Merlin PSA and a factory quick-build

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by zaitcev, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    So... There's this:

    http://generalaviationnews.com/2015/12/21/merlin-psa-makes-us-debut/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzFeVUuM3dI

    I cannot help but being intrigued by it. I know, I know, I already have a high-wing, low performance, basic single seat airplane. I need another one like a hole in the head. But hear me out.

    Firstly, PSA has a cantilever wing. The weight penalty at its size is minuscule, hopefully. But more importantly, it comes with a factory installation of Rotax 582. The power is greater than on my HKS and I expect it to run with electric power off. On Carlson I once killed the engine in flight by snagging master with a sectional. So, yes, two-strokes are bad, but I want more performance.

    It's true that I probably can find an old RV-3 that does all that this does and then cruises 3 times faster, for the same money. But this one is a going to be brand new, 2016 airplane.

    The big question in my mind is how legitimate is a factory support program with 2 weeks to first flight. I heard of someone who had a friend who has a Bearhawk stuck in factory support program for more than a year.
     
  2. PilotRPI

    PilotRPI Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not all factory support is equal. There are some really good build support programs such as Lancair and Glasair. Since youd be the first, the only way to know is try.

    The design concept is pretty interesting. If they can really get two hours on batteries there will be many interested parties due to the novelty.
     
  3. DFH65

    DFH65 Cleared for Takeoff

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    The electric version would be interesting with 2 hour range.
     
  4. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Line Up and Wait

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    I really like this plane. Its the true spirit of LSA. Sure, it'd be great if it had two seats and a rotax 912 on it, but then it wouldn't be a $30k plane. Anyways, this is a direction that LSA needs to go. $100K+ LSA planes are just silly.
     
  5. Dav8or

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    I wonder how much electric flight you could get with floats on? No, thanks on the 2 stroke motor though... :no: It seems like there ought to be a four stroke motorcycle engine that could be adapted to a plane this size without too much weight penalty. A small Wankel rotary motor would be just the ticket maybe.
     
  6. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    Airmarine's answer to 4-stroke question is Pegasus DP-1 nee O-100. I'm yet to hear from anyone actually flying on it though.

    Personally, I strongly prefer 4-stroke engines, and I think HKS-700E would be fine in Merlin PSA. Unfortunately, Mr. Erwin does not agree, and I don't feel the resolve to take the kit and develop an installation of HKS for it.
     
  7. Dav8or

    Dav8or En-Route

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    Yeah, it seems like that engine would be just fine. Kind of like those half a VW engines out there. Too bad it has twin carbs on it and not fuel injection.
     
  8. SWeidemann

    SWeidemann Filing Flight Plan

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    HKS

    I have a HKS powered Earthstar that does quite well. The HKS is an efficient purpose built aircraft engine with a full electric system and reduction gearbox. In my experience, if setup & maintained right it should require very little maintenance and has the reliability of the four stroke engine. I think this would be a good option for an engine on the new Merlin.

    My 2 cents. Skot
     
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  9. Dav8or

    Dav8or En-Route

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    I checked out the Pegasus O-100 DP-1. Interesting idea I guess. It's basically half of a Continental O-200, using most of the top end parts from Continental and completely compatible with the rest of the Continental parts. It is to be a kit, so you have to build it yourself. The crank is made from a casting process called Austempered Ductile Iron, or ADI. The claim is that this process is as good, if not better than forging and much cheaper for low productions. I'm not a metallurgist, so I have no idea if this is true or not.

    The biggest problem with the Pegasus is that nobody has ever flown with one. There is no flight history. Maybe Merlin has looked at the history of the HKS and didn't like what they saw. Maybe they really want to go with US manufacturer, rather than Japanese. Maybe they thought it would be more attractive to perspective buyers to hear, "It's basically just half of a certified Continental O-200".

    I don't know the answers to these questions. I see some risks and benefits in both designs. It will be interesting to see some actual flight hours on the Pegasus. I'm not sure why it's not flying right now.

    <edit> I think I see why Merlin may want to go with the Pegasus. The complete HKS engine with accessories is about $11,000. The Pegasus folks claim to be about $3,000 minus accessories. So if you add in the needed stuff, it will likely climb to double, or $6,000, however part of the HKS price is also labor to assemble it as they come ready to run as the Pegasus is only to be a kit I believe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  10. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    I figure that only the 582 option is realistic, if anything, if we consider the 2 weeks time.
     
  11. Dav8or

    Dav8or En-Route

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    Absolutely. If you want one of these planes right now, it is the only way to go.

    I'm sure they will develop the electric power next and try to get it out next year as that would make this plane more unusual in the marketplace and make the company look "cutting edge". The four stroke thing is likely a long, long way off... unless enough prospective buyers pass due to the two stroke engine and make their reasons known to the Merlin folks. In that case I would expect to see a rapid installation of the HKS motor and a significant price increase for that option.
     
  12. RogerT

    RogerT Cleared for Takeoff

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    We looked at this one at Sebring last month. Very impressive for the price. I didn't however care for the 2 cycle engine.

    RT
     
  13. Mark Smith

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  14. Mark Smith

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    There is a picture of an HKS-700E installation on a Merlin PSA on the Merlin News page - bottom of page. Sorry I can't post links yet.
     
  15. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    It's a step in the right direction, although there's nothing but motor mount yet. The exhaust is missing, for one thing. Also, HKS presented a couple of challenges on my Carlson.

    First, the pumps are required, because the carburators require an inlet pressure greater than gravity feed can supply. So, one has to engineer that. On Carlson, we used Penske pumps that vibrate a lot, which eventually caused a massive crack in the firewall. The installation had to be fixed up with vibration isolators. I would prefer a deeper rework of pump mounts that spread peak loads from pump impulses. Also, one has to decide if pumps are to be run in parallel or sequentially.

    Second, the ignition on HKS is dual, but requires bus power. So, one has to engineer a redundant electric supply. On my Carlson, there's none (one bus). So, if you kill the master, engine quits. At the very least you need Cessna-style split master.

    I expect Chip to get these and other details right, he's got plenty of experience. But the installation is not complete as it is now.
     
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  16. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    The current price list (of July 2016) is:
    - Rotax 582: $6950
    - Pegasus O-100: $6950 (same price as 582, but nowhere near $3000)
    - HKS 700E - hold onto your pants: $12000
    In addition, the firewall-forward package with things like oil tank is $3800, regardless of the engine type.
     
  17. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I thought the Merlin was Glasair. Their website still shows it as one of their airplanes. Did the just sell it to these guys in Florida? Does Glasair have an office in Florida?
     
  18. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    The comment above is going to be Exhibit 1 in the trademark infringement lawsuit of Glasair against Aeromarine, as evidence of actual consumer confusion. Chip has to be an idiot to market this thing as a "Merlin PSA" in the U.S. Which is a shame, since the airplane is pretty nice.
     
  19. luvflyin

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    Now I'm really confused. Is it a Glasair design? Or is Glasair getting it from someone else? OK. I went and looked a little bit. Glasair is not selling kits, just the airplane. I'm guessing they are just the "retailer." This florida guy is getting parts and selling it as a homebuilt. Who makes it? Yeah, the guy coulda picked a better name. The difference between PSA and LSA is pretty thin it would seem. If I'm guessing right whats going on, it seems Glasair should have some grief with the manufacturer for not "protecting" Glasair's territory. But then, Glasair coulda offered it as kit to.
     
  20. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    hold the phone. Glasairs LSA a 2 seater. This florida one is a single seater. Different plane.
     
  21. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Pattern Altitude

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    I'd put a "Rotax Rick" upgraded 582 or 670 in it and have no worries at all.
     
  22. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    You would not be able to get anywhere with the 582. Otherwise, of course, it's the best option. It's tested in the airframe, it's the lightest and most powerful.
     
  23. Mark Smith

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    Thanks, was not aware you could get yourself into so much trouble mounting an engine. Will be interesting to see how it works out in the Merlin PSA. To luvflyin, no not a Glasair design. This one was designed by Czech Aircraft Works (aka Czech Sport Aircraft) - is single passenger as someone else has noted - which is also making all the parts Chip is importing. Confusing name choice for sure. Pete, did I not see an analysis somewhere that showed despite the higher initial cost gas/oil are about 1/2 and over 1000 hrs the HKS would be $10-$12 thousand cheaper? Intriguing thing for me was $35k price including builder assist 2 week program. I'm not a pilot yet, just dreaming :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016
  24. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    It's an easy calculation. HKS burns 3.4 gph, 582 burns 7.1 gph. If you presume the price of the gas $3 (automotive fuel), then you spend $21,300 to run the 582, and $10,200 to run the HKS. That's $11,100 to offset the cost difference between the two, not even counting the oil that you have to mix into the fuel for the 582.

    Notice that if you're based at an airport with expensive gas, like Santa Fe (KSAF), but you don't have access to ethanol-free gasoline, the cost savings become astronomical. You can win $26,000. I just don't consider this because nobody in their right mind will be content with expensive 100LL in a $35k airplane. It may be cheaper to build a sill to remove alcohol from gas in your garden shed, you know :)

    However, this calculation is too optimistic. The TBO for HKS was only recently increased to 1000 hours. My own engine has TBO of 800 hours. The early production engines only had 500. Even in any case it's hard to rack hours on slow airplanes. You won't be using Merlin PSA to fly from Florida to California every month, but without cross-countries the hours come slowly. I only have 230 at Carlson. Correspondingly the imaginary savings are insignificant.
     
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  25. luvflyin

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    Looking at the pictures of the two planes I'd bet that Czech Aircraft did Glasair's Merlin LSA also. Is Glasair really fighting the name?
     
  26. Mark Smith

    Mark Smith Filing Flight Plan

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    Continuing this saga, here's the latest... (ps: it's called a "sneak peak" for a reason, there isn't much to show yet... just some ground runs")
     
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  27. Mark Smith

    Mark Smith Filing Flight Plan

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    Continuing this saga, here's the latest... (ps: it's called a "sneak peak" for a reason, there isn't much to show yet... just some ground runs") Since I can't post links yet google "merlin psa sneak peak"
     
  28. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Line Up and Wait

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    Neat. Cool little plane. Look forward to their progress.
     
  29. Mark Smith

    Mark Smith Filing Flight Plan

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    Lots of engine information and discussion on this page http://aeromarine-lsa.com/which-engine-to-choose/
    Also, my condolences to the crew and passengers of the chartered BAE 146 that crashed in Columbia this week, and to the fans of the Chapecoense Brazilian soccer team. Such an incredible tragedy. May God bless each and every one of them.
     
  30. German guy

    German guy Line Up and Wait

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    The owner of the company spoke at one of our EAA chapter meetings. He seemed honest, knowledgable, thorough and friendly. I also understood that he already did quite a bit of testing.
     
  31. CHIP ERWIN

    CHIP ERWIN Filing Flight Plan

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    Glastar is NOT fighting the name. Afterall our Merlin was on the market 5 years before theirs. Besides there have been plenty of other Merlin aircraft over the years. Furthermore, this is a small industry and most of us in it for a few decades know and respect each other and would not be so petty. I wish Glastar the best of luck. Chip (Aeromarine LSA)
     
  32. CHIP ERWIN

    CHIP ERWIN Filing Flight Plan

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    Important clarification: Yes I was the creator of Czech Aircraft Works and several aircraft like the SportCruiser (PIpersport) and Mermaid, but the Merlin PSA is NOT related to CZAW or CSA. New company, and now I am based in Florida. Chip (Aeromarine LSA)
     
  33. CHIP ERWIN

    CHIP ERWIN Filing Flight Plan

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    Excellent comment about the support issue. My answer is I will guarantee it. Put the build program cost in escrow until I test fly and hand over the aircraft. No problem. I have been doing this a few decades.

    BTW, I am planning a low wing PSA for 2017. Looks a bit like the RV3 but has all the benefits of a PSA/LSA. Chip (Aeromarine LSA)
     
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  34. CHIP ERWIN

    CHIP ERWIN Filing Flight Plan

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    I flew the Merlin with the 582 from Lakeland, Florida to Oshkosh, WI and back last summer.... Chip (Aeromarine LSA)
     
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  35. CHIP ERWIN

    CHIP ERWIN Filing Flight Plan

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    I didn't name the Merlin. I added PSA to differentiate from the Glastar Merlin who happen to choose to name their Merlin several years AFTER our Merlin was publically introduced. So maybe a Chinese-owned company will make a claim against me for copying? LOL. Chip (no offense taken)
     
  36. CHIP ERWIN

    CHIP ERWIN Filing Flight Plan

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    the HKS 4-stroke installation is already finished and orders are shipping. CHip
     
  37. CHIP ERWIN

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    We will go with the HKS as it is a certified (LSA) and proven engine. We hope to add the Pegasus when it is proven and available. A 4-stroke at a good price is very welcome. Chip
     
  38. CHIP ERWIN

    CHIP ERWIN Filing Flight Plan

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    I do agree! We are now finished with the HKS 700E installation package! Chip
     
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  39. zaitcev

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    Dear Chip, nice of you to drop by. I'm sure many Internet forums discuss Merlin PSA, as it's quite an interesting aircraft. It's just like my own Carlson, but better in every way. Unfortunately, wife is egging me on to buy a Mooney... I have put Carlson up for sale already. I assure everyone that I'm not selling it for any fault with the HKS 700E engine, in fact I'm satisfied with HKS' performance. Carlson with 525lbs empty is a bit heavy for it at our altitudes, but if Merlin PSA is supposed to be lighter (415 lbs with 582, so probably below 440 lbs with 700E), then the performance is going to be nice indeed. Your wing aspect ratio is greater, ariplane is slicker too. So I have absolutely no concern for either the climb rate or cruise speed with the 4-stroke power. But as I mentioned, I'm probably not buying one from you in the near future... Sorry. -- Pete