Check your Prop Logbooks:
For: Calendar Maintenance Requirements
Traditionally, many propellers calendar out in the spring and need servicing. Now, with the Transport regulation changes, many propellers are on a 10 year calendar life. If your propeller needs servicing before spring we advise that you send it in over the winter, perhaps even before doing your own aircraft storage. Look at your prop log in the fall and if required, send it to a shop to be serviced over the winter and it will be ready to install in the spring.
This allows you and your prop shop time to work together to rectify any potential problems and if necessary, locate required parts which could possibly save you money. Then you can be up and running for your spring fishing trip.
For: Time X’d by Hours
For example, if your propeller has 30 hours left on it till TBO at fall time and you fly 400 hours a summer, but don’t fly it in the winter, it may be good planning to send it into the prop shop early. With this option, you should have no down time in the summer. This also allows for possible long lead times from the manufacturers for parts or to prevent other snags.
For: AD’s Against Propeller
Not all propellers in Canada are on a 10 year calendar cycle. If there is an AD against the propeller which specifies a shorter calendar time this takes precedence. For example, AD 81-13-06R2 on Hamilton Standard Hydromatic Propellers calls for a maximum of 5 years calendar between inspections. Another is AD 97-18-02R1 on Hartzell steel hub propellers with double shoulder blades, models HC82VK, A2VK etc., which also calls for a maximum of 5 calendar years between inspections.
For: Manufacturers Recommendations
Manufacturers recommend a calendar life of 5 to 6 years because this is what they estimate the seal life to be. If your calendar is getting up over this time you should be having a closer look for oil and grease leaks.
Propeller Winter Storage:
The three areas you want to look at are the 1) blades, 2) hub assembly, and 3) spinner and bulkhead.
Give the blades a good visual inspection. Check the leading edges for any nicks and gouges. Dress if required. Alodine and paint for corrosion protection. Run your hands over the leading and trailing edges because sometimes you can feel a crack where you might not have seen it.
Here you want to check for loose blades. To check, place one blade in the horizontal position, (making sure the mags and master switch are off), then shake the tip of the blade leading edge to trailing edge. On a McCauley propeller you are allowed up to 1/8” of play at the tip. On Hartzell Compact props you should have no play. Centrifugal force pulls the blades out when they are rotating and tightens up the propeller. A good guide that you can use is to compare between blades. For example, on a three blade propeller if all blades are consistent it is probably normal wear. If two blades are tight, and only one is loose, it may need to be serviced.
On constant speed propellers you twist the blades from course to fine. To do this gently twist the blades to check for looseness. Normally all blades will have a little rotational play. If any blade moves excessively (generally 1° is the maximum allowed) you could have a worn link or damaged pitch change component.
For blade shake and blade twist, the main thing to look for is consistency between the blades.