Maintenance Guidelines - Get the maximum life out of your aircraft propeller by following these propeller tips
1. Use Restraint in Removing Nicks
We frequently see airplane propellers that have been filed below minimums in the field. In an overhaul, the Professional Propeller Technician (PPT) is trained to remove just enough to smooth all of the dings and blemishes. Even a PPT can cause an aircraft propeller blade to go below minimum thicknesses to where a blade will be scrapped. Leave as much blade diameter, thickness, and width as possible for the PPT to utilize during overhaul. We want your propeller to make overhaul!
2. Wash Your Propeller Daily
While it is a good idea for every owner to wipe down a propeller after use, it is absolutely critical for the Ag plane owner to remove the caustic chemicals that build up with each use.
3. Send Your Prop to a FAA Certified Repair Facility for a Midlife Inspection and Reseal
Keep in mind that even though your propeller appears to be functioning, internal corrosion (especially in humid climates) could be destroying your propeller. Catch corrosion early! While conducting a Midlife Inspection, have your propeller resealed. During a reseal the propeller is taken completely apart, a visual corrosion inspection is conducted and all the seals are replaced. Usually the propeller is repainted and balanced at this time as well. This relatively inexpensive procedure (half the cost of an overhaul) can add life to your propeller through the early discovery of corrosion and other problems that can destroy your propeller.
4. Paint Your Airplane Propeller
Paint helps protect your aircraft propeller. A "dress and paint" by a professional will add life to your airplane propeller. This procedure can be done more frequently, but the mid life inspection is a convenient time to get your propeller painted.
5. Never Attempt to Straighten an Aircraft Propeller Blade Yourself
Straightening your own airplane propeller blade is illegal for a good reason. Compromised metal is very dangerous. Let the experts straighten your blade and determine if the propeller is safe to put back on your aircraft. When it comes to propeller maintenance, never were the words "better safe than sorry" truer.
6. Look at Your Manufacturer's Guidelines before Attempting to Grease Your Own Propeller
Over-greasing your propeller can potentially cause an out of balance condition. Review your manufacturer's general guidelines on how to grease your propeller.
7. Check Propeller Tracking Frequently
If your propeller has been bumped or compromised, check the tracking. A change in tracking can be unnoticeable or cause severe vibrations. Improper tracking will cause the propeller to feel out of balance but the cure is distinct from balancing. While the mechanic can check the propeller tracking, once discovering your propeller is out of track, a PPT must realign it for you.
8. Keep Your Propeller Balanced—Both Statically and Dynamically
A Static Balance is routinely performed on every propeller by a Certified Propeller Repair Station (CPRS) during an overhaul, mid life inspection or even during a simple Dress and Paint. A Dynamic Balance is performed on a plane with the engine running. Because CPRSs (or other Maintenance Facilities) charge additional fees for this service and because it is not "required," the owner often chooses not to have this service performed. Penny wise but pound foolish! A Dynamic Balance will help mate the prop and the crankshaft together, save the bearings in a crankshaft, and enable the entire engine to run more smoothly.
9. Be on the Alert for Oil or Red Dye
Red dye is placed in a propeller so that if your propeller hub or seals around the blade develop a crack you will be immediately alerted. If red dye is evident, the propeller must be removed from service and sent for repair immediately. If you are faced with a red dye leak, do not fly. The propeller may or may not be the problem if you spot engine oil. Engine oil leaks may be the result of a pinched O-ring or crankshaft seal. Following a minor oil leak depending on the model of the prop and per the manufacturer's instructions, you are allowed to see if the propeller will seal itself. If you have a minor engine oil leak, you may fly a couple hours "to get where you are going."
10. Never use the propeller as a tow bar to move your aircraft. Either use a tow bar on your aircraft's steerable nose wheel or use the areas of the airframe designated by the manufacturerer as safe for push/pull pressure. Pulling or pushing with the propeller could severely damage components inside the hub.