Selecting the right Buffer pad for a 4 blade Varifold Propeller
To finish our review of Varifold Buffer pads, we finally look at the large 4 blade Varifold propeller. The 4 blade Varifold folding sailboat propeller uses buffer pads to cushion the blades as they open during deployment. The buffer pads are often overlooked during maintenance but they are an important part of the folding propeller. The buffer pads stop the blade palm from hitting the propeller boss which can result in damage to the propeller blades.
The buffer pad for the 4 blade propeller also come in 2 different versions, again related to how old the Varifold propeller is. Originally the propellers were shipped with white nylon buffer pad kits, these were upgraded several years ago to a harder black nylon pad. Identification of the buffer pad, like the other propeller models is straight forward and best performed when the boat is out of the water. Fitting the 4 blade propeller buffer pads is harder than swapping out the zinc and more challenging than the other models.
To access the pads it is necessary to remove the 4 pivot pins from the blades. Instructions for this can be found on our download page. The old style of buffer pad was a 4 part kit (Part number VF4BP-W). A large retaining ring was first tapped into place then a black rubber washer inserted into the recess, finally the pad itself was held in place using a cap head bold. The old style buffer pad would last a couple of seasons or more until the compression forces cause the plastic to distort and fail.
The current style of buffer pad (Part number VF4BP-B) is far simpler to fit. The buffer pad is a top hat shape with the hat part sitting snugly in a machined recess on the boss. There is only a single part to this pad and it is held in place with a simple countersunk bolt. The advantage of the new style pad is that it is harder, able to absorb a greater load and lasts a lot longer than the softer nylon pads.
Whichever Varifold folding sailboat propeller you have it is worthwhile adding the buffer pads to your yearly inspection when you assess the condition of your propeller / shaft zinc. Changing both the zinc and the buffer pad as needed will to ensure many years of trouble free sailing.