EJ 22 in Zenith 750 STOL

Discussion in 'Subaru' started by littlejon, May 5, 2016.

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  1. May 6, 2016 #21

    Victor Bravo

    Victor Bravo

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    One of the guys who joined my EAA chapter several years ago had a Quickie 200 project that he had been advised to buy a "Subie-Lyc" engine conversion for. I'm not sure of this was an EJ-22 base engine or not. So forgive me if this is talking about something vastly different.

    The amount of work that he had to do to get all the boxes and wires and hoses and coolers and connectors and everything else into that cowling was incredible. Although not by any means the engine's "fault", he also spent a year with an engineer trying to design and build a radiator cooling system for it. This became very complicated, again more because of the airframe and his desire not to have a huge radiator inside the cowling. He finally built a really magnificent looking system with two radiators on the sides of the tailcone, similar to half of a P-38.

    To my limited understanding, the Subaru is a wonderful, reliable, and high quality powerplant. But as another poster has pointed out, the actual big heavy moving parts in the engine are rarely the cause of an operational failure. It's the various systems and electronics, little plastic automotive parts, wires, and hoses that cause problems for these engines. As much as I appreciate and support the development of alternative engines, at the end of the day the reliability of the entire aircraft and all of its systems is what determines how often you land in someone's farm field or back at your home airport. And for whatever reason, and because of whoever's fault, some of these ancilliary or secondary system issues have caused more than their share of operational reliability problems. So an engine that does not need or use those components is still preferable to many people for a good reason. I would LOVE for the brilliant work and efforts of rv6ejguy and William Wynne and Jan Eggenfellner and others to prove me wrong on a "big-market" scale. I would stand up and tip my hat gladly if their work managed to eliminate the problems that come out of auto engine conversions.

    Unfortunately the Quickie Subie-Lyc engine installation never progressed to engine running tests, and the airplane never flew. My friend passed away in an unrelated aircraft accident and the entire project was dismantled and sold separately.
     
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  2. May 6, 2016 #22

    cheapracer

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    [video=youtube;BKorP55Aqvg]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg[/video]
     
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  3. May 6, 2016 #23

    BoKu

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    I'm not a Contact subscriber, so I don't know what's in the article. But my experience from three EJ25s with blown head gaskets might be relevant.

    With the first blown head gasket, I was surprised to learn that the EJ25 has reverse-flow cooling. That is, the water pump draws warm water from the cooling jacket, forces it downward through a thermostat and thence to an outlet at the bottom of the engine, from which it flows to the radiator. Cool water flows out of the top of the radiator and is distributed into the cooling jacket. A bypass line at the thermostat housing goes to the heater core in the dash, which dumps water back into the cooling jacket. This bypass supplies heat for the cabin as well as ensuring that there is always flow past the thermostat so that it senses the ambient coolant temperature even while closed.

    I believe that is called "reverse flow" because it operates in the reverse direction from the thermosiphon flow that let Model T Fords operate with no water pump at all. In a thermosiphon, water in the cooling jacket rises naturally out the upper outlet on the cylinder head to the radiator. In the radiator, water is cooled by airflow through the radiator, and as a result of cooling becomes denser than the hot water from the engine. As a result of this increase in density it percolates down through the radiator, and eventually down into the water inlet on the cylinder block. It's a great system if you don't mind carrying around twice as much water and radiator as you'd otherwise need. But for keeping things compact and efficient, just including a water pump in the circuit is the bees knees.

    So far as I can tell, the EJ25 (and many other modern engines) use reverse-flow cooling because it promotes faster warmup and minimizes the amount of time the engine spends outside of the operating envelope where it is most efficient (and more importantly, in compliance with emissions regulations). And, having kept (and still keeping) many Subari as snow cars, there is nothing like fast warmup when your wife works at a ski resort.

    The big "yes, but" here is what happens when the head gasket fails. My thrice-demonstrated experience is that once the head gasket fails on an EJ25, you can't get more than about 10 horsepower out of it without it overheating. Pulling the thermostat (a five minute job if you keep a 10mm socket and a bucket handy) ups that to about 30 horsepower, offering the possibility of going uphill if that's which way your engine hoist happens to be.

    What seems to be happening, and a lot of this is speculation on my part, is that once you get some head gasket leakage of combustion gas into the cooling jacket, the water pump pulls that bubble of gas into the impeller, where it promptly starts cavitating instead of moving water down to where the thermostat is. And with thermosiphon working against it, the coolant stops flowing around the circuit. And with no warm coolant flowing down to the thermostat, it responds only to heat conducted by its mounting boss, so it is not as wide open as it ought to be. So the engine heats up, the head gasket leaks more, and pretty soon things reach the boiling point and spew out the radiator cap.

    The last time I saw this starting to happening (third time's the charm), I drive the car straight home and left it there. My fourth EJ25 car is one I bought from a mechanic who showed me the Felpro logo on the protruding edges of the new head gaskets; he guaranteed them for 5000 miles and they're still holding now.

    In a more conventional system (up to a few years ago, at least), water is forced drawn from the bottom of the radiator by the water pump, forced into the bottom of the cooling jacket, and out the top through a thermostat to the radiator. If (when) there is some head gasket leakage, the bubble of gas rises to the top of the system where it displaces water and impedes coolant flow, but does not stop it outright. The water pump stays immersed and tends to keep things moving.

    Thanks, Bob K.
     
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  4. May 6, 2016 #24

    Victor Bravo

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    I'm not sure that 200,000 Outback owners would agree that the Sube's are maintenance free.... more than one issue with warping heads or something are pretty well known.

    Is the Outback powered by the EJ22 ?
     
  5. May 7, 2016 #25

    rv6ejguy

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    It's fortunate we have so many EJ experts here...

    The EJ25s are renown for HG failures but we're not talking EJ25 here, we're talking EJ2 and EJ22T which don't have HG problems since they are a different engine use a different HG material and in the case of the EJ22T, have a closed deck block. The EJ22T is considered to be the most bulletproof engine Subaru has ever built by many Subaru experts.

    I helped Keith with his EG33 for several years and know the whole story. The EG33 is also not an EJ22 and Keith's experience is not typical from my experience or the experiences of hundreds of my Subaru customers.

    My company has sold over 600 ECUs for Subaru aircraft use. Not one failure yet and not one water pump failure that I'm aware of on any EJ powered aircraft either that I've been associated with. Our flight time to date with all ECUs exceeds 400,000 hours now- I'd guess a lot more than all the Corvair flight hours combined in the last 50 years.

    The EJ uses a cooling system much like any liquid cooled engine made in the last 30 years. Nothing unusual, unproven or unreliable there. You just need to make sure the air is purged (easily done with a 1/8" bleed line from the coolant crossover to the top of the filler tank) and attach a properly sized and ducted rad.

    Anyway, you Corvair folks can go on believing what you want. I've owned, rebuilt, worked on and raced both engines. The EA81, EJ22 and EG33 are all very good engines and hundreds of thousands of hours of flight time prove it. The Corvair can also make a decent aircraft engine if you follow the right recipe, we've seen that too. They are two different engines fitting two different missions. Use the one you like best which suits your application.

    If you're thinking of using an old junkyard EJ25 in your aircraft with no inspection or rebuild, I suggest you don't just as you shouldn't do the same with a Corvair.
     
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  6. May 7, 2016 #26

    Eagle

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    . I believe you are making a claim here that's truly beyond belief. First, there has never been any engine ever built that uses a water pump and has not had not only water pump failures but head gasket failures too. If that wasn't true there would be no need for auto parts stores to stock them. It's not that a Sube may not be an excellent engine, but it's rediculous to imply that no Subes ever have coolant system failures. Wi!th the 600 examples you are personally responsible for I have to seriously doubt that you are personally aware of every single problem that happens. It's a misleading statement to say that just because you personally have no knowledge of something, it never happened. Don't have to be a Sube expert to just understand the laws of probability. I can however categorically state that not one air cooled Corvair has ever brought an airplane down because of a water pump failure.

    You say the EJ 25 is known for head gasket problems. The EG33 is what blew a gasket in the story. Since you brag about 600 airplanes with Subes, and no known failures, does that mean the 600 airplanes don't include any EJ25 or EG33 engines ?
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  7. May 7, 2016 #27

    don january

    don january

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    I have to say thank goodness the part store's keep Corvair cranks and other GM part's stocked, I say that because I have flown behind Corvair and was glad it didn't have a water pump!!;)
     
  8. May 7, 2016 #28

    littlejon

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    I know this is the Subaru form, but any ideas are good, maybe it is something I had not thought about. If the Subaru looks to be too heavy for the Zenith then I will look at other options, and may end up with a Corvair, as C51 mentioned there are several now it the 750's.
    Are the EJ 22's bed mounted or are they mounted from the pulley end of the engine?
    I have read about the EJ 25 head gasket problems and is why I opted for the EJ 22. As for an engine being trouble free, no engine is trouble free, not a Subaru, not a Corvair, not even my Cummins in my truck. Good maintance will help keep troubles to a minimum, but all the preventive maintance will not stop an engine failure. In an aviation magazine that I have read, in the back they have stories of plane crashes, most of them with certified aircraft, and a good number of them are engine problems. Having good knowledge helps, and that is what I am here looking for. Thank you all for your input, it is all appreciated.
    By the way don, how do you like your KR-2? I am 6'2" and have considered a KR-2.
     
  9. May 7, 2016 #29

    rv6ejguy

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    EJs are generally bed mounted.
     
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  10. May 7, 2016 #30

    littlejon

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    Thank you, one more piece of the puzzle solved. Not many pictures of EJ's installed, and the few that I have found are not very good at showing the motor mounts.
     
  11. May 7, 2016 #31

    cheapracer

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    I know 5 documented, and of other Corvair's that have broken crankshafts in flight, hope that helps.

    I know a multitude of Jabirus, aircooled, that have come down due to head seal failure.

    Of course then there's all the valve and valve seat failures from localised overheating, the number one failure of an aircooled engine, but don't let these silly little facts get in the way.


    A couple of simple questions


    1/ What is the generally acceptable mean piston speed limit?

    2/ What is the mean piston speed of a EJ22 at cruise?

    3/ What is the peak inertial values of the intake and exhaust valve of a Corvair at 3000 rpm compared to an EJ22 at 4500?

    Yup, you don't know. Don't make technical statements when you have no idea what you're talking about.



    I'm sure you find them complex, like tying shoelaces, I don't, but as you rarely have to actually touch modern engines, it makes your point moot.

    Those rare times you would have to work on them, who cares, it's not in the car where Subes can be a PIA to get to things, no, it's like having the engine mounted on an engine stand ready to work on. Easy Peasy.
     
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  12. May 7, 2016 #32

    rv6ejguy

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    I believe you are back in the 1970s perhaps still with regards to water pump failures. I've driven liquid cooled Japanese cars since the early '80s, maybe something over 1.5 million km, plenty that had already had over 300,000km on them when I got them. Never replaced a water pump on a single one yet, say 20 cars in total. A new water pump is not going to fail on an EJ22 in your flying career of several hundred hours in an Experimental- that's the last thing I'd be worrying about.

    Perhaps we should all switch back to 1960s technology?

    You seem to have a really anti-liquid cooled mindset and seem to also follow the WW brainwashed masses way of thinking that the Corvair is some second coming. The Corvair is just another engine, nothing special about it. What a nonsensical comment about water pumps and Corvairs. The Corvair has plenty of Gotchas which is why they need to come apart to check and address them. Nothing wrong with that if you take care of them all before you use it in an airplane or car for that matter. I'll list the ones that I've actually seen with my own eyes on the ones I've owned and overhauled- Head cracks between the seats, dropped seats, leaking pushrod tubes and top covers, cracked crankshafts, cracked pistons (one separated completely), loose exhaust guides, broken rocker arms, loose cam thrust washers and ovaled crank pins (110 cranks)-quite a shopping list.

    You dump on the EJ22. Have you ever worked on one or flown one?

    Actually I don't have any customers flying EJs who've had a serious HG problem which has led to a forced landing. 2 that I do know of found the coolant reservoirs low preflighting and decided to investigate those. They replaced with the latest spec HG or aftermarket ones and were all good again. These were both on well pre-used engines which were never overhauled- not recommended on EJ25s especially. HGs rarely if ever fail suddenly or catastrophically- usually plenty of warning as they slowly leak progressively worse. EJ25s are well understood in this regard as is the fix for them. In any case, the EJ22Ts have no HG issues. RAF sold over 650 gyros with Subaru engines in them and had very few issues with them outside of those caused by replacing the EFI with carbs. An owner poll 10 years ago put the fleet flight time at 125,000 hours.

    Many of my customers share their experiences with me regularly and follow what I've done on my installation and also belong to SubeNews and FlySoob support groups. HG and water pump failures are rarely if ever mentioned in any of these areas. Search the archives yourself. Most Sube owners share their problems and solutions there for the collective good. You believe you are right but you actually have no basis for that feeling.

    I've owned, loved, built and raced Corvairs when I was a younger lad but it wouldn't be my first choice for an aircraft in the 100ish hp class. But you other folks who want to fly behind them, please do and enjoy them. Just don't talk about engines you have no first hand experience with- especially in aircraft.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  13. May 7, 2016 #33

    cheapracer

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    It pains me to imagine what engine Rotax could have supplied to the aviation market if not for all the experts and their lore.

    Kudos to their marketing and research team because they got it right, but I can still picture the engineers being gobsmacked at the table when told to build a "2 valve, pushrod engine" :gig:
     
  14. May 7, 2016 #34

    cluttonfred

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    +1 just for saying "gobsmacked." ;-)
     
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  15. May 7, 2016 #35

    rv6ejguy

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    You can see some of the process on my installation here: http://sdsefi.com/rv4.htm
     
  16. May 7, 2016 #36

    Eagle

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    Corvairs have been flying sucessfully since the 1960s. The Subes being converted have been around since at least the early nineties. Neither are exactly new technology. Mark Lankford broke 2 crankshafts and Corvair enthusiasts identified the issue which was lack of a proper transition radius. Simple problem, simple fix. add a fifth bearing housing. There are also aftermarket stroker cranks available that are problem free. The Subarus have a variety of engine types available. They also use a reduction drive as opposed to the Corvairs less expensive 5th bearing. They did not get to flying status without their own series of problems being identified. There were at one time lots of engine seizures, then blown head gaskets, ECU problems. Then no matter what type of computer controlled water cooled engine you reference, there are the common problems with wires and connectors, hoses and clamps, and head gaskets. Since Corvairs do not have most of that equipment, they do not have those problems.

    You can quote all the technical jargon you want, but its a simple matter of the laws of physics that an engine operating at a higher rotational speed will deliver exponentially greater forces to those components. Pistons will receive twice as many combustion cycles for a given time and they along with the exhaust valves will have less time to dispose of the additional heat. Recently I saw a posting by Dan Thomas describing the failure of the exhaust valves in a Sube conversion he built.

    As for ease of working on them, there is no way that a Sube is as easy to work on as a Corvair. If you read the article on the Sube failure in Contact, the author mentions that after buying a replacement engine for the one that failed, he put a brand new water pump on it before reinstalling it. He then found the new water pump to be bad and had to completely remove the engine yet again in order to get to the water pump. That would not be considered as an easy water pump change, especially if the downed airplane happened to be in some backwoods area because of a forced landing.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  17. May 7, 2016 #37

    ekimneirbo

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    Ross quote: Perhaps we should all switch back to 1960s technology?


    Eki reply: Works pretty well for Lycoming and Continental...why not Corvair ?
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  18. May 7, 2016 #38

    rv6ejguy

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    EFI/ EI is the single most important development to auto engines in the last 40 years to improve reliability, longevity and tremendously reduce maintenance. I was wrenching on cars back in the carb and points days professionally in the repair business and saw the transition to EFI and EI. Today most good designs require no maintenance or adjustments outside of oil changes for 100-160,000 km. and last easily 300-400,000 km. This is a quantum leap over what 1970s era autos were routinely doing.

    You'll note that all the newest small aero engines like D-Motor, UL Power and Rotax have seen the light and gone FADEC on their designs.

    There is no correlation between complexity and reliability assuming engines are well engineered- see above.

    There are no serious issues with wires, connectors, head gaskets, water pumps, ECUs etc. IF done properly. Do a shabby job and you'll have problems just like you will with any engine.

    Many factors determine engine component life however the Subes are not stressed either mechanically or thermally running at 4500 rpm assuming the coolant temps and AFRs are within well known boundaries. The Gyro in Australia with 3800 hours was being pounded in the flight training environment- very tough, but did not suffer any premature distress. Dan Thomas removed the EFI/EI and replaced it with a carb and primitive ignition. Probably the root of most of the issues he had were by not knowing where the AFRs were. We know longevity is massively related on auto engines to proper AFRs and spark timing especially above outputs over 35-40hp/L.

    We also know that Subarus don't like continuous operation on 100LL. We have a number a forum members with 700-1000 hours on their Sube engines without touching them internally- still have good compression and no oil consumption to speak of. I expect many of these to reach 1200-1500 hours eventually with no work and these are almost all with completely factory parts- no expensive cranks or other aftermarket bits because they're not required. The EJ has a forged, nitrided, rolled fillet crank, factory, along with forged rods and 5 main bearings in a very rigid case design. It's many times stiffer and stronger than the stock Corvair components.

    The RAF and Parnham belt drives are very reliable as are the AutoFlight gearboxes used on many Gyros. Others have not been so good but again, we know the recipe to make the packages reliable and what components to use.

    A DD Corvair is down around the same specific output at a Lycoming or Jabiru which is a safe place for air cooled engines doing aircraft duty. When people want higher performance, many prefer liquid cooled engines where power density is higher and thermal control is better- some of the same reasons we don't see cars being made with air cooled engines any longer.

    Like I said before, people should fly behind whatever engine they like and feel comfortable with. For some that's a Corvair, VW, Lycoming, Subaru, Rotax or Chevy. I'm glad we have choices.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
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  19. May 8, 2016 #39

    mcrae0104

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    Wow, this got ugly quick. : )

    I have no dog in this fight (except that I drove and loved an EA-82 for 160,000+ miles, which is more or less irrelevant).

    1) Ross, on what basis do you say there are more flying Subarus than Corvairs? It doesn't particularly matter to me which has more flying, nor does it mean one is better than the other for a particular airframe application; I'm just curious.

    2) Ross, you are well known as a Subaru expert; have you any flight experience behind a Corvair?

    3) If you disagree with someone, you would do well to deal in facts instead of labels such as "brainwashed masses."

    4) Were any of these issues found in flight engines? (We must assume, based on your prior request not to talk about engines with which one doesn't have flight experience, that you do have experience with Corvair flight engines; don't you?) Or are you speaking of your experience with Corvair racing engines in road cars, of which you have mentioned in the past you were asking much more than 120 hp? Just making sure we're apples-to-apples here.

    A pissing match between Subarus and Corvairs is really entirely unnecessary. Quite different engines suited to different needs and different mindsets.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
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  20. May 8, 2016 #40

    Eagle

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    Actually increases in computer capability and making them smaller was the achievement. That then allowed Electronic control of many things including fuel injection and emission control. Water cooling was not part of that new technology wave. A fuel injected air cooled engine is easily done these days. I believe there are actually some Lycomings using the SDS controls.



    Most times when you make a statement like this there is a qualifier attached such as the one above "assuming engines are well engineered".
    While the basic Sube is well engineered, complexity of the complete package is whats being discussed. The average builder does not have an engineering team doing the work and may not even have a lot of personal experience to fall back on. Its certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that the average builder struggles to build wiring circuits properly, or properly install cooling system components. The simplicity of a Lycoming or a Corvair installation cannot be compared to the complexity of a Sube installation and there is the opportunity that no matter how cautious a builder is, he is usually an amatuer and things can go wrong. So again I say that if you wish to discuss ease of building and potential for some problem to occur, an air cooled engine is a better choice for a STOL airplane. If you wish to discuss reliability, the fuel injected and water cooled again presents more opportunity for failure. You simply can't argue that fact. I am not against fuel injected and water cooled engines, in fact I prefer them, but I had to admit to myself that they are heavier than I like and they do require more work to build, and they do involve more parts that can fail. The point here is that if you add 100 reliable components to the completed assembly, only one of them has to falter. Only one.


    Just as I said above, these are amatuers building these airplanes, and they make mistakes, so complexity can become a problem. If you don't rely on a component, it can't cause you to force land a plane.

    It seems that there are some good though expensive reduction drives available these days. They add additional cost, weight, and complexity, and apparently some early models have failed. Corvairs now employ a lightweight and somewhat less costly 5th bearing. These seem to be working exceptionally well.

    Nothing wrong with that. A Corvair can produce a safe 120hp these days. Bill Clapp is doing some experimenting with even higher hp versions.



    .[/QUOTE]
     
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