3,000cc Corvair for a Panther; Chris Michaelis.

Builders,

The second engine to run at the joint Flycorvair/SPA panther workshop belongs to Chris Michaelis, a Panther builder from Maryland. He started the assembly at a previous Barnwell SC Corvair College, but he got in the car and drove down I-95 to take advantage of this past weekends event. It was a good choice, because his engine put down a perfect break in run on my test stand.

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Above, Chris’s 3.0L Corvair, a virtual clone of the one Dan Weseman selected for his prototype Panther in 2012, ( read: Why Not the Panther engine?.) It put in a perfect run. It started in 2 seconds of cranking, and we proceeded to run it for 35 minutes. It required no adjustments nor corrections. This engine will not need a valve adjustment nor having the heads retorqued for it’s entire lifespan. If that doesn’t sound like an important indication of good engineering, you are not yet aware that engines like the Jaibru 3300 require these things to be done every 25 hours of the engines life. I don’t change the oil on Corvairs that often, far less break out a torque wrench.

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The ironic element of the above paragraph is this: Because we run an education and training based program, many new people falsely assume this means that Corvairs need constant fiddling. I have actually had a person shopping for a motor for his Zenith look at my conversion manual and say “I don’t want an engine I will always be working on, I’m going to get a Jaibru. ” I actually tried to explain what he was missing, but he already made up his mind contrary to all evidence. The engine promoted by the grease monkey from Florida must be a lot more work because he wrote a book about it. Fortunately most people possess slightly better critical thinking skills.

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Above, Dan, holding an infrared temperature gun explains a concept to Chis and Jimmy Mathis. (That is Rachel off to the side) The smaller size of this workshop allowed many more moments of direct instruction like this. It was very rewarding for both instructors and builders. You are looking directly at the transfer of experience and understanding which is at the very core of homebuilding.

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Chris really is a rocket scientist Phd engineer who works for our national space program. In person he is a relaxed fun guy. Here is how casual he was about supervising his test run outside the front door of the SPA/Panther factory.

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Later on I was kidding him about expecting to see a lot of equations in his notebook and instead finding doodles of Will E. Coyote opening making crates from ACME marked ‘handle bars’ and ‘Rocket motor’.

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Chris is a quality human being. 14 months ago we held Corvair College #39 in SC, and Chris was there. On the last hour of the college a builder there had a terrible medical emergency, and we took him to the regional medical center in Aiken. You should take a few minutes to read the story here: Builder Medical Emergency Update. The man was 700 miles from home, had no family and limited resources. after 12 hours in the hospital, he took a hard turn for the worse. Two dozen Corvair builders offered to assist and made contributions to the effort that eventually got the man home, but I can single out one person, Chris Michaelis, as the hero of the story. He dropped everything he was doing and stayed for a number of days in Aiken, and we spent most of each day by the man’s bedside. While I tried to remain upbeat, it was very hard to watch a man struggle to retain some small facet of his health and identity. A number of times I had to walk out in the hall and stare out the window to collect myself. Through several days of this, Chris never once had the smile leave his face nor fail to comfort the man in the bed. It was an outstanding display of personal strength and generosity of spirit that moved me beyond words.

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Wewjr.

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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.

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