Franklin Engine Runs at CC ##22 KGTU Spring Break 2012

Above, Grace, John Franklin and his new running 2700 cc Corvair powerplant. John worked on this engine at Corvair College #21, and finished it at CC #22. It is a smooth running powerplant that features a simple stock oil system and no fifth bearing. This is a good example of the baseline economical powerplant headed to a Pietenpol. If John chooses, he may later upgrade to a Weseman bearing or any of our Gold System Parts without a major rework on the engine. This engine has a nice set of Falcon heads on it and a first-class nitrided crankshaft.

Above, Kevin Purtee, Guy Bowen and Greg Crouchley surround John’s engine after it is placed on the run stand. We primed the engine with an electric drill for a long time with the valve covers off to make sure that the lifters all flowed oil before we ran the engine. Because it was cold, one of the lifters was very reluctant to flow oil. After the test run, we brought the engine back inside, cracked open the valve cover, and confirmed that warming the oil and the test run had gotten the system to flow plenty of oil. When you build up the engine yourself, you have the confidence to look into things like this and verify that it is to your satisfaction. Building a Corvair is about building your own skills and getting away from being beholden to mechanics, engine distributors and importers. Real freedom is knowing that you can count on yourself.

Above, John and I check the oil flow on the engine.

During the assembly phase we went over a number of details, including instrumentation. While we do have some very high-end showpieces at the Colleges, the events are still largely about rank-and-file builders building powerplants that will serve their individual needs. I always encourage people to build the best powerplant they can afford, but the Colleges are about educating people to judiciously apply the money in their budget to get the maximum effect for it.

At Colleges, you will have plenty of help for any task at hand. This was the real spirit that all aviation events were supposed to have but many are sadly lacking. I can’t fix the rest of the world, but Corvair College will always have the spirit of camaraderie and friendship between aviators that has always been a central part of good aviation events.

John’s engine ran after dinner on Saturday night, and he had many fellow builders to cheer on his achievement. It was chilly and wet out, but John didn’t seem to mind at all.

A milestone event in the building experience: Your engine runs for the first time. John shares a few words over the sound of the powerplant with Grace.

Above, John’s engine, a good example of a baseline Corvair powerplant. Notice its stock oil system, including a 12-plate cooler. Internally, however, this engine is built of first-class components. If John chooses later upgrades, he will not have to do anything internal to the engine as the upgrades will bolt on externally. He made some good choices about quality components internally where it would be difficult to go back and upgrade, while leaving open the possibility of a Weseman bearing or further evolved oil system. A Corvair engine like the one above has approximately $4000 in parts in it. There will always be people who would rather buy a C-85 without logs out of the flymart for the same kind of money no matter how many times I point out that a quality C-85 does not need to be dragged all the way to Oshkosh to be sold for $5000 (only the bad ones have to be transported that far and sold anonymously), some people will still try to get away with such an alleged bargain. That’s their choice; they aren’t in experimental aviation to learn things, they’re here to try to get away with stuff. Conversely, a guy like John has put in some real work, learned a whole lot of stuff, and has an engine that is internally new and well proven for the task ahead of it. It also comes with all of our support and the camaraderie of Colleges. Not everyone values such things, but for those who do, we have plenty more Colleges lined up and I will be in this for as long as I live.


After verifying the oil flow in John’s engine, we took it back out and ran it again just for the heck of it. It sounded great, and he was very proud of building it, as well he should be.

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