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Thread: Converting Auto Engines

  1. #1

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    Converting Auto Engines

    I recently read the Converting Auto Engines for Experimental Aircraft. I was wondering who is the leader in the field today? What more material can I read that is current (less than 5 years old) Is anyone doing things with Nissan engines? Where should I roam at Airventure to see auto conversions?

    Thanks for the info.

  2. #2
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    The biggest conversion effort that I am aware of for engines that are fairly modern production is lots of people are using the Subaru flat fours.
    There are people doing other things like converting Corvette LS1 engines, etc...

    You might find Contact! magazine to your interests: http://www.contactmagazine.com

  3. #3

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    The "leader" by engine brand is Volkswagen flat four air cooled engines by a large factor. The limiting factor is horsepower, getting reliable power above ~50 hp is questionable. Respecting the limits, it's probably the best bang for the buck.

    There are some other conversions that look interesting. Would be nice to see some data-Conversion cost, operating numbers and reliability but the latter is somewhat elusive. It simply takes a long time for a hobbyist to rack up 3-400 operating hrs.

  4. #4
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
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    There are a couple that have displays at Oshkosh, typically. Over the last few years, there has a been a Corvair conversion and a Honda conversion vendor over in the North Aircraft Display. I haven't seen any others recently. Last time I saw DeltaHawk was, what, six years ago (although not a conversion). Great Plains (VW) is usually in one of the ABCD hangars, if I recall. Otherwise, not too much. Perhaps AutoPSRUs (GM) will be there this year. I don't remember seeing Belted Air Power the past few years, but I might have missed them.
    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
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  5. #5
    crusty old aviator's Avatar
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    Ol' Richard Finch's book is pretty dated, and he never ever did get an auto engine in the air. He worked for FEW in Santa Paula until they realized he was full of hot air and sent him packing. He bought a Grumman Yankee as a test bed for his Buick-Rover engine, then spent all his time on making the airframe pretty, while the engine block sat untouched, on its stand. He offered to help a fellow EAA Chapter member convert a V-6 for his lancair 235, then abandoned him when the job required some thought. Richard is a very nice man, but he's not what you would call a man of action, so take everything in his book as him just wondering out loud, as very little of it has been proven with actual flight testing.
    Unfortunately, Richard isn't the only dreamer involved in auro engine conversions, so due diligence is key in deciding who and what to believe and...who to pay money to. Over the years, there's been lots of chatter about a Subaru conversion expert who took money and didn't deliver. There was a Suzuki expert claiming horsepower figures that seemed fanciful to others, which led to a debate about how horsepower is measured and the role of torque in the equasion.
    The only Nissan conversion I've ever heard of was in the Pond Racer, set up to burn alcohol, which disolved the fuel tanks...oh, well, Burt Rutan is a designer, not a chemist! If you want to convert your own Nissan engine, and run it off its ECU, and bolt a PSRU to it, get Jerron's Raven Redrive books, for about $100, where he explains converting the wiring harness and all the other systems for Geo Metro engines. A lot of the info in those books will apply to your Nssan. You may find similar info online, and I wish you well in your quest.
    Also, as FlyingRon suggests: contact Pat Panzera at Contact! magazine. He has his ever-moving finger on the pulse of the state of the art in auto engine conversions for aircraft.

  6. #6

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    There appears to be a pretty active Corvair flat-six conversion community here - http://flycorvair.net/.

  7. #7

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    You've asked who the leader is in the field of auto engine conversions, when really it's not any one group or person. It's by type.

    For example if one is going to use a VW engine the answers are Great Plains, Valley Engineering, and Aerovee. And it goes on from there by type and subtype.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  8. #8

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    Thank you all for your insight.

    Looks like there is an opportunity to write a better book on converting auto engines. I have been told the Tony Bingelis books are getting dated too, just more opportunities right.

    Flying Ron, I was hesitant to subscribe the Contact! given their admission of flexible publishing dates. I will be buying at least 2 years subscription, one back and one forward.

    Crusty Old Aviator, I am assuming you are talking about the manuals from Raven. Those will be on order this week.

    So I am looking at a VQ35HR motor which has a great power to weight ratio, normally aspirated, the Merlin had the same ratio. That motor produces about 300HP. I am wondering if anyone has experience with that motor in particular. With that 300 Hp, it kind of rules out the very nice VW motors.

    It is all about experimenting right? I guess I need to start some experiments.

    Thank you all, I would be happy to hear about more engine conversions and who to talk to.

    Have a great day!

  9. #9

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    You really should contact William Wynn and find out about the Corvair conversions he has been working on for years. They are smooth and sweet and it seems as though he along with others such as Mark Lankford have worked out the bugs to make a good light economical reliable 100 horsepower auto conversion. Google Mark Lankford KR2 on the web and you will find a wealth of information that is factual and honest, based on real world operations. He gives the good bad and ugly story and what was done to correct the problems discovered along the way. Tons of info about the Corvairs and much of it is useful for other conversions as well.
    Last edited by vaflier; 03-20-2015 at 07:36 PM.

  10. #10
    Thomas Stute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LooneyBird View Post
    I recently read the Converting Auto Engines for Experimental Aircraft. I was wondering who is the leader in the field today? What more material can I read that is current (less than 5 years old) Is anyone doing things with Nissan engines? Where should I roam at Airventure to see auto conversions?

    Thanks for the info.
    A German company advertizes a reduction gear for the BMW R1100S (90 hp) and R1200S (114 hp) 2-cylinder motorcycle engines, see www.takeoff-ul.de
    The so converted engines are flying successfully on a number of aircraft in Europe.

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