics are as follows:

Ocean Motion

100 ft.

92 fl.

26 ft.

25 ft. ·9,,7S.ft_ to.s ft. 225.S tons

30.48 rn LOA (length overall)

28,04 m L\VL (length waterline)

7 . .92 ill BOA (beam overall)

7.62 m BWL (beam waterline)

2,96 TIl Hd (hull-draft)

3.20 m Maximum draft

229.4 MIens Displacement (long tODS lind metric Ions)

505,8301b 290

229440 kg Displacement

290 DL ratio (displacement/ length ratio)

74 in,

Maximuru propeller diameter to fil within existing aperture

Shaft centerline below waterline

188 em

4.2 fl_

l.2811\ '


Her operator wishes to run at a continuous speed of l2.2 knots (which 1NoTh our to a speed/length ratio of 1.27), with a bit extra in reserve. This IS a practical operating speed for a displacement vessel of this size, although reducing continuous opera! ing speed to 11.5 knot,'; would save around 20 percent in power and fuel requirements (sec Chapter 2), hom Chart 2: J or Formula 2-1, we determine that Ocean Motion requires one horsepower at the shaft per 575 pounds of displacement (one kw per 350 kg) to make this speed. At her displacement of 505,830 pounds (229440 kg), this comes to 8RO SHP (65(i kw),

A vessel of this size should be equipped with a mie.marine .. .d..i.c..~J. An intermittent rating would be appropriate for the intended usc-a continuous cruising speed with some extra power in reserve. Acc<.mlingly, we would plan on operating at about 85 percent of top RPM and HP (see Chapter I). We also have to "How for a 3 percent loss of power due to hearing friction and exhaust hack pressure. This indicates nil engine with a maximum BHP rating of ['066 UP (795 kw) [880 SliP -:- 0.85 = 1,()I)9 HI', and 1,009 HP x :t03 = 1066 BHP). At this point, we must consult various manufacturers to determine which engines meet these requirements. One such engine would be a Cummins KTA38-M. In the intermittent rating it delivers a top power of l,(J45 JJ P (780 kw) at 1,950 RPM, and it puts out 990 HP (738 kw) at its maximum safe continuous operating speed of 1,800 RPM. We arc planning to operate continuously at 85 percent of top RPM or t,657 RPM at 882 HP (658 kw). Figure 6-3 shows the performance curves for this engmc.

Estimating Shaft Speed (RPM or N)

We must now make a starting estimate of a suitable shaft speed to determine the proper reduction gear ratio. This may be done by referring to Minimum Diameter Chart 5-5 or Formula 5-5 and then referring to the DIA-HP·RPM Formula 5-3. The minimum diam-



f· , '

' ..

~ ·13
~ ·7 Type 8 .3 bl~,d e s ~.a.r.O·SO

·6 tOIDP~O.OS dbIDP~o.1e 14...2).1:';I':;;~~~=J.·q-;/-hJ{-if+;r-

.5L, --~~--L-5L-~~~~IO~~~15~~~2j.~O-A--2~5~~J~O~~~-~~O--- j Bp V'A./_vFS


Chart 6-3. This enlarged segment of (1 Efl-a diagram can. 1700. used (1.\. (I guide to [amiliarize youl"sdfwith the full Bp-B diagrams ill Chart (j-,,"


eter indicated is 64 inches. Next, enter the largest-diameter propeller that will fit in tile available propeller aperture (74 inches) and the maximum shaft horsepower OUf engine can deliver into Formula 5-3. From this we lind the RPM. Maximum SHP is aboutl ,02D (760 kw) (assuming thai with everything wide opcn the propeller will see about 97 percent of maximum brake lIP).

Thus, if OCean Motion bas room for a 74-inch-diarneter (IS8 em) propeller, 11<::T max-irnuru shaft speed would be about 360 RPM. Top engine RPM'is 1,950, so the reduction ratio should be 5.4:1 (l,950 RPM ..;- 360 RPM = 5.4). (In practice, you may not be able to find a gear of the exact reduction ratio calculated. In this case, yon have to seulc for the nearest commercially available gear ratio. You must also consider whether <I. vee drive, angled drive or offset drive is required, and how this can either be illcorpo~d into the,~~ev~r~eiie1Llf-tl~n .£ea~o~j1_~t~ withi(.)

-'.i .. Checking Shaft Speed Against Otber Similar Vessels

It is now a good idea to check this s~alt speed ag&n;;( thfl.LQfs.9.!~1parable vessels to see it" both theavailable propeller aperture and the engine chosen are suitable. Although wc'l! make the lina! determination of suitable shaft speed from the Bp-S diagrams, it makes matters simpler to sturt wnh a_gQQQ_estimate. Table 6-1 gives typical shaft speeds for various tYPeSof vessels and various speed-le~!h ratios.


l 1·

• ·l

I {1



·_-1 \

TABLl£_6-1 '\

'I)'pe of Vessel

SL Ratio

Range ()f Sbllft RPM

Heavy displacement hulls (lugs, push boats, heavy fishingvessels)

Mediurn-to-Iight dlsplaccmcnt hulls (fishing vessels, trawlers, workboats, trawler yachts)

Sernidisplacemcnt hulls (Crew boats, patrol boats, motoryachts)

Planing hulls (yachts, fast commuters and ferries. high-speed patrol boats)

under! .2


under I ~45




over 3.0

1 ,200·-3,000 -I-

inspection of Table 6-1 indicates that a shaft speed of 360 RPMs is suitable for a vessel like Ocean Motion. (Shaft speeds at the lower end of the recommended range indicate larger propeller diameters, which is good.) If the shaft RPM we derived from Chart 5-3 or Formula 5-3, based on the capacity of the propeller aperture, is significantly highe; than the speed recommended in Table 6-), the available propeller aperture is too small for the hull.' A propeller can be found that will work, but it will never be as efficient as a larger-diameter propeller with the lower shaft speed recommended in 1}Ible 6-1.

Similarly, if the largest diameter that will fit in the propeller aperture is smaller than indicated on Minimum Diameter Chart 5-5, the aperture is too small for the hull. Again, a propeller can be selected that will work, bUI at lower efficiencies than one of larger diameter.

'., . {

The IIp-o Diagrams or Charts

We now have sufficieut information to enter the Bp-S charts and determine the most suitable propeller. Charts 6-4A, B, C, and D have been prepared based on open-water tests run by Admiral David Taylor and later by Troost and others. After data from openwater tests have been collected, they, are entered on the Bp-o chart for propellers of each pattern. The dense format of these charts may be intimidating at first to readers with nontechnical backgrounds, but you should not tel this deter you from using them. Once

r no { .. -

...-......-..0.'"'"'" ...... ,, . _. ~-~--.~"---.~~..,. ===~=-_¥-_ ...... _ ..... ~.._ __ ....... __ ~~~~~ _


you have run through a calculation with the I3p-& diagnHlls. you win find them very clear and accessi nle.

The type of propeller covered by a given Bp-S diagram is described in the legend in

the corner. For instance "Screw Series B.l.50" is Ior three-bladed, type B (average type) propellers, airfoil in section at the root and changing to ogival section <1.t 4() percent (If diameter, with a disc area ratio nf 0.50 and constant face pitch. As we have seen from] I


Formula 4-4, this corresponds to blades with a mean-width ratio 0[0.33 for propellers with

the average 20-pcn;cnt hub diameter.

Power Factor (Up) and Advance Coefficient (6)

I '

To usc these charts, we must be able to calculate the value of Dr, which is known as the power ('orJjicient or power [actor (occasionally the basic variables and the value of 8 (della). which is known as the speed coeficieru or advance coefficient.

Formula 6-7 Power Factor Formula

B '" (SHP)o.~ X N

. P Vau


Up = Power factor

SHP = Shaft horsepower at the propeller N = Sh~ft RPM

Va = Speed of advance of the propeller through the wake

Formula 6-7

Formula 6-8 Adl'ollce CoeJficient Formula

I) = N x Dft or N x D

. Va 12 x Va

This may also be restated as:

o x Va x 12

D = .--------.-



o '" Advance coefficient N = Shaft RPM

Dft = Propeller Diameter in feet D = Propeller diameter in inches

Va = Speed of advance of the propeller through the wake

Determining Va

III using the Bp-B charts, we always use maximum SHP and RPM--not maximum brake horsepower, but maximum horsepower delivered to the propeller, Firs!' we find Va. For

Ocean Motion; this works out as follows: r

Using Formula 6-5 to determine the block coefficient, I

Cb = . 505,830 lb. Disp.

92 ft. WL x 25 ft. }3WL x 9.75 ft. Hd x 64Ib./tldf


Cb = OJ5

From Chart 6~ I or Formula 6-4, we find that the wr (wake factor) for a vessel with a block coefficient of 0.35 is 0.9. Ocean Motion'« top speed. at maximum RPM,'"vUJ be based on top SHP (not BHP) of t ,020 lIP (760 kw) .. =about 97 percent of top BlIP. This yields one horsepower per 496 pounds (one kw per 302 kg). Chart 2-1 or Form ila 2-1


Propeller 'Handbook

\ ' ,1 \.,

\(' "

give ,)11 SL ratio of 1 .34, for a boat speed (V) of 12.8 knots. Va is thus 11..5 knots [12.8 knot V x 0.9 Wf =-:: n.5 knot Va].

Calculating Bp-s-The Power Factor Next, we determine Bp using Formula 6-7:

(l,020 SHP)O,' x 360 RPM Bp "'

11.5 knts'S


Bp = 25.6

" \

Determining 0- The Advance Coenicienr

We can now enter the Bp-S diagram for the propeller pattern of our choice, with the Bp value. We run up from the Bp value till we cross the dot-dash line of maximum openwater efficiency (see the enlargement of a Bp-S diagram, Chart 6-3). The value for \) is now interpolated from the a-curve that crosses the line of maximum open-water efficiency at the poin t closest to its intersection with B p = 25.6 (or just above). On this chan, the

o value is 215.

The 8 value determines diameter, but the Bp-8 charts reflect the results of open water tests without a hull ahead of the propeller. Accordingly, we have to adjust the 0 value to reflect the presence of 11 hull ahead of the propeller by multiplying the following percenrages:



Number of Propellers

% Adjustment

Single SCrew Twill screw

0.95 0.97

, .

i I,)


;. r, (, - r: ( -, , ,.', ,

-i "'" .For 11 ~ri£l~~'0'~e~~, use the single-screw value for the centerline propeller and the twin-screw value for the wing propellers. Adjusting 0 in this way increases pitch to make proper allowance for the effect of wake, and reduces efficiency, to reflect the reduced efficiency of the propeller being behind the hull.


. , 't


Calculatmg Diameter (D) from Advance Coefficient (0)

For the single-screw Ocean Motion, we thus multiply the 8 of 215 by 0.95, from Table 6-2, to get an adjusted 8 of 204.2 We can now solve for diameter using FOTIllUla 6-8:

204.2 x 11.5 kts x 12

D = -~~-----,

360 RPM


D = 78.3 inches

Adjusting 4) to Obt.ain a Smaller Diameter (D)

We have already determined that the maximum diameter that can be accommodated in Ocean Motion's propeller aperture is 74 inches. We thus have several options. We can (1) choose a lowe! value of 0, which will cross the Bp = 25.6 line above the line of optimum efficiency; (2) return to the-beginning of our Bp-8 calculation and try a higher shaft speed to reduce diameter; or (3) try a different propeller pattern on another Bp-S diagram, To determine the 0 value that will give us a 74-inch (I88 em) propeller of three

blades with a DAR of 0.5 at our present RPf'.'1, weIi usc Formula 6-8 times tile adjustment factor from Table 6-2. Inserting the maximum allowable diameter, we get:

sso RPM·x 74 in. Dia

i'i = . x o. 95 adjustment factor

12x l kts .


o = J 83.4 for a 74-inch (ISH em) propeller

Finding Effi-ciency (e) or (1"})

The 1) =. 183.4 curve intersects the Bp = 25.6 line just about where the efficiency (T]) curve is 0.58. In other words, the efficiency of a propeller with this diameter, Bp, and 0 would be 58 percent. This is an acceptable efficiency, so we can continue and determine pitch.

Determining Pitch (P)

At this point we have settled on a 74-inch (188 em) diameter three-bladed propeller with a DAR of O, 5, a power factor (8 p) of 25.6, and an advance coefficient (8) of 183.4. Running from the intersection of I) = 183.4 and Bp = 25.6 horizontally across to the left side of the Bp-8 diagram, we find the pitch ratio. (The Bp-B charts label pitch ratio as "MlDp, which simply means "pitch mean" divided by "diameter propeller.") 10 case of Ocean Motion, we find a pitch ratio of 0.94. Simply multiplying the diameter by the pitch ratio gives pitch, so pitch is 69.5 inches (l76 em) [0.94 pitch ratio x 74 in. dia, == 69.5 inches]. Where stock propellers over 36 inches in diameter are available in 2- inch increments of diameter, and l-inch increments of pitch, we would call for a 74-inch ([88 em) diameter by 70-inch (178 em) pitch propeller.

Finding Thrust

If the thrust of the propeller is required. Formulas 5-8 a11(15-9 should be used as described in Chapter 5; however, efficiency (c) or (TJ) should now be taken directly from the Bp-S diagrams, rather than from Chart 5-6.

~. ·1


Checking for Cavitation

Finally, we must check for cavitation using the blade-Ioading method as described in Chapter 5. From chart 4"2 or Formula 4~6, we determine that the develol~~.J:!.r~a of a 74· inch-diameter, three-bladed propeller o[ 0.;> D/\_R (thus _.about O]3_,~~R) is 2,149 square inches (13865 cm-). Ocean Motion's top speed (Va) at 1,020 SHP (760 kw) is 11.5 knots. Her shaft centerline is 4.2 feet (1.28 m) below the waterline at the propeller, and the propeller efficiency ("T]) we have determined as 0.58. Inserting this information into Formula 5-6 yields the maximum blade loading before cavitation as 7.2 PSI (49637 Nfm2). The actual blade loading, from Formula 5-7 is 8.0 PSI (55497 N/m2). Accordingly, this propeller mHY experience cavitation. Thus, we proceed to increase the total area of the propeller, as in Chapter 5, by increasing blade width (MWR and DAR), or increasing the number of blades, or both. With the Bp-b charts, however, we reenter the diagram for the new propeller pattern with our Bp value and repeat the calculations to nod the appropriate 0, efficiency, pitch ratio and pitch.

In the case of Ocean Motion, Formulas 4-6 and 5-7 show that a propeller with a MWR of 0.37 would reduce blade loading to just under 7.2 PSI (49637 N/m2). The loss in efficiency from this small increase in blade width is negligible. In fact, we may enter our Bp value of 25.6 and our adjusted b of ! 83.4 on the 13[1-5 diagram for 3·bladcd propellers of 0.65 DAR (about 0.42 MWR). \Ve would lind a new efficiency ("l) of 0.56 and a pitch ratio of O.9S. These give the same pitch, 70 inches (178 em), and the same predicted speed as the 0.33 MWRJO.50 DAR propeller we started with. The wider blades, however, ensure that cavitation will not be a problem.

\ __ I


t '


Propelle rB andbook


'l+ I." f ,. - ",' :pc:·~ (", 0
j ~ 11... I ,j
i I ~_,)ti 1"-
-, - 'I ('l('l
I I~ _. , ; < L - r,
.' . TABLE 6-3

'll . I



I 4 ,.

r j--l

, ,

Calculations for Twin-Screw Craft

If Ocean Motion had been a twin-screw vessel, we would have calculated the individual propellers exactly as with the single screw above. The horsepower and shaft speed, of course, would have been based on the SHP and RPM delivered to each individual pnlpcller, while boat speed (V) and speed of advance (Va) would haw been based on the total SHP of the two engines and propellers combined.


Propellers of Difi'ering DAR or MWR

The four Bp-5 diagrams (Charts 6-4A, B, C, and D) at the end of [his Chapter cover threebladed propellers of 0.50 and 0.65 disc area ratios, and four-bladed propellers of 0.40 and 0.55 disc area ratios. The blade pattems are elliptical, with no skew, airfoil in section at their roots and changing to ogival (liar-faced) section at 40 percent of diameter, with constant face pitch, a blade thickness fraction of 0.05, and a hub or boss 1"8 percent of diameter. This covers (be majority of stock propellers. Forpropellers of slightly greater or lesser DAR ratios, using the chan with the closest DAR will give adequate accuracy .

. Efficiency Adjustment Table 6-3 gives the change in efficiency for propellers of the same diameter but with differing disc-area ratios and mean-width ratios.


Pitch f{aIJo 0.30 0.50 0.65 0.80 0.90
1.4 l.O!O 1.000 0.970 0.950 0.920
1.2 U50 1.000 0.965 0.930 0.900
1.0 1.020 1.000 0.960 0.920 0.880
0.8 1.025 1.000 0.950 0.900 0.960
0.6 1.030 1.000 0.940 0.880 0.840 All the above factors are related to a standard propeller with a DAR of 0.50, which is taken as unity 0.0(0) on the table .. To find the efficiency of a propeller with a differing DAR, multiply by the appropriate factor from Table 6-3. For example, if we know that a four-bladed propeller of 0.50 DAR had a pitch ratio of 1.2 and an efficiency ('1) of 0.55, and wish to find the efficiency (1)) of a four-bladed propeller of 0.90 DAR and a 1.2 pitch ratio, we multiply 0.55 by 0.90 to find that the wider-bladed propeller has an r] of 0.49.

The ratios may b~~~ for propellers with DARs falling between the values given on the table. In addition, if the efficiency (l)) of a propeller of a DAR other than 03is known, the 1) or a propeller of a differing DAR may 'be'fouiid from the ratio of the efficiencies presented. For example, if a three-bladed propeller with a pitch ratio of 1.0 and a DAR of 0.80 is known to have an '(1 of 0.62, the efficiency of a similar propeller with a DAR of 0_90 would be 97 percent of the original propeller (From Table 6-3,0.92 7 0.95 -= 0.968) for an 1] of 0.60.

It is clear that moderate changes in blade width (MWR and DAR) make relatively small changes in efficiency

'I\vo-Bladed Propellers

For two-bladed propellers, calculate in, the usual way, using the three-bladed Bp-8 diagram whose DAH. ratio gives a MWR ratio as dose as possible to the MWR of the blades

i- _


on the two-bladed propeller. Then adjust the final results of the three-bladed propeller for ;J I we-bladed prnr,(>J Ie-I" by multiplying by the r'annr:; given in Table 5-2. Remember to usc the reduced developed urea (Ad). of the two-bladed propeller in ciC1CI"Il11flin1; blade loading.

I'ropellel's 'With Skew and/or Rake

Propellers with small to moderate amounts of skew or rake wi 1I have nearly the same values <IS non-skewed or non-raked propellers of the same diameter, pattern, and pitch ~. ratio, and may be calculated from the standard Bp-6 diagram of the appropriate DA R. and number of blades. The skewed or raked propeller will have slightly less efficiency than ;] non-skewed or non-raked standard propeller. (Sec Chapter 4 for the advantages and disadvantages of skew and rake.)

Propellers of Fully Ogival (Flat-Faced) Section

Propellers with fully ogival (flat-faced) sections, from blade tip to root, can also be calculated using the Bp-o charts. Such propellers win have approximately 2 to 4 percent less efficiency than shown on these charts, but they will have slightly less tendency to cavitate" Thus, this type of propeller is somewhat superior in situations where there is high blade loading. (Sec discussion in Chapter 4 on blade section shape.)

Supercavitating Propellers

The patterns of supercavirating propellers differ widely and, of course, they also differ from those of the standard TaY.!!2!.:Imqg_..sSEies propellers. Accordingly, the standard Bp- 5 charts are less accurate for supercavitating ~than for other types of propellers. Nevertheless, in the absence of Bp-3 diagrams prepared for the specific pattern of supercavitating propeller being considered, the standard Bp-b diagrams can be used. Select from the chart whose DAR and number of blades is closest to the supercavitatiug propeller in question. The supercavitating propeller will deliver roughly 90 percent of the efficiency of the standard-series, non-cavitating propeller.


Efficiency Assumptions of Speed Estimate Formulas

Until now, we have discussed efficiency but we have not examined how it affects performance. Porrnul a 5-8 shows that thrust increases d irectly with increased effie iency. Thus, the higher the efficiency (e) or (1"]), the faster a vessel will go with the same horsepower. Efficiency vs Slip Chart 5-6 is not accurate enough to use for determining the effect of efficiency on performance; however, tbe efficiency values from the Bp-B charts me.

OUf speed estimates are based on Displacement Speed Chart 2-1 or Formula 2-1, and Planing Speed Chart 2-3 or Formula 2-4. Both formulas assume a propeller has been selected that will deliver an efficiency of between 0.50 and 0.60, wirb 55 percent being a good average. If the prope ller selected falls with t!, these ranges of efficiency, we can assume that the speed estimates from these formulas will be accurate.

Estimating Displacement Speed with Propeller Efficiency (11)

When efficiencies fall outside these values, the speed estimate should be adjusted accordingly. For displacement hulls, the speed should be adjusted as the cube root of the ratio of aetna l propeller efficiency (Tl) to the assu med propell er efficiency of 0.55. U si ng thi s information we can rewrite Formula 2- j to include propeller efficiency as follows:

.. L



...... ' t 11


The Bp·i) IV:dhod


, "


. If



( r 'i

, .

Formula 6·9 Displacement Speed with bJJiciency Formula , .. 10_665 Jr-:r;-

S!. RA110 = jLBISHP x -VO.55


SL RAT10 = Speed-length ratio LB = Displacement in pounds

SHP = ShrIft horsepower at the propeller 'fj = Propeller efficiency

If spec": in knots is already known, we can multiply the speed directly by



'~ "j. - For Ocean Motion, we have selected a propeller that has an efficiency of 0.58. The

, ... , j,.

I,: I~~ cube root or T\ ::: 0.58 divided by assumed efficiency 0.55 is only l.OnL Thus, our

earlier top speed estimate of 12.8 knots for Ocean Motion could be multiplied by 1.018, giving a new top speed of 13 knees. In practice, our speed estimates are only accurate to within about one-third to one-hall' of a knot. The improvement we are finding is below the threshold of accuracy for our estimating method, so we cannot COUnt on getting this extra speed. We do know, however, that any propeller with a higher efficiency will give a superior performance to one with a lower efficiency.

If, however, the efficiency of the propeller we have chosen falls below the assumed efficiency range, rhen we should make allowances for it If we had been forced, on Ocean MOtion, to select a smaller-diameter propeller with a higher RPM, we might have been compelled to usc a propeller that delivered an efficiency of only 0.48. In that case, Ocean

Motion's top speed would have fallen to 12.2 knots [0.48 -;- 0.55 = 0.87, and -0'0.87

= 0.95, then 12.8 kts x 0.95 =: 12.2 kts]. We would then take this new top speed (V) and recalculate Va, and then Bp and 0 based on the new Va, to find the most suitable propeller.

u~r !\ (i ,_j
,~- I' , I
-' ,
LI '~-
" \'rrl :, l- '-
({ f' r! Ll
-~ l.1 e "

. II

Formula 6~10

Estimating Planing Speed with Propeller Efficiency ('ll)

Propellers for planing vessels mat fall outside the assumed range of efficiency (0.50 to 0.60), as determined by Planing Speed Formula 2-4, should also be adjusted. For planing vessels, the speed estimate will vary as the square root of the ratio of propeller efficiency to assumed efficiency 0.55. Thus, we can rewrite Formula 2-4 to include propeller effi-

ciency (1)) as follows:

Formula 6·10 Planing Speed with EjficielU:y Formula

. C 01

Kts = (ilf x VO.55



Kts = Boat speed til knots

LB = Displacement in pounds

SHP = Shaft horsepower at the propeller " = Propeller efficiency

1£ speed in knots is already knOW!I, we can multiply the speed directly by:


,I ,


The np·oMi.~'lhod

Keep in mind-before undertaking cxucrmg rccalculations-c-that cur planing speed estimates arc only accurate to within 2 to 4 knots. Accorrlingty . .1 ust as WI th Formula 6- 9. there is little point ill recalculating speed if Tj falls within the assumed range. When efficiency falls above or below the assumed range, however. the speed should be recticol at eel. and the new Va used to fi nd new t) p and 0 values.

The Importance of Using Large Diameter and Low RPM

., Inspection of the Bp-8 diagrams shows that the highest propeller efficiencies are asso-

ciated with low values of Bp and low values of o. (A Bp of 4 and a ;) of SO would lPve ~ \J'l' <In efficiency of 79 percent) In other words, at low to moderate speeds (V and Va), for a

given horsepower, the slower the shaft RPM and the larger the diameter the more efficient

the propeller will be. This is true for every installation, unless boat speed will consistently

be above 30 or 35 knots. Accordingly. in selecting a propeller you should always start with the largest diameter possible for the given hll if, and work from there.

As V and Va get higher-approaching 15 knots and morc-s-Bp values also drop, because the value of Va2.S grows very large. as do corresponding 8 values. This naturally

lends to the selection of smaller-diameter, hi gh-pitch-ratio propellers. (See Chapter 5.)

Draft limitations, hull shape, and tip clearances (see Chapter 7) are nearly the only factors that should cause you to consider a smaller diameter for slow-to-moderate speed craft. Another practical limitation is that while reduction gears with ratios as great as 6

or 7 to I arc available for larger marine engines of, say over 250 fiP (ISS kw), standard reduction gears-for smaller, high-speed automotive-conversion type engines-are sel-

dom available with ratios larger than 3 to 1. If such an engine has a top speed of 3,1100 c. \; (' 'i(, t..;;· r

RPM, a 3: 1 reduction will only reduce shaft speed to 1,267 RPM. which may be higher -, ': ~ , ., c.

than ideal .for some vessels.

, Unfortunately, there are many craft in service designed and fitted with propellers of r::.:J \) f.-; ~ 1, \ s'maller diameter than recommended by Minimum Diameter Chart 5-5 or Formula 5-5. If

the existing hull. propeller-aperture, or shaft-strut configuration does not permit a larger propeller, you will have to use the largest workable diameter and settle for the lower efficiency and lower speed of such an installation. Alternatively, you can use this smaller

diameter and substitute a more powerful engine to obtain the desired speed with this lower

efficiency propeller. Formulas 6-9 and 6-10 will enable you to calculate how much additional horsepower will be required.

I( , .)

- 1-

,~ -

. F


fro 'I - I('{~" •

I '.'

,~ r


Slip and the Bp-6 Method

Throughout our discussion of the Bp-5 method, we have not referred to slip even once. The fact is that knowing slip serves no useful purpose here. The advance coefficient (15) evaluates the relationship of theoretical propeller advance (P x N) and real propeller speed through the water (Va). Nevertheless, if you wish to determine slip, it is a simple matter to multiply P x N and divide it by boat speed V (not Va) to find apparent slip (SlipA). For Ocean Motion, with a top boat speed of 12.8 knots, a lop shaft RPM of 360, and a propeller pitch of 70 inches (178 em), we lise Formula 5-1 to find that apparent slip (SlipA) is 0.38. r : (~ r


. j ("

, .

\. _f'

j • (

, t



\IT( ,r't \ \\; ",

.J -,

i:; - if) \ o "r",

T - •

!~ -~-------

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We can enter Approximate Efficiency vs Slip Chan 5-6 with a SlipA of 0.38 and Ocean Motion's propeller pitch ratio of 0.94 to find that also gives an efficiency of around 0.5:). But, we already blew this exactly from the Bp-8 chart. What's more, the Slip vs Bout Speed Chan 5-1 and Table of Typical Slips 5-1 would have given \IS a slip value of around 0.33,for Ocean Motion. This is the drawback to estimating Slip. Such a slip value would have led us to specify a propeller with too little pitch. Once you have learned (he Bp-o

method, you ¥t;~ better off without usinulip. . -'. -'- ----., ----

_- '-----, - ... -------

Very High-Speed Cran and the Bp-S Method

For lighr, very high-speed craft-vessels that operate over 50 or 60 knots-the Bp-S method is not as usefu I. This is due to the velY high values of Va25 " which make for very small Bp values. Let's look at the high-speed Rambling Rocket (OUl' example from the last chapter), which is near [he upper range of speed and HP that can be accommodated on the Bp-S charts.

With twin 450-BHP (335 kw) engines, and SHP taken at maximum BHP, shaft RPM of 4,500, V of 64 knots, Va of 63.4 knots, and a lA-inch (355 mmj-diameter propeller, Rambling Rocket's Bp is found to be 2.9,0 is 0.88, and 0.950 is 0.83. The B.3.S0 Bp-S chart gives a pitch ratio of 1.38, for a 14-inch-diameter by 19-inch-pitch (355 mm by 483 rom) propeller-very close to the l4-inch by 20-inch propeller (355 nun by 508 mm)

found using the slip method. -

"You can see, however, that if Bp hadbeen much higher the intersections of 5 and 11 would be off the upper Ielt-hand corner of our Bp-o diagram. Thus, for such very highspeed craft, we have to fall back on the slip method. This is not as bad as it seems because slip 011 such craft is very small (usually under 11 percent), as is the wake. Accordingly, there is less room for error in guesstimating slip than there is with moderate- and lowspeed craft, for which wake and slip can vary tremendously.

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Advantages of Bp·o Method

Not only is the Bp-S method more accurate than the slip method for most vessels, but it enables you very quickly and easily to try many different variables. If we had had to use a smaller diameter propeller on Ocean Motlon=-e: the same RPM-we could quickly have solved for whatever value of 0 would be suitable, using Formula 6-8 and Table 6=2.,. We could then immediately read oiLthe new efficiency, pitch .ratio and J:l:itch. We could also quickly recalculate Bp for both higher RPM and smaller diameter, deriving suitable values for that combination. Just as easily, we could enter any of our Bp values on the charts for another propeller pattern (with wider blades, or more blades) to see how it

would work out. '

In fact, for designs in which the variables .. of shaft speed and pro~ller diame!!?!_are J!!!ll wide open, a whole series of possible propellers of differing RPMs, diameters and patterns canbe calculated. All £ritical values for e1!_ch_ va:riation-'!p~~ 1], Wf,~, V, Diameter, Pitch Ratio, Pitch, MWR, DAR, Ad, blade Ioading, thrust at important operqfu~.s,and so Oil-can then -be listed in tabular Iorm-irii.feasjIY compared~Crirical values for each propeller may also be plotted against RPM. With this wealth of infer~, it becomesareIativelY easy job to select the propeiler that offers the best compromise of assets for a specific vessel and application. '


-------~=------------------------------ .. ~--~------------------------------

Chapter 7

Installation Considerations

Blade Clearances, Shafting, and Propeller yVeight


Tip Clearance

In the past few chapters, we have discussed the importance of using the largest-diameter propeller possible. For single-screw vessels, diameter is limited by the size or height of the propeller aperture. On twin-screw craft, the diameter is limited by the sbortest distance from the centerline of the shaft-strut bearing lip to the underside of the hull. For a new design, this distance can be found by measuring [rom the buttock lines at the halfbreadth of the propeller shaft, and cross-checking 01) the sections or body plan at the location of the strut and propeller, On an existing vessel, the distance can be measured directly. (Remember that the shortest distance may not be straight up. When measuring, swing your ruler through all arc centered at the shaft centerline. The shortest distance will often be found with the ruler angled slightly up and inboard.)

Once you know the maximum distance from the shaft centerline to the hull (and down to the skeg below, in an aperture), .you can determine the largest acceptable propeller diameter. Generally, there should be a tip clearance of at least 15 percent of the overall propeller diameter between the blade tips and the hull. The ideal tip clearance is 20 percent or more; however, additional lip clearance is usually found at. the cost of overall propeller diameter. Since smaller diameters mean lower efficiency, you are faced with a trade-off between the increase in efficiency fromlarger diameter and the increase in efficiency from improved water flow to the propeller and reduced vibration from greater tip clearance.

Actually, the slower the shaft RPM and the lower the boat speed, tile lower tile minimum lip clearance may be. Minimum Tip Clearance Table 7-1 below gives minimum tip clearances at varying RPM.



ST~ Ratio

Minimum Tip Clearance

200-S00 300-1,8lX)

1 ,000 an d above high-speed planing craft

tinder 1.2

1.2-2.5 over 2.5 over .1.0

10% 1.5% 20%

The clearances in Table 7-1 represent the absolute minimum, so you should always strive to do better. Tugs and trawlers frequently accept the additional vibration of propellers with only R to 10 percent tip clearance 10 gain additional thrust at low speed from increased propeller diameter. 011 propellers in an aperture or with a protect ive skcg below,



PropeHel- Handbook

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Figure 7-1

Minimum propeller clearances.

the tip clearance to tne skeg should be at least 12 percent of the diameter. Most other vessels should Lise 15 percent or greater if at all possible, while high-speed planing craft must have over 20percent tip clearance. Tip clearance should never be less than 2 inches (50 nun) on any vessel,

For a 3D-inch (762 mill) diameter propeller, I5-percent tip clearance is 4.5 inches 014 rnm) between hull and blades [30 in. x iUS = 4.5 in.].

Insufficient rip clearance is one of the foremost causes of vibration, and frequently, fill that is needed to reduce this problem is to switch to a propeller that gives a fulll5 to 20 percent tip clearance. If the number of blades is increased to make up for the lost diameter, and a pattern with modernte skew is substituted for non-skewed blades, vibration should be completely eliminated (see Charter 4).

Fore-and-Aft Illade Clearances

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A less-well-known aspect of propeller clearance is the amount of space required fore and aft. Free water (low YO the propeller from ahead, and free passage of the water aft as it leaves the propeller is essential for efficiency. It is not unusual to find some vessels, particularly auxiliary sailboats, with propellers in apertures so small that you would have trouble fitting two fingers between the blades and the after end of the deadwood. Thisis not only terribly inefficient but it can cause a rhythmic thumping every time the propeller blades pass by the deadwood. 10 avoid this, the skeg or strut should be angled or cut

. well back from the propeller. (This can be difficult, since the stern bearing ought to be fairly close to rhe propeller-s-no more than one to two shaft diamerers-s-for support.

For good performance, [hough, the skeg or strut should be cut and faired away to leave a gap of at least 30 percent of rhe, propeller diameter at the middle of the propeller blade (at half diameren=-sce Figure 7-1. For a '30-inch (762 mmj-diameter propeller, this means chat the strut, or aft end of (he skeg, should be 9 inches (229 mm) forward of the blades (30 in. x 0.30 = 9 in.)-more is better.stifl. In addition, the rudder must be well separated from the propeller. Fifteen percentof diameter is a good average figure.

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Again, for a 30-inch-diamcter (762 mrn) propeller, the leading edge of the rudder should be at least 4.5 i nchcs (114 rnrn) aft of the propeller's after hu b face [30 in. x 0.15 = 4.5 in.], Rudders are more effective if kept fairly close to the pro pellcr - they work best in a concentrated propeller wash-so you should not move the rudder much further aft than this on most craft.

Fairing of Aperture and Struts

Another critical aspect of propeller clearance jsrhe.fairing oUhs;, Q0Jdw~S!c!.,_ slCE.L~Qr ~tr~Jt. A blunt, square-edge deadwood or strut will create wasteful, turbulent eddies ahead of the propeller, even if cut away from the propeller as called for above. It if; vitally important that the trailing edges be faired away as thin as practical in a smooth, gentlyrounded curve. (The leading edge of the strut must be well rounded as well.)

Figure 7-2 shows the minimum acceptable fairing on a standard aperture. On wood and ORP vessels, constructing such a faired aperture is relatively straightforward. On metal craft, the designer and builder-must use their ingenuity to approximate this shape, within the constraints of reasonable building cost and complexity. One solution is to create a "deadwood" of a vertical centerline plate split for a pipe shaft log, and cut away to the clearances recommended. The trail ing edges of the plate at the aperture should be ground to a taper, and the sharp intersection. of the pipe and the vertical plate may be filled, rounded and faired with epoxy grout (see l~gure_7-3).


Shaft Struts and High-Speed Craft

On twin-screw vessels with vee-struts, it is important that the angie of the. vee not match the angle of the propeller blades, which would lead to two blades beingmasked by the strut simultaneously Accordingly, on a three-bladed propeller, the angle of the vee should not be 120 degrees, while on a four-bladed propeller. the angle should not be 90 degrees.

On craft that operate at speeds over 35 knots. every effort must be made to fair away the strut and to place it as far ahead of the propeller as possible. A rough rule of thumb for planing craft is that the strut should be 1.5 inches (38 mrn) ahead of the propeller for every knot of boat speed. Thus, for a :IS-knot craft, the nearest strut ahead (,I' the propeller


Figure 7-2

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should be 52.5 inches (1333 mm) away. In practice, this is seldom practical, since the propeller shaft would also have to be supported by a strut just aft of the propeller. Such a strut must be custom-fabricated to include the rudder. This is, in fact, the best practice for racing craft, but it's rarely seen on ordinary vessels, which usually install standard struts just ahead of the propeller and pay the penalty of increased turbulence. Figure 7-~1 shows such a high-speed strut, swept well back from the propeller.



,- ~'Shaft Angle Affects Propeller Diameter

In addition to aperture size, _shaft angle affects maximum propeller diameter. The steeper the shaft angle for a gi ven engine location, the further below the hu II bottom tile propeller shaft will emerge.from it~Lb_e-'l.ri!Jg: Thus. the greater the propeller diameter can be_··This is particularly important on twin-screw craft- In a new design, or in any major refit and repowering, some thought should be given to the possibility of increasing diameter by increasing shaft angle, within reasonable limits.

Allowable Limits of ~IHlf! An_gte

.- .-_-~ ... -- .-----.........,--,-- _-

In theory, a shaft angle of zero-parallel to the waterline-is most efficient, since thrust is straight aft and water flows to tile propeller from straight ahead. In practice, it is very difficult to install such a shaft and allow surn.dent room for the engine and gearbox inside the hull. Thus, the vast majority of shaft installations fall between 8 and 14 degrees. There is very little difference ill performance or efficiency between a shaft angle of 5 and 15 degrees; however, 15 degrees should be taken as an upper limit of shaft angle. Shafts with angles greater than 15 degrees begin to introduce significant variable loading to the propeller blades. This is because rhe upper blade, as it rotates up, is actually receding from the onrushing water, while the lower blade, as it rotates down, is moving forward into the slipstream. The result is uneven blade loading that can cause vibration and early cav i ration.