Battery drain for startup

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Watching training films about WWII American bombers, I notice they say to always use an external source of power to start the engines when avaible, to save the batteries.

    As far as I know the engine would turn the dynamo, which would charge the battery. The drain could be so severe as to totally drain the battery if the engine didn't started at the first time or what?
     
  2. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    AHHH, the inertia wheel! Guess I already found the answer to my question. :p
     
  3. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,480
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    Some WW2 aircraft had pneumatic/ shotgun cartridge starters, some had inertial starters, some had electric starters, and some used a hucks starter, and so on.

    But even with a car, the starter uses a lot more current than the generator/ dynamo can supply, especially at low rpm.

    But being a aircraft, it's not going to want to carry all the extra weight of a giant battery, that you'd need for a difficult start.
    Aircraft are like that still, if it doesn't start right the first time, go look for a auxially power unit.
     
  4. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Yeah. And in the case of American bombers, they had big engines and a consequently big inertial wheel. The inertia wheel was already a system to overcome the weight problem, but even so it consumed a lot of current.
     
  5. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,623
    Likes Received:
    205
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Aviation QMS/SMS consultant
    Location:
    Blenheim
    I believe that the tendency to use ground power for starting is to preserve battery life. Starting provides a big strain on the battery, and can cause batteries to get very hot which can be a potential fire source, so the less you can do it, the longer the battery lasts, and the safer the start will be.
    The inertia wheel was to enable you to use a smaller motor, and lower current drain on the battery. It would consume a lot of current, but not as much as a motor that can overcome the engine's compression when cold. The inertia wheel also has the advantage that it can be hand-cranked, so the aircraft can be started even with a dead battery, and no ground power unit available.
     
  6. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    BTW, the Bf 109 inertia wheel was always manual?
     
  7. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The inertia starter had an electric motor that could be used to spin up the fly wheel however in order to spare the battery it was standard opperating procedure for the ground crew to manually charge the flywheel. I immagine the life for the battery could be greatly extended since it would experience no great current draws outside of starting. The inertia starter was a good idea, plenty of crew have been severly injured pulling a propellor around manually.
     
  8. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,623
    Likes Received:
    205
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Aviation QMS/SMS consultant
    Location:
    Blenheim
    We generally have a couple of broken arms a year around here from people hand-starting vintage aircraft.

    Didn't some models of Stearman only have a manual flywheel?
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,480
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    I doubt that anyone has the muscle to hand prop a 1000+hp engine. Plus on about any WW2 aircraft, they're so high up you couldn't pull it through enough of a revolution to start it either.

    The pictures you see of men turning the propellers are just doing it with the ignition switch off, to get the accumulated oil out of the bottom cylinders of a radial engine, or to draw fuel into the cylinders prior to switching on the ignition.
    I do wonder at what HP level hand proping to start became impossible though.
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,198
    Likes Received:
    784
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    How do you think the crew would pull the prop manually? Are you referring to starting or to clearing hydraulic lock in a radial engine?
     
  11. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,623
    Likes Received:
    205
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Aviation QMS/SMS consultant
    Location:
    Blenheim
    Tyrodtom,
    Those incidents are around WW1 replicas Tiger Moths, and the like.
    We have a hand-propping procedure for our CJ6, which is 285 HP, geared.

    It would really depend on compression ratios on the engine, and gearing, but I wouldn't want to try it on anything much bigger than the CJ6. Just pulling the bigger engines through before start is enough work!
     
  12. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    And make SURE the mags are off before propping a hydro lock on a CJ6. We had someone nearby get seriously injured that way recently. His kneecap was in 27 pieces and it basically also shattered an arm.
     
  13. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,623
    Likes Received:
    205
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Aviation QMS/SMS consultant
    Location:
    Blenheim
    Yeah I can understand how that happens. The mag switch operates backwards to most western types, so a quick glance looks like they are off when they are on.

    Fortunately for me, it happened the other way around - trying to start it with the mags off.
     
  14. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Messages:
    5,905
    Likes Received:
    853
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Aircraft Restoration
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonga, California, U.S.A.
    #14 GregP, May 1, 2012
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
    On most radials, you need to turn the propeller through 8 to 12 blades before engaging the mags. That is a heavy drain on the battery. So, they saved the batteries when they could.

    Even for an inline, you sometimes rotate a number of blades before engaging the mags.

    For an Allison V-1710, you engage the starter which spins up the interia wheel. When it is spiniing at max speed, you hit the solenoid that pushes the starter dog fiorward to engage and turn the cranklshaft. Youn usually leave the mags ON, and the mixtuire is in auto lean while the throttle is open about 1 inch. You continue to crank until you start or lose power ... don't stop. If you play with the mixture yourself and miss it, you can get a backfire that blows out intake gaskets easily. When that happens, you have some 20+ hours of work to do, assuming you have the new gaskets. Most people use auto lean and have no issues.

    For a radial, you need to turn the prop through some number of blades before engaging the mags. The blades vary with the number of blades on the prop and the radial in question ... but radials ALWAYS need to turn some before starting or they can backfire and blow out gaskets with extreme ease or hydraulic lock and require a complete rebuild.

    So the power carts are there to provide auxilliary battery starting power to both save the on board batteries and to ensure a complete squadron launch when, to use the onboard batteries, might mean a partial launch due to run-down batteries. They wanted to give every aircraft a good chance to make the mission. That's all. You know, make sure it gets started. If gound power failed, they COULD use onboard batteries but, more likely, would troubleshoot the issue before doing that. No use to run down TWO sets of batteries.

    In Germany, the Me 109 used the SAME inertia starter that we did. We supplied them through Switzerland to Germany. But THEY used crewmen to turn the inertia starter manually while we used a battery to spin it up. It added weight, but we did it anyway.

    Some years back we restored a Messerschmitt Me 109E at Chino Aerro Traders and invited several former Luftwaffe Me 109 pilots to see the first flight.

    The Me 109 was rolled out and the pilot got into the cockpit. The former German pilots were looking arounf for the "batman" when the pilot engaged the electric starter and started the DB 601. One of the former Luftwaffe Me 109 pilots was heard to say (in German), "My God, if we'd had those electric starters in WWII, we'd have won the war!" We were all quite amused at the comment after it was translated and after realizing the implications. They were all laughing at the electric starter ...

    Oh, and I can pull an Allison prop through myself for a number of blades (and a Merlin, too). They have mostly very nearly identical compression ratios ... unless it is a Reno engine and then the compression rato is usually less due to increased boost. You usually can't get a WWII V-12 to run on less compression ratio than about 5.0 : 1 - 5.5 : 1, but some people try so they can go to higher boost before detonation. Doesn't usually work, occasionally it does.
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,761
    Likes Received:
    793
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    Some WW II aircraft (like the P-39) also had electric landing gear, and/or flaps and perhaps an electric propeller. Getting the battery in a low state of charge and then taking off could cause real problems if there isn't enough battery left to operate the systems before the engine can recharge it. DC generators (not alternators) are also rather heavy and in order to save weight sometimes smaller sizes were used, like a 900 watt instead of a 1500 watt. The watts generated varied with the engine speed and sometimes a low cruise speed could not generate enough power to keep up with demand even during cruise let alone lowering landing gear and flaps.
     
  16. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,198
    Likes Received:
    784
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    #16 FLYBOYJ, May 1, 2012
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
    Don't know about that. The voltage regulator controls the load on the electrical system and how much charge is going to the battery. Once the generator(s) are on line there's plenty of electrical current to run the rest of the systems if everything is working properly. There is usually a electrical load requirement to have the generator(s) to be able to support the full load of the system then ususally something like a 5% safety factor (don't quote me on the latter) is built in.

    GPUs are used to ensure a good start allowing plenty of current to the starter (which is actually good for it). On turbine engines, battery starts could result in slower spool up resulting in a hotter start, something you want to avoid.

    Most ww2 voltage regulators were "carbon pile," a bit crude but they worked well.
     
  17. cimmex

    cimmex Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    Messages:
    356
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The reason why the WWII Me109 had no electric starter was lack of space due the fuselage weapons (magacines). All currently flying examples in Germany have one because no weapons are installed so does the Me109E in the US
    Regards
    Cimmex
     
  18. cimmex

    cimmex Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    Messages:
    356
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    18
    It is new to me that the starter was delivered by the US via Switzerland.
    In the spare parts docs a Bosch AL-SGC 24 DR 2 inertia starter is listed.
    Regards
    Cimmex
     
  19. barney

    barney Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,761
    Likes Received:
    793
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    Well, there is "now" and there is "then". There is some story about the British substituting 1500 generators on some (all?) of their Tomahawks instead of the original specified 900 watt units. This lead to a number of the Tomahawks sent to the Russians breaking their generator drives due to the greater load and a rush shipment of new generator drives being sent.
    The engine didn't have to be running at full throttle to get the full charge rate. That would happen at a somewhat lower RPM. and the voltage regulator would keep things from over charging at the higher rpm. But an RPM close to idle would NOT give full charging rate, so the ability to charge at a slow cruise depended on the rpm setting and the electrical load. This was in the early part of the war and more stringent requirements for both generator power and batter capacity may have soon been put in place, especially after a few accedents with planes having Curtis electric propellers. If you loose the ability to change the prop pitch landings can get really interesting.

    Again this is one reason that engines weights are given as dry weights, generator weight is not included as it changed with the air frame the engine was installed in. "simple" planes like fighters using a smaller generator than a 'complicated" plane like a bomber or transport. Please remember we are only 10 or so years from using a generator mounted on the wing or fuselage and driven by it's own propeller :)

    Late-war practice could be completely different and much more in line with modern practice. Please remember than the earlier P-38s and many other twin engine aircraft had a generator on only one engine.
     
Loading...

Share This Page