CHT Part #4 more notes


I received an email from a builder that gave me a moment to pause and think about communication, and what people are willing to read into things. The letter was sent by a good guy, and I have deleted his name because I want people to focus on the comment, not who said it. Here is the sentence from his email:

 “In view of your modification of the inlet size for the Wagabond, would you recommend I do the same on a standard two-piece nose bowl for my plane?  Did you make the mod preemptively, or was the Wagabond running hot?  Thanks in advance”

Now, all this week I have been writing about cooling, and specifically linking to many articles that I have written in the last 20 months. The photograph and caption listed below is in a story that was directly linked to a few days ago. Read it and see if you think I the Wagabond was running hot as the letter writer asks:

Above, a real world proven Corvair system, the Wagabond cowl. Note that the air inlet is a simple 4.875″ hole in the cowl. This aircraft has flown at the record gross weight for Corvairs, it has always lived in Florida, it has a very large airframe with plenty on drag to spare, and yet it never ran hot, even with a front alternator and no inlet cooling rings. Why? because Corvairs have excellent cooling. builders can either utilize this success or they can ignore my suggestions. If they chose the latter and it doesn’t work, they rarely see the problem as a people issue. For some reason, a fraction of builders will focus on stories of people who has trouble with one-off ideas rather than looking at all the people who are flying proven ideas without issue.


This while series started because I was angry about people offering the unfounded opinion that Corvairs inherently ran hot, and that the cowls we offer and the way we teach people to cool the engine does not really work. Over the last several nights the stories I have written have been to counter these ‘opinions’ with facts and data, and offer links to show that this cooling is not an issue with Corvairs. The last sentence in his note indicates to me that some people are not really reading what I have to say, and my words are competing with a predisposition on their part to still believe that there is something wrong with the cooling as we build it.

I don’t blame the letter writer. He is exposed to many people talking about Corvairs, and at times it is hard to keep sorted out who has an ‘opinion’ and who has been testing and flying. This is why I was annoyed in the first place with people who have never owned a flying Corvair spreading rumors that “Corvairs need 6″ inlets”. On one hand it is just a lot of background static, but I am of the opinion that some of it sticks even when the recipient doesn’t consider nor remember the source. If you are new to a subject, be very discriminating when you choose to listen to people. Adopting perspectives, even partially based on false opinions it at best, a tremendous waste of time and energy.

To me, the really ironic thing is that their are other alternative engines that really do have cooling issues that are very hard to solve. The Corvair is nothing like that. Yet the ‘buy it in a box’ imported engines with actual cooling issues probably generate less internet discussion than the Corvair does on this topic. Part of the reason is that the people buying those are largely shopping for an appliance, and people coming to corvairs are supposed to be here to learn about a machine. The latter should generate more discussion, but talking about things is not the same as learning, especially when much of the conversation is opinion, and when fact must compete with rumor during the phase where the new builders understanding just developing.

The post I put down last night was number 365 since we started this blog. Give or take, that is a quarter of a million words. If I tasked you with typing a 250,000 words that were educational and entertaining or gave you the option of building a two place kit aircraft, which would get done first?  I type about 20 wpm, (not counting time spent staring at the keyboard) so I could build the plane much faster. I still consider the time well spend, under one condition: People actually read the content.-ww

CHT part #3, Letters, notes, sources and inlets.


Here is another block of information on CHT and cooling, along with data from flying pilots. This is a collection of notes and loose ends that adds a little more dimension to the first two parts.


Above, The Wagabond nose bowl last night about 3am.  I have been having a run of insomnia lately, and have been dividing up the hours in the middle of the night between writing, doing a little work on the Wagabond and reading Morris’s Colonel Roosevelt, a rich biography of TR from when he left the White house until his death. When I am this tired, I don’t make customer parts, but I will work on my own basic stuff like nosebowls. Last night it was more than 70F in the hangar. Not a bad temp for glass work. I bonded in the inlet rings seen above. They not only give the cowl a much better look, they are also functional. A lot more air will flow through a 5.125″ tube, even a short 1.5″ long one, than will flow through a 5.125″ hole in a flat plate. These rings are made out of PVC pipe, but you could actually make them out of just about anything.  This is the biggest size I think any Corvair needs, even on heavy slow climbers like Zenith 750s. This original one piece nosebowl is dimensionally the same as the two piece models we sell today. It has an altered line where the sheet metal of the cowl meets the nosebowl to make it fit the Wagabond better and the ‘tunnel’ in it is the beginning of the shape that flows into the J-3 airbox/filter that the plane is set up to use.


Above, a detail look. The white ring is PVC, it is bonded in with West System epoxy thickened with silica and flox. The section of paint stick and the sheet rock screw are just working as a clamp. If you look close, you can see that the tube flares out slightly on the ID near the end. It isn’t needed, but it will not hurt. Epoxy theoretically doesn’t stick to PVC, but it will get a mechanical bond if the surface is rough enough. This nose bowl is 10 years old. It may look a little rough, but well made glass parts hold up even on hot engines and over long lives. If you look closely, the marks show that it was vacuum bagged into our mold. the part had the image of the bagging plastic in many places.


Above, a bigger view. I ran 3 sheet rock screws through the part to pin it to the table after I covered the table top in plastic sheeting to prevent sticking. The screw holes don’t matter because they are in the section covered by the spinner. The two inlet rings are being clamped down by the sticks until they hardened. You can immobilize many things to a wooden work bench this sheet rock screws. Again, 5.125″ is probably too big on all except the slowest climbing planes in hot weather.  Inlets size doesn’t cool by itself, it has to be matched with outlets and good baffling.


Mail and comments:


Letter from 2,850cc 601XL builder and flyer Ron Lendon:

Ron with his plane at Brodhead 2012.


WW, it’s not that I don’t enjoy the reading I miss the succinct data and would like to have a place to quickly look it up.  Perhaps in my spare time now that the plane is flying with the correct carb. No I didn’t volunteer to do it. The calibrated CHT gage you allude to, is it available to those of us with short attention spans also?  I have the Westach gage and rarely see the CHT temps go above 350F on hard climb in the more temperate climate we have here in Michigan.  I’m using the ring type connection at the GM location.”

Ron, I looked on Ebay and other places to see who was selling Mil.surp. gauges but didn’t find anything noteworthy. I found mine at the Oshkosh flymart. Get a look at this link, it is to Dakota Digital, a company that makes all their stuff in the USA.


Letter from 2,850cc CH-750 builder Blaine Schwartz:

Click on: ( Zenith 750 Builder Blaine Schwartz )

“William, Thank you for such an informative essay! Carl Sandburg once wrote: “Experience is the greatest teacher”. You are a first-class example of proving his premise. Blaine”


Letter from 3,000cc PC Cruiser builder Sarah Ashmore:

“I find it difficult to understand why anybody feels they need 6 individual CHT readings on a Corvair. Lycomings and Continentals have a CHT on each cylinder because each one is truly independent and subject to different cooling and heating rates. The Corvair is one big block of aluminum, a material which conducts heat rather well, so it should be fairly uniform in temperature regardless of what is going on in the cylinders. One on each head is good enough for me and I have already purchased the special size bolts along with the other hardware for the engine build. And cooling is not something I like to do the hard way either. My variation on the Personal Cruiser will have a 30″ wide firewall instead of the stock 22″ but I have your generic nose bowl and a set of generic Weseman baffles all ready to go on it. All I have to do is make sure I follow your recommendations on the cooling air exit and I would expect the test flights to have no surprises with regards to engine cooling. There is enough experimental in my aircraft already so I choose my innovations wisely. A good pair of articles in a long line related to engine cooling.”

Sarah, there are also a lot of certified planes like C-150s and 152s that don’t have any CHT at all. 6/cht-6egt combos mostly appear as an option on big injected engines in fast certified planes like Bonanzas, where owners are trying experiments in extreme leaning and early top end replacement. Although Dan Weseman has a 6/6 combo on his plane, just the other day he was saying “what is wrong with a little too much cooling?” implying that no one is setting a record here, so why not sacrifice a few mph cooling drag to have an engine that always runs very cool. It fits in with your idea of leaning to the proven side rather than the edge of the envelope.


Letter from 2,700cc 601XL builder and flyer Dr. Gary Ray:

Click on: ( 601XL-2700cc  Dr. Gary Ray )

“William, Thanks for this post.  I read and re-read everything but this brings all of the temps, measurement locations and expected results into one post.  I have my 601XL-B setup as you have shown and I am experiencing the same results.  Until recently, I have taken all CHT’s from beneath plug #3 and #4.  The highest temp I have ever seen has been 430 F on its maiden flight when I only measured plug #3 , otherwise it can get to 410 on high heat days during a 90 mph sustained climb.  I now record temps on both sides from the bottom #1 & #6 locations.  During the last 50 hours I am seeing a maximum temp of 315 F on the worst days and a spread between sides of less than 10 degrees.  Measurements show approximately 80-90 degrees lower temperatures between the top plug position and the lower GM position.  The gauge is a four channel MGL device for CHT and EGT’s and it produces comparable results to the temperature compensated analog meter I had used before.  It reads about 10 degrees higher and has a thicker washer type thermocouple which likely accounts for the slight difference.  In cruise at 3000 rpm, 9.75 degrees at the tip Warp Drive, 21.5 MP, 65 OAT,  CHT’s read 270 degrees.  EGT’s taken at 12 inches downstream from the last exhaust port are 1200 to 1300 and will go higher if leaned more aggressively which I do not do.
 Current Set Up: Maximum advance on the timing is set to 30 degrees, 100LL fuel only, Inlets size 4.75″ with inlet rings, Outflow is 3.5″ x 24″ which is 2.4X inflow area and the bottom edge is rounded.  Metal tape over cowl hinges above plenum and tight baffles. The Niagara oil cooler reduced maximum oil temps by 30 degrees (now 210F).  Normal climb is 90 mph.  If I see temps near 310 F , I increase air speed by reducing my rate of climb which seems to work.
 It is nice to know that there is such a large margin over normal operating temperatures before overstressing the engine.  The engine runs with a very low level of vibration.  Just how low is really apparent when I am in dead calm air.  This is when I start patting myself on the back for choosing the right engine.”