Monday, August 29, 2005

Someone recently asked me how I could run a Chevy LS-1 in an aeroplane without using the computer? My response was "Easy!" Note the picture of the Morse accessory drive at the rear of the engine - see the two electronic ignition distributors? These two distributors will feed the ignition to the spark plugs (redundant ignition system) via standard spark plug wires. Essentially, the engine will be running like a Chevy 350 with a distributor, except it will have two distributors. The fuel control is manufactured by Airflow Performace. The fuel injection system is a manual mixture control unit as is normally found in most piston engine driven Gen. Aviation airplane which run Continentals & Lycomings, etc... We still use the original intake manifold and just adapt the Airflow Perf. Mass Airflow throttle assy. to the inlet. Fuel injector nozzles will be at the same location as the original LS-1 design, except they will be standard aircraft injector nozzles capable of being under Supercharger pressures. You may say that I won't get the same efficiency without the computer, and this is true, but it is also simple and there's also less likelyhood of the engine ceasing while inflight if a computer malfunction/limp-mode should take place! With use of a small independent mini-alternator which is dedicated to one (or both) of the distributor(s), the engine could continue to run even if there were a complete electrical failure similar to how a magneto system works.

The picture above also shows the center pulley which drives the Alternator on the right, and the Vortech Supercharger on the left (not yet purchased or attached) There is one mechanical fuel pump at the top, inbetween the distributors, and two more on the lower left & right which are 700GPH pumps to be used for coolant pumps. The Oil pump is the silver/grey unit at the bottom center. Because the gear reduction is used on the front of the motor, the OEM oil pump was removed, as was the OEM coolant pump system.

There you have it! No computer required!

Friday, August 26, 2005 Photo by Sean Jones

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I've made a new observation: Whenever you maneuver your aeroplane's shadow over a highway, everyone suddenly slows down? What sort of "freak" law of nature would cause such a thing to happen?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Meet our great friend Sofia Morgan - better half of Bob Morgan - as she endures a front seat ride with me in my 1940 Piper J-3 Cub. Enjoying multiple wingovers and the "River Run", she is heard uncontrollably giggling & screaching with glee, like a little girl on her first roller coaster ride! Sofia had a great time and emerged with a Scat-eatin-grin on her face wide enough to fit a bananna in sideways!

Sofia's husband, Bob, I had given a ride a few weeks prior, was amazed at the "high-tech" method of which I was navigating us from KMYV -to- KSAC...flying "IFR" ("I Follow Roads/Railways/Rivers"). On the way back to my home-base our handheld VHF radio battery peters-out! now we're flying in a manner which the 1940 Cub was originally designed to be flown, Low-&-Slow, and electric out!

We met Bob & Sofia through my Dad while Bob was working (with my dad) at NASA Ames Research Center. Bob, a veteran of the Korean War, and former Marine and USAF member is one of the best friends my Dad had ever known, with a big heart and quick quip! Full of stories, Bob always keeps us entertained - full of life! The best thing Bob ever did was to find Sofia in Greece and marry her, introducing her to the rest of America, and us. Sofia recently earned her Master's Degree and currently works as a satelite engineer at the "Big-Blue-Cube" at Onizuka AFS in Mountain View, CA. A Greek woman, Sofia is the stuff of life that keeps Bob waking up every day... You guys can come fly with me anytime - but bring Baklavah!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Well, I bought an RV!... More accurately: I did NOT buy a Van's Aircraft RV-8 or or anything like that...(though I wouldn't mind having one!) My wife said "You have two aeroplanes (the Cub & the Kitplane) and I "still" don't have an RV - Recreational Vehicle!" I was looking at 4 seat airplanes like old Piper PA-28-140 "Cherokees" , RV-10, Stinson 108-2 "Station Waggons", Buchaneers etc... but my wife wouldn't have any of it!!! She insisted I had more toys than she and she wanted to go Motorhoming... All those RV-ing commercials finally got to her and she "snapped" and wanted us to go Motorhome Camping. She gave the ultimate ultimatum saying "If you don't get us a motorhome, I want a new Honda Odysee MINI-VAN!" UGH! A minivan? I'd have nothing to do with that whole mini-van thing (though the Honda Odysee was a pretty darn neato van!); I succumbed!

Thanks to the guys where I work, I was soon convinced RV-ing was a great thing too (albeit expensive). Many recommendations later, we came to the decission of finding a "Class-A" motorhome, more specifically a Winnebago, due to their safety conciousness and also resale value. A slideout was a must, but we only needed one slideout since we didn't plan on living in the RV for extended periods.

After looking at all the different types & models of Winnebagos & Itascas(by Winnebago), we came to the conclusion the model we wanted was a "Sightseer 30B". Here's what it looks like:

The nice thing about the 30B floorplan is it has a "Super-Slideout" where the couch & dinette on the port side of the yacht slides about 36 inches outboard allowing for much more room in the living area. Check out this interior with the slideout extended.

The Sightseer 30B is what the RV dealers consider their "Entry Level" Class-A motorhome. I asked "Why is it an Entry Level?" They say it's because it doesn't have all the fancy stuff and expensive (and heavy) cabinetry. Not alot of fancy "frills" and bells & whistles, just a basic RV! I love the relative simplicity of the model/floorplan as I don't really care about all the "fancy" stuff they were talking about! No mirrors on the roof or fancy wide screen projection TV or anything like that. Just our own portable "guest house". We plan on using it for a fourth bedroom for my inlaws when they come to visit for extended periods. Now they have their own guest-house they can retire into away from the rest of us, or anybody!

After many months of searching for a used one we liked at a price we could handle, we litterally found one in the classified adverts in the paper that a little old lady & man (not soo little) who had to sell their Sightseer 30B. They only owned it 2-1/2 yrs and only had 13,657 miles on the odometer. The man was a "neat freak" and very maintenance concious. I think he may have been a obsessive-compulsive as the 30B was very-very clean and even still smelled new!!! The undercarriage was even clean as he always power-washed it after each long trip. Waxed and full body covered, the unit was in better shape than other used units we'd seen at the dealrships. We couldn't pass it up!

How does this relate to building a kitplane in my garage? Well, it doesn't really, except now I have less money to put toward my project. But, my bride is beaming happiness now! This new member of our family will likely slow down my construction (slightly, specially on those long weekends), but at least my 6 & 3 yr old kids will have many years of memories of our travels & camping trips. Those darn RV commercials really do work!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Check out this picture of a Vortech Supercharger in this Jaguar SC. It blows through the Airflow Performance Fuel injection throttle body. The funny angle is due to an airbox that is designed to allow a trap door to open should the Vortech get clogged for some reason. The trap door will allow somewhat impeaded airflow into the engine to keep it running even though the supercharger's output is blocked! I have come up with a better design which I will incorporate into my LS-1 / Vortech conversion.

And yes, you do see a standard (electronic ignition) distributor on that LS-1, actually, two of them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I was flying along at 75mph in my Piper J-3 Cub, and I ran across this - so I took a pic for you guys!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

So what does a LS-1 (or a Chevy Engine) look like inside a Prowler/Jaguar? Here - take a look at this Rodeck (Aluminum Chevy 350cid) engine in this Jag... Note, however, the Rodeck block & heads (pictured above) are of the older Chevy 350 design and NOT the same as the LS-1. This is especially noticable with the two center exhaust ports being next to each other. The LS-1 has the two center exhaust ports eaqually spaced. The LS-1 is a complete re-design of the old Chevy 350. The biggest change (other than using Aluminum for the block & heads) is the redesigned heads which are significantly more efficient developing significan amounts of horespower & torque over the old traditional Chevy 350 design. I also like the LS-1 exhaust port spacing better than the older 350 heads. There were many other redesign features of the LS-1 over the old Chevy 350, but overall, the Head & intake manifold redesign & metalurgical technology change was the most significant, IMHO!

Look closely at the firewall, and you can see part of the Vortec Supercharger installation blowing into the Airflow Performance Fuel injection throttle body. The LS-1 conversion will definitely outperform this Rodeck installation! An LS-2 or LS-6 or especially a C-5(Corvette) conversion would also significantly outperform the LS-1 installation... However, most of the performance increases of these others would only be totally realized if the engines were able to reach their maximum RPM. Unfortunately, the propeller of this aeroplane would only be capable of spinning at a maximum of 2800RPM (about 5000RPM at the crankshaft) and so therefore the amount of performance increase for the amount of money spent would not be very practical. Besides, to have your engine spinning at a constant 6000-7000 RPM would not be a very good thing from the "wear" point of view. Please note that when you are cruising on the freeway at 75-80mph, your engine is only turning around 2000-2500 RPM! Most all aeroplane engines tend to "cruise" at the 75%RPM point, or in the case of this LS-1 would be approximately 3500-3800RPM. This RPM range is reasonable for an automotive conversion engine, and what we really need is really good "Torque" as opposed to purely Horsepower rating(s).

Torque is what is really usable for spinning propellers, not Horsepower. My LS-1 has a custom camshaft and is also degreed such that the maximum torque value occurs at a point just above the "cruise" RPM range. This way, when I need more "umph" it is just a small/short push away on the throttle. If my estimations are correct, I should be getting around 425ft-lbs of torque and about 375hp coming out of my LS-1. We'll see (eventually!)...?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Here's my LS-1 with the Morse Propeller Speed Reduction Unit (PSRU) installed. The LS-1 stock composite intake manifold is intentionally installed backwards so the Airflow Performance fuel injection's Mass-Airflow sensor/throttle-body in the rear and closer to the VORTEC Supercharger. This configuration also prevents from having an unsightly extra-large bulge in the forward engine cowl. The blue AN fitting on the left is for the oil input coming from the constant speed propeller governor enroute to the propeller. In the background, the "last" Jaguar that George Morse built (and its for sale!).

George recently decided to retire from aircraft manufacturing and sold the Prowler Aviation Inc. business to a gentleman in Michigan who will relocate to Redding, CA., and re-establish the Jaguar kitplanes back into production. The details are now being worked out and the timeline is still unclear, but rest assured, the Jaguar Kitplanes will return soon!

Got to participate at the "Thunder In The Sky" Fly-in airshow at Auburn, CA. Check it out- our good friend Duncan Miller had a couple of friends fly his 1940 Piper J-3C "Cub" to the show and we had an opportunity to fly out of the airhow in formation. We even got to do a "High-Speed" pass while in formation!!! I think we may have even broke the sound barrier at about 85 mph! Loads of fun! Travelling to different airports & places in formation is so much more fun than just going there by your self. Note also that we (and they) had our windows and doors open on our warm August flight - not something you can normally do in most Cessnas! (Thanks Don Welch for this image)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"What is this?" you might ask... These images are of George Morse's custom Prop. Speed Reduction Unit (PSRU). I have noticed there are 3 basic types in the market for experimental aircraft engines. The 3 types are Belted, Chain-drive, and Geared. The more popular ones, primarily due to co$t, is the Belted variety. There is a "SeaBee" that uses an LS-1 automotive conversion engine which uses a chain-drive PSRU. This Morse PSRU is the only one I know of in the market that is of the "geared" variety (of note, Teldyne Continental & Lycoming use geared reduction units for their FAA certified engines, as well as the Allison & RR Merlin V-12s ). George designed this PSRU around Chevy Muncie 4-speed manual transmission gears & bearings. The reduction works out to 1.67:1 gear ratio allowing the LS-1 to run at 4800PRM while the prop turns 2600RPM (max speed for the 3 bladed McCauley prop). Note also the small gear is splined and fits onto a splined snout of a custom forged stroker crank used in the LS-1 conversion. This redux unit is also used as a timing chain cover but the oil pump must be removed and a external high-output oil pump is used in it's place.

Nice Job George!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

HURRAY~! The Cub Annual is done! Just in time for the Auburn, CA (AUN) "Thunder In The Sky" airshow & Fly-in...on 13 Aug 2005... This picture of my Cub & I is courtesy of Don J. Welch, tittled "Out-to-Lunch!" I had taught Don to fly formation online over the Internet using Jane's USAF video game. I eventually convinced him to get his Private Pilot's License. Then, I taught him how to fly REAL formation! Here Don is doing a cross-under from right to left wing "fingertip" position, he pauses momentarily to capture this pic (at 500' AGL).

Now that I have the Cub annual inspection done, the new (replacement) Garbage Disposal installed in the kitchen sink, the Honda Prelude's engine temporarily fixed, I can FINALLY get back to work on manufacturing kitplane parts!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Meet Mr. Chuck Miller. He is my new "manual-labor" helper. Check him out banging on the last of the bulkheads I need to manufacture. Note the technique - or lack there of? Actually, this is Chuck's first attempt at building an aeroplane. I am showing him how to form the parts for the project. He kindly volunteered all his spare time that he had once promised his wife for painting their bedroom! Now I have him slaving away in my hot "sweat-shop" garage making aeroplane parts, and he loves it! Chuck says "It beats painting a bedrooms!?" I should enslave my nephew Johnny Breneman too for making me get my hands dirty on his "rent-a-plane". Sigh! I have learned that my purpose in life is to fix things that others have broken...

Anyways, I found Chuck Miller milling around the Sutter Co. Airport (O52) one day when I was working on my Piper Cub. His eyes looking forlornly at my Cub (obviously wanting a ride) as he had not made use of his Private Pilot's license in many years. The sucker I am for puppy-dog eyes, I jammed him into the little Cub and gave him a ride down the river. You should have seen the feces-eating-grin on his face after the flight - you coulda fit a bananna in sideways! Now, he's a regular "Joe-Bag-of-Donuts" (aka-balast) in my Cub. I suppose he owes me some manual labor, pounding out aeroplane parts, for those rides - eh? Check him out wielding that rubber mallet - he'll be a pro at this stuff real quickly, as long as his wife doesn't sequester him to paint!?!? She'd better not - I have a whole lot of ribs to manufacture yet!

Speaking of paint - what kind of color scheme/design do you readers out there think I should paint my Prowler-Jag when it is finally complete? Any suggestions? Leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you all...!

Monday, August 08, 2005

You ask: "How does someone go about making aluminum bulkheads for a homebuilt/scratch-built aeroplane?"

1) First you acquire/make "patterns", two identical ones for each bulkhead or rib to be manufactured, in this case we use plywood.
2) Then you buy some aluminum sheets (in this case, 2024-0 with the "-0" meaning it is NOT tempered/heat-treated yet and is very "malleable" and easily formed) and cut them to the same shape, but with some overlap.
3) Now you sandwich the aluminum in between the two forms of wood.
4) Using a rubber mallet and a few "body-working" tools, you bend the metal around the forms for a "rough" shape.
5) Strategic use of a metal "shrinker" (, you can get rid of the potatochip edges and make a smooth flange.
6) Trim the excess, file smooth, and then send off to have them tempered/heat-treated (hardened) to eventually become 2024-T3 !

Voila~! One fuselage bulkhead! Now, multiply that times all the bulkheads & ribs I need and, well, you get the picture...One more bulkhead left to make - I'll do it tomorrow before I go to work, it'll be cooler then anyway.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

This post is late because of this guy...!
He just so happens to be my Nephew, Johnny B... In the pursuit of his Private Pilot License (PPL), he was on his solo long cross country profile when he came to visit us at Yuba Co. (MYV) and found himself with a fouled spark plug and unable to deprat! Because of prior engangements, I was unable to "work" his issue until after a pre-planned dinner appt. His flight school sent out two of their cronnies (an IP & A&P) to fix the wayward student pilot's aeroplane, but they were late and he was unable to takeoff one time to make it back by sunset... So, then came the barage of cellphone calls to school & IP. Then, the issue of getting a CFI's "endorsement" in his logbook to be able to finish his XC the next morning. Fortunately, a fellow pilot friend is a current/qualified CFII and with teleconversations with Johnny's IP, they were able to re-endorse him to fly the next day. Checkout his spark plug I pulled out - note the left electrode is shorted out with a small piece of lead fouling it?

Yes, that's me, properly torquing the plugs to 18ft-lbs. Fortunately, I had been doing an annual inspection on my Piper Cub and had all my tools in the trunk!

So, Johnny finally made it off the ground, slipping the surly bonds back to his homeland, known as "Livemore" (LVK) , with a stop & go at Davis University airport. Unfortunately for him, his uncle (me) was listening on the radio as he departed the area... here's what I heard:
N89653: "NorCal approach, Cessna-89653, request!"
NorCal: "C89653, say request."
N89653: "NorCal, C-89653, 1,500', climbing to 4,500', out of Marysville (MYV) enroute to Livermore (LVK), with a 'Drop-in" at Davis University Airport (0O5), request Flight-Following, if able?"
NorCal: "Wow, that was a mouthfull!"

Later I hear:

NorCal: "C-653, are you at University?"
C-653: "Roger!" (he thinks NorCal is asking if he's going to University)
NorCal: "C-653, I thought you said you were at University? I have you radar contact 4 miles South of MYV!"
C-653: (I can already see the perplexed look on his face as he says...) "Roger?"

Well, bottom line is Johnny made it home safely, and managed to practice speaking with NorCal Approach and zipping through a "real" class-C airspace - ALL BY HIMSELF!!!

Great job Johnny - you owe me babysitting time now for all the Thai food you ate!


Friday, August 05, 2005

May 1987... That's the issue of EAA's "Sport Aviation" magazine that featured George Morse and his "original design" (S/N-001) named Prowler. If you have access to the older Sport Aviation issues, track down the May '87 issue and read it - its a pretty good writeup! I would have posted the article here, but he electronic copy I was given is 1.2 Megabytes in size and would be too much to post. Perhaps the local library would have them?

Pretty Sexy little plane - eh?

I wish the Heat-Wave would let up a bit here (103F today) so I could get in the garage and make some more pieces! Oh well! At least I got to go fly a T-38A at work today - hot & sweaty, but an awesome good time going 400Kts! And, I got to fly upside down! The bloke I was with asked me "Why are we doing this?" (flying inverted that is) and my response: "Cause I can!"
Here's a picture of the Northrop T-38A as captured by Lt.Col Jeff Oleson, USAF (Beale AFB, CA.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Boy its HOT!!! 101F here today and I'm NOT at all motivated to go into my 110F garage and bang on my kitplane parts! I guess I'll wait till after the weekend to get back to work on the bulkheads & ribs I'm making.

Here's what the forms/patterns & molds look like for the basic structure of the Prowler's fuselage bulkheads & ribs. These are all the original patterns George Morse used to make his first/original Prowler. How did I get them? Well, George is now in his mid-70s and elected to get out of the manufacturing business (he just sold Prowler Aviation Inc. to a guy in Michigan who will move to Redding, CA., to start up the production line of the Jaguar Kitplanes). In the process of doing this, he had found his original patterns/forms/molds/jigs and offered to sell them to me. I couldn't refuse since it is also a piece of history of the airplane design now. I accepted (of course) along with a bunch of other completed parts, to include two tails (one completely assembled) in all about 75% of a complete kit (excluding the engine)and manufacturing tools too! I would need to make all my own bulkheads, ribs & skins, but for the most part, most all the other parts are already there.

At the moment, I have completed all the fuselage bulkheads and am starting to cut out aluminum for making the ribs. Once all the ribs are complete, I'll take all these parts down and have them heat treated & tempered to a "T-3" rating. After that I can begin actual drilling and rivetting of parts together. Normally, customers are told it will take an average of 2000hrs of building time to complete a kit. I am assuming (due to my work schedule) it will take me at least 5 years to finish the project when I start rivetting parts together. I expect to start actually assembing parts by the end of summer (around end of September) since I have a few other obligations as well...

First thing first though - I first have to finish the Annual Inspection of my 1940 Piper J-3F-65 "Cub". This is my "Fly by the seat of my pants" - for fun - flying Go-Kart!!! Gotta fly it this weekend!!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Check out my friend's (Sean Jones) photo... he sells these large prints on his website: This one of a T-38 during sunset flying home to Beale AFB, CA.

These pictures are as good as Viagra or Cyalis to me! Great pics - eh?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The current popular Automotive Conversion V8 engine these days is the Chevy LS-1(or C-5), LS-2, LS-6 from Camarros, Corvettes, GTOs etc... The relatively inexpensive 5.7Litre engines are often made into 383cid strokers as the Torque is more "usable" in aeroplanes than the actual Horsepower ratings. Here's George Morse working on my LS-1 that will propell my Prowler/Jag.
This LS-1 was rescued from a wrecking yard and then rebuilt and converted using one of George's custom PSRUs & Accessory cases. It will use AirFlowPerformance manual controlled aviation fuel injection units running a 3 bladed McCauley constant speed prop and a dual electronic distributor ignition system - no computer required! There are other PSRUs on the market, but most all of them use belt drives while the Morse PSRU uses GM Muncie transmission gears (much more reliable!). With use of a VORTEC supercharger to maintain Sea-Level atmospheric pressure, the engine should be able to maintain approx. 385hp & 440ft-lbs torque all the way up to 25,000' ! Eventually, we'll find out - but, since I don't plan on flying at 25K' often (due to Oxygen requirements) I may only try it a few times just to "prove" the engine combination.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A little history:
Prowler & Jaguar Homebuilt-prototype & Kitplane was originally concieved and designed by Mr. George Morse while living in Santa Cruz, CA. He began dabbling with Automotive V8 power converted for aircraft use in the early-mid 1970s after he had gotten his pilot's license. George used the Oldsmobile 215cid aluminum block V8 producing 225hp. This engine design was sold to Rover and are now ubiquitously used in Europe. Originally, George used a pressure carburator and a Christensen inverted oil system and installed it into his Experimental Skybolt. He perfected his Propeller Speed Reduction Unit (PSRU) and accessory case and decided it was time to design his "dream plane".

George loves WWII fighter airplane designs, and had a concept of combining 4 of his favorite fighters into one scaled-down design. His 4 choices were the NA P-51 Mustang, SM Spitfire, Curtis P-40 & Messerchmitd ME-109. He took the best parts of all 4 fighters and blended them all into a single scaled down aeroplane that could accept his Olds. 215cid Automotive Engine conversion (note the coolant radiators under the wings like the Spitfire). All together, he wanted it to have 2 tandem seats, a cruise speed of 200-250mph with a range of about 1000miles. Fully aerobatic, the first (and only) prototype was christened "Prowler".

Eventually, the design was updated with a slightly wider aft fuselage and an aluminum block Chevy type 350cid (300hp) V8. Increasing the fuel tanks to 60 gallons allowed the new "Jaguar" variant to a Cruise of 250-275mph and a Vne=300mph, while extending the range to 1200sm. Jaguar eventually became a full time Homebuilt/Kitplane business dubbed "Prowler Aviation Inc."

Tomorrow, the current engine variant known as the Chevy LS-1 !

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