I got a quick note and a link to this video from Jim Tomaszewski, about the first engine run on the wing of his Corvair powered twin, The “JAG-2” :
“Hi William & Grace (ScoobE too), Here is a video of my first engine run of my right engine on the airframe. I hope to have the left engine running also by next week. I will then be checking the timing at WOT. The Ellison runs very well.”
Above, a Corvair College #31 photo of Jim and Ginger with their engines twin 3,000 cc Corvairs, first class motors with Weseman billet cranks and 5th bearings. The engines use all of our parts, including 2400-L ultra lightweight starters.
In the 1960’s any American who expressed any distrust of the government, even a part of it like J. Edgar Hoover, was instantly labeled a subversive or communist, and publicly marginalized. Today, the pendulum has come full swing, and a significant and vocal number of people consider anyone with any trust in any act of civil government to be a lackey and dupe. It is ironic that that these extremists often ignore the fact they went to public schools, drive on federal highways, fly on FAA regulated planes, eat food made to FDA standards, work 40 hour weeks, enjoy national parks and appreciate things like the internet, the P-51, the Jeep and the .30-06, (which all have their origins in the US civil government). The government isn’t perfect nor efficient, but these people still call 9-1-1 when they have a heart attack because they want to live to complain another day.
Moving away from civil affairs, I will say that I am astounded how much trust people have in the giant corporations that have tentacles into most facets of our lives. While I have reluctantly grown used to being treated to unsolicited dissertations on the absolute evils of civil government by people who don’t know how many articles there are in the constitution, very few people ever express to me the same lack of trust of international corporations, as if being in the private sector and devoted solely to making profits insured fully ethical behavior. An odd perspective where lobbing, bribing and purchasing politicians is perfectly acceptable, but actually being a politician of any kind or quality is evil.
This week offers a great example of the public trust of international corporations, particularly of ‘brands’ they have been taught to ‘love’ through very effective marketing. So Volkswagen finally admits to a giant scheme to defraud US laws, extending to 11 million vehicles. While VW fan’s were stunned to learn they had been lied to by the ‘nice people’ who make colorful Beetles, I was not. I don’t have blind faith in government, but I do have an absolute faith that management of international corporations will take every opportunity to make profits, even if this means subverting the laws that they couldn’t block from being written in the first place.
To give some perspective, there are auto mechanics who have done actual jail time for disabling the emissions control equipment on as few as 10 cars. If the CEO of VW were to spend 5 minutes behind bars for each of the 11 million cars, he would not live long enough to see daylight again. ( Assuming we learned how to send white collar criminals to jail).
To VW fans with surprised looks on their faces, or investors who saw their stock value tank 30% in 48 hours, I say get real, wake up, and have another coffee. We are talking about a company that was founded at the request of Adolph Hitler and used slave labor from concentration camps in WWII. To expect the ethics of Jesus from a corporation with such origins is slightly naïve to say the least. A VW fan and perpetual owner I know, who has treated me to countless lectures on the alleged superiority of ‘German engineering’, told be he could hardly believe his TDI was going to have a recall because it produced up to 40 times the legal level of emissions. On the phone I asked him “Let me get this right: You can’t conceive of guys from the Fatherland putting toxic gasses in the air other people were going to breathe and then lying about it?”It was a new idea to him, he was focused on not trusting the evil National Park Service.
Your Aviation Connection:
The Homebuilt aircraft in your shop will be trustworthy because you know the ‘corporation’ that is putting it together, and ‘they’ are driven by learning and doing a good job, not making a ‘profit’ by doing the job as cheaply as possible and subverting every regulation ‘they’ can get away with.
In the last 26 years I have seen countless examples of the management of corporations, both big and small, both certified and experimental, lying about the airworthiness of their products, just to make a profit. Go back and look at Cessna still claiming that the C-162 Skycatcher was an ideal beginners plane even after both of the first two examples were lost in unrecoverable spins, in spite of being flown by professional test pilots. Would you like some immunity? Be a homebuilder, build your own skills, work with proven designs, and work with company owners who own, use and speak frankly about the designs and components you will use.
April 20th 1939 was Adolph Hitler’s 50th birthday, and he was presented one of the first VW’s ever made in acknowledgement of his full support of the enterprise. The business was a joint venture between Ferdinand Porsche and Albert Speer. They were not ‘just Germans’, they were both Nazi party members, SS officers, convicted war criminals, and personal friends of Hitler’s. Most Americans have never read Speer’s 900 page memoir “Inside the Third Reich” to understand that even in war, German companies were private enterprises that competed for contracts and made money. Speer was eventually head of all war production in Germany. Convicted of using slave labor, he served his full 20 year sentence, and was still in Spandau prison, long after shiny new VW bugs were popular cars in the US. It was a triumph of marketing to people who didn’t read books.
Above, Slave labor from a German concentration camp. VW, by their own admission, used 15,000 slaves, (80% of their workforce) between 1942 and ’45. These were only supplied by the Nazi’s at the specific request of the company ownership. In America we are immensely proud of the factual image of “Rosie the Riveter.” Look at the faces in the above photo to see the difference in two worlds. Our mothers and grandmothers were paid to go to war plants with bandanas holding their hair back. Question: How angry would you be if your mother or grandmother went to the VW plant with a shaved head and a 9mm Gestapo Luger pressed to her scalp? Answer: Odds are you wouldn’t have ever been born to care, as the fatality rate, even among highly skilled slave laborers was more than 50%, for women it was much higher.
The parody add run by National Lampoon magazine (the same people who brought you the movie Animal House) in the 1970s. VW sued the magazine for millions of dollars. They were not concerned about the joke or it’s taste, or the Kopechne family heartache. They were only concerned about the VW trademark being associated with something negative for their brand. To their perspective, a valid concern considering how much effort they had spent to go from Hitler’s car to the choice of ‘happy people’ everywhere.
Last year I had a guy driving a VW give me a giant lecture about the fact 100% of the cars and trucks I own were built by GM. He was spitting mad, because GM had been bailed out by the US government after the financial crisis, and he told me I was “Immoral” for continuing to drive GM products. I told him I was not a fan of bail outs for either banks nor car makers, but it seemed like a smaller crime than using slaves to further the goals of Adolph Hitler, but if he felt the opposite, I was glad to know it.
Full disclosure to those who want to send hate mail – 125 years ago 50% of my DNA was all in Germany. My maternal great grandparents were all Germans. I have been to Germany, I have worked for a German corporation, I have read the works of most German political writers from Marx to Todenhöfer. I have a handful of friends who are Germans, and I have spent far more time listening to them than speaking to them. I have never owned an imported car or truck, but I have no real objection to others who feel the need to. Please read the short note: What the 4th of July means to me. before making a decision about what my position on Germans is. I honestly think the simple fact that Americans are less respectful and obedient of authority may have been the only thing that spared us from following some of the worst leaders of our own nation. I don’t think we are superior, just raised differently. -Besides, I just write these stories to make sure I have a really short Christmas card list.
Please note that I never post comments from people that don’t include their actual names. If you have a perspective to share, have the conviction do so with your name.
Above, a 2005 photo. With me in the photo is an old friend, Mood Juma. Mood and I got our A&P licenses together from Embry-Riddle 25 years ago. On that day he drove up in front of my Edgewater hangar in his 1967 Beetle and jokingly yelled out the window “I hear you don’t like German cars, and you don’t like people from the Middle East” When we drove it to lunch we had a good laugh all the way.
Today I am sitting with my father in NJ, watching media coverage of the life of one of his favorite sportsmen, Yogi Berra. He was the last living connection to the golden era of baseball in my father’s youth, held sacred with memories like this: Thought for the Day “The luckiest man on the face of the earth” My father feigned stoic indifference, but he was clearly bothered by the last light of an era fading out.
Seventy three years ago, the world had descended into madness, and offered a stark choice. It would either be freed by moral and ethical men, or it would be as Orwell said “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”
When he turned 17, the young man who would become my father 21 years later, joined millions of other free men, and took up weapons to prevent the human race from being enslaved by the most vile totalitarians the world had ever known. They imagined a decisive conflict, but it didn’t play out that way; my father is a WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Cold war veteran. Each of those conflicts took the lives of friends and family, men who’s names he can only speak after a long pause or hard swallow. He well understands the cost of a forty year struggle to keep that boot off mankind’s face.
I have not watched TV at home in many, many years. But here, in the home of my parents, I sit beside by father, his mobility robbed by age, as he looks into the TV to find some evidence that we have not squandered the gift, a free world, which we received from the men of his generation, perhaps your father among them. It is a gift we didn’t earn, they purchased it for us anyway, at a staggering human cost.
Father is an eternal optimist, he only needs to find some trace of good that was built on the foundation we were bequeathed. But in an hour, there is nothing to hold on to, nothing to salvage from the endless waste of consumerism, at astronomic levels of narcissism, all acts of selfless heroic deeds pushed aside by a tide of greed and gluttony, bathed in comments from the most inane actors pretending to be journalists, offering no insight, only triggering knee-jerk emotional reactions to dog whistle phrases.
I do not look at the screen, I only see it reflected in my fathers glasses as sifts through news channels looking for some bit of rectitude hidden in the waste. When I can take no more, I put my hand on his, and impulsively say “I am sorry”. For a moment he looks in my eyes to assess if I really understand what the gift cost. At this moment I understand that every old story was told in the hopes that we might understand what was done for us, not so we would thank them, just so that we wouldn’t waste it. On this day, I remain profoundly sorry for how little we have done with the gift.
Media Correction: Several times today, I heard an elected $80,000 per year government bureaucrat who refused to work, resign, or obey the law she swore to defend, referred to as a “religious martyr” for spending 5 days in a minimum security jail for contempt of court. This is one of the things I detest about corporate controlled media entertainment and marketing pretending to be “News.” If anyone cares, I offer an actual definition of an actual religious martyr: Thích Quảng Đức
Thích Quảng Đức , Saigon June 11th 1963. This is the last act in this world of a devout, 66 year old Buddhist monk. He was protesting the repression of the majority Vietnamese Buddhist population by the ruling Vietnamese elite, who were Catholics. Madame Nhu, the de-facto first lady called it a “barbecue” and stated, “Let them burn and we shall clap our hands.” Most other people in the world, including JFK in the White House, had a different reaction.
Lest any American see this as the act of a different culture, know that there were at least five Americans, of different faiths, who repeated this act on US soil between 1965 and 1970 as a war protest. The last was a 23 year old UC student named George Winne Jr, who just like me, was the son of a US Navy Captain.
If you have the courage, you can watch the 2 minutes of film of 11 June 1963 on You Tube. In a supreme act of will, Thích Quảng Đức does not even flinch as he is consumed. Having once been partially on fire myself, I suspect it takes more than a minute to die, and I will assure anyone it is more painful than your imagination allows you to believe. Before anyone asks if I think people with suicide vests are martyrs, I don’t think that takes courage at all, and I have no respect for people who wish to harm others to please their God.
Your aviation connection:Your shop should be your own fountain of truth: Believe what you have made with your own hands, what you have seen with your own eyes, what you have learned with your own mind. When you do these things, and live with kindness and tolerance, both giving and insisting on human respect, then perhaps we are making the best use of the world our fathers made for us.
* I am not just a critic of the modern media, the issues of reality extend to most forms of journalism, and have been there for a long time. I am particularly well read on 20th century US conflicts. The two best known US writers on Vietnam were Neil Sheehan, and David Halberstam, the latter was an eye witness to the picture above. Both writers had two things in common: The won Pulitzer prizes for their Vietnam work, and both of them heavily relied on a time/Reuters reporter in Saigon named Phạm Xuân Ẩn. In 1976, after the war, it is revealed that Phạm Xuân Ẩn was the highest ranking North Vietnamese spy, who fed both of the writers and his employers disinformation throughout the war, but they never suspected this. To learn how US journalists were manipulated, get a look at the 1985 Truong Nhu Tang book “A Vietcong Memoir.” It was written in French, but is available in English.
In a few hours I depart for Corvair College #34 at the Zenith Factory in Mexico MO.
The College runs from noon on the 15 through the end of the day on the 17th. As a late addition, Dan Weseman from SPA/Panther will be flying in to assist builders at the College. ( Please note that this college is at 100% capacity, and does require prior registration to attend.)
I will be staying for the Zenith open house on the 18 and 19th. Zenith welcomes all visitors for their event, we have been there the last eight years in a row, it is a very good time and we will be glad to show people the Corvair installation while we are there. You can read more on the Zenith aircraft factory website.
Next leg is an 1,100 mile direct drive to My Parents house in NJ. I will be spending time with them until the 28th. I will not be able to cover our shop phone from the road, but I can catch up on Email while in NJ. Please include your phone number in any email you send, in case it is easier to answer the question on the phone.
I will be returning to our shop, driving the 1,000 miles back to Florida on 29/30th. The answering machine will undoubtedly fill up in the first few days I am gone. If anyone chimes in on the internet to say they tried calling but I didn’t answer, so they came to the only logical conclusion, that I must giving up aviation to run for the White House , please direct them to this schedule note, and suggest they watch less TV.
Do you feel blessed to have good friends? I do. Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter has a hangar about 500′ from ours. Today he took one look at how much stuff I have packed in the trailer for the trip to CC#34 and noted that the trailer outweighs our Suburban by three or four thousand pounds. He suggested I borrow his Power stroke F-250 for the 3,200 mile trip. In a world where generosity isn’t quite so common anymore, it feels very good to have a friend like Paul. Plus, he gets to tease me for the next year about being the guy who drives a Ford to an event dedicated to teaching people how to build Chevy engines.
Above, a 2014 shot of the 3,000 cc Corvair built for Zenith builder Thomas Fernandez running on the stand in front of our house. The Christmas Lights are on the trees in front of our porch. Grace likes them all year long. Read the story at this link, It includes a short film: Night Engine Run, December 20, 2014
” At sundown we sat in the kitchen, as did people all over America. The telephone rang many times, people asking if Dad was O.K. I answered a long series of these quick calls which were punctuated by a number of people asking if my father had seen theirs leaving the building that day. I could offer them nothing but hope. They were searching for a shadow of doubt that they would not find. I gently hung up the phone each time and felt a palpable mixture of luck and guilt that I would keep my father and they would probably never see theirs again. Their voices contained a desperation that stays with you even 10 years later. “
Old friends know my father worked on the 89th floor the World Trade Center for more than 20 years, rarely taking a day off. We had planned on going to his office that day, but by a small twist of fate, did not. You can read the story here: Holiday Hours, shop dates, Family notes..
I took the photo above on 9/12/01. The letter is taped to Washington Rock, a 500′ ridge a few miles from my parents’ house in N.J. It has a direct view of lower Manhattan from 10 miles. Hundreds of people stood in silence there and watched the smoke pour out of the city. The letter was a note to a dead friend promising to take care of his children and to raise them as he would have. Below it is my Father’s business card. Note the address of World Trade Center #2.
Note: This is a ‘Reference Page’, so it will be updated with links to other stories as they are written, including several follow on stories under the Heading “Outlook 2016”.
Here is a series that will look at plans and developments we have for the 2016 flying season. Even though we still have two Colleges to go in this year, and much to do, We have long since laid the ground work for a new era in our work with the Corvair. We are implementing many of these changes now, all of them will be in place by the end of the year.
Several times I have ‘re-invented’ our approach to the Corvair movement, to better serve builders. The ‘early years’ were a long gestation period to simply show people that Corvairs worked; The ‘Hangar Gang” years were about expanding on all fronts, magazine attention, flying several hundred builders and expanding Colleges; The ‘All Stars’ were about replacing my employed team with independent people who were to serve their corner of the builder’s needs. Things have evolved again, and we now have ‘Outlook 2016’, an era where builders need good information combined with simplified parts delivery from sources motivated to stay in home building for the long run.
What needed to be different? The entire point it to make things work smoother, and make the learning and building experience of being a Corvair builder more rewarding. This is not a new goal. We have always worked at evolving how we do things. But to make a ‘sea-change’ level of improvement, as I have done twice before, requires a vision, a long plan, and consistent hard work. We are almost there.
At it’s very root, homebuilding can only be defined as Learning. Two people can be the owner of the same model of homebuilt aircraft; What makes them different? One of them will have built nearly part, including the engine, the second is a guy who bought it second hand. Although people speak of esoteric ideas like ‘pride’ of the man who built his plane, let me define it in more concrete terms. The primary difference in the experience of the two people is how well they know the machine they are operating, and that isn’t pride, it is Learning. For this reason, my personal definition of accomplishment is simply the measurement of what our builders learned, period. Although there are certainly exceptions where the original builders learns almost nothing or the second owner is the master of his ship, they are rare and the point remains the same.
Here are some of the ways we have moved toward our “Outlook 2016” on the “Learning Front”:
(We filmed many of these subjects to be released as short You Tube educational videos in 2016)
Above, Front quarter view of a 2,850cc engine built in our shop.
The second half of the equation is the production of parts, the hardware used in learning. It is no secret that many of our most popular items are backordered. There are reasons for this, and the corrections are already in the works.
If you have been around aviation for a while, you understand that the 2008-09 recession killed as many airplane companies as the great depression did eighty years earlier. More than half of the companies in experimental aviation tanked, many of them taking a river of builders money with them. We are immune to this kind of disruption, as we have neither a get rich scheme nor investors to please. All we did was adjust production down to meet demand. The affordable end of homebuilding was the last element to come back, and it has done so fairly strongly in the last 2 years, but gearing back up had to contend with expanding our written information base, product developments and serious supplier changes.
We have changed 65% of our suppliers: This has both obvious examples, such as cylinder heads, but it also extends to internal subcomponents which are parts of completed items we sell. Few people looking at something as simple as a stainless exhaust system understand that it actually has components from six different subcontractors in each one, and it only takes one missing element to stop production. This is typical of many of our complex parts. It is a reality we have to work with. The modest margins on the parts don’t support coarse solutions like stockpiling large amounts of sub components. Below we have notes for the different solutions we have putting in place.
What is different on parts production now?
We have already developed and brought up to speed new companies on almost all of the subcontracted parts that became an issue. Old stories of long waits for nose bowls no longer apply, as our new shop has consistently produced batches of 10. All of the new product listed above, like starters, have machined parts from new, motivated sources. These are not changes that you can make with the wave of a magic wand, it takes months to get these systems in place, but we will have these supplier changes fully implemented before 2016, and they, the information, and the parts we sell will serve builders for many years to come.
(Note that the above link is the first story in a multi-part series, they are sequential, please read them all)
What about service in 2016?
It is a reality that there is only one of me, and we have several hundred active builders. Any solution needs to be built around this. This is the fundamental reason why I wrote the new manual and put the 700 stories on http://flycorvair.net/. Both of these combine to self answer the majority of questions that previously arrived as a phone call or email. The answers are far more in depth now.
Before an email asking about putting a Corvair on a Zenith 601 would require 20 minutes for me to write even a basic response. Now I just send a polite link to this: Zenith 601/650 – Corvair reference page , which has tons of well organized information in any depth the potential builder would like. Having the new manual and website solves a lot of the service issues by giving the new people answers they used to have to ask about. Now Zenith and Pietenpol builders can directly speak with each other on our groups. Combine this with every year generating 200 new Corvair College graduates who are qualified to share what they learned from our in person, hands on training, and we have a new system that provides access to fundamental conversion information, while allowing me to focus on more advanced technical questions.
The next element in transformation is the way we take care of orders. The change here is bringing in professional assistance with on line ordering and shipping of our parts. Both Grace and I have been working with an issue that many of you understand very well, aging parents. We are blessed to still have them, and I consider it an understood duty to contribute to the care of the people who gave me life itself. In 2014 and 2015 this has lead to many weeks being far from our parts stocks. Combine this with our college schedules and Oshkosh, and the only practical solution is to bring in professional assistance who can receive and ship orders placed on our webpage, even when we are far away, at Colleges. Oshkosh or with Family.
This assistance isn’t cheap, and to make it possible we are going to have a modest across the board price increase after existing orders are filled. I have not changed the prices on prop hubs in 22 years, many of our other items have had no increase in the last 10. The majority of the cost of professional assistance will be covered by us, the rest will come from the modest increase. We are working on an updated products page and automated ordering system that will reflect this, and expect that both will be operational by mid October. We will announce the change when it is effected.
With the changes in place, we will be in a much better position to serve builder’s needs. I am looking forward to a much smoother year in 2016, allowing us to share what we know with builders who live by the original EAA motto of Learn, Build and Fly.”
Note:Vern, our primary welder, has been out from April until just this week. We had him in the shop for only 4 or 5 days this summer. Traditionally I welded all of our production for years when we had “the Hangar Gang” but in the modern era, Vern doing 75% of it has allowed me to cover many other things. This summer we have built up a list of people who need mounts and other welded parts, we are just working though these now. If you have been patiently waiting, thanks for your understanding. -ww.
Last week our piston manufacturer in California, the same one we have used for years to make 2,850 and 3,000 cc pistons, called to say that my order of 2,775 cc pistons will be done by the third week of October. I placed a very large order with them a while back, and these will be delivered in time to make their public debut at Corvair College #35 at Barnwell.
These pistons are a large overbore on a stock 1965 Corvair cylinder. They are aimed at being able to run 89 octane auto fuel with 95 heads or 92 octane with 110 heads. Because they are a bored, the cylinder set is several pounds lighter than a smaller engine, and lighter than a 2,850 with it’s thicker wall full-fin cylinders. I already have several hundred original cylinders at Clark’s Corvairs, ready to be bored to match these new piston sets.
These pistons are made with spiral locks, so they can have floating wrist pins, and be easier to assemble than stock pistons which need to heat the rods to install the wrist pins. The ring sets are .060″ over Hastings Chrome rings, the same ones we have put into Corvairs for more than 20 years. Because these pistons have floating pins, they can also use the new billet rods available from the Weseman’s at SPA/Panther.
These will not appear on our products page until they are here, we are not selling them yet, we don’t need deposits, etc., but if you are interested, you can always send us a note with “2,775” in the subject line. we will let you know more in a few weeks.
Above, a 2,850 piston made in the USA, specifically designed for flight engines. The “2,775 cc” looks identical, but is .045″ less in diameter and has a different chamber volume. I wrote a story about having these on the back burner of development 24 months ago, but the project will be done shortly, and they will be an option for builders. read more: Getting Started in 2013, Part #15, 2,775cc.
“There is a word for being really sure you are on the right path and willfully ignoring the advice of others who suggest course corrections, it is Hubris.
I am not particularly religious, but one can get a look at the Old Testament to see some fine examples of how the Universe is said to ‘reward’ people who suffer from hubris. I have never seen anyone turned into a pillar of salt, but I have seen unpleasant things happen to people who never stopped to think that they might be wrong about what they are doing in aviation.
People who really know me, understand that on the outside I am willing to share with confidence what we have long proven in flight to be true. But when it comes to new and unknown, I approach with great caution, and always asking myself the quiet inner question “What am I missing about this?” It is the only path to improvement in aviation that I have consistently seen rewarded. Hubris almost always ends up elsewhere.
Above a 11 year old photo from our Edgewater hangar. Our 601XL sits behind our newly built torque reactive dynamometer. From the 2004 caption: “Its operation is very simple. Everything seen in blue rotates on the crankshaft’s axis. If you look closely, you can see that the bearing is the front spindle, hub and wheel removed from a late model Corvair. The bed type mount is slung low so that the crankshaft centerline lines up exactly with the spindle. The reinforcements below the engine contact a bearing at the bottom of the stand for additional support. This is a Corvair blower bearing rolling sideways on a steel plate. It effectively has no drag. Below the spindle is the mounting point for the hydraulic cylinder. The green oxygen bottle has been converted to a gravity feed fuel tank on the test stand.”
Tim Hanson, wrote these comprehensive lists of things to bring to make progress on your engine at a college. They are worth studying, because Tim has been to several colleges, he was meticulously prepared, and as a result of this he learned a lot and has a great running engine.
Not every engine builder needs every Item on Tim’s lists, but they are an excellent packing guide, particularly for the first time College student. Tim’s lists also bring up another point; He posted them on our private discussion groups: “Zen-vair” and “Piet-vair” Discussion Groups, your resource. As a rule, we do not make public the content generated by the builders on our sites, but I make this exception with Tim’s blessing to illustrate that our groups have much more valuable posts than groups where the ‘information’ comes from people named “email@example.com”.
Above, Tim and Grace in our hangar, the night Tim’s engine ran. Grace worked many years to become an aviator herself, and she has a special understanding for any individual who sets themselves to the task, keeps their standards high, and refuses to quit. To read Tim’s very motivational story, read this link, including the comments section: 100 HP Corvair, Tim Hansen , Persistence Pays . To understand how respected Tim is in the Corvair movement, recognize that he is the recipient in this story: A very generous gift….601XL-B.
“Packing depends on what your mission for this college will be. Are you coming only to observe and learn (your goal should be to do these at every college you attend), or are you bringing a core to disassemble? Do already have your core apart and want to get part way or ALL the way through the reassembly stage? If you are coming to observe and learn, a notebook, measuring tape, camera, and open mind are the tools I would bring.
If you have a core to disassemble, do you have the Disassembly dvd from William yet? I found it valuable and treated it like a modern day sports brodcast (lots of instant replay and post game analysis.) I compiled a list of tools and materials from reading the conversion manual and watching the various dvds. I may have missed something, but below is a good list to get you started. You may not need or use it all, but everything on it is useful or at least good to know.
Flycorvair Conversion Manual and DVDs
Combination Wrenches (3/4, 7/8, 1/2, 7/16, 5/8, 11/16)
Sockets (1/2, 7/16, 5/8, 9/16, 11/16)
3/8 Drive Ratchet
Deep set 13/16 socket
6 Point 9/16 socket
12 Point 7/16 socket (high quality, 1/4in drive)
Plastic dead blow mallet
A 5/16 bolt (D.R.T.)
Small 1/4in heavy duty fine tooth rachet or a breaker bar
Screwdrivers (flat & phillips)
Containers for parts (plastic totes work well)
Oil cleanup supplies/absorber
Rags (white cotton t-shirts type, not ones that leave felt or bits)
A surface to set engine on (2x4s, plywood, cardboard)
Method/tools to lift engine (at least to drain oil)
zip lock bags
Keep in mind, if there is something you don’t have or forgot, there is usually someone who does and will loan it to you at a College, and there is an engine hoist available. There is also generally a cleaning/wash tank available, but this is supposed to only be used for final cleaning, not the initial degrease or crud removal. For that, I used a spare tote with water, simple green, and later mineral spirits. Others have advised taking the case to a transmission shop and having them clean it with chemicals (make sure they use ones that are safe for aluminum) and I can recommend this as well.
As for assembly, I find the following The Directions a good starting point:
Okay, so you have a closed case with Weseman 5th bearing, and are planning to get through the long block stage of assembly, you can leave off the cleaning items, vise grips, and the wood wedge for sure. There may be other things in addition to that which could be left off the list, but pretty much everything else would still be handy for assembly. If you don’t have something in particular, usually someone else will.
I made a list of materials and tools for assembly needed for Assembly & Running at a College. I tried to include caveats and exceptions where appropriate, and I’m sure that it can be done without one or more items on the list, it is only meant to be a guide to make for an easy and smooth build experience.
Materials & Tools Required/Useful for Assembly & Running Your Corvair at Corvair College
All items on Disassembly List
High Quality Torque Wrench, calibrated (get a good one or use William’s)
Ultra Grey RTV (the real permatex stuff)
Loctite 620 ( get the real thing from McMaster-carr)
White Lithium Grease
Assembly Stand (case, nose, etc.)& C-clamps
STP & oil mixture, i.e. “assembly mixture”
Loctite 515 or Anerobic Sealer (used w/5th bearing housing or in 3000cc size in place of base gaskets, rtv also used in 3000cc application, see instructions for details)
Shell Rotella T 15w40 (4 or 5qts for running)
K&N 1008 oil filter (a FRAM PH6607 oil filter could be used for BREAK IN ONLY, but not for flight, see manual)
AC R44F Spark Plugs, 6
Champion 2612 graphite anti-seize (accept no substitutes!, usually someone has this)
ZDDP (used with oil for running)
Detailed Parts Inventory (Make sure you have EVERYTHING needed for the stage you’re working on, down to every nut & bolt. Missing something vital 800 miles from home is a downer.)
All parts Cleaned, Prepped, Inspected, and if applicable, Painted.
Piston Ring Pliers (may not need these if you’ve done it before, but they are cheap, and someone will have some)
Piston Ring Compressor (you will need this, again often several floating around, also not expensive)
Cylinder Hold-down tubes (used to immobilize cylinders during assembly, lengths are 4 5/8in and 3 3/4in, 6 of each, pvc works well, see manual)
ARP ” Ultra torque” lube (for their bolts, could also use moly lube, see their directions)
Silver Antisieze (Not for spark plugs)
Permatex Aviation Form-a-Gasket #2 (brown gooey sealer, used on case bolt heads and case bolt nuts (not threads)on final assembly of case; also oil gallery drain plugs, see manual)
Scotchbrite pad (polish beginning part of lifter bores, not further in, see WW for demo)
5th Bearing Install Tool Kit (rent from Weseman’s, or wait your turn for maybe one floating around at a college)
GM Green Book
FlyCorvair Conversion Manual & Assembly DVDs (read it, watch them)
5th Bearing Manual (read it in advance)
Also Highly Recommended-> Read the following articles on FlyCorvair.net: “Closing a case at a College Part #1,#2,#3”, “Running an Engine at a College, required items #1,#2″, Balancer Installation”, “All about Dipsticks, Part#2206”.
Obviously, you will want to make your own list of “hey this was handy” items, but the above was useful for me. If you do it at home, there are more things that you would need, especially to run your engine, namely a TIMING LIGHT, and several other items. Also, a reminder to NOT transport an assembled case with it RESTING ON the CAM GEAR, turn it upside down instead.
Hope this was helpful to someone, but do your own homework, and HAVE FUN.
Here is a ten year old story from our main website. The reason why I bring it up is more than just nostalgia: The concept of driving to see builders, and stopping every night to meet between 5 and 20 builders in small groups, is a very good one. While it isn’t the same experience as attending a College, we can cover a lot of detailed information in the hours between dinner and midnight, (These were the best hours to use on weekdays for guys who were working).
I am specifically thinking about bringing this type of tour to California early in 2016. We have held five Corvair Colleges in the state, but it is so large that it is hard to effectively cover the area. If we hold it in Northern California, we loose builders from Arizona, if we do it in the south, it has the same issue with builders from the North.
My Idea of the best way to cover the state is this: Hold two “Open house days” on successive Saturdays. One in Chino, the following one in Cloverdale. These would not be Colleges, but we would have all day events where pilots could fly in, we can study running engines, and do the things best done in daylight. On the days in between, I would travel in between, stopping every night to meet small groups of builders just as we did on the 2005 tour. We do this in the hangar or workshop of builders, just like the pictures you see below.
In an industry were less than 20% of kit builders finish their plane, here is something to consider as a gauge of our long term support: Every 601 builder who’s hangar was a stop on the tour, all five of them, finished and flew their planes. If you look at the photos, there are about 20 other people who attended who finished their aircraft also. We are still supporting a number of builders in the photos who are still working on their projects.
This is only half the story: if you look at the aircraft companies from 2005, the majority of them are out of business, stranding their customers with no support. We are still here in year 26, because we stuck to a very old idea: The EAA core is made of people who want to Learn, Build and Fly.
Corvair Night School 2005
and Midwest Engine Delivery Service From February 10 to 23, 2005, Gus, Grace and I are making a multi-stop, whirlwind tour of the Midwest. The purpose of this trip is to deliver a number of engines which we completed for builders in the past month, and use the opportunity to meet with small groups of builders for a few hours at each of these locations. While we’ve had eight full blown Corvair Colleges to date, (we have had 24 more since) we’ll be referring to the current events as Night Schools.
Night Schools will be timed so that working builders will have a chance to leave work and drive to the Night School location. This will give us an in person chance to discuss installation questions, rebuilding practices, and of course, inspect builders’ cores and progress. Although cargo space is limited, we will be bringing a number of expensive-to-ship items like Nosebowls and Motor Mounts. We’ll have the computer and cell phone with us to stay in touch with our other builders during the trip. Although the other half of the hangar gang will remain in Florida to continue our in depth preparations for Sun ‘N Fun and keep up with the regular production of parts, they’ll be concentrating on work, so we request that builders planning on a hangar visit come on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday after we return from the trip.
Grace will update our Web site from the road so everyone will be able to read Open E-mail and watch the progress of the Night Schools. Check back at this Web page for possible additions to the Corvair Night School schedule.
This trip is further evidence of our commitment to directly help Corvair engine builders. We have to be the only aircraft engine shop in the World that has a policy of making free house calls. If anyone ever asks you why you chose a Corvair, you can add “because William and his crew make housecalls” to your long list of reasons.
After this tour, our next event will be a weeklong stay at Sun ‘N Fun, Lakeland, Fla., in April. We have no immediate plans for another College before June, so I’d encourage anyone in the area of our travels to take advantage of this opportunity for personal, one-on-one exchange of information. Keeping your building momentum up is the best way to get the most out of 2005, your year in aviation.
6-9 p.m. Saturday, February 12: Alliance, Ohio
Above is Steve Mineart’s 601 engine running on the dynamometer outside our hangar early Thursday, Feb. 10. Kevin, and myself put the final touches on the prep work on the trip. Gus, Grace and I departed three hours after this photo was taken. Although it’s winter, we’re having a very busy season in the shop. The Night School Tour is an important element of our builder support program. We want to keep people continuously informed and enthused. The Night School provides priceless in person contact toward these goals. To keep up with our existing customer orders and serve their needs, half the Hangar Gang stayed at the shop to work while we’re on tour. The whole crew put in 10 days of 16 hour days to prepare. If you are one of our regular customers whom we will not be seeing on the tour, let us thank you in advance for your patience on your orders. It should certainly come with the understanding that in time, we intend to visit most of our builders in the field. And those who have shown the patience and understanding for the type of organization we run will be rewarded with the in person service and commitment we offer.
Here above are the four engines loaded in the back of the rental Expedition. They belong to Steve Mineart (601), Dr. Ray (601), R. David Stephens (Pietenpol), and Cleone Markwell (601).
The first stop on the trip was Washington, D.C. The officer in the center of the photo above is my brother-in-law John Nerges. He is head of the nurses in the intensive care ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. On this day, Feb. 11, John was being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Although he is Airborne and Air Assault qualified, and has been deployed with both the 82nd and 101st Divisions, the focal point of John’s career is the care for severely wounded soldiers. The above photo was taken in the Eisenhower Suite at Walter Reed, where the ceremony was held. My sister Alison, herself a critical care nurse, left, and my father, a career naval officer, right, pinned on John’s insignia. It was a very moving ceremony where John’s promotion was read by a recovering, severely wounded Army helicopter pilot. The pilot’s mother was on hand to thank John and his staff personally for saving her daughter’s life. With characteristic humility, John said the credit was entirely for his staff. It was a most memorable day in my family’s history in many years. John had said that his only regret was that his own father, a veteran of World War II fighting in Burma, did not live to share the day with him. Our entire family is very proud of John.
After the promotion celebration, Gus, Grace and I got in the truck and drove through the night to arrive at the workshop of Pat and David Stephens in Belpre, Ohio. They are a very experienced aviation couple who have owned numerous airplanes and just completed the restoration of a Tri-Pacer. They’re well into their current project, a Corvair powered Pietenpol. In order to have a good shot at finishing and flying the airplane this summer, the Stephens, after a visit to our hangar, opted to buy a completed and test run engine from us. It happened to be The Last Engine We Built In 2004. This trip gave us an opportunity to deliver the engine and inspect their project in person. Above, Gus and I have just unloaded the Stephens’ engine into their workshop.
Above, David and Pat discuss airframe and installation issues with me. Having owned and flown our Corvair powered Pietenpol for several years allowed us to share firsthand knowledge directly with the Stephens. A one-hour discussion like this is worth a thousand Internet opinions from people with no direct experience. On our side of the coin, direct in person feedback from builders has always improved our understanding of builders’ capabilities and needs. I credit this as one of the two or three most important business principles that have allowed us to prosper in the past 10 years of Corvair engine work. Companies that never listen to their builders exist today only as a memory.
That same evening, we drove several hundred miles north to Alliance, Ohio, home of EAA Chapter 82 and the scene of Corvair College #7. Despite being a very cold night, there were about 15 builders on hand, some who had driven several hours to be there. Following introductions, I gave a brief technical overview, captured in the photo above. We then dove right into inspecting engines and answering technical questions. Our host, Corvair/Pietenpol builder Kip Gardner, and airport owner Forrest Barber went out of their way to provide a clubhouse full of refreshments.
Two builders brought complete core engines, cleaned for detailed inspection. This gave everyone an excellent opportunity to learn detailed techniques and ask questions in the small group setting, as seen above. I was impressed by the thoughtful questions and level of background work that these builders had put in. Although we were only scheduled till 9 p.m., we stayed past 11 p.m. because the mood was good and the exchange was very productive. When any builder shows the initiative to get in the car and drive at times hours to participate in an event like this, every member of my crew responds directly to this level of effort. While we meet literally thousands of potential builders every year, the ones who have made the choice to build and are willing to put forth the effort, like those who attended this Night School and previous Colleges or called to ask us questions while they’re building, merit any extra attention that my crew can afford.
After the Night School, we drove on to our friend Ed Fisher’s house to spend the night. Sunday, we had a chance to spend a few hours with Ed at his hangar at the Braceville, Ohio, airport. In the above photo, Gus and I stand with Ed, center, in front of a 1930 Fleet. Ed is a very famous light airplane designer with two Oshkosh Grand Champions to his credit. His hangar is a very creative place with 8 or 9 projects in progress. Of special interest to Corvair engine builders are Ed’s Zippy 2 and Sport Fleet projects, both two-seat aircraft designs he’s working on specifically for Corvair power. Ed’s 20+ years as a designer has led to more than a dozen different designs, some of which, like the Skylite, have been built in very large numbers. Ed’s 2004 Grand Champion biplane, the Zipster, has brought his name back to the forefront of homebuilt design. 2005 will be a very productive year for Ed.
7-9:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14: West Bloomfield, Michigan
In Love With Corvairs;
Bring Your Wife to Something Special
When we visit Michigan, we always stay with Gus’ family, who live in the Pontiac area. To understand why Gus’ skills as a pilot are invaluable to us, take a look at the family portrait above. Gus’ father, the legendary Clare Warren, soloed in 1932, got his pilot’s license in 1936, became an instructor in 1940, logged more than 20,000 hours of instruction, and flew most of the models of light aircraft ever produced in the U.S. Gus’ mother, Joy Warren, soloed and got her pilot’s license in 1967 in the same Cessna 140 she still flys today. Gus took his first flight in the 140 at two weeks of age. Of course, his father was his instructor. As a member of a family with 120+ years of flight experience in light aircraft, Gus brings an expertise to our flight program that few individuals can match.
Our next stop on the Night School Tour was Dr. Gary Ray’s house. He graciousl offered to invite area builders to come check out his project during an evening Night School at his home. Above is the group photo we snapped. From left in front: Stephen Gores, 601XL, Michigan; Greg Harris, 601XL, MI; Chris Hines, MI; Vincent Donaghey, Davis DA-2, Canada; Mike Scovel, Varieze, MI; Bill Pinkenburg, Varieze, MI; Dino Bortolin, 601XL, Canada; and Dan Ernst, helicopter pilot, MI. From left in second row: Rob Schaum, 601 XL, MI; Dick Wood, Avro Arrow replica, Canada; Andy Bondy, Kolb Mark III, Canada; Grace Ellen and William Wynne, 601XL, Florida; Bob Mendelson, MI; Roy Szarafinksi, Zenith 701, MI; and Andy Cross, 601XL, Ohio. In the very back, up top, is our host Dr. Ray, building the very nice Corvair powered 601XL pictured above.
Although the stop was planned for 7 to 9:30 p.m., we actually spoke with builders from 6:30 to midnight. It was a very productive discussion that covered all aspects of the installation. We spoke about individual issues on installations in tractor and pusher aircraft, propeller selection and theory, and details on rebuilding and operation.
Dr. Ray had previously purchased a 66″ Warp Drive two-blade propeller from us. We had arrived a few hours before the builders and installed Dr. Ray’s engine. His engine was rebuilt at our shop, and test run on our dynamometer less than a week earlier. Having the engine on the mount gave us an excellent visual aid in discussing things like propeller installation, above. For curious 601 builders, the ground clearance on the prop is 9.5″.
The photo above shows Dr. Ray’s panel. He’ll be using a glass cockpit display for flight instruments, but the traditional engine gauges are the ones we fly in our own airplane and recommended in a past issue of The Corvair Flyer. Dr. Ray has had his kit for less than a year. In spite of owning a very busy veterinary hospital, he is a steady and efficient builder, and his plane is in the homestretch. Not shown in the photos are the wings and canopy, which are completed. We hope to see this airplane at Oshkosh this year.
At left above, 601XL builder Rob Schaum brought his core engine in for inspection. It was an RD engine and turned out to be in excellent shape. We inspected his studs, and gave him a battle plan for working on the case. We took his crankshaft and heads with us to give them the full treatment in Florida. He was very excited to be getting a running start on his engine conversion.
In the photo above, our host, Dr. Ray, left, admires his Corvair engine with Grace Ellen and I. We consider this Night School very successful on several fronts. It drew a lot of builders we hadn’t met in person before, it gave us a chance to share a lot of technical knowledge with active builders, and of course, the delivery of Dr. Ray’s engine was an especially satisfying factor. At midnight, we got in the truck and drove back to the Warren home. The following morning we left to drive several hundred miles to Illinois for some prep work.
7-9:30 p.m. Thursday, February 17: Oskaloosa, Iowa
On the way to Iowa, we stopped for a day at Cleone Markwell’s in Casey, Illinois. Cleone has a 601HD that he built three years ago and flew with Rotax 912 power. He has removed the 912 in favor of a fresh Corvair installation. Above is the before shot in front of his airframe.
In a few minutes work, Gus and I had installed one of our standard 601 Motor Mounts. All models of the 601 have the same firewall forward package. Thus, the mount proven on our XL bolts right on to an HD.
A little bit later, Cleone’s engine, which we built in our shop and ran on the dyno at Corvair College #8, was installed on his mount. After taking the photo above, we left and drove to Ottumwa, Iowa, arriving late in the night. Ottumwa is home to the Antique Aircraft Association and their incredibly good Airpower Museum. We spent the morning there before heading 30 miles north to Dr. Steve Mineart’s home.
Above is a photo of Dr. Mineart and myself. Steve is a 601XL builder. When he heard about our Night School plans, he called up and placed a quick order for an engine. Three weeks later, here it is, test run and delivered to his home.
Above is the collection of builders who showed up for the Night School in Steve’s garage. The Mineart family hosted the event, and their hospitality was duly appreciated by all in attendance. From left, in front: Roger Koopman, Iowa; Dave Harms, Zenair 601XL, IA; William Wynne and Grace Ellen, ZenVair 601XL, Florida; our gracious host, Dr. Steve Mineart, 601XL; and Dan Wilson, Pietenpol, Minnesota. From left, in back: Norm Muzzy, Pietenpol, IA; Craig and Jean Foster, Merlin GT, IA; Ted Phillips, Pietenpol, IA; Ronald Franck, Spacewalker II or Zenair 601, Illinois; Bryce Kibbel, 601XL, IA; and Curtis Mineart, proud patriarch of the Mineart family, Iowa.
Dr. Steve shows his Dad, Curtis, one of our Nosebowls, above.
Steve’s airframe is 85% done. The finished wings can be seen above in the background hanging from the wall. He has been working on it part time for two years. It was very clean and straight workmanship.
A number of the visiting builders brought engine parts, above, which we inspected closely.
Gus shows Steve our very simple dual electric fuel pump setup for the 601XL, above.
Husband and wife team Craig and Jean Foster of Iowa, who are building a Merlin GT, inspect Steve’s fuselage, above. We’d previously exchanged e-mails with Craig about his engine. He has a previously converted Corvair, which he has decided to update to our current specs for his Merlin. The evening gave us the opportunity to discuss the strategy for the upgrade.
Ted Phillips, Corvair/Pietenpol builder, above, brought a lot of photos of his project. It is about 75% done. The craftsmanship looked very good. We covered a lot on systems and details so that he can finish up the firewall forward on his plane.
A good learning moment, above. One clean core engine can show all builders present how we take care of something, or what level of finish is acceptable. Books and videos are great tools, but the third leg of the triangle is face to face meetings.
7-9 p.m. Friday, February 18: St. Louis, Missouri
The Night School at Steve’s broke up about 11 p.m. Thursday. We got in the truck about midnight and drove 180 miles south to the Zenith Aircraft Factory in Mexico, Missouri. This gave us a chance to spend most of Friday discussing the 2005 airshow season with the Heintz family. Our ZenVair 601 and firewall forward display will be in the Zenith Aircraft display area at Sun ‘N Fun in Lakeland, Fla., in April. The Hangar Gang will be on hand all week there to answer questions. In the above photo, Sebastien Heintz, Grace Ellen and myself are inside the factory with the company 601 behind us. Friday concluded the latest Zenith workshop. Nick told us that seven of the builders had taken home 601 kits with them.
The Zenith factory is a very interesting mixture of craftsmanship, tooling, efficient layout and organization. Above is a very accurate articulated drill press being used to drill precision parts.
Above, Gus and I survey the shop. Of all the people I know personally, Gus knows more about the history of light aircraft manufacturing than anyone. He was very impressed with the Zenith shop.
Another view of the inside of the factory, above. The gentleman in the foreground is one of the workshop participants.
A 601 kit, above, organized to go home with a builder. Looking at it, you wonder how long it will be before you see it sitting on the flight line at Oshkosh.
After visiting the Zenith factory, we hopped in the truck and drove 120 miles to St. Louis for the Night School that same evening. This was held in Vince and Louis’ hangar. These guys had attended Corvair College #8, where they completed and test ran their 601 engine. In their hangar is their 50% done 601 airframe. Attending the St. Louis Night School, are, from left, above: Kerry Owen, Zenair 601XL, Missouri; Larry Gatewood, 601XL, MO; Kevin Work, 601XL, Tennessee; Grace Ellen and William Wynne, ZenVair 601XL, Florida; Laura Kargacin and Larry Lipe, KR-2, Illinois; Dennis Engelkenjohn, Pietenpol, MO; co-host Louis Kantor, Zenair 601XL, with co-workers Laurie Deneef, Lynn Gebke, Gary Blawn of Florida, and co-host Vince Olson.
As you’re reading this, take special note of Kevin Work, third from left. I predict this builder will accomplish great things in 2005. Why? Because this guy drove 300+ miles each way to spend a few hours in a cold hangar so that we could inspect his case and cover his questions in person. When we meet a builder with determination like this, my experience tells me that he will succeed where others may fail for lack of perseverance. Kevin Work is a standout amongst the high quality builders we’ve met on this tour.
Yes it was chilly, but we spent a good 2 1/2 hours with the builders who drove in. Braving the cold, from left, above: myself, Larry Gatewood, Zenair 601XL, MO; Kevin Work, 601XL, Tennessee; David Munson, 601XL, MO; and Kerry Owen, 601XL, MO. Vince and Louis are eagerly anticipating the return of better weather. They were making fantastic progress on their kit before the weather turned. They utilized the first part of the cold season to finish their engine. If they get back to their previous pace, their airplane could fly by mid-summer, marking a one-year build. Not bad for two first-time builders who fly for the airlines as a day job.
4-6 p.m. Saturday, February 19: Casey, Illinois
Here’s a small but skilled and motivated group of builders. They took the time to come out to visit Cleone Markwell’s hangar at Casey Municipal Airport and see the progress we’re making on the Corvair/601HD installation. Outside, it was freezing rain, but it was fairly warm inside Cleone’s heated hangar. The atmosphere was conducive to the exchange of information and comfortable conversation. From left, above, are: Bob Glidden, KR-2S, Indiana; Eric Pitts, KR-2S, Indiana; myself and Grace Ellen, 601XL, Florida; Mark Sandidge, 601HDS, Kentucky; and Larry Kyle, strongly considering a 601, Indiana. Each of these guys has a farily good background in aviation. It was a good discussion, and the reasonable approach and quality of questions reflected their experience with airplanes. Although most of our customers are just starting to follow their dreams in aviation, it is a good indication of the appeal of the Corvair when you meet several experienced aviators who are planning on Corvair power for their own projects.
The photo above is a good indication of an afternoon well spent. Notice that every person is smiling. We’re examining Mark Sandidge’s heads and crank.
A few minutes worth of close examination, and four more builders know exactly what a good head gasket area looks like. We also took a look at corrosion in the cylinder chamber, and I gave everyone an overview of what is cosmetic and what really matters. Mark took his heads home for more work, and left his crank with us so we could take it back to Florida for the full treatment. The group arrived early and stayed late. After they departed, Gus and I did some more work on Cleone’s plane while Grace updated the Web site. We called it quits for the evening at 11 p.m.
Sunday, February 20: Whiteland, Indiana
The following afternoon, we stopped by the workshop of Larry Hudson, above left. If there’s a single notable characteristic about Larry, it’s his enthusiasm. Of the thousands of builders we’ve dealt with, Larry has to be in the top 10 for most Colleges and airshows attended. He’s always quick to point out all the building projects mades possible by the economical Corvair engine. Larry’s project is a 7/8 scale Fokker D-8. Before the trip, we built a custom motor mount for him. This is the 26th different mount design I’ve done to mate the Corvair to more than two dozen different airframes. Gus painted it purple as a joke.
The photo above shows the riveted aluminum tube structure of Larry’s Fokker. Larry’s engine is completely done and was test run last year at our hangar. The design of the plane is pure and simple, with very few complex systems. We’re looking forward to seeing this fly toward the end of the year.
Monday, February 21:
Atlanta, Georgia, Area
After the visit at Larry’s, we drove late into the night and made it to Murfreesboro, Tenn. We got a late start and ran right into some really horrendous weather on the highway. It took an extra few hours to make our way down to the Atlanta area. Our first stop was to see the six Big Piet builders in Carrolton. These guys are getting to be better known in homebuilding circles because they are group building six identical Corvair powered Pietenpols with steel tube fuselages. Although it had to be a brief visit, it was an impressive one. Over the years, I’ve seen many, many Pietenpol projects, which have demonstrated the complete range from fantastic craftsmanship to the design’s tolerance of sloppy building. Out of the 80 or so Pietenpols I’ve seen in person, here is some of the nicest craftsmanship I’ve seen. Although they’ve modified the design slightly, the changes are subtle and the details are all exceptionally good. The world of Pietenpol builders will have a bright day when these airplanes are rolled out for the first time. In the photo above are Big Piet builders Frank Metcalfe, Tom Howard and Mike Annas, in front, with helper Jay Morrow in back, and myself and Gus at right.
Here’s a view inside the Big Piet factory. On the table are wings undergoing final assembly. The airframes are about 80% complete. In the foreground is one of the engines. These guys came down to our hangar, and we assembled one engine all the way through while they took notes and asked a lot of good questions. They returned home and later built the rest of their engines. They spared no expense in the building of these engines, and yet they have less money in them than you would in a Continental core engine. Their engines will provide years of trouble free service to match their high quality airframes.
Our next stop was to visit the Lawrenceville Airport on the diagonally opposite side of Atlanta. I’d heard stories about legendary Atlanta traffic, but since I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, I never gave it much thought. To be on the safe side, we allowed 1.5 hours to drive across town. I asked Mike Annas about it, and he simply said, “You’re not going to make it, it’ll take two hours.” He was wrong. It took 2.5 hours. The storm we’d seen earlier in the day caught up with us and grew to include hail and pelting rain. We called ahead to warn our host, Greg Jannakos, that we’d be running late. He had a warm reception waiting of about a dozen builders from his EAA Chapter 690 and beyond. After apologizing for being late, we got started on a two hour question and answer session. In the foreground of the photo above is Greg’s completed Zenith 601HDS wing. The Night School was held in the EAA Chapter 690 hangar, a very nice facility.
Greg’s airplane, sitting out on the ramp, above. Greg ran his engine at Corvair College #8. His airplane is plans built, and exceptionally nice. The plane has one of our Nosebowls installed on it, and looked very sharp, even without paint. The plane is very close to flying. Greg dropped us an e-mail after the event, telling us the plane weighed 677 pounds fully assembled, but without a battery. If the paint is applied sparingly, and the battery small, this plane will finish up below 700 pounds. An impressive accomplishment that speaks highly of Greg’s clean and simple building style.
The following day, we made it back to the hangar by dinner time. When I arrived, I found out that in addition to regular work, the rest of the Hangar Gang had assisted visiting builder Paul Chandler in the assembly and test run of his Zenith 601HDS engine. The engine had a few spots that needed some special attention, and Kevin had burned the midnight oil to ensure Paul went home with a running engine. I stayed up late with Kevin going over some details on the last night Paul was in town. Shown in the photo above, Paul stopped by the following morning and we ran his engine. He was very thankful, and commented that with a test run engine and a virtually complete airframe, he’s looking at finishing and flying the plane this season.
Overall, I declare the trip a big success. The number and quality of builders we met along the way, and their appreciation for the personal contact made it all worthwhile. The fact that at our hangar thousands of miles away a builder was still getting personal service from our crew shows the extent we’re willing to go to in order to promote the motto, “Learn, build and fly.” The last act that officially closed the trip was driving across town to Budget to return the Excursion. The manager did a doubletake when he saw that we’d driven 4,620 miles. He smiled when he finally understood why I asked him three times if there were any milage charges before we rented it. It was a long trip, but certainly one we’ll remember, and I trust builders also will remember, for a long time.
Thank you. William
Welcome to our new webstore.
Thanks for visiting! Dismiss