Servicing Propellers

in Propellers

Propeller servicing includes cleaning, lubricating, and replenishing operating lubrication supplies.

Cleaning Propeller Blades


Aluminum and steel propeller blades and hubs are usually cleaned by washing the blades with a suitable cleaning solvent, using a brush or cloth. Do not use acid or caustic materials. Power buffers, steel wool, steel brushes, or any other tool or substance that may scratch or mar the blade should be avoided. If a high polish is desired, a number of good grades of commercial metal polish are available. After completing the polishing operation, immediately remove all traces of polish. When the blades are clean, coat them with a clean film of engine oil or suitable equivalent.

To clean wooden propellers, use warm water and a mild soap, together with brushes or cloth. If a propeller has been subjected to salt water, flush it with fresh water until all traces of salt have been removed. This should be accomplished as soon as possible after the salt water has splashed on the propeller, regardless of whether the propeller parts are aluminum alloy, steel, or wood. After flushing, thoroughly dry all parts, and coat metal parts with clean engine oil or a suitable equivalent.

To remove grease or oil from propeller surfaces, apply Stoddard Solvent or equivalent to a clean cloth and wipe the part clean. Using a noncorrosive soap solution, wash the propeller. Thoroughly rinse with water. Permit to dry. Aluminum and steel propeller blades and hubs usually are cleaned by washing the blades with a suitable cleaning solvent, using a brush or cloth. Do not use acid or caustic materials. Avoid power buffers, steel wool, steel brushes, or any other tool or substance that may scratch or mar the blade. If a high polish is desired, a number of good grades of commercial metal polish are available. After completing the polishing operation, immediately remove all traces of polish. When the blades are clean, coat them with a clean film of engine oil or suitable equivalent.

Charging the Propeller Air Dome

These instructions are general in nature and do not represent any aircraft procedure. Always check the correct manual before servicing any propeller system. Examine the propeller to make sure that it is positioned on the start locks and using the proper control, then charge the cylinder with dry air or nitrogen. The air charge valve is located on the cylinder as indicated in Figure 7-41. Nitrogen is the preferred charging medium. The correct charge pressure is identified by checking the correct table shown. The temperature is used to find the correct pressure to charge the hub air pressure.

Figure 7-41. Servicing air charge in propeller.

Figure 7-41. Servicing air charge in propeller.

Propeller Lubrication

Hydromatic propellers operated with engine oil and some sealed propellers do not require lubrication. Electric propellers require oils and greases for hub lubricants and pitch change drive mechanisms. Proper propeller lubrication procedures, with oil and grease specifications, are usually published in the manufacturer’s instructions. Experience indicates that water sometimes gets into the propeller blade bearing assembly on some models of propellers. For this reason, the propeller manufacturer’s greasing schedule must be followed to ensure proper lubrication of moving parts and protection from corrosion. Observe overhaul periods because most defects in propellers are not external, but unseen internal corrosion. Dissimilar metals in the prop and hub create an environment ripe for corrosion, and the only way to properly inspect many of these areas is through a teardown. Extensive corrosion can dramatically reduce the strength of the blades or hub. Even seemingly minor corrosion may cause a blade or hub to fail an inspection. Because of the safety implications (blade loss), this is clearly an area in which close monitoring is needed.

One example of the lubrication requirements and procedures is detailed here for illustration purposes only. Lubrication intervals are important to adhere to because of corrosion implications. The propeller must be lubricated at intervals not to exceed 100 hours or at 12 calendar months, whichever occurs first. If annual operation is significantly less than 100 hours, calendar lubrication intervals should be reduced to 6 months. If the aircraft is operated or stored under adverse atmospheric conditions, such as high humidity, salt air, calendar lubrication intervals should be reduced to 6 months. Hartzell recommends that new or newly overhauled propellers be lubricated after the first 1 or 2 hours of operation because centrifugal loads pack and redistribute grease, which may result in a propeller imbalance. Redistribution of grease may also result in voids in the blade bearing area where moisture can collect. Remove the lubrication fitting from the cylinder-side hub half installed in the engine-side hub half. [Figure 7-42] Pump 1 fluid ounce (30 milliliters (ml)) grease into the fitting located nearest the leading edge of the blade on a tractor installation, or nearest the trailing edge on a pusher installation, until grease emerges from the hole where the fitting was removed, whichever occurs first.

Figure 7-42. Lubricating propeller bearings.

Figure 7-42. Lubricating propeller bearings.

NOTE: 1 fluid ounce (30 ml) is approximately six pumps with a hand-operated grease gun. Reinstall the removed lubrication fittings. Tighten the fittings until snug. Make sure that the ball of each lubrication fitting is properly seated. Reinstall a lubrication fitting cap on each lubrication fitting. Perform grease replacement through attached pressure fittings (zerks) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.