View Full Version : BE 2c Propeller

11-01-2015, 03:24 PM
To my considerable dismay, due to financial difficulties, I am forced to consider selling a BE 2C propeller I have had since the early 90's. I purchased this propeller in the Isle of Man.

The prop has been cut down so that one blade remains on the hub, apparently some good long time ago. The cut surfaces are nicely finished.

The prop has the following stamped about the hub:

M4 1884
90 HP RAF 1A

There is an addition stamp of a cluster of very small characters which I cannot read, further down the existing blade.

Having studied your forum, I believe the condition of the surface would be considered original. I have never used anything but good quality furniture wax on it since I have owned it. The remaining blade still has its canvas tip.

I have attached some photos.

I am very pleased to have stumbled across your remarkable forum. Should I be forced to sell this lovely prop I will certainly make a donation to you. I imagine you have the knowledge to save me from getting ripped off by a local antiques dealer.

Best wishes

Bob Gardner
11-02-2015, 07:05 AM
'Morning Quirk,

Welcome to the forum.

In summary, your prop blade is an excellent example of its kind: in excellent present-day condition and once professionally created from a four blade prop, either by a squadron carpenter, or by the post-WW1 cottage industry which sprang up converting surplus wooden propellers into all manner of treen, such as small trinket boxes, and blade tips converted into small photograph frames at one end of the spectrum, to hall stands, hat racks and umbrella stands at the other end.

Whatever its origin, your prop is missing the other three blades to make it a more easily transportable memento; if in a RFC unit, to enable the owner of this trophy to get it home; if sold post-war as a commercial item then one might imagine that the three other blades became picture frames, a source of wood for treen such as cigarette boxes, trinket boxes, and parts for furniture. These small items of treen abound on eBay in the UK as you will have noticed. The remaining single blade and hub were more marketable than a complete prop.

Your example is a delight, both because of the marvellous quality of the wood, and because you can run your hand along the blade and touch where once a pilot or ground-crew in WW1 ran his; it's a minor form of empathy and mental time-travel for the romantically minded amongst us, of whom I am one.

But selling it will not restore your fortunes. Its value at auction and on eBay is about 2-300 GBP. By comparison, if it were a complete four-bladed prop its value would be about 4000 GBP. Note that there are similar items on eBay at the moment for 5-600 but these are much over-priced. One of these was first listed several months ago at 2500, the owner perhaps mistaking it for a complete propeller, and the price has gradually been reduced to 650 GBP where it has stuck for some months.

The data on your prop translates as:
T7448 the drawing number of the prop where T indicates the Royal Aircraft Factory (known as the RAF until the Royal Air Force was formed in April 1918 whence it became the RAE)
90hp RAF 1A The engine designed by the same place.
BE2C The aircraft type, designed by the same place. It was world class in 1912 and was a superb platform for aerial recce and photography but this stable flight meant it was also unmanoeuverable and thus a sitting duck when the Fokker Eindecker arrived in late 1915. It should have been withdrawn immediately but the RAF, being a government body staffed by civil servants, and with contracts issued to at least twenty makers, inertia ruled and thousands of RFC aircrew died in consequence. Its successor aircraft, the BE8 and RE8 etc, were designed by the same people and equally useless.
D 2769 The prop diameter in mm. (the design diameter was 2770mm but in practice manufacturing tolerances of a few mm were allowed.)
P 2835 The pitch in mm. The designed pitch for the 90hp engine was 3090mm but some 100hp versions are recorded with 2835mm pitches. Yours is therefore an anomaly.

With kind regards,


11-02-2015, 07:48 AM
Thank you for you prompt and interesting reply, Bob.

I am almost relieved to learn that is not worth selling - though I am afraid in my current circumstance, 'not worth it' is a relative term. I shall, however, do my best to hang on to it. I noticed the example of a four bladed prop you mentioned on eBay.

I can't recall how much I paid for it in the Isle of Man, but I think it was about 90 Pounds or so. In about 1991/92.

My curiosity about it has be piqued by reading the thread started by Vulcanworks about the BE2c prop hanging in the cellar of a now defunct Southport museum. Thread called 'The Propeller in the Cellar'.

You noted in one of your responses on that thread that the propeller in the cellar had 'atypical dimensions' and you had only seen one other BE2c prop with those.

The one in the cellar, like mine, was stamped D 2769 and P2835, though Vulcanworks reported that the ceiling fan has two M's after each spec, whereas my prop only has one M.

Since I got this prop in the Isle of Man, it is not at all unlikely that it got taken there from somewhere in Merseyside. I have to wonder if these two props had the same manufacturer. Or, at least, if the BE2c's in question were made by the Vulcan Motor and Engineering factory.

I have taken a pic of the inspection stamps. Not easy to read in pic. All four say" AID/91J.

I have also attached a pic of it in situ. You can see why a sale would be reluctant, it is a fine and treasured decoration.

Dreadful things, in combat terms, BE2cs, as you note. Criminal that the powers that be at the time refused to see that. Are you familiar with the alternative words to 'Keep the Home Fires Burning' which start 'Keep the 2c's turning'?

Best wishes, Alison

Bob Gardner
11-02-2015, 01:47 PM
'Afternoon Alison,

I can't offer any advice on the maker of your prop from the data stamped on it. But it might well have been from the Vulcan works if they too made a prop with this pitch. I would guess that probably all the props made there would have had this finer pitch. But other makers also made it; Boulton & Paul, and Vickers at Crayford. And I have recorded the standard BE2C prop made by a further five other makers.

The Government paid 12-0s-0d for each of these four bladed props.

I have seen the early aviation print to the right in your photo before somewhere, perhaps at a Dominic Winter aviation memorabilia auction. I delight in the carefree wit and nonchalance the artist has portrayed.

With kind regards,