Corvair College 58, Martinique 

Builders,

This started out as a joke between Earl Brown and myself at CC #36 in Texas. I said that I was thinking of new college locations, and Kevin mentioned that he and Shelley are relocating to Tyler TX in the future. I said I’m sure it’s nice but I was thinking of something really different like the island of Martinique in the French West Indies.

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Thus it began, and for the two day’s following the college, Earl and I spun and evermore elaborate tale contrasting what CC #58 would be like vs Kevin’s future in Tyler. It evolved to Corvair powered amphibians on beaches with topless French women and our own personal bartender named “Henri ” vs Kevin driving a minivan to Tyler PTA meetings for his yet to be conceived grandchildren. Mind you, neither Earl nor I have been within 500 miles of Martinique, but details like that should never get in the way of teasing a close friend.

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OK, into the picture comes Corvair/Piet builder Stuart Snow to last Week’s CC #37.  Stu has actually been to Martinique in an official capacity; he was part of the White House secure communications team when G Bush 41 met Miterand of France there for a US-French summit meeting. Stu reports that half the stuff that Earl and I dreamed up actually happens to be real……..and so I have signed him on as communications director for CC #58. That is why he is holding the sign which says “Sorry Kevin”.  

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As a foot note Stu added that as much as we think of Airforce one, Miterand traveled on the Concorde, and after watching it leave with 150,000 pounds of thrust from four afterburning jet engines, he decided that afterburners and Mach 2 is really how the head of state should travel.

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2,700 cc Corvair running on video

Builders;

 Here is a short video of the last Corvair to run at CC #37, this was the engine that Kiku Williams was assembling.

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In the video the engine is cooling down at 1,000 rpm after a full 40 minute break in run.  The engine is a rebuild and a partial update.  It flew 150 hrs years ago, but was removed from the damaged airframe after an acquaintance of the former owner botched a landing attempt from 20 feet in the air. Since then the engine got a full tear down and inspection, a different crank, a 5th bearing, gold oil system, and a 2400-L starter system. it retains the old black hub and bolt on head pipes.

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Oil priming videos

Builders:

I am just finishing up the last engine in Steve Glover’s hangar, a 2,700 we will run in the morning. Late this afternoon we used the 1/2″ drill to prime it, just as I have done to several hundred other engines. At Colleges I do this for every engine, and we have specific equipment that makes doing this in rapid succession on many engines easier.  We show builders how this prevents wear, collects assembly debris in the filter, allows checking for leaks and pressure before the engine is started, pumps up the lifters, and also gives a chance to verify that oil is flowing all the way to the rocker arms before the engine runs,

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The noise in all the videos is the drill running the oil pump. I am not sure the video links will work, but here is a try, from the grease monkey:

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Above is a shot of looking in the top cover as the engine is turned by hand with the plugs out. If you look closely, you can see how oil is pumped out around the connecting rod caps.


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Above is a video of oil dripping off the rockers. I like to verify that every rocker is getting oil before putting the valve covers on  for good. This can take up to 20 minutes to get every rocker to drip oil. The drip pans were made from old valve covers.

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Above is a look at a main bearing and the volume of oil it will pass. Watch how fast the oil builds up as I wipe it away.

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Running 3,000 cc Corvair for 750 – Ed Wang

Builders:

Below is a short story about the last engine to run at CC #37, a top notch 3,000 cc Corvair, built from FlyCorvair and SPA/Panther parts.  I am going to write a longer story about this later, but I just wanted to share the video we shot of it today.  Would you like an example of how dramatically improved delivery times are in 2016?  Ed bought his core engine just 7 weeks ago, and it ran today, completely rebuilt and converted for flight, 49 days later.  While previous part suppliers thought it was acceptable to make builders wait a year or more for a 5th bearing or set of heads, Dan and Rachel Weseman were determined to make a dramatic change in the market and make Corvair parts much more accessible to builders. Ed’s rapid timeline is evidence of their success, and their support and distribution of our products allows me to be out here on the west coast, on an extended tour directly working with builders like Ed to advance their goals in homebuilding.

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Code Monkey meets Grease Monkey:  Ed is a very sharp, accomplished 30 year old from California. He holds a masters in Computer Science, and has a strong mechanical background ranging from the shooting sports to putting a LS-1 in his Nissan 240.  Two years ago, he set his sights on aviation, and became a private pilot comfortable in the LA basin’s dense airspace, and got started on building a Zenith 750 cruiser. Although he could budget any of the available power plant options for his Zenith, including those costing several times the Corvair, Ed selected the Corvair specifically because it offered the greatest learning opportunity.

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Although his career operates with far more advanced skills, Ed mentioned being proud of the fact that he still possessed a mastery of the most fundamental skill set of the Computer Science world, being a “Code Monkey.”  There is a parallel in my craft; although I do a number of different things in aviation, they are all underpinned by my pride in mastering a skill set called “Grease Monkey.”

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While we live in a world where it is ever more common for those in management to not be able to perform the craft of those they are said to manage, there will always be a kind of person who prides themselves in knowing they can do all the tasks that make up the organization they run.  For some of us, at work, this means being a capable Code Monkey or Grease Monkey. When it comes to our hours in  homebuilding, the same type of person wants to posses the all the skills that go into building the plane, not just some of them. At it’s very core, this means not only knowing your airframe, but really knowing its power plant also, and this only comes from personally building it yourself. Possessing the fundamental “grease Monkey” skills to build your own engine sets you far apart from others who don’t have the same “need to know” in aviation.

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A video of the engine run. Note the obvious pride in the moment of accomplishment:

https://youtu.be/iWOiaJx18sA

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A few seconds of a Corvair with a 60″ prop at 2,600 rpm, pulling a pickup truck:

https://youtu.be/u0AmGPWQpFY

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Corvair College #37, more photos.

Builders:

Some more photos from Corvair College #37 in Chino California. This is our 17th year of Colleges, hundreds of people have attended them, learned a lot had fun and made friends. All types of people have found the Colleges the place they feel most at home in aviation. If you are yet to find your own place in aviation, Consider the Corvair movement, a place where the traditional EAA values of learn build and fly are still practiced at every event.

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Above, Daniel Kelley, Buttercup builder from Ventura CA, strikes the “Captain Morgan pose” right after his engine started. It took only 4 seconds of cranking to bring this 3,000 cc Corvair to life for the very first time.

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Randy Lewis flew in with his 2,700cc  Corvair powered Dragonfly. That is him standing by the cowl. Plane has been flying for a while, has about 100 hours on it and uses an Ellison EFS-3A carb.

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Photographic evidence that builders who attend Colleges actually read installation instructions.

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The very petite Kiku Williams hard at work on her 2,700 cc Corvair. Most of are stands and fixtures work for people between 5’6″ and 6’6″. No problem, Kiku just pulled up a step stool and went to work assembling the bottom end in  her hello kitty shirt. Engine is destined for her KR-2s.

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1964 Corvair Greenbrier daily driver showed up on Sunday.

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Edward Wang pulls the prop through with the oil system is primed on his 3,000 cc engine. It is destined for his Zenith 750 cruiser. He built the engine staring from a closed case in 2 days at the College. This was his first event.
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Corvair College #37, day one photos

Builders:

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Above, Daniel Kelley’s 3,000 cc engine set for an early am test run. It is destined for his Buttercup project.

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Dan Weseman leading a discussion on closing a case.

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Blue 2,700 engine is for Steve Glovers own personal KR-2s.

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A number of 3,000 cc Bottom ends going together with Weseman gen II 5th bearings.

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Above core looked terrible on outside, but was clean on the inside, and has a set of forged pistons inside.

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Noted Land Based Corvair expert Bob Helt’s dog Rocky

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Prep for Corvair College #37.

Builders:

We had a full day of prep for the college, which officially kicks off at noon tomorrow. A number of people have been assisting Steve Glover with prep work. Well Known KR pilot Richard Shirley was at the shop three days in a row, and his home is all the way on the other side of the LA basin. Today we were Joined by Dan Branstrom, who drove in from his home near Palm Springs. Dan has been around Corvairs for a long time, You can see pictures of him at Colleges as far back as CC #5 in Hanford CA in 2004.

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Two men with some common ties: Dan Branstrom on the left and Steve Glover on the right. Both of them served as Marines, Dan in the 1960s and Steve in the 1990s.  Steve’s first experimental aircraft was a Jeanie’s Teeny. He got started building it as an enlisted man in the barracks. Dan was actually on hand to see the designer Calvin Parker make the maiden flight in 1967.  These are the kinds of connections builders discover at Colleges. The events are far more than engine building seminars.

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“Old hairy guy” and Ford Man deploy to the west coast

Builders,

Yesterday, Dan Weseman and myself flew out commercial from Jacksonville to Los Angles, to get ready for Corvair College #37 in Chino This weekend. It was a long day on a few hours of sleep, the photo below taken By Dan’s sister who lives out here. She took us to dinner at a place near LAX called “flights” which serves your beer samples on wing ribs.

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Above, a picture taken by Dan’s sister last night. He claims to pay no attention to ‘social media’ so I guess he will not notice that he was practicing his ‘happy face’ in this picture.

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Dan and Rachel’s two youngest boys are normally very respectful, and are trained to refer to adults “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in front of your first name, but when the boys are speaking to each other, my code name is “Old Hairy Guy, ”  as in “you’re going to have to sit next to old hairy guy on the drive to the airport” If you need someone to gently break the news to you that you have arrived at middle age, don’t ask a 10 year old, they are too honest.

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Because Dan flies a Chevy and drives a ’96 Silverado, some people think he must be on the Chevy side of the Ford vs Chevy civil war, but he is not. In Reality he is a 100% Ford guy. He has owned an endless unbroken chain of Mustangs his whole adult life, Rachel’s daily driver is an Expedition, and even their motorhome is equipped with a V-10 modular Ford engine. Getting Dan to fly a Chevy was a tough sell emotionally, so you know it must make a lot of sense logically. For the record, I gave Dan the Silverado a couple of years ago, a beater that another friend at our airport gave to me. I say this just so Dan’s record for team Ford is clean: He has never bought a Chevy to drive, even though he is OK with flying them.

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Eric Overton, aka: “Air Marshall Bidet”

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Above, Eric Overton at Corvair College #36 in Texas, stands with his 95% complete 2,775 cc Corvair. The engine is destined to power Eric’s Neuport 12,  a two seat WWI replica.  I am not sure how the nickname started, but Eric is self-confident enough that he actually likes and uses it.  We kid around that when his plane is done we are going to get him in a French officer’s uniform in front of it,  photo shop it in Sepia tone to make it look 100 years old, an label it  “Air Marshall Bidet and his personal Neuport”

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There is a serious side to all this: Eric has beaten Cancer three times in his adult life, fought the last battle just this year. We are not speaking of minor conflicts, we are speaking of the kind where your doctor tells you to get your affairs in order. What kind of guy keeps chipping away at a long term aircraft project when he is being advised that buying green bananas is too optimistic? A guy who is determined not to lose.

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Eric has been to every College we have held in Texas. He is an interesting cat with a lot of life experience. He is a Dartmouth graduate electrical engineer who works on rapidly developed electronic devices for industry.  He brought some of this stuff to #22, the first Texas college. Everyone expected that a guy with that background would drive something like a Tesla Motors car. Instead he drove in with his early 1960’s Ford Falcon.  Eric explained that America is addicted to high tech electronics, and his career is supplying the cutting edge of that need.  Then he added “like any successful drug dealer, I don’t use the product I push.”

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Think you have to have something in common with me to get along?  Guess again. I am a grease monkey, and Eric is a comparative rocket scientist. In five years, this is what I have found that Eric and I have in common: We like planes. Evidently that is enough, because we get along great.

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Think you may be too different to fit in with people at Corvair Colleges?  Maybe your friends have an even weirder nick name for you than “Air Marshall Bidet”? I didn’t think so. We have enough characters that you will be in little danger of sticking out.

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Think you will always have ‘next year’ to advance your dreams?  Maybe, but Eric could probably make a strong argument for not putting life off.  He would also tell you that succumbing to the negative little voice that says you can’t, you shouldn’t and dreams like that are not for guys like you is giving up, and there is nothing to be achieved by giving up, even when the odds are very long.

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Parts Production improvements- #4201 Motor Mounts

Builders,

Below is a snapshot taken today at SPA/Pather’s shipping department: Notice that there are 17 Powder coated Corvair motor mounts ready to be shipped. This is only part of the total, there are more still in the powder coating process.

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From L to R, the first eight mounts are #4201-B Zenith 750 mounts. The next ones are #4201-A Zenith 601/650 mounts. The ones on top of the boxes are Cleanex mounts that Dan and Rachel sell. The others on the floor are Zenith 650 mounts. You can get a look at the mounts I sell at this link:  http://shop.flycorvair.com/product-category/airframe-accessory-parts/

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Here is another advantage of working with the Wesemans: Although I have spent the last few weeks in Texas and California, progress with our parts still happens, and things are being shipped all the time.  Last year when I was wearing too many hats and trying to meet family commitments, I got slow on making motor mounts.  In addition to having Dan and Rachel handle  the sales and distribution of our parts, I can also tap into their talent resources as well. Travis is the 30 year old head of their welding department, a very talented young man. When I needed to get caught up, Dan suggested I contract with them to have Travis weld out the CNC tubing kits, and bring my fixture over to their shop. Sounded great. I returned from California to find I have no more back orders, and we now have both styles of Zenith mounts in stock ready for immediate shipment. Synergy at it’s finest.

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If you need a mount for your Zenith, you can order one directly off the catalog link above. Even though I will be back in California in 48 hours finishing the western College tour, The Weseman’s will make sure your mount arrives shortly. If you have any specific questions on ordering not covered on the site, please call 904-626-7777 and speak with Rachel.

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I have been welding since 1978 or so, and I have welded parts that are flying all over the globe. I am pretty sure I have done 400+ Corvair mounts in the last 20 years. I can’t sing, nor dance, but I can weld, and I have some pride in that…..and that is what makes the next part hard: Dan and Rachel’s chief welder Travis, has been at welding for less than five years…..and he is better than I am.  I know I am supposed to be a self actualized adult, and that competitive instincts are a sign of something, but damn, it fries me just how good Travis is. When I have welded 200 Zenith mounts, and they are damn good, but Travis’s third one looks better than any one of the ones I have ever welded, it just makes me feel old. What makes it worse is that Travis is super polite and very humble.  When he is laying down the 100th foot of perfect bead for the day, I resort to childish things like saying Travis, please explain the significance of the National Labor Relations act of 1934″ Without stopping the bead he politely says “I am not familiar with that Mr. Wynne” to which I respond “Well young Travis, you see there are more important things in life than just being a better welder than me, there is great stuff to learn like arcane trivia of American political history I know so well, so you see I still am a critical part of society, even if you can perform mundane tasks like welding slightly better than I care to.”  I am reasonably sure I am the weirdest person Travis has ever met, and that is saying something because he is from Kentucky.

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