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Propeller  protection for ultralights, ultralight aircraft, and light sport aircraft.

With over 2 decades of flying ultralights under my belt I have been able to place a number of  clocks made from propellers on my wall!

While I sit here joking about it NOW, several of these could have lead to conclusions which someone else would have had to write about - because I would have had my own customized set of wings and halo! 

If you are flying an ultralight, trike, or powered parachute especially in a pusher configuration the following may aid you in NOT having to invest in wall clocks! 

Here's How:

Check exhaust springs are safety wired by lock wire passed loosely through the middle of the center of the coils, and then fill the spring from one end to the other full of silicone.
Another way to ensure your springs don't end up in your prop is to cover the spring with heat shrink, install and safety wire them, shrink the heat shrink, and put a dab of silicone on the end of each spring, from the end of the spring hook back to the spring body.

While these springs are safety wired, when the spring breaks the parts still end up in the prop By applying heat shrink, and then filling the ends with high temp silicone, if the spring fails the parts are all held in the silicone.
Check your exhaust system for cracks, which could lead to pieces breaking free and entering the prop, check the clips that hold the exhaust springs at the attachment welds, and where the spring hooks into the hook.

Check at the elbow where the exhaust exits the canister.

286_d.jpg (47631 bytes)

Top picture shows broken pipe, bottom cracked exhaust
If you have clamp on style egt check them every preflight for cracking or damage, especially around where the probe goes through the clamp

These probes have been reported to break at the hole where the probe enters.
On the Rotax air cooled engines put a dab of silicone on the screws holding the two top cooling shrouds in together. Under this silicone is the screw that holds the top shroud in place. All you really have to do is dab  piece of silicone from the cover over the washer and screw head.
Check the two top shrouds for cracks especially around the exhaust manifold and intake manifolds if you have a Rotax 377/447 with aluminum shrouds.
Ensure nylock nuts or castellated nuts with cotter pins  are used on all fastener.
If you have just refueled your plane check to make sure you have replaced the gas cap, where possible attach a retain strap to the cap.

If you are flying on a 532/582/618 Rotax engine use safety wire to secure the rotary valve oil tank cap, and the oil reservoir tank.

There is a hole in the cap that is to be used to safety wire cap to post on tank.
Inspect pilot compartment before entering the cockpit for anything loose or lying around, cleaning rags, hats, maps. Do not fly wearing sunglasses, or glasses, unless secured. It is also a good idea NOT to fly wearing scarf, especially while wearing it around your neck
Check your recoil handle for proper retraction back up into the housing. A securing mechanism for the handle is a wise investment.

Also when starting the engine, release the rope slowly, do not just let it go when the engine starts, it can whip back into the prop.

If the recoil handle does not retract properly, and requires you to pull on it several times before it goes back up in, REPLACE the recoil spring immediately.

Here is a cheap and easy way to secure a recoil handle using a strip of velcro.
Secure the airfilters to the carburetor.   K & N Airfilters meant for aircraft use have a tap built into the air filter to secure it to the carburetor.

On the Bing 54 carb there is a flat metal tap - drill a hole in it and you can use it to secure the filter to the carburetor.

Secure  the ends of flaps using velcro to attach fabric to wing components,  such as between the two wings. When the velcro gets old, worn or wet it looses its grip.

This can result in the unit becoming loose, flapping in the wind or coming off, going into the prop.

  Cut a hole using a soldering  gun and then install tie wrap(s)
Check helmets and visors are securely fastened - if your visor can fly OFF if you turn your head in the airstream, take it off before you fly.

Make sure all pockets are securely zipped or velcroed up.  
Ensure all baggage is safely stowed, if carrying extra fuel in a tank in the rear seat remember 5 gallons of fuel weighs nearly 50 lbs! A bungee cord is not likely to hold that kind of weight especially in turbulence! Also note that anything that can move in the second seat could effect the and hinder control system movement.
Make sure all doors are latched properly and securely, a door blowing open during a take off can be very disconcerting!
Check seatbelts shoulder harnesses, intercom cables etc. that could get into the propeller arc, especially when flying solo in a 2-seater.

If the runway surface is loose (e.g. gravel) do not apply full power until you reach about 10mph to avoid throwing gravel etc. into the prop.
Inspect your propeller carefully for cracks or damage before every flight. Check your prop bolts for shearing, improper torque, or looseness. ESPECIALLY if your prop has a wooden hub.

A wooden prop tends to expand and contract with moisture, heat, and cold, which of course effects the torque on your prop bolts.

In winter NEVER start your engine until all of the snow and ice is cleared from the wings, fuselage, and area AROUND the craft.

When the runway is wet, muddy, snow covered be careful that water, mud, doesn't enter the propeller arc.
On floats make sure you have leading edge protection on the your prop,  water  hitting a prop is just like throwing stones through it.
Thruster Floatplane 1
  1. Be prepared to switch the engine off quickly if severe vibration occurs after a prop strike.
  2. Repairing a prop is something you should do ONLY if your know what your doing! Any repair or modification can effect the strength, durability, and reliability of your propeller. Consult the prop manufacturer whenever you need to repair a prop!

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