Above is the panel on my own Rotorway Exec 152/90. Every circuit was protected from the hot bus to the circuit breakers by intermittent breakers. One item to notice is that the critical switches overhead as well as the clutch switch on the bottom panel had guards that I fabricated from brazing rod coated with tool grip coating. This helps prevent anyone from accidentally turning off a critical component during flight. The cyclic switch also switched the landing light on/off and controlled the actuator that swung the landing light out from under the tub. The red light on the right side under the VSI is the alternator warning light. Every ship should have one of these.

I had installed an oil cooler with a cooling fan and a switch to activate it. Above the switch is a small green light that indicated that the fan was on. All indicator lights except the red warning lights should be on a dimmer for night flying. Every switch had it's own circuit breaker. Notice I even had an oil pressure warning light, a good thing to have. Warning lights get your attention and could save your ship.

The Very Best “13 Volt Idiot Light” Since Hector was a Pup!


They call these “Idiot Lights”. An “Idiot” is defined as an epithet that can be directed at anyone but you. So do this for your friends—they really need it.

Since your alternator and battery voltage is about 14.5 volts when the alternator is working, a Low Voltage circuit trips at 13 volts to tell you that your alternator has failed—and from that point you’re going to be losing electrical energy—so you’d better start making plans if you need the electrical power. The FADEC computers cut out at somewhere over 10 volts so you need a warning indicator


This light will also tell you if your water pump/alternator belt breaks. If it illuminates you can look at both your voltage gauge and your water temp gauge to determine the cause as you locate an emergency landing spot on the ground. If it is a belt break, the water temp will begin to rise and an emergency descent will be necessary to save your engine. An alternator warning light is a super investment and should be on every Rotorway helicopter.

When I flew my Exec 152 to any show or meet where there were Rotorway pilots and builders who had not seen it before, they were amazed that I could start the engine without the little starter pulling the rotor blades around with it, a really ridiculous system. I would fire up the engine and the rotor system would just sit there until I engaged the clutch, just like on the R22's. Many people asked me to build them one but I did not have the time so I gave away about 50 sets of drawings for free and I began to see my electric clutch system show up around the country. Later others began to manufacture a similar system for sale and now it is very common to see an automatic clutch engaging the belts on a Rotorway helicopter. The main components of the stock system are utilized but re-worked. If you would like to see the drawings (crude as they were) you can CLICK HERE

The photo to the Above shows the first electric clutch to be installed on a rotorway Exec that I am aware of. I got tired of the factory system and reasoned that pulling the belts in tighter around the pulleys to give more wrap would be desirable. I designed and fabricated this unit and it worked well for hundreds of hours. You can see the slack side belt idler that I also installed before it was anything that was being manufactured and sold. The electric clutch, engaging the belts in from the back side, and installing a slack side idler was on my ship years before anyone was making and selling them.

In the photo above you can see the back-side idler that I built for the electric clutch. I just turned down the teeth on the factory pulley and it worked great. You can also see the VW valve cover that I replaced the weak ones from Rotorway with. These covers are much stronger, can be torqued down tighter without hurting them, and did not give me any leaking problems. They also have cooling fins machined into their surface to help cool the oil. You can also see the Stainless Steel exhaust covers that Dan VanDuesen and I had fabricated to cover the exhaust. The photo to the near right was an early valve failure that I had on my Exec. The valve lash cap is mushroomed and the valve got stuck in the guide where the piston contacted it. This necessitated an engine overhaul. It was at that time that I decided to replace the stock rockers with Roller rockers. The blue arrow shows the dimple that lined up with the push rod before we started using the roller and the factory changed the pocket location.

The above photo of a set of Roller Rockers that are exactly like the ones that I had installed on my Exec 152. Dale McGuire has an Exec 152 (see under graduates) that he installed dual ignition systems in and installed the roller rockers. This photo was taken of his rollers during his flight training with me.The factory did not like us installing the roller rockers. One reason may have been that our engines were not requiring the frequent overhauls like those equipped with the factory rockers. The valves needed little attention but we still checked them at the 25 hour interval.

As you can see the roller actually rolls across the top of the lash cap instead of banging into it like the stock rockers.Be careful if you have a newer engine. The factory changed the position of the push rod pocket on the back side of the standard rocker and moved it outboard. It no longer lies directly under the bulge on top of the casting as you would expect. If the push rod is not placed into the pocket but is lined up with the bulge on top, the push rod will slide off and cause an engine failure. Andrew Burr has Roller rockers available for sale that he is running on his Rotorway. Email Andrew

Early on I experienced an electrical fire on a wire that came from the battery without protection until it reached the fuse panel (just like the current configuration). The fire nearly cost me my helicopter and burned up most of the wiring. I tore the helicopter down to the frame and started over.

This time I decided to have a master switch and relay that would shut off everything except the fuel pumps and ignition systems (carburetor engine). I took this photo when I recovered the helicopter six years after it was stolen from me. The new tail boom and the rust around the fittings would never have been allowed when I had it.

You can see how I brought the battery cable up to the master relay. The second cable goes to the starter and is protected by an intermittent breaker. The only wire that was not protected was the cable coming from the battery to the relay. All other circuits were protected by intermittent breakers that would reset themselves (see the black rectangles with red protector on the terminals. The protected wires then went to their busses and then each circuit in the cabin had it's own aircraft style breaker--I was protected.

This is a shot of the negative bus. Note the rust from sitting for 6 years in hiding after it was stolen. The thief must have had an incident because the tail boom was new and unpainted when I recovered the ship.

I don't like using the frame as a ground so I ran a ground cable from the battery to the negative bus shown here. Every circuit in the electrical system terminated at the negative bus. I was learning but I did not know abut plastic spiral wrap that I now use to protect all of the wire bundles. Of course there was no danger of the negative wires causing any trouble if they contacted the frame but I would still spiral wrap them to keep them neat and secure.

The reason that the coolant tank is just above the belts is because I had fabricated a luggage compartment under the dog house where the tank usually was located. That way I could carry tools, jackets, lunch, and drinks right there near the CG next to the main mast.