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Propeller Lathe

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  • Propeller Lathe

    Does anyone know where I can obtain plans for a small propeller lathe?
    Today we carve our own omens Leonidas at Thermopylae

  • #2
    Define small.

    There used to be a guy in Shellbrooke, Saskatchewan that had a prop copy lathe he built himself. This was for full size props. My boss and I flew out there in a Stinson 108 (flying truck) to pick up a wooden prop. What a cool rig that copy lathe was. About 18 feet long. The original prop was mounted on one side and the laminated wood blank on the other. Both were concentric with each other and turned together. A cam follower traced the original and actuated a plain old skil saw on an arm that roughed out the blank. The follower and skill saw both traveled on a big long piece of all thread in bearing blocks. The finished blank only needed sanding and finishing.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


    • #3
      Propeller LATHE? Never heard of such a thing! You cast [marine] propellers and then machine them with a really, really, big CNC gantry mill. Lathes are for shafting...


      • #4
        I'm talking about hardwood aircraft propellers up to a maximum of 18" tip to tip.
        There is a photo of one in the 1919 edition of Dykes Automobile and Gasolene Engine Encyclopedia, Aircraft section,but absolutely no explanation of how it worked.
        Today we carve our own omens Leonidas at Thermopylae


        • #5
          Funny, I just assumed you meant wood airplane propellors for some reason. I guess because that is the only type I have heard of being made on a device called a lathe.

          A small copy lathe would be an interesting project.
          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


          • #6
            I assumed airplane props too. Just my feeble attempt at a little humor I've seen lots of wooden aircraft propellers. Nice workmanship. Must have been a real art to get them adequately balanced.


            • #7
              Since a propellor is a screw, seem like the lathe could be used to cut the "threads". You would need to advance the cutter 6" per revolution for an 18x6 prop.

              I think you can work it out if you can visualize it as cutting interrupted double-lead threads.

              The cutter would have to be some sort of power tool to get a smooth finish. Maybe a Dremel?

              Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.


              • #8

                I built a small copy lathe four or five years ago for making spokes for old wood-spoked car wheels. These are usually tapered oval and curved, and difficult to make by hand. You are right - it was an interesting project, and took far longer than I anticipated! It's based (very) roughly on one built in the 1850s, and photographed making artillery wheel spokes 1n 1899.

                Sorry, no way to post photos at the moment, but I could e-mail a couple if you are interested. At the moment it is making new spokes for a friend's 1912 Swift.



                • #9
                  Not a lathe but this looks interesting,
                  Use an existing prop for a master?



                  • #10
                    Model Engineer had a series a few years ago on modelling antique rifle stock copy machines - seems like the same general idea.

                    so how's the original made? I'd guess today its a five axis task, ie like vanes on a turbine but once upon a time it must have been carefull layout work & manual cutting?
                    in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                    • #11
                      Some good thoughts above. Along the copy machine lines, I think I'd go for something like a laminex router with a small core-box bit. The Dremel just aint up to continuous precise use.


                      • #12
                        I just remebered this gadget from an old woodworker mag. Called the dupli-carver, a quick google yielded


                        Essentially a 3d pantograph. A little reverse engineering might prove fruitful
                        Rgds, Lin


                        • #13
                          This is a link that shows a J. A. Fay & Egan Propeller Shaper. Scroll up to page 232.


                          [This message has been edited by CharlesM (edited 10-12-2005).]
                          Charles McGough
                          Sterlington, LA


                          • #14
                            Thank you, gentlemen.
                            Worthy of note: The propeller lathe and more modern dupli-carver both evolved from machines built on lathe beds.
                            Eli Whitney and Sam Colt both made rifle stocks on in-plant made machines based on lathe beds. Dyke's showed a "propeller lathe" that looked like a commercial machine, based on wht resembled a Star lathe bed.
                            Propeller lathe, milling machine, shaper, surface grinder...all seem to have evolved from lathe attachments. The lathe is truly the most important tool ever devised by man.
                            Today we carve our own omens Leonidas at Thermopylae


                            • #15
                              Here's yet another copy carver. This one looks like it would be inexpensive to make.
                              Hope this helps.
                              Richard Montgomery
                              Robert, LA