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Building an aircraft engine for my IBIS RJ.03 airplane

The time has arrived to contemplate VW-derived aircraft engine choices for my IBIS homebuilt project.
This is a topic where I really need to put my thinking cap on, as I'm not a car or engine mechanic whatsoever. It'll be a very nice learning experience.
Initially I wanted to go high-end by purchasing a modern

and lightweight aero engine like a UL260i (boy, would I love to have one of these...).
And incidentely: NO Jabiru FOR ME !.
Initially I was taken by the nice looks of these shiny Aussie units, but now I know better. Some people that I know personally have had to dead-stick their Jabiru 2200 powered aircraft or had to nurse it home on its very last legs, only to find that serious 'issues' had cropped up after having flown that job for only around 300 hours, give or take a few hours. Based on that I started to search the Internet, and dug up quite a few similar horror stories.
When I talked to an LAA inspector about my findings, he confirmed that - to quote him literally: "Jabirus have an aweful bad service history".
Two plane owners I know personally (one in The Netherlands, one in France) got to experience / to endure (select the appropriate verb yourself...) the non-existing customer support service the factory is (NOT......) offering. A realy really disappointing show from down under, mate!
More recently I have heard (as of yet unconfirmed) rumours to the extend that the (former?) French distributor ceased sales for this very reason (lack of quality, lack of factory support)....
Need I say more? There will be no Jab in my future, of that I am sure...

Catching up with reality

At some point in time it dawned on me that a UL260i or something contemporary like it would set me back more than double the sum I'll have in the airframe proper, and then there is still instruments and avionics to cater for.
For the current IBIS homebuilt at hand, I've decided that I'm going to assemble my own VW aero engine based on components offered by Steve Bennet / Great Plains. Steve is one of the very few that have been in business for a long time and - contrasting to other well known aero engine kit suppliers - remained remarkably supportive despite the many questions I've been pestering him with.
Another person who's advice I regard highly is Barry Smith of ACRO Engines and Airframes Ltd. Barry has overhauled TMG engines longer than he cares to remember. After fiddling around with the engine in his aerobatic Tipsy Nipper (which became really really aerobatic after his fiddling around with it...) he decided to design a new single seat aerobatic aircraft, based on the VW-derived aero engine that he developed for his Tipsy Nipper. Check out his website to learn more about it. By the way, did I mention that most of these developments took place a couple of decades ago and that he still is the only one that has a true inverted aerobatic VW engine, a mechanically fuel injected one at that ?
And finally, I just have to mention the third person that is instrumental in my quest to learn all there is to learn about VW aero engines: Bob Hoover. Bob writes very well, he might just be the most knowledgeable in the VW aero engine universe and he doesn't mind sharing his vast experience, witness the many articles he published over the years. My hat's off to him! It's really too bad that he is no longer among us...

With this out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty of what I have learned so far and plan to do:

VW aero engine: putting my thinking cap on...

VW Aero Engine Case Deciding whether I'm going to use an aluminium or magnesium engine case took a bit of time. Read all about it...

Engine displacement My quest to get a somewhat large displacement yet with a moderate to low compression ratio to increase longevity. These are my current thoughts about it...

Engine starting Gentlemen, start your engines....! There's more than one way to do that, so a choice needs to be made. Check it out..

Leburg Electronic Ignition System in Good Ol' Engand I found an electronic ignition that lets me steer clear of a magneto and allows me to hand-prop as well...

Induction The animal needs to be fed with fuel and air. Too many ways to skin a cat. This is my current thinking about it....

Pistons & Cylinders Improving heat dissipation and reducing configuration weight are the names of the game... Or perhaps preventing too much heat from being generated in the first place?


Please Note: these pages document my current thinking. If I learn new stuff that causes me to re-think what I published here, I'll update this page. In that sense, these musings are also an invitation for constructive reactions... :)


2004-2012 IBIS RJ.03 "The French Canard" homebuilt aircraft project
All rights reserved.