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1911 Curtiss Pusher Replica

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Bob Coolbaugh
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#1 Posted: 11/10/2009 08:09:07 Modified: 11/17/2009 10:01:28


Attention Builders and Pilots of Pioneer Era Replicas:

I know you would rather be in the shop fabricating. Still here's a rainy day thread for you to stretch out.

I am building a 1911 Curtiss Pusher to replicate the one Eugene Ely flew onto the USS Pennsylvania on Jan 18, 1911. The plans are the Charles Schultz drawings, purportedly taken from Curtiss factory prints. I am making adjustments to configure this replica as Ely's 1911 Pusher appeared. Also, there are a few safety and reliability changes, since I will use this as an airshow demonstrator as well as for cutting grass at the local airport.

Some things with the build are straightforward. Some things are magic. Most of the final stages will be really eye-opening, especially the test flying. Anyone out there have recent experience in a Curtiss? I would certainly appreciate any and all comments and advice on building, certificating and flying this unique example of the Nation's earliest production airplane.

Thanks in advance for your inputs. Bob C.


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Al Todd
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#2 Posted: 11/10/2009 11:51:37

Congratulations Bob,

 

I was recently infected with the replicaa bug myself.  I wish you much success, and will hope for your endurance as you move along.  Mine is a Graham Lee Morane Saulnier model "N", and not nearly so complicated as yours will be.  Keep us posted.

Al



Adam Smith
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#3 Posted: 11/10/2009 12:59:33

Great project Bob! 

We have an original 1912 Pusher in the EAA Museum so please let us know if we can be of any assistance in terms of taking detailed photos, etc.

Also, we are planning to feature the Centennial of Naval Aviation as one of the themes of Oshkosh 2011, so please stay in touch!



Bob Coolbaugh
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#4 Posted: 11/10/2009 15:33:53

Adam:

Thanks for the encouragement! I have studied the Headless Pusher at the Museum. The one I am building is the Model D-IV, with the single elevator forward, suspended on bamboo outriggers, and with the two added 30" wing panels on each side, between the 60" panels. Captain Rich Dann, who is coordinating the Naval Aviation Centennial, mentioned EAA's plan to highlight the Anniversary in 2011 , and I will do my absolute best to fly the Curtiss into OSH to be a part of it. It will be a busy winter here, and I will post progress photos on this thread, if there is interest. Bob C.



Bob Coolbaugh
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#5 Posted: 11/10/2009 15:36:45 Modified: 11/10/2009 15:37:42

Al: This thread is intended for all of us who are badly bent to the early birds. Please use it to post your progress, too! Good Luck with the M/S. Bob C.

 



Adam Smith
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#6 Posted: 11/10/2009 22:43:19

Bob, do you have a copy of the video Dale Crites made about 20 years ago about building & flying the Curtiss Pusher?  Think that would be useful to you and if you don't have it I could try and track down a copy.  What engine are you using?

I love the early birds, anything WWI and earlier.



Bob Coolbaugh
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#7 Posted: 11/11/2009 12:05:33

Adam:  I haven't seen Dale Crites' video, didn't know one existed. If you find a copy, please let me know how to purchase it.

I have decided to install a Continental C-125-2 with an Ed Sterba pusher prop. Three things are driving this choice. The Headless Pusher at Owl's Head Museum flies nearly weekly with a Continental six cylinder on it and Karl Ericksen says it is a great combination. Second, I plan to fly my Pusher on some long cross country flights and I don't believe I can get away from the local airport with a Roberts or an OX-5. And last, I have the engine already, it is low time and there is no way I can afford to buy and care for an OX-5. Money and safety dictate the engine choice. I am also adding brakes to the main wheels, as I think it best that I can avoid running over people and planes at airshows.

I'm more Monocoupes than anything else, got interested in and started building this Curtiss when I found out about the Navy's Centennial plans. Back to the shop. Bob

 



Adam Smith
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#8 Posted: 11/12/2009 19:11:29

Let me see what I can do on the Crites video... it's quite a few years since I last viewed it, but remember it as being quite good.



Jim Otey
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#9 Posted: 11/12/2009 21:33:35

Good Evening Bob,

The first powered flight in the state of Idaho took place on October 13, 1910 over Lewiston, Idaho.  The aircraft was a 1909 Model D Pusher, flown by J.J. Ward.  As the 100th anniversary of that event approaches, a fairly accurate replica is being constructed here in Lewiston by myself and a well known designer, builder and craftsman, Dean Wilson (of Avid Flyer fame).

The airframe is currently quite complete and on its gear.  The engine we will use to commemorate the flight is an O-200, but for long term display a replica Roberts will be fabricated and installed.

We are making this a two place and intend to provide rides for any who wish to include a 1909 Curtiss Model D Pusher in their logbook, which is why I am responding to your posting.

If you would care to discuss this activity more personally, you may call me at 208-746-8488 in Lewiston for further details and /or information.  Dean may or may not wish to be contacted, depending upon the situation, reason, etc., so please refer any and all calls to me.  Thanks.

Jim Otey

2039 Ripon Ave.

Lewiston, Id 83501-6155



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Ed Lubitz
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#10 Posted: 11/13/2009 07:53:22

Dear Sir;

 

I and a good friend have built a full size replica of the Silver Dart a 1909 aircraft that the AEA built. We tried to stay as true to the 1909 engineering as possible, with lets to modern materials. I have flown the aircraft at this point 4 times in short hops. Its a lot of work I don't want to break it. In the spring we will fly it some more and begin conducting flight tests. If you have any specific questions I would be happy to attempt to answer them to the best of my ability.

 

Ed Lubitz



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Bob Coolbaugh
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#11 Posted: 11/13/2009 11:20:47

Jim:

Thanks for the post and the photos. You have made some interesting modifications.

If I may make a suggestion: Since you plan to fly this with passengers, I think it would be a good idea to contact Karl Ericksen at Owl's Head Transportation Museum in the State of Maine. Karl has flown Owl's Head's Curtiss Headless Pusher Replica quite a bit. It is a single place and has either a C-145 or an O-300, both 6 cylinder Continentals. The way I understand the history of that particular Replica, it was built in the 70's in CA and flown with a C-75. Because of the high drag from all the wires, struts, booms, and braces it was a real handful to fly. And that was with one person on board. The Museum now flies it with the 6 cylinder Continental and Karl says it handles like a draggy Cessna 172.

I know the O-200 is a good engine with an honest 100 hp, but its power is not like the 100 hp of an OX-5. The secrets of the old engines were big cubic inches and the resultant high torque and low rpm which allowed for bigger props and more pitch. I would look closely at the O-200 as the choice for a high drag Curtiss.

It is true that Glenn Curtiss flew passengers in his Model D- IV  and later variants. Those planes had additional wing panels added to each side, either 30" panels or 60" panels, depending on how much weight Curtiss anticipated carrying. Something to bear in mind when building a 2-place Curtiss.

So, these are recaps of the thought process I went through in choosing the engine for my Model D-IV Replica. However you get your Curtiss up and flying, rest assured I'm pulling for great success for you. It is a lot of work, and there is very little info to draw upon. Really, we're not that far from experiencing what the Hammondsport factory boys went through in 1910. Lots of head-scratching and what-ifs! Best of Luck to you both. Bob C.

 



Bob Coolbaugh
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#12 Posted: 11/13/2009 11:37:04

Dear Ed Lubitz:

If this is the AEA "Silver Dart" built by the Canadian Team - congratulations on a beautiful recreation and your successes flying her! I had followed some of the reports on the "Silver Dart".

The obvious question I have is how does she fly? I've heard the early Curtiss Pushers were pretty tail heavy. Any pointers about weight and balance? I know the Curtiss Model D is quite a bit different than the AEA "Dart", but it would be good for us all to hear how you think it flies. A word of warning, though, if that is you in the attached photo. Flying with that big a grin on your face can cause serious bug-in-teeth syndrome!

Low and Slow! Bob C.



Ron Wanttaja
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#13 Posted: 11/14/2009 12:42:45

You might contact the Western Antique Aircraft and Automobile Museum  in Hood River, Oregon.  They have the Curtiss pusher replica, previously owned by Peter Bowers, that re-created the flight off the hotel in Portland Oregon a few years back.  They might be in contact with the guy who flew it....

Ron Wanttaja

 



Ron Wanttaja
Bob Coolbaugh
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#14 Posted: 11/14/2009 17:30:01

Thanks, Ron. I have photos of the Curtiss in Hood River, and an article by a pilot who flew Pete's replica. Bob C.



Tom Weiss
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#15 Posted: 11/18/2009 07:50:00

Bob, I am a member of EAA Chapter 478 in Lexington Park Maryland.  We are building a non-flying replica of the 1911 Curtiss A-1 Triad for the Paxtuxent River Test and Evaluation Museum.  We are targeting completion in 2011 for display in the new Pax River T&E Museum.   We have a set of drawing from 1961 that were drawn for the San Diego Museum for a flying version of the A-1.  We are building the airplane to the 1911 version vice the flying version when possible.  For example, the flying version used AN hardware, we are using square head bolts and nuts to mimic what was available in 1911.

I don't pretend to be an expert in aircraft of this era, I only know what is shown on the drawings we have.  We have several important questions and decisions to make to finish the aircraft, one of the biggest is how to terminate the bracing wires and how to provide adjustment for rigging and tension.  The drawings we have are not complete, several critical details are missing.  If you know anyone with a set of drawings for the A-1 we would appreciate any contact information you have.  We have been to the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport and need to get back there soon as they may have the information we need.

Our status is we have all of the wood work done.  Have begun covering the wing panels and are working on assemblying the entire center section that connects to the float.   I hope to be able to move a major assembly, the center section, into the museum this spring.  I would like to get with you to see your drawings as they may give us a hint on some of our missing parts and techniques.  Best of luck to you.

 



Bob Coolbaugh
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#16 Posted: 11/19/2009 17:00:16

Tom:

The easiest thing for your band to do is raid the Quantico USMC Museum, jack their Triad off its supports and take it to Pax River where it belongs! Failing that, go there and look over their Triad. It is very well constructed, the just-completed restoration is superb, and the Museum staff and volunteers are a great bunch. You'll learn a lot and it is not that far from Lex-Park.

On this side of the mountains, I am relying on the Charles Schultz drawings as my primary source of construction details. These are the most complete drawings available, and you can build a faithful Curtiss Model D from them. I have augmented these details with close inspection of the USAF Museum Model D-IV in Dayton. The team which built that replica really did a magnificent job. It is very closely aligned with the Schultz  plans. A close friend, Vet Thomas, of Rochester, NY, built a Schultz based replica a couple of years ago which now hangs in the airport at ROC. Vet did us all a major favor by putting almost all the metal parts and pieces on CAD. He can water-jet these out of 4130 plate in a matter of a week or so. He makes the turnbuckles, supplies the spoke nipples and bends the spokes for the turnbuckles. He also makes original style control pulleys and guards. I purchased a set from Vet, once I realized the enormity of the task of hand cutting and forming all the parts. Most, if not all, are interchangeable on the Triad. Still, you will have a lot of work left to make the parts fit. I have made changes from Schultz after comparing what I gleaned from my sources and from the advice of great people such as Vet, Art Wilder of the Curtiss Museum, Karl Ericsen from Owl's Head Transportation Museum in Maine and several associates on the Aerodrome.com forum. The info is out there, it just needs ferreting out. If I were a West Coast builder, the Hiller Museum and the San Diego Aerospace Museum are good sources and both have Pushers. 

So, there are 2 Triads - at Quantico and at Hammondsport. It's worth the time looking them over.

You are cordially invited to visit my build anytime you find convenient. Get one of the Chapter guys to fly you into 8W2  and we'll spend some time hangar flying. Email me at monocoup@shentel.net with your phone number and we'll set up a rendezvous here.



Mike Turoski
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#17 Posted: 11/22/2009 19:42:27

Hi Bob C.--

 

Here is some info that you many find really useful.  Here in Oregon, in the town of Hood River there is a museum of antique cars and aircraft.  W.A.A.M. museum.  The head of restoration is a friend of mine.  I know he would be happy to talk to you about your Curtiss.  This is his background--all of the aircraft in the museum are FLYABLE; he see to it.  In 1995 he built a Curtiss pusher to fy off the top of a Portland hotel in comemeration of the feat 50-years earlier.  Well, he did build it and flew it.  Then (amazingly enough) with the FAA's help/blessing, flew it off the same hotel roof!  He will help you with tips on test flying/building etc. if you ask him.  His name is Tom Murphy.  Pull up the web site www.waaamuseum.org, see the video, then speak with Tom.  Use great care building/flying, regards, Mike T.



Bob Coolbaugh
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#18 Posted: 11/23/2009 16:21:57

Mike: Thanks for the lead and advice, which I certainly agree with. Regards, Bob C.



Adam Smith
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#19 Posted: 11/23/2009 17:47:02

Bob, I haven't forgotten my promise to seek out the Dale Crites video.  We know where one is, but are hoping to find a copy more conveniently in the EAA video vault.

In the meantime, as this is the "early birds" thread, here's a picture I took on my phone last Friday of EAA's replica Bleriot XI, this is starting to look quite complete now.


Bleriot.jpg 



Bob Coolbaugh
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#20 Posted: 11/24/2009 05:53:42

Adam: Thanks for dogging the video. As soon as you find one that I can purchase, please save it for me! The Bleriot looks beautiful. Is that an Anzani 3 cylinder at right? And, is it going on the Bleriot? I had the good fortune to visit and photograph Bleriot's Channel Crossing plane at Paris' Museum of Science and Engineering several years back. This famous relic hangs high up in what appears to be an old sanctuary, apparently in its original condition from 1909. Unfortunately, it is so high in the air you can't get details of the cockpit, engine, etc. My thanks have to go to Andrew King for telling me about it. Some people know the words to every Beatles song. Andrew knows where every truly old airplane resides. Me, I'm still hunting for the last tool I was using just 5 minutes ago. Rats!

From the wing ribs, I take it you're building the original wing warping design? The replica in the Air Force Museum in Lisbon, Portugal has ailerons and more modern looking airfoil. Must be great, going to work on a Bleriot which lives under the wing of a Ford Tri-Motor. Distracting, but nice!

If I can find the Channel Bleriot photos, I'll poat them here.

 Here's to calm winds, clear skies, cool temps and 26 mile visibilities - none of which existed for Louis Bleriot when he flew from Calais to Dover! Bob C.



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