Basic Corvair information

Builders,

Here as a basic breifing on Corvair flight engines for builders getting a first look at using one.

Above, A  3,000 cc Corvair flight engine. I built this particular one for the SPA Panther aerobatic aircraft, and has powered the prototype aircraft through it’s introductory season. The Corvair is a popular option on more than 20 different experimental airframes.

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The Corvair is a General Motors designed engine, manufactured by Chevrolet.  1.8 million engines were built in the Tonawanda New York engine plant between 1960 and 1969. The Corvair has been flying on experimental aircraft since 1960, and I have been working with them as flight engines since 1989. It is a story of careful development and testing, a slow evolution to the engines we have today. It is ‘old and proven’ rather than ‘new and exciting.’

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– Configuration:  The engine is a horizontally opposed, air-cooled, six cylinder configuration. We only promote its use as a simple, direct drive power plant. The engine configuration is very similar to Lycomings and Continentals.

Displacement: The engine is effective without a gearbox or belt drive because it has a comparatively large displacement. We have versions that are 2,700, 2,850 and 3,000 cc. The smallest of these are twice as big as a Rotax 912.

Power: Corvairs have three different power ratings. 100, 110 and 120 hp. These correspond to the three displacements. They make their rated power at 3,150 rpm. They have wide power bands, making 75% power at 2,650 rpm. All engines will exceed their rated power at higher rpm, and they can be continuously run at full power at 3,600 rpm without damage.

Weight: The engine weighs 225 pounds ready to run. This is effectively the same as a Continental O-200. It’s installed weight is 35 pounds more than a 912 Rotax, 25 pounds more than a Jabaru 3300. The Corvair is 40 pounds lighter than a Lycoming O-235. 3,000 cc Corvairs are slightly lighter than 225 lbs. because we have special cylinders made for them which make these engine 5 pounds lighter.

– Reliability: From the factory, the Corvair made up to 180 HP in the car and turned more than 5,500 rpm. The engine is reliable and long-lasting because we are only operating at 60% of these levels. Conversion engines that run at the car’s red line rpm historically have short lives and cooling issues.

Cost: We sell complete engines from $9,750 to $11,750. However, 90% of our builders assemble their own engines working from our Conversion manual, DVDs, parts and support and a rebuildable core engine they pick up locally. Typically, they budget $6,500-8,500 to build a first class, zero timed, engine.

Cooling: The Corvair has a factory cylinder head temp limit of 575F. This is the highest limit on any mass-produced air-cooled engine ever built. The engine as also the first mass-produced turbocharged car. GM engineered the motor to have excellent heat tolerance and heat dissipation. In aircraft the engine typically runs at 325 to 350 CHT.

Parts availability: Every wearing part in the engine has continuously been in production for 5 decades. The engine pictured above, only has an original pair of cases, and oil housing and cylinder head castings. All other parts in the engine, including the crankshaft, are brand new. Many of the parts in the engine, like the lifters and valve train, are common to Chevy v-8s. There is no part availability issue.

Ignition: The fleet of flying Corvairs is about 500 aircraft. More than 90% of them have a dual ignition system that I have built. Our system uses two redundant systems, one points based, the other a digital electronic system. The design has two of every part potentially subject to failure, but it utilizes one plug per cylinder. Six cylinder engines can fly on one cold cylinder, most 4 cylinder engines can not. Plug fouling is unknown in Corvairs because the ignition system is 40,000 volts and uses a plug gap twice as wide as a magneto system.

Fuel: The Corvair can use either 100LL or automotive fuel. It is not bothered by ethanol in the fuel.When Corvairs were designed, car gas was a lot like 100LL; for the last 35 years every mile driven by Corvair cars was done on unleaded car gas. Many engines like 912s and modern car engines do not have exhaust valves that can withstand the corrosive nature of 100LL. We use stainless and Inconel valves in Corvairs.

Maintenance: The Covair is low maintenance. The heads never need retorquing. The valves have hydraulic lifters and never need to be reset or adjusted. I dislike the term “maintenance free”, because it implies a “no user serviceable parts inside” disposable appliance mentality. The Corvair is a solid, robust, machine which holds its adjustments, but our program is aimed at teaching builders to be self-reliant owners.

Goals: If one of your goals is to be the master of your engine and airframe, the Corvair is an excellent choice. There are many engine options for people who just want to buy something. Our efforts are aimed at expanding the personal knowledge and skills of each builder.

Made in the USA: In an era where everything seems imported and companies like Continental have been sold to the Chinese Government, We have kept the “Made in the USA” option for builders who prefer to employ fellow Americans. Virtually every part in the engine, with small exceptions like the distributor cap (made in Mexico), are made by American craftsmen. Because we also sell engines outside the US, we are a Net Exporter, helping correct the trade imbalance.

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Corvairs have proven themselves to serve a very broad variety of builders. Many alternative engine options are offered only as a “buy it in a box” import, more of an appliance than a machine, with little or no consideration of the builders, skills goals, needs, budget or time line. The Corvair has options to address these valid considerations, because your power plant should conform to you, not the other way around.

This said, Corvairs are not for everyone.  In the 25 years I have been in the EAA and working with builders, the Corvair has always been very popular with ‘traditional homebuilders’, the people who have come to experimental aviation to discover how much they can learn, understand and master.  The expansion of the EAA has brought more of these builders, but it has also brought a great number of people incapable of distinguishing between mastery of an aircraft or an engine and just merely being its buyer and owner.  People who’s consumer mentality and short attention spans are better suited to toy ownership than mastery of skills and tools in aviation. Corvairs, and perhaps experimental aviation, are a poor match for such people. Many salesmen in our field will gladly sell anything to anyone with green money. I am an aviator, not a salesman, and the gravity of the subject requires more frank discussion and ethics than many salesmen bring to the table.

If you came to experimental aviation to find out how much you can master, not how little, then you are among the aviators who follow Lindbergh’s timeless 1927 quote: “Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved.”  Even if you are brand new to aviation, I am glad to work with you. I have a long history of working with builders of all skill levels. We have a number of successful builders out flying who are the masters of both their airframes and engines, who had never changed the oil in a car before building their plane.  If you got into experimental aviation just to buy stuff, then any salesman will do just fine for you. If you got into experimental aviation to learn, develop your own skills and craftsmanship and make things with your own hands, then who you work with really matters. You can’t become and old school homebuilder / motor head by buying things from salesmen. They have nothing to teach you. What you will do in experimental aviation is not limited by what you already know. It is only limited by what you are willing to learn, and selecting experienced people to learn from.  If you are here to learn, I am here to teach. It is that simple.

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Click on the color links below to read more on this topic

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a) – Complete Lindbergh quote is here: The Quote, 1927, C.A.L.

b) – Explanation of machines vs appliances : Machines vs Appliances Part #2

c) – Story of real engines vs ‘ideal’ ones: Unicorns vs Ponies.

Basic Corvair College Skills, examples of learning

Friends,

There are countless techniques and lessons we teach by example and hands on training at the Colleges. Here I would like to focus on four tasks that every builder should know as part of having  complete mastery of his or her engine. These four skills are 1) Installing and timing a distributor, 2) Running and correctly interpreting a differential compression test and 3) Correctly setting the hydraulic valve lifters. 4) pre-oiling the engine.

At the college I will teach these tasks to many groups of builders 5 or 6 people to a group. Part of my learning process it to immediately have builders repeat the process they just observed so I can answer their questions and closely watch how they do to make sure they understand and have possession of the skill. The tasks are not difficult, but the are different. 85% of our builders are from outside the mechanical world. This is an important distinction. My useful definition of working in the mechanical world is simple; Do you pick up hand tools at work nearly every day on the job? The vast majority of homebuilders do not, and I adjust the learning process to accommodate this reality and give many more builders a much better understanding of their power plant.

I am a middle-aged, long-haired opinionated troglodyte from rural Florida. If I had to earn a living at any task that involved appearance, political correctness or tolerance of intolerable people, I would live in poverty. If I was also required to have IT skills at these tasks, I would starve. My hat is off to our builders who can thrive at such tasks, you are better men than I. This said, my record says that on the subject of being able to teach people how to master simple aircraft engines, even people from outside the mechanical world, I am pretty darn good.

There are a number of factors on why I am good at this. I like people, and I like learning myself. I spent 11 years of my life in college, 8 years full-time and 3 in night school. (This is really ironic because I was expelled from high school on the grounds of poor attendance) I know and love the subject at hand well, and I have honed the transfer of information over 20 years. All of us had teachers who gave the same lecture if there was 50 people 5 people or 2 sacks of potatoes for students. I learned from many very good instructors, and the best always tailor the delivery to the student. After many years I am a keen observer of people learning, and I watch small signals like body language to instantly recalibrate the delivery until message sent=message understood. I may not always look like it, but I am paying detailed attention to builders at colleges. A big College may have 75 builders, and in the 3 days we are there, I am going to adjust the process and delivery to tailor it to each of these 75 individuals.

A guy who works with tools every day on the job and is constantly exposed to having to master a physical skill or understand how a mechanical sub system works often picks up something like distributor installation on a simple presentation and observation. People who work at desk jobs or cover non-mechanical subjects for a living gain a lot from directly repeating the task step by step right after observing it. The flexible lay out of the college allows both of these builders to learn at their own pace, at the same time. The primary thing I am watching is that the builder is comprehending and performing the task correctly. Good delivery is important, and the setting is casual, but I don’t just assume that people got it. I ask people to perform the task, and then I will often ask them to show it and explain it themselves to another builder. This is the best confirmation that they have real possession of the skill.

I am writing up notes for the four tasks, something of a checklist for people to have on hand at the college. I will expand on these here after we return. For now, some source notes:

1) Install and time a distributor. This is already documented very well in print and pictures, but I do go over it many times in person. I do not allow a builder with a complete engine to leave the College without being able to demonstrate to me that he can use a timing light, and that he owns one. If he doesn’t have one, we sell him one on the spot. Your flight instructor didn’t let you solo a plane without certain skills like being able to land. I am your engine instructor, and before you go home solo with your engine you are going to understand ignition timing and how to use a timing light. The distributor instructions ar on the products page of our website and they come with every distributor we sell. look at this link http://flycorvair.com/distributor.html

2) Run and correctly interpret a Differential compression test. Just yesterday I got a letter from a builder referencing a compression test saying that he had compressions “between 165 and 180 psi” These are automotive numbers not differential compression numbers.  Aircraft numbers look like 78/80 or 76/80 etc. I can’t say it enough times, but an auto compression test is like a stethoscope, and a differential compression test is like an MRI and a CAT scan. Which do you think are more powerful tools? Every annual on a certified aircraft requires a differential compression test. The tool is about $70. The most important thing I know about a guy who has a running engine but still sends me automotive numbers is that he isn’t learning anything: he is resisting treating the engine as an aircraft engine; he wants to ‘show me’ how he and his local buddies have always done it. This type of resistance to learning new processes usually just means the guy is stubborn. In aviation, this type of attitude isn’t just tiresome, its dangerous. Being willing to learn how to use a differential compression tester sets you apart from people with shade tree mindsets.

3) Set the hydraulic valve lifters. This is descriptively covered in the manual and it is visually covered on engine building DVD#3, But it is best covered in person. Increasingly people work at jobs that require little manual fidelity and feel. Right now I am typing this on a keyboard that will produce the exact same character if I lightly tough the key or I hammer down on it. We drive cars that are dumbed down with things like ABS and handling characteristics to protect the poorest or most impaired of operators. thankfully, flying is still very far away from this. So is building things with your hands, where feel counts. Setting the valves is an easy skill but if someone is coming from the ‘touch doesn’t matter’ world, they have to slow down a little and get the feel of what is going on. There are 12 of them per motor, and you can set each one several times to get the feel of this, it isn’t a task that you do just once per motor, nor a skill that has to be done in a short time window. Once set, they are good for the life of the engine and never need to be readjusted.

4) Pre-oiling the engine. This is a fairly simple process, and we have a very good set up for this on the test stand. At the college I will get someone to make a 3 minute You tube video of the basic elements of this and post a link to it here after the college. It is something important that requires no tools of value but it does start the life of your engine on the best possible footing. We pre oiled the panther engine for more than an hour. During this time, the oil in the engine went through the filter more than 300 times before the engine ever started. The Corvair is one of the very few engines for light aircraft that can have this done. You can’t do it on a Lycoming without a very elaborate set up, and I have never hear of people being able to do it on other engines. “Buy it in a box’ engine people don’t care about details like this because people shopping for an appliance don’t think like this. However, thinking like this is at the core of being a motor head, a term that I am very proud to be called. It is not a title you can buy, it something you know about yourself after you actually learn and posses skills to take care of yourself mechanically and after you have chosen not to be a blind appliance operator, but a skilled aviator.-ww

Info page, Corvair College #43, Barnwell SC.

Builders,

This is the general information page for Corvair College #43. It is being posted on 6/12/18. The on line sign up link is attached below. 

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Background:

Corvair College #43 will be held at Barnwell SC, 9-11 November 2018:  This is our flagship College.

For a look at the 2015 Barnwell College, check this out: Corvair College #35 Barnwell builders video.

For a look at the EAA film about the 2013 Barnwell College, click here: New EAA video on Corvair College#27, Barnwell 2013.

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Barnwell has been the home of nine previous Corvair Colleges. P.F. Beck and crew have the logistics down so well that we have no difficulty having a productive event for 90 builders. If you are planning on going, do not delay in signing up, it is an excellent setting and they are very gracious hosts.  The Technical expertise at the College will be provided by myself and Dan Weseman from SPA/Panther.

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Ken Pavlou holds the Cherry Grove trophy at CC#31 Barnwell 2014. His aircraft is named “The Blue Speedo.” Read more: Ken “Adonis” Pavlou advises aviators: “Life is short, Live Large”

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Late tech questions. This is about 1 am on Sunday, nearing the end of a 19 hour day. If you want to pack a lot into a College, good, that is how we do it. However, the free form of the lesson plans allow each person to take in and digest at their own rate and pace. Read a 2013 story here: Who is William Wynne?

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A prankster Bill Reynolds testing the ragged limits of the No Politics  rule we have a Corvair Colleges. Read about Bill’s son Jack building his Corvair here: Video of rebuild and run of Corvair, from a 13 year old.

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Above, The Weseman/SPA Panther and a ’66 Corvair Corsa on the flight line at Barnwell #31 . Read this to understand how SPA distributing  our parts for the last 20 months has greatly improved customer service: Outlook 2016, New order page and distribution method.

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Above, Bob Lester’s Corvair powered Pietenpol sits on the ramp at Barnwell at sunset on Saturday night, CC #31. Read more here: Bob Lester’s Corvair/ Pietenpol nears 800 hours.

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Is there an on line sign up for this College?

Yes, this is it: https://eventregistration2017.wufoo.com/forms/cc43/

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Is there a fee for this College? 

Yes, Signing up on line for College #43 is required, and the fee is $99. 100% of this money goes to the local hosts and the Barnwell airport, they provide food an drinks while we are there for three days. The technical support we offer at the College is provided without cost to builders.

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 Will there be a chance to build an ‘Engine in a Box’ at this College?

We are looking for two builders who would like to buy, assemble and test run a 3.3L “engine in a box kit” For an overview of the 3.3 engine read this story: Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house. If you are interested in one of these motors, Contact SPA/Panther at 904-626-7777.

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OK, my project needs progress, what do I do? 

First, sign up for the on line registration. Second, SPA by calling 904-626-7777, or call my number 904-806-8143. We will be glad to speak with you about making sure you are prepared for the event. Making plans early is the key to making progress at the event. At the last hour of a College, prepared builders often say some version of ‘I can’t believe how much I learned and accomplished.’ No one has ever followed that statement by saying ‘I regret being smarter and advancing my goals.’

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Keep in mind:

 We will also be glad to transport for parts like cases cranks and heads back to Florida.  Even if you are just planning on having these worked on a few months later, sending them back with us gets them in the system and gets the ball rolling.

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Will you be test running the motors?

Yes. We will have my test stand with us, and perhaps run as many as 10 of the engines being worked on.  The goal is positive exposure and progress, but above all else, learning.

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Will there be flying Corvair Powered planes there?

Yes, we have had 6-10 every year for the last 10 years.

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Is there on site Camping? are their Motels? 

Yes, the Barnwell airport has good camping, but no hook us. The town is a mile from the airport, and it has a number of hotels and motels. Do not wait too long to plan, they fill up.

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 For more general information and Corvair College Links:

Corvair College reference page

Corvair College History….in photos

College engine build options for closing the case

Basic Corvair College Skills, examples of learning

College Tech

Running an Engine at a College, required items. #2

Running an Engine at a College, required items. #1

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Wewjr.

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Info Page,Corvair College #42, at Zenith Aircraft.

Builders,

This is the general information page for Corvair College #42. It was originally posted on 6/5/18. The on line sign up link will is attached below.

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Background:

Corvair College #42 is the “Zenith Invitational” college.   This event will be held in September 21 and 22  in Mexico MO, during the 26th annual Zenith open house. We have previously held 4 colleges at the Zenith Factory, it is an excellent setting and they are very gracious hosts.  The Technical expertise at the College will be provided by myself and Dan Weseman from SPA/Panther.

 Here is what is different: Everyone is welcome to observe, but due to space limitations, the actual wrenching on engines will be limited to 12 builders who we want to ‘approve’ long before the event, and work with in advance to insure their project is educational for observers. That is the ‘invitational’ part. We are selecting the builders based on the degree of prep work they are willing to do, and we are looking for a cross section of engines to represent the wide range of options in building a Corvair.

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The Zenith open house is open to all experimental builders, not just people currently working on a Zenith ( The Heintz’s are here for the long run, they figure you will eventually be a Zenith builder. ) It draws several hundred serious builders every year, and it also is a major gathering point for component suppliers and industry people. Both of the last 2 EAA presidents have been guest speakers at the event. It is a very pro-homebuilding event in an excellent setting. Surprising things happen there like this: EAA Major Achievement Award.

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Previous Corvair Colleges at Zenith were held just before the Open House, but in the case we are going to ‘imbed’ College #42 in the Open House so the maximum number of aircraft builders can get a good look at building Corvairs.

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Would you like a visual on how long we have been working with Zenith Aircraft and holding events at their location? This is a picture from a 2005 Corvair event at the factory…..notice neither Sebastien nor myself had any gray hair then. We have a long history of productive and cooperative relations with Zenith. Read: 14 Years of Corvair Powered Zeniths.

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How do I find out more information about the Open House? 

You can look at their webpage http://www.zenithair.net and read all about it, including dates, location, maps, accommodations and the schedule for the event.

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Is there an on line sign up for this College?

Yes, this is it: https://eventregistration2017.wufoo.com/forms/cc42/

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Is there a fee for this College? 

No, Signing up on line for College #42 is free,  but there will a modest logistics fee for the 12 selected builders who’s projects will be worked on at the College. This Fee will be done directly through SPA/Panther.

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If there is no fee, and everyone is welcome at the open house, what is the sign up about? 

We would like everyone thinking of attending to use it. First, to be considered as one of the 12  demonstration engines, you have to sign up.  Second, for observers, we are going to send out a number of briefs before the college, including descriptions of the 12 motors and their builders. We will also send out study material so that you can get the most out of elements like setting the valves, installing the distributor and conducting a test run. If we know you are coming and a bit about your project, we can tailor your experience there. Signing up gives access to this information so you arrive at the College informed.

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If I sign up on line, do I have to show up?

There is no commitment, we are not limited in the number of observers we can have. Even if you don’t have plans to attend at this point, I still suggest signing up, it is a good way to gather information on the content of colleges and the material covered. The information will serve you at future colleges also.

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What are you looking for in the 12 engines?

We are looking for: 2 Engines in the core stage where they will be torn down and inspected; 2 engines where the builders are ready to close the case; 2 engines with the case closed, and ready for cylinders, one 2,700 motor, one 3,000cc motor; 2 engines ready for heads and valve train; 2 engines ready for starters and distributors, 2 engines ready for the stand.  We are also looking for a builder who would like to buy, assemble and test run a 3.3L “engine in a box kit” For an overview of the 3.3 engine read this story: Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

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OK, my project sounds like one of those 12, what do I do? 

First, sign up for the on line registration. Second, Contact Rachel Weseman at SPA by calling 904-626-7777. We will be glad to speak with you about making sure you are prepared for the event. Again, only the 12 builders with engines being worked on will have a modest event fee. This assists us in defraying the logistics cost of traveling 1,075 miles, bringing all the equipment and renting the very large commercial tent we will use.

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I wanted to know if you guys an get a look at my core engine while you are out in the midwest?

Yes, we will be glad to, and this is part of the reason to sign up on line, because we will have specific instructions about this. (We generally refer to these as ‘parking lot tours’ )  We will also be glad to transport for parts like cases cranks and heads back to Florida.  Even if you are just planning on having these worked on a few months later, sending them back with us gets them in the system and gets the ball rolling.

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Will you be test running the motors?

Yes. We will have my test stand with us, and perhaps run as many as 6 of the engines being worked on.  The goal is positive exposure and progress, and letting people who are yet to select an engine get a good look at all phases of Corvairs.

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Will there be flying Corvair Powered planes there?

Yes, we have ad 3-5 every year for the last 10 years.

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Is there on site Camping? are their Motels? 

Yes, the Mexico MO airport has good camping, but no hook us. The town is a few miles from the airport, and it has a number of hotels and motels. Do not wait too long to plan, they fill up with several hundred people coming to town.

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Do you have links to previous colleges there?

Get a look at this story: Photos from Corvair College #34 at Zenith A/C

and: Corvair College #30 Running Engines,

and: Corvair College #30 Good Times

and for more general information:

Corvair College Links:

Corvair College reference page

Corvair College History….in photos

College engine build options for closing the case

Basic Corvair College Skills, examples of learning

College Tech

Running an Engine at a College, required items. #2

Running an Engine at a College, required items. #1

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Wewjr.

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3,000cc Corvair for 750 STOL, David Koshinski.

Builders,

Here is a look at the 3rd engine that ran at the joint Flycorvair/SPA Panther workshop open house. It belongs to David Koshinski, and he is installing this on his Zenith 750 STOL.

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Ok, get a good look at his smiling mug. This is the face of a very happy man. What produces this expression? The satisfaction of having an engine that you built with your own hands, an engine you really understand,  lay down a perfect break in run. This is what the very core of traditional homebuilding is all about. The fact that David had this accomplishment in the company of other like minded builders, and with the direct support of the two companies that guided him through the process makes it all that much sweeter…..

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Contrast the image above with this story: A week before this event, I received an email from a guy up north, someone who has met me in person, which basically said he had looked on Google earth and seen the address of the Panther factory was in an industrial park, not directly on an airport, and from this, he come to the conclusion that the event wasn’t real, and he canceled his plans to attend.

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I sent him a few replies, pointing out that this was the same location where we held several events like this: Corvair Finishing School #1, Video report.. I pointed out that SPA/Panther sells kits, not finished planes, so they are located in an industrial park with 3 phase power in the down town area of our town, not at our residential, non commercial airport out in the woods. When nothing I said could dissuade him from thinking he stumbled on to some sort of devious plot, I finally sent him a message ‘confessing’ that he got it right, there was no college, neither of our companies had ever existed, all the pictures and stories were fake, That were were all actually Russians and located in Kiev………

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When the same individual now looks at all the finished engines and happy builders, he has to wonder how we get southern Russia to look so much like Florida in the pictures, and how we get the KGB agent above to pose for the pictures with that faked look on his face. Insidious really, but in the words of General Jack Ripper, “Thats how your hard core commies work*”

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* If you don’t recognize the quote above, go to Youtube and search  “Dr. Strangelove – Precious Bodily Fluids” for a glance at one of the greatest Aviation movies ever made.

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Wewjr.

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Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

Builders;

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We are getting closer to our next event: FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20. We have already signed up builders of 2700-3000cc Corvairs for 1/2 of the test run slots, but we are reserving almost all of the other slots for 3.3L “Engine in a Box” complete kits. These kits are on the shelf at SPA. If you are considering using one in your plane, the workshop represents a golden opportunity to purchase a kit in advance, and come to the worksop to learning, assembly, and test run. On Sunday you will head home with a great American made motor, a lot of new skills and understanding, and some new friends to boot.

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Get a look at all the links to stories, videos, and pictures of 3.3s. If you decide than you will take advantage of the workshop to make a quantum leap forward on your plane project, call Rachel at the SPA engine hotline to get more pricing and information about the workshop. 904-626-7777.

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A good basic overview of the 3.3L Corvair can be seen here:

3.3 Liter Corvair, a Smooth Power House

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 Above, Dan and Rachel stand on either side of their 3.3 engine at Oshkosh 2015. In the 33 months since the 3.3 has go on the become the ‘engine in a box’ kit, which as been assembled and flown by a number of builders.

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Link to a video of the first 3.3 Running:

SPA / Weseman 3.3 Liter Corvair now running

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A story about vibration testing at Sensenich props on the 3.3:

Testing at Sensenich Propellers

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Story about a 601XL flying on a 3.3L:

Ken Pavlou, Zenith 601XL / Corvair, 620 hours.

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A story about the billet cranks which are the heart of all the 3.3Ls and many 3.0L Corvairs

SPA Billet Corvair Cranks

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A short discussion of the value of a large displacement Corvair

3,300cc Corvair 601XL, Oshkosh 2017

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A look at how the standard baffling kits also clean;u fit the 3.3:

Baffling on 3.3 Liter Corvair 

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A funny story about a test run on a 3.3:  3.3 Liter Corvair of Kamal Mustafa

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WEWjr.

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Planning Corvair Colleges for 2018

Builders,

With Corvair Colleges #39, #40 and #41 in the books, we have completed the 2017 College season. We use the period of time between thanksgiving and Christmas to consider, evaluate and plan for the next years season. It is a refining process, and we also decide what areas of the country to serve in a season.

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Above, learning how to install ignition systems and time them at Corvair College #41, Barnwell South Carolina , November 2017. The picture contains builders of all experience levels. At Colleges, we rapidly break builders into sub groups of similar experience, and teach each group to its own level. At first glance, Colleges do not appear to have a set format, but in reality, I have a highly refined process which is very flexible, which allows for great variations in experience and rate of learning. This process adjusts to builders, we don’t make individuals conform to a program.

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Many factors go into College planning. Scheduling of the season means that we can’t hold them in the North in cooler months. In the summer, we must place them around events we always attend like Oshkosh and The Zenith Open house. In recent years I have preferred small private airports to public ones, and I have to have the full compliance of the airport manager.

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We also know from experience what the requirements are to successfully host a College. This include previously attending a College, Having your own Corvair project, and being an outstanding organizer.  Merely being part of a local EAA chapter that thinks hosting a college would be neat is not nearly enough.

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Additionally, the venue has to have space for a minimum of 35 builders (this is a 50 x 50 hangar) and it must have good lighting, air, basic tools , restrooms and available camping.  Colleges are free to builders, but the time ways from the shop, travel and expenses, make them very costly to myself and the Weseman’s at SPA, who cover nearly all the events with me. Don’t get me wrong, they are well worth giving our time to, but it must be done wisely.

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When you look at all all the factors, we are effectively constricted to running 3 – 4 Colleges a year, and they are mostly going to be in southern locations. I have held Colleges in Oregon, Ohio, Michigan and Massachusetts, and they were good events, but had to be summer events, the busiest time of the year. I have held colleges that were hosted by EAA chapters, but unless we have an individual you is an active builder in that chapter, it’s not a good idea. I have had offers to host from Arizona and North Dakota, but due to low density of builders in those states, I just encourage those builders to plan on going to a California or a Zenith based college respectively. I have traveled many long miles to colleges , I expect motivated builders will meet me half way on travel.

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Please use the Comments section to cast a vote for a location, share a Corvair College memory, or suggest an idea for the 2018 season. If you are planning on making this comping flying season count for you, let your ideas be heard.

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Wewjr.

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How to get thrown out of Corvair College

Builders:

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During the last 40 Colleges we have had only three rules:

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No Politics

No Religion

No Communism

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Since our national entitlement has become “taking offense” and “calling people out” and let’s not forget the ever pathetic “demanding an apology ” I assume that people will get upset about these without ever asking what they mean. I don’t write of teach for such people, so we can forget them.

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The third part has long been explained to people who can read, that we don’t allow the use of Chinese Toque Wrenches. About a half dozen people have wrecked an engine with one, and when these engines failed, I’m sure none of these people stood up at their next EAA meeting and said “Actually it had nothing to do with the Corvair design, I’m just a cheap idiot who chose not to follow William’s directions”

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So after 40 colleges no one would try to use one of these at a college right? Guess again. The picture below is from CC#40. A builder brought this “Pittsburgh” harbor freight POS and torqued his case with it. I made him take it apart and redo it with my snap on electronic wrench. When I did this, the builder sheepishly told me he bought it at his local EAA meeting so he thought it was OK. I told him the guy who sold it to him to work on planes was a maggot in my book. Not good enough for his family, but he needed to get his $25 back so he sold it to our guy headed to CC #40.

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It was either a sign my anger management training from years ago still works, or maybe I was just real tired, but I didn’t make a giant issue out of this at the time, even after the builder told me he worked

on planes in the USAF, so he knew better. But no one should try me on this from here forward.

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If you have one of these, throw it out. Under no circumstances bring it to a college. Because if anyone does from here forward, and tells me “I thought it would be ok” or ” it’s good enough” I am going to throw them out of the college, no delay, no apology, no refund.

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Above, the actual “Pittsburgh” item. Unlike the communist piece of shit, I was actually born in Pittsburgh, and I find this offensive that some Maoist in Throw-dung province stole the name of my home town. The only thing these are good for is to get a head start on beating the traffic on the way home from the college.

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To say it plainly, if a person can’t follow the most basic instructions I have, and his attitude is “this is just as good” then I’m not interested in trying to teach him anything, nor am I interested in having the Corvair later blamed for his lack of judgement.

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Wewjr

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Pietenpol 2,775 cc Corvair; Trevor Rushton from UK

Builders,

The fourth engine to run at the Corvair Finishing School #2  was the 2,775 cc engine done by Trevor Rushton, who flew over from Britain for the school.  He assembled the entire engine from its most basic components in two 10 hour days.  Because aircraft in the UK must meet the stringent standards of their LAA, the assembly required a high level of documentation, which I had to sign off as done under my supervision.

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Even with this extra time requirement, Trevor easily got the engine documented, completed and on the run stand during the finishing school.  As a crass colonial grease monkey, I am usually the champion of American ingenuity, but truth requires I say that Trevor might very well have come close to setting the record of most efficient builder at a Corvair event.  I honestly don’t think any of us could have gone east across the pond and made as good a showing assembling a Gypsy Major engine on their soil.

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The engine is a 2,775 cc “Engine in a Box” kit that Trevor purchased through SPA/Panther in advance of attending the Finishing school. If you are interested in learning more about the kit engine program, please call Rachel directly at the SPA hotline: 904 626 7777.

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Above, Trevor hard at work, measuring and documenting the case bore diameters utilizing the advanced tooling that Dan and I maintain for engine development and process quality control. The LAA governing body of sport aircraft in the UK, requires individual engines built to be documented in great detail, under supervision of approved inspectors. Trevor secured prior approval from the LAA that I could act as such an inspector on his engine build.  For builders with great enthusiasm, we will gladly match any effort they make toward special requirements. Much of the original contact and communication with Trevor was done by Terry Hand (in Happy Birthday to the USMC   story last week) who runs our “Pietvair” discussion group.

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The pay off: Trevor taking his engine through a perfect test run.  It is destined to power his Pietenpol, slated to be finished at the end of 2017 or early 2018.  After watching him work, I tend to think his time estimates are reasonable.  I told him I would probably fly to Britain to see it launched.

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Something about working with Trevor: I had many things I wanted to hear his perspective on, but we ended up speaking about the greatest UK import to the US in the last 100 years: Music. In the last 40 years I spent countless hours listening to Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Rolling Stones, all band from Trevor’s land.  I have never been to the UK, but know something about Brighton in the 1960s from listening to Quadrophenia a zillion times. Trevor said he was neither a Mod nor a Rocker, perhaps just a little of both.

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-ww.

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Custom Corvair Motor Mounts and installation components. 

Builders;

Over the years 1996-2016 I built about 50 one of a kind motor mounts to install a Corvair in unique or limited popularity airframes.  If you look back over the old photos on my traditional site: http://flycorvair.com/ you can see pictures of mounts on airframes like the Pegzair, Eich/J-2, Buttercup, Tailwind, Jr Ace, Stitts Skycoupe, KR-1, Kitfox #4, Skylite,  and Varieze.  There were a number of designs that started as one mount, but took years for a second one to sell, these include the Dragonfly, the 701, the Flybaby and the Wagabond. 

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While just four designs, the Zenith 601/650, the Zenith 750, the Pietenpol Aircamper and the KR-2 and 2S make up 90% of the total mounts we have made over the years, I still wanted to support the airframes choices that some builders made. As a general policy, if it was a good match to the airframe, and the builder seriously wanted it, I was willing to make it.

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The plan got a number of interesting planes going and was a good way to demonstrate both the versatility of the engine, and our technical ability to support builders. But it also had several serious flaws: Although most custom mounts take four times as long to build, and a lot of planning, I typically only charged builders the same rate as the closest “big four” mount, and second, I didn’t always get builders to acknowledge that custom mounts took time, and were not the highest priority in the shop. This meant I lost money on every one of these mounts, and was often rewarded by having an impatient customer complain to on line discussion groups, without ever mentioning the price, nor the fact his was building an obscure, obsolete airframe. Let those mounts stand as “Exhibit A” that I am both dumb and a slow learner.

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Under the principle “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese” , Dan Weseman is now trying his hand at offering custom motor mounts and exhausts. Because he believes it isn’t required to repeat the mistakes of friends, he is making these mounts, but requiring the builders to understand they are going to cost more than standard mounts, and they are not in stock like the “big four” mounts. He is glad to look at doing mounts for builders as long as conversation starts with the understanding of these to points.

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Above, It looks like a number of other mounts, but this is a picture of a Savanna S mount.  It was built by Dan Weseman at SPA/Panther. Note that it has it’s own custom exhaust that fits it like a glove.  While the mount is built around the same basic “tray”  as other mounts, and the exhaust system uses our decade prove stainless steel subcomponents, they still take a lot of time to design and build. These items are shown on my dummy engine, installed on a rotting stand, because all kind of components have to be check for clearance and the ability to be routinely serviced. Additionally, calculations for both weight and balance, thrust line and stress must be done. This is why a one of a kind mount has to cost a lot more, because a popular mount can have these cost spread over many of it’s kind.  Builders interested in talking to Dan about a mount can call him at 904-626-7777.

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-ww.

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