My New Lazair III

My New Lazair III

Monday, July 15, 2019

Lazair 40th Anniversary, Primer System, Headed to Oshkosh

Its been a great long while since I've posted, not much going on in Lazair world unfortunately.

I have developed a new fuel tank from a common fuel can with better fueling posture using a remote filler neck and a new fuel primer scheme that makes starting the engines much easier.

The primer is an nipple drilled into the phenolic spacer between the engine cylinder and carburetor, the primer line (yellow tube) and nipple can be seen in the photo above. It also has a primer bulb (available from the aircraft section of your local small engine shop) mounted just to each side of the pilots head.

Just one or two squeezes of the bulbs primes the engines enough to run a few seconds and draw fuel out of the main tank. However it is VERY easy to flood the engines. One must be careful.

On a service difficulty note:

One of my very first posts was about installing safety wire on the spark plug cap to prevent the cap from coming off the spark plug.

Recently I began having rough and erratic engine troubles which ultimately resulted in an engine out scenario. It was not big deal as I was at 3000ft and right at the end of the runway. After a lengthy investigation first suspecting carburetor diaphragms and then ignition points I decided to check the simple stuff first and went to look at the spark plugs. When I removed the safety wire and removed the spark plug cap I found a sticky and carbonized residue on the spark plug insulator (white part) that was in the shape of the twisted safety wire. Apparently the rubber deteriorated and became carbonized and formed a conductive pathway intermittently grounding the spark plug via the safety wire over-wrap. I replaced both rubber spark plug caps with NGK phenolic caps (like the ones shown below, P/N LB01E) and resafetied them in place. The engines have never ran smoother.

NGK Spark Plugs LB01E/8011 - NGK Spark Plugs Spark Plug Wire Components

Perhaps some folks are unaware that this year is the 40th anniversary of the Lazair. Oshkosh is having a big celebration and I will be attending, hope to see some of you there.

Also check out the Canadian stamp issued in commemoration and honor of the Lazair ultralight and Dale Kramer.

Image result for lazair stamp

You can get your own collectable stamp (if your a philatelist) or just want something neat related to Lazair from the Canadian Post. Dale is a national hero and the Lazair was honored by Canada right alongside the Avro Arrow! Dale has always been my hero!

Its always been a dream of mine to fly Lazair at Oshkosh and this year seems the most fitting. I'm very much looking forward to the adventure. Hope to see you at OSH, look for me in the ultralight area.

More next time,

Sunday, August 31, 2014

48 Weeks Till Oshkosh

We Aint Got No Velocity Stacks....

As I was flying around one day in my Lazair, minding my own business, my right engine decided it wanted to speed up all by itself. Apparently I was flying too slow for its liking. I was puzzled by this as I prefer my engines to tow the line I lay down. As their Captain I am in charge and rather enjoy my engines following my command. I do not like engines having a mind of their own. 

In investigating why this engine was able to determine its own power setting I discovered that under the right conditions, mainly a sideslip or a crosswind, the velocity stacks are able to produce a ram effect which produces an increase in output, or conversely when the conditions are right a venturi effect which reduces power. These effects also seem to lend to some of the "hunting" the rotax's on the Lazair are known for.

I pondered over this situation for some time and thought I could correct this issue and maybe improve on the durability of the engines as they have always been unfiltered in the stock configuration. "To the Batcave" for some tinkering.

I found these really nice bell-mouthed velocity stacks used for a myriad of purposes, and some pretty little compact saucer shaped air filters from Chinatown, made by Chinamen, of ChinaQuality. After modification and sufficient fitting and futzing around the filter system is installed and looks quite good I think.

Flight tests show no degradation to performance, i.e. I get the same RPM as before, the engines run at a more consistent RPM and have less "hunt", and throttle response is unchanged. Overall I feel this is a good and warranted modification, it keeps the bugs out in the air and on the ground, and can only add to the life of the little Rotax. Kits are available

I hate to make promises, particularly ones I am not sure I can keep. While at Oshkosh this year I promised myself I would have the Mark IV ready to unveil for the 2015 show. I am doing my level best to meet this self imposed promise, but there are many factors out of my control. Still I think having a goal is a motivation in, and of itself, and will only help get me off my can and moving forward. Wing construction is still moving ahead. I am fitting the ribs to the spars, I need to build the wing jigs so I can set the washout per the build manual and make the new root ribs.

More Next Time,

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Baby Got New Shoes

A Clean Desk (Shop) is a sign of a sick mind.
Albert Einstein…..Supposedly.

Posting time again, I love it when a plan comes together. I have been toiling away like a little bee. I got a 6” carbon fiber spinner in the other day directly from China, made by Chinamen, in Chinatown, actually a really nice piece of work. The purpose of the spinner is to allow me to start the Evolution radials easier using an external starter and without endangering my hands and fingers. After adding necessary bracketry inside the spinner it has been fitted to the engine and works quite well. 

See the latest video of running the second engine using the external electric starter here:

I have also installed the 8” wheels onto the Lazair. These are the same wheels from the last blog. I had custom axles machined; these wheels are fitted with the Black Max Brakes as before. So now I have two wheels and brake options. You can have 6” wheels with black max brakes like those shown in the previous posts. Or you can have these snazzy new 8” wheels, which are the same size as the Original Lazair wheels, with Black Max brakes, as seen here.

I have two sets of 6” wheels available for anyone wanting to replace their broken original plastic Lazair wheels. These sets are wheels only, no brakes, if you want new wheels, and/or brakes, contact me and I can set you up with a wheels only kit or a full up wheels and brake kit of your choice.

Mark IV wing construction begins in earnest. Here are some pictures of the first rib being fitted to the Mark IV wing spar. This is very exciting!

A Newly Minted Lazair pilot.
Here is a video of my good friend Swaid flying my Lazair for the first time. He is a very skilled multi-engine pilot and I have every confidence in his abilities, but it’s always a bit nerve racking to let someone else fly your bird. He is now our officially unofficial factory test/check-out/demonstration pilot and hopefully will be able to accompany us to Oshkosh next year to unveil the Mark IV.

Service Difficulty Report

During a recent preflight inspection the upper aft seat tube support (G307) was found to be severely cracked. Upon removal it was found the bracket was completely broken. A magnified inspection of the crack surface indicated a crack occurred during manufacture, or as a result of manufacture, and propagated to failure via fatigue. Closely inspect your aircraft for this problem. A redesigned, stronger bracket is available and shown installed.

More Next Time,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


"Big Things Have Small Beginnings."

  David, the robot.

I have not posted in a while. Many mundane (small) things are going on in the background, none of which are noteworthy in, and of themselves. So in the meantime, and for your entertainment, I posted a PowerPoint movie of a presentation I had the privilege to present to a local EAA chapter on the history and technical aspects of the Lazair (see previous post). I have also posted an instructional video on how to build Mark IV ribs. This video was developed to test the feasibility of using video media for construction rather than a written manual. It seems it might workout well, we'll see how the public responds before making a final decision on this format.

Mark IV Updates

We have finished the break-in runs on the first Evolution 7260 radial engine with 2 blade 32x12 Valley View prop. Everything is running as expected. The second engine is being fitted to the test stand for break-in now.

Below are current pictures of an aileron assembly with end caps, but no trailing edges. The covering material is Oracal. This is the same material used for graphic wrap on cars and boats. It is beautiful material, very easy to apply. But it does not shrink wrap tightly enough for use on the wing and it is too compliant, meaning it stretches too much. It is therefore not an acceptable candidate for a covering material by itself. However several ultralight manufacturers are laminating Oracal over Ceconite, Stits, Dacron, etc as an alternative to painting. This seems to work very well indeed, and so this system will be offered as a covering choice for anyone who may want a Lazair without the traditional see-thru covering. The Oracal will give a plethora of color and graphics options.



I have also finished the development work on the Black Max Brakes. These pictures show the new wheel and tire assembly. These are the same size as the original wheels, but use the Black Max master cylinders and calipers from the previous post. New axles are being machined right now and I will post pictures of the new wheels installed. We now have complete refit kits available for Lazair owners that want to replace those old cracked original wheels and/or want to upgrade to better brakes. Two wheel options are available, the 8" wheel you see below, and the 6" wheel in the previous post.
If anyone wants just wheels with no brakes I have 2 sets of 6" wheels available with axles for a very good price.

On a safety note:

I was committing an act of minimally regulated aviation by flying my Lazair a few days ago, and after landing and standing around chewing the cud with a fellow aviator friend of mine he made a safety suggestion that left me gobsmacked that it was so spectacularly obvious and that I hadn't thought of it myself.

He relayed a story of a friend of his who had an ultralight (not a Lazair) with a different engine (2 stroke, 2 cylinder by the same manufacturer as ours) that was installed with the cylinders upside down, i.e. the spark plugs pointed down instead of up with similar plug caps. He informed his friend he might want to safety wire his spark plug caps so they wouldn't fall off or wiggle loose. The friend dismissed the notion and subsequently destroyed his plane and nearly killed himself when a spark plug wire came off in flight causing partial power loss of the engine.

Now I have never heard of a Rotax 185 loosing a spark plug wire in flight. But after examining my plug caps (rubber screw on type with spring loaded clips) and taking into consideration the massive vibration these engines produce I thought his suggestion had enough merit and there was enough potential for failure of the cap to remain on the spark plug I got out my safety wire and devised a simple safety wrap on the plug cap that I am convinced the cap cannot come off until I cut the safety wrap.

I recommend all Lazair operators heed the same warning and safety wrap your plug caps to the spark plugs. It is very easy to do, costs nothing, takes only a minute or two, and is cheap insurance against this type of bad juju.

More Next Time,

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Wheels of Change on the Bus Go Round and Round, Round and .......

A Wise Man Can Hear Profit in the Wind

Ferengi Rules of Acquisition 22

Busy, Busy, Busy…….There is never enough time in the day.
Many progressive things have come to pass in the few months since my last post. I have acquired a very nice Lazair Series III from Michigan and have been working to get it in airworthy condition. In addition to typical maintenance issues on this bird I have installed a set of Black Max Brakes and it has much improved ground handling. Have a look at the pics below to see the mods. If anyone is interested I have a complete kit available to do the conversion. Therefore I now have two complete sets of original Lazair wheels and brakes available for sale with nosewheels (rotating skid). These first two pictures are before the brake mod, and after.

The Black Max Wheels give the Old Girl a sporty look don't you think? The extra wide stance reduces side sway when taxiing too.

The brake mod has a small problem, with a very beneficial fix. The master cylinder shaft hits the forward fuselage tube and you lose about 1/2" of rudder pedal movement.

The fix is to add the rudder belcrank extension you see. This extension adds one inch to the rudder pedal throw, increases the total rudder deflection and "speeds up" the rudder pedal movement, i.e. more throw per degree of pedal travel. This is beneficial because the Lazair were always wanting for more rudder authority.

Here are some development pictures of the brake install.

And some photos of the Axle and Caliper installation.

The last pics show the pedal mods needed to get enough throw on the master cylinders. I installed a toe tube on the pedal to give more throw and to widen the brake pedal, I always thought they were too narrow.

In addition to gaining an extra bird I have been progressing on the Mark IV. I have installed the endcaps on the ailerons, sorry no pics right now. Also I have built a test stand to run-in the Evolution Radials and have run the first one. You can see a poor quality video here: I took this video from my cell phone so it’s not the best but you get a good look at my test stand and hear the engine run. These are real hoss’s for powerplants and are really going to liven up the Mark IV. I have a 32 x 12 Valley View break-in prop on right now and this engine spins the devil out of that thing. I will need to make an external electric starter as hand propping this beast is both dangerous and tiring. Maybe a converted marine outboard starter motor? Taking suggestions on this one.

More Next Time,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ailerons and Engines
Yanking and banking soon possible
If you have good health, consider yourself lucky. I have had some health challenges of late and am far behind schedule, but enough about me.
We have ailerons and engines. Before the doom and gloom set in, and after my last post I made a set of ailerons and they are quite handsome, if I do say so myself. The construction method is somewhat similar to the wing ribs, foam rib cores with sheetmetal capstrips. A 1.5” tube is the spar and a ½” tube for the trailing edge with sheet metal to make a pointy edge. I designed the ailerons on Solidworks and had a full size template printed out. I glued this to a hollow core door to build on, just like my RC modeling days. I made rib locators out of blocks of 2 x 4 and glued them in place. This holds all parts in location and all that is necessary is to drill the rivet holes and pop them in place. The ailerons are very strong in torsion, more so than I expected, without using triangular gussets like on the Lazair. In the pictures the trailing edge sheetmetal is only sitting in place, it is not permanently fastened yet. You can see the end caps, which also are not finished, they need trimming and riveting. A unique aspect of these ailerons is they are symmetric so both LH and RH ailerons can be built on the same jig. To move from one side or the other all you do is install the control horns (not pictured) on the top or bottom of the spar tube to get the alignment to match the aileron control rod, which will exit the top of the wing on the Mark IV.

This symmetric construction required a different pivot setup than the original Lazair. If you will notice the pivot is in the center of the spar tube, via a bushing and stud setup. You will also notice a “pillow block” type bearing on the stud. This gives an illustration of how the aileron pivots. A bearing is installed on the inboard (#6) rib and the outboard tip rib. The inboard stud will float in the bearing. That is it is free to slide inboard/outboard because the stud is considerably longer than need be and will actually penetrate into the inboard rib about an inch, a hole in the rib allows for this by design. The outboard rib will constrain the aileron as it will have a bolt as a stud and will capture the aileron inboard/outboard motion. This end is covered by the wingtip and will not be seen except during maintenance. To install the aileron you will slide the inboard stud into the bearing at an angle until the aileron will fit in the aileron gap of the wing. Lift the aileron into place and align the outboard bearing. Install the bolt and safety. Install the wingtip, connect the aileron control rod, repeat for the other side.


Engines, The Heartbeat of the Bird
I think I posted some time ago that I had intentions of using Hirth F-36 engines on this first Mark IV prototype. However fortune has smiled on me and I have been able to acquire two brand new, in the box, Evolution 7 cylinder 260cc four stroke engines. They are sitting in my closet right now and every now and again I have to open the door to look at the boxes and smile. These engines are an incredible work of art in metal. Check out the website and youtube video links below: 
I expect to be the first ultralight with twin radial engines. Maybe a world record? Probably not but really cool never the less. I am making a test stand to break these engines in. I plan to post videos of them running as soon as possible.
Propellers are a beast of another color and have proven to be more troublesome than you might think. I could certainly get propellers for these engines from the RC world, but I think they look out of place on the Lazair, too thin. The problem of what pitch to use is also problematic. I don’t want to buy a dozen props to figure out which pitch is right, that’s expensive research. I really wanted a ground adjustable prop and in particular a three bladed adjustable prop. After many years of research there was only one choice, Solo Props. 
So right now Solo is building two sets of 32” 3-blade adjustable props. Should be ready in the next month or so. They look just like Hamilton-Standard props off a DC-3.
More next time,