At Corvair College #31, one of the builders on hand brought an engine he had waited 5 years for. He had originally ordered it in 2009 from a Washington state outfit named “Magnificent Machine LLC”. They have long been bankrupt, but the former owner tried to make ‘good’ on a $10,000 paid order. When the engine came to the college, I got a good look at it, and even called the builder, to ask questions about it. To cut to the chase, the engine is junk, it might have $1,000 in useable parts in it. It was a long time to wait and a lot to spend on trash.
Above, a simple shot of the head of the engine in question. Can you instantly spot the issue? Yes, the motor has junk lock nuts on the valve train and no exhaust rotators, but that isn’t the big one. Look at the top of the push rod tubes: see how the flat guide plate is crushing the top of the push rod tube? This head actually had over 1/8″ milled out of the head gasket area, so much that the pushrod tubes no longer fit, and the rocker arm geometry is a mile off. This will destroy the guides in short order; the compression ratio on this engine is far too high; it can’t even have simple future maintenance such as a heli-coil put in a spark plug hole ever. I spotted this because the engine only had 6 fins on the head instead of 7. The heads were junk anyway because the intake logs were milled off for a dubious special intake that ‘looked cool’ but had no actual testing or logic. The builder told me the engine was run for a few minutes, but confessed it was plagued with oil leaks. He didn’t see that they were from the push rod tube O-rings no longer contacting the correct part of the head.
The engine had many other issues. The cylinders were not bored on a boring bar, they were clamped in a lathe, and cut with a fixed tool. No rational person would do that. The crank was nitrided at a shop with no magnflux equipment. It had no harmonic balancer; it had a starter on the back of the engine which loads the rear of the crank. And that is just what I could see looking at the outside and under one valve cover for 4 minutes.
The builder’s name is Brady McCormick. I do not critique the man without knowing him. I held a Jr College at his shop in Paulsbo WA in 2009. I was friendly with him and had him at CC#13. I have stayed at his house before. Brady had ambitions of being a major player in Corvairs, but he actually didn’t know much about planes nor automotive engines. He had never built a plane, had never had a single hour of A&P training, was not a pilot, had no significant flight experience, had never soloed a plane, had a weak high school understanding of physics and chemistry, and he had never rebuilt engines nor been employed in the automotive world. He actually didn’t understand the extent of things he didn’t understand.
After the Jr. College I met with Brady and his father. Brady was close to broke, and they appeared to be open to ideas. I and counseled him to stop trying to ‘develop’ new ideas, such as their own 5th bearing and just work toward becoming a west coast build center that worked with proven ideas. I pointed out that I had my own flight proven 5th bearing design, yet I build motors with Weseman bearings. Brady listened with folded arms and said he could design better things than anyone, this in spite of the fact my visit had revealed he had not yet built one single running engine. His wager on this turned out to be his company, his house, marriage and his fathers savings. He lost.
Below is a picture of the final phase of Brady’s attempt to be recognized in Corvairs, and to prove that my values of education, testing, quality control and simplicity were antiquated and stupid. One of the elements of this phase is his attempt to bring Chinese cranks to the market, with no testing. To read how the very first one failed, read this link: Chinese Crankshafts
Above is a 2011 photo from the Zenith Builders site. It is an engine that Brady built for a guy, (it was not Brady’s plane, he didn’t have one.) Many people were impressed, thought of this as something great. It never flew nor ran. Bray was a good welder and a fair machinist, and could make things that looked good to amateurs. Problem is that planes need to be good not look good. To people who don’t know better, this is impressive. If you understand modern EFI, this is wired like a Christmas train set, has no redundant ignition, and no design in airflow. More practically, this engine has no harmonic balancer, no cooling baffles, no Safety Shaft, and the big one, no 5th bearing.
Below are a sample of the comments from other Zenith builders that the above photo brought out on the Zenith site. This is a good lesson: Many new builders without appreciable experience in aviation think that they can read websites and make valid evaluations of products, like they were reading a copy of consumer reports. I am sorry if this offends, but it doesn’t work that way in aviation. It is a highly technical subject, and the same way that Brady didn’t have the experience to make the stuff, the people below didn’t have a clue about that they were complementing. When I collected the comments, I took a few minutes to look at the pages of each of the commenters. None of them ever finished their plane. Want to avoid ending up in the same boat? Focus your time, attention and funds on proven products from people who value education, testing and quality control. -ww.
If you would like to learn more about how fuel injection is actually done, and see it on running Corvair flight engines, read this: Fuel Injection – Corvair flight engines reference page
Comment by Greg Walsh on February 15, 2011 at 4:05pm
Beautiful looking installation. What is the total engine (FF) weight??
Comment by Andre Levesque on January 28, 2011 at 2:44pm
- Hi Brady !I have been on your site many times. Beatiful work…. Just didn’t realize it was you -:)Now I understand the cleanness of your install….you’re a PRO.So nice to see craftmanship. It Keeps us inspired -:) and standards to adhere to….LOL
Comment by Brady McCormick on January 27, 2011 at 11:26am
- Thanks 🙂 I Like to keep things clean. :)Steven: you can check out my website for more info if you like? www.magnificentmachine.comI build parts & engines. 🙂
Comment by Jesse Hartman on January 27, 2011 at 10:39am
That is seeeeexxxxyyyyyyy
Comment by STEVEN and TARA SMITH on January 26, 2011 at 8:10pm
Hi Brady. I have been trying to find how to build a corvair with a rear flywheel like yours. please send me in the right direction. Your airplane is gorgeous.
6 Replies to ““Beautiful” Garbage from a bankrupt source”
It amazes me that there are still homebuilders that prefer flash over substance. When I built my engines, I wanted the strongest and most proven Corvair flight engines possible. I built them using all of your (and Dan & Mark) parts and knowledge that you have accumulated over years of flight testing Corvair engines. I don’t want to sound like I’m suppressing the spirit of homebuilding…by the nature of my project, I’m not! I just think that people need to get their priorities in order. Build the best mechanically sound engine possible…it can look good too!
I guess I haven’t been keeping up very well but what are exhaust rotators I assume I don’t have them as Mark did my heads in early 2009. How worried should I be? David
They are important. They will greatly extend exhaust valve life when running on 100LL fuel. You can call mark and ask him the exact month he started putting them on heads, but it is nearly 5 years ago. At the last 10 colleges we have demonstrated how they are retrofitted to engines without taking the heads off. Searching the words exhaust rotator on this site turns up lost of stories about them such as “Corvair College #28, San Marcos, Texas”. Their complete description is in the group 1500 of the new manual. -ww.
Thanks William for the info! Do you use the sealed power rotators or another brand. Also when you have them I would be interested in the adjustable oil pressure springs you are working on as mine cruises at about 37 PSI so it looks like it needs a little boost. You can answer this to me direct e-mail Thanks Again! – dmc
Sad story. What a hard way to learn. Bright, but shallow, ideas are super dangerous. I see no point in attempting to ‘out think’ you…who would? Why? I get the idea of reliability first, second, and third…other stuff after. I just keep reading the Manual. And I know when I actually start planning and putting an actual engine together, I will have a 100 or so moments of, “Oh, THAT’s why I need to do it that way!’ And I will, to the best of my ability.
I remember this guys website from when I first got interested in using a Corvair for my next project. It seemed like he had a lot of “Great” products to offer but there was a lack of information indicating that these new products had any history of successful testing behind them. Overall I found the FlyCorvair website much more informative and credible so I have my own engine now complete with every part in the Gold series, a Dan 5th bearing and Falcon heads. That is an engine I can hang on the front on my project and not have to worry about the reliability of untested components.