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


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. 



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.





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

  1. Yes, absolutely I would would pay to go to a college nearby.
    It seems to me it would be a wash for participants who would save a lot in time and the costs of transporting their engines over long distances.
    This seems like a fair trade off for us.

  2. I think a fee, tuition if you will, is more than reasonable for a college event. I would be willing to see if my local airport would consider hosting one if that would be of interest. Location is Savannah, TH (KSNH)

      1. I discussed this with KSNH airport manager yesterday. He is more than receptive to a “small group” CORVAIR College event. Would you be interested in pursuing this further? I would like to get him in touch with P.F. Beck if possible. Might you have contact info for him?

        Ready to help!

  3. I’ve been to three collages and I think a fee for us in the frontier country is reasonable. I would even pay to put some more run time on my engine and am willing to help with any event in the Southwest. As far as locations go most of the airports in my area are large municipal types which have done everything they can to run off grass roots aviators while bending over backwards for Chinese flight schools and corporate types. Grass roots airports are few and far between and so are builders so any event would have to draw in people from several states.

    1. Stuart, the one person who is in a good position to hold an event in AZ is Larry Nelson in Yuma. He has a flying 601, has been to a number of events, and has a good facility. I recognize this is a bit of a hall for you and Dave H., but I’d be interested if you guys consider that a do-able venue.

      1. I would absolutely go to Yuma. Its just down the road a piece, past the bend in the gila and over the Mohawks.

  4. Hell Yes!!! I would pay 250.00 for a local gathering. I live about 50 miles north of Seattle so something within 400 miles would work for me. Thank you for considering this.

    1. I had a pretty good time in Portland OR in 2016, and I have not had an event in WA since 2009. So your area would be one I would plan on hitting this year.

  5. HI William, I like the idea of smaller colleges because it would make it easier on you and Dan to give the builders more personal attention. I was and electronics instructor for 4 years at a local technical college and when you have 30 student in a class room it is very difficult for knowledge transfer to happen. Also I wanted to invite you to come check out my project if you make it through Birmingham or Tuscaloosa Alabama. You are guaranteed a hot and a cot if you need it. And of course plenty of beer in the fridge. All fee of charge of course. I was wondering if you are planning on a welding work shop this year. Other wise if I still have off days left from work I am planning on coming to the corvair college you put on in Barnwell. And yes I am trying to bribe you with beer. Have you and Rachel came up with a program to swap the standard untouched nose bowl? So keep up the good work and again thank for all you do,

  6. Oh yes I would be willing to pay a fee for a corviar college or a welding work shop.

  7. William, I would be more than willing to pay to attend more CCs. It costs far more than $250 for the average student to get there. I think you are selling yourselves short when you say it’s 100% aircraft Corvair engine building. It is half Corvair and half aircraft powerplant wisdom, which is applicable no matter who made the crankcase. You and Dan are steeped in this, most of us aren’t and there’s pitifully little available from other sources. I would vote for a day or two longer, and wider focus on stuff builders should know like fuel systems, basic electrical or basic instruments.

    1. David, all good thoughts. One of the Venues which appeals to me in back at Cloverdale CA. Livermore where we held CC#13 & 18 is closer to you, but the setting was not nearly as good. hopefully traveling up north would appeal to you.

  8. I would pay for a CC near me. I am in San Angelo Tx, I would drive within 350 to 500 maybe miles from me to build my 125 HP Corvair power plant, it is the lightest and most powerful you have…..can it be built for 12k or less? 🤔

    For a Zodiac CH650B maybe a Waiex B if I can get a engine mount for it that is, if not it will go in a Zodiac.

    1. Ray, yes you can build a 3.0 for less than 12K. Dan had thought of making a WaiexB mount, but there isn’t a demand like the standard ones have always had. I would suggest you check out the Zenith 650s.

      1. I have been wondering if and when you would be coming out west again. I would happily pay $250.00 to help you get out here. To further my education. And to enrich my experimental aircraft experience. Oh BTW, I’m in Utah.

  9. I started my engine 5~6 years ago and drove 1,000 miles each way to attend the first college that Kevin & Shelley hosted in San Marcos. Would I have been willing to pay an additional $250 to attend that college then?…Yes! I completed my engine and ran it at the San Marcos college 2 years later and I came back to help them with the college they hosted in Tyler. Would I be willing to drive another 1,000 miles each way, pay ~$85 for the cost of meals, etc., plus pay $250 for the privilege of attending even though I already have a tested and running engine?…Yes!!!, if Kevin & Shelley were to host another one, and they were willing to put up with my “help”. Would I be willing to host my own college in southeastern AZ?…No. Long experience has taught me that my organization and leadership skills leave a lot to be desired, and I doubt that there is a sufficient pool of builders in this corner of the state. Apparently there are in Yuma, and probably Phoenix, too.

    1. Dave, I have plenty of evidence that my personal leadership and organization skills have gaps, so I too rely of friends like Kevin and Shelley to host. Maybe Yuma is a good idea for all of us.

      1. If Larry would want some help, I would be more than willing to go to Yuma. I concur with his ‘not in the summertime’ comment. In Arizona, if you piss somebody off, they will tell you to go to hell…if you reallllly piss them off, they will tell you to go to Yuma.

  10. I’m willing to host one in Yuma. Just not in the Summertime. Yuma is convenient to most of southern California, and Arizona. typical driving time would be 3 to 4 hours.

  11. William,

    My location in the greater Kansas City area makes Zenith more than accessible, so I can’t personally justify suggesting a need for a closer venue, if hands-on events are to continue there. I would be happy to pay a fee to attend Colleges in the future. The value to me of the kind of guidance offered at Colleges is worth a whole lot. Comparing it to similar professional development type retreats/seminars/workshops, I think $300-500 would be appropriate for such an experience. Two to three days of first class instruction and hands-on building in an environment of supportive and enthusiastic fellow builders? Hard to beat for building competence and motivation in a new guy like myself.

    I think it would have many intangible benefits to the building community more valuable than the money changing hands.

    1. Being required to pay to attend would help some take the information more seriously, as they would have more personally invested in their own learning from the start. A few who are only motivated by curiosity but lack serious drive to do things the right way may be discouraged from attending until they developed more of a sense of the magnitude of such an undertaking.

    2. Having to pay would increase the sense of value received from the College. Giving things out for free can cheapen them. I think having to pay would make your advice and suggestions more meaningful to builders. Sadly, in the world today, many are suspicious of people going around for free offering teachings and advice like you do. Your intention is a sincere concern for builders having the easiest access to good information, but some might not see it this way, but instead wonder why someone would be willing to dole it out for free, and assume that you must have some ulterior motive or that your teachings must not be worth that much anyway.

    3. Fees for Colleges would be a great benefit to builders in another way, as well. I would hope that it would be profitable for you and Dan, to further develop the “infrastructure” for builders, by giving you more resources for testing, developing, and producing more and better parts. Also having a little more in your personal bank account would indirectly help by allowing you a little more freedom from stress, freeing your mind, and further increasing the benefit for builders.

    Overall, I think it’d be a big win-win for advancing the art. You’ll attract good people to the Corvair movement and traditional values in homebuilding, and retain and strengthen those of us who are already involved.


    1. Bryce has a number of valid points. William..the movement has advanced to the point now that your and Dan has every reason to expect costs to be offset. Having experienced first hand your instruction to the folks at large (At Zenith and Arlington EAA) I personally have no doubts of your skills and knowledge.
      Being in the center of the Midlands there are many venues locations in or near Tulsa. Enid ok just hosted a Field of Dreams for tandem wing designs for instance.
      KC is definitely a nice very good location also. Checking the airline tickets costs to and from would be one way to determine the locations.
      I cannot explain why but my home city of Wichita has always been more expensive to fly to and from than KC or OKC. Would I pay you for your experience? What is the Annual and/or 100 worth with the background you have to back the job? I think as much or more than you suggest.


  12. Having already built mine , maybe my input is not as valuable , BUT while I was building I would have been pleased to pay that much for the education and comraderie.
    Ed, Sonex, 3100cc

    1. I recently moved to the Portland area. I will definitely pay to attend a small CC near here.

  13. Yes William, I support you. The knowledge and learning you provide goes way beyond Corvair engine conversions. I appreciate not just your efforts to learn and improve, but your time and willingness to share. I also enjoy and relate to your frankness. Thanks.

  14. William I am willing and able to build a engine stand here in  North Central Texas.  To help  your need  in this area.   I can get it delivered to your colleges in the this or make it easy for someone to come and get it.   This is providing it gets back home in time for the next event.  (within a reasonable time)  This is not to say that if someone wants to use it in the area that they may IF it is not busy or you WW. or DAN (SPA) needs it for a CC. event.   It will include the stand on wheels much like yours.   With a small instrument panel with Auto.  Gauges.                          1.  Oil Temp,,,                            2.  Oil Pressure,,,                             3.  Tach,,,                               4. CHT x2,,,                                  5.  EGT x2,,,                                   6.  a small fuel tank,  (3 gal approx.) ,,,                                     7.  throttle ,,,                                      8.  Mixture controls,  and                                        9.  key start and electrical necessary to run a Corvair engine.                                            10.  A exhaust system will be the original Logs– that was                                                                on the Corvair Engine in the auto.

    It WILL NOT HAVE        1.   a Carb.,,,            2.  Starter,,,                 3.  Battery,,,                     4.  timing lights,,,                             5.  hand tools.  .                           6.  propeller… Also I will need a release of Liability statement for each event other than mine.

    I have toying with this idea to run my engine on for several years.   This is just a idea and if you and Dan are interested we can see if a common goal can be arranged..    ( like get my engine running )  after that it is yours for the usage and the storage is here while not in use. I WILL NOT PROVIDE ANY ADVISE OR THOUTHTS ON THE OPERATION  OR BUILDING THE CORVAIR ENGINES… THAT IS YOUR BALL GAME  NOT MINE.. Let me know something. Gary Bassham 

  15. Yes. I was signed up for the college that Kevin and Shelley last hosted, but had a family emergency so didn’t make it.

    That was 3 hours from home. I’d go there or just about anywhere the same distance. I’m about an hour north of Houston. Austin, Dallas, Waco, Houston, San Antonio…. Mineola…… all feasible for me to drive.

  16. I feel it is long past time to charge a fee to at least cover your costs. Your suggested fee is reasonable in my mind. If logistically the Nashville area would work into your plans, let me be the first to volunteer to help coordinate.

  17. I also would be willing to pay $250 for a local-to-AZ/SoCal college, especially if I decided to do an engine-in-a box at that time! I have a small T in Mesa (Phoenix metro area instead of Yuma) if that would be any help. Yuma is more convenient for the SoCal folks.

  18. Consider tiered fees. The full $250 for bench/shop time and running the engine, less (maybe $150?) for people without a manual (and make the manual a “gift”) and even less ($100?) for current manual owners. And everyone gets a free t-shirt so they go away with something tangible?

    I may have an empty hangar available soon, and would love to host another.

  19. OMG!! YES! YES please! I am very interested in some high quality time with you and other motivated builders. Im no where near ready for an engine but I have my core and I would find a way to put the money together for all my parts and bits and the cost of the weekend is reasonable.

  20. Yes William– it would be great to have you come back to the NW coast even if it’s a one night stand —! there is a few of us builders up here in the surrounding area of Portland that would
    attend and probably draw a few more from the Seattle area—we might even work out a way to
    get some engine parts sent with the test stand– I could definitely go for that –Oh and what Pat
    said might motivate prospective builders to( jump in and test the waters )of the lost art of old school approach to engine building ( corvairs in particular of course ) I’ll start talking that up around here I’m down in central OR( Vans country)—!!

  21. The value of your time, expertise and input would definitely be worth $250, particularly if I were bringing my engine. It’s a lot less than what the travel cost would be to go to you.

  22. Towing the trailer to Zenith from home is ten hours round trip and at current gas prices at least $150. Staying in a motel is less gas but adds lodging cost, so the $250 would be very reasonable. We would be able to provide lodging for 10 or 12 assuming that K01 (Auburn, NE) would make a good venue for an event. OMA and LNK are about an hour and a half away by road so other locations could be considered as well though in those cases folks would want to stay near the venue.

  23. William- I have enjoyed your writings for years ( and occasionally cringed when your words came too close to the bone!). I recently ordered a Piet mount from SPA,and may live long enough to see it carry an engine (age 71). I would be very happy to pay a “tuition” to compensate you and anyone else willing to share your knowledge and teaching ability. I am located in Belfast Maine. (Dave Aldrich, a college alum, is in our EAA chapter) The idea of a smaller, more focused gathering, is very appealing to me. Thanks, John Slaughter

  24. I would gladly pay that amount. I would think people attending the Eastern Corvair Colleges would gladly chip in a bit more to support the additional overhead and share the burden. I would.

  25. Not committing at this moment I could come, but I can easily commit to paying the $250 for the event…it’d be a privilege to be in a small group for that, but I’d pay that for a regular college within 3 hours of my house (Grand Junction, Durango, Farmington NM), probably for an 8 hour drive (Denver, Alamosa, Salt Lake City).

  26. Have a core engine already torn down and being cleaned. Own the dvd’s and manuals. Have a Sonex to put it in. So yes, I would pay, was hoping for an East Coast, mid Atlantic-ish location for as far South as I want to drive/haul parts…. Located in Rhode Island, but I know New England likely is a stretch for you. Either way, if there’s going to be any East Coast Colleges, I’d love to hear.

    1. Robert, Corvair College 14 was in Lowell MA, and was a really well attended event. New England isn’t that much of a stretch, I have a lot of Family in NJ and MA.

  27. Realized I didn’t state directly, that yes, yes I would have no issue paying to attend a College.
    RT in RI

  28. William,

    I have always found your “Outlook” and “Your Year in Aviation” type posts very motivational, the ones in 2014 and 2015 especially. They shake us out of our slacking, to get back to building before another year slips away. This series is no exception, and seems to have struck a chord.

    First, to answer the ‘simple question’: I WOULD pay $250 for a local event (in Ohio) for the opportunity to fill in the gaps of my own understanding, and I can see I’m not alone in interest in this area (see Brian Pigg and Justin Peters, so far).

    But I will see your ‘simple’ challenge and raise you one better: IF my own home base were chosen as one of the locations, I would provide Major Sponsorship myself.
    *Space: either my T-Hangar at KTZR or another of 2 nearby locations open to grassroots aviation.
    *Test Stand Transport shipping OR 1/2 the personnel travel expense
    *Lodging at a motel/hotel for Old Hairy Guy and Ford Man
    *Use of the Tim-Mobile for transport while in town.
    *and the topper: As much Dunkin’ Coffee as you can drink.

    This would allow the $250 fee to cover the remaining expenses, and at least partially compensate you and Dan for time and effort involved, and make it clear how serious I am about giving back to the Corvair movement. (This is me putting my money where my mouth is, because I understand the difference between Cost and Value.)There is more to consider than the above, but this is a start.

    If it turns out that somewhere else in Ohio (Centerburg, for instance) is a better fit, then so be it. But don’t say I didn’t offer. (I will try texting the bat phone this weekend if response is positive)

    Your Move.

    Tim Hansen
    in Orient, OH

      1. I could also offer some logistical help, if needed, anywhere in Central Ohio.

  29. I would be quite willing to pay to attend a College within about 300-400 miles of Central Kentucky, it would save me more than that over driving down to Florida! Someone else mentioned welding workshops, I would be happy to pay for that, too.

  30. I would pay 250 for a college in PA. But then again, I’d pay 250 for the Barnwell college. I learned so much. I’ll probably even pay 250 to go when my project is done. To much fun.

  31. Yes, I would pay that amount to attend a college. I am in Charleston, SC and hoping to make it to Barnwell or maybe Florida sometime in the next couple of years to get my corvair set up.

  32. I’d easily pay $250 or there abouts… I’ve begun my tear-down and cleaning (manual and DVDs in hand) and working on, more importantly, EDUCATION! I’ve been a turbine guy for 25 years but that doesn’t translate well. I’m in New Orleans and have set a goal of this year to hit a college. Need to decide exactly what the performance goals of the engine will be and find which compatible parts I can begin acquiring (one piece at a time helps the wallet) to reach that goal. Oh..and I need and airplane…building a Piet..slowly..

  33. I would be happy to pay a fee for learning from you. Knowledge is priceless. I am in north central Idaho and would travel to the Seattle area. Might even consider Northern California. I don’t have an engine yet but would still go as a spectator. I have been wrenching on cars,tractors most of my life and now I work on big radials. But I am sure I can still learn something. Keep up the good work. It is appreciated by people you don’t even know. THANKS, Pat. Future Piet guy

  34. Looks like you could be as busy as you like, judging from the responses. My own career (age 75) is moving from doing to teaching and passing on the benefits of decades of experience in my specialized field, but, as you described, travel has become very expensive and those costs must be covered plus some income or the whole thing dies in the doing. I would certainly pay for a small training group. Do one right there or up here on Amelia Island. The fishing’s starting to heat up 😉

  35. Only just saw this post, but yes, I’d pay $250 for this. I pay about that already when CC is someplace like Mineola, which is far enough from Austin that I’ve got gas to get there and two nights in a motel on top of the ~$80 entry. $250 is a trivial sum compared to the ~$8K (and Lord knows how many hours of my time I could be selling as an electronics designer at hundreds of dollars an hour) that I already have in the engine.

    Right now I’m probably within four hours’ work of my first engine start, but I haven’t done it because we had some head rework issues and a few gasket issues that stopped me from starting the engine at Mineola in 2017. And I’m hesitant to do the last bit myself without a couple fo experts around, since we did have all the problems that went with the ’64 heads I’ve got. I’d just feel more comfortable at this stage with a few extra eyes on it.

    And I don’t feel like building my own test stand yet, either.

  36. YES! Would gladly pay, just need to be within 250 or so miles from Southwest VA, possibly NC, SC, or WV. Just need enough notice to get off work.

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