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  #1  
Old 03-22-2020, 04:28 PM
JordanGrant's Avatar
JordanGrant JordanGrant is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Virginia
Posts: 324
Smile PC680-powered RV-6 dragger/tug

Hello RVers. For years, I've wanted to build an electric RV-6 tug to drag our airplane up the gentle slope into the hangar. I've thought that maybe a retired Odyssey PC680 battery could have enough juice to do the job for an airplane the size of an RV-6, but I wasn't sure. Well, I'm happy to report that it can be done! See below for my version of the battery powered RV tug.



I used this project as my excuse to finally go buy a MIG welder. It's built from welded mild steel: 1" square tubing, 1x1" angle, 1/4" plate, and 16ga sheet for the battery tray. The motors are electric power chair motors sourced from Ebay. The other key bits are a reversible motor controller (basically 2 relays), an ammeter/power display, on/off switch, and DPDT momentary rocker switch for forward/back control.

To make a secure connection between the tug and the airplane, I put a longer axle bolt through the tailwheel with a couple of 1/2" OD bushings on the outside of the tailwheeel mount. You can see in the picture how the slots in the tug connect up to the tailwheel on the bushings. It has been quite secure with this method so far.



For anyone building something like this in the future, one key thing I had to do was robust up the electrics to handle the amperage required to pull the airplane this way. The installed ammeter reads a bit over 70A being pulled by the motors (at the worst point), and my wiring/fuse is designed to carry up to 80A. So plan on designing for at least that level of current.

Just like the airplane, this project is a work in progress. I consider this about Version 4 of the prototype, but the first one that really works well enough that I can share it! I have a few more improvements in mind if I get some time to work on it further.

On this version, so far the limiting factor is mostly just the traction on the wheels. My 7-yr-old son can pull the airplane up the grade into the hangar with it, although he has barely enough weight to push the handle down and make sure the wheels don't slip. I have a great video that I'll try to post later.

Cheers!
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  #2  
Old 03-22-2020, 04:43 PM
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Mark Dickens Mark Dickens is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Collierville, TN (KFYE)
Posts: 1,475
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Very nice...I've been agonizing over whether to get a MIG welder too...these kind of projects make me want to order one now. Did you teach yourself how to weld or take a class. The welds look nice from the photos
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  #3  
Old 03-22-2020, 04:45 PM
RV7ForMe RV7ForMe is offline
 
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Hey, That looks superb!
I have been looking into this as well. Can you share what type / Model Motors you are using? how do you control motor speed?
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  #4  
Old 03-22-2020, 05:01 PM
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JordanGrant JordanGrant is offline
 
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The welds are NOT nice, but low res pics, a grinder and paint cover all manner of sins. They are functional, though. I'm self and YouTube-taught, only. I wish I had a chance to do a class!
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  #5  
Old 03-22-2020, 05:21 PM
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JordanGrant JordanGrant is offline
 
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I used "Jazzy Power Chair" geared electric motors. This is the link to the Ebay ad for them: https://www.ebay.com/itm/223399560043

They are available all over Ebay and prices vary, but I got these (with wheels) for $100. They are nominally 24V motors, but obviously I'm driving them at 12V. That results in a moderate speed without any regulation. For simplicity and cost savings sake, I elected not to do any speed control, and it works out since I'm using 12V. They move at a brisk walk with no load, and then they go pretty slowly when they are under load pulling the plane. Still, it would be nice to have speed control, so that's one of the things I'd like to improve on.
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  #6  
Old 03-22-2020, 08:14 PM
Rallylancer122 Rallylancer122 is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Oconto, WI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Dickens View Post
Very nice...I've been agonizing over whether to get a MIG welder too...these kind of projects make me want to order one now. Did you teach yourself how to weld or take a class. The welds look nice from the photos
Don't agonize, just get one. And spend a little more to get a decent one. The cheap flux core models are will stick something together, but if you really want to weld something you'll want one with a CO2 bottle and some moderate amperage.

I have a Mig and a Tig, and unless I'm welding an actual airplane part I use the Mig. Great for making fixtures and tools, projects like this tug, or general household repairs. At first I only had a Tig and while theoretically it will do everything a Mig will it's a little slow and cumbersome. I was amazed how much I used the Mig once I bought it.

It's pretty easy to learn. Spend the money for a good helmet as seeing what you are doing is imperative.

DEM
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  #7  
Old 03-23-2020, 07:31 PM
Geeman Geeman is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Houston TX KDWH
Posts: 389
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Looks like a good project for the virus lockdown. Great idea.
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  #8  
Old 03-23-2020, 08:58 PM
Scott Hersha Scott Hersha is offline
 
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Sure wish I had a set of plans for this.
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  #9  
Old 03-24-2020, 03:36 AM
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Bob Martin Bob Martin is offline
 
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hersha View Post
Sure wish I had a set of plans for this.
Plus 1....with part #'s.etc. Because I am getting older and PULL my TD and surely have several "extra" PC680's like most users.
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Last edited by Bob Martin : 03-24-2020 at 03:38 AM.
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  #10  
Old 03-24-2020, 07:54 AM
Tom Martin Tom Martin is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
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This really hits me at the right time. I am recovering from a leg injury and have been wondering how to move the rocket around. I have quite a few ?old? Odessey batteries around the farm still doing useful jobs and this looks like a great project!
Thank you for posting this idea
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