Jon Coxwell passes from Earth, 4 July 2017.

Builders:

Very sad news came from Mark, the son of Pietenpol builder Jon Coxwell, that his father had perished in a Luscombe crash on the 4th of July. Yesterday morning I was stopping by the SPA/Panther shop to go over orders, parts and Oshkosh prep. Mark’s letter had arrived in our joint communications E-mail system, and Rachel had seen it and brought it to Dan’s attention. When I walked in, Dan took me aside and spoke of the accident. It was thoughtful; Jon Coxwell was the kind of guy who stuck in your mind, even if you had only spent a bit of time with him in person. Dan understood that there are some things better said by a friend than read in an email.

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If you were at Corvair College #27 in Barnwell or even if you are a regular reader of the comments on this blog, Jon stood out as a man with a positive attitude and something thoughtful to say. He had a very interesting personal story. His own father was a USAAF bomber pilot before US involvement in WWII. His father was stationed a number of places in the Caribbean as the US geared up their defenses of the Panama Canal. He was already married to Jon’s mother, and contrary to the wishes of the military, she followed her husband to these bases.

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After Pearl Harbor, His expecting mother retuned to the mainland US and Jon’s father became a Major and a highly respected B-24 squadron leader in Hawaii. In 1943, his plane crashed shortly after a takeoff, taking the lives of the whole crew. This event, and it’s effect on the squadron, was spoken of in the bestselling book Unbroken, the Louis Zamperini biography. This left infant Jon Coxwell with a heroic father he would never meet.

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From such a harsh start, Jon Coxwell had a very full life. He spoke many times of his great fortune of having an outstanding stepfather,  a man who supported his full adolescence, but was gracious about preserving room in Jon’s life for the memories of his birth father. For a look into this childhood, I have included a note that Jon wrote at the bottom.

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At the end of yesterday, I took a lawn chair and a beer out to the edge of our freshly mowed airstrip, and sat down to watch the day end while contemplating the very moving things Mark wrote in the letter about how much his father appreciated flying, and the experimental aircraft builders he met along his journey.  My thoughts kept returning to the question of the risk vs reward.

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Jon was a very cognizant and logical man who understood such considerations. He wasn’t the kind of guy who stands around an airport saying “It will be alright” and blunders on. He might best be described as deliberate. Considering the origins of his life, it would be hard to imagine otherwise. I am quite sure that he never went to the airport without considering what an improbable event would cost his family.

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The chance to ask him directly about this has come to a close, but seated by the runway as the sun set, I came to the belief  Jon had already answered the question with his actions.  He was aware of the risks, but chose to accept them and be in the arena of flight, as an actor, not a spectator.  He did this for the reasons his son spoke of in the letter. Perhaps just as his own father has balanced risk vs duty, Jon had made his own balance in turn.

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On the 4th, the improbable happened, and presented a bill for all the hours of joy flight had brought him in life. It is a terrible cost, but a possibility a deliberate man like Jon understands as a real possibility. As the last trace of light left the evening sky, I concluded that the most moving thing about Jon was that his childhood didn’t steal anything from him, it conversely gave him a deep understanding about things some fathers feel they must do.

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For the times we shared I remain grateful. People outside of aviation will be fixated on his accident, but I find this a predictable reaction of someone who is a hapless passenger in their own life.  Jon Coxwell was the antithesis of this, a cognizant man in command of his life. He offers the testimony that most accurate way to measure men and their fathers is simple to consider how they choose to live.

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In response to the story about balsa planes and childhood: Fixing America is going to cost each of us $1.69

Jon Coxwell wrote:

“I just could not pass up commenting on the balsa wood planes.  I grew up in two worlds simultaneously literally 120 miles apart.  The first was in the largest city in Montana (Billings, about 60,000 when I was a kid, bigger now) and the second on a small cattle ranch nestled against the Little Belt Mountains in central Montana.  It was in my first world where I lived with a grandmother during the school year.  The house was at the intersection of two very quiet tree lined residential streets.  My airplane of choice was rubber band powered with jaunty long wire landing gear.  The only place my friends and I could have a successful takeoff was in the intersection of the two streets.  Other wise the plane would soon be in the trees.  Flying that rubber band powered ship was the impetus for learning to climb trees so I could retrieve it.  More than once, cars would stop and wait for us to complete our flight.  I think the adults got just as much fun out of it as we kids did.  (Those were the days when mothers and grandmothers knew of us playing in the street but just admonished us to watch for cars.  It was learning to take responsibility for our own actions.)  We would grease up the prop bearing with Vaseline and wind the rubber band to 16 knots to get an extra 20 feet of altitude.  What a life!

My second world was where I learned about motors.  I do not remember any flat head lawn mowers but I did build an electric reel mower from plans in Popular Mechanics.  My step dad was always overhauling a tractor, truck, or the little jeep in less than ideal conditions.  A family friend gave me an old Wizzer bike motor and I proceeded to build a go kart.  It didn’t work well as all the roads were dirt and rutted but my dad saw my interest and proceeded to help me scrounge Model T parts from all the old homesteads.  He knew where all of the old Fords had been pushed into the brush when the homesteaders starved out in the thirties.  Before I was out of high school I had a running Model T to chug around the hills in.  The only thing I had to buy was 2 tires.  When the GN-1 flies it will be dedicated to my natural father (a WWII B-24 squad commander) who gave me the genetic interest in flying and my step dad who taught me the manual skills and patience I needed to build an airplane.”

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If you would like to share some thoughts with Mark Coxwell directly, his email address is mtredtek@msn.com.  Feel free to share thoughts in the comment section here also.

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wewjr.

 

Safety Alert: Excessively Rich MA3-SPA Jetting.

Please Read the Comments section for further information. Scott Romey in the comments is a technician at D&G. His information can be directly followed on this matter. Applicability now contains list of individual carbs. 

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DATE and REVISION:  23 June 2017. – Original Safety Alert on this subject.

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SUBJECT:      Some MA3-SPA carburetors remanufactured for Corvair builders by D&G Supply in Niles MI, were jetted excessively rich. While done with good intention, testing and operation has conclusively shown that the stock, original jetting for a 10-4894 model works on all displacement Corvair engines from 2,700 – 3,300 cc.

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APPLICABILITY:      Recommendation for inspection, MA3-SPA carbs rebuilt by D&G Supply

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Below is a file, listing all the individual carbs believed to be affected by this safety alert. Any builder with a question should directly contact D&G rather than make an assumption

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From Scott at D&G: “I just got done making what I think is a complete list.  All we ask is to please call or email us before sending the carb in. so we can confirm it has a modified nozzle and not waste time and money on shipping”

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NP6szGNgx4C9cXVRAbWVo0usHuQgHA77HeJtg6aP-fg/pubhtml#

 

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EXCLUSION:     This does NOT apply to any MA3-SPA carb which is known to have original model 10-4894 jetting.  NOTE: We have never sold carbs. I have just recommended models and suggested jetting and suppliers. Thus, any comment that starts with “My Carb came from WW” is not a factual statement.

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COMMENTARY:         Over the last several months, I have gradually become aware that some Corvair builders utilizing MA3-SPA carbs rebuilt by D&G supply had excessively rich carbs. This prompted a survey of builders, revealing that a number of builders had excessively rich carbs, but had not spoken with either myself nor D&G. Without such contact, the scope of the issue was not previously known. Today, I believe we are speaking of 35-40 carbs.

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Dan Weseman and myself have always used MA3-SPA carbs with stock jetting on all of our Corvairs. My run stand, which has operated several hundred Corvair engines has a completely stock MA3-SPA on it. This exact carb was used for the extensive computerized dyno testing we did in 2015 at John’s Speed Shop in Jacksonville Florida. Dan’s 3.3L Corvair ran one test to 147HP, and the instrumentation and data logging showed that the stock jetting on the carb worked perfectly. Jetting requirements are not directly displacement nor output related. All displacement and output Corvairs with MA3-SPA carbs in my work and testing have been shown to run well with stock jetting.

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The erroneous rich jetting was generated by one builder in Michigan, and his mechanic, supplying ‘information’ to D&G, without speaking to me about our testing. D&G, mistaking the supplied ‘information’ as typical data, made other rebuilt carbs richer. This misunderstanding has now been corrected, D&G is absolutely willing to re-jet the carbs, and it is up to builders to do their part to make sure their carb is jetted correctly. 

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If  you are running your engine at a density altitude of 5,000′ or less, the engine should run without issue with the mixture set at full rich. If the engine only runs cleanly with the mixture pulled back significantly, this is an indication that the carb is probably excessively rich.

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This excessively rich condition is a safety issue for three reasons: 1) The engine will not make full power if it is excessively rich, 2) It will have a significantly higher fuel burn, it will have reduced range and duration. 3) in the event of a go-around, pilots are taught to instinctively push the throttle carb heat and mixture full forward. If the plane will not run correctly with the mixture full rich, it will be an issue just when the pilots full attention needs to be on flying.

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Builders should not assume their carb is jetted correctly without verification. I recently spoke with a builder who was selling the Corvair he had removed from his flying Zenith after about 15 hours.  He never called to discuss the issue, but he was convinced that he had been experiencing “Carb Ice” , and claimed that he knew this because when he had the throttle pulled back for some length of time, the engine ran rough. He never tried pulling the mixture, or calling, he just decided to remove the engine and replace it with a fuel injected one. I have spoke with the current owner of the engine, and can say the issue was simply an excessively rich mixture. The plane was not experiencing carb ice at all. It just needed the carb re-jetted. Instead, it got a completely different engine. Calling us when you have an issue can save a lot of time and money.

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SUGGESTED ACTION:     I highly recommend that all Corvair engines with MA3-SPA carbs verify they have stock jetting.  Carbs rebuilt by D&G came with paperwork which indicates the jetting. If the jetting can not be positively verified as stock, then the carb should be returned to D&G  for inspection. If the carb was jetted richer than stock, this will be corrected by D&G. I have spoken with the owner on this, and he is more than willing to rectify this issue for builders. There is no excuse why any builder would continue to operate an excessively rich carb. Already having 10, 20, or even 100 hours of operation with excessively rich jetting without does not justify their further use without correction.

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http://www.dgsupply.com/contact-us

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This is a “Safety Alert” and I am issuing a “Suggested Action” because Corvairs are experimental engines, and as such, do not have Airworthiness Directives and Service Bulletins in the same form as certified engines do. I cannot require any builder to take any action, I can only appeal to his better judgment by making a serious recommendation. Airworthiness Directives are only issued by the federal government, and Service Bulletins are issued by certified part manufacturers, thus the difference in the Safety Alert.

This said, I appeal to builders to follow this recommendation. The most frequent form of push back on suggestions of this kind is a builder who is myopically looking at his one plane and making a conclusion based on his impression of his own plane. Conversely I get to see all the data, understand the extenuating or aggravating conditions, I had world class training in statistical decision making at Embry-Riddle, and I always further consider what still works, not just looking at what broke.  I am not a genius, but for the above reasons, my recommendations on Corvair flight engines carry more weight than those of one guy with a flying plane, even a well intentioned one. We don’t have to speak of opinions of internet personalities that have no direct personal involvement nor experience with flying Corvairs.

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DISTRIBUTION:    I ask that this information be shared with others who personally involved in building a Corvair flight engine. This should be done just by people who have read and understood the information themselves, who also are Corvair builders.  For this safety message to have efficient, accurate and timely distribution, it should not be forwarded in part, nor by anonymous sources. I issue Safety Alerts very infrequently, and they need to be taken seriously. Any impediment to their accurate transmission to builders is an act contrary to the safety of builders.

 

William Wynne

WilliamTCA@flycorvair.com

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Fall Corvair Colleges: sign in now open

Builders:

Here are the sign up links for the next two Corvair Colleges, #40 in Texas, and #41 in South Carolina. The links are active, and you can sign up at any time, they will close automatically when the events are full. Special thanks to Shelley Tumino for handling all of the on-line work for these events, and also for Co-hosting #40 in Texas.

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Corvair College #40 Wisener-Mineola Airport, (Tyler) TX 29 September 31 October 2 2017: This college has Shelley Tumino and Kevin Purtee as hosts the same couple who brought you the four colleges in Austin TX, Read about them here:The Cherry Grove Trophy and here: Kevin Purtee and “The Hat of Power”

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CC #40 is a medium sized 40 person Corvair College, at a real grass roots airport, hosted by two very experienced hosts. Both Dan Weseman and Myself are going to be on hand for technical support, in addition to a number of returning builders to assist. The required sign up fee covers the catered food and drinks. I expect this to be a very productive college. We will have several Corvair powered planes on hand for demonstration and inspection. Unlike other aviation “technical seminars” Corvair College is a total immersion experience, we pack a great deal into a very short time window.

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Corvair College #41, Barnwell SC, 10-12 November 2017:  This is a return to our flagship College at it normal time of the year. For a look at the 2015 Barnwell College, check this out: Corvair College #35 Barnwell builders video.

For a look at the EAA film about the 2013 Barnwell College, click here: New EAA video on Corvair College#27, Barnwell 2013.

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Barnwell has been the home of eight previous Corvair College. P.F. Beck and crew have the logistics down so well that we have no difficulty having a productive event for 90 builders. If you are planning on going, do not delay in signing up, as I expect the event to be full by labor Day

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here is the link for CC41:

https://eventregistration2017.wufoo.com/forms/cc41/

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Thank you,
William Wynne

 

Update notes to 2014 manual, 1200 – Crankcase group.

Builders,

If you are the owner of a 2014 conversion manual, below are some short notes on the 1200 – Crankcase group section. I have written about these details in the last 3 years, but they are presented here in summary form, please update your manuals and notebooks accordingly:

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2017 commentary: – This group is only slightly changed. Builders working on a 3.0L or 3.3L Corvair have always had to send their case to SPA to have it machined to fit the larger cylinders. In the last 3 years the Wesemans have also had to become experts in Corvair Head stud replacement options, as their “EIB” kit engines needed excellent head studs, and they also wanted to offer this to builders having their cases machined. If you are looking at a core case, and not looking forward to replacing some studs, call the Weseman’s at SPA, 904 626 7777, and they will be able to discuss the costs and options of head stud work.

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Above, thirty-six 1964-69 Corvair Cases pictured on the patio between our hangar and house. They have since been moved to the SPA/Panther factory. If you are building an engine and your core case has a serious issue, read this story: Corvair Case sale, 36 available, $100 each.

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1201-  Check to see the oil gallery plugs are reinstalled in the engine before assembly. We had at least two people forget this in 2016. You have to take a lot of the motor apart to fix this, and you will not see the mistake until the engine has no idle oil pressure on the run stand.

Do not over tighten the gallery plugs. they may have been very hard coming out, but the have a very low torque value, on the order of 10 to 15 foot pounds going back in. At least one guy a year cracks his case torqueing these like they were lug nuts on a dump truck.

Be advised that all replacement head studs need to be checked for strength before the rest of the motor is assembled. in 2015-2016, we has a rash of replacement head studs, made outside the US, that essentially had no heat treatment. They would never get to 25 foot pounds, the just kept stretching. If you have replacements in your engine read this: Testing Head Studs, note that it has been on my blog for 5-1/2 years.

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1202- For people who like new hardware, the Weseman’s have grade 9 case bolts and nuts available.

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1203- See 1202 above.

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Thank you. Wewjr.

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Update notes to 2014 manual, 1100 – Camshaft group

Builders,

If you are the owner of a 2014 conversion manual, below are some short notes on the 1100 – Camshaft group section. I have written about these details in the last 3 years, but they are presented here in summary form, please update your manuals and notebooks accordingly:

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2017 commentary:

In the last 3 years we have sold about 150 “1100-WW cam kits”, (Group 1100 cam kits on shelf.) they also went into every complete motor I built and into all of the Weseman’s “EIB” (engine in a box) kit engines. Buying one of these gets you every part from Group 1100, but it also makes sure your thrust washer on the cam is tight. In the last 3 years I have had 7 or 8 builders come to a college thinking that I was going to be OK with them assembling a motor with a wobbly thrust washer. They were not correct. Engines at Colleges and events I host,are assembled to my standards, because it is important to make things better, not good enough.

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http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/1100-cam-shaft-kit/ is the link to the products page.

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1101- an OT-10 is still a good cam, and it works, but our dyno testing in 2016 at a professional shop confirmed that our 1100 cam was a slight edge in an aircraft motor.

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1102- in 2014, I had some tolerance for thrust washers which rotated on cams. In the time since, I have concluded that since we know how to make them tight, and they undoubtedly left the factory tight, we should always make them so now. If they are tight, it precludes any conversation about “how loose is too loose?” which is exactly what I don’t like as an attitude about building engines.

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1103- no change

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1104- Clark’s standard gears are still acceptable for use, and their timing marks remain consistently accurate. Their “fail Safe” gears were once made in the US and were billets, but they are not made here now, and they are no longer from billet material. They still work, but I pushed about 10 off cams with loose washers in the last 3 years, and they don’t grab a cam much tighter than a stock replacement gear, and they are apparently made of the same material. My preferred cam gear is the California Corvairs US made billet gear.

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1105- Some HT-817s are now made in Mexico. I have seen no quality difference, but to stay with American products our 1100ww cam kits come with Summit Racing lifters, which are made in the US.

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1106- no change

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1107- no change

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Thank you, wewjr.

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Update notes to 2014 manual, 1000 – Crankshaft group

Builders,

If you are the owner of a 2014 conversion manual, below are some short notes on the 1000 – Crankshaft group section. I have written about these details in the last 3 years, but they are presented here in summary form, please update your manuals and notebooks accordingly:

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2017 Commentary:

Three most popular cranks used in engines are 8409 Gen II, the Billet standard stroke, and the billet long stroke. All of these are from the Wesemans at SPA. Very few people take a different route than this, at a typical Corvair College today, all but one or two engines will be built around one of these three cranks.  At our  finishing schools; (Corvair Finishing School #1, Video report.) Each engine is required to have one of these three crank arrangements, because the fast pace of the work does not allow for the additional time or inspection requirements of using a crank which has not passed through the Weseman’s inspection process before the event.

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1001A – The Wesemans are the only shop I use to process GM cranks. They have been doing them for many years now, and after installing dozens of them at Colleges and in production engines, I can flatly state that they have the best process on 8409 cranks. They are not the cheapest, just the best value.

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1001B – The billet cranks were just getting into high gear in 2014, today they have long since become a very popular proven park. Countless hours of  aerobatics  have been flown on them, and they are well proven, without a failure of any kind. They are still made in the USA, to the highest standards. The original 2.94″ stock stroke which went into dozens of 3,000 cc Corvairs has now been supplemented with the longer stroke billet crank that goes in the 3.3 Liter engines. Although this sounds new, it is proven and flying, and is a regular production part: 3.3 Liter Corvair, a Smooth Power House.

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1002- no change

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1003- no change

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1004- no change

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1005- no change

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1006- no change

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1007- no change

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1008- no change

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1009- no change

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1010- In the years since 2014, I have built run and inspected several dozen engines using the Clark’s in house brand main engine bearings. This have proven to be the functional equivalent of American name brand bearings.  I have used them in sizes std, .010 and .020. They work.

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1011- The commentary on Clark’s main bearings also applies to Clark’s rod bearings.

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Thank you ,

Wewjr.

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63 Days until Oshkosh 2017.

Builders:

We have slightly more than two months until Airventure 2017 (July 24 – July 30).  As always, our space will be #616, in the North Aircraft display area, across from the Zenith Aircraft display, right next to SPA/Panther.

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In the next 60 days, I have a number of stories of newly flying planes, parts, skills and events to share. I have taken the last month off from writing, but not from working. We have a number of smaller evolutionary changes and developments, and some great success stories, but the lack of published stuff was caused by my focus on physical parts and work. Sorry, I don’t have a great dramatic story, it just got to be really nice weather in Florida, and every time I thought about sitting at the keyboard for a few hours to bang out a story, I just went out to the runway and did a few laps around the pattern instead.

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Over the last five or six years, I have averaged 2 or 3 stories a week on this blog. Much of it is just opinions of Florida a grease monkey, but at least half of it has some really valid technical point, either as the main subject or a supporting element, and 20% are purely about minimum understanding of the building and operation of Corvairs to have a reasonable expectation of success.  Since the first of the year, I have quietly interviewed a great number of builders and have come to the honest conclusion that the great majority of builders, good people with good intentions, are still missing many elements of critical information, all available here, they just didn’t read or remember them.

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There is an explanation for this: Our society encourages and admires people who skim subjects rather than mastering them. I know this, but often underestimate how pervasive this is. Ever since my first week at Embry Riddle three decades ago, I have been a voracious reader, studier, and note taker on the parts of aviation that I participate in. Many of the people I know, like Dan Weseman are the same way, and I have always gravitated toward any chance to learn from any aviator who approached the subject the same way.  It doesn’t seem real to me that anyone seriously thinking about building and flying a plane would gather material on the subject in any lesser way, but I have plenty of evidence I am wrong.

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A few weeks ago, a second owner of a Corvair powered plane took off on his first flight, and the weather conditions were 50F and raining. His intention was to fly across the continent, but in a few minutes he was turned back. On approach to the airport, his engine quit and the plane was heavily damaged.  Although he had previously been given all of the manuals, he told the FAA that he didn’t use carb heat. 60 days earlier I wrote this: Critical Understanding #10 – Carb Ice, but evidently he missed that also.

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There is a temptation to think that the above story is an aberration, but it isn’t. I just had a 20 year friend, who came to Corvair colleges, works in aerospace and is a sharp guy come down to my house to run his Corvair. His engine ran great, but he had never heard about the switch in recommended plugs, nor had he heard of the “Critical Understanding” series, nor had he ever joined our private discussion group for his model of aircraft. He just has a lot on his plate in life, and he isn’t staying up with the information. He isn’t alone, I am going to say that he is actually in the majority, and this does cause me concern.

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Someone is going to say “WW writes to much” well great, I just took a whole month off from typing a word, and I am willing to bet the person leveling that charge didn’t use an hour of that month to catch up on reading.  I am kicking around a lot of different thoughts, but in the end, I come back to the fact that too few people are really making a priority of mastering the engine they hope to fly behind.  It isn’t a comforting thought.

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I don’t regard people who miss information as bad people nor the enemy, I just think they are not effectively preparing for flight.  Here is a simple example: When the discussion came up about why I wasn’t writing last month, I guy chimed in to say perhaps I was in NJ caring for my Father.  He evidently missed this story: William E. Wynne Sr. 1925-2017, and the half dozen others I wrote about memories of my father. We are not speaking of a guy who has never met me, I am speaking of a thoughtful guy I am known for 10 years, who I actually saw and ate dinner with at Sun n Fun since my father’s passing. He isn’t a bad guy, but he isn’t reading this blog often enough to stay ahead of detailed information.

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By Oshkosh, I will come up with an approach to address the disconnects in information, but in the end, it is the builders’ total responsibility to learn what he must know. I want to increase his success rate, and I am willing to adjust, but it isn’t within my power to force anyone to do their homework. I just present what I have learned, and it is up to the builder to use it.

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Wewjr.

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