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Thread: Aircraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

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    Registered User Little Scrapper's Avatar
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    Aircraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    On a different thread here we got a little off topic about the use of VW's in airplanes. Based on reading & research over the years I've walked away with the impression that there's far to many that stop in mid air, burp on take-off, overheat, crack cranks, smoked valves, lack power etc.

    In the reports I've read many that basically had the pilot with a quit engine and nobody knows why. Like a big mystery.

    Nobody seems to agree on how to mount a prop hub. Nobody seems to agree on realistic HP.

    Now, I also understand the opposite. Not only do I know people personally who have enjoyed a lifetime of VW reliability on airplanes but there's guys here on the forum who are extremely experienced building and flying them.

    So, maybe I'm wrong, or have the wrong impression of these. I'm willing to accept a bias, but I'd like to find out why.

    So I started thinking. How many people don't fly because they don't trust VW's? How many people currently fly a VW in a dangerous configuration? For some reason there's two groups that either love them or hate them. Why?

    What have we learned about VW conversations over the last few decades that make this engine good or bad?

    Let's be specific, when we are old or dead people will read this thread and either learn from it or walk away confused. There's smart people here, I'm willing to bet this thread could be the ultimate VW builders thread.

    Anybody want to start? I have to listen because I'm out of my element on the VW engine.

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    Registered User Little Scrapper's Avatar
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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    Can a mod please fix the title error.

    Mods: please don't put this in the VW section. Please! I have a feeling this will morp in to talking about airplanes that can or can't fly with them. Which is fine.
    Last edited by Little Scrapper; December 22nd, 2016 at 06:47 PM.

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    This should be an interesting thread. There are lots of contradictions concerning VWs. All my knowledge of the engine comes from reading and listening to voices like Pops and others that have hands on knowledge. There's contradictions between the sellers of the VWs. Great Plains and Hummel markets pulley drive, flywheel drive, pulley/redrives while AeroVee only sells pulley drive and states on their FAQ page that re-drives should not be used. Most of the Aerodrone WW1 models use VWs with redrives turning large props.
    Another contradiction is the prop hub. Shrink fit or Force hub. I spoke with the current owner of GPAS about shrink fit hubs. He and Scott Cassler both sell engines with both hubs. His thought (probably more like Steve Bennett) is that shrink fit is okay for anything smaller than 2180cc, with the Force hub and external bearing more suited for the 2180 and 2300cc engines. AeroVee only sells 2180cc with shrink fit hub and Revmaster only sells 2300 with Force hub.
    For me, the plane size drives the engine choice, and naturally the investment is probably the main driver. It's a lot easier for me to justify $8-9000, than $16000 upwards.


    Edit: if money is the driver, then find a plane that can perform on 70hp. That's probably a realistic rating for the VW. There is probably some truth in the performance values stated by the makers, but those values are cherry picked (IMO) from the the most favorable dyno testing that probably won't happen in the real world.
    Last edited by MikePousson; December 22nd, 2016 at 07:24 PM.

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    Absolutely!!!!! X 100.

    The fact that nobody agrees makes people like me avoid them. It gives the impression the experts don't even know.

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    And.... if anybody is reading this and doesn't like VW's please post as well, maybe the guys here can answer the right questions.

    This is more than a VW thread, this is about the right airplane as well. Look how many people put a VW on a airplane and they shouldn't. What have we learned after all these years? Can we come to agreement on some of these issues?

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    The title of this post is different than the title of the Thread it is in.....

    If you edit your first post, can you edit your title there?
    I think the title of the thread is actually just the title of your first post. (each post can have its own title..... see that the title of this post is different than the title of your thread even though it exists within your thread)

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    I've flown in a Sonex with the VW 2180 with the owner builder. Together, we were about 340 lbs at the time. It was uneventful and climb was painful. I think it's the wrong engine for that airframe, but it works. In the Onex, it's probably a hoot.

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    I'll give my thoughts on the VW. first and foremost I feel "cooling" is the #1 enemy of the engine and if kept basically stock, and your head fin's are cleared out for good airflow with a good tight seal to your cowling, and added oil passage work done for better flow chances are your engine will last fine. Second I would say proper "preventive maintenance" of adjusting valves, oil+filter change is important. Alot of pilot including myself expect more out of the little engine and place it in crafts like a KR-2 and fill it with fuel and a passenger and work the motor a bit too hard for what she was made for. As far as a VW dying after take off I believe the biggest problem is NOT the engine but the fuel supply rather its in the fuel system or Carb. such as a lack of Carb. heat. Both prop mounting types work so I think the problem is more of the size of prop and the the paces it's put threw (TVib) Also Max. RPM is above the needed speed for a prop so it is asked too work harder then it should which brings us back to Cooling. I think a re-drive is fine if you can keep the Rpm at a safe speed to help in the aid of cooling. IMO P.S. I run on the street also Click image for larger version. 

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    KR-2, Taylor Mono,

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    Re: The title of this post is different than the title of the Thread it is in.....

    Quote Originally Posted by narfi View Post
    If you edit your first post, can you edit your title there?
    I think the title of the thread is actually just the title of your first post. (each post can have its own title..... see that the title of this post is different than the title of your thread even though it exists within your thread)
    Thread title is accidentally misspelled. I can't see how to fix it using my phone. Maybe when I get home on my PC it will make more sense to edit.

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    Quote Originally Posted by don january View Post
    I'll give my thoughts on the VW. first and foremost I feel "cooling" is the #1 enemy of the engine and if kept basically stock, and your head fin's are cleared out for good airflow with a good tight seal to your cowling, and added oil passage work done for better flow chances are your engine will last fine. Second I would say proper "preventive maintenance" of adjusting valves, oil+filter change is important. Alot of pilot including myself expect more out of the little engine and place it in crafts like a KR-2 and fill it with fuel and a passenger and work the motor a bit too hard for what she was made for. As far as a VW dying after take off I believe the biggest problem is NOT the engine but the fuel supply rather its in the fuel system or Carb. such as a lack of Carb. heat. Both prop mounting types work so I think the problem is more of the size of prop and the the paces it's put threw (TVib) Also Max. RPM is above the needed speed for a prop so it is asked too work harder then it should which brings us back to Cooling. I think a re-drive is fine if you can keep the Rpm at a safe speed to help in the aid of cooling. IMO P.S. I run on the street also Click image for larger version. 

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    Why is it there's so much conversation about trying to cool the VW? Even on the Sonex forums, you'd think they'd have this figured out by now. the RV's don't seem to have the "over-heating" discussion nearly as much as the VW people do and there's a lot of RV's.

    If cooling is such an issue hasn't the solution been figured out by now? In the case of the Sonex the standard configuration of the cowl is pretty much used by everyone.

    That always bothered me

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    I think in the earlier days the oil cooler was in the way of number 3-4 cyl. so cooling was a problem there, now we have new remote coolers and have learned a few tricks from fellas like Bob Hoover and more that have gotten better air+ oil flow. Compared to 15-20 years ago you don't hear too much about the VW having the problem but like you said if a guy 10 years from now pulls up this thread and is new to the VW power plant they'll have a base to build off from. I think a hidden gremlin may be gear stance and prop size because the engine is working so hard??? On the runway the owner has to operate from
    KR-2, Taylor Mono,

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    To get a basic education on the VW engine you will have to read EVERYTHING that was written in the Blog by the late Bob Hoover ( the VW Bob Hoover). You will even enjoy the non VW writing. Don't take what he says with a grain of salt, he knows VW's. After you read this, we will talk some more.

    http://bobhooversblog.blogspot.com/s...max-results=10
    Pops

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    A lot what your calling conflicting opinions or contradictions are actually just "options" (e.g. shrink fit v. Force 1 and flywheel v. pulley end).

    I think they're great engines, especially for the price. They're easy to put together, easy to work on, very reliable (at least my two are) you can get good quality, low cost parts locally or from a hundred online bug shops.

    ...the simpler you keep them the more reliable they are.
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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pops View Post
    To get a basic education on the VW engine you will have to read EVERYTHING that was written in the Blog by the late Bob Hoover ( the VW Bob Hoover). You will even enjoy the non VW writing. Don't take what he says with a grain of salt, he knows VW's. After you read this, we will talk some more.

    http://bobhooversblog.blogspot.com/s...max-results=10
    I will certainly check the link out but one day that website will be gone or corrupted. The conversation belongs here i think, instead of linking to sites.

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    Re: Aiecraft VW reliability - What have we learned?

    I'm by no means an expert but I have done a bit of reading on VW engines.

    Remember that there are VW engines and there are VW engines. Theoretically you could pull an engine from a junker bug, mount a prop and to flying. But it would not last long. Perhaps this is where some of the scepticism comes from?

    What is sold by GP and the other companies would be more correctly be called a VW based engine. It may look the same but has some important modifications.
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