Evolution of a Pietenpol pt. 2

Builders,

A few more old pictures, a 2nd part to this story: Evolution of a Pietenpol

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Above, Working on the plane in the original Edgewater hangar. The original blowerfan Corvair with 140 heads has been replaced by my ‘modern’ conversion. If you look at the black prop hub, it has drive lugs in it, it was hub #1. It was made for me by a good friend, Judith Saber. It is the exact same hub that is on the top of this trophy: The Cherry Grove Trophy, 2014. The tapered white items on the right are Lancair IVP wing spars. This was the hangar were I sold my soul to professional aircraft building: 2,500 words about levels of aircraft finish……

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Above, a later picture with new gear, another mount, fresh finish work and metal, the front seat lowered 4″, hydraulic drum brakes,  and the center section off to be converted to a 17 gallon wet wing. Fuselage on it’s nose was an Aeronca Chief I had.

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Above, after a move 15 miles back to the Spruce Creek Fly-in. Notice I am back in a T-hangar, this is after the end of Lancair building I speak about in the finishing story link above. Engine is still a front starter. The only time I had a rear starter was 24 months of 1999-2001, every other bit of my work with Corvairs has been front starters. It was all about being willing to test and evaluate anything, and being willing to go back if the results suggested that was the right path.

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Above, rear starter has arrived, and this mount is actually different than the one pictured above. Rear starter necessitates oil filter moving to the firewall and lots of lines. The real issue is the firewall end of the crank is ill suited to transmitting the cranking power, and particular poorly set for  a starter kick-back. This was the only rear starter installation I did, and I didn’t sell parts for it. It flew a couple of hundred hours, making trips as far west as Kansas and north to Oshkosh. PS, don’t run engines without cooling systems, like I am doing here. This is also a good view of the 6×6 Cleveland hydraulic drum brakes off a Tri-pacer. They are very aerodynamically clean compared to discs.

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If you would like a prime example of the limitations of my ability to encourage people to build better planes, look at the shiny aluminum hard lines coming off the molded fuel rail on the underside of the tank. In my crash on 7/14/01, nearly everything in the plane was broken, but the wet center section didn’t rupture, the aluminum lines coming off that rail failed when the small diagonal cabanes folded. I have written very plainly about this:  Pietenpol Fuel lines and Cabanes, about how I remain ‘morally thankful’ that it was myself who was lit on fire by this building error I made, and not anyone else who flew in the plane. Yet here is a reality check: 15 years of speaking about this later, I still see new pietenpols being built all the time with hard lines connecting the wing tanks to the fuselage and weak diagonal cabanes.

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If you think you can communicate to people, it is a humbling experience to find out that even when you share what just one a day in the burn ward is like, that the two bandage changes will produce vast greater pain than you have ever felt, and bring the toughest of people to a nervous breakdown,  most people are still going to build a ‘chittty chitty bang-bang’ style plane with copper lines because they think it looks cooler than braided steel ones.

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A friend who is close to the fatal Jenny accident of Ron Alexander, a great guy, said it will come out that it was survivable, but for broken hard fuel lines. He predicted that this will finally get more people to listen to my point about fuel lines. I told him my honest opinion that it will have little or no effect at all. I have come to the conclusion that the majority of people in experimental aviation have a greater attachment to paint jobs, things that look ‘cool’, following popular people, and saving pennies than they do their own safety or that of their passengers.

 

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Above, the business end. Two blade 66″ Warp Drive, best all around prop for a 2700 Corvair, even on a slow plane. Notice the short Nose bowl, is rounded, not flat. It was a 3″ thick piece of blue foam, glued on a 1/8″ sheet of plywood, screwed to the table and shaped in 5 minutes with a hand held bet sander. Glassed over in an hour and done. The spinner was 11″ in diameter. Being aluminum, it cracked, a lot.

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 People who have never tested a shorter prop will always repeat the myth that ’72” props are the minimum for efficiency’ This is complete bull shit. Fact: Maximum legal diameter for a Cessna 150 prop on an O-200 is 69.5″ That plane is not know as a great climber. If there was an extra 200′ per minute, or even 100′ per minute available by going to a 72″ prop, don’t you think that Cessna would have jumped at the chance to improve the performance of 10,000 150’s?  Larger props only make sense on engines like A-65’s which have weak metallurgy and low 2,375 rpm red lines, and engines that have much higher HP than typical light planes.

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Above, Loading passengers at Brodhead 2000. Francis Sanders, who was the organizer that year, said that he wanted every engine shut off while people were getting in our out of planes. A very good rule, but particularly so in a Pietenpol, which is not only harder to get in the front seat, but also commonly has a throttle there. In 2000, about 15 Piets were at Brodhead, and about 10 of us gave rides. It was very easy for us to give the most because we were the only electric start plane doing so, and restarting the engine after loading was a button push away. The last ride of that day is told in this story: Ralph Carlson and Conversion Manual #1.

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About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

3 Responses to Evolution of a Pietenpol pt. 2

  1. moperformance says:

    I sure wished you still lived down here. Regards, Bill Jacobs, Daytona Beach Florida

  2. Sarah Ashmore says:

    You speak of trying to get builders to understand that those hard fuel lines are not safe in a crash but they do not seem to listen. Maybe some people cannot be educated no matter how much you try. Maybe they have to see it for themselves or experience it for themselves before they will believe and put safety before classic looks. When I started my Personal Cruiser project I started looking at what needed to change to make it safe in a crash situation. First thing that had to go was the fuel tank behind the pilot seat which was not in any way crashworthy. That drove some other design decisions but the number one consideration was always how it would affect my ability to survive a crash. I have never crashed an aircraft and hope I never will but accept that the latter is under my control only to a limited amount. I think back to advice I read for making a forced night time landing. It said at about 100′ above the ground turn the landing light on and if you don’t like what you see turn it off. That sums up how much control we can have at times and better to do what we can to stack the odds of what comes next in our favor.

  3. David Jones says:

    Some of us do still learn from your writings, William. Changing my fuel
    lines. Thanks!

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