View Full Version : ??? Wooden Propeller

02-27-2018, 01:12 PM
Ventured into the attic of my folks old home settling the estate. Known to all the kids (myself, one brother, two sisters) a propeller my father acquired from Teterboro Airport, NJ in the late 20's and bicycled home to Lincoln Park NJ. He always felt getting it home was a greater feat than acquiring it. From memory (my brothers) was on a trainer plane. I did a quick research and am of the thought a French training plane WWI. I do want to determine more of its history. On either side of the propeller itself imprinted into the wood is "Helice Paris Eclair". On the spindle portion of the propeller has "Rh 190hp" as well as "Are". On the opposite side of the spindle portion has an "8" upper left "DG 5" a little below. Next to the DG5 are 3 squares offset from each other. Just to the right of the squares and a little lower is an "8". Going to the lower portion......lower left has "SERIE " "W" (W with a question mark because not completely clear). Then next to it (below the center hole) either 180 or 130 or (my suspicion as a confirmation to hp) 190. Then to the right of that number (imprinted a little higher) No.415. Now that I joined the club I will get some additional information. It does have the large center hole with an 8 "lug" pattern.

Any information about its origin appreciated as well as any other clues to look for. I will be getting measurements and scrutinize the propeller more diligently and post as I get them. Thanks in advance.


02-27-2018, 05:51 PM
The most useful and important identifying number is whatever comes after "Serie". Since you can't tell if it's 180 or 130, could it also be 150? I can't find a serie number of either 180 or 130, but Serie 130 should be 2.75 meters long from tip to tip. See if that might be correct information and post back here if so.

If you can post a close up of the stampings it may help. Are there decals on the blades?

02-27-2018, 08:01 PM
Yes......the tip to tip measurement is 107.5 inches which translates to the 2.7 meter calculation. Unfortunately.....a young Joseph Chuba (or possibly the fellow he bought it from) started to restore it. Fortunately only by sanding with no replacement varnish, shellac, etc...... Definitely a hardwood by the grain but I cannot tell if oak or mahogany or ? A series of laminations. About a healthy 1/3 not sanded with a reddish stain splashed with some black tar compound. I took some closer measurements as well as a better description of where the identifying stampings are located but.......as is my nature......misplaced. I will dig them up.

02-27-2018, 08:08 PM
I think this will turn out to have been used or at least designed for use on a Dorand A.R. 2 reconaisance plane using a Renault 190 HP engine. That would fit with an Eclair model 130 propeller, and although "Rh" is commonly seen for LeRhone engines, "Rn" was often used for Renault engines, which had a 190 HP version. Also, the "Are" you reference certainly sounds like some variation of "A.R. _". Again, photos might be helpful.

Sometimes when the stamped information is unclear you have to try to fit it into logical possibilities, but the length does help support the assumption that those stamps.

It's too bad there was an attempt to "restore" it, as that can't be undone.

03-01-2018, 11:40 AM
Pictures are not available. The propeller made its way back into the attic and I was only there for this week. However, I did take some measurements which will help me (us) identify the propeller (through pure luck.....maybe not....I have been involved in previous non propeller restorations and have had to track down obscure parts). I did not see the notice in the forum of identifying techniques. These measurements were done with a yard stick so please understand the measurements were "eye-balled". The center bore diameter measured 2-3/4". I measured the "bolt hole circle" but I measured from center of hole to center of hole. Accordingly I have made the mathematical adjustments. This is an 8 lug bolt pattern, The bolt hole circle is 5-7/16", the drilled hole for the bolts looks 7/16", the bolt holes themselves to be 2-1/4" center to center. Again leave some room for error.

I originally posted "opposite side of hub" some identifying stamps but the were actually on the underside of the hub and they read "Are" and "Rh 190 Hp".

Looking from the front side (back?) the prop blades have "HELICE PARIS ECLAIR" tamped on both blades. While looking at the hub I am going to try to explain the positioning of the markings on the hub. They are on the inside of the bolt pattern and follow the curvature of the radius. I am using the bolt pattern as a "clock" for describing positioning. The is a number "8" just inside and underneath two bolt holes in the 10:30 and 1:30 positions. There are 3 little offset squares (going up and down) in the 1:00 position and just below at 12:00 is "DC 5". Starting at 9:00 and extending to 6:00 is "SERIE No 130". Then heading back up the propeller from 5:00 to 3:00 is "N 415". I hope this helps the propeller ID.

In reference to the sanding of the propeller itself.....nothing was touched around the identifying stamps. Also (and I have worked quite a bit with wood) there is no indication of any type of shellac, epoxy, sealant, etc... whatsoever. The red paint (maybe pigmented stain) is strictly topical and easily removed. I did a quick scrolling of pictures in the archives and there is absolutely no glossy feature on this prop that I see on the others.

I hope this helps all who are following this thread.


edit: I have used lower cased letters and capitol letters as they were stamped. Also, the sun hit the wood in a nice positioning and I am pretty certain it is an "Rh" or a very sloppy "Rn".

03-01-2018, 12:00 PM
So everything points to this being designed for the Dorand A.R. airplane (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorand_AR#/media/File:Dorand_AR.1_French_First_World_War_reconnaiss ance_biplane.jpg) ("A.R."= aerial reconnaiscance) with a Renault 190 HP engine manufactured in the late teens.

We don't have hub dimensions of that engine, but the "190 HP 8GD Renault" noted on the page is certainly consistent with "Rn 190" in the context of Serie 130. It was not unusual for their to be variance in horsepower and some other values on these sheets.

The model is listed on the publication Propellers Used on Airplane of Types in Use by the American Expeditionary Forces, published in November, 1918, a page of which is copied below.


03-01-2018, 01:06 PM
Thanks for the quick reply. I researched Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and the story/history of the propeller is coming together. In 1917 North American Aviation (per Wikipedia) had a manufacturing plant on the site during WWI which was also published that way in other searches. However....North American Aviation did not exist until 1928 (one plane of distinction the "Mustang") so, either a reorganized company or a manufacturer who went belly up and the name reused or "don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see" or????. Teterboro Airport also was the home base for Anthony Fokker after WWI. Anyway, in regards to the propeller and the plane the identification you cited (as well as my father's story) all is making sense. General Pershing through AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) ordered the the French plane for the U.S. Accordingly Teterboro Airport was one of the facilities where it was sent. Used during the war as reconnaissance for a short time but also used as a trainer. This correlates with my father's story. Now the question. With the sanding previously done. What might the value be? I had some short chats with my brother and 2 sisters. We may look into donating it (one of those displays you see while running to catch a plane in an airport's corridor). Mostly looking for a good home. Fortunately (as far as "fortunate" can be after original altered) completing the restoration is a doable project based on the condition. If I had the time and my old shop I might consider but not realistic. What was the original topical coating/sealant? Like I said.....no signs of earlier laquers (etc....).


03-01-2018, 02:52 PM
I really couldn't venture a guess on value without seeing it, or seeing accurate photos as a minimum. That said, I believe that any visible or detectable alteration (like re-varnish) reduces its market value to about half of its value if in original condition.

The top coat could be shellac, lacquer, paint, and maybe even some other possibilities. I don't believe that urethanes or expoxies were available in the late teens.

03-01-2018, 03:12 PM
Thank you for the reply. Looking at other propellers I thought the standard would be shellac or lacquer. This one was originally painted and only sanded to date. Nothing else done fortunately. I contacted Teterboro Airport and they have a museum. Donations only with no promise of display. A bit difficult now for good pictures but I will be back there in another few months and see about taking/sending photos. When I talked with the head curator at Teterboro, the airport was not an active airport till after the war ended. So......if part of Pershiing's AEF purchase the Dorands not there till after armistice. The only chance of it seeing war action very remote. I could not see them transporting a used plane overseas. Like I mentioned earlier......my fathers recollection was that of a training plane. Right in line with posted history of the aircraft. Many thanks.


03-02-2018, 03:17 PM

Two Éclair serials were in use on Dorand AR fitted with 170, 180 or 190 HP Renault: serial 102C and serial 130. They have the same diameter (2.75 m, that is 106.6") but pitch (very difficult to "see") and blade width were different: 215 mm for serial 102C and 200 mm for serial 130.
There was no serial with only a letter made by Éclair.

It's a pity the prop was sanded... All Éclair propellers were covered with red-brown shellac. I join a picture of the a/c and engine markings from a serial 102C with its original varnish: "Are" for Dorand AR, "Rn" for Renault (exactly what Dave said ;)). The marking "Bc" is for the wood used (Bouleau du Canada, Canadian birch).


EDIT: 2.75 meters are 108.3", not 106.6 as written... (divided by 2.58 instead of 2.54... oh, oh...)

03-03-2018, 04:56 PM
Thank you for the reply and pictures. I stand corrected. Your picture is the the exact stain/finish that is on the propeller. It appeared to me as paint due to the very flat finish which occurred with aging. I recall seeing the the wood identification stamp on the underside but neglected to record it. Looking at your pictures I can almost certainly state we have identified the propeller.

After all this identifying I am somewhat saddened. I have been a member of various clubs dealing with antique items. This item was my dad's which has nostalgia but once we determine the value, it is either being sold or donated. As with other clubs the input from members has been most helpful. I also like to contribute accordingly but this one may be a one shot deal for me. Being a sucker for old things.........any sense in me completing the sanding and finding a matching overlayment or best to leave alone for others. I am negotiating a spot in the house with my wife but I believe a losing proposition. I do not want to keep it just to sit in the corner of the basement.

Bob Gardner
03-04-2018, 12:48 PM
After this lengthy research, across two continents, I think you should keep it, particularly as it has been in your family for many decades. Note that it is very likely to increase in value, possibly more quickly than if you put the money in the bank.

With kind regards,


03-04-2018, 12:59 PM
I agree with Bob about keeping it. Even its reduced value from sanding will be higher in the future, especially with clear identification, which you now have. I'd suggest not doing anything at this point. Wait until you can get some good pictures and post them here before you make a decision.

Is there a decal on the intact blade? That might influence your options about what to do with it over time.

03-04-2018, 05:28 PM
Thanks for the replies and suggestions. I looked at the thread dealing with "Do not restore" which transitioned to some articles "......I did this to restore but you better not touch it if you do not know what you are doing.....". I have worked quite a bit with wood (I am a 38yr owner operator contractor who is hired for tinker jobs by other contractors for matching existing). Always the woodwork. I have never sheet rocked or framed a spec house in my life. I would have to study up quite a bit as well as do samples with the shellac formula/process to get the correct matches. I would not lift a finger on the wood until I had a clear and confident approach. Anyway, the propeller is safe and sound. The next time I have access I will get pictures. Sitting in the basement does not sound too irritating right now. Thanks all for the input. The pictures from France were the clincher for identifying. Spot on. Again. thanks all.

ps. no decal.....knowing my dad I do not think he would have tampered with an original decal. The sanding may have been done by the person he bought it from.