Corvair College #23, 2700cc Engine, Ray Fuenzalida, KR-2S Builder
It has been a few weeks since Corvair College #23 here in Florida. I have a few stories to write up and share from the event. We have been busy heading into Oshkosh, which is now only a month away. We have ended up with a little free time because of tropical storm Debby. It has been raining cats and dogs over the past three days, but it is expected to peak tonight, where we can end up with another 4″ of rain on top of the 12″ we already got. As a precaution on flooding, we have shut down the hangar for a day and picked up everything near the floor and turned off the power. This involved picking up the TIG welder with the engine hoist and putting the planes up on ramps. It is a lot of prep work, but it prevents damage and we will be back in action the day after the storm passes. For now, it provides time in the house to write up a story from CC #23.
Above, Corvair/KR builder Ray Fuenzalida from New Orleans. Ray has attended three other Colleges, but he decided to make #23 the special one and finish and test run his engine there. His basic engine is a 2700 with a Weseman 5th bearing. It will be more than enough power for an outstanding KR installation. Over the years Ray had considered several different starter/alternator configurations, but after seeing a lot of finished engines run at previous Colleges, Ray moved to using our standard front starter/front alternator configuration, primarily because he liked the simplicity of it. In the photo we are admiring the diamond plate top cover Ray made. We said something about a guy in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with one running board on his 1970s Dodge conversion van being ticked off…..
Above, Ray’s engine was about 1/2 complete when he brought it to the College, but we took the time to go over the engine with a fine tooth comb. One of the things we changed was his rear oil case. Ray’s core had come with an oil case from a 1960-61 Corvair. They fit, but they are a heavy sand casting. We replaced it with a die-cast one that had been fitted with one of our high volume pumps. The pump is a good idea with a 5th bearing. Standing with Ray is Dean Smith, long time Corvair movement guy, also from Louisiana.
My talented and beautiful wife Grace painted the sign above. We have few rules at the Colleges, but we always abide by them. We lay off the top two subjects of conversation (as they rarely bring people together) and the third is that we teach builders to avoid products from totalitarian police states noted for poor quality. Ray has been a really good sport while we tease him about bringing a torque wrench made in the Peoples Republic of China. Over the years, I have shown many people that these are not accurate enough to build an aircraft engine with. Particularly offensive to me is the brand name “Pittsburgh.” I was born in the actual Pittsburgh in 1962. We bring a highly accurate Snap On digital torque wrench to every event so builders don’t have to worry about this if they are assembling at the College. For those working at home, I suggest a Craftsman beam type wrench in 3/8 drive. They are good and cheap.
Above is a good overall view of Ray’s engine. Note the top cover has been replaced with our standard one, it is part of the Front Starter package. Ray painted it to match his engine. The diamond plate one was too thick and not smooth enough to mount the Front Starter Brackets. Ray also picked up our last non-anodized front Alternator Bracket. The only thing about Ray’s engine that is slightly different from our production 2700 engine is his use of bolt on head pipes. We used them for a long time, but every engine we have built in the past nine years had used welded on intake pipes. There is a slight flow increase with welded on pipes, but I particularly like eliminating the gasket. Our Intake Manifolds can be made to work with bolt on pipes, but they are really designed to work with welded on pipes. Mark at Falcon has a set of fixtures to do the job that are set to perfectly match our manifolds. Guys with personal skill at welding aluminum have purchased the manifold and used it in reverse to locate the head pipes without a fixture. If you do use bolt on pipes, do not use the gasket for a Corvair carb, instead use Clark’s part number C-12A, which is the gasket for the turbo intake on the car.
Ray’s engine has a very clean look because it has only one external oil line, a -6 line right from the Gold Oil Housing to the Weseman bearing. His oil cooler is a stock GM unit. These have long proven to work on small, fast Corvair powered planes like KRs and Cleanexes. All of Dan Weseman’s hard-core 3100cc powered Wicked Cleanex flying was done on a stock 12-plate cooler. The faster the plane, the smaller the oil cooler required.
Another look at Ray’s engine. Engines built with 5th bearings use the Short Gold Hub. For the past several years, we have used a sold Ring Gear in place of the 2003-07 model we used that had spokes. (It was an FRA-235 Pioneer, no longer in production.) The new model is from a late-model Ford. We buy them in the unmachined state from NAPA and individually machine each one on our lathe. This is a good view of our new Front Starter Bracket, which eliminates the drilled link of our previous starters. This new bracket comes standard on the starter we sell. We also have pre-made tail brackets for starters going on engines with Weseman bearings. The Fram 6607 filter shown is just for ground runs; we use a K&N 1008 in flight. Again, look at how clean the configuration is; it needs hardly more than plug wires and baffling to be installed. Ray’s engine will not need anything like the filter, cooler nor bypass mounted on the firewall. All of these are on the engine itself, which makes for a very organized engine compartment.
Above is the moment that counts: Ray’s engine at power on the run stand. Here is a proud hour where the learning and the effort has paid off. Ray got to share this in the company of his fellow builders. In his home EAA Chapter, he may not have a single other guy who has ever built a flight engine. At the College, this is the common ground, everyone is there to learn. At times, it can be hard to find other aviators who understand the desire to build and fly your own airframe and engine. Here is where the Corvair movement really shines, as it is made up entirely of self-reliant individuals who prefer to get the full measure of creativity and pride from homebuilding. People not content to go through the motions of the consumer experience of buying an imported engine in a box. The Corvair movement is for individuals who have willfully chosen to see how much they can learn, create and master in aviation, not how little. If this sounds like your mindset, welcome aboard. Hats off to Ray Fuenzalida, an individual who has earned the title Corvair engine builder.-ww