Do you know the Ten Commandments of propeller care? Here they are, courtesy of McCauley!
1. Read and respect your owner’s manuals AND know where to obtain service! Sooner or later you’ll need service (be it regularly scheduled maintainance OR something else) on your prop, and you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got all your “ducks in a row” for when those times come up.
2. Before each flight, visually inspect the prop for surface damage and irregularities (dents, nicks, bruises, scratches, erosion, etc.). If you’re EVER in doubt as to weather or not something is serious enough to require professional attention, ALWAYS err on the side of caution and have a professional take a look as well. In some instances minor damage can be corrected by “dressing” it out.
3. Don’t rev the engine over loose particles. This translates into the following – avoid high static RPM when standing or taxiing over gravel, dirt, or stony areas. High speed operation of the propeller in these instances can cause nicks and other damage to the blades and tips of the particles are sucked up and hit the prop.
4. Don’t use prop blades as handles! You can do a world of hurt to a propeller if you try to use the prop blades as handles to maneuver the plane while it’s on the ground. If your plane isn’t equipped with a steerable nose wheel and tow bar, there will be certain areas of the frame that have been designated by the manufacturer as being safe for push/pull pressure.
5. DON’T hose the prop – instead, use oily rags for wiping. An oily wipe-off removes substances that cause corrosion and prepares the prop to repel corrosives and water erosion, making a clean cloth dampened with light oil is your propeller’s best maintenance friend. So, make sure to wipe the prop after each flight, or as regularly as possible, especially if you operate near salt water or fly a sea plane. This also gives you an additional opportunity to inspect the blades for nicks, cracks, and tears.
6. Clean and wax blades often AND repaint as required! This means regular cleaning of the prop blades with a non-oil base solvent followed by waxing.
7. Recondition prop when necessary. Reconditioning covers major and minor blade damage from accident or other causes and includes balancing the prop. For a one-piece fixed pitch prop, this operation is equivalent to an overhaul. For other types of props, if damage is major but repairable, an overhaul should be included with the reconditioning.
8. Periodically check the blade track. Blade track is the ability of one blade to follow the other in the same plane, and excessive differences (more than 1/16 inch) may be an indication of bent blades or improper installation.
9. Make thorough visual inspection yearly (or every 100 hours). This is the same visual procedure you should be conducting before each flight; however, for this inspection you’ll need to check the prop inch by inch in the best possible light so that you’ll be able to spot any problem areas that may have been missed previously. This type of inspection should be done annually for one-piece fixed pitch propellers, and every 100 flight hours for all other types of props.
10. Follow overhaul recommendations. This involves the periodic disassembly, inspection, reconditioning and reassembly of the propeller (except one-piece, fixed pitch props which do not require overhaul). Once disassembled the propeller is inspected for wear, cracks, corrosion and any other abnormal conditions. Some parts are reconditioned and refinished, while others are replaced. This is then followed by reassembly and balancing.