Jim just sent in two more photos of his progress, seen below.
Above, a look at the wing extension. Having the engine on the wing is a ‘releving load’ on the wing spar, much in the same way that tip tanks are. Even though the wing is extended, it may feel no higher bending load at the root.
There was a time when the EAA was made of builders, when a guy like Jim was still a stand out, but his work and motivation to create would have been understood by any EAA member. We still have plenty of people like that, but we now have a more ‘inclusive’ EAA membership and a management to go with them, that often seems to forget what the first word in the acronym EAA stands for.
In the Corvair movement we have never lost our respect for the dedicated craftsman willing to put forth the extra effort to design, test, and fly his own creation, to build something really original. To my perspective, you do not have to build an original design to be a ‘real homebuilder.’ I think that the guy who builds a good Zenith, RV, Sonex or Rans that is the mechanical equivalent of other proven examples of his design is just as much a homebuilder as Jim, and I think Jim would agree with that.
The distinction to me is easier made on this dividing line: If you are the kind of builder that supports Jim’s right and passion to develop his own unique machine, even if it is not something you would choose for yourself, or even a design that you appreciate or fully understand, then you are a real homebuilder. You understand that at the very core of homebuilding is individual choice, challenge and achievement, something that we each should be able to pursue on a path of our own choosing.
I expect people from outside aviation to miss the point of home building. I can even see a person from a far branch of flight not ‘getting’ a project like Jim’s. But if a person in the EAA would criticise or seek to restrict the freedom to do original designs, I believe they forfeit the right to call themselves a ‘homebuilder.’
Such a person is too dull to see the connection that leads from Jim’s plane, through Dan and his Panther, through countless creative craftsmen. It is the same compelling force that was present with the Wright’s at Kitty hawk. Any person who suggests that we should all build O-320 powered RV-6a’s and that flying them in regular patterns at controlled airports is homebuilding, has missed why Americans wrote much of the history of aviation, they have missed what homebuilding is about, and they understand nothing about being an individual. Their self-inflicted punishment is that they live in a ‘safer’ but far lesser world, a place that traded Heros and Champions for living in fear and hoping for a tiny bit of safety increase.
At it’s very core, homebuilding has the power to liberate you from allowing thoughts like that to creep into your mind. If you are going to spend thousands of hours building a machine to seek your own freedom, then it makes sense to start by rejecting anyone who has a smaller deffiniton of freedom already picked out for you.-ww
I have been meaning to post a longer story about Tom Siminski’s flying 750, but for now here is a quick glance at a 750 that has been flying since last year.
Above, Tom’s completed bird. A very sharp-looking plane. It has a 2700cc engine with a Dan bearing and all of our installation components. Tom is flying the plane out of Eastern PA. I first met Tom at CC#14 in Lowell Mass, four years ago. Looking back at the event, many of the people who were there, like Louis Leung and Rodger Pritchard and Tom are now flying. Since then we have held 10 more Colleges, and I have spoken with countless builders along the way. However, two sentences that Tom said as an observation on that day have stuck with me as if he said it 3 minutes ago. I like building engines, working with tools and making parts, but it is working with the builders that is the rewarding part of my work. After a couple of hundred engines, they all begin to look alike, but their builders all remain unique individuals, each with his own perspectives, motivations and observations.
Hats off to Tom Siminski, builder of a flying Zenith 750.-ww.
From our website about Corvair College #14 in 2009: “With me above is Thomas Siminski, a highly skilled machinist of the Old School variety. He had some very helpful suggestions about prepping threaded holes that he shared with builders. When I got a chance to speak with him one-on-one later, he impressed me with his broad personal experience from a candid perspective.”
I am putting a regular windshield back in our Wagabond in place of the 3 piece one the aircraft originally had. I already have the plexiglass windshield itself, but I do not have the metal strip that goes between the boot cowl and the plexiglass. I could make this out of fiberglass if I really had to, but I would rather save the time and buy an old piper part. Our wagabond started out life as a 1964 Colt, PA-22-108, but I am pretty sure that the PA22 part would fit it also. If anyone has a friend with a pile of Piper PA-22 parts, I would greatly appreciate asking them if they have a spare one of these.
Below is a picture of Doug Stevenson’s Zenith 750. It did it’s first flight two years ago, it was the first Zenith 750 to fly on Corvair power. Doug keeps the aircraft at French Valley, in the scenic desert area of inland Southern California.
Doug’s plane is powered by a 3,000 cc Corvair with a Roy bearing. The engine was a joint project done by Roy and myself, completed and test run as a demonstration at Corvair College #18 in Northern California. A few days after the College, I drove down to the other end of the state and delived the engine to Doug, one of hundreds of in-person house calls I have done over the years.
At CC#18, we focused on builders engines, and as a consequence, It took one extra day to take our time on Doug’s engine. It was a memorable Sunday evening of wrenching, a chance to reflect with Roy about all the things builders had accomplished. Roy and I finished the engine and prepped it for an early run on Monday, seen above. It fired up after 2 seconds of cranking and ran flawlessly throughout the early break-in period, It was a nice wrap up for the College #18
Above is a photo taken a day or two later at Doug’s place in the southern end of the state. His aircraft is fitted with all of our installation parts for Zenith aircraft. Doug finished the plane just months after I dropped the engine off. He is a very productive builder.
Hats off to Doug Stevenson, Builder of the first Corvair powered 750.-ww
Our man on the West Coast, Zenith 601XL Builder/flyer Woody Harris made another house call last weekend, to Dick Otto’s place to be on hand for the first run of Dick’s 2700/Dan bearing engine. Woody reported that it fired right up and ran very well. He snapped the photo below to capture the first run of the engine, while it was bolted to Dick’s plans-built 601XL.
The story above gives you a glimpse into the life of a member of “The Greatest Generation.” I have enjoyed every hour I have spent in the man’s company. Hats off to Dick for getting his engine up and running, and many thanks to Woody for investing the time to assist West Coast builders.
Because Dick now has a running engine, I have submitted him as a new member for our Zenith/Corvair private discussion group, moderated by Zenith 601XL builder/flyer Phil Maxson. The group is fairly active, and has already generated several hundred posts in its technical archive. As a direct peer-to-peer group, the members can work directly with each other to exchange information. The ‘invatational” nature of the membership (it is open to anyone with a flying ww conversion on a Zenith, and to Zenith builders with a running Corvair.) allows the flyers on in the group to share their information with builders advanced enough to appreciate it, and the flyers are also insulated from ‘peanut gallery’ comments by internet trolls and ‘experts’ who can not resist criticizing the flying work of others, even though they will never do anything themselves.
We are now less than three months from Brodhead and Oshkosh, where we look forward to seeing many builders, friends old and new. Spring is now on hand, even in the northern parts of the country, and it is a good time to put your ‘plan for progress’ in action. Do not let the time pass without getting things done. The big aviation events this summer will be a lot more satisfying to attend if you do so knowing that you have significantly advanced your project since last year.-ww
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