Funny how one phone call leads to another and—when you’re lucky—some worthwhile news. Case in point: I called Ben Robertson, a former championship-winning tunnel-boat and offshore racer, to see what he’s been up to. (Quite a bit, it turns out, and you’ll find that story later this week on powerboatmag.com.) Robertson mentioned that his son, Ben Robertson, III, was still working at Hering Propellers. Hadn’t checked in with Hering lately, so I gave the younger Robertson a call.
The latest from Hering? Seven-blade Bravo-style propellers in 31- and 32-inch pitch. Standard diameter is 15-1/2 inches, and rake angle is 21 degrees.
“Originally, Jim (Hering) had gone to five-blades and then to six-blades,” said Robertson. “The conventional thinking was that more blades helped you in the middle range, but hurt you on top. But our six-blades ended up out-performing our five-blades.
“We had a customer near Fountain (in Washington, N.C) who got tired of breaking our competitor’s props—he’d gone through four sets,” Robertson continued. “So he bought a pair of our six blades, and they were 4 to 5 mph faster up top but 4 to 5 mph slower in the mid-range. We sent him a set of the seven blades we’d been working on, and he immediately picked 6 to 7 miles per hour at cruising, and they were 2 to 3 mph faster than our six blades.”
According to Robertson, five pairs of Hering seven-blade propellers have been sold.
Robertson also mentioned that Hering is making a domestic push with its outboard propellers. The strongest market for the props, which are offered in four- and five-blade Bravo-style and over-the-hub cleaver versions, has been in Dubai.
“We haven’t really focused on the U.S. market,” he said. “But we’re starting to.”