How to Clean Boat Propellers


Boat propellers are manufactured from stainless steel, bronze or Nibral alloy. They are corrosion-resistant, but external growth such as barnacles, slime or mussels develop in marine environment. The growth of these on props cause unbalance, disrupts in the laminar flow and cause cavitations, reducing the power being transformed into usable thrust. For the efficient working, the boat props have to be kept clean. 

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Socket 
  • Needle-nose pliers 
  • Rotary sander  
  • Hammer 
  • Machine file
  • Wire brush 
  • Chisel
  • Pressure washer 
  • Breaker bar
  • 180-grit sandpaper 

Step 1 - Removal

Remove the cotter pin from the propeller shaft by making use of needle-nose pliers. Break the torque on the locknut with the breaker bar and socket. Turn the locknut, then remove it, the locknut washer and propeller from the shaft. Hit the propeller hub using rubber hammer if it is tight.

Step 2 - Cleaning

Remove mussels or barnacles using the chisel without damaging the propeller or use the corners of the chisel to dig in. Remove all the barnacles from the propellers completely using wire brush. Use the pressure-washer to remove slime or hair out.

Step 3 - Inspecting

Check the wheel for nicks. Arrange the nicks or dings in the edges of the blades which may cause a pull in the machine file.

Step 4 - Polishing

Smoothen the propeller using rotary sander and 180-grit paper. The paper should be changed frequently as it clogs rapidly when used on bronze and Nibral propellers. Polish until the propeller gets a shiny look.