Alan RustBent Props and Blowpots

As you hopefully noted above, we've lost a few more of our aviation "heroes." Although it's always sad to hear of their passing, they lived an exciting and interesting life and lived to a ripe old age.

Rex Terpening wrote a book called "Bent Props and Blow Pots" in 2003 about his early career spent maintaining aircraft as an air engineer for Canadian Airways in the Northwest Territories. If you search the web for Rex or his book you will find lots of information to peruse.

I haven't (yet) read the book but I do intend to. I spent a few very interesting months in the Arctic maintaining aircraft when I was only 23 years old, working for Nordair at the time (1973). So I think I'll be able to relate at least a little bit to what he talks about in his book.

What I wanted to discuss today though, was the term in the title of the book mentioning "blow pots". When I first heard of this book, I thought this term referenced the "cylinder head" or "pot" (air-cooled cylinder heads were called pots) that were removed in maintenance when required. I was wrong...

What Rex was talking about is "Blow Pots" which were used on aircraft in the artic on cold days to warm the engine oil. Because the temperatures could sometimes be as low as -40 F (or C) at times (or more) the oil in the engine turned to the thickness of molasses when cold. Blowpots, which were similar to propane burners used to heat large pots (think corn roast) were used to heat the oil so the engines could turn in order to start. They actually had to drain the oil every night, put the oil in a big can and heat it, then pour it back into the engine in the morning before leaving. See the photo below. What a pain!  Can you imagine doing this with your car in YWG in the winter?

It ends up that Rex was instrumental in helping to create an oil dilution system so this unpleasant task was no longer necessary. You can read his story regarding this at

Blow Pot


Bent Props and Blow Pots
RIP - Harold Rex Terpening - July 23, 1913 - July 15, 2018

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