Dr. Scott M. Baker

Performance

Well I finally got a chance to go on a couple of rare December dune trips in Oregon where it wasn’t raining, snowing, colder-than-hell, or windy.

So, after all that work, how does it perform ?

The rail is much faster than it was with the stock VW engine. I’m not really one to drive that fast (we have speed limits here in Oregon), but it’s nice to have the power and the acceleration at your disposal.

The engine has a lot more power. Where the old stock VW would often refuse to climb if you purposely stopped on the side of a dune and then tried to climb from a dead stop, the rotary has sufficient power to bury the sandrail to its axle in sand in no time at all. There’s a misconception that the rotary engines don’t have much low end torque — this simply isn’t true in my experience.

The rail very often does wheelies (it never liked to do them before). You can do a wheelie by revving the engine and then popping the clutch into first, or you can do it by simply shifting from first to second while accelerating, or even just while accelerating hard in first gear.

Steering has been compromised a bit, since the center of gravity has shifted toward the rear wheels. This results in a lot more use of the turning breaks, and less use of the steering wheel. At high speeds, the font end starts to lift up a bit, which further reduces steering ability. Turning brakes are a must-have.

What about the noise factor ?

The Rotary Engine screams at high rpms much like a two cycle engine does. The thing is loud and it’s distinctive. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that it draws a lot of attention and doesn’t sound like a VW. The disadvantage is that the driver has to put up with all that noise also!


Questions / Comments / Etc — email me at sandrail@smbaker.com  

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