Mailsack 1/13-22, 2012

Big news on Scottie Blankenship’s Corvair-powered Highlander: on January 10th, at the Just Aircraft factory (where Scottie works), he ran his Roy-bearing engine for the first time — on the airplane. It fired right up, and the wonderful sound and smoothness of the Corvair dazzled a lot of people.

Scottie still has a little work to finish up the airframe, but the first Corvair-powered Highlander will be in the air soon.

My 3-liter engine is at Roy’s now, and I expect the engine and I will be at his next hosting of the Corvair College. Though my Highlander is still well behind Scottie’s, I’m building every day, so I’m making steady progress.

The blog is a fine idea. Thanks for your continued good work.

Richard Holtz, Highlander builder, alumnus of Corvair College #20


Thanks for the photo and the update. Hopefully we’ll see this bird at Sun ‘N Fun 2012?

Please give our congratulations to Scott. Looks like and outstanding job. Send us the word and a photo when the first flight happens.

Thank you.





Flying Zenith 601 with 2,700 cc Corvair, Corvair Colleges alumni


This pump is only recommended to builders using a Weseman bearing. Roy tends to use stock pumps with his bearing. Send us an updated flight report on your airplane and some fresh photos when you have a chance.

Thank you.


I’m no guru, but oil is a subject mechanics really toss about. I’ve heard a million reasons for or against a certain oil, oil pressure, volume, SAE grade, etc. I sold Amzoil for about 2 years and my hardest sell was to aircraft mechanics. I knew it was tough as nails oil, and it could really take the punishment of aircraft engines. I ran it in everything, cars, boats, motorcycles, and I could not convince the aircraft owner to put it into aircraft applications. I think that opinions are like noses, everyone has one. Aero Shell was what they wanted, and they were not to be swayed. Shell is a very good lube, but I think Amzoil is a tougher product.

Perhaps the fact that they are more armchair quarterbacks, than actual pilots who assess the real life issues facing piloting a homebuilt. Besides, this heavy duty oil pump was accepted and ok’d by Scoob E. That’s enough for me. William be well.

Mike Festa, CC20


Thanks for your comments. As you’re an airline mechanic, I hold your opinion in high regard. We flew a lot of hours on Amsoil and it works great in a Corvair. I want to caution builders to NEVER use Aeroshell in a Corvair. It has no zinc phosphate in it, a required element that is protecting the cam and lifters in a Corvair. Our favorite oil remains Shell Rotella T 15W40.


I enjoy reading your writings, philosophy and about your experience. I feel and work very much on the same principal as you, and relate to your philosophy because I feel we are driven by the same things, and also our need to learn how and why. You are doing an excellent job of getting the word out on your work, and I while I am still in the early stages of learning about and building my Corvair conversion, the more I learn, the more I know I have made the right decision for me and my project.
Vic Delgado


Thanks for your kind words. I write the stuff from the heart. It doesn’t resonate with everybody, but the style is honest and a number of people, like yourself, appreciate it as an addition to the technical expertise. Keep us posted on your progress.


Is this the same high volume pump I saw at the last College in November? I wasn’t that familiar will all of the parts but I thought I saw a machined deep case like the one in the picture at your table along with the carbs. It was a nicely machined piece.

Gary Burdett, 2,850 cc CH 750 builder, CC #21 alumni


Yes, we had the prototypes at CC #21. The Colleges are often the first places we display new ideas.


Brian Manlove, heading to CC #22, comments on High Volume Oil Pumps:

Mom’s Singer sewing machine, circa 1956. I was 4. Totally disassembled. She said I got screws loose that she could never budge. She promptly bought me a nice Erector Set… Which lasted until the lawn mower a few years later…



This is a great site. Thank you for taking the time to put it all together.

I read through this article on the balancer with interest. I really appreciate the pictures and your detailed explanation. This gives me a much better picture of what is going on, on that end of the engine. My balancer is stock that came with the engine. I had thought of using it but I am now having second thoughts and will probably replace it with a rebuilt. Is there a good way of telling if the balancer is good?

Jon Coxwell, CC#20, GN-1


Thanks for your coments. My New Year’s Resolution this year was to swear off watching anything on a television set. As a positive substitute, I’ve been working on our aircraft a little bit and reading a lot more. I just picked up a copy of Laura Hillenbrand’s New York Times Best Seller “Unbroken,” the World War II biogroaphy of Louis Zamperini. Chapter 8 starts with describing a B-24 mission out of Hawaii on January 8, 1943.  I believe it is describing your father and his crew. The note is a few brief paragraphs, but I’m sure it will be of interest to you. it

On your balancer, if the rubber is extruded above the surface of the metal, I would not trust it. Rebuilt balancers have a eurethane type material in place of the rubber. Dale Balancers have a four-digit serial number stamped on them and two witness marks to align the inner and outter part. If you have one of these, it is good to fly.


The billet crank, for the reasons stated, looks like a very promising approach. The methodical and careful approach to R&D is what impresses. At the same time I can appreciate that the standard 164 Corvair is more than adequate for an airplane such as the Pietenpol that I’ve started on.

Harold Bickford, Manual #8606


The best evidence we have available suggests you’re right. If someone wanted to use a billet crank in a Pietenpol, I’m all for it. If someone chooses to fly another aircraft on a stock crank, I’m all for that as well. As I stated in the post, I’m here to present the data as we know it and let each builder decide for himself what makes sense on his own aircraft.  


Thanks for your responses regarding my motor mount. I am still practicing my gas welding technique. It has to be good if I’m going to attempt to tack-weld to a spool on a wood table top!

On another note, I was wondering if you could comment/report on the status of the turbo set-up. Even though I am 90% set on the 3L option for the heavier Rebel (about 925 lbs. empty), turbo normalizing on a bush plane seems like a good match (max take-off power even at high density altitude, etc….). Roy hasn’t even started on my 3L conversion yet, so it’s not too late to change my mind.

Rob Schaum, Murphy Rebel


Here’s the good news: A 3 Liter engine has the dished pistons in it which allow later turbocharging should you choose to upgrade to that. We had very good results testing the compatiibility of turbos and OT-10 cams. There are a few small changes to turbocharging an engine, but they are all external on a 3L. Anyone building a 2,850 or a 3L engine is in a good position to upgrade to a turbo later if they choose to do so. It will not require changing anything internal on the engine.


Back in the day when I worked in a shop remanufacturing Allison transmissions we used TimeSerts. Never saw one fail. Did however see some Helicoils unravel during disassembly for whatever reason. Perhaps not adequately installed? But none I saw failed in operation, only disassembly.

(I am a mechanically inclined PP-SEL with some taildragger time; dedicated observer & fan but not a builder at this poin t- but /only/ because of present financial and time constraints. Have pretty firmly concluded that Corvair would be the best/only choice for me if/when I build. Kudos to William for his philosophy & zeal in encouraging this most sane of alternative engines!)

Bull Elk

Dear Mr. Elk,

Thank you for the comments. The number one thing that helicoils and some time-serts have a problem with is having excessive carbon hanging out on the end of a sparkplug thread protruding past the helicoil into the cylinder. When such a plug is removed, the carbon will occasionally jam the threads and back out the helicoil. For this reason, I like time-serts in sparkplug holes on Corvairs more than helicoils. However, helicoils do a darn good job in places where the bolt will not be removed and replaced frequently.


I like the Panther construction concept. Is there any new info on Ed Fisher’s Fleet or Zipper designs? 

Thanks, Pete Chmura


Ed Fisher is not currently actively working on either of those designs.


Great work. This site looks good — Larry Hatfield, #21 CC alumni, 3L 750 builder

Thanks for the kind words, Larry.


Your new blog is the perfect forum for this kind of information sharing. It is so easy to get distracted by the noise and chatter of the online discussions that seem to attract strong (but often uninformed) opinions from self-proclaimed experts. I continue to appreciate your practical approach to helping builders follow a proven path to their first flight and beyond. Thanks, William. Now it’s back to the shop so I can see you in the air in 2012!

Larry Winger, California, CH 650 2700 cc/Weseman bearing, engine ran at CC #18


I thought you’d appreciate the photo above taken during the housecall I made to you after Corvair College #18. Keep us posted as you close in on your first flight.


Becky Shipman, 2,700cc CH 650 with Weseman bearing, comments on Chinese crankshafts:

Part of my job for a multinational corporation is to train Chinese engineers to maintain and operate coating equipment. It takes a while to get them to understand the importance of maintaining tight tolerances. I think I’ll go for an original GM crank nitrided.


The original GM crank nitrided with a fifth bearing is the most popular combination that people are building for their Zenith aircraft. Although there are a large number of 601/650s flying without a fifth bearing, many of these people plan to upgrade to a Weseman bearing. We recommend that everyone with a STOL airplane utilize a 5th bearing because they can generate large asymmetric loads at high angles of attack.


Dan Branstrom comments on Chinese Crankshafts:

I concur with your evaluation of Chinese manufacturing. They are capable of making some excellent products, but quality control is not their strongest suit. Price is their strongest motivation, and, when they compete for business with other businesses in China, their margins are often paper thin.

China has a vastly higher number of engineers than we have here in the U.S., but in their move from what was basically a feudal, agrarian, society before the revolution, to a much more modern and still economically controlled society, there have been a number of shortcuts that have been taken. It shows up in quality.

It’s the wild west there. There are no standards and they don’t use W. Edwards Demings’ quality control principles in many of their products. Caveat emptor.


I read your comments with special interest, aware that your mother and father worked a great deal of their lives in mainland China before the revolution. Your international background, hailing from an American family working in China born in India, gives you a unique take.


Rick Lindstrom, contributing editor of Kit Planes Magazine, 2,700 cc 601 builder and pilot, comments on Chines Crankshafts:

Years ago I worked for a computer manufacturer that had our circuit boards built by relatives of the CEO in China. These boards were plagued with compatibility issues, and I headed up the service organization charged with making them operational. This is where I learned a lot about the Chinese philosophy of manufacturing. Two things still stick out.

The Chinese are VERY frugal, to the point of using a known incompatible component until it’s gone from inventory. The silk screened revision number might be correct, but the mix of parts on the board was anybody’s guess.

And they also have a common saying when dealing with westerners. It goes “You can ALWAYS fool the foreigner!” We think this is unethical. They think it’s good business practice.

I keep these two things in mind whenever I purchase anything. I’ll pay double or triple if I can avoid the serious quality issues inherent in Chinese hardware.

But, I still like Chinese food.


Thanks for your comments. We included the above photo with you in the center flanked by myself on the right and Michael Heintz after you won the Best Engine Installation Award at Copperstate in 2007. We also love Chinese food. Our local restaurant is owned by a family that emigrated from Kowloon. When you think about it, the food they make now is made in America.


Dan Glaze, Corvair College graduate with running 2,700 cc engine comments on Chinese crankshafts:

Well said William, my trust is in your vast experience with the Corvair.


We’re here to present the facts. We trust your ability to decide for yourself based on the data we present.


Ron Lendon, 2,700 cc, Roy bearing equipped, CH 601, 1st engine run at CC #17, also writes about Chinese crankshafts:

Thanks for taking the time to provide a well thought response to the crank issue. Hopefully those who need to know this story will read and understand its full meaning.


Your thoughts on this carry some weight. The fact that you work for the engineering branch of General Motors and understand international manufacturing makes your recommendation noteworthy. Looking forward to seeing your airplane airborne this year.


Talked to Ken P tonight and learned about this blog. Looking forward to lots of good info being passed around.

Peter Shean


We couldn’t have gotten this started without Ken’s help. He’s been an unbelievably productive and encouraging friend for many years.



Nice blog site! .. I’m very glad to see you back on the web with a Q&A forum that includes pics. It’ll be a great resource to builders and Corvair flyers alike. I just passed 80 hours last weekend on my Corvair-powered Zenith CH650 and the engine I built seems to produce even more power in the past 30 or so hours .. I assume that’s because it was finally breaking in? I have yet to re-pitch my Warp drive prop just yet as I’ve been enjoying flying too much on any nice weekends. At 3000 rpm I get 115 mph indicated on these chilly days here in Indiana .. and that’s at 8.5 degrees of pitch.

By the way, I firmly believe the Corvair engine is a perfect match for my home-built aircraft and delivers outstanding performance for an engine that I built and can maintain going forward. Thanks again for launching this site and the support you will provide here.

Dave Gardea, Flying Zenith 650


Great to hear from you. Thank you for the progress report. If you can e-mail us a few current photos, we’d like to do an aircraft update on your plane here like we did with Andy Elliott’s. A YouTube video link also would be greatly appreciated.


Hi William,

I just found out about the blog; guess I have been living in the past. The content is great and I look forward to learning from the discussions. Love the philosophy!

Blaine Schwartz, 2,850 cc Zenith 750 builder from Texas


Looking forward to seeing your engine fire up and run for the first time at Corvair College #22. Thanks for the positive word on our new efforts.


These valve covers look really nice. I wish mine were powdercoated, but I didn’t even think of that, back in the day.

I think this blog is a great idea. It looks like this will be a great forum to record your vast knowledge about all things Corvair.

Phil Maxson, 2,700 cc/Weseman bearing, Flying 601XL, New Jersey


 I watched the YouTube video the other day of your airplane flying over Daytona Beach. It had 30,000 hits on it. You’re a movie star.  Send us a few new photos and an update and we’ll write a Flying Planes post about you like Andy Elliott’s.


Hey, William,
It’s great to be connected with you in this way, looking forward to staying in touch and up to date!

Dr. Steve Mineart, Flying Zenith 601 with 2,700 cc Corvair


Just like Phil, we need updated photos of your aircraft, preferably some in-flight, and word of your adventures to date. Just email it them to Looking forward to reading it.

Thank you.


Hi William and Grace,
Glad to see you get this site up and going. I always liked reading the daily Q and A on the other site. Flying the Piet every chance I get a warm enough day.

Randy Bush, Tennesee, builder and pilot of Miss Le’Bec, a 2,700 cc Roy bearing equipped Corvair powered Pietenpol


Great to hear from you. You’re one heck of a tough guy flying an open cockpit plane even on warm winter days. Hoping to see you at Brodhead again this year.


William and Grace,

It’s great to have a single-point resource for open discussions on the Corvair conversion. Have been following “The Movement” for several years and am now building a CH650 which is slated for Corvair power when the time comes. However, I must say that my enthusiasm was curbed a bit after hearing of Mark’s crank failure but I remain optimistic that this conversion will continue to evolve into a reliable alternative power solution.

Thanks for all of the expertise and insight that you so generously share with the rest of us. Looking forward to following along with hopes of sharing something meaningful in the future.

Sonny Webster, Magnolia, TX


Thank you for the note. We’re going to cover a lot more of the successful flying Zenith aircraft, to give people a more rounded view of how many successful flying aircraft there are out there on Corvair power, particularly Zeniths. The notes above include 3 guys who are out there flying the Zenith/Corvair combination you’re building. Given all the data, most builders agree it’s an excellent combination. Hope to see you at CC #22.


Hi William & Grace
I really like the new Corvair Communication Center, you all did an oustanding job setting it all up.

Thank You,
Russ Mintkenbaugh
Building Wagabond w/ Coravir Power, first engine run CC #20


Great to hear from you. We had a fanatastic time with you at Corvair College #21. Looking forward to seeing more of you this year. Keep up the good work on your project and please email us photos of your project.


Howdy William!!

Good to see you back, missed you over at Corvair list. Buttercup is sleeping nice and snug, hope to have shop room in a month. Looking forward to a CC at Roy’s place.

Joe Brown, Merrill, WI


Good to hear from you. I was just saying to Roy that the housecall we made to your place may very well have been the northernmost one I’ve ever made in the U.S. Good to hear that your plans for a shop are coming together. There are many people who would like to see you put the rest of our old Buttercup project together and demonstrate how well that combination will work. Please keep us posted on your progress with photos.


Hi William and Grace,

I would post some pictures of my Dragonfly/Corvair but I am not sure how to do that on this blog. I am not a blogger does one have to join a group or something?

Charlie Johnson, Ogden, Utah, 2,700 cc Corvair with Weseman bearing now in taxi testing, veteran of CCs # 13 and 21


 Since you’re a real life rocket scientist, we would have figured you knew all about blogs. You do not have to join or subscribe, you can just come here and read and send us photos to our regular email address, This blog has a notification feature that will let  you know when we have something new on here if you click on the RSS link and subscribe. Looking forward to hearing of your first flight.



Welcome back !

Just saw Pat P’s note about this site on Mark’s list. Glad to see you back online.

Charlie, N.J.


Thanks for the encouraging word. Tune in, we’ll have a lot more to say here.


Good news is that you are doing this blog site. I feel like my principle information source is again available to me. My 2850 cc is mounted and waiting on me to finish up the remaining tasks of completing the the Sonex, such as wiring the panel and painting. Just a couple of more months!
Clarence Dunkerley, Cleanex builder with running engine, CCs #19 & 21


Great to hear from you. Watching you and your brother work together at CC #21 to get your engine up and running was fun and inspirational. I got a message from Sensenich the other day, so I suspect your 54×56 prop is ready to go. Looking forward to seeing your bird in the air this year.


Congratulations William this is a wonderful blog site. It will be a real asset to Corvair builders and flyers.

Carroll Jernigan, builder of the first engine to run at CC #17


Great to hear from you. I used the flywheel tool you graciously gave to us just the other day. Brought back nice memories of having you at CC #17.


Thank you!

Dale Williams
N319WF – Reserved


You’re welcome.


The new blog is great. I hope to be in your flying section soon!!!

Great looking Blog William. Great to hear from you!!!

Jeff Moores, Merlin builder with running Corvair, Newfoundland, Canada


We thought you’d like your airplane being featured in the Stainless Steel Exhaust article. Keep us posted as you close in on flying.

Thank you.

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