Turboprop Widgeon?

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Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby Rajay » Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:31 am

I recently saw an excerpt from a book on Google. It was "A Field Guide to Airplanes of North America" by M. R. Montgomery and Gerald L. Foster. The pages I saw pertained to the Grumman G-21 Goose, G-44 Widgeon, and started to get into the G-73 Mallard, but those "entries" were so full of errors and mistakes, I just had to draft a comment to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Among other things, it talked about details like how all Gooses had their engines canted outward from the aircraft centerline. I'm pretty sure that all piston Gooses had their engines mounted parallel to the longitudinal axis of the airplane and only the McKinnon turbine Gooses had their engines canted up and outboard. The whole thing seemed to be trying to copy a bird watching guide and had obtuse comments like "Identifying the Goose is dependent on recognizing its Grumman origins and its old-fashioned boatlike lines" and in regard to the Widgeon, it said it has a "sculpted Grumman-type fuselage." Just what exactly is that supposed to mean?

The real kickers for me though were the illustrations (just line drawings) of a McKinnon turbine Goose (i.e. G-21) that was labeled "Turboprop G44 Conversion" and a "McKinnon" Super Widgeon (really still officially just a "Grumman") complete with retract floats that was labeled as “McKinnon T-prop Conversion.” It also went on to say that “many [Widgeons] have been converted to turboprops….”

Now, I can’t think of a single example of a Grumman Widgeon that has had turboprop (i.e. turbine) engines installed. The so-called “McKinnon” Super Widgeons were powered by piston engines and their Lycoming GO-480 engines didn’t even have turbochargers. Only the relatively recent “Magnum” conversions have been turbocharged, using as they do Navajo Chieftain (350 hp Lycoming TIO-540-J2BD series) engines.

BUT, when I did another Google search for “Grumman G-44 Widgeon” and “turboprop” I got a hit right here from Bryan’s Seawings Web site. On his page listing various different model kits, there was one for a “Classic Plane” kit for a “Grumman G-44 Widgeon – Turboprop.” I asked Bryan about it and he almost made it sound like the Holy Grail of legendary but unconfirmed model kits. Of course, that was one of only three or so hits and the others were equally questionable, referring to things like Flight Simulator models instead of actual aircraft.

So, does anyone else out there know anything at all about either an actual Grumman G-44 Widgeon with turboprop engines or that “Classic Planes” model kit?
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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby MrWidgeon » Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:20 am

I have that little book too and it contains more than a few errors.
To the best of my knowledge there has never been a Turbine powered Widgeon.
It has been discussed by a few conversion houses and a couple owners with very deep pockets have been willing to try it, but it has never been done.
The economics of a turbine make the possibilities of such an animal coming to fruition highly unlikely.
There's simply not enough space in the airplane to hold enough fuel to make it worthwhile.
Maybe someday someone will try it, but I don't know why.
As an old mechanic I knew once told me "You can only make a barn door fly just so fast".
There are other reasons why I don't think it will ever happen.
As you well know a turbine really only comes into it's own at altitude, with no pressurization and a big fat thick wing the Widgeon is anything but a high altitude airplane.
There are more reasons, but why go on ?

As for the kit listings, if Classic Planes the kit I'm thinking of, it's a McKinnon conversion set for the ancient Airfix kit and can only be used for a G-44 model and not a G-44A model airplane.
One that I see ISN'T on there is the Classic Airframes kit or it's AZ Models twin (same plastic & resin, different companies and box art).
Also missing is the Khee-Kha Art Products McKinnon Super Widgeon conversion (HIGHLY recommended).

Bill
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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby N63350JR » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:36 am

Bill,

The 1/48 kit looks like a good builder, though I haven't gotten my hands on one... YET!

As for the 1/72 McKinnon conversion, I have a small stockpile of them from Classic Plane that I've picked up over the last couple years.
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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby MrWidgeon » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:00 am

The Classic Airframes/AZ kit (same plastic, different box) isn't as easy a Tamagawagram kit though if you've got a couple limited run plastic kits and some experience with resin aftermarket under your belt you shouldn't have too much trouble with it.
Most of the mating surfaces will need some form of dressing or sanding and there are some ejection pin towers that will need to be removed.
The main floor is too wide and needs to be narrowed up in order to fit properly, same with the aft cabin bulkhead.
Before you do that install the resin main gear wells first and be sure to align them properly, you'll need to open a small area on the bottom of the hull below the wells for the lower drag link to clear the chine, just like the real airplane.
Getting the inst. panel to sit correctly in the right place is a big PITA and you'll have to make the throttle levers, there aren't any in the kit.
The kit props are ....... not very nice and should be replaced or reworked to make them more accurate.
All the tail surfaces are butt joints and the joints will be greatly improved with some brass or steel pins.

The going price (in the U.S.) for the C.A./AZ kit is in the $50.00+ range, but you might get lucky and find an AZ kit for less on eBay.
The C.A. kits are considered collector items now since C.A. went into hibernation and it's very doubtful that they'll ever be released under that label again.
If you find one of either let me know and I'll see what I can do to help.

Cheers,
Bill
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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby Rajay » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:20 pm

I talked to a couple of guys just last week who swore to me that they know someone (a "friend") in New Jersey who supposedly owns a "turbine" Widgeon.

Of course, the general consensus here seems to have been that there is no such thing as a "turbine" or turboprop Widgeon and never has been. Also, there are no Grumman G-44 series Widgeons even registered in the state of NJ - although there are several that are registered in Delaware to what are most likely tax-shelter corporations which could be actually located just about anywhere.

I "politely" tried to suggest that maybe they were mistaking a Magnum TIO-540 powered (i.e. "turbocharged") conversion for a turbine / turboprop conversion, but they were adamant that it is a turbine.

The only reasons that I even brought it up here and did not completely discount their assertions as being not only highly improbable but potentially even completely ludicrous is that the two guys in question are both experienced pilots - and they have a lot of money. Generally speaking, you don't want to go around telling such people that they don't know what they are talking about, but I was impressed by their actual "experience" in aviation; when I said a "lot of money" that translates to (among other things) a Lear 60, a Challenger 604, and a T-28 Trojan!
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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby MrWidgeon » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:29 pm

Not to say it's impossible or can't be done, of course it can, but the question is WHY ?
Like I've said before, where are you going to put enough fuel into it to make a turbine conversion useful ?
You're not going to get very far with a turbine on the 204 gallons that I've heard of being crammed into a Widgeon (104 in the mains, 25 in each outer wing tank and 25 in each upper nacelle).
That's the most I've heard of being on board one and that's in a Magnum conversion that has the power reserves to take on the extra load.
I'm not going to call your compatriots liars either, but either they're misinformed or (as we say out west) talking through their hats.
Oooooor just maybe someone like Dennis Burke (who funded the original Magnum conversion) with more money than good sense actually DID hang a pair of small turboprops on one, but I'll bet if he did they won't stay on there for long.
It might be a real "Gotcha" to say DIG ME, but the reality of not being able to go much farther than over the horizon before starting to look for a Jet A pump would quickly wear the "Gotcha" thin.
I can think of other problems that make the whole idea silly like engine location, fixed CG, weight & balance, water ingestion and prop erosion just for starters.
The Magnum conversion really has more grunt than a Widgeon needs, the biggest assets being a more modern engine and better single engine performance, the higher cruise speed is great IF you want to get up to the altitudes where those turbochargers come into their own and you have put on a nose bag (Oxy. mask).
Don't get me wrong, I think the Magnum conversion is a wonderful thing and worth the (considerable) expense if you need what it can offer, but turbines ..... Naaaaah.

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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby Rajay » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:43 pm

I could see more interest (i.e. market) for a non-turbo 290-300 hp Lycoming IO-540 conversion using the same cowling and nacelle as the Magnum conversion. Cheaper and lighter than the turbo with a lower fuel burn too but still a "more modern" engine with current parts and service support - if only the same could be said for the airframe itself!
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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby MrWidgeon » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:40 pm

That is the reason why the Magnum came into being, the geared Lycomings like the GO-435 and GO-480 are no longer supported by Lycoming and parts are getting harder to find and more expensive.
Yet shelling out the very large pile of dollars needed for a Magnum conversion have limited their numbers to just 6 conversions that I'm aware of.
A lower cost more modern engine is badly needed and the IO-540 would be a pretty good candidate.

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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby SeaplaneWorks » Thu May 16, 2013 6:33 am

MrWidgeon wrote:That is the reason why the Magnum came into being, the geared Lycomings like the GO-435 and GO-480 are no longer supported by Lycoming and parts are getting harder to find and more expensive.
Yet shelling out the very large pile of dollars needed for a Magnum conversion have limited their numbers to just 6 conversions that I'm aware of.
A lower cost more modern engine is badly needed and the IO-540 would be a pretty good candidate.

Bill


Turbine powered Widgeon......... Yehhhh, I really don't think either that one will or has ever been done. Even if you do get past the cost of doing the conversion, the fuel consumption will just make the airplane a poor choice. Besides, even the Magnum Conversion is limited to 300HP (engines are capable of 350HP) and I would highly doubt that the FAA would allow anything higher, even though the airframe can handle it. As for the IO-540's, that does sound like a better solution and I did think about trying to leverage the Magnum Conversion to make this a reality. However, the certification costs are just way too high and possible installations too small to really make sense.

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Re: Turboprop Widgeon?

Postby mdwflyer » Sat May 18, 2013 4:15 pm

Fuel consumption would not be significantly higher for similar hp, specific fuel consumption for the allison and PT-6 are fairly close to the lyc or cont.

The conversion would obviously be expensive, but if money wasn't an object truing 200kts for a couple hours...
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