How to Remove a Boat Propeller

by Will Charpentier

Sooner or later, almost every boat owner will hit something in the water--a rock, a submerged tree stump--that will bend the propeller. In order to repair it or get a replacement, you'll need to remove the damaged propeller first. You can remove your propeller yourself with a few simple hand tools and some careful work.

Draw a line around the propeller shaft where the back of the propeller hub falls on the shaft. This will show where the back of the propeller hub was before it was removed, and will prevent you from putting the new prop too far up on the shaft.

Using the adjustable wrench, loosen the nut at the end of the propeller shaft by holding the propeller and shaft still and turning the nut. Do not remove the nut; leave it handing on the end of the shaft by a thread or two. If you loosen the nut by holding the wrench and turning the propeller, there is a chance of being injured on the sharp edges of the propeller. Wear the heavy gloves to prevent injuries to hands from the propeller.

Put your propeller puller on the shaft so that it is centered on the shaft and not in contact with any part of the prop. The propeller puller is much like a bearing puller for an automobile. Use the socket set and ratchet to apply smooth, even pressure through the prop puller.

Remove the nut from the propeller shaft and remove the prop using even pressure with the prop puller. Do not allow the "key" that holds the propeller in place on the shaft to get away from you, since you will need it to re-install the new or repaired propeller.

Items you will need

  • Propeller puller
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Socket wrench set with ratchet
  • China marker
  • Nylock nut
  • Heavy leather gloves

Tip

  • Take note of the location of the key that comes off the shaft when you remove the propeller, and mark that position with the china marker for easier re-assembly. Take care when using the prop puller: you will be putting the shaft and the propeller under pressure. However, steady pressure, evenly applied, will make the propeller ease off the shaft.

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.