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Old 07-04-2018, 10:59 AM   #1
Seaotter77
 
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Default Prop care

I have a circa 1940 prop from an AT17. It's seen better days, delaminating and missing some wood, but it still looks cool to me and I'd like to take the best care of it possible. How do you meaintain an old, beat up prop? Especially the canvas, old paint, and metal leading edges and tips?
Thanks!
Curt
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Old 07-04-2018, 02:09 PM   #2
Bob Gardner
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Welcome to our forum, Sea Otter.

There is often virtue in leaving an old prop as it is. It took a long time to get to its present state and its condition reveals its usage. I often remind myself that a worn and old prop should not be converted into an almost new prop, with shiny wood and polished brass.

So my first advice is leave it as it is.

But some conservation can be done. Polish the wood with pure beeswax. This will return natural oils to the wood. Use a small amount and polish it once a week for a few weeks and then every few months or so. You will be surprised I think, how this gives an attractive sheen to the wood.

You can use beeswax on the brass sheathing and the fabric as well.

With kind regards,

Bob
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Old 07-04-2018, 02:45 PM   #3
Seaotter77
 
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Thanks Bob, for your quick and helpful post.
Do you think beeswax would help wood in this poor of condition?
I have no illusions about restoring this prop. I just want to slow the deterioration roll. And I promise not to put a clock in it

ENGINE R-755-9
HP 225
RPM 2000
AT-17
DWG. NO. 43K13605
(or "1"3K13605, can't quite tell)
SERIAL NO. A.F. ?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Cessna Bobcat AT17 tip 1.jpg (92.2 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Cessna Bobcat AT17 tip 2.jpg (91.4 KB, 4 views)
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Old 07-05-2018, 05:46 AM   #4
Bob Gardner
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Curt,

It is certainly derelict, which adds a degree of charm.

I used to buy and sell WW1 props and once we were asked to restore a German prop owned by a German family who had owned it since 1918 when one of their ancestors brought it home from the Front. It was in much the same condition as yours. They wanted it to last for a further 100 years, rebuilt to prevent further deterioration, and had already constructed a small display to accompany the prop which consisted of photographs of the prop in its then condition, and a photograph and history of the relative who brought it home.

We dismantled it into its individual laminations, cleaned them, removed any wood that looked fragile, reconstructed each lamination and glued it all together. We deliberately left a few bits of derelict laminations near one tip as a reference point for the next 100 years.

We provided the family with a sequence of photographs of the restoration.

This work cost about twice what the propeller was worth.

On a different tack, we live near the site of a Roman Fort, built about 200AD. There's a small museum which contains the remains of a Roman sword and other items. No one wants to restore the sword to a better condition. People look at the remnants of the handle with the thought that the last person to hold it about two thousand years ago was a Roman soldier.

These metaphors above encapsulate my view of early wooden props. In original condition they often have a charm which restoration will destroy.

My advice is to clean the prop carefully using warm water with a few drops of washing-up liquid, to act as a degreaser. Use a small amount at a time on a damp cloth and carefully clean the wood. Leave to dry. Repeat the process until the damp cloth ceases to free any dirt.

When completely dry begin to polish with bees wax, in small amounts. (You might wish to try this first on a small area on the back of the prop to see if there is any adverse reaction.) This should bring a lustre to the wood. You can use it on the fabric and brass as well. When you have finished, you might care to put before and after photographs on this forum. We'd like to see them and it will inform others, which is what this forum is about.

With kind regards,

Bob
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Old 07-05-2018, 07:20 AM   #5
Dbahnson
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The other thing to keep in mind is that this particular prop is quite common, and if you want one in more pristine condition you can probably find one to buy.

Personally, I'd leave it completely alone. In the right environment (i.e. indoors, like furniture) it will not deteriorate significantly in a lifetime.
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