New rules hope to extend life of engines in Unlimited Hydroplanes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New rules hope to extend life of engines in Unlimited Hydroplanes

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Lycoming T-55, L-7 turbine engine Lycoming T-55, L-7 turbine engine
U3 & Allison V-12 piston engine U3 & Allison V-12 piston engine
Chinook CH-47 helicopter, former home of the Lycoming turbine engines Chinook CH-47 helicopter, former home of the Lycoming turbine engines

In a sport dependant on an aging fleet of engines, you start to worry about the availability of parts and core components. 

There's not an endless supply.  There's expensive.  And they're getting older every day.  So the challenge is to keep looking for ways to extend the life of the engines.

"The owners got together on this," said ABRA's Sam Cole at the 2009 owners meeting in Madison, Indiana.  "We're realizing that we've got to make some commitment to the equipment we have and improve its life."

To further that, the ABRA board took action to reduce the fuel flow from its current level of 4.3 to 4.1.  That should help on the wear and tear on the engines.  "It was unanimous from the owner's standpoint," said Cole.  "It will help extend the life of the equipment."

The owners did vote to keep the same rules for N2 at 110%.

Current Rules/Fuel Flow:
A fuel flow violation is judged to have occurred when a turbine-powered boat exceeds 4.3 GPM for more than five seconds. The boat then forfeits all points earned for that heat. Any boat found to have a fuel flow violation during the Final Heat is disqualified.

The new rule would changes this to 4.1 GPM for more than five seconds.

Current Rules/N2:
An N2 speed violation is judged to have occurred when the maximum N2 RPM of 110% is exceeded for more than five seconds. Any turbine-powered boat found to have an N2 speed violation shall forfeit all points earned for that heat.  Any boat found to have an N2 violation during the Final Heat is disqualified.

HYDROINSIDER.COM ARCHIVES:
More on N2 Violations, including how drivers monitor the situation while racing >>

Outside of Ed Cooper's U-3 team, the rest of the current boats are all running old Vietnam-era helicopter engines.  The turbine engines are mostly the Lycoming T-55, L-7 engine.  That's a gas-powered turbine engine -  2,650 HP.

They run on jet fuel and hold about 80 gallons, running through nearly four and a half gallons a minute at top speeds.  The Lycomings were used most commonly in the CH-47 Chinook military helicopters, a twin engine helicopter used for heavy lifting.  The Chinook was used primarily for troop movement, placing artillery and resupplying battlefields.

The turbine engines are fast.  They can propel an unlimited hydroplane at speeds of more than 200 mph on the straightaways.  Dave Villwock set a speed record of more than 220 mph using a turbine engine in a test run in 2004.

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