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Old 03-29-2020, 11:05 AM   #1
Gabriel
 
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Default SE5a - A Propeller's Tale

For a long time I have been searching for an SE5a propeller. Recently, towards the end of last year, an opportunity came to purchase one.

I had been looking for an SE5a propeller for a number of years and in mid-November 2019, after a quiet period when I had taken my eye off the ball, my wife asked if we were ever "going to get something we can hang on the wall". So, with low expectation and anticipating more disappointment, I looked again on the internet - imagine my surprise when literally within a few minutes I found one for sale! Not just an SE5a propeller, but a four blader exactly as I wanted. The viewing, purchase and collection are a story in themselves involving more than a little luck and coincidence, but I finally got the propeller home at the end of December.

With the help of various individuals both on this forum and externally, and a bit of research, I have managed to put together a moderately comprehensive history of my particular prop together with some associated photographs. To that end, I have planned to make several posts in chronological order with the relevant details, I hope they will be of interest.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:10 AM   #2
Gabriel
 
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So it starts here with the data stamped on the prop boss:

G64 N61
T28096 LH
D2362 P3340
200HP
HISPANO SUIZA
SE5

Most of it is standard information, the regular four bladed T28096 pattern to fit the 200HP Hisso engine. The relevant bit for my particular prop is the batch number and date (the G and N numbers), with many thanks to Bob Gardener for supplying the following information:

"G64 relates to a series of batch numbers introduced by the Air Board in the summer of 1917, prior to the formation of the RAF from the RFC and RNAS in April 1918. It describes a batch of 100 props ordered for the SE5A aircraft. It probably dates from early in 1918."
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Last edited by Gabriel; 03-30-2020 at 05:01 AM.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:21 AM   #3
Gabriel
 
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My propeller has no marks on the boss or hub to indicate it was ever fitted to an aircraft. Given it was manufactured in early 1918 and the SE5a was withdrawn from RAF service shortly after the Armistice, it is likely to have been placed in storage until disposed of in the early 1920's.

In fact, my propeller was sold in the mid 1920's, into the rapidly growing aircraft industry in the golden age of aviation, for the handsome sum of 5/-. For those of you not familiar with old British currency that is five shillings, or 0.25 GBP in modern money.

This is my actual prop on the wall of a workshop at somewhere called "Cloud House". The aircraft under construction is a Granger Archaeopteryx, the photo is circa 1928.
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Last edited by Gabriel; 03-29-2020 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:26 AM   #4
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So the prop remained in the Granger family hanging on the same workshop wall and passing to the previous owner from his father, when they moved house the prop moved with them. (Although interestingly the workshop is still in use and coincidentally being used to rebuild the same original Granger Archaeopteryx aircraft back to flying condition!) The prop lived for a number of years on the wall of his garage, along with a host of other bits and pieces until he sold it to a local antiques dealer in November of last year.
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File Type: jpg SE5 Prop 003.jpg (96.5 KB, 12 views)

Last edited by Gabriel; 03-29-2020 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:47 AM   #5
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As I mentioned in the first post, I found the prop on the internet and went to meet the dealer directly. Im pleased to say we agreed a price that, while above that of a private sale, left us both happy and I finally got the prop home at the end of December.

On examination it was a bit unloved, very dirty and the wood was quite dry.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:56 AM   #6
Gabriel
 
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So, washed with a weak solution of soap and water, a quick wipe with a damp cloth soaked with denatured alcohol (methylated spirits for us in the UK), followed by multiple coats of natural (no silicon) beeswax polish.

If you look closely at the second photo you can see the dowels which were used to hold the overlapping laminates together during manufacture. This technique fell into disuse towards the end of the war, given my prop was manufactured in early 1918 it must have been one of the last props to use it. The fabric is original and, to the best of my knowledge, exactly in accordance with the Royal Aircraft Factory pattern.
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File Type: jpg 05514A83-86DA-4A31-99BF-0D4A3748B8B1.jpg (81.4 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg 9289E88E-1487-461A-87B6-DD439F877449.jpg (97.1 KB, 13 views)

Last edited by Gabriel; 03-29-2020 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:56 AM   #7
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Watching....
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Old 03-30-2020, 06:39 AM   #8
Bob Gardner
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Thank you Gabriel Grainger, if I have assembled your name correctly from various clues! Your story is most interesting and to echo the observation of Dave Bahnson, who founded this forum entirely so that we could all read such anecdotes, we would much enjoy reading further examples of such stories....so if you have one lurking at the back of your mind, do please share it with us. Mine follows, anon.

With kind regards,

Bob
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Old 03-30-2020, 07:08 AM   #9
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Hello Bob, many thanks for your post.

Funnily enough, I am not Gabriel Grainger!

My connection with the Granger family (I believe it is spelt without the "I") is purely by chance. When I alluded at the beginning to there being a lot of luck and coincidence involved with my purchasing this particular prop I wasn't kidding!

Once I had found the prop on the internet, I contacted a colleague of mine who is an experienced engineer on historic aircraft and is involved with the Shuttleworth Collection. I asked him what he knew about SE5a propellers (as they have an airworthy SE5a in the collection and various props throughout the museum, as I'm sure you are aware.) He said he didn't know much specifically, but a friend of his had one on his wall. I sent my colleague a couple of photos I had taken when I viewed the propeller, and he wrote back to say he couldn't tell me much more about his friend's propeller - as I had already seen it! The world is indeed a small place.

When I asked for some background on the prop's history I received back the black and white photos and also the various anecdotes to accompany them, and of course enough history, information and provenance to put this post together.
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