I could have called this post Grease, Grease and more Grease!
There really is only one critical maintenance task on your KiwiProp, and that is keeping it greased. More specifically, keeping the hub greased. The darn thing is in a hostile environment, and while the moving parts don’t actually move that much, they do need to move once in awhile, and annual greasing is hopefully not too much to add to your boat maintenance routine.
I always say the best prop is the one you put on and forget about because it just works, well if you totally forget to grease your kiwiprop for a few seasons it will stop working, or will at least stop working properly.
If you do a quick google search on KiwiProp Reversing Issues, you will find a number of old comments (I couldn’t find any recent ones maybe because our message is getting out there) regarding reverse issues. When I go through them well over 95% of the problems are related to a simple lack of grease over an extended period of time and then guess what, other issues start to manifest themselves that don’t seem related to the customer, but they are. Since we sell direct, we don’t have a network of dealers out there making sure the lubrication message is reinforced. It is a simple one though GREASE YOUR KIWIPROP ANNUALLY, it only takes 5-10 minutes and can be done underwater.
OK, what about the other 5%? Well it can be challenging to decipher a customers interpretation in a post, but the only other commonality is impact or fouling damage to reverse rollers on older units that have either sheared them off or bent them and caused them to work their way loose. With thousands of props out on the water for over 15 years, its important to keep these issues in perspective. If I was guessing I would say that 5-10% of our customers have a lubrication issue at some point, 90% of those fix it by greasing, the remaining 1-2% ignore it until other problems are created. Predicting how many people will hit something or foul a lobster pot and then remember that when they lose a reverse roller sometime later is almost impossible, but we beefed up the reverse rollers about 6 or 7 years ago to virtually eliminate the issue, and on older props we send out free replacements If you need them. For further perspective compare an envelope with a free new roller with that you Loctite and thread in with the cost to rebuild a Max Prop after a few years of normal use, or complete replacement because you hit something.
If you’ve listened to me at a boat show, you will have heard my lubrication message. I try to walk every customer through what’s going to happen in 2-3 years after they ignore their KiwiProp…… I’m trying to imprint a memory on them so that they know the first time they see black smoke in reverse they need to get some grease in their KiwiProp hub, not ignore it because it is an intermittent thing at first.
I’ve also noticed a few customers with issues on line suggesting ‘I grease it every year’. I will share a story with you. I am responsible for greasing about 6-12 KiwiProps each spring in our boatyard depending on who’s off cruising each year. At least the KiwiProp guy has to show he’s diligent about greasing his props and while I’ve got my grease gun out why not do them all? It takes me about a half hour to do all of them. So after 8 or 9 seasons on my now 14 year old KiwiProps, I start having problems with my starboard engine in reverse…. how can this be? I’m the KiwiProp guy and the grease monkey to boot? Well as it turns out just squirting grease in until old grease comes out is not enough. You need to rotate the hub 15-20 times at least to ensure it is moving freely, returning to its fwd feathering position, AND spreading the grease evenly around the entire hub. Then put some more grease in! There is no such thing as too much grease in the hub.
The blades I take off every spring, clean the shafts and pack them with new grease, a bit more work than the hub timewise, but good peace of mind.