I finally became a pilot, and now I'm completely confused about my future build.

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FishHawk

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I posted on this forum a while ago, and everyone seemed to agree that Double Eagle was the best build for me. BUT, now that I've learned to fly, my horizons expanded and nothing is clear anymore.
I found out a lot of the things that I was asking about. A few good sides to buildining here:
Wood, tubing, any raw material costs pennies, but you've got to find it. A bad side is that you're my only source of info on the build, since I'd be the second person to ever build an airplane from scratch in the last 30 years. There are a few who've assembled kits though.

I will be using a Smart engine. It's a turbo engine which is good in this case. It's very light, 64 kg, and it's 82hp. With good cooling it won't have any problems. I got it for freaking 300$, and it's in awesome condition. No scoring on the cylinder walls, emissions are within regulations. I'll put a better oil pump, but it's a square cylinder(bore=stroke), so it won't see a lot of stress despite the "high" rpm. I'll cap the RPM at 4500 which is nothing for a square cylinder gasoline engine. That way I'll still have 70hp usable. I could remap and go to 93hp at 4500rpm, but it might be unreliable that way.

So, Ragwing RW11 Ragabond, some Piper J3 Cub replica, something else? Airplane model is still the unknown. I don't want to build a Double Eagle because of the 60mph cruising speed, but also due to the general lack of space. I want to be able to go to vacation with the airplane, so it needs at least a tiny storage place where I can put two small backpacks.
 
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rv7charlie

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If you really want to travel, a Cub ain't it, unless you view the journey, as opposed to the destination, as your goal. There's very little practical difference in cruise between a Cub and a Double Eagle (maybe 75 mph vs 60, at best). Luscombe, Taylorcraft, etc will be closer to 100 mph; still pretty slow for cross country, but a big jump up from a Cub. Trick with those would be finding homebuilt plans for an actual replica that can mimic the original's performance.

You know engine's HP at this point; now you need to know the weight. For a water cooled engine needing a reduction drive, a reasonable assumption would be to double the weight of the complete engine. With a reasonable 'guesstimate' HP & FWF total weight, you can start narrowing down possible choices. Unfortunately, with only around 70 HP to play with it's going to be hard to find a truly fast 2 seater without going to 'exotic' materials (fiberglass/carbon). Another potential issue is where you'll be landing. If aviation isn't highly developed in your area, you may need to be looking at 'bush plane' type designs, with stall speeds & landing gear designed for rough field operations.

Your profile doesn't mention where you're located. If you're not in the USA or one of the other countries with active homebuilding and ready supplies of a/c quality raw materials, please be careful with materials choices. Planes have been designed with almost every conceivable material, but that doesn't mean you can take an existing design & substitute materials without doing the engineering studies to determine whether the substitutions will be both safe, and not cause major performance penalties.

Good luck on your search,

Charlie
 

FishHawk

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You know engine's HP at this point; now you need to know the weight. For a water cooled engine needing a reduction drive, a reasonable assumption would be to double the weight of the complete engine.

Good luck on your search,

Charlie
The engine can be changed, nothing is set in stone. It's weight is 140 pounds bare, so if it's too heavy, I can always sell it.
 

Aviacs

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Second what Charlie said.
I fly a '46 Cessna 140 & a '39 J3 Cub. The Cessna has Millenium cylinders and probably makes more than 90HP - it easily cruises in the low yellow with one up, ie 120mph-ish. The piper, even with the A65 upgrade option (from original 45HP IIRC :) ) Takes a long time to climb much above 3,500. Then, over the highway, you can look down and watch the cars in the lane going your way slowly but steadily pass you unless there's a tailwind....

A Sonerai 2 will do what you mention so far, they are only scratch built, and there have been quite a few of them for sale this year cheaper than materials would cost. Soerai 2 stretch has even more capacity. Beware the purple one on eBay, it might need wings. There is discussion of it on the Sonerai forum. OTOH several are, or have been FS on the forum in the past few months.


If you would rather fly than build, there are quite a few taildragger airplanes like the Cessna 120, 140, T-Craft, Air-knockers, and Luscombs that sell for about the same or less than a new Harley. Sometimes a lot less. If you are in the US and want to build, join EAA and find the local chapter for a wealth of resources.
 

FishHawk

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I
A Sonerai 2 will do what you mention so far, they are only scratch built, and there have been quite a few of them for sale this year cheaper than materials would cost. Soerai 2 stretch has even more capacity. Beware the purple one on eBay, it might need wings. There is discussion of it on the Sonerai forum. OTOH several are, or have been FS on the forum in the past few months.
I really love the Sonerai, but is it good for a beginner? And a low glide ratio(at least I think it is) really makes me nervous because if an engine fails in my mountainous country, it's bad.
 

Dana

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What are the rules on homebuilt aircraft where you are? That may have a major influence on what you can build.

I don't know anything about the Smart car engine, but unless somebody's already developed a reduction drive for it, designing one may be as much work as the rest of the build.
 

FishHawk

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What are the rules on homebuilt aircraft where you are? That may have a major influence on what you can build.

I don't know anything about the Smart car engine, but unless somebody's already developed a reduction drive for it, designing one may be as much work as the rest of the build.
I'm from Macedonia. Rules are that there are no rules. On paper, we are part of europe's organizations. If you have friends in the right places, you can register anything. I do have friends.
A reduction drive is not a problem for me, my father is actually a machinist and I have a friend with a metal cutting laser through my father. The engine seems perfect, but if it isn't, I won't compromise performance.
 

TFF

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You need to chose size of plane. Full size Cub or part size Cub? A Double Eagle is a part size Cub. Ragwing stuff is generally part size Cub. Other brands are usually part size Cubs like Fishers. The performance gain technically is building a smaller plane with a Cub engine. Instead of building a Cub with 36 ft wingspan, you build with the same horsepower a 30 or 24 ft wingspan plane. That’s a major performance upgrade to have less airplane to haul around. All these planes are Cubs with different styling. Move a tube here, add some fabric there, make a fairing; they are all Cubs under the skin. Just different sizes.

You need to pick something you can get materials to build with. You can’t build a wood plane with wall studs, at least any wall studs used for building in the last forty years. The Zenith planes made from aluminum are meant to be built in places that don’t have access to airplane stuff. If you got some beautiful lumber, use it. Airplane quality for anything is way beyond the best normal quality. Hard to equate that until you need something.

With your cheap engine, you will have to do a lot of making it work to make it work. It’s not so common so you will have to be inventive. It will be complicated and will require machining to make the prop drive to make it useable.
 

rv7charlie

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At 140 lbs bare, you're looking at at least 275 lbs by the time you add a reduction drive & cooling. It'll likely go over 300 lbs. That could work fine on something like a Pietenpol, which was designed for a low HP, high weight engine, but is problematic for cross-country designs. All that extra weight drives stronger (heavier) structure, and more wing area to carry the extra engine weight (and structure weight), which requires more structure weight, etc. Then the bigger wing is going to slow you down.

If I were in your position, and where you are, I'd be taking a deep dive into every European homebuilt forum you can find. Most of us here in the USA tend to get obsessed with 'go big or go home'. The Europeans, on the other hand, are much more attuned to doing conversion engines, and with getting maximum benefits from low HP. They are much more likely to be able to help with selection of available and low cost powerplants to convert.
 

Bigshu

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It turns out you just have to have friends at the right place to get your aircraft approved. That's what was worrying me, but turns out that there aren't problems. Wood, tubing, any raw material costs pennies, but you've got to find it. A bad side is that you're my only source of info on the build, since I'd be the second person to ever build an airplane from scratch in the last 30 years. There are a few who've assembled kits though.
Wait, what? Second person to build from scratch in 30 years? A few kits? Are we talking about a particular design here, or home builts in general?
 

Bigshu

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I'm from Macedonia. Rules are that there are no rules. On paper, we are part of europe's organizations. If you have friends in the right places, you can register anything. I do have friends.
For something I plan to put myself in for travel, the most important rules are the laws of physics! Just because you can pencil whip paperwork doesn't mean you have a safe aircraft to fly.
 

sming

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You need a project for us poor europeans like the Gaz'Aile : Gaz'aile 2
It fly with an automotive engine with a proven PSRU (can you find a PSA engine ? The smart diesel was tried without much success in the Greenelis, a sort-of motorglider derived from the Gaz'aile, same fuselage, designed for the Green Flight challenge. I believe the 3 cylinders vibration are harder to tame), it's cheap (between 10K€ and 20K€ depending on your capacity to scrounge things) and there is different wings depending on the category you want to fly (airplane or ultralight)
 

cluttonfred

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Well, North Macedonia is a little smaller in surface area than the U.S. state of Massachusetts, so speed is not necessarily a good thing unless you want to make every flight an international one. My suggestion would be to build a plane that fits clearly within European microlight rules. While some countries now allow faster and heavier designs, the basic definition that will be accepted just about anywhere in Europe is a two-seater with a stall speed 65 km/h (40 mph) or less, maximum take-off weight 450 kg (992 lb) or 472.5 kg (1,042 lb) if a ballistic parachute is installed, and maximum engine power of 75 kW (100 hp). There are any number of designs that could suit, after that it depends on your preference for wing type, seating position, open or closed cockpit, conventional or tricycle landing gear, and construction type.
 

TFF

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I think the EU list is the best way to go. With certification as an unknown, best to not be the first one on the block. Better to say this and that country have done it with no issues. As for wanting more, most pilots want more plane. The more you fly, the more performance you want. You can out grow any one of them with practice. Only you can decide if it’s full like you want.
 

Mig29fuk

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Jan 19, 2021
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In Macedonia reliability has to be a No.1 consideration surely. The terrain can be challenging?
I've built and refurbished several aircraft and what you choose must match several criteria.
Your experience and competence? Both flying and practical skills.
What is the primary aim and use of the Aircraft? Look at Speed, Range, Climb rate.
Is it to be solo, two seat or more?
What Flight conditions. VFR or sometimes IFR?
Cost? especially Engine and Prop.

After a simple target is formed start matching up to the many Aircraft types there are to build.
My personal advice is to find something that flew, needs work now and build to what you require around its basic parameters.

You are going to spend a lot of time in a Workshop. make sure its comfortable, well lit and spare room to move about.

This might not help directly but might help you plan your way forward. This is going to take a long time!
 

FishHawk

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The terrain can be challenging?
I've built and refurbished several aircraft and what you choose must match several criteria.
Your experience and competence? Both flying and practical skills.
What is the primary aim and use of the Aircraft? Look at Speed, Range, Climb rate.
Is it to be solo, two seat or more?
What Flight conditions. VFR or sometimes IFR?
Cost? especially Engine and Prop.
Well the terrain can be pretty horrible. 80 percent of the country is mountainous, but the mountains are steep with no landing space for any kind of aircraft. 64 out of the 70 mountains are over 1000m, and out of those 20 are over 2000. Not exactly ideal. That makes me want a good glide ratio for a situation where I lose an engine. I want a 2 seater definitely.
My flying skills are at a beginner level. My practical skills are great (at least I hope so), and I have access to all the welding, woodworking, and metal shaping tools you'd ever wish for. Metal cutting laser, lathe, bandsaw, MIG and TIG welding equipment, woodworking tools, anything.
I don't want to get stuck in a build for a long time though, 2 years maximum.
 
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