Weekend work, December 2015

Builders,

In our week, the normal work runs through Saturday at noon, as this is when the local post office closes. We mail almost everything by USPS, as 20+ years of trying everyone in the shipping business mailing tens of thousands of packages has conclusively proven “If it needs to get there economically, send it with the Post Office, if you need the item smashed, send it UPS, everyone else falls in between.” The hours between noon on Saturday and when ever we shut the shop down late Sunday night constitute “the weekend” but almost all of this time is spent in the hangar anyway, we just shift to projects instead of production parts.

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Above, Ignition testing in action. Corvair/Panther builder, friend and neighbor Paul Salter works as an aeronautical engineer for the US Navy on the EA-6B prowler program at NAS Jacksonville M-F. Since Paul is a graduate of Embry-Riddle’s rival Parks, and he is a dyed in the wool Ford guy, it is nothing short of a miracle that I have talked him into using a Chevy on his plane.

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 On Weekends, Paul spends all the hours at the airport here, and he has long proven to be a great asset, and if you have a Corvair in your shop, you are a beneficiary of his contribution if you have met him or not. His contributions run from loaning me his truck for the 3,400 mile Corvair College #34 tour: Back in Florida – 10 / 5 / 2015 to running ignition tests on retard boxes for these Ignition part #3301-DFI, a new optional system. Shown is “Dinosaur meets space program.” My 1947 Sun distributor machine is running the DFI distributor, while Paul’s laptop is programing the delay box that can control the timing curve electronically. This will be of use for planes in high altitude cruise, planes with turbos, or ones using N2O injection. The white box is a digital  DC power supply. The spread sheet on the laptop is displaying the information while also allowing the curve to be altered due to RPM and MAP.

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Above, a test of how low a voltage the Crane ignition unit will work at. Look at the distributor machine, the red flashes are the firing indications shown by a strobe, projected onto a degree wheel. It is doing just great, and note the power supply is only showing 4.3 volts! Most computer ignitions on modern cars, that also involve electronic fuel injection, loose their ability to work below 10.5 volts. Our system works at far lower voltages (It actually needs slightly more than 4.3 to run the coil to send powerful sparks but the brains still work at 4.3V) The crane units and simple coils also use very little power, allowing a Corvair to run many hours off a battery that had just enough power to crank it. Many electronically dependent automotive conversions will run less than 20 minutes after the alternator throws a belt or the voltage regulator gives out. As responsible people, we test things to know that we promote a system with a great margin of safety.

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Above, our test stand, under constant refinement since we made it in 2004. It replaced the original stand that served from 1989-2003. Together they have run hundreds of engines. In 2016, this one will make the great western tour, covering these events:

Outlook 2016, College #36 and Western building tour

Outlook 2016, Corvair College #37 Chino CA, 4/22/16

Outlook 2016, Corvair College #38, Cloverdale CA, 5/6/16

To refine the stand and make it work better, and also get a N2O port in the intake, we spent some of Saturday afternoon working on it. One of the improvements was junking the cable throttle that it has used for years and replacing it with the lever and rod arrangement, which is much more positive. Alright motor heads, prepare to date yourselves: You are officially middle aged if you know the throttle arm is a Hurst Shifter: you could be approaching middle age if you know what a Hurst shifter was, and if you have never heard the term, you are likely a millennial, which is ok, but know that you missed the good cars. A Prius doesn’t make the world a better place in the same way that a W-30 455 cid Hurst Olds did. The rest of the linkage is an AN turnbuckle and a used Corvair pushrod, TIG welded to a ball socket.

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Above, Vern Stevensen’s latest transportation project, in my front yard. What is good about Florida? Get a look at how green the grass is, on December 5th. On weekends, Vern is ‘On Call’ in our shop. He works on his own stuff, but is available 12 hours a day to jump in as required on flight stuff. Vern’s original trike: Fun with Agkistrodon Piscivorus and Vern’s Aero-Trike now has more than 20 thousand miles on it. It gets about 60-65 mpg, but Vern wanted to shoot for 100 mpg, in a vehicle built out of purely recycled tras….ahem, ‘Treasure.’ Thus the new “light trike.”

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Above, The powerplant is a Honda 250 elite scooter driveline. In stock form, these will drive a large scooter to 70+mph. The frame is random tubing cutoffs from my hangar pile. The front suspension is a widened 4 wheeler ATV, steering is a rack and pinion from lawn equipment. Front hubs are Geo metro rear brakes, which I turned down the ATV spindles to fit. The canopy is RV-3 flymart buy. Front tires are space saver spares from a Geo. Thus retains the full electrical harness and instrument panel from the scooter. In Florida, this is an entirely street legal vehicle that requires no insurance, special paperwork, nor inspections. Vern is thinking about putting stringers on it and making the ‘body’ from fabric aircraft  covering. The canopy and frame lift to get in and out, but the canopy also slides forward 18″ while driving for optional ventilation. The weight right now is about 200#s but he wantes it to stay under 300 done.

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Above, ScoobE checks the mailbox. It is a half mile walk from the house. Our business address that we use for work is actually 10 miles from the house, but that is where the closest grocery store is, etc. It gets checked just about every day. The neighborhood box is just for family letters. My Dad who turns 90 this month, is one of the worlds great letter writers. Since I first moved to Florida in 1984, he has send me about 200 a year. I have every single one of them carefully stored. The are often just regular news, but they are the glue that holds the family together, and they are also the documentation of all the family history, going back to all the stories my father’s  grand parents told him 80 years ago, like how my great grand mother walked alone, the 90 miles to Belfast, and got in 4th class steerage to begin work as an indentured servant in a wealthy home in NJ. It was 1868, and she was 12 years old. Through years of toil she was able to bring her siblings to America. She never saw her parents again. Somber, but a great reminder of how comparatively wonderful my life has been.

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-ww.

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3,000cc Corvair (lower compression) engine

Builders,

Below is a look at an engine I just finished a few days ago. It is my own personal Corvair engine. We have several customer engines going together in the shop now, but I assembled ours in advance because I am shortly going to run a series of comparative tests with nitrous oxide injection. While the possibility of harming a motor is slight, you obviously wouldn’t test with an engine you are going to send to a builder.

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Above, break in run in our front yard. The engine is a 3,000cc displacement with 95 HP heads set up with a .050″ quench height. It has my own 5th bearing design as seen in this story: Group 3200, Wynne 5th Bearing .The Compression ration is about 8.4 to 1.  My intention is to run the engine primarily on 90 octane ethanol free fuel, commonly available in Florida for boats.  It’s only advantage over auto fuel is that it stores a lot longer without degrading. The engine will have no problem digesting 100LL, but I want to have a long term first hand study of lower octane fuel in Corvair powered planes.

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Above, I have actually owned this engine since 1991. It came in my 1967 Corvair Monza that was my daily driver for many years, accumulating 100K miles including a lap around America, ( look at the photo in this story: 2014 Conversion Manual Notes ) It went on to be the 2,775 cc engine at first flew in our Zenith 601XL in 2004, It was the test engine for my 5th bearing design in 2007, and it is staging this re-appearance as a 3,000 cc.  The engine has had roller rockers since 2004, and may have been the first engine ever to fly them. (No, they don’t make much power difference nor make the engine run cooler, both are misconceptions based on marketing claims which are only valid in limited circumstances.) To read more, look here: Pros and Cons of Roller Rockers. Over the years the engine has accumulated many details, most of which are things that we tested and found not to be a great value to most builders. If you look closely, it has ARP case studs (2003) ARP head studs (2004) and powder coated aluminum pushrod tubes (2007). and group 1800 powered coated lower baffles (2012)

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Above, a look at the topside. Almost all of the external conversion parts are our regular stuff. The engine has a HV-2000 rear oil case, a 2400-L Starter set up (the nose and bracket are powder coated black), a #2601 Gold oil filer housing, a #2802 block off plate, and an Adjustable Oil Pressure Regulator, #2010A. The top head nuts on the engine are Small Block Chevy rod nuts. This was an idea that morphed into #1706 head nut hardware, something Dan Weseman provides with finished heads.

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BTW, I was forwarded a picture of a first time builders enginge, a 3000cc motor. This guy made huge issue of objecting to using .041″ aircraft safety wire to hold the baffeling on the cylinders of his engine.  You can see this in the above photo as the neatly done stainless fine lines running at the base of the #6 and #2 cylinders. This is done because 3,000 engines have different cylinder castings which don’t fit the stock Corvair baffle clips. We have been using Aircraft safety wire for this task for more than 15 years, (because we used it on 3,100 cc Corvairs also.) The person, who evidently knows nothing about aviation, said “Bailing wire has no place in aviation.”

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Bailing wire? I have personal touched, with my own hand in museum restoration settings, a Lockheed SR-71, a North American X-15, and a Rockwell Space Shuttle Orbiter, all of which flew with Aviation Safety wire, so contrary to our new ‘expert’, it is approved for mach 3, mach 6 and mach 17 flight, as well as mach 0.12 experimentals.  Here is the stupid part: his forwarded photo shows that he painted his pushrod tubes flat black, which I have told people never to do because it makes them run very hot and gets the o-rings brittle. You know what actually has no place in aviation? People who can’t read. Perhaps a person shouldn’t be quite so proud of being from a state that ranks 5oth in the Nation in public education.

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Above, The engine at power during a 1 hour break in run. The differential compression test showed that the cylinders were perfect. The engine also has an #1100 cam:  Sources: Group 1100, Camshaft. This profile actually has slightly longer exhaust lobe duration than cams traditionally used. This doesn’t have a giant effect on normal engines, but it is a very desirable feature on ones using nitrous oxide. After some more time on the run stand we are going to progressively hit it with doses of N2O at 20, 25, 30 and 35 hp. The idea is to establish what is a safe level of power boost for 3 minutes. Contrary to what most people think this is not hard on an engine, as long as the fuel pressure never drops. I have worked with N2O on engines dating back to 1982, the stone age of commercial nitrous. Pushing a 550hp V-8 to 900hp is hard on it, but looking for a 20% power increase is not. Smaller engines like a Corvair flowing very low rates may run many minutes on a standard 10 pound bottle. The valve covers shown are the standard ones we sell in group #1900, like the ones pictured in this story: E-mail Now: Custom Valve Covers Available Through Monday.

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Nitrous boosts power in 3 ways sequentially: It is actually injected as a 1000 psi liquid, who’s basic evaporation robs all the heat out of the intake charge.  The temperature can easily drop below zero F, even in a hot motor. Then the N2O is compressed and heats above 800F, the molecule breaks up in a dissocation reaction, which raises the pressure in the cylinder, and frees up the oxygen. N20 has nearly twice the mass of oxygen as air, and this is then burned with additional fuel sprayed in. Think of this as performing a take off with your plane at a density altitude of 5,000′ below sea level. N2O works great, but it is very intolerant of anything that aggravates detonation, like not setting timing with a light, or using the wrong plugs, letting the engine run lean or not reading the instructions.  When you hear stories about to blowing up engines, smile politely and nod, and think “WW said it wasn’t for everyone, particularly people who can’t read.”

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I have no “secrets.” I have tried to teach everyone all the things we have learned over the years. Secrets are for people who want you to idolize them, have themselves remain ‘mysterious.’ To me, the only thing mysterious about such people is why potentially rational people abdicate from their ability to consider and learn, instead opting to spread myths about some alleged talents or knowledge that you are not allowed to look at. Think back to how people talk about others who own powerful vehicles, and realize that a lot of this is a weird form of hero worshp, peoplably because it takes less effort than learning what is going on.

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 Yes, I know a lot about Corvairs, but the goal has always been to share it with other builders. That is what the last two decades have been all about.

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-ww.