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QuickTalk 15 - May/Jun 1984 - index

MAY/JUN 1984



by Jim Masal

The last couple of months have been unusually busy for this editor, an invitation and trip to Mojave to see QAC, taking over the whole ball of wax (or can or worms) that we call the QBA, and getting my Quickie damaged on the trailer enroute to the airport and now finding it still in my back yard!

OSHKOSH. As last year, we will hold a QBA forum after the Sunday afternoon air show and we will sponsor a wine and cheese get-together in the Reeve Student Union at the University (UWO), starting at 7 pm Tuesday eve. One is more formal, the other relaxed, and both are very informative. We'd love to meet all of you there. Bring your Quickies and/or pictures and tips.

MOJAVE. If the gods of aviation ever decided to put an airport near a town in which there would be absolutely nothing to distract a man from thinking about airplanes, Mojave, CA would be the place. I was invited to this desert paradise (?) by QAC to see the operation and better understand interactions between the company, its builders and its suppliers (and to spy and raise hell if I could...I couldn't). I arrived just after Gene Sheehan returned from Sun 'n Fun in Florida and spent quite a number of hours with him while he was winding down from the trip. During my stay, Gene, Scott Swing and I made side trips to Revmaster and Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co.

QAC is comprised of a small but adequate sized hangar with internal office space. Besides Sheehan, 6 full-time employees make the place go. Things seemed to be humming along quite smoothly while I was there. It was easy to see, though, why things seemed to "fall apart" awhile back when the Q-2 gold rush first got underway - the staff and facilities couldn't be enough for such an event. Operations seem to be better organized and under control now. Other problems plagued QAC early in the Q-2 program. To the giant fiberglass cloth weavers, QAC is a little fish and their supplier decided to stop producing the "small" quantity of cloth used to build our ships. QAC, Rutan and Aircraft Spruce and Specialty had to place a huge order together to have a supply at all.

At one point, QAC felt Onan wasn't fulfilling the specs of a quality control agreement and a lawsuit was filed. Then Onan stopped supplying QAC and another source had to be found. Back orders got bad and builders got mad.

On another front, QAC's relations with its dealers countrywide reached critical mass last summer causing at least one productive dealer to leave the fold. A long and serious letter written on behalf of all the dealers was sent to Sheehan - we builders are not the only ones with complaints. To his credit, Sheehan has addressed most, if not all, of the dealers' concerns. We should expect to see gradual improvement over the coming months.

Certain builders have created nightmares both for themselves and QAC. Lundgren told me that not infrequently a builder will move, leaving no forwarding address to QAC. Shipments get returned. While I was there, a builder refused a much in demand carbon spar order twice - he wouldn't pay shipping because his dealer delivered the rest of his kit for free. Here's an unhappy builder not of QAC's making (maybe we'll get a letter).

Speaking of letters, Sheehan told me another side to some of the complaints aired in QUICKTALK. Some guys complain to us BEFORE trying QAC first. Some have failed to write back when QAC finally made good or failed to mention that QAC had tried to satisfy them at all. That's not fair, boys. Sheehan readily admitted that some builders have been badly treated due to some screw up, but he wants a reasonable change to make good.

Regarding support, Sheehan feels he can most help a builder during test flight phase yet he is rarely called after the plane takes to the air. He says once a plane flies, the builder becomes an "instant expert" and doesn't call for help. During my visit (Wed. noon to Sat. noon) the builder hotline rang no more than 5-6 times per day and it seemed to be important to the staff that they drop what they're doing and answer it promptly.

QAC is sometimes a big fish to subassembly producers, e.g. local tin benders, welders, engine developers, etc. These folks are often great at custom orders in smaller quantities, and through they get excited about doing a big order from QAC, more often than not they'll promise the moon but deliver when and if they can. QAC has to keep searching for reliable suppliers.

What's new? In the QAC hangar was a builder's Q-2 being used to evaluate the effectiveness of a belly flap to change the deck angle during the landing approach. A new braking system permitting narrower wheel pants was also being developed and evaluated. You've no doubt already heard about the new head and manifold mods that Revmaster says will take the engine up to about 75 HP. Scott Swing tested this mod successfully on a long cross-country to Sun 'n Fun and back. By the way, Sheehan was bringing the Q-200 back through Dallas at a time when we were having a spell of nasty weather and he lost a smidgen of paint but the new canard performed according to specs.

I got a ride in both the Swing Q-2 and the QAC Q-200 - but only a ride, so I can't tell you much about performance. This much I say, sell your wife real hard on the speed, fellas, cause she won't much like getting in and out - it's clumsy. Visibility over the nose during taxi is like many taildraggers, fair to poor. I was somewhat disappointed that it didn't get a whole lot better during cruise. The side view is great. Seating was a bit snug, but then I'm a bit "broad of keel". I had the Q-200's stick for about 5 minutes or less and found it quick to respond to moderately deep turns. It probably rolls nicely. Control feel is far more responsive than production ships and is similar to a Quickie. Several of the popular flying magazines have done pilot reports on the Q-200 in the last three months, and it seemed to me that it would perform about as they have described. Sheehan did a high-speed pass down the runway at 200 indicated out of a shallow dive, but I'd like to have seen him hold onto that for about 5 more miles in level flight. The Q-2 handles just as well, except for the speed, and is just as noisy during taxi.

The QAC Quickie hasn't even been moved on the hangar floor in months. Sheehan says the tooling for the Q-200's carbon spar was designed to be adaptable to the Quickie canard. Dealer Lanny Rundell took on the task of building and testing the wing on his Quickie. The wing has been built for some time now, we understand, but has not yet been tested due to Rundell's priority interest in developing the Spitfire engine line. Incidentally, no active work is being done with the Citroen engine as far as I can tell. Despite the deliberate (and, we think, praiseworthy) lack of Quickie advertising promotion, we believe the program is not dead (see picture page), but is awaiting a more powerful engine. Sheehan still maintains an interest in the Quickie concept, but it is definitely on the back burner, as they say.

We once had a report that QAC had a four place version under construction. I saw a section of fuselage in the workshop meeting that description and later learned that it had been built by Dave Eliott before he left to work for Aero Gare. It's been collecting dust ever since, so don't rush off to work on a large family.

A great deal was made of QAC's so-called "China connection". As part of an exchange of technology involved somehow with McDonald Douglas, QAC has Q-2 airframes being built in China. Sheehan was supposed to make a trip to Canton in May to pick up the first couple of copies. He also told me that during a previous visit he was told of a former radial aircraft engine plant that was currently producing refrigerators. He believes the Chinese are interested in the possibilities of producing Revmaster engines, since the plant apparently still has all the production equipment necessary.

Unconfirmed rumor has it that something like 80 Chinese Q-2's will be produced initially.

AIRCRAFT SPRUCE & SPECIALTY CO. This L.A. area outfit is run by the youthful and energetic Jim Irwin. It's housed in a large and old former citrus processing plant, which serves its purpose very well. They have a large inventory of composite and other supplies and everyone appears very service minded. Last year about this time they bit the bullet and installed a good-sized computer system which, as often happens, immediately caused no end of problems. Irwin is pleased with it now and you should become progressively happier customers. See Irwin's letter for some nice new services to builders.

AERO GARE. I had an informative visit with Gary LeGare who built one of the first Quickies to fly. He also built THE first Q-2 and traded his experience for rights to all foreign sales of the Q-2. This unfortunately has resulted in some difficulty for our foreign builders. QAC is understandably reluctant to help these builders who rightfully belong to Aero Gare. Aero Gare can sell and support its kits any way it chooses and even include different components if it wants. This is not QAC's business nor can they do anything about shipping, back orders or complaints. Nevertheless, a builder having some problem with Aero Gare is likely to go to QAC (we'll try anything sometimes). This won't help. I got a good look at LeGare's new Sea Hawk and it is much more gorgeous in 3-D than in the advertisements. The kit is well thought out too. Aero Gare does its own fiberglass molding to avoid some earlier supply problems.

RUTAN AIRCRAFT FACTORY. I HAD to make a visit here since its practically a shrine for composite builders. And so it was. The offices are nicely furnished and organized, with a van full of awards to Rutan for his design genius decorating the walls. RAF has a nice "showroom" containing their current designs, which you can wander around to your heart's content. The working areas are well isolated to discourage snoopers. This facility appears to be about the size of QAC. Most of Rutan's interest is held in the large 2-story building next door - the think and do thank called Scaled Composites, Inc. The Beech Starship One test vehicle was being tinkered with here every day.

With QAC, Aero Gare and RAF all designing and marketing composite designs, you would expect an atmosphere of competition. What I didn't expect was the soap-opera shenanigans, backbiting and nose thumbing that goes on to discredit the competition. Maybe I just made it all up.

REVMASTER. I was impressed with Dick Joh, the general manager of Revmaster's new facility in Hesperia, CA. He is determined to get his inventory on hand to ship "out of a full box rather than out of an empty box" as he says. I saw a thousand carburetor bodies in racks so I think he means business and isn't it about time? Look for some good things from Revmaster. The cleanliness, organization and equipment in the plant work areas were impressive. A Detroit engine plant, it ain't, but it's not your greasy hot-rod hop up shop either. As stated earlier, the 74 HP heads are performing well. Revmaster is satisfied with the two-position prop and the Turbo as well. The biggest surprise I got was a new 100+ HP developmental engine called the CDI which had just finished 150 hrs of problem-free static testing. It was a good-looking engine. Next step in this program is 150 hrs. of flight testing (Swing was almost salivating over the prospect of using his airframe for the test). To date, it has not flown. Don't everybody get out your checkbooks at once. My gut feeling is that this engine won't be available before next year at this time IF the test program goes without a hitch.

You Quickie folks better not be expecting a Citroen engine soon either. With the new Revmaster facility, and development costs of the Turbo, the new heads and the CDI, Revmaster HAS to get down to the business of shipping income producing goods out the doors to pay the bills. Development of this foreign engine might easily cost more than $300 thousand and that ain't about to happen in the near future, in my opinion. Better re-read the Anderson/Little articles and use the Onan for another year or so.

There's lots more to tell. What I've always said is still true - Gene Sheehan is a warehouse of information, but you have to get him one on one because he doesn't think to print it in his newsletter. I thank Gene and everyone else who gave me an earful while I visited Mojave.



RENEWAL REMINDER: Those members whose issues expire with this issue should remit $4.00 ($5.00 Canada, $6.00 overseas) for membership renewal. This will see your QUICKTALK subscription through December 1984. You may submit your 1985 dues of $8 ($10 Canada, $12 overseas) at the same time if you wish. Thank you for helping us convert to our new schedule outlined in Issue #12.

Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Jim Masal
Q2 HINTS - by Jim Masal
QUICKIE HINTS - by Jim Masal
CLASSIFIEDS - by Jim Masal
FLIGHT TEST CONCLUSIONS on the Q-200 w/LS CANARD AIRFOIL - by Mike Huffman, Owasso, OK
WE'VE GOT PICTURES! - by Jim Masal


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