Experimenter

DEC 2014

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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12 Vol.3 No.12 / December 2014 LEONARD MILHOLL AND'S LEGAL EAGLE pages of black and white photos bring the total to around 60 pages. The Legal Eagle XL airframe adds 32 inches to the wingspan and increases the wing area from 107 to 120 square feet. The XL plans are $80 but include more pages with 57 numbered drawings with more details than the original Legal Eagle plans, and a longer construction text. Leonard also sells a set of four instructional DVDs for each aircraft that cover various parts of the construction process. Some pre-manufactured parts are available from other vendors for the Legal Eagle, including metal fittings, wood parts, materi- als kits, and even a pre-welded fuselage. The plan sheets are printed on standard 8.5-by-11 copy paper to save on cost. Get all the details and learn more at www.BetterHalfVW.com . W HICH L EG A L E AGL E T O BUIL D? The XL features one-man wing removal for storage, whereas the original Legal Eagle requires two people to remove the wings. The decision about which airplane to build depends on pilot weight and size and the importance of meeting the legal empty weight of 254 pounds. The original Legal Eagle will accommodate a 6-foot-tall pilot of 220 pounds and leave some margin for instruments and accessories. The XL is a larger airplane and will come out heavier if similarly equipped. It is true that the FAA is not driv- ing around with scales, looking for heavy ultralights and that some plans builders don't care that much about empty weight. At every forum he gives, Leonard admonishes build- ers to build for lightness. He does not approve or recom- mend modifications that make it overweight. Large pilots and those who care less about the legal weight limit are probably going to be looking at the XL. BE T T ER H A L F V W ENGINE Leonard's first ½ VW engine was built by Dave Carr from plans that go all the way back to 1975. The 4-cylinder VW engine case and crankshaft are literally cut in half to make a 2-cylinder engine. Cutting off the unneeded portion of the case saves 4 pounds but requires building an engine mount and adding an oil cooler, because the half case doesn't hold enough oil to cool the engine adequately. Also, there is an air movement problem because both remaining cylinders move inward at the same time. A lot of air must move in and out rapidly without taking oil spray with it. A one-way reed valve or related device must be incorporated. A full case, however, provides an excellent engine mount for the Legal Eagle, and with half a crankshaft inside, it holds plenty of oil and reduces the air movement problem. The weight saved by cutting the case was replaced by the extra parts needed. Leonard's next engine would be a full-case ½ VW because it would save money and be simple to build. Leaving the case intact makes it difficult to mount a mag- neto, a favored ignition solution, but magnetos are expen- sive and heavy, and other systems have a hotter spark. The Better Half uses a VW distributor with coil and condenser Les Homan from California fl ying his Legal Eagle XL. Scott Johnson of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, won the Reserve Grand Champion Lindy in 2007 with his Legal Eagle, the Silver Slug. A Legal Eagle welded tube fuselage in the Ultralight Workshop tent at AirVenture. Photography courtesy of Dan Grunloh

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