Buffer pad types for a 2 blade Varifold Folding Propeller
The 2 blade Varifold folding sailboat propeller uses buffer pads to cushion the blades as they open during deployment. This often overlooked item stops the blade palm from hitting the propeller boss causing mechanical damage to both items and potentially cracks in the blades.
Identification is best performed when the boat is out of the water as fitting the pads is harder than swapping out the zinc. To access the pads it is necessary to remove the two pivot pins from the blades. Instructions for their can be found on our download page.
The buffer pad design has two versions of the pad and depending upon how old the Varifold propeller is will dictate which one to use. The fastest method to identify them is the black or the white pads. Originally the props were shipped with rubber self adhesive pads that have a dome shaped profile. The installation is simple for this design: remove the old pad with a knife and clean the area well. Rub the surface with isopropyl alcohol or similar to remove grease and stick on the new pad. The pad can also be secured with a dose of marine sealant such as Sikaflex or marine grade caulk to hold it in place. The old style buffer pad (Part number VF2BP-B) will last as long as the zinc anode perhaps a season more until the blade forces cause the rubber to fail.
The buffer pad was updated several years ago to a machined white nylon peg style (Part number VF2BP-W) which required the propeller hub to be pilot bored below the pad to accept this peg style pad. 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 rubber stops. Changing the nylon buffer pads is a little different as well as they require leverage underneath them to pop them out or if they are compacted into the peg hole, a pilot hole and a long tapped screw to bite and hold the peg before being pulled out with pliers. The new pad is then gently tapped into place with a soft mallet.
Whichever Varifold folding sailboat propeller you have it is worthwhile adding them to your yearly inspection when you assess the condition of your shaft zinc. Changing both items as needed, which are very low cost will ensure many years of trouble free sailing.