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The Radial Engine: There’s No Beating a Classic

When it comes to airplane engines, radial engines are the true classic

radial aircraft enginesEver since Louis Bleriot crossed the English Channel in 1909, the radial engine has been an integral part of modern aviation.   Their simple yet powerful design has been improved upon throughout the 1900’s, but the basic principles behind the airplane engine have remained constant. Pratt and Whitney R-985 and R-1340 radial engines were designed starting in the 1920’s, and have withstood the test of time.  Many of these radial engines are still in use today, thanks to companies like ours who are able to perform the overhaul and maintenance required for these masterpieces.

The R-1340 radial engine was Pratt and Whitney’s first foray into airplane engines, and approximately 35,000 engines were produced.  The next engine to be mass-produced was the R-985.  This engine was manufactured from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, and over 39,000 of them were made

Radial engines played a major part in the First World War, outlasting and outperforming rotary engines over time.  The R-985 and R-1340 engines became the standard aircraft engine for World War II, powering airplanes used in basic training as well as military versions of civil aircraft.  After the war, R-985 engines were used in various smaller civil and military airplanes, including utility aircraft, small transports and agricultural aircraft.  Their simple design and reliability made them popular among airplane enthusiasts around the country.

Ford Trimotor, powered by 3 Pratt & Whitney R-985 Radial Engines loaded up for the first flight of the day, following quite a downpour. At least with the rains comes the benefit of the reflections of Lake Lyon. Via @markRFoster

Today, you’ll find most R-985 and R-1340 engines in bush planes and agricultural aircraft, as well as on WarBirds.  Parts for these engines are still available on the market, but repair and overhaul of R-985 and R-1340 radial engines requires a skilled technician.  As a certified FAA Repair Station, our Radial Engine Division is the largest R-985 and R-1340 overhaul facility in the world, and we pride ourselves on being true artisans when it comes to overhaul and maintenance of radial engines.

So, if you’ve got a plane with one of these engineering marvels, be sure to entrust its maintenance to a facility that specializes in the radial engine.  They can keep your engine running for years to come.

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What is a Hot Section Inspection & Why It’s Important to PT6A Engine Longevity

The Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine has been in use since 1961 and has since logged more than 380 million flight hours, the equivalent of about 250,000 round-trips to the moon.   The most advanced PT6A engine family includes three power levels, “Small”, “Medium”, and “Large” that all have the advantage of turbine cooling, aerodynamic design, and advanced technologies in materials.  Keeping these engines running efficiently and safely wouldn’t be possible without a periodic Hot Section Inspection.

Continue reading What is a Hot Section Inspection & Why It’s Important to PT6A Engine Longevity

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Aviation Safety: Making Sure You’re Aware of Lancair Mishaps

The Lancair experimental aircraft: beautiful, fast and having what the FAA calls a “disproportionate” number of fatal accidents. There seem to be a higher number of fatal accidents involving Lancairs, which can be powered by the PT6APT6A. We want you to be aware of some statistics and information.

Continue reading Aviation Safety: Making Sure You’re Aware of Lancair Mishaps

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Why You NEED to Know EDD – Electrostatic Discharge Damage in the PT6A

Last month we disassembled and investigated a 3000 hour time since new PT6A-34AG engine with a #1 bearing failure that appears to be attributable to a phenomenon called: EDD! The damage from the failure combined with damage from the propeller sudden stoppage following the aircraft’s off airport landing has resulted in a BER; an engine that is “Beyond Economic Repair”!

Continue reading Why You NEED to Know EDD – Electrostatic Discharge Damage in the PT6A

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4 Quick Fall Engine Tips: Now’s the Time for Preventative Maintenance on your PT6A

The squirrels in our front yard are gathering pecans, acorns, hackberrys, canned peanuts, potatoes, oranges, etc. You think I’m safe in predicting a rough winter? They’re getting ready. I would like to offer some tips for helping you get ready.

lukesabbott 22 feet from the windshield to the prop. #covingtonaircraft #pt6nation #dromader

Continue reading 4 Quick Fall Engine Tips: Now’s the Time for Preventative Maintenance on your PT6A

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Radial Engine Operation Animation (Pratt & Whitney R-985)

We give you two great videos of how the Pratt & Whitney R-985 works!

Make sure you check out our recent series on all things Radial Engine!

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Quality Control as Relates to Auto Gas Use in Radial Engines

The R-985 engine will run rather well on true 91 to 93 octane unleaded gasoline. The problem is more of a quality control issue than it is the engine’s ability or inability to effectively burn unleaded automotive fuel. It is true that the engine was designed and tested using leaded gasoline of various octane ratings.

Continue reading Quality Control as Relates to Auto Gas Use in Radial Engines

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