I read all the warnings. “Use a Van’s-approved engine or you’ll have a ton of trouble making everything fit.” Or this one: “By the time you convert the engine to what you want, you’ll have spent just as much money as if you’d bought new.” Tinker or fly? So, I now have a laundry list of issues related to my particular setup that will now require no small amount of customization, some of it in steel, which I haven’t had much to do with since shoehorning large snowmobile engines onto the backs of go-karts back in the mid-80’s. Here’s the list of fun so far:

-Throttle body interferes with the starter. The Kelley Aerospace starter has a retaining bolt on it that prevents the TB from being mounted in the diaphragm-up position.
-Stock brackets won’t work. Either the mixture or the throttle arm goes the wrong way when pushed, so a bellcrank is probably going to be required.
-AFP throttle body won’t play nice with the airbox. More fun with fiberglass.
-Fuel hose from engine pump to TB inlet is too short in any position except the one that won’t work because of the starter.
-Custom-length quadrant cables will be required.
-Throttle and mixture arms interfere with factory-set linkages when oriented in directions that work for me. I’ll need a straight arm from Don at Airflow.
-Right magneto interferes with battery box. Will need to be re-indexed for harness to clear and be retimed.
-Left magneto had to be removed to adjust oil cooler fitting. Timing will need to be reset.
-Breather tube is a little close to the RDAC. Should be OK though.
-Alternator interference unknown at this time, since I haven’t purchased it yet.
-Oil cooler taken off the engine when I got it is cracked. Need a new one.
-Oil pressure fitting is AN3, not AN4, so the supplied hose won’t work. Earl’s doesn’t seem to have a steel expander either.

So should I have listened to the warnings? Waited for a a good deal on an engine with a standard Bendix fuel injection system that wouldnt’ have necessitated an aftermarket, oddball sump? Maybe. Am I kicking myself for not doing so? A little. Thanks to the teardown/rebuild, I’m pretty much out of money and it’s going to take some time to build up reserves. I could probably still fit the cowl, and I can definitely get the avionics and wiring done, but the firewall-forward engineering may be my greatest challenge yet. But I know a guy at Crashspace with a 6-axis mill and a lathe. Van’s Air Force is still my lifeline. And I’m in too deep to quit now.

As I write this, I’m on Alaska Airlines on initial descent into LAX, returning from Vancouver, BC. If human beings can figure out a way to get me online in a big spam can at FL30, I can find a solution to the nearly-overconstrained problem of the firewall forward situation.

Comments (3)

  1. 12:17 am, February 14, 2011Uncle Bill  / Reply

    Don’t forget you have an uncle in the machining business. If you can draw it we can make it, for a whole lot less than California rates.

    Uncle Bill

  2. 12:19 am, February 14, 2011Uncle Bill  / Reply

    Don’t forget you have an uncle in the machining business. If you can draw it we can make it, for a whole lot less than California rates.

    Uncle Bill

  3. 3:20 pm, March 11, 2011stjohn  / Reply

    If I can make an accurate dimensioned drawing of a part I need, I’ll definitely send it your way. My problem is I don’t have the skills to properly measure things to determine dimensions for a prototype, and I think my lowest-bidder machinist’s rulers are part of the problem. For instance, how the hell do you accurately measure the distance from the centers of two bolt holes? The only way I can think of is to put something threaded in each one that has a partially drilled hole in the center, something that will take the points of a micrometer (which I have and trust). But how would I make those devices without a proper lathe?

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