Mac's Prop Saver

So, I originally was going to start this blurb as as rant rather than a "road test" but, I'll let the reader decide what it should be.  I recently purchased a newer kicker, a 2012 Yamaha 9.9 HP outboard, my article "How To Find A New Fishing Partner!" goes through all of that.  However, I thought I'd give one of those prop saver thingy's a try on this outboard, you see them lots on the boats out on the coast.  I think the biggest reason they have them out there is to prevent their downrigger lines from getting into the prop, which can be a common occurrence out there due to the tides. Well, we don't have any tides on Shuswap Lake or any of the other Interior Lakes that I know but I figured I'd give one a try in any event, they are advertised by Mac's Prop Savers, Inc. to "Increase thrust-steering-economy", so what the heck.  I know, I hear you now, what didn't you just buy a High Thrust outboard and then you'd be set.  Well, I also want to use the outboard on a 12' tinny and the High Thrust just wouldn't cut it on that, so there!  Also, I did want some of that "prop protection" that is advertised and also protection from the downrigger line going into the prop.  Its only happened to me once before but let me tell you, its not a pretty thing to see or hear!

I found a new/used prop saver on good old Castanet so bought it, it of course wasn't the right one for my motor but regardless, it fits like a glove now!  There are no secrets to installing it, especially if you buy the right one for your outboard, but with the conventional outboard you have to be careful when drilling the holes in your cavitation plate as they are not as wide as on the High Thrust models.  That and make sure you buy good stainless steel hardware to mount it and use "Ny-Lock" nuts on the bolts so they don't come loose.  Loose nuts can cause allot of problems.....ya, anyways.

OK, do they work, well, sure, they keep crap outta your prop, sort of??  On our recent trip to the coast and doing a little salmon fishing there is no doubt that they do keep your rigger lines out of the prop, one of the main reasons I decided to try one.  There were some times when the rigger line looked like it was going right under the boat rather then out the back of the boat, so I'm guessing the guard did its job.  As far as protecting the prop, I haven't had an issue with something hitting the prop and breaking it, but that holds true even when I didn't have the guard on the motor.  I did have a couple of small logs get stuck on the prop guard here on Shuswap Lake while trolling around, would those have actually hit the prop and caused damage without the gaurd?   I guess we won't know that answer short of throwing on a scuba tank and staying underwater to watch the guard in action, and then intentionally throw some junk at it!  There is one problem I anticipate with the guard though, is if you get a stick/log length ways into the prop.  If you didn't have the guard on it could very well miss the prop and just pass by whereas with the guard its going to jam into the prop and not go anywhere, not good.

Better steering and thrust??  Nahhhh, I don't think so, the prop on the regular non High Thrust is so small that I don't think there's any kind of magic vortex created from the guard to give the prop any supernatural powers.  The thrust from the prop is only as great as the size of the blade, and doesn't really extend out further than the edge of the blades so I'm not sure how the increased thrust comes in.  Now, if you look at a High Thrust prop, now there's some power!  So much power in fact that there is an entirely different gear box/case connecting it to the motor, and that's why the motors look bigger than the normal ones.  If I were a full time "live on the coast" salmon angler, I would definitely 127% have a High Thrust motor.  There were times on this last trip that the 9.9 was tapped out in the heavy tide flows around the Rocks, and we were just standing still, the High Thrust motor is built just for situations like this.  Would you still want a prop guard on the High Thrust motor?  You know, half of the boats out there have them and then other half don't, personal preference I guess.

If there's on major beef I have about the Mac's guard, is the crappy quality of stainless steel, which, is also why they cost more than most guards.  Its heavy duty, no doubt, I had to cut mine to make it fit properly and it's some thick stainless.  However, they are many grades of stainless and that is what determines it's non rusting ability.  Just like there are many grades of aluminum, there are specific ones listed as Marine grade for building of aluminum boats, you just can't use anything.  I guess my biggest bone of contention with the Mac's guard is that the damned thing rusted the first time I used it in salt water!  What's up with that!  Even the "cheapo" stainless bolts I bought at Home Hardware didn't rust and no, it wasn't rust from around where I cut the guard but where it was welded at the factory and even on the bar that attaches to the skeg portion of the outboard.  That and then there was this weird white "stain" that formed in the stainless on the sides of it, pretty crappy quality if you ask me!  I was informed by my buddy who used to repair props that if the stainless steel is brushed with a carbon brush that it could cause rust, or its just crappy stainless!  That white ring?  Not sure what it is from, it took some major buffing with Auto-Sol to get rid of it, and then I waxed it up again.  The rust, still there, I may have to take some fine emery cloth to it and try to clean it up. 

Overall not to impressed with the product, is it worth the money, well, I got mine cheaper than new so I'm OK with it.  Be forewarned though, after some research on the internet I found that some outboard manufacturers WILL NOT honor your warranty if you install one of these.  They claim there is excessive stress put on the leg components from the guard and it could cause damage.  I'm guessing that as long as your not doing 60 mph with it then it should be fine and if you run into a rock or log at any speed your leg is toast anyways so, you can decide for yourself whether you want one or not!   Sherm

****The following is an email I received from John Sharp about his prop guard, thanks John!!****

Hi Sherm,

Just a short note letting you know how much I enjoy your technical articles on your web-site, as I have the same Yamaha outboards as you. Your story on prop guards was interesting as I have had one for a number of years. I would like to give you my opinion of them that may save some of your viewers some headaches. As you mentioned in your article, they are almost a must-have out on salt water, where you are dealing with strong tides. The only purpose in my opinion is they serve in protecting the down-rigger wire in hard turns. When I get home from salmon fishing I take it off. The reason I do this is due to the amount of debris, sticks, etc. found in our lakes, especially in the spring of the year. I have seen bent props, bent propshafts, and even a sheared flywheel keyway due to sticks getting jammed between the prop and guard. You mentioned manufacturers voiding their warranty for installing a guard, and I can see their reason for doing that. I think if you are not having trouble cutting your downrigger cable and you are not a salt water fisher, you are better off saving your money for something else. Thanks again for a great website.

John Sharp