In 2015, Jimmie Harrison, the owner of Frank & Jimmie’s Propeller in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., got a phone call from Scott Reichow, Performance Propeller Manager for Mercury Racing. Reichow wanted Frank & Jimmie’s to take over repair and modification of all lab-finished propellers for Mercury Racing customers.
“We used to offer propeller customization services but our explosive growth has caused us to focus all of our efforts filling new product orders,” said Reichow. “We refer consumers seeking prop repairs or tweaking to Frank and Jimmie’s; they have excellent capabilities, stand behind their work and they are just good people to work with.”
Mike Eggleston of FJ Propeller uses a combination of advanced machinery and serious manual labor to tune and repair propellers.
Actually, the “Frank and Jimmie” Reichow referenced are primarily one person, Mike Eggleston, manager of FJ Racing, the division of FJ Propeller that focuses on lab finishing. He’s been working on marine propellers since 1988 and has performed just about every kind of modification a boater can dream up.
“If they talk to Scott at Mercury Racing, he’s going to tell them to call us,” said Eggleston.
With two facilities in Florida, plus shops in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Venezuela, FJ Propellers is the largest propeller repair facility in the United States. Harrison’s father Jimmie Sr. co-founded the company in 1947 and Harrison Jr. took over in 1992. Eggleston joined the company in 2000. Even with that history, Eggleston admitted there is pressure that comes with taking over “Lab Finishing” Mercury propellers.
“They want to make sure they go to a shop that’s not going to mess up their props,” said Eggleston. He had done some projects in the past for Mercury Racing and Harrison was the president of the National Marine Propeller Association for 10 years. Reputation and word of mouth convinced Reichow that FJ Propeller was the right choice.
FJ Propeller already had a loyal stable of performance customers including a number of offshore racing teams, John Tomlinson at TNT Custom Marine, Randy Sweers at FB Marine Group and others. Since taking over lab finishing, Eggleston said he’s getting in a lot more propellers from out of state.
FJ Propeller offers all aspects of propeller modification including diameter cuts, blade thinning and polishing. The work is done with a combination of advanced machinery including the MRI propeller measuring system, traditional pitch blocks and good old-fashioned elbow grease.
For a three-blade prop such a Mirage Plus, FJ Propeller Racing charges $425 and a Speedmaster-style cleaver brings another $100. Getting your four-blade Bravo One tuned up will cost $510 while a 16” to 18” Speedmaster-style cleaver raises the rate to $625. Finally, getting a five-blade Maximus lab finished costs $590 and the cleaver will cost $715. Add 35 percent more for pitch changes.
Eggleston said that of the Mercury Racing work he gets, the majority is Bravo One, Maximus and cleaver propellers for Mercury NXT-6 drives.
Mike Eggelston: “You have to explain the faster you go, the thinner you go and you lose durability.”
“They want top-end speed 90 percent of the time,” he explained. “You have to explain the faster you go, the thinner you go and you lose durability. We’ll lab them but not to the extreme. I try to be honest with them.”
Of course, whether the customer owns a yacht or a performance boat, he wants the propeller back yesterday, but Eggleston has learned the value of patience. “I basically do everything myself. I’m not going to rush,” he said. “I have to do a good job because the first time I don’t everybody’s going to hear about it.”