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Old 12-31-2019, 08:01 AM   #1
Gabriel
 
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Default SE5 Prop: Clean and Polish

Hello fellow forumites,

Many thanks to everyone who has been generous with their time and advice following my many questions about caring for old propellers and specific questions concerning SE5 props. In particular, to Bob Gardener for his sage advice and wide ranging knowledge.

So, now I can now hopefully share my own experience. I have just collected a four blade SE5 prop, pattern T28096 to fit the 200HP Hispano Suiza. As far as I can make out the prop is untouched since manufacture, still the with original fabric on the prop tips and nothing done (no varnish etc) to the woodwork. It has obviously sat for long periods on the blade tips rather than been hung on a wall as two of the tips have suffered a little bit and cracked, the two opposite the manufacturing stamps (ie the prop stored leant up against a wall with the hub stamps uppermost to easily be read). See attached photos.
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Old 12-31-2019, 10:17 AM   #2
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So, here it is after cleaning. I just used a very weak soap solution (literally a couple of drops of washing up detergent in about 3 litres of warm water) and gently wiped over being careful not to leave the prop too wet.

Once dry Iíll start with the beeswax polish.
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Old 12-31-2019, 01:37 PM   #3
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Hello Gabriel,

Thank you for these photographs. I look forward to seeing the end result.

With kind results,

Bob
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Old 12-31-2019, 01:40 PM   #4
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An afterthought, but not for the frequent viewers and cognosceti amongst us.

It looks as though it might take several episodes to remove the ingrained dirt from the prop. Don't worry about the damage to the tips. It may well have stood on these two tips for a hundred years, which is part of the history of the prop. If you wish to replace the fabric in due course, it is relatively easy to locate some second-hand Irish linen to glue in place.

With kind regards,

Bob
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Last edited by Bob Gardner; 12-31-2019 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Gardner View Post
An afterthought, but not for the frequent viewers and cognosceti amongst us.

It looks as though it might take several episodes to remove the ingrained dirt from the prop. Don't worry about the damage to the tips. It may well have stood on these two tips for a hundred years, which is part of the history of the prop. If you wish to replace the fabric in due course, it is relatively easy to locate some second-hand Irish linen to glue in place.

With kind regards,

Bob
On the other hand, if you don't do anything to it except to preserve its present state, just think how unique it will be 100 years from now.
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Old 01-01-2020, 06:32 AM   #6
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Yes! Indeed! A very valid observation.

Bob
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:05 AM   #7
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So, Iíve done a bit of a halfway house. Iíve cleaned the prop as much as I dare without damaging anything. I used a weak soap solution and also a quick wipe with denatured alcohol (methylated spirit on this side of the Atlantic) to further clean the prop and remove any contaminants. Note, this was a very quick wipe as I didnít want to affect the original green paint which is still on the back of the prop boss.

Some of the original protection (I assume it was a varnish applied after manufacture?) has come away leaving bare wood so I am keen not to cause any more damage. In other areas though it is in quite good condition, see below.

So, one application of beeswax so far and another one in due course.
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File Type: jpg 40BC2227-ACCD-4201-91E6-A9937BA6C168.jpg (91.3 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg 267EB4BC-48EC-421A-ADE4-A49023DCC351.jpg (96.8 KB, 8 views)
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:20 AM   #8
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Also, I have a question about my prop.

If you look closely at the photo below, you can see a line of four small bumps under the fabric and again a row of three in the blade about 4-5 inches back from the edge of the fabric. These are on all four blades in the same position and almost look like small wooden plugs approx 4-5mm in diameter.

Being under the fabric (which as far as I can tell is original) I am assuming they are there from manufacture - but what are they? I wondered if they were to add small lead weights to aid spanwise and chord wise balance, but were things that advanced in 1918?

Any suggestions gratefully received!
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:35 AM   #9
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Some early propellers had dowel reinforcements across the planks, and I suspect that's all you're seeing under the fabric. (The planks shrink across their width, but the dowels shrink less across their length, a characteristic of all wood. So the dowels end up protruding a bit from the surface of the planks.)

While a few props may have had weights added to balance the blade, the preferred method was to arrange the wooden planks in a balanced layout and then do a fine balance on a knife edge by applying extra varnish on the lighter blade. I have a photo of that varnish balancing somewhere, and one catalog describes the method of laying out the planks to match wood grain and weight.
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dbahnson View Post
Some early propellers had dowel reinforcements across the planks, and I suspect that's all you're seeing under the fabric. (The planks shrink across their width, but the dowels shrink less across their length, a characteristic of all wood).
That makes sense, the slightly raised bump is only on the front face of the prop and not on the rear (thrust) face, which suggests the dowel runs chordwise across the laminates rather than perpendicularly through them.
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