Bearhawk LSA, Corvair motor mount in development


I will be out of the shop Monday and part of Tuesday. I am headed to North East Georgia where Bob Barrows and I are meeting at the shop of one of his Bearhawk LSA builders. I am bringing up a Complete dressed out Corvair engine and enough equipment to develop a Corvair/Bearhawk LSA mount.  While theoretically this could be done other ways, Bob is old school, and there is nothing like having all the elements in one place, even if the logistics require a little work.  It is a 6 hour drive for me to get there, and Bob is flying the LSA prototype down from his airfield in Virginia, about 3.5 hours airborne.  His plane has 30 gallon tanks, and his trip will be non stop on less than half of that.


Above, a small photo of the Bearkawk LSA. At a glance, it looks like many traditional aircraft, but in person it is easy to see that it is nearly 10″ wider than a J-3 and has all metal wings with a modern airfoil and single strut bracing. Bob is bringing this aircraft to display at CC#27 at Barnwell SC in November.


I will have pictures and more stories upon my return.  I will be back to cover email on Tuesday night, and will be back in the shop and at the regular phone on Wednesday.-ww

In defense of our friend, writer Tim Kern


A number of builders wrote me today pointing out an error in the EAA publications story on engines at Oshkosh. It appeared in the Experimenter magazine.  Basically, the whole coverage we received was just a paragraph, and the picture that went with the story was a Jabbaru engine, and it wasn’t even a good photo of one either. The story was written by Tim Kern. I am typing this because I have known Tim for about 15 years, and he is one of the very few journalists who knows anything about experimental power plants, and he certainly knows what a Corvair looks like. I just didn’t want anyone reading Tim’s byline on the story and discounting his aviation experience. He has written very informative stories on the Corvair previously, and todays glitch had nothing to do with him. This does bring up a bit of a larger discussion. I worked for EAA publications for four years, and I have had about 50 stories published in their periodicals. Let me share some insight on how this type of error happens.

Above, Tim Kern on the left, and Journalist Pat Panzera outside our booth at Sun n Fun 2011. This was the first photo in our files I drew up of Tim, but ironically it actually is an ideal photo to explain a little about how stories get messed up after writers submit them.


Many of the people who have written for EAA publications, Tim and myself included, don’t live anywhere near headquarters at Oshkosh. Many of us set foot inside the publications office in the lower floor of headquarters less than once a year. Even when my name was on the EAA masthead, we just wrote stories and submitted them. If one of them was published in a month, the EAA sent me a check for $200. No one does this to get rich, it is just a good way of making a contribution to the general body of knowledge of the EAA membership.

What made the whole system work smoothly was having outstanding people as editors at headquarters, people who really knew journalism and homebuilts. When I worked there, Scott Spangler was Editor in Chief and Mary Jones as my direct boss. Both of these people love homebuilts, are outstanding in their craft, respected by industry people. In the years I regularly wrote for Publications, nothing like today’s error would have happened, because the teams would have caught that kind of error. Not so today, and I am going to use the other guy in the golf cart to explain why…

When the EAA transitioned the Experimenter to an on line publication, they made a very smart move and made the second guy in the golf cart, Pat Panzera, the editor in chief of it.  I have known Pat for a very long time. We are close friends, to the point of bickering like brothers at times. I will be the first person to tell you that In the several years that he was the editor of the Experimenter, he wasn’t perfect, but he damn sure knew a lot  about homebuilts, flying and builders. He ran the magazine out of his office in California. The EAA had almost no overhead, they didn’t even have to give him a desk. The EAA does waste money on some things, but on line editors salaries isn’t one of them. Pat ran the whole show and wrote a good chunk of the stories for a whopping $15K/year. That had to be the bargain of the century in aviation publishing.  Use this as an example that many of the people who do the hard work at the EAA are barely paid. You are correct in assuming that many of the people higher up in the organizational chart have comparatively astronomical paychecks.

Pat doesn’t work for the EAA anymore. If you are thinking that he quit after realizing that he could earn more money per hour by accepting any minimum wage job in his home state of California, you are not correct. He was terminated when the new director of publications, “J-Mac” Mcllean arrived. Yes, that is correct, the editor infamous for selecting the French TBM-850 turboprop as an “affordable” aircraft to feature in Sport Aviation, the same person who has shown countless times that he doesn’t like homebuilts nor homebuilders, the guy who came to Oshkosh more than 30 times as the editor of flying magazine, but never stooped to becoming an EAA member until the new owners of Flying fired him and he needed a job, yes that same guy decided that the EAA didn’t need anyone working there who knew one homebuilt from another.

“J-Mac” is a hold over from the ill fated time of Rod Hightower trying to be president of the EAA. They were good friends, but now Rod has been dismissed by the BOD, and a number of friends of mine who have been EAA members for the last 25 years are looking forward to ” J-Mac” finding a new employer. I have friends in the position of knowing a lot more about the current outlook of the EAA who assure me that the organization has turned a corner, and things are being fixed. I genuinely hope they are right. One of the first outward signs that will tell me the EAA is back on track is having a new editor in chief of EAA publications, a person who understands and respects the fact that the EAA was founded by, and exists to serve the interests of homebuilders.-ww

Mail Sack, Various topics, 9/27/13, Part two.


Here is the second half of the mail:


On the topic of: Bob Barrows to Fly LSA Bearhawk to CC #27, Barnwell, S.C., Nov. 2013

Builder in Hati, Howard Horner writes:

I have been a member of the Bearhawk builder’s groups for years and really admire Bob’s designs and the support he and the more experienced builders provide not to mention his character. I spoke to Bob some time ago to inquire about the possibility of hiring him to engineer a folding wings option for the LSA as I wish to pull my plane behind my motor home when I travel. He very kindly and graciously said no and suggested I buy a powered parachute. Still chuckling…


On the topic of: Larry Hudson, Master Upholsterer, parts and core for sale

Zenith 650 builder Paul Normandin  writes:

William, glad the Zenith college went so well, good to have you back! Just to let you know, I took that core off Larry’s hands about two hours ago. My original core is so badly corroded that I was never going to get it apart in time for college 27. I will keep it and continue to work on it but it is destined for something other than my 650… I am thinking maybe a Tailwind sometime in the future! Paul


On the topic of : Communist  Chinese government at Oshkosh

Builder Jon Ross writes:

William: So at EAA you would prefer Hightower over Pelton? :)

The Chinese are indeed very underhanded, and having spent time there I can tell you that they are very nefarious. Like you, I am concerned about the transfer of technology to China, and it usually begins with the search for cheap manufacturing; American companies begin by selling expertise and tooling to China and the products end up being cheaply made in China. Try buying an American made air compressor… And that Chinese 4130 tubing that is available is real junk, I tell builders not to use it. Almost all the tubing Wicks sells is of Chinese origin. All that said, one cannot deny the Chinese display space at Oshkosh. American companies are free to sell their stock to any buyer, and that includes the Chinese. Most business owners are fully aware of the real facts behind this situation, and  they make a choice to knowingly sell to China. It’s an old trick in aviation called find a bigger sucker. I remember a phase some years ago where American companies were selling like crazy to the Japanese, that did not work out very well did it? Likely, the same will occur with respect to China, and  it will be exacerbated by the huge amount of “American Paper” that they now hold. This will not end pleasantly… of that I am certain. Warm Regards, Jon Ross


Parting Shot; On the topic of:  Deal of the Day,  simple MA3 carb. (Sold at 1 am, 9/1/13)

Zenith 650 builder Becky Shipman writes:

When my instructor first showed me an aircraft carburetor, I laughed. Even the low end motorcycles I was riding at the time had much more sophisticated carburetors. This looked like something off a 1930′s tractor, to my untrained eye. Later, thinking on it, the words of my Dad came back to me. Dad was a combustion expert, and during long car drives I would ask a question and he would “pontificate”. I will paraphrase one of these discussions that hit me. The internal combustion engine is a constant speed device. The car is a variable speed application. Carburetor design is the art of making one fit the other. The reason we use it is because gasoline is light, compact, and powerful.  A car engine runs most efficiently on a small engine with its throttle open. But we put tremendous demands for acceleration on our cars, and years of engineering have been spent adapting the engine to a task for which it is ill suited. It is much better for boats or airplanes.

So now it has become clear to me the differences in carburetor design. Freed from the constraints of acceleration against a fixed object (the road), aircraft carburetor designers can concentrate on the important factors, which are reliability, and ability to adapt to different air densities. And I no longer laugh when I see an aircraft carburetor.

And in your business, I get a better understanding of the decision making and challenges involved in taking an auto engine and converting it to an aircraft engine.

Progress – mounted my nose gear, and the motor mount, and now I can start working on the jigsaw puzzle of installing the fuel, ignition, air, and cooling flow paths.

Mail Sack, Various topics, 9/27/13, Part one.


Here is a sample of the mail on a number of different stories. To refresh your memory, you can click on the link to read the original story the letter is referring to. To cover mail like this takes a few hours, but I like it because the things builders write make me stop, consider, really think. At 50, I am less sure of many things than I was when I was 25. Today there are more facets to issues, less hard lines on many topics. I am never convinced that I am absolutely right on any issue, I only am willing to say what I believe to be true because I have experienced it under these circumstances, and took the measure of what we are speaking of. I go out of my way to resist using that position as a spring board to jump to conclusions that come in sentences with words like “always”, “never” and “everyone.” Invariably, such sweeping statements are proven wrong with a single exception, but their real trap is they are the easy way out, the simple answer to the hard question, something I have learned never to trust.


On the topic of:  Sunday,  a long day at the airport.

Elaine Culver writes:

You are one heck of a theologian.  “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi set”  (sounds even better in Duruflé’s setting.)

Gyro builder and CC#9 grad Brent Brown writes:

I hope to see you and Grace at a fly in someday.

Brent, it has been too long, if you are in the country, stop by and see us at CC#27.-ww.

builder Phil Carley writes:

William, Thank you for sharing the Tom C. story.  Just another reminder for me to be thankful for the loved ones in my life. My wife always tells me (and I need reminding of this). We do not know what events or sorrows happen to other people.  Therefore, patience and kindness speaks volumes.

Builder Daniel Mears writes:

Your reflections on Tom C. remind me of my father-in-law who was somewhat like the Clint Eastwood character in Gran Torino.  Rough on the exterior, a World War II Vet who was an avid gun collector, he drank a little, and wasn’t easy to warm up to.  Once you got below that crusty exterior there was an absolute treasure trove of historical data locked into a mind with an IQ off the chart.  So easily we dismiss people because of their bluntness or lack of finesse but I find that folks shouldn’t be so quickly judged.  I too am an Army veteran and my son just returned from Afghanistan a couple of months ago.  You never know what dragons are in the closets or the atrocities a person may have repeating in their mind… Thanks for your insights, it is uplifting to see what you’re thinking about in the wee hours.

Builder Allen Oliver writes:

“J’aurais dû être plus gentille—I should have been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that.” ― Khaled Hosseini, “And the Mountains Echoed” William, you appear to have done better than most with Tom in this regard.

Builder Sonny Webster writes:

William, while I fully appreciate all you have done and continue to do for the Corvair “movement” I think you should consider writing as a second career or hobby.  You have great insight on the human condition and a way with words that conveys the true depth of every story you write.  I too   am thankful for having a loving family upbringing and feel very sad for people like Tom.  Building airplanes and motors is more than just going through some mechanical motions; it is really more about the characters of the people who take this path to finding satisfaction in life.  While I have chosen the path of a professional life for the sake of providing a “nice” lifestyle for my family I truly long for a simpler, more gratifying lifestyle – even if that means making much less than my current 6-figure income.  Were it just me I would gladly step back however, I have a wife and two teenage daughters who have become accustomed to the material and social standards that have become normal so I will have to stay committed to a very stressful, unrewarding existence in my current automotive career until such time that I can justify finally living a little more for me and my dreams.  I sometimes feel guilty for such a seemingly selfish agenda but I always go back to the analogy of cockpit decompression:  I must put on my oxygen mask first because if I pass out I can be of no help to those around me.  Thanks again for your work and words.-Sonny

Pietenpol builder Terry Hand, USMC/ATP writes:

William, You wake up every morning with the perfect reminder of how we should live our lives. You wake up and say, “Good morning, Grace.” Grace is defined in Christianity as God’s free and unmerited favor toward us. People may not be Christian in their religious beliefs, but it is hard, if not impossible, to argue with the concept. Free and unmerited favor. It is how we should live and treat those around us. Thank you for telling us Tom C.’s story and reminding us a little of how we should be as humans, and not just builders. Semper Fi, Terry.


On the topic of : Brodhead, Oshkosh and Beyond 2013

Merlin on floats Corvair builder and flyer Jeff Moores writes:

Hi William, I know you guys were very busy but it was great to talk to you and Grace at Oshkosh this year. I also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Vern, Roy and Mark at your booth, as well as the Johnson brothers. My wife and I  also met fellow builder/flyer Pat Hoyt and his wife. To be able to talk to another successful builder and see his installation was an excellent experience. When we were at Oshkosh four years ago I was only considering using the Corvair and this year being there as a successful builder and flyer was very special indeed !!-Jeff

Pietenpol builder Mark Chouinard writes:

Took several photos at Brodhead and around the booth at OSH with the intention of sending you some, which I obviously never got around to… glad to see that you got a bunch of good ones.  Getting a lot of compliments on my engine and mount.  Looking forward to getting both installed.  Enjoyed the write up… by the way, my tape measure is fine, I’m 77″.  It was good to see you guys… see you next year in San Marcos, TX.

Builder Brian Manlove writes:

William –Hope you had a good time at Brodhead & Oshkosh. Just finished a good book:  Shop Class as SoulCraft, by Matthew B. Crawford.  Pretty relevant for today’s world and the loss of craftsmanship and pride in “work of the hands.”Looking forward to more of your words of wisdom…Brian

Zenith 601XL builder and flyer Pat Hoyt writes:

Brodhead and Oshkosh are the high points of the year.  Reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones, and seeing all the amazing examples of craftsmanship on display.  A week or two just isn’t enough…Flying ones own homebuilt airplane into Oshkosh for the first time is one of those big milestones of life for people like us.  The experience of flying there and “being there” – in an airplane that I built – was unlike anything I could have imagined.  Patrick Hoyt N63PZ

PS:  here’s a nice picture of your dog along with a couple of characters at the fire circle at Brodhead:


On the topic of Back from the road, notes on Communications

Builder Dan Branstrom writes:

William, I suggest that you repeat this every month, especially before you go to OSH, SNF, or a CC. You might also might put it on your website, as well as close to the order form.  Yes I know, people don’t read, but it sure stops complaints cold when you say, “As I wrote on my website…” (or manual or blog). As it’s written in your manual, people expect someone with white lab coat and lots of assistants, while the reality is far different.  By running a lean operation, you’re able not only to stay in business, but provide excellent, safe products at a reasonable price.-Dan

Pietenpol builder Terry Hand writes:

What a great post! Now I know EXACTLY how to reach you! It is now in my important notes binder. I have heard people at times say, “I can’t get hold of that William Wynne guy”. What is his issue? The issue is that you are focused on the task at hand and the person at hand. Simple as that. I would much rather have you focused when you are building my die spring gear, than to have you trying to talk, eat, hold your phone between you ear and your shoulder while trying to safely and accurately weld on my landing gear, thanks for what you do. Terry.

Zenith 650 builder Paul Normandin writes:

William, I don’t have any issue with your philosophy; when it comes time for you to weld a mount for me I would rather know that 100% of your attention is on the task at hand! Too many folks today want/require instant gratification, thank you Electronic Age. I more or less expected that you would take some much deserved time off after your 20 state trip, any normal person would. Why don’t the allegedly normal people who call you and complain understand that?
I enjoyed reading about Brodhead and Oshkosh, thanks for the wonderful update and photos. I hope your trip to visit your Dad and family, and Grace’s visit as well, were both pleasant and restful. I will be swinging by my brother’s place in N.C. before heading to Corvair Collage 27. I haven’t seen that one in years and am looking forward to a long talk (or fight) like you can only have with family… and I won’t have a cell phone to my ear while driving either!
BTW, I have done some small amount of retail and customer facing jobs and I can say without fear of INTELLIGENT contradiction, that the customer is not ALWAYS right… I have found that the customer is occasionally an idiot.

Paul, one of the core qualities of our work is the recognition that if you gather people who want to learn and create things, you will have a much better group of people to work with than a guy only gathering customers who want to buy something. Many of the people who work in our industry relentlessly complain about their  customers behind the scenes. I will often interject that you get the people you attract, and we are a lot happier because our efforts attract builders, not consumers.-ww 

Builder Vic Delgado writes:

I don’t know about that truck being basic William, I see some luxury as that looks like a pretty fancy armrest you have there. -Vic


Parting Shot on Sunday,  a long day at the airport.

by Zenith 750 builder Charlie Redditt:

Reminds me of when I worked as a field assistant for a Geologist in Death Valley, from Oct of 1990 through May of 1991.  Dr. Jay Kent Snow (aka Zeke) was mapping the strata of the Panamint Mountains that form the NW wall of the  valley.  In addition to helping  him with fieldwork, I also did the cooking and other chores.  Every two weeks we’d change camp, which meant I also got to do the laundry, take out the trash, and get the mail.  All of which  meant I got to  hike an extra 5 to 10 miles back to our support vehicle and drive about 15 miles back to the Park Service concession at Stovepipe Wells, which is what passed for civilization out there,  Our vehicle happened to be a 4wd Chevy suburban  probably not too different from your recent purchase, although Zeke and his boss, Brian Wernicke, had special ordered it with a three speed manual transmission.  It also came with a 55 gallon barrel of water,  a week or two of food, two spares, shovels, and chains.  Once inside the Panamints, the road was a canyon floor and breakdowns could be lethal if you weren’t prepared.  The canyons could get rather narrow in places as well, and I remember having to roll the rear window down, from the outside of the vehicle,  just in case we got wedged in a tight spot and  wouldn’t be able to open the doors.

Well,  the point of all this is that I can relate to your desire for simplicity due to one experience in particular.  One day that December I found myself driving back into the Panamints when the suburban just died.  No warning, no running rough, it just quit.  I tried cranking it a few times, and it turned over just fine, but did not start.  I  looked under the hood and nothing obvious seemed amiss.  Since that was the limit of my mechanical ability, I was faced with two choices: either hike back ten miles (through a sandstorm) down to Stovepipe Wells to get help, or hike 5 miles up the canyon to explain the situation to Zeke (who by now was wondering what was taking me so long)  spend the night at our campsite with minimal supplies, and make the trek back to Stovepipe Wells the next day.   Not life threatening, but not pleasant choices either.

“God takes care of fools and drunks,”  and so at this point I benefit from what I can only explain as divine intervention.   Note that by this time I had spent over two months in Death Valley, and during that whole time I had never seen another soul up in the mountains except for Zeke, the guy I worked for.  For some reason Death Valley just isn’t that popular a hiking spot.  If you want peace and quiet, it’s hard to beat.   So, of course it is at this very moment that some random guy comes by, riding his mountain bike.

When I first saw him I realized that I passed his truck about 5 miles back at the entrance into the Panamints from the valley floor, and so I flagged him down and asked him if he could give me a ride back into Stovepipe Wells, or at least carry word back that we needed a tow.  Before I could finish telling him all the particulars of my plight, however, he stopped me and says, “I’m a mechanic, do you mind if I take a look?”

Once I recovered from my faint, I eagerly helped him pop the hood and poke around. Took him about a minute to find the problem, which was a blown fuse to the ignition system.  He  swapped the radio fuse in for the blown one, and I’m good as new.   Most of my driving  experience till that point was in a ‘73 VW superbeetle, with which I had traversed the country.  Although it had its issues it was not susceptible to sudden death by fuse.

The guy’s  name was Gordan Yasman, and he ran the “Yaztek” garage in Sebastapol, California. Refusing payment, he gave me his card and continued on his way, cycling up the canyon.  BTW in my remaining six months in Death Valley,  I never saw another hiker, cyclist, ranger or any other person in the Panamints except for Zeke and my girlfriend Susan.  After Gordon took care of me I was literally looking over my shoulder for Zaphod Beeblebrox and the Heart of Gold.

College engine build options for closing the case


Back in January I wrote a 20 part series on getting started in engine building. The first milestone that builders are working for is closing the case. In the new numbering system, this covers groups 1000, 1100, and 1200. In these stories, we are also looking at 5th bearing options, so we are also looking at groups 3000 and in the case of the Eddie Easy engine, Roy’s bearing, which is group 3100.  I named each of the engines in alphabetical order, in the older, pre-NATO code.


1) I later changed the numbering system slightly after these stories were written. For example, a crank is now part #1001, not 1000 as written in these stories. Small change, but I wanted no part to have the same number as the group it was in. Almost nothing else is changed, but as you are planning the details of your build, look for this number shift. The price sheet on our main products page has the final correct number system.

2) If you are going to build a 3,000 cc Corvair, the cases have to be bored out to accept the larger cylinders. If you would like to build your case at #27 as a 3,000 case, you need to mail your cases to me in advance of the college, (say by October 12 or 15th) and we will bore them out for $200. When you later purchase the piston/rod/cylinder kit, we will deduct this from the total kit price.

3) the most common short block that builders close at the college is a Gen 2 Dan bearing/ 2700 or 3,000 on a GM 8409 crank. Both reground and stock cams are common. Today builders interchangeably use OT-10 cams from Clarks Corvairs or CC-10 cams from California Corvairs. They both work.

4) I prefer that the cam gear clamp the thrust washer tight against the cam. A long time ago, Clark’s had a batch of thrust washers made that had no inner chamfer, which meant that if you pressed the cam gear tight, you would invariably introduce run out in the gears. I ruined  4 gears in the old Edgewater hangar in a single night working with Kevin before we spotted that the washers didn’t have a chamfer. A later inspection of Clarks installed gears showed that they had compensated by not putting the gear tight to the thrust washer. The correct fix, only took 60 seconds per washer….I put them in the lathe and cut the chamfer. After I told Clarks of the issue, they stuck to the story that they intentionally wanted the washer loose, but did later send out the washers in a revised form with the chamfer. Which is a long and old story that leads us to…….CC#26 where I ordered several washers from Clarks, and promptly got ones without the chamfer, and at the event I saw a Clarks installed gear with a loose thrust washer again. Since they didn’t really see this as a problem last time, perhaps the best solution is letting us put the cam gear on for you.

5) The California Corvairs and LS billet gears are made in the USA. A number of parts sold by Clarks are “GN brand” which is Chinese. This includes the stock gear. They switched them over years ago. The first ones they got were trash. Since then, I am forced to admit that these gears do work. The CC billet gear is very tight going on a cam, you must watch how far your key is sticking up, it can drag on the top of the keyway in the gear. I talk about avoiding Chinese parts, but I suspect that very few people really care. I recently got an EAA hat with the “heritage” logo on it. Yes you guessed it, made in China, sold by the EAA for $18.99. I was going to write something about it, how it told me that the EAA was interested in maximizing profit instead of exercising values, but I have been speaking of this stuff for years, and lets face it, very few people care. A friend just pointed out that the Chinese government is now a major shareholder in ICON aircraft. Read the press release that says they are going to be built by Cirrus, which itself is owned by the Chinese government….Yesterday brought news that Continental, owned by the Chinese government, was pressuring the FAA to issue a killer AD against their major competitor, the US founded and owned ECI. by my guess, less than 5% of the people in aviation care that this stuff is going on, so to whom am I speaking to anyway? I am convinced that 50% of Americans would see nothing wrong with buying a Chinese sewn American flag from Wal-Mart, just as long as it was a buck cheaper. I am happier when I don’t think about such things.

Below are the example short blocks. You can click on the links to the stories just below each listing. Write in with any question you may have, I am going pack to putting up all the mail sack comments in the next day or so.-ww


Engine options with 5th bearings:

Allan Able = $2,062

(See part #5)

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


Bob Baker = $2,516

(See part #6)

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


Chas, Charlie = $2,770

(See part #7)

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


Davie Dog = $4,270

(See part #8)

Started in 2013, Part #8, ‘Davie Dog’ Short Block


Eddie Easy = $3,157

(See part #9)

Started in 2013, Part #9, ‘Eddie Easy’ short block.

Bob Barrows to Fly LSA Bearhawk to CC #27, Barnwell, S.C., Nov. 2013


Bob Barrows, noted designer of the Bearhawk series of aircraft, is planning on attending CC #27 on Veteran’s Day Weekend in November 2013 in Barnwell, S.C. I spoke with Bob on the phone several times in the past few days. On Monday we are meeting in Georgia at the hangar of one of his LSA Bearhawk Patrol builders. Bob and I are going to use the builder’s fuselage to design and mock-up a Corvair/LSA Motor Mount to have these available for his builders in the future. Bob is well known throughout homebuilding as a conservative, traditional, old-school designer and craftsman. I take it as a great compliment that our efforts with the Corvair have earned his respect.


Above, Bob Grace and myself in our tent at Oshkosh 2013. Bob holds the distinction of having flown to every single Oshkosh, all 44 of them. All of his designs have been Continental or Lycoming powered. Opening the option for Corvair power to his LSA builders is a milestone in the Corvair movement.


In speaking with Bob, I suggested he fly his LSA demo plane over to Barnwell for CC #27. He liked the idea and plans to be on hand. His plane is powered by one of Bob’s hot rod small Continentals. Grace and I have been friends with Bob for a number of years. As impressive as his designs are, spending time with the man himself is even better than studying his work. In person he is a wealth of aviation knowledge and perspective, in a very down to earth delivery. In an era of consumer-spectacle, flashy marketing in experimental aviation, Bob is a great reality check, and Grace and Scoob E and I are looking forward to having him at the College.  -ww

Last call on crank processing before CC#27.


I spoke with Dan and Rachel tonight, and they pointed out that this next week is the cut off for getting your core crank to them so they can process it before CC#27. I picked up several at CC#26, They already have several to batch with them, and they are only going to hold this until Thursday of next week, If you are planning on heading to the college, and you would like to make some serious progress like closing your case, it starts with getting your crank processed. I wrote a very good overview of the process in January, it is at this link:

Started in 2013, part #1, Crankshaft process options.

You have time to get your core apart over the next few days, get it wrapped up and on its way to their shop.  If you know that you are going to do this now or later, just decide right now that you are going to get this launched now, so that you don’t find yourself as an observer at the college when everyone else is putting their engine case together.-ww

Above is a close up of a 2nd Gen Dan bearing journal on a re worked GM crank. This is a 2700/2850 ready case we put together and sold to Irv Russel at CC#24.

26 Days until Corvair College #27’s registration closes.


Before we get into the coverage of CC#26, I need to point out that we are just 26 days away from the closing of Corvair College #27 registration. The link for signing up is below. If you know you would like to go, there is no point in putting of signing up. Keep in mind that the sign up has been open since before Oshkosh: it is half full already.

Above, our local host for corvair Collge #27 is P F Beck, seen above in his Pietenpol, in a shot taken by Grace in the front seat. This was at CC#19, the first of what is now four colleges held at Barnwell. We awarded PF the cherry Grove trophy as Corvair aviator of the year two years ago. The trophy will be awarded for the 6th time at this years event. While all the colleges are very good events with a strong emphasis on good times shared with friends, the Barnwell events have the strongest social side, the most planes on hand, and function as the reflective event looking back on the years progress.


For #26, I set the limit at 60 builders, but bumped this to 76 in the last week. I did this because I saw that half the people signed up were coming to observe and take notes, combined with 11 of the people attending being returning volunteers. I decided that table space and supervision, the limiting agents at #26 could withstand another 16 people. It was a good call, and worked out well. This said, let me caution procrastinators that this isn’t going to happen at Barnwell.  At #27, we are going to have a very high percentage of builders aiming to run engines, and builders at Barnwell have a fee to cover food and drinks that must be in place in advance. These two factors preclude me from making a command decision to increase registration numbers. This is why we say Barnwell has a ‘hard’ limit and closing date. Don’t miss out.  In speaking with 601/Corvair builder Ken Pavlou, (who handles all of the on-line registrations from an undisclosed location in CT.), we have decided to cut off the #27 sign up at midnight on October 20th, or when we reach 100 builders, which ever comes first.  If you are planning on attending #27, please let me encourage you to sign up for it early, and not to assume that we will have the sign up active until the last week as we have done in earlier years. The link is listed below:


CC27 –


The Event also has it’s own Face Book Page:


Larry Hudson, Master Upholsterer, parts and core for sale


We have just returned from a very successful CC#26 and Zenith open house. It was a great time, and over the next few nights I am going to write up all of the stories and moments from the trip. For tonight, a simpler task to get back into daily writing and updates; Let me share a few notes on Corvair builder and friend Larry Hudson.

Larry is a master automotive upholster and top craftsman. He comes from a family that has worked this craft for several generations. After Oshkosh I dropped off the seats from our Wagabond at Larry’s shop in Indiana.  As I said then, it is no average production shop, the main car they we doing at the time was a 1959 Caddy Eldorado coupe in coral pink (a factory color).  Larry is a guy you can trust with a unique interior in a car worth more than $75K. As seen below, he also does outstanding work on aircraft that are worth a small fraction of that.  Larry stopped by CC#26 to drop of the seats. Larry knows that I like dirt simple aircraft with no frills, but said “Just trust me to do something good and simple…I will make it look old school and appropriate.”  All I did was tell him the colors I painted the plane (Insignia blue and Nevada silver), mention that I like very firm seats, and he did the rest. The price was reasonable, the quality outstanding, and I think they are very tasteful. I sat in it today, and it was great.


Above, the seats back in our plane in our hangar. Our Wagabond started out life as a 1964 Piper Colt, and although it is highly modified, it retains the lightweight, folding, independently adjustable, quickly removable seats of the late model PA-22’s.


The seats are half vinyl half cloth, with custom made beading made from the cloth. The computer is making the cloth look shiny but in person it isn’t.  I am always glad to mention the craftsmanship of builders we know, and this case is no different.  If you are looking for interior work on your plane, give Larry a call and talk it over with him, he is a very friendly guy and a first class craftsman. His number is 317-965-2428.

Also, Larry wanted to mention that he has a fuselage for sale. It is a 1952 Piper PA-20 pacer, with the tail and landing gear, a mint set of Cleveland wheels and brakes and many other small parts. Like many of us, Larry has too many projects, and he is trimming his aircraft herd down to his own PA-22-108 and his Corvair powered Fokker D-VIII. The Pacer fuselage is identical in size to our Wagabond. Larry has a set of Wag Aero plans to go with it.  The FAA frowns upon directly using parts from previously certified aircraft in homebuilts today, but people still do it with the assistance of a friendly and partially blind DAR (this is when they overlook things but can still see the color Green) If you are interested in the fuselage and parts give Larry a call he is asking $2,000. It would save a lot of work on a Wagabond project.

Also, Larry has a Corvair core engine in good shape for sale. The top end has late model 110 heads, but the bottom of the engine is from a 140hp model and has a factory nitride crank. If this crank is in good shape, you can have it cleaned, magnafluxed and polished, mate it with a Gen 1 Dan bearing and use it directly, a bargain in building and a time saver. He is selling the Core for $375, and it is complete. He is planning on traveling to CC#27 in Barnwell in November, so if you buy it but live on the East Coast, perhaps he can meet you at the college. -ww

Blast From the Past, Corvair College #4, 2003. Above, Larry Hudson and his son Cody working on the Corvair that is in their Fokker D-VIII today. Over the years Larry and his family have been to 10 Colleges. Long known as a good source of core engines in the Midwest, he has often pointed out that he has found more than 60 within 40 miles of his house. Further proof that Corvairs are still plentiful everywhere.

Sunday, a long day at the airport.


Before any major airshow or a college we end up working a lot of hours in preparation. With our departure for CC#26 and the Zenith open house just 7.5 days away, things are in high gear here. This doesn’t mean frantic work, it means steady effort over long hours, seven days a week. I find what we do rewarding for many reasons, so I never consider long hours a problem. The setting of our home and work is a little grass strip in the woods, something of a little paradise in a rural setting, shared with 60 other aviators.  I have lived and worked in many different places over the years, but I find this place very good antidote to the pressures of society, consumerism and all the trash that invades your life if you’re not paying attention. Below are a few photos that give a feel of a working weekend at our place.


Above, Gratuitous dog photo.  Grace sits with ScoobE before his last haircut. Neighbors Alex and Debbie sit with Kirby and Phoebe. Alex’s hangar is the late night gathering spot at our airport. He is a master chief and grills out most nights at 10pm, always making enough for whomever stops in. You can work a very long day, and still not be late for dinner and socializing at Alex’s.  A very gifted person, he is a self-taught pilot of great skill. He and Debbie at prepping a 40′ sailboat for a voyage that should last several years. Having such friends is a powerful correction for all the negative people you encounter who will counsel you to give up on dreams just because they did.


We worked all weekend, but the high point came just at sundown on Sunday. Chris and I put in a few hours in the afternoon and got a very smooth first run in on a new 2700 cc engine. This engine is the “deal of the Day” at this link:

Deal Of The Day, 2700cc Gen. 2 Engine, w/rear alt. and HD oil sys.

We still have the engine available, and the deal is still open for another 48 hours. We are going to bring this engine to CC#26 as a running demo. This is about the 20th engine I have built with Chris.  He is an excellent assistant because he is very careful in his work and his standards are very high. He didn’t stay long after the photo, as he works the early shift at Grumman St. Augustine Monday through Thursday.


Above, we gave the engine a 35 minute break in run. Grace took the photos, and I took this one of her. The test stand is chained down to a 700 pound concrete block that we cast into the front yard for this purpose. Just beyond the engine is the edge of our runway. it is 150′ wide and 2400′ long of very thick grass. It gets cut twice a week in the summer. Every single job at our airport, from mowing grass to state DOT and FAA paperwork, is done by volunteer labor from neighbors. We own our place, but we also own 1/40th of the airport, which cost a whopping $750. The annual dues per household are only $270, made possible by the volunteer work ethic of neighbors. The airport has functioned for 40 years by this formula, and it is an outstanding example of what energetic people with a common goal can achieve.


Above, proof that I am a hypocrite. Four days after writing a story about how much I like simple machinery, I bought the above 1993 Chevy Suburban. While my simple pickups have been the backbone of our transportation to airshows and colleges, I will concede that we needed different wheels to travel with, especially since we are going back to the 4 college a year/ two major airshow travel schedule.  Grace, ScoobE and I do OK in a standard pickup, but bringing support crew like Vern requires more seats.  I have previously cursed EFI, and computers, but there is a lesson here: It is better to be a successful hypocrite than a zealot and a failure. Many people come to Corvair building with pet theories that they can not let go of, even if I can show them they are headed for trouble. They are zealots, because they are not flexible to learn and use things from outside their comfort zone. I may sound like that kind of person from time to time, but in reality, my only allegiance is to good decision-making and accomplishing the original goal. If the smart path turns out to be different that I predicted, I’ll let my friends tease me for being a hypocrite, but this is eminently preferable to failing as a zealot. The truck is actually a very simple fleet model with no frills, but an interesting history.


If you look at the close-up of the door,  You can see that the previous owner was Northrop-Grumman.  It was bought new by the California weapons system division, and later transferred to St. Augustine.  It actually had a map and a set of directions on how to get to the test range inside Edwards Air Force base in the glove box. The “92” is to allow it to be addressed by the tower on the radio when on taxiways. It has numerous expired flight line decals on the bumpers from many different airports. The paint is flaking off, but it is a good deal because it only has 88,000 miles on it, had lifelong professional maintenance, runs perfectly and cost us only $1,700. Corvair core engines are not the only good deals on Craigslist. Using mechanical devices from outside to experience base is all about picking the right mechanical mentor, an instructor who knows his subject. If you are building a Corvair flight engine, I’m your man.  When I wanted to know critical details and failure modes on the Suburban, I called Mark from Falcon, who happens to know this era of GM EFI systems inside and out. He ran over all the possible trouble modes and their prevention. The mechanical subject is different, but the route to success is exactly the same: Find the person with the first hand industry experience and good judgment and put away your biases and listen to him.


A quick look at Vern’s latest project, a FAR 103 legal Ultralight similar to a Heath Baby Bullet. Just like his aero-trike, this is a tribute to his fabrication and scrounging skills. The plane is a one-off design of his own. The engine is a Mosler MMCB-40 2 cylinder four-stroke. It is wire braced with streamline wires from a small biplane. The landing gear is cub style, with a very small version of the style of spring-in-tube suspension that we build for Pietenpols. On weekends, Vern works on his project in our hangar. This way if we need him for an hour here and there in the day, he is readily available. Sunday was almost 100% engine building in the workshop, so Vern used the day to weld out his fuselage. He test fit it all back together at 10:30pm.


 Last look before closing the hangar doors on a day that began 15 hours earlier. Grace’s Taylorcraft sits on ramps because we live in a flash flood prone lot, and it is hurricane season. The ramps also offer enough clearance for engines on the stand to pass under the wing when going from the workshop to the ramp in front of the hangar. New engine safely tucked away, we will run it several more hours this week. Behind it Vern stands next to his project, the blue fuselage of the Wagabond is visible, Grace’s Corvair van up on jacks for a transmission change, a task that will have to wait until the end of the Northern flying season after CC#27.

I wrote the above section of this story by 1am or so. But it is the middle of the night now, I drank too much coffee, and I am wide awake now. What do I think about at this time of the night? Stuff like this:

A long time ago, I came to the observation that I had never actually met any human so rotten and worthless that they actually deserved every bad thing that happened to them.  Neither had I met a single person who was so good and virtuous that they had earned and deserved every good thing that had happened to them.

You can abdicate from caring about humans with broken lives by pointing out the superficial truth that they caused much of the trouble they have, but every time I look at such a person I am far more inclined to think that without the great fortune of being born to my parents and the love of family and friends, I easily could have been them. “There but for the grace of God go I” is not a religious statement to me, it just seems like a realistic assessment of the diminished possibilities when one is born with one foot in an emotional grave.

Very similar, I have met a great number people who were convinced that they had 100% earned, all on their own, or even in spite of all others, every single good thing in their lives. While that storyline may support the self narrative of their lives or their “me first, me only” actions and philosophy, I can’t believe, no matter how hard-working they are, that all of their success was purely self-generated. Experience suggests that they were also the unearned beneficiaries of countless acts of kindness and generosity, fortune of birth, and random favorable chance, even if admitting this would spoil their self-image as a leading character in some unwritten Ayn Rand novel.

Two weeks before Oshkosh, The family of Tom C. the oldest resident of our airpark, came to take him to live his remaining time with them. At arm’s length, Tom was a very crusty character, antagonistic, confrontational, intoxicated. He had lots of pets, which he loved, but never seemed to know how to care for them; from a distance he was a puzzling mix of conflicting signals and actions.

One day I actually had a private conversation with him and found out in a few minutes that when he was 17, he was with the 7th infantry Division at Chosin, a member of RCT-31. Barely more than a boy, he had lived through an experience that few people could imagine. At an age where many young men are just being awarded a high school diploma, Tom had just been awarded a lifetime supply nightmares that would never leave him, even when he tried to drown them in alcohol.

He told me had never been good with people, but had faked it well enough to get by in life until he was 70 or so, and then something changed, and he was overwhelmed and had just felt more isolated since. He told me that the only person at our airport who regularly spoke with him was Alex. I thought about all the times I had driven past this man standing in his yard raking leaves, driven past because one or two other people had just said to leave him alone, he was trouble. To this hour, I remain ashamed of how easily I allowed other people to decide for me who was a human being and who was not.

If you are hoping for an uplifting ending, worthy of a TV drama, sorry, honesty will not allow it. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have wanted Tom as a father, teacher or even a next door neighbor. He was not easy to like, and I am pressed here to name any really redeeming character features. His family really only showed up because they hoped he had something left, which he didn’t. On his last day at the airpark, which also happened to be a Sunday, I said to a number of people who had previously butted heads with him that it was their last chance to go down and close things with a few kind words.

One person asked me what had Tom done to deserve him going down there and saying anything positive to him? “Nothing at all” I told him. Tom had neither earned nor deserved anyone going down there. Tom might not even be truly thankful nor appreciative. In fact the only good that could come of it was that you could go look at Toms broken life, not from a passing car window, but up close, so close that you could really see the damage and the cost, close enough to smell the booze and see into his wet, sad eyes. Then you could really get something out of going over there, because when you went home and offered thanks to what ever God or force that you believe runs this world,  you could always be thankful that, for reasons that have much more to do with fate, kindness and luck than your own hard work or virtue,  you didn’t have to live that man’s life.-ww