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Beachner V8 Special

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orion

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Mar 2, 2003
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5,800
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Western Washington
I remember it well - well done airframe and engine installation. Seemed to have disappeared about eight years ago (give or take a bit)and haven't heard a thing since.

The last time I saw it though (at Arlington), I noticed there were several suspicious cracks in the finish on the fusleage near the wing attach point, and a couple in the bottom skin of the wing. Anytime you see a crack anywhere in composite, it's not a good thing and it is worth a deeper investigation. Hope there was nothing serious in the Beachner, but I don't know as I didn't get a chance to talk to the owner at the time.
 

rpellicciotti

Active Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
43
Location
Memphis, TN
I remember that airplane was painted with acrylic paint. It could be that the cracks were developing in the paint. I have never seen cracks in actual composite structure (except of course after a crash) but I have seen cracks in the filler coat and the paint job on lots of them.

Would like to find a set of plans for this airplane.

I have some other pictures of the airplane and the engine installation if anyone is interested.
 

orion

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Mar 2, 2003
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Western Washington
I agree - acrylic paint is probably not exactly the best choice for painting composites (although I have seen a few folks who really know how to use the stuff and never have any problems). However, at the same time, it must be pointed out that any cracking should be investigated in order to assure one self that the failure is truly only in the paint.

One of the issues of composite structures is that they are rather susceptible to stress concetrations and notch sensitivity and even small cracks that may just appear in the finish, may be sufficient to cause a more serious problem. This, coupled with the fact that fiberglass based composite structures are also sensitive to fatigue, makes it critical to investigate even the smallest of cracks when they appear in a high stress area such as at a wing attach point or on the bottom wing skin.

I just apporach this with the mind set that says "There is no such thing as minor cracking".
 

Ed Jeffko

Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2005
Messages
9
Were you aware that he was killed in a crash in the Portland area in the 80"s. I don't know which version he was flying as he was building a new version in the early 80's when I met him in Az. The FAA thought it was carb ice. I still have his engine conversion plans dated 1983.


Ed
 

rpellicciotti

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Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
43
Location
Memphis, TN
v8 special

Yes, I think it was a classic case of "get home itis". He had a sick engine and presses on anyway. Could have happened with and aircraft engine powered plane too.

Would love to have a copy of the conversion plans for the archive. Would you consider copying them or selling your copy?

Still looking for a set of plans for the airplane too.

Rick
 

Falco Rob

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Joined
Apr 8, 2004
Messages
185
Location
Perth, Western Australia
Orion,

I was interested to note your comment that composites are susceptable to fatigue cracking.

I was under the impression that only metal aircraft had this problem and that wood and composites were not affected.

I can imagine that the resin bonding the glass fibres together can get surface cracks but I thought the toughness and flexibility of the fibres would prevent the crack from propogating, as it does in metal, when subjected to vibration or reversing loads (ie flexing)

Can you shed some light on this one?

Rob
 

orion

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Mar 2, 2003
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Western Washington
Virtually every material is subject to some form of fatigue issue as a result of repeated cyclic loading. The life, or susceptibility to damage, is a function of the material itself and the type of loading it is subject to. Yes, the major influences that we tend to learn about are for metal components, but composites are not immune. This is especially true for the materials we tend to use in our industry.

Interestingly enough, wood is rather unique in that it is highly resistant to fatigue. I remember a brief statement made many years ago by one of my professors (in one of my university structures classes) - he indicated that this resistance is due to the material's relatively low strength, which results in a requirement for a high volume of material for any given load. Given the substantial mass volume that a wood structure results in (and the low stresses it has to be subject to), the mechanism's of fatigue do not tend to manifest themselves. I've never read anything to support this statement but it is a fact that when designed correctly (and protected), wood is a pretty good, long lasting material.

Similar statements can be made for some composites. Boron fibers for instance, have a nearly horizontal plot on the S-n chart ("S" is the stress value and "n" is the cycles to failure). Unidirectional graphite fibers have a similar plot although the shallow curve does tend to be a bit more sloped than that of the Boron fibers.

E-glass fibers however have a curve that is virtually identical in shape to that of 2024-T3. So, if one is looking for infinite life criteria (generally considered at the stress point that is required to fail the material at 500 million cycles), for 2024-T3 that point is around 18,000 psi, or about 1/3 the value of the materials ultimate strength. Simply said, if you want that aluminum structure to last indefinetly, you have to make sure that in its day-to-day operation, the stresses never exceed 18,000 psi. (This however is a very simplistic statement since fatigue issues tend to be cumulative and a function of several other factors including environmental, geometric, etc., all of which can reduce that stress value even further.)

For E-glass unidirectional fibers, the infinite life criteria is a bit lower, at about 12,000 to 14,000 psi., depending on the actual fiber and the resin matrix it is encased in. Again, this is about 1/3 the ultimate strength value, maybe a bit less.

S-glass is a bit more interesting in this behavior. Although its inherent strength starts substantially higher than that of E-glass, by the time the number of cycles approach about 50,000, the two curves are virtually identical, although the stress values for the S-glass are still about 30% higher. The infinite life value for this stronger fiber seems to be around 30,000 psi. or about 1/6 the practical ultimate strength of the uni matrix.

However this is not the complete story. For instance, composites tend to show fatigue degradation in conditions where metals show little to none. This inludes loading in shear and compression. This is further impacted by the choice of materials, surface degradation or damage, environment, finish, laminate condition and make-up, etc.

Also, the endurace curves are somewhat different for woven materials. Here the curve shape tends to be a bit more similar to that of the aluminum, but at lower values. This is also true for graphite fabrics although here the curve is a bit flatter due to the graphite yarn materials that make-up the fabric being generally thinner and thus the fibers are not as affected by the crimp and shear factors that one sees with the somewhat thicker fiberglass fabrics.

Designing with composites is not simple and requires a substantial familiarity with the materials' behavior at other than ideal conditions. It is one of the reasons that the FAA requires an ultimate load factor of 2.0 for composites rather than the 1.5 used for metal structures.

In short, like any other material, composites are subject to fatigue but since they are not homogeneous in their makeup, the designer has to be familiar not only with the fibers but also with the behavior of the overall laminate. Simply said, if there is a problem, slapping on more material is most likely not the solution. If there is evidnece of any sort of cracking, it is generally not a good idea to assume that "it's only in the paint". A crack indication of any sort could be a sign of a more serious problem.
 
Last edited:

v8guy

New Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2005
Messages
1
Location
Portland Or. area
Yes I remember it well. I worked closely with Chris on the engine and installation. I retrieved the engine after the crash and along with other engineers determined that the cause of the power failure (partial) was water in the fuel. It was Chris's habit to buy auto fuel at whatever gas station was convienient to the airport if it was not available at the field. He had done this the evening before he was to leave for Arlington. There were 3 5gal. jeep cans strapped in the back seat which added to the inflagration. My examination of the wreck revealed that the battery under the forward seat had broken free and slid forward on inpact, and most likely wedged under the aluminim cowl tank, shorting and was probably the source of ignition of the fuel. It was a sad day. Chris was a very thoughtful pilot but a few unusual lapses combined to create a tragedy. The engine was running very rough and the decision to launch anyway was in al likelyhood the worst. Chris and the Special both had a very bright future.
 

puggo123

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2006
Messages
11
Location
England
Beachner Special

Thanks V8guy for the details on Chris Beachner and his unfortunate accident.

When his plane first appeared in Kitplanes (circa 1895), I wanted to build it there and then. I bought the plans and rushed off to the local Aussie airport to check the procedure for experimental aircraft. It was a no go back then! Alas it did not happen.

However I still wonder what of the other plans owners? Mizell Enterprises in Tuscon took on the design of the V8 Special and showed a SBS (side-by-side) fuselage but no further report of this plane can be found. Detailed research has shown only one other V8 special was built (FAA report lists it as a fatal crash).

With the rise of the LSA category, maybe it's time to re-introduce the design. For those of you who don't know this design here's a brief summary. (from memory)
* Cockpit layout 1+1 (similar to Buddy Lakes), no aft controls
* Rover or Buick V8 engine - upright, direct drive via short shaft - 125hp @3600 rpm, Berne Warnke 2 blade prop
* Steel tube fuselage with fibreglass on shaped foam covering
* Wings, Fin and Tailplane - spruce spars, solid foam, covered in fibreglass (as per Rand KR2).
* empty weight 850lbs, gross weight 1350lbs
* span 24feet , length 19feet
* stall speed flapped 45mph
* cruise speed ~150mph
* retractible undercarriage - ala big KR2, quite draggy and a panted RV undercarriage would probably have no more drag

The PRSU/engine installation was simplicity in itself. The V8 was upright with the manual bellhousing pointing forwards. A short stub shaft was then bolted directly to the crank and supported with a truck axle bearing at the prop end. The bearing was in a turned housing extending the shaft about 4 inches ahead of the bell housing. The prop fange was keyed onto the shaft and prop bolted up as normal.

I've still got the plans and await the European experimental category, so I may one day build this little exotic spedster.

Puggo
 

fastpat

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2006
Messages
5
Re: Beachner Special

Originally posted by puggo123
Thanks V8guy for the details on Chris Beachner and his unfortunate accident.

When his plane first appeared in Kitplanes (circa 1895), I wanted to build it there and then. I bought the plans and rushed off to the local Aussie airport to check the procedure for experimental aircraft. It was a no go back then! Alas it did not happen.

However I still wonder what of the other plans owners? Mizell Enterprises in Tuscon took on the design of the V8 Special and showed a SBS (side-by-side) fuselage but no further report of this plane can be found. Detailed research has shown only one other V8 special was built (FAA report lists it as a fatal crash).

With the rise of the LSA category, maybe it's time to re-introduce the design. For those of you who don't know this design here's a brief summary. (from memory)
* Cockpit layout 1+1 (similar to Buddy Lakes), no aft controls
* Rover or Buick V8 engine - upright, direct drive via short shaft - 125hp @3600 rpm, Berne Warnke 2 blade prop
* Steel tube fuselage with fibreglass on shaped foam covering
* Wings, Fin and Tailplane - spruce spars, solid foam, covered in fibreglass (as per Rand KR2).
* empty weight 850lbs, gross weight 1350lbs
* span 24feet , length 19feet
* stall speed flapped 45mph
* cruise speed ~150mph
* retractible undercarriage - ala big KR2, quite draggy and a panted RV undercarriage would probably have no more drag

The PRSU/engine installation was simplicity in itself. The V8 was upright with the manual bellhousing pointing forwards. A short stub shaft was then bolted directly to the crank and supported with a truck axle bearing at the prop end. The bearing was in a turned housing extending the shaft about 4 inches ahead of the bell housing. The prop fange was keyed onto the shaft and prop bolted up as normal.

I've still got the plans and await the European experimental category, so I may one day build this little exotic spedster.

Puggo
I just received some old Sport Aviation magazines, one of which had the article on Chris Beachner's V8 Special, October 1983 for those interested in the story.

I found this thread by searching Google, and of course the ending is quite tragic.

I hope to here more from those who have plans for this aircraft, it'd be a shame not to have more flying than the one still listed by the FAA.

Pat
 

rpellicciotti

Active Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
43
Location
Memphis, TN
Re: Beachner Special

Thanks V8guy for the details on Chris Beachner and his unfortunate accident.

When his plane first appeared in Kitplanes (circa 1895), I wanted to build it there and then. I bought the plans and rushed off to the local Aussie airport to check the procedure for experimental aircraft. It was a no go back then! Alas it did not happen.

However I still wonder what of the other plans owners? Mizell Enterprises in Tuscon took on the design of the V8 Special and showed a SBS (side-by-side) fuselage but no further report of this plane can be found. Detailed research has shown only one other V8 special was built (FAA report lists it as a fatal crash).

With the rise of the LSA category, maybe it's time to re-introduce the design. For those of you who don't know this design here's a brief summary. (from memory)
* Cockpit layout 1+1 (similar to Buddy Lakes), no aft controls
* Rover or Buick V8 engine - upright, direct drive via short shaft - 125hp @3600 rpm, Berne Warnke 2 blade prop
* Steel tube fuselage with fibreglass on shaped foam covering
* Wings, Fin and Tailplane - spruce spars, solid foam, covered in fibreglass (as per Rand KR2).
* empty weight 850lbs, gross weight 1350lbs
* span 24feet , length 19feet
* stall speed flapped 45mph
* cruise speed ~150mph
* retractible undercarriage - ala big KR2, quite draggy and a panted RV undercarriage would probably have no more drag

The PRSU/engine installation was simplicity in itself. The V8 was upright with the manual bellhousing pointing forwards. A short stub shaft was then bolted directly to the crank and supported with a truck axle bearing at the prop end. The bearing was in a turned housing extending the shaft about 4 inches ahead of the bell housing. The prop fange was keyed onto the shaft and prop bolted up as normal.

I've still got the plans and await the European experimental category, so I may one day build this little exotic spedster.

Puggo
I tracked down and talked to Mr. Mizel about a year ago (2006). Nothing was ever done with the airplane. He has relocated to Arkansas (retired). He still has the two partially completed planes and a couple of engines. He wants $40,000 for the whole smash. It seems like a lot for an unsuccessful design, some materials that are really old and a couple of engines that have been sitting in a hangar for 20 years. I am told by someone else that the engines and 1 fuselage were stored outside for some time.
 

rpellicciotti

Active Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
43
Location
Memphis, TN
Re: Beachner Special

Thanks V8guy for the details on Chris Beachner and his unfortunate accident.

When his plane first appeared in Kitplanes (circa 1895), I wanted to build it there and then. I bought the plans and rushed off to the local Aussie airport to check the procedure for experimental aircraft. It was a no go back then! Alas it did not happen.

However I still wonder what of the other plans owners? Mizell Enterprises in Tuscon took on the design of the V8 Special and showed a SBS (side-by-side) fuselage but no further report of this plane can be found. Detailed research has shown only one other V8 special was built (FAA report lists it as a fatal crash).

With the rise of the LSA category, maybe it's time to re-introduce the design. For those of you who don't know this design here's a brief summary. (from memory)
* Cockpit layout 1+1 (similar to Buddy Lakes), no aft controls
* Rover or Buick V8 engine - upright, direct drive via short shaft - 125hp @3600 rpm, Berne Warnke 2 blade prop
* Steel tube fuselage with fibreglass on shaped foam covering
* Wings, Fin and Tailplane - spruce spars, solid foam, covered in fibreglass (as per Rand KR2).
* empty weight 850lbs, gross weight 1350lbs
* span 24feet , length 19feet
* stall speed flapped 45mph
* cruise speed ~150mph
* retractible undercarriage - ala big KR2, quite draggy and a panted RV undercarriage would probably have no more drag

The PRSU/engine installation was simplicity in itself. The V8 was upright with the manual bellhousing pointing forwards. A short stub shaft was then bolted directly to the crank and supported with a truck axle bearing at the prop end. The bearing was in a turned housing extending the shaft about 4 inches ahead of the bell housing. The prop fange was keyed onto the shaft and prop bolted up as normal.

I've still got the plans and await the European experimental category, so I may one day build this little exotic spedster.

Puggo
Would you like to sell your copy of the plans?
 

PTAirco

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2003
Messages
3,576
Location
Corona CA
Straying off topic -

""I've still got the plans and await the European experimental category, so I may one day build this little exotic spedster.""

Is there such a categoy in the works in Britain? I remember dealing with the PFA in the 80's and 90's and it was like pulling teeth to get them to commit to anything, when it came to new designs. I know Australia has gone the "Experimental" route now, too.
 

billyvray

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2005
Messages
806
Location
Newnan, GA
Re: Beachner Special

Is there any way possible that you would copy these plans? I would love to see the design for possible future ideas!


I've still got the plans and await the European experimental category, so I may one day build this little exotic spedster.

Puggo
 

rpellicciotti

Active Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
43
Location
Memphis, TN
I thought I would "bump" this thread again. I am still looking for a set of plans for the Beachner V-8 Special. If anyone has a set they would like to part with, I would appreciate it if you let me know.
 

don january

Well-Known Member
Log Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2015
Messages
2,906
Location
Midwest
Richard Finch has the plane on the front cover of Auto engines for Exp.aircraft second edition. Richard speaks of the plane many times in the book with other pictures and I believe there is a partial print of chevy 350 engine. Also there is info about the plane called the " Prowler" it also has the Olds V-8, Rex Taylor, of Hapi engines took a nice pic. of the Beachner v-8 special. one artical states Chris beachner accumulated over 900 on the airframe and the buick v-8 chris was lost in 1985
 

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