Thirteen months ago I wrote a long story with photos on my personal perspective about the importation of Corvair crankshafts from sources in the Peoples Republic of China. The story can be read at the link below:
In the past year, it has been read by several thousand readers. The tracking on our site tells me that the majority of the readers came from the internet groups that are aimed at Corvair Cars, not aircraft. The person I mention in the original story as promoting them for cars was probably hoping that no one in that arena would read my story, but the internet doesn’t work that way and it is not possible to keep potential buyers in the dark. In the last year, every internet car thread on Chinese cranks eventually had someone post a link to my story. It was a very effective version of buyer beware.
To teach builders about common internet promotional tactics used by questionable people, I include this small update. The guy promoting the Chinese crankshafts, including trying to sell them to aircraft people, Runs a LLC called Corvair specialties, if you look on the net his address is 13646 E. Lakeview Rd. Lakeside, CA. 92040. Right on his page he states: “business with no fixed address.” His actual name is Keith Wood. In spite of the address, he is not an American, he is Canadian. (We have many fine friends north of the border and Grace’s namesake was a native Canadian woman from New Brunswick.) But my point in the first story was that a guy who can walk across the border, operating a LLC in the US, selling poor quality parts made in Communist China for people to use in an arena he knows nothing about actually doesn’t have to be concerned about any kind of liability nor support, he can just take a hike without consequence the day after he cashes a check. He can say, claim or promote anything he likes without liability.
In response to car builders citing my story as enough evidence to avoid Chinese crankshafts, the testimonial below appeared on the Corvair Center car discussion group. At first past, it seems like a valid review from a regular car guy offering a public endorsement of Keith’s Chinese cranks:
“The crank that you bought is not from the same manufacturer as the ones from Magnificent Machine. The cranks from Keith are much better quality, and the quality of the rods are OK but they much stronger and are finished in the US. As for pinning the crank, there hasn’t been a failure reported in any of the over 1000 planes flying in the last 30+ years because the prop acts like a cushion much like a auto trans. Brad Abbotsford BC”
Here is what is wrong with the paragraph above: I don’t know if Brad exists, but I can tell you that Abbotsford BC is Keith Woods home town in Canada. It was very interesting to note that on the Corvair Center group, the number of posts written by a commenter is attached to their message. On that site, the average contributor has made 500-1000 posts. Notably, “Brad” has made a whopping 2 posts total.
Second, let me assure everyone reading this that The crankshafts in question are from the exact same source. I know this because I know Brady pretty well, and when Magnificent Machine, his company, was still operating, he frequently told me that he had issues with Keith, because they had tried to partner up on buying things from China, and they worked with the same people on rods and cranks. Brady sold a crank to Keith, and revealed his source to Keith in conversations.
The other part of the message is about a car practice where the crank gear is doweled onto the crank to prevent it from slipping on the crank. This is only done in cars where slicks are used, or in sand rails with paddle tires, in applications making several hundred HP combined with directly shock loading the drive train. But note the made up statistics: “over 1000 planes flying” stated with assurance. There ave not been half this many planes flown with a Corvair. My count is about 450. If the number was higher, I would gladly say so. Also, Corvairs have been flying for 53 years. While saying 30+ is technically correct, my point is that “Brad” has no background to make comments about Corvairs in aircraft. I have long stated that I detest people who have no experience with flying Corvair engines offering any type of comment or recommendation on the subject, on any forum.
I honestly think that “Brad” is either Keith Wood or his brother-in-law, trying to convince people to buy a Chinese Crankshaft with a very clumsy fake endorsement. Salesmen try stuff like this all the time on the internet. At first pass, it looks ok, but a second look reveals that it isn’t a real testimonial at all. Why does this matter to airplane guys? Because Keith has contacted several West Coast builders and pilots and attempted to get them to endorse him or the stuff he sells in some way. What he apparently didn’t understand is that I have put a lot of time into educating builders. Our builders have a low opinion of salesmen. Especially ones who try to tell Aviators they are selling something “perfect for aircraft” or “2 and a half times stronger,” who actually have no testing nor any aviation qualifications.
Over the years we have many good friends from the ranks of land-based Corvair people. The have been countless stories of car people helping out airplane builders in looking for cores and parts cars. Along with these good people came a handful of self-styled ‘Corvair specialist’ mechanics who felt that working with cars made the a Corvair aircraft mechanic. Among these were a small number of rip-off artists who saw airplane people as a new set of ‘deep pockets’ that had never heard of their rip off artist reputations. We are not speaking of a big number, I am thinking of 4 or 5 people in 20 years, but each of them stung more than one builder. Eventually my warnings about this type of people effectively convinced airplane builders that there was nothing to be gained from taking advice or paying for assistance from such people. Today, the only remaining task to permanently closing the books on that era is to make sure todays aircraft builders don’t buy anything from people who combine no experience with no liablity.-ww
, AZ in the winter to Abbotsford B.C. Canada in the summer.