Thorp Air Command - T18.net

Supporting Owners, Builders and Pilots of the Thorp T-18 and its variants.
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Chris B
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:36 pm 
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"....sigh....another FNG joined our forum....." ::)

Yes, it's yet another "new guy". Allow me to introduce myself. I'm 43, been a pilot since 2002, strictly day VFR, about 300 hours TT. I've been owned by a '46 Cessna 140 since 2005, and it has been a wonderful experience in low cost fun. Seriously. My insurance on the 140 is less than my 10 year old VW.

I originally got started on a Europa XS monowheel kit back in 1998, but other things got in the way and to make a long story short, the ex-wife owns that project now. I could likely buy it from her if I wanted to, but long ago I found that I'm not real comfortable with "soft" construction methods (fiberglass work, upholstery, etc.) I need to be able to lay out, measure, cut, align, and assemble things that don't change shape all over and stay put. I love the Long-EZ, but I just know I'd never be able to come to terms with shaping foam and slathering glass over it.

Naturally, I started to think about going down the RV path. No doubt they are fine aircraft, but they are so common that now many people think "kitplane" = "RV". I'm not one to follow the masses and I also appreciate solid, functional, simple designs that also happen to perform very well. Hello Mr. Thorp! O0

I have some time before I kick this project off since priority #1 is to build a house and hangar so the project won't be 30 minutes away nor displace cars out of the garage. But, I want to keep the planning moving along so I'm ready to pull the trigger when it's time.

The current scope would be a best described as an S-18 with non-folding wing (or a T-18 with widebody mod and LDS airfoil). Powerplant would be a 320-series Lyc. with fuel injection and electronic ignition. I like the FlyEFI system, but a Lightspeed/Bendix setup would also be a solid choice. Constant speed prop would be nice, but I would want something lighter like a Whirlwind. Otherwise, one of the proven wood or composite fixed pitch props would go on.

The rest of the plane would be kept light, simple, and functional. No vacuum system and minimal steam gages - although analog still has it's place. The purpose of this plane will be to have a little more room than the 140 and have more speed for a larger "mission radius" while keeping fuel burn down as low as possible. Being an engineer, I'm all about efficiency. Al Mooney and Burt Rutan are my idols.

I'm familiar with Eklund Engineering for the T-18. I assume they can still deliver kit components? I've also tried to get in touch with Classic Sport Aircraft for the S-18, but the website is down and e-mails haven't been responded to. I'm not sure I want to do a full plans-built job, and I like the way Eklund makes the component kits available, but I really think I'd like the widebody mod. Is it available in plans form anywhere without going for the full S-18 kit?

Thanks for letting me ramble! Looking forward to comments/suggestions.

Chris


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jrevens
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:14 pm 
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Location: USA
Welcome, Chris! It's been true for a long time, that a used T-18 is one of the greatest deals in aviation, but nothing beats building your own. It can be a pretty formidable job, although probably one of the most satisfying accomplishments in your life. The Thorp is a wonderful machine. I hope you do it!

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Arvada, Colorado

T-18 N71JE (sold)
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Rich Brazell
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:22 pm 
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Location: Jamul, CA (San Diego area)
Any way you do it it is going to be a handful . I found it was almost as cost effective to buy some of the parts ready made as to try and find the material , have it shipped and then fab the parts . Especially if you had to make the form blocks or molds . Eklund Engineering would be the way to go with some of the pre-fab kits , if you want a time saver . The other option is to get a "project" that has been started...that's what I did 27 years ago . I got an S-18 project with the basic fus. done and it came with about 90% of the rest of the parts (ribs, skins,walking beam,spars,etc.) to complete...less engine , instruments , interior , etc.

RB O0


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bmooresbm
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:44 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:42 pm
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Location: Columbus, IN
I bought my plans from Eklund about a year ago. "Instructions" for the wide body modification are included. For the LDS airfoil, you can find the coordinates in the newsletters, and you just substitute those when making the ribs, at least that's what i've done.

Hope that helps!


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dickwolff
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:40 pm
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Location: Canada
This is what it's like to build an airplane, apparently.
http://www.schmetterlingaviation.com/20 ... -like.html


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fbeeman
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 10:02 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:56 am
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Location: USA
Dick, thanks for posting this article. DaveG sums up the building process very accurately. I especially like his quote at the end of it when he says, "it's a journey of self-discovery." How true.


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Rich Brazell
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:10 pm 
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Location: Jamul, CA (San Diego area)
"It's a Journey of Self Discovery" , money , patience , determination and what seems to be an endless line of rivets ! ???

RB O0


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stug
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:41 am 
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Chris, I'm novice pilot and novice builder about 2 years into my std T18 project, it sounds like we have a similar objectives, light, simple day VFR only.
In my case the project started with Eklund's plans then a chance purchase of a mix of old and new parts so I am part restoration, part kit and part plans scratch built, whatever path, it's a slow one which works well with my budget.
I like the T18 design and am impressed by the quality of Mr Thorp's original plans, I do think it is possible to do better and modernise so as I build I am also converting some the fuselage plans into CAD drawings which allow the parts to be CNC machine cut. For me the CAD drawings allow me to think through the build process and make a number of mistakes virtually then hopefully when I get most of the bugs ironed out I can have the parts cut by machine which has to add quality to my build that I would otherwise not achieve. I am surprised it hasn't been done before although the current T18 and S18 kit suppliers could be using CNC but I am not sure. I can see CAD and CNC being a good path to a higher quality and potentially a quick build T18 kit.
I'd be keen to see another builder join the T18 community and help share the load of asking lots of questions.
Stuart

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James Grahn
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:34 pm 
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Not sure how many parts you will actually get from Eklund Engineering. He was not able to source some parts a while ago, but that may have changed. For example, the T18 spar caps are hard to come by. The S18 caps are easier as they are shorter pieces. Classic has many T as well as S, parts. The cheapest way to go is the build and form yourself. The plans have been put on CAD to a certain extent. I cannot verify the accuracy of those drawings. I am willing to bet that plan sales will be an option before the year is out.
Cubes


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James Grahn
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:37 pm 
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That is, S18 plan sales.


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Chris B
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:48 pm
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Location: N. Central Illinois
Thanks for all the replies so far! It has given me a lot to think about, and a lot of additional inspiration for this project. The CAD/CNC aspect of it is something I didn't even think about, even though I deal with it every day...although on a different kind of spectrum - one where weight is a GOOD thing. Laser cut 1/2" plate steel isn't gonna get off the ground very well! But indeed, I could see where drawing up ribs and other repetitive parts on CAD and then having them lasered or jetted out at a CNC shop would make a huge time savings as well as consistency. I suppose if one was really good, laser cut and drilled skins and such could be done, too.

Chris


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Hagle347
PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:24 am 
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In the "for what it's worth" category, I've acquired a pattern for side skins and bottom for the T-18. That and a bunch of other parts that would make building less of a chore. I just have to find a good way to post all the items in a convenient place here on the forum.

Blue Skies,

Terry


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