Brand New 250 page 2014 Manual- Done

Builders,

I went to the print shop yesterday and picked up boxes of our new manual. This is a very large, entirely new Corvair Conversion manual I have been working on for 18 months.

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Rear view of a 3000 cc engine with mechanical fuel injection.

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It is based on the new numbering system that we introduced last year, It is much better organized than our previous manual. It has twice the page count, but it has a more compact font and smaller margins, yielding 3.5 times the content of the last manual, The word count is now 103,500. Every photo has a detailed caption, much of the book is in color, it has greatly expanded sections on installations and includes checklists and operations data.

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Grace has delayed mailing new manual orders that have come in recently to wait for this. If you bought a manual in the last 90 days we will get you a new one after Oshkosh for reduced cost. If you hold an older manual and would like to upgrade, just send us an email with “Manual upgrade” in the subject line and the number from the cover of your original manual please include your mailing address.  After Oshkosh we will send you a note about the cost of the upgrade before we ship it to you.

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New Builders can directly go to the manual link on our products page: http://www.flycorvair.com/manual.html to order their manual. We have raised the price to $69, from the $59 cost that we had on the last manual for 10 years.- ww.

 

 

On the road to Brodhead and Oshkosh 2014

Builders,

We are leaving to head north today. We will be at Brodhead WI late Friday and all day Saturday the 26th. The first day of Oshkosh is the 28th. The Last day is Sunday August 3rd.

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 We will be there in booth 616 in the North aircraft display area (where all homebuilt companies are) Right where we were the last several years.

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Our forum schedule: Oshkosh Corvair Forums – 2014

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Answers to common Oshkosh questions: 21 Days to Oshkosh 2014

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After Oshkosh we are detouring to NJ to visit with my Parents on the way back to Florida. I expect to be in NJ by August 6th, and back in the workshop in Florida by the 15th. That will give us 30 days to prep for Corvair College #30.

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While we are gone, It is almost certain that the shop answering machine on 904-529-0006 will fill up. As a much better alternative, please use our email: WilliamTCA@aol.com as a phone message location. Simply put “Phone Message” in the subject box and we will call you back from the road. Please include your phone number and a good time to call you. We will be swamped at Oshkosh, but I have a chance to return many calls while at my parents home.

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If you are planning on attending Corvair Colleges #30 or #31, please sign up before Oshkosh starts. Both of these events are more than half full, and in a few days at Oshkosh I expect that they will fill up. We have limited space in MO for #30, which restricts us to 70 builders. #31 at Barnwell can take 90 people, but that is also getting full. For  sign up info read this: Corvair College #30 and #31 sign up now open

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We hope to see as many of you as possible in the next few weeks. -ww.

Oshkosh Corvair Forums – 2014

Builders,

Here is a list of my forums on the Corvair at Airventure this year, Please also note that our booth is 616. For more information, please read this link:

21 Days to Oshkosh 2014

……(yes, I know it is no longer 21 days to Oshkosh.)

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2013, Above, Grace and ScoobE stand in front of the Arch, as we depart from my 20th Oshkosh.

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Tuesday, July 29

0830 – 0945 (8:30 AM – 9:45 AM)
Workshop Classroom 2


Wednesday, July 3o
0830 – 0945 (8:30 AM – 9:45 AM)
Forum 2

Saturday, August 2

Corvair Engines

1130 – 1245 (11:30 AM – 12:45 PM)

Workshop Classroom 3

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Zenith 601XL flying at night, cockpit video.

Builders:

The very impressive video linked to below is the work of 601XL-2,700cc Corvair builder and flyer Ken Pavlou, of Connecticut. He finished his plane barely 2 months ago, but now has 70 flawless hours on it. He is flying the plane to Oshkosh in 2 weeks.

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Left to right, Three Corvair powered Zenith 601XL’s. Ken Pavlou, Roger Pritchard and Louis Leung’s planes in a row. 

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The seven minute video of the flight can be found at this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afIoeM6tqTE .

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Pictured is Ken’s night landing at Groton – New London airport. The minutes approaching the airport were from the west over Niantic and Waterford. Ken told me the basic altitude was about 1000 feet and he was cruising at 115 mph indicated. You can also watch video of Ken’s first flight at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK01KhG2CkE&feature=youtu.be

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Stop and think about how many times you have heard someone tell you that auto engine were not reliable, and can’t be made to fly in planes. Look at Ken’s plane, think about it’s flawless performance, and realize that every blow hard that told you it wouldn’t work, simply didn’t know what he was talking about…..although that isn’t an impediment to them talking.

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Ken isn’t an A&P from a flying family dynasty. Quite the contrary, he is a registered nurse who grew up in Greece. Gravity physics and  chemistry don’t play favorites, they will work for anyone who plays by their rules, and this trio will provide total reliability for people who use good judgment and work with proven designs. Success identical to Ken’s is available to anyone who is willing to learn with an open mind, it is not reserved for ‘special’ people. Experience with aircraft only helps the builder with judgment and a plan, it will not provide success for, nor protect the person who will not listen, consider, and learn. This is, and will always remain, lesson #1 in homebuilding.

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More stories involving Ken, aka “Adonis”:

Zenvairs ruled the skies over the northeast!

New 601XL, 2,700 Corvair, Ken Pavlou CT.

Corvair College #30 and #31 sign up now open

CHT info taken from test flight of 601XL

Thought for the day: “Censorship” on the net

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The Bell Pietenpol, 3 generations of flyers

Builders:

I just read a note from Shad bell where he recounted flying one of his sons in the family Pietenpol today. Shad and his father Gary started the plane many years ago, got their Corvair Going at College#7 in Ohio, and have flew the plane from Ohio to Brodhead WI, for many years. But today is the first day flying for generation #3.

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I took a few minutes to comb through the files for a number of pictures of this plane. It is a special thing when a father and son share in the building and flying of a plane, but it is exceedingly rare that 3 generations get to share the spirit of building and flying. Hats off to the Bell family dynasty.

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Above, Shad and the Piet in flight. Aircraft is based in Ohio. It has made a number of appearances at Brodhead. Gary and Shad came to CC#7 to get started on their engine.

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Above, – 2008-  Brodhead, Wisconsin.  Gary on right,  his son Shad on the left. I am pretty sure this was the plane’s first trip to Brodhead.

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2009 – Gary Bell lounges like a King, above. I like the transition from the year before. When your Pietenpol flies to Brodhead, you’re on top of the world. When you pull it off two years in a row, you own the world.

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Above 2009 s a close-up of Shad Bell with the plane. The plane sports a Tennessee Prop.

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Above, A great afternoon at Brodhead WI, 2009. R to L, the Piets of Gary and Shad Bell , Kurt Shipman, Randy Bush, all Corvair powered.

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A 2011 photograph from Brodhead showing the Bell’s Pietenpol in the foreground. Behind it is Kevin Purtee’s aircraft from Texas, and the far slot is Dick Navratil’s Rotec radial powered Piet.

Above, 2013 – The Bell’s Pietenpol makes another trip back to Brodhead.   Randy Bush’s and Shad’s Air Campers joined Tom Brown’s Piet and Bill Knight’s Last Original at Brodhead this year. Some years at Brodhead draw more than 25 Pietenpols. 2013 was a light turnout, but Corvairs powered one-third of the Pietenpols on hand. -ww

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Great moments in aircraft testing -2003-2004-2008

Builders:

In two weeks we will be headed back to Oshkosh. Once there we will be surrounded by hundreds of companies that will all attest on a stack of Bibles that they have carefully tested all of their products to protect the safety of their customers. In with these people will be at least 30 companies selling engines. Every single one of these companies will tell you without blinking an eye that their engine power output numbers are the result of careful Dynomometer testing. Almost all (90%) of these companies are lying about this.

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Traditional dyno testing is expensive, and a bit of a production to adapt an aircraft engine to. To learn much, it requires hours of evaluation, and runs at different conditions. Any company that does this would be justified in taking a photo of this milestone in their company history…….except you can politely ask to see a photo of their engine on a dyno, and of course they will not be able to produce a single image of their engine running on a dyno. I actually had one company tell they had done 100 hours of testing, but had forgotten to take a single photo of it. In an era where nearly every human has a cell phone that is also a camera, please tell me who would believe this?

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There are many kinds of dynos. Basically they all apply a load to the engine, and then measure the equal and opposite torque reaction resisting this load. No Dyno measures HP; they measure torque. HP is a calculation based on torque and RPM. If you building a plane, you don’t need to know this, but ideally everyone selling engines would, (but they don’t). A real motor head, like yours truly, knows this stuff. Combine this with some basic fabrication, and “Taa Daa!” the $500 dyno. Our dyno used the prop to generate the load,  allowed the engine to rotate on it’s crank axis by using a front spindle from a Corvair car, and measure the torque with a hydraulic cylinder. Later we simplified it further with an electronic scale for measurement. Using a digital optical tach, the accuracy measuring HP was within 2%

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I didn’t invent this kind of dyno, it has been around a long time, pictures of them in 1960s Sport Aviation magazines. This isn’t even the simplest kind of dyno. In one old Sport Aviation there is a picture of a Corvair  hanging on a steel cable turning a prop, with a wooden arm touching a scale. Yes that works also. The pictures of our set up have been on our webpage for more than 10 years. It would be very easy for any company selling engines at Oshkosh to have built their own version. Easy, but not as easy as telling people they have hundred of hours of testing, but forgot to take any photos.

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2003- Above, Oil system testing at Spruce Creek airport, 2003. We were testing how much pressure loss the cooler had when the oil in it was cold soaked for an hour at 32F. Testing like this is serious business. Note that Gus Warren liked Becks Dark, and I liked Michelob. Lot’s of companies like to have the appearance that they test products: they put people in lab coats and have them make scientific faces.  I don’t care for appearances, I just want results, and the picture shows we drank beer while we let the oil cool off. I can put on a lab coat a lot faster than a salesman can become a motor head and teach builders anything valuable.

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2004- Above, an O-200 on our dynamomemter; test crew from left to right, above: Gus Warren, Detroit Institute of Aeronautics, A&P 1990; Steve Upson, Northrop University, A&P 1976; yours truly, William Wynne, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, A&P 1991. While the way we dress may be slow to catch on in high fashion circles, we certainly know our stuff about all types of aircraft powerplants.

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2008- Above, Kevin and I are standing on my front yard, wearing jackets. We were waiting just before sunset for a rare weather phenomena to occur: a perfect standard day of 59F 50% relative humidity and a pressure of 29.92. Any time you read a dyno report and it says “corrected horsepower,” they’re making a calculation, sometimes accurate and sometimes not, to adjust for their test conditions not being at standard atmosphere. Because we live in Florida near sea level, there was actually  three occasions in four years when these conditions were met on testing days, and all our results we calibrated against these standards.

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How you can build a Dyno for $500 if you know how they work and you can weld:

Dynamometer testing the Corvair and O-200

A page devoted to all kinds of testing:

Testing and Data Collection reference page

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A sample of stories….

Builders:

This webpage now has more than 550 stories, here is a sample of older stories that you may have missed. here is a reminder of 6 of them. If you would like to see a list if 200 of the stories in categories, click on this link: 200 Stories of aircraft building. Below, just click on the colored ling to read the story.

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On flying planes: New Pietenpol, Gary Boothe, Cool, Calif.

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Above, Gary’s Piet at its first public display.

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On Engines: World’s Strongest 3,000cc Corvair, built by Greg Crouchley

“At first glance you might not see the inner motor head. Greg’s normal stomping ground is in international manufacturing, and I have never seen him without a collared shirt on, even when he was building his engine at Corvair College #24.  But this is camouflage for a guy who has a long background of getting his hands dirty.” 

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On Installation components: Fuel Injection – Corvair flight engines reference page

“If I were to pick a single topic that new builders are interested in, but know little about the applications of, It would be Fuel Injection. This is a topic dominated by misconceptions and myths.”

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On Philosophy: James Stockdale – Philosophy

“Although I have read the biographies of several hundred aviators in the past 25 years, I can say without hesitation that James Stockdale had the most impressive personal code of all.”

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On Risk management: “If only someone had told him……”

” In almost every case, the unfortunate person at the center had been told, often previously warned more than once, but they chose to ignore the warnings or discount them for reasons that frequently seem hard to remember after the damage is done. It is not the lack of information, but the willful choice to ignore it that is at the root of trouble.

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On Operations: Notes on Corvair flight engine oils.

“If a builder spends many hours talking about super special oils, and how they can fix everything in your life including your 401K,  and later comes to a college but has no idea how to install a distributor and set timing, I am going to tease him about spending a lot of time thinking about synthetic oil, an answer in search of a valid question,  when he needed to be reading about the fundamentals of his engine.”

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On Aviators: Robert Hedrix, Aviator, Nha Trang, 1975

“If you are reading this, and you are producing a plane with your own hands, then you are in the arena of flight. You will know it’s great challenges and rewards. You will struggle to make it right, to learn, to keep going when most others quit; You will feel fear, and overcome it before your first take off. The hours you spend aloft in your own creation will mark special days in your life long remembered when most are forgotten. Homebuilt planes can be very modest, but they are direct access to the human endeavor of flight, and through it you can understand some kinship with a man who’s “crowded hour” in the arena of flight came in April of 1975.”

Above is the image, published in 1975. Hedrix was not identified until 10 years later.

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Questions from potential builders:

Builders,

Here are some questions that came in as comments on other stories:

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Frank Stephenson writes:

“While there will be many different results, I am wondering what the average time before overhaul may be. Also what are we looking at cost wise for one of these engines and the average cost of an engine mount? I am considering selling my current conventional geared C-172 with a C-O300B engine and buying or building something a bit smaller and more efficient. I really don’t know anything about Corvair engines other than I know of several folks who have utilized them, but I don’t really know anything about their results. I have found, in general, that automotive engines don’t make really good aircraft engines, but some VW engines I have known of are an exception and apparently the Corvair engines may be an exception.”

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Frank, the minimum time between overhauls on a well built engine is 1,500 hours. Ten years ago we listed 1,000 hours as a very conservative figure, since then, improvements like using valve rotators have driven the life span up significantly. The Overhaul cost on the engine is very low, on the order of $2,000 to replace almost all moving parts or recondition them. You can lean more at this link: Basic Corvair information I understand that many automotive engine engines have a poor record, but I have been doing this for 25 years, and we have earned an excellent one. You can read this link: Planes flying on Corvair Power, and see many examples. For the cost of motor mounts, just look at out catalog,http://www.flycorvair.com/, and page down to Group 4200, it lists the price of every mount we make.

I know VW engines have worked for many people, but I will put the track record for reliability, power and TBO of our work with Corvairs against any VW based engine. There is a lot of information on our main webpage, http://www.flycorvair.com/. I understand that it looks overwhelming, but better too much than to little.

Here is an important point: I don’t think efficiency is a good enough reason to move to homebuilding. Lets say your Cessna does 110mph on 8 gallons an hour. There are several Corvair powered planes that can do that on 5 gallons an hour, even some on 3 gallons an hour. But even if you were to cut your fuel costs on flying 200 hours a year from $8,000 to $4,000 per year, I don’t think it is enough motivation to send a guy to the shop for 1,500 building hours. The only people that consistently succeed at homebuilding are the people who inherently would rather fly something the personally built, and people motivate by the desire to learn new skills. I have met very few people motivated just to fly less expensively who thought in the long run that homebuilding was worth it. Consider this carefully, you may have a better time staying airborne in the plane you have.

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Steve Spears

“Sir, I am currently building a RW26 Special ll and I would like to use the Corvair engine. However, some people are telling me that it is to heavy for the aircraft. What are your thoughts and do you know of anyone who has used a Corvair engine in the Rag Wing aircraft? I read what you wrote about the Pietenpol and am encouraged that I can use the engine”

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Steve, I looked at this pretty closely for an hour the other night. I tend to think that a Corvair is too big to the R-26. The 912 appears to be as large an engine as people use. Several of Rodger Mann’s designs have flown with Corvairs, but I wouldn’t call any of them an ideal match. I am guessing that a Rotax 503 is really the optimum engine for many of his designs. For a comparison of how heavy duty a Pietenpol is built, the longerons in the fuselage are one inch square spruce from the firewall to the tail post. I am pretty sure the R-26 is lighter than that.

For any plane that you are wondering about Corvair power for, the best rule of thumb is asking if the same plane has flown with a Continental o-200. If it has, a Corvair will always work in it. For a comparison of the two engines look at this link:Corvair vs O-200….weight comparison and this one:Dynamometer testing the Corvair and O-200. We also have a lot of info on comparisons to 912s at this link: Testing and Data Collection reference page.  -ww.

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21 Days to Oshkosh 2014

Builders,

Just 21 Days until Oshkosh 2014. As always, we will be there in booth 616 in the North aircraft display area (where all homebuilt companies are) I always have people ask the same questions, so here are the answers that you can always count on:

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Are you going to Oshkosh?

Yes, I always do, I go every year, I am there the whole week, I am always in the North Aircraft display area. I have not missed a year since 2001, and I only missed that year because I was in the hospital in critical condition, on a ventilator. Until you read my obituary, and have it confirmed by two independent sources, you can count on me going to Oshkosh, I am planning on being there the next 20 years.

Will you have manuals and parts to sell?

Yes, we will have most of our catalog of parts on hand to sell.  It is fun to go to Airventure, but the booth costs the better part of $3,000 for the week and we have about $1,500 in travel expenses. We are there to meet friends and talk about planes and engines, but primarily I am there to do business and sell parts.

Will you be giving forums?

Yes, I have done so 19 our of the last 20 years. (see “on a ventilator” above). You can just check the program for the forum times and dates. Look under all titles, William Wynne, Flycorvair and Corvair engines. Compared to any other airshow, Oshkosh has excellent forums run by their chairman Mark Forss. Over the years I have given more than 75 forums at Airventure, they are well attended and lively.

Will you look at my core engine? Can I drop of core parts with you?

Yes, I do after hours parking lot tours, and we have a hand truck and a cart you can borrow to move any part or engine. Bring it, we will make it happen, I llok at 20 engines during Oshkosh. It is a good way to confirm you are on the right track, or make a plan for the next college.

Can people come to your booth and say negative, pessimistic things about politics, America, the world and the future?

Yes, but they will not get to the end of their first sentence. For people who watch too much tv news, I gently remind them that being at the greatest airshow in the world, among friends. on a sunny day in a free country makes ‘the sky is falling’ a tough sell, and it makes them sound like Eeyore the negative donkey from Winnie the Pooh. We have too many good things to cover to waste time on negative talk.

 In 10 years I have had 4 people test the theory that they paid to be at Airventure and they can stand any place, say anything they like and be as offensive as they like. What they all learned is that I am leasing the spot, and I didn’t drive 1,300 miles and spend $750 a day to be tolerant of very poorly behaved people. I know that real builders didn’t drive to Oshkosh to hear it either. Other business tolerate poorly behaved people, I have limits. Count on our booth to be an oasis of positive ideas and attitudes.

Is it really true that you made 3 young men apologize for talking during the National Anthem?

Yes, but they were not just speaking by accident, they were jerks standing just outside my booth in 2005, loudly yammering in four letter words on their cell phones during the Anthem. Each of them were bigger than me, but they were smug, about 20, very well dressed, and had evidently never been called on the carpet to answer for stupid behavior. They quickly understood that the choice was to offer a genuine apology to people within earshot, or suffer the embarrassment of having a middle aged guy with a ponytail kick their ass in front of their girlfriends.  I have since been through mildly successful voluntary anger management training, but I would probably still fail under the same conditions. I know some of my old friends thought the moment was ‘classic’, but I not really proud of it.

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Read about last year at this link:

Brodhead, Oshkosh and Beyond 2013

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Related stories:

Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

comments from Corvair builders:

Mail Sack 6/25/13, Cell Phones and Upcoming Events.

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Tammy Duckworth, above center, and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey, left, with the Corvair All Stars at our booth at AirVenture 2009. From the right, Mark Petniunas from Falcon Machine, Dan Weseman from Fly5thBearing.com, my wife Grace Ellen, myself, and Roy Szarafinski from Roy’s Garage. Tammy and Bryan are old friends. Tammy had recently accepted a post as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

carbs, mags and certified engines

Builders, I wrote the comments below to address a guy who put a 65 continental on a new homebuilt, rebuilt the carb himself, and couldn’t make it even slightly hint of running in two hours of hand propping. The man was not a mechanic, never built a plane before, and had never soloed a plane. He went on a net discussion group to ask others how to start his plane, and got some advice on starter fluid. the comment below was to hopefully get some builders to look at the bigger picture, that reliability isn’t cast into the metal of certified engines, it is in the attitudes and decision making of the people working on and flying them.

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I have been an light aircraft mechanic in Florida for a long time. One of inspection tasks that is occasionally done is looking over a single engine plane before it flies to the Bahamas. The gap from West Palm to West End is 56 miles, and smart pilots, particularly those renting, get another set of eyes on the plane before they stick their family in it. When given 30 minutes to evaluate a certified engine’s condition on the ramp, my focus is on the Mags and the Carb, as there two are the most likely sources of taking a swim. A slightly low compression cylinder is not the same trouble as a failed mag on a 95 degree day with four people in a C-172. If the Mags and the carb are working perfectly, odds of other trouble are quite low. The slightest hint of issue from either is a good reason to delay the trip.
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The exact same logic applies to Experimentals, and I can make a statistical case that flying the 40 hours on a new homebuilt, even one with a certified engine, is greater risk than flying for a week in the Bahamas. If a neighbor chose an A-65 Continental for his newly built Pietenpol, I wouldn’t be concerned that the basic engine had 800 hrs. on it. If it has consistent oil pressure. it is not likely to throw a rod, but I would advise him to stack the deck in his favor and make absolutely sure that he had a perfect Carb and Mags on it, as they are the likely source of any issue.
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When looking at the O-320 headed to the islands, I look at the logs to make sure that the last people who touched the mags and carb were in a repair station, or the factory. After visual inspection for leaks and security, I run the engine to full power and try to make it misbehave with the throttle and mixture. A critical test is full static power and slightly leaning must show an rpm increase. Carb heat must work, and cutting off the fuel and letting it idle must cause a 25-50 rpm rise before it quits. Engine must idle as solid as a rock. Turn the prop and feel for low compression and listen for impulses to click at the same time. The 1/2″ nuts holding the mags are checked for torque. Hands on mags to make sure they are secure. Leads traced to look for cuts, every 3/4 nut checked. Engine is started and the key is messed with to make sure a worn switch will not short. The run up is performed with the engine heat soaked, because mags have trouble when they are hot, not cold. Zero tolerance outside of limits on mag drop. The goal is to find the circumstances in which it misbehaves, not to show that it runs ok. Any discrepancy on mags or Carb, even one that is hard to quantify, is cause for the delay of the trip. If I bring any issue to the pilots attention and he responds with a variation on “It will be alright” I never fly with him nor work for him again. I am not a cat, I don’t have 9 lives.

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If a newly finished home built has a used certified engine on it, and the builder is having trouble starting it, odds are the trouble is with the Mags or the carb. If it is stored in a reasonably dry place, a piston in a bore can happily wait 20 years to be re-stared, but the points in mags don’t like this and carbs don’t like fuel, especially auto fuel evaporating from them. (The sole common exception to the mags-carb rule is the camshafts on Lycomings left to sit often corrode and if the engine is run without correcting this the grind the lobes off in a few hours and pump the metal through the oil system.) A homebuilder is allowed to fix his own carb and mags if they need attention, and there are manuals and parts lists on the net, but I can make a case that this isn’t always smart.

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Looking at the carb: aircraft carbs are deceptively simple, and they look far easier to rebuild than a four barrel. Here is the hidden issue: Many carbs on engines for home builts are 60 years old and have had long periods of inactivity, previous owners mix and match parts, and people who like to drill out jets. A skilled guy in a FAA fuel system repair station can spot all of these, but a homebuilder is likely blind to them. I like aircraft carbs, and I teach people to use them after sending them to a professional. Maybe 3 of 10 NAS3’s or MA3’s sold at fly marts have mix and match parts inside. Hard starting is not the worst thing about poorly tuned carbs. First, a carb that is set too lean or has a malfunctioning enrichment circuit will damage the engine in flight. Second, ones that don’t run smooth will often quit at idle. Put this on a hand prop plane and combine it with the fact that many pilots don’t fly every pattern power off, and the new homebuilt ends up 100 yards short of the runway threshold. For more info on carbs, look at this link: http://flycorvair.net/2013/12/03/carburetor-reference-page/

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I do not trust mags that have no logs, were repaired by amateurs, or have had a decade with no inspection of any kind. My neighbor owned a Mag test bench that could run all brands and evaluate them with proper loads on the leads, a tool you find in a Mag repair station. He just sold it on Ebay and got $4,000 for it. If it was actually possible to properly evaluate, repair, overhaul and test aircraft mags without this tool, then it would not be possible to sell it for $4,000. It is legal for a homebuilder to ‘repair’ his own mags, but no rational person who make the argument that a first time amateur without the test device could do as good a job as a professional with the correct equipment.
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Now lets think about a new Pietenpol getting ready for it’s first flight: Plane is built by a nice guy, but planes are a hobby, not a career. A tech counselor looked at it, but that man’s experience was building one RV-6A, and all his “looks good” offered was a false sense of security. It passes the FAA exam, with a DAR that charges $400 but didn’t even ask to see it run. The plane is out of rig, but no one knows this yet. The low time pilot’s time in type is two trips around the pattern at Brodhead. He got 3 hours of tail wheel in a Cessna 170, (a plane that could land itself) but he was not allowed to solo it. The pilot has never flown anything that has the short glide ratio of a Piet. At his last Biennial the CFI allowed him to drag the 152 in with power and plop it down on the runway. He is nervous enough even without the video cameras, but there is a growing group of spectators adding pressure. Under these conditions, does it sound smart that he is also flying the first aircraft carb that he has ever ‘rebuilt’?
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A small continental is an easy engine to troubleshoot if you are trained on them. This training can come in many forms, but the most effective is learning them in person, from someone who knows them. Theoretically you could learn to fly by reading a book, but everyone understands that in person flight training works. I only make the same point with maintenance, that instruction is best, person to person. On a relative scale, making one run that is reluctant to start is very easy compared to doing an airworthy job overhauling a carb or a mag without specific tools or training. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about this, but what ever difference in opinion is, the wager riding on the opinion is the same, the whole value of the plane and the lives of the people in it. Place your bet carefully.
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I like Continentals, and have a lot of time flying behind them. Their primary quality is reliability. This well earned reputation was made seven decades ago, when homebuilding was still illegal in the US. The Continental reputation was built on relatively new engines, installed at factories, and maintained by trained, licensed A&E mechanics, in a era where people had longer attention spans. Seventy years later, anyone expecting that the same reputation magically lives in the metal is deluding themselves. To get the same results, you have to get as close to the original format as possible. But the issue is that the parts can be old, the details of the installation on a homebuilt can be weak, and the guy working on the carb may have never built one before. Is the issue beginning to make some sense?
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To even get close to the original reliability, One must spend some money on parts, the used parts must have a history and be within limits, and critical items like mags and the carb should be done or at least checked by a repair station. You can choose to do otherwise, but it is not possible to then argue that you can expect the full reputation for reliability. 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 mistaken. 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, made of out of spec parts. That behavior isn’t rational, but people who are compulsively cheap often are satisfied with the illusion of reliability instead of the real thing. 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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I am an Embry-Riddle trained A&P with 24 years of continuous work on light aircraft. I am qualified to work on virtually any part in GA planes, but that doesn’t mean I am reluctant to hire other mechanics with greater experience and better tooling. When the right mag had excessive drop on the C-85 in my wife’s Taylorcraft, I could have replaced the cracked coil myself, but instead I took both mags to a repair station and waited while they were overhauled. In the last 10 years we have finished several home builts, and I could have overhauled each of the carbs myself, but I elected to send them all to a certified repair station. The difference between ‘fixed’ and ‘Yellow tagged’ is often hundreds of dollars. It sounds like a lot of money until you have lived through two plane crashes and attended a few funerals. 90% of the people reading this make more money than I do, and 95% have less experience with aircraft engines. If those people are trying to save money by fixing a mag or a carb themselves, when I would send the same part out, they should rethink that plan.

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My known specialty is training amateurs to build aircraft engines for experimental aircraft. It doesn’t matter that the hardware is mostly Chevrolet and not Continental, It isn’t about metal, it is about the capacity of builders to learn, and I am not speaking of turning wrenches, I am speaking of learning to make good decisions in a very unforgiving environment. No one has to agree with my perspective, but I have been doing this for long enough, with enough homebuilders that it is worth considering carefully. Homebuilding, including building engines, can be done with reasonably low risk, but only when the builder makes good decisions. -ww