Well, life gets busy
don't it! I'm now a grandefactodad to two baby girls and am
loosely related to two others, thanks to Rosemary. Have also
just returned from Jean, Nevada, home of Unlimited Scale Pylon
Racing (USRA) finals, and Singapore, which has the best computer
shopping I have yet seen. Would you believe 6 floors, each
with about 20 shops, stuffed full of goodies?. Makes it hard
to get back into Australia without paying H.M. Customs a mint.
But first a word or two from T/R freak Daryl Mills. You may
recall my previous article on engine/propeller unbalance in
an earlier issue, which quite frankly wasn't very useful except
in a theoretical sort of way. Also I just had a prop returned
to me from the Oliver Racing Team in the deep North. The prop
had failure cracks at the trailing edge near the hub, consistent
with torque induced compression failure. Others have had 60
runs and more from this prop, so what caused the failure after
just one run? One possibility is engine vibration, either
from mechanical imbalance or detonation.
Daryl assures me that there can be a great deal of variation
in engine unbalance, from motor to motor and type to type.
Certainly I have myself seen some terrible vibrators, including
the 1968 Taipan 19 and the early 70's Taipan T/R diesels.
So a method is needed for fixing up these engines, and Daryl
was kind enough to share with me the method both he and NZ'er
Alan Barnes use.
Weigh the piston/conrod/gudgeon pin assembly, then make a
weight 66% of this value and hang it on the crankpin. Adjust
the crankshaft counterweight until the system balances, and
presto, a smooth running engine that won't destroy my beloved
Some engines with heavy pistons may need gold counterweights.
Daryl assures me gold is twice as heavy as tungsten, so there
is a really helpful tip for you (Note: February 2006.
From Paul Ryan: the density of gold is 19.32 g/cc, while for
tungsten, it is 19.3 g/cc. I guess Daryl might have been referring
to tungsten carbide. Paul helpfully provided a list of other
elements, including plutonium! Thanks mate!). On the
subject of tungsten, I once tried to sharpen a tungsten carbide
machine tool on my aluminium oxide wheel. You only do that
once. Apparently you need a soft green stone wheel for carbide,
but Daryl says you can cut it with a Dremel cutoff wheel.
Tungsten rod is available from tool supply companies: I have
seen 3mm rod; it is used for making engraving tools.
Now the really hot prop news from Las Vegas! A guy approached
my prop display and asked me the usual question on pitch:
mainly, how fast does an airplane go for a given pitch, and
what is pitch anyway? Wow, I really hate that question, as
its all written up on my web-site and in my book; it gets
a bit repetitive. Since USA is the home of Zinger props, I
replied by saying that Zinger props had 2 pitches written
on them, say 26X6-10, how confusing is that? What does that
Well, the spittle wasn't dry on my lips when this virile looking
old guy standing nearby spoke up and said he knew what it
meant, because not only did he invent the notation, but he
was also the J of J&Z propellers! My ears immediately
flapped open and I listened. This guy was the incomparable
Lawrence Jenno, originator of the Zinger line of props. In
his retirement in Las Vegas, he has his own machine shop where
he builds antique model airplane engines and replacement parts.
You may care to drop him a line at 4341 Flandes St., Las Vegas,
It seems Larry built the machinery for making wood props,
and was thus well placed for experimentation. He found that
for best static thrust and in-flight performance, the radial
distribution of face-pitch must rise toward the tip. Thus
in a Zinger 26X6-10, the 6 is the face pitch at 50% radius,
while the 10 is the face pitch at the tip. How about that!
When Larry introduced this line of props, they blew away the
competition and remain a very fine prop to the present day.
You may have seen his chart of static thrust versus RPM f
or various props.
This applies to the large diameter Zingers. Some of the smaller
size Master airscrew wood you may recall I slandered earlier
on, as having poor airfoil sections at 75% radius. Just last
night I was talking to Norm Kirton, who confirmed that when
he tried a Zinger wood 10X6 on his sport pylon it revved well
and went nowhere. I guess its hard to get a good airfoil on
a wood prop. So forgive me Larry, I love your big props and
hate your little ones! Maybe we could blame Joe Zingali, who
bought out Larrys share of the business, that solves one problem.
Now for some Q and A. My old flying buddy from Ryde MAC in
the 60's Greg Ardill asks what use is knowing the difference
between induced and profile propeller efficiency to the modeller.
Probably not a lot Greg, but there are 2 things you must do.
Run as much diameter as you can without tip speed exceeding
Mach .9 and you will have maximum induced efficiency. Now
you just saw how awful the Master wood 10X6 is, that can all
be put down to low profile efficiency as a result of the low
L/D of the lousy airfoil section. Always cllamp a pair of Vernier
calipers at 75% radius and look at he section on your prop.
If it is on backwards or is a rotten shape or very thick,
then you have a low profile efficiency.
Now it was really great to get a letter from Merv Bell: I
haven't seen Merv for yonks and I really miss the guy, he
is one of natures gentlemen. At least I thought that until
I read his question. You scum bag Merv, how am I supposed
to know that? Merv wants to know how to statically and
dynamically balance a 3-blade propeller! Apparently he used
wheel balancing equipment at Holden to balance his, but he
didn't tell me where he crimped on the wheel weights to the
Seriously, the dynamic balance condition is that the centre
of gravity of each blade lies in the same plane of rotation.
If a blade is bent, say forward, its C/G will be ahead of
the other blades: the resultant imbalance will induce a rocking
action at the shaft, hence vibration. Now its not so easy
to bend blades or to find their individual C/G position in
3 dimensions, so you are to a large extent at the mercy of
The static balance condition (tip to tip) may be met as for
2 blade props, provided you use either a magnetic balancer
or one of those which sits the the balance shaft on little
wheels. These balancers have the advantage that the shaft
rotates around its axis, so that there is no offset in the
C/G of the prop. This contrasts with sitting the balance shaft
on knife edges, when the C/G is raised and lateral balance
errors confound the tip to tip balance. Not so good. I was
astonished to walk into a full-size prop maintenance shop
in Bankstown to find they were using knife edges! Talk about
Perhaps you could call Brian Eather about this. He builds
superb 3-blade stunt props, probably the best in the World.
As a perfectionist, I'm sure Brian must have an opinion on
this problem. I vaguely recall he uses one of those balancers
with a vertical pin which contacts a bush set in the prop
In the vein that propellers are just rotating wings, Brian
Burke asks if we could use turbulators, terraced airfoils,
fences, dog teeth, strakes and area ruling on props. Gee Brian,
you left off flaps and spoilers! I don't have room this month
to answer all these, but I will comment that vortex generators
hold a lot of promise for props. By vortex generators, I mean
slots cut into the leading edge of the prop, in a perpendicular
direction. At the least, these break up stall cells which
may form at high angles of attack, and can modify span wise
flow on the upper surface. Worth a try.
In closing, I must mention a fascinating letter from Ian Garton.
Ian also was commenting on the awful section on the Master
wood prop. Evidently he was required (!) to put a section
like this on a boat-propeller casting pattern. This was a
pattern for a Sydney Harbour Ferry prop, made at Eveleigh
railway workshop in NSW. Ian was witness to the phosphor bronze
casting process, but not the subsequent machining, a shame.
Ship propeller machinists have in the past been notorious
for their lack of hearing, the machining process actually
being done with cold chisels!