Any early (1932-53) Ford V-8 successes?

Discussion in 'Ford' started by HarveyH, Sep 21, 2013.

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  1. Sep 21, 2013 #1

    HarveyH

    HarveyH

    HarveyH

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    Does anyone know if the early Ford flathead V-8 engine has been successfully converted for aviation? Ford engine aficionado Bernie Pietenpol installed one in the early 1930s but was disappointed in its performance. Reportedly, it was only a marginal improvement (the extra horsepower came with too much extra weight) over the 1928-31 Ford 4 banger that he typically used. I would think that 80 years of experimenting since then, someone has either figured out how to make it work, or proven that the engine will just never be a good flyer. I think the looks of one in the nose of a Piet would look very "vintage" but I'm not interested in trying to do so if no such installations have ever been successful. Your comments are solicited (but be gentle! :) ) Harvey
     
  2. Sep 21, 2013 #2

    Autodidact

    Autodidact

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    The Arrow sport used a geared V8; don't know how practical it was (I swiped the pic and info from http://oldrhinebeck.org/ORA/collection/aircraft-engines/):

    Arrow-Model-F-300x297.jpg

    Arrow Model F
    Country: United States
    Year: 1935
    Horsepower: 82
    RPM: 3,075
    Weight: 402 lbs
    Displacement: 221 cu. in.
    Configuration: V-8 liquid cooled
    Used in: Arrow Sport F
    Description: This engine was developed from the Ford V-8 automobile engine and was approved for aircraft use after stringent govern- ment testing. The Arrow Sport aircraft (for which it was produced) used a pull-starter in the cockpit similar to the type found on a lawnmower.

    This pic filched via one-finger discount from Wikipedia:

    Arrow_Model_F.jpg
     
  3. Sep 21, 2013 #3

    TFF

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    Very heavy for the HP. The engines are not big enough to make the torque. Would look better in a 32 ford frame. A friend has a Ford B powered Pete and it climbs at about 300 ft a min solo. Just barely a flier in today's world.
     
  4. Sep 21, 2013 #4

    Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas

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    Just barely a flier is right. Lots of those early guys killed themselves flying underpowered airplanes. We don't need to repeat such history. Out here in the mountains we've had guys crash into the trees because they couldn't outclimb a minor downdraft. In many places there are trees or powerlines or other obstructions in the takeoff path. And a marginal climb rate can get deadly on a high/hot runway with no obstructions or downdrafts at all.

    If I was to convert an auto engine it would be something light for its power, not some ancient boat anchor. Those old engines didn't have long lives, either; worn out long before the vehicle reached 100,000 miles.

    Dan
     
  5. Sep 24, 2013 #5

    HarveyH

    HarveyH

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    That's quite a negative response for someone on a homebuilt aircraft forum. Are you also adamantly opposed to the pre-war Cubs and Aeroncas which were also underpowered? (As opposed to the super-fast screaming-rocketship post-war Cubs and Aeroncas.) Most of the "early guys" killed themselves because aviation was in its infancy and the dynamics of flight wasn't as understood as it is now. Additionally, a majority of the early pilots were self-taught since the few flight schools of the time were staffed with instructors who learned what little they knew about flying from surviving WWI. Do you think THAT had anything to do with the high mortality rate of the early fliers? While it is true that underpowering an airplane can result in problems, the truth is that any airplane that has enough power to rise out of ground effect WILL fly. The caveat is that such an airplane has little reserve power to get out of the trouble that the pilot (still the weakest link even after all of these years) gets the airplane into. Modern ultralights are a good example. Very few have lots of reserve power but they happily fly along as long as the pilot RESPECTS the airplane's limitations. Obviously I don't subscribe to the common belief that the biggest engine is always best. Harvey
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  6. Sep 24, 2013 #6

    HarveyH

    HarveyH

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    I beg to differ. How is it that several thousand 80 year old Model A cars are still running? While I'll grant you that their motors have been rebuilt many times since they rolled out of Henry's plant, they're hardly "worn out". Also, due to the lack of good roads back in their day, along with society's preference to use trains for long distances, ANY car that accumulated even a forth of that 100,000 miles was rare. Harvey
     
  7. Sep 24, 2013 #7

    HarveyH

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    Those accidents aren't the fault of the airplane, regardless of being "underpowered". Those accidents were caused by pilots attempting to fly in conditions that the airplane was incapable of handling. Bigger engines can't always protect pilots from their own "I can fly anything in any conditions" ego. This is why the FAA doesn't stipulate the minimum power-to-lift ratio for aircraft operated in mountainous areas but, instead, focuses on educating the pilot. Harvey
     
  8. Sep 24, 2013 #8

    HarveyH

    HarveyH

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    Sorry, Dan, for appearing to go off on you. You obviously touched a raw nerve with me. Harvey
     
  9. Sep 24, 2013 #9

    Pops

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    I grew up in the 40's and 50's driving flat head Fords. At 50K miles, they were a bug duster, But they sure run good on drip gas straight out of the NG well. (IF you could stand the smell). I had a 1953 Ford that had 103K miles on it and got 20 miles to a guart of oil. Would have to stop at a service station and fill up on oil and check the gas. :)
    Had to drive with the windows down in the winter to let the oil smoke out.

    Power-- As long as I don't run out of rudder, I'll take more , Thank You. Dan
     
  10. Sep 24, 2013 #10

    TFF

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    A flathead will have about as much power as a 1/2 throttle Cub. Easy to hotrod because you could take a hammer to it and make more power. thick castings where you could bore it a 1/4 of an inch. Do that now and all you will able to do is inspect the water jacket. Even then, the biggest you can make a flathead is 300 cid give or take. If you go back and read the old hot rod mags, those hot rod flatheads were grenades. Labor was cheap and so were the engines so kicking a rod out the side every couple of months was OK. When 1955 came it was all over unless your hobby was trying to beat SBCs. At best the old homebuilts were ground skimmers. If you had thousands of acres of wheat to climb you were ok but a tree lined 1000ft field and you have a crap shoot of getting out. A lot of those planes never flew long enough to find out where it stalled; which was the whole flight envelope.
     
  11. Dec 4, 2013 #11

    mel

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    If memory serves me correctly Henry Ford built an aluminum flat head V8 that developed 85 hp and built a Ford flying wing. From what I remember it was said to preform quite well.

    Me
     
  12. Dec 4, 2013 #12

    akwrencher

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    Years ago I saw several hot rod cars with flatheads. Dual quads and superchargers. How much power they mad and how long they lived I won't even venture to guess, they were show cars after all. They did do it though, and I think some of them raced in the nostalgia drags. Probably not the best setup for a plane, but they sure looked cool :)
     
  13. Dec 24, 2013 #13
    I think that given prevailing conditions that most flathead engines operated in, they survived exceedingly well. Many of the people who worked on them had the barest amount of tools,information,training,and experience.....yet they kept them running. Roads were dusty, filters were laughable or non existant compared to engines of today. The quality of oil was incomparable to the oils of today. Strapped for money, owners often reused the same oil after letting it sit so impurities could settle to the bottom of the barrel.........or used "bulk" rerefined oil. Gaskets were simplistic at best. The alloys used to manufacture components were good for the day, but again they are well below todays materials. Ignition systems were primitive, but easy to work on and fairly reliable for the needs of the day. All in all, the flathead was a pretty darn good engine for its time. With a little upgrade and modification to newer standards and using newer oils, the old flathead is basically bulletproof. The downside is that it is difficult to extract additional power at lower rpms due to the flatheads restrictive valve arrangement, and the limited power per pound could very well become dangerous to disasterous. Most people would agree that lighter is better in airplane engines. While the novelty of having a nostalgic engine powering ones plane may be appealing, I would advise very careful consideration and calculation if you decide to go that route. I don't think reliability is a concern, but power to weight and weight/balance might be.If you can verify that the engine is sufficient for your needs, then it would be pretty neat to hear a flathead purring overhead........
     

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