Publication Type: Magazine Article
Authors: Rob Germon
Source: New Zealand Wings Magazine, Volume 61, Issue 12, p.20 (12)
Abstract: <p>Survey of the offerings - by Rob Germon</p>
Parent Issue: 1550 www.pacificwingsmagazine.com
www.pacificwingsmagazine.comTHE VOLMER SPORTSMAN
WHEN Volmer Jensen wheeled out his two place 85 hp amphibian in 1958, orgasmic euphoria broke out clean across the homebuilt aviation world.
"What a clever bloke," they said.
"Why hasn't it been done before. How
does it perform? Will it carry two people off the water on 85 hp?"
Well, plans were sold right around the world at a great rate, even to homebuilders in little of NZ.
The sawdust flew, the epoxy set up and Continental engines were installed. Great difficulty was found in finding the correct scales to weigh the Volmer as calibrated units backed by integrity showed a major mistake. The Volmer appeared much heavier than Jensen's design weight of 1000 lbs.
This appeared to be a problem all over the world. Well, let's not debate heavy homebuilts, the fact is you can build a VJ 22 with 100 hp up top and get the empty weight out at around 1050 lbs.
The homebuilt scene here and across the board with its inaccuracies will tell you that the Volmer does everything at 85 mph; that is it stalls, lands, glides and cruises at this magic number.
This of course is a load of rubbish. The VJ22 with 100 hp at 1600 lbs climbs at 500 feet per minute at 65 mph at full power. This never hurt an 0200 Continental.
The cruise is at 2500 rpm at 85 mph. Remember the 0200 100 hp Continental with the correct prop is designed to run out to 2675 rpm to get your 100 hp.
The VJ-22 will climb in this configuration to 12,000 feet on mogas as well.
In flight handling is much like a 7 EC Champ or 90 hp Cub. The ailerons are heavier than the Piper ailerons. The noise in the VJ22 with Mr Clarks headphones on your ears is fine but not much good without them.
The VJ-22 needs more fin and rudder which is an easy modification. Visibility is excellent.
The undercarriage works well and operates quickly. One needs to learn Kung Fu to raise the gear, but only five words are needed to get the strength .... Hong, Ha, He, Yoh, Oh!
Is riding in the VJ-22 like sitting in a coffin? Yes it is a bit, but you will never go to sleep as the engine produces a noise on the wooden hull like 10,000 bees flying in formation!
The VJ-22 is happiest on the water, yes fresh, salt, chop up to 10" perhaps 12". The hull has to be clad in light weight kevlar to operate on any water really, to avoid hull fracture.
There are two types of people in the Volmer amphibian world - those who have broken the hull open on the water, and those who are about to.
The amphibian handles well on the water and is quite seaworthy. The tyres spin around in the water when taxying in a cross wind and the tread acts like a
- Rob Germon surveys the local scene
WELL KNOWN amongst the local homebuilt fraternity, Rob Germon first got airborne from his NSW hometown of Orange in 1966. His interest in homebuilts also dates from this period, his interest growing as he watched a 65hp Minicab come together.
He arrived in New Zealand in 1969 to do a CPL at the Wanganui Aero Club and stayed on. With a particular interest in the Anderson Kingfisher, having built his own, he was editor of the international Kingfisher Newsletter for some three years.
In the following article he takes a look at four homebuilt amphibian types currently flying in New Zealand.
pump - and pumps water into the cockpit through the storm window, great feeling - like being in the bath with your clothes on!
Of course if you have a pretty lady on board wet trousers won't be a problem!
Like most homebuilts, I feel the VJ-22 has not been developed. The VJ-22 needs the following modifications:
1. More fuel range
2. Bigger fin and rudder plus water rudder
3. Frise ailerons
4. Another 30 HP
5. Better C/G set up
6. Improved canopy
7. A fixed tail wheel
8. Fuel tanks in the wings
The Canadians have done all this, much to Volmer Jensen's disgust, but the modifications work well. However the Volmer continues to plod along.
When all is said and done, it's a pretty honest amphibian.
Where else can you get a 100 hp amphibian and fly two off the water cruising at 85 mph at 25 litres per hour.
Drawings are still available but one needs the Canadian modifications plus the Lycoming engine mount and tail wheel drawings from Australia to come up with an practical amphibian.
The Volmer amphibian, I think with the modifications, is well worth the effort!
EARLANDERSON, a retired veteran 30,000 hour airline captain, also got the bug about homebuilt amphibians.
Anderson looked at Jensen's creation and said "Yep! but No! - I can do better".
Anderson, like most airline people
used to truck around the circuit in a 90
hp Cub at weekends and felt, if he could put a wet bottom on the Cub, stack the engine up top, forward off the windscreen, all would be a blast! ... Excuse the pun...
Anderson was in love with Clark Y Cub wings, and deep V hulls. His hull is much the same as Jensen's VJ-22 but deeper and narrower. The 100 hp Continental sat up top forward of the windscreen.
It wasn't long before Earl had his wooden wonder flying and it flew very well on the water, in fact with the deep V hull it was a real old wooden Grumman Goose.
Anderson's trick lay in the fact that a tractor engine with the 100 hp at 2750 rpm produced more thrust on the water than the same engine pushing. This has been well proven with Volmer builders turning their engine around to tractor configuration.
In fact the only reason David Thurston designed the Lake Buccaneer with a pusher engine is because the FAA would not allow a propeller directly above the passengers' heads.
The Kingfisher is built like a battle ship and most examples these days have a 150 hp engine. The Kingfisher's performance with 150 hp is very close to a Piper Super Cub on and off the water. It is the best suited amphibian to NZ conditions if you can't afford a Spencer Air Car.
It's a pig of an aeroplane to get in and out of. You can't have it all ways, but is a very comfortable aeroplane to ride in especially in rough air. The Kingfisher is very sea worthy, and will handle some pretty tough conditions.
The great problem with building the Kingfisher is the fact that it uses Cub wings. Cub wings cost gold bars - I know of one set in New Zealand that would cost at least $7,000 to buy on the second hand market. Re-built from the
20 - NZ WINGS December 1993 - January1994
Short-span, low aspect ratio wings are a feature of the Osprey amphibian, seen here over the tidal reaches of Auckland's Waitemata harbour. John King photograph
SPENCER AIRCAR AMPHIBIAN
PERHAPS there was one person in New Zealand who really had the last laugh when it came to investing time and money into a homebuilt amphibian and that was the late Neil Falconer. If Neil was alive today I'm sure he would agree too.
Neil was a very brave soul many years ago when he took the bull by the horns in true Southland fashion and announced to the world that he was going to build a Spencer Aircar amphibian.
The Department of Civil Aviation then was only rubber stamping approval of types up to 1500 lbs. A Spencer Aircar at AUW of 3,200 gross really brought a laugh. I hear tell that they thought that Neil had been on the moonshine when he proposed the idea.
But Neil went ahead and finished the giant amphibian and flew 17 hours on the aeroplane before his life came to an end. His son Keith now flies the aircraft.
The Aircar is no toy, nor is it a
backyard homebuilt. Spence Spencer, now 94 years old, is quite a remarkable man. In fact his life's adventures and success would fill a book and what an interesting book it would be!
Spencer in his early days had designed the Republic Seabee for production in the 1940's. The Spencer Aircar, a wooden version is a direct clone of the
Above: Amphibians provide acess to backwaters difficult otherwise to reach for recreation - the author's wife and family Volmer on the shores of Auckland harbour. Above, right: Kingfishers have been built world wide - this example tethered to the shore of a Canadian lake in British Columbia, gear down on a lee shore.
United States they would cost $8,000 each.
The answer to this problem lies in using a new wing panel like the Christarva MK4. This wing is the same construction, but all wood, with fuel tanks, flaps and frise ailerons.
The big improvement with this wing panel is the new aerofoil shape. Remember the Clark Y aerofoil on the Cub is 60 years old!
The Christarva MK4 wing will carry 2100 lbs with a speed range of 30 knots to 100 knots. Climb figures are in the 1200 feet per minute of MAUW.
The Anderson Kingfisher drawings have been updated with recent mods in many areas and are still on the market and are very good quality.
There are some 40 Kingfishers flying in the world with very good builder support. The Kingfisher must be built with 150 hp to get the result you want.
The author in his Volmer Sportsman.
www.pacificwingsmagazine.com NZ WINGS December 1993 - January 19irf ?
At home in both world s - the sole New Zealand Spencer Air Car amphibian at rest amongst a Southland scene. Dave Bates photograph.
wonderful Seabee. A 4 place amphibian with a 300 hp engine up the back driving an 84 inch prop makes a very interesting amphibian.
The construction is all wood with some fibreglass parts in the cabin area. Construction is quite straight forward and practical. Spencer sells hard-tomake parts like the engine pylon, landing gear and wheel kit.
However the drawings are very detailed and one can scratch build everything if required. The Spencer Aircar is a big aeroplane for homebuilders.
The wing span is 37'4", height is 9'6" and an overall length of 26 feet. The aircraft's empty weight is 2190 lbs with a 1000 lb useful load. Cruise speed at 65 percent power is 130 mph.
Rate of climb at gross is 1000 feet per minute. Stall speed with flaps is 43 mph. The cabin is 45" wide inside and is 8'6" long. Rear seat width is 40 inches. The Aircar gets off the water very quickly at gross weight. The cabin is very comfortable and spacious with a noise level lower than a Beech Bonanza. It is a very cosy aeroplane to land on water but does require the use of rudder in some flying modes in a positive way.
The Spencer Aircar has a range of 800 miles at AUW with a reserve of 20 minutes. Some 190 sets of drawings have been sold and around 40 aircraft are flying. The Lycoming 10-540, 260 HP engine has also been approved for this aircraft.
The hull is built of I beam wood spars, plywood ribs and covered with 1.5 and 2 mm plywood. Floats for the two wings are fibreglass and also double as gas tanks.
Most builders comment that construction is very straight forward but there's just a lot of it!
The Spencer Aircar has endured the test of time, many amphibian designs since then have been and gone, but for my money, if you're going to build an amphibian - a real amphibian with true practical application - don't go past the Spencer Aircar.
THE COOT AMPHIBIAN
THE COOT amphibian was designed by Molt Taylor, some 20 years ago. Molt Taylor was well known in American aviation circles in the late 70's. Taylor is best known for his flying cars which never found a niche in the world market.
Molt Taylor is a very talented, clever designer and I always feel that fooling around with homebuilt designs was very much a back seat for him.
The first Taylor Coot flew on one of Freddie Franklin's engines. It was a 130 HP model, or was it? The Franklin sports 4 engine was supposed to be 130 HP - six of these engines came to NZ.
My records show that they may only
have 100 hp camshafts in them. I remember running one in the late Ron Keyte's Sirocco and regardless what prop, you used it would never really run up to full rpm eg 2750 (130 hp) in the air.
Anyway, back to the Coot. Taylor said that his Coot flew well with two people on board but the Coot with its massive cantilever wings was a pretty heavy beast and the ship needed more horse power. I've heard that comment somewhere before!
Quite a big Coot building programme took place in New Zealand 20 years ago. Some four aircraft were started and Franklin Sports 4 engines were imported. By-the-way, the Polish Government aircraft company now owns these motors and I'm told the correct cams have now been fitted, and the engine is now on the world market.
The Coot A, (there was a twin boom B version of which one was built but proved to be not very successful), really started to appear with 250, 200 and at the worst 150 hp engines.
Empty weights were high, 1200 lbs and up. It would seem that you need 200 hp on a Coot, that's if you can put up with the noise to get it going off the water.
Structural failure plagued the Coot A in Canada, but the problem was sorted out I hope. The aeroplane was promoted to have folding wings and at least one
example equipped as such is flying in New Zealand.
The Coot looks good but it is a very complicated amphibian to build. Materials are wood, glass, sheet metal, metal tubing and you name it...
The drawings I saw a good few years ago, in my opinion were shocking. Two versions, the A and B, laid out on an A4 sheet. I would call the drawings aeronautical cartoons! They may have been re-drawn. I should hope so! The drawings carry the EAA stamp of approval.
The Coot is very much a smooth water amphibian and I guess why not? After all Molt Taylor lives around smooth water lakes.
The Coot with 200 hp flying at 1900 lbs cruises along at 100 mph - so they say. The 150 hp version would be lucky to cruise at 80 mph. Fuel range is very limited with a big engine. Again this is another homebuilt where the designer has not chosen to develop it.
Lying around Auckland are a very complete set of moulds and jig to fabricate the various and many fibreglass parts.
The landing gear on the Coot is another engineering feat. Giant twisted spring legs and castoring nose wheel with many levers and linkages.
The gear is retracted by winding a car door window handle and this takes quite a bit of time. I hear tell that to lower and raise the gear in the water is a major
job, which wouldn't do me!
I like the Coot's profile. It looks great
The engine installation in the Spencer Aircar -emphasising where
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Top : Pereira Osprey ZK-KGB against homebase RNZAF Whenuapai backdrop. Above: Alistair McLachlan in his Taylor Coot. Photography by John King.
in the air and it looks big and roomy.
If you were going to build an example
I would surely arrange a flight test with a Coot owner on fresh water, sea water
and choppy water at gross weight.
Construction in NZ could be quite straight forward if you can tap and support and knowledge of the Coot fraternity. Good Luck!
THE OSPREY amphibian was designed some 15 years ago by a bloke called George Pereira from Sacramento USA.
Pereira was not new to amphibian
design, as he had developed a single
seat amphibian some years before. Thus the two seat Osprey is a re-
designed version of the Osprey 1.
The Osprey looks are downright sexy. It makes the Volmer, the Kingfisher and the Coot look like drays.
The Osprey is a very efficient amphibian in so far as it will roll off the scales with 150 hp engine at 1,000 lbs - so they say ... from what I have heard, there
are some getting around at 1060 to 1080 lbs.
This amphibian is very much a smooth water lake amphibian. With a free board of 6" at the most - it would have to be.
The aircraft is not easy to build. One builder in Auckland who is no fool, took some 12 months of steady work to get the landing gear in and working and then found it had designer problems.
The Osprey uses the tried and proven 2,300 aerofoil, which needs to be
painted, faired, kept clean (yes very clean), to get good results. (No coloured stripes on the leading edge). What the Osprey does well for an amphibian is cruise well.
One can get 100 knots indicated from the 0.320 with the correct prop. The seating and closed canopy is not for the faint hearted, yes - it is like sitting in a coffin with a view. The noise with Mr Clarks on I think is very good, sort of like a Victa Airtourer in a dive.
The controls, console and electrics are quite complicated. There is very little room for ones feet, even less if you stick to the drawings.
The T-tail flies when it wants to, but the aeroplane trims out well. Fuel capacity
is OK, but could be better, and wing tanks can be fitted. The retraction of the landing gear is fine, using a single lever like the Mooney.
Lowering the gear in the water requires very careful handling and I believe the gear is not designed for that.
The vast amount of steel exposed to the elements, especially salt water, is a worry. The metal work has to be done in stainless steel or a quick dip in the salt water gives you one flight a year. The
rest of the year is taken up with rebuilding rusted components.
As I said, the Osprey is a smooth water amphibian, and that's what the designer had in mind. The aeroplane in
a cross-wind on the water can be a problem as the down wind wing tip tends to drag under the water.
The nose wheel design leaves a bit to be desires, in so far as it has to be modified and set up correctly for it to retract smoothly without jamming.
One great bug with the Osprey is that it comes complete with bats in the belfry. What I mean is that there is a warbling or buffeting sound of air through the engine pylon. This is easy to fix, simply build a Lake Buccaneer engine type pylon.
The Osprey amphibian also has a foam and glass hull. Rand KR-2 builders will know all about the fact that foam and glass shrinks with time and temperature.
Well, the Osprey hull also shrinks and
cockpit - trim tidy,
it would be really interesting to see how many Osprey's have been sold because they buck and kick on the water, trying to get up on the step, when the real problem could lie in shrunken foam and glass causing a wrong step profile.
Most Osprey's built tend to go up for sale quite quickly. One owner I met in Australia was not very happy with his at all.
The Osprey drawings are very detailed and well presented. There are the usual mistakes. The aeroplane was designed for the narrow deck Lycoming, and fitting a later model engine is a lot of work, with many modifications needed.
The Osprey, in my opinion, is not a good amphibian for NZ conditions.
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