Bearhawk LSA Engine Mount, P/N #4201-E

Builders,

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Last year we worked with Bob Barrows, designer of the Bearhawk series of aircraft to make a Corvair Engine mount for his LSA model. In our Catalog, this is part #4201-E. The story of making the mount can be found at this link: Corvair Motor Mount for Bearhawk LSA

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We built mount #1 on a factory welded fuselage. I knew that it would be a while before the first one sold, and it did this week, more than a year after we built it. Vern and I took the time to make a very heavy duty fixture off the mount before we sent it out. In the picture below, the mount is powder coated Haze Gray and the fixture is painted DD Alpine Green.

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I did a rough mental calculation and figured out between the 2 day trip to GA with the truck and trailer to make the first mount, the materials in it, and the shop time making the fixture, I have about $2,500 in mount #1 and the tooling. We have set the price on these mounts at $549.

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This is a good indication why most companies in experimental aviation fail: because the ownership are salesmen who can not physically make nor develop the products they wish to sell, thus they have to hire out every task, and they are often unable to tell if they were done correctly. Additionally they are often fixated on revenue, so they could never develop anything and wait a year to sell the first one. If you ever see a guy in a polo shirt at Oshkosh selling planes using financial buzz phrases like “return on investment” I will bet you 100 dollars to a doughnut his operation tanks in 36 months.

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In our case I am a home builder, a craftsman and an instructor at heart. Yes I sell things, but they are things that we developed and made ourselves. I can afford to work on R&D projects that will yield interesting, but not lucrative results; I can invest hundreds of yearly hours in free teaching; I can deficit spend on projects for months, or even years without having to answer to any investor. When an opportunity to work with a top notch designer like Bob Barrows comes up, my only thought is about what I can learn from the man, not how much money can be made.

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We are here for the long haul. The Bearhawk LSA is a great plane, and over time I hope a big number of them are Corvair powered. When these builders need mounts, we have the tooling and will gladly produce them. But for today, I am very happy to have #1 head out the door, and to have had a great opportunity to work side by side with Bob.

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As I handed over the mount at the post office counter I gave it one last look and wondered how many months it would be until I saw it again, at a College or Oshkosh, bolted on the front of the builders plane. -ww.

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kr2mountjig

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For further reading:

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

and

Bearhawk LSA, Corvair motor mount in development

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Above, Bob Grace and myself in our tent at Oshkosh 2013. Bob holds the distinction of having flown to every single Oshkosh, all 45 of them. All of his designs have been Continental or Lycoming powered. Opening the option for Corvair power to his LSA builders is a milestone in the Corvair movement.

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #5, Two Minute Test

Builders:

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If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.

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Absolute rule of flight testing #4, from the Corvair Flight Ops manual by ww, 2009,  Section 8, PG 70:

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“4) The plane must run perfectly at wide open throttle for at least two minutes at the climb out angle of attack with all of the flight systems, like the cowl, in place. There is no reason not to do this. If anyone objects, tell them to go away. If they are from the airport and they object, switch airports.”

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In the flight ops manual, I use the testing and first flight of Zenith N601LV as the case in point for the discussion of the two minute test. The aircraft was finished in our hangar that spring by Louis Kantor. Below is an excerpt from the manual:

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“We took the plane out and blocked it up at the climb out angle, and ran it for two solid minutes. We had already done the fuel flow tests for the FAA, but this was a running test. During the test, Louis tried in every way to get the engine to stumble by switching all four tanks and both ignitions and pumps. It did not let out even the slightest blip, and the temps were well within range despite no forward airspeed and an OAT of 95F.”

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Below are a series of photos from our main website. They trace the long flights and adventures Louis had in his 601XL in the summer and fall of 2009. All of this was done with zero maintenance issues, just oil changes. It all stems from conducting the two minute test by the side of the runway in front of our house. This is the reward for building an engine that 100% utilized the information we provide on Corvairs.

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Above is a photo of Vince Olson and Louis Kantor’s 601 XL N601LV sitting in our front yard just before its maiden flight from our airport, June of 2009. In the center is Grace’s Taylorcraft. On the right is Dan Weseman’s Wicked Cleanex, which functioned as the chase plane. There were no issues in the flight test period. The full 40 hours were flown off in 11 days.

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Vince, above left, and Louis, far right, just after the first flight. They had purchased their Zenith kit slightly less than five years before. Busy schedules and several moves around the country greatly extended the project calendar-timewise. In the end, the Golden Rule that Persistence Pays was the final factor. Working with myself, Dan Weseman and Grace, both above in blue shirts, and Chris Welsh, they planned and executed a flawless first flight. Dan and Grace flew the Cleanex as the chase plane. The information on how we conduct flights is detailed in the 2009 Flight Ops Manual, including a section written by Louis. Both Vince and Louis are airline pilots. Today hey have almost 30,000 hours between them, back then only 20,000 or so.

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A thorough post flight inspection revealed absolutely zero adjustments to be made. Their first flight is on You tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSadGnsvmFc. Their engine, above, is a 2,700cc Corvair that utilizes all of our Gold system components and a Group 3000 Weseman fifth bearing. The engine was finished at CC#10 at our old hangar in Edgewater FL.

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In our Booth at Oshkosh 2009, Zenith newsletter editor Jon Croke shoots a video interview with Vince center, and Louis, left, co-builders of N601LV, displayed in front of our booth all week at AirVenture. This was about 45 days after the first flight. It had about 60 hours on it. Louis flew it up from Florida. His first leg was non-stop from North Florida to Pittsburgh, Penn. This 5 hour and 58 minute non-stop flight burned 38 gallons of fuel. The engine required zero maintenance beyond oil changes.

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That October, Louis’s 601XL was the centerpiece of the Zenith Open House in Mexico MO. He was visiting friends near the Open House, but after the event, he left Mexico, Mo., and flew non-stop all the way back to Pittsburgh. His plane has the four-tank, 48-gallon system. Confident in the plane, he took off after the event at Zenith  at 5pm and flew into the night on his way home.

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In November 2009 Louis flew the plane down to Corvair College #16 in White Plains SC. Above, Louis arrives after a 4.5 hour direct flight from Pittsburgh. Notice how his custom “luggage” matches the paint job on his aircraft. This is the kind of touch that marks the professionalism of an airline pilot.

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This photo shows Louis a minute before his return flight to Pittsburgh. As a professional pilot, a real CFI, and holder of an ATP rating with 12,000 hours logged, Louis is a good source of technical information on the human aspects of flying. Although he put the 601XL up for sale last year, we are still friends, He and his Father Phil flew into out airport yesterday in Louis’s RV-7A, down to tour Florida. Phil owns a Corvair powered Sonex he bases in Pittsburgh. -ww.

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Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #6, 98% DNA not enough.

Builders:

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If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.

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“It is said that Humans and Chimpanzees have 98% of their DNA in common. That 2% wrote all the great works of literature, made all the great works of art, made every tool, created writing, went to the Moon, discovered DNA, is capable of incredible acts of kindness and also started all the wars mankind has ever fought. It is the important 1/50 of the total.

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Two nearly identical planes can have a two percent difference, one will be a reliable servant under all conditions, and the one that is lesser, by a small, but critical fraction, will not survive it’s first flight.

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When looking at a planes airworthiness, do not focus on the percentage of elements that are correct, solely examine the elements which are not. Accidents do not happen because a plane was 100% junk, they happen because 2% of it was not set correctly or up to the task. If this tiny part had been corrected, the laws of the universe would insure that the accident would not happen and the plane in question would offer service identical to the most reliable example. -ww.”

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Earlier this year, Zenith 601XL builder Ken Pavlou took his 2700cc Dan bearing equipped Corvair to his airport in Connecticut. His first flight can be described as ‘uneventful’ You can see it filmed in it’s entirety at this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK01KhG2CkE&feature=youtu.be. Since that flight, Ken had an uneventful 40 hour test period, and an uneventful round trip to Oshkosh 2014. It now has 145 hours on it, he trusts it enough to fly it at night, (Zenith 601XL flying at night, cockpit video.) and he is planning an Uneventful round trip this coming week to Corvair College #31 in Barnwell South Carolina.

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Last week, we had a builder with a plane that was roughly 98% identical to Ken’s destroy his aircraft on the first flight. That person ran his plane up and down the runway many times in something referred as a ‘Crow Hop.’  (Our flight Operations manual specifically states to never do this, as it leads into getting the plane in a position where it is too high to land on the remaining runway, forcing the pilot to make an unplanned flight. See note below.) The pilot did just this, got to tree top altitude and had a sudden loss of power, most likely from very high CHTs leading to detonation. He clipped a tree trying to fly a low pattern and destroyed the plane in the crash. Years of building for 120 seconds of flight.

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I exchanged a lot of email with the pilot. He bought the engine second hand, He was reluctant to buy a timing light and did a lot of ground runs without setting it, claiming that he didn’t need to because the original owner said it was once set by me in 2008. When he did check it, it was found to have a several hundred rpm split between A&B. (This is likely caused by someone re-gaping the points to .019″ something the instructions say not to do.) He ‘corrected’ this by resetting the E-side. He also had carb adjustment issues.

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He did this over a period of several weeks. He sent me a CHT graph print out of making 7 ‘crow hops’ down the runway with the throttle open for only 30-60 second intervals, which showed escalating CHT’s to 500F. I sent him a short Email including the comment “if I am reading your graph correctly, you have a cylinder running near 500F? that is far too high.” 48 hours later his plane was destroyed. For reasons he has not explained, he had a passenger in the plane on the first flight, something the FAA regards not just as poor judgment, but illegal. I asked him if he had done a two minute ground run test, but he did not respond. (see Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #5, Two Minute Test )

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By trying to go around, he was essentially running his first two minute test in the air, rather than on the ground. The mechanical things that made this plane different than Ken Pavlou’s are slight adjustments, something less than 2%. The man didn’t need to build a whole new engine, he just needed to slow down and correct some very small things, stuff that probably could have been done in one weekend. Had the pilot just stopped, and spent the time to correct these, the laws that govern the universe would have his airplane run exactly as Ken Pavlou’s does. Instead it is destroyed, and two people were hurt. This accident bears a striking similarity to this one, caused by the builder incorrectly reassembling his carb and then trying a ‘crow hop’: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place.

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The concept of correcting the 2% of things that are different from the recognized norm does not just apply to Corvair powered planes, or just to Experimentals.  When a mechanic does an annual on a certified plane, what he is essentially doing is looking for anything on the plane that deviates from the published limits for being in 100% compliance with the Type Certificate Data Sheet for that plane. When he corrects these “Discrepancies”, the plane is judged to be airworthy because the laws of the universe will make it behave just like any other correctly running example, because it has to, it is a machine, and it has no personality, and it has no option but to work.

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My experience on these events is that the only thing most aviators at his airport took away from seeing the results was that car engines are bad, and have no place in aircraft. I have been in this business 25 years. I have never come up with a way to salvage the reputation of our work in these instances. -ww

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Absolute rule of flight testing #5, from the Corvair Flight Ops manual by ww, 2009,  Section 8, PG 70:

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5) Making successive runs back and forth down the runway is a signal that the pilot doesn’t trust the plane. This often leads the pilot into “being forced to go around.” Anytime you read this type of a report, know that the real translation is “I didn’t have a plan, so I just ran up and down the runway until I got my courage up and brain suppressed, and I cast my fate to the wind.”

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Above, Ken with his plane on the flight line at Oshkosh.  All week, it was parked with Lynn Dingfelder’s 2700cc 601XL and Pat and Mary Hoyts 2700cc 601XL right behind our tent. The planes are clearly the work of individuals, but the engine installations have the essential common elements that make them Clones of what we have proven to work.

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I share this information through these resources:

Flycorvair.com (about 2,000 pages if printed – Free)

Flycorvair.net (589 stories of building, about 500,000 words – Free)

Our Conversion manual (Updated to 250 pages / 104,000 words –$69)

Our Zenith installation manual (About 125 pages –$39)

Our flight operations manual (86 pages, 1/2 on flight testing- $29)

Our peer to peer private information board for Zenith builders and pilots. ‘Zenvair’ Information board formed. ( Free)

Four Corvair Colleges per year.  ( Free)

I answer 4000-5000 Emails and phone calls on technical subjects every year. ( Free)

Appearances at numerous airshows to give technical forums and inspect any builders parts, even if I have to walk all the way to the parking lot after hours to do so. – (Free)

I have made more than 400 house calls (No one was ever charged)

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It is hard to suggest that I have not put a good effort to support builders who choose to work with the Corvair, yet many people who saw or heard about the most recent accident will conclude that the builder should have chosen a certified engine, somehow imagining that Continental, a company now owned by the Chinese government, somehow provides better direct service to homebuilders. I have had little success explaining to average EAA people that protection does not come from a little data plate, it comes from exercising good judgment and using available data from qualified sources. -ww.