Dr. William Fox caught the automotive bug at the ripe old age of 6 when his grandfather built him an electric go-cart. He would study cars and call out their unique features when traveling with his parents. He particularly had a passion for classic cars. His personal goal was to have his dream car by the age of 40. He wanted to have something that was unique, had enough room for the kids and was fun to drive.
Dr. Fox reviewed several classic cars, but his criteria narrowed his search to the Chevrolet Chevelle. He was particularly attracted to the ’66 model – a perfect blend of styling that became an icon for the beginning of the muscle car age. “The knife-like front edge screams muscle. It has just enough of an edge to it yet comes across as a family sedan – a sleeper at the stop light,” said Dr. Fox.
Dr. Fox is having a blast in his dream machine. It’s his daily commute to work. It is a conversation piece at traffic lights, parking lots and drive-throughs. One thing he hasn’t done yet – to the chagrin of his son – is to provide him a ride to school so he can be the envy of classmates and teachers alike. Come on Dad – just once?
Rake is the angle of a propeller blade face relative to its hub. If the blade face is perpendicular to the hub, the prop has zero-degree rake. As a blade face slants back toward the rear of the prop, blade rake increases. Rake is either flat (straight) or curved (progressive). Most lower horsepower (“lower” by Mercury Racing’s reckoning) propellers, like Black Max aluminum and Vengeance, have 15-degree rake and are designed to operate fully submerged to push a boat across the water. Typically, higher horsepower outboard and sterndrive propellers have a higher flat or progressive rake.
A greater rake angle generally improves the ability of the propeller to operate in a ventilating situation. Ventilation occurs when blades break and re-enter the water’s surface — such as occurs with 1) a Bravo sterndrive (XR, XR Sport Master or XR Sport) installed with a high “X” dimension, 2) a surfacing drive (M6 or M8) or 3) an outboard installed or jacked high on a transom. In surfacing operation, higher rake can hold the water better as it’s being thrown into the air — deflecting it aft and creating more thrust.
On lighter, faster boats with a high prop shaft, increased rake often will improve performance by holding the bow higher. This results in higher speeds due to less hydrodynamic hull drag. However, on some very light boats, more rake can cause too much bow lift. That will often make a boat less stable. Then, a lower rake propeller (or a cleaver style for outboard) is a better choice.
Looking at examples:
A runabout with Alpha sterndrive usually performs best with a lower rake Black Max or Vengeance pushing the boat. The aim is broad capability and utility for many recreational activities.
A lighter weight runabout with Alpha drive may increase performance with higher rake Enertia propellers lifting the bow offering less wet running surface (lower drag).
Bass boats can vary widely because of the design differences among hulls in the market. Mercury offers high rake propellers such as the Tempest Plus and Fury for these applications. Mercury Racing specialty props for the bass market include the Lightning E.T., Bravo I FS, Bravo I XS and Pro Max.
The Bravo XR drive, used with higher horsepower multi-length and weight applications, typically use props with high rake and large blade area — such as the Bravo I and Maximus.
Our Pro Finish 5-blade CNC Cleaver prop is available with 15, 18, or 21-degree rake.
Performance applications using Mercury Racing’s CNC Pro Finished Cleaverswith M6 or M8 drives have three rake choices: 15, 18 or 21 degree. Most “V” and step “V” bottom boats utilize a 15 degree rake — unless the center of gravity is forward of the helm; then, 18 degree rake works best. The higher rake helps lift the bow — positioning the boat to ride appropriately on the steps. Air entrapment hulls (catamarans and tunnel hulls) pack air and lift during forward motion; they typically use props with 15 to 18 degree rake — since air pressure does most of the lifting.
The 15-degree and 18-degree rake Pro Finish CNC Outboard Cleaver is being used in a variety of applications including bass boats, performance center consoles and catamarans.
Your head probably hurts by now, so I will discuss blade cup in Prop School – Part 4.
For some reason the colder weather and recent snow flurries has me reminiscing about Mercury Snowmobiles. Remember those?
The infamous “lead sleds” (Mercury’s early and very heavy snowmobile) and the legendary Sno-Twisters (when Mercury got it light and right). Snowmobile historian Charles Plueddeman wrote a detailed article on the history of the Sno-Twister and the infamous sled #5.
I was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie – on the Eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The “Soo” as it is often called, gets bombarded with lake effect snow from Lake Superior. If you’re into it, the U.P. offers hundreds of miles of scenic trails for the snowmobile enthusiast. It’s a great family sport – if you respect the machine and ride safely.
The Soo is home to the International 500 snowmobile race. I was there – from start-to-finish whenbrothers Stan and Doug Hayes won it in 1976 riding a 440 Sno-Twister for Team Mercury. The Sno-Twisters and Trail Twisters were way ahead of their time – an evolutionary leap from the early Mercury sleds. These machines are still very popular today. They continue to dominate vintage snowmobile races and grass drags.
There you have it. A quick ride down the snowmobile memory trial. For those of you that get out and ride, please respect your machine, fellow riders, skiers and land owners. Enjoy your time on the snow. Before you know it, the snow will melt, and you’ll be back on the water – boating. Where we all belong. It’s only right.
We are there in force with factory reps supporting both events. Mercury Racing QC4 sterndrives compete in the Superboat Unlimited class, while the legacy 300XS outboards are featured propulsion for stock outboard competitors. The race format entails three days of racing: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Class championships are awarded to those with the greatest number of points earned throughout the week.
Best Hand Wins
Over 90% of the Key West Poker Run participants rely on Mercury Racing propulsion. That is an impressive stat considering a record 215 boats are registered for this year’s event. The engine mix ranges from our legacy two-stroke 300XS outboard to the Dual Calibration QC4 1550 sterndrive. The 400R is by far the most popular outboard – the power of choice for high-performance catamarans and center consoles.
“It’s truly amazing how the sport continues to evolve with new technology. We could never have imagined Verados from Mercury and Mercury Racing would account for 50% of our poker run fleet!” said FPC founder Stu Jones.
I reached out to Stu to get his input regarding the state of the club and performance boating in general.
“It just keeps getting more and more exciting … as new blood comes to our membership roster, and I continue to meet people from across the country and around the globe.”
“There’s a passion among these people that drives me and keeps me focused on running some of the biggest and safest poker run events in the country. I strive to work with other organizers as well, so we can achieve a common goal of growing our sport and bring new blood to performance boating.”
“Technological advancements have greatly enhanced the user experience. The boats are going farther, skipping fuel stops, and completing the poker run every time. Our attrition numbers for a typical run are down to single digits, which is something that we would never think possible. I’m having a real hard time giving away the broken propeller award because everybody seems to get there now.”
“We appreciate the continued support from Mercury Racing … which recognizes the importance of the sport and the lifestyle that it gives to so many people. Our 26th Key West Poker Run is underway with a fantastic start, beautiful weather in the Keys.”
FPC’s poker run village, located at Conch Republic Sea Food Company will be hopping into the weekend with participants and fans alike checking out the awesome hardware on display from various performance boat builders and associated vendors.
Resto Mod Cigarette
Project 1080, the FPC’s Resto Mod pace boat, is on static display in the Cigarette booth at the Key West Poker Run village. The Cigarette booth is adjacent to our Mercury Racing Experience Truck display.
The boat is flanked with display panels featuring a timeline of the restoration project as well as FPC’s 25-year history, along with the history of the legendary Cigarette brand.
Mercury Racing Experience
Our Experience Truck will be packed with exciting product displays and our factory reps will be eager to talk about them. Featured products include the versatile Dual Calibration 1350/1100 sterndrive, the all-new V-8 4.6L 300R FourStroke outboard and 400R cutaway outboard display.
For those of you lucky enough to be in Key West, be sure to stock up on Official Mercury Racing Merchandise – available for purchase at the Racing truck. Merchandise will be sold Thursday through Saturday.
Our MAX5 is providing top performance in both domestic and international outboard applications.
Nor-Tech Boats came to us for help in establishing a speed record for production outboard center consoles. Quad 400Rs, spinning 31-inch pitch MAX5 props powered their 390 center console to an astounding speed of 101 mph!
“The boat performed outstanding at both top-end speed & cruising,” said Nor-Tech founder Trond Schou. “The fuel consumption was an impressive 1.5 mpg while cruising at 50 mph! We highly recommend this propeller for high-performance boating.”
Kirk Beattie of Preferred Marine recently took delivery of his triple 400R powered 36-foot Invincible center console. Kirk was truly amazed with the MAX5s’ performance.
“The boat not only stays hooked up, the more we trim her, the more bite they provide, said Beattie. “It is a slingshot out of the hole: 0-55 mph in 11.2 seconds with a top speed of 81 mph. They are efficient too; delivering 1.2 mpg at a cruise speed of 50 mph.”
“The beauty of the props is that my fuel efficiency at cruise is not compromised with a heavy load. When I load her up with 475 gallons of fuel, five guys, full coolers and the tackle we still manage to get 1.1 mpg at 50 mph! The MAX5 props are serious!”
Toffen’s MAX5 Experience
Toffen Gunnufsen from Norway is a huge Mercury Racing enthusiast. He has updated the power on his 1984 Phantom 25 hull multiple times. Phantom was essentially an offshore race hull made from 1970 through the early ’90s.
Toffen’s most recent repower entailed replacing a Mercury Racing 350 SCi with our popular 400R outboard. The boat ran 86 mph with a 25-inch pitch Rev 4; a 4 mph increase in speed using the same prop. He gained an additional 3 mph when he updated the 400R with a 25-inch pitch MAX5.
World Champion Propulsion
Francis Notschaele and Alain Coppens piloted their 300XS-powered Skipper BSK hull to win the 2018 UIM Endurance Class S1 World and European Championship. The reigning Class S1 champs switched from Bravo I props to MAX5s to capture their second consecutive championship.
We are excited to see the MAX5 shine in multiple applications – both here and abroad.