Parts production improvements – E/P-X distributors.
Here is a quick story to explain a dramatic improvement in 2016 parts production.
Above, is a picture of 50 stainless steel points plates. These are the core element of all the Corvair ignitions systems I have made since 1998. There have been several evolutions, but the current layout has been unchanged for eight years. This plate is inside every E/P and E/P-X distributor we make See: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3301-epx-distributor/
Over the years we have had these plates made by machining, hydro cutting, and laser cutting. The last of these is the best option for production. For many years these were produced for us by a very large Defense/Aerospace contractor called Shapes Group Ltd. They are located near the Cape Canaveral complex. They normally don’t make parts like points plates, but Grace is very close friends with the former owner, and he made our stuff between things like C-5B titanium flap tracks and ballistic submarine hatches. Needless to say, the quality was good.
After the ownership changed, service was polite, but not easy nor quick. This is understandable with a company that which does 100 million dollars of machine work in a good year. Since then we have had another CNC shop make them for us, and again the quality was good, but it was not easy to get quick service nor fine tune detail changes. The E/P distributors I have made are in more than 90% of the flying Corvair powered planes in the world. They are popular parts, and for this reason, and the supply difficulty, it was traditionally a part builders had to wait for.
Enter Dan Weseman: Because Rachel and Dan have hundreds of parts made and sourced for their Panther kits, they have developed excellent suppliers for their own parts, and they do quantity business with them. When I mentioned the points plate to Dan, he said he would run it past his laser cutter. Dan is a highly skilled CNC draftsman, and it took only a moment to finely alter a hole size and email the drawing to the Laser cutter. In a week we had the first pile of plates, they were perfect, and also affordable. In the last 90 days we cut the back orders on E/P distributors to nearly zero, and we will shortly have plenty in stock.
When I decided last week that I would fly back to Florida to spend a week in the shop making parts before CC#37, I called Dan and asked him to get another run of plates made. Five days later, when I returned from California, a box containing the 50 plates above was waiting on the bench in my shop.
We are applying this type of effort to the items in my catalog which have been traditionally in short supply. Improving the supply of subcomponents and having Dan and Rachel take care of the distribution of our parts has made a dramatic difference in the availability of our stuff, and we are just getting started. We had a brief meeting yesterday and reviewed output, sales and deliveries in the last 90 days, and came to the conclusion that it is a very reasonable goal to have every single catalog item in stock, in quantity before departing for Oshkosh. This also puts us in the position of being able to make available items that have that have been on the back burner like Kitfox 5-6-7 series Corvair mounts and on the shelf 3,000 cc Corvair closed cases built around Gen II 5th bearings.
A box with 50 stainless steel plates doesn’t look like a big deal until you consider it as a small part of a big improvement in manufacturing operations. 2016 is evolving as a year of serious improvements in the accessibility of Corvairs for builders who choose to get more out of homebuilding.