Folding Propellers for Large Sailboats

The Varifold 4-blade folding sailboat propeller is the latest Varifold development offering improved performance while maintaining on-board comfort through proven noise and vibration reduction. As with the 2 blade folding propeller and the 3 blade folding propeller, the outstanding feature of the 4 blade design is it’s airfoil shaped sections and modern cambered design. This special blade shape not only lends the Varifold exceptional visual appeal, but also unparalleled thrust and low levels of propeller borne noise. This is important for larger sailboat propellers as once the boat size increases the design an build quality of a propeller has a significant effect on its performance both in terms of fuel consumption and noise.

4 blade folder Varifold

The Varifold 4 blade Propeller is available in diameters from 18″ to 48″ for engines rated up to 1000 HP.  The folding 4 blade propeller is available  for diameters between 18″ and 25″ on a conventional shaft known as the VF-120  For propeller diameters between 26″ and 32″ the model is the VF-160.  For larger diameters between 36″ and 45″ a VF-230 4 blade model is available by request. The numbers of the model number refer to the hub diameter in millimeters, so for the VF-120 the hub diameter is 120 mm.  In all models of the 4 blade propeller, the blades fold together for minimum drag and are a modern blade design with substantial blade area for smooth running and minimum noise, vibration and cavitation.

Varifold blades folded4 blade varifold open on boat

The four blade has already proven its abilities, having been fitted to yachts where existing propellers have been unable to cope with large engines operating in light structures. Varifold”s unique design provides excellent power both ahead and astern with minimum noise and vibration. Tests have shown noise levels can be reduced by up to 10Db. To see how the 4 blade Varifold folding sailboat propeller compares with a Maxprop on a Baltic 147ft sailboat for noise and vibration, read the blog post Varifold vs Maxprop Propeller Test

Spare Parts – 4 Blade Varifold Propeller

For the 4 blade folding propeller there are 2 types of propellers available, however the differences are based on diameter as there is no sail drive option for the 4 blade propeller. For the 4 blade propeller less than 26″ in diameter (VF-120) most of the spare parts fitted to the 3 blade propeller are used, this includes the zinc anode (VF3AN), pivot pins, pads and fasteners.  However once the diameter is increased to over 26″ the zinc anode, pads and parts all become substantially larger to allow for the larger diameter and hence loading.  To see how easy it is to fit a large propeller zinc anode to the 4 blade propeller VF4AN zinc anode page.  The most common spare parts (with links to the store) for the 4 blade Varifold folding propeller on our online store are Left – Varifold 4 blade anode, Center – Varifold 4 blade buffer pad (old style) and Right – Varifold 4 blade buffer pad (new style).

Varifold Buffer Pad
Varifold Fasteners VF4FAS160

Servicing – 4 Blade Varifold Propeller

The 4 blade Varifold folding propeller is relatively simple to install and simple to service. As with all the propellers they will be prone to galvanic corrosion and care must be taken to ensure that they are protected using sacrificial zinc anodes. To identify the right zinc anode for a varifold propeller see the anode guide page. In addition buffer pads must be replaced along with the the anodes to provide a cushion when the blade opens. Visit our Sailboat propeller parts store for a quick and secure way to purchase spare parts for your Varifold Sailboat propeller. Installation guides can be found below for the 4 blade Varifold folding sailboat propellers and there is a Folding Propeller Parts and Service page for more detailed information and guidance on the parts each propeller requires.