Corvair Mission 2019, Part #2 -“Mobile Test Stand”

Builders,

One problem for us to directly serve west coast builders with in person training is the fact my current test stand must be driven to the event in a truck or trailer. In 2016, I did this lap around America: Back in Florida after 7,380 miles on tour., , but it isn’t the kind of tour you can run every year on a budget provided by the overhead from a low cost engine program.  Before this, we had used Pat Panzera’s test stand at College #5, #13 and #18. (all in CA) In 2009 in Washington I used a Zenith 750 airframe for demo runs. These were stop gap solutions, and this year we have an effective solution: The Mobile Test Stand. 

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Above, My test stand, which has run nearly 500 Corvair engines in the last 20 years. It has been through a number of changes, mostly to shrink it in size so it can fit into my enclosed trailer. (The tongue folds and the fuel tank pivots down) with an engine on it, it clears the trailer door by 5/8″.  It works great, but we needed a ‘clean sheet’ design to make it mobile.

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OK, here is the new idea:  Dan Weseman and I have gone over a mobile test stand design which can be unbolted into parts in 20 minutes, and strapped down to a pallet for truck shipping. We already have enough parts to set it up, we need only fine tune the design and build it.  Le’ts say we want to have a training event in Salt Lake City;  All we need is a local builder with a hangar, and we would truck ship the Mobile stand out a week in advance, and fly out commercial. On Sunday afternoon, break it down, put it on the pallet, and head home. We could be back in Florida working on Monday. This concept will make holding many events possible west of the Mississippi.  If we hold a session in Yuma AZ, and one later in Norther CA, the pallet could be driven in a pickup there or sent on a commercial truck. It need not always return direct to Florida. It is easier than anyone on the west coast building a stand, because that can’t easily move interstate nor make one way trips.  When we have big colleges like Barnwell, we can use it to run more engines side by side with out regular stand.

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Now, time to speak about costs: Building this new stand isn’t a big deal, it might cost $1,000 if we go fancy on it, take a weekend, tops.  But let’s start thinking of trips: How about another event in Portland OR? The Mobile Stand will likely cost $400 to move each way. If just me gets on a plane, call the travel expenses $600. Double that if Dan comes also. Maybe $300 more if we need a motel or a rental car.  So a basic trip like this is $1,500 -$2,500, and that is with us volunteering our time.

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I’m picturing doing as many as four or five of these a year. I’m thinking small group events with 10-12 builders. This allows us to do it without the logistics of large colleges like the ones Kevin and Shelley hosted in Texas or the nine done by PF Beck and crew in Barnwell SC. Other than Steve Glover in Chino CA, we don’t have a proven big venue that will draw 50-60 builders in the west for a full scale college, and if you go back and read part #1 of this series, I’m looking for ways to get much more effective training, and I think we are going to do it in smaller groups rather than more larger Colleges. Dan, Rachel and I have seen this work with events like this: Corvair Finishing School #1, Video report.. I still like regular Colleges, but I’m looking at how to deploy our finite resources, particularly time, to get the maximum amount of real information transfer to builders.

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Is this a valuable idea to builders?  Having a Mobile Test Stand solves the issue of taking weeks out of the shop and driving around the country, but it isn’t addressing the cost. Five events at a $2K average is a chunk of money, and I will assure anyone my mark up on parts has a hard time covering that, the $4K of going to Oshkosh and a few free Colleges.  So the core issue here is the simple question: Would you as a builder pay $250 to get into a 10 person training event in your home state? Would you be willing to do this even if your engine wasn’t ready to run? These are questions I would like to hear the answers to and perspectives from builders in the comments section.

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I have held 43 free Corvair Colleges, and there will be more, but to intensify the training in 2019, I’m looking at asking builders if they would be willing to cover the direct costs of smaller training events closer to where they live. I’m also listening for builders (specifically people who have attended at least one College before) who might host these gatherings. Please share your thoughts and possible locations.

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Wewjr.

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