Propeller shafts may be of three major types: tapered, splined, or flanged. Tapered shafts are identified by taper numbers. Splined and flanged shafts are identified by SAE numbers. The propeller shaft of most low power output engines is forged as part of the crankshaft. It is tapered and a milled slot is provided so that the propeller hub can be keyed to the shaft. The keyway and key index of the propeller are in relation to the No. 1 cylinder top dead center. The end of the shaft is threaded to receive the propeller retaining nut. Tapered propeller shafts are common on older and smaller engines.
The propeller shaft of high-output radial engines is generally splined. It is threaded on one end for a propeller hub nut. The thrust bearing, which absorbs propeller thrust, is located around the shaft and transmits the thrust to the nose section housing. The shaft is threaded for attaching the thrust-bearing retaining nut. On the portion protruding from the housing (between the two sets of threads), splines are located to receive the splined propeller hub. The shaft is generally machined from a steel-alloy forging throughout its length. The propeller shaft may be connected by reduction gearing to the engine crankshaft, but in smaller engines the propeller shaft is simply an extension of the engine crankshaft. To turn the propeller shaft, the engine crankshaft must revolve.
Flanged propeller shafts are used on most modern reciprocating and turboprop engines. One end of the shaft is flanged with drilled holes to accept the propeller mounting bolts. The installation may be a short shaft with internal threading to accept the distributor valve to be used with a controllable propeller. The flanged propeller shaft is a very common installation on most propeller driven aircraft.