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Unlimited racing - a new direction?

 
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jrussell



Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 56
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2006 23:33    Post subject: Unlimited racing - a new direction? Reply with quote

Is there any sign that there is movement away from the "legacy" aircraft that we have been pounding away for so many years? Surely, we must be appraoching a time where the economics of purpose built racing aircraft is becoming competitive with the cost of the ever dwindling supply of WW2 fighters, or is the parts supply much better than I am aware?
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lschilling



Joined: 17 Apr 2006
Posts: 3
Location: OFallon, Missouri

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 19:28    Post subject: Pond Unlimited Racer Reply with quote

I'm a brand newbie to the society and am humbled by the expertise resting in this group's hands. My first question, what became of the twin engined Pond Racer, the only clean sheet, ground-up unlimited design I'm aware of from a few years ago? I only remember the impossible ground cooling demands imposed by the lo drag nacelles.
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jrussell



Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 56
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 04:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

It crashed at Reno in 1993, due to an engine failure. Probably one of the most controversial airolanes to ever fly, as people are still flaming each other wether or not this was a genius design or another failed Burt Rutan piece of junk. The saddest part ( aside from the loss of the pilot ) is that it seems to have severly dampened any desire to do something new. I think the airframe would be the easiest part to deal with, but you must have an engine to design to. Any car based engine leaves you with a twin engine design with its resultant safety and drag problems. To develop your own 5000 hp engine would take such a budget it is hard to envision anyone doing it. Which, to my mind leaves only ( Caution - Heretic Warning!!) turboprops!
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bshepherd



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 09:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

To race in the unlimited category it must have a piston engine.
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szielinski



Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 96
Location: Canberra, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 18:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there a link to the rules for Reno?
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jrussell



Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 56
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 22:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was aware of the rule restriction for the unlimited class. I think this is the exact subject that needs to be discussed, as it seems to have a direct bearing on how much longer we will see the piston engined warbirds in the air. I would imagine that one warbird being raced consumes as many parts as several warbirds being flown only on the show circuit. The supply of parts required to support these aircraft is definitly finite and shrinking. I think allowing torboprops ( with an appropriate equivalence formula ) would allow people to design new build aircraft, perhaps bringing new technology into use, and still allowing the piston guys to do their thing. It is clear that the rules as they are, effectively rules out anything but a warbird.
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gwhite



Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 06:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

No one would deny that a gas turbine in the form of a turbo prop has more potential than even the best psiton engine. However, we run into that undefinable aspect that we call charisma. Would you rather see a turbo prop whistling around at, say, 550mph or a Merlin blasting its way around at 500mph. We can look at the unlimited hydro planes to see what happens when turbines are allowed, this sport is a poster child of why not to allow turbines in a motor sport.
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jrussell



Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 56
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 23:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham, I agree with you 100% about the charisma thing. What I am proposing is that turbines be allowed to be competive - NOT dominating. Only a very few people would want to watch an all turbine powered field - no matter HOW fast they were going. The sound is what enthralls us. If say, half the field was turbine, and the rest was piston, the available supply of piston parts for all flying warbirds would last a lot longer. And we would still have the sound. What happened to the unlimited Hydro's is what you do not want to happen. They are a lot faster, but nowhere near as much fun as the old piston boats. I think it would behoove us to consider some way to husband the supply of critical engine parts, to keep the airshow warbirds flying as long as possible, so people will be able to see them fly for as long as possible in the future. The vast majority people who have experienced the thrill of seeing a warbird fly have seen them at an airshow, not at Reno.
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wpearce



Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 37
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 22:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, I have just joined AEHS after lurking around for a few years. I have been a Reno quite a bit and am a crew member on a sport class racer. Please take the following as observation and not 100% factual info. As far as moving in a new direction there have been numerous attempts but few successful. The more successful the more conventional the aircraft.

Made the races:

Tsunami (80s) - a scratch built airframe that used a Merlin engine. Bruce Borland was the designer. Very successful and fast but the owner changed too many things too quickly and that was its ultimate undoing (crashed killiing pilot).

Miss Ashley II (90s) - scratch built airframe based directly on the P-51 D. Giffon powered out of a shackleton with Learjet wings. Full potential was never realized but races for a few years before it crashed (killing pilot).

Pond Racer (80s) - Already mentioned and the most successful totally new design (still not successful but it did race). Unfortunately with everything new, one encounters a number of problems. It always had trouble and unfortunately took it's pilot with it.

Others under construction:

Wildfire (70s-00s) - A heavily modified T-6 frame with a R-2800 and scratch built wing and tail. Has had a 30 year gestation period but supposedly will begin flight testing soon.

American Spirit (90s-00s) - R-3350 powered aircraft with a variety of bits and parts (some from a T-2 Buckeye). Owned by Matt Jackson the aircraft is at the Sanders Bros facility undergoing final assembly.

Shockwave (90s-00s) - Darryl Greenamyer's R-4350 aircraft with Sea Fury outer panels and an F-86 tail (I think). Nearing completion.

Team 51 (00s) - Cameron Murdo's composite P-51 D F G H (uses a bit of each). This will be a full scale P-51 built for racing. Murdo has built a turbine powered P-51 and has the parts for the racer. It will be powered by an Allison and the team currently has 3.

Others that never raced:

JP350 (80s) - John Parker's original design looking very much like a 1980s version of Nemesis NXT. Was not fast enough and did not last long enough to enhance it's performance (crashed).

Mach Buster (80s-90s) - Very much like a lawn dart. Powered by a Chevy Big Block I think. It's current owner finished it and during taxi tests found that the airframe was not up to the challenge. So he shelved the project and built... (never flown)

Renegade (00s) - A beefier and more thought out Mach Buster. It is just about done but a new RARA rule limits the Unlimiteds to a empty weight of more than 4500 lbs. Renegade is under, so the project has stalled (never flown).

DG-1 (70s) - Push pull design powered by 2 Mazda RX-3 Wankel engines. Built in the last 70s. Supposedly flew once and found in need of stability. Every once an awhile there is a rumor about it being worked on.

Dart - no construction began. Ground up new design with a new 1001 cu in power plant (I think). Too many chief and not enough money. Everyone went their separate ways but still dream of doing something.

Then there are some that won't even be mentioned (and others I'm sure I don't know about). The bottom line is money. The scratch built non WWII components were the most inexpensive, and the most unsuccessful. The new airframe with a proven engine were the most successful and the most expensive.

Some "cut" corners and try to use auto technology. They are then trying to mate an unproven airframe with and unproven engine. To do it right, one would need to start from scratch, build a great engine and test it as such, then build an airframe to make the engine go fast in the air. This requires more money than people are willing to spend. The main attraction of Reno has always been the Unlimiteds. People go there to hear the thunder of a Merlin or 3350, not the whine of a turbo prop. But they can only last for so long. Some feel the sport class will eventually replace the Unlimiteds. Right now the sports top out at around 370 (watch for faster speeds this year), while the Unlimiteds are at 500. A long ways to go, but a fraction of the price to do it.

Here are the general rules for Reno: http://www.airrace.org/RulesofCompetition2006.pdf

Keep in mind each class has its own set of rules on what makes aircraft eligible. But basically RARA says "The Unlimited Class is open to any piston-driven aircraft with an empty weight greater than 4500 pounds [the weight restriction was added in 2005].

In summary, only a slight movement away but if there were more money involved, movement would be much more substantial. Parts supplies are continuing to dwindle and racers use more parts than those on the airshow circuit, much more than those sitting in hangers and rarely flown, and much, much more than those entombed in museums.

I love air racing and I love the warbirds. I want to see them fly for at least another 60 years. Just remember, a number of the warbirds that are around today are around because the were acquired (saved from the scrapper) to race.

Humbly,
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www.bluethunderairracing.com
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hfriedman



Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 08:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for a really great posting. It deservess to be preserved in some more perminant form.
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wpearce



Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 37
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 22:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

hfriedman wrote:
Thanks for a really great posting. It deservess to be preserved in some more perminant form.


Thanks. It is just to for a little info and should not be considered 100% accurate. I did leave some info out that should be included.

Tsunami - http://www.warbirdaeropress.com/PhGal/nfpicturepro/thumbnails.php?album=6

Miss Ashley II - http://www.warbirdaeropress.com/PhGal/nfpicturepro/thumbnails.php?album=61

Pond Racer - http://www.warbirdaeropress.com/PhGal/nfpicturepro/thumbnails.php?album=25

Wildfire - Designed by Bill Statler Sr: http://www.pbase.com/wjpearce/wildfire
http://www.wildfireairracing.com/

American Spirit - Designed by Dave Cornell: http://hanksnet.com/images/as_p1.jpg
http://hanksnet.com/images/as_p2.jpg
http://hanksnet.com/images/as_p3.jpg
http://hanksnet.com/images/as_p4.jpg

Team 51 - http://cameronaircraft.com/team51/team51.htm

JP350 and Mach Buster (Designed by Bill Montagne). Scroll down and and there is a picture of both at the bottom: http://www.warbirdaeropress.com/smf/index.php?topic=527.0

Renegade - Built by David Rose after he testes Mach Buster (8 pages): http://www.barnstormers.com/EVENTS/040101/040101-01.html

DG-1 - Built by Dave Garber: http://www.rotaryeng.net/GARBER-DG1.gif

Then there is the sport class With Thunder Mustangs (right now only one), NXTs and DG'd very fast Lancair that are creeping up on the Unlimited.
http://www.bluethunderairracing.com/
http://www.pbase.com/wjpearce/nemesisnxt
http://www.pbase.com/wjpearce/dg

(Man, I really need to update some of that stuff)
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jjuutinen



Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 180

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about building a small series (e.g. 50 units) of e.g. Merlins from original drawings? By doing them to V-1650-9 standards, there would be not inconsiderable market for stock warbird Mustangs and the rest would go for racing purposes and perhaps doing them in adequate numbers would keep the unit cost at reasonable levels.
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szielinski



Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 96
Location: Canberra, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 17:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a piston-pounder re-issue, my arm-chair favourite would be a 130 (I think) series Merlin, the one with the Colpitts(?) throttle, fuel metering system and end-feed lubrication.

(Somehow I think the guys using these engines would be happy with a new one of those also)

As a matter of interest, if someone was interested in building some engines, could they make the cranks from billet or would they be too weak?
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jjuutinen



Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 180

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 19:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the dash-9 does have end feed lubrication and for most practical purposes is the 130 srs equivalent. The throttle is spelt Corliss.
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