The original Bleriot’s all had their engine build into the fuselage like shown here.
- REP engine (Robert Esnault Pelterie). Quickly replace by the Anzani.
- Anzani in a W configuration, 3 cylinders pointing up.
- Anzani in a Y configuration, a radial engine with 3 cylinders 120 deg spaced.
- Gnome, a 7 cylinder rotary engine, different from the radial. The crank shaft is stationary and the propeller mounts to engine case.
With the engine so close to the wing, the CG (centre of gravity) was well behind the wing, and this is why the tail was a lifting tail. Basically lifting up the tail as it was too heavy. A very bad side affect of this is the fact that it makes the plane unstable. As you put the nose down to decent, the plane would speed up. This results in the tail lifting more, diving faster and faster. This is not good !!!!!
Now with the Bleriot I am making, the lifting tail is replaced by a neutral stabilizer / elevator for safety reasons. And as a result, the plane now needs to be balanced properly, by bringing the engine more forward.
Here you can see how that was done for the first two Bleriot’s build from a kit set by Robert at Airdrome Aeroplanes. The engine is right in front to make the plane balance properly, the CG at the same point as the lift component of the wing, perpendicular to the oncoming wind flow direction.
The engine used here is a Rotec R2800. This is a 7 cylinder Radial engine. Its nice looking but very expensive and a bit powerfull for a simple plane like this one.
Now as you see here, the fact that the engine is exposed. It means that what ever engine I choose it would be nice if it’s a good looking engine.
One option that a lot of people use is a VW engine. It’s cheap and powerful enough for this plane.
And in a lot of cases that is fine as that engine is hidden behind the cowl, but with my Bleriot XI it’s not.
If I don’t find any alternative, I will use that engine, because of the power output and the price, and just have to forget about the views of that engine.
One way of hide the engine is by making it not so obvious. Maybe making all the bits black like on Robert’s 75% Bleriot replica.
One engine I have been looking at in the past is a Kinner Radial on the left. It’s made in the 1940’s. But of coarse finding one of these will be impossible and to expensive for my budget.
I know its not of the same era as when the Bleriot XI was flown, but its still a really nice looking engine, and sort of similar to the Anzani Y engine you can see on the right.
Now through some contacts I have, I found Geoff in Australia. Geoff is designing a 5 cylinder radial engine based on Harley Davidson parts. He says its a mix between the Kinner shown above left and the Velie shown left.
I am really looking forward seeing his result, but that’s still a little bit away. But would be great as it’s made from readily available engine bits. He is building the engine case. Concept is to use cylinders, pistons, heads cams and cam followers and push rods from the 88 cubic inch Harley engine.
It will be a direct drive like the original engines. The engine size will be 3.6 liter as he is using the cylinders of the HD twin 88 cubic inch engine. According to Geoff each cylinder will be capable of generating 60HP. So that will be 300HP!!!!!!!!!!
That looks like quite a lot, but I won’t be running the engine at high rev’s as I am driving a big prop, so need to limit the speed so the tips won’t go over the speed of sound, making them noisy and inefficient.
All very interesting, and hopefully affordable. This engine will still be sitting right in front like the R2800 on the first two of Robert’s Bleriot.
In the Christmas holidays (Dec 2012) I bought this book “Ghosts, The Great War, Aviation in World War One” by Philip Makanna. In the first chapter, all about the Bleriot, are some great photo’s of a replica built in 1979 by Walter Bullock. This photo here is copied from that book and it shows that replica, with a 65HP Velie Radial engine. Identical to the photo of the computer model of the Velie shown just above.
I am currently looking into buying a Velie Radial from 1928 that’s for sale in the US. How exciting would that be if that is going to work out, because that would so fit my plane !!!!!!!
A little bit scary, because it has to be reliable 🙂 But it would be of great value to my Bleriot !!
For people that don’t know how the radial works, have a look at this link, really nice:
How Radial Engines Work
Breaking news: The search for an engine has finished !!!! 🙂
Just bought the Velie engine that I was talking about, just above. It is an 85 year old engine from 1928. A 5 cylinder radial, that is going to look beautiful in front of my Bleriot !!!!!!
It’s my best “Bleriot friend” Jack Vanderwerf in the US I have to thank, because he told me about that engine that was for sale in the US, after I showed him the picture above !!!!! So thank you again Jack !!!!
Still hard to believe that I have got it 🙂
Just spoken with Jack, the guy I bought the engine from, The engine is ready to be shipped!
Message from Jack:
Gert, The trucking company picked up the engine this afternoon!! Hope you get it before too long. Jack
YES, ITS COMING THIS WAY !!!!
Just got the confirmation that the box is in the container and will be here on the 26th of March. Just a few more weeks !!!!
Not so good news: Container only just left Los Angeles yesterday after its been hold up by the US customs people.
The container is on the Itajai Express. Expected to arrive on the 7th next month.
Oh well just have to wait a little longer 🙂
YES the engine has arrived !!!!!! Looks good Jack 🙂
Well the engine is in it’s final resting place for a little while now, as close as I could get it to it’s fuselage 🙂
To see how the engine restoration is going, click here Engine restoration.