Corvair College #29, March 28-30, FL. , sign-up open

Builders:

Ken Pavlou just e-mailed me the link below, the sign up for Corvair College #29, it is now live and on line, builders may sign up at any time. I suggest making a plan right away, because we are only effectively seven weeks away. Time to make a plan now.

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Click on this:

https://corvaircollege.wufoo.com/forms/corvair-college-29-registration/

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The College is free, but the sign up has a $79 per person fee, 100% of which goes to our local host Arnold Holmes, who will be providing the facility, food and drinks. For much more information, please click on this story:

CorvairCollege #29, March 28-30, Leesburg FL.

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If you have not been to a College before and would like to tap into the mother load of all the information on everything to do with colleges, please click on this link:

Corvair College reference page

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A GREAT MOMENT FROM CC#17: Steve Sims of the Florida Panhandle assumes the famed “Superman Position.”  This is where you lie prone on the bed rail of the pickup truck the run stand is bolted to, and “Fly” behind your Corvair engine running for the first time. CC#17 was the first College Arnold Holmes hosted. He runs great events. Steve’s plane, a 601HDS, is now flying with this engine he built. I am planning on having him fly it back to CC#29, but I insist that he do it from inside the cockpit. We have fun at Colleges, but there is also a lot of serious learning and progress. Don’t miss it.

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Photo taken January 25th in our backyard in Florida: The illustrious Ken Pavlou is on the left, Grace in the middle and Peter Shean.  Ken and Peter are both 601XL builders with 95% complete airframes and first class 2700cc Corvairs for them. Ken runs all the on-line registration for all the Colleges out of his home in CT.

Corvair/Sonex for sale, on Barnstormers, (warning)

Builders,

I received two emails asking about the plane pictured below. It is for sale on Barnstormers.com. Part of the add says “William Wynne engine”. This is not entirely accurate, but I don’t think it was done with ill intent. The plane is simply being sold by a friend of the builder who passed from this earth, and he is just offering a general description.

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A more accurate description would be to say that it has a “William Wynne style conversion.” I did not build the engine, nor did we see it run at a college, but it was made with our parts, and it does have a Dan bearing on it. I am pretty sure Dan supplied many of the installation components. Note that the pictures are of two nearly identical yellow airframes. One with a VW the other a Corvair. The picture above is the VW one, the Corvair looks just like it but has a spinner. For a complete overview of the Corvair/Sonex combination, please click on this link:

Corvair Power for Panther and Sonex reference page

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The plane is located in Eastern Georgia. The builder was a very experienced homebuilder, but I have never seen this plane in person. If someone wanted to look into buying this plane, I would highly suggest calling Dan Weseman for more input. On the surface, it seems like a very good beining point, that might need a through going over and a new cowl from Dan.  If is a much better starting point than any of the Corvair/Sonexes that have rear starters and mounts that were not made by Dan.

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While the plane above seems well worth looking at, I would like to warn potential Corvair people to Avoid something else I saw on Barnstormers:

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SONEX CORVAIR MOTOR MOUNT • $850 • AVAILABLE FOR SALE Engine Mount to install Corvair engine to Sonex airframes.   TD version – black  with hardware  • Contact- AZALEA AVIATION LLC, Owner – located Valdosta, GA USA • Telephone: 229-834-899 . 220-242-306 . • Posted February 6, 2014

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Above is the latest incarnation of the now Bankrupt “Aeromax LLC” and just like last time, this is again run by Bill Clapp. I highly suggest that no one buy anything from him. I left a long post about him on the Zenith Matronics site, there are also many other ones on  Mark Langford’s CorvairCraft list, and the factory Zenith list. You can contact many People such as Pat Panzera from Contact! magazine or Rick Lindstrom from kitplanes to get their input. Make up your own mind, but there will invariably be people who get taken by this, just the way that Aeromax took people in 2009-before going bankrupt in 2011. Don’t be one of them.

Great tales from discussion groups…….part #1

Builders,

I often complain about disinformation on internet discussion groups, but I don’t often provide examples. Well, in the interest of humor, maybe we should look at a few…..

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The internet isn’t new anymore, and you would think that by now most people writing to discussion groups would know their comments will have a very long shelf life, and this equally applies if they are brilliant or if they are Bull.

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Actually, I suspect many of the people on these groups know this, and that it why the don’t use their names. Yesterdays “Flyboy26” who said something stupid becomes “Conexpert21” with a clean history tomorrow.

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OK, here is one of my favorites: Couple of years ago on a Pietenpol discussion group guy gets on and says he is going to use a Corvair, (Mind you, the Corvair is the designer, Bernard Pietenpol’s choice for the airframe.) He immediately  gets a negative reaction from Continental fans. Below is a sample:

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“Car engines are not designed to operate anywhere near full power for more than a few seconds at a time, whereas an aircraft engine must be capable of full power continuously.  That’s why Corvairs require such little tricks as painting the pushrod tubes white to try to keep the oil down to a manageable temperature.  Putting that engine in an airplane is asking it to do something it was simply not designed to do.  Now the Corvair guys are adding a 5th main bearing (at significant expense, negating the supposed cost advantage of using a car engine to begin with) to handle the loads that a propeller puts on the crankshaft.  There have been numerous cases of crankshafts breaking in Corvairs in aircraft, although I don’t know of any in a Pietenpol, other than Shad Bell’s. Car engines (other than the Model A) also tend to get their power at higher RPMs than are useful for driving propellers.  Props really loose efficiency when the tips start going supersonic (to say nothing of being VERY noisy – ever hear a T-6 takeoff?) and with the size props used on planes of our size that happens at about 2500 RPM.  Power generated at speeds faster than that is not very useful and there needs to be substantial torque in the 2000 – 2500 RPM range.  That’s why so many auto engine conversions require gearing to reduce the propeller speed, which adds cost, weight and complexity, and hurts reliablity.”

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OK, where do we start? – We don’t run the engine at it’s automotive power setting nor rpm limit-Painting the pushrod tubes is to protect the O-rings, has nothing to do with oil temps- It wasn’t designed as an airplane engine, that is why we converted it into one – Dan’s bearing is $1,050  and building a cheap engine wasn’t a goal, building a good one is. – Two Piets with no radius on the grind broke a crank , no damage to either plane. More than 100 Corvair Piets have flown, less than 10 have a 5th bearing.- I have well documented examples of dramatic performance increases with Corvairs and 68″ props over small Continentals with 72″ props.- 2500rpm on a 72″ prop at 60mph is barely above .7 mach at the tip. All direct drive certified engines since WWII are either 2700 or 2800 rpm rated, often with props well over 72″ in diameter. Steve Wittman disproved the slow prop myth with his Buttercup…in 1937. (He used a 64″ prop at 3,400 rpm on a plane that flew slower than a Piet) – you only need torque at 2000-2500 rpm if you have to run it at that rpm, and you would only do this if it is a pre-war design with old metallurgy like cotter-pined rod nuts.

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OK, why am I bringing this up? First, because if anyone Googles “Pietenpol Corvair” that top quote comes up as if it was written yesterday. I write a lot about how builders are subject to continuous disinformation in the guise of helpful advice. If that is what they hear all the time, and they have not see a Corvair fly a Pietenpol in person, ‘theory’ like this seems real.

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The same list has lots of stories about affordable Continental engines that are  available with accessories for $6000, and in some cases it is said these engines are “Zero timed”.  What these people don’t understand is that the original manufactured is the only person allowed to claim “Zero timed.” Below, from the Continental website:

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“Because it’s an exact science.

Continental produces a rebuilt engine to factory-new engine specifications, and we are the only facility authorized by the FAA to build zero-time Continental Rebuilt Engines.”

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And yes, it’s in the regs: “This only applies to the original engine manufacturer and may not be represented by field overhaulers.”

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 You can’t call up Continental in Mobile AL, and get a Zero time C-85 for $6K. (Small problem, they have not made a C-85 in 44 years and do not offer Zero time ones) It is worth noting that the 85 has a nearly identical parts count to a 0-200, and a zero time version of the latter is well over $18K…if you already own a good core.

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Let’s just say that a builder doesn’t know the difference between the FAA terms, Zero time, Overhaul to new limits, and overhaul to service limits. The last is not even vaguely comparable in quality or lifespan compared to the first, and I do not believe that there is a single C-85 for sale in the country with an actual legal logbook with an entry that that meets even the definition of overhauled to service limits, with the yellow tags and the accessories for $6k. Not even close. Grace’s Taylorcraft has a C-85 engine in it, and the parts alone to overhaul it correctly cost $8800 in 1999, and this did not include buying the engine nor any labor,  just the parts to overhaul it.

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The only C-85 you will find for $6K is one made of well used parts and a fresh paint job. That isn’t “Zero timed”.  The key words are “experimental only” and “no logs” when you see these engines for sale. That means they contain parts that are not legal for use on Certified planes. Such an engine will never make TBO, and if you are unlucky, it will break. When it does, you will then find out that many aircraft shops and mechanics will not touch your $6K engine. Ask any person who works in a FAA licensed repair station about having out of spec parts in the shop. When I ran the MT propeller repair station the FAA inspectors required all out of spec parts to be marked with a stamped X and kept in a locked room for condemned parts that only the director had keys to. If you have out of spec parts around, they might get into certified engines, and then the repair station gets it’s ticket pulled. That is why professional shops don’t work on junk.

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I like Continentals, and have a lot of time flying behind them. Their primary quality is reliability. but you only access this quality by spending top dollar to keep the engine the way that it was from the factory.  Anyone who thinks that you can have the reliability of a certified motor when you buy one that is advertised as “no logs” or “experimental only” is on drugs. You don’t get to have it both ways.   Continental’s reputation was not built on engines made of junk and spray painted. If the engine was just as reliable with out of spec parts, then they wouldn’t be out of spec would they?

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There are always people who argue that they have to have “a reliable certified engine” and that they will not fly auto engines. Then the first thing they do is go out and look for the cheapest collection of parts bolted together that are masquerading as a “certified”  engine. That behavior isn’t rational, but people who are compulsively cheap often are satisfied with the illusion of reliability instead of the real thing.

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Want to know who isn’t fooled by this? Our old friends Physics, Chemistry and Gravity. If the FAA considers the engine un-airworthy in a certified plane, it is just as un-airworthy in an experimental one. Physics, Chemistry and Gravity don’t care if the plane was built in a factory or your garage.  An engine built of out of spec parts doesn’t magically become airworthy when it is bolted on an experimental.

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So now, when you read something like this actual quote from the C-150 discussion group:

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“I have a recommendation for an excellent shop in Canada, with whom I’ve worked for 20 years. My O-200 was zero’d there few years ago, and I’m very happy with it. PM me if you like.

Pilot DAR”

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That the “pilot DAR” doesn’t know what he is speaking about, because you can’t get a zero timed Continental from anywhere but the factory, and the factory is 1,400 miles south of the Canadian border.

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There is some realistic advise on the net, for example the comment below:

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“You don’t really know until you open the engine up; a bum crankshaft can add thousands to the overhaul cost.  Figure on a bare minimum of $12,000 up to slightly over $20,000 depending on what you are doing and what comes up.  Remember the accessories are part of the cost and the old ones can be mostly good or all junk.”

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If you are building a Corvair and looked at Dan’s $2,200 new billet crankshaft and thought it is a good value, you are right. If someone thought that was expensive, they better not buy a worn out, undersized or previously prop struck Continental, because their new cranks cost a lot more than that, and don’t forget, they will have spent $6,000 on their ‘core’ engine, not the Corvair average of $200.

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Below is an advertisement for Don George, a respected, but fair priced FAA overhaul shop in central Florida. Note the fine print that says the core parts from the engine you already own must be reusable. If you had an engine with an “experimental only” crank in it, they would not accept it, and the price would be even higher:

Overhaul    Your Engines Price includes fuel system, magnetos, starter, new harness and spark plugs. Price is contingent on repairable crankcase, crankshaft and cylinders and    subject to applicable air worthiness directives and service bulletins.

O-200-A  (New Cylinders)

$15,818

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I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I think the internet is all bad. After years of having damage done by bull stories on the internet to my work with the Corvair, my new approach is to directly point out disinformation in hopes of getting people to recognize this type of story comes from people who are not an asset to home building.

Letter From S.R.B., Dick Otto, 601XL

Builders,

Dick Otto is our SRB (senior ranking builder, he was born in 1921). I profiled him in my story “Four Men,” about aviators I have known who fought in WWII. I opened up the mail and saw this note from Dick in the comment section, and thought it deserved it’s own story.

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The letter contains elements that almost every builder can relate to. Long standing dreams, family needs, the challenges of building, and how there are parts of your plane, touched by the hands of others, that are symbolic of the bonds between people. Dick may be our SRB, but in many ways, he is very much like the rest of us.

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In the letter Dick points out the support he gets from “Woody”, he is referring to Woody Harris, our “Man on the West Coast.” We have a good number of Zenith builders west of the Rockies, and Woody has met a great number of them and also assisted us with Corvair Colleges #11, #13 and #18. He is featured in my last story: Woody’s 2,850cc Corvair/601XL hits 400 hours.

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As I said in “Four Men” , Dick and the men of his era hold a special place at the top of the pantheon of Americans I respect. When you read Dick note it is easy to sense that he is still the head of his family, and engaged in life. Dick’s email is dickotto10@gmail.com , for you guys who would like to directly drop him a note.

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 Above, Dick and his 601XL with a running 2700/Dan bearing engine on the front. The picture is from last year during the first start. The plane is plans built. I refer to Dick as our “SRB.”

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From Dick Otto:

 ” About my comments about my purchases. My electric blanket that I purchased about 2 months ago made in China has decided to stop keeping me warm. It has a warranty so i will probably get replacement from the company (made in China). I am not a democrat or republican. I research the way the people running for office have voted on various subjects and then vote for the man that is doing his best for the good of our country. I have voted in every election since 1942 except for the time that I spent in the army in Europe and Manila.

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I soloed in a J3 Cub in 1938 when I was 17 and a senior in high school. The airport was a grass field in Elmhurst, Illinois. It cost me a whopping amount of $5.00 per hour. This was for the instructor, plane and fuel. I road my bike from Forest Park in good weather and in my 1928 model A Ford convertible in bad weather Looking at my log book which I still have I soloed after only 5-1/2hours of instruction. I only flew for about 7 hours more when after graduation I traveled to California to join my parents and sister. I then met my future wife and she did not care for airplanes. We were married for 60 plus years when she passed away in March of 2005.

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I was building a 20′X25′ shop at the end of my daughters and son-in-laws house at the time. I was going to build a boat. I finished the shop and decided to build an airplane instead. I had saved plans for the Gere bi-plane since 1938. But I bought plans for an Easy Eagle from Great plains. I had finished 8 ribs for the wing when my son-in-law came into the shop and asked where he was going to sit when we flew to Oshkosh. I then started looking for a two seat plane.

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I decided on the Zodiac 601 XL and found out there was a distributor in California. I attended a fly in at Cloverdale in 2007.  This is where I met Woody. I purchased the manual from him and the rudder kit from Quality Planes. The rest as they say is history.

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I am not spending as much time on the plane as I started out with but I am going to finish. When I finished the wings and then the upgrades my Grandson painted the left wing, both ailerons and both flaps. He had systic fibrosis and his condition took a bad turn for the worst. He lost his 33 year battle with the condition and passed away in March of 2012. I painted the right wing but it does not compare with my Grandsons wing.

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The fuselage and rear controls are ready for painting. The canopy is on but it needs a little more powerful struts. I have moved instruments on the panel, I had located the radios to close to my magnetic vertical compass. As soon as i rewire the moved instruments I will take it to my hanger at the Byron airport. When Woody started the engine there was not enough time to fine tune it. He said he would come to the airport and do this.  As soon as that is done I will put the wings on and connect every thing up. Hopefully sometime this summer I will have a DAR inspect it.”

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