• Mar 7, 2006


Ron Patrick wanted to prove that his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford wasn’t just a piece of useless paper framed on the wall, so he put his book smarts to use by combining a GE Model T58-8F helicopter turboshaft jet engine and a VW New Beetle. Patrick claims his one-way ticket to the Darwin Awards is street legal since he left the stock drivetrain intact. We’re not so sure about that since at any time he could flip a switch and torch the Tercel behind him with 1,350 flame-throwing horsepower.

I think what we’re all wondering is, “Yeah, but how does she handle?”

[via Engadget via Engadget Japanese via TechBlog]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      And by the way, yes, the engine appears to have been converted to at least a partial jet thrust engine, plus has an added afterburner which (on military aircraft) generally doubles the thrust available.

      Would that mean the equivalent of 2700 horsepower? I don't know but let's hope the guy is as fit as a trained astronaut when he tries maximum thrust takeoffs.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This one makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
      Engine man
      • 8 Years Ago
      Being a crew chief and all that, I can only imagine how badly you would shred a man on your crew for assembling something incorrectly on your bird based on his training on a different GE engine in some helicopter other than a Blackhawk. And then, despite your correcting him, he continued to site his intense knowledge of something other than what he was working on as a basis for questioning your assertion that he was in error and endeavored to research your information to prove you wrong or a lier.

      With your exposure to all this military helicopter stuff it should be easy for you to get your hands on the appropriate repair manual or parts catalog which would show you exactly how the T-58 is not a Blackhawk engine. And how one might go about removing the power turbine section from the gas generator section without encountering any common shafts between the two.

      A conversation or two with a jet mechanic would probably give you an understanding of how an afterburner works and how one might build one from scratch. Then you would possibly guess that the thing you see one top of the afterburner can is a fuel hose feeding the spraybar inside delivering enough fuel to double the thrust from the jet. Yes, it does need to be ignited, but you can't see that in the pictures so we will save that for another lesson after you adjust your input/output ratio.

      The 5 ft. between the fuel cell and the engines on the Blackhawk is for weight distribution rather than safety. The VW's spare tire well holds the fuel cell in the jet car. Yes, right below the turbine section of the engine, actually about 6 in. below. In an ATL cell, like the Blackhawk has, covered with several layers of heat sheild and a 1/8" piece of 7075. Alot better protected than the gasoline in a Chevy from the exhaust system which can get as hot as the outside of the air-cooled turbine section of the gas generator.

      The engine is fueled by it's fuel controller similar to the Blackhawk however it's power turbine speed input has been eliminated. A few other items associated with the power turbine or the engine's use in a helicopter have been eliminated as well. A few adjustments to the fuel controller and it's close to right. Would you want to use it in a plane as the only source of thrust; I don't think so. But on a land based vehicle with steering and brakes it is safe enough. Those blackhawks look pretty dangerous since it only takes one RPG to take one down, just like the movies. Even more dangerous to the prospective rocket launcher if the Blackhawk sees him first.

      Like I always say, "They are all the same, except for what's different".
      • 8 Years Ago
      I actually have worked on Blackhawk helicopters for the Army and Amry National Guard for over 16 years. Blackhawks have a different, but similar engines (2 actually).

      It's obvious that he has an "afterburner" hooked up. You'll notice a lead of some type, igniter maybe, going into the top of the modified exhaust.

      To anyone thinking he "coverted" it to a "jet", it's not that easy,a nd would require changing the whole guts of the engine, as there is actually a shaft running through it connected to turbine wheels.

      So the flames are all show. Now, if he does actually have it atached to any part of the drivetrain, he'll probably brake something the first time he engages it,a s most auto compnents are not up the the stress.

      Lastly, I don't see any sort of heat shield or engine firewall in the back half of the car. The things run pretty hot, even around the midsection (hot section) of the engine. So, after a few runs with that baby turned on, he'll either kill himself, or at a minimum burn up the car. (where is the gas tank located? Below the exhaust eh, hmmmmm!)

      P.S.: you want a fast, cool looking car? Buy an old muscle car and restore it. It's cheaper, cooler looking, and can still go fast enough to get you into some trouble!
      • 8 Years Ago
      That is amazing.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Seeing as it's a turbo shaft...I wonder which set of wheels it's powering. If he left it front wheel drive, that's gotta be some hella torque steer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      hey, moparman! Are you a crew chief? Just curious, my old man is a retired USAF Helicopter crew chief. 20-years and his last station was at Hurlburt Field working on the Pavelows.


      Considering the engine of choice, Dr. Ron, wouldn't it have been a better choice to use one of those microjet engines that I keep hearing about? It's smaller, less modification to the engine that you'd have to worry about doing, lighter (I saw somewhere that said 350lbs).

      But your choice, you're a ME with a PhD, and I'm about to become a 5th year AE student (ERAU), so I'll respect your expertice.


      Still though, I'd probably have gone with the micro jet...
      • 8 Years Ago
      He's overcompensating for something. Give me a minute, I'll get it...
      • 8 Years Ago
      No worries, he'll just turn on the afterburner!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hi ANR. Yes, I am a crew chief. I actually fill three roles, as I am a D.O.D. Civilian Technician during the week, and a member of the Army National Guard on the weekend.

      I started out in the Active Duty Army, but found out my hometown Guard unit had brand new Blackhawks, so I switched to the Guard in 1998. I've been stationed in Panama, Honduras, Ft Lewis Washington, Kuwait, Thailand, Bosnia, Ft Bragg North Carolina, and just missed going to Afghanistan 6 months ago.

      In the Guard, I am a Technical Inspector (quality control), and as such am on flight status as a crew chief. During the week, I am a mechanic, working on th same aircraft, but getting paid a little more with better benefits. I have to be careful that I don't inspect any work on the weekend that I performed during the week, that's not allowed, hehe!

      When I was in Thailand in 1997, I saw a Pavelow crash. It was banged up pretty bad, but everybody walked away. That's a big helicopter! The Airforce always seems to have better equipment and nicer looking bases than the Army. Plus they seem to take care of their people better.

      I didn't know about the micrjets, but I don't doubt they exist since there are now mini jets, including turboshafts, for r/c helicopters and planes. (pretty impressive too for their size!)

      Hey, maybe ron could build an r/c exact duplicate of his car with a mini jet in it.


      • 8 Years Ago
      Technically speaking, you could call this a hybrid, right? :P
      • 8 Years Ago
      People, people! The engine STARTED life as a turboshaft engine. Such engines are EASILY converted to thrust. Plus you see that big cone on the back pushing out the mad flames? That's an afterburner, used to nearly double the thrust. Google around a little bit and you'll see the conversion is easy, and the afterburner isn't much harder.
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