One of the key aspects of ultralights that immediately grabbed my attention was the low cost of entry. I knew that I could save money in a few ways while we build the Tango-Lima-Seven-Eight, and the power plant was no exception. We knew we needed two things in the engine. First, it needed to be adaptable to a propeller. Second, it needed to be around 40HP for this build. Snowmobile engines like the Rotax and Kawasaki are generally great for this purpose. So the search began. It only took three days of scouring FaceBook Marketplace before finding three or four likely candidates that were in close proximity to us, but only one that replied seemed like a perfect fit and was inexpensive.

We picked up a used 1996 Polaris Indy 400 sport snowmobile. This machine is dirty and beaten. It has been enjoyed until its life as a snow machine has come to an end. The windshield was cracked, the fiberglass body was not in much better shape, the track was shredded beyond recognition, and the seat was a mess of exposed foam. The engine ran the day we picked it up though! We do plan to clean, rebuild, and repaint the engine and carburetors giving it a new home on the Tango-Lima-Seven-Eight. It is an Air-cooled 440 twin flat head with dual Mikuni carburetors and an external oil injection. While the oiler will add a small amount of weight, the added benefit of being able to feed oil while at idle and the prop is “windmilling” should help protect the engine from premature failure.

Obtaining An Engine

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