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flyvulcan

Lightning Bug rebuild

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He knows his stuff and he's great to work with.

I totally agree! It's always a pleasure to speak with him too.

 

 

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On Friday evening, original build Lightning Bug N44XM made its maiden flight after its extensive modification to install a Rotax 912ULS engine.

 

The only point of concern before the flight was the coolant temperature which was approaching the limit in extended ground running. We anticipated that temps would decrease once airborne with the additional airflow, but it could not be guaranteed. Fortunately, we were correct and the coolant temp reached a maximum of 204degf during the flight with the limit being 248degf.

 

The flight lasted approximately 40 minutes and was conducted directly over the airfield at all times and at altitudes up to 4500'agl. The first 20 minutes was essentially to monitor and note all engine parameters to ensure that the engine installation was working. The next 20 minutes was to determine the slow speed and general handling characteristics in preparation for the landing. With stall speeds determined for all flap configurations, a return for a safe landing was conducted.

 

The only issue from the flight was an elevated oil temperature at high power settings and this will be addressed before the next flight. It was not outside limits at all during the flight but high power was not sustainable without needing to throttle back to 5200rpm maximum to keep the oil temp within limits.

 

After addressing the oil temp issue which will then allow unlimited operation of the engine, the Bug will be flown to expand the envelope and see exactly what performance the Bug can give us in its current configuration (old and heavy airframe, a worn out 1940 hour engine so only 60 hours left before overhaul, fixed pitch prop etc.). We will likely install an IFA prop before Oshkosh. The plan is then to build a brand new (lightweight) one with a newer engine and IFA prop and pay careful attention to finish.

 

I have started a Facebook group for the Bug to allow you to follow it. It is a public group so the public can read the posts but only members can post. If you want to post, then become a member (I approve members).

 

There are more videos and photos on the Facebook page, including in-cockpit videos of the first flight takeoff.

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/lightningbug/

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

 

 

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Guest SrPilot
On Friday evening, original build Lightning Bug N44XM made its maiden flight after its extensive modification to install a Rotax 912ULS engine.

Congrats Dave! Where did the event take place? Having been fascinated by my visit with two of the early Bugs a number of years ago, I enjoy hearing that they're still out and about - and this one flying again. Splendid. Thanks for sharing the info. I'm not a Facebook person so I will have to catch the news as it trickles down through the web. j

 

 

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Thanks, first flight was out of Lanny's home airport at Winnsboro, LA.

 

It looks like I've picked up another original Bug. I'm in the process of buying one at the moment that Lanny will go and collect for me some time after Oshkosh. Again, we shall replace the AMW engine with another. This one won't be a Rotax though. I have another engine in the pipeline that if it proves viable, will go into the Bug that I am buying now. More news on that later...

 

 

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Congratulation guys, now to wait for the jet version.

Thanks Doug.

 

Yes, the Jet Bug (aka Komet) isn't too far away now. I suspect that I will probably rebrand the Komet as the Jet Bug, given that that is probably what it will be commercialised as, if it gets to commercialisation that is.

 

I'll be back in Adelaide in October and may try to have a workshop visit then. I shall have to see how progress is and if there's visible progress, I'll try to stage a visit. If I do, I shall hope to catch up with you then.

 

 

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Thanks, first flight was out of Lanny's home airport at Winnsboro, LA.

Ah, Winnsboro, LA. The airport where my GlaStar made its maiden flight. Good things come out of that place. j

 

 

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I have another engine in the pipeline that if it proves viable, will go into the Bug that I am buying now.

A J-57 by chance? BTW, are you cornering the market on the Bug scene? I am curious; how many are there in the worldwide fleet?

 

 

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Thanks Doug.

Yes, the Jet Bug (aka Komet) isn't too far away now. I suspect that I will probably rebrand the Komet as the Jet Bug, given that that is probably what it will be commercialised as, if it gets to commercialisation that is.

 

I'll be back in Adelaide in October and may try to have a workshop visit then. I shall have to see how progress is and if there's visible progress, I'll try to stage a visit. If I do, I shall hope to catch up with you then.

Fantastic news Dave, congratulations.

 

Great you have picked up another bug.

 

Jet Bug sounds great, especially if you use the Jet Beattle engines.

 

026_cheers.gif.2a721e51b64009ae39ad1a09d8bf764e.gif

 

 

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Have you considered the ICP engines- 130hp sounds great for the size and weight.

 

 

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A J-57 by chance? BTW, are you cornering the market on the Bug scene? I am curious; how many are there in the worldwide fleet?

I am trying to corner the market! There are only 2 others that I am aware of in existence that I or Lanny don't own. They are N63974 and C-GANT. I've been trying to buy N63974 for the last 5 years but can't get the owner to sell. It's sitting forlorn in a hangar and probably won't fly while the current owner has it. C-GANT was too expensive for me...

 

Lanny has Nick Jones original prototype #3, N200NJ and its restoration will start soon. We also have a few kits between us that came with the molds or with Nicks aircraft from Nick.

 

That said, we plan to make a fully new build Bug next which will come out of the molds. This will be our pre-production trial kit that we will use to square away the manufacturing process and also use to develop a construction manual and video from.

 

The engine is one of my own development. New from scratch. It's on the test stand now in POC form and is showing great promise. In its final form, it should give over 120hp but that will be confirmed by testing.

 

 

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Have you considered the ICP engines- 130hp sounds great for the size and weight.

Hi Phil,

 

The ICP sounds good but I shall wait for it to be more mature. At 147lbs dry, it will likely be 160+ lbs installed which is getting too heavy. My engine which is on the test stand is 85 lbs complete with everything at the moment and its frontal area is 15" wide by 12" high. This will fit in the Bug nicely with no cowl cheeks and with lots of room to spare. That's about all I can say about it at the moment (aren't I a tease!).

 

 

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Hi Phil,

The ICP sounds good but I shall wait for it to be more mature. At 147lbs dry, it will likely be 160+ lbs installed which is getting too heavy. My engine which is on the test stand is 85 lbs complete with everything at the moment and its frontal area is 15" wide by 12" high. This will fit in the Bug nicely with no cowl cheeks and with lots of room to spare. That's about all I can say about it at the moment (aren't I a tease!).

Ow come on Dave- show us some skin at least mate!

 

 

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Ok Phil,

 

You saw it here first! The following photo shows the entire engine (no kidding!)

 

image.jpg.74614bbf5fddb9fb47870a2d5e0d6857.jpg

 

I told you there wasn't much frontal area! That prop plate at the front there is 6" diameter.

 

Unfortunately, that's all the skin I am prepared to show... Is it enough to make you want one?

 

 

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She will look great when you take the plastic bag off her head(s).

 

I am intrigued.

 

I love engine porn.

 

 

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The plastic bag is insulation/heat shielding... 022_wink.gif.2137519eeebfc3acb3315da062b6b1c1.gif

 

 

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She must really be hot stuff then.

 

I know its a mini Nuclear reactor............................008_roflmao.gif.692a1fa1bc264885482c2a384583e343.gif

 

 

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It definitely ain't green! Hot stuff yes, but also very cool. If it means a 200+ knot cruise for the Bug, then it will be a winner in my books. Time will tell... There's still a lot of work to do...

 

 

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Ah now I get it, me thinks it might have a thirst for Jet A1

012_thumb_up.gif.cb3bc51429685855e5e23c55d661406e.gif

 

I can help you with that ....

[ATTACH=full]36564[/ATTACH]

Could I have a whole carton please?

 

 

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I am trying to corner the market! There are only 2 others that I am aware of in existence that I or Lanny don't own

Thanks for the info. Well, then I must conclude that you own both of the Bugs I saw at Lanny's a number of years ago just after they were ready for flight (and maybe one had flown). Shortly afterwards, as the story was told to me, the owner appeared, did a quick flight around the patch (the circuit), landed, put in a small flight bag and left for the Oshkosh flyin. He had engine problems and had to put it down somewhere between LA and WI.

 

I saw the Bugs while I was getting my GlaStar certified for flight by Lanny. They were cute little puppies. What engines were they using back in the early days? I heard they didn't last, and changes followed.

 

j

 

 

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Actually, one of the Bugs that Lanny built is now on a pole in front of the Claire Chennault museum in nearby Monroe. This one only flew a few times. Lanny did the first couple of flights then the owner took it up and it scared him so much (with pilot induced oscIllations) that he parked it and eventually donated it to the museum. Lanny has said that this Bug is actually the best flying of the 3 that he built.

 

The 2nd Bug that he built was Nick Jones 2nd prototype I think it was, N200NJ that Nick dropped into the swamp after the elevator pushrod became disconnected from its rod end fitting. The 3rd Bug he built I believe had an accident and was written off but I have not been able to find an NTSB report on this one.

 

It's likely that the two Bugs that you saw would have been two of the above.

 

Lanny did a nosegear repair on our Bug quite a while back but I doubt there would have been two Bugs in his hangar at that time.

 

Our Bug just finished its second post-restoration test flight and it went perfectly this time. The oil cooling issue was resolved and all Ts and Ps were perfect. The high speed end was explored on this flight and we have run out of prop at 170 knots. We will need more pitch so we are now looking at the IFA options more closely so that we can also improve takeoff and climb. We are getting a climb rate of around 1200fpm at 120 knots. An IFA prop should see this improve a bit.

 

We noted that with the small cowl flap closed that it gained 8 knots of speed. That shows how clean this aircraft is that a small cowl flap would make such a difference.

 

All in all, we are pleased how it's going. We have some work to do to get the top end we would like (so finding the right prop and initiating some drag reduction refinements) and also, we would like to desensitise the controls. They are currently very effective, the roll rate in particular is very high even at low speed and also also quite sensitive. We want to reduce control effectiveness and also add some stick force. We hope that this will tame it for the low experience pilots that may buy kits for it. However, we are contemplating incorporating adjustable controls so the low time builder can set the low effectiveness setting and then when he gets experience on the aircraft can reset the effectiveness to high. This should be quite easy to incorporate into the design.

 

 

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