The 1982 Ford V6 engine, built at the Ford Essex Engine Plant at Windsor in Ontario Canada, was released by Ford for installation in a number of car and light truck models manufactured in Canada, United States, Mexico and Venezula. Production probably exceeded 7 million items.
The Australian Gliding Museum’s exhibit was an engine converted for aircraft use that was bought for the Gliding Federation of Australia “Auto-Tug” program from Javelin Aircraft Company in Wichita in USA.
“Auto-Tug” was an experimental program sponsored by the Gliding Federation of Australia to equip a glider – sailplane Piper Pawnee PA-25-150 tug with a water-cooled engine to alleviate the costs of running and maintaining the Lycoming engines fitted to Pawnee tugs in Australia. The program began in 1988 and was aimed at obtaining limited certification for converting dedicated glider – sailplane tow planes.
The engine equipped with modified intake manifolds produced 198 hp for flight with the same propeller RPM for take-off as the original Lycoming 0-540 engine. However, fuel consumption was halved as the water cooling of the Ford engine enabled quicker descents with throttle closed following the release of the sailplane.
Based on the results of GFA’s program, CASA concluded that engine was quite suitable for an aircraft installation and rated it more reliable than the equivalent Lycoming and Continental aircraft engine.
The use of the 1982 Ford V6 engine type for Pawnee tug conversions was discontinued when the General Motors LS1 5.7 litre V8 became available. It is understood that a small number of conversions have been done using the LS1 engine.
This brief history is based on information obtained from Mike Burns and David Sharples who were involved in the Auto-Tug program from 1988 to 1992. Technical information relating to the 1982 Ford V6 automotive engine is contained in a paper by D.L. Armstrong and G.F. Stirrat of the Engine Engineering Office at Ford.
Indicative of technological experimentation in the sport of gliding
Ford auto engine mounted on mobile stand