Jack-o-lantern parts cleaner for HV-2000 rear cases.

Builders

One of our more popular parts is the High Volume oil pump / Rebuilt rear oil case. http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/2000-rear-oil-case-group/

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In the last month before heading on the western tour, We assembled a batch of 30 of them.  Although they have super accurate CNC machined parts in them, I have a decidedly low tech solution to cleaning the years of grime off the rear oil case cores that builders send in.

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50 years of baked on oil and sludge can be very tough to remove, but the fine tolerances and machined surfaces on the original case don’t tolerate really aggressive nor caustic cleaning methods without some harm. The solution I have come to over years where I have rebuilt more than 350 rear cases is to first clean them by boiling them for 2 hours in water with a very strong concentration of Simple Green cleaner. Afterward I rinse them off with a pressure washer/steam cleaner. They then go through the blast cabinet with very fine media. They are them machined followed by a trip through the parts washer, and finally assembled with the new parts.

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How does one keep 30 gallons of water at a vigorous boil for several hours? With a “Jack -o-Lantern” burner of course.  While the fine details of the machining are more technically interesting, I have many more neighbors like to come over and hang out with beer and lawn chairs during a cleaning session.  For this reason, plus the esthetics of combustion at night, we tend to fire up the Jack-o-lantern at dusk and make it a social occasion as well.

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For all of you childhood pyromaniacs and unrepentant troglodytes trapped in repressive gated communities, those in apartments with pleasant neighbors and  builders exiled to places with property owners associations run by yuppies, gaze upon the Jack-o-lantern cleaner and imagine horrifying all of those that would repress your most fundamental pyro-mechanical instincts.  It isn’t just a cleaning tool. When surrounded by fun people drinking beer it is a down right declaration of motorhead independence and freedom. Contrasts nicely with the forest at twilight.

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Stoking the fire at 5 pm: The burner is a 30 gallon drum with strategic vent holes for the flames to bathe the 30 gallon tub on the top. It holds 16 rear oil cases cores. The drip pan lid makes it boil much faster. The tall red device is 370,000 BTU steam generator. It is very impressive, and I melted a plastic tool shed with it before I understood it’s potential. But it still will not remove solidified five decade old sludge from Corvair parts without them first getting a boiling bath in Simple Green. It does a great job after the bath, and it then leaves the parts so clean you wouldn’t hesitate to lick them on a $5 bet…..but let them cool off first.

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Note to fellow environmentalists, Simple Green is not toxic and it is biodegradable, but I don’t dump it in the pond anyway, because it might make all the water moccasins vacation in my hangar. We have détente: I don’t swim in their pond, they don’t explore in my hangar.

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Jack-o-lantern is fueled with any available material. Above Corvair/Panther builder and neighbor Paul Salter brings over the remains of an old 4×4 fence. This was cut into one foot sections, and then soaked in a 50/50 mixture of old motor oil and dirty mineral spirits from the parts cleaner. That might sound like it would burn as clean and a torpedoed oil tanker, but once the Jack-o-lantern is at kindling temperature, it actually burns without visible smoke.

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If you look to the left of the tree, you can see the backstop for the 25 yard pistol range.  The woods behind it have no man made structure for more than 15 miles in that heading. Northern Florida has a much lower population density that people guess, particularly in rural areas.  Last week I visited with a number of old friends who live in very nice places in Southern California.  They politely try to understand the appeal of a place where I can take off from my 3,000′ “front lawn”, go dirt biking at the drop of a hat, plink in the backyard and run horrible devices like the Jack-o-lantern. I am sure they all come to the conclusion that I never grew up, which is pretty much true.

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-ww.

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Back in Fla. 13th-20th, fun with airline travel

Builders:

I have taken a break from the western Corvair College tour to fly back to Florida, and spend a solid week in the hangar making more parts and components. I spent the last week in Chino California working with Corvair College #37 host Steve Glover, and almost all of the prep for #37, which starts on the 22nd, is in place.  On the 20th, two days before #37, Dan Weseman and I are flying out to California, and we will do all the tech support and teaching at the Chino college.

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I flew back from LAX to Jacksonville, by way of Atlanta today. The send leg to Jacksonville was Delta flight 774, an MD-90 aircraft. I was seated near the very back of the plane, in row 34. About 5 minutes into the flight, while the plane was still climbing hard, we entered a cloud layer, and several times in the space of 60 seconds you could feel the plane gently porpoise in pitch. It was enough to make my sweat shirt float for a second or so. The passengers didn’t notice, but anyone who was a pilot would have known something was going on. The pilot stopped climbing, and in a clam voice announced that we had a trim failure, and we were returning to the airport.

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People groaned, because they are fools who understand nothing about command decisions on safety. The first thought on my mind was that this plane, an MD-90, had a nearly identical trim system as the MD-83 that was Alaskan Airlines 261 crash in 2000. That plane stayed airborne for 10 minutes before plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

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If you saw the movie “Flight” a few years ago, you saw Denzel Washington’s character try to fly an airliner inverted. The movie was fiction, but it had some roots in reality; The black boxes from Alaskan 261 showed that as a last ditch chance to survive, the flight crew actually tried flying their MD-83 inverted. It didn’t work, and everyone on the plane perished.

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The Delta crew did an excellent job of calmly bringing the flight back to Atlanta. We were greeted by a full compliment of fire trucks and rescue vehicles. We taxied back to the gate and everyone was loaded onto a different MD-90. This is the only airline flight I have ever been on in my life that was terminated after take off for a mechanical failure. We got to Jacksonville 2 hours late, but with the same flight crew. I spoke to the pilot for a moment and he said the failure was likely an elevator trim motor. I complimented him on his judgment, smooth flying, and his clam voice on all the announcements. He smiled, but shrugged it off.

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An aviator of ethics and principles, John J. Liotine:

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John Liotine was a very experienced aircraft mechanic who worked for Alaskan Airways. He went to the FAA and reported that Alaskan was filing fictitious maintenance records. The FAA investigation confirmed this. 3 years before the Flight 261 crash, Liotine recommended replacing the very jack screw that failed, but Alaskan did not. After the crash  investigation showed that Liotine was right, and the Airlines claims about his character were slander, he was awarded $500,000 in damages.  People who debate the power of corporations to elude justice should consider this: No criminal charges were ever filed against anyone in the ownership or management of Alaskan Airlines.

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-ww.