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

Corvair College #45, Nov. 14-16 Deland Florida.

Builders,

This is the first official announcement of the details of Corvair College #45, which will be held this November 14-16th in Deland Florida. We are doing this by special arrangement at the Deland Sport Aviation Showcase. (https://www.sportaviationshowcase.com)  I have working most of the year with Jana Filip, the director of the Showcase, and this will be a productive College in really motivating setting. 

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For the last decade, our November flagship Corvair Colleges have been held in Barnwell SC.  These were spectacular events, for a look check out this video made by a professional EAA film crew dispatched to cover #27: New EAA video on Corvair College. All great things do pass, and the Barnwell crew has more than earned their place in Corvair history, and a well deserved stand down. This year, we are holding our flagship College in Deland, about 75 miles south of us.

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I’m getting this notice out now, because we are just 83 days away, and if you are heading to the College, today is the day to get a plan in gear. If you want to build a motor or advance your project, you will need parts, and now is the time to check in with SPA so they can make sure you take delivery of all the stuff you will need. Calling in or ordering on line is actually more important than the sign up, which we will have next week.

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.Above, I give a hands on demonstration of setting the valve adjustment on a Corvair. We have now been holding Corvair Colleges for 20 years. They are outstanding opportunities to learn.

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Above is a really good video which Rachel shot and edited at a previous Barnwell Corvair College. It is an excellent look at builders having a fun, productive time.

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Colleges are a lot of fun. Bill “Snow suit” Beauvais, does his best “Captain Morgan” pose with his minutes old Pietenpol engine.To get a look at this tradition, read: “Captain Morgan” Contest at #39

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 Get a good look at David Koshinski’s 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 will be available at #45 for builders who decide to act and advance their project this year.

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Is there an on line sign up for this College?

Yes, I will have a link to it posted here within a week.

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Is there a fee for this College? 

Yes, Signing up on line for College #45 is required, The on line link will have the pricing, which will include a three day all access pass to the DeLand Showcase. Many previous Colleges have had catered food, but for #45, we are encouraging all people attending the College to patronize the food vendors who will be right on site at the Showcase. The technical support we offer at the College is provided without cost to builders, the costs of the College on line just represent the entry fee and costs of the very large commercial tent which the Showcase management are providing for us. We only have 45 slots available for the College, make sure you sign up early.

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

Yes,  builders who would like to buy, assemble and test run a 3.3L “engine in a box kit” at this event can. For an overview of the 3.3 engine read this story: Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house. You can also select one of the smaller kit engines. If you are interested in one of these motors, do not delay, please Contact Rachel at SPA/Panther at 904-626-7777, so yours can be ready.

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

First, call SPA at 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 our shops.  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 15 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 already heard from 7 Corvair powered planes planning on attending. The Showcase arrangement allows for easy demo rides and demonstrations, something virtually impossible at Sun n Fun or Oshkosh.

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Is there on site Camping? are their Motels? 

Yes. The airport has good camping for people who fly in, but we are looking at designating a local campground off the airport where Corvair College people can gather.  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, the Showcase website has maps and lists of places.

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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

 

Corvair College #44, The “Operations College” at The Zenith Homecoming

Builders;

We are rapidly approaching Corvair College #44, which will be held at the Zenith Aircraft Factory In Mexico MO, September 20-21st. This will not be a ‘usual’ College. This will be an “Operations College.” 

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Instead of building and testing engines, I am going to very intensely focus on the operations of the engine in the airframe. Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith has long upheld his homecoming / open house events as much more of a learning opportunity than sales events. As such he has organized forums and training sessions of many kinds, and our educational work with Corvairs has fit right into this. This year, by covering Operations, we can focus on installations, props, testing, evaluation and decision making. These are subjects I want our builders to know well, just as they know the insides of their engines. It is also information that should appeal to many builders.

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I am currently working on a 50 page Operations Handbook, a functional, bring in the plane guide to all aspects of Corvair Operations. I have reviewed and refined these ideas over time with Dan Weseman,  they are the procedures that have long proven to work for Corvair builders and pilots. This will be available at the College, but I will also have it available afterwards, as I want all people using our conversions to have this information in a neatly packaged form where they will have it with them as they need it, sort of a Pilot’s Operating Handbook for the Corvair engine.

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We will be going over many things, working with a live running Corvair engine. I want people to fully understand setting the timing, setting prop pitch, how to lean the engine, and proper instrumentation installation. In addition to this, we will have instruction by discussion of the Handbook. I will be spending the majority of the time at the Homecoming covering these topics in a small group setting where individuals can have each of their questions answered in detail until they fully understand the topic. There are many things in life I’m not good at or don’t understand,  dancing, tofu, fashion, computers, flower arranging, Volvos, international finance, modern art, most cats, ‘reality’ tv, why some people prefer Unicorns vs Ponies., But, I am a very good instructor on the topics we will be covering. If you are available, make plans to attend the Homecoming.

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Above, a Video link about the event which we shot last month at Oshkosh:

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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 #44 in the Open House so the maximum number of aircraft builders can get a good chance to study the information we are sharing.

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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?

No, Just show up. If you want to discuss the event in advance or have a question, call or text my personal cell, 904-806-8143.

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Is there a fee for this College? 

No. The Homecoming is free, Zenith only charges a modest fee for the banquet held on the first evening

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I wanted to know if you guys can get a look at my core engine while you are at the College?

Yes, I will be glad to, (We generally refer to these as ‘parking lot tours’ )  I will also be glad to transport 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  motors?

I will have one motor with me as an operations demonstrator, If you have a motor which needs a break in run, we need to talk about it and plan in advance. Call me soon.

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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 ups. 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

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WW.

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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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Corvair Mission 2019, part #1

Builders:

I typically put out an ‘Outlook’ statement in January each year, outlining the game plan for who I will work with builder during the upcoming year, what we will focus on, events in the works.  This year is a but different, as it is my 30th year in the business, and I spent the last 4 months of 2018 speaking with many friends, in a rigorous evaluation of what the strengths of the Corvair movement are, what builders need, and how best to serve them.

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The Golden Rule: ” In a demanding environment, the most reliable machine will be the simplest one, at the hands of the best trained operator.” – ww.

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It has been my long held conviction that our motor and the process building them are very well developed, but way too many builders, including many who have attended colleges, are getting just a fraction of what we are offering in education and experience. The centerpiece of my work in 2019 will be increasing the understanding of each individual builder.

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After careful looking at operations and questions builders had in 2017-2018, It was obvious that three things were causing the majority of issues for some builders who were either too distracted by secondary things like avionics, paint jobs and interiors.  or were not focusing their attention on really knowing their plane.  This may sound critical, but it is honest. When a guy has a $2,000 interior in his plane, but doesn’t own a $39 timing light, he needs to be told his priorities are inverted. Likewise, a person who has painted their plane, but not bothered to open the inlets on their cowl, but when later questioned says ‘I ran hot before, but the weather is cooler now”  needs to hear this. Same goes for anyone about to fly a plane who has never heard of a “Two minute test.”

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This year is my 30th year of working with Corvair flight engines. The goal has always been to learn build and fly. The internet made the distribution of that information much easier, but it also brought incredible distractions, opinions from countless people without relevant experience, and it radically accelerated peoples consumerism, all of which distracted from or directly attacked the transmission of the experience and understanding I am working to share. This is pervasive, as some people attending Corvair Colleges miss basic information, simply because they got distracted by other things when the mission at hand was learning.  In 2019, I am going to directly and plainly address the “Learning Gap,” in everything I do, this will be priority #1.  If you got into homebuilding to see how much you could learn, understand, build and operate, this should be a very welcome declaration. 

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Plainly: The three main issues some builders have come from these points;

A) They are not flying the correct carb set up correctly for their plane. When correct, carbs are stupid simple and very reliable, and I will put their operational record against that of EFI any day of the year. But we have people who don’t use the right carb, or ever verify its operation.  Addressing this is the motivation behind the testing in these stories: Shootout at the Stromberg corral  , .Stromberg Shootout, Pt #2,.and. MA3-SPA Test Runs.. . This information will be part of an ongoing push to get builders to use the right carb, set up correctly.

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B) For 10 years I have told builders to not use the nose bowl inlets as they come out of the mold, but they must take 30 minutes when mounting the cowl to open the inlets and install inlet rings. Perhaps only 30% of builders did this. The other 70% of people includes people who were out on the internet complaining their plane ran hot.  It includes people who flew to airshows and Colleges. This is the equivalent of buying a new radiator for your car, but only filling it half way and leaving the cap off.  After a decade, The solution is to offer a new cowl, which has these things already done, so people who can’t be bothered will have it done for them. This cost a lot of time and effort to have new molds made, but in the end I said every thing I could about this and only got 30% compliance. The New cowl is better, but it’s primary goal was to address the 70% who would not follow the directions. .‘STOL Bowl’ availability starts tomorrow.. is a story about this cowl as a solution to getting people to use the cooling potential of the engine.

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C) I must have written 100 stories about how critical it is to set the timing on ANY flight engine. Just like this: YOU MUST SET THE TIMING ON YOUR ENGINE. Could not be more plain. I have showed 100’s of builders how to do this for free at 43 colleges, yet, we still have people who will not do this. Something which has emerged is builders who don’t do it because the don’t want to stand behind a running engine with a timing light. This is odd, because many of the same people stood right behind their engine when it ran at a College. Yet, when they are home, they may set the timing at idle, but will not run it up as required.  This leads to this development: .Dual 50K volt test ignition. This specific system has no points and no advance. The timing on it can be set at idle…….Is it better than the E/P and E/P-X systems that I have been making for 14 years? The answer is Yes, if the builder is not doing to set the timing at full static RPM.  This test:.“Corvair Fast Burn” Ignition timing settings , is an evaluation of fixed timing settings, and to further demonstrate that the timing must be set on ANY engine.

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LOOKING AHEAD: I will shortly put out notes on Colleges, Finishing Schools , airshows and and other learning and training opportunities. Builders will shortly see how the format of Colleges will be redone this year. If you wonder why, come back and read this, and understand that my primary focus of sharing my experience has never changes, but I am in the process of adjusting it to have a better success rate with all builders.

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WW.

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“Talk is cheap, testing costs money, and being ignorant costs a fortune.-ww.”

Very special deal on “E-I-B” 2,775cc Corvair ‘Kit’ engine with Billet Crank.

Builders,

If you have been thinking about assembling a very high end 105-110 HP Corvair for your project, we have an outstanding, one of a kind offer, this week only, on a SPA “Engine in a Box” complete kit engine.

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SPA Engine in a Box kits come with every single engine part, but they have a wide variety of options. However, the centerpiece of this kit is a SPA made in the USA, new Billet Crankshaft.  ( 2012 story: Billet Cranks Made In The USA– 2018 story:SPA Billet Corvair Cranks) Almost all other parts in the kit are brand new also, just a few items, the case halves, the basic head castings and the accessory case casing are original remanufactured parts. Virtually all else is new, made in the USA.

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Here is the special deal:

All EIB kits have the available option of having the bottom end assembled for an additional $600. We also offer final assembly on engines and test runs for $1,400.  In the case of this particular engine, SPA is waiving the bottom end assembly fee, and I am offering an exclusive, one on one weekend training, final assembly and test run for the purchaser, at my own hangar, at no charge.

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OK, some basic questions:

How much is this this billet crank EIB kit?

$13,795.

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How long is the offer good for?

Until 11/10/18, the first builder who pays for it will get it.

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When do I have to come for the training?

The engine has to be paid for now, but the training offer is good for the next 5 months.

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Can I fly in commercial and have the test run engine shipped to me?

Yes, you can fly in to Jacksonville FL, and we will do the work at my hangar. The engine owner is responsible for the crating and shipping charges, but we have access to very reasonable rates on this.

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Can I bring my spouse, kid or friend to the weekend?

Yes, Yes, and Yes. 

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If I can’t make it to your shop, can I have the engine assembled, run and shipped?

I will assemble and test run it myself, but the buyer is still responsible for crating and shipping fees.

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Do I owe a core fee on this engine?

No. There has been a core on previous EIB kits, but it is waived for the offer, on this engine kit.

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Who do I contact about buying this engine?

Rachel Weseman at SPA 904-626-7777

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Who do I complain to if I want the engine, but wait too long, and I have to read the story about the guy who bought it and see the pictures of him doing the CMP- (“Captain Morgan” Contest at #39) outside William’s hangar?

I understand that SME (Spilled Milk Enterprises) offers a special ‘self anger and loathing’ seminar on Regret Island in the Bahamas next year. You will have to make your own reservations, but they will have mechanical grief counselors on staff.

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Above, Front quarter view of a 2,775 engine built in our shop. When assembled, the EIB kit engine will look just like this one.

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Further 2,775 stories:

New 2,775 cc Corvair for a Zenith 601XLB

Pietenpol 2,775 cc Corvair; Trevor Rushton from UK

2,775 cc Pistons are here.

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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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