# Ford Flivver (again?)

### Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

#### Turd Ferguson

##### Well-Known Member
Define "Better"
Complete, easy to understand documentation for construction, uses standard homebuilding processes with tools typically in the amateur builder's shop. Can be built in a reasonable period of time. Once completed, plane with good stability and control, reasonable takeoff, climb and landing performance. Comfortable cockpit - something that would be enjoyable to fly vs being a challenge and a chore.

Turd's point was that no matter how well it flies, there is something better out there. He's correct, but the same can be said of every airplane ever built (ever).
You are oversimplifying the point.

Right now, I am looking at a Hi-Max, but I think the Flivver could be a really cool (second) project. It's a good looking little plane, has nice classic lines, and acceptable performance - could use a bit more power or a bit less weight, but what plane can't?
What I said was there are better alternatives; meaning documentation, build support and a reasonably good flying plane when done. I've studied the Flivver, inspected it closely, considered what it would take to build one. Talked to the museum curator about drawings. I'd put it on par with a Skyote. Relatively simple looking plane that is incredibly difficult to produce. If someone says they are more interested in the history, how it was built and can it be duplicated with not much interest in flying, I'd say go for it. If someone says I want to build a plane where build time is not greater than life remaining and they want to spend as many hrs as possible trying to wear it out when done, there are better alternatives.

#### TFF

##### Well-Known Member
Who is Randy?
As for gravel strips I know someone who takes his Starduster 1 on fishing trips and lands on the beach of the lake. RV3 would be fine too it was designed for 1000 ft fields. A Fliver, not so much. Most dont take planes in those places now because they dont want to hurt their precious airplane; fly those planes in the 50s-60's-early 70's and your plane would have seen just as many rough strips as smooth. The Hi Max is a better plane. Historic not so much. To be different and your name is not Burt usually gets you a lot of waisted time building something unsuccessful. Cream rises, if it was great as designed, we would be talking about Ford airplanes instead of Pipers and Cessnas.

#### ironnerd

##### Well-Known Member
The Flivver actually came in a varieties. The three-cylinder Anzani-powered "268" plane was smaller than the later 2-cylinder-powered "3218" plane. The 3218 was longer, had more wing, more dihedral, and had the engine farther out in front of the wing (likely because the 2-cyl was much lighter than the 3-cyl). Also the fuselage of the 268 was deeper than that of the 3218, giving the later model a less "pudgy" appearance. 3218 appears (as far as I can tell from articles from the time) was 16 feet long with a span of 25 feet and a wing area of 115 feet. It appears as though all of these mods were made to correct the 268's rather "meh" flying characteristics.

Harry Brooks (pilot) died in the crash off Melbourne FL in the 3218 due to fuel starvation; he neglected to remove the small wooden plugs from the fuel vent system (installed to help keep water out of the fuel tanks).

#### Battler Britton

##### Well-Known Member
are you talking about that one?

I prefer the short one!!

#### ironnerd

##### Well-Known Member
Uh-oh... "conflict" (lol!)

Yes, that is the one I prefer.

I don't dislike the shorty, but I like the "Stretched" Flivver a bit more. just something about it that says "Classic Plane" to me. Makes me wonder how the 3218 version would look with a cowled 3-cyl radial up front. The Verner 3VW has been used on at least one Min-Max, looks good, has some good specs (uses VW pistons and cylinders), and it weighs a lot less than either of the old original Flivver engines.

As heavy as the engines Ford used were, a converted Generac V-twin would actually reduce the total weight. I doubt I would have any need for 50 gallon fuel tanks either... 10 gallons should do nicely. It would be kind of fun to use it to buzz the Ford Test Track by my in-laws' house, or the Henry Ford museum

In looking at the picture you posted, I think they moved the wing aft on the 3218 versus the 268

#### Dana

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
Might do well with a Pegasus O-100, too...

One wonders just Lindbergh didn't like about it. If it was just a hot ship that landed fast by 1930s standards, that's one thing.Ditto for being underpowered. If, OTOH, it had some nasty handling characteristics, that's something else again.

Dana

#### Victor Bravo

##### Well-Known Member
So... you guys would use an S-1S or RV-3 for flying passengers into rough gravel strips?

If nothing flies better than an S-1S or RV-3, why did Randy and Dick build all the other planes in their fleets?
No, the entire sub-sub-sub topic was about the "best flying" not the mission capability. For mission capability the S-1 Pitts is absolutely perfect for what it was intended to do (safe, contest capable unlimited acro that a homebuilder had a good chance to build in a garage). The RV-3 is perfect for its mission, as is the U-2 and C-130 and 747 and Cessna 150.

For passengers or rough gravel strips neither the Pitts or the RV are anywhere near appropriate.

As for "nothing flies better", on behalf of three or four generations of kids, who learned how to fly in schoolyards across the US and probably worldwide, I must insist that you accept a universal truth: "Balsa flies better"

#### ironnerd

##### Well-Known Member
Hmmm... that WOULD be a cool engine for the Stretch Flivver (Domo, Dana).

Lindbergh apparently flew the first version of the plane - 6" shorter, taller fuselage, smaller wing, smaller (mid span) ailerons, and less dihedral. Could have been any number of things, really bad control harmony, CG issue, etc... or he may not have said it at all (we all know how these stories go). FWIW he didn't like the B-24 either and pushed Ford to build the B-17 instead (the Liberator was more suited to the production line so Henry built it in Willow Run).

I used to work at Willow Run. I also used to hunt on an old dirt airfield (BIG intersecting runways) that the B-24's used as a stop-over on their way to Europe. It is on "Adams" road (which is my last name). I seem to have a few weird geographic coincidences in regard to Ford aeroplanes. The Flivver actually crashed near my cousin's house (in Melbourne, FL).

#### BBerson

##### Light Plane Philosopher
HBA Supporter
When Brooks died that was the end of Ford's interest, I think.
That low wing with short upper struts is interesting and unusual. Got a photo of the wing structure?

#### Turd Ferguson

##### Well-Known Member
Streching the front end to accommodate a lighter engine will be destabilizing in pitch and yaw. So it has to be stretched behind the c.g. as appropriate, or increase the size of the tail stabilizing surfaces or a combination thereof. Then the snowball is starting it's roll downhill....

#### Turd Ferguson

##### Well-Known Member
Got a photo of the wing structure?
No photo but somewhere at home I have a line drawing. It's conventional plank spar, wood ribs and some excessively complicated fittings.

#### ironnerd

##### Well-Known Member
Streching the front end to accommodate a lighter engine will be destabilizing in pitch and yaw. So it has to be stretched behind the c.g. as appropriate, or increase the size of the tail stabilizing surfaces or a combination thereof. Then the snowball is starting it's roll downhill....
That may be why the 3812 had a different empannage, fuselage, and wings than the 268.

#### BBerson

##### Light Plane Philosopher
HBA Supporter
I don't see wing struts in that upper photo.?

#### ironnerd

##### Well-Known Member
I don't see wing struts in that upper photo.?
The first two Flivvers did not have struts. The following 1-3 (no one seems really sure on how many were built) had longer wings with struts (and what appears to be a different airfoil).

#### ironnerd

##### Well-Known Member
I found something that Lindy may have found off-putting. He flew one of the radial-powered planes. These had flaperonss on these were connected to the joystick so they would deflect down to add lift when up elevator was applied.

There was, however, at least one report of the Flivver taking off from inside a hangar and being in the air as it passed through the door. Kind cool.

#### Little Scrapper

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
There's a guy on the Cassutt thread building a Ford Flivver, Thom. May want to reach out to him.

#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
...The RV-3 is perfect for its mission, as is the U-2 and C-130 and 747 and Cessna 150...

...For passengers or rough gravel strips neither the Pitts or the RV are anywhere near appropriate.
Met a guy at John Harmon's B-day bash this past weekend who has installed wing extensions/tip tanks, VG's and fat 600x6 tires on his Rocket to accommodate back country flying. Apparently he practically lives to camp at Johnson Creek and other back country strips. And his wife is a constant companion on these trips as well. Kind of redefines the mission of the airplane - the terms "Rocket" and "bush flying" are not generally used in the same sentence.

(And kudos to you for recognizing the brilliance and continuing relevance of the U-2)

#### jedi

##### Well-Known Member
Originally Posted by ironnerd Post 19
Define "Better"

Complete, easy to understand documentation for construction, uses standard homebuilding processes with tools typically in the amateur builder's shop. Can be built in a reasonable period of time. Once completed, plane with good stability and control, reasonable takeoff, climb and landing performance. Comfortable cockpit - something that would be enjoyable to fly vs being a challenge and a chore.

You are oversimplifying the point.

What I said was there are better alternatives; meaning documentation, build support and a reasonably good flying plane when done. I've studied the Flivver, inspected it closely, considered what it would take to build one. Talked to the museum curator about drawings. I'd put it on par with a Skyote. Relatively simple looking plane that is incredibly difficult to produce. If someone says they are more interested in the history, how it was built and can it be duplicated with not much interest in flying, I'd say go for it. If someone says I want to build a plane where build time is not greater than life remaining and they want to spend as many hrs as possible trying to wear it out when done, there are better alternatives.
I don't know why you all would want my opinion when you obviously have one of your own, but here it is anyway.

I think the general discussion here misses the primary purpose of the Ford Fliver. It was intended to be the model T of the air. That is "Good Enough" to do the job (not the best at accomplishing the job) and inexpensive enough that most anyone could afford it. There is still a need for Ford's airplane that has never been satisfied. Cessna probably came closest in the 1950's when you could purchase a new C 170 for $10,000. If Ford had not given up when his friend and test pilot was unfortunately killed perhaps we would have had the plane in every driveway that has been missing for the last nearly 100 years. A redesign of the Fliver for the home built market is a misapplication of the design criteria. It was intended to be mass produced at low cost. Think expensive tooling and a plane every 5 minutes as opposed to no tooling and one plane every 5 years. His plan was to replace hand formed aluminum with a die to make 10 parts per minute and instead of hand bucking rivets to machine assemble major components. Fords production assembly today would produce 500 airplanes per day at a MSRP of$20,000 each or less. Also, we would have an airport and airway system to support the fleet that would be the best in the world. (Can you imagine a runway within 2 miles of your home AND your destination?)

The good news is that these advances are still possible. Henry Ford was perhaps just ahead of his time with his plans for every man's aviation.

Last edited:

#### Victor Bravo

##### Well-Known Member
Met a guy at John Harmon's B-day bash this past weekend who has installed wing extensions/tip tanks, VG's and fat 600x6 tires on his Rocket to accommodate back country flying.

(And kudos to you for recognizing the brilliance and continuing relevance of the U-2)
Is that the guy with the "Scarlet Screamer" Rocket? I met that guy at Columbia in 2007, he takes his Rocket camping all the time.

U-2??? You mean the self-launch glider version of the F-104

Any airplane that was front line in the 1950's, and essentially the same basic platform is still front line 50 years later in 2016... brilliance may not be enough of a word.

I do have one question about the U-2; why they did not install some sort of spoiler system to make the landing phase less critical and less high of a workload. Weight penalty for high altitude capability is the only reason I could imagine, but I have to think there is also some real value to making the airplane easier (meaning more reliable) to operate.

Well, sorry for the hijack, the U-2 is about as far away from the Ford Flivver as you can possibly get...

#### bmcj

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
U-2??? You mean the self-launch glider version of the F-104
LMAO

I do have one question about the U-2; why they did not install some sort of spoiler system to make the landing phase less critical and less high of a workload. Weight penalty for high altitude capability is the only reason I could imagine, but I have to think there is also some real value to making the airplane easier (meaning more reliable) to operate.
Only a guess here, but I suspect Johnson did not want to over-engineer the wing for fear of weight gain, so the plane is intended to 'soft-land' and allow pogos to be attached after touchdown. I think a spoiled wing might be prone to firmer landings and wing tip impact with the ground.