Basic Corvair College Skills, examples of learning


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

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

200 Stories of aircraft building


Below are 200 stories on aircraft building that I wrote in the last 2.5 years. This is just the top 40% most popular ones from our blog. They are loosely grouped, but you can scan through the titles, and you can read the full story by clicking on any colored title.

There are some real classics like “Unicorns vs Ponies”, but most stories are directly about flying planes and running engines. You don’t have to read it in one sitting (it is about 250,000 words, half the length of “War and Peace“) But keep it handy for a reference page. -ww.



Basic Corvair information

Shop perspective: Mastery or ?

Concerned about your potential?

A visit to the insane asylum

Glider flying – a funny story

The Cherry Grove Trophy

Model T of the air?

Model T of the air, Part #2 – Leeon Davis notes

More Thoughts On Economical Aircraft

Testing and Data Collection reference page

Why Not the Panther engine?

What is a core engine worth?

Corvair College reference page

Corvair College History….in photos

College Tech

Basic Corvair College Skills, examples of learning

Zenvair’ Information board formed

Calling All “Zenvair” Flyers……601 / 650 / 750

New Numbering System, Final, please print.

College engine build options for closing the case

Getting Started in 2013, part #1, Crankshaft process options.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #2, Group numbering system

Getting Started in 2013, Part #3, The Camshaft Group (1100)

Getting Started in 2013, Part #4, Case Group (1200)

Getting Started in 2013, Part #5, ‘Allan Able’ short block.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #6, ‘Bob Baker’ short block

Getting Started in 2013, Part #7, ‘Chas. Charlie’ Short Block

Getting Started in 2013, Part #8, ‘Davie Dog’ Short Block

Getting Started in 2013, Part #9, ‘Eddie Easy’ short block.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #10, Piston and Cylinder options.

Getting started in 2013, Part #11, Comment of the day

Getting Started in 2013, Part #12, Piston Choices

Getting Started in 2013, Part #13, Basic piston/rod/cylinder combo.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #14, 2,850 cc piston/rod/cyl. Kits

Getting Started in 2013, Part #15, 2,775cc, (imaginary piston)

Getting Started in 2013, Part #16, 3,000 cc Piston/cylinder kits

Getting Started in 2013, Part #17, Short block cost chart.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #18, A look ahead

Getting Started in 2013, Part #19, Cylinder Heads

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee

Guest Editorial, Arnold Holmes On Affordable Aircraft…



Planes flying on Corvair Power

Corvair planes and projects on You Tube

Corvair Powered Davis DA-2, w/EFI

List of Corvair Powered Zeniths

Zenith 750 / Corvair reference page, October 2013

Zenith 601/650 – Corvair reference page November 2013

Corvair power for Panther and Sonex reference page

Pietenpol review in pictures, 15 more Corvair powered Piets

16 Flying Corvair powered Zenith 601/ 650s

Corvair – Pietenpol Reference page

Gary Burdett, 2,850cc Zenith 750, now flying. (engine selection)

New 3,000 cc Cleanex, Dale Williams, SC

Panther Roll out.

Zenith 701- Corvair reference page, November 2013

New Photos of JAG-2, a Corvair powered twin.

JAG-2, Corvair Powered Twin, Jim Tomaszewski, N.Y.

Zenith 601XL-3100cc Dr. Andy Elliott

Zenith 601XL-2,850cc, Woody Harris

Zenith 650-2700cc Dave Gardea

2,700cc-Skycoupe-2002 Photos

New “Zenvair-750″, Jeff Cochran, 2,850cc engine, N750ZV

Flying Zenith 750 w/3000cc Corvair, Doug Stevenson, California

Corvair powered Dragonfly, Charlie Johnson, aka ‘One Sky Dog’

Zenith 750 Flying on Corvair Power, Gary Burdett, Illinois

KR-2S at 700 Hours – Joe Horton

New Zenith 601 XL(B), Conventional Gear, Jerry Baak, S.C.

New Pietenpol, 2700 Corvair, Don Harper SC

New Pietenpol, Gary Boothe, Cool, Calif.

Two More Flying Planes: Merlin and VP-2

Corvair Powered Merlin Flying Over Newfoundland

Floats on Snow, Corvair powered Merlin

Flying 2,850cc Cleanex, Clarence Dunkerley

New Pietenpol, EAA #1279, French Valley CA

New Pietenpol #3, Mike Groah, Tulare, California

Guest writer: Phil Maxson, flying a 3100cc Corvair in his 601XL

Another new “Zenvair” 601XLB, Jim Ballew, 2700cc

Flying Zenith 750, Tom Siminski, 2700cc, PA.

Flying 2700 cc Zenith 601 XL(B), Alan Uhr



Complete Engines for Sale

2012 Corvair Engines For Sale: 100, 110 and 120 HP

World’s Strongest 3,000cc Corvair, built by Greg Crouchley

Panther Prototype Engine 3,000 cc/120 hp to OSH

3,000 vs 3,100 cc Corvair engines

3,000cc/Billet Crank Shortblock, Destination: Waiex

High Volume Oil Pump

3,000cc Engine Running

3,000cc Case Modifications.

Billet Cranks Made In The USA

Chinese Crankshafts

Chinese Crankshafts for Corvairs, update 2/17/13.

Notes on Corvair flight engine oils.

Shipman Engine at CC#22

A Tale of Two Spark Plugs……

The Panther’s engine, worlds strongest Corvair flight engine.

Panther Engine Is Alive … ALIVE

Engine Operations reference page

The case of the Murphy Rebel, “eyeball vs. testing”

Corvair vs O-200…. weight comparison

Testing Head Studs

Balancer Installation

Gold Oil Filter Housing, Standard and Reverse

Front and Rear alternators, their part in numbering system

Thoughts on cold weather operation, minimum oil temps, etc.

Cooling with J-3 style cowls. (Pietenpols, Cubs, Biplanes, etc)

Spark Plug Installation

Starting procedures on Corvairs, 2,000 words of experience.



Stromberg Carbs

Carb applications, choices people make

Fuel Injected Corvairs

Carburetor Reference page

A question of Carb location…..

Mechanical Fuel Injection Testing

Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems

Fuel Injection – Corvair flight engines reference page

New die spring landing gear on a Pietenpol, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Pietenpol Products, Motor mounts, Gear and Instalation Components.

MA3-spa carb pictures, Wagabond notes.

In Search Of … The Economical Carburetor

Pietenpol Box Spar Construction, 6/27/13

Pietenpol Mount on airframe

Panther Engine propeller test

Kitfox Model IV with Corvair mount

Corvair Motor Mount for Bearhawk LSA

Inexpensive Panel……..part one.

Inexpensive panel…….part two.

“William, you ignorant troglodyte”…….(instrument options)

My favorite Tach; Stewart Warner 82636.

Ammeters Pro and Con, & Flying like there is no tomorrow.

Corvair Oil System, information on oil pressure gauges.

MGL vs Corvair ignition issue

Measuring Cylinder Head Temps on Corvairs.

Corvair Cooling

Corvair Cooling, Three 2007 examples from our hangar.

Cylinder Head Temperature measurement

Cowling Inlet Area, marketing, accident stats, Darwin where are you?

Corvair Cooling, something of a human issue…..

CHT part #5, flight data from Zenith 750

Engine Cooling Factory Sheet Metal

Pietenpol Fuel lines and Cabanes

Three Pietenpol Motor Mounts

Zenith 601/650 Motor mounts, P/N 4201(A)

Intakes and Internet myths



Welcome to The Blog

Back from the road, notes on Communications



Unicorns vs Ponies.

Sunday, a long day at the airport.

Fixing America is going to cost each of us $1.69

Greatest Book on Flying Ever Written, (Is your life worth $16?)

A thought on Easter….

In defense of plain speaking……

Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

2,500 words about levels of aircraft finsh……

Steel tube fuselages, “Safe” planes and 250mph accidents

Cessna’s Chinese adventure a failure.

Communist Chinese government at Oshkosh

Risk Management, Experience vs Judgement.

Risk Management, Wrong airframe, Wrong experience level.

Effective Risk Management – 2,903 words

Risk Management, Factor #1, Judgement.

“If only someone had told him……”

Expert Witnesses in civil Aviation trials.

Great tales from discussion groups…….part #1

Vern’s Aero-Cars

Fun with Agkistrodon Piscivorus and Vern’s Aero-Trike

Cloudn’t have happened to a nicer guy……

Built by William Wynne? Built according to The Manual?

Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place.

Flathead Ford, 71 cid. Freedom to pursue happiness.


History and aviators:

B.H. Pietenpol, Patron Saint of Homebuilding

Robert Hedrix, Aviator, Nha Trang, 1975

The Quote, 1927, C.A.L.

James Stockdale – Philosophy

Sterling Hayden – Philosophy

A Father’s Day Story – Lance Sijan

Three Aviation Stories

Charles Poland Jr., An American of whom you could be proud.

Carl Sagan, Corvair Owner, Practical Philosopher, Individual.

William Edward Wynne Sr. – Father’s Day Notes



Corvair College #22, March 9-11, 2012 in Austin, Texas

Panther Prototype Engine 3,000 cc/120 hp to OSH

John Moyle, noted aviation enthusiast, passes -1/16/13

Corvair College #25, In Photos

Corvair College #23 – 2850cc Engine, Roger Grable, CH-750 Builder

House Call on Pat Green’s 1,000 Hour Pietenpol

Brodhead, Oshkosh and Beyond 2013

Wisconsin 2012 Air Adventure

Zenith 750 Builder Blaine Schwartz

Corvair College #23, 2700cc Engine, Spencer Gould, SP-500

Sun N Fun 2012

Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.

Corvair College #27 run on film

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



“I sure hope his opinion is worth money to someone”


John Tower was a four term US Senator from Texas.  Between his service in WWII and being a reservist, he wore the uniform of the US Navy for 46 years. He was on the Senate Armed Services Committee for 20 years; he was on the Joint Committee on Defense Production for 16 years; Although he was a Republican, he lead the ‘Tower Commission’, that investigated and condemned the Reagan administration role in the Iran Contra Affair. After leaving the Senate Tower was the Chief US negotiator of the Strategic Arms talks at a critical time in the Cold War.


In 1989 President Bush nominated Tower to be US Secretary of Defense. Because he had never been a man of blind party loyalty, Tower was attacked on many fronts in one of the ugliest Senate confirmation hearings in history. At the height of the battle in the Senate, Towers enemies stated he was unqualified to be Secretary of Defense, because after serving in the Senate, Tower had worked for General Dynamics and was paid about $200,000/yr. One of Towers supporters went to the microphone and “We are speaking of making this man United States Secretary of Defense, on these issues,  I sure hope that his opinion is worth money to someone.” 


With the goal of finding someone who had not been paid for their perspectives, Tower’s nomination was defeated by a coalition of his political rivals and enemies.  Another nominee was found, a relative unknown from a state where he had few detractors. He was easily confirmed, 92-0, and thus began the rise to power of a Wyoming Congressman named Dick Cheney.




Your Aviation Connection: In budget experimental aviation, there is a small (10%) but internet vocal minority that will constantly spout the myth any person who runs a profitable or successful business will advocate products and procedures, motivated solely by quick profit. In this distorted view, anyone who is ‘successful’ can’t be trusted, and their track record should be ignored in favor of getting advice from people who’s opinions have never been valuable enough for builders to spend money on.


This is a disease that doesn’t affect mid level builders like RV series builders. A part of the reason why their are 10,000 flying RV aircraft is the message Profitable=Evil doesn’t resonate with them. They want to build a proven aircraft, and they want to fly it. They are not interested in getting sidelined by conspiracy theories on success. To the contrary, the majority of RV builders selected Van’s Aircraft, specifically because it was successful and profitable. To sane people, this is taken as evidence of having a good and proven product.


When people who are against trusting successful people need medical attention, do they look for people who didn’t make it through med school? Do they look upon every successful professional with suspicion? Do the automatically trust the opinion of every amateur or failure? Your guess is as good as mine, I am an aircraft mechanic, I have little understanding of that kind of psychology.


On the internet last week, the claim was made I advocate pressure cowls because I make money selling baffle kits.  This is a joke, first because pressure cowls work, evidenced by 98% of RV aircraft and 100% of Cessna 172 and 150’s having them, second, we have more than a hundred of flying Corvair powered planes that use a pressure cowl, but lets not forget the point, I don’t even sell baffle kits. Even if I did, I am well known as a person who can’t be bought: Read this story: Expert Witnesses in civil Aviation trials. and know that I was offered $55,000 for 2 hours of testimony against Cessna, and I told their lawyers to “F–k Off. ”  In 2001, I had several attorneys promise me a million dollar settlement if I would sue the PIC in my accident. I told them to drop dead also.   So perhaps it seems unlikely that I would sell out for the ‘big money’ available from Corvair parts sales.


The anti-success line sold on internet groups isn’t just aimed at Corvairs; I have seen it used against any VW company that lasted, about half of the aircraft plans sellers, and a great number of people who offered parts for plans built aircraft. The people who sell this idea claim to be defending traditional homebuilding, but what they are really doing making it unattractive for people to make products of basic planes, to take away the opportunity for some builders to choose for themselves products that best serve their individual time vs money equation.  If you are a grass roots homebuilder who wonders why there are “A wealth of products for the wealthy“, but far fewer choices for those on a budget, here is a big part of your answer.


Here is irony: One of the things I do with the modest profits from our 27 year business is put them back into events that serve grass roots builders like our free Corvair Colleges: Corvair College History….in photos. and use the time to write about our R&D and testing projects: Testing and Data Collection reference page. Yet, a number of people who claim I am solely motivated by profit, have actually attended a Corvair College, and certainly almost all people who make the claim have learned something from my websites. These are the some of the people I was writing about in this story:The Hypocrisy of Homebuilders.


Every builder will choose his own path. Some will follow the proven path because their goal is success, and they interpret success as the sign of good product or service. I am glad to assist these builders, no matter how big or small their budget is.  Others, will choose to condemn any successful company, for reasons that are important to them, but in doing so will greatly diminish their personal odds of building and flying a reliable plane, all as the years drift by and their time runs out. Pick your own personal path carefully, most people don’t get two chances at this.


Above John Tower in the 1960’s. If you can see past the political necessity of his vote against the Civil rights act to gain office, the man had a long run where he put his loyalty with his conscience instead of either party. It wasn’t a long term strategy for gaining the favor or protection of his party. He was killed at age 65 in the crash of an Embraer twin turboprop, a scheduled airline flight. The accident was traced to the failure of a Hamilton Standard propeller. A later, nearly identical fatal accident caused a major safety probe that laid responsibility on Hamilton Standard’s overhaul practices.








Getting Started Reference page


Below are links you can click on in sequence that follow through a detailed series I wrote on Getting Started in Corvair building. They are detailed and long, but successful builders tend to spend the time to learn and make better choices. I wonder about people who decide to buy an engine or a plane of any kind after reading a 4 page sales brochure with less than 200 words on it. Hardly due diligence in a ‘flyer beware’ marketplace. If you would like to start with a simple three page spec sheet on the engine, read this link first: Basic Corvair information

Conversely, we offer a very detailed picture of exactly what Corvairs are about, what you can learn and achieve by building one, and the infinite ways you can build one that will conform to you needs, goals, skills, timeline and budget. The Corvair can be made to fit your project, you don’t have to rearrange your plans and budget to serve the company that is selling you an engine. Sounds funny when you put it that way, but that is just what most people do.

I could drive myself to madness by concerning myself with what the masses will or might do. In experimental aviation you don’t have to be concerned with what ‘most’ people are buying or doing (unless your goal is to be like everyone else rather that being yourself), you need only find the right path for you. Corvairs are not for everyone. The strongest appeal are to homebuilders with traditional goals of Learning, building and flying. Many people interested in experimental aviation today have short attention spans and shallow goals. They want to posses skills but are unwilling to learn; They want to have things but are unwilling to make them; they are unable to differentiate between going for a ride in a plane and being an Aviator.

If you want to learn, I have long proven I have things to teach; if you wish to build and be the master of your engine, we have a proven path; If you long to find your place among real aviators, we have a home for you. You do not need any prior experience, just a willingness to learn and a positive attitude. In 24 years we have shared our experience with hundreds of builders. If your goals match our strengths, we will be glad to work with you. -ww.

Getting Started in 2013, part #1, Crankshaft process options.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #2, Group numbering system

Getting Started in 2013, Part #3, The Camshaft Group (1100)

Getting Started in 2013, Part #4, Case Group (1200)

Getting Started in 2013, Part #5, ‘Allan Able’ short block.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #6, ‘Bob Baker’ short block

Getting Started in 2013, Part #7, ‘Chas. Charlie’ Short Block

Getting Started in 2013, Part #8, ‘Davie Dog’ Short Block

Getting Started in 2013, Part #9, ‘Eddie Easy’ short block.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #10, Piston and Cylinder options.

Getting started in 2013, Part #11, Comment of the day

Getting Started in 2013, Part #12, Piston Choices

Getting Started in 2013, Part #13, Basic piston/rod/cylinder combo.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #14, 2,850 cc piston/rod/cyl. Kits

Getting Started in 2013, Part #15, 2,775cc, (imaginary piston)

Getting Started in 2013, Part #16, 3,000 cc Piston/cylinder kits

Getting Started in 2013, Part #17, Short block cost chart.

Getting Started in 2013, Part #18, A look ahead

Getting Started in 2013, Part #19, Cylinder Heads

New Numbering System, Final, please print.

3,000cc Corvair (lower compression) engine


Below is a look at an engine I just finished a few days ago. It is my own personal Corvair engine. We have several customer engines going together in the shop now, but I assembled ours in advance because I am shortly going to run a series of comparative tests with nitrous oxide injection. While the possibility of harming a motor is slight, you obviously wouldn’t test with an engine you are going to send to a builder.




Above, break in run in our front yard. The engine is a 3,000cc displacement with 95 HP heads set up with a .050″ quench height. It has my own 5th bearing design as seen in this story: Group 3200, Wynne 5th Bearing .The Compression ration is about 8.4 to 1.  My intention is to run the engine primarily on 90 octane ethanol free fuel, commonly available in Florida for boats.  It’s only advantage over auto fuel is that it stores a lot longer without degrading. The engine will have no problem digesting 100LL, but I want to have a long term first hand study of lower octane fuel in Corvair powered planes.




Above, I have actually owned this engine since 1991. It came in my 1967 Corvair Monza that was my daily driver for many years, accumulating 100K miles including a lap around America, ( look at the photo in this story: 2014 Conversion Manual Notes ) It went on to be the 2,775 cc engine at first flew in our Zenith 601XL in 2004, It was the test engine for my 5th bearing design in 2007, and it is staging this re-appearance as a 3,000 cc.  The engine has had roller rockers since 2004, and may have been the first engine ever to fly them. (No, they don’t make much power difference nor make the engine run cooler, both are misconceptions based on marketing claims which are only valid in limited circumstances.) To read more, look here: Pros and Cons of Roller Rockers. Over the years the engine has accumulated many details, most of which are things that we tested and found not to be a great value to most builders. If you look closely, it has ARP case studs (2003) ARP head studs (2004) and powder coated aluminum pushrod tubes (2007). and group 1800 powered coated lower baffles (2012)




Above, a look at the topside. Almost all of the external conversion parts are our regular stuff. The engine has a HV-2000 rear oil case, a 2400-L Starter set up (the nose and bracket are powder coated black), a #2601 Gold oil filer housing, a #2802 block off plate, and an Adjustable Oil Pressure Regulator, #2010A. The top head nuts on the engine are Small Block Chevy rod nuts. This was an idea that morphed into #1706 head nut hardware, something Dan Weseman provides with finished heads.




BTW, I was forwarded a picture of a first time builders enginge, a 3000cc motor. This guy made huge issue of objecting to using .041″ aircraft safety wire to hold the baffeling on the cylinders of his engine.  You can see this in the above photo as the neatly done stainless fine lines running at the base of the #6 and #2 cylinders. This is done because 3,000 engines have different cylinder castings which don’t fit the stock Corvair baffle clips. We have been using Aircraft safety wire for this task for more than 15 years, (because we used it on 3,100 cc Corvairs also.) The person, who evidently knows nothing about aviation, said “Bailing wire has no place in aviation.”


Bailing wire? I have personal touched, with my own hand in museum restoration settings, a Lockheed SR-71, a North American X-15, and a Rockwell Space Shuttle Orbiter, all of which flew with Aviation Safety wire, so contrary to our new ‘expert’, it is approved for mach 3, mach 6 and mach 17 flight, as well as mach 0.12 experimentals.  Here is the stupid part: his forwarded photo shows that he painted his pushrod tubes flat black, which I have told people never to do because it makes them run very hot and gets the o-rings brittle. You know what actually has no place in aviation? People who can’t read. Perhaps a person shouldn’t be quite so proud of being from a state that ranks 5oth in the Nation in public education.






Above, The engine at power during a 1 hour break in run. The differential compression test showed that the cylinders were perfect. The engine also has an #1100 cam:  Sources: Group 1100, Camshaft. This profile actually has slightly longer exhaust lobe duration than cams traditionally used. This doesn’t have a giant effect on normal engines, but it is a very desirable feature on ones using nitrous oxide. After some more time on the run stand we are going to progressively hit it with doses of N2O at 20, 25, 30 and 35 hp. The idea is to establish what is a safe level of power boost for 3 minutes. Contrary to what most people think this is not hard on an engine, as long as the fuel pressure never drops. I have worked with N2O on engines dating back to 1982, the stone age of commercial nitrous. Pushing a 550hp V-8 to 900hp is hard on it, but looking for a 20% power increase is not. Smaller engines like a Corvair flowing very low rates may run many minutes on a standard 10 pound bottle. The valve covers shown are the standard ones we sell in group #1900, like the ones pictured in this story: E-mail Now: Custom Valve Covers Available Through Monday.


Nitrous boosts power in 3 ways sequentially: It is actually injected as a 1000 psi liquid, who’s basic evaporation robs all the heat out of the intake charge.  The temperature can easily drop below zero F, even in a hot motor. Then the N2O is compressed and heats above 800F, the molecule breaks up in a dissocation reaction, which raises the pressure in the cylinder, and frees up the oxygen. N20 has nearly twice the mass of oxygen as air, and this is then burned with additional fuel sprayed in. Think of this as performing a take off with your plane at a density altitude of 5,000′ below sea level. N2O works great, but it is very intolerant of anything that aggravates detonation, like not setting timing with a light, or using the wrong plugs, letting the engine run lean or not reading the instructions.  When you hear stories about to blowing up engines, smile politely and nod, and think “WW said it wasn’t for everyone, particularly people who can’t read.”




I have no “secrets.” I have tried to teach everyone all the things we have learned over the years. Secrets are for people who want you to idolize them, have themselves remain ‘mysterious.’ To me, the only thing mysterious about such people is why potentially rational people abdicate from their ability to consider and learn, instead opting to spread myths about some alleged talents or knowledge that you are not allowed to look at. Think back to how people talk about others who own powerful vehicles, and realize that a lot of this is a weird form of hero worshp, peoplably because it takes less effort than learning what is going on.


 Yes, I know a lot about Corvairs, but the goal has always been to share it with other builders. That is what the last two decades have been all about.



Thought for the Day: Adam Smith, capitalism in a theoretical vacuum

Disclaimer: No technical information follows, just food for thought, a nutrition that zealots have no taste for.



Last week I wrote the story: Made in America – data plates – obituaries to US manufacturing jobs . The basic premise of the story was pointing out what we lost as a country when we turned to buying cheap products from overseas.




Above, a 2,850 cc Corvair. The only used parts in this engine are the case halves, the head castings, the oil case casting, the distributor body and some misc. hardware. The rest, including the cylinders, pistons rods, crank, and all conversion parts are brand new, made in the United States of America.


Ironically, a Wall Street Journal writer, Bret Stephens wrote an editorial the same day, part of which extolled the virtues of buying cheap products from overseas. Because Stevens’s biography says went straight from the University of Chicago to the London school of economics to being a New York City resident and editor of the WSJ at the ripe old age of 24, I am going go out on a limb and guess that Stephens doesn’t know much about manufacturing that made America, nor the lives of the people who built the country he lives in.


Many journalists with a masters degree in economics want to justify their love of Lexuses and perhaps their embarrassment for their parents blue collar jobs, turns to the same paragraph in “The wealth of Nations” written by Adam Smith in 1776, as justification for avoiding buying anything made in America:


“It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better to buy it of them.”


OK, econ. 101 refresher course: Western Civilization is allegedly based on Judeo-Christian thought, but unfortunately it is mostly based on the worship of money, not God; Most faiths have an ancient text and a prophet, and the worship of capitalism has the book “The Wealth of Nations” and a prophet in the form of a peculiar Scotsman named Adam Smith. Like other malicious worshipers, the truly greedy benefit from selective reading of their good book and conveniently ignoring unholy elements of their prophet.


Before getting to why the quote above is ludicrous when applied to both families and countries, a few words about Smith are in order. First, he wasn’t as most people believe, an American, nor in favor of our countries existence; He never made anything other than two books; he was considered by his contemporaries as somewhere between totally absent minded and seriously mentally ill; in spite of his family analogies, he expressed no interest in women, was never married, had no children, and lived with his mother until he was 61.  As a Scotsman, he was required to be a cross dresser, and wear women’s skirts and knee socks. ( I don’t judge them for this, but does everything have to be plaid?)


Here is why “The Wealth of Nations” is a distorted view of capitalism:  In Smiths world it was ‘normal’ and legal for people to own slaves. Great Britain took this concept to the national level, where they owned other countries (like us). If you can own people, labor has no value, and if you have colonies that have to buy your products at gunpoint, the term market value doesn’t exist. Lets gloss over ideas like 9 year olds working in coal mines because 14 year olds want too much money, and slaves are too valuable for that kind of work. These were ‘normal’ in the world of the prophet of pure capitalism. He also didn’t take into account, corruption, lobbyists, currency manipulation, the eventual rise of imaginary financial instruments like credit default swaps, legislatures for sale, countries bent on war over trade, or any of the other factors that exist outside the vacuum of Smiths imagination. Just maybe, people should be a little more reluctant to draw random quotes from the good book of greed.


He is an easy (and true) example of why Smiths quote above is national suicide for profit: I have an old friend who is a citizen of an extremely wealthy middle eastern oil country. He tells me that his country is in deep trouble; They have never made anything domestically, they just followed Adam Smiths quote above, and paid for it with oil revenue.  They also came to believe that nearly everything in the country, including pumping the oil, could be done by paid foreigners. Every semi-skilled task is done by Palestinians on open work visas. Even the security forces are staffed with mercenaries. Now the problem: Every day, the world is figuring out how to use less oil, and he finds himself living in a country with fellow citizens who are several generations into having no have no idea how to make anything, while having the work ethic of a millennial addicted to video games. He ends all these conversations with the same exhaled sentence: “We are so screwed”.


What has that got to do with the good old USA? Follow this idea: We don’t have oil to buy everything with, so we made up something called the ‘national debt,’ spent 20 trillion dollars on that credit card, and the overseas banker got all the money to loan us buy moving our jobs to his place and selling us ‘cheap’ stuff he made in big box stores. This made 1% of America astoundingly rich, and most of us just got stuck with Craftsman tools that are now made in China, and a pile of personal debt. Now the problem: Just as people are figuring out how to use less oil, so are they figuring out that they may no longer need loan us money for our debt. We buy defense critical items from people who hate us and sell uranium to the Russians. Now go back to my old friends quote about his country, and think to yourself “We are so…….”


OK, before you walk across the street and torch your neighbors Volkswagen that still has the “Gore 2000” sticker in the back window, realize we can still turn this around. We are only one generation into blowing this, and we still have a giant percentage of people who know how to make stuff in this country. We are well educated, and we have a legacy from our parents and grandparents of actual hard work. The key thing is to cut way back or stop buying imported things that we should be making here. Adam Smiths example is stupid, unless you are the kind of parent that says “I can just work all the time if I hire a minimum wage babysitter to raise my kids.” In reality, your country is your family and buying things made here is an investment in your family, which is a lot cheaper in the long run if they learn productive trades rather than you paying kids in families on the other side of town to learn productive trades. Think it over next time someone tells you they bought the imported one because they thought it was “Cheap” or they said they bought it because they support “Free Trade.” Both of these are very surface goals when pitted against the survival of our country.



Hey William, why are you picking on Al Gore? The reason why I dislike old Al is because he was the single most outspoken champion of making it profitable and easy to ship manufacturing jobs out of this country, NAFTA. One of the great things about YouTube is that you can go and look at how Gore predicted it was actually going to bring waves of new jobs to this country. Right next to him was Ross Perot, who famously said that if NAFTA was passed there would be a “Giant Sucking Sound” until jobs in Mexico went up to $6 an hour, and Jobs in the US came down to the same wage.  He wasn’t exactly right, the people in the US who would have had jobs in manufacturing actually work for $7.25 an hour, but a lot of them have no job today.



An Internet drama in a teapot.


A little internet drama is a guilty pleasure of many aircraft builders. Submitted for your approval, a little drama that ran this week; It has a cast, a plot and a twist. Fun, but in the end it is only drama, and like a dozen other dramas before, it entertains, but doesn’t advance your plane toward flying.



Mark from Falcon Heads, Roy from Roy’s Garage, and 601XL builder/pilot Ron Lendon.



At the end of last year, I privately told Mark and Roy that I was no longer going to have them at Corvair Colleges nor in my booth at Oshkosh. After nearly 10 years of being their single most vocal supporter, I was tired of Mark not making heads and Roy telling people his work was “Technically Correct” with the implication that people choosing other suppliers were making a mistake. To retain some portion of builders, they decided Mark would come up with a special set of magic head mods for $500, and Roy would run people’s engines on his dyno with promises of further power increases. To sell this to people, they enlisted Ron Lendon to put it on his plane, and then tell people what an improvement it was. The broke the ‘story’ on the “Corvaircraft” discussion group, a venue where I am not allowed to participate.


It all sounded pretty good to people who like a good drama/conspiracy theory. Mark and Roy had “discovered” the dirty secret of Corvairs: The way we tell people to build them (Just as Mark and Roy have done for years) is terribly down on power. They claimed to have raised Ron’s power output by something like 24%. Ron followed up with a detailed flight report that showed his plane to now run 116-117 mph, a large improvement. Roy then comes in with some graphs showing Ron’s plane now makes 100 HP.


Sounds great, except:


Several well known and trusted 601XL pilots with 2700 cc Corvairs chime in to say that their planes are that fast already. Lynn Dingfelder and Phil Maxson, who have both been flying for years, point out that their planes do 115 mph, and Ken Pavlou’s will break 120, in the same configuration as Ron Lendon’s in spite of Ron’s engine being a 2,850 cc. The logical observation is that these unmodified airplanes have the same output as Ron’s now does, which Roy’s dyno said to make 100HP. Most people concluded that the test validated my long standing power output claims, because there is little variation in 601XL airframes, so the same speed  = the same power.




Points to understand:


Roy claimed to have previously tested a 2700 cc engine and the output was only 82-83HP. His contention was that all 2700s built to my suggestions had that power output. Clearly that wasn’t so, based on the other pilots reports compared to Ron’s ‘modified’ 2850.

I have little doubt that Ron’s plane had an improvement. He had been plagued by engine problems in his first years of operation, mostly caused by his adamant use of a obscure carb of a 65HP engine. In spite of working for GM for decades and having significant flying time, Ron  missed that his engine was running lean enough to damage itself bad enough to need a rebuild. His plane was never a particularly good performer by 601 standards. He got another Carb, much closer to correct, but still didn’t recognize it was running lean.


There was no ‘before’ run made on Ron’s engine, just an after. Although he mentioned that his plane now has flat top pistons, he didn’t mention that the heads were changes from 95 to 110 high compression ones,  the valve size increased, and again the carb was made richer. because it was never tested, there is no before and after, but judging from performance, his plane does run much better, but evidently not significantly better than other 2700cc 601XL’s. Changing the compression from 8;1 to 9.5:1 and making the carb a lot richer could account for the improvement alone. Perhaps the other ‘modifications’ have negligible or negative effect.

A great claim was made that Roy’s dyno was scientific because it used a data program called “Labview”. A guy who got it from his work traded it to Roy for a discount. Same guy claimed “This is basically the same software & hardware that is used on a $50-$100K dyno.” I tend to disagree because you can go on National Instruments website and see they sell the Labview dyno soft ware brand new for $1,290. I don’t think having  that software makes Roy’s dyno the equal tool as a $100,000 dyno.


No mention was made of correcting the dyno runs to standard atmosphere. Without this, there is no comparisons between engines, even ones run a few hours apart, far less weeks or months apart.






Above, Roy and I running an engine I built in 2014 on his dyno. Several people chimed in on Corvaircraft to praise Roy for his testing, even though they have no experience with dynos. Does this look like a $100,000 piece of equipment? On the day in the photo we could not get a test more than a few seconds long, and Roy had to manually manipulate the controls, there was no real data from this. I am sure it is better now, but this isn’t the “technically Correct” infallible tool that some people suspect.  If you would like to read a dozen stories of practical testing spanning 10 years, look here: Testing and Data Collection reference page



Above, a 2008 dyno calibration run in my yard in Florida. Notice Kevin and I are wearing jackets. We’re waiting just before sunset for a rare weather phenomena to occur: a perfect standard day of 59F 50% relative humidity and a pressure of 29.92. Any time you read a dyno report and it says “corrected horsepower,” they’re making a calculation, sometimes accurate and sometimes not, to adjust for their test conditions not being at standard atmosphere. Because we live in Florida near sea level, there have actually been three occasions the past years when these conditions were met during daylight hours on testing days.

Our dyno relied on the super accurate optical Prop Tach for the rpm measurement and it will only reliably pick this up in daylight. A few minutes after the photo above was taken, we made a dyno run which required no correction. By testing the same engine later in the week, we reconfirmed our correction factors for this particular dynomometer and we retained accurate measurements all year round. If you want to read the whole story, it is here: Dyno testing Corvairs, 2008 Any dyno run that doesn’t reference a correction to the ‘ICAO Standard Atmosphere’ has no meaning, and there is a significant difference between  the reliability of a calculated correction and a measured one, as we are doing above. People get excited hearing about ‘software packages’ but in reality the value of the tests relies on basic things like atmospheric corrections. 



Above, Ron Lendon, running his engine on my stand at Corvair College #17, having a good moment. Yesterday he said this on Corvaircraft: ” I even heard WW say to Dan W. that he would fly the engine I just built at CC17 to the Bahamas. But I don’t here him saying that now, no he is heaping his opinion on people he called friends because they are behaving as he did several years ago. “  A big part of why Ron’s engine ran great on my stand is that my stand has the recommended carb, a MA-3SPA. He promptly went home and bolted the incorrect carb on his plane, because it was cheap, starting a long series of issues. Oddly, the people Ron is championing today, Ron and Mark, supplied him with parts and service that he was previously angry about. As for his evaluation of the behavior of ‘friends’, perhaps he can review the definition of “ingrate.”



As for Mark or Roy being able to claim ignorance of the output of engines they happily built and sold to people, I submit the photo above: Marks EFI 2,700cc Corvair in 2007, on my dyno, right in front of mark’s shop in WI. He certainly didn’t think this motor, nor a carbureted one was 82hp that day. You can also see that Mark was present in the calibration story above. Roy had also flown as a passenger in Lynn Dingfelder’s 601XL and saw what a good running plane, with a stock 2700cc ww engine could do. Before making his claims this week he understood that his ‘modified’ engine in Ron’s plane was no more powerful than Lynns.

 My testing was absolutely satisfactory for Mark and Roy to sell heads and engines to people for years, but somehow they have suddenly ‘discovered’ that none of these engines worked, coinciding with them becoming unwelcome at events I am hosting. Think it over.




That concludes todays entertainment programing. I am headed back out to the shop to prep for the next Corvair College, I suggest builders intrested in progress do the same.


Thought For The Day: Mechanical Instruments

Mechanical instruments are Bad-Ass. On my workshop shelf I have a manifold pressure gauge that reads to seventy five inches of manifold pressure. (22 pounds of boost) It is from a Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune which had 3,700 hp turbo compound radials. It glows in the dark because the numbers are painted on with radioactive paint. There is a pretty good chance that this gauge flew in the cuban missile crisis or attacked the Ho Chi Minh trail. If it could talk, it would tell you that the cold war wasn’t always cold, and it would remind you to think about the people who fought it, but it can’t say anything. It just sits out there, night after night, its faint green glow quietly remembering thousands of hours aloft, in the company of men, men now mostly gone…. In another 15 years, many  of the glass cockpits of today, almost all the MGL stuff from South Africa, all the I-Pads built by virtual slave labor in China, all the garbage like Blue Mountain and Archangel will all be lining the bottoms of landfills accompanying used diapers and copies of People magazine featuring the Kardashians. 15 years from today, my MAP gauge will still be quietly glowing, trying to remind people that there was a time when being an aviator was about skill, reliability under pressure and courage.”-ww-2012




Stories like the previous one of Ken Pavlou’s flight to CC#31 highlight the capability of really well thought out glass cockpits in planes, matched with advanced pilot training and skills. His flight would have been much a more difficult pilot workload with traditional instrumentation.


Instrumentation is a personal choice and is situational. I wrote the stories: Inexpensive Panel……..part one. and Inexpensive panel…….part two. because I am partial to very simple instrumentation. I like to fly away from congested areas, not towards them. We live in a rural setting that requires no instrumentation to arrive nor depart from. Other people with the same plane may have different plans and needs. They should be carefully evaluated. Give some thought to my comments here: Thought for the Day: Obsession with electronics when coming to your own conclusion.


I have seen two KR2’s set up with 50-60 pound panels for hard IFR by pilots who have never even flown in IMC  in a light plane and have no idea of how demanding a skill set is required to do this safely, nor any understanding of what makes an airframe a good instrument platform. I have also seen many planes with very complex panels, who’s builders lacked the kind of basic flying skills described in the  Greatest Book on Flying Ever Written, (Is your life worth $16?) Many people are good at buying things but poor at learning new skills. In aviation this has proven the undoing of many flyers who mistook having the instrumentation for having an instrument rating. This is not just confined to experimentals, Bonanza’s, Malibu’s and Mooney’s have all had plenty of fatal accidents caused by VFR pilots with the hubris to think an auto pilot was just as good as an instrument rating.


If  a builder wants a glass panel, then I highly suggest building a clone of an existing trouble free panel. This means Dynon or Grand Rapids. Dynon’s have been behind Corvairs since Dr Ray flew one in his 601XL eight years ago, and many pilots have used them all the way through Ken Pavlou.  Today Grand Rapids newest panels are also popular because  Dan Weseman has one in the Panther, and he is a dealer for them and can advise Corvair builders how to set them up down to the last sending unit.  Read more about them at this link: You can also buy very compact panel mount flight line radios directly from them. I just bought one from them for our Wagabond. I am a hardliner about simplicity, but not a zealot.


While there are a number of Corvair powered planes flying with MGL avionics or I-pads, I would like to strongly discourage anyone one new from considering this. Please read: MGL vs Corvair ignition issue. Also note than we have had a person crash a plane because his I-pad misread his fuel sending units and he ran out of gas. There have been more than a dozen sending unit failures on Corvairs where the builders were fed false information. Note that Dan Weseman started out with a MGL panel in the Panther, but removed it after having issues with it. It should go without saying that instrumentation from start ups and things from defunct outfits like Blue Mountain should not even be considered, even if they were free.





Above, a 1963 photo of three famous maritime patrol planes. A P2V-7 with two 3,700 HP radials and two J-34 turbojets is in the foreground. Behind it is a Martin Marlin and in the back is a Short Sunderland. They are flying over Corregidor Island at the mouth of Manila bay in the Philippines. This was the location of the last stand of US forces in the western Pacific in 1942. Spend a few minutes reading about it at this link:


Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #7, Nothing to Learn




If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.




In 2011 the feds concluded an intensive study of homebuilts, and published a report that stated Experimental amateur built aircraft (Homebuilts) had an unacceptably high accident rate. They carefully pointed out where serious improvements could be made, and recommended that unless the rate got better voluntarily, they would seek some type of restrictions on hombuilt operations.


Below is a summary of major points of the report, provided by Corvair builder/pilot Dale Williams: (New 3,000 cc Cleanex, Dale Williams, SC )



1 )The largest proportion of E-AB aircraft accidents involved loss of control in flight
and power plant failures, and loss of control in flight has been the greatest contributor
to fatal E-AB aircraft accidents.

2) More than one-half of the E-AB aircraft accidents investigated in 2011 were aircraft
that had been purchased used, rather than built by the current owner.

3) A large proportion of accidents occurs early in the operating life of a new E-AB
aircraft, or shortly after being purchased by a new owner.

4) During 2011, more E-AB aircraft accidents occurred during the first flight by a new
 owner of a used E-AB aircraft than during the first flight of a newly-built aircraft.

5) The most common accident occurrence for first flights of both newly-built and newly
purchased aircraft was loss of control in flight.


One of the really starting things in the report was that the accident rate for second owners with 2,500 or more hours as PIC in LSA legal homebuilts  is actually higher than 60 hour brand new light sport pilots in the same planes. A great part of this is Light Sport pilots are required to get specific transition instruction to fly a new type, and traditional pilots are not, and frequently don’t. The real culprit is that many pilots who have accumulated hours don’t feel they have anything to learn about their new homebuilt, especially if they perceive it to be simpler than what they were flying……many of his people have been dead wrong about this.


Last month, I received an email from a pilot with a lot of ratings who had just become the second owner of a Corvair powered 601XL. In the email, and in a phone conversation he stated that he didn’t find a single word in the flight operations manual worth reading, and specifically stated that he was against transition training. Below, a verbatim excerpt from one of his emails:


“I’m sure my flight might be of interest to your customers. And I intend to share my flight with the 601xl crowd. I have found little if any use in the corvair flight manual ( I am a professional pilot ATP-ME, Comm  A+I, CFI-IAME, AGI,  and A&P). “


This is the exact attitude that produces a higher accident rate than 60 hr pilots. I will never teach one of these guys anything, and it isn’t my goal to do so. My goal is to teach people who want to learn. In you are new to flying, please read this story: Concerned about your potential?. Never believe the myth that pilots with 4 or 5 digits worth of hours are “safer” than you. Actual risk management lies not with hours, but with attitude, and the willingness to exercise good judgment. The accumulation of hours and ratings are not synonymous with possession of attitude and judgment. You don’t have to take my word for this, or even the evidence of the email above. This has now been statistically proven in the 2011 report.


Use this understanding to choose who you fly with carefully. In our own EAA chapter we have several airline pilots with more than 25,000 hours who went out and bought RV’s as second owners. Some of them did it the right way, but a number of them never had a tail wheel rating, no transition training, and lacked any kind of basic information on the plane before flying it.


One of them fly his new plane at 140 mph for many hours back home because he thought 2,300 rpm was the redline of a Lycoming (It’s 2,700) He never leaned it out even though he went above 10,000′, and arrived after dark and ran over three runway lights because he of course had no tailwheel experience. This man flew in the Navy, and then earned his living as an airline pilot. He has all the posturing one associates with the phrase ‘highly experienced pilot’. Meaningless to me, I would never fly in a light plane with him because he has no judgment. If you are new to flying, consider yourself un poisoned by that man’s disease, stay away from him, after prolonged exposure it is contagious. Set your goal today to be better than him. It may take time, but statistically speaking by the time you have 60 hours, you will be at lower risk. -ww.


Great moments in aircraft testing -2003-2004-2008


In two weeks we will be headed back to Oshkosh. Once there we will be surrounded by hundreds of companies that will all attest on a stack of Bibles that they have carefully tested all of their products to protect the safety of their customers. In with these people will be at least 30 companies selling engines. Every single one of these companies will tell you without blinking an eye that their engine power output numbers are the result of careful Dynomometer testing. Almost all (90%) of these companies are lying about this.


Traditional dyno testing is expensive, and a bit of a production to adapt an aircraft engine to. To learn much, it requires hours of evaluation, and runs at different conditions. Any company that does this would be justified in taking a photo of this milestone in their company history…….except you can politely ask to see a photo of their engine on a dyno, and of course they will not be able to produce a single image of their engine running on a dyno. I actually had one company tell they had done 100 hours of testing, but had forgotten to take a single photo of it. In an era where nearly every human has a cell phone that is also a camera, please tell me who would believe this?


There are many kinds of dynos. Basically they all apply a load to the engine, and then measure the equal and opposite torque reaction resisting this load. No Dyno measures HP; they measure torque. HP is a calculation based on torque and RPM. If you building a plane, you don’t need to know this, but ideally everyone selling engines would, (but they don’t). A real motor head, like yours truly, knows this stuff. Combine this with some basic fabrication, and “Taa Daa!” the $500 dyno. Our dyno used the prop to generate the load,  allowed the engine to rotate on it’s crank axis by using a front spindle from a Corvair car, and measure the torque with a hydraulic cylinder. Later we simplified it further with an electronic scale for measurement. Using a digital optical tach, the accuracy measuring HP was within 2%


I didn’t invent this kind of dyno, it has been around a long time, pictures of them in 1960s Sport Aviation magazines. This isn’t even the simplest kind of dyno. In one old Sport Aviation there is a picture of a Corvair  hanging on a steel cable turning a prop, with a wooden arm touching a scale. Yes that works also. The pictures of our set up have been on our webpage for more than 10 years. It would be very easy for any company selling engines at Oshkosh to have built their own version. Easy, but not as easy as telling people they have hundred of hours of testing, but forgot to take any photos.


2003- Above, Oil system testing at Spruce Creek airport, 2003. We were testing how much pressure loss the cooler had when the oil in it was cold soaked for an hour at 32F. Testing like this is serious business. Note that Gus Warren liked Becks Dark, and I liked Michelob. Lot’s of companies like to have the appearance that they test products: they put people in lab coats and have them make scientific faces.  I don’t care for appearances, I just want results, and the picture shows we drank beer while we let the oil cool off. I can put on a lab coat a lot faster than a salesman can become a motor head and teach builders anything valuable.


2004- Above, an O-200 on our dynamomemter; test crew from left to right, above: Gus Warren, Detroit Institute of Aeronautics, A&P 1990; Steve Upson, Northrop University, A&P 1976; yours truly, William Wynne, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, A&P 1991. While the way we dress may be slow to catch on in high fashion circles, we certainly know our stuff about all types of aircraft powerplants.


2008- Above, Kevin and I are standing on my front yard, wearing jackets. We were waiting just before sunset for a rare weather phenomena to occur: a perfect standard day of 59F 50% relative humidity and a pressure of 29.92. Any time you read a dyno report and it says “corrected horsepower,” they’re making a calculation, sometimes accurate and sometimes not, to adjust for their test conditions not being at standard atmosphere. Because we live in Florida near sea level, there was actually  three occasions in four years when these conditions were met on testing days, and all our results we calibrated against these standards.



How you can build a Dyno for $500 if you know how they work and you can weld:

Dynamometer testing the Corvair and O-200

A page devoted to all kinds of testing:

Testing and Data Collection reference page