View Full Version : Restoring a Bensen, where to Start?
12-02-2004, 05:34 PM
Okay for anybody interested in giving advice, I'd greatly appreciate any oppinion on what I should do first.
12-02-2004, 05:40 PM
I hate to say it but I think you just have a bunch of scrap metal. I wouldn't waste my time or money trying to restore it to flying condition. Sorry but it is just my opinion. :(
12-02-2004, 06:43 PM
I would send off the rotorhead to someone to have it rebuilt.
Try to see if there is a way to send off and have the control assembly rebuilt - the stick and bars under the seat. Then go buy some new aluminum tubes and new hardware and replicate the parts that you have now, and when done turn the old airframe into scrap and make a nice decoration out of it.
The engine.... Don't know what to say, I wouldn't even begin to mess with it. I would try to find a VW or Subaru and make a direct drive gyro out of it.
You need to join the Sunstate Rotor club - PRA chapter 26. They meet in Labelle Florida once a month - the President and her Husband both post here! ;) - and get with them for help. This restoration job is easier than it seems and there is plenty of gyro people in Florida that could help you. Herman Yates is close to you, Sunstate could put you in touch with him. He could certainly help you with your project.
Wasn't this gyro on E bay recently?
12-02-2004, 07:03 PM
I'm not a gyro pilot yet, but I am building one currently, and will fly it after training. I agree with the posts above... I wouldn't trust anything with that much corrosion and dings/pits. 6061-T6 Aluminum is cheap. Recreate the parts fresh. You have no way of knowing how stressed the existing parts are. Simply sanding them down and making them look pretty again won't affect their metalurgical qualities at all. From those photos, that gyro was dead and burried long ago. Don't resurrect it, unless you'd like to share the same grave.
My opinion for what it's worth.
12-02-2004, 07:19 PM
Just noticed... There's a ton of button-head "flathead screwdriver" bolts going through the whole control rod end assembly. That just seems wrong on so many levels... it can't be right, can it?
12-02-2004, 07:28 PM
And I feel like a total sucker, but you got to start somewhere. What looks like corrosion is actually old pieces of tape. The rotor head spins freely and there is no play in the bearing. The control assembly is a different story it does need rebuilding, but it appears to be made of fairly common items. The frame is basically 3 primary pieces joined with braces and triangular cuts of aluminum. I suppose it would not be too difficult to replicate any of it. I do believe the motor is trash. From what I've read it is only rated at 50 hours between rebuilds. It a military drone engine. There is one just like it on eBay right now. Thanks for your honest opinions.
12-02-2004, 08:08 PM
Don't feel too bad.
Many of us have been in the same position.
The rotor head can be rebuilt, provided there's no serious corrosion. Ken Brock Manufacturing (http://www.kenbrockmfg.com) can take care of that. They can also rebuild the stick assy., since it's one of theirs.
You can get the frame materials from Wicks Aircraft (http://www.wicksaircraft.com), and new AN hardware to bolt it together.
The problem you'll find trying to rebuild something like that is that you don't know how well the builder drilled everything out. You may drill out a perfect frame, and then find that the secondary structures won't match the new frame (boom won't align with the holes, or the axle blocks won't fit, etc.).
Then again, if it was assembled from the Bensen kit (predrilled, precut), the chances are good that replacement pieces will fall into place. But you won't know until you take it apart, and compare hole placement with a set of plans.
This probably isn't what you want to hear. Sorry, but I've been there.
The Mac engine can be rebuilt to run very well, and to have a long life. Ron Herron ran one for years on his Bensen and then mounted it on his first Little Wing. With a good rebuild and one of Rick Whittridge's CDI conversions, it'll have good power and reliability. I have one of his CDI's, and it has made a world of difference.
Hope this helps.
12-02-2004, 08:22 PM
I agree with N503R. Too much to do, and would probably be cheaper in the long run starting fresh with a new parts from Ken Brock MFG.
12-02-2004, 10:31 PM
If it were a car, I would say "jack up the radiator cap and drive a new one under it." just picking. If you really want to rebuild it you are going to have to disassemble it. polish off the aluminum at least partially, and let someone in a club near you give you some guidence. I like the Mac engine as well and I have recently purchased Ricks CDI as Mike did. If the engine can be rebuilt without too much money you may not have done so bad after all. You made a big step to get involved. Hang in there. and get the help of some local club members. By the way. that was some great shots and web layout. Good luck and keep us posted as you go along what ever you decide to do.
12-02-2004, 10:37 PM
Did you get rotorblades with the gyro?
12-03-2004, 05:42 AM
I'm lookin at some from Vortech. Or if any body has a used set?
12-03-2004, 02:41 PM
Well guys, I took the whole thing apart today and got to do a pretty good inspection at the same time. I don't see any corrosion. I dissambled the entire controll system and disscovered a bushing missing and the others need replacing, but all in all the holes are still round (Not worn into elipses) and all the pieces are whole. I'm hessitaint to dissemble the rotor head, it seems fine to me, perhaps if I had it inspected first. I bought replacement bolts,nuts and washers from ace (Grade A). It'll be awhile before I need them though. Guess that's all thanks again.
12-03-2004, 04:53 PM
Ace hardware store bolts are not the best way to go. All the old tubing is cheap enough it is worth replacing. The rotorhead should certainly be took apart and cleaned and all new AN hardware and new bearing put back in. I would have it manafluxed while apart too.
No offense but it sounds like you are looking for the cheapest way in the air. Do not cut corners bro! It is your ass up there riding on cheap bolts, old tubes, old rotorhead, old rusted steel controls etc....
Like I said 2-400$ in new aluminum, 200$ in new AN aircraft grade hardware, and some time and you will have a new gyro.
12-03-2004, 08:39 PM
Upon closer inspection I can see the ACE stuff isn't the same. I don't know how to decipher it yet but the markings on the top of the bolts don't match. I now have sources for AN hardware thank guys. It's not that I'm being cheep (although money is a factor) it's just if I can establish that what's there is just fine, why replace it? Where your strategies seem to be, if in doubt throw it out. If I can't verify a components functionality/reliability I'll have to replace it.
12-03-2004, 08:55 PM
I hope you'll take the time to join a local PRA chapter and get some local assistance. The people in this forum will offer endless assitance and advice. Everyone has the best intentions and your safety in mind. There are places to save money on a gyro. YOu can find good deals on engines, instruments and other parts on e-bay. However saving money on structural components and hardware is a recipe for disaster.
12-04-2004, 05:23 AM
The Sunstate rotor club is holding their annual New Years Day Fly in, in Wauchula Florida at the airport there. I highly reccomend you drive down and even better bring your collection of gyro parts to let the more experienced people at the fly in take a look at it all for you.
No doubt about it, every bolt nut and washer on that gyro should replaced, All of them! You can order new Hardware from Lockwood aviation supply out of Sebring Florida, call 1-800-La-Rotax.... or drive down and pick them up in person and save yourself the cost of shipping. They are located at the airport there in Sebring.
The aluminum tubes should be smooth like a babys butt to the touch, if you run your fingers across the tubes. If there is any bumps or pits or anything else, go ahead and replicate that tube with a new one. But do make sure you order the right replacement tubing, if your not sure where to get it there is folks here on the forum that can help you find it.
The front structure that is made out of 1 inch angled pieces is not important. As long as it is not rotten or ready to fall off, you can just clean that up re paint it if you want.
the wheels and brakes look okay, just check them over, lube the pivot points and check the bearings for smooth operation. The tires may need replacing, don't use them if there is any dry rot showing at all. Replace the inner tubes just for safetys sake.
The control system needs to be sandblasted to get rid of all rust, and then checked over extremely well for cracks. The insides of the tubes need to be inspected as well. If this system fails, you are dead, that simple. All of the hardware and bushings should be replaced, the push tubes going up to the rotorhead are easy to replicate and replace, again the control system is not something to skimp on.
the framework that the seat tank bolts onto needs to be in top shape too. Remember that this assembly of aluminum angle pieces is meant to hold you and a tank of gas up off the control system and in the gyro while you yanking and banking and also on those hard landings! Needless to say this is a important area of the gyro.
Not sure about the engine mount, or tail or other pieces cause I don't remember seeing those in the pictures. If your going to use the Mac engine, I would send it to Rick W. or someone else experienced with the Mac engines to have it inspected and to install all the modern parts that make it a better engine, such as the CDI igntion.
Good luck, hope to see you at the New Year fly in.
12-04-2004, 05:25 AM
And don't forget if there is any signs of corrosion, replace the Cheek Plates as well. Those are the plates that hold the mast onto the keel and the rotorhead onto the mast.
12-04-2004, 06:42 AM
My friend... don't worry about it. Take it like now you goint to know better your machine. Just be pacient. My bensen was really ugly, and I din't know nothing about a gyro so I deside to restore my self. I took it out peace by piece checking everything,
(Dents, scrach, rust. etc.etc). If any question I had, I ask my friend here on the forum or here on my local chapter. It wasn't easy! but I did it. Just don't be shy to ask. We are here to help :D . On the first picture is how my bensen use to look.( but worse!) the second picture it how it finish .I Hope this motivate yo on your rebuilding.... Any thing question that you need don't be afraid to ask here or ask me.
12-07-2004, 07:08 PM
This is how the rotor head turned out.
12-07-2004, 07:11 PM
You see that look new! just be pacient.... that is the key of sussest. What did you did to it?
12-07-2004, 07:28 PM
Xorando you want my advice. Check the rotor bearing and the Jesus bolts, now that you have the rotor head out. Check if the bearing is feels ruff. Or.. better then that, if you can, just change it now that you are rebuilding you gyro and you have the rotor head out. So wend you are in the air you will feel relay with no surprise... We don't know how they are. If the gyro look so bad (rusted parts) maybe is was taking rain out side, day and night. The bearing is one, or maybe, the most important thing you have to check. Did you check the bolts and nuts? Check if you see any crack, rust ,deep dent, bend, anything. Remmember that you and you gyro will be hanging on the air from that part.
12-07-2004, 07:31 PM
Dissasembled it completly, Cleaned all parts. Replaced main berring, a couple of bushings a few washers, the cotor pins. It's tight, there's no play in any of the couplings and yet every pivot point moves freely.
12-07-2004, 07:34 PM
Nice!!! That is very important that you change the rotor bearing. You are doing a great job. WELL.... lets keep working!!!!! :D ;)
12-10-2004, 05:30 AM
Xorandor, How your restoration doing so far?
12-10-2004, 06:47 AM
You have a great attitude! I'm sure Robert appreciates the encouragement.
Your pictures: I especially like your tail feather tribute to Chuck Irby. I was not active on this forum until after he passed away, but feel like I know him, just from reading his posts. Paying homage to him on your aircraft says a lot about the character of the man and confirms he made a difference in someone's life!
May he rest in peace...
12-10-2004, 08:02 AM
Thank you Will , I really aprecciate does words. The way that I am is the same way Chuck was to me. He always was in top of what I was doing,(trainnig,rebuilding, my frustration, like Robert use to be).If it wasn't for his good heart good advise, and good frienship I will have quit becouse of frustration. I really want everyone like Robert to enjoy what I love most in my life. Other thing is that here on this forun I feel like I have another great familly, ( Chuck, Rick, Mike, Etc.) They were always helping me, no mather how many time I call them or e-mail them. Chuck Irby has "infect" all on this forum with his good will. Thank to him I finish my machine, and now I am flyin!. That is why I dedicate my aircraft to him. I really miss you my friend ,We really miss you!
02-19-2005, 05:33 AM
Okay for those interested here are some pics of what I've done so far.
Also recently obtained 23.5' Dragon wings with Hub Bar.
02-19-2005, 07:52 AM
Thanks for the update. It looks like you have done lots of good work on your machine.
It is hard to tell in your photo, but the control rod end connection looks a little suspicious. Is that a roll pin?
02-19-2005, 09:28 AM
Thanks for sharing those pictures Robert. Are you getting some assistance from a local chapter. It looks like you have installed new AN hardward. That will give you piece of mind as you begin your flying. Such cheap insurance and it looks great with new paint. Easier to inspect on your preflight. Please keep us posted. Bensen's are classics and there are changes you can make like CDI, pods, instrument pods HS for the tails. As always seek counsel amoung the wise first.
02-19-2005, 12:11 PM
It's a circle with a crome plated steel ball inside (Ball joint?) The bolts I have are too long, I'm tring to determine the correct size, so I can order them. The originals were not even close as you may remember from the old photos. How do I decide where to use bolts with cotter pins? The guy I bought the AN hardware from said it wasn't realy necessary with the locking nuts. Do you all agree? I'm hoping to pick up a set of plans at Bensen days, but for now I'm working from what I took apart and my own judgement. I'd like to move the horizontail Stabilizer back under the tail, but I'm concerned about drilling more (Perhaps too many) holes in the frame.
02-19-2005, 12:36 PM
The tail. You should really replace the tail or put an effective horizontal stabilizer on it. Ron Herron sells a t-tail for $400 dollars I think, or you can put an Art Evans style tail on it if you want to do it yourself (and have the skills) and not change much. (an art evans tail sticks out the back on a 4130 tube that is braced to the non-moveable rudder) The Ron H. tail is probaly the easiest and best buy. With that and the CDI ignition from R. Whittredge, your major costs should be taken care of to get in the air safely. Good luck, darrellwittke
02-19-2005, 02:59 PM
In the photo all I could tell is that there isn't a bolt head sticking out. The thru bolts that hold the rod ends in place don't need to be pinned - just use the usual self locking nuts.
Until you can get a set of plans, a good reference would be the documentation for the GyroBee. The construction is similar, so you could use it for a guide.
You can download the documentation for free at
This is the LoneStar Gyro Site. I have found it to be more reliable than Ralph's site(thanks Toby).
Please listen to Darrell's advice about adding a horizontal stabilizer. It could save your life.
02-20-2005, 01:24 PM
I do have the Bensen Horizontal Stabilizer (It mounts in front of the tail) I just haven't installed it yet. I was concidering moving it back to underneith the tail. does any body have a close up picture of the nose area? Having never seen one assembled I'm having trouble figuring mine out. Here's what I have.
02-20-2005, 05:31 PM
What you have there is a rock guard to stop rocks from tearing up propellor. Some people have moved them back for a very small and improper horizontal stab and reported better results. I personally think (from my "that looks about right" experience) that you are much better off keeping the rock guard for what it is, a rock guard and getting a T-tail from Ron Herron. It may sound like a lot of money but it will probaly be your cheapest and best option for a sound and proper flying machine.
Drilling holes and mounting the rock guard farther back is no big deal, but again, it is probaly a fair waste of time and a threat to your life. Please keep posting pictures, I (and many others, probaly) like to see what you got.
(you can look at my gyro under an old forsale thread called drive it home, not for sale anymore though, I'm gonna rebuild it (new mast and cylinder, throttle)
02-20-2005, 05:40 PM
Alright I will have a look and thanks for the info. I just assumed that's what the rock guard was, and I will keep posting pics. It's paid off in the past.
03-02-2005, 03:48 AM
Robert, I will call soon. I got the plans ready to mail.
Here are some nosewheel pics.
BTW, I like the red & blue color scheme!
03-02-2005, 04:55 AM
Xorander, Turn the flat plate around! It sits under the keel, and the teflon helps the nose wheel pivot, I am going to make copies of the nose wheel stuff from the manual for you.
see if this helps.
03-06-2005, 06:43 PM
I really appreciate all the help and support.
03-07-2005, 04:49 PM
If you fish use the mac engine for a anchor.If you want to to lose about 10-12 lbs on the very heavy nose wheel call Steve Krouse in Ft.Myers. He has a nose wheel that beats the old bensen style all to bits.The bensen style will cause you to do avery nice flip just before take off. "The drag link style" is not for the faint of heart or the slow of feet. You know that you steer with the thing untill you get some rudder effective-ness. Push left to go right,push right to go left.I know, been there and done that.
If you mount a Subura on it I have a dominator tall tail that will be just right for you. Give me a call. 386-365-1801 or email me ,email@example.com. Go slow, be carefull
03-07-2005, 05:54 PM
Here are a few pictures that may help you decide what to do with your tail
06-11-2005, 03:28 PM
The seat is cracked from where the fuel elbow screws in to about 2" from the left edge. There is a guy in Utah who specializes in repairing plastic. He's fixed Motorcycle plastic tanks and assures me he can fix mine. He says it will be around $60.00 plus shipping.
I used the top seat mount as a reference point to determine vertical placement of the engine mount. It looks and feels right. Guess that doesn’t necessarily mean it is though.
As far as I am concerned you got a good machine there !
Just repair as needed to make it right !
You should have seen what I started with ... it was a pile of pieces !
in much worse shape than yours !... but I have a gyro now ... it can be done!
As you noticed from the first responces you got in this thred ... if it isn't perfect most pilots want nothing to do with it.... but Nothing in this world is Perfect... just take the time and make your Gyro safe
Learn more about it than you ever did anything else Your life depends on it. Structural failure is not the leading cause of Gyro Pilot fatalities.... poor judgment is !
Remember it doesn't have to be perfect ! it just has to work and not fail !.....
My gyro would scare the living stuffings out of most of these fellers if they could see it in person.... I could care less ! I am not a rich man and cannot afford to replace every part that isn't polished and perfect... but I do know what I can build and make strong.
I trust my life to my "Creation" some would call that foolhardy !
the only thing I doubt is my ability to fly it .... not having any gyro instructors any where near here, I have been teaching myself to fly.
and it is a very SLOW proccess .
So take hart ! worse machines than yours have been Resurected !
.... its a mechanical contriveance.... treet it like one that cannot brake ....ever ! and you'll be fine !
Above all Set it up correctly ! do your haing test and check the play on things ... if its sloppy ...fix it ! almost every joint on my gyro has been repaired ! ...NOT replaced . Use your head ! You obviously have mechanical ability or you wouldn't have bought a gyro in need of repair... so use your mechanical sense ! if it don't look right , check it out and find out why ! ...spend time with it... get to know every bolt ! if the integeraty of the bolt is in question replace it with a known good quality case hardened or AN bolt ... regular bolts of 1/4" diam from the hardware store cannot be trusted ! I use case hardened 1/4"x28 bolts on my gyro ... for an ultralight you can get away with case hardened bolts , for one that will be of the experimental version you best use the Aircraft quality AN bolts !
If I have offended someone out there by my frankness I apoligise !
but telling this feller that his nice machine is the pits bothers me .
thats my 2 coppers anyway !
06-13-2005, 04:35 PM
I really appreciate your encouraging words, but to be fair, my machine has come a long way since those discouraging words were written. I have a life outside of gyros, so I used the space; I had used to post the original pictures, for something else. Thank you so much though, One member once said "I was looking for the cheapest way into the air" and that may be true, but that doesn't mean I'll compromise my safety beyond any limits.
Ahh ! good man !
Wish i had seen the original pics !
Haing in there and good luck with your project shez lookin' great !
[QUOTE=Bud_ONeal] "The drag link style" is not for the faint of heart or the slow of feet. You know that you steer with the thing untill you get some rudder effective-ness. Push left to go right,push right to go left.I know, been there and done that.
Arugh ! that is discurrageing ! but thanks for the info Bud !
a friend of mine Sonny j is just finishing up a drag link style front end for his Benson style gyro...
I mentioned to him it will probly be realy fast reacting... but I was hopeing I was wrong ! perhaps longer atachments to turn the front wheel with would solve the problem...
With my tail dragger I have the tail wheel only turning 10 degrees to eather side.... and it is still very fast reacting at 20mph !
to be honest I am thinking of cutting it down to only 5degrees per side ! .... lets face it my feet ain't as fast as me hands ! <grin>
thanks for the info !
So how is your Project comeing ? been a while !
I just got done re working my gyro again and i am quite pleased with the results, I even took her out for a couple of short Crow hops the other day ! everything seams fine ! <GRIN>
heres a pic of "Persistence" my Scroungy Gyro
C ya !
07-24-2005, 05:37 PM
It looks like something from HG Wells, are you sure it won't time travel?
I have newer post around the board search for Xorandor.
No I'm not sure... if it does I hope it takes me into the far future not the past ! HAHAHHA !
I took her out today and tried ballanceing on the mains.... man thats Hard !
Like trying to wheelie on a motorcycle but there is no engine to wheel to ballance against ! ... gott'a be a nack to it ! i think its the stick position.... gott'a feel the Push of the rotor I think ...
was fun trying it today ..it was real calm for once ! I have to admit I didn't do too good ...but I'm getting the haing of it ...I think !
Post a Pic there Xorandor ! lets see how your comeing along !
C ya !
Hay I did a Surch but it only came up with Xorandor Here !
C ya !
07-25-2005, 05:22 PM
Click on my name and select "Find all posts by Xorandor"
08-17-2005, 07:00 PM
What is the typical range of motion I should expect on the rotor head?
I feel that what I have is too limited. Also the rods that link the joystick to the rotohead are of different lengths, is this intentional? could there be a valid reason? I've included some recent pictures. Oh and I finaly got another propeller 49.5 X 26.
08-17-2005, 07:11 PM
That notch cut (filed?) into the pitch bar is something of a worry - can't tell if it's been adequately radiused... not a good idea to have sharp concave edges in aluminium - they spawn cracks.
08-18-2005, 02:43 PM
Well as it is I'm not getting any incressed range of motion from that notch. I'd need to make it about an 8th to a 4th inch longer before that other component would rest into it the way it seems was intended. Does any body know the approximate range in degrees the rotor head needs to move from all the way forward to all the way back?
And what about the contol rods are they suppose to be the same length?
08-18-2005, 04:57 PM
Here is a link to the section of Ralph Taggart's site where he discusses rotor setup. I think the answer to your question is in there.
I agree with Banaari - that notch is worrisome.
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