FlyCorvair Operations Plan, June-December, 2015

Builders:

Here is a short series that gives a sharp look ahead, allowing our builders to plan their own path to achieving their goals in building and flying this year.

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Above, The builders who flew their Corvair powered planes to CC##30/The Zenith open House at Mexico MO; Shane and Phylis McDaniels (2,700/650B, MO), Lynn Dingfelder, (2,700/601XLB, PA), Dave Gardea (2,700/650B, IN) Ron Lendon (2,850 /601XLB, MI) and Pat and Mary Hoyt (2,700/601XLB with 650 canopy, MN). The picture above captures all 5 aircraft on the ramp in front of the Zenith Factory at The Mexico MO airport. The builders are standing between myself on one end and Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft on the other. In the Corvair movement,  we have many good times ahead, just like this. Corvairs are not for everyone, but if our strengths serve your goals, follow this story and make a plan to advance your goals in the company of fellow traditional Homebuilders. For those willing to get their hands dirty while they learn to master their own power plant, your place in the Arena is ready.

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Here is a four part series that will cover everything going on in the Corvair Movement in the next six months. The segments are in these groups:

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Events: Oshkosh, Colleges #34 and #35, and possible New England and California tours.

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Communications: The ZenVair and Pietvair discussion groups, better Email and Phone contacts

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Production and sources: New parts coming, best sources for parts, lead times on items, etc

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Overview of operations: A refined approach to serving builders,  what we will be doing in 2016, How this can serve your long term goals.

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I am going to cover these topics over the next few days. Some of it , such as the College #34 sign up are already on this site, but I am going to gather it here, all in one place to allow better planning and make sure no builder misses what is on the horizon. Stay tuned.

-ww.

Zen Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

Builders:

24 months ago, We started the ‘Zenvair’ information board, a place where we could collect and share a large database of information on Zenith aircraft powered by our Corvair Conversions. Initially, we restricted the participants to those with flying Corvair powered Zeniths, and Zenith builders who had reached the point where their engine had been run. The logic was to build up the data base with people with first hand experience, and those who had already been though our engine build process. This phase is now complete, and we have made the decision to open the membership to all Corvair- Zenith builders. The only requirement is they must have a Zenith kit or set of plans, and they must have a Conversion manual from us.

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Above, Phil Maxson with his Corvair powered 601 XL at Corvair College #24 in Barnwell SC. He has worked tirelessly as the moderator of our ‘Zenvair’ discussion group. Like our ‘PietVair’ group, the content is not secret, but it is private, available to group members only. Inside, the discussions are technical, but friendly. This is driven by the fact that there are no anonymous people, every single member has a profile and uses their real name. Many of the members already know each other from Corvair Colleges, and the groups reflect the positive attitudes of the Colleges. 

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If you are a Zenith Builder, you have one of our Conversion manuals and would like to be part of the discussion group,  please contact Phil or myself by email.  Signing up is simple and it is absolutely free. There are no costs nor ‘donations.’  Please be advised that if anyone contacts Phil with an email that says “Sign me up, I’m Flyboy26@gmail” they are not getting access, because all real builders are going to send an email that looks like “My name is Mike Smith, I am building a Zenith 650, Kit number 6524, and my corvair conversion manual is #9923, thanks.”

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Phil’s email is:    zenvairforum@gmail.com,

Mine is: WilliamTCA@aol.com

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Before anyone asks, The group is specifically for supporting our Corvair conversions, and therefore we don’t extend memberships to people who chose other engines or are stuck with engines from now defunct LLC’s.  This is nothing new, although I have been in business 26 years and know a lot about flight engines, builders understand  that I have a strict personal code of never offering advice on an engine or installation which I have not personally worked on.  The internet is full of “engine guru’s” who claim to be able to offer valid advice on any engine, not just ones they have worked on. In my book, that is not a morally nor logically defensible position. My work is just to share what I know from first hand proven experience. The subject of building and flying planes can have serious consequences, select those that would advise you carefully.

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To read the stories about the original formation of the Zenvair group, read these two links:

‘Zenvair’ Information board formed

and

‘Zenvair’ information board, part #2

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Above, Phil and I in my front yard the night we finished his 3,000 cc engine as an upgrade for his 601XL, which had flown on a 2700 engine since 2006. Phil is a pretty smart guy, but truth be told, it is his son who has the PhD in physics from Cornell. Phil just has the shirt.

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Piet Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

Builders:

Three weeks ago, we launched a private discussion group to specifically serve as a central location where builders of the Pietenpol / Corvair combination could share building and operational information, in a friendly setting. For builders working on the combination, we have a link on signing up at the bottom of this story.

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Moderator Terry Hand and I are impressed with the start, as it now has 65 members, 136 active threads, and more than 410 posts have been written on a great number of topics specific to the airframe engine combination.

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That is a pretty good start for a specifically defined small group in homebuilding. I attribute it to a combination of the Corvair movement attracting serious ‘Learn, build and fly’ people, and also the appeal of a group where everyone uses their real name and the tone is friendly. Here is a link to the original launch story: Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15 .

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Terry’s email is: pietvairforum@gmail.com,

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Bob Lester strikes the “Intrepid Aviator” pose with his Pietenpol.  He is good at this because he has seen every old aviation movie ever made. He built his 2,700/Weseman bearing engine at CC #17, and it has 290 hours in the plane now. Bob is now an active member of our ‘Pietvair’ group

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Who is the group for?   It is for builders who working on the Pietenpol Corvair combination, either one of our installations or one of the traditional Bernard Pietenpol arrangements. My definition of ‘working on’ means having a conversion manual from us and having a set of plans for the plane. This keeps the group focused on the specific topics, and means that 100% of the people are active builders, even if some of them are new or just in the planning stage. Having the plans identifies a person as a builder, different than all the people on the net who are “going to build something someday” There are countless websites for the latter people, Our Pietvair group is for the builders who are actively working on improving their aeronautical understanding and skill set.

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We have had a number of people to sign up who didn’t read the directions close enough:

1) You must be a Corvair guy, 2) You have to use your real actual name in the sign up, (Flyboy26@gmail isn’t OK)  3) you have to be focused on building a Pietenpol. If you are a Zenith builder, we have a different group for you:  ‘Zenvair’ Information board formed The sign up instructions are very detailed, but if you have any questions, you can directly contact the moderator Terry Hand, at Jarheadpilot82@gmail.com.

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What if I am putting a Continental A-65 or O-200 my Piet?  Continental Motors, Inc. has their own Piet/Continental discussion group their contact information is:- 2039 Broad Street Mobile, AL 36615 Phone: 251-438-3411 When calling ask to speak with Mr. Zhou Enlai, customer service director from the main office. He is a very helpful guy, his last name is pronounced “In -Lie”, but he goes by his first name pronounced “Cho”)

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How does this help me if I am not building that combination? Part of the greater purpose of the group, just like our Zenvair group, is to build a solid database of accessible proven information, and have builders available to share what they have learned. This greatly assists me by providing a river of good information to new builders, something which previously took a large amount of time for me to do individually. This allows more time for advanced support, R&D, production and testing. In this way, the groups directly support the builders of all Corvair powered airframes.

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A very detailed visual, step by step sign up instructions can be found here:

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https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-sW1jQ2-f5_MWRacWdnWWhUSEU/view

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(They are nearly computer-idiot proof, I tested them on myself. )

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Above,Randy Bush of TN. at Brodhead with Miss Le’Bec (it is a combination of his girls’ names). His aircraft was seven years in the making.  The most successful builders I know understand that hours spent in your own shop, creating things with your own hands, is a vital part of a worthwhile life. Learning to make things is a crucial investment in your own sanity. Does it surprise anyone that really happy people always have a way of being creative? The plane has more than 600 hours on it. Randy is one of the builders on our ‘Pietvair’ group sharing what he has learned from years of successful operation.

Terry Hand’s 2700 cc Pietenpol engine – w/Weseman 5th bearing

Builders,

Below is a good photo of Terry Hand’s Pietenpol engine. It is a 2700 cc Corvair with all of our gold systems, a Weseman 5th bearing, and our new 2400-L ultra light weight starter. ( 2400-L Starter ) Terry took the photo on our front lawn right after a test run on our stand. He came down a few days after Christmas and assembled the engine under my supervision. It ran perfectly. Like many of our builders, Terry has put in a significant effort to put back into the Corvair Movement. He Is the moderator on our new Pietenpol Corvair builder group, ( Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15 ) and he has done a lot of behind the scenes work on important projects like arranging support for Spencer Rice, our youngest Corvair builder. ( Spencer Rice’s ‘new’ engine and CC scolarship account ) Opening our shop to him for a few days at the end of the year was a mall gesture of thanks for his work.

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Above, Terry’s engine. Can you guess from the Color choice that Terry flew in the Marines? You can click on the photo to see a larger version.

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The interesting thing about Terry’s engine is its history: It flew about 100 hours with its original owner. A nice guy, but a poor match for Corvairs (or many other engines) because he didn’t want to do things like set the timing on the engine or follow much of my guidance or read things I wrote. The engine never quit on the guy but he did blow a head gasket, overheat it, and he ran it out of oil, twice,( on the same trip.) Unhappy with the engine he complained about it, ( and only later realized this undermined his ability to sell it.) I offered to assist him to correct the damage, but he declined, thinking that the problem was with the engine, not the operation. A few months later he sold the engine to Terry for a fraction of what he had in it, a fair value for an unloved engine, not running with a blown head gasket.  A few days of work, about $1,600 in repair parts and upgrades, and Terry now has the engine that will power his Pietenpol for years of reliable service. The difference? Terry understands that the issue was all in the mindset of the builder, and had nothing to do with the engine.

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Here is a link to a one minute video of the engine running on the test stand:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QVBRCKk5_E

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-ww.

Corvair College #33 – builders on video

Builders,

While he was enjoying Corvair College #33, Pietenpol builder Terry Hand, took a moment to interview several of the builders on hand for the college. It is an interesting cross section of builders using the Corvair in their homebuilt. Here is a link:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur4lTcaLfaI

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What kind of builders select a Corvair? The obvious answer that comes through is all different kinds, but if you listen to them, a common thread emerges of people who have considered the question carefully and made a plan of action. While we have many people who are very new to homebuilding and have never built any kind of engine before, we also have a number of aviators who have a lifetime of experience in flying, men who understand the qualities of a simple, reliable engine. Case in point, Builder Don Murphy, who is in the middle of the video. He is in his early 80s, finishing a Zenith, but he has a long personal history in aviation, dating back to flying Medivac Helicopters in both Korea and Vietnam.    -ww.

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Corvair College #33: Behind The Scenes

Builders:

Every college has a number of people who do great work to make it happen. I try to make sure we thank people for this, even if they are the kind of person who likes to give back quietly.  Shelley Tumino, the Co-host of CC #32, took care of the online sign up for #33, and supplied all the builder info in very useful spread sheets. This was the running start at a great event. The week before CC #33 saw a great deal of physical work for the event, and here is a glance at some of it.

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Above, Grace in our ‘Green office’, calling in catering for the event as if she was a FAC. She said “Nothing but the best sustenance for our builders” when ordering vats of BBQ. ScoobE is trying to dig a protest hole, as he normally is allowed run of our place without a harness nor leash. But he was not allowed to before the college because the right combination of temperature and rainfall brought out the spring festival of water moccasins. I spent half a box of 20 gauge shells on them in five days. during the rest of the summer we will only see about one a week or so, unless we have a flood like this: Let It Not Rain

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Above, Corvair/601XL pilot, and Corvair/Panther builder Lynn Dingfelder came down from Corry PA to spend the week before the college assisting. Without hurting anyone’s feelings, I am going to flat out say that Lynn is the most mechanically inclined and productive human I have ever met. He is very good company, but he really knows his way around tools and processes, and can think on his feet. If world war three was ever fought, I am pretty sure that Lynn could have re-stared civilization and gotten it back to the industrial revolution in 36 months. Sounds like a fun exaggeration, but if you know him, you know I am not kidding.

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Above is a photo of Cliff Rose from CC #19 with his engine. He was also on hand as part of the prep crew for #33. He is a Cleanex/Corvair builder from our area, known my the nickname “Death Row” because he actually worked on Florida’s death row for many years, giving basic health care to inmates there. You don’t meet people who have worked with 200 murderers very often. This is funny because Cliff is the most easygoing, relaxed non confrontational guy I know.

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When everyone is in the hangar, that is the only place ScoobE wants to be. He will not sit in the house alone quietly, but once in the middle with everyone, he will fall asleep. He is happy to sit in the dog bed for hours. That is his paw on the edge of the bed.

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Above, Terry Hand and Bob Lester at the college in front of Terry’s project Pietenpol. Terry came down a day early to help out with the prep work. The timing was good, he was fresh when we were in the home stretch.  The in person visit gave us a chance to cover the last detail of setting up the Piet Vair discussion group: Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15

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Above, Bob Lester stands in front of his Pietenpol, with Pietenpol builder Chuck Callahan on the right. Every college has a returning builder that really makes it work, and at #33, it was Bob’s chance to shine. He has had this Corvair Running since CC#17, but as far back as 2001, Bob had a Corvair in his KR-2. At College #33, he gave a great number of rides and treated everyone to some fun late night stories. He camped out at the college, for the fun of it, but he was also fine tuning his packing and equipment list, as he is planning on flying his Pietenpol to Brodhead WI for the annual gathering this July. -ww.

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Steel tube Pietenpol fuselage with landing gear and 12 x 4.8″ tires.

Builders,

Here is a look at Terry Hand’s Steel tube Piet project. The fuselage is an original short length, taken directly from the plans in the Flying and Glider manual.  We added several tubes to the right side to allow for a front door on that side.

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The gear is significantly lengthened from the plans, allowing the top longerons to sit at 12 degrees in the three point position. This is patterned after the gear we built for my Pietenpol in 1999, Which our demo pilot Gus Warren confirmed to allow the plane to be three pointed about 8 mph slower. This significantly shortens both the take off and the landing roll. The axle location is set for 1.5″ behind the leading edge, a location optimized for planes with brakes, suggested by Bernard Pietenpols work and writings in the 1960s. I have written extensively on our testing of Pietenpol CG’s, which covers the thinking behind this work: Pietenpol Weight and Balance project. You can get copies of the reports here:Pietenpol Weight and Balance article source

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The die spring gear is the same style we have put on a number of planes. You can read more here: New die spring landing gear on a Pietenpol, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  The gear, axles, and the die spring struts weighed 27 pounds for the pair. Because the gear is longer (which produces higher loads in the tubing), and we were planning on very robust construction, I opted to use the same size tubing as a late model Super Cub, and one size thicker wall. This is the same as my plane in 1999. I studied the charts on column bending limits in the back of Bruhn’s Analysis of Flight Vehicle Structures for a long time to make these choices. It is a minor weight penalty, for the gain in strength. Most Piet gear doesn’t have good enough welding on the end fittings, they are the week point, even on the standard gear. If you look at the ends we made in my shop, you will understand why I know we will get full strength potential of the increased strength tubing.

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The tires are 12 x 4.80″ trailer wheels. This is a project I have had in the back of my head for a long time. 13 years ago we had a Stits SA-7D Skycoupe as a test mule. It very successfully used 8 x 4.80″ tires. Look at these photos: 2,700cc-Skycoupe-2002 Photos. The 12″ wheels and tires are no where near as heavy as people suspect; the pair is 29.5 pounds. There is no question they are strong enough; the pair cost about $110; they have the same frontal area as a 6×6, but far less rolling resistance on rough ground. They will likely never wear out, but if they did, any town in America would have the replacement. Would you like to tow the plane home from the airport? There is no question on if the tires and wheel bearings are up for it. We are working on a lighter hub that incorporates a mechanical drum brake. Terry found a company that sells full moon hubcaps specifically for the 12″ trailer wheel. On the inside a 12″ pizza pan from the dollar store fit perfectly, and weighed only a few ounces. The concept is to offer an alternative to traditional spoked wheels, at a tiny fraction of the cost, with a very small weight penalty.

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Above, Terry hand stands with his fuselage at Corvair College #33. You can clearly see the pizza pan on the far wheel. We are sizing the drum brakes to fit entirely inside the pan. For height comparisons, Terry is about 6’2″.  He is the moderator of our new Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15. The motor mount is one of the ‘high thrust line’ mounts we make for Pietenpols. Read more here:Pietenpol Motor Mounts, P/N 4201(C)

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Above, the fuselage on the ramp in front of our hangar the day before. The added side tubes for the door are painted white. To see more about the structure, you can study the shadow on the concrete.

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Above, another angle, showing the die spring installation. It has spherical rod ends that thread in and out for perfect camber adjustments.

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Above, we added a pad for a modern 1.25″ tail wheel spring and modern tailwheel. I found them in the sun n fun flymart for $100. This will have far greater control than older designs, and it is full swiveling. This style installation gets the tailwheel horn in a position to be connected to the rudder horn, eliminating things like spliced cables. This also has a longer wheelbase. Note the little brace tubes to pick up the loads the front of the spring would otherwise introduce into the lower longerons.

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Above, the die spring cans. The oldest aircraft I have seen this layout on is a Plane built by Bernard Pietenpol in the 1960s. It is vastly better than any arrangement with the springs on the outside and slots milled into the tubes. Bungee cords hate heat and oil, and are subjected to this all the time in the traditional location. conversely dies springs are impervious to heat and actually like oil.

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Above, get a look at how the ends of the tubing have reinforcements and sockets made for them. I carefully made these on our milling machine, and then we TiG welded them on very carefully. I am 52, and have been welding continuously since I was 17; Vern is 62 and has been welding for a living since he was16. Between us, we have welded parts that have flown on several hundred planes from ultralights to F-14s.  I take every opportunity I can to share what we know about welding with those who want to learn. The same week we made this gear, a  person on the matronics Pietenpol internet list, with a mystery email name and no cited experience claimed that because it was Tig welded (like 99% of all aerospace structures today) it was absolutely “going to crack.”  If you are a new builder, learn this: That kind of person is the enemy of your success in building and flying, and that is why we have both the Zenvair and Pietvair private groups which are free of that kind of person. 26 years in experimental aviation has taught me that I can’t win arguing with people like that, and the solution is to have colleges and groups that are free of them, just made of people who want to understand, build and fly.

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Above, the 1 and 1/16″ axle. I bored it out on the lathe to lighten it. Axle cost: $10.50. The front plate is 1/8″ 4130. The long bolt is where the mounting/ pivot bolt for the spring strut goes. If there is anyone who thinks that this weld isn’t strong, or is somehow ‘brittle’, or could have been done to a higher quality with a gas welder, they are a victim of poor information.  If they convince you of this, you are allowing them to sabotage your dreams. Take your pick.

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Above, Terry’s project at Corvair College #33, with Bob Lester’s Pietenpol in the background.

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-ww.