Could you put together an automotive pusher power plant mostly off-the-shelf?

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Tiger Tim

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Another thread here that I promised myself I would never post on has recently shown a major failure of a one-off home-brew diesel pusher and it got me wondering, could the same general idea be made to work but much easier? I don’t have a horse in this race (and never will) but let’s say the constraints are it needs to be based on a used auto engine, any fuel, and mounted on an unpressurized airframe. Also required is a minimal test program, the idea being to use things that are already reasonably well proven and can be operated with confidence. Basically nothing groundbreaking, hence off-the-shelf. Again, this is just me asking people smarter than myself just for the purpose of my own general education.

Could it be as simple as a junkyard LS V8 with an airboat gearbox, electric CS prop, and an EFI system from SDS or similar?
 

sming

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You mean like this ls3 velocity?

Not a pusher but an actual diesel "for the people" (so 10k$ not 130k$), the cleanest conversion i've seen so far, by a Peugeot mechanic:
 

rv7charlie

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Multiple pusher style a/c have been flying for years; some with GM V8s, some with Ford V8s, some with rotaries, etc.
 

Daleandee

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Don't know what horsepower you have in mind but I'm pretty firmly convinced almost any pusher would need to be water cooled if it were of the automotive variety. Air-cooled VW and Corvair engines would be a bit difficult to get the cooling correct in the pusher configuration but I'm also guessing a really astute builder might get it done on a slick, fast airframe.

I know a fella now that claims he can mount an 80 horse VW in a pusher configuration on a Rans S-12 and make it cool properly. I will root for his success but if I was a betting man I'd bet against that ever happening ...
 

rv7charlie

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There's a 2 seat Kolb that's been flying for years with a VW/reduction drive. Of course the whole engine is sitting up in the air stream.
 

Daleandee

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I don't doubt that the VW can be mounted on a pusher and have some success. I remember the 1/2 VW on a Hawk that seemed to work OK.

There are two videos of the VW powered Kolb that I could find ... both over 10 years old and only one shows a take off. Still it appears that the builder did a pretty nice job on the baffling and cooling set-up. If using the 60 HP VW and a great cooling package it may survive for a while but from my limited experience with VW engines in slow airplanes (especially two seaters), they are extremely difficult to cool properly.

But my idea of cooling may be different from what someone else accepts. Many use an operating procedure that says 450ºF is the limit and 425ºF is good for climb-out while using something like 375-400ºF for cruise. IMHO that is just too hot. Will it run there? Of course it will but you will spend a lot of time changing heads and lapping valves.

I'm not saying it can't be done and the one cited above is proof that it can be. But if VW pushers were wildly successful I believe we would see a lot more VW powered pusher aircraft flying. Besides the weight penalty the problem of adequate cooling is a major hurdle.

Of course this is just one old man's opinion ...
 

rv7charlie

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The owner of the one I referenced is quite active on the Matronics Kolb list. I'm confident he'd be happy to share his experience if you ask over there.

Having said that, I'd agree that there are better options today; pusher or not.
 
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