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View Full Version : Buying a WW1 propeller


Bob Gardner
04-12-2016, 09:18 AM
A member of the forum asked my advice on buying a WW1 propeller.

I enclose my answer below in the hope that it will be of use to others as well.

With kind regards,

Bob

To an extent, you're asking me to predict the future, at which I am as useless as the rest of the human species.

But here are some random thoughts;

Prices are rising, perhaps because of the centenary of WW1. If so, the corollary might be that they fall after 2018.

Websites such as this and eBay might also raise an interest in early props, and if so, this might continue to influence prices upwards.

Buy a propeller that you like and want to own more than any other. You might consider buying a propeller at auction, in original used condition (which translates as rather awful condition) and find a cabinet maker who can restore it to close to the condition it was in during service, whilst retaining its various dints and scuffs. This process gave me great joy.

At this point your outlay will be the same as that of a dealer. When I was a dealer I added a profit margin of 30%. I only existed on the internet. A London dealer with a shop with rates to pay; and heating and lighting costs; and the salaries of assistants to meet, will have a mark up of at least 100% to generate a similar profit level to mine.

So sourcing your own prop and arranging its restoration is both the cheapest and most enjoyable method of procurement by far.

Do not buy from ebay where prices are high, sometimes alarmingly so, which may account for the several months where they remain unsold.

If you live in GB or Europe, use Invaluable or the-saleroom which describe items coming to sale in the next few weeks. It's free.

My book on the design and manufacture of British WW1 aircraft propellers covers both buying and restoration in much more detail. It's for sale on my website aeroclocks.

Finally, one of the joys I have in owning propellers is to touch where a WW1 pilot touched during his pre-flight checks, where a mechanic tightened the hub bolts. You can't do this on an unflown prop devoid of such magic.