DynaVibe was on hand to support Scotty Wilson's second flight with the Bugatti 100P when he returned to Oklahoma's Spaceport at Burns Flat to continue flight-testing. The Bugatti needed new props after its historic first flight due to a brake failure on touchdown. The DynaVibe team joined Scotty to balance the two, new propellers on the Bugatti and continue the flight-testing program for this innovative and historic airplane.
Having previously balanced the Bugatti (click here to learn why dynamically balancing a prop is important) for its inaugural flight, a location for mounting the accelerometer was already determined. It was quick work to install the DynaVibe accelerometer and phototach on the Bugatti. Balancing the contra-rotating propellers started with the rear engine / rear propeller. The initial balancing run revealed that the rear prop required 27 grams of correction weight, which when added, brought the propeller imbalance down to 0.09 Inches Per Second (IPS). The front propeller was then balanced down to 0.10 IPS by adding 18 grams of weight. Shortly afterward, the Bugatti successfully took to the air once again.
DynaVibe has balanced the Bugatti 100P, the world-record breaking Anequim, warbirds, Reno Air Racing team aircraft, the AN-2, the world’s largest biplane, and it can balance whatever you fly, delivering better performance and a smoother flying experience. To learn how easy and economical it is to dynamically balance your prop with DynaVibe, enter your email address below, visit the DynaVibe online store, or call: 405.896.0026.
DynaVibe has a long association with aviation as an affordable system for dynamically balancing propellers. The principles of balancing, however, apply not just to propellers, but any device that spins. The Alaska Department of Transportation is using a DynaVibe Classic system to keep brush cutting and snow removal equipment operating at peak efficiency.
The idea to use DynaVibe came from an employee in one of the shops who was an A&P mechanic and had experience using the system to balance propellers and rotors. Aware of DynaVibe’s ability to achieve precision when balancing, he started using the system to balance a brush cutter that had a rotating head. When Lon Needles, shop foreman of the Transportation Department's State Equipment Fleet, heard about this, he asked this employee to come and demonstrate how it is done.
“This equipment will hit rocks and things and get out of balance, and it will shake the guys out of the cab,” said Needles. The balancing demonstration was enough to convince him that they too needed a DynaVibe to balance the brush cutters in their shop. Once the DynaVibe was in their possession, Needles began to wonder what other equipment they could balance with it.
“We have our snow blowers here,” continued Needles. “Valdez averages 300 inches of snow a year; Thompson Pass, just up the road a little bit, gets 700 inches per year, so we use the heck out of our snow blowers. If they hit a rock or something, it can mess them up, so we balance the spinning rotor in there with DynaVibe too.”
The impellers in these machines are heavy, perhaps weighing as much as a ton. “When they get out of whack, I’ve seen them sit there and bounce the whole head off the ground.” Needles shares an experience about a brush cutter that was so out of balance that “it would literally shake the coffee out of the operator’s coffee cup.” After balancing this equipment, “you could barely see a ripple with it running wide open.”
The value of keeping these machines in balance is less wear-and-tear – for both the machine and the operators. “When a machine is not sitting there vibrating, it’s smooth; it takes the fatigue away from the operator, and while I can’t prove it, I think it takes the metal fatigue away from the machine. Nuts and bolts aren’t trying to come apart. It’s noticeable.”
By spending the time to balance, Needles and his team are able to eliminate virtually all the vibration from the spinning components of their machinery. The snow blowers are balanced about once a year; the brush cutters about twice per year or as needed. It takes about an hour to balance a machine. “Anything that spins, we seem to be able to balance it,” Needles concludes.
For a free, no-obligation consult with us about your balancing application, enter your email address below.
Stillwater Aircraft Services recently began using a DynaVibe GX2 to provide dynamic propeller balancing and vibration survey services. Brian Smith, owner of this service center, is using DynaVibe to bring new work in while serving his existing clients better.
One of Brian’s initial successes with DynaVibe came with a client who flies a Beechcraft Super Musketeer with a 200 horsepower engine and a constant speed prop. This airplane had a known vibration problem, but it had never been addressed. The propeller was last statically balanced in 2000.
The initial propeller-balancing run revealed a severe vibration of 1.5 Inches Per Second (IPS). This was well above the FAA specified maximum limit for propeller vibration of 1.2 IPS which requires that the prop be removed and statically balanced prior to dynamic balancing on the aircraft. Even following standard dynamic balancing procedures, Brian could at best reduce the vibration by about half. It was much better than the starting level of vibration, but still severely out of balance. Brian pulled the prop off the airplane and took it to a prop shop to have it inspected, where he was surprised to learn that during the last static balancing 15 years ago, the weight had been added to the wrong blade.
“When they put the prop on the balancing stand, one blade immediately fell to the floor,” said Smith. It’s unfortunate, but once in a great while, the weights are applied to the wrong blade in the static balancing process, and that was the reason this Musketeer had experienced a vibration problem for 15 years.
After having the prop statically balanced, Brian remounted it on the Musketeer and checked the balance again using his DynaVibe system. The static balancing had reduced the prop vibration to about .67 IPS. Brian used the automatic weight solution calculated by the DynaVibe GX2 and almost completely eliminated the vibration, getting it down to .04 IPS. The owner’s feedback was that his Musketeer felt like a totally new airplane!
Brian sees multiple benefits to offering dynamic prop balancing services with DynaVibe. “It will help pull more business in, I’ll get more work off of it, but the customer gets something too – a measurable difference in the performance of their airplane.” In addition to propeller balancing, Brian sees the advantage of the vibration survey capability that the DynaVibe GX2 provides: the ability to identify the type and source of a more complex vibration. “I can see a half-per vibration using the DynaVibe, and know that it’s caused by a combustion problem. That information eliminates other vibration sources and narrows it down to the specific problem I need to address. That’s a home run. When servicing an airplane, I don’t need to go down as many rabbit trails.”
At RPX Technologies, we routinely hear stories from service centers, shops, or repair stations that use DynaVibe to deliver service. These stories have a common theme: using DynaVibe to offer dynamic balancing service brings in more business, generates greater profit, and increases customer satisfaction.
It doesn’t take much balancing work to create a fast payback on purchasing a DynaVibe GX2 system for balancing and vibration analysis. Just doing three dynamic balancing jobs per month provides payback in less than 5 months and adds almost $7,000 in profit during the first year. The following table summarizes the DynaVibe business case:
Under the same balancing workload assumption of three jobs per month, opting for a DynaVibe Classic provides payback in less than two months and delivers over $9,300 in first year profit!
It’s typical for a shop that uses DynaVibe to complete a prop balancing assessment for every airplane that comes in for service. If the prop is out of balance, owners are given the option to have it dynamically balanced, and often they accept. What’s also typical is that once a shop begins offering dynamic balancing service, owners will bring their planes in for that reason alone, and often other maintenance issues will surface during the visit.
Shops, service centers and repair stations that use DynaVibe to offer dynamic prop balancing enjoy a number of benefits:
The DynaVibe system is easy and economical to use, adding profit to the bottom line. To learn about using DynaVibe to dynamically balance propellers, enter your email address below, visit the RPX Technologies website, or call: 405.896.0026.
Vibrations Steal Energy
There are many benefits to dynamically balancing the prop assembly and removing vibrations associated with propeller imbalance. Often talked about benefits include smoother flying with less wear on the engine, instruments and airframe. These benefits have enormous value, as they reduce fatigue on the plane, pilot and passengers, while extending the life the airplane. They are reason enough to keep the prop assembly in good balance, all the time.
Another benefit of dynamic prop balancing is performance. When an imbalance introduces a vibration, energy is spent shaking the airplane instead of moving it. With a finite amount of horsepower available to propel the airplane, a vibration uses some of it in a destructive way, leaving less available for propulsion.
The percentage of horsepower lost to vibration may seem small. Look at it this way: suppose a propeller imbalance is costing 2 percent of an engine’s horsepower. This 2 percent is going into shaking the airplane. If that airplane has a 200 HP engine, in this scenario 4 HP is lost due to vibration. To provide some perspective, this loss is the equivalent of hooking up a lawn mower engine to the airplane’s crankshaft to do nothing more than shake the airplane! That’s how much energy a propeller imbalance can direct into the crankshaft bearings and the rest of the airplane.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to recapture this “lost” horsepower. Dynamically balancing the prop assembly allows most or all of the horsepower lost to vibration to once again go toward flying the airplane. Using the DynaVibe GX2, you can easily determine if a prop is out of balance, and also get a solution for how much weight to add, and where to add it to achieve good balance. To learn about using DynaVibe to dynamically balance propellers call us at 405.896.0026, or enter your email address or phone number using "Contact Us" at the bottom of this page and we'll contact you!
Several teams using DynaVibe to get peak performance
Qualifying for the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada began this week, and DynaVibe is part of the strategy to win for teams in three of the six classes.
Vito Wypraechtiger flying the Scarlet Screamer is currently the second-fastest qualifier in the Formula One class. In the Biplane class, Tom Aberle flying the Phantom set a new world record of 284.454 mph, breaking the previous record of 274.091 mph set in 2014. Steve Hinton flying Voodoo, a modified P-51D Mustang and the 2014 Unlimited gold champion at Reno, is currently the top qualifier in the Unlimited class. “The DynaVibe helped us win the national championship air race in Reno,” said Bob Button, owner of Voodoo Air Racing speaking about the 2014 win.
Each of these racing teams is using DynaVibe to help their aircraft achieve peak performance. By dynamically balancing the propeller assembly, owners can recapture RPMs lost due to vibration. Testimonials from DynaVibe users speak to gaining RPMs on the top end after dynamically balancing their props.
Vibration uses horsepower, so when a vibration is eliminated, that horsepower can work to move the airplane faster instead of shaking it. Consider this scenario: a vibration that was costing 2 percent of the engine's horsepower to shake the airplane is recaptured through the balancing process. To put this into perspective, it is roughly the equivalent of hooking up a lawn mower engine to the crankshaft to do nothing more than shake the airplane! A prop imbalance can direct a significant amount of energy into the crankshaft bearings and the rest of the airplane. After balancing, that horsepower is no longer "lost" due to vibration, but available to help win races. In the air racing world, 2 percent can be the margin between winning and losing.
The benefits of a dynamically balanced prop assembly are not limited to racing aircraft. Any airplane can experience smoother, safer flying with less wear on the airframe, engine and instruments by balancing the propeller. To keep up with the action in Reno, visit the race reports website. To learn about using DynaVibe to dynamically balance propellers and analyze other vibration sources, enter your email address below, visit the RPX Technologies website, or call: 405.896.0026.
The RPX Technologies team recently had the opportunity to use the DynaVibe GX2 system to balance an Antonov 2 - "Annie" - the world's largest biplane. Our latest video shares our experience with the AN-2, showing how the dynamic propeller balancing process works.
To learn more about DynaVibe, dynamic prop balancing or vibration analysis, enter your email below:
DynaVibe Balances the World’s Fastest Four-Cylinder Airplane
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Craig Catto, founder of Catto Propellers, for providing key input and photographs for this story.
The Anequim Project, a group of students and professors from Brazil's Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), has built and flown the world’s fastest four-cylinder airplane. Anequim comes from the Brazilian name for the shortfin Mako, the fastest shark in the seas, a fitting namesake for the airplane that gobbled up title to five world records during recent flights in August: multiple speed records over various distances as well as a new fastest time-to-climb record.
Here are the world records the Anequim Project now owns:
1. Speed over 3 km with restricted altitude
2. Speed over 15 km
3. Speed over 100 km closed course
4. Speed over 500 km closed course
5. Time to climb up to 3,000 meters
Powering Anequim is a four-cylinder Lycoming IO-360 modified by Sky Dynamics, connected to a custom propeller built by legendary prop designer Craig Catto, whose propellers have helped set numerous world records. Craig has used the DynaVibe Classic propeller balancing system for several years. At Airventure 2015 in Oshkosh, Craig connected with RPX Technologies co-founder and engineer Matthew Dock, who explained the benefits of the second-generation DynaVibe GX2. “I thought this would be the perfect time to upgrade to the GX2 unit with the upcoming Anequim world record speed and time to climb record attempts in Brazil,” said Catto. “I was able to acquire one of the new GX2 units the week before leaving to support the Anequim Team on their record attempts.”
Catto and his team made a total of 8 propellers for the Anequim Project. Prior to balancing the Anequim, the pilot reported that the engine propeller systems were operating smoothly. “We really did not know how ‘smooth’ was smooth,” said Catto. “So we performed a simple propeller vibration analysis and found that we could improve the balance by simply removing one of the mass balance washers that was attached to the fly wheel. We removed one An970-3 washer and brought the balance into the ‘excellent’ range. We felt this was important especially on the 500km record attempt, where the 11/1 compression electronic ignition engine built by Sky Dynamics was going to be operating at full throttle for what would be right at one hour.”
Catto was pleased with how easy it was to dynamically balance Anequim’s propeller, removing it as a vibration source so that any other change in engine circumstances during the record attempts would become more evident to the pilot. “The new GX2 will not only perform a simple propeller dynamic balance, but even a full spectrum vibration analysis. With the new unit, Catto Propellers can now perform these services for its customers and others at the facility at KJAQ. We are happy to say that DynaVibe was a part of our wonderful experience taking part of the world records set by the Anequim Team.”
DynaVibe can help your airplane achieve record-setting performance too! To learn how, enter your email address below or contact RPX Technologies at: 405.896.0026.
Dynamic Prop Balancing Delivers Smoother Flying.
Vic Syracuse owns and operates Base Leg Aviation out of Mallards Landing Airport (GA04) in Locust Grove, Georgia. Base Leg Aviation serves the sport aviation community, providing DAR Services in a seven-state area, avionics and instrument panel service, inspections, test flights, ferry flights and other services.
Vic has over 38 years of aviation experience, and he has built 10 award-winning aircraft. An EAA Technical Counselor, he also writes the monthly “Checkpoints” column for Kitplanes Magazine. With over 8,000 hours of total time, Vic has a wealth of experience and wisdom to offer his customers.
Dynamic Prop Balancing
Vic purchased a DynaVibe prop balancing system at the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in in April, 2015. He initially offered dynamic propeller balancing as an adjunct to other services, but balancing work is getting more regular as word gets out. “I have flown many different airplanes and can really tell a difference in balanced props. There appears to be less cracking around baffles and engine compartment accessories, and passengers and myself seem less fatigued after a flight.”
The DynaVibe purchase followed a demonstration at the fly-in, where Vic saw a DynaVibe representative show how easy the system is to use. “They were very helpful at the show, carefully answering questions, and making us feel comfortable with the product and support.”
Vic’s customers feel the difference that results from dynamically balancing their props: “On almost all of the airplanes I have done we have started somewhere around .29 IPS (Inches per Second) and ended up around .06 or less. It is very noticeable to the owner.”
To learn more about how DynaVibe can help you offer dynamic prop balancing services, contact RPX Technologies by entering your email address below, or simply call: 405.896.0026.
DynaVibe Helps Make Aviation History
On the eve of World War II, Ettore Bugatti – the legendary sports car designer – was busy trying to build an airplane. And what a plane it was: a technological marvel in art deco; the most elegant aircraft that would ever grace the skies. Except, it never flew. Bugatti built just one of his visionary airplanes in 1939, designated the 100P, but it remained grounded with plans to fly it scrubbed because of the war. Spirited away to a hiding place to avoid being seized by the Nazis, it remained in mothballs even decades after the war. Today the restored but not airworthy 100P resides in the AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Enter Scotty Wilson, whose aviation career spans five decades and nearly 11,000 hours in aircraft ranging from Cubs to F-16s. He is also a certified aircraft mechanic who had a vision to build and fly a replica of the 100P. In 2013, Wilson led a team that funded the “RÊVE BLEU” (Blue Dream) project via Kickstarter. The dream became reality on August 19, 2015 when aviation history was made as the Blue Dream took its maiden flight.
The Bugatti 100P was – and is – an extraordinary airplane with an innovative, timeless design. Originally designed to fly at a top speed approaching 500 MPH, the 100P is driven by two engines located behind the cockpit, connected via drive shafts and gearboxes to two, contra-rotating propellers.
The 100P’s unique, complex power plant and propeller assemblies intensified the need to balance the propellers. RPX Technologies, the makers of the DynaVibe propeller balancing system, has been in dialogue with Scotty Wilson and the Bugatti team for a few years, reviewing the potential vibration problems of such a unique airplane. The range of possible issues with the 100P included torsional vibration, resonance and contra-rotating prop interactions not typically seen on most aircraft.
When the Blue Dream team had the Bugatti ready to run the engines leading up to the first flight, RPX met Scotty to balance the 100P’s props. Matt Dock, RPX co-founder and engineer, used the DynaVibe GX2 to perform this task, setting up the DynaVibe accelerometer on the propeller gear box, as close to the props as possible. The photo tachometer was mounted on the outside of the fuselage as pictured.
With this configuration of the DynaVibe accelerometer and phototach, it was easy to setup the DynaVibe GX2 for a non-typical installation by using the display and arrow keys to position the location of the accelerometer, phototach, propeller blades, and direction of rotation. Even with the odd angles of the phototach and accelerometer, the GX2 was able to compensate for the atypical setup and provide a great balance in minimal runs.
Before starting the balancing run, Matt did an initial spectrum analysis to determine what possible vibrations might exist in the 100P. The DynaVibe GX2 (pictured below) revealed vibration only in the prop spectra, so Scotty and Matt proceeded to dynamically balance the 100P’s propellers.
Matt and Scotty first turned their attention to the prop that rotates counter-clockwise. The initial vibration measured was significant, at 0.37 Inches per Second (IPS). Even though the 100P’s props are relatively small, the fiberglass spinner is fairly large, and custom made and therefore a likely cause of propeller assembly imbalance. During the first balancing run, the DynaVibe GX2 provided an exact solution for how much weight to add and where to add it. After three runs total, the counter-clockwise prop was balanced and Scotty observed that the annoying vibration in the panel was gone!
The clockwise rotating prop was addressed next by setting the DynaVibe GX2 up for a new balancing job. This prop was initially smoother than the counter-clockwise prop, exhibiting a vibration of .19 IPS, and after three runs Scotty and Matt easily got the vibration down to just 0.06 IPS.
With the props in balance, Scotty and Matt used the DynaVibe to check the vibration from the long drive shafts in the airframe. The Bugatti uses a pair of Hayabusa engines driving automotive style drive shafts with u-joint connections in multiple locations. U-joints typically generate a torsional vibration at twice per revolution speed. Bearing vibration was also examined, providing the Bugatti team with valuable, preventative benchmark data about these critical components.
On August 19th, with balanced props, the Bugatti 100P – the Blue Dream – finally took the air for its historic, first flight. RPX will continue to work with the Bugatti group to help with any issues in the future. Watch the exciting video of the first flight of the Bugatti 100P:
DynaVibe balanced the Bugatti and can balance your airplane too! Enter your email below to learn how: