Corvair College #22 – Last Call


We got a note from 601 builder Ken Pavlou, the man who handles all the online registration for the Colleges from his secret aircraft building lair in cyberspace (actually his 95% done airplane with running 2700 engine and his registration software computer  are in the basement of his house in Connecticut), saying that he is planning on shutting down online registration at exactly

 23:59. on  3/1/12

 The Direct link is below:

If you have never been to a College, get a look at the letter and picture below, Dan Glaze wrote it to us after looking at the story of Blaine’s 750 and plans to attend CC#22:

“I’m envious, as a Corvair College junkie (17, 19, 20, 21) I’m already sick that I have to sit this one out. It’s not just about building your own engine, (mine running since CC #20), it’s about being with others who share an interest in aircraft. I haven’t felt this type of fellowship since I left the Airforce/Air National Guard in 1998. Have a safe trip William and I will see you at Sun ‘N Fun. – Dan-o”


Above, Zenith 750 builder Dan Glaze with his 2700cc/Dan bearing engine at power on the test stand at Corvair College #20 in MI, June 2011.

KR-2S at 700 Hours – Joe Horton


Above, Joe Horton, 3,100cc/ Weseman bearing –  KR-2S builder from PA, with Grace at Corvair College #21 . Barnwell was the 8th College that Joe has flow to. He has also flown to Sun ‘N Fun, the KR gathering and Oshkosh several times each. In 2010, we awarded him the Cherry Grove Trophy at CC#19 for his work promoting Corvair powered flight. Joe wrote us the following short note:

Just a quick note to update 357CJ. I am pacing my flying so that I can fly hour number 700 on my 55th birthday in 2 weeks. Hope to see everyone at Sun ‘N Fun.  –  Joe”



Zenith 750 Builder Blaine Schwartz


Below we have two photographs of builder progress from Blaine Schwartz of Texas. Blaine is a Zenith 750 builder, and he is headed to Corvair College #22 March 9-11 at KGTU in Austin, Texas, in less than 10 days. At the College, he is going to assemble and test run his Corvair powerplant. It features a set of 2850 cc pistons and cylinders from us, a set of Falcon heads, and a bottom end featuring a Roy bearing. Blaine has already purchased every Gold System option that we have for engine building. Additionally, he picked up a powdercoated 750 Mount from us and a number of the other required pieces for this 750 installation. Success doesn’t happen by accident, it is the end result of planning and action. If you have not yet signed up for Corvair College A#22, the registration is still open for a little while longer and we’ll be glad to have you. The Central Scrutinizer Ken Pavlou is planning on shutting down online registration  3/1/12 at 23:59 EST. Sign up today and set yourself on the same path that Blaine has followed, which put him in a position of success this year.

There are many ways to clean the case but pressure washing is a good start. Notice that Blaine has his cases sitting on wooden blocks to prevent them from having their mating surfaces touch anything that could scar them or affect their fit. Pressure washing Corvair cases with all their nooks and crannies will leave you just as wet as the cases.

Above, Blaine’s 750 fuselage on the gear. His engine mount is powdercoated gray, our standard color. We are bringing several of them to the College, along with many other installation components, and many boxes of Gold System components. If you are headed to the College, we highly encourage you to order the things you would like in advance for pickup at the event. Although we are bringing a lot of stuff, we almost always sell out of many of the popular items.

Blaine’s field of expertise is the management of very high end aviation systems procurement. The man seriously understands how to plan an aircraft project. Getting organized is second only to getting started. Corvair College #22 in Austin is a great place to get your aviation plans in gear and going.

Be there, Aloha.

2,700cc-Skycoupe-2002 Photos


Below are a set of photographs that I took 10 years ago. It’s a Stits SA-7D Skycoupe that was owned at the time by Gary Coppen. In the Winter of 2002 I was just getting back in action after losing our Pietenpol. Gary showed up with an engineless Skycoupe and offered to leave it with us on long-term loan. He understood that we needed a new testbed and demonstrator, and he offered his proven airframe without cost or strings attached.

We set to work immediately and went about producing a modern Corvair engine installation. The photographs you see here are from the Spring of 2002. While some of the things look antiquated here, it’s worth noting that the layout of Front Starter and Front Alternator that we continue today is used on this aircraft. Our Pietenpol had used both front and rear starters and alternators over the years when we used that airframe as a testbed. By the time I got the Skycoupe, my ideas on installations that would serve the most builders were already sorted out. Simplicity would remain the overriding goal. Although we have continuously done research and testing, the Skycoupe in the 2002 update to our Conversion Manual marked a turning point in our work. Previous to this, our Conversion Manual was really my shop notebook filled with useful information for people working on their own conversion. The Skycoupe in the new Manual was different. The engine installation was meant to be something that builders could replicate and expect proven success from. The Manual had become more of a how-to document, giving a lot of information on building and installations like the Skycoupe, in addition to the previous material on operations and practices.

In 2003 we purchased our 601 XL kit from Zenith at Oshkosh. We had the aircraft complete and on display in the Zenith booth at Sun ‘N Fun in April of 2004. Our new Zenith rapidly eclipsed the Skycoupe as the focal point of mainline testing and demonstration. The Skycoupe was seen less often but still lived in our hangar for a number of years. In 2005, we took it to Sun ‘N Fun and put it on display as our flying Turbo testbed aircraft.  It served in this capacity for a long time before it was damaged in a windstorm. Several years ago, we started a restoration but it was sidelined by more pressing projects. 18 months ago, Gary reluctantly put the Skycoupe up for sale. He owns a number of other aircraft, including Corvair powered KR-2S, and he didn’t want the Skycoupe to wait a number of years until he had more time. 

Today the Skycoupe belongs to Craig Anderson of South Dakota. The airframe is undergoing a much needed total restoration. Craig is headed off to Corvair College 22, now only 10 days away. There he is going to assemble and test run the new powerplant for the Skycoupe. It is a 2,850cc engine with a Weseman bearing, Falcon heads, and all of our Gold system parts. Although this engine is state-of-the-art it does directly have its lineage in the Skycoupe’s 2002 installation. The starter and the alternator are in the same orientation, as are the cooling and electrical systems. The 2,850 will have 10 more horsepower than the 2,700 engine in the photographs. With its dished pistons, the 2,850 will run interchangeably without adjustment on both 100 low lead and 93 unleaded. In the photographs, the Skycoupe was equipped with one of our then state-of-the-art Dual Points Distributors. Craig’s engine will run with our modern variant, the Electronic/Points Distributor. Overall, his engine is a series of incremental improvements, carefully thought out over a decade’s worth of work. Less than one out of 10 experimental aircraft companies survive to see their 10th birthday. We had already had 10 birthdays by the time I took the photographs you see here. We are in this for the long run, to support builders as they work towards their goals. If you have dreams and plans that involve building and flying, and they have remained important to you for a long time, then make this your year of action.  The decision is up to you, no one else can make it for you, don’t let it pass you by.

Here is an overhead view of the Skycoupe’s engine installation. The Starter is the same one we use today but on a different set of Brackets. The alternator is a permanent magnet, but an early 14 amp model. The oil system is virtually stock with a 12-plate cooler and stock oil filter.

Here, a rear three-quarter view. In the foreground is an aluminum box that houses the coils, the MSD coil switcher, and the voltage regulator. They were placed here because the Skycoupe has a 20 gallon gas tank immediately behind the firewall. The 1.5 inch scat hose feeds cooling air to this box (the box had internal baffles that restricted the airflow to less than the hose size suggests), the air flows out the bottom after flowing over all the components inside. The Distributor is a Dual Points model. The oil pressure sending unit worked in this location but the temperature always read incorrectly.

Here, the Oil Pan shown here is the first Deep Sump Welded Aluminum Pan that we made. We still offer these today. I used this same motor mount layout to build several other later mounts in the shop. It also appears on Dave’s Wagabond in 2004, our Buttercup project in 2008, and on our Tailwind project in 2011. The carburetor is a Stromberg. The large hose is feeding fresh air from the cowl, the small is for carb heat. The gascolator is at the lowest point in the fuel system.

Here, on the valve cover is a Cessna 150 breather. These worked under most circumstances, but proved to be very difficult for builders to get inexpensively. With the 601, we moved to the readily available Aircraft Spruce breather. The location, however, was a winner; we have put every set of breather lines at this location since. The exhaust system is ceramic coated mild steel. These do not last compared to stainless models. The tubing size here is 1 3/8″. Testing proved that it needed to be slightly larger. The overall exhaust system layout remains fairly close to this. The goal is minimizing the amount of surface area under the cowling.

This photo shows the passenger side view.  The Skycoupe was the last aircraft we built that had a bolted on intake at the head. We abandoned this when we moved to our new Nosebowl shape with the Zenith 601. If you look closely, you can see that this intake manifold is made out of many separate pieces of of mild steel. A painstaking project of gas welding. Today the intake manifolds we offer are the same shape, but are made out of a single piece of stainless tubing. This also offers a good view of the side of the cooling box. The main battery cable and the starter cable meet each other on a phenolic plate on the side of the box. Internally, they are connected to the voltage regulator. The wiring bundles are packaged in red Fiberglas woven tubing for chafe protection. The front of the baffling looks blunt because this aircraft had previously been flown on a Subaru with a belt reduction. That engine had an extremely flat face, and the baffling seen here only filled up the original cowl. In later testing, the Skycoupe was converted to one of our Nosebowls which transformed it from an ugly duckling into a guided missile.

Above: One of the last tests I performed was blocking up the aircraft to a 22° angle and chaining the tail down. We actually ran it in this position for extensive tests of its fuel flow at full power, and checking that the Deep Sump Oil Pan would feed oil at this angle at wide open throttle. The system worked very well. In 2002 I sported Burt Rutan mutton chops. Grace isn’t nostalgic about them today. These photographs were taken in front of our old hangars at the Spruce Creek airport in Daytona Beach, Florida. The hangars were built in the 1960s and were among the oldest structures at the airport. By 2002, Spruce Creek had evolved into the world’s largest fly in community, a gated location of 1,200 hangar homes.There were many good people there. Our hangars, nicknamed “the ghetto” by the real estate agents, were the focal point of lively after hours beer drinking and hangar flying. Most of the aviators in attendance were successful guys with million-dollar homes and hangars with painted floors where nothing interesting was happening. Our hangars reminded them of good times in their past when things were simpler and fun was a lot more accessible. In 2003, NASCAR driver and spruce Creek resident Mark Martin bought our whole hangar row and had it torn down and replaced with four expensive hangars that ended up housing golf carts and Prevost motor homes. The lasting important lessons that I took away from the experience was never to envy wealthy guys in aviation, a lot of them have lost touch with the most fun elements that drew them into flying in the first place, and to make sure we retained the element of good times amongst friends in everything that we did.

Mail Sack – Effective Risk Management


Here are a couple of letters we received on the subject of risk management:


Builder David Mehaffey wrote:

“Never thought I would see the truth in print. as one who is looking back , 80 and counting, the truth has usually been the first casualty at the airport. Hope to see more articles. God watches out for fools, he made a lot of them. I can testify to that. Take care.”


KR builder Donald January shared:

“William. I’ve always liked the saying ‘We do it right because we do it twice’. This shows me that at least the person found a mistake the first time and repaired it. Up here in the Dakotas you see a lot of scabbed together homebuilts and a lot of fools think the whole state is one huge runway. I’ve seen 150 Cessnas blasting down a gravel road for flight. I remember loading my father’s plane with chemical and having a farmer nearly walk into a turning prop. So we learned to ask the farmer to wait in his truck and the pilot will come to him for the daily spray area. You keep up the good work and hope to see you one day. Donald”


Zenith 750 Builder Dan Glaze wrote:

“Keep writing William, if your insight saves one life it will all be worth it. The following is the NTSB report from last August from my home FBO. This guy refused instruction just a week prior to killing himself, thank God nobody on the ground got hurt, Dan-o.”

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA597
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 25, 2011 in Heath, OH
Aircraft: Nichols Lancair 235, registration: N777BN
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. Excerpt Follows……”The experimental amateur-built airplane had accumulated 1,131 hours since being issued an airworthiness certificate on August 10, 1990. The pilot reportedly had not flown the airplane since he purchased it from the original builder on September 14, 2010. He had reportedly expressed concerns with the airplane’s ground-handling characteristics, and in the weeks preceding the accident, was seen performing several high-speed ground tests.”

Mail Sack – Core Engine Worth


Here are some updated replies on the value of cores…….


Builder Matt Lockwood wrote:                                                           Submitted on 2012/02/26 at 2:51 pm

“I would agree with the comment that these engines are widely available. My story: About 6 years ago, I paid about $100 each for two engines, but during disassembly, I found some issues with each. I then purchased another core for $75. Same thing, some problems with the case. My latest was a core I purchased for $20. Its perfect. The engines are out there. Use craigslist, and look to your local Corvair club-Matt”


Buttercup Builder Daniel Kelly, headed to Corvair College #22 writes:                          Submitted on 2012/02/23 at 6:34 am

Phoenix area;     (2 Cores for sale)


  Builder Al Kruckeberg writes:                                                                                     Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 1:29 pm

I have had a love of Corvairs for years, infact my first car was a Corvair. My son has knows this and has been pointing out different aircraft that are Corvair powered. My response was “where are you going to find a Corvair engine to use”. This past weekend my son came home from college and brought a stack of Kit Planes magazines. I was pleasently surprised to see an article on Corvair conversions by William Wynne, and another article on a vw powered homebuilt called the Thatchercx4. This looked like a match made in heaven to me. I retired from airline flying and general aviation as a whole; inspite of holding an A&P license, twelve type ratings, and one major homebuilt project (a Questair Venture). To get to the point, I checked Craigs List for Corvairs and found several, but prices for junk cars were sky high. Out of curiosity I posted an ad under “auto parts” looking for a Corvair engine. In less than 18 hours I had my first response for a guy that had three engines in the car, and one that had been removed. He wanted $250 for a 140hp engine with the transaxle. Last night I got a call from another person offering to give me two engines if I would get them out of his way. The spark has been lit, maybe I will fly again. “Al”


Builder Brian Manlove, headed to Corvair College #22 writes:                                             Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 2:45 am

“Core #1, Craigslist in Pennsylvania, 3 years ago, $150. It cost me more than that to have it shipped back to TX. The seller sent me photos of engine in the car, and pictures of the crankcase and head numbers, which were good. The engine was as advertised, turned over easily with a socket wrench with the plugs removed. Core #2, 3 weeks ago, again Craigslist but this time the seller was only 60 miles from my house. The seller had just pulled the engine out of a modified VW dune buggy. He wanted $200 for the engine, transaxle, and a adapter plate. The dune buggy had bottomed out on some rocks and bent 2 pushrods on one side. It had all of the oil in it. I pulled the top cover off and the crank & connecting rods all were intact and oily. The numbers were right. He sold it to me for $150 without the transaxle. When I got it home, I removed the bent pushrods and plugs and it turned over with a socket wrench just fine. On this one, the heads had already been de-flashed by someone in the past… Hopefully, it will at least furnish backups for heads & crankshaft if it turns out I need them. There are also several complete running Corvairs for sale for >= $4000 on Craigslist here, so I’d pay $4K and drive it home before I’d spend $1200 on the junk H2OLess has advertised – I looked at his eBay site and they’re not even “assembled” – Just cases with studs. I think eBay has become a trap for Corvair “flight engines” and ridiculous prices – Brian “


Builder and international man of aviation, Tom  Graziano writes:                                               Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 12:45 am


You’re spot on with your core value assessment. I’ve bought several over the years from the local junk yards, all for less than $100 each. Lots of junk yards still have Corvairs & Corvair engines. As you stated, Craigslist is a good bet for a core engine too. – Tom” 


Zenith 750 builder and vetran of 4 colleges, Dan Glaze writes:                              Submitted on 2012/02/21 at 10:18 pm

“William, I found my core through a local CORSA club, 120.00 bucks, and very neat person that had 5 restored vairs that looked showroom new, Dan-o”


Builder Sonny Webster wrote in the letter below after reading the story on the value of cores. It is yet another reminder that Corvair engines may not be on the shelf at Wal-Mart, but they are a lot easier to find than most people first guess. I will be glad to update this story today with any other letters builders would like to write in on how they found their cores and what they paid.-ww


“One day while talking to my cousin up in the Amarillo/Lubbock area about my CH650 build I mentioned that I was looking for a Corvair motor for a conversion project. He said that he knew of a complete Corvair 500 that had been sitting out by his neighbor’s barn for as long as he had lived there, which was several years. He stopped by one day and left a note asking if they would like to sell it and the neighbor responded that for $200 my cousin could take the whole care off their hands! He thinks it is a 1968 model that was running when it was parked there. I’ve yet to get the block code to verify which motor it has but this just proves your point that there are engines out there. If you can’t find them on Craig’s List or other on-line sources you may very well find one by simply asking around. – Sonny.”

What is a core engine worth?


This question just came up because a guy thinking about building an aircraft engine asked it after seeing several listed on Ebay, one for over $1200. I went and looked because I thought he might have slipped a decimal place.  He didn’t. One guy in South Carolina is selling several Corvair engines, listed as aircraft engine cores for very, very high prices. I don’t know the seller, because in the wonderful world of Ebay he is identified only by the email address “H20less”.

It is a free world, and people are allowed to try to sell anything they want, for what ever price they think they can get. I am not angry at the guy for trying, and neither should ‘H20less” be angry at me for telling builders that they are not worth anywhere near what he is asking. At least when I express this opinion, you get to know who is saying it.

I don’t care how much people sell other things on Ebay for, it isn’t my concern. The reason why this is an issue is two-fold, first I treat people building Corvair flight engines as if they are friends of mine. We run a business, but it isn’t aimed at seeing how much money we can take from people at an auction, it is just aimed at teaching people how to build engines and selling them the parts to do this at a good value. Every single person with a running Corvair aircraft engine would tell anyone about to pay $1200 for a core, or $450 for that matter, that they are about to spend way too much money. The second issue I have is that a guy like this has a vested interest in justifying his price by creating the impression that these engines are hard to find, which they are not. As evidence that they are still easy to find, reading the ad closely, it states that he just bought all of these engines and is reselling them. That tells you they can be found, and I am sure he paid a lot closer to the realistic core value of $150-$250. We still have lots of builders who buy their core for $100.

The place where most builders find their core today is Craigslist. If you don’t know how this works, google search the term and look at the city near you and search the word Corvair. Craigslist is a giant on-line service that works just like the classified ads in newspapers. It is localized, because you don’t really need to know that a guy in Auckland NZ is selling something that a guy 30 miles away is also selling. It isn’t a game like auction of hidden prices like Ebay either.It is just ads for people selling things. The best part is that you can run an ad stating what you are looking for, people in your area will read it and contact you. This second method is how 50% of the builders who got started last year picked up their core. I polled them at Oshkosh last year, and the average price they paid was less than $100. For all we know, they guy selling the stuff on Ebay used Craigslist to buy it. Ask any of your friends if they have bought things on Craigslist and you may be suprised who much stuff is sold there. I bought our trailer, my motorcycle and many Corvair engines off Craigslist. The cost of each of these was far below the loest price I had ever seen any of them sell for on Ebay.  One more thing, Craigslist is free. If you’re looking at a core, a conversion manual and a disassembly DVD from us are good tools. Even if your yet to get these, you can still write me and ask about a core you are looking at. I will gladly answer, because I don’t want to have any builder, a person who I regard as a friend, get started off on the wrong foot by paying way to much for a core engine. – William