Keep propellers and underwater gear free of marine growth for top performance.
Marine growth can be a real drag on your boat’s performance. When your vessel is in the water, algae, barnacles, and other sea life look for places to all home, and that includes the propellers and running gear. Bottom cleaning can’t always keep up, and sooner or later the surfaces are overwhelmed with biological growth that compromises your boat’s efficiency. While it may not make a difference in short runs, the miles add up when you’re burning more fuel because the boat is not operating at peak hydrodynamic efficiency. That’s where a product called Propspeed comes in, a foul release coating system that keeps marine growth at bay. “The short story is more speed, less fuel,” explains Mark Billingsley, a technical and sales support specialist for Propspeed, headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand. “We are all about increasing a vessel’s performance. We allow the engine to be under a lot less engine load, burning less fuel and giving you more speed. It’s the most inexpensive repower a boat owner will ever undertake.”
“The short story is more speed, less fuel,” explains Mark Billingsley, a technical and sales support specialist for Propspeed, headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand. “We are all about increasing a vessel’s performance. We allow the engine to be under a lot less engine load, burning less fuel and giving you more speed. It’s the most inexpensive repower a boat owner will ever undertake.”
Propspeed works by lowering the surface tension of the water on the running gear. The Propspeed system is made up of a two-component etching primer, which bonds to the metal substrate, and a clear coat, which gives an ultra-smooth outer layer. The silicon topcoat provides a clear membrane that allows for the expansion and contraction of the metals so that Propspeed doesn’t crack and peel off.
“For decades, the only solution the industry had to reduce marine-growth attachment was to put on multiple coats of a two-part epoxy primer and then over the top of that a non-copper-containing antifouling paint,” Billingsley adds. “However, the expansion and contraction causes fractures in the paint, and water penetrates the coating and it pops off.” Propspeed offers easy maintenance to prevent marine growth from adhering to the substrate. Simply by running the boat, biological organisms are washed off by the water flow. At the dock, a diver’s glove or rag easily wipes off any organisms that try to attach. Keeping marine growth off a vessel’s metal parts is often done with conventional antifouling paint that includes biocides. Some antifouling coatings contain copper, a strong marine contaminant that was recently banned in the state of Washington. When the biocide is exhausted, it loses its effectiveness—that can happen within a few months and re-coating is required.
Propspeed, however, can work up to two years. It doesn’t contain biocides, copper or tin,
and works because it’s slick rather than due to any toxicity. Some caution, however, needs to be taken to ensure Propspeed stays useful. Its soft coating can be damaged by abrasion or mproper maintenance. Shallow areas with rocks and sand may affect the propellers and cause the tips to be scoured, but with good boating conduct there should not be problems. “Propellers with Propspeed will perform six months or a year later the same way as the day Propspeed was applied,” claims Don MacRae, president and COO of Frank & Jimmie’s Propeller shop, based in Fort Lauderdale. “There will be
no loss of speed because of fouling. Propspeed is the most popular coating requested by our customers at Frank & Jimmie’s because it works.” Cruising boats in the 40- to 80-foot range are ideal candidates for Propspeed, and the usual time for application is during haul-out.
“All of our Propspeed application technicians at Frank & Jimmie’s completed [the company’s product] applicator training course so they understand how to properly prepare the propeller surface for a quality application,” MacRae adds. “Additionally, our more advanced technicians have learned how to feather-in small repairs to the Propspeed surface, resulting in quicker turnaround times and less expense for our customers.”
Because more clients are doing their own maintenance and repairs, Propspeed also offers its product in three different volume amounts at outlets such as West Marine. For example, do-it-yourselfers can pick up a Propspeed DIY 500ml kit for $350. It comes with enough Propclean Wipes, Etching Primer and Propspeed Clear Coat to coat two propellers up to 42 inches in diameter. “For a 40-footer with a set of four-bladed 24-inch props, the customer is going to require our 500ml kit,” Billingsley states. “If the customer wants to include the shafts, struts and rudders, then he could bump up to the one-liter kit, which is twice the liquid and costs about $500 for the complete kit.” Owners of smaller boats who want to do their own work, say a 30-footer with twin three-blade 20-inch props, would require only the 200ml kit, which sells for around $250. “In this case, the boat owner wouldn’t have to haul the boat out, just pull the props,” Billingsley advises. “The kits include detailed instructions on how to apply Propspeed, so if the person is comfortable working on their boat, then applying our product will be well within their skills.”
By Don Minikus Southern Boating Magazine June 2016