Welcome to my Robin Blog.
Every good aircraft design has a "Mission" in mind before the actual design is started. A good designer will refer back to this mission every time a design decision must be made. Good design after all is just a series of good design decisions. On my first Ultralight design the Wren, the mission was to design a high performance low powered aircraft. The reduction of drag was the prime concern. I had been flying powered Hang gliders prior to this and because of this experience, I placed a high priority on climb performance. While most designers chose bigger engines, I chose lower drag and high aspect ratio (low span loading) wings. The Wren could out climb conventional Ultralight with up to 65 hp. The Robin follows this philosophy, but tries to improve on the performance of the Wren. Ultralight are not built by "rich" people, they offer an inexpensive means to enjoy one of the greatest experiences of my life, low speed soaring and flying.
The cost of an aircraft is directly proportional to its weight. , if low drag can be achieved then lighter and cheaper engines can be used. The Robin expands on the design mission of the Wren by using a longer span (40') wing and using a low speed laminar flow airfoil, (Wortmann FX 170) The leading edge of the wing on the prototype is molded fiber glass. The spar has been placed at 33% of the wing chord because the chosen airfoil is laminar over the first 32%. The aft covering is light weight Dacron Fabric. The leading edge of this fabric is purposely pinked and placed at the 32% chord point to facilitate laminar transition and elimination of separation bubbles. The main difference between the original design of the Robin and the current final design is the elimination of the single mono wheel retractable landing gear. Part 103 does not allow for a retractable landing gear. Which is really unfortunate because I spent a long time designing a really neat mechanism!!
In the course of the 4 years I have worked on the Robin, the structural design concept has evolved radically. Originally I was going to draw on the design of the Wren and use essential the same construction concepts. The original design of the Wren was heavily influenced by my Friend Steve Wood's Sky Pup design. I lived in Wichita Kansas and worked at Cessna Aircraft along with Steve. I watched his progress on the Pup and was very impressed with his concepts. I adapted the concept of using Styrofoam sheeting as the shear panels for the fuselage and the wing ribs. I did not however use the foam for the shear webs of the wing as Steve did. I originally wanted to build the fuselage of the Robin in a similar manner. Weight and the desire to not use foam for the basic structure due to the danger of fuel leaking eventually drove me to a all wood fuselage design. The wings were designed to take advantage of the Graphlite carbon pultruded material pioneered for the experimental aircraft by Jim Marske. I was familiar with this product from my experience at Bell Helicopter where it was considered in the construction of the V-22 wing.
|my poor old ma, God rest her soul!|
|The proud owner and his new Router|
|Cat and the Eagle|
Back to the Robin!!!
|side truss with doublers|
|PTO of Vanguard|
Brake pedal installation
I'm sorry I'm so late in updating the blog. I have been very busy!! 6 months ago I agreed to take on a side job for a Gulfstream G3 Engine swap. I am designing a new engine installation for the Right side pylon. This plane will be a flying test bed for the manufacturer of the new engine. I have a hard deadline for complete release of the engineering drawing of Feb 9. Consequently I am slammed for time and the Robin has to take a back seat. That's the bad news, the good news is I have earned enough money to purchase a 4 x 8 x 19" 5 axis N/C router!!!! I am expecting delivery to Houston Texas in May. I can't tell you how excited I am to get this tool. Not only will it allow me to make an exquisite wood kit for the Robin, but it will also make possible my next project. I am going to design and build an all wood laminar flow single place high speed airplane powered by an industrial Suburu 40 hp engine. Speaking of industrial engines, I recieved my replacement engine for the MZ 34 I currently have on the Robin.
|23 hp Vanguard Engine|
When I get back on the project I will swap this engine for the MZ 34. Stripped down and using a forged billet flywheel this engine will weigh 64 lbs. That will put the prototype over the part 103 254 weight limit. However I anticipate that changes to the wing and landing gear will bring her back under 254 lbs. More on those changes later. I plan on mounting the prop on the flywheel directly. Research has shown that a direct drive should yeild 154 lbs of static thrust. By Mounting the prop on the flywheel side the airflow thru the cowl will be in the same direction as the engines design. I will also be able to mount the engine using the PTO mounting fasteners.
I have finished the new replacement landing gear installation. I fabricated a cover plate that can be removed to service the gear.
|new gear cover plate|
The part 103 Robin will go back toi the original Fournier mono wheel. If a direct drive installation works, the prop clearance issues are such that I could use a non retractable gear. Saving even mode weight.
The existing rudder pedals were removed and modified to add toe brakes. This installation is very clean. Here are some pictures of the installation:
toe brake pedals were added to the existing rudder pedals, The toes brake position is adjustable. I will set the position after I get a chance to sit in the cockpit. The brakes are cble actuated and are modified Go Cart drum brakes.
|break cable routing|
|rudder return pulley|
I decided to update the Blog this evening because I received a question from a reader about the rudder return cable design. The main change I would make to this design is to raise the cable attach points to the end of the rudder pedals. This still works pretty good. I like this a lot better than the spring return I used to have. You will notice that the pulley bracket can swivel horizontally. The fwd pivot hole is oversize and allows the pulley bracket to also rotate up and down. The threaded rod is also the cable tensioner.
Finally in December it was my privilege to meet a blog reader from Sweden Dr Jörgen Åstrand. He is Fournier RF4 and Piper Cub Owner and possible a future neighbor here in Texas. It was sure nice meeting up here in Texas. Ironically he was also a reader of my Friend Ed Piper Cub Blog. Only at the last minute die we all realize that he was coming see us both during his vacation.
|Dr Jörgen Åstrand and myself.|
New Landing gear brakes.
Hello to all the readers of Kitplanes magazine!! I was fortunate to meet Dean Sigler at the 2012 Experimental Soaring Associations Western Conference in Tehachapi California. It was sure great meeting and seeing everyone over the Labor Day week end. From the emails I have received I see that the January edition has already made it to the subscribers base.
The first thing I realized when we went to the airport for the initial Taxi test, is that I need brakes!!!! For the initial flight my buddy Ed was going to keep me from rolling into other planes and hangers, but in reality that's not really practical.
With this new Grove spring gear, it quickly became apparent that I was going to have a axle bending problem. The axle is a 4130 steel tube 3/4" x .125" wall. I do not want to heat treat the axle, so I am using the 4130 in the normalized condition. That limits the stress to about 95 ksi in tension and 74 ksi in compression. The old landing gear design tucked up inside the hub and limited the bending moment because the point of load application was only 1.75" The new spring gear increases the cantilever distance to 3.57", That distance by the way is the point the axle is cantilevered to the point of load application which is the center of the hub. When brakes are added the distance increases by another inch. The gear will almost bend now just sitting on the ground!!! To solve this problem I decided to make a sleeve collar that is 1.24" in diameter at the point of greatest moment. this will limit the bending in the axle back to the original design stress. I bought some 3.5" diameter 7075-T6 round stock and proceeded to make a ton of chips.
|Sleeve collar being turned|
This is my faithful 36" Grizzly Bench lathe. I've had this lathe for 20 years, and believe it or not I have moved this lathe all over the country chasing the latest and greatest aircraft design contract!! I'm getting too old for that stuff these days however!!
This gear design is not only way too heavy, its also too damn expensive. As you can see in the next picture, 8 hours of my life was spent standing in front of my lathe!!
|Chips and turnings|
I have decided that the final design will be offered in two options, thanks in large part to all of the letters I have received. I will offer the original retractable mono wheel as well as an option Taylorcraft style internal bungee landing gear.
|sleeve collar and axle|
ask for Clint. These brakes are mechanically actuated so I ordered all of the cable , cable ends and fittings. I have plenty of excess cable that I think I can route the cable to the actual rudder pedals. That will be the subject of the next blog entry.because I haven't designed them yet!!!
|inside view of gear leg|
|Cable anchor bracket.|
|Drilling the axle hole|
New Landing gear cont.I have finished the gear fitting installation to the fuselage. The first step was to locate the fittings using the gear as a guide. I loosely bolted the gear to the fittings and then located the fittings to the fuselage. Once located I back drilled the through fitting through the fuselage bearing blocks. I made a makeshift drill jig by drilling a 1/4" hole through a 2.5" thick block of aluminum. It was very critical to drill these holes perpendicular to the outer flange so the holes would line up with the inside flange. Normally the inside flange would be left un drilled or undersize so the final hole would open up both flanges. I was betting that I could drill a hole accurately enough so the drill would align with the inside flange.
|homemade drill guide|
After the 1/4" holes were drilled, I chased then through with a 1/2" twist drill. Opening the holes up to just slightly under 1/4" (-.003) I then fabricated eight 1/2" diameter aluminum bushings. The 1/2" aluminum stock is slightly larger than 1/2" (+.002) this makes for a nice tight transition fit between the wood and the bushings. I sanded the outside of the bushings and then cleaned them with MEK.
|cleaned bushing and epoxy adhesive|
The landing gear fitting is square and parallel to the landing gear. The fuselage has a slight amount of contour . The load path from the gear to the fuselage is through a mechanism called "Heel and Toe" The design condition is a 1G breaking load applied to the tangent edge of the tires. This creates a large moment that needs to be reacted by the two outer bolts on the gear fitting. Since the fitting is wider than the bolt pattern, the reaction will actually be between the edge of the fitting (heel) and the opposite bolt (Toe) . Therefore the gap between the fitting and the fuselage must be filled with a material capable of withstanding compressive forces. The fitting is "Bedded" with a mixture of epoxy and cotton fiber (Flox) . Flox is mixed to a consistency of dough. I spread it under the footprint of the fitting and then installed the fitting. The inside of the gear fitting was coated with mold release wax so the fitting could eventually be released if needed.
once the fitting is installed, the excess bedding is scraped away.
When I installed the gear for a trial fit I saw that the clamp block was deflecting and bridging over the gear. To fix this I designed 4 more bushing that were exactly .003" taller than the thickness of the gear. They would crush to equal the gear thickness after installation
New Landing Gear installation
My new gear finally arrived from Grove Aircraft.I have finished all of the fuselage structural modifications. I have built all of the attach fittings and I have prefitted all of them. The gear is designed to clamp up between two radius filler blocks. The purpose of this design detail is to limit induced bending into the fuselage. If the gear were to be clamped with just flat plates, every time the gear deflected, the gear moment would be transmitted into the truss.
|attach fitting and radius plate|
|3/4" counter bores|
The attach bolts that pass through these pads are bushed with a 1/2" diameter aluminum bushing.
New Landing Gear
|reinforced gear frame|
in this picture the extra doubler on the two diagonal members are shown. all of the vertical loading of the gear is reacted by these members. They also need to react the aft braking load by a heel and toe reaction between the gear fitting bolt and the back wall of the fitting. underneath the plywood is 1.5" of birch plywood bearing blocks. .
|outer landing gear fitting|
This picture shows the outboard fitting for the new landing gear attach fitting. There will be a narrower fitting that is bolted to the inside of the gear frame. Both plates will be welded to a .125 plate that will act as a bearing plate. I will have two 3/8" bolts permanently brazed to the 1/8" plate. I will counter bore into the birch doubler to clear the bolt head. Sitting on top of the plates will be a radius block. The gear will be sandwiched between two of these radius plates. The isead here is to limit the gear bending moment to the gear itsself. The radius blocks will act like two fulcrums.
Unfortunatly this new gear will add 8 lbs to the Robin and may put the prototype out of the part 103 category. I'm sure with the redesigned wing and the single cylinder 2 stroke engine, Part 103 will still be possible. After my talk on Labor Day, the universal opinion of everyone I talked to was to scrap the 2 stroke and Part 103. My Friend Murry Rozansky who is the ESA Treasurer, suggested that I look at the 23hp Briggs and Stratton Vanguard conversions. After some research, I have decided that this is the perfect engine to adopt. The Prototype is actually perfect for it from a weight and balance point of view. My CG will move forward to 22% at full fuel. 26% empty. The static margin increases by 10%. This engine will be far more reliable than the 2 stroke. I will however fly this plane on the MZ 34.