Welding on Earl Brown’s gear.

Builders,

A week ago, Earl Brown was here, and we worked on the gear for his Pietenpol. This is the fifth or six set of Pietenpol gear I have welded. to learn more, please read: Pietenpol CG and gear welding. and Pietenpol Products, Motor mounts, Gear and Instalation Components.

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Above, the gear on Earl’s inverted fuselage back home in Pennsylvania. It fit like a glove, because Earl had made a very exact wooden fixture, and because I have been welding since 1979, and aircraft parts since 1989, I understand weld sequencing to hold shrinkage and distortion to absolute minimums.

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Above a shop photo from last week, Ken Pavlou, Kitty Politi, and Earl Brown, who Ken has re-named “Sig-Sauer Bratten” (even though he is a Walther .40 kind of guy)

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Above the joint between the axle and the front gear leg. This is quality Tig welding. I am 56, and part of being middle aged is having a bit of difficulty producing the weld beads above at the same rate as I did when I was 36. I drink too much coffee, and my hands are no longer perfectly stead for hours at a crack;  I wear progressive lenses to correct my vision, but weld beads like the ones above require depth perception to 1/16″ of an inch on the height the tungsten is above the puddle, and this requires a bit slower work than uncorrected vision.  Even so, this gear was made in three casual days in the shop.

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I have heard some really stupid things said about aircraft welds, but the dumbest was a guy who said “These are like a gorilla, ugly but strong”.  If a weld is ugly, it wasn’t done correctly, and if it wasn’t correct, it isn’t strong. If you hear anyone talking about “Gorilla welding” be polite, its the classy thing to do around mentally ill people.

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To get a look look at Earls gear in video, look at our new youtube channel under “Parts”

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtg0vELIaWV7NoSEHNzpHwQ

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The essential vs the accessory

Builders,

I wrote the commentary below five years ago. If you are new to Corvairs or homebuilding, they are worth a few minutes of your time to consider.

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“A conspicuous consumer only has the admiration of the envious spectator. A craftsman, an innovator and a champion have the admiration of real aviators. I have not devoted my working life to experimental aviation to chase pointless trends and distractions. I am in aviation to find my place in the timeless truths that any real aviator since 1903 would immediately understand. Charles Lindbergh passed from this earth in 1974 having never seen a glass cockpit. His understanding of the awe inspiring beauty of flight was not diminished by the lack of a screen to stare at. This is a good way to evaluate the essential from the accessory.” -ww.

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The above is not judgmental about people with glass cockpits. It is simply this: The mastery of the same basic skills Lindbergh had is the foundation of all the rewards of flying. Without them, all the accessories of a plane are just another consumer experience. If you want to have a glass cockpit in your plane, good, but possession the nicest panel ever, or an award winning paint job,  isn’t a substitute for being a fundamentally sound stick and rudder pilot, or really understanding your power plant either. Real reward comes from the improvement of self, one’s understanding and skills, not the possession of things.

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Everyone should build the plane they really want, not the one they are told to like, either by magazines or by opinionated jackasses from Florida. Decide for yourself. These paragraphs are meant to be ‘thought provoking’ not ‘thought providing’

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“Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved. There was science in each curve of an airfoil, in each angle between strut and wire, in the gap of a spark plug or the color of the exhaust flame. There was freedom in the unlimited horizon, on the open fields where one landed. A pilot was surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. He brushed treetops with the birds, leapt valleys and rivers, explored the cloud canyons he had gazed at as a child. Adventure lay in each puff of wind.

I began to feel that I lived on a higher plane than the skeptics of the ground; one that was richer because of its very association with the element of danger they dreaded, because it was freer of the earth to which they were bound. In flying, I tasted a wine of the gods of which they could know nothing. Who valued life more highly, the aviators who spent it on the art they loved, or these misers who doled it out like pennies through their antlike days? I decided that if I could fly for ten years before I was killed in a crash, it would be a worthwhile trade for an ordinary life time.”— Charles A. Lindbergh

3.0L Corvair/Waiex – Mike January

Builders:

Fellow Floridian Mike January sent me the following pictures today. We had been speaking over the last few days about details of operation and his condition inspection on his aircraft. Mike’s Waiex was originally 2180cc Aerovee powered, which Mike found to be a good power plant. After Meeting Dan Weseman many years ago, and seeing the performance of Dan’s Wicked Cleanex” Mike made a long term plan to re-engine his aircraft with a 3,000cc Corvair. The work was completed about 18 months ago.

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Mike is a technical guy with considerable aviation experience.  His comparative evaluation comes across as simple factual numbers, and an analysis that the new power plant suits his expectations and mission very well.  The most dramatic difference is Rate of Climb; With the VW solo it was 750 fpm, with the Corvair it is a solid 1,400 fpm.  (If you are new to aircraft performance and wondering how a 35% increase in power doubles rate of climb, please read this story: Pietenpol Power: 100 hp Corvair vs 65 hp Lycoming.) Florida doesn’t have elevation, but it does have green runways of very thick grass, short fields, surrounded by trees, and very hot and humid days.  The extra power of a Corvair adds a great margin of safety to many operations down here.

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If you have a Sonex/Waiex airframe, and are considering Corvair power, Know that Between myself and SPA, we have complete compliment of parts for the installation, it has been flown in several dozen examples of the type, for many thousands of hours.  For an older look at the complete combination, read this: Corvair power for Panther and Sonex reference page. I wrote it in 2013, but it is still good info, and shows how long Dan and I have steadily supported the combination.

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Call Dan at SPA:  904 626 7777

or myself: 904 806 8143.

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Mikes plane, it has a very sharp finish.

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Out flying with a design sibling.

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Mike likes a bit more than average in the cockpit

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Very proud guy, and justifiably so. Mike is the man behind the Florida Sonex Association, check out his group: http://www.floridasonex.com/

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Hats off to a man who made a plan, stuck with it, and is out enjoying it, and sharing it with others.

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-ww.

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