I wonder if anyone has any technical information that would assist in using the correct Size & Pitch Contra rotating Propellers (CRP) on this Foot launched Powered Paraglider engine ?

We are using CRP to Eliminate the dangers of Torque Twist associated when using a single propeller.

I am looking to use standard 100~125cm (40~49") Propellers that have approx. 28~22 pitch. Noting the Forward prop would need to be a Puzzle type prop, or we would have to increase the forward Hub size, so that it would slip over the Aft prop hub, thus adding more weight & complexities.

This pre-production engine maximum operating speed is planed not to exceed 3'500rpm, so if the Prop output shafts are geared 1:1 with the piston speed or less, the props will also be rotating at 3'500rpm or less.

This is the current CAD design work, the 4stroke, 150cc engine, current weigh approx. 12kg, so it is a very small engine.

So, I hope someone can understand the unique workings of this engine design and move past that and recommend best size & pitch of after-market propellers that would Fit these hubs, preferably also with bolt pattern measurements ?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What kind of techical information are you after? $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Sep 2 '17 at 1:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Out of curosity, why so much complexity for a paraglider? $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    Sep 2 '17 at 1:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why are you writing comments on your own question? Delete them and improve the question so that all the info required is in the one place. Improve the question! $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Sep 2 '17 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ The link has several pictures about an engine and drive mechanism, couldn't see the propellers. Can you add the specific mechanism in your mind, if it's a review question. Otherwise several aspects of design must be included in answers, making it too broad to answer. $\endgroup$ Sep 6 '17 at 16:04

enter image description here

Using two counter-rotating props does indeed eliminate torque issues. The co-axial configuration has been around for a while, like the successful Breguet Dorand of 1936. The thrust, power and propeller disk issues are a bit complicated, let's start with a qualitative discussion.

  1. Two 2-blade co-axial rotors compared with a single 4-blade rotor of the same size.

    To generate a given thrust, two counter-rotating 2-bladed propellers use less power than a single 4-bladed propeller of the same size - if they are mounted far enough away from each other. Separating the two propellers helps in reducing power: the closer together they are, the less the power advantage. Separate them 20% of the rotor radius, and you still have a 7% power advantage over a single 4-blade propeller, as computed by Kamov (reference). Further away results in less power required. Note that the 7% power advantage may not account for losses from the dual gearing trains required.

  2. Co-axial 2-bladed propeller compared with two 2-bladed separate propellers of the same size.

    Momentum theory predicts a power penalty of $\sqrt{2}$ = 41% when two rotors are placed co-axially without separation, compared with the two identical rotors being operated in isolation. Test results have indicated that that is an overestimation: 20% is more realistic.

We're limited to commercially available sizes and pitches and are using fixed pitch. That means that we cannot optimise for the exact circumstances. My recommendations for the design process would be as follows:

  • From your link I see that there are 40" and 49" blades available. Go for the 40" props.
  • Your link gives an output RPM of 3500. With a 40" prop, the tip speed becomes (3500 RPM * $2\pi$ rad * 0.5 m / 60 sec) = 183.3 m/s, about Mach 0.55. Forward velocity is around 20 m/s. The velocity triangle at the tip has an angle of tan$^{-1}$ 20/183 = 6.2°
  • A typical symmetrical profile such as NACA 0012 has a maximum L/D at angle of attack = 4° at M=0.6 (reference).

enter image description here

  • Add this to the velocity triangle and you end up with a blade tip angle of 10°. That equates to a blade pitch of 22 inch for the forward propeller. Select the standard pitch closest to 22 inch (24" ?). The next one up to 22" should be the best choice, because the aft propeller will be pulling in air and add to the free stream velocity.
  • The aft propeller runs the accelerated air from the forward propeller and must have a higher blade pitch than the forward propeller. Select the next available pitch up (28" ?).
  • Naturally, one propeller must be clockwise and one must be counter-clockwise.
  • Both propellers should be 2-bladed. That will result in four blades in total, more than enough for this application. Adding more blades will cost horsepower and not result in any useful thrust increase.

For the thrust per propeller, if I compute that from a $C_L$ of 0.55 and integrate that over the blade radius from 5 cm to 48 cm (to account for tip losses), I get:

$$ T = C_L \cdot \rho \cdot A \cdot \int_{0.05}^{0.48} \omega \cdot r \cdot dr$$

$$ = C_L \cdot \rho \cdot A \cdot \frac{\omega^2}{2} \cdot (0.48^2 - 0.05^2) $$

$$ = 0.55 \cdot 1.225 \cdot 0.05 \cdot \frac{366^2}{2} \cdot (0.2304 - 0.0025)$$


  • $C_L$ = 0.55
  • $\rho$ = 1.225 kg/m$^3$ at sea level
  • A = blade area is about 0.05 m$^2$
  • $\omega$ = 3500*2$\pi$/60 = 366 rad/sec

= 514 N per propeller. Note that there are assumptions on propeller profile and blade area in there. $\alpha$ may not be exactly 4° so lets take a 10% lower value of 450N per propeller = 900 N total.

Power required to generate this thrust is the blade profile power plus the induced power from thrust generation. When I look up the $C_T$ and $C_P$ factors of the propeller disks, I get a $C_P$ of 0.001, resulting in a power P of

$$ P = C_P \cdot \rho \cdot A_{disk} \cdot {V_{tip}}^3 = 0.001 \cdot 1.225 \cdot 0.785 \cdot 183^3 = 5.9 kW $$

So for two propellers with a penalty of 20%, that would be 14.4 kW = about 20 hp. There are some estimates in here and all depends on the pitch size and if my assumptions of blade profile and blade area are correct, but it seems to be in the ballpark. The product would need to be tested for actual thrust and power consumption of course.

If your counter-rotating setup and gearing works, the main selling points would be absence of torque and a low tip speed resulting in low noise.


Some of the comments are on using larger propellers and one 3-bladed and a 2-bladed, and there is a question on using a spreadsheet for single propellers.

  • The single propeller spreadsheet may be a compilation of experience on using one single propeller. However, you will be driving two propellers.
  • A main selling point for your set-up is elimination of torque. Use one 3-bladed and one 2-bladed propeller, and the difference in drag will re-introduce torque. You have 4 blades in total already, no need to add a 5th or more for any purpose.
  • A larger propeller uses more horsepower than a smaller propeller, and you're driving two propellers. If your engine can drive 2 larger diameter propellers, by all means go ahead.
  • Your vehicle travels at a maximum of 70 km/h, the propellers won't have an issue with attracting enough air.
  • Increasing output RPM would be a good way to increase thrust!
  • $\begingroup$ @TheRaptor Have updated the answer, about the recommendation on number of blades. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Sep 4 '17 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ OK, Koyovis thanks, that answers my Question on the odd bladed props. I will now chase up Prop manufacturers so see who will provide there bolt pattern measurements. $\endgroup$
    – The Raptor
    Sep 7 '17 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Koyovis In the integral, shouldn't you take the angular velocity as an independent constant, leaving it outside of the integrand...? $\endgroup$
    – xxavier
    Jul 10 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ @xxavier did a couple of checks, dimenionally the $\omega$ is squared for sure. It is V that is integrated over the blade radius. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Jul 11 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Koyovis Yes, but the differential expression to be integrated is dimensionally wrong, as the omega isn't squared there... I don't know how did you derive it, but in that differential expression (if the final result is to be right) the omega had to be squared ad treated as a constant, integrating only r dr... Pls check it... $\endgroup$
    – xxavier
    Jul 11 at 10:33

My initial concern is using 100cm (40") props may not be suitable, as the bulkiness of a person sitting in-front of the engine & Cage, may not be aerodynamic enough to utilise the air as it passes around the Pilot & engine ?

That information provided appears great mathematical formula, I will pass on to our mechanical engineer.

I have been using this old Prop-Speed spreadsheet, but I am not sure if the calculations are correct, as I am unsure what the "256000" in the "L24" cell relates to (=J24*256000/K24) ?

  • $\begingroup$ There will be air in front of the propeller, don't worry. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Sep 3 '17 at 2:57
  • $\begingroup$ Your link to the spreadsheet does not work. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Sep 3 '17 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ I just cleared my Cache, it works for me. It will ask you to download or open a PropSpeed.xlsx spreadsheet $\endgroup$
    – The Raptor
    Sep 3 '17 at 3:07

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