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Thread: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

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    How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    Just a basic question. How many people posting here are flying behind (or in front of) a Subaru?

    I am building a Murphy Rebel and have a "spare" Rebel that I purchased that has a Formula Power Subaru engine. I was looking at purchasing this engine at the time I found this plane. The engine at the time was priced at just under $15,000 and I was able to buy this damaged plane for a little less that that so I figured I was getting a better deal in the long run. This plane was damaged after 303 TT and my original plan was buying this damaged plane and putting the engine in the Rebel I was constructing but after getting this damaged plane home I realized it would be better to rebuild this plane instead of piece it out. Maybe I will just sell it as I have too many projects already. In the mean time I am wonder what kind of reliability, fuel burn, and satisfaction people have had with their Subaru engines.

    Thanks,
    WW

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    Registered User Kristoffon's Avatar
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    Registered User skeeter_ca's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    I would think the list of subaru engines on this site would be small. I do think it's as good as any engine to convert. It's too bad the FAA doesn't require a listing of the exact engine type on the registration. The way it list engines on experimentals it is impossible to get an accurate tally of engines used.
    Skeeter_ca
    aka. Darrell W.
    President - Volmer Club of America

    A goal without a plan is just a dream (Bill Husa, Orion)

    I strive to have my plane i'm building look as good as my avatar, which is Dan Dubois's fine example.

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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    skeeter_ca, I totally agree. One of the reasons for my asking the question is to help me make up my mind if I want to sell this plane and find a certified engine for my Rebel or to keep this other Rebel and someday rebuild it. I really like the idea of an easy starting engine that can also be run up to temperature much more easily than an air-cooled engine. I fly most of the time out of Northern MN and it gets VERY cold in the winter. Both my 172 and my Champ have a hard time of getting even close to operating temp. during the winter months. Also the heat output for the cockpit is minimal. This Subie powered Rebel has a heater core and fan in it just like an auto mobile heat system. Should would be nice to be able to have some decent heat when flying on skis.
    WW

  5. #5
    Registered User Dan Thomas's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    Quote Originally Posted by WWhunter View Post
    skeeter_ca, I totally agree. One of the reasons for my asking the question is to help me make up my mind if I want to sell this plane and find a certified engine for my Rebel or to keep this other Rebel and someday rebuild it. I really like the idea of an easy starting engine that can also be run up to temperature much more easily than an air-cooled engine. I fly most of the time out of Northern MN and it gets VERY cold in the winter. Both my 172 and my Champ have a hard time of getting even close to operating temp. during the winter months. Also the heat output for the cockpit is minimal. This Subie powered Rebel has a heater core and fan in it just like an auto mobile heat system. Should would be nice to be able to have some decent heat when flying on skis.
    WW
    We put a Subaru in a Glastar and used a heater core. The heater output barely kept up and it was cold in the airplane if it was much below freezing. An airplane is usually a lot draftier and has less insulation than a car, and is travelling at much higher speeds so that the heat loss through the skin and windows is huge. The exhaust-type cabin heater can produce far more heat than any heater core.

    Besides that, see my rants on Subarus and auto conversions in general. I wouldn't do it again. The owner laid out about as much money as he would have for a Lycoming and it didn't perform anywhere near as well as it would have with the Lyc. And it took a long time to get everything stuffed in and working.

    Subarus are fine for the guy who wants to tinker rather than fly, but he should forget about saving money doing it.

    Dan

  6. #6
    Registered User skeeter_ca's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    If you haven't already checked out the yahoo group for sube's here it is. Alot of info there. But just be warned they are sube bias.

    FlySoob : FlySoob
    Skeeter_ca
    aka. Darrell W.
    President - Volmer Club of America

    A goal without a plan is just a dream (Bill Husa, Orion)

    I strive to have my plane i'm building look as good as my avatar, which is Dan Dubois's fine example.

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    Registered User pittsdriver's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    My friend has a Glasstar that he put a Maxwell Subaru on. Great running and smooth engine BUT very complicated wiring just waiting to fail, untrustworthy reduction gearbox and nowhere near the power that was promised. I liked flying the airplane but never trusted it. It now has an IO-360 in it and performs much better. Has the firewall forward engine with all accessories, mount, cowling and Whirlwind electric pitch prop for sale. Don

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    Registered User Dan Thomas's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    Quote Originally Posted by pittsdriver View Post
    My friend has a Glasstar that he put a Maxwell Subaru on. Great running and smooth engine BUT very complicated wiring just waiting to fail, untrustworthy reduction gearbox and nowhere near the power that was promised. I liked flying the airplane but never trusted it. It now has an IO-360 in it and performs much better. Has the firewall forward engine with all accessories, mount, cowling and Whirlwind electric pitch prop for sale. Don
    A typical story, heard far too often. The wonderful, economical auto engine conversion that just turns out to be an expensive and complicated hassle and a disappointment, leading the builder to replace it with a real aircraft engine (if he has any money left at all). Auto conversions aren't for those who want to just bolt one on and go fly on the cheap. There are so many unforeseen difficulties.

    Dan

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    Registered User wally's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    I helped a little when a friend put a Subaru Legacy engine (direct drive) on a gyrocopter. That was back in mid 1990's. It seemed to work out ok.

  10. #10
    Registered User pittsdriver's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    I have been around homebuilding for over 30 years. In that time I have not seen any auto conversion engines that you can bolt to the firewall and have any kind of expectation that it will run 2000hrs reliably with very little maintenance like the average Lycoming/Cont. As a rule the conversions are heavier, rely on battery power for ingnition, way more complicated fuel and ingnition systems, reduction drives that are prone to failure, the more successful conversions cost as much or more than an aircraft engine, etc. Yes this is experimantal and if you feel the need to try an auto conversion go for it. If you want a reliable airplane that you will be flying friends and loved ones in think aircraft engine. Don

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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    As a mechanical engineer i have worked on marine, air and land based power plants, and the one with the best build quality from personal experience, has to be the marine engine. I have pulled down both air and land engines and found things that just make you wonder if the guys that put it together have any understanding of Quality Control.

    I am in Australia and know a lot of people in a range of crafts that use the subaru engine, and they all swear by them. The only guys that usually are not happy with them are not happy with anything. Having said this, maybe it only applies to Australian conditions ie temps, fuels, oils, flying distances, etc

  12. #12
    Registered User dino's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    I fly a Subaru direct drive EA-81 and a Rotax 582 in a similar aircraft. The direct drive EA-81 has about the same consumption as the 2.54 geared 582 and about 50lbs more installed weight. I guess the 4 strokes efficiency is being offset by the inefficiency of running a 52" prop at 3500rpm instead of a 60" prop at 2500 rpm. The EA-81 static thrust is 300lbs while the 582 has 370lbs. As you might imagine the performance and flying qualities of the two are different. Really an apple to oranges comparison.

    The 582 and the 532 that preceded it however have been reliable and involved less work during their lifetime than the sub. They have also had less engine outs. To many four stroke fans this may seem counterintuitive.

    The reason is the Subaru was modified to fit the gyroplane and the gyroplane modified so the sub could be installed. The extra work during the lifetime was working out the inevitable teething problems of a new installation. They are still being worked out after 150hrs. The extra engine outs were due to carb and electrical shortcomings and not the core engines fault.

    The final side by side summary is the 582 has proven more reliable, a better performer, same consumption at 14 lt/hr, less noise, easier ground handling

    The sub hand starts and idles effortlessly. runs smoothly and without vibration even without a flywheel. It sounds great. It costs a quarter of the Rotax. No oil to mix. Lots of novelty appeal. A great learning experience.


    I've also watched an ICP Savanah with geared EA-81 Subaru vs a Rotax 912 Savanah, and an Avid with geared EA-81 vs a similar one with a Rotax 912. In both cases the operation of the 912 has been more seamless than the EA-81. Less work, more expensive, better performance.

    And finally on the aircraft engine vs auto conversion topic. I think the Cartercopter experience was indicative of what seems to be consensus but runs counter to the homebuilder dogma. The Cartercopter proof of concept prototype was built with a modified LS-1 GM engine with all the goodies and lots of engineering resources to back it. It proved to be a major hindrance to the developement of the project. The PAV Cartercopter which succeded it went with a certified Lycoming.

    If you can afford it go for a purpose built aircraft engine.

    Just my experience I thought I'd pass on.

    Dino

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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Thomas View Post
    A typical story, heard far too often. The wonderful, economical auto engine conversion that just turns out to be an expensive and complicated hassle and a disappointment, leading the builder to replace it with a real aircraft engine (if he has any money left at all). Auto conversions aren't for those who want to just bolt one on and go fly on the cheap. There are so many unforeseen difficulties.Dan
    Ray Stitts outlined his unsuccessful attempt at finding a useful engine configuration for his Skeeto back in 1957. Jim Bede was similarly unsuccessful in finding a good engine for his BD-5 from 1971-78.

    Yet, I remember well this same discussion between Moult Taylor and Dave Blanton perhaps twenty-five years ago. Taylor said that an auto conversion was cheaper but that it was much more difficult to do and would be less reliable than a regular aircraft engine. Blanton said that the auto conversion was not only cheaper but was actually more reliable than regular aircraft engines and that the conversion was not really that difficult to do.

    I remember at the time that it was amazing to see two men (each with decades of experience) have such diametrically opposing views. The interesting thing was though that they were both right. Each started with different assumptions. Taylor's assumptions led him to a difficult and less reliable configuration while Blanton's led him to something easier and more reliable. So, I do tend to wonder.

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    Registered User PTAirco's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    Quote Originally Posted by pittsdriver View Post
    I have been around homebuilding for over 30 years. In that time I have not seen any auto conversion engines that you can bolt to the firewall and have any kind of expectation that it will run 2000hrs reliably with very little maintenance like the average Lycoming/Cont. . Don
    To be fair though, almost none of those Lycomings or Continentals make it to TBO with major work either. Just look at airplane for sale ads and see how many list something like "Engine 1200hrs SMOH, 200 since TOH..." They invariably require cylinder and valve work at least once before getting to TBO. And that kind of work is phenomenally expensive compared to the same work done on an automotive engine. For the cost of a single Lyc./Cont. cylinder you could completely replace most of the running parts of a car engine. I think this is the major attraction of car engines, not that they are more efficient/modern/whatever in any way.
    "Aeronautical engineering is highly educated guessing, worked out to five decimal places. Fred Lindsley, Airspeed."

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    Registered User skeeter_ca's Avatar
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    Re: How many Subaru engined planes are flying here

    Quote Originally Posted by PTAirco View Post
    To be fair though, almost none of those Lycomings or Continentals make it to TBO with major work either. Just look at airplane for sale ads and see how many list something like "Engine 1200hrs SMOH, 200 since TOH..." They invariably require cylinder and valve work at least once before getting to TBO. And that kind of work is phenomenally expensive compared to the same work done on an automotive engine. For the cost of a single Lyc./Cont. cylinder you could completely replace most of the running parts of a car engine. I think this is the major attraction of car engines, not that they are more efficient/modern/whatever in any way.
    I've noticed that myself. Lyc/cont people always complain how you can't get a reliable auto conversion to last 2000hrs , but apparently you can't get a "certified" aircraft engine either.
    Skeeter_ca
    aka. Darrell W.
    President - Volmer Club of America

    A goal without a plan is just a dream (Bill Husa, Orion)

    I strive to have my plane i'm building look as good as my avatar, which is Dan Dubois's fine example.

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