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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS Feed Eye of the Experimenter: The Robinson Seabee conversion

By PATRICK PANZERA, Editor – Experimenter
Brian Robinson’s Chevrolet V-8 powered Republic Seabee.

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Brian Robinson has been instrumental in breathing new life into the Republic Seabee for nearly a decade by replacing the marginal (stock) 500 cubic inch 215 hp Franklin engine with a 400 (plus) hp Chevrolet Corvette LS series V-8.

Until Brian developed his engine package for the Seabee, the only other options for engine replacement or overhaul involved either trying to rebuild the Franklin with no manufacturer support or installing the expensive Lycoming GO 480 series of engines. “Removing one obsolete engine to install another obsolete engine did not make a lot of sense to me,” Brian says on his webpage. “There are a limited number of other approved aircraft engines for the Bee, but the conversions are all expensive.”

Since Brian’s successful auto conversion has taken on a life of its own, several others have resurrected otherwise lost Seabees, including Steve Lantz’s Tahoe Special, the 2005 Gold Lindy Seaplane Grand Champion. Installing the V-8 conversion with Brian’s proprietary propeller speed reduction unit, although not cheap, is substantially more affordable than the aforementioned alternatives, but the additional power is easily worth twice what it actually costs.


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