So I set about choosing a stronger engine and a lighter weight quad airframe. I bought one from Skycruiser.com. From there, I've been going over and optimizing all of the details in an effort to come up with a highly reliable PPG quad rig for my flying purposes. From my own perspective, many things needed modifications; This page offers details of the modifications I've made as well as tuning tips, information sources, and parts options & sources.
While doing my research, I came across James Weibe's excellent review of the POLINI THOR 250 engine, his installation in his BELITE ULTRA CUB, and the story of his cross-country flight from Kansas to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and back with only a couple of minor issues. (The link to this review is at the bottom of this page.)
With a power rating of up to 36.5 HP in a high reliability water cooled light weight engine, I decided I'd found the engine I was looking for.
Polini THOR 250 DUAL SPARK engine has many more advanced solutions, including:
- The cylinder is die-cast in light alloy, it ensures a better thermal stability.
- The piston, gravity cast at high silicon content light alloy, reduces thermal expansion and the coupling slack. The design of the piston top is specific to optimize the compression ratio.
- It is provided with a balancing countershaft; this feature cancels the vibrations and guarantees such a driving comfort never felt during a flight and a longer life for the engine itself. The counter-rotating rollers decrease greatly the upsetting torque-steer for an extra comfort in flight.
- The centrifugal clutch is in oil bath with helicoid mechanical reduction.
- The electric starting is standard but to offer the maximum safety the engine is also equipped with manual starter with easy system thanks to the flash starter device that speeds up and simplifies the movements.
- It is equipped with the comfortable closed-circuit system for the recovery of fuel during transportation and the 12 V output for any use.
Small and compact THOR 250 DUAL SPARK engine has an extraordinary power to weight ratio.
Advanced technology and high performance of the new THOR 250 DUAL SPARK allow a better feeling of driving performance, making the flight more dynamic, responsive and sensitive, besides ensuring even greater stability.
The new THOR 250 DUAL SPARK engine adapts to different types of applications including one or two-seat trikes, powered hang gliders, one-seat small three-axis ultralight aircraft, and ULM motor-gliders
Polini THOR 250 DUAL SPARK is a 100% Made in Italy product.
Technical data Polini THOR 250
Engine: 2 stroke monocylinder, Liquid cooled
Displacement: 244 cc , Bore for stroke: 72 x 60
Power: 36 HP at 7500 R.P.M.
Cylinder: Aluminum with Gilnisil coating
Compression ratio: 11,5:1
Piston: Two chromium plated rings 1mm
Intake: Reed valve in the crankcase
Carburetor: PWK 28
Air filter: Air box
Ignition: Magneto and Electronic ignitions included on Dual Spark version
Battery charger included; Output power 80 W at 5500 RPM
Spark plug hood 5k Ohm resistance
Fuel type: Lead free petrol with 2% synthetic oil minimum ; 50:1 typically used after break-in
Gear reduction unit: Helical teeth in oil bath with 2,8 reduction ratio
Starting: (Electric starter optional) Pull start with self winding cable FLASH STARTER
Clutch: Centrifugal in oil bath
Muffler Expansion with oval silencer
Engine weight 18 Kg (19kg with electric starter) without radiator: =43# without radiator, ~54# complete installation
Propeller rotation: Clockwise.
Cylinder Head Temp 130 to 185 F; Max 194F
EGT Operating Range Centigrade: 500c to 620c ; Max 650c
EGT Operating Range Farenheight: 932F to1148F ; Max 1202F
Best Efficiency EGT Operating Range: 1075F to1148F
Operating RPM Range ~1700 to 2200 RPM Idle, to 7500 Peak Power ; Red Line 8000 RPM
Fuel Efficiency ~3 litres/hr @ 5300 RPM ; ~8 litres/hr @ 7500 RPM (When jetted for sea level operation)
On August 14th, 2016 I flew from my launch point at just below 10,000 feet up to an altitude of 13,288 feet . The flight covered 29.5 miles and the total motor run time was 1 hour and 7 minutes. After landing, I measured the fuel used at 1.23 gallons for this flight. Engine RPM was between 7100 and 7170 during most of the climb. [118 main jet, EGT within the peak efficiency range: 1087 degrees F at 7100 RPM.]
FEATURES:Chrome-moly steel tubing used for the main Quad frame with an aluminum prop guard cage. Powder Coated ; 1" Solid Fiberglass Axles, fold down seat. Bare Quad weighs in at 58# before adding cage and motor installation. Low Attachment Points for easy inflation, good ground handling stability.
TECH NOTE: The minimum recommended operating temperature for this engine is at a water temp of 130 degrees F. While Polini now offers an optional 60 degree C (140 degrees F) thermostat (Polini part # 928830009 ) which mounts inside the cylinder head water hose fitting, it was not included with engines being shipped when I ordered my engine. With the rather large radiator, many flyers were reporting covering up to 2/3 of the radiator surface in order to get the operating water temperature to stay above 130 F degrees while flying. Adding the thermostat makes a lot of sense to me... flying with the engine below minimum temperature or flying with duct tape covering part of my radiator in hopes that I've covered the right amount of the radiator's cooling fin area doesn't feel right. UPDATE: I've now installed the thermostat- see details & photos below.
The good news: Belite now offers the Thermostat on their parts page- see the links at the bottom of this page. I've also recommended that Leon at Skycruiser Manufacturing add this item to their THOR 250 parts page. The link to their website / parts page is also listed at the bottom of this page.
With the thermostat installed, once the water temperature is up & the thermostat is working, the water temp reading is holding at ~156 degrees at full throttle on around test on a ~62 degree morning.
08-16 UPDATE: My THOR 250 setup NOW uses a Powerfin two blade propeller set with a 57-3/4" diameter. This is a ground-adjustable pitch propeller and each blade is adjusted individually. Pitch is adjusted to limit the THOR 250 engine's top end RPM to a maximum of 7500 engine RPM; I'm presently adjusted for ~7350 RPM max in flight.
When previously using the 56" diameter 3 blade GSC prop which Leon had supplied with this quad, I had to reduce the pitch on the three blade set to 9.1 degrees of pitch at the 75% of blade radius point, in order to get the engine top end RPM up to 7500. (I am using a digital angle gauge purchased from Harbor Freight for $30. Blade pitch is referenced to the center flat surface of the prop hub; that means that you set the gauge to zero against the face of the prop hub, then measure the angle of each blade at 25% in from the tip on the blade's back surface.) This pitch setting allows the THOR 250 to run at 7500 RPM at full throttle at 9940 ASL, but it was not really generating the thrust and speed that I need at this setting.
I've now switched to a two blade propeller setup using two of these blades in a different mid-part / hub; blade pitch setting will be steeper on the two blade setup. I'm now flying it at 12.5 degrees pitch, which does generate better thrust and airspeed. Presently for flying form ~10,000 feet ASL flying site: main jet is #118; Pilot Jet is #35 ; Air Screw is set to 7/8 to 1 turn out from bottom; Jet needle now has the clip in the second to the top slot of 5 for a leaner lower mid-range run. I'm running a 50:1 gas-oil mix, using 91 octane gasoline and Quicksilver synthetic mix oil.
TECH NOTE: GSC BLADE PITCH ADJUSTING: My technique for getting fine changes in blade pitch while making the adjustments: with all bolts loosened to no tension on the prop center hub and both pairs of prop blade mounting bolts, I'll simultaneously rock each blade forward and back within the prop hub while exerting the twisting force. A fine index mark on the base of each blade where it enters the prop hub helps me to see the slight changes in pitch angle while doing these adjustments. Once I have both blades at the identical angle, I snug down the hub bolts lightly, and push both blades fully FORWARD. The idea with this is to get the tracking of both prop blade tips as close to identical as possible (- within 1/16"). I'll do some final tweaking until they match as closely as possible. I use a measuring stick from the side cage frame tube to insure that both blade tips are tracking the same distance from that frame tube as I rotate the prop, recheck the pitch angle once more on all blades, and then tighten all bolts to the 100 foot-pound torque recommended by GSC.
On the left, I mount my Garmin GPS; it has topo maps loaded as well as offering an ongoing readout of altitude and relative ground speed. The PPG meter offers a readout of EGT, CHT, Engine RPM, Fuel Level, current flight duration,and hour meter. It stores minimum and maximum readings for later display. The EGT readout is especially helpful in establishing the optimum jetting for full throttle running.
On the right is the ignition control box for this Dual Ignition Polini engine. The top toggle switch is the master on/off switch; the green LED at the top right glows when this switch is turned on. The bottom center switch is the electric start push button momentary switch. The two red push button switches are used to test the ignitions by disabling each of them temporarily and separately. The right is for the magneto ignition; this normally OPEN switch is pushed to short that ignition to engine ground, thereby killing that ignition spark. The left red push button switch is a normally CLOSED push button switch; when it is pushed, the secondary electronic ignition is opened, isolated from it's 12V power source, killing that ignition spark. The engine will run on either ignition separately. It runs very smoothly and reliably with both ignitions active- especially noticeable when doing test runs at the full 7500 RPM.
To kill the engine in a conventional aircraft installation, the top master toggle switch is toggled to the left, killing both ignitions. However, when flying a PPG, we typically have our hands full of the control line / brake toggles while landing, so reaching for the toggle switch without disturbing the canopy isn't reasonable- it's simply not safe. So there needs to be a way to kill the engine with a kill switch on the throttle handle while making a landing approach, or whenever the pilot wants to immediately shut down the engine.
I accessed the engine control box's wiring harness connections for the magneto ignition [pale blue wire in the photo below= hot & black = ground], located back near the engine, to add in the wires for the kill switch connections (coming from the Normally Open contact section of the DPDT Momentary push button switch which I added into the throttle's handle.)
To do the kill switch wiring for the secondary electronic ignition, it's necessary to interrupt the 12 volt supply to that ignition. That 12 volt supply comes into the ignition wiring unit on the violet wire with the black stripe shown in this photo below. The heavier pair of Red & Black wires runs inside the sleeving over the throttle cable down to the second Normally Closed set of contacts of the momentary push button switch in the end of the throttle grip.
The CHT thermocouple that comes with the Fly Henry PPG Meter is the type that has a ring mount that goes in under the spark plug- it's easy to install.
I was a bit challenged with the sensor lead lengths being short from the PPG Meter on the control panel back to the Engine's location on this PPG Quad installation- the EGT probe wire just barely made it! Their web site says that the leads have since been extended another 6", which will be handy for trike / quad setups.
Since then, I'm quite fond of rigging a low hang point setup where the wing's trimmers are clear BELOW the riser guide rings. That makes them more accessible for possible in-flight trimming adjustments, while also keeping them where they can not hang up on the upper frame guide rings.
Also shown in this photo are the extension loops I fabricated for extending the bridles from my APCO Mayday 18 Bi reserve parachute. An identical pair of 24" long extensions were sewn up from 18.5 kN (4047#) 1" tubular climbing webbing, with a center stitched section where three layers overlap for 4". (Stitching also extends beyond this center overlapped section.) I machine sew these with a heavy black bonded polyester thread that's specified for this application- it's really strong thread that's also very UV exposure stable.
The main jet is accessible through the larger aluminum bottom cap. A 126 main jet was supplied in this carb when the engine came from Polini, which is appropriate for sea level & low altitude operation. The prop you have and it's pitch determine how it loads this powerful motor. (With too much prop pitch, the engine can not run up to full RPM, regardless of the mixture.) The main idea is to prop a motor so that, at wide open throttle, the prop load limits the maximum RPM of the THOR 250 engine to 7500 RPM after the engine is broken in. More pitch can be used on an adjustable pitch prop at lower altitudes, where the engine can produce more power in the denser air.
UPDATED INFO: The stock pilot jet that came installed was a #45; the idle & low end mixture was richer than I wanted at my higher altitude. I next tried a #40 pilot jet, then a #35. I Tried a #32 for quite a while, but it acted lean on cold morning starts, so I have switched back to the #35. This should be ideal for running at 10,000 feet & above. I've also moved the jet needle's clip to the 2nd from the top of 5 slots, for a leaner run & quicker pickup coming up off idle. Air screw is set from 7/7 to 1 full turn out from bottom.
TECH NOTE: The throttle cable must travel to move the slide up 28mm in order to open the slide completely on a 28mm throat carburetor - to give you maximum air/fuel flow for correct top end tuning and maximum power output from this motor. When I received my SKYMAX quad, the throttle cable setup was only opening the slide about 23 to 24 mm- not what was needed. The photo below shows the modification I made to the AVID throttle handle /housing / cable adjustment locking device to get maximum travel from fully closed to fully open.
Finding a listing for a replacement rubber part online for this Polini engine was elusive; while getting a new rubber boot would take time, I decided to do a reinforcing repair to the original one. (This is my already proven technique; I've used it before on similar parts on my Hirth F33 engine, which have since been in service for a long time.)
I had been told in the past by the owner of an auto parts store that the Permatex BLACK silicone adhesive / sealant was the strongest and most oil and fuel-resistant product to use on a molded rubber part like this. It's shown in it's package. The other tool you see in the photo above is a fly tier's bobbin loaded with a spool of kevlar fly tying thread. This is incredibly strong, tough thread; if you tried to break it by hand bare-handed, you would cut into your hands before ever breaking this thread- it's that tough. (You can find it on Ebay in an assortment of colors, or buy it at a store that sells fly tying materials & tools. The bobbin makes handling the thread far easier than it would be to work with the spool of thread alone.
The first step is to remove all traces of the 2 stroke mix oil from all surfaces and any cracks in the rubber connecting boot. For this job, I use an automotive spray 'Brake and Electrical Parts Cleaner'. All traces of oil must be eliminated so that the black silicone adhesive can bond strongly to the rubber. Once it's clean and dry, the first application of the adhesive is worked thoroughly into any checks and cracks to fill them completely, and then a coating is applied to the outer surface in the stressed area.
Next, while the adhesive is freshly applied and wet, the kevlar thread is wrapped around the entire stressed rubber area, criss-crossing back and forth to create a weave that crosses all of the stressed area and adding the desired strength. This is the area where the clamp will be reinstalled later. Once the thread has been wrapped on adequately, more of the Permatex black silicone is applied over it to end up with the thread being completely wetted and covered with a thin smooth layer of the adhesive. Make sure the inner surface is smooth- wipe away excess, then set the part aside in a warm place to let the silicone cure out for about 24 hours.
The resulting reinforcing repair is what you see in the photo above; all cracks filled & bonded with a layer of kevlar thread which results in the part being stronger than the original un-treated rubber part. It's ready for re-assembly in one day.
[You can see in the photo that I had installed a rubber tube stand-off and cable tie support from the upper front edge of the air box to the PPG frame to minimize movement & secure the assembly forward well clear of the prop, but more modification in the carb / airbox mounting was needed.]
My approach was to remove this rubber part, thoroughly clean it, and add the Permatex black adhesive sealant and the reinforcing thread wrap to the outside where the stress affects were found.
Taking the weight off this rubber mount part was my next project. I decided to simply add the stainless steel wire support link shown in this photo between the carburetor's top cover mounting screw and one of the mounting screws form the electronic ignition module's mounting plate. I used two electrical ring connectors on each end of the wire to provide the mounting rings which the screws pass through, then adjusted the length so that the rubber carb mounting boot was no longer being asked to carry the weight of the carburetor and air box / silencer. The result, as seen in the photo above, is effective- the SS wire is adequate to handle the task with a minimum of added weight, and easily removable / replaceable for normal carb servicing.
You'll also note in the photo that the throttle cable boot at the top of the PWK 28 carburetor was already cracking and failing after only ~5 months; I've temporarily wrapped it with some tape, but plan to do the kevlar thread & silicone sealant treatment to this part to when I next pull the carburetor top cover.
So Polini may need to improve the quality of their rubber carburetor mounting parts. Maybe they are already in the process of doing so- I hope so. But now I know to keep watching these areas during my pre-flight inspections.
Muse 3 – Relaxed Sport New and improved with advanced design! Flying the Muse 3 handles and glides like an intermediate paraglider but with easy launch characteristics and amazing stability normally found in a beginner paraglider.
With exceptional safety rated EN A class, the Muse 3 is sure to please the most eager beginner pilot that wants the added security in a fun to fly performing glider that will provide hours of weekend fun. Muse 3: Relaxed Sport The Muse 3 has been designed with impressive flying characteristics that will surprise the eager intermediate pilot fresh out of training.
The Muse 3 is in its own class called "relaxed sport" because of its fun handling and performance usually found in more advanced paragliders. You will love how easy it does everything well in a calm yet sporty feel.
My Strobe Light Installation is shown in the photo below. I use an independent Lithium-Ion Battery to power mine; it can optionally be wired into the 12V system. Operation with a strobe visible from 3 miles allows extended flight operations 1/2 hour before sunrise and 1/2 hour after sunset. It also makes this PPG more visible to low flying aircraft. (I'll be remounting it just above the radiator before long, so that it does not extend above the prop guard cage where the glider's lines can catch on it when landing.)
I have a set of replacement Greenball tires (shown below) on hand now to replace these. These are a 4-ply garden tire, weighing only 3 pounds each.
I then cut down the upper cage support members to the required length, did the saddle notch, drilled the pass-through holes for the stainless steel clamps, and re-assembled the support arms and cage. The photo below shows the result of this modification. Now the tips of the prop on the upper part if it's travel are well clear of the support frame members. (Unfortunately, the tips of the blades actually travel below the bottom of the quad's frame under the fuel tank, leaving them very vulnerable to damage form ground debris and rocks kicked up by re wheels; even the shorter 56" blades on the GSC prop set took some significant damage from rock strikes during ground running tests.)
So I pulled of the woven netting again, and went to work installing a lower drag netting grid with more coverage area, yet (hopefully) a significant amount less drag. This photo below shows the result. This is .065" commercial grade weed eater cord- tough & resilient. The process of installing it is one of drilling and deburring all of the holes, then threading through the cord, tensioning it, and tieing it off. It's done in several sections. We'll see how it feels in the air- this grid now closes off those lower areas nicely, too.
[Note that the tips of this 56" GSC prop are even with the bottom of the Quad's frame; this has left them vulnerable to damage from ground debris / rocks, etc. The motor was originally mounted about 4" below the center of the prop guard cage. I modified this later to remount the motor 4" higher. Photos and details are included later on this page.]
I set the initial pitch at 12.5 degrees (measured at 75% of prop radius out from the center.) A test run here at 10,290 feet ASL in 59 degree dry air gives a peak RPM of 7400 to 7420 RPM- very close to the ideal of 7500 RPM for max H.P. output.
This propeller is running smoothly and providing good thrust; it's a good match for the THO% 250 engine flying at this altitude.
Below are before and after photos of the spacers I fabricated to maintain spacing between the prop hub plates on the two bolts which do not pass through the prop hub blocks. They are cut from steel tubing & trimmed to exact length to match the spacing of the plates when the other four mount bolts are torqued down to the 125 In-Lb specification. With the black tubular spacers in place, all 6 bolts can now be torqued equally without distorting the plates.
(I do not know if this prop hub originally was supplied with something similar; when I bought it used, there were none included. I used a dial caliper and the 12" bench disk sander to end up with the precise length I needed.)
Adding An Extended Prop & Line Guard Hoop with 7" Stand-Offs To The Prop Guard Cage
Raising The Motor Mount Position For Better Propeller Protection From Ground Debris Damage
I can adjust the trimmers on my MACPARA Muse3 wing for close to hands-off flying as far as the control lines are concerned; when let go, they're easily in reach right against the pulleys, but when I'm cruising cross-country, I can have my hands off the control lines for extended periods of time. This allows me to work with my cameras and GPS controls while flying. But up to now, that throttle control has always been tightly in my grip... so I decided to design a simple device to use as a 'Cruise Control' - to keep the throttle cable pulled in the desired amount for extended periods of time, whether at full-power climb when heading for the higher altitudes, or at an intermediate setting to maintain a given altitude in 'cruise' mode. The photos below show what I came up with.
As pilots, we do our ongoing maintenance and pre-flight checks to assure ourselves that our equipment is in serviceable condition, ready to perform reliably and continuously. But it also doesn't hurt to be prepared for a possible landing in less than favorable terrain. Being hung in a tree in your gear is a remote possibility; being able to get yourself down safely if you ever are is close to priceless!
 A light weight climber's seat harness and Chest harness and 1 locking carribiener; I built this one from 4000# + 1" tubular climber's webbing and the heavy bonded polyester thread which I use to sew the low hang loops for my Quad. (The adjustable waist belt with the cam buckle to which the main leg loops are sewn just helps keep the leg slings in place; the main leg sling loops carry all of the load when in use. )
 A "Figure Eight" descending / rappelling device
 A 100 foot long length of 6mm quality climber's accessory cord
 A good pair of gloves for rope handling with leather palms
 A 4 foot section of 1" climber's webbing (Or a good quality Cam Buckle strap) & another carribeiner for use in fashioning an anchor point.
 30' of strong 4mm utility cord
To use this gear if hung in a tree, etc., a stranded pilot (transformed then into being a climber) would first carefully get out a shorter section of rope and tie them self and their gear off to the tree- no need for a sudden unscheduled early decent! Next is to put on the climbing seat harness and rig the carribieners and figure eight as shown; the loose end of the rope in the above photo would be the one tied to or looped around a solid branch or part of the tree trunk, or tied to the webbing anchor point. Using the rope run through the figure eight more than once increases friction, and running this 6mm rope through doubled is fairly standard self-belay procedure; the center of the rope is looped over an anchor point attached to the tree so that, once on the ground, the rope can be retrieved from the anchor point for further use. [Mammut's 6mm cord has a breaking strength rateing of 1700 pounds. Sterling Rope's 6mm cord is rated at 1978#]
[A book or website on climbing ropes, rigging, and use and a bit of hands-on practice should further help in an understanding procedures for rappelling using a descender. Professional ski patrol personnel carry a similar kit for self-evacuation from a chair lift if the lift is shut down while they are on it; fire fighters carry similar gear with high temperature-resistant rope. A practice self-belay decent from a very modest height might not be a bad idea for those unfamiliar with rope & self-belay techniques. A Gym with a climbing wall and instructor might be a good place to familiarize yourself with the equipment and techniques; that info is beyond the scope of this web page.]
Above: REI gear. (I changed out to the buckle for my PG kiting use.) The figure eight chest harness helps keep you upright while doing a descent if your technique is less than perfect, and you may like the solider feel of rigging that way. REI sells both- I bought the set from them many years ago. I have used this climber's seat harness a lot for kiting my PG wing. The gear I'm carrying is lighter and more compact.
I fly with the reserve parachute mounted and with these emergency survival and self-rescue kits always along because I'm inclined to fly over high rugged remote areas most days - that's where I live & fly- and I figure it's worth having along this 4.5 pounds of emergency gear. That's my personal approach - a part of prudent PPG flying in this beautiful and rugged part of Colorado's high country!
I carry a Midland GTX1000 GMRS radio which has up to 36 miles of line-of-sight range, while leaving a matching radio with someone back on the ground, and I leave my flight plan with them. If I do have to put down somewhere other than at my launch point, I'm fairly well prepared.
On August 14th, 2016 I flew from my launch point at just below 10,000 feet up to an altitude of 13,288 feet. The flight covered 29.5 miles and the total motor run time was 1 hour and 7 minutes. After landing, I measured the fuel used at 1.23 gallons for this flight. Engine RPM was between 7100 and 7170 during most of the climb. [118 main jet, EGT within the peak efficiency range @ 1087 F at 7100 RPM.]
For photos from this and other flights, please CLICK HERE to visit the PHOTO GALLERY.
http://skycruisermfg.com/polini_engine_parts The Replacement Carb to airbox boot is available here for $17. Motor mounts and other parts are also available. (Carb jets are not listed as of early July of 2016. Other sources are listed below.)
Belite's Polini Engine parts page, with the thermostat offered for ~$45.25 + $8.00 Shipping
Flat-free "Cactus Country" Wheels by Marathon; ~$50 each; a smooth tread option is also available.
CARB JETS : KEIHN PWK28 uses HEX main jets: 126 stock ; [118, 120, 122, 124 & 128 possibly useful on THOR 250]
10 piece pilot jet assortment kit - only $9.99 for all, free shipping from CA
CLICK HERE to go to Bruce Stenulson's Main Page.