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Old 10-03-2007, 11:51 PM   #1
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Default Mystery prop maker solved!!

Post # http://woodenpropeller.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=67

Please help me identify.
L-USA DRG No X43K9493
MAR 43
Well here is mine! I *think* I have found out who the maker of my 90 inch prop is after more then a year of searching.

Drawing# is US registered Date: June 1943 and Serial # is 337th of this design made

Engine Spec / Type = Wright R-975 Whirlwind

RCAF inspection stamps

Mystery Prop maker logo, RLLCo = Laidlaw Lumber Company!!! The "R" in the logo stands for "Robert" as in Robert L Laidlaw founder of the company - hence the Logo lettering stands for Robert Laidlaw Lumber Co.

Mounted over all shot

The Toronto Daily Star
January 6, 1940, p. 19-20

Youthful Test Pilot Proud of His Embryo Sky Babies

A smiling young man who looks a bit like Lindbergh pointed to row after row of welded frames and said: "Pretty soon I am going to be a busy man."

The young man was Bruce Douglas, slim and good-looking chief test pilot for DeHavilland Aircraft of Canada, and the welded frames where the beginning of aircraft to train thousands of fighting pilots.
Bruce puts though its paces every plane turned out by his company before delivery, and soon hundreds of them will be coming off the line. One look inside the plant at the rows of embryo aircraft would be enough to make Herr Hitler wonder why he started this war.

William Caulder, plant superintendent, guided a reporter and photographer for The Star from building to building, pointing out the geared-for-war facilities that will enable this plant alone to turn out many more aircraft per year than were turned out last year by all Canada's air fractories put together.
A plane a day could be produced comparatively effortlessly.

The plane being turned out is the famed Tiger Moth, many of which are already being used by flying clubs and R.C.A.F. stations in Canada, and for training purposes by the Royal Air Force. A two place biplane, it is being made 100 percent in Canada, with the exception of the engine, which is bought from England.
The original Tiger was designed and built in England, but the machine being produced for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the empire training scheme has modifications especially adapted for Canadian training conditions.

Since plenty of training will be done in sub-zero weather, the Canadian machine has a heater. It also has a coupe top, whereas the English model has open cockpits.

While propellers are being made by Laidlaw Lumber Co. , Toronto, and the skis by the famed Elliot brothers of Sioux Lookout, every other part is being made at the De Havilland factory.
This company was founded in 1886 and dissolved in 1972. (Not affiliated with the Laidlaw Transport Company - thats a different group) It still maintains a charity with assets close to 60 million (Y 1999) giving out grants to the arts, environmental groups and youth services. The company was based in Toronto with mills in different areas of Northern Ontario including Thunder Bay.

My next quest is to find out A: Where the plant was, B: What types of prop's they made and C: Which aircraft they were fitted to.

One assumes that the company was only into the making of prop's as part of the support of the war effort and with the advent of metal, full feathering units - went back to making fine furniture.

I suspect that my prop was used on an Anson mark 4 and considering that there was a group of aircraft (some were Anson's) in a farmers field near Dunnville Ontario sometime in the 70's

When I find out more I'll post it here.
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Old 10-06-2007, 06:28 AM   #2
Bob Gardner
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The North of England
Posts: 1,636

Many congratulations on your excellent research and photographs. I completely understand how many fruitless hours of searching the web you must have endured. The way you have presented your results to us could not be better.

You are correct in thinking that this company was roped into making props during WW2. The same thing happened in WW1 where many firms with wood handling skills were conscripted to make props. In Britain, France and Germany such companies included;

Piano makers,
Advertising Boarding makers,
Boat builders,
Interior decorators,
automobile makers (cars has wooden chassis and bodies then)
Ship Builders
Model Aircraft makers
Engineering firms

With regards,

Bob Gardner
Author; WW1 British Propellers, WWI German Propellers
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Old 10-27-2007, 09:26 PM   #3
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Follow up

After searching on line last week I found out that the records for the Laidlaw Lumber Company were sent to the Ontario Archives two years after the company was sold to McBlo.

Further research shows that the there was only one official Anson 4 made with the R-975-E3 engine and this aircraft was sent to the USA on a sales tour to promote the sale/construction of what became the AT 20 for the US Air force. Months later it returned to Canada but what became of this airframe has been lost in time forever I guess.

However... in further research I came across references to Mk1's and Mk3's being converted to the R-975 engine because of a unknown supply issue with the Jacobs engine.

Depending on the engine type, either the Cheetah or Jacobs, the aircraft were rebuilt either in the field at RCAF maintenance depots or at deHaviland in Toronto. I don't know what the difference is between these two engines as far as engine mounts, but going by the physical size of the two engines, one suspects that the work to fit the R-975 into a MK1 (Cheetah) might have meant that this work was done in Toronto while a Jacob engined model may have been modified in the field.

After searching RLL Co. records I found the following:

- The company had never made prop's before the outbreak of ww2, they mainly made staircases and flooring pre-war.
- The material used for their propellers was yellow birch from the firms northern Ontario timber leases.
- The glue, lacquer and yellow paint (for the tips) was supplied by the firm C.I.L. Ltd.
- There was a complicated 15 step selection process for the squared off raw wooden blanks before they were put through the band saw to cut the 3/4 inch planks.
- The laminations once glued, were put under 200lbs per sq. in for 48 hours before further finishing.
- My prop was made at their Bloor and Dundas mill in what is now downtown Toronto, (No longer standing). For locals - this is in the "Junction Triangle" area of town where Bloor and Dundas streets cross over for te second time.
- The factory foreman was named Robert Milne.

Pouring through the books I found a cost of $80.00 (1943) for a production example of an unidentified propeller - however I could find no mention of shipping details other then a reference to RCAF supply depots.

I do know that there were direct shipments to deHaviland for the Tiger Moth in 1939 but the 375 Anson 2's built there appear to have used the Jacobs engine so a different type prop must have been supplied that was different to mine .

There was an industry trade magazine saved in the file by the company that had an article on their companies production of propellers where the writer reports that the lifespan of the propellers produced was between 300 and 400 hours but due to the fact that they were used in training, most of the production didn't last that long due to accidents!

Also found was the fact that Laidlaw was the Eastern Canada wooden propeller repair center, (all types and brands).

My holly grail of finding a list of serial numbers and shipping destinations was not on file.

It is likely that I may never be able to nail down the exact model of aircraft my example was used upon let alone an identifiable airframe.
I do suspect that this configuration of propeller/engine/airframe was a most unusual combination with perhaps as few as 20 examples.

The hunt for more information continues...
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:55 PM   #4
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 1

Were you ever able to find any more information on this prop? Believe it or not - I have the exact same prop, made in June 1943 - its serial number is only a few ahead of yours, being 318. There are no Canadian RCAF proofs, so I assume this must have been used on a US military aircraft during the war. Which one, I do not know. There were a few that used the Wright R-975 engine: the North American BT-9 and Vultee BT-15 Valiant for the Army and the Curtiss-Wright SNC-1 Falcon for the Navy. Mine is in about identical condition, with both decals and yellow paint intact and present. Does anyone have a rough value on one of these props?

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