Testing and Data Collection reference page

Builders;

I am collecting stories on testing we have done here. Virtually every month for the last 24 years has brought some type of testing or data collection on the Corvair flight engine. Some tests are fairly simple, such as building a new manifold and testing the output of a simple 1 barrel automotive carb, others like building and dyno testing EFI systems were more complex. This goes on continuously. Many of the tests go undocumented, or show themselves to be fruitless or economically unusable. Many test only provide a puzzle piece that is useful on another project years later.

Most alternative engine outfits are only interested in selling stuff, and more often than not, they did almost no testing before going to market. Many companies start selling engine before the first example has flown 100 hours, and I can think of a number of now defunct companies that sold engines long before even a single example had left the ground. The common element with all of them was viewing testing as just some useless overhead that cuts into quick profit margins. We are just the opposite. Remember that teaching builders about their engine is our primary goal. A a learning focused company, reasearch, testing and evaluation has provided the very material our program is made of.

Below are links to several stories that give a glimpse of the practical testing that has always been integrated into my work with the Corvair. Just stop and think about how many time you have read in a magazine article or sales brochure that the horse power output was from “Dynamometer tests”, yet, how many times have you ever seen a picture of any of these engines actually on a dyno? Personally I have seen at least 200 claims of HP output alleged to be measured on a dyno, yet I have only seen pictures of 4 different engines on an actual dyno run. In an era were virtual everyone has a cell phone, and every one of them is a camera, why do you think that 196 companies didn’t end up with a photo of their engine? Just maybe, the only “dyno” run they did was an imaginary one for the brochure.

I have said it before, If your goal is to Buy something, any salesman will do. If you goal is to learn, build and fly, to be the master of what you are doing, they you need someone you can learn from. I am willing to share what we have learned in many years of reasearch and testing with anyone who came to experimental aviation to learn and build.

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Above, the EFI 2,700cc Corvair in 2007, at power on my dyno. The urethane wheel directly reads foot pounds of torque off the digital scale.

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Click on any title below to read the full story of that test.

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Dynamometer testing the Corvair and O-200

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Dyno testing Corvairs, 2008

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Turbocharging Corvair flight engines, Pt #1

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Turbocharging Corvair Flight engines Pt. #2

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Torque, HP and Thrust tests

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Thrust testing 85 and 100 hp engines

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Testing Turbo Corvair and Rotax 912S.

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Panther Engine propeller test

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Ignition system, experimental “E/E-T”

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In Search Of … The Economical Carburetor

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Compression and Detonation Testing, #1

Builders,

I am going to cover this test project in a short series of articles. Below are some photos of the test hardware we will be using.

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As the title implies, we are going to run two separate tests, and share the data. I am going to put the results on You Tube also, because I want builders to see the results in action.

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The Compression test will be done first, it is fairly straight forward. I am building the engine, giving it a break in run, and then checking the differential compression, and running a base line full power run and noting the full RPM the engine makes.

I am equipping one head on the engine with small threaded ports next to spark plugs. For the base line run, these will be sealed. For the second test, I am going to open them up so the engine differential compression tests near zero 0/80) on those cylinders, and run the engine again and check the full RPM in comparison to the base line.

There is a widely held, but mistaken belief, even among aircraft owners and mechanics, that a cylinder with a differential compression of 40/80 makes half power, and one with 0/80 makes none. Neither of these are remotely true. The differential compression just measures flow against a known orifice, and does not correlate to any percentage of power out put. If the myth were true, the test engine with the three ports open would make less than 50% power output, but as we will see, it will do far better than that.  From professional dyno testing done by Dan Weseman and myself last year, we will be able to put HP numbers on the test stand RPM outputs, and the comparison will be enlightening to many people.

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The second part of the test is to show how rapidly, and how much power is lost when an engine is detonating.  Again, I will establish a normal running base line for the engine, and run it at full power for one minute at that setting.  This will be immediately followed by intentionally over advancing the timing to make the engine detonate. Several things I want people to see:

The engine will actually appear to run better at idle.

It will not detonate at modest power output.

When the throttle is advanced to full power, it will run normally for a few seconds, and when it reaches ‘kindling temperature’ it will suddenly begin to loose power.  This power loss will be far in excess of the engine running with 3 cylinders with zero differential compression.

If the throttle is not retarded, the power will continue to drop, to well below the level required for flight.

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We are working to get the engine instrumented with recording CHT’s and EGT’s for the detonation tests.  These will show a very sudden spike in CHT’s and a decrease in EGT’s, as all the BTU’s in the engine are destructively going into the heads. I will be working to capture this on video, so everyone can study the effect, know it when they feel it in their plane, and abort their test or take off. Again, a person with a correctly built engine and set timing will not experience detonation, but over the years, I have had a shockingly high percentage of people refuse to set their timing with a light, and I have people who never took advantage of my 39 free colleges to learn it directly from me.

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The last part of the tests will be a disassembly of the engine, after it has been detonated to the point where it would no longer make enough power to sustain flight, to show the internal damage done.  Because we teach people to use forged pistons in Corvair motors, and because the head studs in the engine are 9″ long instead of 1″ like a Lycoming or Continental, the visual results will be different.  I will carefully document the changes on the engine as a reference for people inspecting engines.

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The engine in the tests will not have a fifth bearing, nor will it have new seats and guides, and afterword, I will salvage some items like the prop hub and starter, but these test will still be expensive, costing several thousand dollars and perhaps two weeks of labor.  I am conducting them so builders will have a chance to learn something. It this happens the time and the money will have been well worth it.

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Test engine, 2,700cc’s. This bottom end came out of one of the two core motors we found. The plastic orange plug set is a kit sold by SPA/Panther specifically for Corvair storage and painting. Note, old style bell housing cover in place of 5th bearing.  This engine isn’t going flying, and the tests are all taking place in the combustion chambers.

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Heads getting reworked at SPA/Panther in advance of the tests. Travis Young (aka “Retro Black”) took care of the machining operations.  Their machine shop is set up for both engine and airframe parts production. The heads are getting perfect head gasket machined surfaces, and welded on intakes, but the valve job and the guides are just street car level work. Again, the motor will run for less than one hour, it doesn’t need new guides.

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Engine getting decked in the mill. These surfaces are now perfectly true and flat. After severe detonation, warping in the heads can often be measured directly with a straight edge. The head gasket areas are often impressed into the heads, and the lower row of studs can become misaligned. Detonation puts a tremendous amount of heat into the heads, enough that they will plastically deform.  Most people think of detonation putting holes in pistons, but it only does that on cast pistons. On forged Corvair pistons, the damage is more subtle, the oil control rings become stuck in the grooves. I intentionally specified forged pistons because the engine will actually tolerate a lot of abuse with them. They are a margin  of safety on small mistakes, but they will not provide immunity for fools.

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Head bolted to a fixture plate in the Mill. The unit is a very nice Chevalier with DRO. It is in good shape, having lived in a tool room most of it’s service life. Next time you See Dan at a College or an Airshow, you can get him to share the story of how he bought this piece of equipment for $6.

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Great moments in aircraft testing -2003-2004-2008

Builders:

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.

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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?

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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%

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Reference posts and updates to FlyCorvair.com

Builders:

Below are some notes on reference pages:

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A good memory: Standing with my father at Sun n Fun 2006, in front of a piece of hardware from his era of Naval Aviation, an F8F Bearcat. Although Dad’s hat says CVN-65, he joined the USN in an earlier era,  3 July 1943. 

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Click on any color link below to read the story:

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Grace and I have been collecting stories and grouping them together on the “reference pages.” We are doing this to have the stories that were written individually now grouped together by subject. The location of these reference pages is right on the front of the main page of our traditional website : http://flycorvair.com/

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If you have not looked at in in a while, about 70% of the subject entries have had their content changed in the last 30 days. Almost all of the headings on the main page are now reference pages. For example, both the Engine Operations reference page and Corvair College reference page that we just put up here yesterday, will also be conveniently accessible on the main page of our other site.

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But notice also the Testing and Data Collection reference page I wrote a month ago has been updated and installed on the main page of the other site also.

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I would like to draw attention to the Risk Management reference page, I wrote it a week ago, but last night I took some time to update it with some short biographies and pictures of friends. While you are there notice that last nights story Concerned about your potential? was specifically written as an introduction to the risk management page and it has already been installed there.

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This last point shows that I can update the reference pages easily, the way I put the story DonPietenpol Passes, 1/8/14 into our existing Corvair – Pietenpol Reference page. I am going to keep updating rhe new stories into the reference pages like this to keep them up to date. Our traditional site will be a lot less dated this way.

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A very important act that our friends can do for us is to post the appropriate link on discussion groups when the topic comes up. If you belong to any of the airframe discussion groups, you are aware of how often a new guy will ask a legitimate question on where to get started or ask for more reading on his choice of airframe. I ask that friends post a short direct link to the appropriate reference page. Mind you, the discussion does not have to be focused on Corvairs. There are many stories and useful information for Pietenpol builders using various engines on our page, and last week about 60 of the page reads on the risk management page came from a like that a friend shared on a forum devoted to gyroplanes.

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Besides the fact that I think there are direct safety benefits to builders reading the comments, I think it does demonstrate to other members of the experimental aircraft building world that the Corvair movement is made up of traditional home builders who are thinking people. There are benefits to the efforts of all Corvair builders being better appreciated. It attracts a better cross section of builders for next year, and it also tends to discourage the imbeciles who worship stupidity from spending time in our camp, doing some damage and departing. If I gently roll up the welcome mat on the latter group by mocking people who trust ‘luck’ over preparation, and using two syllable words, all of our lives will be a little more sane in the next years to come. -ww

Carburetor Reference page

Builders,

This page is a collection of notes on the broad variety of Carbs that have flown on the Corvair, and some thought on why I choose simplicity when it is available, and the development of our intake manifolds.

Above, an overhaulled NAS-3 that went on the Pietenpol of Dave Minsink.

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Below is a list of stories have written on Corvair carburetors. You can click on any color title to read the whole story:

Stromberg Carbs

The world’s most prolific light plane carb

MA3-spa carb pictures, Wagabond notes.

The MA3 is the most popular carburetor on Corvairs today

Carb applications, choices people make

A story of why builders professional background tend to choose carbs.

Intakes and Internet myths

Notes on why the intake works so well.

In Search Of … The Economical Carburetor

A story of testing a $160 carburetor.

A question of Carb location…..

A warning about top mount carbs.

Deal of the Day,simple MA3 carb. (Sold at 1 am, 9/1/13)

Good photos of a straight MA3.

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Below are the Group numbers of our intakes and the numbers we assigned to the popular Corvair carbs. You can see how this is part of our Group numbering system by studying the complete numbering system on the “Prices” section of our main page, FlyCorvair.com.

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Intakes and carburetors  group (3600)

3601(S)- Standard Intake manifolds

3602(A)- Marvel MA3-SPA

3602(B)- Stromberg NAS-3

3602(C)- Ellison EFS-3A

3602(D)- Sonex AeroCarb  –  38mm

3602(E)- Zenith 268

3602(F)- Rotec #3

3602(G)- 1 barrel Carter downdraft

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Below are to section from my Group numbering notebook. The first is the introduction to the carb section, and the second is an outline on intake manifold options.  Where most companies are just trying to get you to buy something, my goal is to have you learn about, and really understand the machine you are building. The starting point on any subset of knowledge that goes into your plane is understanding the mechanical philosophy behind the choices made by successful builders.

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Commentary:

When it comes to carbs, I like Strombergs and MA3s because they have literally millions of hours feeding air and fuel into flight engines. I know them and trust them, and if I had any little issue with one, I have mountain of expertise to draw on, not just other people flying one, but pros at fuel system repair stations. These carbs will always be my first choice to put on a plane because they are aircraft carbs, they are not just playing the role. They are doing the job they were designed to.

My father is a lifelong military engineer who spent a lot of time working in places where the people who don’t like your project are literally going to try to kill you. He upholds that the piece of machinery that has the greatest reliability requirement is the combat firearm. In these tools, reliability is an absolute requirement. All other considerations about them – weight, accuracy, firepower, cost, etc. – all are meaningless if you ever need to use one and squeezing the trigger produces a soft noise rather than a loud one.

Notice that the requirements of aircraft carbs are very much like combat firearms. When you push the throttle in, you really want to hear a loud noise, not a soft one. If your glide path leads to a place 200 feet short of the runway threshold, and pushing the throttle in gives the undesired soft noise, you will not be comforted by thoughts of how cheap, how light, how available, easy to tune or install it was, or any other factor that made it attractive in the hangar. Reliability alone gets you back to the airport.

Consider this: The Stromberg on my wife’s plane was made just about the same time that the Soviet Red Army adopted a device called the AK-47. Sixty plus years later, both of these devices have been used in countless numbers all over the  globe. Both are often criticized as outdated, inefficient, inaccurate and stone age. Notice that their continued use in the face of all criticism is justified by the same three word sentence, “It is reliable.” People who have held either one in their hands, stared at its metal parts and though about how they would need to count on it, will have some appreciation for that three word sentence. If I can teach you only one thing about experimental aircraft, let it be this: There is no characteristic more important than reliability. Anything you could get in trade for reliability isn’t worth it.

A lot of builders question the length of the intake runners on our systems. Contrary to appearance, in operation, the throttle response is nearly instantaneous. Look at any modern car; designers are going to great trouble to make the intake runners much longer, not shorter. They are after more torque in the rpm range that direct drive engines fly at. A long intake tract doesn’t mean less power, and I am not sure where that myth started, but you can take a look at things as diverse as a tunnel ram with dual quads on a V-8 and see that even 7,500 rpm drag cars benefit from longer runners. But you need not be concerned with theory, I have a lot of dyno information that compares a huge variety of induction systems, and I can assure you that a long tract with a single carb pays no penalty while offering many advantages.

 Many people are yet to understand that the reason why you can go out and fly a Cessna 150 and expect it to work is that Cessna made one in 1959, made it work perfectly, and for the next 18 years produced clones of it, and had an army of mechanics making sure the clones stayed clones, and didn’t develop individual personalities. You can make this work for you on your Corvair carb of choice as long as you understand the difference between the terms “Clone” and “Replica.” Listed below are a number of carbs that have proven over time to work on a Corvair. No matter which one you choose, I strongly suggest you make your fuel system a clone of a flight proven aircraft using the same carb you select.

Pick any carb you like, and install and operate it just like a person who is successfully flying the same carb on a Corvair. And then don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. This will work every time. Here is what never works: A guy jumping from idea to idea and getting speculation and commentary to make a choice for him, having it not work because the system he builds is subtly different than others. Maybe he is not good at taking input from others, and when it is all said and done, he publicly pronounces that there is something wrong with each of the carbs, or maybe the Corvair’s intake design, or auto engines in general. Many people are actually prone to taking the second path because they are more comfortable being negative, “proving” that things won’t work, (even though they are flying on other planes), and passing negative judgments on things. It is just how some people are. I try to ignore it because teaching people about aircraft, not correcting social disorders, is the focus of my work.

You don’t need a majority of builders to like the carb you are going to use. Here is what is needed in the carb you choose: To have flown on the same airframe, with the same fuel system (i.e. gravity feed or fuel pumps); it needs to have flown more than a year and 100 hours with someone you can converse with or who shares their notes; and you need to be able to buy the carb, parts and service for it. That’s it. That constitutes a system that can be successfully cloned.

One of my favorite sayings: “Early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” If you don’t want to get your head caught in a trap, be the second mouse, build a clone. Right now, in the land of Corvairs, you can clone a system of any of the first four carbs I list.  You are going to have to do some pioneering work on the other installations. Every variable you add as the first mouse has the possibility of putting a big dent on the back of your head. If the imagery isn’t appealing, you can avoid the subject entirely by building a clone.

It is my strongest recommendation not to use any type of motorcycle carb. This includes a Revflow, a Keihin, an S&S, an Altimizer, a Mikuni, a Harley-Zenith, and especially not a Bing. If I were required to list all the ways that a motorcycle or other non-aviation design carb could fail, I would have a long list. For example, the Bing throttle isn’t connected to the cable, and many CV motorcycle carbs have this “feature.” The two biggest failures  that I can name is  throttle systems that are operated by bicycle cables and the fact that most  motorcycle carbs don’t have any way in which you can attach a serious fuel line.  A piece of fish tank tubing and a hose clamp is not serious, and if it works on a Rotax 503 in a cowl-less pusher application, that doesn’t mean it will live in a sealed engine compartment in a traditional aircraft. Throw in that they have no mixture control, and often don’t fit where aircraft carbs do, and you get to a better understanding why there isn’t anyone saying how well the combination worked on the first 100 hours on his Corvair powered plane. My least favorite carb in this genre is the Bing. It has a tendency to lean out on long manifolds, and it will actually shut off if subjected to ram air. In 2012, we had a builder who insisted on using one and did $3,000 in detonation damage to his engine on the first flight. The same plane would have flown perfectly fine on a $500 Stromberg. I am sure the bystanders to this event were far more willing to see the issue as a Corvair problem than to understand that it was caused by a poor German motorcycle carb mis-applied to a proven engine. Carbs salvaged off snowmobiles, outboards, imported cars and lawn equipment are never going to have a good record on planes, and their advocacy is limited to people who wish to impress others with cleverness, but never actually impress people by going flying. Again, I don’t find it my responsibility to define all the ways that will not work for people who don’t wish to go with something proven. I spend my time trying to illustrate positive examples of how to do things that will work economically, but above all else, reliably.

3601- Intake Manifolds

The Intake manifolds that we make for Corvairs evolved slowly over time and testing. Originally we made individual manifolds out of welded sections of mild steel tubing. We tested both 1.375” and 1.5” tubing, both on the ground and in the air. After a lot of evaluation, we went with the larger size from 2001 on.  In 2003, we started having the main tube of the manifolds bent by a CNC tubing bender as a single piece. This eliminated a lot of welded joints and gives the manifolds a much cleaner appearance. We looked at several different materials and selected thin wall 304 series stainless steel tubing. The primary reasons for this choice are that it is essentially immune to stress cracks when TIG welded and purged correctly, it remains clean on the inside and will not rust even if the aircraft sits for a long time in humid weather, and it is as light as an aluminum manifold because the aluminum would have to be made much thicker to have the same strength and crack resistance. After nearly 10 years of continuous production, our manifolds still have a perfect track record.

When first looking at the layout of the manifold, many people think that it will not have sharp throttle response, or the length of the runners will hurt the power output. A builder with a background in motorcycle racing confessed that he first thought of a steamship’s engine telegraph where the bridge swings a big lever on a pedestal that rings a bell in the engine room and makes a hand on a clock face point to the words “Full Ahead.” After he built his Corvair engine, he was surprised to find out that the throttle response on it was just as fast as a typical car. On aircraft, the limiting factor on how fast it can change rpm is the moment of inertia of the propeller assembly. On Corvairs, this is inherently low and the engine accelerates noticeably faster than other aircraft engines, even with a long intake tract.

I have years of dyno testing of every type of intake length and carb configuration that conclusively shows that the length of the intake run has no effect on power output.  For years this was a favorite Internet debate topic among people who had never seen a Corvair turn a prop, but felt certain that the world needed to hear their impression of how it worked in their imagination. A number of these people also advocated putting the carb on top of the engine. I am going to flat out say that I have never found a single good reason to do so, and there are a number of very good safety reasons to have it on the bottom. I have seen people run every carb on top from Bings to Webers, and none of these installations worked nearly as well as even Bernard Pietenpol’s 1960s installations that featured tractor carbs mounted below the engine. I have seen more than one person plan on running an AeroCarb with a fuel pump mounted on top of a Corvair engine. Such a combination is virtually guaranteed to leak fuel onto the engine in operation. If a person is that interested in cremation, they should just find the professional service in the Yellow Pages and skip all the hassle of building a plane. I will not knowingly assist anyone who puts a carb on top of an engine or uses the leak prone stock Corvair mechanical fuel pump, and especially not in combination.

There are always “experts” who claim that individual runners to each intake will make more power, that something is wrong with the offset intake pattern on the Corvairs intake log, or that the log should be removed. These are all myths that I long ago disproved with our dyno on back to back runs. In section 3700 look at the photo of Mark Petniunas’ EFI engine running on my dyno; it has individual runners and made no more power; the offset intake patter appears on many other aircraft engines such as Rangers and Allison 1710cid V-12s (good enough for P-38s P-40s and P-51Bs, probably good enough for homebuilts). The log part of the head is an important part of the mixture distribution, and it is structurally part of the head. If you mill it off you will weaken the head and blow the head gasket because the upper row of head bolts will no longer have a stiffener. Do not listen to anyone who suggests such modifications to the heads.

We make several different manifolds for the Corvair. The most common is the 3601(S) which is the standard manifold for anyone mounting a Stromberg, MA3 or any other float type carb on their engine. This fits all the Zeniths, KRs, Tailwinds, etc. The second design is a 3601(E) which is the same manifold with the carb flange rotated 13 degrees forward. This is specifically made to serve Zenith builders who are putting a flat slide carb like an Ellison, Rotec or an AeroCarb on a tricycle landing geared airframe. The rotated carb flange provides clearance to the nose gear.  The 3601(C) manifold is specifically made to fit a Corvair into a Sonex or Waiex airframe using the Wesesman’s installation components. The fourth manifold is the 3601(P) which is specifically designed to use on single seat aircraft and those with narrow upper motor mount spacing, such as some Pietenpols. If you need further guidance, look at out parts catalog at FlyCorvair.com/products.html, give us a call or send a note.

Fuel Injection – Corvair flight engines reference page

Builders:

Here is one spot where we have collected a number of different stories on Fuel injection for Corvair aircraft onto a single reference page. Like the other reference pages, it is a central starting point on the topic, and easy to keep updated or make additions to. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, read on, there is a significant amount of information here.

If I were to pick a single topic that new builders are interested in, but know little about the applications of, It would be Fuel Injection. This is a topic dominated by misconceptions and myths. Here is a quick check: Do you think that a port fuel injection engine or one with a carb on a long intake manifold makes more power? Would you be surprised to learn that the evaporative cooling effect of the carbs fuel delivery can give it a significant advantage? It does, and to learn this and many other points on reliability, read on. Unlike much of the info on the net from armchair experts, the information below is straight from experience and testing…in aviation settings, not in cars.

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The information below is in the following order:

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1) Links to stories I have written on FlyCorvair,net

2) A full print of my Group numbering system #3700 EFI notes.

3) A reality check story from 2008 on EFI failures

4) Notes on Internet ‘experts’ you should beware of

5) A 385 mph EFI plane and some final thoughts.

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Above, a rear view of the Panther engine. Mounted on the intake is a Precision Mechanical fuel injection system. Initially, these was the planned fuel system for the Panther, but after careful evaluation, Dan Weseman opted to go with a very simple MA3-SPA carb. All of the aerobatic flights on video on the Panther site are done with a one barrel aircraft carb, not injection.

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1) Links to stories I have written on FlyCorvair.net:

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Click on the titles in color to read the full stories:

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Mechanical Fuel Injection Testing

Compares Precision and Airflow performance instalations

Fuel Injected Corvairs

stories on 3 running EFI engines

Group Sources for the new numbering system.

Covers that EFI is Group  #3700 and Mechanical injection is Group #3800.

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

Another look at the Precision system

Corvair Powered Davis DA-2, w/EFI

The only successful flying EFI Corvair powered plane. A hard won achievement.

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2) A full print of my Group numbering system #3700 EFI notes:

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3700- EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection)

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Many people just arriving in aviation are interested in electronic fuel injection.  Some homebuilders are impressed with its performance in cars or have read about one of the handful of experimental aircraft flying with fuel injection. After listening closely to builders, I discerned their interest originated from five reasons: 1) They thought it would make the engine more powerful; 2) They thought it would reduce fuel consumption; 3) They felt that it would eliminate the possibility of carb ice and eliminate the need for carb heat; 4) They thought it would be more reliable than a carb, or; 5) They just wanted to try it. Experience has shown me that the first four are not true to any meaningful degree, and that #5 is the only reason that makes sense. If you are pursuing EFI for reasons #1-4, you are going to be disappointed, but if #5 is your motivation, then the project may be a success to you.

Let me first say that I am not against EFI, but I think that builders should know the facts before they pursue it. My background on EFI installations in planes is better than most. A guy who works on them all the time in cars, but doesn’t put them in planes, has a long way to go before he learns what he needs to know to be reliably and safely flying. I did a lot of work on Jim Rahm’s 427 cid V-8 Lancair IVP. It had the best EFI system in the air. We had the best people working on it, a nearly unlimited budget and experience that no homebuilder in his garage could match. It took a lot of very hard work to make it the reliable system. Just because Jim’s motor made 600 HP and you only want 120 HP doesn’t mean that solving the installation issues will only cost you 1/5 the time and money. And even if it did, we would still be speaking of time by the calendar years and money by the cubic foot. When I read discussions on the Net about EFI on experimental aircraft, I can quickly tell who has never assembled and flown a system.  95% of the advice on the Net is offered by people without flight experience. Out of the 30,000 experimental aircraft in the U.S., I am fairly sure that less than 300 of them have EFI. I cannot think of a single significant aviation record below 500 HP that is held by an EFI engine. There have been many clever people who put a lot of effort into EFI on planes, with little result. No matter what caliber of auto mechanic you are, experience says that you will find exceeding the performance of carbs or mechanical injectors very difficult, and EFI may never have the reliability record of the simple 1 barrel carb.

Out of the roughly 300 experimentals flying with EFI, the vast majority of them are using 1990s auto engines with EFI from the factory. In this case, the factory engineers did most of the work. If you think about it, there are very few motors like O-200s, VWs and Corvairs flying on EFI. And the ones flying can’t boast the flight record of carbureted engines. I have seen a number of these planes flying with 35psi fuel pumps inside the cockpit with barbed hose connections and hose clamps. No one should dream of flying things like this. Let’s examine the points one by one objectively to learn about the issues and make an informed decision.

1) I have seen claims that EFI makes the same engine 30% more powerful. Nothing of the sort is true.  Engines make power because they burn a mass of air mixed with the right amount of fuel. There is no way that an engine is going to inhale significantly more air because it doesn’t have a venturi carb. This advantage is slight, and would be well below 5% on an engine like a Corvair. To see any more difference than this, the cylinder heads and intake tract would need to be designed for it right from the start, by very smart people with a lot of sophisticated equipment (of the caliber found in Detroit factories). Slapping an EFI system on the Corvair will not have the same effect. Fuel injected motors are said to make slightly more power because the fuel is better atomized. But carbs, even simple ones, are surprisingly good at this. The amount of records still held in racing by carbs should tell anyone that the EFI power advantage is minimal. Carbs have a very serious advantage of vaporizing the fuel well upstream, and having the air/fuel mixture cooled and its density increased. In almost every case, this offsets any gain in power from atomized fuel. When running at power, Corvair intake manifolds are cold to the touch from vaporizing fuel. EFI does not have this effect.

2) EFI will not significantly reduce fuel burn in a Corvair engine. For best economy, engines need to run a lean mixture. EFI has the theoretical ability to atomize fuel slightly better allowing it to run slightly leaner mixtures than a carb could without detonating. In actual use, it is foolish to run an engine this close to detonation. Modern auto engines can do this because they have computer-controlled ignition tied to a knock sensor and the fuel injection. Without these devices, any significant fuel burn advantage is lost. Many of the well known auto power proponents, even those who work with computer controlled EFI engines, clearly state that EFI doesn’t significantly reduce fuel burn for a given HP in aircraft engines. The efficiency advantage in cars is gained by running in “closed loop” with air/fuel ratios near 14:1. Under this operation, the injectors are fine tuned by reading the O2 sensors many times a second. The reality that few new builders understand is that any engine running at 75% or more power has to be running an air fuel ratio of 12:1. At this setting, O2 sensors don’t reliably work, and the system will operate in open loop, forfeiting any efficiency gains while retaining all the complexity and vulnerability. I have never seen any EFI flight engine that will fly at cruise power in closed loop mode. They are all just operating off a set of pre-programmed values based on RPM and MAP. These can be very crude, as some aftermarket EFI systems have RPM increments as rough as 250 RPM. In cars this would be masked by the O2 sensor moderating the injectors, but it can’t when it is in open loop. It is technical reasons like this that allow carbs to often demonstrate smoother operation than EFI in experimental aircraft.

3) EFI is less prone to carb ice, but is not immune to this trouble. There are still conditions that can cause this trouble. Almost all injected engines have an alternate air source. Homebuilt aircraft in Canada are required to have heated alternate air no matter what the fuel system is, and there is good logic to this. For a more complete discussion of this, see the article on carb ice at the end of the Manual.

4) Many people feel that EFI will free them from things like carb ice, reducing their level of risk in flight. While the risk of carb ice would be reduced for a pilot too careless to use carb heat, many new risks are introduced. EFI requires high pressure pumps, regulators and lines; it can be stopped by a piece of trash in the fuel that a carb would easily pass; its numerous electrical connections are prone to failure by corrosion or poor crimping; and the whole thing is so electrically dependant that most people fly with two batteries. Contrast this with a gravity feed fuel system in a plane with distributor ignition which will run for hours on a small battery with no input from an alternator. You cannot focus on the one possible advantage of a system without considering all the downsides that come with it. Automotive EFI installations are reliable today because auto makers spent literally billions to make them so. Brilliant people in Detroit who are specialists in dozens of details of the installations and privy to incredibly accurate statistical data on failures allow them a great corporate body of experience to tap into with every installation. It is my feeling that anyone looking into EFI who states that it is more reliable is making an argument for the car, not what an individual homebuilder can do in a plane, where a single detail of installation may compromise the system.

My observations on reliability are simple: Any system that uses lower pressure fuel is less likely to leak. Gravity is better than 5 PSI, and 5 PSI is better than 40 ; any system that uses no electricity is better than one that uses  a little, and one that uses a little is better than one that uses a  lot, especially if the one that uses a lot needs it to be a  certain voltage; any system that has less parts and connections is less likely to  fail,; digital electronic connections, working a low voltages, are very sensitive  to corrosion, temperature, and vibration, things planes produce more than newer  cars.

5) Being an experimenter at heart and wanting to address the challenges of an EFI installation is a valid reason for trying it. You know a good, reliable and airworthy system is quite a challenge because you don’t see them often. Anyone who achieved this could be justifiably proud of his creation and would learn a lot along the way. A person who is motivated by this will be satisfied when it works, whereas people motivated by #1 – #4 are bound to be disappointed when EFI cannot live up to the overblown claims many armchair/Internet experts make for it. The only good reason to work on an EFI Corvair is because you want a challenge, and this is more important than finishing your plane soon, or operating at a lower risk level. This is a valid position, and I support anyone who knowingly makes it.

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3) A reality check story from 2008 on EFI failures:

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” A Christmas story”

 At 8 a.m. on December 24th 2008, I was driving my 175,000 mile EFI S-10 up I-95 at 75mph. I had promised my parents that I would make it to their house for Christmas Eve dinner. I had never had a bit of trouble with this EFI engine. Near Richmond, Va., it quickly died out, and I was only able to coax it into a truck stop at 10% power. A morning of diagnosis showed that the pressure regulator had died. It was not in an easy place to get to, no one had a replacement and the truck was worth maybe $500 before it was broken. I gave the truck to a 20-year-old tow truck driver wearing a Chevy hat and a Jack Daniels sweatshirt, as a trade for a ride to a car rental place. We got there 10 minutes before they closed. The driver asked me several times if I was really giving him the truck and if I really was from New Jersey. The experience was counter to many things he had been told about people from N.J.  After some reservation, he took the gift of a truck from a Yankee on the eve of the birth of Jesus to have special significance.

 Such a warning less failure in a plane might prove to be lethal. Note that aircraft carbs almost always run even when they are having an issue.  A good look inside Pat Panzera’s Contact! magazine issue #96 shows a destroyed homebuilt aircraft, product of a sudden EFI failure. Here is a story of a guy who may have felt that carbs and engines without O2 sensors were stone age. Maybe, but stone age tools are noted for reliability. I am glad the builder was not more seriously hurt. Over the years, a number of people have written to explain that they are going to engineer their own EFI systems, or use something called “shareware” to program one (the blind leading the blind on the Net). Out of perhaps 50 people who have written this, not a single one of them went on to produce a running EFI engine. Experience tells me that people who arrive with a big flourish and little consideration for what has been accomplished have a very low chance of flying anything.

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4) Notes on Internet ‘experts’ you should beware of:

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A modest search on the internet will reveal many people speaking about EFI for Corvair powered planes. Armed with the information I have printed above, you can debunk most of the claims people make. Still, there are people who present a case to new builders as if they are some type of experienced expert to be followed.

The internet is an odd storage device. I holds more old trash better than any landfill on earth, and it keeps it fresh, even long after the project was abandoned. Let me share by example: Don’t waste the time to look it up, but there is a long detailed website run by “Haynes Engineering.” Sounds official, but it was just one guy in a barn who had never built a flying plane before, offering a long how to session on putting EFI on a Corvair in a Zenith 601. I never met the guy, but I did email him several times, and he spent a long time on Mark Langford’s discussion list, where he had many fans who eagerly awaited Mr Haynes demonstrating all the things he promised from is Harley Davidson salvaged system. Although I offered to publicly test run his engine at a college, Mr. Haynes soon despised me, probably for not recognizing his brilliance. His website is all about putting a Corvair on a 601, but makes no mention of Our success with doing this, or my work at all.

If you have built planes, it was easy to see that Haynes didn’t know much about planes, but had the kind of ego that didn’t like admitting that. He was a foolish cheap skate, ‘rebuilding’ his engine with a used cam and worn gear, and using angle iron to build a motor mount. His EFI system had hard aluminum lines where it needed flex ones, and he spent a lot of time trying to use a little outboard starter. In the end, after getting many green guys excited, he couldn’t make the engine run, and instead started it for 5 seconds on starter fluid, and then wrote a post to the internet silmaltainiously declaring victory and quitting airplane building altogether. Does this sound like a stable person who you can learn from? Is it the kind of information that you want to bet your life on? This was years ago, yet I saw the website just last week, with no mention of the system never working or the whole aircraft project being abandoned.

If you are new to home building, the quicker you learn never to be distracted for real progress by day dreamers and fools without experience, is the quicker that you will learn what really works, and how to incorporate these skills into your own experience and your own plane. The internet will provide an endless stream of people like that. 80% of the people who start a homebuilt do not finish. Be determined to be in the 20%. One of the things that the 20%ers all have in common is not getting sidetracked by fools.

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5) A 385 mph EFI plane and some final thoughts:

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I’m known for advocating simplicity in aircraft engines. This recommendation comes  from my experience on the opposite end of aircraft powerplants. Above,  Arnold Holmes (host of CC#17,#25, #29) and I stand behind the engine installation on a V-8 powered Lancair IV-P.  This is an EngineAir package that I helped develop from 1993 to ’98. It’s 450hp, geared,  injected, intercooled and turboed, and features air conditioning. Get a good look at the size of the 5-blade MT propeller.

  Eventually, about a dozen of these took to the air. They were stunning performers. I flew  from Oshkosh to Daytona Beach in three hours and five minutes in our first airplane, N420HP. This aircraft is on the cover of Sport Aviation in July ’97. If someone suggests I don’t understand EFI, ask them if they have flown in a 385 mph EFI plane they helped develop and build.

 The development of this engine took the work of many clever, dedicated people, and one  guy with cubic yards of money, Jim Rahm. It worked, but taught me that homebuilders at all levels  tremendously underestimate the effects of complication, primarily its delays and expenses.  Whenever I read discussions about electronic injection or computer controlled engines, I  can tell in an instant who has no practical experience with attempting to prepare these  systems for flight.

Evaluate your interest in fuel injection carefully. for most builders, it is a distraction, for some it will become a stumbling block, for a tiny number of people it may become a dangerously complex part of their plane, a part they thought would be the most reliable, but turned out to be the part they trust the least. This is pretty far from the goals that most people have when the first think about putting EFI in their plane.-ww

Corvair – Pietenpol Reference page

Builders

Here is a collection of information we have put out for Pietenpol builders. I have swept it into this single page so builders can have a single reference point on the airframe. As we have more content, I can easily add a link here and keep this current. This page is just a brief set of notes and links to stories I have written about Pietenpols. If you would like to start with a simple three page spec sheet on the engine, read this link first: Basic Corvair information

I can still recall the very first picture of a Pietenpol I ever saw, a grainy black and white image in Peter Bower’s “The 25 most practical Homebuilts.” It was love at first sight, I ordered a set of plans from Don Pietenpol the next week, and 25 years later, the design and the people who love them still hold a place in my heart.

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 Above, A great afternoon at Brodhead WI, 2009. R to L, the Piets of Gary and Shad Bell , Kurt Shipman, Randy Bush, all Corvair powered.

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Above, my proudest day in aviation. Grace and I with friends and my Pietenpol in front of the old Brodhead sign at the Pietenpol Reunion in 2000. We had just flown up  from Florida, and spent a great day with friends old and new, with my mother and father on hand. This single day made years of work in the hangar worthwhile.

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(Click on any colored title to read the full story)

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Pietenpol Aircampers:

Pietenpol review in pictures, 15 more Corvair powered Piets

The Bell Pietenpol, 3 generations of flyers

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

Pietenpol Power: 100 hp Corvair vs 65 hp Lycoming

Steve Williamson Pietenpol at 60 hrs., SoCal.

New Pietenpol, EAA #1279, French Valley CA

New Pietenpol #3, Mike Groah, Tulare, California

New Pietenpol, Gary Boothe, Cool, Calif.

New Pietenpol, 2700 Corvair, Don Harper SC

Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee

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Oshkosh 2004,  Alex Sloan, holding plaque has just been presented The Tony Bingelis Award.  L ot R, Noted Pietenpol builder and pilot Mike Cuy, Pietenpol historian and newsletter editor par excellence, Doc Mosher, Grace and Myself. I have always tried to give something back to todays Piet builders, as I personally benefitted from the efforts of the builders who preceded me. I have worked with Doc on this, including developing the Weight and Balance testing and data bank. He and his wife Dee have been the single biggest factor in the design’s explosive popularity in the last 10 years.

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Above, Speaking at the Brodhead forums, 2008. This gathering in July is my favorite event of the year. It is a great place to socialize, meet new friends, see planes and exchange ideas. I have only missed one year in the last 19, given forums the last 12 years. We also do practical stuff: we weighed 28 Piets on electronic scales there in a two year period. The data is in the back issues on the newsletter, available at Pietenpols.org.

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Installations and airframe parts.

Pietenpol Mount on airframe

Pietenpol Weight and Balance project

Pietenpol Weight and Balance article source

Great lies from discussion groups…….part #1

Pietenpol Products, Motor mounts, Gear and Instalation Components.

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

Pietenpol Motor Mounts, P/N 4201(C)

Pietenpol Fuel lines and Cabanes

Fuel lines and Cabanes, part 2

Pietenpol Box Spar Construction, 6/27/13

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

Three Pietenpol Motor Mounts

In Search Of … The Economical Carburetor

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

http://www.flycorvair.com/pietengineissue.html

Andrew Pietenpol, aviator and Grandson of BHP, right, attends Corvair College #4 with Grace and Myself in 2003. Greatest complement anyone has ever said to me in 25 years in aviation: Andrew told me that day “My Grandfather would have adopted you.”

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Stories on the influence of BHP

B.H. Pietenpol, Patron Saint of Homebuilding

Don Pietenpol Passes, 1/8/14

The Cherry Grove Trophy

Help Needed, Wikipedia error on Pietenpols

Cherry Grove story, “The long way home”

Cherry Grove story, Part 2.

Flathead Ford, 71 cid. Freedom to pursue happiness.

Guest Editorial, Pietenpol builder Terry Hand.

Corvair power for Panther and Sonex reference page

Builders,

I have collected in this one story a complete overview of the Corvair power option for builders considering or working on the SPA Panther kit aircraft and Sonex airframes.  These two aircraft are grouped together because both of these installations were developed by Dan Weseman, (SPA is his company) who offers airframe components that seamlessly work with our Corvair engine components.

Builders who are already working on, or flying a Corvair will be familiar with much of this material, but I bring it all together here for Panther and Sonex builders who are not yet familiar with the Corvair. If you would like to start with a simple three page spec sheet on the engine, read this link first: Basic Corvair information

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Above, Oshkosh 2013: Dan Weseman selected the Corvair as the engine for his Panther prototype. He did not make the choice lightly. He has hundreds of hours of Corvair flight experience, developed the highly successful “Cleanex” (Corvair powered Sonex airframe combo), manufactures a number of Corvair flight products like 5th bearings and Billet Cranks, and is well known and respected in the Corvair movement. In 2009, we awarded him The Cherry Grove Trophy , as Corvair Aviator of the year.

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The Panther:

The Panther was designed to take a very broad variety of engines from large VW’s to 160hp Lycomings. Dan has extensive flight and ownership experience with most Common light aircraft engines, but he selected the Corvair as his chosen introduction engine for the Panther for a number of good reasons. Not only is the engine powerful, smooth and reliable, it also supports Dan’s mission of keeping the plane affordable for rank and file homebuilders.

No rational man introduces a new aircraft with an engine he must make excuses for. Dan knew the Corvair would not disappoint the industry people and media who would be invited to fly the prototype. The most common thing said by highly experienced builders and designers who see the Panther perform 170 mph low passes, 1600 fpm climbs and aerobatic maneuvers is “I can’t believe that is powered by a car engine.” The Corvair in this installation has the performance to change aviators perspectives on the capabilities of auto conversion engines. Paul Dye, Editor in chief of Kitplanes, came to Florida to fly the plane. Very impressed, on the engine he commented that it functioned just like a Lycoming, just much smoother.

Above, Paul Dye, editor of Kitplanes returns from his flight in the Panther.

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If you would like to see a visual example of how well the plane performs with a Corvair, get a look at this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX_HN–ZQVI

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You can read all the detailed information on the SPA website at this link:

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http://flywithspa.com/panther.html

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If would like to read about how this airframe flight tested Billet Cranks Made In The USA, click on the story title.

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Above, enroute to Corvair College #16, ‘Son of Cleanex’ builder/pilot Chris Smith shot this photo of Dan Weseman off his wing as they flew up from Florida in loose formation. Although it is not for everyone, the Corvair when installed correctly in the Sonex airframe provided a high performance engine that is essentially immune to overheating issues.

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The Sonex:

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The Sonex is an outstanding light aircraft designed by John Monnett. It, and the Y-tailed Waiex have sold hundreds of aircraft kits. For 10 years,the Sonex factory approved only three engines for the airframe: the 2,180cc VW, and the 80 hp and 120 hp Jabbirus. The factory position firmly asserted that for an aircraft to be a Sonex, it must have one of these three engines. We’re personal friends with the Monnett family, and to respect their wishes, I carefully referred to the combination as a Corvair powered Sonex airframe, or Dan’s development as a “Cleanex” (a name Dan was slow to grow fond of.) I picked the name because Dan’s plane was a very clean build, that most people were stunned to find out was plans built, not a kit.

Recently in an EAA Webinar, Jeremy Monnett announced an company policy change of sorts, and stated that they were going to adopt a much softer line on this, comparative to other experimental airframe companies. Even with this change, we still refer to any Corvair powered Sonex or Waiex airframe that is adapted to Dan’s installation and uses our engine parts as a “Cleanex.” Like 1950’s Frankenstein movie sequels, a number of builders chose names for their planes like “Son of Cleanex”, “Bride of Cleanex” and “Daughter of Cleanex.”

Dan’s plane is an outstanding performer. I flew in it with Dan, on an 85 degree day off  our 2,400′  tree-lined grass airstrip in Florida. At the time our combined weight was 430 pounds and we had 12 gallons in the tank. If anyone tells you that VW’s are as powerful as Corvairs, they simply have never seen a Corvair in action. Dan’s plane could do an honest 155 mph on 5 gallon’s an hour, and top out above 175 mph.  Dan demonstrated many times that he could run the plane flat out at top speed for more than 40 minutes without the engine running hot.

I offered an opinionated Jabaru 3300 pilot $1,000 cash if his plane could beat Dan’s over a 100 mile course.  He didn’t take me up on it for a simple reason: he was afraid if he ran his $18K engine that hard for 40 minutes he would cook it. The speed would have required running the Jabaru 500 rpm over its factory approved continuous rating. GM designed the Corvair with a 5,500 rpm redline and a 575F CHT limit. Even at top speed, Dan’s Corvair is only using a fraction of these ratings. The is the key element in the Corvair’s reputation as a very robust power plant. It is approximately 25 pounds heavier than a 3300; much of the weight difference is in the Corvair’s cylinder heads which are literally covered in deep cooling fins.

If you would like to see for 120hp Corvairs taking off in succession, check out this link. Dan’s and Chris Smiths aircraft are two of the planes leaving Corvair College #16:

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK23b-BWptE

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Above, Dan and his Cleanex in front of my hangar at Corvair College #8. (2004) Until his airplane was done and flying, we kept Dan’s identity a mystery. At the time, a few people who saw this photo made jokes about the “Builder Protection Program” with a nod toward John Monnett’s allegededly sharp temper about people putting other engines in his designs. In reality, Dan is friends with the Monnetts.  The Cigarette was part of the ploy, Dan has never been a smoker. Today, Sonex ltd. has a much more relaxed attitude about alternative engines.

In the above photo is from sun n Fun 2012, eight years later. Building a “cleanex” has a fun side also, where builders like to keep ‘traditions.’ From our 2012 SnF coverage, a picture and a comment that pre-dates the policy change by the Monnetts: “A Sonex builder next to Dan. We are having a good laugh disguising his identity because on his shoulder is a motor mount that mates the Sonex airframe to a Corvair engine, creating a “Cleanex.” Here we are kidding around about the  man in the yellow shirt entering “The Builder Identity Protection Program” because the combination is not approved by John Monnett, the airframe’s designer. In years past, John was known for having low tolerance for people modifying his excellent airframe designs. Truthfully, I know him fairly well and he really doesn’t get that upset about it as long as builders choosing other engines do not level unfair criticism at his selected engines.  There are now about 10 Cleanexes flying, and Dan is glad to work with any builder who has chosen the combination as long as they respectfully avoid Internet comments that would raise John Monnett’s blood pressure.

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Many people have seen Dan and Grace flying aerobatics in “The Wicked Cleanex” on our Corvair Flyer #1 DVD. Continuous use of this type of operation led Dan to independently develop his own simple, retrofitable fifth bearing setup to reduce flight loads on the Corvair’s crankshaft. You can read about it on his website fly5thbearing.com. While people just getting into aviation occasionally view Dan’s flying as daring, I want to emphasize that it is a smooth display of skill and has nothing to do with daring or risk taking. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, and around airplanes, Dan is pretty conservative. I would easily name him the steadiest pilot and most meticulous maintenance guy in the land of Corvairs.

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Above is an early (2006) view of the Cleanex engine. Our Gold Hub and Front Starter system are clearly visible in the photo. Note that all of the engines we build have Lycoming style starter ring gears on the prop end of the engine. All of Dan’s installations use our arrangement. In the past, a handful of homebuilders and here today, gone tomorrow outfits put the ring gear on the firewall end of the Corvair. On a Sonex airframe, it is a critical that no builder operate with such a location because it puts the exposed, spinning, ring gear very close to the Sonex’s plastic fuel filler neck, which could lead to a disaster in an otherwise minor accident. To fly a ‘rear starter’ in a Sonex airframe is foolish, to promote it would be amoral.

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The combination of the Sonex airframe and the Corvair proved very sucessful because Dan wisely chose a mixture of our proven parts and systems, clever craftsmanship and practical hot rodding.  Once Dan showed people what the plane was capable of, it was more frequently called “The Wicked Cleanex.”  Over time the plane served as a test bed for a number of  our parts like the Gold Prop hub and the reverse gold oil filter housing. Dan used it to prove out his popular 5th bearing system. You can read more of the story of the airplane at Dan’s Web site, www.flycleanex.com

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Our approach to serving builders is different than typical businesses geared only to sell things to consumers. Our goal is to assist you on your path to becoming a more skilled aviator. The products we sell support this, but simply getting you to buy things is not what I am in aviation to accomplish.

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This page is broken into the following sections:

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1) Introduction

2) Engine and build options

3) installation components

4) Support for builders

5) Flying Panther and Cleanex info.

6) Builders in process

7) flight data and safety notes

8) who is WW?

9) Comments on dangerous trash.

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At the end of each section there are links to supporting stories that have expanded information on concepts discussed in the section. Take your time and study it carefully.

I will be glad to answer further questions just email WilliamTCA@aol.com or call 904-529-0006. You can also check our two websites, https://flycorvair.net/ , http://flycorvair.com/ . The first is our ‘newspaper’ the second is our ‘library’ and ‘store.’ The links below are stories that already appear on these two sites, they are just arranged here to support this introduction to Corvair power for Panther and Cleanex builders. For installation components in section four, contact Dan and Rachel directly.

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In the foreground above is Dan Weseman’s Wicked Cleanex. Off his wing, Chris Smith flies the Son Of Cleanex. The photo was taken over a bend in the St. Johns River in North Florida.

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1) Introduction:

The Corvair has been flying 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.’  If that approach appeals to you, read on. There is a lot of material here, and it isn’t something you are going to absorb in one quick scan. Frankly, your engine selection deserves careful consideration, and it isn’t the kind of decision you should make based on a 4 page sales brochure.

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 their Zeniths 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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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.

d) – A direct explanation of what makes my work different: 2011 Outlook & Philosophy

e) – A moving statement of philosophy: Sterling Hayden – Philosophy

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Above, a 3,000 cc Corvair, The actual engine in the Panther Prototype.  The Corvair is an inherently simple engine, It’s opposed six configuration makes it the smoothest of available power plants. It has outstanding cooling because GM put a tremendous amount of cooling fins on it and  gave it a factory CHT redline of 575F. All of our engine parts are made in the United States, as are the airframe parts from SPA.

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2) Engine and build options:

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If you are new to Corvairs, lets quickly cover some ground: General  Motors made 1.8 million Corvairs. brand new parts, including billet cranks, forged pistons, valves bearings,  virtually every single part inside is currently made and readily available, and will remain so. Rebuildable Corvair engines are plentiful, and much easier to find that Lycomings or Continentals. We have been working with Corvairs for 25 years, and there is no shortage of core engines or parts. If you doubt this for a second, Google “Corvair engine parts.”

The Corvair makes an outstanding aircraft engine because it is a simple, compact, direct drive, horizontally opposed six cylinder, air cooled engine. It is robust, and ‘flat rated ‘ from it’s automotive output. The engine runs equally well on automotive fuel and 100LL, and it does not care about ethanol. In its 53 year flight history, more than 500 experimental aircraft have flown on Corvair power.

The engine can be built in three displacements with three respective power outputs. They are 2,700cc / 100HP, 2,850cc / 110HP and 3,000cc / 120HP. The two smaller displacements weigh 230 pounds, the larger actually weighs 8 pounds less because it uses lighter cylinders. All engines are completely rebuilt from very high quality parts before flight. They are not just removed from cars. The parts we use are specifically selected to convert the engine for the rigors of flight use. Forged pistons, Inconel valves, chrome rings, ARP rod bolts and many other components are upgraded in the rebuild.

To absorb the propeller and flight loads a “5th bearing” is added. It is a billet housing with a very large bearing from a V-8, bolted on the end of the case. The ignition is redundant and utilizes two 40,000 volt systems, one driven by digital electronics the size of a match book, the other by a traditional set of points. The engine is direct drive, it has no complex reduction unit. It makes good thrust because it has more than twice the cubic inches of a Rotax 912. All of the systems on the engine are intentionally patterned after those on Lycomings and Continentals, because they are the  model of success in proven aircraft power plants. People who do not acknowledge certified engines as excellent models of success are often just zealots.  To succeed in experimental aviation you need dispassionate information not emotional opinion.

One of the unique features of the Corvair is that it can be built at home, from our information and parts and a locally acquired rebuildable engine, or it can be purchased from us, test run with logs. 90% of current builders are building their own engine at home. Only 10% of the builders opt to have us build their engine. We have happy to serve both builders. In either case, Corvairs are the best match for builders who want to understand and be the master of their engine.

Because of the plans built vs production engine nature of the Corvair, there are large variations in how much builders budgets run. Below is a quick look at the differences. Keep in mind, these budgets are for first class, completely overhauled, zero timed engines with 5th bearings, starting, ignition and charging systems. We have clever builders who have built and flown engines for less than $3,000, but this not representative of main line builders. The numbers below are much better for Zenith builders to budget on.

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2,700cc / 100HP typical homebuilders budget: $6,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $9,750

2,850cc / 110HP typical homebuilders budget: $7,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $10,750

3,000cc / 120HP typical homebuilders budget: $8,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $11,750

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If you are attracted to the concept of building your own engine, but have not built motors before, Good.  About half of our builders have never built any kind of an engine before. Our main work is teaching people what we know and providing the parts to work with. Our system does not require anyone to be a machinist nor to have previous engine experience.

The procedure of building an engine in your shop follows this format:

1) Get a conversion manual and DVD’s from us, use them to find a rebuild able core engine locally. Disassemble this engine following the steps in the DVD.

2) Send the crank and heads to our approved facilities for rebuilding and modification. They come back ready to ‘bolt on.’ Other parts of the engine are cleaned and inspected. The parts to convert the engine are ordered from us, many of the standard rebuild parts like lifters and gaskets are available from local auto parts stores. We do not ‘middle man’ anything you can directly buy.

3) Assemble these parts according to the manual and DVDs. There is no machine work required, only basic tools are needed, and a few specialty tools like a torque wrench. Many builders attend our free Corvair Colleges and directly learn hands on skills. You can even bring your parts and assemble them under our supervision, and test run your engine on our equipment. College attendance is a plus, but not required. Our methods work without direct training; a good number of engines are built and flown each year by builders who have never met me in person.

4) The test run serves several purposes. We teach people to build one of  three specific models, and we teach them to use specific parts. Not only are these proven, but it also allows me to verify from a remote location that the engine was assembled correctly. A builder can report his static rpm, CHT, oil temp during the test run with his Warp Drive prop at the specified setting, and I can confirm the output and assembly of the engine without seeing it personally.

If you would like a sample of the information on working your way through the above four steps, get a look at this: Getting Started in 2013, part #1, Crankshaft process options.

We also have all of the ‘getting started’ series on a single page, at this link: Getting Started Reference page.

I have broken down building a Corvair and installing it on your airframe into 42 “groups”. Part #1 is about  ’Group 1000′ the crankshaft. If you would like to look at every part that goes into a Corvair, along with the conversion parts we sell, look at Groups 1000 -3300 at this link to our catalog: http://www.flycorvair.com/products.html

If you would like to read above the value of proven engines, read: Why Not the Panther engine?

All builders get started with a conversion manual. The first part of the above link is about manuals and DVD’s.  The direct link to the manual is: http://www.flycorvair.com/manual.html. almost all builders looking for a rebuild able engine also order the Disassembly  DVD, which covers core engine selection visually. The direct link to it is: http://www.flycorvair.com/videov.html We encourage everyone to get started with information, even if you are pretty sure you would like to purchase a production engine from us. If you eventually buy an engine from us, we directly reduce the price to rebate all the money you spent on manuals and DVD’s.

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a) – Corvair Weight story: Corvair vs O-200…. weight comparison

b) –  Samples of our production engines:  2012 Corvair Engines For Sale: 100, 110 and 120 HP

c) – For an explanation of ‘flat rating’ and an engine build : Shop perspective: Mastery or ?

d) – A story about engines running on our hangar Dyno: http://www.flycorvair.com/thrust.html

e) Engine of “Cleanex” builder: World’s Strongest 3,000cc Corvair, built by Greg Crouchley

f) A story about the evolution on 120HP Corvairs: 3,000 vs 3,100 cc Corvair engines.

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Above, a 2009 photo from our workshop. I kneel in the workshop next to motor mount Number 100 for the 601 XL.  Most experimental aircraft companies, both large and small, fail because for two simple reasons; First, the ownership cannot physically make the product the sell, and second, their financial backers are unwilling to go several years before seeing the payoff.  Neither of these conditions are true about our business nor SPA/Panther. We are craftsman and homebuilders first, and neither of us has partners nor investors. Few people new to experimental aviation understand that this is key to company stability and longevity, not big size nor flashy promotion.

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3) Installation Components for the Panther & “Cleanex”:

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Normally we provide every part it takes to install a Corvair in your airframe.  The Panther and the Cleanex are different because Dan developed these specific installations himself.   It is important to understand that these installations work seamlessly with our engine components, and they are custom adaptations of systems that have long been proven to work very well.  In the case of the Sonex airframe, there have been a handful of other people who tried, with poor results, to put a Corvair on that airframe. If you have heard a poor report on a Corvair powered Sonex, it is important to understand not all Corvairs in these airframes are people following Dan’s proven path.

Here’s a 2004 view of the underside of the Cleanex’s motor mount. Dan designed this mount combining the basic geometry of the Sonex airframe’s landing gear attach points and our traditional Corvair bed mount. The structure is well thought out and perfectly triangulated. Although it looks heavy, it is not. It weighs 13.8 pounds, only four pounds heavier than the factory Jabbiru 3,300 mount. Dan’s mount has flown hundreds of aerobatic maneuvers. Dan’s motor mount page is here: http://flywithspa.com/flycleanexcom/cleanexenginemount.html

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  Being air cooled and carbureted, The Corvair is one of the easiest engines to install. Many companies that are good at selling things are poor at teaching things, like how to install their products. Teaching is the very cornerstone of my work, I am a skilled writer, we run Corvair Colleges, and we have a simple engine. All this adds up to a comparatively easy engine to install. There is no need to rush it, but I can do it working in one long day.

 Installation part numbers are Groups 3400 through 4300 in the second half of our numbering system. Get a look at this link: http://www.flycorvair.com/products.html It contains installation component lists for other Corvair powered airframes, but the list is very similar to the required items for Dan’s installations. The detail items on electrical and fuel systems are identical, and you can review the SPA website for the specific details on the Panther and Cleanex installation components. There are many good photos here: http://flywithspa.com/flycleanexcom/cleanexphotos.html

For the Cleanex, Dan and Rachel offer their own Nose bowls, Cowls, Mounts, baffle kits, Exhausts and intake manifolds. While you are there, get a look at his 5th bearings, rear alternators and Billet Cranks. A sample of their parts page is here: http://flywithspa.com/flycleanexcom/cleanexnosebowl.html

Dan and Rachel are just in the process of organizing the Panther/Corvair components like the mount, cowl, intake, exhaust and baffling.  You can check the Panther website for up to date information on these parts. If you would like to see the Panther engine runninga prop test, click on this link: Panther
Engine propeller test

Although the Panther is new, the systems are fully tested and well proven. It is important for builders to understand the engine test program went flawlessly because it used custom variations on proven systems. For example, the Panthers exhaust is made from the same materials and processes and uses similar design to the stainless systems we have made for other airframes for more than 10 years. The carburation, intake, cooling and spinner are also variations on long proven themes.

Many people new to building initially think that very economical engines like the Corvair must also be inexpensive to install. In reality, the cost of items like motor mounts and cowls are not affected by the cost of the engine they mount and house.  A mount for a $30K UL-350 and a $7K Corvair have about the same amount to tubing and welding time in them, and thus cost about the same. Most engines have installation kits with exhaust, cowl prop spinner etc, run from $3,000 to $6,000. The Corvair is near the bottom of this range, but the savings of using the Corvair is mostly in the engine, not the cost of installing it.

Above, Chris Smiths plan’e uncowled with Dan’s in the background. A ground run cooling shroud sits atop Chris’s engine. Dan stand on the edge of this 2007 photo I took in his hangar.

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a) – For an example of 74 years of aircraft welding talent: Zenith 601/650 Motor mounts, P/N 4201(A) Both Vern and I are friends with Dan and assisted him with some of the welded parts that went into the Panther prototype. Dan is a skilled craftsman and a welder on par with us.

b) – To learn about the Stainless exhausts we make: Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems . These are identical in material and construction to the Panther and Cleanex stainless systems.

c) – Louis Kantor’s 601XL running for the first time in our front yard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=626uwVbc0gM The plane is one of more than a hundred  Corvair powered planes that utilize Dan’s 5th bearing. Dan used his Cleanex as the chase plane on this planes first flight.

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Above, 2004 at Oshkosh: Next to our personal Corvair powered Zenith N-1777W, I explain our dual ignition arrangement two executives from Falcon insurance, The EAA’s provider. To offer real support, an alternative engine provider must be an effective advocate for his builders on many fronts, including meeting the requirements of underwriters. Just being an engine guru is not nearly enough. Corvair engines that follow our design,  including to ones assembled by builders, are fully insurable at the lowest rates, right from the first flight, because they have an outstanding safety record. Having good effective hands on support is a critical element in this outstanding record.

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4) Support for Builders:

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Builders selecting a Corvair for their Panther or Cleanex project have an advantage that is hard to overstate; Because Dan and I have been friends for more than 10 years, I am very familiar with both of his installations. I followed his Panther development from the first sketch through the flight test program. While the design can and will be flown on a broad variety of engines, it will be a long time before any other alternative engine provider understands the design and program as well I do.

Many new builders mistakenly believe that they can marry any engine they like to their chosen airframe. In reality, compatibility goes far beyond horsepower ratings and weights. To be successful, it is critical that the engine match the designers perspectives on reliability, risk management and ethics. Differences on these subjects create issues builders can rarely resolve themselves; conversely, having both support teams share the same perspective gives builders strong allies. In 25 years of working with homebuilts I have met many designers and innovators I respect, but my personal perspectives share more common ground with Dan’s than any other person I know in this industry. Please take a moment to read: Panther Roll out.

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Beyond the basic engine and installation components, we offer many forms of support to Corvair builders. :

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a) We have a flight operations manual with specific test flight plans and procedures: http://www.flycorvair.com/ops09.html Dan wrote one of the chapters in this manual to share his experience with Corvair builders.

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 b) We hold 4 free hands on technical seminars called “Corvair Colleges” every year.  For an introduction to Colleges, read this link: http://www.flycorvair.com/cc21.html  An overview of upcoming colleges is at this link:  Upcoming events, Airshows and Colleges #26-28. If you would like to see video of a College, here is a link to Corvair College #17 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfa85e3ibI4&playnext=1&list=PL1D40A102EC2A194D&feature=results_video Dan and Rachel attend many of the colleges and were our Co-hosts at Corvair College #23.

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c) Woody Harris, subject of this story:  Zenith 601XL-2,850cc, Woody Harris Is our West Coast representative. Although we have held 5 Corvair Colleges in California,  we only make one trip to the west per year. Woody covers all the shows and events from Arlington to Copper State when we can’t be there.

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e) I am the last guy in aviation who still makes free house calls. Over the years I have made more than 400 in person visits builders projects. I travel extensively, and go out of my way to include builders workshops on these trips.  These stops and the colleges allow me to really understand the needs, strengths and dreams of rank and file builders that no one can read in email or at an airshow. for a sample, read this story: Corvair House Call, Range: 335 miles.

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f)  By my continued advocacy and industry relations, Corvairs have full insurance, at the lowest rates, available from a number of sources. If you would like to find out more Contact Bob Mackey, VP of Falcon insurance, The EAA’s designated provider, seen on the left in the photo above.

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g) Over the years, we have built a very tight knit community of like minded builders. If you read this story about fools at our county airport: A visit to the insane asylum, and it sounds like your airport, and if your local EAA chapter is devoid of homebuilders and filled with negative people, you will find the Corvair movement to be a powerful antidote. Many Corvair builders catch several colleges a year, there they find positive, outgoing, energetic builders, effectively making the Colleges their “local EAA chapter” We have worked very hard to attract outstanding people interested in accomplishing their goals. I  go out of my way to encourage new builders but I am intolerant of people who are compulsively negative. I am willing to be a cheerleader, but not a therapist.

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Above, Chris Smith’s Cleanex after painting. Chris was building a Sonex airframe from a kit and met Dan as Dan’s airplane neared completion. Chris opted to build a close copy of Dan’s aircraft. Although Chris had many years of flying experience, he had never built an aircraft before. Because of this, he wisely chose to follow Dan’s proven format closely. When Chris’ aircraft was done, it earned the nickname “Son of Cleanex.” It first flew at the end of 2006, and it served Chris through several hundred hours flying over the southeastern United States. Today the aircraft is owned by Ron Monson, who has put a great number of flying videos of it on You-tube.

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5) Examples of flying Corvair powered Sonexes:

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Above, The Cleanex of Dale Williams taxis out at Corvair Colle #27. Read more on the man and the plane here: New 3,000 cc Cleanex, Dale Williams, SC

Above, Cleanex by Chuck Custer, after flying to Corvair College #25. This aircraft is one of approximately 12 that have flown utilizing Dan’s installation.

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Above, Clarence Dunkerley beside his 2850 cc Weseman bearing equipped powerplant destined for his Cleanex project. Sharp eyes will  notice that this is equipped with the Reverse Gold Oil Filter Housing which we developed specifically  for Corvairs going into Sonex airframes. Photo taken at Corvair College#21.

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6) Examples of Builders working on this Combination:

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Many experimental aircraft companies like to tout how many of their product has sold as a measure of  success. Sales numbers on only a measure of their success, not that of builders. The only number that counts are how many builders that make it all the way to flying and enjoying their creation. It is a fact of marketing that it is far easier to keep finding new buyers to spend money than it is to support the ones that already spent the money, all the way through flight.  This is why many aircraft companies have planned lifespans of only 48 months, so they make all the sales and fold up the tent before they have to do the real work of supporting builders.

We are very different.  I have been working with Corvair builders since 1989. I am in this for the long haul, and my measure of success is getting people flying. Likewise, Dan has been working with Corvairs since 2003, and has been offering parts like his 5th bearing design since 2006.  If you select a Corvair engine, we will be your allies in completing your plane, just as I have been for many others before you.

If your goal is to merely buy something, you need only find a salesman with an engine to sell. If your goal is to learn about, understand, build and fly your plane, you need an instructor-guide-mentor, an aviator not a salesman. Think it over: If your goal was to climb mount Everest, there would be plenty of people you could buy equipment from, but that isn’t the same thing as finding a Sherpa who has been to the top to act as your instructor and guide.  A big part of why experimental aircraft have a 20% completion rate is that most people purchasing a kit or an engine have not spent 3 minutes learning how to differentiate between a salesman and a guide.

Below are a sample of our builders, each of whom I am going to see all the way through their aircraft finished and flying:

Above, Cliff Rose, Cleanex builder from Florida, with his 2700 cc, Weseman bearing, Falcon head engine with Reverse Gold Oil System. Cliff  spared no expense to acquire all the parts of his engine. Still, he spent less than one third the cost of an imported engine. More importantly, he has the well earned  pride of creating his own engine. Photo taken at Corvair College #19.

Above, Aerospace engineer Paul Salter stands beside the Panther prototype. Paul is close friends with Dan and Rachel and has played a significant supporting role in the Panther introduction. He is building Panther beta airframe #2 for himself, and he is already collected most of the parts to assemble his own 3,000cc /120hp Corvair, which will be a direct clone of the Corvair in Dan’s prototype.

Above, Phil Maxson (Left) gets his airworthiness certificate for his 2700cc Corvair powered 601XL from legendary DAR Johnny Murphy, in our old Edgewater hangar in 2006. Today, Phil still flies and enjoys it, but is also well at work on Panther Production kit #1, which will be powered by a 3,000cc Corvair. We awarded Phil The Cherry Grove Trophy for 2013, as Corvair aviator of the year.

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Above, Waiex builder Greg Crouchley stands beside me after the test run of his Corvair at our hangar in 2012. Although headed into a Waiex, Greg’s engine is essentially a clone of the Panther’s, including a Weseman billet crank. Read about the man and the engine at this link:World’s Strongest 3,000cc Corvair, built by Greg Crouchley 

If you would like to read a story about and see the film on a running 3,000cc Corvair for a Sonex built at a College, Click on this link: Corvair College #27 run on film. It is the engine of Amit Ganjoo, who is also the builder with the yellow bag over his head in the photo at the beginning of this story.

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7) Operational Data for this combination:

Dan and Rachel’s website will be the primary source of performance data for Panther and Cleanex builders. Our website have a continuous flow of discussion on Corvair operations for all types of airframes. If you would like to read a story about detailed flight data collection on a 2,850cc 750, check out this link: CHT part #5, flight data from Zenith 750 . It is an example of the type of information exchanged between our builders.  If you are drawn to aviator’s groups made of intelligent thinking people, you will fit right in with Corvair builders.

Here is a visual example of testing: Panther Engine propeller test

And you can also read a story on operations here: Starting
procedures on Corvairs, 2,000 words of experience.
 Our .net website has more than 375 different stories on it, about 225 of them are purely technical posts with expanded operational information and experience.

I have long stated that I can teach a 12 year old how to assemble an engine, but what we are really trying to share with people is a knowledge base that will effectively allow them to master the engine and use it with good judgment, something a 12 year old (and some adults)  cannot do. If some of the articles that I write don’t initially sound like a set of instructions, consider for a moment that the message of the artice may be about the critical element of Judgment.

If you would like a single example to effectively demonstrate that I am an aviator not a salesman, it is the type of data that I discuss with builders. No salesmen will acknowledge accidents nor difficulties that involved their products, even circumstantially.

Conversely, I am here to teach people what they need to know. I have a long history of writing about subjects that salesmen wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. I write about accidents and friends I have lost, honest mistakes people made and things you can learn from them.  Just about everything know in aviation cost someone dearly to learn. If you are unwilling to talk about these things in plain language, people are doomed to repeat them.

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Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place. is the story of our only fatal accident in a Corvair powered Zenith. (There is another below, but it was a different company) The NTSB pointed to an incorrectly assembled carb, but read the story and decide if judgment isn’t the root cause.

“If only someone had told him……” is a story about people who don’t listen. Guy A and Guy B were both Zenith 601 builders. Guy B was the passenger in the First 650 accident (AMD airframe- O-200 engine, ruled pilot error). Guy A was a well known and liked Zenith builder and flyer, who quit aviation after this incident.

Risk Management, Factor #1, Judgement. Covers how developing and exercising judgment is paramount to managing your own personal risk.

Risk Management, Experience vs Judgement. Ken Terry was a friend of mine and a huge influence on Grace’s flying, and her development as a pilot. The story is about how experience, even 40,000 hours of it is not a defense compared to exercising good judgment.

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Dan Weseman and Dave Dollarhide having a good time at Sun n Fun 2013. They both are in the last story “Friday night” in the link “Three aviation stories”.

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 Three Aviation Stories  covers my personal perspective on risk, and what level is worth managing, and how aviators come do deal with this. It speaks of meeting Al Haynes at two points in my life, 14 years and a world of experience apart. It also covers how several members of our EAA chapter each looked at loosing two friends.

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Above, A photo taken at Sun n Fun 2006. My wife Grace Ellen and myself, in front of the first Corvair powered Zenith, our own N-1777W. The plane was the first XL model with conventional gear.  Grace is a skilled pilot in her own right. She has been a pilot longer than I have, holds more advanced ratings and owns two aircraft. As a point of ethics, we do not promote, advocate nor sell things we have not personally flown behind.

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8) Who is William Wynne?

Modern consumer sales logic dictates that that business should ‘de-personalize’ themselves so consumers find nothing objectionable about the provider while they are spending money.  That model may work elsewhere, and even have advocates experimental aviation, but I don’t buy it.  I contend that Aviation is a different arena, and who you are dealing with, and their ethics, experience and perspective matters.

Building a plane or an engine is a marriage of sorts between the builder and his airframe or engine company. I believe that it is best if everyone goes into it well informed with their eyes wide open. I am always surprised how few people even Google the name of a person they are thinking of working with. You don’t need to see eye to eye with them on every point nor even love them, but the relationship must absolutely have trust and respect operating in both directions. In 25 years I have seen many builders try to justify buying a product from a provider they didn’t really trust. It never works out. It doesn’t matter how good it looks, what it costs or how great it is supposed to work, if it is from a bad guy, it isn’t worth buying.

I could write a quick paragraph about how I am a pilot, a 22 year A&P mechanic, and that I hold both an AS degree in Maintenance and a BS in Professional Aeronautics (accident investigation) From the worlds #1 aeronautical university, Embry-Riddle , but I don’t think that any of that explains my commitment to builders nearly as well as the flying planes of our builders and things we have accomplished. Henry Ford said “A man can not base his reputation on what he says he will do; only what he has done.”

I am plain spoken. to understand why, read the ‘Effective Risk Management’ story below. I have many friends who are experienced aviators who value plain talk. This type of speech also tends to offend people who dabble in aviation and would rather read polite things that align with their pet opinions. I am in aviation to share experience builders need to know, not say things people want to hear. Below are a selection of stories, some humorous, but all with a point, that give people a better understanding of who I am. From there you can decide if you choose to work with me as your engine mentor.

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a) Fixing America is going to cost each of us $1.69

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

c) In defense of plain speaking……

d) Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

e) A thought on Easter….

f) Happy Father’s Day William E. Wynne Sr.

g) Effective Risk Management – 2,903 words

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9) Notes on trash:

Not all things called a Corvair represent my work or designs. Over the years, our success and willingness to share information has brought out a number of short lived companies that were run by rip off artists, and mentally ill people. Particularly, there have been four businesses that made poor copies of our parts or untested garbage. All of these are bankrupt today. Today, I have just heard that another is coming back with a new name. The story will never end as long as people don’t do their home work or believe that they are getting a bargain. You can read about one of these companies at this link: Cloudn’t have happened to a nicer guy……

I warn people all the time not to buy things from these people, or to buy this stuff at the flymart. For examples of things no one should have bought, look at this story: Built by William Wynne? Built according to The Manual?

Let me be absolutely clear, that I will be polite to people, but I will not work on, offer advice on, or help with products made by bankrupt people that I considered vermin.  Nor will I allow these people to attend any of the Colleges. This isn’t out of spite, it is to protect these builders lives. They all want to put a band aid on their bad purchase and make it “good enough to fly.” A band aid isn’t going to do it, an amputation is in order. People who blew $12K on junk don’t want to hear this, they are still looking for a cheap out that doesn’t exist.  I will not assist them in the delusion that they have found one.

On line discussion groups and websites have a small number of old posts from people who bought trash like this for their projects. If you look closely, these people offered great testimonials, but later abandoned their builds. Look at the dates on many of these posts and then compare them to FAA aircraft registrations on Landings.com.  From looking at our sites you can see photos of dozens and dozens real builders with real names and flying planes. I encourage builders to do their home work; our track record will speak for itself. -ww.

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Zenith 701- Corvair reference page, November 2013

Builders,

Here is a single location page that has number of links to information specific to the Zenith 701 / William Wynne-Corvair Combination. In brief, we flew the combination in 2007, and it does work. Our test aircraft weighed 677 pounds ready to fly (without fuel) and more importantly, was well within the CG envelope for the plane, and we didn’t have any ballast in the plane to achieve this. If the number sounds slightly high, consider that we publicly weighed it on electronic scales, and I am reasonably sure that 50% of the empty weights listed for 701’s outright fabrications.

Both the 601 and later the 750 installations we do have been very popular, but the 701 has not proven to be. We have about 12 active builders working on the combination, but it isn’t likely to ever be popular like the 601/750. When people hear this they jump to the conclusion that the 701/Corvair combination didn’t work. They do this without thinking that you can see several examples of Corvair powered 750’s on: Zenith 750 / Corvair reference page, October 2013 and they clearly work, so obviously the same engine will fly an aerodynamically similar plane that is 20% smaller and lighter with 30% less wetted area. The 701/Corvair was not the ultimate performance nor the maximum useful load the 701 could achieve, but it worked well, and it works infinitely better than any engine a builder will never afford. If you would like to start with a simple three page spec sheet on the engine, read this link first: Basic Corvair information

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Our Corvair powered 701 taxis out before its first flight, 2007. Gus Warren at the Controls.

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The actual reasons why the combination has limited popularity are two fold. First, the 750, it’s newer big brother, is a better plane and product for most builders needs and skills, and it has completely out stripped 701 sales since it’s introduction. Second, 701’s tended to be the project of grass roots- working American builders. The 2008 recession hit these people particularly hard, and they are the last to feel any of the recovery. Many of their projects are dormant while these builders put family first. I encourage all of these men to stick it out. We are here for the long run and will assist them when ever they are ready.

On the mechanical side, one of the cornerstones of our 701 installation is being made of our proven  production parts. The installation uses our regular off the shelf components with only two exceptions, it has it’s own motor mount and its own stainless exhaust system. Even these parts are not totally unique, they are closely related to our other production parts. This commonality allows builders an easer build and installation, and it also means that the track record and flight data from our other flying Zenith installations also benefits 701 builders.

The engine in our 701 test aircraft N-9569S, was a standard 2,700cc production enginebuilt in 2006. We made no attempt to lighten the engine or use special parts, nor did we build a larger displacement engine. We wanted the weight and the performance to represent what a base line builder spending $4,500 to build an engine could expect. Later we installed an Elison Throttle body injector, a Weseman 5th bearing and a larger oil cooler. Even with these developments, a builder could still replicate this engine for $7,400 working from our parts and manual.

While the installation is not “main stream” it is still a viable option, a good match to specific builders. Many new builders get focused on what is popular with most builders. That will work for them also only if they have the same budget, goals and desires as other typical builders. “701 Builders” is a very broad group of individuals, each with their own set of circumstances. If you are one of them, you only need to find the right engine for just one guy in the whole group: You.

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Above, the 701 on display in the Zenith booth at Sun N Fun 2010. It was the 7th consecutive year we had a Corvair powered plane on display in the Zenith booth at the airshow. We are supporting Zenith builders for the long run.

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This page has an abbreviated look at our Corvair program. For an over view with a little more depth, get a look at either of our other two Zenith reference pages, as they have sections discussing our support programs and a fuller description of the installation components available:

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Zenith 750 / Corvair reference page, October 2013

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Zenith 601/650 – Corvair reference page November 2013

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I will be glad to answer further questions just email WilliamTCA@aol.com or call 904-529-0006. You can also check our two websites, https://flycorvair.net/ , http://flycorvair.com/ . The first is our ‘newspaper’ the second is our ‘library’ and ‘store.’ The links below are stories that already appear on these two sites, they are just arranged here to support this introduction to Corvair power for 701 builders.

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The organization of this page follows this outline:

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1) – Time line of N9569S, our test bed 701 airframe.

2) – Popular Corvair engine options for Builders

3) – 701/Corvair installation components

4) – Photo essay of our development work on the 701, 2006-2010.

5) – Builders working on the combination

6) – Notes on poor products to avoid

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1) – Time line of N9569S, our test bed 701 airframe.

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The story started in 2006 when we bought the kit directly from the factory. We were there to hold “Corvair Day”, and we used the occasion to bring home a complete airframe kit. 30 months before in 2003 we had picked up our own personal 601XL  kit, and we had it flying in early 2004. With the 601 program up and running, we decided to try the 701/Corvair combo. We did this with the support of Sebastien Heintz, the president of Zenith. He had a great number of 701 builders who were not comfortable with the escalating costs of Rotax 912’s and he was encouraging people with proven engines to develop affordable installations that would serve his builders.

Sebastien has a simple standard for alternative engine providers: Before they tell his builders how great their engine is for his families airframe designs, they should buy their own, and finish and test it. Sounds simple enough, but 80% of the companies selling engine installations have never owned nor tested the combinations they sell. Some of them have never owned any kind of a test bed aircraft, nor flight tested anything. You would think that no one would buy such products, but people do all the time. Our 701 was the second kit we bought from the factory, and we had a very through in house test program planned.

Picking the kit up in 2006- From right above, Nick and Sebastien Heintz, and Caleb .

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In that era we operated with a crew we called “The Hangar Gang.” As a team we had hammered out a string of Corvair R&D projects: My Pietenpol, The Skycoupe, Our 601XL, and the Wagabond, in addition to assisting in completing a number of friend’s Corvair powered planes like Gordon Alexander’s Pegzair and Phil Maxson’s 601XL. I felt pretty sure that we would knock out the 701 in short order,  so that is where we started in the spring of 2006.

 Above, The “Hangar Gang”, with our 601XL, built in 90 days including developing the FWF Corvair installation. The was the first tail wheel XL and the first with dual sticks. The plane was built as an after hours project by 3 or us. L-R, Grace Ellen, myself, Kevin , Whobiscat, Upson, Gus Warren, and Dave the Bear.

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Simply put, the 701 came at the wrong time. It took 17 months to finish the plane, an eternity by our standards. We had a lot going on outside the hangar; Four of us got married, 2 bought a house, one had heart surgery, and one got a corporate job. Near the plane being completed, we sold it to a super-wealthy aviation investor who owned a lot of turbine helicopters, but suddenly found himself in need of an LSA plane. The FAA set a Jan, 10th 2008 deadline as the last day you could legally register a professionally built E-SLSA plane, so the arrangement was on the up and up. However it was a poor match because the owner, whom I had known for a number of years, turned out to be the wrong guy to own any plane with the word “experimental” on the registration.

E-LSA was a stupid category for a number of reasons, one of them being it only had a 5 hour test period, not 40. We agreed to do all the flight testing, and Gus Warren did all the first flights. Things went relatively smoothly, but owner had a very different idea of what constituted ‘tested’. We had only one single serious issue where the owner did not set the timing with a light, Gus later did a flight and made a precautionary landing because the engine had way too much advance. Learn a lesson here: all planes need to have only one person in command, and that goes for on the ground also. Neither maintenance nor flight is correctly done by committee.

Over time we worked all the development we needed, and fully turned the plane over to the owner. He had sporadic interest in it. We borrowed the plane back in 2010 and updated it with a big clean up, installed a 5th bearing and took it to Sun N Fun, where we displayed it in the Zenith booth all week. We returned it to the owner, who made some changes I thought were foolish. To my relief, in  2011 the owner said he wanted to sell the FWF. in a week or two we found a 601 builder to buy it. He actually paid the same amount of money I had charged the Zenith owner in 2007. Five years after we picked up the kit at the factory, this closed the R&D part of the 701/Corvair story.

I share this in plain language for several reasons. I want every builder considering the combination to have the full picture, not an industry-typical 4 page brochure with bumper sticker length slogans instead of facts. I also want new builders to understand that even professionals like me make wrong turns and have issues to deal with. If the road to building your own plane has not been perfectly smooth, welcome to the club. Only a person who has never built a plane, or has reason to BS you would claim they never had a detour in plans or an aggravating day. Homebuilding is all about learning, and then putting that understanding into action and material. The people that taught me my skills and what it means to be an aviator were honest and plain spoken, and had little time or tolerance for ‘nice’ and ‘polite.’

After I had been in aviation for 20 years, I made a strong attempt in letter and deed, to thank them individually for what they had shared. For many of them, my expressions of gratitude arrived too late, they had passed. I would never again have a chance to look them in the eye, shake their hand and thank them. I was left with just the hope that emulating their honest and plain spoken ways would respect these men a failed to sincerely thank in person.

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The 701 testbed in the Zenith booth at Sun ‘N Fun 2010. This was the last public display of the aircraft. But this time the great interest of Zenith builders had shifted to the 750, and we already had customer-built, Corvair powered 750s being finished.  The project had provided a lot of good data, but it came at a large cost in both dollars and man hours that we knew by 2010 were not going to result in broad sales. This said, the testing, data and combination are all still valid, and can be of use to the right builder.

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Above, the 2,700 cc Corvair, in our original configuration on the Zenith 701. An inherently simple engine, It’s opposed six configuration makes it the smoothest of available power plants. It has outstanding cooling because GM put a tremendous amount of cooling fins on it and  gave it a factory CHT redline of 575F. All of our engine parts are made in the United States.

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2) – Popular Corvair engine options for Builders

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If you are new to Corvairs, lets quickly cover some ground: General  Motors made 1.8 million Corvairs. brand new parts, including billet cranks, forged pistons, valves bearings,  virtually every single part inside is currently made and readily available, and will remain so. Rebuildable Corvair engines are plentiful, and much easier to find that Lycomings or Continentals. We have been working with Corvairs for 25 years, and there is no shortage of core engines or parts. If you doubt this for a second, Google “Corvair engine parts.”

The Corvair makes an outstanding aircraft engine because it is a simple, compact, direct drive, horizontally opposed six cylinder, air cooled engine. It is robust, and ‘flat rated ‘ from it’s automotive output. The engine runs equally well on automotive fuel and 100LL, and it does not care about ethanol. In its 53 year flight history, more than 500 experimental aircraft have flown on Corvair power.

The engine can be built in three dispacements with three respective power outputs. They are 2,700cc / 100HP, 2,850cc / 110HP and 3,000cc / 120HP. The two smaller displacements weigh 230 pounds, the larger actually weighs 8 pounds less because it uses lighter cylinders. All engines are completely rebuilt from very high quality parts before flight. They are not just removed from cars. The parts we use are specifically selected to convert the engine for the rigors of flight use. Forged pistons, Inconel valves, chrome rings, ARP rod bolts and many other components are upgraded in the rebuild.

To absorb the propeller and flight loads a “5th bearing” is added. It is a billet housing with a very large bearing from a V-8, bolted on the end of the case.The ignition is redundant and utilizes two 40,000 volt systems, one driven by digital electronics the size of a match book, the other by a traditional set of points. The engine is direct drive, it has no complex reduction unit. It makes good thrust because it has more than twice the cubic inches of a Rotax 912. All of the systems on the engine are intentionally patterned after those on Lycomings and Continentals, because they are the  model of success in proven aircraft power plants. People who do not acknowledge certified engines as excellent models of success are often just zealots.  To succeed in experimental aviation you need dispassionate information not emotional opinion.

One of the unique features of the Corvair is that it can be built at home, from our information and parts and a locally acquired rebuildable engine, or it can be purchased from us, test run with logs. 90% of current builders are building their own engine at home. Only 10% of the builders opt to have us build their engine. We have happy to serve both builders. In either case, Corvairs are the best match for builders who want to understand and be the master of their engine.

Because of the plans built vs production engine nature of the Corvair, there are large variations in how much builders budgets run. Below is a quick look at the differences. Keep in mind, these budgets are for first class, completely overhauled, zero timed engines with 5th bearings, starting, ignition and charging systems. We have clever builders who have built and flown engines for less than $3,000, but this not representative of main line builders. The numbers below are much better for Zenith builders to budget on.

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2,700cc / 100HP typical homebuilders budget: $6,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $9,750

2,850cc / 110HP typical homebuilders budget: $7,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $10,750

3,000cc / 120HP typical homebuilders budget: $8,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $11,750

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If you are attracted to the concept of building your own engine, but have not built motors before, Good.  About half of our builders have never built any kind of an engine before. Our main work is teaching people what we know and providing the parts to work with. Our system does not require anyone to be a machinist nor to have previous engine experience.

The procedure of building an engine in your shop follows this format:

1) Get a conversion manual and DVD’s from us, use them to find a rebuild able core engine locally. Disassemble this engine following the steps in the DVD.

2) Send the crank and heads to our approved facilities for rebuilding and modification. They come back ready to ‘bolt on.’ Other parts of the engine are cleaned and inspected. The parts to convert the engine are ordered from us, many of the standard rebuild parts like lifters and gaskets are available from local auto parts stores. We do not ‘middle man’ anything you can directly buy.

3) Assemble these parts according to the manual and DVDs. There is no machine work required, only basic tools are needed, and a few specialty tools like a torque wrench. Many builders attend our free Corvair Colleges and directly learn hands on skills. You can even bring your parts and assemble them under our supervision, and test run your engine on our equipment. College attendance is a plus, but not required. Our methods work without direct training; a good number of engines are built and flown each year by builders who have never met me in person.

4) The test run serves several purposes. We teach people to build one of  three specific models, and we teach them to use specific parts. Not only are these proven, but it also allows me to verify from a remote location that the engine was assembled correctly. A builder can report his static rpm, CHT, oil temp during the test run with his Warp Drive prop at the specified setting, and I can confirm the output and assembly of the engine without seeing it personally.

If you would like a sample of the information on working your way through the above four steps, get a look at this: Getting Started in 2013, part #1, Crankshaft process options.

I have broken down building a Corvair and installing it on your airframe into 42 “groups”. The previous link is about  ‘Group 1000’ the crankshaft. If you would like to look at every part that goes into a Corvair, along with the conversion parts we sell, look at Groups 1000 -3300 at this link to our catalog: http://www.flycorvair.com/products.html

All builders get started with a conversion manual. The first part of the above link is about manuals and DVD’s.  The direct link to the manual is: http://www.flycorvair.com/manual.html. almost all builders looking for a rebuild able engine also order the Disassembly  DVD, which covers core engine selection visually. The direct link to it is: http://www.flycorvair.com/videov.html We encourage everyone to get started with information, even if you are pretty sure you would like to purchase a production engine from us. If you eventually buy an engine from us, we directly reduce the price to rebate all the money you spent on manuals and DVD’s.

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Links to related stories:

a) – Corvair Weight story: Corvair vs O-200…. weight comparison

b) –  Samples of our production engines:  2012 Corvair Engines For Sale: 100, 110 and 120 HP

c) – For an explanation of ‘flat rating’ and a Zenith engine build : Shop perspective: Mastery or ?

d) – A story about engines running on our hangar Dyno: http://www.flycorvair.com/thrust.html

e) Engine of builder now working on Zenith airframe: World’s Strongest 3,000cc Corvair, built by Greg Crouchley

f)  2.700cc engine we built for Becky Shipman’s 650: Shipman Engine at CC#22

g) A story about the evolution on 120HP Corvairs: 3,000 vs 3,100 cc Corvair engines.

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In the photo above, the 701 mount appears slightly distorted by the camera angle; it actually has no down thrust in it.

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3) – 701/Corvair installation components

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The two parts that are unique to the 701 installation are the mount and the exhaust system. Other than this, the parts are common to our Zenith 750 installation.  We are glad to make the mount and the exhaust on a special order basis. The pricing on these items are the same as the equivalent 750 parts. For all of the other parts, refer to our “Zenith 750 reference page” or our regular catalog of parts.

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4) – Photo essay of our development work on the 701, 2006-2010.

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Below are a sequential chain of photos, mostly taken in our Edgewater Florida hanger that was our base from 2003-2007. All of these photos and their captions are on Flycorvair,com, our traditional website. They were in the “Hangar Update” monthly news section. I have put the original captions in Blue, and clarifying comments from today are in black.

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Where we started: “The 701’s firewall rigidly mounted at a 17 degree angle on the build up stand, above. This is the beginning of developing the 701 firewall forward package.”

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“In the above photo, Scott Thatcher’s 601 engine does jig duty in the construction of our CH701 motor mount. Like all other mounts, it began as a standard Tray. Long and careful study of the installation, and our experience with installing engines in airframes played into adjustments in the location as small as 3/16″. An engine hoist suspends most of the weight of the engine, and a scissor jack stabilizes the engine over the heavy duty shop table. The alignment was checked many times before the tubes were tacked in place. The mount and engine were then removed from the stand. The mount was finish welded on the bench with a Tig welder, using great care to minimize warpage. It was then reinstalled on the stand, and normalized with a gas torch. After cooling, I made a jig off the mount to capture its dimensions.

These are but a few of the steps in the long-term development of an engine installation that can be replicated by other homebuilders. Any one-off installation is comparatively easy. A good example is the Skycoupe. When working on its installation, I knew that there would probably never be another one. Thus, no jigs or tools were made, nor consideration given to the multitude of factors that would make the path easier for others who would follow the installation. It only had to serve well on one plane. Conversely, the Corvair/701 installation may prove to be popular. Our experience pays off here and will later allow rapid development of a highly refined installation pending positive flight testing.”

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In 2006, Grace and I bought our house on an airstrip 90 miles north of Edgewater. I commuted back to the old hangar for 14 months to finish projects there and because I gave my word to our friend who I leased the hangar from that I would do 4 full years there. The hangar was $2,200 a month and it was a long drive, but I was determined to live up to it. ” Above is a photo of the actual 701 flight engine sitting on the mount. This project is continuing at the main hangar in Edgewater. Work progresses on it between regular orders.”

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“Above is a photo of the 701 airframe in the main Edgewater hangar. This illustrates how we tackle complete airplane projects in 2007. The 701 is being built as an E-LSA, which allows it to be built 100 percent for hire, unlike amateur builts, which must meet the 51% rule. The owner separately contracted us to build the firewall forward package for his airplane. Gus Warren of Fly With Gus separately contracted to build the whole airframe.”

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“You can see above how close the Corvair’s center of gravity can be brought to the firewall. Geometry of this mount was carefully worked out to allow the use of our Intake Manifold and a Niagara cooler. When W&B and flight testing data comes back, we’ll have more information. The key to a successful 701 installation is not simply how much the engine weighs, but how close you can bring the engine to the CG.”

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We later switched the plane to having the oil fill in the Valve cover like all our other installations. “Above is a top view of our 701 engine installation. It is also being fitted with the new Oil System. No oil components on the firewall make the 701 installation much easier with its very limited firewall space. An oil filler neck is custom welded into the Top Cover of this engine. It is made from a 1″ aluminum tube, and has a Moroso O-ringed aluminum cap welded into it. This was done for potential cowling clearance when we were thinking of a super narrow custom 701 cowl. At this point, we’re steering toward a 601 style cowl on the 701. We want to get this one flying and gather flight test data. We’re trying to keep as many of the parts for the 701 installation common to the 601 to avoid a long development. We’ll have more commentary on this installation when it’s done and flying.”

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“This is a view of the lower portion of the 701 installation. Although I had my doubts, Kevin found a way to rotate and trim our CNC bent stainless pipes for 601s into a slightly different configuration that neatly fits into the 701’s mount. This engine will be equipped with an Aero-Carb.” Engine was later switched to an Elison EFS-3A that worked a lot better.

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“Above is a photo I shot in Edgewater last week. The airplane is more finished than the photo depicts. The leading edge slats and flight controls, not seen in the photo, are complete and have been mounted. The glass is out of the plane to facilitate the detail work. One builder wrote to ask if it would take a long time to develop installation components after the combination is tested. The engine uses a lot of parts from our existing catalog. The Nosebowl is the same one we use on 601s. The sheet metal to mate it to the 701’s airframe will be different, something reminiscent of a Thorp T-18. All the engine parts, including the Baffling, oil cooler and oil system, Starter, Gold Hub and alternator are our standard parts. The exhaust system is made from 601 Exhaust pieces in a slightly different orientation. The only truly unique pieces are the motor mount and lower intake manifold. Even the prop and spinner bulkhead arrangement is the same as the 601.”

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“Above is a good look at the detail quality of the 701 engine installation. Over the years, our installations have gotten cleaner and cleaner through Manuals, Colleges, Forums, and this Web site as well as http://www.ZenVair.com. We’ve shared this information with builders everywhere. It not only looks clean, it’s technically correct and flight proven in every way. The 701’s installation differs from a 601 in only minor details. The oil filler is welded into the Top Cover, the Intake Manifold is segmented for installation. But by and large, it utilizes nearly all our flight proven parts, which will yield smooth flight testing and easy replication by builders everywhere. This installation has a 2002 Niagara cooler, the Gold Oil System and our standard Baffle Kit. The large sending unit is for oil pressure instrumentation in the glass panel, below.”

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“N9569S has a completely stock 701 airframe which will allow apples to apples performance comparison. We have the airframe set up for a 66″ 2-blade Warp Drive prop with nickel leading edges. The thrust testing section of our Web site compares this prop’s performance against a Rotax 912S with an in-flight adjustable prop. It is hard core, direct comparison testing like this that gives me great confidence in this combination.”

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“Sitting on the firewall above is the black box for the Stratomaster Enigma glass cockpit in the 701. This view shows how tight we have the Corvair to the firewall. Despite its proximity, there are no complex assembly or maintenance tasks like there would be trying to pull a mag off the back of an O-200 in this airframe. Having the aircraft within the forward CG limit is very important to achieving maximum performance from the 701 airframe.”

We later had a number of issues with the MGL instrumentation on this plane. MGL specified senders that were poor quality, and when the oil pressure sender partially failed I wasted a full day trying to track down the error, including pulling the engine complexly out of the airframe. The owner installed a MGL fuel Flow sender that was a plastic barbed fitting, something that no one should put in any flying fuel system.

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“A look at the carburetor installation on the 701. The 35mm AeroCarb is spaced off the Intake Manifold by a 1” fabricated spacer which has flow straightening vanes in it. Gus worked out very clean and simple throttle and mixture cable installations. Whobiscat sleeps under the plane.

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After I wrote the story below we found that the primary culprit in the running hot issues was that the owner had altered the ignition timing. This was my own fault for having more than one person in charge of flight testing, alterations and fine tuning. don’t repeat this mistake yourself. If people offer to help you with your plane, remember, no matter how qualified they are, you are still in charge. Above the cowl is tuff tested with yarn to check airflow at high angles of attack.

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“Many of the things pertaining to the combination, like the weight and balance, are very good. But the aircraft owner disliked the Aero-Carb, so we replaced it with an Ellison. This change provided more issues than it resolved, initially. Second, the engine had adequate cooling in February, but as Spring grew much warmer, we needed to rework the cowling. The Ellison’s sensitivity to vapor lock compounded this need.”

“As an E-LSA, the aircraft had a short, five-hour test period. Although it was legally signed off, we weren’t kidding ourselves that the 10 hours we had on it constituted a fully tested power plant installation. While builders were understandably clamoring for details, we hadn’t put out much information or anything up for sale. The day before Sun ‘N Fun, Gus took off from his hangar to fly the airplane over 100 miles to Sun ‘N Fun. Although the airplane had 25 flights on it, this was the warmest day on which it had flown. About 25 miles into the flight, Gus noticed the characteristic pinging of detonation and made the very wise decision to make a precautionary landing at a sod farm. The 701 airframe was designed to be operated in just such places, and the landing was a non-event.”

“Gus’ initial thought was to let the aircraft cool off, then fly back to the hangar. A courtesy phone call to the owner of the aircraft changed the plan and the aircraft returned to the hangar that same morning on a trailer. The story of the precautionary landing was carried on the Kit Planes magazine blog. Although it accurately and fairly reported the landing, many Internet aficionados colorized and expanded the story, including incorrect phrases like “engine failure.” I am careful with the things I write to be accurate. If I poked a hole in the radiator of a car and it overheated, I would refer to this as a cooling system issue, not an engine failure. It was mildly annoying to read the colorized reports and listen to amateur analysis from people who never saw the plane.”

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“Our initial setup on the 701 used an Aero-Carb breathing air from directly inside of the cowling. This functioned fine, except the owner of the aircraft did not like the fact that he had to manually turn off the fuel with the mixture control whenever the engine was shut off. The owner is an aviator of enormous experience. He’s owned dozens of aircraft of all descriptions, including a Lockheed 12, Grumman Tracker, Sikorsky S-55 as well as a number of turbine powered aircraft. He holds an A&P, IA, and most of the other ratings the FAA offers. Although the Aero-Carb and Ellison are both flat-slide carbs, they function completely differently. The Aerocarb was immune to under cowl temps because it has no diaphragm and stores very little fuel inside it. The Ellison, because its throat is larger, provided an immediate seat-of-the-pants difference in power output, but as the weather warmed up, it showed itself to be temperature sensitive. We put a blast tube on its diaphragm, and ceramic coated the exhaust to lower the under-the-cowl temp. Yet we resisted making a specialized airbox because the goal was to keep the installation as simple as possible so budget builders could follow it at home.”

“The continuous warm air introduction turned out to be a mistake. I feel it was a major contributor to a warm engine beginning to detonate. At power, the carb inhales 150 cubic feet of air per minute. If this comes from the outside, it has significant cooling effect on the carb body. If it’s warm air induction, that large quantity of air raises the carb temp by 80 or more degrees F. The external blast tube on the diaphragm will not overcome the volume of air going through the carb. The above photo shows the 701 system as it is flying now. The air filter is in the aluminum canister, and it primarily breathes cool air from the lower part of the Nosebowl. The feed hoses are 2.5 inch.”

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“The tuft tests of the cowl revealed it had low flow characteristics on the exits. A check of our Web site will show that many years ago, we put radiused lips on the bottom of the 601 firewall to improve cooling. Although it was not initially necessary in cool weather, we’ve since installed them on the bottom of the 701 firewall, and, more significantly, on the sides of the firewall where most of the air exits. These radiuses work in conjunction with the fixed flaps we installed on the cowl. Tuft tests and flight data showed that this made a tremendous improvement.”

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The 701 has a very narrow firewall compared to the 601/650 and 750. I initially thought that we would use a ‘gill’ shape like a T-18 or a Pitts to exit to cooling air. Tuff tests revealed that the shape of the wind shield and the proximity of it to the cowl side exits hurt this. On the 601/650 and 750, we use a traditional hot air exit of just the bottom of the cowl, and it has always worked right off the bat.

“The tuft tests also showed a significant amount of reverse flow where air actually entered the rear of the cowl and flowed forward. There’s a number of very successful aircraft that use the cowling style with gill exits like our 701 Cowl; notable is the Thorp T-18, which has been flying in great numbers for half of the powered flight era. But eyeball aerodynamics and basic comparisons don’t take the place of flight testing. The 701’s more vertical windshield much closer to the cowling makes a high pressure zone at the base of the windshield. The small crescent shaped rib attached to the upper part of the firewall in the photo acts as a dam to prevent this reversed flow. There is one on each side. Gus hand made them in an hour or so.”

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“The top view, as compared to earlier photos shows that the Top Cover, which had an oil fill welded into it, has been replaced by a Gold Top Cover. The oil fill is in the valve cover, just like all our other installations. This eliminated the need for an oil fill door in the top of the cowl. The oil cooler in the photo is a Niagara 2003. The plane flew its first 5 hours on a 2002 cooler, like the rest of our high performance cooler installations. Our 3100cc 601 installation flew several hundred hours on a 2003 cooler and it out-performs any other cooler flying by a long shot. It’s overkill on most installations. But in March, we opted to upgrade the 701 to this cooler also. This was an easy change because our Baffle Kits are designed to accommodate either cooler. This was part of the refinements to the 701 installation that were ongoing before Sun ‘N Fun.”

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“Above is a view of how tight the Corvair fits in the 701. The wires in the photo are part of all the test leads to evaluate temperatures on the engine. The plane has a very elaborate MGL set up with flight data recording. This allows us to download and replay any part of the flight. The two black tubes in the photo are part of the Motor Mount. These attach to the steel tubing behind the windshield. They have to be there no matter which engine a builder chooses. The Corvair balancer is only 6″ in diameter, and snugly fits between the tubes with 1/2″ to spare on each side. With the engine in this position, the plane is in the weight and balance envelope of the designer, without any ballast. Planes flown forward of the front limit will have poor slow speed performance, and be prone to damaging the nose gear on landing. Engines moved forward would thus require ballast, something no well designed package has.”

“Two people have told me they were planning on using a rear starter on their Corvair powered 701. When looking at these photos, it is easy to see that anyone planning on this hasn’t examined very closely the installation, or has not finished the plane. Gravity, math, numbers and our flying 701 trumps other peoples’ guesses at what the weight and balance will look like. Twenty years ago there were things I wanted to do in homebuilding that time showed were poor ideas. How I got to where I am today is by letting my allegiance be only to what flight testing has shown to work. Pet theories and predjudices rarely add up to a lot of hours flown. This is also a good photo of how the inherently compact Gold Oil System fits in the 701 installation.”

“The top view of the engine shows the compact and organized installation, featuring The Gold Systems and Our Baffle Kit. The great majority of Corvair powered 601s are being finished by their builders in their home workshops, not at our professional facilities. The point is that our systems are flight proven in numerous installations and have been highly refined to be easily installed and trouble free, even when put together by first-time builders.”

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“The above photo shows the new fixed cowl flap on the underside of the 701 Cowl. In addition to this, there is now room for exit air on the underside of the firewall. It is important to note that the several hundred man hours of testing and research that have gone into perfecting the 701 installation were done by myself, Gus and Kevin at no expense to the aircraft owner. The owners experience meant that he was not a regular homebuilder in search of a proven product. He was excited about the idea of being a facilitator and a pioneer of the Hangar Gang’s efforts. He was well aware that new systems are not brought out without teething problems. However, we had a clear understanding that the R&D would be done at our own expense.”

“There are many cases in sport aviation where people who didn’t know what they were doing tried to charge an aircraft owner for the expenses of their learning curves. As professionals, this is out of the question for us. We will gain back our investment by selling high quality parts to facilitate the installation. “

“With the modifications shown above, the aircraft is now a reliable, hot weather, turnkey performer.  Gus flew the airplane several times in one day after the modifications were finished and pronounced the installation completed. It was a long haul to get to this point. People who’ve read my writing know that I’m an advocate of rigorous testing. All too often, things that have flown on a single airplane a few trips around the pattern are labeled “Flight Tested;” our 701 project would have met this standard 10 minutes into its first flight months ago. Had we sold anything based on its initial configuration, or had we been working with a customer who felt he was buying a proven product, great disappointment certainly would have awaited. Even with our extensive, decades-long experience, it takes time to make stuff trouble free.”

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“Gus holds open the cowl of the 701 to show off the FlyCorvair.com engine installation.
In order to serve the most builders and get the best use out of all of our fully flight tested products, the 701’s engine installation is very close to a 601’s. The engine itself is identical. This 701 sports a Gold Prop Hub, Gold Oil System, Niagara Cooler and an Electronic/Points Ignition System. It also shares in common with the 601 the Baffle Kit, Corvair Nosebowl, 2- blade 66″ Warp Drive propeller, and most of the Exhaust System.”

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“Blast from the Past: Steve Upson Alive. During the final phase of 701 modifications and testing, original Hangar Gang member Steve Upson, above, spent the largest chunk of time at the Edgewater hangar that he has in several years. People who met Steve several years ago knew him to be an incredibly talented aircraft mechanic as well as a chain smoker and connoisseur of quantity over quality beer. This caught up with Steve several years ago when he had emergency heart surgery and an abrupt lifestyle change. Today Steve’s alive and well.”

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5) – Builders working on the combination

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We have a number of pictures in the archives of builder’s 701/Corvair projects. I am going to extract them and put them on this page as running updates. To get started, Let me share a photo of one of the best known builders working on the combination: Terry Samsa of MN.

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From Corvair College #20 in MI: Terry Samsa running his 2,700 cc Weseman bearing power plant on our test stand. Terry drove in from Minnesota, a 14 hour drive. At this moment, you can be assured that he thought it was well worth the trip.

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6) – Notes on poor products to avoid

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The 601/650 and the 750 reference pages both have a ‘Section 9’, sharing comments on parts and companies that no one should ever buy aircraft parts from. If you are even considering, for a moment, buying any Corvair part that I didn’t make, you need to read these sections carefully to know what you are getting into. Also, be aware that many of the things advertised on Barnstormers and E-bay Motors as “Built by William Wynne” have nothing to do with my work.

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Simple example: Look at the last photo on the 750 reference page of the destroyed plane. notice the broken motor mount. That was caused by the original installation’s rear starter requiring bent tubes in the mount to clear it. The people that made it didn’t ever take classes in Structures and Materials, nor did they teach Welding at Embry-Riddle. I did these things, and I know why that mount broke. You don’t need this type of education to build a plane, but morally, you need to know what you are doing before selling aircraft parts. None of the people who ran now bankrupt LLC’s meet this simple requirement.

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In the age of the internet, people comments last a long time and are also easy to fake. If you look around, you can find comments from alleged builders offering testimonials for all products, even ones from now bankrupt companies. Look at the dates, and ask if these people are even still building today. Very few of these comments come from experienced builders, and many other the people would have long retracted the comments in light of what they were stuck with. Only 25% of home builts get finished. The percentage that get done with products of bankrupt companies has to be a tiny fraction of this. If you want to win at this game, it starts with making good decisions about who you are going to work with.

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I am clearly going to state again, If you have parts from another company, one I consider to have been run by vermin, I will not knowingly provide you any advice, service nor sell you any part to ‘upgrade’ your motor, nor will I allow you to participate in our ‘Zenvair’ discussion group, or attend any Corvair College.  It isn’t out of spite, it is simply because choices in aviation have consequences, and if you choose to work with vermin or their products, you are going to live or die with that decision. You can’t ‘upgrade’ junk by bolting good parts on it. Band aids don’t fix diseased things, amputations do. Zenith does not offer advice not service to people who bought Savanna kits, and this is the same principle.

I could list every name of every LLC that was in business to cash in on Corvair builders dreams and plans, but it would do no good. Just this week I heard of a new one starting again, right from the same address where the last one left off. Let it suffice to say that if anything on your plane came from Valdosta GA, I genuinely wish you good luck, your going to need it.

It is a free world, and no one has to listen to my experience nor advice. If you don’t like my tone, what I look like, things I say or perspectives, you are free to use these as a reason to discount or ignore what I have to say. A long time ago I learned in aviation that I needed to listen to the perspective of anyone with experience they wanted to share, even if they were not someone I personally liked.  I have learned much of what I know from people I would not have cared to be friends with. Aviation has serious consequences, and it is foolish to just restrict yourself to learning from people you ‘like’ or find ‘pleasant.’

Zenith 601/650 – Corvair reference page

Builders,

Here is a single location page that has a great number of links to information specific to the Zenith 601/650 / William Wynne-Corvair Combination.  It is a particularly good match, we have a number of different ways to approach it that serve the needs of many different builders, and it is a success story that builds on our 10 year history of working with Zenith builders, starting with our own personal 601XL in 2003. Since then we have assisted more than 80 builders to complete and fly their Corvair powered Zeniths.

If you already are working on your Corvair, this page will have information you have seen already on our websites, but I have included it so that this page can function as a ‘stand alone’ guide for 601/650 builders who have just heard about our work with the Corvair. Our approach to serving builders is different than typical businesses geared only to sell things to consumers. Our goal is to assist you on your path to becoming a more skilled aviator. The products we sell support this, but simply getting you to buy things is not what I am in aviation to accomplish. If you would like to start with a simple three page spec sheet on the engine, read this link first: Basic Corvair information

This page is broken into the following sections:

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1) Introduction

2) Engine and build options

3) installation components

4) Support for builders

5) Flying 601/650s

6) Builders in process

7) 601/650 flight data and safety notes

8) who is WW?

9) Comments on dangerous trash.

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At the end of each section there are links to supporting stories that have expanded information on concepts discussed in the section. Take your time and study it carefully.

I will be glad to answer further questions just email WilliamTCA@aol.com or call 904-529-0006. You can also check our two websites, https://flycorvair.net/ , http://flycorvair.com/ . The first is our ‘newspaper’ the second is our ‘library’ and ‘store.’ The links below are stories that already appear on these two sites, they are just arranged here to support this introduction to Corvair power for 601/650 builders.

Above, Phil’s Maxson’s 601XL airborne over the Florida coast at Ponce Inlet, 2006. Phil finished the plane in our Edgewater hangar and has been flying the plane ever since. It has proven to be economical and reliable over the long run. Phil is a skilled manager from the Fortune 500 world of business and could have purchased any engine on the market, yet he selected the Corvair as the best match to his personal goals of Learn Build and Fly.-ww

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1) Introduction:

The Corvair has been flying 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.’  If that approach appeals to you, read on. There is a lot of material here, and it isn’t something you are going to absorb in one quick scan. Frankly, your engine selection deserves careful consideration, and it isn’t the kind of decision you should make based on a 4 page sales brochure.

Corvairs have proven themselves to serve a very broad variety of builders. Many alternative engine options for the Zenith 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 their Zeniths 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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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.

d) – An example of our ling standing working relationship with Zenith: Friday out of shop until 4pm.

e) – A direct explanation of what makes my work different than typical LLC’s : 2011 Outlook & Philosophy

f) – A moving statement of philosophy: Sterling Hayden – Philosophy

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Above, the 3,000 cc Corvair, configured for a Zenith 601/650. An inherently simple engine, It’s opposed six configuration makes it the smoothest of available power plants. It has outstanding cooling because GM put a tremendous amount of cooling fins on it and  gave it a factory CHT redline of 575F. All of our engine parts are made in the United States.

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2) Engine and build options:

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If you are new to Corvairs, lets quickly cover some ground: General  Motors made 1.8 million Corvairs. brand new parts, including billet cranks, forged pistons, valves bearings,  virtually every single part inside is currently made and readily available, and will remain so. Rebuildable Corvair engines are plentiful, and much easier to find that Lycomings or Continentals. We have been working with Corvairs for 25 years, and there is no shortage of core engines or parts. If you doubt this for a second, Google “Corvair engine parts.”

The Corvair makes an outstanding aircraft engine because it is a simple, compact, direct drive, horizontally opposed six cylinder, air cooled engine. It is robust, and ‘flat rated ‘ from it’s automotive output. The engine runs equally well on automotive fuel and 100LL, and it does not care about ethanol. In its 53 year flight history, more than 500 experimental aircraft have flown on Corvair power.

The engine can be built in three dispacements with three respective power outputs. They are 2,700cc / 100HP, 2,850cc / 110HP and 3,000cc / 120HP. The two smaller displacements weigh 230 pounds, the larger actually weighs 8 pounds less because it uses lighter cylinders. All engines are completely rebuilt from very high quality parts before flight. They are not just removed from cars. The parts we use are specifically selected to convert the engine for the rigors of flight use. Forged pistons, Inconel valves, chrome rings, ARP rod bolts and many other components are upgraded in the rebuild.

To absorb the propeller and flight loads a “5th bearing” is added. It is a billet housing with a very large bearing from a V-8, bolted on the end of the case.The ignition is redundant and utilizes two 40,000 volt systems, one driven by digital electronics the size of a match book, the other by a traditional set of points. The engine is direct drive, it has no complex reduction unit. It makes good thrust because it has more than twice the cubic inches of a Rotax 912. All of the systems on the engine are intentionally patterned after those on Lycomings and Continentals, because they are the  model of success in proven aircraft power plants. People who do not acknowledge certified engines as excellent models of success are often just zealots.  To succeed in experimental aviation you need dispassionate information not emotional opinion.

One of the unique features of the Corvair is that it can be built at home, from our information and parts and a locally acquired rebuildable engine, or it can be purchased from us, test run with logs. 90% of current builders are building their own engine at home. Only 10% of the builders opt to have us build their engine. We have happy to serve both builders. In either case, Corvairs are the best match for builders who want to understand and be the master of their engine.

Because of the plans built vs production engine nature of the Corvair, there are large variations in how much builders budgets run. Below is a quick look at the differences. Keep in mind, these budgets are for first class, completely overhauled, zero timed engines with 5th bearings, starting, ignition and charging systems. We have clever builders who have built and flown engines for less than $3,000, but this not representative of main line builders. The numbers below are much better for Zenith builders to budget on.

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2,700cc / 100HP typical homebuilders budget: $6,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $9,750

2,850cc / 110HP typical homebuilders budget: $7,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $10,750

3,000cc / 120HP typical homebuilders budget: $8,500- Same engine assembled and run from us $11,750

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If you are attracted to the concept of building your own engine, but have not built motors before, Good.  About half of our builders have never built any kind of an engine before. Our main work is teaching people what we know and providing the parts to work with. Our system does not require anyone to be a machinist nor to have previous engine experience.

The procedure of building an engine in your shop follows this format:

1) Get a conversion manual and DVD’s from us, use them to find a rebuild able core engine locally. Disassemble this engine following the steps in the DVD.

2) Send the crank and heads to our approved facilities for rebuilding and modification. They come back ready to ‘bolt on.’ Other parts of the engine are cleaned and inspected. The parts to convert the engine are ordered from us, many of the standard rebuild parts like lifters and gaskets are available from local auto parts stores. We do not ‘middle man’ anything you can directly buy.

3) Assemble these parts according to the manual and DVDs. There is no machine work required, only basic tools are needed, and a few specialty tools like a torque wrench. Many builders attend our free Corvair Colleges and directly learn hands on skills. You can even bring your parts and assemble them under our supervision, and test run your engine on our equipment. College attendance is a plus, but not required. Our methods work without direct training; a good number of engines are built and flown each year by builders who have never met me in person.

4) The test run serves several purposes. We teach people to build one of  three specific models, and we teach them to use specific parts. Not only are these proven, but it also allows me to verify from a remote location that the engine was assembled correctly. A builder can report his static rpm, CHT, oil temp during the test run with his Warp Drive prop at the specified setting, and I can confirm the output and assembly of the engine without seeing it personally.

If you would like a sample of the information on working your way through the above four steps, get a look at this: Getting Started in 2013, part #1, Crankshaft process options.

I have broken down building a Corvair and installing it on your airframe into 42 “groups”. The previous link is about  ‘Group 1000’ the crankshaft. If you would like to look at every part that goes into a Corvair, along with the conversion parts we sell, look at Groups 1000 -3300 at this link to our catalog: http://www.flycorvair.com/products.html

All builders get started with a conversion manual. The first part of the above link is about manuals and DVD’s.  The direct link to the manual is: http://www.flycorvair.com/manual.html. almost all builders looking for a rebuild able engine also order the Disassembly  DVD, which covers core engine selection visually. The direct link to it is: http://www.flycorvair.com/videov.html We encourage everyone to get started with information, even if you are pretty sure you would like to purchase a production engine from us. If you eventually buy an engine from us, we directly reduce the price to rebate all the money you spent on manuals and DVD’s.

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a) – Corvair Weight story: Corvair vs O-200…. weight comparison

b) –  Samples of our production engines:  2012 Corvair Engines For Sale: 100, 110 and 120 HP

c) – For an explanation of ‘flat rating’ and a Zenith engine build : Shop perspective: Mastery or ?

d) – A story about engines running on our hangar Dyno: http://www.flycorvair.com/thrust.html

e) Engine of builder now working on Zenith airframe: World’s Strongest 3,000cc Corvair, built by Greg Crouchley

f)  2.700cc engine we built for Becky Shipman’s 650: Shipman Engine at CC#22

g) A story about the evolution on 120HP Corvairs: 3,000 vs 3,100 cc Corvair engines.

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Above, a 2009 photo from our workshop. I kneel in the workshop next to motor mount Number 100. This sounds like a lot, but I made the first one in 2003 for our own 601 XL.  Most experimental aircraft companies, both large and small, fail because for two simple reasons; First, the ownership cannot physically make the product the sell, and second, their financial backers are unwilling to go several years before seeing the payoff.  We succeeded because I am a craftsman first, and can make all the parts in the catalog, and we have never had, and would not accept having any partners nor investors. The Blue fixture is the one we use for the 601/650.

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3) Installation Components for the 601/650:

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We provide every single part it takes to install a Corvair in your 601/650.  You can buy them one at a time, or all at once. Our Zenith 601/650 installation, which has been successfully flying for a decade, is a long proven system that has only seen a few very minor detail evolutions. Our Zenith installation manual detail how and why each of the installation components are installed on your airframe.

The installation does not require any modification to the airframe fuel system like most EFI engines do.  Being air cooled and carbureted, it is one of the easiest engines to install. Many companies that are good at selling things are poor at teaching things, like how to install their products. Teaching is the very cornerstone of my work, I am a skilled writer, we run Corvair Colleges, and we have a simple engine. All this adds up to a comparitively easy engine to install. There is no need to rush it, but I can do it working in one long day.

 Installation part numbers are Groups 3400 through 4300 in the second half of our numbering system. Get a look at this link: http://www.flycorvair.com/products.html From that list, you can see that the major installation parts for a 601/650 are: #3601(S) intake manifold, #3901(A) Stainless exhaust, #4002 spinner bulkhead, #4003 Warp Drive prop, #4101 baffle kit, #4102 nose bowl, #4103 cowl kit and a #4201(A) mount. The other smaller items listed are detail in our Zenith installation manual. All of the above parts have links to stories through the products page.

Many people new to building initially think that very economical engines like the Corvair must also be inexpensive to install. In reality, the cost of items like motor mounts and cowls are not affected by the cost of the engine they mount and house.  A mount for a $30K UL-350 and a $7K Corvair have about the same amount to tubing and welding time in them, and thus cost about the same. Most engines for Zeniths have installation kits that run from $4,000 to $6,000. The Corvair is near the bottom of this range, but the savings of using the Corvair is in the engine, not the cost of installing it. Builders can save a significant amount of money by fabricating many of the parts like #4103, but most people are near the finish line at that point and opt to buy it and save the time. Exact cost on the installation parts varies a bit, I will be glad to review it with builders after they study the installation manual.

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a) – For an example of 74 years of aircraft welding talent: Zenith 601/650 Motor mounts, P/N 4201(A)

b) – To learn about the Stainless exhausts we make: Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems

c) – Louis Kantor’s 601XL running for the first time in our front yard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=626uwVbc0gM

d) – The same aircraft on its first take off, from our airport. July 2009.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSadGnsvmFc

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Above, 2004 at Oshkosh: Next to our personal Zenith N-1777W, I explain our dual ignition arrangement two executives from Falcon insurance, The EAA’s provider. To offer real support, an alternative engine provider must be an effective advocate for his builders on many fronts, including meeting the requirements of underwriters. Just being an engine guru is not nearly enough. Corvair engines that follow our design,  including to ones assembled by builders, are fully insurable at the lowest rates, right from the first flight, because they have an outstanding safety record. Having good effective hands on support is a critical element in this outstanding record.

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4) Support for Builders:

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Beyond the basic engine and installation components, we offer many forms of support to Zenith builders:

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a) We have a very detailed Installation manual for all Zeniths: http://www.flycorvair.com/601im.html We also have a flight operations manual with specific test flight plans and procedures: http://www.flycorvair.com/ops09.html

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 b) we hold 4 free hands on technical seminars called “Corvair Colleges” every year. This includes an annual College held in Mexico MO at the Zenith Factory timed to coincide with the factory open house in September. For an introduction to Colleges, read this link: http://www.flycorvair.com/cc21.html  An overview of upcoming colleges is at this link:  Upcoming events, Airshows and Colleges #26-28. If you would like to see video of a College, here is a link to Corvair College #17 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfa85e3ibI4&playnext=1&list=PL1D40A102EC2A194D&feature=results_video

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c) The “Zenvair” group is a separate on-line peer-to-peer discussion group just for Corvair/Zenith flyers to directly and freely share information and data with each other in a civilized productive format. The link is : ‘Zenvair’ Information board formed  This is very effectively moderated by Zenith/Corvair builder and flyer Phil Maxson who’s 601 is pictured at the top of this page.

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d) Woody Harris, subject of this story:  Zenith 601XL-2,850cc, Woody Harris Is our west coast representative. Although we have held 5 Corvair Colleges in California, including 2 at Zeniths west coast facility Quality sport planes,  we only make one trip to the west per year. Woody covers all the shows and events from Arlington to Copper State when we can’t be there.

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e) I am the last guy in aviation who still makes free house calls. Over the years I have made more than 400 in person visits builders projects. I travel extensively, and go out of my way to include builders workshops on these trips.  These stops and the colleges allow me to really understand the needs, strengths and dreams of rank and file builders that no one can read in email or at an airshow. for a sample, read this story: Corvair House Call, Range: 335 miles.

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f)  By my continued advocacy and industry relations, Corvairs have full insurance, at the lowest rates, available from a number of sources. If you would like to find out more Contact Bob Mackey, VP of Falcon insurance, The EAA’s designated provider, seen on the left in the photo above.

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g) Over the years, we have built a very tight knit community of like minded builders. If you read this story about fools at our county airport: A visit to the insane asylum, and it sounds like your airport, and if your local EAA chapter is devoid of homebuilders and filled with negative people, you will find the Corvair movement to be a powerful antidote. Many Corvair builders catch several colleges a year, there they find positive, outgoing, energetic builders, effectively making the Colleges their “local EAA chapter” We have worked very hard to attract outstanding people interested in accomplishing their goals. I  go out of my way to encourage new builders but I am intolerant of people who are compulsively negative. I am willing to be a cheerleader, but not a therapist.

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Above is Rich Whittington’s fabulous looking 601 HDS at Corvair College #21. Our Conversion Parts work with all models of the 601 and  the 650. One of the things I respect about Rich is his outspoken honesty. He started out with a criminally poor 2,700 made by a rip off artist in GA. To prevent other builders from making a similar mistake, he wrote a number of comments on this on Zenith Builders and flyers page. His second engine was a standard installation matched with a 3,000cc engine his is very pleased with.

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5) Examples of flying Corvair Powered Zenith 601s and 650s:

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In 2011, I wrote up a quick list of flying Zeniths, Since then a number have been added, but this list is a good beginning point, it has date of first flight and the N-number of these aircraft. Click on this link:  List of Corvair Powered Zeniths

If you would like to get a look at pictures and short notes on a number of 601/650’s, click on this story link:

16 Flying Corvair powered Zenith 601/ 650s

Below are a number of stories about flying planes.  We get a steady flow of new flyers Like Jerry Baak and Pat Hoyt, whos names are not on the first list:

 A really nice 2700cc tail wheel XL:  New Zenith 601 XL(B), Conventional Gear, Jerry Baak, S.C.

Good looking 2,700cc plane in FL, story is about a house call: Flying 2700 cc Zenith 601 XL(B), Alan Uhr

Very nice looking 650, links to movies of plane: Zenith 650-2700cc Dave Gardea

Our west Coast rep, Woody’s plane: Zenith 601XL-2,850cc, Woody Harris also read the story: Woody’s 2,850cc Corvair/601XL hits 400 hours.

A plane seen at Brodhead, Oshkosh and the Zenith open house in 2013: Patrick Hoyt, new Zenith 601XL, now flying, N-63PZ

Story from the moderator of our “Zenvair” discussion group: Guest writer: Phil Maxson, flying a 3100cc Corvair in his 601XL

Story on a long time member of the Corvair Community: 601XL-2700cc Dr. Gary Ray

Story on a 500 hour 601 Tail Wheel aircraft: Zenith 601XL-3100cc Dr. Andy Elliott

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Above, Making a house call in California to Larry Winger’s. His engine ran at Corvair College #18. Larry’s aircraft is a magnificent 650, built from plans, not a kit. The aircraft has since been completed and has been moved to the Chino airport. Larry exemplifies many of the finest qualities in homebuilding. When he started the project, he had never built an engine, a plane and was not yet a pilot. He has since accomplished all three.

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6) Examples of Builders working on this Combination:

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Many experimental aircraft companies like to tout how many of their product has sold as a measure of  success. Sales numbers on only a measure of their success, not that of builders. The only number that counts are how many builders that make it all the way to flying and enjoying their creation. It is a fact of marketing that it is far easier to keep finding new buyers to spend money than it is to support the ones that already spent the money, all the way through flight.  This is why many aircraft LLC’s have planned lifespans of only 48 months, so they make all the sales and fold up the tent before they have to do the real work of supporting builders.

We are very different. I have been supporting Zenith builders for a decade, but I have been working with Corvair builders since 1989. I am in this for the long haul, and my measure of success is getting people flying. We have many people working on Corvair powered 601s and 650s. In the first 10 years, we build and sold about 160 motor mounts for the combination. I didn’t make them just to have something to sell, I made them so that each builder would have a good shot at completing and flying his plane. I will be here long enough to support each of those builders in completing their plane. If you select a Corvair engine, I will be your ally in completing your plane, just as I have been for many others before you.

If your goal is to merely buy something, you need only find a salesman with an engine to sell. If your goal is to learn about, understand, build and fly your plane, you need an instructor-guide-mentor, an aviator not a salesman. Think it over: If your goal was to climb mount Everest, there would be plenty of people you could buy equipment from, but that isn’t the same thing as finding a Sherpa who has been to the top to act as your instructor and guide.  A big part of why experimental aircraft have a 20% completion rate is that most people purchasing a kit or an engine have not spent 3 minutes learning how to differentiate between a salesman and a guide.

Below are a sample of our builders, each of whom I am going to see all the way through their aircraft finished and flying:

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Nice guy who has been to many Corvair Colleges: Jim Waters 601XL-B project, “In The Arena,” Memorial Day 2013.

Our oldest builder in action :Dick Otto in California, S.R.B. (Senior Ranking Builder)

A letter from the same builder: Mail Sack – Letter of the month – Dick Otto, 601XL Calif.

A 2,700cc break in run on a 90% complete airframe: Weekend Double Header, 2nd engine of the year, Rick Koch

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7) Operational Data for this combination:

If you would like to read a story about detailed flight data collection on a 2,850cc 750, check out this link: CHT part #5, flight data from Zenith 750 . It is an example of the type of information exchanged on our ‘Zenvair’ group.  If you are attracted to a builders group that is made of intelligent thinking people, you will fit right in with Corvair builders.

If you would like a single example to effectively demonstrate that I am an aviator not a salesman, it is the type of data that I discuss with builders. No salesmen will acknowledge accidents nor difficulties that involved their products, even circumstantially.

Conversely, I am here to teach people what they need to know. I have a long history of writing about subjects that salesmen wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. I write about accidents and friends I have lost, honest mistakes people made and things you can learn from them.  Just about everything know in aviation cost someone dearly to learn. If you are unwilling to talk about these things in plain language, people are doomed to repeat them.

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Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place. is the story of our only fatal accident in a Corvair powered Zenith. (There is another below, but it was a different company) The NTSB pointed to an incorrectly assembled carb, but read the story and decide if judgment isn’t the root cause.

“If only someone had told him……” is a story about people who don’t listen. Guy A and Guy B were both Zenith 601 builders. Guy B was the passenger in the First 650 accident (AMD airframe- O-200 engine, ruled pilot error). Guy A was a well known and liked Zenith builder and flyer, who quit aviation after this incident.

Risk Management, Factor #1, Judgement. Covers how developing and exercising judgment is paramount to managing your own personal risk.

Risk Management, Experience vs Judgement. Ken Terry was a friend of mine and a huge influence on Grace’s flying, and her development as a pilot. The story is about how experience, even 40,000 hours of it is not a defense compared to exercising good judgment.

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Dan Weseman and Dave Dollarhide having a good time at Sun n Fun 2013. They both are in the last story “Friday night” in the link “Three aviation stories”.

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 Three Aviation Stories  covers my personal perspective on risk, and what level is worth managing, and how aviators come do deal with this. It speaks of meeting Al Haynes at two points in my life, 14 years and a world of experience apart. It also covers how several members of our EAA chapter each looked at loosing two friends.

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Above, A photo taken at Sun n Fun 2006. My wife Grace Ellen and myself, in front of the first Corvair powered Zenith, our own N-1777W. The plane was the first XL model with conventional gear.  Grace is a skilled pilot in her own right. She has been a pilot longer than I have, holds more advanced ratings and owns two aircraft. As a point of ethics, we do not promote, advocate nor sell things we have not personally flown behind.

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8) Who is William Wynne?

Modern consumer sales logic dictates that that business should ‘de-personalize’ themselves so consumers find nothing objectionable about the provider while they are spending money.  That model may work elsewhere, and even have advocates experimental aviation, but I don’t buy it.  I contend that Aviation is a different arena, and who you are dealing with, and their ethics, experience and perspective matters.

Building a plane or an engine is a marriage of sorts between the builder and his airframe or engine company. I believe that it is best if everyone goes into it well informed with their eyes wide open. I am always surprised how few people even Google the name of a person they are thinking of working with. You don’t need to see eye to eye with them on every point nor even love them, but the relationship must absolutely have trust and respect operating in both directions. In 25 years I have seen many builders try to justify buying a product from a provider they didn’t really trust. It never works out. It doesn’t matter how good it looks, what it costs or how great it is supposed to work, if it is from a bad guy, it isn’t worth buying.

I could write a quick paragraph about how I am a pilot, a 22 year A&P mechanic, and that I hold both an AS degree in Maintenance and a BS in Professional Aeronautics (accident investigation) From the worlds #1 aeronautical university, Embry-Riddle , but I don’t think that any of that explains my commitment to builders nearly as well as the flying planes of our builders and things we have accomplished. Henry Ford said “A man can not base his reputation on what he says he will do; only what he has done.”

I am plain spoken. to understand why, read the ‘Effective Risk Management’ story below. I have many friends who are experienced aviators who value plain talk. This type of speech also tends to offend people who dabble in aviation and would rather read polite things that align with their pet opinions. I am in aviation to share experience builders need to know, not say things people want to hear. Below are a selection of stories, some humorous, but all with a point, that give people a better understanding of who I am. From there you can decide if you choose to work with me as your engine mentor.

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a) Fixing America is going to cost each of us $1.69

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

c) In defense of plain speaking……

d) Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

e) A thought on Easter….

f) Happy Father’s Day William E. Wynne Sr.

g) Effective Risk Management – 2,903 words

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9) Notes on trash from Bankrupt LLC’s:

Not all things called a Corvair represent my work or designs. Over the years, our success and willingness to share information has brought out a number of short lived LLC’s that were run by rip off artists, and mentally ill people. Particularly, there have been four businesses that made poor copies of our parts or untested garbage. All of these are bankrupt today. Because they were LLC’s they could take peoples money without any liability to repay it. Today, I have just heard that another is coming back with a new name. The story will never end as long as people don’t do their home work or believe that they are getting a bargain. You can read about one of these companies at this link: Cloudn’t have happened to a nicer guy……

I warn people all the time not to buy things from these people, or to buy this stuff at the flymart. For examples of things no one should have bought, look at this story: Built by William Wynne? Built according to The Manual?

Let me be absolutely clear, that I will be polite to people, but I will not work on, offer advice on, or help with products made by bankrupt people that I considered vermin. If you have one of the engines from these LLC’s you are out of luck. I will not allow you to join our ‘Zenvair’ group nor will I allow you to attend any of the Colleges. This isn’t out of spite, it is to protect these builders lives. They all want to put a band aid on their bad purchase and make it “good enough to fly.” A band aid isn’t going to do it, an amputation is in order. People who blew $12K on Junk don’t want to hear this, they are still looking for a cheap out that doesn’t exist.  I will not assist them in the delusion that they have found one.

The Zenith Builders and flyers website has a small number of old posts from people who bought trash like this for their projects. If you look closely, these people offered great testimonials, but later abandoned their builds. On the same sites, I have builders like Larry Winger and Rich Whittington sharing that the same people took their money and delivered trash. Some people still don’t do their home work.