Storing a completed engine

Builders,

Some of the most frequently asked  questions are about storing a completed engines. The following notes cover these topics.

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The last engine run at Corvair College #21 at Barnwell SC belonged to Robert Caldwell who came all the way from Texas with his lovely wife Barbara. This engine’s long block was completed more than 10 years earlier at CC#2. It started and ran perfectly. It was a nice moment, it was also Roberts birthday.

Read more here: http://www.flycorvair.com/cc21.html

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How long can an engine sit after it was assembled without being damaged? Indefinitely, as long as it is protected from moisture and corrosion. Look at the engine above, proof that your Corvair is great, but it isn’t capable of understanding calendar time. If it is stored properly, it would have no issue waiting 50 years to be started.

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If we do a break in run on my engine at a college, do we have to treat it with preservatives or something before it gets stored? No, this isn’t an issue. At Colleges, we run engines on unleaded fuel for a very specific reason: The byproducts of the combustion of Avgas are corrosive in the presence of moisture. If you run an engine on 100LL and then store it in a less than dry atmosphere, it will attack the combustion chambers and seats. Unleaded auto fuel does not do this. During the break in run we keep the oil temp way above the boiling point of water, and it boils out the entrained water, and coats the inside with oil. If it gets sealed up as it is cooling off, the engine is set to be stored, as is. I do not drain the oil. If I cut open the filter, I replace it with another, or seal it with a small plastic bag.

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What about ‘Fogging’ the engine like people do with outboards in the fall? Not required. Because many outboards have open exhausts in the lower end that lead right to the cylinder bores, fogging is a good idea, but you are not going to keep your Corvair outside like most boats are kept over the winter. Outboards face condensation issues even if you wrap them with tarps. I have fogged Corvairs in the past, but I do have some question about the compatibility of our rings with fogging, and since there isn’t a need for it, we don’t do it.

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What about dehydrator plugs? You don’t need them. They are a good idea on aircraft engines which are still stored on the airframe, but you are not doing this, you are putting your masterpiece indoors.

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What is the right way to store it? First, put four ‘feet’ on it, these are made from four 1/2″ x 4″ carriage bolts and eight 1/2″x13 coarse thread nuts. You put these through the four mounting points in the bottom of the case, and they prevent the weight of the engine from sitting on the pan. Then tape off the six exhaust ports, the two intake tubes, and the two breather ports. Seal up all the oil ports and the filter area. Put the entire motor in a very thick (8mill) Clear plastic bag.

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Catch why the bag has to be clear: Just before you close the bag, you put in a 4″x 4″ piece of mild steel sheet, completely stripped of all finish, either sand blasted or wire wheeled clean and bare. You put this on top of the engine, in the bag, where you can see it at a glance walking by. This way, six months later, if you notice that the plate has rust forming on it, you know you need to reseal the bag, move the engine or both. If the bag is a dark color, you will not be able to see it until it is too late. Even though this makes a lot of sense, I have done it this way since before the first Gulf War, many people will just wrap it up in a blue tarp and put it in the pool shed, because their better half didn’t like the idea of putting it under the glass coffee table top in the living room.

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On the day that was going to be the glorious moment where the pristine test run masterpiece was to be unveiled and mounted on the equally magnificent airframe of craftsmanship, and Horrors! some evil-doer has taken your tribute Tonawanda and replaced it with a rusty, corroded artifact from Robert Ballard’s warehouse! Don’t let this happen to you. Store your masterpiece properly.

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ww.

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Video of rebuild and run of Corvair, from a 13 year old.

Builders:

Pietenpol builder Bill Reynolds wrote a story on our “Piet-Vair” discussion group, about the 3,000 cc Corvair he and his son Jack rebuilt and just test ran at our first “Corvair Finishing School”. Included with the note is a link to the 8 minute film that Jack made, documenting the process from start to finish. It is an impressive visual story, even before you consider that Jack is just 13 years old. 

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Bill and Jack have attended three Corvair Colleges, and many people have gotten to know them. We have a great number of father/son teams building, and even at Grandfather/father/son team, but the Reynolds are still standouts.  They have an infectious sense of fun and positive attitude, but they also both really learned their chosen engine inside and out.

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I have taken countless opportunities to explain to people why the Corvair is a completely different engine option, but perhaps this short film explains what is available from a Corvair that you will never find with a “buy it in a box” consumer product engine like a Rotax.  Look at the start of the video, from 2 years ago, and see that Jack is a very sharp kid, and at the end of the process, he is obviously a young man. That credit goes to his parents and to Jack, but I think about how, many years from now, Bill and Jack will be out flying in their Pietenpol, and the engine powering it will be a running testimony to the time they spent together on it……. and that my fellow builders, is something that can not be purchased in an imported ‘box motor’ with a tag that says “No user serviceable parts inside.”

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From Bill Reynolds:

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“The satisfaction of being able to put together a great engine with my own hands cannot be overstated and to share this experience with my son Jack makes it all the better. I currently have 400,000 miles on my 7.3 liter F-250 but I know infinitely more about my 3 liter Corvair because we had to learn about and assemble every component ourselves.
With regard to the team of folks that helped make our success possible, let me say that working with William and Grace has been something other than the standard consumer experience. Many builders go into a build with William, possessing a point,click, buy and install mentality. If you are even marginally awake, you will soon enough figure out that is not the way this works. Unlike parts suppliers who will happily take your money then show you the door , William actually has expectations of the people he sells parts to, he expects you to learn something and do things right and this takes a little time and patience.”

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ4nwUg9uwg

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Above, the film Jack made of the complete rebuild and test run process. Bill  is the kind of guy who comfortable speaking plainly about things which are important to him.  We are the same age, and over a few Colleges we had a chance to speak about some of these things. On the phone the other night, I said even though I am not a parent myself, sometimes  I see someone with their child, and it gives me real pause to consider what I missed.  I said to Bill that seeing him work with his son at the Corvair Finishing School was one of these times.

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Bill is on our private Pietenpol discussion group:

Piet Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

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See Bill and Jack at Barnwell College #35:

Corvair College #35 Barnwell builders video

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Bill and Jack attended 3 Colleges, CC #31 and #35 at Barnwell, and #33 At Eustis FL:

Corvair College #33, Mid Florida at Eustis Airport, April 17-19, 2015

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Barton, Charlie and Robert Reddit are our Grandfather/father/son team who built a 3,000 cc Corvair for their Zenith 750. The EAA made this video about Corvair College #27, and the centerpiece of the film is the Reddit’s experience. Watch for the part where Charlie explains that building the engine together was the best way he could think of for his son Robert to really understand how special his grandfather Barton really is. The Film closes with Barton’s observation on what makes a life meaningful:

New EAA video on Corvair College#27, Barnwell 2013.

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-ww.

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Corvair Finishing School #1, Video report.

Builders:

This past weekend we had the first “Corvair Finishing School.” This was a Joint project between Dan and Rachel Weseman at SPA/Panther and myself. The Concept was to have a small numbers of builders come for weekend, and all finish and run their Corvair engines. We held the event at the SPA Panther factory in Green Cove Springs FL. It worked very well, and as you can see in the film link below, all the engines ran on the test stand.

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Because this was the first of a new kind of event, we didn’t put out advanced notice, we just wanted to run though the event and learn the logistics differences between a regular Corvair College and a smaller, more focused event.

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The Four Builder engines we hosted had a number of things in common that simplified the process: They were all 3,000 cc engines with nearly identical layouts; Every part in the engines came from either SPA/Panther or FlyCorvair, so everything could be pre-coordinated; All of the builders had previously attended at least one regular Corvair College, and had made substantial progress on their engines, and done their homework.

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The four engines were built by: Brent Mayo, a Panther builder; Brian Sanford a Zenith builder; Andrew Shorter, Panther Builder; and the father/son team of Bill and Jack Reynolds, who are building a Pietenpol. Both Dan and I said these were powerful, clean running,  first class engines. They are all equipped with Weseman Gen II 5th bearings, all of them had Cylinder Heads that were built by SPA, and the engines featured our Gold system parts, EPX ignitions and 2400-L starters. Andrew’s engine has a Billet SPA crank, all the others have GM 8409 forged cranks processed by SPA.

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The engines, all started and ran perfectly. The small number of builders gave us time to have long break in runs, fine tune the engines and answer a lot of operational questions and details,. We did tests like differential Compression, (which reveal that Andrew’s engine was at 78/80 or better on every cylinder after it’s initial 30 minute break in run, near perfect). But just like regular colleges, it is the builders themselves getting their hands dirty and doing the work. After a little more feedback and reflection, we will give some thought as to how further Finishing Schools would benefit Corvair Builders.

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Rachel Weseman did a great job editing a short film of the engines running at the Finishing School. You can see it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuBv2ZFyb_Q#t=125

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You Can read her note on it here, including the fact they now have 70 Panther builders:

http://flywithspa.com/70-panther-builders-and-a-video-from-this-weekends-corvair-finishing-school/

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You can get a look at all of the products and services SPA/Panther have for the Corvair here:

http://flywithspa.com/corvair/

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In the end, it was a short break from regular work to spend a weekend advancing four outstanding engines and their builders over the finish line, in a manner who would make them all more informed accomplished operators.  A worthwile goal, achieved.

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-ww.

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Outlook 2016, Ordering a Completed Engine.

Builders:

Although our work is primarily about providing the parts, information and training to builders who are assembling their own engine, we have always had a complimentary line of completed and test run engines for builders who elect to have us assemble and run the engine.

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Over the years I have built a great number of these engines, and 2016 will be no different, however the procedure for ordering one will be new. The new path will smooth the process, and organize the scheduling, but it will also allow builders to specify the exact engine they would like.

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Previously we offered 3 different engine outputs, and a few options for each choice. We are moving to a new system, where any sensible combination of parts can be selected, and we will assemble these, and test run the engine for a fixed labor cost.

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After reviewing the manual, and this web story: Sources Reference Page, and writing or calling us or the Wesemans, a builder proceeds with the following steps;

Contact Dan and Rachel Weseman at SPA/Panther (http://flywithspa.com/contact-us/) and order these parts:

A) Group 1000 crankshaft  either Billet or GM forged. prepped for a ‘Gen II’ 5th bearing. Sources: Group 1000, Crankshaft

B) Group 3000 5th bearing assembly

Sources: Choosing a 5th Bearing

C) Order a set of heads Group 1500

Sources: Group 1500 – New cylinder head source

D) pay the Core engine fee, which covers the cost of the engine that your engine will be rebuilt from. What is a core engine worth?

Paying for these items has several functions; it acts as the deposit on the engine, it gets the process going on the long lead items, and gets a projected date for the engine’s assembly and test run.  The Wesemans also offer several other options, such as Group 1300/1400 3,000 cc engine kits, and Group 2950 rear alternator kits.  Rachel will be glad to cover the options.

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The second phase is working with us to specify all the other components for the engine, such as all of our Gold Systems., the Group 1100 cam kit and ignition.We will provide a detailed list of every part going on the engine.

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The assembly labor will be priced at the following fixed rates:

Closing the case, installing the 5th bearing, installing the safety shaft, hybrid studs prop hub and ring gear, putting on the HV-2000 rear oil case and installing the balancer: $600.

To do the work listed above, and also install the rods, pistons, rings and cylinders, $1,000 ($600 for closing the case, plus $400)

To do all of the above, plus install the heads, valve train, and finishing components, and test run the engine $2,000. ($600 for closing the case, plus $400 for the pistons/rods/cyls., plus $1,000 to finish and run the engine.)

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In the next few weeks I will give some examples of builds and costs, and link them to the bottom of this story

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Top view of a Corvair built in our shop, showing 2400-L starter arrangement. Engines built in 2016 will follow the path of ordering the main parts from the Wesemans, selecting the systems parts from us, and choosing the level of assembly labor. This format offers better scheduling, customization, and a better understanding of which items are included on a finished engine.

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2,850cc Corvair Engine Run – Don Murphy

Builders,

Below are a few photos from Don Murphy’s 2,850cc Corvair run done at our house today. The engine is a 110 HP model destined for Don’s Zenith 650.  Don is a highly experienced aviator; he flew medevac helicopters in both Korea and Vietnam. I take it as a compliment to our work when an aviator of Don’s experience and understanding chooses the Corvair as the powerplant option that makes the most sense to him.

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Above, Don’s engine running in our front yard. It started in 2 seconds of cranking, and put down a perfect 45 minute run. The engine features all of our most up to date systems, including a 2400-L ultra light in weight starter system. The engine is a 2,850 cc 110 HP engine set up with 95 heads. This motor will run on 91 octane car gas, or 100LL without issue. It is built around a Weseman Gen II 5th bearing, which all feature a billet CNC bearing housing. The crankshaft was processed as a pair by Dan and Rachel at SPA/Panther.

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Above, engine on the run stand, priming taking place. The plugs are out because it makes the prop easier to turn while priming. We do this for at least 15 minutes. Fram 6607 filters are only used on break-in runs.

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Above, oil drips off the rockers into the catch bins. It is stained red by the sticky engine assembly lube we used. We check the oil flow and prime every engine run this way, including all the engines run at Corvair Colleges.

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Above, Lucas ZDDP, found at most chain auto parts stores. It is $20, and it supplements the ZDDP in the Shell Rotella T for the break-in run. When adding oil before the valve covers are on, you pour it down the distributor hole.

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Grace taking a minute to film the movie linked below. In support of freedom and human rights she elected to wear her red, white and blue bikini. This is only a joke on the surface, as Grace is making a point that the most repressive regimes in the world always start by treating women as possessions and dictating what they can wear, often under pain of imprisonment or death.  Grace does not care how modestly any woman chooses to dress, she is just opposed to women being forced to dress in ways dictated by men.  In a world where 80% of the 3 billion women on the planet live in places where the government can dictate their dress, how many children they have, and even if they can learn to read, it is startling how few people care about this.

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Above, the first 25 minutes of any run should be done between 1,700 and 2,000 rpm.

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Above, the engine running at 2,500 rpm for the second half of the break-in run.

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Above In the middle of the run, one of our neighbors came home to pick something up in the “company vehicle.” Landed in his front yard for five minutes and took back off with a very smart looking maneuver. Seemed very fitting background for the first run of Don’s engine. Below is a link to a movie of the run:

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Above, gratuitous dog photo. Scoob E gnaws the head off his stuffed red squid, but gently naps one minute later with his stuffed dog.

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-ww.

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100 HP Corvair, Tim Hansen , Persistence 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, despite 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 powerplant.  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, people’s 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 whom 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 weekend 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 9 PM Saturday.

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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 “Motorhead.” 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 a 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 past decade, and speaking of good things to come. As I write this, it is now 3 am, 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 awake 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 who 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.

Night Engine Run, December 20, 2014

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Above, the 3,000 cc Corvair built for Zenith builder Thomas Fernandez running on the stand last night in front of our house. The Christmas Lights are on the trees in front of our porch. Grace likes them all year long.

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I have often thought I should have logged how many engine have run on this stand since I built it, but I never have. The best guess I have is about 400. The stand is chained down to a 700 pound concrete block we cast into the front yard years ago. For a solid attach point I cast an old Corvair crank standing on end in it. All that is visible is the nub the harmonic balancer bolted on to. The chain is bolted to the  1/2″-20 threads that balancer bolt threaded into.

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Above, the set up for a night run: Our neighbor, Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter mans the lights and helped me set up for the run. He has been to many Colleges and has been with SPA/Panther at Oshkosh the last few years. His hangar is 500′ up the runway from us. Grace’s Taylorcraft sits on our front lawn. It was about 60F in northern FL last night. In the winter, the low temp here has no typical number, it is just as likely to be 30F as 60F on any given night.

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Click on the image above to view a movie of our Saturday Night Live Engine Run. There are things that you can see at night that are not visible during the day: Watch the tape closely, and look at the bottom of the exhaust pipe on the far side of the engine. If you look real close you can see a small flame appear intermittently. Although the engine was running near perfect to the ear, and all indications were 100% normal, this condition was caused by the test stand’s #2 spark plug wire having a slight break in it, allowing an intermittent miss, sending an occasional shot of unburned air and fuel into the exhaust pipe. This condition is absolutely invisible during the day.

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The test stand has it’s own plug wire set, and they are about 10 years old and they have been taken on and off hundreds of times. With the wire replaced, this issue disappeared. It didn’t come as a surprise, it did this also on the last engine we ran at Corvair College #31 in November. To see what the stand is equipped with and what you need to run your engine at a college, read: Running an Engine at a College, required items. #2 and Running an Engine at a College, required items. #1

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One more look at the engine running. It ran for about 30 minutes, the length of time we use to break in the cam. This engine is equipped with one of our cam kits: 1100-WW Camshaft Group. The break in was with 4.5 quarts of Rotella and 6 oz of ZDDP. Read Notes on Corvair flight engine oils. Another hour of break in, and the engine is crated and shipped. It will not make it for Christmas, but it will be a welcome milestone on the journey to many aviation adventures.-ww.

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