4 Blade prop on 1995 290 Sundancer

Discussion in 'Sport Cruisers' started by jmerckling, Sep 1, 2018.

  1. jmerckling

    jmerckling New Member

    Jun 19, 2018
    1995 Sundancer 290, Raymarine C80 classic GPS
    Twin 2013 Mercruiser 4.3L TKS V6 190hp, AlphaOne Gen 2 Drives, Solas HR Titan SS 14 1/8inch 19P
    So this is my first post on the forum. And my reasoning is for sharing an experience so if others have same situation they can learn the easy way instead of the hard way. So I bought my boat early this season from a DIY guy. Its a 1995 Sea Ray Sundancer 290 with twin 4.3L Mercruiser with Alpha 1 Gen 2 outdrives. Both engines were replaced in 2014 and had about 120hours on them when I got it. The outdrives were supposedly serviced with new impellers, water pumps and seals, new u-joints on the shafts along with the gimbal bearings and bellows. Boat had a set of 3 blade Mercury Marine Quicksilver Laser 2 SS props 14inch 19P (which come to find out was the problem).

    So get the boat and every time I went out it took forever for me to plane out, even shifting weight around and having people climb into the v-berth to plane out. It didn't matter if I hammered the throttle or gradually increased it would slug along for 1-2minutes (NO KIDDING!!). No change with trim tab use either trying to plane. It would gradually increase speed all while engines are screaming at like 4500RPMs. Eventually it would plane out, most of the time. It would get up to about 28kts with motors trimmed up little once on plane at WOT of 4500-4700RPM's. I could back it down to 4000RPM's and get down to about 22kts, any lower and I would fall off plane and then be plowing again. Talking with the PO who was very nice and able to be contacted said yeah that is how it always ran. Even looking on this forum previously for planning out problems people had said the 290DA with the twin 4.3L are underpowered and take forever to plane out. So I took it as that is what is and forgot about it. I never had a boat this size/weight, previously I had always been on open hull center consoles <22ft. What did I know.

    Also every time I was docking I was having tremendous difficulty maneuvering. I would have to gas it to spin or get any sort of backward thrust or prop walking going. It was very hard to handle not being able to dock when I had previously never had a problem, although I know there is a big difference with twin I/Os vs Single Outboards which was all I used to do.
    So one day docking I wrapped one of the piling really good with the prop because my maneuverability was horrible and had no one on boat to assist that day. didn't think much of it. Next time went out and once in open water tried to power up and could not get over 8kts, or plane out doing any of my little tricks to try and plane the boat off. So turned around and went back to dock. Talking with several people at the dock noted that I probably spun a hub on the prop when I hit the previous time, so pull the props off. One was slightly dinged/bent, so took both to Prop shop (Bossler and Sweezy, Bellport, NY). The guy there was in stark amazement that I had taken those props off an I/O, and said they are completely wrong setup for my boat. He said I could recondition them and put them back on for cheap but I would continue to have the same problems. He said for $$$ he would order me the right props and I would notice a big change on the boat. So I pony up the money and had them order me new props hoping it would help my cruising problems.

    The new Props are Solas HR Titans, SS, 4 Blade 14 1/8 19P. They were expensive about 450 each. So I put them on with fingers crossed that I would at least be able to get up on plane. OMG I motor out the bay, at idle my boat is noticeably going faster, old props about 2.7kts, new ones about 3.5kts. I get out the bay and just hammer the throttle (even with 2 200lb guys on stern) and the boat jumps up to 3200 RPMs and out of the water almost immediately on plane, I had to hold onto the steering wheel it took off so fast. It cruises up to about 4500RPM's/WOT with motors trimmed all the way down doing 30kts. Then playing with engine trim at WOT staying around 4400-4500rpms I get it up to about 34.5kts. I was amazed. I could drop it down to 3000rpms still keeping the speed at 19-20kts on plane with doing complete pinned steering turns almost 360degrees on plane at 3000rpms and 20kts. OMG I have a new boat.

    The thing that annoys me is I thought there was a problem, but the PO and some posts on this forum said Nope, that's just the way it is! I suffered for almost an entire summer with this boat. Well let me tell you, if you have a gut feeling about something, Trust it. If your having cruising/planing problems with your boat then maybe props are not the right ones for your boat and talk to a good prop shop, because it has now changed the way I boat and dock. I am a much happier boater with the proper setup. So again, just sharing experience on this. Have a good one.
  2. NorCal Boater

    NorCal Boater Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 24, 2008
    Covington, LA
    Cobalt CM23
    GM SB 383" Stroker" Alpha Gen I
    Your story is the exact reason us boating veterans on this site so strongly urge that you get a Professional Survey and insist on a sea trial pre-purchase, as a condition of the sale. The proper purchase process is to make your offer subject to a sea trial. Once counter offers are finished and a deposit is made, you schedule and go for the sea trial. Here you would have discovered the problems with the performance of the boat. At that point you have the option of getting out of the deal or agreeing to move on subject to a survey. The survey would have surely discovered the issues with the boat's performance....and anything else that may be wrong. At this point the re-negotiation begins. You probably could have gotten the seller to pay for the props. He knew there was something wrong with the boat. If he didn't he was a moron.

    So at this point I have to ask about the other things the seller told you. Did he really have all of that work done to the outdrives? Did he have documentation for the work that he claims was done? If I were you, at this point I would not believe one thing the guy has said. And without a survey how do you know the hull is sound and there are no rot issues. He may be the nicest guy in the world but he was trying to sell his boat.

    I'm not trying to beat you up but you said you wanted to use your post as information to others and I applaud you for that. But let's go one step further and illustrate the importance of a professional survey. I'm assuming you paid $20-25,000 for your boat. That's a hefty chunk of change to plunk down with no knowledge of the true condition of the vessel.

    I hope you solved your one and only problem....I truly do. And if you did, consider yourself very lucky as I think you got off cheap.

    As for your prop issues I truly think there was something else going on. Changing from a 3-blade to a 4-blade and not changing pitch should not have made such a dramatic difference. I really think you may have had bad hubs on both of the old props. I could be wrong. A 4-blade prop will add blade surface area which will give you a bit better "bite" in the water and increase your hole-shot and time-to-plane but, the increased blade area will also add drag and lower your top speed at WOT. That said, your WOT rpm numbers sound right on the money and I'm happy the props are working well for you. I would also ask if the bottom of the boat is free from bottom growth?

    Welcome to the forum and let us know how tings work out going forward and I would keep and eye on the other things the seller said he did. Enjoy your boat.
  3. 230weekenderUSC

    230weekenderUSC Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Mission Bay, San Diego
    1988 230 weekender
    5.0 Mercruiser EFI with Alpha 1
    Same thing on my 230 when I bought it. Multiple people told me the 3 blade, extra cupping mercury prop was the best for the boat. I put a similar 4 blade as you but in aluminum. Boat planes at half throttle and cruises/stays on plane with no issue, all the way from 15mph to 38mph.

    I’m sold that 4 blades are the way to go for these stern heavy boats. Total game changer.

    I did however add vessel view mobile and realize my 4300rpm WOT was actually 4500rpm. Be careful trusting these old tachs.
  4. AFD

    AFD Active Member

    Jul 29, 2012
    Boston Harbor/Falmouth Ma
    1997 Sundancer 290 The fat beam version
    Starboard 5.0 alpha 220HP
    Port 357 alpha 275hp
    4HP Yamaha for Dinghy
    i'm glad you found new life in your boat but the info on this forum isn't exactly wrong. those engines are underpowered for most 290's but your year is lighter than the next model change 1997-2001 which is much wider and much heavier and sea ray still decided to use the 4.3's in those ones too. with a pair of even 5.0's your boat would be much better power wise. those v6's are great engines though. i just always felt as though the 290 was outside the spectrum of what they should be used on.
  5. Samaral

    Samaral Member

    Sep 17, 2017
    Markham, On, Canada
    2001 270 Sundancer
    Twin 4.3 EFI
    while we are on prop subject, I would like to ask 2 questions. My boat came with Vengeance SS 3 blades 14 19 pitch. I am entertaining the idea of replace them for 4 blades 14.5 17 pitch. Will that be the right choice? I am looking for quicker planning time and better maneuverability.
    Second question: I saw the Revolution 4 at US$700 each. The Solas Rubex HR4 at US$300. Am I missing something or is there a huge gap in quality?
  6. NorCal Boater

    NorCal Boater Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 24, 2008
    Covington, LA
    Cobalt CM23
    GM SB 383" Stroker" Alpha Gen I
    Before you change the props, what rpms are you getting at wide open throttle (WOT)? With a clean bottom and motors that are running at peak performance you should be getting between 4200-4600 rpms at WOT. If you are, then going down in pitch to a 17 may over-rev your engines. The extra 1/2" in diameter could help in bringing the rpms down.

    Find a prop dealer that will allow you to exchange props if they are not correct plus they can help you find the correct props for your boat.
  7. Samaral

    Samaral Member

    Sep 17, 2017
    Markham, On, Canada
    2001 270 Sundancer
    Twin 4.3 EFI
    This is a little tricky. The reason I am look at replace the propellers is that I found out that my current starboard prop it is a little damaged on all blades(a little blended on the ends) and the port side one the same on two blades.
    I find a little vibration when over 3500 rpm and the starboard engine takes more time to rev up when over 3000. I never went over 3500 because I don't want to damage anything else.
    Having said that, I cruise at 26/27 mph reving at 3100 with no issues. It goes on plane at around 17 miles and stays on plane at 22/23.
    I could repair my props at the cost of Can$250 each, but also I can buy new ones (4blades) at Can$390 each. I am just not sure the best course of action. Besides, are the Solas props the same quality of the Vengeance that I have now?
    Please some advise would be very helpful.
  8. Little Ducky

    Little Ducky Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2017
    Dickson, TN / Chattanooga, TN
    1998 290 Sundancer
    Twin EFI 5.0L w/Alphas
    Kohler 4kW
  9. Handsome Transom

    Handsome Transom Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jan 26, 2018
    Penetanguishene Ontario Canada
    1989 SeaRay Sundancer 268 454 Bravo
    454 Mercruiser bravo drive
  10. EricW

    EricW Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    Essex, MD
    1994 290 Sundancer
    Twin 2005 220hp 4.3 MPI's FWC w/ Alpha 1 Gen IIs
    You don't necessarily have to go to 4-blades to see a big improvement. The right 3-blades can also do wonders.

    My 94 290 with 2005 4.3 MPIs (220hp each) with Alphas came with 14x21 Mercury Vengeance props when I bought it. It was very slow to plane -- engines would rev fairly quickly, but it felt like the props weren't biting. Finally, the boat would gain speed and plane off and cruise just "ok". Top end was also decent. But, it would not plane at slower speeds -- it would drop right off plane.

    I bought some used Mercury Mirage Plus 3-blade props. 15.5 x 19. Massive improvement. The boat jumped on plane, even with a good load. Cruise speed went up, cruise RPMs went down. Minimum planing speed went way down. Moderate/slower cruise was 3200rpm at 27mph. Faster cruise was 3600rpm at 33mph. WOT was 4800 at 43mph. I absolutely loved how that boat ran with the 15.5x19 Mirage Plus props.

    The larger blade area made all the difference; without going to 4-blades.
  11. Chasing Limes

    Chasing Limes New Member

    Mar 3, 2019
    Chestertown MD
    290 DA, 5.7 TBI, Alpha 1 Gen II, Jasper Long Blocks, San Juan FWC, Kohler Gen
    5.7 TBI Mercruisers w/ Alpha 1 Gen II. Michigan Wheel 14.25 x 18P 4 blade stainless props
    'Limes is a 1998 290 DA. We went with Michigan Wheel 14.25 x 18p stainless on counter rotating Alpha 1 Gen 2 5.7 TBI's (from 14x19 Vengeance, moderately worn but true) and it is completely different boat. We can stay on plane at 3000 rpm @ 20 kts with a mild amount of tab and drives tucked down; vs 3500 rpm to stay up at 24 kts, and it would fall off the top somewhere between 3400/3300 (depending on # of beers in cooler) I almost put our mechanic over the transom on first launch, and we saw 39 knots @WOT. Tach at WOT is not trusted due to bad hall sensor in stbd. distributor but best guess is 4600 rpm based on port side. Most importantly, 27 knot cruise at +/- 3300 rpm.

    No more sending passengers and crew to the bow to get out of the hole.

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