The SOLAS Challenge

Hunting for the right prop

Published online: Jun 01, 2011 News Brady L. Kay
Viewed 259 time(s)

When the boss comes to you and complains about the performance of his boat, he's doing more than just making water cooler talk. In this case Jason Harris, president of Harris Publishing, was looking for some answers.

Harris has had his Glastron for a few years now and with the Volvo Penta 5.0 GXi engine he was starting to wonder if a better propeller might improve the performance of his baby. Well there is only one way to find out and that's to test it, so I got busy. With a few phone calls and the company credit card I quickly had what I needed.

I had heard a lot of good things about SOLAS Propellers so that's where I began. Our local marina was willing to let us take three different SOLAS props out to test so we could determine which one would work best for his fiberglass boat.

Getting Started

Before we could figure out if one of these could improve the performance, we first had to see what we were working with. So prior to pulling the new SOLAS props out of their boxes, we ran numbers on what the Glastron already had and that's a 14 1/2 by 19 pitch prop from Volvo that came with his boat.

With the stock prop our average speed at full throttle was 35.7 mph, which seemed about right for a 23 1/2-foot boat. The top speed seemed okay, but it was the zero to 20 mph time that I knew we could improve with one of the SOLAS props. With a full crew, our average time to 20 mph was 10.5 seconds. Now that we had our before-test information, we were ready to swap out some props.

SOLAS HR Titan 4

We started with a four-blade HR Titan 4 from SOLAS that was 14 1/2 by 15. We were able to improve the top end speed compared to the stock prop, but not by much. At full throttle we recorded a top speed of 37.2 mph. But it was the zero to 20 mark that impressed us the most. We averaged a time of 6.8 seconds, which was a huge improvement over the stock (10.5 seconds). But even though there was no delay when we put the throttle down, we did experience some propeller cavitation when we opened her up.

SOLAS HR Titan 3

Moving on we decided to try a three-blade prop since that's what originally came with the Glastron. With the 14 3/4 by 17 pitch prop from SOLAS, the HR Titan 3 experienced a slight hesitation when we'd put the throttle down.. This was reflected in the zero to 20 mph time, which was 7.4 seconds. It was still three seconds faster than the stock, but the hesitation was a little bit of a concern.

At full throttle we improved to 40.4 mph, which indicated that we were getting close. Out of the first of three SOLAS props tested, this one was the early favorite to replace his worn-out propeller.

SOLAS HR Titan 4

We had another Titan 4 to test; however, this one was 14 1/4 by 17, which was slightly smaller with a different pitch. At full throttle with the four-blade prop we reached a speed of 40.6 mph, which ended up being the fastest time during our test.

Acceleration felt strong and that feeling was backed up when we ran numbers for our zero to 20 mph time. The six-time average ended up being 7.1 seconds, which was quicker than Titan 3, but just a hair less than the first Titan 4.

Decision Time

Even though the first SOLAS Titan 4 (14 1/2 by 15 ) provided a slightly better zero to 20 mph time, the other Titan 4 (14 1/4 by 17) was over three miles per hour faster at wide open throttle so it was clear that out of the two, the second one was a better fit for this boat.

Compared to the Titan 3, the Titan 4 handled better, was quicker and had better top end speed so we knew we had found what we were in search of.

But before you run out and buy a Titan 4, 14 1/4 by 17 prop from SOLAS for your boat, understand that there were many factors involved with this particular test. The altitude is a huge factor that you need to consider. What works great at a higher elevation will most likely disappoint at a lower one. The boat, both size and weight as well as the passengers, can also influence which prop will work best for you.

Following the test, Harris spent the rest of the summer enjoying his boat and he couldn't be happier. "I noticed an improvement, mostly in the quick response," says the Harris Publishing president. "When I would punch it I could feel a big difference. It worked a lot better for skiers since there was no lag. When they'd say `hit it' we went rather than having that half-second delay like I had before."

SOLAS, founded by Dr. SOLAS Y.J. Lin in 1986, is now one of the best-known and trusted names in propellers for outboard/stern drive and impellers for personal watercraft/jet boats.

SOLAS props are sold through thousands of dealers throughout the U.S., Canada and beyond. To find the nearest dealer you can visit www.SOLAS.com. You can also shop online for SOLAS props by going to sites such as www.iboats.com, www.overtons.com and www.boats.net. 

If you're not happy with the performance of your pontoon or deck boat, don't be afraid to take the SOLAS challenge for yourself. 

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