When it comes to breaking in engines, there are two types of people. Those that install an engine in an airplane and go fly, and those that choose to do a break-in procedure. Personally, I like to break in an engine before putting it in the air. Until recently, I still had to install the engine in a plane, and tie the tail to an immovable object. But, with this latest review project, that all changed! My good friend, Don Stegall, runs an online hobby shop by the name of StegallHobbies.com. Don is big into pylon racing, in both Club 40 and Warbird 80 racing classes. As such, Don likes to test out engine, pipe, and propeller combinations. Yes, this can be done with an engine mounted in an airplane, but it’s much, much easier when using a test stand. StegallHobbies.com offers a variety of test stands that cover engines from small .40 sized glow to 150cc gasoline! This review will focus on the largest of them, the Heavy Duty, Long Engine Test Stand. It’s big and heavy, and it’s built to withstand the power of high horsepower engines! Have I got your attention? If so, read on!
Product Name: Heavy Duty Tripod Test Stand
Where to Purchase: www.stegallhobbies.com/TripodTestStand
Price: $200.00 Plus Shipping ($50-70 Due to Size and Weight of Stand)
Dimensions of Beam: 6″ x 6″ x 32″
Leg Length: 38″
Leg Diameter: 1-1/4″
Weight of Beam (Stained, Sealed, and Hardware Installed): 17 lbs
Weight of three legs (rubber feet installed) and tie down stake: 15.5 lbs
Total weight: 32.5 lbs
Assembled Dimensions: 48″ Wide x 60″ Long (not including the tie down stake and rope)
The test stand arrived on my front porch just a few days after it was shipped, and it was a HEAVY box – 52 pounds to be exact! My box was heavier than most, because I had a second set of legs included for a different project. The contents really didn’t require any padding, but there was foam added to keep the parts from shifting during transport.
There’s a lot of quality part included with the stand! The 6″ x 6″ beam is treated lumber – it can be left as is, or you can apply a stain and sealer if you choose. The robust pipe flanges and 38″ galvanized steel legs are 1-1/4″ in diameter, and appear to be more than strong enough to support the load of this stand!
I started by pressing the rubber caps onto the legs. The caps fit snug, without being too tight. The 6″ x 6″ beam had nicely rounded edges out of the box, but was too rough for stain and sealant. I used my random orbit palm sander and a couple of 220 grit sanding disks to mkae it as smooth as possible. Because it’s made of treated wood, I used my RZ Masks Spitfire Dust Respirator to keep the dust out of my mouth, throat , and lungs. A pair of 1/2″ square dowels I had in my scrap wood box were just perfect for raising the beam off the cardboard.
Because of the green tint to the treated wood, I chose a dark stain – this Jacobean by Minwax looked to be a good color to hide most of the green color in the wood. It may seem like a trivial comment, but I like to wear gloves when working with stain – perhaps it’s because I use a rag to apply the stain rather than a brush. The wood was fairly dry, and it took the stain nicely!
Here is the beam after the stain had dried completely. Per the instructions on the can, the stain has to dry for a minimum of 8 hours before applying a sealant. I let mine dry for close to 24, because, well, I have a day job beside writing… The first coat of oil based, fast-drying Polyurethane went on in two parts. I first coated the bottom and sides, and then let that dry for the recommended 3 to 4 hours. When it was no longer tacky feeling, I turned the beam over and coated the top side. The first coat was allowed to dry for 24 hours before moving on.
When the first coat had dried completely, I lightly sanded the entire beam with 320 grit sandpaper. The sanding dust was removed from the beam, and the second coat of polyurethane was applied in two parts, like I did for the first coat. I then closed up shop and left the polyurethane to dry for a full two days before moving on to the next step.
I decided to fill the cracks in the top of the beam. It’s not necessary for strength, as the beam is plenty strong – I did it merely to seal the cracks against any oil and gasoline residue that might get in while using the stand. Blue, low tack masking tape was applied to the top of the beam, leaving only the cracks open. This was done to keep the epoxy off the polyurethane finish. Regular 15-minute epoxy was thinned slightly with alcohol so that it would pour nicely into the cracks, and a plastic card (as in a hotel key card) was used to spread the epoxy evenly over the cracks. Just as the epoxy was starting to cure, I removed the masking tape. The freshly filled cracks looked pretty good!
To keep the finish from getting damaged, I installed the eight black rubber pads – four on the bottom of the beam, and two on each end. After showing Don my installation, he said that putting three pads on the V-notched end is a good way to make a solid base for standing the beam on end for storage.As there were a total of eight pads, I used all of them!
With the pads attached, I moved on to locating, marking, and drilling the holes for the 1-1/4″ galvanized pipe flanges. The holes were drilled to accept the #14 x 2-1/2″ wood screws included with the stand.
Though I probably didn’t need to, I ran a screw into each of the four holes and then removed it. A few drops of thin CA was used to harden the freshly made threads in the wood. I figured that if it was good to do in the light ply used in our model aircraft, it was probably a good idea to do it for an engine test stand as well! When the CA had cured, the four wood screws were driven into the wood using an impact driver – a cordless drill would also work, and so would a screw driver, the latter taking the most time…
The other front leg pipe flange was installed in the same manner, but done so the wood screws would not come into contact with the other screws embedded deep in the beam. The flange was rotated 45° to allow clearance for the screws. On the other end of the beam, the remaining pipe flange was installed just like the first two – the beam was now ready for its legs!
The threaded top portion of the 1-1/4″ legs were screwed into each of the three pipe flanges, and the stand was ready to have a suitable engine mount attached. Also included is a section of rope and a steel anchoring stake – these are used to keep the stand from moving forward while an engine is running on the stand.
An engine mount is not included with the stand – because there are so many different types of engines that can be run and almost as many ways to mount these engines, that part is up to the end user (AKA, you, the customer). I chose to make my own engine mount based on a design that I had previously used. It was a mount that could be attached to a sturdy wooden structure such as a picnic table (Don’t let your wife see this…) or a work bench. What you will see below is my own design and is not included with the test stand.
This engine mount was designed to not only look pretty good, but be sturdy as well. It was made from a 1″ x 6″ x 4′ piece of poplar, which was available at my local home improvement store. I chose to use poplar because it has a slightly green tint that I had hoped would take stain and look much like the green treated engine test stand. The aluminum straps were cut from a piece of 1/8″ x 2″ x 3′ piece of aluminum, which was also available at my local home improvement store. I marked out the shape of the straps, cut the angles on my band saw, and then smoothed the edges on my belt sander. Be careful, though, as the aluminum heats up quickly on the saw and the sander! The two wood pieces measured 18″ and 8″ in length, and were screwed together using three of the #14 x 2-1/2″ screws left over from the engine test stand assembly. I used a counter sink bit to allow the wood screws to fit flush against the outside face of the wood.
For this review, I set up the mount for a new engine I needed to run. The engine was the new RCGF 60cc rear exhaust gasoline engine/ the engine and all of the items required to run it fit nicely on the mount I had designed. I drew three horizontal ‘centering’ lines on the face of the mount, so that I could reuse the mount for other engine applications without risk of misalignment of mounting holes. Once I had all of the components attached to the mount, everything was removed and the mount was disassembled for final sanding, stain and sealing.
This is how the mount looked after staining and two coats of polyurethane. I used the same stain, and it came out pretty close to the same color as the test stand. The mount was attached to the top of the test stand using six of the #14 x 2-12″ wood screws included with the stand, and were countersunk into the wood. With the mount firmly attached to the stand, the complete assembly was brought outside and the legs were attached – I was ready to fire up the RCGF 60cc engine for break-in!
(With Engine and Mount Attached)
The test stand was now set up in my front yard, and the moment of reckoning was upon me – would the stand work? I was sure that it would, but what about my engine mount? Also, would the two work together as good as they looked together?
I filled the fuel tank, and closed the choke. Because this was a brand new engine, it took more than a few flips to get fuel up to the carburetor. After a couple of minutes of turning the engine over by hand, I saw no fuel moving in the fuel line. At this point, I grabbed my fuel can and shot a small amount of mixed gas into the carburetor and closed the choke. About four more flips and the engine fired briefly. The fuel had started drawing up in the line slowly, so I repeated the process. After doing this three times, the engine coughed and sputtered a bit, but kept running.
Standing safely clear of the propeller, I was able to adjust the idle screw (which I left in for testing) to keep the engine running at 2,500 RPM. Because the engine was completely out in the open, and safely restrained at waist height, this couldn’t have been easier unless I had someone doing it for me!
Unfortunately, I was relying on my memory to help me, and I had mistaken the 30cc needle settings for the 60cc engine. So as I messed with the needles for a half hour, the engine idled patiently, with a few ‘burps’ or power when I tried to open the throttle. The StegallHobbies.com Engine Test Stand, and my engine mount both performed very well. At one point during this evening run, it started lightly raining – not enough to chase me inside, but it was enough precipitation to make me glad I had spent the time staining and sealing all of the wood!
Take a look at my video, where I’ll go over the stand and you can see it in action! I cut out some of the boring middle, where I was trying to adjust the carburetor, but you can see just how well the stand performed, and how easy it was to use!
From the very first gas engine I received as a review product, I have followed the manufacturer’s recommended break in procedure. This engine test stand is going to make this process not only a whole lot easier, but many times safer as well! It’s a big heavy stand, but it has an important job to do – there are many different sized available, with this heavy duty stand being the largest and most expensive. But, even at $250 – $270 for the heavy duty stand with delivery, it’s still a lot cheaper than a trip to the Emergency Room because the tail broke on your airplane and it jumped forward at you catching your hand or leg in the propeller arc. Any spinning propeller, even a ducted fan setup can cause damage – I know from personal experience! This stand is, in my mind, is definitely worth the money – and if you get one, you’ll most likely agree! That’s all for now – take care, and I’ll see you out at the field! -GB
Stegall Hobbies: stegallhobbies.com
Stegall Hobbies Amazon Store: stegallhobbies.store