Article by Paul Balcaen

T
HERE IS AN INSIGNIFICANT-LOOKING grey wooden propeller on a hangar wall at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada in Winnipeg.

It came off a garbage load in 1937 and was stored in a barn until its donation to the museum circa 1977. This unusual propeller of uncertain origin has three 56-inch- [142-cm-] long grey wooden blades, set at reverse pitch to American-produced propellers. Thus, this counter-clockwise-rotating prop could only have been used on English-made engines.

Although the propeller is marked with a serial number and a company logo label on each of the three blades identifying the manufacturer as the Hartzell Propeller Company in Ohio, the company, when contacted, claims they have never manufactured this type of propeller.

Displayed on a hangar wall at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada for almost forty years, this enigmatic object was rediscovered one day in autumn, 2014, by museum co-founder Gordon Emberley and restoration department head Al Nelson.


Excerpted from Fall/Winter 2015 Ornamentum. Click here to subscribe.

Paul Balcaen from Winnipeg studied industrial design in Toronto and is the Exhibits Co-ordinator at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.


Photograph:
Royal Aviation Museum
of Western Canada