BBlades Professional Propellers LLC is best known for its prop tuning and its test program. Now a boatowner can fine-tune his pride and joy with the BBLADES Spacer Plate Test Program. The Princeton, Wis.-based company offers spacer plate testing for Bravo, Bravo Sport Master or NXT6 drives. The program lets boaters change the depth of the propeller in the water, also known as X-dimension.
The trend among performance-boat manufacturers to set up a boat with an aggressive drive height—or X-dimension—in search of top speed has come with compromises. An overly aggressive drive height can hamper a boat’s overall performance, making it harder to get on plane or maintain plane at lower speeds and rpm.
BBLADES offers spacer plate kits for Bravo (shown here), Bravo Sport Master and No. 6 drives.
“Since the early 2000s, every custom boat-builder has gone to higher drive heights in a battle for the top mph number,” said Brett Anderson, the president of BBLADES. “I think I’m one of the few guys out there who is often suggesting sticking the prop deeper in the water.
“If you really struggle to get on plane and have little trim reaction, it’s possible that lowering the drive propeller deeper into the water can help,” he continued. “Knowing the actual depth of the propeller shaft is critical.”
BBLADES offers spacer plates for Bravo and Bravo Sportmaster drives in 1-, 1-1/2- and 2-inch dimensions that can be tested for 15 days at a cost of $100 per plate. The deposit and test fees are applied to the purchase price for the spacer plates if the testing results in a purchase. If additional testing is needed, the test plates can be returned until the right setup is found.
The customer is responsible for shipping costs in both directions. Bravo spacer kit prices range from $379 to $799 and Sport Master plate kits are available at prices from $499 to $1,050.
For high-performance applications, BBLADES is the only manufacturer with NXT6 spacers in quarter-inch increments ranging from one quarter-of-an-inch to 3 inches. Because the drive is already installed in a surfacing application, a quarter-inch can make a big difference. The testing fee for these spacers works starts at $200 per plate and complete spacer kits for the NXT6 range from $1,154 to $1,750. BBlades also offers custom rigging shops a line of NXT6 Drive Stud Spacers that let riggers decrease the size of spacer plates without changing stud length. It’s a more cost-effective testing procedure.
Regardless of which drive your boat is equipped with, adding a spacer could improve overall performance, even if it means sacrificing a mph or two at top end.
“If the boat is more user friendly throughout the rpm range, I feel a few mph loss on the top end is acceptable,” said Anderson. “Of course, all of this is relative to the owner’s ultimate goals.”