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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:36 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:40 pm
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Location: south jersey
Growing up all i ever remember is the bear. So i have a few questions.

So what is going on with that bird?
Is it raceable or even flyable?
Is it down for maintance?
And my biggest question other then the paint job, how much has been changed since it ran for the speed record?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:36 pm
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The only thing I can add is the following:

1) Rare Bear, according to what I've heard, will never race again at Reno. This is unsubstantiated, but was verified by at least one other person on this forum.

2) After Rod Lewis bought Rare Bear, he "undid" many of the modifications that Shelton's team accomplished on the aircraft. Mr. Lewis had Ezell Aviation go through the aircraft and redo many of the systems. Whether this was a smart move is up for debate. Many say that taking this move was not a good idea and that it can never go as fast as it did under Shelton's ownership. Some say it was needed, as some of the systems were needing reworking.

3) Rare Bear has not "produced" under the ownership of Mr. Lewis according to what was desired by Team Rare Bear.

4) Rare Bear, along with other Lewis owned aircraft, have not raced in the last couple of years due to his divorce. I can only guess what the settlement was - probably at least a billion dollars. This, plus a sick Rare Bear with issues that never seemingly get resolved, in my opinion, is the reason we haven't see it race recently.

What is the future of Rare Bear? I don't know. I hope it's racing days are not gone forever. I would like to see it race again.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:21 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:58 pm
Posts: 166
Location: Napa Ca
The future of Rare Bear racing again is really only known by a very select few, and those few aren't talking right now. Yes, the braintrust that assembled the record setting setup are all gone. That said, I think with the new (since the record setting flight at least) boil off system is faster aerodynamically. The gains they made there were traded for running engines that haven't lived up to their billing. Perhaps if the remaining crew that are still alive were brought back (assuming they wanted to, and could really remember what they did to make the engine produce the power they needed) conceivably, the Bear could go just as fast as it did before, if not faster. That said, the Ezell's are more than capable of doing what needs to be done to put the Bear back on top. Yes, the Bear is cantankerous and seems to like to try to kill its pilots from time to time. Still, after seeing what the Voodoo team has done to just beat the record, it makes Lyles record all the more impressive, considering they set the record, and won Reno the same year with the same engine. It sounds like Voodoo's engine wasn't all that happy following the 3rd pass yesterday. (If you look at the speeds, yeah that first pass was a scorcher, but then the speeds fell off dramatically.)

Personally, I'm not a fan of R3350s. It seems like they tend to call it quits rather frequently. (232/Sept Fury comes to mind here, as do all the other Sea Furies that have had sudden engine failures while running 3350s.) No, the Bear's 3350s have not been what they were when Mel Gregor and company were building them. Those guys knew how to build 3350s better than anyone else.

Rare Bear looks much different than it did when Lyle set the record. I've always thought that was the best paint job for it. Still, its current paint job doesn't look to bad in my opinion. I shot these pics over the past couple years at Reno.
Image
2015
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Something tells me we will see the Bear race again.

Will


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:59 pm 
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How modified are the racing 3350s?
If they're THAT bad, I'd guess they're heavily modified since the basic design is pretty well matured by now.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:27 pm 
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Location: Napa Ca
I don't know the specifics, but I do know that Mel's engines always left a HUGE oil streak down the sides of the Bear. The recent ones do not, and they don't produce the power. They are running hybrids of the turbo compound engines and the normal ones. In the case of 232, it seemed to nuke the top cylinders due to a lack of air flow because of the induction trunk fitting closely there. To really be competitive however, a '3350 needs one of the rare slow nose cases for the prop reduction. I think Rod Lewis has almost all of the ones known to exist aside from possibly 4 that are set to go on a Lockheed Super Connie that is under restoration.

The hybrid engines seem to work ok in "stock" non racing form. I think both Fifi and Doc both run them. I'm not sure what other Sea Furies run this combo however. A few years ago, the Bear did finish on the podium running one of Fifi's engines that was borrowed. This would imply that the airframe is still fast, but the engine program might not be where it used to be.


Over on AAFO, ChrisMX105 posted this:
"
The engine that RB set the record with was built prior to Reno 88
Reno 88 Top Qual @ 474, Gold Win 456
1989 3km 528.329, Top Qual 468, Gold Win 450
1990 2nd Qual 468 (Strega 470) Gold Win 470
1991 Top Qual 475, Gold Win 481
Engine Overheated/Ruined by Non-Qualified pilot post 91 Reno

This engine accumulated approx 150 hrs over it's life......................

Also of note looking back is the course during this time was over 9 miles, so the equivalent of just over 9 laps on today's course."
John Slack, Lyles stepson replied with this:
"It won Hamilton as well. All without any work except for about a half dozen cylinder changes over the 88 - 91 time period."

It appears that this engine really was a special engine. Too bad that it got unceremoniously cooked after Reno 91.

Will


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:40 pm
Posts: 57
Location: south jersey
Thank you everyone

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