Genuine APC brand props are among my favorites because of their consistent quality, low cost, and durability (see my video on how they compare to CF props), unfortunately they come in just one color: Gray. I suppose if it were at least a dark gray they might be more visually interesting but they’re kind of a battleship gray so, yeah. Bor-ing.
The good news is you can change the color of these props and all it takes is some inexpensive RIT Liquid Dye and a little patience. I recently used the following method and came away with props that are a deep, rich black.
Pre-balance your props. This step is absolutely essential as attempting to remove material from the props after dyeing will expose the original gray.
Clean your props. The prop surface must be free of oils, dirt, and anything else that could prevent the dye from penetrating the surface. Detergents may be okay but avoid solvents. I recommend 91% isopropyl alcohol and a microfibre cloth.
Read the directions. If you’ve never worked with dye before you need to familiarize yourself with all the manufacturer recommended precautions including the use of gloves and eye protection.
Dye gets everywhere and stains everything permanently. OK, maybe not ‘everything’ will be stained permanently but if you get any dye spatter on your kitchen countertop, floors, your clothes, or plastic or wooden or even aluminum kitchen implements you can just assume those spots will be there forever. I personally keep a bottle of bleach-based kitchen cleanser handy to immediately mop-up any dye that might spill onto the counter.
Cooking. Use a large stainless steel or Teflon-lined non-stick pot. Ideally your pot should be big enough that your props can lay flat against the bottom rather than leaning at an angle as you do not want to risk warpage. Also, if you aren’t sure whether or not your pot is at risk of being stained then test a small inconspicuous area first. I used low profile 1 gallon aluminum pot that was Teflon coated and it cleaned up beautifully.
Agitation. This is critical to achieving a uniform finish. Any part of the propeller surface that is resting on another hard surface will accept less dye. To ensure you get uniform color it’s important to gently and slowly stir the props once every 30 minutes — just enough to change their resting positions each time.
Dyeing The Props
- Fill pot with with water
- Add 1 cup white vinegar
- Add entire bottle of RIT Liquid Dye and stir
- Heat on high until almost [but not quite] boiling
- Lower heat to lowest setting
- Carefully add cleaned and balanced props to the pot
- Allow to simmer for 30 minutes
- Gently stir/reposition props every 5 minutes
- After 30 minutes turn burner off
- Continue stirring props once every 30 minutes for the next 4 hours
- Remove props one at a time and rinse each thoroughly with warm water
- Do not wipe dry. Gently blot excess water with a clean, disposable cotton towel then allow props to thoroughly air dry on a hard surface that is protected from any residual dye.
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