Brett Anderson, the founder of BBlades Professional Propellers in central Wisconsin isn't going to put a date on it, but he says sometime in 2010 BBlades will have a propeller testing program for the CNC propellers used on Mercury Racing No. 6 drives. He's currently gathering the inventory.

"We'll start with a fairly general selection of No. 6 props with various rake angles, probably around 17 inches in diameter and from 30- to 37-inch pitch," he says. "We may even throw a few 40-inch-pitch propellers in there."

The No. 6 drive propeller program will be modeled after BBlades current propeller testing program for Bravo drives and outboards. The program works like this: A customer calls Anderson and they discuss the customer's boat, make, hull type, power, use patterns and performance goals. Anderson, who worked under the late propeller expert Dennis Cavanaugh at Mercury Racing for 11 years, then makes a propeller recommendation. If the customer agrees, BBlades ships the props to the customer. The customer pays for shipping both ways, as well as a $30 "administration fee," and has the props to test for 15 days. (The 15-day time limit includes shipping, so if shipping took two days in each direction, the customer would still have the props for 11 days.)

Once the customer has tested the props, he and Anderson discuss the results and make adjustments (more or less pitch, different rake angle, lab-finishing or blueprinting and so on). If the customer likes the propellers and wants to keep them, BBlades sells them to him. The $30 fee does not apply to the purchase price of the new propellers and customers are responsible for repair or replacement for the test props if they are damaged.

"Most of our test props, like 90 percent, are brand new so we just sell them to the customer," says Anderson. "If the props we send out have been used and the customer likes them, we order a new set and send them."

Dovetailing nicely with the upcoming No. 6 drive propeller testing program (the fee for which has not yet been established) is BBlades existing No. 6 drive-spacer program. BBlades CNC-machines its own No. 6 drive spacers in quarter-inch increments (from 1/4" to 3") from billet aluminum.

"The cost for the spacer program is $200 with the same 15-day test period, but the cost does apply to the purchase price of the spacers if the customer decides to buy them," says Anderson.