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