It’s 3 am here and we are still up, just part of the fun of prepping for Oshkosh. This is the time of night when you take a break from answering email, wander over to the refrigerator and stare inside. The dilemma: Is it too late to drink beer or is it too early to drink coffee? Answer: both, but I have just enough brain cells still working to write a web update on motor mounts…….
In two weeks we will be at Oshkosh. There will be many people there offering motor mounts for sale for every kind of plane. Polo shirt clad salesmen will make loud claims about how great the mounts they are selling are. They will hit all the welding buzz words they have heard, and they will sound knowledgeable to people who know nothing about welding. The vast majority of these salesmen have never even tried welding, and they couldn’t put down an airworthy bead an inch long even if their life depended on it.
That last sentence is a typical WW, 3 am, overstatement isn’t it? Jeez, when is some Oshkosh salesmen’s life going to depend on his ability to demonstrate a skill he talks about but doesn’t posses? Reality Check: The salesman’s life doesn’t depend on the welding he is promoting and selling…….only yours does.
Grace has redone our Zenith 601/650 catalog page on these mounts, which are part number 4201(A) in the new numbering system. If you were thinking about getting one of these from us, review the new information. We have seven of these mounts on the back porch ready for the powder coater. In a few days I am going to take them in and have them done for sale at Oshkosh. If you would like one, would like to save the shipping and have a particular finish in mind, follow the link, place an order, or feel free to send us a note or call. We will be glad to cover anything you would like.
Below, a photo of Vern and I outside my hangar 18 months ago. We will both be at Oshkosh. 100% of all the welded products we sell are done by the two of us. At the show, ask us any question on welding you like, we only have 74 years of personal, first hand, welding experience between us. We can probably cover it better than the polo shirt clad salesmen. If you got into experimental aviation just to buy stuff, then any salesman will do just fine for you. If you got into experimental aviation to learn, develop your own skills and craftsmanship and make things with your own hands, then who you work with really matters. You can’t become and old school homebuilder / motor head by buying things from salesmen. They have nothing to teach you. While I will be very glad to sell you a motor mount, I am very glad to share all the detailed information on how it was made, and the materials and processes. Yes, I sell things, but first and foremost, I am a homebuilder with a mission to share what we have learned.
From our website in 2011: “For the greater part of his years on earth, Vern has been a welder. In the world of experimental aircraft, when a company wants to sound impressive, they always tout that their welders have “Built race cars.” I welded the frames of lots of NHRA legal dragsters before I was 21, and this experience taught me nothing about aerospace welding. Vern has welded countless race cars together, but that has nothing to do with why we utilize his skills making Corvair parts. What counts is the little piece of paper on the orange board.”
“If you look closely, it shows that Vern has every aerospace material welding rating in every thickness recognized by his employer, the United States Naval Aviation Depot. In this facility inside NAS Jacksonville, Vern has welded every kind of material that goes into modern combat aircraft. This includes titanium, Hastelloy X and magnesium. While some people can weld this when it is new in a purged box, Vern can weld things like the inside of a jet’s burner can while looking through one bleed hole and feeding the rod through another.”
Below is a photo of Woody Harris’s 601XL, and an important story about his experience. Woody is “Our man on the West Coast”, based in Northern California at Vacaville. Note that his plane is pictured in North Carolina. I welded the engine mount that is on his plane. It was done in the same fixture that we used to make the ones resting on the back porch, 10 feet from where I am typing this.
From our website in 2010: “In the above photo, Woody Harris’ 2,850cc Zenith 601B sits at the end of the ramp in North Carolina at First Flight Airport with the Wright Brothers Monument in the background. This brings his aircraft to the end of his first leg of a coast-to-coast and return flight. I believe that this is a pretty classy way for Dad to show up at his daughter’s house on the East Coast. Although Woody has spent a lifetime in the mechanical world predominantly driving race cars in both Europe and America, it’s worth noting that he’s been in aviation less than five years. While he certainly would have thought of it before, it was at the urging of his daughter who is an ATP, that he explore some adventures in flying. I mention this because if you’re out there reading this and you’re thinking that you might be too late in the game to have your own adventures, you’re quite wrong. If you don’t have a pilots license, you have never built an airplane before, and you’re 63 years old, you are at the exact spot where Woody was four years ago. Yes his mechanical background gave him a leg up, but it plays a smaller role than most people suspect. His determined character and his quest to learn new things were much bigger factors in his favor. If you had been standing next to me at Oshkosh when Woody arrived, and watched him hop out of the airplane and talk for 4 minutes straight about the previous days flying, including sentences like “We timed it perfectly because Old Faithful went off just as we flew by,” you would note that all the hours that you’re putting in your shop are well worth the adventures that lie in your future. Go out there tonight and get one evening closer to writing the same chapter in your own story that Woody has written in his. (I have Woody looking into his logbooks, but I am pretty sure he has flown a Corvair powered plane in more states than any other person. I don’t bring this up as a point of competition, I just want builders at home to understand that with good judgment and training, you can go a long way, even if you have not yet written in the 500th hour in your logbook.)