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Home✈️Aircraft🚁HelicopterHelicopter Main Discussion › How Long Do Blades Last and When do you Replace Them?
06-07-2015 11:59 PM  4 years ago
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jackp332

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Claremont, Nh USA

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How Long Do Blades Last and When do you Replace Them?
I was wondering what the life span is on main rotor blades that have never been crashed. Do people replace them after a season, 2 seasons, or just fly them until some sort of de-lamination or visible stress marks occur? I ask because I was just cleaning my Raptor after a flying session tonight and I was thinking about how many flights and machines that particular set of blades has seen. This particular set has been on 2 gassers, a 10 mile move to another town packed in a box, the current nitro bird, and been through literally hundreds of flights and autorotations, and they still look new. Should I not even worry about something like this?
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06-08-2015 12:13 AM  4 years ago
mustang67ford

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Central Pennsylvania

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I have both woodies and carbon fibers that have been on different birds and are several years old. I put 2 light coats of poly on the woodies and haven't had to touch them since. In my opinion, i would guess they last indefinitally. I had a similar post here

https://rc.runryder.com/t628157p1/

with little response and had done some research around that time. I learned I would only expect replacment being necessary if they are damaged. Again, just my own observations and opinion with no supporting scientific data.
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06-08-2015 12:46 AM  4 years ago
wrongler

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I have never replaced blades from wearing them out! Its usually tip over or hard landing that lets me get new ones! I do have some blades on Helis that are 3 years old and going strong!Bill Whittaker
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06-08-2015 01:07 AM  4 years ago
jackp332

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Claremont, Nh USA

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Thanks mustang, I'm sorry I didn't see your post from before.
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06-08-2015 01:19 AM  4 years ago
wjvail

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Meridian, Mississippi

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I suppose it depends a lot on how you fly. I have woodies installed that are almost 30 years old. I just use them for low head-speed tootling around on some vintage stuff.

Now that you've asked, and now that I've thought about it for a minute, I suppose I should inspect them closely.

Cheers,

Bill
"Well, nothing bad can happen now."
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06-08-2015 01:24 AM  4 years ago
jackp332

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30 yr old wood blades?? Thanks Bill, you certainly have inspired confidence in my 2 yr old Carbons
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06-08-2015 02:29 AM  4 years ago
Retired2011

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Lee's Summit, MO

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I would never consider replacing blades that weren't damaged...
but I'm old and weird.
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06-08-2015 01:44 PM  4 years ago
Heli_Splatter

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USA

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Interesting question.

EVERYTHING will break after x number cycles of stresses and strains. It would vary with the amount of force. I am wondering if we would see micro cracks on the surface of a blade that needs to be replaced. Usually a fatigue failure will be proceeded by some small cracking of deformation.

To me, it would seem that wood blades would have additional environmental factors causing deterioration. I don't think that I would be flying 30 year old blades on a helicopter that I loved, but that is me.

I would think that collective pumps and a lot of high blade noise maneuvers would lead to such failures. It is hard to know what caused the crash sometimes. If you are doing high energy 3D, you should probably cycle your blades between the bird and trash can occasionally. Who knows how often.
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06-08-2015 02:13 PM  4 years ago
rcflyerheli

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Granbury, TX USA

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I was doing some research on blade strength for another thread, and one thing I found had to do with blade material failure methods. CF (the strength covering in our blades) really doesn't give any failure warning. It just goes happily along until it catastrophically fails.

I would think any stress cracking you see is in the paint/epoxy matrix on the blades, but since the epoxy does have some part in the strength of the blade, I'd be careful if that epoxy is in fact, cracking.

My blades don't usually last long enough to die from old age, Tip overs on autos is what does em in.
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06-08-2015 02:37 PM  4 years ago
don s

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Chesapeake, VA

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Look for obvious surface damage, including ripples in the skin (not so obvious). Otherwise....E820, Raptor G4N, X50F/E, E620, Forza 450, and some planks.
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06-08-2015 02:39 PM  4 years ago
bkervaski

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Birmingham, AL, USA

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Wow! If you have blades that last that long you're not trying hard enough Team Synergy Factory Specialist / Scorpion / Thunder Power / Byron's Fuels
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06-08-2015 04:43 PM  4 years ago
jackp332

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Claremont, Nh USA

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I will admit, my blades lasting me as long as they have is most definitely due to my less than exciting, never inverted flying style.
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06-08-2015 07:50 PM  4 years ago
Aaron29

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USA

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I've got edge 603s with over 600 flights. If they look ok, fly them. Worry about something else.
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06-09-2015 01:40 AM  4 years ago
Noobyflyer

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Clearwater, FL

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That's a really good question. I'm not sure, but what I am thankful for is that I can buy a set of blades, throw them on a heli, and go fly. What you pioneers had to go through in making your own blades, not too long ago, is nothing short of incredible. For the brave souls that had to do this and paved the way, I salute you.
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06-09-2015 02:22 AM  4 years ago
boogie12

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Philadelphia

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I didn't know blades could last longer than a month .Team Synergy Field Rep Team Xpert Servos
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06-09-2015 03:46 AM  4 years ago
Cobra 46

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Cambridge il usa

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That's a good one. Lol
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06-09-2015 04:54 PM  4 years ago
Marcus24

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Manchester, TN

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Interesting question.
EVERYTHING will break after x number cycles of stresses and strains. It would vary with the amount of force. I am wondering if we would see micro cracks on the surface of a blade that needs to be replaced. Usually a fatigue failure will be proceeded by some small cracking of deformation.
To me, it would seem that wood blades would have additional environmental factors causing deterioration. I don't think that I would be flying 30 year old blades on a helicopter that I loved, but that is me.
I would think that collective pumps and a lot of high blade noise maneuvers would lead to such failures. It is hard to know what caused the crash sometimes. If you are doing high energy 3D, you should probably cycle your blades between the bird and trash can occasionally. Who knows how often.
This is only true if you are surpassing the Infinite Life stresses and strains limits for the blades. If not then go fly. I've never had to worry about such issues
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06-09-2015 05:15 PM  4 years ago
revmix

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NJ

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ain't broke ~ don't fix
no life limited components on r/c
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06-09-2015 06:40 PM  4 years ago
rexxigpilot

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As Heli_Splatter already mentioned, a blade that has been pushed hard can develop stress fracturing (micro-cracking) after so many cycles of flexing. I've seen micro fracturing on my blades before. Look at the area near the root of the blade, where the robust grip portion meets the blades portion, to see if any cracks have developed. You can feel them easily with your finger if they're present. Also, the epoxy resin used in manufacturing RC heli blades will continue to harden and get brittle over time, particularly if stored for long periods of time in warm environments like garages in summer. This can accelerate cracking. If you find any cracks, discard the blades.

BTW, CF and fiberglass limbs on recurve bows are routinely replaced for the same reasons.
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06-10-2015 12:17 PM  4 years ago
jharkin

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Holliston, MA - USA

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EVERYTHING will break after x number cycles of stresses and strains. It would vary with the amount of force. I am wondering if we would see micro cracks on the surface of a blade that needs to be replaced. Usually a fatigue failure will be proceeded by some small cracking of deformation.
Not exactly, as not all materials have fatigue limits. Take metals for example. Aluminum has no specific fatigue limit and after a certain number of bends will crack regardless of the force applied each time - we have all seen this. Its why aircraft structural components have designed lifespans.

On the other hand, steel has a specific fatigue limit. You can bend it an infinite number of times but as long as each bend is less than the limit force it will nevercrack and break. This is why steel makes a good choice for springs.

Im not sure how or if a composite carbon blade has a fatigue limit and what that would be if it does. I looked it up and some sources claim that CRFP has an indeterminate limit like aluminum, whereas at least one thing I found calls out graphite as having a defined limit like steel. To calculate if a blade has a defined lifespan we would need to know what that curve looks like and the average stress on the blade each rotation.
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