View Full Version : March '09 KOTM - Joe Meyeres

03-03-2009, 04:34 PM

Joe Meyeres (Joe Meyeres (http://www.teamkitfox.com/Forums/member.php?u=400)), Olathe KS
Kitfox Model IV
Rotec R2800 Radial

This project started because my son discovered airplanes in 1998 working as a lineman at a local FBO! How cool that was!!! (I have been in the aviation industry since 1971 as a maintenance technician and pilot so I knew how cool they were.) He thought he wanted to fly for a living, so I convinced my wife that building a kit would give him a good basis on the mechanical aspects and when we were done we would have a solid airframe without hidden corrosion or the other evils of time... she bought it hook, line and sinker! (Surprised me!)

I found this airplane in kit form in Iowa. The fellow I bought it from just did not have the time to devote to the project so he just covered the fuselage with a bed sheet and it sat idle for 4 years collecting dust. His brother in law (who built a Model 3) told me about it so I went to pay him a visit. It was just as I would have ordered it... powder coated, quick build wing kit, full sized panel, two 13 gallon wing tanks... perfect! I wanted it pretty badly, but a reality bite hit home...I had 3 kids in college at the time. After a full year went by I called to see if he still had it. He did, I still wanted it so I shot him a price and we both came away compromising but both of us were happy!

I brought it home in December of 2000 and started on it in the garage. While there, I worked on finalizing the wings and building up the fuselage, gear, panel, etc. until I needed to mount the wings and get them to fold properly. Then it went to a t-hangar about the time 9/11 happened. I wasn't sure if anyone would fly general aviation again. It was sureal to be at a busy airport but not a single engine was running in the backround and not one contrail in the sky for the longest time. But eventually things started to move again. A buddy of mine in Nebraska was needing a project and he offered to help me do all the covering. I had limited experience on fabric so I trailored it to his place and we covered it and got it thru silver there.

It wasn't until after it was covered that I seriously started to search for a suitable powerplant. A friend found the Rotec website and was all excited about the radial engine. When I first saw pictures of it, there was nothing to do any size comparison with, so I unconsiously discounted it as a player.... that is until I saw pictures Brian Hennemans blue and white SuperFox! I knew then that the search was over. I wanted the old time look from the round engine to the flat finish on the paint. When I saw John Kings Model IV I fell in love with the simple clean lines it showed. This airplane just begged for a similar design and the result is what you see today.

This is a Kitfox Classic Model IV sporting a Rotec Radial R2800, 110 HP engine and swinging a 70" Sterba wooden climb pitched prop. There are numerous modifications which include all the Speedster mods except clipping the wing and installing wheel pants. I elected to go with larger tires, electric trim and some minor changes including a removeable pitot/static tube, a large one piece rear window, landing/taxi lights with a pulse light option, strobes and nav lights. The upholstery is standard Kitfox material.

The airworthiness was signed off in August 2008 and I am working on the 40 hour flyoff. The airplane is located at K-34, the Gardner Kansas Municipal Airport just outside the Kansas City Metro area. K-34 has one of the nicest grass runways in the midwest.

Since I work on aircraft for a living, this project woudl set idle, sometimes for months. There are times when you just need a break! My son went off to college and I could not pass building on the project! He eventually wound up with a degree in Aviation Science, has his A & P tickets, Private License and Tailwheel endorsement. He no longer has aspirations to fly for a living and went on to get a degree in Art and is working on his Masters Degree.

I have to say the builders manual could have been more user friendly, but this is a basic airplane that anyone with some time and even limited skills can produce. I would not hesitate to do it again but I don't know if I would actually do anything differently. I am happy with the way it turned out and am still doing little things here and there.

Now that it is done, I plan on doing lots of fly ins. That beautiful engine is a magnet and I have met alot of people because of it. The folks at Rotec have been very helpful and responsive to any questions or needs. If you get the chance please visit them at www.rotecradialengines.com (http://www.rotecradialengines.com/) and see all the different aircraft their engines are on or planned to go on. Thanks to Kitfox for producing a wonderful little airplane kit and to my wife and family for putting up with me while I burned some midnight oil getting this done.

Straight and level full power... 127 MPH
75% cruise power 105 to 110 MPH
65% cruise power 90 to 95 MPH
Slow flies all day long at 40 MPH, Stalls straight ahead at 35 MPH

Below are a couple of the interior and panel. It has changed somewhat on the panel... still no radios, but all the instrument markings are now in place. Plans are for a Micro Air Com and Micro Air Transponder, then a Honeywell AV8OR GPS. The interior fabric is standard Kitfox fare.





03-03-2009, 08:05 PM
Wow Joe, that's one stunning bird -- you must be the talk of the ramp wherever you land. Your cowl install look especially tidy, very nice workmanship!

Thanks for taking the time to write it up for us, I know there are a lot of folks who will appreciate the story and pics.

Joe Meyeres
03-03-2009, 08:40 PM
Thank you Randy! Wish I could say I did every bit of it myself, but I had lots of help with fabric work, paint and especially the cowl fittment. Without the help of friends... who sometimes had to make me focus a little harder... it would not have turned out as you see it today. :)

Thanks for your time at the TeamKitfox site for all your help in providing a venue for all of us Kitfox builders.

03-03-2009, 10:54 PM
that's one hansom looking and classic sounding Kitfox. As much as I love my 912S Rotax for reliability and performance I gotta say the Rotec takes the beauty contest hands down. Looks like future Kitfox builders will have another viable engine choice to ponder over. Thanks to you Joe and a couple other builders for plowing new ground with this installation. We'll all be rooting for you guys to have hundreds of fun trouble free hours of flying. Please keep us posted. Nice job!:)

Joe Meyeres
03-04-2009, 04:41 AM
that's one hansom looking and classic sounding Kitfox. As much as I love my 912S Rotax for reliability and performance I gotta say the Rotec takes the beauty contest hands down. Looks like future Kitfox builders will have another viable engine choice to ponder over. Thanks to you Joe and a couple other builders for plowing new ground with this installation. We'll all be rooting for you guys to have hundreds of fun trouble free hours of flying. Please keep us posted. Nice job!:)

Hey Steve,
Thanks for the nice words, but I keep thinking how this would look as a bi-plane with the round motor! :rolleyes: Now that would be really cool and unique! The guys at Rotec have been absolutely great to work with. Any issues I had, they were right on it. Can't say enough good things about their service.

03-04-2009, 06:57 PM
Hey Joe,
Nice work on your project. I am building a SuperSport with a Rotec 2800 and am working on the cowling. Is yours a metal cowling? I am building a fiberglass cowling and wonder if you have some advice and recommendations.
See my progress photo attached.

Joe Meyeres
03-04-2009, 08:15 PM
Hi Don,
I've been seeing some of your photo's! Nice job on the SS. ;) On my cowling, I was able to use my fiberglass boot cowl only. The Model 4 boot cowl has 4 flat areas that provide the attachment for the ring cowl. Obviously the ring cowl is too small to use with this installation, so what I did was cut the flats out of the boot cowl and fiberglassed plugs in thier place. Then I filled and sanded, matching the contour of the existing cowl which is now my rolled leading edge. For a finishing touch I used a NAPA door edge gaurd (made of nothing but plastic) and glued it on the leading edge of the cowl to take up the gap between the collector ring and cowling. 1/4" gap is plenty to keep the plastic guard from melting.
It took some patience, and I should have done a nicer job making the gap more even and consistant. But be patient and take a little off at a time, check for fit, take a little more off if needed then check for fit. If you can use your boot cowl it should save hours of time versus laying one up from scratch.
Also, there are some folks around here after me to put on a speed ring. It would add to that old time look and not that it is out of the question, but it is a very low priority for me. The speed ring will get you a few more Kts and make the engine run cooler, but... the way it is, this engine runs pretty cool now. I didn't build this for speed, nor do I want to cover up all that beautiful machine work! So a speed ring is pretty much a mute point for me, however if you are interested I can put you in touch with a guy here that can turn one out for you rather quickly. He and his son do a real nice job on the English Wheel.

03-05-2009, 01:59 PM
Great job Joe, I knew it was only a matter of time before your beauty graced the pages of KOTM. You have done such a great job on the plane and your write ups are another plus to your talents. They are very informative and are a nice read. I to love my 912 but there is no doubt about it the radial is impressive, not only for the looks but you got to love the sound. How soon before I get a ride????? :D

Joe Meyeres
03-05-2009, 05:25 PM
Thanks Bryan,

I was hoping to end up with an airplane that, when parked next to yours, I would not be too embarassed! You set the bar pretty high, my friend. Thanks for your comments. Can't wait for you to go fly this machine.

Got some ideas for the fly in if we can get it together. I have some friends here that have a commercial Bar-B-Que trailor and they do catering for all kinds of events and different sized crowds, some others who would do a little Blue Grass festival for us. So don't give up on the "Fly In" idea just yet. If we advertise a little and that bar-b-que aroma wafts thru the state, the crowds will come! ;)


03-05-2009, 06:06 PM
Did you need to do anything special to keep the weight and balance in check?

I've heard that the "installed" weight of the Rotec is upwards of 250#. Is that accurate?

Definitely one of the nicest looking KF's around. I'd love to see it in person. Are you coming to Oshkosh this year with it?

(I'll have you now that your plane is my desktop picture on mt computer at work.)

Joe Meyeres
03-05-2009, 06:52 PM
Ahh, the weight and balance! To be honest, I did not weigh the engine prior to installation. I pretty much took Rotec's word on the dry weight of the engine with all accessories to be 232 lbs. After the installation was complete, I put it on scales and did a rough W&B. It was obvious from the start that there would have to be some adjustments made for the Model IV. :rolleyes: Not until after completion and paint did I do any serious work. What I wanted was the worse case scenario of a 100 pound pilot who runs out of fuel, and no baggage, to still be in the CG envelope. To do this I had to add a 5 pound lead weight into the tail. So I made a shelf large enough to accomadate two five pound lead ingots that dove tailed together and placed the shelf over the tailwheel attachment. With one installed it was on the forward end of the CG limit at worse case... with the second one installed, it really improved reduction of the stick pressure on round out. Now I can go full fuel, two 170 pound individuals, and 40 pounds of baggage... all still in CG but that takes me a little over 100 pounds over gross. No way to go out of CG forward or aft if loaded below gross weight limits. In retrospect, I would place the battery and any other weighty object of use as far back as possible, keeping in mind accessability for maintenance. Not much room in the Model IV for that, but the later models might be better. I did not want to cut fabric and install an access door on the side after all was done.

Joe Meyeres
03-05-2009, 07:06 PM
By the way, I hope to attend Osh this year. And I have to thank John King for the paint scheme and colors. He is the one that put this on his Model IV that looked so good when I first saw it. I had no idea he was going to paint his new airplane the same way. I certainly hope I did not offend John in any way by utilizing his good taste in choice of color or scheme. :o

03-06-2009, 05:09 AM
Joe, Thanks for the cowling advice. Since I bought the "firewall aft" from Kitfox, the boot cowl is not part of the kit. I have started from scratch and certainly agree that it adds hours to the project. But hey, it's a fun project. I may even build a mold if the original part comes out pretty heavy. I have considered the cowling ring, but am not going for speed either; my other airplane is a Glasair that I have been flying for 12 years.
Also, if I smell that BBQ, I'll be heading that way. -- Don

Joe Meyeres
03-08-2009, 04:50 PM
Thanks Mike.
One thing about this engine is that you do get alot of lookers, especially the older generation that learned to fly behind one of the round motors. If I ever want company at the airport all I have to do is open the hangar door. :) Rotec does a very nice job at all the machine work. No such thing as a quick turn at the fuel pumps!

03-14-2009, 08:24 AM
Beautiful Kitfox, Joe!
A well deserved recognition to be KOTM!
You've erased the line between form & function.

Lynn Matteson
03-17-2009, 05:30 AM
Beautiful job, Joe....finally got her in the air, eh? I look forward to seeing you and the plane at Oshkosh this year, eh?

Lynn Matteson

04-03-2009, 10:48 AM

Just drooling over your plane's photos again and rereading this thread (for the bazillionth time :o ).

Back to the questions:

Is your IV a 1200 or a 1050?
Would you care to share the empty weight of this beauty with us?
What do you have for hours on her now?
Any updates on performance, handling, fuel burn, etc?
Did you do any other mods yet?
Are you still satisfied with the Rotec?

I can't get enough information about this install!! :)


Joe Meyeres
04-03-2009, 04:47 PM
Hey Av8r!

My Kitfox is a Model IV 1200, and it is a bit on the heavy side. It came out at 825 lbs, but I have the two 13 gallon wing tanks, full sized panel, strobes, nav lights, landing lights with a pulse option, and a few other extra things to make life easier like 8.00 6 tires, thicker walled tubing on the gear for more strength and a full sized rear window. All these things add up in the long run and obviously cut into the useful load. However, it's very docile in the way it handles, stalls out around 33 to 35 MPH straight ahead if you keep the ball centered. Not bad on the top end... full power straight and level indicates 127 MPH and at 75% power around 105 to 110 MPH. All this with a climb pitched prop. The airplane really does not have any bad handleing qualities that we have uncovered up till now. I've got around 23 hours on it presently.

Not planning on other mods at this time. I have just ordered a VDO tachometer as I am still having some issues with the Tiny Tach I have installed. Some folks around here want me to put a speed ring on to add to the nostalgic look, but I still need a Micro Air com w/ built in intercom and Micro Air xponder. Both fit neatly in 2 1/4 inch holes. Then maybe a Garmin GPS or Honeywell AV8r. :D

I am extremely happy with the Rotec. Looks good, sounds awesome and performs well. The guys in Australia have been great to work with and have gone over and above anything I would expect from an engine manufacturer. Installation was very basic and all info from Rotec was straight forward. Great system diagrams for wiring and plumbing. I would definately chose them again on another project!

I am glad you like the photo's! Check out Rotec's website and look for Joe's Kitfox for more photo's or go to You Tube to see the videos posted. Search for Radial Kitfox and all my other videos are posted by kitfox4c.