Continuing from Virtual Tour Part 5: Sterndrives, Transoms & Accessories…we will visit the Mercury Racing Propeller Department’s finishing area.
People are fascinated with propellers. The response to Scott Reichow’s Prop School blog series proves people are craving to learn more. Our visitors are a bit surprised when they enter Racing’s propeller finishing area. I think they are expecting to see a number of robotic machines pumping out finished propellers. Nope. What they do see is highly skilled craftsmen creating precision tuned works of art. Each puts their finishing touch on every propeller Racing makes – including our CNC machined Sterndrive Cleavers.
The trademark, “Lab Finished,” was created by Mercury Racing back in 1970s – when factory outboard racing required a dedicated Engineering Lab to create specialized props. We have proven through the years that hand-working a prop enhances performance. This is particularly true for props run at elevated transom heights (surface piercing) and higher RPMs where impact-induced vibrations and other nuances are amplified.
Only a small percentage of our propeller line is designed specifically for racing. Our most popular propeller is mostly used for recreation: the Bravo I. We first enhanced performance of this MerCruiser sterndrive propeller by lab finishing them for racing.
A magazine once set out to explore the benefits of Mercury Racing’s Lab Finishing work. A set of stock Bravo I propellers were run on a recreational catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 575SC sterndrives. These props were sent back for our craftsmen to work their magic. The boat gained five mph! The cost for such a performance gain? A mere $600! (Similar performance gains through an increase in horsepower would have cost thousands of dollars).
Our propeller team has also created custom, counter rotating Bravo Three XR propeller sets for a variety of MerCruiser Bravo Three drive applications. We initially developed these precision tuned props for the U.S. sport cruiser market. They have grown to become very popular throughout the world in both gas and diesel applications as well.
This concludes our 6th in a series about Mercury Racing’s Plant 36 manufacturing facility. I hope you have enjoyed the tour. I’m sure you have gained an appreciation for our products and the people who make them.