Some questions about Rare Bear's time-to-climb record

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by grampi, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. grampi

    grampi Member

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    There are several things about this great feet that are unknown (to me anyway). There is more warbird knowledge in this site than I've seen anywhere else, so I thought this would be the best to seek out the info.

    1. I know the plane was using the 3350, but what was the configuration of the engine? Was it completely stock, or did it have mods done to it, and if so, what were the mods, and how much HP did it make when it set the record?

    2. Was the stock propeller used, or did it have a modified prop, or a prop off of another type of aircraft?

    3. Is there any video footage of the event? I have never seen a video of this, but I would think that someone would've taped it, given the magnitude of the task at hand.
     
  2. grampi

    grampi Member

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    Wow, nothing yet? I know for a fact there is a person who frequents this site who was present when the record was set...
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #3 GregP, Feb 4, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
    Rare Bear was, at the time and still IS, a Reno Racer. These aircraft are (in the Gold Class) are almost all in the Experimental Exhibition class, not Experimental or Limited. That means almost anything goes that can be certified as airworthy.

    Racers do NOT hand out technical knowledge to the public. The engine in Rare Bear ws always "under modification" by SOMEONE, including Aircraft Cylinder and Turbine (a former sponsor), and they used whatever parts they could that made it develop more power. The dash number only applies to stock engines that are overhauled to stock factory specifications. For an experimental exhibition plane, the only person who likely knows the specifications as used in a record attempt is the crew chief ... not even the owner, who may have been told of all the mods but usually can't keep track of them all at the same time. Lyle may well have been an exception, being pretty technical himself, at least at that time.

    When Rare Bear set the time to climb record, it was running a 4-blade prop that had the stock part number on it, but only the prop guy and crew chief probably know exactly what was done to it (and the prop shop who did it ... constrained to not tell, legally). Most likely the blades were recontoured to another airfoil, but not necessarily ... maybe it climbed better with a stock airfoil but ran faster with a modified prop. Only the cerw chief knows for sure.

    That man is most probably Dave Cornell. He is the crew chief who built just about the entire Rare Bear. I know him when I see him at Reno and we have had breakfast and lunch and dinner at the same table, but most all the talk was about the current race event ... not past records.

    If I had to make an estimate, I'd say he was runnning a more or less stock diameter prop (+0"/- up to 2") of unknown airfoil, and the engine was running at or above 3,700 HP, probably 3,850+ with Nitrous Oxide.

    Now I don't know for sure if they were using NO2 for the climb record in 1972, but they were using it for racing when Lyle owned the plane. Rod Lewis usually doesn't use Nitrous. Logic tells me they were putting out 3,850+ HP for the climb record. Only the crew chief and the record certification organization know the actual weight because Rare Bear was setting a record for piston-powered aircraft, not a specific weight class at that time, if I am not mistaken. Today, it would be within a specific weight class. The certifying body would know the exact weight, but would publish only the weight class, which would be the class of the exact weight before the startup and taxi for takeoff. They'd likely tow the plane to the runway andstart it on a taxiway to the active runway.

    Weather conditions would be recorded for modern records, but I'm not sure in 1972 ... it was somewhat of a cowboy atmosphere back then ... but a hell of a lot of fun.

    So, to get definitive, someone will have to ask Dave Cornell. Lyle Shelton isn't around to answer anymore ... he passed away in 2010. Dave should be at Reno this year. Hopefully we can catch up and talk. If not, SOMEONE out there ask and get back to us ...
     
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  4. grampi

    grampi Member

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    Greg, have you ever seen a video of the event? I would think SOMEONE had to have to taped it...
     
  5. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I have not seen it and, if it exists, it is probably in the posession of someone who was on the crew. I would also imagine that the takeoff would have been a little hairy since, in a record attempt, the pilot would want to pull the plane off and get the gear retracted as quickly as possible for acceleration purposes.

    I really WOULD like to see it myself! Next time I see Rod Lewis' chief pilot (Jim Dale), I'll ask him if Mr. Lewis has an early videos of it including the time-to-climb record. If I don't see him sooner, I SHOULD see him in May since he is usually the Air Boss at the Planes of Fame Airshow.
     
  6. grampi

    grampi Member

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    I couldn't imagine there NOT being a recording of the event, which would be amazing to watch...question is, if there is a video, would anybodies like us be able to see it?
     
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Hi Grampi,

    Most of the time the guys who have the videos don't mind sharing them since they appreciate any curiosity and understand "fans." The real issue is finding someone that you can talk with long enough to find out if they have the videoes. When you are introduced to a famous pilot or long-time crew chief, it probably isn't the best of form to start asking for things like videos right away. I've known Pete Law for some years now, and we recognize each other but I still have to remind him who I am when he comes to the museum. He smiles and says "Hi," and I take the akwardness out by saying, "Hi, I'm Greg." We then usually talk for 15 - 20 minutes or so if he has the time, and he doesn't always have the time. I'd say maybe half the time he does, and he is very forthcoming since we are usually in the aircraft restoration hangar at the time ... and he LOVES airplanes just like most of us in here do.

    However, I'll see if I can dig up a few vidoes over the next several months.

    It would be nice if other guys and gals out there who are into aviation would share a few, too. If we DO manage to find them, it would be good to take some of these "rare" videos and make them into a sticky. I bet Bill (Drgondog) has some great videos. He has a rich background embedded in fighter aviation. I'd be very surprised if FlyboyJ doesn't have some, too ... what with being on a race team in the jet class. Since this IS an aviation forum, I'd say we could probably put together a real humdinger of a video collection if we just did it.

    There are some good one already IN the video forum, maybe the Rare Bear climb record is there already and I just haven't found it. Could be.

    I've posted a few about the horsemen team and the planes of Fame, but they aren't collected anywhere. Probably a good thing to do so.
     
  8. grampi

    grampi Member

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    If I had the time I could go back through my posts and find the thread where a gentleman had chimed in and stated that he was at and had witnessed the record setting climb. He might know of someone who recorded it, or he may have even recorded it himself...
     
  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    It would be great to see a clip of this event, especially the takeoff and acceleration to best climb speed.
     
  10. grampi

    grampi Member

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    You know it! I looks and sounds cool enough in this video...I can imagine what it would be like watching it do a max climb...


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CQLpByAbns
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #11 GregP, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
    For those that don't know it, the oil cooler is a boil-off system (the slight mist coming out of the tail when it taxis in after a flight). The landing gear is a one-shot Nitrogen system. That is, he can raise and lower the gear once after liftoff. The wing fold hydraulic system is gone. The Bear takes anywhere from 30 second to a minute and a half after startup to settle down into a proper idle. It all depends on how long it sits between starts.

    Don't know if you noticed, but the R-3350 generally has to travel through 12 blades before you hit the ignition to assure no hydraulic lockl from oil in the bottom cylinders (pretty much the same for all big radials). If I counted right, Stewart Dawson (the pilot) went through exactly 12 blades and then fired up early in the video.

    The Bear is running ADI, has a Nitrous tank installed, filled, and ready, but Rod Lewis doesn't want to use Nitrous without his approval first over the radio. The cowling came from a Douglas DC-7 and the Spinner came from a Bristol Freighter!

    When I was last in the Bear Cave (their hangar at Reno) for the races in 2011, they had thrown a rock through the leading edge of the right-side horizontal stab during a heat race takeoff. I watch as they repaired it after the heat. A patch was fabricated, flush riveted into place, and the surface was sanded and repainted to match the rest of the mulitcolor paint scheme ... all in about 30 minutes. You could tell if you knew exactly where to look for it, but a casual glance would never have seen the patch.

    Impressive crew work ... and the paint guys was right there in the hangar all weekend had anything needed a touch-up. At that time, Dave Cornell was still crew chief. Stew Dawson said they hd reached 545 mph in a straight line and might think about a speed record attempt if Rod Lewis wanted to do it. So far, that hasn't materialized, but neither have Voodoo nor Strega tried it, either. It's all a matter of money.
     
  12. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Here's a pic of a takeoff for a race, not even a record attempt.

    Rare_Bear_Takeoff.jpg

    Makes me wonder what a real climb attempt would look like ...
     
  13. grampi

    grampi Member

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    I think it was the guy I referred to earlier (who was at the event) said something like; the look of the plane from the rear as it climbed was, if you can imagine, like being suspended horizontally in air over a highway and watching cars driving under you moving from you feet to your head, the climb was so steep...it has to be an awe inspiring sight to be sure...
     
  14. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    When the Bear (or Strega or Voodoo .... etc.) finshes an Unlimited Gold Final race and start to pull back power and cool off, they go from ground level to 5000 feet AGL in about the same time as the Blue Angels do ... in F-18 Hornets. Of course the Unlimiteds are going a bit faster typically and are decelerating as they climb. The intent is to cool the engines, not set a climb record.
     
  15. grampi

    grampi Member

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    Greg, keep us posted if/when you're able to find any such videos! Thanks!
     
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