Electric aircraft tug

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jaustinmd
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Last seen: 8 years 11 months ago
Joined: Saturday, May 16, 2009 - 04:34
Points: 16
Electric aircraft tug

I'm building an electric tug to push/pull my Cessna out of the hangar. I got a PowerTow frame (single wheel tug with arms that grasp lugs on the nosegear and push and pull the plane) and have installed a 4 hp 24v DC motor (supposedly its a Ramsey winch motor). Solenoids are used to accomplish forward/reverse. I wanted a 24v application since my aircraft's electrical system is also 24 volts ... that way, I can also use the tug as a battery cart for the airplane to run avionics on the ground when updating databases, etc., and also as a source for a jump start should the master accidentally be left "on" on the airplane!

Gasoline models of this tug are also typically about 4 - 6 hp and easily move a plane as big as my Cessna 206. I've geared the motor down with a belt/chain reduction drive that gives a final reduction of about 12-13:1. I use an idler pulley/clutch for engaging/disengaging power (this is what the gas tugs use). However, the electric motor runs a really high rpm when unloaded and I'm afraid it may still run the wheel a little too "brisk" across the ground, although I think the torque is sufficient. I'm also afraid the high rpm's may lead to fairly short belt life with the belt slipping as it engages/disengages.

It appears to me a speed controller would be desireable. I assume I need a "heavy duty" unit like a golf cart uses, etc. I notice some controllers are for 24-36 volt motors and some are for 36-48 volts. Can I use a 36-48 volt controller on the 24 volt motor? (Seems I can find more of these reasonably priced!). If not, anyone know a good source for an inexpensive 24 volt or 24-36 volt unit? I notice a lot of these units are rated for 225 amps. Supposedly my motor runs at 40 amps, 80 amps peak. Any comments, advice, alternatives, or sources would be appreciated!

jaustinmd
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Last seen: 8 years 11 months ago
Joined: Saturday, May 16, 2009 - 04:34
Points: 16
Re: Electric aircraft tug

Since my questions are really about the controller, I've posted this in the "Control Systems" Forum. I also noticed an error ... the motor is 45 amps no load and 140 amps full load.

siai47
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Last seen: 8 years 6 months ago
Joined: Monday, July 21, 2008 - 19:27
Points: 91
Re: Electric aircraft tug

First, before you invest in a speed controller, you might want to try the unit as is. If you get the reduction right so that the speed of the tug is OK then you don't need the controller. Next, I would get rid of the belt clutch. With the powertow, you can take the load off the drive wheel enough by raising the handle to get the wheel moving and then by pushing down on the handle, get the traction necessary to get the aircraft moving. You might also look into having two speeds, either by use of a resistor or by parallel/series operation of two 12 volt batteries. You must still be using the transmission to change from the vertical shaft to horizontal shaft output to drive the wheels so reversing contactors are not an issue.

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