Randi Flys His Merlin Taildragger! And an update on Frank’s Merlin Build

Great idea for installing the wings without a helper.

Randi has the only Merlin taildragger in USA and recently finished and flew it. I will ask him for his impressions.

Here are some of his build comments:

Have ~0.7 on engine in taxi tests, am very happy with engine all the temps look good. have prop adjusted (30 degrees, started 20, then 25) static RPM is just below redline as is highspeed tail high taxi. Laser checked engine RPM and it agrees with EMS (less gear reduction).

Changed out tailwheel to a pneumatic scooter wheel, like it much better doesn’t sound like I am dragging a bunch of cans behind me anymore. Confirmed all the weight and balance calculations, leveled the plane and laser plumb-bobbed all the datum points, tailwheel dimension changed a tiny bit due to the replacement  fiberglass spring but everything else agreed.

Mowed the grass runway, Merlin likes grass much better than asphalt, is a tad squirrel like with highspeed (40mph) taxi but then it wanted to fly and any tail wheel is a handful high speed taxi part of it is me getting accustomed to that brake system. I am wearing dive booties so I can feel the rudder pedals  May end up with a extension to the brake pedals off to one side so you slide up and on it like a heel brake, will see. Had a week full of virtual meetings, an annual convention but it wrapped up today so can play. I am guessing it will fly Friday morning weather permitting, for sure over the weekend.


Note: Randi got to play early and flew on Thursday.


News from Frank in St. Paul, MN

Here I am spraying SPI grey epoxy primer for my interior finish. This stuff is amazing, it sticks like crazy to bare aluminum and is very tough and scratch resistant. Plus, it has a mild sheen to it that doesn’t show scuff marks.

I had hoped to get everything painted before it got too cold to paint, but I didn’t make it. My paint requires a minimum of 65 degrees overnight for the paint to cure properly – I won’t see that kind of temperature in my unheated garage until next June. The plane is ready for painting, but that’s not going to happen until next spring. I’ll continue to do what I can on the plane in the garage until it gets too cold to work out there.

Here is the lower cowl primed. I made a recessed mount for my landing light. I also straightened out the lower lip of  the radiator opening and got rid of the sagging corners.

Engine cowl primed with SPI epoxy primer and mounted. I spent a lot of time working on the cowl. It took a bit of work to get the two cowl parts to fit well together and have a smooth uniform gap without any bulges. I didn’t like how the two carb clearance bumps on the cowl top were shaped, so I made them into more of a proper teardrop shape. I spent the most time on the louvers getting them formed into a uniform shape and size and sitting on a level surface. Some of the louvers were paper thin and I made them thicker in order to prevent future crushing issues.

Congratulations on the Merlin Lite video by Dan Johnson. I think you are going to sell a lot of these.




If you ever have any potential Merlin customers in my part of the country I would be happy to make my plane available for inspection.