Houseboat Props - 3 or 4 blade propellers better for control, docking, handling on house boats?

Houseboat Props - 3 or 4 blade propellers for house boats?

Houseboat Props - 3 or 4 blade propellers for house boats?

When it comes to houseboat props, is a 3 blade or 4 blade propellers better for control, docking, and handling in windy conditions?


We have a new 55 foot houseboat that has two 3.0 liter 135hp engines that were equipped with 3 bladed propellers.

Should we upgrade to a 4 blade prop for more steering control?

We also have bow thrusters, but still have some trouble in windy situations.

Thanks for any help.



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Reply - Answer
First, I would like to say congratulations on your new houseboat. Now on to the 3 or 4 blade prop question. Well from my experience, you won't see a huge difference in slow speed handling by changing from a 3 blade, to a 4 blade propeller. There are some fundamental propeller basics that are important to have for optimum performance.

You will however see big improvements with Reverse Hook Cup props. One of the best props for houseboats are the RHC Propellers since they provide better stopping, more reverse thrust, and improved handling.

Generally speaking, for large boats like houseboats, you would want the largest diameter prop, and with the appropriate pitch for the engine(s) to achieve WOT (Wide Open Throttle).

With single engine houseboats, you can use throttle, combined with steering, to thrust the stern of the boat into the wanted position. Since your houseboat has twin engines, you would leave the outdrives in their straight position, and use the port and starboard engines (forward and reverse) to twist the boat into position.

Now mind you, this always sounds easier on paper, than actually being out in an extremely windy day. If you are really pressed for extra sideways thrust of the stern, you can also turn the wheel to gain some extra movement of the stern (rear).

One of the biggest limiting factors of the prop thrust has to be that the houseboat has small engines (great for fuel economy), which are perfectly fine to achieve hull speed (8-10 knots), but the boat would handle better with V8 engines, since they would be swinging much bigger propellors (more bite and slow speed thrust).

Again, congratulations on your new houseboat, and try to get some extra practice at other non dangerous or damaging locations to get a feel at how she handles in windy situations.

It is only with practice that you will both become comfortable and proficient at docking and handling her in tight spots. Try and work with the wind or current to help you maneuver her into slips.

Here is a few articles that you will find of interest:

Houseboat Propellers - blades and material for the best props?

Houseboat Propellers and Fuel Mileage Tips



Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat docking, handling tips, and experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.


Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats


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Comments for Houseboat Props - 3 or 4 blade propellers better for control, docking, handling on house boats?

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Kudos for Four-blade RHC Props on Houseboats
by: John J.

I mounted a 4-blade RHC prop on my 1977 Masterfab 56 X 15 houseboat with single 140hp OMC I/O drive power plant.

Our usual cruising speed at 3000 rpm was 4.5 knots, and we have had some "hairy" times backing away from the shore as Lake Shasta drops over 1 foot per night in the summer.

With the new prop we gained a full knot in cruising speed, have had NO problems backing away from the shore, and our turning response is faster and the radius tighter than ever!

I put my old 3-blade dinosaur in a box in the closet and hope to give it to someone who dings their prop. GO FOUR BLADE !

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4 blade propellers verses 3 bladed props on houseboats
by: Old Houseboater

With a given diameter, 4 blade props will provide better thrust at low speeds due to greater blade area. They are also smoother at cruise.

IMHO the difference is not enough to justify the cost of replacing good 3 blades. However, if the 3 blade props need replacing I would surely go with the 4 blade.

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