How many mistakes can you see?

Builders,

The name of the person who bought and flew this engine will be held confidential, because he has since learned a lot about Corvairs and their safe operation, and purchased an engine to replace this one.  While this engine did fly for the original builder, it had an intermediate owner who knew little or nothing about it, but was willing to sell it to someone else. The new owner, following some very poor advice from a 5,000 hr pilot he mistakenly believed to have good judgement, flew a very long cross country home behind this engine, with nearly no understanding of it’s operation. I submit his survival as evidence of divine intervention of a God who’s sense of humor I am yet to understand.

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Below are pictures of the engine, returned as a core to SPA. We specifically wanted it back to remove it from possibly finding it way in parts or as a whole back into the Corvair “gene pool.” By making sure it gets ‘retired’ we are preventing another person, who has not done his homework or is following poor advice, from using this as a tool to remove themselves from the human gene pool.

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Above, eight plate oil cooler: this has never been acceptable. Read: Notes on Group 2800 Heavy Duty Gold Oil Systems.

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Harmonic balancer held on with two hardware store washers, instead of the GM specifically designed washer. Read: Balancer Installation

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Distributor has a straight thread, non locking nut on it, prone to slipping and having the timing change. Read: Distributor Detail. The distributor is not oriented correctly, and it is an older dual point model, but one of the sets of points inside are a model we specifically told people never to use.

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This has never been an acceptable plug. Read: A Tale of Two Spark Plugs…… and The correct supplies for engine building 

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Half way through the trip home, one head detonated to death. Instead of trucking it home, a local car mechanic was found, a “Corvair Expert” who installed a piece of shit head on the motor. I have no idea what authority the mechanic used to justify going on airport grounds and working on a flying plane, with absolutely no training, nor any idea of what is done to heads to make them flight worthy. In case you are wondering, It is NEVER acceptable to grind on a weld on a plane to make it look “Pretty”.

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Above, notice there is no baffle between cylinder #2 and the oil cooler. Also note the pipes were welded on the heads without the correct lean in angle. Oil fill in the top cover is a bad idea, and a push in oil cap in that location is an invitation to it popping off from a clogged breather, which would result in oil being sprayed on the hottest parts of the engine.

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Another look at the missing baffle. This results in very high oil temps from the cylinder directly radiating heat onto the cooler, and it is also a serious leak in the cooling air.

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Above, the motor has no fifth bearing. The buyer of the plane really had no idea what one was, and the seller was in no hurry to explain that for the last 10 years I have been telling people to install one. Second, note that the engine has an old style FRA-235 ring gear which should have been replaced long ago. Read: Front and Rear alternators, their part in numbering system

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The junk head, installed on airport grounds by a car person: Note that it has no locking nuts on the installation, nor does it have rotators on the exhausts. The “Repair” cost $600, so you know there is nothing good inside the head either. The cost to simply produce one first class flight head is more than the total price here. The heads are bolted on with grade 5 nuts.

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Above, this is not a good location for a nylock nut, but the real issue is the number of exposed threads. When this many are showing, there is a very good chance the nut is bottomed on the shank of the bolt, not actually tight.

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Every oil pan I have ever made has had a 1/2″-20 drain plug thread. For some reason this motor gas a pipe thread jammed in the oil pan. It leaked. notice the pan washers are not locking.

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This has never been the vent location for the engine. Being that low, it will send a slug of oil into the vent line on climb. There are very specific reasons why we use the locations we do for vents and for filler necks. Read: Parts for Oshkosh .

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On the trip home in this plane, the engine first turned 3,000 rpm on takeoff.  later in the flight the owner related that the take off rpm fell off several hundred rpm. He is a pilot of very modest experience, but his companion with 5,000 hours wrote this off to it being hotter later in the day. If you don’t know this, understand it wasn’t the heat, which might have been attributable to 50 rpm but not 500, it was the fact they were taking off with one dead cylinder. The flight continued. Near the end of the day, they took off from a paved airport thousands of feet long, but were turning less than 2500 rpm. (read: Critical Understanding #4, ANY loss of RPM is Detonation. ) At no point did the 5,000 hour pilot abort the take off. The plane staggered into the air. I asked how low they were when they flew the pattern, and the owner told me they didn’t return to the airport, they just ‘flew on to their destination, 130 miles away, because they had to get there.’

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Had they crashed, who would have been blamed? I’m going to guess that the engine would be the first victim, and maybe the guy who built the plane. Do you think the family of the 5,000 hr pilot, when contacted by personal injury attorneys, would correctly blame the 5,000 hr pilot for having no judgement? Let us just go back to square number one: Who performed the required condition inspection on the airplane last? Where is the log book entry for this? If this was done, why was the plane flown with little or no understanding of the operational parameters?  Or how about this one: When a plane that should be airborne in 700′ is now passing the 3,000′ runway mark, why in gods name didn’t the 5,000 hr pilot pull the throttle back?

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Above the engine sits in a box. Want to avoid getting in a box prematurely? don’t buy and fly any aircraft or engine understanding it fully. Don’t assume that things for sale are airworthy. Don’t assume that people with 5,000 hours in their logs have any judgement.

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wewjr.

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Bob Lester’s Corvair/ Pietenpol nears 800 hours.

Builders.

I received an note from Bob Lester saying he is just a few hours from the 800 hour mark of Corvair power on his Pietenpol. He has done this in about 48 months. The airframe was built in the 1970s with a 65HP Lycoming, but bob bought it, did a lot of work to the plane, and has been logging hours on his 2,700cc Corvair ever since. Has off to Bob on this milestone.

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Above, Bob and his plane at CC #39 last month. The planes large wheels are Harley front mag wheels with smooth covers.

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For a look at some “Bob Stories”:

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Bob Lester’s 48 flight hour, 3400 mile Pietenpol adventure

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Power plant comparison:

Pietenpol Power: 100 hp Corvair vs 65 hp Lycoming

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Landing gear change:

New die spring landing gear on a Pietenpol, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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Our Piet discussion group:

Piet Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

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Bob’s Piet and others at Barnwell:

Pietenpol Builders and Pilots at Corvair College #31.

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A look at a College where Bob gave a lot of rides:

Corvair College #33: Behind The Scenes

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Bob has been around Corvairs for a long time. Above he and Grace in 2005 at our old Edgewater hangar. They are eating ten pounds of boiled shrimp in the hangar’s “executive dining room.”

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Above Bob Lester and Steve Makish. These two old friends attended a number of early Colleges in a pair of Corvair powered KR-2s. Today Bob has his Corvair in his Pietenpol.  They have known each other through 30 years of flying.

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Above, Bob Lester’s Corvair powered Pietenpol sits on the ramp at Barnwell at sunset on Saturday night at Corvair College #31.

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Above my favorite Bob Lester photo, where he naturally strikes the “Intrepid Aviator” pose with his Pietenpol at CC#25.  He is good at this because he has seen every old aviation movie ever made. I have to coach other pilots on getting the pose right, but not Bob.

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wewjr.

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Production: #2802 – Gold Sandwich Adapter. 

Builders,

While I do put out all kinds of stories, behind the posts, production of parts marches on. Pictured below, a batch of #2802 Gold Sandwich Adapters, the fundamental part of a Group 2800 Heavy Duty Oil Cooling System.

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The #2802 goes between the #2601 oil filter housing and the oil filter. In the picture above, you are looking at the side which contacts the oil filter.

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Flipped over, this is the side which contacts the #2601 filter housing. The two blue fittings go to and from the Heavy duty oil cooler.

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Above, 26 of them being assembled in my workshop. They come with the AN fittings installed, and I hand assemble the bypass valve which is internal to the part. We have made these for more than 10 years, they are long proven to be excellent parts on hundreds of engines.

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wewjr.

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The Politics of Pouring Gasoline

Builders,

Today I went out and bought 3 new 5 gallon cans to store 100LL in. As most of you have noticed, in the last few years, we have all been subjected to “Safety” spouts and pouring devices on new gas cans. Speaking as someone who has spent a lot of days in the burn ward, these devices are stupid, and are not the way to prevent accidents. Obviously, education is. You can’t make the world “safe” for imbeciles, and I personally resent attempts to idiot proof everyone’s world, in a futile attempt to protect those who are working very hard to remove themselves from the gene pool.

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Here is something ironic: The bag above contains a normal spout that replaces the “Safety” spout. Look at the states in which this device is illegal: right at the start of the list is California, Aka: “The People’s Republic of CA“.  Notice that the actual Commies in China produce the device to defeat the pseudo-commie legislative “safety” spouts mandated in those 11 states and DC.  Yes, I own a copy of Das Kapital, and I know it is an economic model, not a system of gas spouts. I think of anything that seeks to remove an individual’s right to choose his own path in life and replaces this with forced compliance with the alleged good of the masses as, for the lack of a better term, “commie”.

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Before anyone from California or any of the other States starts typing, please understand I have been to all 50 states – (State #50, North Dakota), I love CA (just not it’s legislature Water Bomber at twilight) , I think of Albert Camus as a great man (he was a commie – Thinking of the people of France) and of course I am just an opinionated idiot –Lifestyles of Troglodytes.

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Something funny: Three 5 gallon containers, and two 30 round containers in the same picture. I don’t know who designed the gas containers, but the two others work with machines of George Hyde and Gordon Ingram (L) and Eugene Stoner and James Sullivan (R).  When looking at the list of states which forbid the use of regular gasoline pour spouts, it nearly overlaps exactly with states that forbid the mere ownership of the 30 round containers. It is all a misguided attempt to make the world ‘safe’ by removing anything that might be used by a fool or an evil person to cause harm, rather than removing the person who is doing the harm.

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One of the great things I love about aviation, is the fact it is one of the last bastions in American life, where the participants understand that it is a better investment in risk management to educate the participants rather than make a futile try to ‘idiot proof’ the machines.  While I can’t fix your gas spout if you live in a “safety” state, we should both have loud vocal objections when anyone suggests they have an idea for idiot proofing aviation…..unless that idea is escorting the idiots off the airport.

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WEWJR

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New Corvair/ Zenith 750, Vance Lucas, Canada.

Builders:

Word came yesterday that Vance Lucas flew his 3,000cc Corvair powered Zenith 750. It was a start to finish 36 month build, including Vance building his own engine at our Corvair colleges. Hats off to Vance, for a job very well done. His personal reward is amplified by being the master of his power plant, not simply it’s owner. He invested the extra measure of his own effort to achieve this. Corvairs are not for everyone, but if your individual path is driven to find out how much you can learn, not how little, you will find the engine and our program to offer a depth of understanding for those unwilling to settle for less.

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Above, Vance and his 3,000 cc / 120 HP engine during the perfect break in run. I took this Photo in Portland Oregon last year. If you are not a Corvair builder and wonder at times why we have a very strong following, this is an easy example to follow: I drove out from Florida with a trailer of tools and the test stand to cover colleges all over the west. (read: Back in Florida after 7,380 miles on tour.) The trip included a 1,000 mile extension to cover just 3 Zenith builders in Portland who were ready for a test run. Total Price I charged these builders for travel work and test run? Zero dollars. The great majority of companies in experimental aviation measure ‘success’ solely based on how much money they make. Since 1989, I have measured success by what builders have learned, and how they use this to safely operate their aircraft 

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 Vance drove down from Canada to Portland for his test run. He is a first class guy and good company. He also attended the Corvair College #30 we held at the Zenith factory in Mexico MO. For a look at the Portland story, read: A tale of three Zenith builders.

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STOL CH 750 First Flight

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From Vance: “Three days short of three years since I picked up the tail kit from the freight depot I have a flying airplane. Everything went according to plan, no surprises, thanks God.”

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wewjr.

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Paul Salter’s Panther; Outstanding Homebuilt Aircraft of SnF 2017.

Builders,

Paul Salter’s 3,000 cc Corvair powered SPA Panther was awarded the title “Outstanding Home Built Aircraft” at Sun n Fun 2017. It is a well deserved reward, going to a guy who is respected by all who know him.

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To see photos and videos of Paul, his Panther, and projects:

Paul’s Panther

Corvair Thermal Image Testing

Short Run Video; Panther.

Testing at Sensenich Propellers

Would you rather be friends with a turtle or win an academy award?

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Paul’s Panther on display at the SPA booth in Lakeland.

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Before SnF, three Panther’s in front of Paul’s hangar. L-R – Paul’s, Steve Pedano’s and Bob Wooley’s.

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Who has the hardest working Corvair? Look at the belly of Paul’s plane and see the oil streaks; This was a result of intentional inverted spin maneuvers. Paul’s plane has a Ellison EFS-3A carb, and it does not quit when inverted.  Although it doesn’t have an inverted oil system, it will not run out of pressure during brief inverted flight.  The oil is a few ounces trapped in the breather pipe expelled when the plane is rolled upright. The test was done by Bob Wooley. Read more :  Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #2, Hardest working engine.

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Paul’s cowl with oil access door open.  SPA/Panther Cowls and FlyCorvair KR-2 cowls are all fiberglass, all other models we work with are composite nose bowls with metal cowlings

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Above, at the SnF awards dinner.

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wewjr.

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Compression and Detonation Testing, #2

Builders:

Here is part #2 of the series. Part #1 can be read here: Compression and Detonation Testing, #1

I am currently assembling the test motor, but a builder wrote in with a valid question: He asked why was I so sure that the motor would make flight power with very low differential compression? The answer is this: I have 28 years of experience on this, and there have been plenty of chances to see builders’ engines running after they made a mistake that blew out a head gasket. Below are two examples pulled directly off my traditional website, long ago documented. However, after our current tests, we will have sharp comparative numbers on a back to back test. For today, some older evidence that provides the basis of my understanding.

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Above is a cylinder pictured at Corvair College #20. This is the cylinder that was removed from John Neff’s engine with a blown head gasket. The commentary on the original 2011 photo says this:

“If you look closely you can see that it has molten aluminum stuck to the side of the iron cylinder. Again, this did not stop the engine from running or producing power.”

You can read the full comments here, where they have been for the last 6 years: http://www.flycorvair.com/cc20.html  The fact the ignition timing on this engine was not set with a light before it was flown was the root cause of this. This is what severe detonation does to a Corvair flight engine. A large part of why the engine keeps running is the forged pistons do not blow out first, thus the engine can keep turning and making power. 100% of original Corvair cars had cast pistons which tend to break or get holed before the head gasket fully blows. Thus Corvair car experience and opinion has no value when looking at flight engines and evaluating them for detonation. If car mechanics were qualified to work on aircraft installations, an ASE car mechanic could do an annual on a Cessna 172 engine. They can’t because the two different experiences don’t overlap very much, and in some ways work against each other.

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Above is Gary Coppen’s Corvair Skycoupe. I have been friends with Gary for nearly 20 years. He will gladly tell anyone the story of how he flew a 90 mile cross country in the plane pictured above, with ZERO differential compression in cylinder #4.

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In 2004, Gary had the plane based at Spencer airfield in north central Florida. It is a rough 2,000′ grass strip surrounded by 50 foot trees.  At the time our shop was at Edgewater airport, 10 miles south of Daytona Beach. Gary called to say the airplane seemed slightly down on power, but he had been operating it that way for 10 hours or so. I told him I would come up and get a look in a week. His solution was to fly it down to our shop. I tested it when he got there, and it has absolutely zero differential compression in #4. At the time the plane had bolt on head pipes, and instead of using the specified Clark’s C-12A gasket, he had made one, and it had caused a vacuum leak that leaned out and detonated #4 until the head gasket was blown. The plane had flown the cross country without issue, Gary just said the ROC was down from 800’/min. to 600’/min.

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These are but two of many stories I know that show the engine will run and produce flight power with a blown head gasket and zero differential compression. The secondary moral of these examples is they were both preventable.

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Beyond this, I have has cases where builders forgot to put a base gasket under a cylinder, or even missed a head gasket. I have had cases where car head shops failed to deck the bottom of the head after cutting the head gasket areas, so the cylinders ‘shouldered’ on the underside of the head. When these motors run, they let out a distinctive ‘chirp’ sound, but people miss this, even though it is audible over the open exhaust and prop. Again, if you use our parts, and follow the directions, these are not issues you will encounter. On the other side of the coin, people who don’t use timing lights, nor respect direct warnings have trouble in their future.

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wewjr.

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