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Aircraft certified motor vehicle engines. Is there a niche for them


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There are a lot of VW based engines flying. The good ones are those that don't offer 100hp, but are providing a reliable engine for light aircraft such as the Corby Starlet. One step up from them is the Jabiru, Three steps up, at least coastwise is the Rotax.

 

Yeah, I first heard about a VW powered plane when I was a kid. The Druin Turbulent. They would have been maybe 40 HP

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Yeah, I first heard about a VW powered plane when I was a kid. The Druin Turbulent. They would have been maybe 40 HP

Automobile power plants in aircraft? In 1929, who would consider home building a 2-place aircraft with a 40hp, water-cooled, 4 cyl, in-line, cast iron block, Ford Model A engine? Bert Pietenpol considered it then went ahead and did it! Many still being built and flying in the free world 90 years on. There are as many airworthy Piets operational with auto conversion engines as there are with small Continentals or Rotax.
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I think the Druin was designed for a JAP twin built under licence from a US design. The Piet suites a large prop and a large displacement slow revver is fit for purpose..They chiselled a lot of weight off the cast iron block. You could buy the basics of that NEW as it's derived from the T model which is copiously suppled with new bits for modified and original engines. Won't send you broke either.. Nev

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Automobile power plants in aircraft? In 1929, who would consider home building a 2-place aircraft with a 40hp, water-cooled, 4 cyl, in-line, cast iron block, Ford Model A engine? Bert Pietenpol considered it then went ahead and did it! Many still being built and flying in the free world 90 years on. There are as many airworthy Piets operational with auto conversion engines as there are with small Continentals or Rotax.

Forgot about that one! And actually isn't one our forum members building one? I wonder what engine he'll be using?

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A lot run the Corvair Chev flat six aircooled but it's not especially the answer. They are now very old and been sitting around wreckers yards being pee'd on by alsatians for too long. Nev

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A lot run the Corvair Chev flat six aircooled but it's not especially the answer. They are now very old and been sitting around wreckers yards being pee'd on by alsatians for too long. Nev

 

Hell Nev, I wish you'd told me that before I spent two years and a bunch of coin installing a 5 brg Corvair only to find out now that it's nowt but a canine pisspot! Gonna shoot that damn dog! :puzzled:

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You might have got in earlier. Wolves and large bones and mud are par for that course. What plane is yours in? (if you will still talk to me.) Nev

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A lot run the Corvair Chev flat six aircooled but it's not especially the answer. They are now very old and been sitting around wreckers yards being pee'd on by alsatians for too long. Nev

 

Well I hope our guy isn't installing a flat engine of any sort. They look lovely with an inline engine, kinda Gypsy Moth like. I think the biggest of the Rotax two strokes would work well, if not sound 'vintage'. That engine would fit the ethos of what pietenpol had in mind too.

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Exactly!.....pass!

So what am I doing wrong? My Subaru EA81 out of a Brumby ute has been propelling me around Oz (including outback Oz) for 800+ hours over the past 14 years. It all comes down to the details of the conversion, particularly cooling. Done properly they are just as reliable as any other properly installed and maintained engine, aviation or auto origin. The only downside is that , in my case, the total firewall forward weight is 20 Kg more than a Rotax. The plus side is that up-front and scheduled maintenance costs are minimal and there is no calendar time-out to plan for. When (and if) a rebuild is ever needed, parts are common and relatively very cheap.

If I was to build again the current crop of auto engines ripe for conversion is inspirational. It does seem that I am one of a dying breed - the number of newly built aircraft with auto conversions appears to be very small indeed.

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You might have got in earlier. Wolves and large bones and mud are par for that course. What plane is yours in? (if you will still talk to me.) Nev

 

 

 

What else but a Pietenpol Aircamper? (but I'll cut you some slack). I needed a new engine because the original Corvair suffered a catastrophic in-flight self destruction - burned piston face, broken rod, split cylinder barrel and other massive problems in 3 out of the 6 cylinders. Guess the Alsatian must have got to that one first? I got called out to retrieve it from the forced landing site and ultimately bought the carcass from the disgruntled owner a few years later and have just completed the much-longer-than-anticipated repower. Looking now for a decent w/end met forecast to hopefully put the old girl back in the air. If it works well I'll crow like a rooster but if it fails, I'll just hide in the corner and change the subject. cheers

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So what am I doing wrong? My Subaru EA81 out of a Brumby ute has been propelling me around Oz (including outback Oz) for 800+ hours over the past 14 years. It all comes down to the details of the conversion, particularly cooling. Done properly they are just as reliable as any other properly installed and maintained engine, aviation or auto origin. The only downside is that , in my case, the total firewall forward weight is 20 Kg more than a Rotax. The plus side is that up-front and scheduled maintenance costs are minimal and there is no calendar time-out to plan for. When (and if) a rebuild is ever needed, parts are common and relatively very cheap.

If I was to build again the current crop of auto engines ripe for conversion is inspirational. It does seem that I am one of a dying breed - the number of newly built aircraft with auto conversions appears to be very small indeed.

 

The EA81 is a robust engine, except for the oil pump. Running these models for many years as work vehicles they were great, just replace the oil pumps every 80,000km no problem 4 bolts from memory, use the 4K Corolla oil filter as the were twice the filter area of the Subaru OEM ones. In fact I have a set of big valve heads rebuilt and factory twin carbies and manifold somewhere in my shed. Was gonna build a warmed up engine but changed over to Landcruisers 27 years ago, so the EA81 was never completed.

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They were pretty common and probably more suitable than the later very complex engines. (one of which I have done some flying behind,). . Pretty revvy. and a very complex re drive. I don't like being near high revving motors for long periods. but it's ONE way of getting power. Nev

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Riley - So, whose local restored Model A Ford, is now missing its engine? :cheezy grin:

Nah. Was lucky (…. Nev ??) to get unto a newly built 5 brg converted Corvair and prop in Vic from a fellow who ended up buying a fully rigged experimental before he started building his kit fuselage. Cost me very little more than what it would have to buy, import and build the smashed engine. Time will tell how much luck is involved.

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I have a EJ 25 subaru and have it stripped to crankcase to rebuild, the crank is very strong,i will be putting new journals and rings and getting new cams put in about $800 in parts , the psru is from Chris Hintz in NZ once rebuilt will then build the engine mount some guys in US are getting very good results from thier subies, if i get to 1000 hrs it will probably be when i am too old to fly anyway, subarus are easy to work on once you get rid of the crap on them,i will use SDI ecu also have spoken to guys on how to set up cooling this seems to be the biggest challenge , i do like to work on stuff

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I have a EJ 25 subaru and have it stripped to crankcase to rebuild, the crank is very strong,i will be putting new journals and rings and getting new cams put in about $800 in parts , the psru is from Chris Hintz in NZ once rebuilt will then build the engine mount some guys in US are getting very good results from thier subies, if i get to 1000 hrs it will probably be when i am too old to fly anyway, subarus are easy to work on once you get rid of the crap on them,i will use SDI ecu also have spoken to guys on how to set up cooling this seems to be the biggest challenge , i do like to work on stuff

 

One way to fix overheating and other issues with engines is to burn less fuel, how much power are you aiming for ?

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I am looking to get 160 hp, this is achievable with the gearing and ecu, at 5800 max revs ,but will be trial and prop differences when i get to that stage,i am building a wide (1200) cabin for xcountry flying in comfort for my old body(lol) so will have a bit of drag there

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Mercedes claim that with the modern engine technology they can get 421 up out of a two litre engine and with increased energy efficiency. Looking at engines with these technologies the extrapolated up at 3000RPM would be 320HP. No need for a heavy gearbox. Similarly a 1 litre engine would put out around 160HP. Ok extra weight would be a dual electrical system, water cooling system and turbocharger, but a 1 litre engine would be orders of magnitude smaller than a 6 litre engine. If weight increases as the lineal measurement cubed the engine may even be as half the weight. And much smaller, even with the bulk of the extra systems. This is only a thought. I am not even thinking of using automotive engines, but maybe suggesting that someone might think of designing an aircraft engine with the technologies available now. It would revolutionise the aircraft engine business.

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Mercedes claim that with the modern engine technology they can get 421 up out of a two litre engine and with increased energy efficiency. Looking at engines with these technologies the extrapolated up at 3000RPM would be 320HP. No need for a heavy gearbox. Similarly a 1 litre engine would put out around 160HP. Ok extra weight would be a dual electrical system, water cooling system and turbocharger, but a 1 litre engine would be orders of magnitude smaller than a 6 litre engine. If weight increases as the lineal measurement cubed the engine may even be as half the weight. And much smaller, even with the bulk of the extra systems. This is only a thought. I am not even thinking of using automotive engines, but maybe suggesting that someone might think of designing an aircraft engine with the technologies available now. It would revolutionise the aircraft engine business.

 

Ya gotta remember cars have gears to get the full use out of their small cube high HP power plants, planes operate in 'top gear' all the time. Try getting these cars to accelerate (and last) starting in top gear! That's why we have large capacity big bore direct drive engines.

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Every few years this concept comes up and round and round we go. You adapt an engine and then it's superceded and you can't recondition these critical engines. so back to square one with a different one??. They also run at high boost and a motor vehicle uses full power rarely and in short bursts. If they act up you have NO idea why unless they get analysed by someone with all the gear who is not likely to be sitting at Birdsville and couldn't set it up anyhow as the thing's for a car (or van) with a multi speed transmission which it's matched to.. Nev

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I don't know about you guys but I always used full power for takeoff then backed off. At 10,000ft I only have around 120hp available. I have been to Birdsville several times, never found any person there that I would have let anywhere near my aircraft. I also propose that modern technology is far more reliable than older systems.

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There's a reason why the old clunkers are still being produced in their zillions compared to a very small amount of 'alternate' engines......they simply work!

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The idea of using full power was to get to the RICH setting. A few pilots who tried "nursing" their engines came unstuck Today most take off s with non pistons use REDUCED power matched to the "circumstances" Density altitude, weight and runway length slope segment climb etc

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