Eyeball Exhaust Evaluations

Builders,

For as long as I have been working with Corvairs, I have had a segment of ‘experts’ tell me their opinions about the  Corvair exhaust such as ” It would make 30% more power with headers” All of these people were basing their misguided theories on ‘eyeball evaluations’ and the were just sure they were right. I knew they were wrong because I have testing on my side.

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Below is a very interesting video showing how eyeball evaluations of exhaust systems are worthless. It shows a very potent 6,000 rpm V-8 on a dyno, in back to back tests where they flatten header tubes horribly, and it has next to no effect on the output. And that is on an engine making one and a half HP / cubic inch. The effect is even lower on engines like your Corvair flight engine.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azPKIjxmmdU

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Engine exhaust requirements depend on cylinder head design and camshaft design. Typically, low rpm engines like your flight motor, have modest cam profiles with short duration, to build torque. These engines are not punished for having the backpressure of a muffler, nor are they rewarded for having perfect free flowing balanced tubes. In our application, the systems we use are the correct balance of reasonable flow, matched to the cam profile, with the two critical factors: Low surface area and stainless construction to prevent it from heating the inside of the cowl, and having low weight and a stiff design that will not resonate and crack. The systems we offer are made of the best materials, with the best welding, to long proven designs. Sorry if reality offends the ‘eyeball evaluation experts’, but that is reality.

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Get a look at some of our exhausts here: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3901-a-zenith-exhaust/

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Read about our designs here: Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems

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Above, An exhaust evaluation as part of an Electronic Fuel injection test on a 2,700cc Corvair in 2007. It is shown running at power on my dyno. The urethane wheel directly reads foot pounds of torque off the digital scale. Note the engine has headers on it, that could be swapped in minutes for other exhaust. The EFI allowed the air/fuel ration to be corrected to optimize the exhaust instantly at the twist of a knob, giving the fairest scientific evaluation of exhausts. The air / fuel ratio was read on a laboratory grade digital O2 system. The data conclusively showed that headers make very little difference on a Corvair, and EFI was not impressive either. Read more here: Testing and Data Collection reference page

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-ww.

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Questions from potential builders:

Builders,

Here are some questions that came in as comments on other stories:

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Frank Stephenson writes:

“While there will be many different results, I am wondering what the average time before overhaul may be. Also what are we looking at cost wise for one of these engines and the average cost of an engine mount? I am considering selling my current conventional geared C-172 with a C-O300B engine and buying or building something a bit smaller and more efficient. I really don’t know anything about Corvair engines other than I know of several folks who have utilized them, but I don’t really know anything about their results. I have found, in general, that automotive engines don’t make really good aircraft engines, but some VW engines I have known of are an exception and apparently the Corvair engines may be an exception.”

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Frank, the minimum time between overhauls on a well built engine is 1,500 hours. Ten years ago we listed 1,000 hours as a very conservative figure, since then, improvements like using valve rotators have driven the life span up significantly. The Overhaul cost on the engine is very low, on the order of $2,000 to replace almost all moving parts or recondition them. You can lean more at this link: Basic Corvair information I understand that many automotive engine engines have a poor record, but I have been doing this for 25 years, and we have earned an excellent one. You can read this link: Planes flying on Corvair Power, and see many examples. For the cost of motor mounts, just look at out catalog,http://www.flycorvair.com/, and page down to Group 4200, it lists the price of every mount we make.

I know VW engines have worked for many people, but I will put the track record for reliability, power and TBO of our work with Corvairs against any VW based engine. There is a lot of information on our main webpage, http://www.flycorvair.com/. I understand that it looks overwhelming, but better too much than to little.

Here is an important point: I don’t think efficiency is a good enough reason to move to homebuilding. Lets say your Cessna does 110mph on 8 gallons an hour. There are several Corvair powered planes that can do that on 5 gallons an hour, even some on 3 gallons an hour. But even if you were to cut your fuel costs on flying 200 hours a year from $8,000 to $4,000 per year, I don’t think it is enough motivation to send a guy to the shop for 1,500 building hours. The only people that consistently succeed at homebuilding are the people who inherently would rather fly something the personally built, and people motivate by the desire to learn new skills. I have met very few people motivated just to fly less expensively who thought in the long run that homebuilding was worth it. Consider this carefully, you may have a better time staying airborne in the plane you have.

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Steve Spears

“Sir, I am currently building a RW26 Special ll and I would like to use the Corvair engine. However, some people are telling me that it is to heavy for the aircraft. What are your thoughts and do you know of anyone who has used a Corvair engine in the Rag Wing aircraft? I read what you wrote about the Pietenpol and am encouraged that I can use the engine”

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Steve, I looked at this pretty closely for an hour the other night. I tend to think that a Corvair is too big to the R-26. The 912 appears to be as large an engine as people use. Several of Rodger Mann’s designs have flown with Corvairs, but I wouldn’t call any of them an ideal match. I am guessing that a Rotax 503 is really the optimum engine for many of his designs. For a comparison of how heavy duty a Pietenpol is built, the longerons in the fuselage are one inch square spruce from the firewall to the tail post. I am pretty sure the R-26 is lighter than that.

For any plane that you are wondering about Corvair power for, the best rule of thumb is asking if the same plane has flown with a Continental o-200. If it has, a Corvair will always work in it. For a comparison of the two engines look at this link:Corvair vs O-200….weight comparison and this one:Dynamometer testing the Corvair and O-200. We also have a lot of info on comparisons to 912s at this link: Testing and Data Collection reference page.  -ww.

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STOL and utility planes for Corvair power

Builders,

Below is an overview of STOL and Utility airframes that have been Corvair powered or are in excellent candidates for the engine, that we have already looked at closely. Included with many of the airframes listed are links to stories about them.

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This group of planes are all high-wing cabin monoplanes. There is a good selection of designs for builders to choose from. There are others that would work as well, for example Morgan William’s lite star http://www.customflightltd.com/aircraft-kits-1.html Has flown on Corvair power, but I have just written an overview of the planes most people ask about. If you have a plane in mind that you don’t see here, just send me an email.

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Zenith 750:

This is a good match for the Corvair. There have been a number of them flown in the last four years, and many more are in the works. The 750 has flown on 2700, 2850 and 3000 cc Corvairs. We make every part to install the engine on a 750 airframe and have a Zenith specific install manual. The last link below has a very complete over view.

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Above, the flying 2850cc Zenith 750 built by Gary Burdett of Illinois.  It has our full complement of Zenith installation components and one of our production engines.

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Zenith 750 Flying on Corvair Power, Gary Burdett, Illinois

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

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

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

 Zenith 750 / Corvair reference page, October 2013

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Zenith 701:

We flew our 701/2700cc Corvair test bed aircraft in 2007.  The combination works, and a few have been built, but the 750 has stolen a lot of the potential popularity. If anyone is looking at both airframes, they should pick the 750, because it has matched hole tooling and is far easier to build. It is a better match to a Corvair. Economically, a Corvair powered 750 will still cost a lot less than a 912 powered 701. The link below the photo has a very detailed look at the combo. The plane below was made of all our off the shelf engine components, and the entire plane and engine was built in our Edgewater hangar.

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

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Zenith 701- Corvair reference page, November 2013

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Pegzair:

Is a 20 year old Canadian design with automatic leading edge slats. It has a metal wing and a steel tube fuselage. We finished and flew the first Corvair powered on in 2007. the story is in the link below the photo. The engine has all of our conversion components. Every part ahead of the firewall was built in our hangar in Edgewater.

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Read the story at this link:

3,100cc Corvair in Pegzair

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Wagabond :

Below, our Wagabond, N707SV, flying over the Intercostal Waterway near the Atlantic Ocean in 2005. The airframe is based on a highly modified 1964 Piper PA-22-108 (Colt). The plane was built as a group project by “The Hangar Gang” between 2003 and 2005. It has been flown by a number of well-known Corvair pilots who all found it to be a well behaved work horse. In person, the plane is very large for an LSA legal homebuilt. The airframe is the size of a Tripacer, and sitting on the ground the spinner is as tall as I am, yet a direct drive 100 HP Corvair easily flys this plane, including a test flight where the plane climbed out with a payload greater than its own empty weight.

Originally flown to shows by David Vargesko, today the plane has been modified and refined by Grace and myself, re-engined with a 120 HP 3000 cc Corvair, and functions as our personal Corvair powered plane. It is a 5 gallon per hour, 100 MPH plane with a very large baggage compartment. With Grace, the dog, myself and 36 gallons of fuel loaded, it can still carry 275 pounds of equipment and stay in CG.

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Below is a youtube link to the plane flying:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7XhuWmqcPw

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Merlin:

Below is a link to film of Jeff Moore’s Merlin flying on floats in Newfoundland. The airframe has a strong following in Canada. This particular plane was originally powered with a Rotax. Jeff’s plane uses most of our Gold engine parts and one of our stainless U-2 exhaust systems. The engine is a 2700 cc motor with a Weseman 5th Bearing.

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Jeff and the Merlin with Corvair installed.

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 Film:

Jeff’s story is at this link:

Corvair Powered Merlin Flying Over Newfoundland

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Buttercup:

The plane was originally Designed by Steve Wittman in 1937. It was vastly ahead of its time. Later modified to have full span movable leading edges.  Grace and I worked on the Buttercup pictured below with the intention of finishing it for ourselves before we had a change in direction. Our standard intake and U-2 exhaust fits the plane, along with all of our gold engine components.

Above, the motor mount for our Wittman Buttercup. It is an intensely complicated mount because it incorporates Wittman’s tapered rod landing gear sockets (the modern Buttercup actually uses RV-6 landing gear legs). Earl Luce, the plans provider gave me all the operational data and weight and balance info for his O-200 powered plane, which I mathematically worked out to the Corvair installation. The Mount resembles the O-300 mount for a Tailwind.  After completely welding it, I took it to our local powder coater, and had it done in U.S. Navy gray. It was the 40th different Corvair Motor Mount Design that I have built. Today two builders are closing in on finishing the Corvair Buttercup combination, but none have flown yet. The plane above is being finished in Wisconsin.

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Rebel:

The Murphy rebel is an all sheet metal Canadian design almost 25 years old. It is not currently in production. It is a complicated plane to build compared to other all metal designs like a Zenith. Below is a link to a story I wrote about how people who know nothing often say the Corvair will not work on utility planes like the rebel, in spite of all the evidence on this page that speaks to the contrary. The commentary and data in the story is worth reading for anyone looking at a Corvair engine for their homebuilt.

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

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Bearhawk LSA:

I consider this plane to be the best flying plane in it’s category. I worked directly with the designer Bob Barrows to develop a Corvair motor mount for it. I flew Bob’s prototype, and it has excellent handling qualities. The design uses or standard intake manifold, and a stainless exhaust common to our Zenith installation.

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Corvair Motor Mount for Bearhawk LSA

Bearhawk LSA, Corvair motor mount in development

Bob Barrows to Fly LSA Bearhawk to CC #27, Barnwell, S.C., Nov. 2013

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Kitfox:

The only Kitfox model that has flown with a Corvair was the model 5. The builder had a number of issues, related to using a poor choice in carbs. Below is a link to a Kitfox 4 mount we made in my shop. The engine is slightly too big for the model 4, but it is a good match for the series 5 and up.  The factory likes to promote engines they sell cowls for and have a dealership on.  Kitfox has had three different owners in the last 25 years. The current ones did not sell the bulk of the unfinished model 5’s which are available second hand from internet sources like barnstormers.com for less than 50% of their original sale price. Combine one of these with a Basic Corvair, and it is possible to build a good plane for less than $18K, airframe and engine.

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Kitfox Model IV with Corvair mount

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Stits SA-7D Skycoupe:

Ray Stits, the man behind the fabric covering system designed a series of very successful planes in the late 1950s. The Skycoupe was once one of the most popular 2 seat planes in the EAA.  Several hundred were built, and their was even a FAR-23 type certified model. It is a stout plane, but it is small inside by modern standards. We put about 200 hours of flight testing on ours, it is a natural match for the Corvair. Below the photo is a link to pictures of turbocharging the design.

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Above, the Skycoupe on the ramp in front of our Edgewater hangar in 2007. We made every component ahead of the firewall on this plane.

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Read more at this link:

More Turbo Skycoupe photos

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Fisher Horizon 1 and 2:

Both of these designs have flown on Corvair power. I built the motor mount for them, and most of our off the shelf components fit the installation.  The plane has strong appeal for builders who like wood, but it is not as rugged as steel tube designs or all aluminum ones.

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J-3:

The first plane ever to fly with a Corvair was a J-3 in 1960.  The Corvair would make a very good power plant for any of the J-3, J-5, PA-12 family of airframes.

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Just Highlander:

Below is a photo of the first Corvair/highlander to fly. It was not a success because the builder insisted on using a left over cowl from a Jabaru 3300, and the Bing Carb from the same engine. He also ran the engine was a display without any form of cooling for a long period on the ground prior to the first flight.  With the wrong cowl and carb, it should come as no surprise that the plane overheated. From the pictures above, we have plenty of evidence that the Corvair can easily power larger heaver and slower planes than the Highlander when it is equipped with the correct cowl and carb. .

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Christavia:

Is an older design that is somewhat similar to a champ. The plane has many fans, but it would not be my first choice in a utility plane. It is called a STOL plane, and it is by Lancair standards by not by Zenith standards. The plane pictured below was powered by a 2700 Corvair with a Rinker Gearbox, a design from the 1970’s. The gear box failed in 28 hours because the machinist employed by the builder decided to omit a keyway critical to the design. The combination will work much better as a direct drive plane.

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Taylorcraft BC-12D replica:

Below is a one of a kind plane, built from some BC-12D parts. Today the FAA has cracked down on this practice, but with a friendly DAR this could still be made. The plane below is powered by a 2700 and has clipped wings. It topped out at 130mph.

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This very slick aircraft is the handiwork of Gary Loucks of New York.

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Myths about propeller efficency

Builders,

On the Pietenpol discussion group, a well meaning guy reposted a story from the 1996 Pietenpol newsletter. The subject was on prop efficiency. It included the comment:

The Corvair engine is another compromise. They have a loss of efficiency due to the small diameter propeller and accelerate poorly (due to the tall gear effect) but produces good power. ” 

The guy who posted this probably didn’t know it, but I know that the comment is without merit, and no one who actually conducted a test, or understood propellers would make such a comment. Yet, here we are, 18 years later, in the information age, following the same myths that have been floating around for decades.

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The above comment has no educational value. Take it line by line: All engines, not just a Corvair are a compromise, period. Testing shows that a 100HP engine climbing at 60 mph with a 66″ prop may be close to 95% as efficient as one with a 72″ prop; Ask any tester you like, there is no such thing as an engine that produces good power but accelerates poorly. This only happens when it has a bad prop on it.

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OK, the whole point of having a dialog, reading thoughts or communicating about the building of planes is to learn something and use this knowledge to improve the plane you are building. The comment above serves none of these functions. It is only valuable to people who which to reinforce false realities they believe in. You can divide almost every story you read that allegedly shares information on airplane building into to camps: Valid testing that supports learning, and opinion or out of context stories that support myths. Only one of these will make your plane better.

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This division cleaves all discussion, any story can be put in one pile or the other.  What always gets me is this simple fact: Less than 20% of homebuilts are completed. I have been around Pietenpols a long time, and I would guess that their completion rate is far below 10%. What no industry magazine or salesman is going to tell you is that the completion rate, as a whole for our branch of aviation is actually dropping. Yes more planes get completed, but the sell many more these days. Given this fact, you would think that builders would all recognize that to personally beat the poor average, they have to make some smart choices, and a critical one is learn from valid tests, and don’t waste time listening to the same myths and old wives tales that lead 80% of previous builders to failure. But, for some reason, the myth mill still works every day, and people participate in it, directly sabotaging their own chances of learning and success

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It is somewhat frustrating to conduct a mountain of public tests, but they are cited less often than dubious sources from decades-old news letters. For people who wish to see real side by side thrust tests and dyno runs, get a look at this link to our testing page: Testing and Data Collection reference page. For Pietenpol builders who want to see that a 72″ prop doesn’t hold a candle to a 66″ one bolted to a powerful engine, look at: Pietenpol Power: 100 hp Corvair vs 65 hp Lycoming. If you would like to read about how most of the things said about “prop efficiency” are myths, get a look at this:The case of the Murphy Rebel, “eyeball vs. testing” I would hope that the next time the myth machine goes to work, someone will share a link to these pages, or even this story.

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Here is a simple example of testing and common sense from the last story link:

“Props with diameters of 74″ are only efficient on engines like the
Continental 65 with a low red line of 2300 rpm. Low rpm isn’t efficient in itself. A 65 Continental becomes a 75 continental with respect to power output by just a jet change and an RPM increase to 2600.  If turning the prop 300 rpm faster and using one with less diameter actually made less low speed thrust, than no one would have ever converted a 65 to a 75.”

Some pretty basic logic. I only ask people to believe what I can show them with tests and common sense like the point above. To counter this, the myth makers only have old newsletters and stories like “I heard a guy tried that once but it didn’t work.” Occasionally there will be input from a guy who touts a long dusty engineering degree as some credential as credibility for his favorite myth. If that is more valid than a specific test done in public, then I have a Unicorn to sell you.

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If you would like a simple example to destroy the myth that low speed aircraft have to have large slow turning props to have performance, let us take a look at some work from a man who only valued one thing in planes: Performance. This man was the greatest air racer who ever lived, and almost all of his work was done on planes that could be well powered by a Corvair. The Mans name was Steve Wittman.

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Let’s look at the plane below and the prop on it. It is Wittman’s “Big X”. It is a 4 seater powered by a 150HP Franklin. It was noted for having a very wide speed envelope.  Did Wittman use a big slow turning prop said to be efficient? No, he used a high rpm, smaller scimitar prop. This plane climbed at 70 mph, it had to have good low speed thrust, and it did. How long have people known that the only thing slow props have going for them is sound suppression? Well the photo here is from 1947.

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Below, the Buttercup. The photo is from the EAA museum where the plane was retired to after flying for 60 years. It is reported to have 3,000 hours on it. The prop is not the correct one, it is just for display. This plane will fly and climb at speeds well below the stall speed of a Pietenpol. it will also do 145 mph on the top end. How does it cover such a wide envelope with a C-85? Simple, it has a smaller diameter prop that it spins faster. For people who claim that high rpm props don’t make thrust, please explain what was making the thrust that drove the plane forward at 145 mph when the engine was turning 3,400 rpm. Again the ideas are not new, the buttercup was built in 1937.

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How about a slightly faster example? Below is a youtube link to Steve flying his Tailwind N-37SW, powered by a direct drive inverted Olds 215 V-8, bored and stroked to 262 cid. It has a 62″ diameter prop on it. It was cut down from a Cessna 150 aluminum prop. It climbed very strong and topped out at 3,600 rpm and 195 mph with out wheel pants. How do I know this? Because I flew in the airplane with him for a very vigorous flight in 1993. Notice that people who present myths always have a mysterious “guy who tried it”. I am essentially doing the same thing here, with the exception that I was there, my “guy” actually existed and was one of the greatest builders and pilots of all time, and, conversely, it worked for him. Other than those details, my story is just the same as any other internet myth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsH-j4pF4fE

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Something I wrote about real aviators at the core of flight:

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“If you look at their lives close enough, all of the greats offer something to guide us in pursuit of the timeless truth of flying. Pietenpol teaches that we are more likely to find it in the simplest of planes; Lindbergh knew that you started your search inside yourself; Gann said that we will not see the truth directly, but you can watch it at work in the actions of airmen; and Wittman showed that if you flew fast enough, for long enough, you just might catch it. These men, and many others, spent the better part of their lives looking for this very illusive ghost. Some of them paid a high price, but you get the impression they all thought it was worth it.

While it is possible that someone who rents a 172 or even a person who reads Fate is the Hunter has some access, I honestly think that the homebuilder who dreams, plans, builds and eventually flys his own plane is infinitely more likely to experience the timeless truth of man’s quest for flight. All of the aviators who had some insight to guide you found it while they were in action, in the arena. If you inherently feel that you want to build a plane, you feel just like Pietenpol did. When you’re building it, you will find out how determined you are and what kind of perseverance you have. Lindbergh evaluated these qualities in himself every day. As you finish and prepare to fly, you will find others of enormous qualities and flaws, and you will learn to sort them and their counsel, as Gann always did. And when you fly your plane, and come to trust it because it is your creation, and you cut no corners, you will never want to stop, the way Wittman never did.” -ww-(2008)

Information on Flycorvair.com

Builders,

To complete the trio of Zenith reference pages, I was working in the middle of last night to put together the one for the 701. We bought our 701 kit in the spring of 2006, flew it in 2007, and wrote a lot of stories about it all the way through its development and eventual modification to include a 5th bearing, It was about 100 hours of flying done by a number of pilots including Gus Warren, Dan Weseman and Arnold Holmes.

In gathering the information, I just went to our main traditional site, Flycorvair.com, went to the bottom of the main page and typed “701” into the plainly marked search box. It spit out links to 24 pages on the site which referenced the 701. Throughout our testing, I did a lot of writing to keep builders posted on what was happening with the project. As raw material, I cut and pasted the data and pictures from these links into my rough draft of the 701 reference page. I was a little surprised to see that flycorvair.com had 56 photos of the plane and more than 10,000 words of description. For scale, consider that when I began my work with Corvairs in 1989, I used the Embry Riddle research library and correspondence with many people to gather every printed word I could find on Corvair flight engines from 1960-89. After 90 days of looking, I was very happy to start with a treasure trove that amounted to 36 printed pages.

Above is a 2007 photo of the 701 airframe under construction in the main Edgewater hangar. It flew by the end of that year.

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I bring this up because we get several letters a month from 701 builders asking if anyone has ever put a Corvair on a 701, and how do with think it might work. Obviously, not a single one of these people has typed “701” in the search box on the main page. Granted, the main site is dated, and it needs a house cleaning, but if I had brought that same level of investigation to my 1989 information search, we probably wouldn’t have the Corvair movement we do today.  I consider it odd that the internet, computers and email are all research tools that were beyond my wildest dreams as I sat looking at printed lists of periodical guides in the reference section and used a rotary dialed pay phone to call all the phone numbers I found.  I was using flintlock and long bow technology, compared with todays nuclear weapons grade research tools.

You might suspect that people in general would use these tools and appreciate the vast quantity of information available, but I have ample evidence that the tools and quantity of information have an odd affect of making most people much worse and conducting any kind of investigation. Just consider that  your average person can claim to have done many “Searches” in a single day, as if they were Sherlock Holmes. But in reality, all they did was press a button and had information spoon fed to them my marketing companies that had previously planted spyware on their computers to analyze their buying habits. This really isn’t searching at all. If this type of “investigation” honed peoples detective skills, then they would have long since found their car keys and the TV remote. 

All of this has little effect on people who have no plans to escape the consumer merry-go-round of endless purchases in pursuit of  happiness that will always remain just one more item away. However, if you have formulated a plan to have a better life than that, and track it down and conquer it in the form of building and flying your own aircraft, then improving real research and decision making are in order. Because we all have to take that first step off the carnival ride, I am doing my part to make the first step somewhat easier. I am making the reference pages for popular airframes so that people who are yet to develop the persistence and accurate information skills that builders invariable develop in the process of education and building can more easily find their way into the opportunity of building.  With the focus of mind that comes with taking on a challenge, they will probably remember where they put the car keys. The TV remote will not matter, as people who have a plane to build and a challenge to meet don’t need to waste time in front of the TV set. -ww

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, http://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 45 degree 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.’

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

Bob Lester’s Corvair/ Pietenpol nears 800 hours.

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.

Gary Boothe’s Pietenpol, flying video

New Pietenpol, 2700 Corvair, Don Harper SC

Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.

Farewell to a Good Man; Robert Caldwell departs.

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee

Knoll Family Pietenpol

Bob Dewenter’s Pietenpol project

Pietenpol Project – Terry Hand

Pietenpol 2,775 cc Corvair; Trevor Rushton from UK

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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

Current Corvair Installation in a Pietenpol, part #1

Current Corvair Installation in a Pietenpol, Part 2

Steel tube Pietenpol fuselage with landing gear and 12 x 4.8″ tires.

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

Terry Hand’s 2700 cc Pietenpol engine – w/Weseman 5th bearing

 “Zen-vair” and “Piet-vair” Discussion Groups, your resource..

Pietenpol lift struts; $65, a free education, and fun with friends..

Custom Pietenpol engine mount.

Yes, Pietenpols do need 5th Bearings..

Evolution of a Pietenpol

Evolution of a Pietenpol pt. 2

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

Vi Kapler passes from this Earth, age 88.

New Pietenpol Family website

The Cherry Grove Trophy

Help Needed, Wikipedia error on Pietenpols

Cherry Grove story, “The long way home”

Cherry Grove story, Part 2.

Pietenpol first flight; Honolulu International.

Flathead Ford, 71 cid. Freedom to pursue happiness.

Guest Editorial, Pietenpol builder Terry Hand.

Bob Lester’s 48 flight hour, 3400 mile Pietenpol adventure

Pietenpol Builders and Pilots at Corvair College #31.

Ralph Carlson and Conversion Manual #1.

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Above, Kevin Purtee and I speaking at Corvair College #32. Although we look very different, we have a lot of things in Common: We are both the same age; We are both Embry-Riddle graduates from the same Degree Program; we have both worked in aviation every day since we were 26; we have very similar perspectives on risk management.  Read: Thought for the Day: Two paths in managing risk.

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If you would like to read a number of personal stories, some with very harsh lessons on the unforgiving nature of flight, Please look here: Risk Management reference page. If you read them with an open mind, some of my friends will be able to posthumously teach you to take care of yourself. -ww.

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CHT part #5, flight data from Zenith 750

Builders,

Here is some very detailed flight data from  2,850cc Zenith builder/flyer Jeff Cochran. It is a very good and useful piece of data collection, with many fine points included. I took more than an hour to examine the charts in detail. Jeff’s accompanying letter had a lot of good flyer feedback in it also. He is straight forward and methodical in his evaluation to fine tune his specific installation. I share with builders some larger perspective to put this data in a context where you may find it easier to appreciate.

Jeff and his lovely wife at CC#16. They have attended many colleges. Jeff ran his engine at CC#19, and will likely flying it back to CC#27 for it’s public debut in front of fellow builders who fully understand the achievement of completing and flying your own plane.

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For a little background on Jeff and his plane, read the story by clicking on this link:

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

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One of the things that came to mind when looking at Jeff’s data was the early work that Mark Langford did in data recording in his KR-2S. (Mark was the first pilot to be awarded The Cherry Grove Trophy in 2008) Eight years ago Mark was one of the first guys to publish this kind of information from his Grand Rapids unit. It was read by many builders, and was a unique resource and sparked a lot of discussion, and also squashed a lot of pet theories among the internet armchair opinion crowd. Let me use the photo below to illustrate an interesting distinction between the data sets:

Above is Mark Langford’s plane with the cowl off in a photo from Corvair College #16. The airframe and the engine installation were unique in many ways. The plane was built as a personal expression of his creativity. Several other KR’s followed Mark’s build and utilized ideas that worked on his plane. Since this segment is focused on CHT, look at Mark’s cooling, a twin ‘plenum’ style system that worked well in his plane. His cowling was one he made a mold for, he used a rear starter and belt driven rear alternator, along with a remote cooler. These ideas served him for more than 1,000 flight hours in his KR, however some of these ideas would have limited applicability on other airframes. The 5th bearing on this plane is the same design I am using on our Wagabond, but almost all of the other subsystems on the Wagabond are common to our standard 601/750 installation. The Kr is a small fast aircraft that operates in a different flight envelope.

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What makes Jeff’s data unique to me is that it is all gathered around off the shelf parts on a very popular airframe. KR airframes are highly individual. The have a choice of airfoils, wing areas and spans, different landing gear, fuselage lengths and widths,  and several canopy styles. By comparison, no such variation exists with Zeniths. What one builder learns can be directly applied to another’s aircraft with predictable result. Virtually all Corvair/750 builders utilize standard parts from our catalog, and assemble them according to our installation manual. Additionally, a 750 is the largest and slowest climbing aircraft Corvairs are commonly used on. One can be reasonably sure that anything that works in a Corvair/750 aircraft cooling/cowling system will also work on any faster smaller Corvair powered airframe, whereas the reverse is not frequently true.

In Jeff’s letter he references comparing notes with Gary Burdett. If you have not seen it, we have pictures on this site and his story is at this link: Zenith 750 Flying on Corvair Power, Gary Burdett, Illinois . Because their two airframes and engine configurations are very close to each other, They can utilize shared information to fine tune each of their planes. This goes further than just having a cowling in common. Details like both aircraft having a gold oil filter housing means that data like oil temp is taken at the same spot on both engines, giving very direct comparisons.

This effect is true for all Corvair/Zenith combinations to a degree that is not possible with individualized aircraft like KRs and to a large extent, Pietenpols. Both of those airframes have active and well run internet groups. Zenith runs it own gigantic webgroup for all of its builders. To give builders working with the Zenith/Corvair combination a specific spot where they could directly exchange data and notes, we set up a specific discussion board just for them. You can read about it by clicking on this link: ‘Zenvair’ Information board formed . The quality of discussion there is very high for several reasons. It is an invitation only group and it is very effectively organized and moderated By Phil Maxson. You can read about phil at this link: Guest writer: Phil Maxson, flying a 3100cc Corvair in his 601XL. Jeff, Gary, Phil and other ‘Zenvair’ builders can directly work with each other in a setting where everyone is a serious builder.

The two links below are the Data that Jeff refers to in his letter. Interesting to have independent confirmation and data to say that the alternator location doesn’t make much of a difference in cooling. We sell the front alternator (group 2900) and Dan sells the rear alternator (Group 2950). For many years people speculated that moving the alternator to the back would cause a huge reduction in temps. Both Dan and I told people this wasn’t likely because non-plenum cooling systems with round inlets are very good about sharing all the incoming air no mater which hole it arrives through. Jeff’s numbers confirm this and show the limitations of ‘eyeball & theory’ vs accurate back to back testing.

Many people who have never met me picture me as an opinionated zealot advocating some type of ‘my way or the highway’ mentality, unable to change perspectives. While I do have principles that I will not compromise on, 25 years of working on planes has given me the perspective to understand what is an issue of principle and what is just a matter of preference.

Many closed minded people act like zealots simply because they don’t have the experience to differentiate between these two. Picture the guy who frequently says “That will never work”; He is proven wrong by the first guy who makes a trip around the pattern with the idea. Conversely, when a guy says ” might work, but I prefer not to do it that way because….” he is speaking from experience. On matters of preference, I am open minded. I have a 5th bearing design and sell front alternators, but our production engines feature Dan bearings and mostly rear alternators. I assembled both Jeff’s and Gary’s engines. They are very similar 2,850s yet one has a Dan bearing and one has a Roy bearing.  These are all matters of preference between proven parts. I am if favor of builders making educated choices. The operative word ‘educated’ starts with real data like Jeff is presenting here. -ww.

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Jeff’s data charts:

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CochranPDFGraph1013 Graph Link

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CochranXL101813 XL worksheet link

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Jeff’s Letter:

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“William, Since you are doing all of the CHT and cooling articles, I thought I might update you on my progress.

I have dropped the bottom of the cowl so that I have almost 4″ between the bottom edge of the firewall and the bend in the cowl bottom.  By my calculations this gives me a 2.4 to 1 ratio.  I still want to up this a little.  This is very close to the set-up Gary Burdett is running.  We should be almost exactly alike now with one or two exceptions.  I went ahead and ordered and installed the rear alternator kit from Dan.  The front bracket is still in place just in case I need to go back.  I am also flying without the leading edge slats.  My inlets are 5″ and still raw cut edges with no ring inlets.

Sensor set-up has been changed.  For a while I ran a thermocouple in each of the thermowells like the GM thermistors and a 10mm ring on the thermocouple bolt. I also had a 14mm ring on the corresponding plugs.  So three sensors on cylinders 1 and 6.  The plug was always the highest, the bolt the lowest with the thermowell location in the middle.  I discontinued the two bolt locations and moved those sensors to plugs 2 and 3.  Somewhere I had heard that cylinder 3 was always the hottest, but my data really does not support that as far as the plugs are concerned.

 

My Dynon D180 saves data on almost every possible parameter you can attach a sensor for.  I download the file after every test flight.  The first page of the attached workbook is the total raw data. On the second page I delete all of the data that is not really recorded (the Dynon seems to make up data when no sensors are attached).  Then on the short version, I delete everything I am not interested in at this time.  I chart the CHT’s and since the alternator move the electrical data. I have attached the excel workbook file.  But just in case you really are the computer troglodyte you claim to be (which I really doubt) I have converted the CHT chart to .pdf.  

The alternator move as you have often said did not seem to make much difference in cooling. Logically that was so hard to believe I just had to prove it to myself,  You probably have realized by now that some of us are hardheaded that way.  Cylinder 6 is always much cooler that cylinder 1 so I tend to concentrate on cylinder 1 numbers.  Since the 380 degree number has been posted by you and I have seen it on the car sites also, I set my goal of try to keep the temp measured in the cylinder 1 thermowell (where the car was measured) as my normal max goal.  My current set-up has been achieving that limit.  I still plan to smooth and ring the inlet some time in the future.

 

I’m still planning to fly to Barnwell (weather permitting).  Either way, see you there. –Jeff”

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, http://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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:)