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Author Topic: plastic & fiber props for FAI Power 1950s  (Read 1224 times)
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« Reply #25 on: March 08, 2016, 07:15:55 PM »

I can add some info on Tom McLaughlan's prop.

Tom and Bucket Johnson were the only guys who had them. It was a joint effort-Tom machined them and Bucket finished them. Finishing required a bit of hand work to shape the tips and smooth them. There was a big steel thingy that the prop slipped onto which matched the underside of the blades and kept the handwork from distorting anything.  Ron Talley was trying to enter the FAI Gas arena and though he rode with Bucket to contests----he did not get to use the prop.

The prop was at face a highly modified Top Flite 7 x 4 Power Prop. Tom believed in more pitch at the hub which was contrary to the thin low-pitch props in vogue in the mid to late 70s. They were made of dogwood. He said that his tests showed the dogwood to be more stable than the hard maple. He got the wood from a textile mill. It was the thimble that the thread came on. Each prop got a couple coats of spray dope and was weighed to 1/10 gram. 6 grams and change is number I remember seeing.

I wondered why they didn't employ a brake like so many guys were using. He said the flood-off acted like a hydraulic brake and they got by with it because the wood prop weighed so much less than a glass prop.

The folding prop hub was certainly weird. At the time, I didn't think about how dangerous that forward pointing blade could be.
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« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2016, 07:32:50 AM »


Thanks for the info on TommY & Buckets.  Now I wish I had paid more attention when I visited Tommy's shop.  Since I didn't fly Power at the time, I paid more attention to the tools then the specific tooling.

One visit Tommy showed me his latest acquisition: a 4-foot square granite surface. (Like many of his tools government-surplus---tis one had a chipped corner.) Tommy went into a very detailed explanation of how he set up a new FAI Power model; it involved jigging it up on the surface plate, taking multiple measurement with a dial indicator, calculating angles, etc. After that, he told me that he waited until there had been a very heavy rain so the ground at his test flying site was very soft. That was so when (not if!) he planted the model, damage would be minimal.

Bucket was noted for his use of multiple bubble machines so he could "see the air".  The machines were turned on when he got ready to fly and turned off immediately after.  I felt like I had finally been accepted into the "inner circle" when I was at the flight line at Pensacola and Bucket told one one of his boys to turn on the bubble machine for me.  Later I had the opportunity to fly at his private test field a few miles from his house. (Dan, you'll appreciate this:) That evening he invited over for hamburgers. Knowing Bucket was a beer kind of guy, I picked up a 6-pack of some import. Bucket took one look, shoved in the fridge "for his boys" and pulled out his usual domestic brew (PBR?). Somehow I don't think Bucket ready Aero Modeller.  He had a massive stroke at that field, flying alone. He had somehow loaded his motorcycle before he passed out.  He was buried in his trademark red socks.

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« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2016, 07:32:43 PM »

Those are good stories, and this has been a good thread.
My Dad believed in less pitch towards the hub, which might have meant he could carve them from thinner material - those late 60's Tufnol props (on page 1 of this thread) were carved from 1/4" sheet material.

Here's a picture John Thompson sent of a 1953 prop by Mike Gaster and Gavin Perkins - as one can see, it is nicely made! John was informed that Mike used a material called white fibre, which was allegedly more resilient than Hydulignum or Tufnol.
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Re: plastic & fiber props for FAI Power 1950s

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