100 HP Corvair, Tim Hansen , Persistance Pays

Builders,

Ten years ago, at Corvair College #9, a young man showed up after a very long trip; He had taken a Greyhound bus from Ohio to Edgewater Florida He was only able to stay at the College for 24 hours before he had to catch the return bus. He was a college student, he had done a lot of research, and he asked good questions. Serious builders were impressed with his attitude, and the commitment to have his seat at the table of experimental aviation.

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Tonight, nearly ten years later, in spite of all the obstacles that life can serve, Tim’s carefully built 100 HP Corvair, a product of his own hands and mind, fired up for a perfect test run. The running engine is destined for his homebuilt, but the achievement isn’t the power plant.  It is in Tim’s attitude to really learn and understand engines, to build an excellent example, to be persistent when others are not. The reward is internal, it cannot be diminished, lost spent nor taken away. He owns it, period.

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In most other aviation settings, peoples value is judged by the thickness of their wallet. That attitude is abhorrent to me. Conversely, in the Corvair movement, the value of an individual is judged solely on his personal commitment to the original EAA motto “Learn, Build and Fly.” In the pantheon of tradition builders in I have met in two and a half decades in experimental aviation, Tim Hansen holds a very special place, as he is the personification of my golden rule of homebuilding: Persistence Pays.

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Above, Tim’s engine on the run stand on the ramp in front of our hangar. After Corvair College #31, out of respect for his personal commitment, Grace extended a rare invitation to our home, to have Tim finish and test run his engine. The week end was the only open date in Tim’s work schedule. He drove down from Ohio, worked for a day, and had it on the stand by 9PM Saturday night.

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Congratulations to Tim, just after it fired up. A memorable moment in the Arena. The engine is a 2,700 cc Corvair with a Weseman Gen II 5th bearing and all of our gold systems and parts. Tim was on a budget, but he long ago set his personal standard, that his own engine would be first class. He was focused on getting everything he could from the process, not doing it as cheaply as possible.

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Above Tim with his engine after the run. The sign he holds tell the story of a man who would not be dissuaded from his goal.

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Read closely: Tim traveled  8,787 miles, 1,821 of them by bus, to learn the skills, processes, techniques and understanding so that he may rightfully use the title “Motor Head.” In the decade since his first arrival at College #9, Tim also earned a private pilot rating and had built a substantial amount of hours becoming an Airman. The achievements were gained against life’s adversities: In the early years, a cycle accident put Tim in a wheelchair for six months and brought a mountain of uncovered medical expense. Most people would have seen these as acceptable reasons for walking away from the dream of flight, but Tim Hansen isn’t ‘most people’, he has his own standards for himself.

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Tim’s engine puts down night break in run in, outside the hangar in our front yard. Grace keeps the Christmas lights up 365 nights a year. By coincidence, on the left, well known 601XL/Corvair builder and Pilot Phil Maxson,  (Phil Maxson goes to 3,000 cc for his 601XL )  was in the area. He was on hand to welcome Tim into the ranks of successful Corvair builders.  Phil stayed to see the engine run, because he is a member of our community of builders, a group defined by their traditional take on “Learn Build and Fly”.  Most experimental engines are simple consumer products with nothing to unite their owners except the amount of money they spent. For builders looking for more from their hours in aviation, we have a setting where craftsmanship, commitment and camaraderie all retain  their traditional value as the primary currency of aviators.

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Grace worked many years to become an aviator herself, and she has a special understanding for any individual who sets themselves to the task, keeps their standards high, and refuses to quit. Above, Grace shares Tim’s hour of victory.

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After a few photos, we threw some steaks on the grill, and had a late dinner, spending the time remembering events from the last decade, and speaking of good things to come. As I write this, it is now 3am, and everyone has long gone to bed. The morning will bring a long drive back to Ohio for Tim, and a full day of College #33 prep for us. Yet I am kept away by thoughts of having just been present at a major milestone in the path of another aviator. Next week, someone will ask what is the reward of our work with Corvairs, and I will simply refer them to this story.

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At any real level, flying is not a sport, a hobby a pastime nor entertainment. It is an Endeavor, worthy of every hour of your life you invest; Those that dabble in it find only high cost, poor reward and serious risk. They are approaching it as consumers. Conversely, for those who devote their best efforts and their serious commitment, the rewards are without compare.” -ww.

Corvair College #33 sign up closes Sunday 3/29, 9pm EST.

Builders,

The sign up for Corvair College #33 closes this Sunday night. If you were putting off signing up, don’t wait longer. for more information, read this link:

Corvair College #33 sign up now open:

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Sign up is required to attend the College. The Learning, assistance, specialty tooling and my time are free as always, but there is an $89 fee that goes directly and 100% into providing all the food for the three days and the facility. For a direct link to the sign up page:

https://cc33.wufoo.com/forms/cc33-registration/

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Above, Tom Cummings of LA, on the left, stands with me in front of my Pietenpol at Corvair College #1. The event was in May of 2000. Tom was the very first guy to show up at the very first College.

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Closing a case at a College, Part #3

Builders:

Here are the next 3 Groups in a “Completely Closed Case.”

2000 Rear oil Case Group

2100 Harmonic Balancer Group

2400 Starter Group

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Above, Rear quarter view of an engine. It is a 3,000 cc engine with a GM 8409 crank prepped by the Weseman’s with one of their Gen.II  5th bearings. Visible in the photo is our #2000-HV rear oil cases. The cylinders and pistons are from our 3,000 cc Kit. They are the next step after getting through a “Completely Closed Case.” Before closing any case, it is a good idea to read: All about Dipsticks, Part #2206 .

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2000 Rear oil Case Group

This group covers everything in the rear oil case. Although a handful of people rework their own rear case, the majority of builders opt to purchase an #2000-HV rebuilt unit from us. It covers every part in the group. Having one constitutes “checking off” all the individual numbers in the 2000 Group. You can see a report on how this part is made here:  High Volume Oil Pump .

Rear oil case group (2000)

2001- Rear oil case casting

2002- Rear oil seal

2003- 5/16 hold down hardware

2004- 3/8 hold down hardware

2005- Case to block gasket

2006- Oil pump assembly

2007- Oil pump gaskets

2008- Oil pressure regulator piston

2009- Oil pressure regulator spring

2010- Oil pressure regulator plug

2011- Plug washer

2012- Adjustable pressure regulator, (was 2010-A)

We are working on having a CNC version of #2012. To this point, all the ones we have used were hand made by me on the shop lathe, and each of them took about 90 minutes to make, and had about $20 of individual parts. This is OK for prototyping and testing, but not affordable for production to builders. The part is a 1 minute retrofit on any engine, including a fully assembled one. As soon as we have these done, we will let everyone interested know. You can read the story about them here: Adjustable Oil Pressure Regulator, #2010A .

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2100 Harmonic Balancer Group

This group is covered in detail in the new manual. The two elements of the group are below, and you will need both of them to completely close the case. If you don’t have them, they can be added later, but it is a nice part of the compete case assembly to look at it and see it from the safety shaft nut to the bolt holding the balancer and know that everything in between is fully done and ready to go flying.

2101- Harmonic balancer

2102- Balancer bolt and washer

To learn more about the details of installing a balancer, please read this full story before getting to the college:   Balancer Installation.

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2400 Starter Group

The reason why the starter group is an element of closing a case is because a builder must have a #2408- Ring gear to bolt the prop hub on the engine for good. While this part can be ordered individually, most builders opt to pick up the while group on one shot.  We have this full group as complete kit, with the ultra light weight #2401-L Starter, covered under the single part #2400 -L. Ordering this group covers every part in the 2400 Group, and again allows the builder to “check off ” all the individual numbers in the group.  The story covering this can be rear here:  2400-L Starter

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2401- Starter.

2402- Starter mounting brackets

2403- Tail bracket.

2404- Fine gear.

2406- Top cover gasket.

2406- Top cover gasket.

2407- 5/16″-18 Top cover hardware.

2408- Ring gear.

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On to part #4……….

Closing a case at a College, Part #2

Builders:

Lets look at the Groups involved:

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1000  The Crankshaft Group

1100 The Camshaft Group

1200 The Case Group

2000 Rear oil Case Group

2100 Harmonic Balancer Group

2400 Starter Group

2500 Hub Group

3000 Weseman 5th bearing Group

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OK, to get to what I call a “Complete Closed Case” a builder needs everything from each of the above groups. Not all of it comes from us. Some of it is from the Core, Some from the Wesemans, and some from Clark’s. The most important thing is to look at every individual part number, and make sure you have all of them on hand before you go after assembling the case at a College or home. Being at a college, but not having a set of main bearings, effectively prevents you from getting anywhere on the case. Usually someone has a spare set, but don’t count on it, come prepared.

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1001- Crank -A (8409 GM) or -B (Weseman new Billet)

1002- Crank gear

1003- Crank gear key

1004- Crank gear gasket

1005- Rear keys -2-

1006- Fuel pump eccentric

1007- Spacer

1008- Bronze distributor drive gear

1009- Oil slinger

1010- Main bearings

1011- Connecting rod bearings

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OK. If the goal is to close the case, and you send your stock core crank to the Wesemans at SPA for processing into a Gen 1 5th bearing crank, it is going to come back with #’s 1001-A through #1004. You will need to #1005 keys, and #1006-#1009, are just cleaned up off your core engine. CRITICALLY, you must get a main bearing set that matches the grind on your crank. Ie, if the crank is ground .010″ under, you need “10 under mains.” for bearings. These do not come with the crank.  #1011 are the rod bearings, and they must also match the crank grind, but you will not need them to get to a “Completely Closed Case.”  You can take this link: http://flywithspa.com/corvaircomponents/new5thbearingcrankshaft.html directly to Dan and Rachel’s site for crankshaft rework information.

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Cam group (1100)

1101- Cam

1102- Thrust washer

1103- Key

1104- Cam gear

1105- Hydraulic lifter set -12 total-

1106- Cam lubricant

1107- ZDDP oil additive

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At a College, we do not have the capability of installing a cam gear. Thus #1101 through 1104 have to get there assembled correctly. I have written about this in : Cam Washer, looking for a gray area. No kidding, I am not going to assist people in building motors at colleges with loose cam washers. If you are coming to the next college, and you have a cam with a loose washer, send it to me ASAP, and I will fix it (it will cost money, I am going to ‘kill’ the gear and replace it) and bring it to the college, The solution that most people are choosing these days is to just get the entire contents of the 1100 Group from us: 1100-WW Camshaft Group. To close the case you will need #1006, but you will not need #1005 and #1007 until later.

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Case Group (1200)

1201- Case -2 halves with studs-

1202- Main case bolts  and nuts-8-

1203- Pipe plugs for oil galleries -2-

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Here we have a tiny group, the Case.Now, there are a lot of notes that can be applied here, but keep in mind we are just looking at the overview big picture. The one note that I want to point out is that the case has no machine work on a 2700/2850 but the six bores in the case for the cylinders must be machined larger on a 3,000 cc engine. Of course, this is done before it is assembled. If you are going to build a 3,000cc engine, you must ship me the case in advance of the college, so I can have it machined. Some advance planning is in order, I can’t do this a week before the event. I have the ability to fix one or two head studs per case at the college, but if you need more than that, consider shipping the case to us in advance. If you send us a dirty case, we can have it cleaned, but it does cost $100. We have a wash tank at colleges, but it is for final cleaning, not degreasing stuff that should have arrived clean.

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Now, let’s get a look at the four parts in the group and think about putting a case together. Using just these numbers as a check list and something of a road map, any builder can put together a plan to assemble their case at a Corvair College Actually all the effort to get to that stage goes into the prep work, cleaning and a little shopping. It you lay out all the properly prepared components from groups 1000, 1100 and 1200 in front of me on the bench, and get me an assembly stand and my trusty Snap-on torque wrench “Excalibur“, I can assemble the case in about 45 minutes.

Now I say this in bad conscience because I once took 2 days to do it.  There was a tiny ding in one of the bearing surfaces that was putting a small amount of extra drag on the turning crank and bothering me. I took it apart 6 times to find it and make it right. Keep in mind, it’s not a contest, the winning score is being happy with it, and any amount of time it takes between 45 minutes and 48 hours is fine. BTW, everything we are talking about here is in our engine assembly DVD #1 that covers building up a case.

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…. on to part #3

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Closing a case at a College, Part #1

Builders,

Today we are 1 month away from Corvair College #33. A number of builders who have signed up are coming to close their case, and get ‘over the hump’ of getting the first third of their engine done. This series will highlight the steps in this process, and provide specific guidance. If you are planning on attending CC#33, keep in mind that we will close the sign up in just over 10 days, and the event is already 50% full. Read more on signing up here: Corvair College #33 sign up now open:

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18 months ago, I wrote a long series on options of getting started building your Corvair. The page containing the links to the 20 individual stories can be found here: Getting Started Reference page. The information is good, it needs only small revisions to bring it fully up to date, but it is well worth reading over an evening or two, so each builder can look at the options and map out his own plan.  In this series, I am going to look at only the two most popular options for closing a case, building a 3,000cc case set up for a Weseman Gen 2 bearing, and building a 2700cc case set up with a Weseman Gen 1 bearing.  The closest stories to these two options are Getting Started in 2013, Part #7, ‘Chas. Charlie’ Short Block and Getting Started in 2013, Part #5, ‘Allan Able’ short block. respectively. In the series we will update and detail each of these approaches.

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Fundamental to understanding our information here, is getting better acquainted with our numbering system. The new manual is based on it, as is our products page: ( http://www.flycorvair.com/products.html ) The Groups we will be working with are the following:

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1000  The Crankshaft Group

1100 The Camshaft Group

1200 The Case Group

2000 Rear oil Case Group

2100 Harmonic Balancer Group

2400 Starter Group

2500 Hub Group

3000 Weseman 5th bearing Group

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Over the next few nights, we will look at the elements of each of these that make up a first class closed Corvair Case. I invite builders to write in on the comments section and share any question or comment they have.

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Above, Blaine Schwartz and myself at CC#22. We are standing in front of his closed case. Note the smile, this is the look of a builder having a good time, making progress, learning with friends. Blaine is now flying this engine in his Zenith 750 : ( Flying Zenith 750, 2850 cc Corvair, Blaine Schwartz ) A college is an excellent setting to really get started on your engine in a knowledgeable, supportive setting. All you have to do is sign up, and do a little planning as detailed in this series. -ww.

Dog Day at the Beach

On our way back from Corvair College #32 in Austin TX, we broke up the 1,100 mile drive with a stop at Grayston Beach on the Florida panhandle. It was cool and overcast, without a single other person for miles in either direction. No phones, electronics, nor distractions. Just a moment and a beautify quiet day.

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When ScoobE first got to the beach he was cold and a bit scared. When you are 12″ tall, every shin high wave looks like a Tsunami. I wrapped him in my jacket, and he was warm and happy looking out one sleeve.

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ScoobE comes to every College, warm or cold. He has hair, not fur and near zero body fat, so we always have a collection of blankets on hand, which he makes into an igloo.  At College #32 Katrina became his new best friend when she put 2 hand warmers in the bottom of his nest. He was toasty even though the hangar was about 35 degrees.

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The beach was 30 degrees warmer than Texas the day before, and in a little while ScoobE was acclimated to the setting.

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Just inland of the dune line is a continuous forest of tangled, moss covered trees. The photo doesn’t begin to do it justice, was walking through it on the foggy day was surreal.

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Joking with Grace I said, ‘sure glad we are not riding bicycles and that our dog isn’t a Scottie, apparently neither  is allowed.’  This is the edge of the state park, Dogs are allowed on the county side.

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Looking west, no one in sight. No one came by for hours.

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Selfie, dog not cooperating…. I have lived in Florida for nearly 30 years. Few people who visit the state have an appreciation for the size or diversity of the place. Pensacola to Key west is a longer drive than Washington DC to St. Louis MO., Further than LA to El Paso TX.  Florida has many residents, but few of them live north of Orlando. I have not sat in a traffic jam in years. The densely populated areas have changed rapidly, but off the beaten path you can visit any timeless period you wish. The great percentage of Americans live in places that have long been homogenized by very strong corporate-consumer forces. Florida has those areas also, but it also has countless areas of character, where people and places have retained what made them unique, and those are the places I am attached to in the Sunshine state. -ww.

Current Corvair Installation in a Pietenpol, Part 2

Builders,

Here is a look at the second part of Kevin Purtee’s Corvair installation, these photos were taken in his shop, the day after CC #32. This is a follow on to the previous story: Current Corvair Installation in a Pietenpol, part #1. If you follow all the way down, you will gain some insight to the type of characters that inhabit the Corvair/Pietenpol branch of the Corvair Movement.

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Above, an overhead shot of the engine. The Corvair is only 28″ wide, about four inches narrower than a small Continental. Kevin’s motor is set up with a stock Corvair oil system. In the manual, this is Group 2700. If he was using a HD oil system, he would follow Group 2800 in the manual. Any engine can be ‘upgraded’ later, but it is easier to build it in the HD configuration if you know that you will eventually do it. On Pietenpols, you can use either system, on planes like Zenith 750s, we always set them up as Group 2800 motors.

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The Gold oil filter housing is at the back of the motor, it is part #2601-S. This is the ‘standard’ housing, we also make a #2601-R ‘reverse’ housing where the filter is over the engine. The “-R” is only used on Sonex and Waiex airframes and a handful of applications that are very tight on space. The iol feed line for the 5th bearing comes off the housing. The line itself is part # 3051-S. It is an AN-6 braided line, but Kevin has covered it in a sleeve. The silver part on the firewall behind the housing is the Aircraft Spruce air oil separator. It works well and is less than $50. You can fly some Corvair installations without one, but most planes use one. It weighs only a few ounces.

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Pietenpols use our standard intake manifold, part #3601-S. In the photos above, the rubber mounting boots are not in place, but it is a good view of how the intake lines up with the head pipes we weld on heads. Note that the pipes on the heads are leaning inboard 20 degrees. This is required to get the most compact installation. We have fixtures that bolt to the head that hold the pipes in the right place during welding.  On the internet there are countless discussions about trying to make some bolt on arrangement that works as well as welded on pipes. If you want to make progress, make it look like this, it has worked for hundreds of other builders in the last decade.

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Above, a look from the bottom of the engine. The exhaust is #3901-E.  The camera is distorting the amount to ‘splay in the exhaust tubes. in reality the miss the corners of the fuselage by just 2″.  The high thrust line mount is #4201-C.

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Above, the close exhaust pipe is in perspective, and can be seen to hug the fuselage. The far side has the illusion of sticking out. The Corvairs exhaust is held in place by 6 clamps that look like distributor clamps. They are made from 316 stainless. I have tried making mounting points at the ends of the pipes, but these were prone to cracks. After more than 10 years of these systems flying, I can say they have a perfect crack free record, as long as you just clamp them only at the top where they bolt to the heads. Kevin’s  plane is being covered with the Stewart System. He chose this because he dosent tolerate the MEK element in Poly-Fiber covering systems.

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Notice that every engine we build at colleges has white painted or powdercoated push rod tubes. This is an importiant element in protecting the pushrod O-rings, (#1603) from heat damage.

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Above, Kevin and I speaking at Corvair College #32. Although we look very different, we have a lot of things in Common: We are both the same age; We are both Embry-Riddle graduates from the same Degree Program; we have both worked in aviation every day since we were 26; we have very similar perspectives on risk management.  Read: Thought for the Day: Two paths in managing risk.

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It was really cold at CC #32. When you see photos, notice how well everyone is dressed it never came out of the 30s for a temp. Builders had a good time, but we have already discussed moving next years Texas college to April to avoid a repeat.  That is good for next year, but while at the college, Kevin wanted to demonstrate that being cold is all in your head if you are having a good time. He is the unofficial leader of the Corvair/Pietenpol branch of the movement, and as such, builders have come to expect that he will likely set the positive attitude at any gathering of Pietenpol people. We have many ‘characters’ in the Corvair movement, and the bar for setting the pace is high. Other engines tend to attract people less comfortable with strong choices, we get the fun loving, independent types.

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Above, Pietenpol builder, Mark Chouinard’s engine on the run stand at CC #32. Mark is the 6’5″ cat in the cammo jacket. Note that everyone is wearing hats, and several people are wearing snow mobile suits. It was about 35 degrees, raining and windy out when we ran Mark’s engine. Mark spent a number of years in the Infantry, and as a fellow warrior, Kevin thought the occasion called for something memorable, something that would be a reminder that the Corvair Pietenpol builders are just a different breed….

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Kevin’s idea was that he and Mark should stand shirtless in the prop blast. Mark bowed out, but Kevin wanted everyone to know that it wasn’t really that cold. Note the rain drops  on the lens. Someone figured out that the wind chill in the prop blast was 90 below, even without the water cooling effect. He next time anyone asks if a Corvair college is a typical technical seminar, with power point presentations in the Holiday Inn banquet room, I will pull out this picture, it should cover the difference pretty well. -ww.

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