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Topaz

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But is it a sound design? I don’t remember what I’ve read about them.
I looked at these a lot, once upon a time, because I wanted one. From what I heard and read, my understanding is that stability is "weak", and there have been reports that the roll-control power provided by the "spoilerons" can be deficient at some corners of the flight envelope. It's one of the group of aircraft designed to the "sustainer motorglider" fad of the early '80's (The Haig Minibat was another, and a direct competitor to the Eaglet), so while I believe you technically can take off and climb out with the little 12hp McCullogh engine on a cold morning, it was really meant for "saves" and the airplane was intended to be aero-towed for takeoff. IIRC, L/Dmax is about 23:1, about the same as an SGS 2-33. I don't think I ever knew a minimum sink value.

I don't recall hearing of any issues structurally, but remember that this aircraft is a product of the ultralight craze of the early '80's, and it's probably not "robust" in the fullest sense of the word. You can, for example, see the (leather, in this case) sling seat in the photos of this one for sale. Meaning the seat is just a sling of material to keep your butt off the fuselage bottom. No seat structure at all. The pod structure is a strong main bulkhead under (and attached to) the mainspar, with the engine hung off the back and a few light tubes going forward to hold the (largely non-structural) fiberglass aero fairing around the pilot. The tubes are aluminum, pop-riveted with gussets, similar to the SuperFloater. Crashworthiness is almost zero, typical of ultralights of the period.

It's a neat design in concept, and there's room for a beefed-up, slightly larger, better-designed knock-off in the ultralight sailplane/motorglider niche. Sustainer motorgliders as a concept lasted less than ten years - if you've got all the weight and complexity of a motor, why not spend a few more dollars and have one that you can use for regular motorglider operations? Fitting a larger prop behind that pod would be a challenge, and "inexpensive" folding 3- or 4-bladed props are even more of a unicorn than 2-bladed ones. I think parts are getting hard to find on the McCullogh engines these days (anyone know?), so there'd probably be a lot of scrounging work there, too.

Let's put it this way: If this one were on the south-west coast, I'd be sorely tempted to look at it just to see one in-person, but I don't think, even for the asking price, I'd lay down money for it. Too big of a project to whip it into shape and, even when it's at its finest, it'd be a very modest and extremely "minimalist" sailplane, suited best for showing up the "airchair" guys on a good ridge day than anything else, and you're going to have lots of sled rides unless you find some really good thermals. It would be an airplane that you always fly very carefully, knowing that you're probably going to get hurt if you crash at all. There really aren't any modern designs that I know of that are comparable, so if it's exactly what you want, you're willing to live with the issues, and are ready to put in a fair amount of work on it, this one might be a good find. It's certainly the best remaining example that I've seen in a long time, even with its obvious hangar-rash. You'd probably have the only example still flying.
 

proppastie

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stability is "weak", and there have been reports that the roll-control power provided by the "spoilerons" can be deficient.
seems from what I read that is a generous characterization. add ailerons a stronger engine/prop and do not fly over 3G stress and it might be ok.
 

Topaz

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seems from what I read that is a generous characterization. add ailerons a stronger engine/prop and do not fly over 3G stress and it might be ok.
That'd be a complete wing redesign, unfortunately, both aerodynamic and structural. The problem with a "stronger engine/prop" is that the diameter of the propeller is tightly constrained by the wing and the ground. Folding multi-blade propellers are rare as roc's eggs, and priced at their weight in gold-pressed latinum.
 

proppastie

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Folding multi-blade propellers are rare
The one I saw had a homemade folding prop.....basically 2 " U fittings" with a bolt through the root of each prop blade. I think it was not even spring loaded closed, Centrifugal force opened the blades and wind closed them when shut down. Very simple and should work if the stress analysis on the parts is correct, and you can build and balance accurately.
 

Victor Bravo

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The folding propellers used on the early Ventus sailplane sustainer version (not self-launch) had five blades that were spring loaded in the folded position. As the engine started the blades would swing out and stay there. I'm sure those propellers are as rare as hen's teth nowdays. But they were not very complicated mechanically. No reason a homebuilder couldn't build one today out of small UL propeller blade components.
 
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Bille Floyd

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Sep 26, 2019
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...
You can, for example, see the (leather, in this case) sling seat in the photos of this one for sale. Meaning the seat is just a sling of material to keep your butt off the fuselage bottom. No seat structure at all. The pod structure is a strong main bulkhead under (and attached to) the mainspar, with the engine hung off the back and a few light tubes going forward to hold the (largely non-structural) fiberglass aero fairing around the pilot. The tubes are aluminum, pop-riveted with gussets, similar to the SuperFloater. Crashworthiness is almost zero, typical of ultralights of the period.

It's a neat design in concept, and there's room for a beefed-up, slightly larger, better-designed knock-off in the ultralight sailplane/motorglider niche.
...
YEP -- i immediately pictured that seat ; getting replaced with one
of my PG harnesses !

I E-mailed the guy and told him i wanted to mold the pod, and
make a carbon & Nomex honeycomb one with an integrated
frame . That same pod could now be turned into a trike, for
my rigid-wing Exxtacy ; or used with the existing wings, with
a slight Mod.

I'm Seriously thinking of getting this thing ; all the profiling pod work
i had planned to do on my Exxtacy project , is already shaped
and waiting for me to mold it.

If i do get this project , i'll be making a new Thread on PFP
molds ; not a lot of people know how to build them. The
guy who taught me how to make PFP molds ; he rented a Dino Ferrari
and he & his daughter molded it over the coarse of a Long weekend.
The final mold , was good enough for a low resolution part ; add
peep-ply to the surface of the mold, and after it's removal
the part is ready for a catalyzed sanding primer.

Bille
 

BrianW

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Jul 2, 2018
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Altus SW Oklahoma
My spirits jumped at the possibility of flying something like the Fournier RF-4 that was my joy in the seventies: single retrac main-wheel, air brakes, ailerons, VW powered, tail skid wing outriggers, rated 6G, roll rate nothing to write home about. A beautiful, reliable airplane.
 

Victor Bravo

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I E-mailed the guy and told him i wanted to mold the pod, a

is already shaped
and waiting for me to mold it.
Billy do you want a decent shaped glider pod to make a mold from... without driving from !)(#*$ Vegas to !(#*$ Charlotte???

I happen to have one from this sailplane, courtesy of BoKu's shop-cleaning several years ago. Supposedly, Bob even has a canopy for it somewhere in his vast vault of HP parts (you'll have to get that separately from him) . I am willing to loan you this fuselage pod at no cost. It even has an opening for the tailboom tube at the back, which is about the right size for a propeller to exit the rear of the pod :)

 

Derswede

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Jan 6, 2016
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Central North Carolina
Hey! I am near Charlotte and may just be interested enough to do a west coast driveout. Not at CannonBall speeds of course, but hang it off the back of the pickup and avoid low bridges, might work.
Would attract a bit of attention, I'd bet!
Derswede
 

Victor Bravo

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Jul 30, 2014
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Location
KWHP, Los Angeles CA, USA
PRICE DROP VP-1 - "The San Diego Volksplane" asking price has finally dropped to $1000 less than originally posted. The asking price is still higher than what it can likely be bought for, but the fact that they dropped the advertised price means they are ready to negotiate.

 
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