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Propeller Dimensions
The marine propeller is characterized by three fundamental measurements: number of blades, diameter, and pitch.

Fig 1 Propeller definition diagram (three blade, right hand, constant-pitch propeller)

Basic Nomenclature Hub The hub or boss of a propeller is the solid center disk that mates with the propeller shaft and to which the blades are attached. Ideally the hub should be as small in diameter as possible to obtain maximum thrust, however there is a trade-off between size and strength. Too small a hub ultimately will not be strong enough. Blades Blades are twisted fins or foils that protrude from the propeller hub. The shape of the blades and the speed at which they are driven dictates the torque a given propeller can deliver. Blade Root and Blade Tip The root of a propeller blade is where the blade attaches to the hub. The tip is the outermost edge of the blade at a point furthest from the propeller shaft. Blade Face and Back The face of a blade is considered to be the high-pressure side, or pressure face of the blade. This is the side that faces aft (backwards) and pushes the water when the vessel is in forward motion. The back of the blade is the low pressure side or the suction face of the blade. This is the side that faces upstream or towards the front of the vessel. Leading and Trailing Edges The leading edge of a propeller blade or any foil is the side that cuts through the fluid. The trailing edge is the downstream edge of the foil. Right Handed vs. Left Handed A propellers handedness affects its shape. A right-handed propeller rotates clockwise when propelling a vessel forward, as viewed from the stern of the ship. A left-handed propeller rotates counter-clockwise, as viewed from the stern, when in a forward propulsion mode. When viewing a propeller from astern, the leading edges of the blades will always be farther away from you than the trailing edges. The propeller rotates clockwise, and is right-handed, if the leading edges are on the right. A propellers handedness is fixed. A right-handed propeller can never be exchanged with a left-handed propeller, and vice versa. Most single screw vessels (one engine, one propeller) have right-handed propellers and clockwise rotating propeller shafts (as viewed from astern). Single propellers tend to naturally push the vessel to one side when going forward (and the opposite side when in reverse): a right-handed propeller will push the

stern to starboard when in forward (and port when in reverse). Since Propellers are not ideally designed for reverse propulsion, this effect is somewhat exaggerated when operating a single-screw vessel in reverse. Twin screw vessels have counter rotating propellers with identical specifications. The port (left) side propeller is usually lefthanded and the starboard (right) side propeller is usually right-handed. Diameter The diameter (or radius) is a crucial geometric parameter in determining the amount of power that a propeller can absorb and deliver, and thus dictating the amount of thrust available for propulsion. With the exception of high speed (above 35 Knots) vessels the diameter is proportional to propeller efficiency (i.e. Higher diameter equates to higher efficiency). In high speed vessels, however, larger diameter equates to high drag. For typical vessels a small increase in diameter translates into a dramatic increase in thrust and torque load on the engine shaft, thus the larger the diameter the slower the propeller will turn, limited by structural loading and engine rating. Propeller (RPMs) RPM is the number of full turns or rotations of a propeller in one minute. RPM is often designated by the variable N. High values of RPM are typically not efficient except on high speed vessels. For vessels operating under 35Knots speed, it is usual practice to reduce RPM, and increase diameter, to obtain higher torque from a reasonably sized power plant. Achieving low RPM from a typical engine usually requires a reduction gearbox. Pitch The pitch of a propeller is defined similarly to that of a wood or machine screw. It indicates the distance the propeller would drive forward for each full rotation. If a propeller moves forward 10inches for every complete turn it has a 10inch nominal pitch. In reality since the propeller is attached to a shaft it will not actually move forward, but instead propel the ship forward. The distance the ship is propelled forward in one propeller rotation is actually less than the pitch. The difference between the nominal pitch and the actual distance travelled by the vessel in one rotation is called slip. Typically blades are twisted to guarantee constant pitch along the blades from root to tip. Often a pitch ratio will be supplied. This is simply the ratio of pitch to diameter, usually in millimetres, and typically falls between 0.5 and 2.5 with an optimal value for most vessels closer to 0.8 to 1.8. Pitch effectively converts torque of the propeller shaft to thrust by deflecting or accelerating the water astern simple Newtons Second Law. Different types of pitch are: Constant (fixed) pitch - pitch is equal for each radius

Progressive pitch - pitch increases along the radial line from the leading edge (LE) to the trailing edge (TE). Variable pitch - pitch is different at selected radii Controllable pitch - blade angle is mechanically varied

Pitch Angle (Not to be confused with pitch) Angle of the pressure face along the pitch line with respect to the plane of rotation measured in degrees. Pitch angle decreases from the blade root to the tip in order to maintain constant pitch. Relationship between Pitch & Pitch Angle If And R = radius from centre of shaft = pitch angle Formula: Tan a = Pitch / 2R Where 2R = circumference Therefore pitch = 2RTan

The following geometry definitions apply to the overall propeller geometry and are a function of radius: Pitch: The axial distance travelled by the section if rotated one revolution and translated along the section nose-tail line (arc) Mid-chord line: line produced from the mid-chords (i.e. Midpoint of section nose tail line) of each section along a propeller blade. Rake: Axial distance from the mid-chord point at the hub section and the section of interest i.e. when the propeller blades lean or slope either forward or aft as viewed from the side they are said to have a rake. Blades that are sloped aft have a positive rake, while blades that are sloped forward have a negative rake. Rake is indicated either as a slope in degrees or by rake ratio. Skew or Skew Angle: Tangential component of the angle formed on the propeller between a radial line going through the hub section mid-chord point and a radial line going through the mid-chord of the section of interest and projected 4

Variable Pitch Propellers

The majority of propellers have blades with essentially constant pitch, but a few specialized propellers have blades with pitch that changes substantially from the root to tip. This means that the blade angles do not vary in such a way as to keep the 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 from the hub due to the interference of the hull ahead. This type of installation is called for only on large vessels with special need for ultimate efficiency. However, many modern propellers do have small amount of variable pitch introduced near the blade root as a result of changing blade section. Frequently, they also reduce the pitch near the tip of the blades slightly from that of a theoretical helix. This is called pitch relief or tip unloading, and it has been found to reduce the tendency for cavitations to start at the propeller tips.

Controllable Pitch Propellers

An alternative design is the controllable pitch propeller (CPP, or CRP for controllablereversible pitch), where the blades are rotated normal to the drive shaft by additional machinery (usually hydraulics) at the hub and control linkages running down the shaft. This allows the drive machinery to operate at a constant speed while the propeller loading is changed to match operating conditions. It also eliminates the need for a reversing gear and allows for more rapid change to thrust, as the revolutions are constant. This type of propeller is most common on ships such as tugs where there can be enormous differences in propeller loading when towing compared to running free, a change which could cause conventional propellers to lock up as insufficient torque is generated. The downsides of a CPP/CRP include: the large hub which decreases the torque required to cause cavitation, the mechanical complexity which limits transmission power and the extra blade shaping requirements forced upon the propeller designer. The CPP consists of a flange mounted hub inside which a piston arrangement is moved fore and aft to rotate the blades by a crank arrangement. The piston is moved by hydraulic oil applied at high pressure (typically 140 bars) via an Oil transfer tube (OT tube). This tube has and inner and outer pipe through which ahead and astern oil passes. The tube is ported at either end to allow oil flow and segregated by seals. Oil is transferred to the tube via ports on the shaft circumference over which is mounted the OT box. This sits on the shaft on bearings and is prevented from rotation by a peg. The inner bore of the box is separated into three sections. The ahead and astern and also an oil drain which is also attached to the hydraulic oil header to ensure that positive pressure exists in the hub and prevents oil or air ingress

The OT tube is rigidly attached to the piston, as the piston moves fore and aft so the entire length of the tube is moved in the same way. A feedback mechanism is attached to the tube, this also allows for checking of blade pitch position from within the engine room.

Fig 2 Controllable Pitch Propeller System


Allow greater manoeuvrability Allow engines to operate at optimum revs Allow use of PTO alternators Removes need for reversing engines Reduced size of Air Start Compressors and receivers Improves propulsion efficiency at lower loads


Greater initial cost Increased complexity and maintenance requirements Increase stern tube loading due to increase weight of assembly, the stern tube bearing diameter is larger to accept the larger diameter shaft required to allow room for OT tube Lower propulsive efficiency at maximum continuous rating

Propeller shaft must be removed outboard requiring rudder to be removed for all propeller maintenance. Increased risk of pollution due to leak seals Operation Modes

There are two main methods of operation of a vessel with a CPP. Combinator: For varying demand signals both the engine revs and the pitch are adjusted to give optimum performance both in terms of maneuverability and response, and also economy and emissions. Constant speed: The engine operates at continuous revs (normally designed for maximum working revs), demand signals vary CPP pitch only. This is particularly seen in engines that are operating with power-take-off (PTO) generator systems

Emergency running
In the event of CPP system hydraulic failure an arrangement is fitted to allow for mechanical locking of the CPP into a fixed ahead pitch position. This generally takes the form of a mechanical lock which secures the OT tube. Either hand or small auxiliary electric hydraulic pump is available for moving the pitch to the correct position. Cavitation Cavitation is the phenomenon of water vaporizing or boiling due to the extreme decrease in pressure on the forward or, suction side of the propeller blade. Cavitation can be caused by nicks in the leading edge, bent blades, too much cup, sharp corners at the leading edge, incorrect matching of propeller style to the vessel and engine or, simply, high vessel speed.

Propeller Calculations
The pitch of a screw is the axial distance it will move forward, working in an unyielding medium, when turn through one revolution. As already outlined pitch = 2RTan Measurement of Pitch This can be done by measuring the pitch angle of the driving face of the blade and noting the radius from the centre of the section at which the pitch angle is measured then applying the expression: Pitch = 2RTan . This should be done at a number of different radii along the blade and the average taken as the propeller pitch.

Fig 3


An instrument called a pitchometer is designed for measuring the pitch of a screwpropeller. It consists of an arm normal to and pivoting around a shaft placed in the axial line of the propeller, which carries a sliding pointer-arm with an adjustable point at right angles to the first arm and parallel to the axis of the propeller. By bringing the point of the pointer-arm in contact with a point on the surface of the propeller-blade, its distance from the axis and from the plane of reference at right angles to the axis, formed by the first arm, can be determined from suitable scales on the arm and the pointer. By revolving the system around its axis, a series of such points on the surface can be measured. If such an instrument is not available a weighted cord may be hung over the blade when horizontal measuring the distance AC and BC as well as the radius from the centre of the boss. The tangent of the pitch angle is BC divided by AC Therefore:

Pitch = =

2 x R tan 2 x R x BC AC

Fig 4 Pitch Measurement Example 1 The pitch angles of a propeller blade measured at radii 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 and 3 metres are respectively 44, 33, 26.5, 22.5 and 20 degrees. Calculate the pitch of the propeller. Solution At 1 metre radius, Pitch = 2 X 1 X tan 44 At 1.5 metre radius, Pitch = 2 X 1.5 X tan 33 At 2 metre radius, Pitch = 2 X 2 X tan 26.5 = = = 6.067 m 6.12 m 6.265 m 6.506 m 6.861 m Mean Value 6.067 + 6.12 + 6.265 + 6.506 +6.861 5

At 2.5 metre radius, Pitch = 2 X 2.5 X tan 22.5 = At 3 metre radius, Pitch = 2 X 3 X tan 20 Propeller Pitch = = =

6.364 metres

Propeller Slip
The pitch of a propeller is the distance (in metres) through which the propeller would move forward in one revolution if it worked in a solid unyielding medium. If one knot is equal to 1.852 Km/h, therefore: Propeller Speed = = = = pitch x rev/min pitch x rev/min x 60 pitch x rev/min x 60 x 10-3 metre/min metre/hour km/hour

pitch x rev/min x 60 knots ** 1.852 x 103 The actual distance the ship moves forward is less than the above because, as the propeller works in water, there is always a certain amount of slip. The slip is the difference between the speed of the propeller and the speed of the ship and is expressed as a percentage of the propeller speed. Thus, if the propeller speed was equivalent to 16 knots and the speed of the ship was 14 knots then, Slip Slip Slip Example 2 The pitch of a propeller is 4.9m and the speed of the ship is 13.5 knots when the propeller is turning at 95 rev/min. What is the percentage slip of the propeller? Propeller Speed = = = Per cent slip = = pitch x rev/min X 60 103 x 1.852 4.9 x 95 x 60 103 x 1.852 15.09 knots propeller speed ships speed x 100 propeller speed 15.09 13.5 x 100 = = = 16 14 = 2 knots. 2/16 = 0.125 or 12.5% 12.5% of propeller speed


15.09 = 10.54% Ans***

Friction of a Ships Hull through the Water

The amount of friction between the hull of a ship and the water through which it is moving is proportional to approximately the square of the speed, to the wetted surface area, and to the density of the water: it also depends upon the roughness of the surface of the shell. It is independent of the water pressure, which means that there is the same amount of friction per square metre at the bottom of the hull as there is near the water surface. From the rule that areas of similar figures vary as the square of their corresponding dimensions, we have Wetted surface area varies as (length)2 From the rule that volumes of similar objects vary as the cube of their corresponding dimensions, we have Displacement varies (length)3 Therefore, Length varies as (displacement)1/3 Since friction varies as wetted surface area and (speed)2 Then friction varies as (displacement)2/3 and (speed)2 Power Therefore Power varies as (displacement)2/3 x (speed)2 x speed = (displacement)2/3 x (speed)3 = Force x Speed

The power of the engine is proportional to the power to propel the ship through the water, therefore engine power varies as (displacement)2/3 x (speed)3 Hence, (displacement)2/3 x (speed)3 = a constant Engine power This constant is called the Admiralty Coefficient and may be used for estimating the power of the ships engines under different conditions of displacement and speed, or for the comparison of the engine power of similar ships. If V P = = = displacement in tonne speed in knots power

12/3 x V13 = 22/3 x V13 11



Example 3 The power developed by a ships engine was 3200 KW when her displacement was 10000 tonne and speed 14 knots. Estimate the power required to run at a speed of 16 knots when her displacement is 12,000 tonne. Solution 12/3 x V13 = 22/3 x V13 P1 P2 100002/3 x 143 = 120002/3 x 163 3200 P2 P2 P2 = = 3200 x 120002/3 x 163 100002/3 x 143 5394 KW

Many cases will arise when the power is required to be estimated for change of speed only, that is, assuming that the displacement remains the same or such little change of displacement that it can be neglected. In such cases (displacement)2/3 cancels from both sides to leave V13 = V13 P1 P2

Fuel Consumption
The mass of fuel burned in a given time (per hour or per day) is proportional to the power developed by the engines, therefore (displacement)2/3 x (speed)2 = a constant Daily consumption of fuel This constant is termed the fuel coefficient and by the use of this expression the quantity of fuel required under different conditions of displacement and speed can be estimated, thus: 12/3 x V13 = 22/3 x V1 Equation (1) Daily consumption1 daily consumption2 This may be written in the form: New daily cons. = {new displ.} 2/3 x {new speed}3


Old daily cons. Daily consumption =

{Old displ. }

{old speed}

consumption over the whole voyage Number of days on voyage = = distance Speed in knots x 24 Voyage consumption x speed x 24 Distance

Number of days on voyage Daily consumption

Substituting for daily consumption, new and old into equation (1) we get 2/3 x V13 x distance = 22/3 x V1 x distance 1 Voyage cons1 x V1 x 24 Voyage cons2 x V2 x 24 V1 cancels into V13 leaving V12 V2 cancels into V23 leaving V22 24 cancels each other

The equation may now be written: New voyage cons. Old voyage cons. = {new displ.} 2/3 x {new speed}2 x new distance {Old displ. } {old speed} old distance

The above equation can be taken as the general formula for solving most fuel consumption problems. The voyage can be taken as the days run where the consumption of fuel per day is given, thus the daily fuel consumption can be put down as the voyage consumption if the corresponding distance be taken as speed (in knots) x 24. If there is no change in displacement, this term will cancel out. If the distance is the same, this term will also cancel. The worked examples to follow will clarify these few points

Example 4 A vessel uses 300 tonne of fuel on a voyage of 3000 nautical miles travelling at a speed of 12 knots when her displacement is 10000 tonne. Estimate the fuel required for a voyage of 1500 nautical miles at a speed of 15 knots when her displacement is 14000 tonne.


Solution Known formula New voyage cons. Old voyage cons. New voyage cons. 300 New voyage cons New voyage cons = = = = {new displ.} 2/3 x {new speed}2 x new distance {Old displ. } {old speed} old distance {14000} 2/3 x {15}2 x 1500 {10000} {12} 3000 300 x 1.42/3 x 1.252 x 0.5 293.3 tonne Ans***

Example 5 A vessel of 10000 tonne displacement burns 25 tonne of fuel per day when her speed is 12 knots. Calculate the probably consumption of fuel over a voyage of 3000 nautical miles at a speed of 11 knots when the displacement is 11000 tonne. Solution The original fuel consumption is given as 25 tonne per day; therefore assume the original voyage to be one days run which is 12 x 24 nautical miles and the consumption of fuel for the voyage is 25 tonne. New voyage cons. Old voyage cons. New voyage cons. 25 New voyage cons. New voyage cons. = = = = {new displ.} 2/3 x {new speed}2 x new distance {Old displ. } {old speed} old distance {11000} 2/3 x {11}2 x 3000 {10000} {13} 12 x 24 25 x 1.12/3 x 0.922 x 10.42 234 tonne

Example 6


A ship travels 900 nautical miles at a speed of 12.5 knots and burns 150 tonne of fuel over the voyage. Estimate the distance the ship could travel at a speed of 13.5 knots on 250 tonne of fuel. Solution Assuming the displacement to be the same in each case: New voyage cons. Old voyage cons. 250 150 New distance New distance = = = = {new speed}2 x new distance {Old speed} old distance 13.52 x 12.52 900 x 12.52 x 150 x 13.52 New distance 900 250 Ans****

1286 Nautical Miles