Collection Item Summary:
Pittsburgh's Standard Steel Propeller Company was part of the metalworking community, with an original goal to manufacture steel, fixed-pitch propellers. Its chief engineer was Thomas A. Dicks, an English émigré with experience as a Westinghouse tool designer. Dicks and a coworker, James B. Luttrell, founded the Dicks-Luttrell Propeller Company in 1918 to experiment with fixed-pitch propellers with hollow-steel blades. Reorganization of the company by Pittsburgh entrepreneurs resulted in the creation of Standard Steel in 1919.
Eager to receive an army contract to construct an early controllable and reversible-pitch propeller, Dicks designed an actuated, controllable and reversible propeller similar to the Eustis and Hart design. Its innovation was a hollow steel blade which Dicks had developed with his own company. As the government's propeller specialist, Frank Caldwell of the Army's Engineering Division provided important assistance in the effort. Experimentation continued until 1923, when Caldwell and Dicks initially found both hollow and forged steel blades to be impractical.