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Bob Wanted Photos

 
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Tom Wilson



Joined: 04 Dec 2005
Posts: 151
Location: Fallbrook, California

PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 12:29 am    Post subject: Bob Wanted Photos Reply with quote

In the previous Cross Country post Bob asked for some photos, so I thought I'd try to relearn the picture posting process and give it a whirl.

To start, here's an inflight portrait of my Too.



It looks nice here, but believe me, when you get closer, it is rough! This is an older build--1981--and it has plenty of dings, scratches and all that. Plus, it was absolutely no show queen when it was built (especially the blue suede interior with bass boat metal flake highlights, so we'll tastefully avoid any photos of the interior).

Next is a the top of the engine.



I had Ly-Con paint the engine a gray similar to "Lycoming Gray" but with very light metallic to keep it from looking too dull. The rest of the gray/silver highlights such as the engine mount and rocker covers are a silver powder coat. The fuel injection lines are offset using a Ly-Con relocation kit because I was considering making a cooling plenum box around the engine but later decided against it for ease of engine servicing.

Here's the bottom of the engine, shot at night in the hangar using some real drama-queen lighting.



What's most unusual here is the exhaust system. Those are equal-length headers custom-built by Burns Stainless, Aberle Custom Aircraft and myself (all I did was layout the pipe path and write checks). I wrote an article about this exhaust system for Kitplanes magazine; if you missed that article the bottom line is the headers don't make any horsepower, they do make about 15 lb ft of torque, but most importantly they have very little backpressure so the CHTs run coolly and evenly for lean of peak operation.

Also, with megaphone tailpipes I was really worried this exhaust would be horribly loud. To my great relief and surprise, it turned out to be surprisingly quiet, at least when the throttle is pulled back a little. It has a mellow, horn-like hum; there's absolutely no blat or harshness in the report.

Then there is the prop.



It's a custom prop (Frankenstein?) built out of Hartzell pieces. It was originally put together by Aberle Custom Aircraft many years ago for a Pitts project, but it ended up on my Starduster before I bought it. The prop was freshened by American Propeller in Redding, California while the engine was being rebuilt by Ly-Con. I am very happy with both shops.

The 3-blade is sort of like the hot-rodded 540 in that it is a fairly extreme way to go. It really looks good on a Starduster--the polished blades fit the era--and it is quiet and provides good thrust. But, it's expensive to maintain compared to a fixed-pitch and is very heavy; 73 lbs if I recall correctly. I have absolutely no problems with aft cg loading and I weigh 250 lbs...

I have never flown the Starduster with a 2-blade prop, but others before me have. They say the 3-blade might accelerate a touch quicker on the runway and added 500 fpm to the descent rate. Must be true, as the plane has the glide of a well-thrown sewer cover. I do like the fact that the prop is reasonably quiet. My belief is people complain about airports and airplanes for all sorts of reasons, but they really just don't like the noise. I figure the quieter we fly the longer the airports will stay open.

One more pic of the airplane.



Everyone wants to know how much power the 10:1 540 makes. On Ly-Con's dyno it was 320 hp and 640 lb ft of torque. So, even with a heavy Starduster the take off roll is, um, abbreviated and the climb energetic. We discussed the fuel burn in the Cross Country post, so I'll just say here that you burn a lot of fuel for a very short time climbing, then have the option to go like heck and burn gas or slow down and still have a reasonable cruise and not burn too much more than a good O-360.

You'll also notice both photos of the airplane show it configured with the front hole covered. The conversion is easy, just six 10-32 screws between adding the front windshield or taking it off and covering the hole with an aluminum lid. I very much prefer flying with the front hole covered. The reduction in wind in the rear cockpit is immense--I can talk on the radio and actually be understood, there's less fatigue and life is generally much more enjoyable. Also, the airplane goes at least 10 mph faster with the front hole covered.

The silver on the bottom of the rudder is a repair from when the tailwheel spring locating tabs failed when I swung the airplane around into a tie-down spot after my first solo in it. Before very long the airplane should be recovered and get rid of the primer gray look. In the meantime the airplane is an aerial rat rod--it's rough on the outside, but looks good under the hood.
tw
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jsh



Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 354
Location: Burnet, TX

PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for the pics.....beautiful one of the engine underside (at night). I recently had that spring fitting fail on mine, I fly off a grass/dirt runway....not too rough but it does take a beating back there. I have been advising builders to beef up that area. have been considering having a convertible front pit also. what do you do for the edge coaming on the front hole?
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jsh



Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 354
Location: Burnet, TX

PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for the pics.....beautiful one of the engine underside (at night). I recently had that spring fitting fail on mine, I fly off a grass/dirt runway....not too rough but it does take a beating back there. I have been advising builders to beef up that area. have been considering having a convertible front pit also. what do you do for the edge coaming on the front hole?
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Tom Wilson



Joined: 04 Dec 2005
Posts: 151
Location: Fallbrook, California

PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jsh,
The cockpit coaming on the front pit is only on the two sides. So, in front the windshield slips into a channel, then, on each side of the cockpit there are two simple half moons of aluminum sheet, with the coaming attached to one edge of each strip.

Thus, the windshield is slipped into its channel, then the two coaming pieces are slid into place. The front bit of aluminum sheet slips under the back, lower corner of the windshield and a 10-32 screw is passed through both the windshield frame and the coaming piece.

Two more 10-32 screws per coaming piece complete their attachment to the airplane. And that's it; there is no coaming at the back of the cockpit and no one misses it.

As for the engine shot in the hangar, it was taken using a pair of umbrella studio lights (like they use on school picture day). I laid the umbrellas on the floor pointing up and fired away. The hangar is tall, about 18 ft, so the light falls off before it reaches the ceiling which makes the engine standout from the background.
tw
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bmcj



Joined: 05 Dec 2005
Posts: 810
Location: California, Fresno

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 7:08 am    Post subject: Re: Bob Wanted Photos Reply with quote

Tom Wilson wrote:
It looks nice here, but believe me, when you get closer, it is rough! This is an older build--1981--and it has plenty of dings, scratches and all that. Plus, it was absolutely no show queen when it was built (especially the blue suede interior with bass boat metal flake highlights, so we'll tastefully avoid any photos of the interior).

...

In the meantime the airplane is an aerial rat rod--it's rough on the outside, but looks good under the hood.
tw


I think yours still looks good Tom (and that is from someone who has sat in your blue seude 'office'). If you ever feel otherwise, you are always welcome to visit mine for perspective. Laughing

Bruce Smile
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Bruce

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Tom Wilson



Joined: 04 Dec 2005
Posts: 151
Location: Fallbrook, California

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruce,
You're too kind.

Also, I just got word that work is going to have me tied up all of next weekend, so I will be unable to attend the Low & Slow at Flabob... grrr, but I got to pay for av gas!
tw
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bmcj



Joined: 05 Dec 2005
Posts: 810
Location: California, Fresno

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom Wilson wrote:
I just got word that work is going to have me tied up all of next weekend, so I will be unable to attend the Low & Slow at Flabob...


Bummers!!! Geneva and I were really looking forward to seeing you and Jan again. Crying or Very sad

... maybe for the next Flabob Flying Circus?
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Bruce



Last edited by bmcj on Wed May 15, 2013 7:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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RDavidson



Joined: 16 Dec 2010
Posts: 127
Location: Pueblo, Colorado

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 7:08 pm    Post subject: Tom Reply with quote

Tom,

We are all way too critical of our planes! Your's is awesome! The engine is a work of art!
I think we all have a list of things that we would do different! I find that I always show people the things I don't like about my plane first...they don't even notice them!

Great pics...I love the spinner and prop!

We are all going to be stuck leaning forward from these planes! It looks like the sweet spot in your cockpit requires leaning forward too...

Beautiful Plane...blue suede and all!


Cheers,
Ron
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Tom Wilson



Joined: 04 Dec 2005
Posts: 151
Location: Fallbrook, California

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ron, you're right, we are all so invested in our airplanes that we often need to simply step back and appreciate how amazingly lucky we are to have them.

So, to look at the bright side, there are several areas that have come out well on my engine installation. The air baffling sealing the front of the engine to the cowling is particularly good. I worked on it off and on for a couple of weeks and got nowhere. Frankly, the close tolerance fit I was seeking around the starter and alternator far exceeded my skills. After considerable frustration Andy Paterson at Aberle Custom Aircraft took pity and whipped out exactly what I was looking for in about three hours.

Guys with skills can really irk you sometimes!

The old baffling was too much Swiss cheese for me; the starter and alternator were wide open to the breeze, meaning there was a huge hole pressuring the lower cowl. The new baffling fits tightly around the nose of the starter and provides just enough area to let the alternator belt pass through. It even bends and wraps around the backside of the flywheel (maybe Andy and I got carried away).

At the bottom of the same front baffling I could not get the rubber sealing material to stay against the lower cowling. Air pressure easily pushes the sealing material open because the cowling falls away from the baffle at this point. What's needed is a fence on the lower cowl to hold the baffle seal in place. Again, Andy came to the rescue, showing me how to form an approximately 1-in. tall fence out of fiberglass (I had no glass experience). Once that was built onto the lower cowl the baffle seal has remained in place and I believe this has helped with both engine cooling (need all I can get) and speed. The airplane picked up more speed than I think the extra horsepower from the engine should have given, and I credit the better cowl sealing as I certainly haven't cleaned up anything else aerodynamically.

Then again, the Ly-Con engine is an animal and the old 540 was humble and tired.

Also, a bit of planning has paid off in the under-the-cowl cosmetics. I tried to reduce the number of colors as so many engines end up looking like they got hit by a box of crayons. In the end it doesn't matter so much as with the engine cowled all you really see is some of the baffling, the rocker covers and the intake/exhaust plumbing. But I tried to stick mainly with silver and gray, with black being neutral, and I think it helped.

And, I can say that wherever I spent extra time or money I've been happy I did. All sorts of supposedly "little" things got re-routed (prop gov cable) or more rigidly mounted or lightened or had nut plates installed instead of screws and nuts and I've already reaped the rewards of faster, easier maintenance from that.

I should also say that because I did not build my Too, I bought it as a flying airplane, and for not so much money because it wasn't new or pretty, that I've been able to indulge in the engine project. Next I'll have to recover the airplane, but at least it will be a pay-as-you-go (and fly a little in-between) project.

And yeah, I don't fit in the airplane all that well. I'm 6' 2", 250 lbs (pot belly) with long legs. I wear racing shoes to get all the legroom I can, and scrunch down into what is an amazingly uncomfortable custom fiberglass seat the builder put in (the good part is it lifts right out for access to the lower fuselage). There's also a full interior--gotta hang all that crushed blue velour on something--and so I'm like a single-fish sardine can in there. That'll get changed during the recover someday.

All told it took six years to scrimp together the firewall forward job, and I feel for all those on the forum who are building and dreaming. I haven't come close to paying those sorts of dues and the rewards of finally getting back in the cockpit have been fabulous. So, keep building, it's worth it!
tw
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RDavidson



Joined: 16 Dec 2010
Posts: 127
Location: Pueblo, Colorado

PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 9:45 pm    Post subject: Tom Reply with quote

Tom,

I feel your pain! I'm the same dimensions as you. I got a cramp in my leg on this last trip and had to just sit there and take it because I have no room to move! I didn't have a parachute on or I might have tried to stand in the seat or something! Ha!

Where are your pedals located?
Mine are about 1" back from the main crossmember in the front cockpit. I built pedal boxes that I can move and bolt in different locations. I now have them as far forward as I can move them, but I could still use a few more inches forward!

I forget who it is, but there is a guy on here that is 6'7" flying a Too! His legs must be 2' long! Ha! I don't know how he does it?

Thanks,
Ron
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jsh



Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 354
Location: Burnet, TX

PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fwiw, I am not 6' 7" but am 6" 5". if there is a taller guy, I haven't heard of him but would like to. when I built mine, I located the rear rudder pedals approx 2 inches forward of the carrythru and the result is VERY comfortable. my heels rest up against the back of the carry thru which provides even more support and comfort. still have full throw of rudders and brakes. side benefit......if my shoelace needs tying, the front pax can reach down and do it for me.
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Bob E.



Joined: 31 Oct 2007
Posts: 147
Location: Central ND

PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic Tom, thanks for taking the time to post the pics and info. Your engine looks great, wish I could see it up close in person. Maybe that isn't such a good idea cause then I would probably be tearing a bunch of my stuff appart and re-doing it!

I'm not going to have near that power but it should get me off the ground in good order. I'm doing a final assembly to check fit and rig on everything before cover so will post some pics when it is together. Still waiting on my prop from Catto. Not sure if it will be here before I tear it apart again though.
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