Below are links to photo pages on all of the colleges we have held since #1 in the spring of 2000. This page is a work in progress, Because I still want to dig out some photos from the early events, San Antonio and the Canadian Corvair College in 2005, and put in pictures from #26 and #27. Looking at the photos, it is a lot of engine building and learning, all mixed in with a lot of fun and friends. At the bottom we have a list of the 2014 colleges.
Although I am the only person who has made it to every college, we have a number of builders who have been at 6, and even a handful who have made it to 10 or more. We have more than 25 people who’s first run happened on the stand at a college, who later flew the engine back in their plane. I look forward to reading comments from builders who have attended these events, it is a lot of good memories that I treasure.
Above, Tom Cummings of LA, on the left, stands with me in front of my Pietenpol at CC#1. The event was in May of 2000. Tom was the very first guy to show up at the very first College. Read the last page on the CC#17 link for a full story on Tom.
Click on any color link to see the photos and read the story
(If the picture does not come through, try hitting F5 at the top of the keyboard.)
I am a lucky guy. When I bring up a serious topic, I can always count on some close friends to send some supporting words of encouragement. Quite often, one of these letters will come from the illustrious mind of 601XL builder Ken Pavlou. (He is the guy who also takes care of the on line college registrations and the parking row at Oshkosh.) Because he was born in Greece, “Adonis” is one of his nicknames. “TTBL” is a reference to the film “Ted.”
” William, Hope you had a great Christmas with your family. I want to share with you that I mounted both wings on my 601 today. It’s pretty exciting. Being that I won’t win any awards or break records for quality or performance, I decided to try and break the record for longest oil change interval by going 86.5 hours. I just wish I knew of these records before I changed my oil at 0.5, 1, 5, and 10 hours. Oh well.
I wish you a happy and healthy new year. Below is photographic evidence of my progress.
I hate to tell Ken that 86 hours is just the record for Break in oil, and he has already blown his shot at that. For all I know the longest time between regular changes may be even higher. Ken is a pretty competitive kind of guy, I am sure the will meet the challenge no matter what it is.
Quick Quiz: William gets a little depressed around the holidays because:
1) That is an appropriate reaction to seeing masses people shopping, wandering around like zombies text messaging on I-phones and very few people considering what is really worth living for.
2) His birthday is the last week of the year, and when you’re in your 50’s it’s hard to pretend your 24 years old anymore and not pay for it the next day.
3) His private question “I am supposed to be a great engine teacher, What have I accomplished this year?” Must be reconciled with the actions of builders who made some really foolish mistakes this year.
If you chose any of the answers, you are correct, but if you chose answer #3, you are also getting to a topic that distresses me all year round. In this short series, I am going to cover examples of people who made mistakes with their engines.
Some basic rules on this:A) Make a mistake, even a dumb one, and I don’t use your name. B) Make the same mistake a second time, and I reserve the right to use your name in the story. C) If you go on the net and complain about the effect of your mistake, but don’t understand that it was your mistake causing this effect, 50% chance the story has your name in it. D) If you make mistakes all the time because you want to argue every paragraph on my website, but also complain that the engine doesn’t run like I said it would, then your name and photo are going in the eventual story.
Why this matters: Two fold, I need people to slow down, read and ask questions. Every time people make mistakes like this, It puts them at unnecessary risk and it gives Corvairs a bad name. Even if the guy doesn’t complain on discussion groups, every person at his home airport sees his issues and says ” That’s because it is a car engine”. None of those observers look and understand that they were looking at a self-inflicted wound. The observers are the people who always say “We had a guy with a Corvair at our airport, nothing but problems.”
They never stop to think that the same guy would have had issues with any engine he had. Corvairs like to have the oil changes, but so do brand new O-200s. Some times peoples mistakes, their public demonstration of these self made problems and the stupid comments people make about them lead me to wonder “Where do I do to restore the reputation of my 25 years of work with the Corvair?” Unfortunately, the only answer is that reputations are a commodity that are built very slowly over time with a 1,000 good examples which are very easily destroyed by a few careless people. Everyone who takes their own life work seriously has challenges, and this is mine. It has no good nor easy solution, we are left with just stories about lessons learned.
For the serious builder, take heart. for every guy out there messing things up, there are two dozen having no problem at all. The most important thing to understand here is that these mistakes don’t strike builders at random. I am going to spend some time here showing that individual personalities, like being in a rush, not respecting details and thinking you are to smart to listen to me are all the root of these mistakes. They are not random, they have nothing to do with experience nor IQ. They have to do with personality traits that are poor matches to serious work like engine building and flying planes. That is what you need to take away from this.
2013 saw a long standing record broken in the land of Corvairs. This was done right at Oshkosh, in the row Ken Pavlou reserved for Corvair powered planes, right behind my display booth. I should be really happy about that right? Guess again. The record was Longest time flying on the break in oil that should have been changes at 30 minutes to 1 hour: The new mark, set by a builder who had flown in from the east coast is 86 flight hours on the break in oil. It had never been changed, and was several years old. This took the previous record away from the person who set it in 2008, flying to a College with 56 hours on his break in oil.
Is this a Corvair issue? No, these guys would have done this to any engine they put in their plane. I have a hard time understanding how a person would spend the time carefully assembling and engine and they go about poisoning it. Both of the guys are smart enough to get paid a very good living, but they are both from the “Office building” world, and have little exposure to mechanical things that need some level of care. Both have busy lives and may not have focused attention on their operation. Although neither engine broke because of it, I am sure that the life spans of these engine was shortened by 50% or more.
Two years from now when they are overhauling their engines, and people at their local airport walk past and say to each other “Didn’t he just build that? I guess car engines don’t last.” These builders will not do me nor the Corvair the justice of hanging a sign outside their hangar which says ” Self inflicted wound. I tried to extend the recommended initial oil change interval by a factor of 100.” It is worth noting that neither of these builders thought they were doing anything wrong. It came up in conversation, so I don’t actually know how long they were going to go, it could have been 100 or even 200 hours. I try to be an optimist, but right now, I am sure we have a builder somewhere, who will not read this, who will try to break the 86 hour record.
Should Mr. “86 Hours” have known better?: Yes, I published this story: Notes on Corvair flight engine oils. about a month and a half before he left for Oshkosh. It specifies 25 hour intervals. Also, the plane was more than a year old, and should have had a yearly condition inspection by federal law. If the oil wasn’t changed, the inspection was bull shit. The A&P who did it needs his license jerked. If the builder did it himself, he needs his repairman’s certificate rescinded, and if he didn’t bother to get a Repairman’s cert for his plane or have an A&P look at it, the plane flew to Oshkosh illegally.
The Corvair is a very tough motor, and I changed the oil myself at Oshkosh at night. I cut the filter open and there was almost no metal at all to be found. I expected damage, but I was just guessing, because in all the testing I have done in 25 years, none of it included seeing how long I can run break in oil in an engine without making metal.
OK, what about Mr. “56 Hours?”: He should have known better also. lots of people claim that information was not easy to find on our webpages. OK, I took me 60 seconds to go to Flycorvair.com, go to the bottom of the page and type “Oil Change hours” into the search box and it spit out the 2007 story I have reprinted below. I am sorry if that was too hard.
From Flycorvair.com 2007: “Above, Fred Roser’s engine on the dyno. The photo is a reminder that we prime, test run and operate Corvairs on Shell Rotella T 15W40 oil. Although everybody has a favorite oil that’s served them well on projects years ago, several industry experts have told me that the formulation of many favorite oils has been changed for environmental reasons, often compromising break in qualities by eliminating metallic based additives. Since we test engines on Rotella all the time, builders can be confident that the current formulation of this oil works well in our favorite engine. We change the oil and filter at 1 hour, 5 hours, 10 hours and 25. As KRVair Builder/Pilot Steve Makish pointed out, he’s yet to see an engine hurt by having the oil changed too often.”
There are just about 60 days until CC#28 in Texas. If you are thinking about going, the time is now to get a plan together. Over the next few days I will be putting up many stories about Colleges. Ones in the past, how to prep for them, upcoming events, builders progress. Stay tuned, more info on the way:
1/2 of Our illustrious hosts for CC#28, Kevin Purtee, above, at CC#22. Kevin lives two lives in aviation: His day job is piloting an Apache helicopter and his passion is his Pietenpol and his part in that community. Yes, he will wear the “Sock Monkey hat of Power” at CC#28.
Two particular letters arrived in the past day from fellow builders and flyers Steve Makish and Pete Chmura. They were both sparked by the story ” Two Letters on Christmas eve. ” Each of the letters references the loss of their Fathers. The stories are tangential to flying, but they are important to me. Aviators have strong feelings about flying, but also have them for many other aspects of their lives, such as family. In the world of Corvair builders, I have long made sure that we have space for men to share their strongest feelings on both.
People like to complain about “political correctness” , where social stigma is used to deter people from saying non-mainstream things. Some of the off-beat things are worth sharing, most would simply be edited by taste or being considerate. However, long observation of the human condition has shown me the #1 form of “PC” behavior that people of all political perspectives engage in: refraining from acknowledging the struggles and wounds of others. People hide behind “being polite” when they are just really afraid of conversing and saying the wrong thing. To my perspective, if someone wants or needs to speak, then it is time to listen. When it come to saying something, almost anything said, even poorly worded, is far better than having a fellow human standing alone in a crowd of people.
A number of years ago a friend lost an adult child in an accident. Over time, he had innumerable arguments with friends and co-workers. All of these people quietly complained to each other. To a small group of these people I said “The man has a crippling emotional wound. The physical equivalent would be a six-foot spear stuck in his chest. Everyday, everyone politely walks past him and never mentions or notices the spear. It might just help if someone just said to him, ‘I don’t know what having a spear in my chest it like, but I think you’re doing a damn good job for having that kind of wound.’ Just say that you thought about his kid today instead of pretending they never existed.” When one of the friends said they couldn’t imagine doing that, I politely said I understood, but they were not really the man’s friend.
Above in the orange shirt, Steve Makish (firstname.lastname@example.org) stands beside his Corvair powered KR2 at Corvair College #8, held at our Edgewater hangar. His friend Bob Lester is in the background with his Corvair powered KR2.
Steve sent the following note today:
“William I have not written for a year. this has been a bad year and I never thought I would lose both my parents 13 months apart. Enjoy the time you have with your Mom and Dad and cherish the moments. Happy New Year. Your friend, Steve”
“My Father passed yesterday at age 87. He flew Stearmans at Alameda NAS at the end of the war. He never flew after that. Last summer he said he wished he had “bought that plane” after he was discharged. I’ll be 54 next month. Time to get some wings.”
Pete’s letter made me think about the book above. Max Henderson was my instruments instructor at Embry-Riddle. The book is his fathers coming of age diary from being part of a barnstorming team in 1935-36. Max found it after his father past. In 2000, Max was the Christmas guest speaker at my EAA chapter. He told a very moving story about how his dad had always downplayed his love of aviation when the kids in his family were growing up. After he passed, Max realized that his father had loved aviation as much as any man, but he had sacrificed his own ambitions to make sure that his kids got a better running start at higher education and their own times in aviation. When Max said this in front of 70 or 80 members of chapter 288, each of us thought of our own parents. There were few, if any dry eyes in the house.
I write this from my sister’s house in Charleston SC, where my family is gathering for Christmas this year. After driving to NJ for my Father’s 88th birthday, My brother-in-law, John and I drove Mom and Dad here to get them to a warmer setting for the holidays. It is a long drive, but it is easier on them than airline travel, and they still like to get out and change horizons. On Memorial day I often tell people I have the ‘ultimate luxury’ of being able to speak with my Father by just picking up the phone any day. I am well aware of how few people my age still have both their parents, and this I am most thankful for on this Christmas eve.
On my mind are two letters that came in from people who are not so lucky, and I would like to share them with you because I found them very moving. The first one came from Randy Cary. It was written in response to my story about my Fathers 88th birthday last week, a story you can read at this link: William E. Wynne Sr. turns 88 today. Note that Randy’s Dad graduated from West Point on D-Day. It made me think about all the commencement speakers who have told graduates that they will ‘make a difference in the world.’ Randy’s Father and others of the Greatest Generation certainly did, in some cases at a terrible personal cost.
“William, Have a great time with your Dad. There is no better way to spend the holidays than to be with family. My dad graduated from West Point on June 6, 1944 and went into the lines at Bastogne on Christmas Eve of 44 in the Battle of the Bulge. Like your dad, he didn’t want special treatment and always felt that there was someone who was worse off than he was. I lost him in 2000 and miss him every day. And to think that he was 23 when he went to war and when I compare him to a lot of similarly aged young people today, it just baffles me. Count every day as a blessing for you, as I know you do. I have read you blog for three years now. Merry Christmas to you, Grace and your families.
Above, Charles Poland Jr., 1947-2013.
The second letter came Aaron Poland. He wrote it about his father who sacrificed his own life to save other people’s children on January 29th 2013. If you read a single story I wrote this year, I would like it to be this one: Charles Poland Jr., An American of whom you could be proud. It is not possible to express how much the actions of Charles Poland moved me. Our world is sadly filled with people who make inaccurate judgements on the character of others based on surface issues like race, politics, appearance, professed faith or material wealth. I knew none of these things about Charles Poland when I read about the events of January 29th, and it shows you how none of these things reveal human character, only a man’s actions do. Everything you need to know about Charles Poland could be understood by considering how he chose to spend his last 60 seconds on Earth. The note I received from his son Aaron was very brief, just affirming the code that his Father lived and died by:
“I hope you where able to stop by in Newton, AL. Dad is buried in the local cemetery there. Dad was a helicopter crew chief in the US Army. Dad always believed to do the right thing at all cost and he proved it.”
This will be the first Christmas that the Poland family will have without their father. He was 66 years old, and they surely thought they would have him for many more years. As I type this, my own father sits in the next room sipping a cup of coffee with my mother by his side. Thankfulness for this drives me to acknowledge the losses of others less fortunate.
Later tonight, I am going to send a short E-mail To Aaron Poland simply saying that I think his Father was a real hero, and I was thinking of his family on this day. If you would like to join me in this, Aaron’s E-mail address is:email@example.com . I have never met him, don’t know anything about him except who his father was. I don’t know what ‘right’ thing to say is, but I will say something. I read an essay last year that said we don’t often face a choice between good and evil, but we continuously face choosing between doing something and doing nothing. To remember a father who instinctively chose to do something, at the cost of his life, writing a short note at Christmas seems like a small but important action.-ww
Here as a basic breifing on Corvair flight engines for builders getting a first look at using one.
Above, A 3,000 cc Corvair flight engine. I built this particular one for the SPA Panther aerobatic aircraft, and has powered the prototype aircraft through it’s introductory season. The Corvair is a popular option on more than 20 different experimental airframes.
The Corvair is a General Motors designed engine, manufactured by Chevrolet. 1.8 million engines were built in the Tonawanda New York engine plant between 1960 and 1969. The Corvair has been flying on experimental aircraft since 1960, and I have been working with them as flight engines since 1989. It is a story of careful development and testing, a slow evolution to the engines we have today. It is ‘old and proven’ rather than ‘new and exciting.’
– Configuration: The engine is a horizontally opposed, air-cooled, six cylinder configuration. We only promote its use as a simple, direct drive power plant. The engine configuration is very similar to Lycomings and Continentals.
– Displacement: The engine is effective without a gearbox or belt drive because it has a comparatively large displacement. We have versions that are 2,700, 2,850 and 3,000 cc. The smallest of these are twice as big as a Rotax 912.
– Power: Corvairs have three different power ratings. 100, 110 and 120 hp. These correspond to the three displacements. They make their rated power at 3,150 rpm. They have wide power bands, making 75% power at 2,650 rpm. All engines will exceed their rated power at higher rpm, and they can be continuously run at full power at 3,600 rpm without damage.
– Weight: The engine weighs 225 pounds ready to run. This is effectively the same as a Continental O-200. It’s installed weight is 35 pounds more than a 912 Rotax, 25 pounds more than a Jabaru 3300. The Corvair is 40 pounds lighter than a Lycoming O-235. 3,000 cc Corvairs are slightly lighter than 225 lbs. because we have special cylinders made for them which make these engine 5 pounds lighter.
– Reliability: From the factory, the Corvair made up to 180 HP in the car and turned more than 5,500 rpm. The engine is reliable and long-lasting because we are only operating at 60% of these levels. Conversion engines that run at the car’s red line rpm historically have short lives and cooling issues.
– Cost: We sell complete engines from $9,750 to $11,750. However, 90% of our builders assemble their own engines working from our Conversion manual, DVDs, parts and support and a rebuildable core engine they pick up locally. Typically, they budget $6,500-8,500 to build a first class, zero timed, engine.
–Cooling: The Corvair has a factory cylinder head temp limit of 575F. This is the highest limit on any mass-produced air-cooled engine ever built. The engine as also the first mass-produced turbocharged car. GM engineered the motor to have excellent heat tolerance and heat dissipation. In aircraft the engine typically runs at 325 to 350 CHT.
– Parts availability: Every wearing part in the engine has continuously been in production for 5 decades. The engine pictured above, only has an original pair of cases, and oil housing and cylinder head castings. All other parts in the engine, including the crankshaft, are brand new. Many of the parts in the engine, like the lifters and valve train, are common to Chevy v-8s. There is no part availability issue.
– Ignition: The fleet of flying Corvairs is about 500 aircraft. More than 90% of them have a dual ignition system that I have built. Our system uses two redundant systems, one points based, the other a digital electronic system. The design has two of every part potentially subject to failure, but it utilizes one plug per cylinder. Six cylinder engines can fly on one cold cylinder, most 4 cylinder engines can not. Plug fouling is unknown in Corvairs because the ignition system is 40,000 volts and uses a plug gap twice as wide as a magneto system.
– Fuel: The Corvair can use either 100LL or automotive fuel. It is not bothered by ethanol in the fuel.When Corvairs were designed, car gas was a lot like 100LL; for the last 35 years every mile driven by Corvair cars was done on unleaded car gas. Many engines like 912s and modern car engines do not have exhaust valves that can withstand the corrosive nature of 100LL. We use stainless and Inconel valves in Corvairs.
– Maintenance: The Covair is low maintenance. The heads never need retorquing. The valves have hydraulic lifters and never need to be reset or adjusted. I dislike the term “maintenance free”, because it implies a “no user serviceable parts inside” disposable appliance mentality. The Corvair is a solid, robust, machine which holds its adjustments, but our program is aimed at teaching builders to be self-reliant owners.
– Goals: If one of your goals is to be the master of your engine and airframe, the Corvair is an excellent choice. There are many engine options for people who just want to buy something. Our efforts are aimed at expanding the personal knowledge and skills of each builder.
– Made in the USA: In an era where everything seems imported and companies like Continental have been sold to the Chinese Government, We have kept the “Made in the USA” option for builders who prefer to employ fellow Americans. Virtually every part in the engine, with small exceptions like the distributor cap (made in Mexico), are made by American craftsmen. Because we also sell engines outside the US, we are a Net Exporter, helping correct the trade imbalance.
Corvairs have proven themselves to serve a very broad variety of builders. Many alternative engine options are offered only as a “buy it in a box” import, more of an appliance than a machine, with little or no consideration of the builders, skills goals, needs, budget or time line. The Corvair has options to address these valid considerations, because your power plant should conform to you, not the other way around.
This said, Corvairs are not for everyone. In the 25 years I have been in the EAA and working with builders, the Corvair has always been very popular with ‘traditional homebuilders’, the people who have come to experimental aviation to discover how much they can learn, understand and master. The expansion of the EAA has brought more of these builders, but it has also brought a great number of people incapable of distinguishing between mastery of an aircraft or an engine and just merely being its buyer and owner. People who’s consumer mentality and short attention spans are better suited to toy ownership than mastery of skills and tools in aviation. Corvairs, and perhaps experimental aviation, are a poor match for such people. Many salesmen in our field will gladly sell anything to anyone with green money. I am an aviator, not a salesman, and the gravity of the subject requires more frank discussion and ethics than many salesmen bring to the table.
If you came to experimental aviation to find out how much you can master, not how little, then you are among the aviators who follow Lindbergh’s timeless 1927 quote: “Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved.” Even if you are brand new to aviation, I am glad to work with you. I have a long history of working with builders of all skill levels. We have a number of successful builders out flying who are the masters of both their airframes and engines, who had never changed the oil in a car before building their plane. 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. What you will do in experimental aviation is not limited by what you already know. It is only limited by what you are willing to learn, and selecting experienced people to learn from. If you are here to learn, I am here to teach. It is that simple.
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