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Marc W

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Mar 31, 2017
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629
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Colorado
We have this new Yamaha space that isn't getting much use so I guess I should make a post here. Apologies to Pops but I am abandoning the VW in my Thatcher CX4. The VW runs great in the summer but it is a real pain to operate in the winter. Very coldblooded and prone to icing. I am going to install a 80 hp Phazer snowmobile engine. It is made to operate in cold weather!

I bought a pair of Yamaha Venture Lites. They use the 80hp, two cylinder Phazer engine. The red one is a 2012 and is a user. It has 15,000 plus miles and needs ball joints in the front suspension before it goes to the mountain. It does fine running around the yard though. The white one is a 2010 and has 7400 miles. The frame is broken and the front suspension is bent up and broken. The young man who I bought the pair from wouldn't fess up as to how it got damaged. He did indicate that it didn't happen on the trail. I think somebody drove over the left front suspension while it was parked in his driveway. Whatever, he did claim the engine was good and ran last year. In truth, I believe it ran two or three years ago.
Two sleds.jpg

My first step was to take all the fairings off and see if it would run. I borrowed the battery and a fuse from the red sled and checked fluid levels etc. The gas in the tank was stale so I replaced it with fresh gas and turned the switch on. Nothing happened! The fuel pump should run when switched on. I jumped from the battery to the pump and it ran so I checked all the fuses and electrical connections in the pump circuit. I didn't find anything wrong but when I put it back together it worked. I then disconnected the fuel return hose from the pressure regulator and pumped fresh gas through the fuel lines to get fresh gas at the injectors. I then proceeded to try to start it. It caught on the third try and ran like a top! I tested it several mornings when the temps were in the teens and twenties and it always fired right up. So far so good.
As run.jpg

I can't run it up so I don't know what it will do under load. I will have to find that out later. This morning I started digging the engine out of the chassis. It is quite a project to take one of these apart. 10,000 stubborn electrical connectors and a bunch of bolts later, this is where I left it today. The engine is visible!
Engine exposed.jpg

I ordered the Skytrax gearbox and I should get it this coming week. I will probably have Ian Bange rework my wiring harness to get rid of the extraneous sensors and disable the limp modes. Pricy, but that stuff is above my pay grade and it is the fastest way to get this running in the plane.
 

rv7charlie

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Hi Mark,

Thanks for the post! I confess that I couldn't handle actually living in the Great White North, but y'all do have an advantage when it comes to sourcing good alternative engines. ;-) It seems almost impossible to locate that kind of 'whole sled' find if you live in the South, and I'm leery about buying just an engine because I might not get all the bits/pieces that I'd need if I buy from a salvage yard.

Please keep us updated on your progress. I've got a Kolb Twinstar just begging for a trustworthy engine.

Charlie
 

TFF

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Apr 28, 2010
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Memphis, TN
I think there is a guy in Vicksburg or Grenada Ms, who is not Rockiedog, who bought a sled for the engine and eBayed the rest. I think the condition was a good runner. I think he did pretty good on the bits on the sale.
 

TFF

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It’s been a long time, if it comes to me. I met him in Helena Arkansas when working on one of the company helicopters.
 

Vigilant1

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Looking forward to reading about your project, Marc. And, going into a CX4, it will be easy to compare weights, CG, and performance to the many VWs already in other CX4s. You should have plenty of power, for sure!

Mark
 

Mooman

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Jan 22, 2021
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Hi Mark,

Thanks for the post! I confess that I couldn't handle actually living in the Great White North, but y'all do have an advantage when it comes to sourcing good alternative engines. ;-) It seems almost impossible to locate that kind of 'whole sled' find if you live in the South, and I'm leery about buying just an engine because I might not get all the bits/pieces that I'd need if I buy from a salvage yard.

Please keep us updated on your progress. I've got a Kolb Twinstar just begging for a trustworthy engine.

Charlie
Contact barn of parts, travis I believe,he has low mileage sled motors and all the parts needed. It's where I got mine and he knows the application you are going to use it for, so you get the harness,fuel tank key switch and airbox
 

Marc W

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Mar 31, 2017
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629
Location
Colorado
I don't actually live in the frozen nawth! And that is on purpose I might add. I grew up in the frozen nawth and don't want to deal with all that at my age. This is the half frozen, halfway nawth! We do have a lot of snowmobiles here since there is plenty of snow in the mountains to play in. There are several engine suppliers that post on the Facebook group who I would trust to supply good engines and the parts needed for an aircraft.

All I can pick out is a carburater, a radiator and a buncha stuff!
That clutter below the throttle bodies is the engine. Here is a shot of the top. You can see one of the v-clamps on the exhaust system fell off and it had a massive exhaust leak there. I discovered that when I first started it. I squirted some oil into the throttle bodies to lube the cylinders before I started it. A cloud of oil smoke blew out around the engine when it started.
Top.jpg

I have plenty of performance numbers with the 2180 VW to compare to when this is running. I expect it to perform somewhat better than the VW. HP is about the same. It is lighter than the VW and will swing a much larger prop. It is always hard to find installed weights for any engine. There aren't many of these flying yet and the early expectation was that installed weight would run about 130 lbs. That is probably optimistic. I have seen two reports of total installed weight in the 150 lb. range. I weighed the VW in my plane last year and total installed weight, minus the voltage regulator was 195 lbs. wet. I expect it will be at least 40 lbs. lighter than the VW. We shall see!

My VW turns a 60x44 Sensenich prop 3150 rpm at 8000' at WOT. It turned 2900 rpm at 80 mph in the climb. It does perform well at my altitude when it's warm. I estimate that the Phazer engine will turn a 68" or 69" prop with about a 58" pitch at 2300 to 2400 rpm. I don't care about top speeds. I normally cruise around at 100 mph or so which probably takes about 40 hp, maybe less. I do like climb because I am surrounded by mountains.

What I really like about the modern Yamaha engines is the ease of operation in cold weather. The snowmobiles have a light in the instrument cluster that comes on when the engine is cold. To start it you turn the key, listen for the fuel pump to quit running and then crank it. It fires right up. Then you let it idle for a few minutes until the "cold engine" light goes out and you are ready to go!

With the VW you crank and crank until the condensed fuel makes its way up the ice cold intake and dribbles into the combustion chamber. Then it sorta fires and blubbers and farts until the flow of raw fuel stabilizes and things gradually start to warm up. After 10 or 15 minutes the thing is almost warm enough to fly. Then the last time I flew it, the thing iced up on climbout! I gave up and returned to the airport where I watched the water drip out the bottom of the carburetor weep hole. I put a lot of time and energy into making the VW work and it still doesn't work in the winter. I am cutting my losses.
 

Vigilant1

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I weighed the VW in my plane last year and total installed weight, minus the voltage regulator was 195 lbs. wet. I expect it will be at least 40 lbs. lighter than the VW. We shall see!
Marc,
Regarding "Total installed weight" of the 2180cc VW of 195 lbs. What was included there? Exhaust system (how much of one)? Intake runners, carb and air cleaner? Oil, oil cooler, oil filter? Alternator, starter, magneto, dual plugs and ignition(s)? Battery? Prop hub and enlarged front bearing? Cooling tin? The weight is about 40 lbs more than normally cited, but as you know, a lot depends on what is included.
 

Marc W

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Colorado
That was everything less prop, spinner and voltage regulator and battery. I simply unbolted the engine mount from the firewall and hung it on the scale. See here: FWF Weight of Full Dress VW

So it includes Force One prop hub, Diehl accessory case, oil cooler and filter and oil, carb and airbox, exhaust, baffles, mag and secondary ignition and engine mount.

The weight is about 40 lbs more than normally cited
To quote Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now", "They lie and we must be merciful!" I believe Pops and a few others but that is about it.
 

BJC

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A table of actual, total, FWF weights of multiple engine / airframe combinations (less training wheel and gear) would be an eye-opener.

I don’t recall seeing a single example.


BJC
 

rv7charlie

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Nov 17, 2014
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There are some out there. Not a VW, but I've posted this image on HBA in the past. Includes two full size 60 amp alternators, intake, exhaust manifold and big heavy muffler, radiator, oil cooler, ducts, all motor mount adapting items except the actual motor mount (which is about 10 lbs). Missing are fluids and the ECU box. Hard to see, but everything is sitting on a platform scale under the oil pan. Note that the core engine (Mazda Renesis 2 rotor) weighs about 185 lbs. In the car, the engine is rated at about 210 hp; I expect 180-200 hp in the plane based on others' performance experience in similar airframes. For comparison, an angle valve IO-360 Lyc (200 HP) weighs about 330 lbs, *bare*, and you can add at least 40 edit: this should say 50-60 lbs including exhaust, as I did, to that for starter, alternator, oil cooler, baffles, etc.

I should add that until you've actually done an engine installation (and put it on a scale), you're not likely to realize how much weight all the required external bits add to engine weight, to make it flyable.

Charlie
engine weight dual alternators1 (Medium).jpg
 
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Marc W

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Mar 31, 2017
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Colorado
Pat Panzera, publisher of "Contact" magazine recently did something similar with a Corvair engine. I don't remember the details but IIRC it weighed 256 lbs. I should find that again for future reference. There are weights posted on the Yamaha Facebook group that are for total installed weight, perhaps because it is a new conversion people are more interested in actual total weights.
 

rv7charlie

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Marc, please keep posting as you progress. I'd love to see a 'bare weight' number on the Phazer engine, with notes on whether the starter/alternator/intake/exhaust bits are included.

Thanks again for keeping us updated.

Charlie
 

rv7charlie

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Nov 17, 2014
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The cowl is the cowl, and there no matter the engine choice, so it's rarely included in engine weight. My cowl is a James brand aftermarket cowl designed for a Lyc, so....

Similar, but not exactly the same issue with the prop. the prop is the prop, but some choose a 12 lb wood 2 blade, while others might choose a 65 lb constant speed aluminum. So again, in my opinion it should not be included in *engine* weight.

Charlie
 

Marc W

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Mar 31, 2017
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My little slice of paradise this morning.
Paradise.jpg

My big accomplishment today was to get the clutch off.
Clutch and puller.jpg

I made a puller a couple days ago. The Yamaha tool is about $30 on Ebay so it does not cost that much but I didn't want to wait for it to get here. I have had my lathe for several years and never knew it cut metric threads. I didn't get a manual with it.

The puller threads into the outside end of the clutch. The threads are visible in the center hole. Those threads are M18x1.5mm and the output shaft threads are M12. So I needed to cut a 1.5mm thread. I was studying the feed and thread cutting chart on the lathe and "Duh!" Right there was the combination to cut metric threads. I had to change a gear but the lathe cuts very nice metric threads.

The factory puller has a slender pin machined on the end of the puller so it bottoms out in the bottom of the output shaft hole. I skipped machining the slender pin. The puller didn't work at first because it didn't have enough bearing area on the end of the output shaft. It just mushroomed around the center hole. I had to use a slide hammer to get the puller back out the hole because of the mushroomed end. My next step was to cut off a bolt to bear in the bottom of the output shaft hole and also pickup the end of the output shaft. I left the bolt shank a little long and it developed an "S" curve in it before the bolt head contacted the end of the output shaft.

It took a lot of pressure to upset the bolt and I tightened it several times yesterday and tapped on the end and sides off the puller with a hammer. I tightened it one last time yesterday and had decided it wasn't going to work. I started to take it apart today to see what was going on in there and then decided to try it one last time before I took it apart. I tapped on the puller and tightened it up and pop! It came loose!

Long story short. If you do this, buy the puller!
 

103

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May 2, 2015
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Wauwatosa WI
I do think the Phazer and the Canam twin with a ACE drive could displace the vulnerable Direct Drive VW. Full featured VW do run 185+lbs flying weight.
Either of these options will trim 35-45lbs of the nose at the expense of complexity. Something in the middle might be adding SDS EFI to a VW to make for smooth winter operations. Listen to:
VW EFI podcast Episode 58 SonexFlight Podcast: All things Sonex!
 

Marc W

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Mar 31, 2017
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Colorado
I had intended to convert the VW to SDS EFI and started collecting parts to do that. I finally decided that I could fabricate a bunch of parts and I would still have a heavy for the hp, antique engine design that is bandaided together with various aftermarket parts and that has cylinder heads that can best be described as fragile. Or I can fabricate some parts and use a modern engine that simply runs when you want it to and shed some weight and turn a more efficient prop.

I couldn't find Patrick Panzera's original post on the Corvair engine weight. If you are interested you can read a copied version here:https://m.facebook.com/groups/ThatcherExperimentalAircraft/permalink/3938327252858100/
 
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