Cleaning the powerplant is an important job and should be done thoroughly. Grease and dirt accumulations on an air-cooled engine provide an effective insulation against the cooling effect of air flowing over it. Such an accumulation can also cover up cracks or other defects.
When cleaning an engine, open or remove the cowling as much as possible. Beginning with the top, wash down the engine and accessories with a fine spray of kerosene or solvent. A bristle brush may be used to help clean some of the surfaces.
Fresh water and soap and approved cleaning solvents may be used for cleaning propeller and rotor blades. Except in the process of etching, caustic material should not be used on a propeller. Scrapers, power buffers, steel brushes, or any tool or substances that will mar or scratch the surface should not be used on propeller blades, except as recommended for etching and repair.
Water spray, rain, or other airborne abrasive material strikes a whirling propeller blade with such force that small pits are formed in the blade’s leading edge. If preventive measures are not taken, corrosion causes these pits to rapidly grow larger. The pits may become so large that it is necessary to file the blade’s leading edge until it is smooth.
Steel propeller blades have more resistance to abrasion and corrosion than aluminum alloy blades. Steel blades, if rubbed down with oil after each flight, retain a smooth surface for a long time.
Examine the propellers regularly because cracks in steel or aluminum alloy blades can become filled with oil, which tends to oxidize. This can readily be seen when the blade is inspected. Keeping the surface wiped with oil serves as a safety feature by helping to make cracks more obvious.
Propeller hubs must be inspected regularly for cracks and other defects. Unless the hubs are kept clean, defects may not be found. Clean steel hubs with soap and fresh water, or with an approved cleaning solvent. These cleaning solvents may be applied by cloths or brushes. Avoid tools and abrasives that scratch or otherwise damage the plating.
In special cases in which a high polish is desired, the use of a good grade of metal polish is recommended. Upon completion of the polishing, all traces of polish must be removed immediately, the blades cleaned, and then coated with clean engine oil. All cleaning substances must be removed immediately after completion of the cleaning of any propeller part. Soap in any form can be removed by rinsing repeatedly with fresh water. After rinsing, all surfaces should be dried and coated with clean engine oil. After cleaning the powerplant, all control arms, bellcranks, and moving parts should be lubricated according to instructions in the applicable maintenance manual.