Franklin Power for Your Aircraft - A User's Perspective

Chuck Firth

Originally published February 1996

Ron Campbell. a private pilot and CAP squadron commander out of Cable Airport, presented our main program. Ron is the owner of a Cessna 175 (no topo) Skylark with a 220 hp Franklin up front. Franklin engines, not the C175, provided the topic for the evening. Ron was at the meeting to describe his personal experience with Franklin engines and to discuss their return to the market for general aviation.

Ron has been a part of general aviation since his childhood. His father was a mail pilot in the '30s and later ran an FBO at Brackett in the '50s and '60s. Along the way he picked up the C175. then mounted with a 0-300 and gear box. A need to change out the engine got him looking at the market and it was dunng his search he found that Franklin had built firewall-forward kits for the Cessna Bulldog military aircraft. Unfortunately for Franklin. but fortunately for Ron, the kits went unused M hen the government chose a competitor's offering. What he got uas a 220 hp, 350 cu in, six-cylinder engine with a 10:1 compression ratio, weighing in only about 35 lbs more than a 200 hp four-cylinder engine. He also got it cheap, which most of us can appreciate.

The Franklin has proved a reliable engine for Ron and has gotten him a reputation as something of a hotdog around Cable. The 220 hp up front provides excellent performance, particularly in high density altitude conditions. It's also smooth running and has a very distinctive sound. The rep comes from the fact that the tips on his prop (small hub MacCauley CSP) go sonic at high rpm. Nothing like a little prop noise and 1500-2000 fpm climb to impress the locals. It also burns only about 10.5 gph at 120+ knots, similar to a C182 without the weight and fuel consumption.

From the brochure on the six-cylinder: bore and stroke, 4.625 x 3.5; fuel octane, 100; ignition, dual shielded magneto; dry weight, 367 Ibs. including drives and accessories; and approved for continuous operation at full throttle. Additionally, the fit is only about 7/12" longer than a four-cylinder 180 or 200 hp, and the engine can be modified for inverted systems for those of you interested in that attitude. And, according to Ron, the engine can be turbo charged at a 7:1 compression ratio. Ron believes none have been modified for fuel injection yet. About 1400 hours TBO is advertised as well.

Man} are familiar with the decline of Franklin in the late early '80s and the poor support for engines in the field. This changed when PZL of Poland took over the original tooling for Franklin engines and American distributors began importing their products. Ron brought in brochures from Aerocenter, an aircraft supplies, avionics, and maintenance operation in Puyallup Washington that imports directly from PZL. (Brochures are available in the TPS library for too, four, and six-cwlinder engines.) Prices for the six-cylinder and four-cylinder as of January 15, 1996, are $15,820 and $11,220 complete (you might want to call about what that means), respectively. If you're interested. call and ask for Bill Morris, (800) 331-4375.


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Revised -- 22 February 1997