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Old 03-22-2017, 07:43 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2017
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Default Starr Piano Company propeller

Hello! I have a Starr Piano Company propeller. The story behind it is not very well documented, so I was hoping that the propeller itself might give some clues.

From my records, the propeller was owned by a local doctor who served in WWI as a medical officer at several U.S. airfields. He apparently salvaged this propeller from a crash site at Dorr Field in Florida, after attending to the injured pilot. The doctor kept it as a souvenir and added his own picture to it on the hub.

The propeller is clearly marked "Starr, Richmond, Indiana" in two places (unfortunately, not very visible in the photos). It is 8 feet from tip to tip. There are no serial numbers, but it's possible those are hidden by the 6-bolt "picture frame" on the hub. (I don't plan to remove it to look, but I would be interested to know if markings might be hiding there.) The underside of the hub has 8 bolts, and what looks like 8 other bolt holes that have been drilled out and filled in.

Does the story make sense in light of the propeller itself? I know it's hard to confirm anything, but it would be good to know if there are red flags.

Thank you for your time and expertise!
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HThor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2017, 09:54 PM   #2
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It's all plausible. Like many companies that had woodworking operations in the late teens, Starr Piano Co. bid for various government contracts to make propellers, often in large numbers for the military, and mostly for the Navy and the Army Signal Corps. I sold this one years ago.

I would try to remove the picture frame to inspect what's underneath it, and it would be good if you could remove the padding from the tips to expose damage there. There should be something visible that made the propeller airworthy.

I don't think any holes were "filled in". If you're referring to the large circles near the 8 drilled holes, those are actually areas where the metal hub that was bolted through the other holes had holes drilled out in it to reduce weight. As the wood expanded and contracted with moisture changes the wood that wasn't compressed and expanded left "witness marks" where the hub used to be. That's a clear indication that the propeller was used and subsequently removed, which would lend credence to claims of removal from a crash. Propellers were replaced on airplanes not unlike tires on a car, except that they were often removed with any evidence of damage.

There may very well be stampings on the hub face. Often these hubs were cut out to accommdate clocks or barometers, but looking from the rear of the hub it looks as if this one is intact. Note that the 6 bolts on the face don't match up with 8 bolt holes on the rear, so it's possible that the whole picture frame is just held on by some other means, perhaps adhesive of some kind.


I see now on looking back at the pictures that there is damage to one tip, and that certainly would have been sufficient to make the propeller non-airworthy. It may or may not have been much of a "crash" to cause that, however. Sometimes the stories surrounding these get a bit, shall we say, "embellished".
Dbahnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2017, 10:54 AM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2017
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Thank you for the information! The other tip has similar damage.

Yes, I am assuming some level of embellishment on these stories, which is why I'm double-checking!
HThor is offline   Reply With Quote

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