Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Alternative uses for VW Beetle engines

The aircooled 4-cylinder horizontally opposed cylinder or "flat four" Beetle engines have been used for other purposes as well. Especially interesting is its use as an experimental aircraft engine. This type of Beetle engine deployment started in the sixties. A number of companies still produce aero engines that are VW Beetle engine derivatives: Limbach, Hapi, Revmaster and others. Kitplanes or plans built experimental aircraft were specifically designed to utilise these engines.

Up until 2001, Beetle engines were also used to run several of the ski lifts at the Thredbo ski resort in NSW, Australia, and were maintained to a high standard by expert VW mechanics.

Also in Australia, in remote opal-mining communities VW motors were modified to air compressors for jack hammers etc. They used 2 cylinders on one side as a motor and modified the head on the other side to produce a flow of compressed air. The opal fields are very dry and hot, so an air-cooled compressor has an advantage over liquid cooled.

The Amazonas, a Brazilian-built motorcycle manufactured from 1978 to 1990, used a modified 1600 cc Beetle engine and gearbox. With a dry weight that could top 800 pounds, the Amazonas was billed as the world's biggest (heaviest) production motorcycle. The VW transmission's reverse gear, rare in a two-wheeled vehicle, was a useful feature in such a heavy motorcycle.

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