Basic Corvair Information

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

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Above, A  3,000 cc Corvair flight engine. I built this particular one in 2012 for the SPA Panther aerobatic aircraft prototype.  The Corvair is a popular option on more than 20 different experimental airframes.

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.’

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. Between myself and SPA, we have versions that are 2,700, 2,775,  2,850, 3,000 and 3,300 cc. The smallest of these has twice the displacement of a Rotax 912.

Power: Corvairs have several different power ratings. 100, 105, 110, 120 and 125+hp. These correspond to the five displacements listed above. 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 3,400 rpm without damage.

Weight: The engine weighs 225-235 pounds ready to run. This is effectively the same as a Viking 130 and slightly less than 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. Larger Corvairs are slightly lighter because they have special cylinders made for them which make these engine 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 $12,750 to $17,750. 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 $8,500-10,500 to build a first class, zero timed, engine. Budget motors can be built for as little as $6,500.

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. We have dyne proven that a Corvair running on 5 cylinders will still make 78-80% power. 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 with rotators on the exhausts.

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, but 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.

Corvairs have proven themselves to serve a very broad variety of builders. Many alternative engine options are offered only as a complete 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 31 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 wave 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.

William Wynne

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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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

 

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.

.

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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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.

A look at shop parts and work.

Builders,

Below is a picture of parts which came in this week, which are part of the steady flow of work in my hangar. The represent three elements of a typical work week.

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On the left, CNC machined stainless steel exhaust stacks, the basic element of all the Corvair exhaust systems I have made in the last 15 years. (Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems) The same aerospace shop in Florida has always made these for me, and they like to make them in quantity. They start as solid American 304 stainless bar stock, and they are not cheap. The bin pictured has over $7,000 in parts in it. Over the winter, I will weld these into many exhaust systems so we start the 2019 season with a lot of systems on the shelf.

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The four Gold oil filter housings look common to our engines, but if you look close, they are 2601-R models, the “R” designation is for ‘reverse’, they are the mirror image of our standard part. The only common use for these are Corvair/Sonex installations. Look at this picture: Waiex engine, 3,000 cc / 120HP Corvair of Gordon Turner. , and you can see the difference. These also have to be made in batches, and I sell about 20 times as many standard ones, so I only order the “R” model once a year or so. Even though it is a small part of what we are doing, I still invest in the parts to make sure every builder can have an optimized engine.

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The last part is a Dual points distributor I sold to a Pietenpol builder in Australia…..about 15 years ago. It has been flying a while, and it has just come back for a check up. Think of it, its logged about 22,000 miles aloft. Its the kind of thing a do nearly every week to support a fleet of 500 or so flying corvair powered planes. If your out in your shop working tonight, don’t worry, in another 15 years I’ll be here for you also.

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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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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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IMG_2296

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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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Outlook 2016, College #36 and Western building tour

Builders,

I had a long phone call with Shelley Tumino and Kevin Purtee to set up the first College of 2016. This will be Corvair College #36, and it will be in Austin TX the weekend of April 1st, 2016. We will open the sign up page for it in mid December.

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Above, Kevin Purtee and Shelley Tumino receive The Cherry Grove Trophy at Corvair College #24, Barnwell SC. They hosted the last three Texas Colleges, #22, #28 and #32.  They have been tireless supporters of our work with Corvairs. Shelley runs many of the on-line College registrations and maintains the College Facebook pages. ( https://www.facebook.com/CorvairCollege )

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The Western Building tour:  This month, I am forming a plan that right after Corvair College #36 in April, I am going to push west, and do a very large 7 week tour of the Western states. The tentative plan is to hold two Mid sized College events, in Chino and Cloverdale California, but I also want to make stops nearly every night along the way, just as we did on this tour : A decade later: Midwest tour, winter 2005 I also plan to visit many builders projects like this House Call on Pat Green’s 1,000 Hour Pietenpol and this Corvair House Call, Range: 335 miles.

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My proposed track is to head through New Mexico and Arizona, run the length of California, Oregon and Washington, and turn east and head back over the top of the country. (I have to travel through North Dakota, because it is the only state in the US I have not been to.)  I am open to any suggested stop on this track. It is my goal to meet 350 builders in person on the trip.

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We have a plan in place to use the months over the winter to stock pile popular parts in preparation for the trip. We have assistance lined up to send out regular orders, even though we will be far away. Between websites, email and phones, we will have an easy way for builders to get daily update on the location and stops along the way. Between now an January we will have a number of updates on this tour as details solidify.

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Gratuitous Dog Photo, ScoobE in blankets at CC#22, “When you only weigh 9 pounds, you don’t have a lot of spare insulation. When it got good and chilly, Scoob E enjoyed a pile of blankets on his chair at the College.

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Some notes from previous Texas Colleges:

Corvair College #28, San Marcos, Texas

Schwartz Engine Runs at CC #22

Shipman Engine at CC#22

Franklin Engine Runs at CC ##22 KGTU Spring Break 2012

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For a good read on Kevin’s personal perspective on homebuilding, read his story at this link:

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee

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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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As always, remember my saying “Your Cadillac dealer does not service Yugo’s, nor can he bolt parts on them and turn them into an Eldorado.”  We do not allow parts from bankrupt LLC’s to be brought to Corvair colleges, and I will not assist nor support anyone in the delusional idea that you can bolt good parts on a piece of feces and transform it into something to fly behind. The colleges are focused on serving builders who want to learn how to build Corvair flight engines the right way, not to work with people who bought things from people I have always warned them not to. Keep in mind that I have the memory of an elephant, and things said on many internet lists last forever, so people who formerly offered glowing reviews of now gone LLC’s will find it very hard to switch to my team now. If anyone has a specific question on these matters write to me privately before attempting to sign up for a College

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From Corvair College #17 in 2010:

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Above, introductions at CC#17, At my side is James Barrett. I’m introducing him as the Longest Distance Traveled Winner. He was in rural Afghanistan a few days earlier. His route to the College was more than 10,000 miles.  When a person claims he didn’t read about a college and missed the sign up, I point out that if a guy like James, on the other side of the globe, fighting the Taliban in a country locked in the 13th century has time to read about and sign up for Corvair College, I can reasonably expect anyone in suburbia to do so also.

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From Oshkosh 2013:

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Above, in the middle is a man exemplifies the spirit of the Corvair Colleges, Mike Quinn of North Carolina, a skilled mechanic. He has attended a number of South Carolina Colleges going back to #12. He holds the distinction of being the last man working on the last engine running during the last hour at several Colleges. What makes this truly unique? None of the engines he was wrenching on were his. He came to the Colleges and shared in the creation of other people’s engines, and gave assistance to people new to engine building. You can attend as many other aviation technical seminars as you like, but you will not find an old school homebuilder like Mike Quinn repeatedly attending them for the benefit of others. This is what sets Corvair Colleges apart.  When anyone says they do not wish to pay their share of the colleges expenses, I point out how ironic it would be if I allowed this but Mike Quinn ended up working on their engine, after paying his share of the expenses and a portion of theirs. If I have to explain that to anyone twice, they are a poor match for the values I promote in the Corvair movement.

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One of my favorite films is the very moving 1966 Steve McQueen film “The Sand Pebbles” , a drama about the crew of a US gunboat in China in the 1920s. During an uprising where the crew may have to fight to the death, the Captain of the ship, played by Richard Crenna, explains that any crewmember not committed to the mission who stays aboard is “A thief of every bite of food he eats and a trespasser in the bunk he sleeps in.” I can remember this line 40 years after I first saw it because it resonates with my upbringing where my parents taught us that people who expected others to pay for benefits they would receive are to be pitted, as they have a disease that curses them to never know friendship nor self esteem.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvbCE0z-aSk

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-ww

:)