Guest Editorial, Greg Crouchley, Waiex/Corvair builder.

Builders,

About a month ago we had Greg down to finish and test run his 3,000 cc Corvair equipped with a Weseman billet crank. Greg had been at CC#24 and came close to getting his engine running, but took it home and finished it, and later came down for a test run. At the time I wrote the story at the link below about the adventure:

World’s Strongest 3,000cc Corvair, built by Greg Crouchley

I had spent some time with Greg at various airshows and events, but the time we spent in the hangar gave me a chance to hear Greg’s personal path into Experimental Aviation. I though it was particularly interesting, and that builders reading it would have a chance to reflect on their own entry point and perspective. I invited Greg to type it up and share it. In the last year, we have had a number of guest editorials, and these have been well read.  I asked each of the writers to use the space they needed to give their story the depth that would allow other builders to connect with it. Other internet groups talk about ‘saving bandwith’ like electrons were some kind of endangered species. I am interested in people communicating with each other in more than bumper sticker slogans.

Of interest to me is that the data tracking on our site shows that these stories are read many times in the months after they are published. They have lasting appeal and effect. In the last year the #1 story was Kevin Purtee’s guest editorial, which was read by over 5,000 people. I try to publish a mix of technical and motivational stuff, clearly both of it has strong readership. Here is Greg’s story; take the time to enjoy it and consider your own entry point into experimental Aviation.-ww

Above, Greg, Grace and Scoob E at Corvair College #23

 

Dear William and Grace,

A month or so has passed since my visit and I thought you might be wondering if my experience might have tempered a bit as the distractions of the holidays draw away focus.

No.

If anything, the reverse has happened. My desire to finish the plane and mount the engine for the next set of tests is burning hotter than ever.

It is interesting that the engine, which was the part of the project I knew the LEAST about a year ago is now the part I probably know the MOST about today. After my initial contact with you and then seeking you out several more times at subsequent aviation events, I’m sure that you must have looked at me with a healthy dose of skepticism.

I shouldn’t have wasted the time worrying about it. I asked questions of you that were so basic, so uninformed, so dumb that I can’t help but laugh at them now. More importantly, I’m sure I stumbled into territory that, knowing what I now know, could be considered controversial or even insulting had they been anything but totally innocent. And each time you would listen, pause and consider, and then reply with thoughtful, succinct, and pithy guidance. I was slowly closing in on touching down in the Land Of Corvairs, but was still doing my best to hold her off, and hold her off, and hold her off. Until the day came I couldn’t find a single legitimate reason not to act.

So, at OSH I bought the Manual, as well as the Flight Ops and Zodiac installation  books, late in the afternoon.  I started reading at your booth over in Homebuilts. Since I was tent camping, my plan was to take my loot to my usual 6 pm perch in the grass near the road at the departure end of the ultralight field, watch the UL’s fly, then walk to my tent for some dinner and shut eye. Heading south I made it to the UL barn area, still reading the Manual. I suppose a lot of people had to dodge aside as I walked the road with my eyes down, buried in the book. Rethinking my plan, I turned west, out the gate and even passed my favorite steamed corn-on-the-cob fine dining experience. Didn’t have enough hands to read and eat corn, so this ONE time, I passed on the corn.  

To this day, I recall walking the long fence line west, then south, then west again to my little tent, reading. Suffice it to say, that about covers all I did for the rest of my waking moments of that day. Reading. And thinking.

You were convincing this non-motorhead he could actually do this, AND complete it, AND it I would learn enough to understand and address the associated risks and concerns.

So, where to start? Totally unfamiliar with Corvairs,  I was skeptical of your statement that cores are plentiful and everywhere and to look on Craig’s List. Did it, and a week or two later I found myself in Alexandria, Va under a Monza helping a car enthusiast pull his running motor. He was swapping in a turbo motor he had just picked up. And yes,the numbers from your book all checked out. Amazingly,  for a few weeks after I pulled the ad, I got calls from folks offering their motors. And people I work with who listened to the crazy idea of putting a Corvair motor in my next plane suddenly had uncles, fathers, or friends who had one under a bench in the old barn. Just like you said.

Following the book and video, I took her apart, throwing nothing away, as you advised in the DVD. Despite a ton of WD40 and PB and Mouse Milk, one stud screwed out, two turned. Sure I was FUBAR’D, I was a bit depressed as I packed this now ‘junk’, still filthy, engine into the car for the 10 hour drive to CC#21, my first.

No idea what to expect, except from watching a YouTube or two. I took up residence in the back corner of the last table, since I was not even sure I belonged there. Armed with carb cleaner, rags, brushes, and a few of my ‘made in China’ tools, I proceeded to make a mess, transferring all the grease from my parts to PF Beck’s cardboard, the rags, and every piece of clothing and exposed skin I had. All while thinking the case is history and you would safety wire me to a table in front of the others and flog me with a beam-type torque wrench (at the time I had never even owned one, ever!) saying ‘silly man…Corvair engine conversion is for real men… Begone!’

Maybe part of that was the result of reading some Internet fizzle about you, as well as that blasted case.

When I had it reasonably clean enough, I walked up to you and asked you to take a look at my now-for-certain boat anchor, as well as an odd casting line that looked like a crack to my vastly experienced eye. You calmly looked at the head bolts, the case, the threads on the missing stud, and the bearing seats, and said this case was fine. A most gracious Don and PF took me for some red dye they had in another hanger. We dyed the line and you came back and said it was fine. Immediately, covered in grease, tired and hungry, I was 10′ tall again. And still no flogging.

I started buying your conversion parts. Some at the college, and some I ordered as my understanding and knowledge grew. My living room became a museum as parts were  everywhere as I studied the enclosed directions that came with each part. I remember leaving a voice message and sending a couple of emails with questions. At 9:30 one evening my phone rang and as I looked at it the caller ID said ‘William Wynne’. I was surprised that you would call me over some relatively mundane questions.

That was the day that learned that your statement of support for even first timers was true. I wonder if you even recall that first real conversation. It went on for almost an hour and a half. Topics were wide-ranging, interesting, entertaining, and educational. We found mutual connections and I learned some about you. And I realized that I had just been ‘supported’ in a way that simply doesn’t exist anymore. No time limit, no credit cards, no sales pitch. When we hung up, I realized that not only did you know and cover the topics in my messages, but left me energized with my decision. Later on, I’d come to realize you also answered questions I didn’t know I had yet.

Since then, we’ve done it again. Another hour long conversation one day when I happened to call just to leave a message. And several face-to-face chats at Colleges and Sun-n-Fun and Oshkosh.

I guess the best way to say it is that they way in which you have read me and decided the best way to support me was spot-on.

It is important to pause here and add that the friendliness and care that Grace has shown to me is an equally vital component of what I’m calling support. She is a perfect compliment to you, and I’m certain there is no one more appropriately named.

Over the year, the opportunity to consider Dan’s new crankshaft arose. I came to you to discuss it, and explain that my interest was ONLY motivated by a desire to contribute and participate in your work in some small way. One of the strongest elements in my plunge into the world of Corvair conversion is knowing that you test fly every part you sell. First. And fly with Grace behind them too. A man who clearly states that we worship at the altar of Continental and Lyc for their brilliant engineering of durability and reliability into their parts, stresses that studying failure modes in equipment and pilot is the core of risk management, builds and offers parts to help REDUCE potential for error in installation and in use, is the kind of man I want to learn something from.

The parts are all not only excellent quality, but they fit as advertised. Very important to my non-machinist hands. I have had so many ‘aftermarket’ parts not even close to fitting my truck when they arrived. Like they were eyeballed or something, but certainly when the purveyor was called, suddenly I was the enemy. With your parts, all I had to do was follow your clear and simple directions. And never was I held up because an ordered WW part wasn’t in my hands. Did they all come together? No. Did I buy some in person at the Colleges or Shows? Yes. Did Grace always seem to know what I was still owed? Absolutely.

I’ve read that some people had experiences they didn’t expect. Mostly waiting periods for a part or two of the myriad you sell. Did I have to wait a bit for a part or two you offered to work by your own hand? Sure. Did I ever have to stop building because I was waiting for you? Never. Instead, I had a decidedly different experience. One of your most expensive parts set I had in my living room when I attended a College. You walked over to me out of the blue, asked if you remembered correctly had that part back home and I said yes. You handed me the entire new set and said to send the other set back whenever I got the chance. Several times you told me you were woking on an idea or a part and after you tested it, I might prefer it to one I currently had. And you’d say to drop you a note to remind you. Don’t recall reading these types of stories on the internet.

The Colleges are very important to my education. Hands on. The time you asked everyone to put hands on a rocker and set it or no dinner just so we’d all know the feel of doing it right. Or how to install a pin in a piston properly since the stock ones do not float. Watching you remove a snapped head bolt without wrecking the threads in the case. Or seating a harmonic balancer correctly. On and on. For a guy like me, understanding how to made a stand for the case to install crank and cam wasn’t trivial. Or building a table to bolt the engine on her nose to work on it like a certificated repair shop. I could go on an on. Not to mention all the friends I made like PF and Don, Mike and Michelle, Kevin and Shelley, and of course the inimitable Dan and Rachel. There were a lot of laughs, and loads of skill and knowledge free for the taking. All at a cost less than I would have spent if I simply went out and bought my lunches and dinners at McDonalds.

Because of a simple honest mistake, I  wasn’t quite able finish my engine and run it at CC24, despite all of the personal attention that you and Dan showered on me. To be invited to your airport to test run it was the ultimate and the final act of support.

I’ve heard and read some stories about you. Some suggest all you are about is selling parts. Or you are too opinionated and not open to ideas. Or you are volatile. All I can say is that I watched you deal with one person at one College in a patient and thoughtful manner out of a concern for his safety and well being. He was not grasping nor accepting your correct position. If it were me instead of you, I’m certain my final response would be retold for years in Land of Corvair stories about me that would make Tim Geithner blush. Just pushing parts? I have them all, and I still can’t believe for that very modest sum that I have been able to complete and run my engine, and enjoyed such support along the way. I’m pretty sure there is no cheaper College education in the USA. And none better. 

My answer to all this is to simply say that if I read it correctly, 50% of the people in the Garden of Eden mislead the other 50% and ruined a good thing. If the Garden of Eden wasn’t good enough for half the population, and could convince the other half of the same, the fact that only a very small percentage of people in the Land of Corvairs are unhappy or know better, you are way ahead.

I hope my story might help someone of little engine experience who is wondering if they can rely on your pledge of support and supply of top quality parts to explore this fascinating and substantive slice of aviation. The video of me when mine ran is proof positive there are rewards like ones’ first solo awaiting, thanks to you and Grace, and your FlyCorvair business.

Looking forward to the next Corvair College,

Greg

Getting Started in 2013, Part #7, ‘Chas. Charlie’ Short Block

Builders;

Builder ‘Chas. Charlie’ elects to use a Weseman prepped crankshaft with a gen 2 bearing hub installed. He is going to elect to have a new gear put on his crank. He is going to get a Clarks failsafe gear, installed by Clarks on a new cam, so he can just take it out of the box and put it in the case. This option looks at trading more money to have new parts and less time involved in the case assembly.

 (At the end I will cover some options and notes. CC stands for Clarks Corvair parts, SR stands for Summit Racing, ELS stands for Ebay Larry’s Corvair parts, and ECA stands for Ebay California Corvair parts.)

.

Crank group (1000)

1000- Crank GM 8409 prepped by Dan Weseman with Gen 2 5th bearing hub installed. ( $1,350)

1001- Crank gear (new, $100, installed in crank processing)

1002- Crank gear key (Included in crank prep)

1003- Crank gear gasket (Included in crank prep)

1004- Rear keys -2-(CC-#5858, $1.50, $3)

1005- Fuel pump eccentric (used, from core engine)

1006- Spacer (used, from core engine)

1007- Bronze distributor drive gear (used, from core engine)

1008- Oil slinger (used, from core engine)

1009- Main bearings (ELS-$88)

1010- Connecting rod bearings (ELS-$59)

 

Cam group (1100)

1100- Cam ( CC, part 8800, $235 )

1101- Thrust washer (new installed by Clarks, $12.60)

1102- Key (CC-#5858, $1.50)

1103-  ‘Fail safe’ Cam gear (CC- $94 + $25 assembly)

1104- Hydraulic lifter set -12 total- (Summitracing.com $2.99each, $36)

1105- Cam lubricant (comes with OT-10 cam)

1106- ZDDP oil additive (SR,$16)

.

Case Group (1200)

1200- Case -2 halves with studs- (used, from core engine)

1201- Main case bolts -8- (used, from core engine)

1202- Pipe plugs for oil galleries -2- (used, from core engine)

.

The total of Charles Charlie’s parts is $2020.10.  This is a moderate increase over Bob Baker’s parts at $1,766. It will take less time to assemble, and it will all be bolt together stuff eliminating shrinking the cam gear on the cam at home. Many builders are attracted to the idea of having a new cam and the best cam gear, and I can’t argue with this, but traditional engines we have built that have a lot of flight time on them have had perfect service histories on reground cams and standard gears.

To get his short block up to the point of having a fully operational 5th bearing, Charles Charley will order the second half of the Weseman bearing, the Billet housing/bearing/seal for $750. This brings his total to $2,770.10. Again, if any builder would like to have this assembled as a running start, we are glad to pick up the parts at The Weseman’s and take care of it for a modest charge. -ww

Getting Started in 2013, Part #6, ‘Bob Baker’ short block

Builders:

Now we get to the second engine builder, “Bob Baker.” He elects to use a Weseman prepped crankshaft with a Gen 2 bearing hub installed. He is going to keep his used gear from his crank. He is going to get a Clark’s standard cam gear that he is going to put on a re-ground cam himself.

Here is the logic in his decision making: He knows he is going to have a 5th bearing on his engine, so he wants to do it in the easiest way possible. He is also interested in condensing orders, so having the Wesemans take care of the crank prep and install the Gen 2 hub in one shot is appealing. The Weseman crank process takes care of removing the gear and replacing it for the builder, so he doesn’t have to track down a 20 ton press like Allan Able did. Later, Bob will have less work than Allan putting his 5th bearing on because the Gen 2 eliminates the most technical part of the installation. Even though Bob is looking to save the work on the crank, he still is willing to install his cam gear at home. If he changes his mind about this, Clark’s only up charges about $25 to install the gear for him.

Again, at the end I will cover some options and notes. CC stands for Clarks Corvair parts, SR stands for Summit Racing, ELS stands for Ebay Larry’s Corvair parts, and ECA stands for Ebay California Corvair parts. Lets look at Bob’s numbers:

.

Crank group (1000)

1000- Crank GM 8409 prepped by  Dan Weseman with Gen 2 5th bearing hub installed. ( $1,350)

1001- Crank gear (used, from core)

1002- Crank gear key (Included in crank prep)

1003- Crank gear gasket (Included in crank prep)

1004- Rear keys -2-(CC-#5858, $1.50, $3)

1005- Fuel pump eccentric (used, from core engine)

1006- Spacer (used, from core engine)

1007- Bronze distributor drive gear (used, from core engine)

1008- Oil slinger (used, from core engine)

1009- Main bearings (ELS-$88)

1010- Connecting rod bearings (ELS-$59)

 

Cam group (1100)

1100- Cam ( CC, part 8800R, $170 )

1101- Thrust washer (used, from core engine)

1102- Key (CC-#5858, $1.50)

1103-  Cam gear (CC- $44)

1104- Hydraulic lifter set -12 total- (Summitracing.com $2.99each, $36)

1105- Cam lubricant (comes with OT-10 cam)

1106- ZDDP oil additive (SR,$16)

.

Case Group (1200)

1200- Case -2 halves with studs- (used, from core engine)

1201- Main case bolts -8- (used, from core engine)

1202- Pipe plugs for oil galleries -2- (used, from core engine)

.

The total of Bob’s parts is $1,766.  A first, this seems like a really big bump from Allan Able’s $1012. But it really isn’t an apples to apples comparison. Heres why: Bob is already part of the way to his 5th bearing being done, because the Gen 2 hub is already on his crank. To complete his 5th bearing, he will need to order the $750 housing/bearing/seal from the Wesemans. Thus $1,766 + $750 = $2516. Allan Able is eventually going to get a Gen 1 bearing, and the cost is going to be $1050 for the whole bolt on kit. Thus Allan’s cost to the same point of completed case with operational 5th bearing is $1012 + $1050 = $2062.

So to get to a case with a 5th bearing Bob is only spending $454 more than Allan. He has less work, but to get to the point of closing the case Bob has to have about $750 more handy at the same stage. 

Options Bob may consider: For $100 more he can get a new crank gear.   For about $50 more he can have a “fail safe” cam gear. If Bob is looking for a running start at the next College, he can send his case to my hangar, and for a modest charge I will assemble the bottom end and put the Gen 2 bearing in place. This is an efficient process because I can pick up the builder’s crank and bearing from Dan after it is processed. Even with these options Bob can get his fully assembled case for less than $3,000. This is often the running start that makes the difference on getting an engine running at a 3-day College. We have presented builders with two options that are very different, yet we have only looked at 2 of the 5 examples. When you consider the sub options, we are looking at perhaps 50 different paths for builders to select.

Take a moment and think: How many different ways are there to buy an imported engine? In most cases, just one. How likely is this single configuration to be the perfect match for an individual builder’s budget, learning goals and project plane?  Not likely at all. Almost all of those manufacturers offer their engine in a single configuration, not because it is the best for builders, but because it has the highest total revenue to their company. That isn’t evil, it’s capitalism. Works for them, and it works for any person who is willing to subjugate their own personal goals and individual plans to the available product.

Just looking for an appliance to turn a prop? No major loss to buy an imported, single configuration, “finance it don’t build it” motor. Did you get into this game to Learn, Build and Fly? Are you an individual who doesn’t fit the cookie cutter mold that many companies, organizations and magazines project as the “right” people for aviation?  Then Corvairs are for you. … Keep reading until you define the engine that perfectly matches your goals in building and flying. Don’t ever change your dreams, desires nor plans because it would be more convenient for the large corporation to sell you something: That isn’t homebuilding, it’s consumerism, and it only makes shallow people happy for short periods of time. As an individual, you have to exercise your personal choice and will and effort to be happy for the long run. That is called being an Aviator. -ww 

Getting Started in 2013, Part #5, ‘Allan Able’ short block.

Builders,

Continuing here, we are going to look at one of the least expensive short blocks that can be built as a flight engine. This takes into account lessons we have learned over the years. Although this is inexpensive, it is far better than a handful of short blocks that I see during a year of Colleges, were some local expert talked a builder into doing it his way, and ended up grinding the crank radiuses off or not threading the crank for a safety shaft. Following the plan here will keep you on track even if you are on a very tight budget. At the end I will cover some options and notes. CC stands for Clarks Corvair parts, SR stands for Summit Racing, ELS stands for Ebay Larry’s Corvair parts, and ECA stands for Ebay California Corvair parts.

Crank group (1000)

1000- Crank Moldex, ($600 typical price for work)

1001- Crank gear (used, from core)

1002- Crank gear key (CC-#5858, $1.50)

1003- Crank gear gasket (CC-786A, $1.88)

1004- Rear keys -2-(CC-#5858, $1.50, $3)

1005- Fuel pump eccentric (used, from core engine)

1006- Spacer (used, from core engine)

1007- Bronze distributor drive gear (used, from core engine)

1008- Oil slinger (used, from core engine)

1009- Main bearings (ELS-$88)

1010- Connecting rod bearings (ELS-$59)

 

Cam group (1100)

1100- Cam ( CC, part 8800R, $170 )

1101- Thrust washer (used, from core engine)

1102- Key (CC-#5858, $1.50)

1103- Cam gear (ELS- $35)

1104- Hydraulic lifter set -12 total- (Summitracing.com $2.99each, $36)

1105- Cam lubricant (comes with OT-10 cam)

1106- ZDDP oil additive (SR,$16)

Case Group (1200)

1200- Case -2 halves with studs- (used, from core engine)

1201- Main case bolts -8- (used, from core engine)

1202- Pipe plugs for oil galleries -2- (used, from core engine)

 

Looking at the above prices, the total is $1,011.88, a very reasonable price to get the case closed. Some options: ECA sells an 1103 cam gear for  $54 that is a USA billet item that I have not yet used, but I think this will turn out to be a $19 upgrade well spent. The  1100 cam here is a reground OT-10 from Clark’s. It’s pricey, but good. On an extreme budget, look at a ELS reground Isky 270 at $85. This isn’t as good as an OT-10, but it is far better than stock and better than a once proposed internet idea called using a ‘delta’ cam.

If you want to learn something about picking who has quality control on making cams or regrinding them, Read Harvey Crane’s website about the machines companies use. I have Known Harvey for 20 years, he is an airplane guy, lives at Spruce Creek and most people concede that he is one of the worlds leading experts on cams. OT-10s and Iskys are made on better equipment, and that’s what counts when it comes to reliability.

So a guy with a reground 270 and a gear upgrade is still only at $940 or so. To be fair the one issue here is that the crank gear has to come off before the crank is processed and later be put back on. The GM manual shows how to do this, but few homebuilders want to do this or have a 20 ton press. You can leave the gear on and let Moldex nitride it with the crank, but I am no longer in favor of this because people don’t take enough care to carefully clean the gear teeth later. There are literally more than 150 cranks flying that have had the gear nitrided in place, so there is a long track record of it working, but that shouldn’t prevent anyone from trying to do better today.

This isn’t the least expensive way anyone has gone. If you are lucky enough to find a GM factory nitrided crank that is still Standard size and you are planning on putting a 5th bearing on it, you could skip about $400 of the Moldex price because it would just need to be threaded, polished and Magnafluxed, about $200. I have an engine in the shop just like this right now, but it is a rare chance these days. But a builder with a GM 140/Turbo crank is good shape could get to the case closed stage for $550 or so.

I would not be afraid to fly such an engine, although I am going to work to later convince every ‘Allan Able’ builder to install a retrofit Gen. 1 Dan bearing. 5th bearings make sense for every builder, and the retrofittable nature of Dan’s Gen 1 bearing allows Builders to get started today, make progress, and work the bearing in later. 

From my personal perspective I would rather fly any engine that was carefully built around a GM 8409, even one on a very tight budget, than any engine that was built around a Chinese crankshaft sold on the internet by a guy who advertised them as “great for aircraft” although he has never flown in a light plane himself. Understand that the very first one of these cranks put in a plane failed and revealed a hidden factory repair. They are Made in China, sold by a LLC, that is owned by a Canadian. (I have many friends from the frozen north, America made Jim Beedee, we take a back seat to no country when it comes to marketing rip off artists) That triple condition means that if anything ever goes wrong, no one is going to stand behind it. It is the perfect legal firewall for a guy who knows nothing about planes but wants your money to hide behind. No one would tollerate a person who has no medical training dispensing drugs or telling patients what is the best treatment. Likewise, no one should be tollerant of any person who has no aviation training telling people what is ‘best’ for aircraft builders to put in engines they will fly their family and friends behind. I am firm enough on this point that I will not allow anyone to bring a Chinese crank to a College.  I am not Jack Kevorkian, I do not assist people in ending their lives. -ww

Mail Sack, 1/18/13, John Moyle and Cherry Grove trophy

Builders,

Here are some of the letters that have come in the email:

On the passing of John Moyle, builder Ned Lowerre writes:

“Hello William, I am sorry to hear of John passing away. I met him several years ago at the Copperstate Fly-in. I was new to aviation and considering building a Sonex. John was working the Contact booth and quick to point out they had printed an issue that consisted of mostly Sonex articles. He then left the booth and personally escorted me to the booths of engine venders that made engines appropriate for the Sonex. He spent at least two hours with me and had never met me before. Your description of John is right on the money. He will be sorely missed.
Ned”

On the passing of John Moyle, builder Matt Lockwood writes:

“Blue skies and Tailwinds, John. WW- Thanks for posting such great info on great people in this little endeavor.”

On the passing of John Moyle, builder Dan Branstrom writes:

“I’m sorry to hear about John. He really was as you describe him, a kind, interesting person. After we met at CC #5, we ended up meeting once where I live, and we talked via emails between different aviation events. It was always great to see him and talk aviation and other things. I miss him.”

On the Cherry grove trophy, Zenith Builder Brandon Gerard writes:

“When I first got into the idea of homebuilding, it was because I thought it was the most affordable way to get into the air. In the few years that have passed since, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I can buy a used plane for about what I’d spend on building a kit, but it would never mean so much to me as the one I put together with my own hands, on my own time, and with my own particular touches added in.

My eldest daughter and I went to the Zenith rudder clinic a couple of years ago, and she wrote our names and the date on the inside of the rudder as we built it together. Knowing that will be part of my airplane means more to me than any airman’s rating or homebuilding award ever could.

I came into the Corvair movement to get into flying in some kind of affordable fashion. What I found here is so much more than flying on the cheap. There’s a philosophy that speaks to the low-and-slow part of the aviator’s soul within me that I didn’t even know was there, and I found at CC#16 a group of people with whom I felt a genuine kinship. I left there with a distinct feeling that I’d finally found my people. Thank you for that.

Life’s responsibilities have kept me from making much progress over the last couple of years, but the desire still burns. I will run an engine at a college, and I will fly into another in the plane I built with my own hands (and my kids’).

And some philanthropist somewhere needs to buy Bernie’s old shop and turn it into a shrine. The man designed and built what would become a timeless classic, and did so while working a regular job and raising a family. His message: Keep it simple. It’s time for me to simplify my life and get focused on the things most important to me, and a great, big one is sharing my love for aviation with my kids in a meaningful way, something more than getting a magazine every month and watching every aviation-related TV show I can find. I’ll be seeing you at a college soon.”

The Cherry Grove Trophy

Builders.

In the Corvair movement, we have a trophy which we award once a year. It is in recognition of outstanding work in Corvair powered flight. Our primary value in assessing ‘outstanding’ work is that it motivates and assists other Corvair builders to reach their own goals. As you read below, you will find the different ways the Trophy recipients found to make the movement  more accessible to fellow builders. To date, we have awarded the Trophy five times. The names of each of these Aviators are CNC engraved on the Trophy base. When we started, we decided that the Trophy would only be awarded eight times, and then be retired. We have three more November College awards dinners to go, but we have many more years ahead to enjoy the lasting work of the builders whose names are on the Trophy.

Above, from Corvair College #16 at Ed and Val Fishers in SC. On the left, Dan Weseman the 2009 Recipient and on the Right Mark Langford the 2008 and first recipient of the Cherry Grove Trophy.

Above, A photo from the following spring at CC#17.  Mark with his KR2-s and Dan with the Wicked Cleanex. The Trophy is named for Bernard Pietenpol’s home town, the spot where the first Corvair ever took to the air in 1960. To give you some idea of the long history of Corvair power in experimental aviation, consider that Dan was born 15 years after Bernard’s first flight on Corvair power. Mark’s award was based on his efforts to document his Corvair flight experience on-line, where he went on the fly more than 1,000 hrs. He also flew to numerous Colleges and airshows. Dan’s work was to develop, test and promote a very affordable 5th bearing and an outstanding FWF for Sonex airframes. Both have since been promoters of the Corvair movement. Dan has Co-hosted CC#23 with us and has developed the Panther aircraft.

Many people want to believe that some new product in aviation will arrive and ‘revolutionize’ everything. I think the root of this fantasy is that they would like the work and learning to be removed and save them the effort required to stand in front of a machine and say “I built this plane.” I have been in aviation for 25 years, I have seen 25 seasons of ‘revolutionary!’ things come and go with little or no affect on accessibility to flight for working Americans.

I have watched many of the same people get taken in by a new ‘revolutionary!’ idea every few years, never seeing that they would have been long flying if they had just given up on ‘new revolutionary!’ products with lottery ticket odds of success, and instead embraced the philosophy of proven designs with a track record in place of a promise. These people often willfully ignore that the providers of this years miracle product are frequently the same people behind a previous Chapter 11 bound, LLC promoted miracle.

Getting out the book, rolling up ones sleeves and getting your hands dirty is a serious act of self-empowerment, the acknowledgement that your own aircraft will only come from your understanding and labor. There is no ‘miricale, revolutionary, high tech’ white knight solution that will arrive at your shop and suddenly provide you with access to the world of personal experimental flight without learning and work. Yet, this year, as all previous years, we will see a majority of potential builders sit and wait and exchange rumors of the imminent arrival of their white knight. Often their adherence to this philosophy is absolute, they will still be waiting when the last page of their story is written.

Above,  at Corvair College #19, I present the Cherry Grove Trophy to Joe Horton of Pennsylvania. He was the 2010 and third recipient of the award. Joe has more than 750 hours on his KR-2S, and his flown his aircraft to numerous Colleges, and Oshkosh and Sun ‘N Fun many times, and annually to the KR Gathering. He’s a contributor to our Flight Ops Manual, and a frequent positive voice on the Internet. Above all, he’s good company and a quality guy.

Above, a far better photo of Joe with his aircraft at CC#21, with Grace the following year.  The engine in the plane is a 3,100 cc with a Dan bearing. Joe’s aircraft is equipped with a 54 x 60 Sensenich prop. It is capable of efficiently cruising at 170 miles per hour.

Above, in 2011, the fourth recipient of the trophy was PF Beck. We made the official presentation to P.F. at the dinner at CC#21. He has more than 250 flight hours on his Corvair powered Pietenpol. Not only has he hosted Corvair Colleges #19, 21, and 24, and attended a number of others, P.F. has flown more than 210 different people in his aircraft. He is a first class gentleman, incredibly modest, and a skilled aviator with decades of experience. For these reasons, Grace and I both felt that he was the outstanding candidate for the Trophy in 2011.

Above, a photo from Corvair College #21. In the photo stand the four of the pilots who have their names engraved on the Cherry Grove Trophy. Left to right are Joe Horton, 2010 Winner, Dan Weseman, 2009, P.F. Beck, 2011, and Mark Langford, 2008.

Above, at Corvair College #24, we awarded the Cherry Grove Trophy to Pietenpol builders and flyers  Kevin Purtee and his very supportive better half Shelley Tumino.  Their frequent appearances at airshows far from Texas, their constant promotion of ‘learn build and fly’ and the hosting of the highly successful Corvair college #22 made them the right people to be awarded the trophy in 2012. They work as a team, and it was appropriate to award it to both of them. Kevin’s frank discussions of the effort required to achieve something of real lasting value in personal flight reach many builders. Their  ‘lead by personal example’ philosophy has shown a great number of builders a path to success. -ww

For a good read on Kevin’s personal perspective on homebuilding, read his story at this link:

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee

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2013- Phil Maxson, 601XL, New Jersey. Read more: Phil Maxson goes to 3,000 cc for his 601XL.

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2014- Ken Pavlou 601XL, Connecticut. Story: The Cherry Grove Trophy, 2014

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2015- Woody Harris 601XL, California. Read more: Woody’s 2,850cc Corvair/601XL hits 400 hours., watch a film of Woody at CC#35: Corvair College #35 Barnwell builders video.

 

John Moyle, noted aviation enthusiast, passes -1/16/13

Builders,

Today brought the sad news that John Moyle, an aviator known to many people in the Corvair movement, passed from this world yesterday. He was a relentlessly positive person in a world were that is an ever more scarce quality. He was a devoted family man and the best of friends to many people who knew him. His attitude on any potential challenge was “Why not?” The world is full of people who are quick to think of all the reasons why something won’t work, can’t or shouldn’t be done.  John had enough positive energy to counter legions of such people and the charm to make many of them crack a smile at the same time.

Oshkosh homebuilders dinner 2003, a great night. Clockwise from left in foreground, John Moyle, Pat Panzera, and George Willenbrock, on the right, aircraft designer Ed Fisher and myself.

In a few short paragraphs it would be very hard to describe the positive work of John Moyle in aviation. He was a tremendous volunteer for any task, large or small. Need help setting up Corvair College#5? Just ask. Got a plane in Europe that needs to be in California? He was on it. Pat Panzera always credited John as being Contact! magazine supporter #1. Many experimental aviators met John at airshows because he frequently staffed the Contact! booth. His overwhelming positive energy and super gregarious nature made him a complete natural in the position. John attended a number of Corvair Colleges, many west cost builders meeting him at #5 and #13. He wrote a great number of magazine articles and contributed a lot to unseen tasks like editing. He still found the time to own a lot of different experimental aircraft and do a fair bit of flying.

You didn’t have to spend very long in his company to see that he only wanted to do things that were fun, but directly benefited others. He was just the opposite of people who always ask “what’s in it for me?”. If John was doing something, you could be sure it had a strong element of some greater good. If I am painting a picture of some very large version of Gandhi, let me correct this by saying that John was also a lot of fun and had a wicked sense of humor.

John knew many of the best parts of aviation, the moments he made by working to put himself where the fun was, where things were going on, where people were doing things. He also knew the somber side of flying as well. His brother was killed in a Glasair III crash approaching Oshkosh 2001. Other than marking the first anniversary of the accident, John didn’t speak much of it, but it was certainly an emotional burden that he quietly carried. I suspect that it stole a lot of the personal joy from flying for him, but if it did, he never said so. He was the kind of guy who wouldn’t let his personal loss dampen the positive day of others.

Most people find it hard to be positive, even when things are going well for them. John Moyle was positive at all times, good and bad. He was the genuine article, the real thing, a person who understood what Roosevelt was saying when he spoke of “A man who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause..”, and his life was far richer for embracing this creed. He was one of a kind, and we won’t have someone quite like him again.

Blue skies and Tailwinds John, thanks for everything, you left aviation a better, richer, friendlier place than you found it.-ww

New Pietenpol, 2700 Corvair, Don Harper SC

Builders,

About a month ago word got out that Don Harper’s Piet was ready to fly. The first flight of some aircraft are anticipated by fans of a design because the particular rendition is of great interest. Other first flights are looked forward to because the creator is a salt of the earth, well liked guy. In Don’s case, both are true, and when the plane did its first test hops, word went out in Pietenpol circles that Don was now “in the club.”

I spoke with both Don and PF today, and heard the good news that the plane is now fully operational. The pictures below were taken at Corvair College #24, where Don and friends all pitched in with our local host PF Beck to run an outstanding event. Even from a distance, the plane shows a lot of craftsmanship and attention to detail. There are numerous small details that are very clever, the kind of stuff you would never see looking at 200 RV’s at Oshkosh. As neat as these are, the most talked about detail on Dons plane is that it utilizes a Ribblet airfoil in place of the original Pietenpol section. although they plan to release comprehensive data from testing later, neither PF or Don are leaking any preliminary data. For right now they are focused on running a low risk flight test program at Barnwell, their home airport.

Above, Pietenpols of Don Harper (near) and PF Beck (far). They are sister ships in almost every way, with two exceptions: Don’s is a long fuselage and it had a Ribblett airfoil instead of a traditional Pietenpol airfoil. Shortly, PF will be able to offer factual comparative data on the flight performance of each of the airfoils. On the internet, armchair aerodynamictists have pontificated about this from imaginary data for years. Thanks to PF and Don, we will have information worth reading.

 

Above, A look at Don’s engine compartment with swing out side panel. This plane uses a front starter and a basic 4 bearing set up. Both Don and PF are master old-school scroungers and skilled fabricators. These two aircraft are some of the least expensive examples of the type. When PF’s plane was done about 6 years ago, he told me that he only had $6,800 in the whole plane, including the engine. While most Corvair builders elect to buy a new carb or pay for an overhauled one, Don worked to put his own together out of parts, and spent the time to tune it. He has some small stuff to be corrected on the engine, and Grace and I were glad to help him out with this as a small thank you for all his work at several Colleges. In short order the plane ran great, and PF reports that it is a strong runner. Both planes fly 64 x 34 props that PF made.

 Don Harper, (left) and P.F. Beck at sun n fun 2009. What is the best thing you have in aviation? It might be your plane you created with your own hands, engine included,…or it might be having a life long friend who loves all the same things about flying that you do. Don Harper doesn’t have to choose, he has both. I can make a pretty good case that he is one of the luckier guys in aviation, but I would also gladly say that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.-ww

Mail Sack, 1/16/13, Getting started and various topics…

Builders,

Here is a sample of the mail:

On ‘Getting Started’, Zenith 750 builder Blaine Schwartz writes:

“William, What a great idea for planning the build and keeping track of progress. I volunteer to create a basic excel spreadsheet that you can make available for those who want it. They can embellish it any way they want, but it would come to them with the basic numbering schema and whatever info you want to get them started. Just let me know if you want me to do this.-Blaine”

On ‘Getting Started’, Zenith 601XL builder and flyer Phil Maxson writes:

“After having created a rather complex spreadsheet for the nuts and bolts needed for the build, I’m pretty familiar with what would be needed to create the full itemized list in a spreadsheet. I would love to create that for you. Would you be willing to let me do that?-Phil”

Blaine and Phil- I appreciate the offer from both of you. Phil has some of this already, so I am going to ask him to work on it a bit and come up for numbers on the five samples in the last instalment. Blaine, I know your really good at this stuff, but I want to stay on your 750 project, we need a few more of these to come on-line in 2013.-ww

On ‘Getting started’ builder Bruce Culver writes:

“You know, William, the thing of it is, the Panther billet crank for the Corvair engine is actually a work of art when you look at it. Just look at the photos – things like this end up in the Museum of Modern Art as examples of the best in industrial design. It is absolutely beautiful, as is the notion that you will never have to wonder about its history or previous use or care…..Bravo! It would almost be a shame to seal that inside a case, but I have no doubt it’s what I’ll be using. I was trained as an artist and wouldn’t buy “ugly”. Jeez, that’s pretty…..”

Bruce, I have picked up and carried around in my hands hundreds of Stock corvair cranks in the last 25 years. They weigh 26 pounds, and they are not hard to grasp with one hand, even if they are oily. I have given Dan a hand with some of his new cranks and carried them with protective oil on them. They are so smooth to the touch as to be noticeably harder to carry one-handed. They not only look good, they actually feel good to the touch. Lexan top cover? Maybe.-ww

On ‘Getting Started’, builder “Jaksno” writes:

“This is an awesome series! You are a lot like a world-class coach. Much appreciated. I’ve seen the information on the main website, of course, the EAA webinar, and more. But this ‘review’ of sequential process with highlighted decision points couched in logical recommendations is gold. Thanks!”

Friend, thanks for the positive energy. when dropping us a line please let us know your name and what you are thinking of building.-ww

On the topic of Corvair College #25 in Leesburg FL,  Builder Jim Nelson Writes:

“So where is the sign-up place. I’d like to visit the College at Leesburg FL. I could not find where to do this—Jim”

Jim, we are going to have more info shortly. I am the guest speaker at the Leesburg EAA chapter, 9am Saturday the 26th if you are in the area. We will college details here after I return from the meeting.-ww

On the topic of Corvair College #26 in California, Builder Ron Applegate writes:

“Hi William, Ron Applegate here. You speak of a CC in Chino…any idea of a date for the College yet? At least two of us here at Rosamond. Thanks…”

Ron, We are looking more at May than any other month. I have a number of factors in the decision, including Weather (we had considered March) and other shows. I have bi-weekly conferences on the phone with the two people who are in on the planning, and we will let you know as fast as we get past a few variables.-ww

On the topic of Corvair College #2X Builder Douglas Cook writes:

“Any plans for another college in the Pittsburgh PA area? I went to #20 in Hillsdale and would like to attend another not too far away.”

Douglas, One of the things we want to do in 2013 is the “Corvair air tour” I mentioned in the last mail sack. If we can get this in gear for the summer, we will certainly pass through your area. Phil Maxson has mentioned wanted to have a Jr. College at his place in NJ. Lots of good ideas, but I have to balance them with regular work and orders.-ww

On the topic of ‘Intakes and internet myths’  Zenith 650/2700 Builder and PhD manufacturing engineer Becky Shipman writes:

“Simple procedure for criticism of earlier engine designs: 1) Understand the goals and motivations of the person who did the design. 2) Assume he knew what he was doing based on available technology at the time. 3) Then look at what has changed between now and then, and then point out why his assumptions are no longer valid. 4) If one assumes everyone who came before them was stupid, one will never learn anything beyond what one can come up with oneself. 5) By and large, I think the people who built airplanes and engines 50-75 years ago were really smart but working off a much smaller technology base, with more limited materials. 6) Their stuff still needed to work, and if it didn’t it was relegated to the scrap heap. “ToolBuilder” clearly is unable to learn from the intelligence of others, and will therefore never be smarter than he is now. 7) A pity he feels the need to demonstrate this on such a regular basis.- Becky”

Getting Started in 2013, Part #4, Case Group (1200)

Builders,

Here we have a tiny group, the Case. I may later break down the case into smaller more descriptive elements, but for now, it gets the job done. Now, there are a lot of notes that can be applied here, but keep in mind we are just looking at the overview big picture. The one note that I want to point out is that the case has no machine work on a 2700/2850 but the six bores in the case for the cylinders must be machined larger on a 3,000 cc engine. Of course, this is done before it is assembled.

Case Group (1200)

1200- Case -2 halves with studs-

1201- Main case bolts -8-

1202- Pipe plugs for oil galleries -2-

 

Now, let’s get a look at the four parts so far and think about putting a case together. Using just these numbers as a check list and something of a road map, any builder can put together a plan to assemble their case at Corvair College #25. Actually all the effort to get to that stage goes into the prep work, cleaning and a little shopping. It you lay out all the properly prepared components from groups 1000, 1100 and 1200 in front of me on the bench, and get me an assembly stand and my trusty Snap-on torque wrench “Excalibur“, I can assemble the case in about 45 minutes.

Now I say this in bad conscience because I once took 2 days to do it.  There was a tiny ding in one of the bearing surfaces that was putting a small amount of extra drag on the turning crank and bothering me. I took it apart 6 times to find it and make it right. Keep in mind, it’s not a contest, the winning score is being happy with it, and any amount of time it takes between 45 minutes and 48 hours is fine. BTW, everything we are talking about here is in our engine assembly DVD #1 that covers building up a case.

Going back to the first part of this series we talked about crank selection. Lets look at some samples bringing all of this together and see what large variations of choices are available to builders,

Builder ‘Allan Able’ elects to use a Moldex prepped crank, and put off a 5th bearing for now. Lets say his crank has a reasonably good gear on it that doesn’t need replacement. He is going to use the low expense route laid out in the Camshaft section of Part #4

Builder ‘Bob Baker’ elects to use a Weseman prepped crankshaft with a gen 2 bearing hub installed. He is going to keep his used gear from his crank. He is going to get a Clarks standard cam gear, he is going to put in on a re-ground cam himself.

Builder ‘Chas. Charlie’ elects to use a Weseman prepped crankshaft with a gen 2 bearing hub installed. He is going to elect to have a new gear on his crank. He is going to get a Clarks failsafe gear, installed by clarks on a new cam.

Builder ‘Davie Dog’ elects to use a Weseman New billet crankshaft with a gen 2 bearing hub installed. He is going to elect to have a new gear on his crank. He is going to get a Clarks failsafe gear, installed by clarks on a new cam.

Builder ‘Eddie Easy’ elects to send his case and crank to Roy at Roy’s Garage.com. Roy is going to rework his stock crank, install a Roy bearing and use a failsafe clarks gear on a new cam.

In the next few parts we will take a look at how Allan, Bob, Charles,Davie and Eddie are doing on their projects.-ww.