Blog

30 Jun
0

NMPA’s Design, Build & Race Your Own Propeller Program – A Continued Success

For the third consecutive year, Frank & Jimmie’s Propeller provided NMPA’s Design, Build & Race Your Own Propeller Program to Ft. Lauderdale High-School students.

With sponsorship from the Marine Industry Cares Foundation, students from South Broward, Dillard and Stranahan High Schools attend the Marine Industry Immersion Summer Camp.  The two-week program introduces students to opportunities in the recreational marine industry, which pays 28% higher wages than the Florida State average.

The highlight of the program is, of course, propeller racing!  As those of you who attended the 2016 NMPA Annual Convention in Las Vegas may remember (after all, “what happens in Vegas…”) we had our own Design, Build and Race Challenge poolside at the Orleans Hotel.  NMPA Members are encouraged to sponsor their own DBR Challenges in their communities to introduce and promote the propeller repair and marine industries.

Jimmie Harrison, of Frank & Jimmie’s said, “Providing high school students access to the businesses and leaders of the marine industry while showing them the opportunities in the propeller repair business is critical for the growth of our trade.  Frank & Jimmie’s is thrilled to be doing its part to help grow and secure the industry’s future.”  In addition to the Summer Camps, Frank & Jimmie’s hosts propeller racing at Ft. Lauderdale’s Annual Marine Industry Day and Plywood Regatta, now in its 21st year.

“This summer, nearly 100 students will design, build and race their own propellers in Ft. Lauderdale,” said NMPA managing director Gordon Connell.  “With the addition of an extra day of teaching and head-to-head competition, students have time to modify and adjust their designs and assess the tradeoffs between propeller diameter, blade areas and pitch on speed and performance.  Combined with a tour of Frank & Jimmie’s Repair Facility, they get a real-world feel for propeller design, build and repair.”

In addition to providing NMPA’s Design, Build & Race Your Own Propeller Program at venues throughout Ft. Lauderdale, Frank & Jimmie’s also employs two high-school summer interns from the Broward County Public Schools and sponsored a third high-school student/part-time employee in his participation in SkillsUSA, a local, state and national program for students to develop and demonstrate personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. Ricardo “RJ” Perez won the local and state welding competition and is on his way to participate at the national level.

“Our #1 focus every day is on our employees – both current and future,” said Don MacRae, Frank & Jimmie’s President and COO.  “At Frank & Jimmie’s, recruiting, hiring, training and developing employees is our #1 priority.  Our local high school students are a vital component of our future employee pipeline.  It is exciting to see the interest these students have in our business when they’re given the opportunity to learn in a fun environment.  Today’s students are the repair professionals and business leaders of the future; the Marine Industry Cares Foundation does a great job providing summer camps so the students can learn about the marine industry and the tremendous opportunities that exist right here in their own backyard.  That itself is reward enough…”

 

20 Feb
0

Improving Propeller Efficiency

By Capt. Vincent Daniello

Years after the space race, propeller design remained a sea-trial-and-error endeavor: haul, tweak the props, relaunch, sea-trial, repeat. Finally, the U.S. Navy paid the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to predict propeller performance using a computer.

The resulting 3-D computer models let Navy experts alter and analyze blade skew, rake, chord length and camber to maximize ship speed while minimizing noise. After the Cold War, those Navy/MIT propeller design tools became available to the private sector and, within the past 10 years, once-top-secret designs have made it to off-the-shelf production props for inboard boats as small as 35 feet.

Will a set of high-tech props increase your boat’s speed or economy, get it on plane faster, or even make it handle better? I persuaded four prop experts to share their thoughts with Boating.

The Plane Truth
“A propeller is really just a set of rotating wings,” says Greg Platzer, who headed the surface ship propeller group for the U.S. Navy through the latter part of the Cold War. Platzer’s team curved propeller blades like airplane wings. This spread the load across the entire propeller, maximizing efficiency, minimizing cavitation and producing quieter props that were harder for enemy submarines to detect. Now a civilian, Platzer designs custom propellers for large yachts. “On yachts, we’re using the same principles for different reasons,” he says, citing props that deliver 5 to 10 percent increases in fuel efficiency and/or speed while cutting vibration by up to 75 percent.

Best For Which Boats?
“A 30-knot [34.5 mph] boat that has steep shaft angles is an ideal candidate,” says Jimmie Harrison, president of Frank & Jimmie’s Propeller in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We’d expect to see a knot or two more speed at top end with the correct foil-shaped prop blades.”

That’s not to say new props won’t do anything for slower boats, but there are more variables. “On a boat cruising around 18 knots [20.7 mph], where it’s just on plane, the right propeller design can mean a world of difference — maybe a 5-knot [5.7 mph] gain,” says naval architect Kevin Mitchell of Michigan Wheel Marine. Mitchell says diesel-powered boats over 40 feet using at least a 2-to-1 gear reduction typically benefit most. “In gas boats, with smaller-diameter props turning close to engine rpm, the best design might be that traditional flat-faced prop with some cup on the trailing edge of the blade,” he says.

As engine horsepower increased over the past decade, ideal prop diameter for a given boat model typically increased as well. But since boatbuilders usually can’t change prop diameter on a venerable design, increased horsepower often leads to increasingly inefficient props. This holds true for boaters who have repowered as well. One solution to the conundrum comes from advanced prop design. “The optimum diameter of a five-blade propeller is always going to be smaller than a four-blade, so we gain efficiency by increasing the number of blades,” Platzer says, adding for emphasis, “With an airfoil-shaped blade, we can increase blade camber to match increased horsepower.”

Handling Benefits
Additionally, boats that benefit from lowering trim tabs considerably at cruise rpm might see big gains from foil propellers. That’s because the downward angle of propeller shafts on most inboard-powered planing powerboats helps propellers lift the stern without the added drag of lowered tabs. Airfoil-shaped blades make it easier to produce lift efficiently. Mitchell recounts an example: “A mainstream express cruiser gained 2 knots [2.3 mph] at top end, with corresponding increases in economy at cruise speed, simply by switching from our older Dyna-Quad design to our new, foil-shaped EQY propeller.”

On the other hand, “If your engines aren’t putting out enough horsepower at the rpm where the boat is coming up on plane, there probably isn’t an advantage to foil-shaped props,” Harrison says, describing the classic diesel-turbo-lag situation. “That problem is often solved with less-efficient propellers that slip more at midrange rpm.”

Plus, propeller blades raked aft increase stern lift by shifting the center of effort of that lift in relation to the fore-and-aft center of buoyancy of the boat. (Yep, inches matter at thousands of rpm.) But the reverse is also true: Blades raked forward or designed for less propeller lift might balance a boat. Often, handling problems, like a boat that tends to stuff its bow into following seas, can be mitigated.

Noise, Vibration and Cavitation
“Propeller noise, and often vibration, is primarily from cavitation,” Platzer says. “We want to unload the tips of propeller blades by changing their shape to control where on the radius of the propeller we produce thrust.” Simply adding blades alleviates noise and vibration too.

“Cavitation typically occurs as each propeller blade passes through the wake of the running gear and close to the hull,” Platzer says. With only three blades, one-third of the prop is passing through that disturbed water at any given time. Increase to five blades and only one-fifth of the prop is subjected to that added cavitation. Adding blades decreases ideal prop diameter, which increases distance between blade tips and the bottom of the boat. “The gains are linear,” Platzer says. “Doubling the tip clearance cuts noise and vibration in half.”

Skewing propeller blades — curving the edges a bit like a banana instead of leaving them symmetrical like a cloverleaf — was one of the Navy’s closest-held secrets for reducing prop noise. “That curved leading edge of the blade passes through the wake of the strut and hull over a longer arc of propeller rotation,” which spreads the effects of cavitation, Platzer says.

On boats with propeller pockets, blade tips are close to the hull over a longer arc, so new props are particularly helpful.

Trimmable Thrust
“An outboard is a blank slate,” says Steve Powers, president of PowerTech Propellers. “One engine model might be used on anything from 20 feet to 40 feet, running at different shaft angles and different depths.” Because of this variety, PowerTech manufactures more than 100 different propeller variations for V-6 outboards.

The driving force behind outboard prop technology wasn’t top-secret Navy data, but tighter emissions requirements that spawned more four-stroke outboards. Heavier engines made boats harder to keep on plane. Four-strokes distributed horsepower differently across rpm and were geared to turn propellers slower. Quieter motors demanded quieter propellers.

“Now with smaller-displacement engines producing more horsepower, it’s even more important to match the prop, motor and boat,” Powers says. The right props best utilize specific engine technology, like variable valve timing or superchargers.

Powers says boats with handling issues are often simple cases of improper propping. Porpoising, for example, is usually mitigated by adding blade surface area and reducing rake. Falling off plane on hard turns, caused when props ventilate (draw in air) is often resolved by changing the blade shape. Less propeller pitch, more blade surface and less rake usually help boats stay on plane at slower speeds. Adjusting blade diameter, number of blades, surface area and rake can also increase fuel economy.

With the exception of pure racing machines, sterndrive boats tend to all be similar, and so are their props. Sometimes a bit of cruise economy can come at the expense of top-end speed, but unless a boat exhibits a specific problem, Powers doesn’t typically see enough gain to justify new props for sterndrives.

Availability and Cost
“At first, we were designing completely custom props for a series of production boats,” Mitchell says of monthslong projects to aid builders in hitting performance targets. Based on those experiences, Michigan Wheel Marine developed automated tools to design semicustom propellers quickly and inexpensively, as well as advanced CNC machining to produce those complex shapes. “This makes sophisticated propellers much more affordable, and performance is much more consistent,” Mitchell says. Where propellers previously might require one or two sea trials with tweaks to find perfection, even on production boats, CNC-machined props typically reach rated rpm and match port and starboard engine load at every rpm the first time a boat is launched.

New propeller technology is available off the shelf too. For around 30 percent more than venerable flat-pitch ­Dyna-Quads, new EQY props with airfoil-shaped blades work particularly well on diesel-powered boats over 40 feet that cruise between 30 and 35 knots [34.5 and 40.2 mph], Mitchell says. Going a little lower tech, many express cruisers in the 30-foot range have three-blade Dyna-Jet or four-blade Dyna-Quad props. For about 10 percent more money than those props cost today, the company’s new DQX series is not a foil shape, but it’s optimized for higher horsepower and newer propeller materials and manufacturing. “Switching from three-blade to four-blade might trade a little top-end speed, but you gain significant efficiency at cruise and smoother operation,” he says.

Maybe Your Current Props Are Wrong
“Sometimes props have been reconditioned so many times, they’re not even the right size anymore, or the boat had the wrong prop design to begin with,” Mitchell says. Boats gain weight as equipment is added, and props are altered with the sole goal of hitting proper full-throttle engine rpm. “Getting the right design and size for the boat can create a huge difference,” he says. Propeller manufacturers can often provide exact parameters to shops with new electronic scanners, like Prop Scan or Hale MRI, so they can reproduce the original prop shape.

And increasing accuracy of repairs might solve propeller problems. “MRI ensures tighter tolerances,” Harrison says. “It also ensures the geometry is the same on each blade,” which is particularly important to reduce vibration. Improving Class 1 or Class 2 repair tolerance propellers to the highest Class S, while tweaking pitch and cup at the same time to better match a boat’s needs, costs about $550 for a 21-inch, four-blade, cupped prop — versus $400 per prop for an ordinary Class 1 or Class 2 repair. This alone can wring more efficiency and reduce vibration from existing propellers.

So how did the Navy’s top-secret propeller design technology land on production-boat prop shafts? “The Navy moved to different technology,” Platzer says, but he won’t elaborate.

To read the full article visit Boating’s website here.

19 Nov
0

Propeller Industry Ends the National Marine Propeller Association (NMPA) Annual Convention Feeling Positive About the Industry in 2016 and Confident About the Outlook for Business in the Coming Year

Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 16, 2016 –The National Marine Propeller Association (NMPA) Annual Convention concluded successfully on Saturday November 12th in Las Vegas following two-days of professional training and educational sessions, product and service trade exhibits and business-to-business networking on the exhibit floor and at various social events. More than 100 attendees from states across the U.S. including Florida, California, Washington, New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina joined other NMPA members from Canada, the Caribbean and Australia for the event which is now in its 24th year.

David De Witt, President of NMPA said, “I’m pleased to report that the interest and excitement about the NMPA Annual Convention and about the association itself is strong. We’re building on the enthusiasm from last year and the feedback from attendees has been all positive.” He added, “Our attendance numbers remained stable from 2015 and the formula of offering regular and well-known presenters with new subject-matter experts/presenters is proving a successful for us.”  De Witt, Product/Program Manager for Mercury Propellers, was reelected to serve as NMPA president for another two years during the annual elections held at the Convention. Also elected for two-year terms were Mike Jones of Coastal Propeller Services; Scott Baumann of Baumann Marine Services; Marcus Clements of PowerTech! Propeller; Gary Linden of Linden Propellers; Kevin Mitchell of Michigan Wheel; and Phil Stephanuik of Turning Point Propellers.

The full complement of the NMPA Board of Directors for 2016 – 2017 are as follows:

President – David DeWitt, Mercury Propellers – Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Vice President – Stew Foster, Prop Masters – Airdrie, Alberta, Canada
Treasurer – Paul Fox, General Propeller Co. – Bradenton, Florida
Secretary – Mike Jones, Coastal Propeller Service – Bridge City, Texas
Board of Directors
Scott Baumann, Baumann Marine – Houston, Texas
Marcus Clements, PowerTech! Propellers – Shreveport, Louisiana
Jimmie Harrison, Frank & Jimmie’s Propeller – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Rick Licare, Rundquist Propeller Tools – Naples, Florida
Gary Linden, Linden Propeller – Dubuque, Iowa
Kevin Mitchell, Michigan Wheel Marine – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Darren Prouty, Precision Propeller Co. – Spokane, Washington
Phil Stephanuik, Turning Point Propellers – Jacksonville, Florida

Managing Director of NMPA Gordon Connell noted that members generally reported strong business throughout 2016 and that they were feeling positive about business expectations for the coming year. “Members that I spoke to at the Convention reported a strong year for their businesses, in some cases, a record-breaking year for both propeller sales and repairs,” Connell said. “Some manufacturers said demand was at one point out-pacing supply, and repair shops reported sending extra business to other NMPA members and collaborating to provide good service to their customers.” He added that members also voiced strong satisfaction about the value of the content, training and networking at the Convention again in 2016 highlighting one new member and Convention attendee who shared their thanks commenting that ‘We will not ever miss this convention as long as it is half as beneficial as we believe this year was for us!’

Sponsors and exhibitors at this year’s Convention included Acme Propellers, Advanced Finishing Technology, Clubine Manufacturing, Dynamics Research Corp., Glidecoat, Linden Propeller Prop, Mercury Propellers/ Quicksilver Propellers, Michigan Wheel Marine, Miller’s Island Propellers, Pesco Inc., PowerTech! Propeller, Propspeed, R.S. Hughes Industrial Suppliers (3M),  Rundquist Propeller Tools, Solas Science & Engineering, Turning Point Propellers, Yamaha Motor Corp./Precision Propeller and Western Branch Metals.

About NMPA

NMPA is a not-for-profit marine trade association with member companies engaged in the business of propeller repair, or providing products and services to the propeller repair industry. Founded in 1992, the association promotes professionalism through training and certification, fosters growth through business development via events such as its Annual Convention, and generally represents the business interests of its members.

13 Oct
0

Linden Propeller to Showcase New Propeller Scanning Option with Introduction of the DDS – Digital Data Scan at 2016 NMPA Annual Convention

Dubuque, IA – October 13, 2016 – Linden Propeller Co., designers and developers of the Prop Press 360 and Prop Press 500, which are among the most innovative hydraulic propeller repair machines in use in today’s modern propeller repair shops, announced today it will showcase a new piece of equipment to improve propeller measurement and scanning for efficient, repeatable and effective repair of damaged propellers at the 2016 National Marine Propeller Association Annual Convention taking place November 10 – 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Digital Data Scan Arm is designed to work with the Prop Press 360 and 500, as well as many other manual straightening tables. Based on the most recent version of ISO 484 standards, DDS uses specially developed proprietary custom software developed by HydroComp Inc., for Linden Propeller Company. HydroComp, Inc. is a leading international propeller and propulsion software and technical consulting company located in Durham, New Hampshire (www.hydrocompinc.com).

“We are proud to be leading the way in developing new tooling for the propeller repair industry,” said Gary Linden, founder and owner of Linden Propeller Company. “Our industry desperately needs innovation and I’m unveiling this new product at the National Marine Propeller Association’s Annual Convention in Las Vegas this year because I’m proud to be a member of the NMPA and I know the work they’re doing in leading the way to promote professionalism, develop standards and create best practice guidelines for propeller repair.” He added, “The Digital Data Scan Arm will be a tool professional propeller repairers will appreciate.”

During the Convention the new Scan Arm – Digital Data Scan will be on display at the Linden Propeller Booth and Gary Linden is scheduled to present a session highlighting the new tool, its features, and how it addresses the current needs and issues faced by professional propeller repairers on Saturday November 12, 2016.

About NMPA
NMPA is a not-for-profit marine trade association with member companies engaged in the business of propeller repair, or providing products and services to the propeller repair industry. Founded in 1992, the association promotes professionalism through training and certification,fosters growth through business development via events such as its Annual Convention, and generally represents the business interests of its members.

About Linden Propellers
Founded in 1983 by Gary Linden, Linden Propeller is a full service and stocking dealer/ distributor for all propellers, regardless of size and make. Located on the shores of the mighty Mississippi, Linden Propeller is certified by the National Marine Propeller Association and is proud of its reputation for high quality repair and personal customer service. Linden Propellers are the developers of the innovative Prop Press 360 and Prop Press 500 propeller scanners.

06 Sep
0

Annual Convention Set for November 10 – 12; Association Adds New Feature: Half-Day HydroComp Propeller School

Fort Lauderdale, FL – September 6 , 2016—National Marine Propeller Association, a leading trade group representing the recreational marine propeller repair and manufacturing industry, will host its Annual Convention November 10 – 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada at The Orleans Hotel. The Convention, currently celebrating 24-years, will focus on the latest industry trends in technology, products, information and best management practices with educational and information sessions and Convention floor exhibitions by industry product and service providers.

A new feature this year is a first-of-its-kind half-day version of HydroComp’s “Propeller School” scheduled for the pre-convention registration day on November 10, 2016 from 11am to 3pm. Developed especially for NMPA Convention attendees, Donald MacPherson, HydroComp’s Technical Director, will lead a unique four-hour learning opportunity for those involved in the sale or repair of marine propellers covering topics such as the basics of propeller operation as part of the larger propulsion system, introduction to how propeller hydrodynamics really work, and troubleshooting common problems – what is – and is not – a problem with the propeller.

“It has been a busy year in the marine industry propeller sector and the success of our 2015 Convention has inspired us to bring even greater opportunities for our members to reconnect and learn about the latest happenings in our industry as we get together in Las Vegas. The Convention has proven to be a good venue for business leaders, professionals, manufacturers, product and service providers to network, and share the latest about products, services and what’s going on in the industry,” said NMPA president David De Witt.

Topics on this year’s Convention agenda include a follow-up session to the popular 2015 presentation on business and operations efficiency/best management practices along with presentations on current techniques and technology in welding, discussions on topics such as prop slip, prop modifications, lab finishing, effective marketing techniques, and an introduction of new propeller repair tooling.

Confirmed sponsors and exhibitors at this year’s Convention include Mercury Propellers/Quicksilver Propellers, Acme Propellers, Clubine Manufacturing, Linden Propeller Prop Press 360, Michigan Wheel Marine, Miller’s Island Propellers, Pesco Inc., Advanced Finishing Technologies, PowerTech! Propeller, R.S. Hughes Industrial Suppliers (3M), Glidecoat, Solas Science & Engineering, Turning Point Propellers, Yamaha Motor Corp./Precision Propeller, Dynamics Research Corp., and Western Branch Metals.

About NMPA

NMPA is a not-for-profit marine trade association with member companies engaged in the business of propeller repair, or providing products and services to the propeller repair industry. Founded in 1992, the association promotes professionalism through training and certification, fosters growth through business development via events such as its Annual Convention, and generally represents the business interests of its members.

05 Aug
0

Yamaha Marine Changes Name of Propeller Business to Yamaha Marine Precision Propellers, Inc.

Yamaha Marine Group announced today the renaming of its wholly owned subsidiary Precision Propellers Industries to Yamaha Marine Precision Propellers and discontinuing production of non-Yamaha branded propellers.

Yamaha purchased Indianapolis-based Precision Propellers Industries in 2008 to better serve customers with stainless-steel propellers for an ever-increasing number of new boat/motor applications. The purchase strengthened production capacity and helped ensure high-quality propellers for Yamaha Outboards, while fostering continued growth for the brand.

Since then, Yamaha Marine has experienced double-digit growth in propeller demand year-over-year due to advances in propeller technology and performance enhancements such as its Shift Dampener System, the company said. Read more at Soundings TradeOnly.

27 Jul
0

In Memory of Randal L Hale Jr.

Randal Hale, Jr.
August 31, 1945 – July 20, 2016

 

Note from the NMPA: Below is the obituary of Randal Hale, Jr. whose name, family and business are well known to the NMPA and wider propeller industry. We join together and offer our sincere condolences to the Hale family and everyone at Hale Propeller on the loss of Randal. 

Randy grew up in Essex where he lived a storybook life on the water. After graduating from Valley Regional High School Randy moved to Baltimore where he met and married Elizabeth Supi Hale, his wife and best friend for more than 50 years. Randy was a brilliant man who could do anything. He had many careers and hobbies. He was one of the youngest people to earn an Amateur Radio operators license. As a young man Randy worked as a ski patrol. Randy was an avid boater/sailor and small plane pilot. He served in the Army during the Vietnam Era. Randy had a long career in radiology that included all aspects of the field. His hobbies included magic and slight of hand. Randy loved music especially Irish music and Sea shanties. He had a nac for picking up most stringed instruments. Randy held a Master Mariners Ticket and worked for a local tour boat company. He recently joined the Haddam Volunteer Fire Company, as with all his interests, Randy jumped in with both feet. Randy owned Hale Propeller in Old Saybrook with his son Randy III.

randal-hale-jrRandal was a huge presence that will be truly missed by many. Randy is survived by his loving wife, Elizabeth, his son Randal Lewis Hale III (Margaret), his daughter Celeste Hale Pettyjohn (Scott), grandchildren Jordan Sommer Pettyjohn, Skylar Elizabeth Hale, Randal Patrick Hale, Jason R. Pettyjohn (Tara), Melissa S. Pettyjohn, and great-grandsons Tanner and Chase Pettyjohn, Brother Robert Hale Sr. (Pauline), sister Cheryl Hale (Robert), scores of in-laws, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Randal L. Hale Sr., Doris Dimock Hale, and his sister Edith Grotta.

A Catholic service for family and close friends was held at Swan Funeral Home in Old Saybrook, on Monday July 25th. A public service to include out of town family and friends will be held in mid September. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Randy’s name to the Valley Shore Animal Welfare League in Westbrook, Old Saybrook Fire or Police K9, or Haddam Volunteer Fire Co.

Click here to visit his official obituary and sign the Guest Book.

01 Apr
0

Reconstruct Existing Designs with Scan Converter from Hydrocomp

HydroComp’s Scan Converter utility, which is now a part of PropCad Premium, is used to extract propeller parameters such as pitch, chord, skew, rake, and thickness using 3D data points collected from a physical propeller. Scan Converter processes the data and recreates the propeller blade by extracting individual sections from the geometry and deriving the geometric distributions. Once the design is in PropCad, additional documentation such as 2D drawings, pitch inspection reports, and 3D offsets can be easily generated for customers, clients, and record keeping.

Click here to read the full press release and see images related to this story.

16 Mar
0

Precision Propeller Industries Names New General Manager

Yamaha Marine Group today announced the promotion of Jonathon Burns to General Manager of Precision Propeller
Industries, Inc. (PPI), a wholly owned, independently operated subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., and the company that produces all Yamaha branded stainless steel propellers. He will begin his new position with PPI this
March.

Burns originally joined the Yamaha Marine Group as a Sales Coordinator at Skeeter® Boats in May of 2000, then moved to the Marine Group’s Operations and Planning Division in 2004 as a market analyst. In 2010, Burns was promoted to Division Manager of Yamaha Marine Operations and Planning where he has served as a member of the Marine Group’s Senior Leadership team for more than five years.

“Jonathon has been a leader in many of the key initiatives that have made Yamaha what it is today,” said Ben Speciale, President, Yamaha Marine Group. “Though I will miss having his expertise and friendship in our home office on a daily basis, I have great confidence in the excellent work he will do as the new General Manager of PPI.”

During his 15-year career with Yamaha, Burns has been deeply involved in business planning for both the Yamaha Marine Group and Yamaha companies, PPI, Skeeter Boats, Inc., and G3® Boats. He is a University of Texas at Tyler
graduate with a BBA in Marketing. Yamaha Marine products are marketed throughout the United States and around
the world.

Yamaha Marine Group, based in Kennesaw, Ga., supports its 2,000 U.S. dealers and boat builders with marketing, training and parts for Yamaha’s full line of products and strives to be the industry leader in reliability, technology and customer service. Yamaha Marine is the only outboard brand to have earned NMMA®’s C.S.I. Customer Satisfaction Index award every year since its inception. Visit www.yamahaoutboards.com.

20 Jan
0

Propeller Repair Business Keeps Moving Forward

The name may be long but the message is simple.

Bob’s Heliarc Welding/Precision Propeller Works takes what’s broken and fixes it so it’s good as new.

Owner Mike Hall said the names represent two sides of the same coin. Bob’s Heliarc Welding was started by Bob House 45 years ago, while Hall added the Precision Propeller Works portion when he took over the business 18 years ago.

House taught Hall everything he could before Hall started running the business, and the two names represent the different skill sets of the two men. Hall is good at fixing propellers and not as skilled as a fabricator.

“Bob was amazing at fabrication,” Hall said. “And I can weld anything.”

House was always known for fixing propellers, Hall said, but he was also a fabricator, so his business name emphasized his fabrication skills. Now that Hall has more of a propeller focus, his addition emphasizes that aspect of the business.

“I was good at propellers, so I pushed the propeller side of it more than I did the welding side,” Hall said. “But I kind of would like more welding projects, the fixing things.”

The current shop location in the Brainerd Industrial Park at 1205 Madison St. is across the parking lot from the original, much smaller shop, Hall said. Despite the new signage, he said some customers still drive to the old shop. There are even original customers in their 80s or 90s who still come to the shop to fix their propellers.

When Hall first took over, some customers were reluctant to deal with him, as he was younger and less experienced than House. But over the years, Hall said they’ve warmed up and now some customers are reluctant to talk to anyone other than him.

“Bob worked magic, and I’ve got people doing the same thing now at me,” Hall said. “If I’m not here, they say, ‘Well, I’ll come back later.’”

Hall still makes cool things from time to time, he said, but it takes him longer and he usually ends up gifting what he makes.

“That flower pot over there?” Hall said. “It’s for sale, but I’ll give it away before I sell it.”

There’s a skill involved in hammering a propeller blade back into its correct shape without snapping it, Hall said. He does it by securing the propeller against a block mold of the correct blade angle and delicately yet powerfully hammering the blade into shape.

“You have to learn how to work the metal,” Hall said. “I like them when they’re bad like that because it gives me a challenge. I don’t like it when they break though. That’s never a good thing.”

Once the blade is back in its correct shape, Hall will fill in any chips in the blades, buff it out and paint it.

Hall said he recently counted up the block molds he has on site and tallied 383 blocks. Combined with the blocks he has scattered at home and other places, he figured he has around 500 blocks. The large variety of pitch blocks means he can fix a wide variety of propellers.

One of House’s calling cards was being able to repair cracks and breaks in mechanical parts like crankcases and transmissions. Instead of buying a whole new expensive part, Hall said, he can fix the old piece and make it good as new.

“People throw stuff away rather than fix it,” Hall said. “Now that a snowmobile is $15,000, people are fixing the older sleds.”

House was a longtime industrial technology teacher at Brainerd High School, Hall said, and started his business because he loved the work. His love of welding helped develop an outstanding welding program at BHS while he was there, he said, and produced some great part-time workers for the busy summer season.

Summer results in some unique challenges for the business, Hall said. People will be lining up in the shop for repairs and Hall tries to deal with them all at once, because of his perfectionist attitude toward work.

“At the end of the day I don’t go home because, unfortunately, my standards are too high for me to allow anybody to do my work,” Hall said.

Some people have said Hall’s repair work costs too much or it takes too long, he said, but it’s for a reason.

“I want to give somebody back a product that’s as good as new if not better,” Hall said.

In the summer, Hall offers full marine repairs in order to meet the larger demand. But the shop is still limited in the repairs it can offer because of a lack of knowledge in some areas. In those cases, they refer the customer to a repair shop they can trust.

The business does a wide variety of work on boats and tries to fix them as quickly as possible, Hall said, because there’s really only four months for boating in Minnesota.

“Things always break when you want to use them,” Hall said. “We try to get people back on the water as quickly as possible.”

How busy the business is depends on factors like the water levels, weather and gas prices, Hall said. This past year has been better than most, he said, because people are using their boats again. Because of the rising costs of new boats, they’re also putting more time and effort into fixing their older boats.

Over the last 18 years, welding technology has changed quite a bit, Hall said. When it comes to welding, 98 to 99 percent of what the business does is heliarc welding, which is an older term for what’s now called tungsten inert gas, or TIG, welding. Heliarc welding works for almost any type of metal, he said.

Only a few things remain from House’s original business, Hall said: a hammer, anvil and recently retired grinder. But the top-notch quality of the welding and repair work remains, he said.

“We can fix nearly anything,” Hall said. “And I thank Bob for teaching me how to make something out of nothing.”

Hall really likes what he does, he said, but he puts in a lot of hours at work. It’s that trait, he said, that led House to turn the business over to him nearly 20 years ago.

“Bob, somehow, he found somebody to work as hard as him to take over,” Hall said. “I had to dedicate a lot of my time to make it.”

[This article originally appeared online at http://www.pineandlakes.com/news/business/3925648-propeller-repair-business-keeps-moving-forward

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