Quantum POP is proud to present our virtual nautical award (The Nautie) for the Los Angeles Boat Show inventor who caught our eye. Actually a family of inventors. Russ, Ron and Chad Hill. We are talking about the Hill family of Hill Marine’s Signature Propellers.
At the Los Angeles Boat Show, famous boat racer Ron Hill told us how he, his father and his son have made life in the fast lane, the stuff of invention.
This is the story of how love along with raw courage and nerve, created perhaps the best marine propeller available. It is about the family that honed that stuff of dreams into a state of the art, present day, marine industry standard
Yes.! And it’s all true.
Ron Hill began his racing career in 1955 at age 11 and halfway through his first season he was featured on the Mickey Mouse Club newsreel. But his career was no Mickey Mouse affair. He began moving up in the ranks and in class and began winning trophies.
Ron and his father who was a house painter by trade, traveled throughout the country during the summer. In the winter they would work on the boats. When they examined the propellers during and after the racing season, they noticed that they wore in certain places. This would cause the loss of thrust. So they began the habit of running a new propeller putting lipstick on it and seeing where the water was causing wear. They would examine it and bend pound and grind it into a better shape.They learned to craft it to conform to the motion of its rotation in the water, in order to maximize the physics of power and speed through the shape and curve of each blades angles individually.
Ron’s propellers, guided by his skill and courage, thrust him into the winners circle throughout his adult years. He raced on TV, ch 5 KTLA, ‘Speedboat Rodeo” for thirtynine weeks in a row out of Marina Del Rey. Early TV pioneer broadcaster Dick Lane was the announcer. http://www.boatracingfacts.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-7853.html
As he was winning races he stayed in the business and began paying for his expenses by making and selling propellers to others. Back then race teams only raced for trophy’s so the money had to come from somewhere. He was also going to college and when he graduated he began a teaching career that lasted 38 years. During that time he stayed in racing, driving till 76, all the while making and selling his propellers at each race. His love and marriage in 69 became a further catalyst for his love of propulsion when his fraternity brothers informed him in no uncertain terms that he needed to do something else with his time besides going out with them to the bars he frequented when he was single. You see I told you this was a love story. As a result his marriage and the propeller business took off. He began working on them in his garage and selling them at races and boat shows. From this the seed of Signature Propellers was planted.
Ron got out of racing in 1976, but with the following he had gathered with his reputation continued the propeller business, selling them at the races.
Meanwhile, Ron’s son Chad Hill began his racing career at age 9. At age 17 he was the youngest Formula One driver in history, a title that still holds true today.
When Chad wanted to start a propeller business with the sponsor of his boat races to build up some cash flow Ron turned the operation of the business to him. At age 17 he was the youngest Formula One driver in history, a title that still hold today.
When the sponsor was killed in a boat racing accident they decided to get out of the racing business altogether but continue the propeller business.
In 1995 Chad founded the new Hill company Hill Marine.Com Inc. and began specializing in custom-made high performance propellers for all drive applications Things began to go well. Unfortunately little known to our hero’s, terrorists were afoot and after 9 11 the company went bankrupt. Chad began teaching soon after that and left the profession in June 2011 after 5 years. Propellers and Hill Marine would have become a thing of the past but for the invention of the internet. Yes dear friends. The vastness of the world-wide web was there to rescue our intrepid pioneers. When Ron began to sell off the inventory on ebay, he found much to his amazement that the propellers that he was selling for little over $100 before were now selling for $400 or more in Jamaica and elsewhere. Because of their new-found success, father and son like Ron and his father Russ Hill before him were selling custom propellers. Now they began developing their own manufacturing process to cast their blades. Hill Marine now sells to over a dozen different boat manufacturers. They have built record holding propellers for several classes of boat racing including offshore, inboard, V-drive and outboard tunnel boats
10 years ago they developed the 2 by 4 propeller. 2 props of 4 blades each that rotate in opposite directions. The front prop rotates counter-clockwise and the rear prop rotates clockwise. The front prop delivers the power and the rear propeller delivers the speed. Testing has shown that the Hill propeller delivers 10% more speed than any other propeller in its range with better gas mileage and better. They are selling to over a dozen manufacturers. Recently a large diesel manufacturer approached them to build custom propellers for their motors. Later Volvo and others. They have added distribution recently at the Amsterdam boat show increasing their European position. And the developments just keep on coming. Ron and Chad still go out to Irvine lake to test their designs. Often taking out their boat with a grinder and other tools on board and modifying and adapting their designs to fit the needs of different manufacturers. manufacturers like dealing with them because they can bring a state of the art propeller from concept to productions quickly, often in 6 weeks. Other manufacturers can take over a year and still not be finished.
To continue this story check out their site at Hill Marine.com