Basic Corvair Information

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

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

The Corvair is a General Motors designed engine, manufactured by Chevrolet.  1.8 million engines were built in the Tonawanda New York engine plant between 1960 and 1969. The Corvair has been flying on experimental aircraft since 1960, and I have been working with them as flight engines since 1989. It is a story of careful development and testing, a slow evolution to the engines we have today. It is ‘old and proven’ rather than ‘new and exciting.’

Configuration:  The engine is a horizontally opposed, air-cooled, six cylinder configuration. We only promote its use as a simple, direct drive power plant. The engine configuration is very similar to Lycomings and Continentals.

Displacement: The engine is effective without a gearbox or belt drive because it has a comparatively large displacement. Between myself and SPA, we have versions that are 2,700, 2,775,  2,850, 3,000 and 3,300 cc. The smallest of these has twice the displacement of a Rotax 912.

Power: Corvairs have several different power ratings. 100, 105, 110, 120 and 125+hp. These correspond to the five displacements listed above. They make their rated power at 3,150 rpm. They have wide power bands, making 75% power at 2,650 rpm. All engines will exceed their rated power at higher rpm, and they can be continuously run at full power at 3,400 rpm without damage.

Weight: The engine weighs 225-235 pounds ready to run. This is effectively the same as a Viking 130 and slightly less than a Continental O-200. It’s installed weight is 35 pounds more than a 912 Rotax, 25 pounds more than a Jabaru 3300. The Corvair is 40 pounds lighter than a Lycoming O-235. Larger Corvairs are slightly lighter because they have special cylinders made for them which make these engine lighter.

Reliability: From the factory, the Corvair made up to 180 HP in the car and turned more than 5,500 rpm. The engine is reliable and long-lasting because we are only operating at 60% of these levels. Conversion engines that run at the car’s red line rpm historically have short lives and cooling issues.

Cost: We sell complete engines from $12,750 to $17,750. However, 90% of our builders assemble their own engines working from our Conversion manual, DVDs, parts and support and a rebuildable core engine they pick up locally. Typically, they budget $8,500-10,500 to build a first class, zero timed, engine. Budget motors can be built for as little as $6,500.

Cooling: The Corvair has a factory cylinder head temp limit of 575F. This is the highest limit on any mass-produced air-cooled engine ever built. The engine as also the first mass-produced turbocharged car. GM engineered the motor to have excellent heat tolerance and heat dissipation. In aircraft the engine typically runs at 325 to 350 CHT.

Parts availability: Every wearing part in the engine has continuously been in production for 5 decades. The engine pictured above, only has an original pair of cases, and oil housing and cylinder head castings. All other parts in the engine, including the crankshaft, are brand new. Many of the parts in the engine, like the lifters and valve train, are common to Chevy v-8s. There is no part availability issue.

Ignition: The fleet of flying Corvairs is about 500 aircraft. More than 90% of them have a dual ignition system that I have built. Our system uses two redundant systems, one points based, the other a digital electronic system. The design has two of every part potentially subject to failure, but it utilizes one plug per cylinder. Six cylinder engines can fly on one cold cylinder, most 4 cylinder engines can not. We have dyne proven that a Corvair running on 5 cylinders will still make 78-80% power. Plug fouling is unknown in Corvairs because the ignition system is 40,000 volts and uses a plug gap twice as wide as a magneto system.

Fuel: The Corvair can use either 100LL or automotive fuel. It is not bothered by ethanol in the fuel.When Corvairs were designed, car gas was a lot like 100LL; for the last 35 years every mile driven by Corvair cars was done on unleaded car gas. Many engines like 912s and modern car engines do not have exhaust valves that can withstand the corrosive nature of 100LL. We use stainless and Inconel valves in Corvairs with rotators on the exhausts.

Maintenance: The Covair is low maintenance. The heads never need retorquing. The valves have hydraulic lifters and never need to be reset or adjusted. I dislike the term “maintenance free”, because it implies a “no user serviceable parts inside” disposable appliance mentality, but the Corvair is a solid, robust, machine which holds its adjustments, but our program is aimed at teaching builders to be self-reliant owners.

Goals: If one of your goals is to be the master of your engine and airframe, the Corvair is an excellent choice. There are many engine options for people who just want to buy something. Our efforts are aimed at expanding the personal knowledge and skills of each builder.

Made in the USA: In an era where everything seems imported and companies like Continental have been sold to the Chinese Government, We have kept the “Made in the USA” option for builders who prefer to employ fellow Americans. Virtually every part in the engine, with small exceptions like the distributor cap (made in Mexico), are made by American craftsmen. Because we also sell engines outside the US, we are a Net Exporter, helping correct the trade imbalance.

Corvairs have proven themselves to serve a very broad variety of builders. Many alternative engine options are offered only as a complete import, more of an appliance than a machine, with little or no consideration of the builders, skills goals, needs, budget or time line. The Corvair has options to address these valid considerations, because your power plant should conform to you, not the other way around.

This said, Corvairs are not for everyone.  In the 31 years I have been in the EAA and working with builders, the Corvair has always been very popular with ‘traditional homebuilders’, the people who have come to experimental aviation to discover how much they can learn, understand and master.  The expansion of the EAA has brought more of these builders, but it has also brought a great wave of people, incapable of distinguishing between mastery of an aircraft or an engine and just merely being its buyer and owner.  People who’s consumer mentality and short attention spans are better suited to toy ownership than mastery of skills and tools in aviation. Corvairs, and perhaps experimental aviation, are a poor match for such people. Many salesmen in our field will gladly sell anything to anyone with green money. I am an aviator, not a salesman, and the gravity of the subject requires more frank discussion and ethics than many salesmen bring to the table.

If you came to experimental aviation to find out how much you can master, not how little, then you are among the aviators who follow Lindbergh’s timeless 1927 quote: “Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved.”  Even if you are brand new to aviation, I am glad to work with you. I have a long history of working with builders of all skill levels. We have a number of successful builders out flying who are the masters of both their airframes and engines, who had never changed the oil in a car before building their plane.  If you got into experimental aviation just to buy stuff, then any salesman will do just fine for you. If you got into experimental aviation to learn, develop your own skills and craftsmanship and make things with your own hands, then who you work with really matters. You can’t become and old school homebuilder / motor head by buying things from salesmen. They have nothing to teach you. What you will do in experimental aviation is not limited by what you already know. It is only limited by what you are willing to learn, and selecting experienced people to learn from.  If you are here to learn, I am here to teach. It is that simple.

William Wynne

Junk you should not buy.

Builders,

A recurring problem with some Corvair builders is they try to “save money” by purchasing things for sale on the internet, in hopes that one of these bargains will jump start their project. Countless times I have seen people throw away money on things ranging from the set of pistons pictures below, to entire engines for $9,000. In many cases these parts are advertised as “to William Wynne’s specs” but they almost never are.

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The damage is four fold: First, it is a direct waste of money; second, the buyer is often let down or embarrassed when I inform him that the item are useless, and believe it or not, a lot of them quit over this; Third, many builders who have been taken, refuse to admit it, and try to develop elaborate ‘work arounds’ to allow them to use the parts; Fourth, a depressingly large amount of people actually resell the stuff to other people to get some of their money back, even though I have told them the part or engine is not airworthy. The box below will demonstrate that I am not kidding on this last point.

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Friday is trash day, and I am cleaning out the hangar. Into the can goes a brand new set of forged pistons, which were made incorrectly, but sold any way, by a defunct company called “Magnificent Machine LLC” For a little background read: “Beautiful” Garbage from a bankrupt source. These pistons were made 8 years ago, but the seller was not a mechanic, and had never built engines, so he didn’t notice they had several times the allowable limit of clearance between the pins and the pistons. By the time somebody wanted to use them, Magnificent Machine was already bankrupt and gone. Today, I commit them to the landfill, but tomorrow someone will be ‘bargain’ hunting on the net, and come across a ‘good deal’ on something else, and the process will start all over again.

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Above, the top of the box. Note that it has the names of four different people on it. That’s right, these pistons were resold several different times. Just so no one feels hurt, I am not going to point out who the bad people are here. There is one good guy listed (It isn’t Brady), and he is the last guy; He showed these to me at a College, when I explained they were junk he handed them to me and asked that I throw them out for him. In doing so, he was demonstrating that he has integrity, and the buck would stop with him, he would pay for the lesson, but not resell the junk to another builder. The man has my admiration for that. That is a trait of an actual aviator.

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This is an old story in many forms: Read this: Built by William Wynne? Built according to The Manual? it has more examples of junk people bought in search of a bargain. It is written about engines, but we also see a lot of components like mounts, starters and distributors which are counterfeit junk billed as “WW parts”.

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 Dan Weseman and I have dealt with the issue a number of times this year. People buying engines that were partially built by other people often miss that heads that were “rebuilt” by an “expert” automotive machine shop, are often ruined and can not be used as cores to make a good set of heads from. In some cases, engines that people paid $5K for had less useable parts inside than a good $400 core.  Before buying anything other than a core coming straight from a car, please check with either Dan or myself and send us pictures. There are occasional fair deals, but the majority of stuff is not worth buying. Don’t sabotage your progress.

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The best story I ever wrote on the subject of bargain hunters in experimental aviation, a must read: Homebuilding, Mt. Everest and Sherpas.

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For further reading, get a look at: Engine build mistakes: people who don’t like help. and “Local Expert” convinces builder to use cast pistons.

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-ww.

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Air / Fuel ratios on Corvair carbs.

Builders,

Here are some short notes on the topic of carbs.  It is my hope that builders will read and think about them, consider the logic before jumping up to debate. The Comments are based on 25 years as a working aircraft mechanic and working with Corvairs since 1989. These comments are not based on a single planes experience, but take into account all types of testing, education, and practical experience.

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How Rich is right?  Recently, a builder has told people that correctly running aircraft carbs on Corvairs need to have black sooty tail pipes.  I can flatly state that this is way too rich, and there are a number of very good reasons why you should not fly a carb running that rich.

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As a logical base line for what exhausts should look like, perhaps we can all agree that an Exhaust of Certified plane, running 100LL fuel, with a correctly running engine, with by the book performance, a Certified aircraft carb running without adjustment for more than 20 years. is a standard we should use. This engine has never fouled a plug in 17 years, has never harmed the engine in any way. Notice that the inside of the exhaust pipe has a dusty light gray color, and that new paper towel was vigorously wiped on the inside of the pipe, and only produced that light stain between my thumb and the exhaust pipe. This is the correct color and soot content for any Corvair running an aircraft carb.  I know this from working with countless flying Corvair powered planes over the years.

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Why not black and sooty? A correctly running aircraft carb on an air cooled engine will have an air/fuel ratio of about 12:1 in normal cruise. This will automatically go richer, to some thing like 10.5:1 at wide open throttle, and in low power cruise at altitude, it can be leaned to 14:1 for maximum efficiency.  Any engine that is making black soot in the exhaust and can be seen to visibly smoke at 1,000 rpm is running an air/fuel ratio of 9:1 or so. I know this not just from books, and working on certified planes, but from directly reading a laboratory grade A/F meter while running an EFI Corvair on my dyno in 2007:

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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. With this arrangement, a simple twist of a knob on the computer produced any A/F ratio you wanted to test. This is how I can say what A/F ratio produces visible smoke on a Corvair, and it is part of how I can speak about it’s relationship with power output.

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At any airport with a density altitude less than 3,000 feet, your Corvair should run perfectly smoothly and make good power with the mixture set full rich, just like any Cessna 150 with the same carb will do.  One of the reasons why I use MA3-SPA carbs is so they have the exact same ‘normal’ operation as any certified plane I have flown, and if the carb doesn’t work like it does on a Cessna or a piper, don’t fly it, period.

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A builder with an MA3-SPA carb reciently said his engine only ran correctly with the mixture pulled half way out. He was considering actually doing his first flight in that condition. His home airport elevation is only 516 feet. If I went to his airport, and got in a Cessna 150 and it took pulling the mixture out half way to run correctly, You could only make me fly that plane with a gun to my head. Something is wrong with it, and sane people do not fly planes with things wrong with them. It doesn’t suddenly become “O.K.” because the carb is now on an experimental. Wrong is wrong, time to correct the issue, not to find some condition where it kind of works for the first flight.

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Any guy who would consider flying a plane in that condition, has missed the point of this story: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place. Where Ken Lien was killed on the very first flight of his plane because he didn’t bother to correctly assemble the mixture control on his plane and it moved to idle cut off on its own. If you are in a plane, getting ready for the first flight, and the mixture has to be pulled half way out to run, please explain to me how you know that this isn’t the first sign that the mixture is assembled incorrectly.  You wouldn’t, and there is a significant chance the engine will quit.  People who want to die should step in front of busses, not fly planes that are not set correctly, as using a plane and poor judgment to end ones life only unfairly punishes those of us who practice intelligent flying.

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If the mixture was half way out on the first flight, and the new pilot had to do a go around on the first approach, most pilots would instinctively push the throttle, carb heat and mixture to the firewall.  This works, and it is the correct procedure. However if the pilot is tolerating a plane that must have the mixture half way out, when he does this, the engine will quit, he will overshoot the runway, and smash up the plane on the over run. All the local experts will then say “The Corvair quit, I told him not to use a car engine, he should have used an O-200” Neatly ignoring the fact that it is the same carb as the O-200, and it would have done the exact same thing.  If instead, the same pilot stepped in front of a bus, preferably while holding the hand of the ‘Expert’ who tells everyone not to use car engines, aviation would benefit, and the rest of us would come out ahead. Cold, but you know it is true.

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Engines running black soot are wasting fuel, prone to fowling plugs, can damage the cylinder walls, and will have excessive carbon build up. On the other hand……..wait, there is no upside.

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Anyone who says that an MA3-SPA needs to be jetted differently for different displacement Corvair engines is wrong. Think of how many different engines have run on my test stand, all with the same, untouched in 15 years, MA3-SPA. Note that I have the mixture set full rich on the stand, and it runs cleanly on all engines. And yes, my stand has both EGT and O2 sensors. Beyond this, Dan Weseman and I recently took his 3,000 cc and 3,300 cc Corvairs to one of Florida’s most respected dyno shops and ran them both is a day long session.  What carb did we use? Why the same one off my run stand. It ran perfectly on both motors and the shops very elaborate instrumentation showed that the air/fuel ratio stayed correct through out the power range on both engines, without any kind of adjustment. Aircraft carbs work like that.

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Would you like to know how aircraft carbs are supposed to be operated? Read this story: Cylinder Head Temperature measurement and learn what a Lycoming Operations Manual is.  Down load it, print it, read it and know it. This is what successful people will do.

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Conversely, You could get advice from a guy who is neither an pilot nor an A&P, who has never owned nor flown a plane with a mixture control, teamed up with a guy who has never seen a Corvair turn a prop in person, and another guy who damaged his engine by using a carb no one ever head of so he could save some bucks. Take your pick, but if someone doesn’t like the concept of listening to the professionals and people with experience, again, I am going to suggest that bus thing again, I know it sounds mean spirited, but people willfully doing dumb things shouldn’t even be called ‘accidents’ because they are not really. an accident is someone trying to do the right thing. Willfully choosing not to do the right thing is not an accident.

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This ends the technical part of this story.  No valid technical information follows.

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I am not listening to William Wynne because:

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One: He sounds arrogant, and although I have never met him, and he wrote stories about people he loved: Risk Management reference page in hopes that others could avoid being hurt, I still say he is a jerk because I found two sentences in the 855 stories that are on this site that offended me, and I refuse to learn anything from him since.

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Two: I own a Prius, and he is always mocking people who own Priuses, and I can tell he isn’t kidding, and he feels superior about this, which is stupid because as a Prius owner I alone have a right to feel superior to all other car owners because I know the best way to protest the use of fossil fuels is to buy a car that you can feel superior about.

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Three: When I was in his tent at Oshkosh pontificating about how America has been ruined because no one follows the Ten Commandments anymore, he asked me to name them, and I couldn’t. The year before I said the problem with America was no one followed the Constitution, and he asked me how many articles it had and I said 10, and he said “guess again, you are off by three” , and I guessed 13.  I don’t get the connection that I should read more before being sure I am right.  I never listen to people with long hair, even though William has essentially the haircut as Jesus and everyone at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

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Four: I don’t listen to people who sell things, because they are trying to make money off me. I only listen to people on the net who’s opinion about how to do things can’t get them a job doing it, nor is it apparently worth money to anyone. Those are the people I trust.  Yes, I know that I should trust William because he has a vested interest in my success even if he actually likes me or not, But I would rather trust people I have never met, who write in nicer tones, who I have a simplistic childish belief are motivated to tell me the truth, unstained by their limited experience, personal bias, and ego.

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If anyone read the above for points and didn’t find them funny, you probably have good taste, and I remind you I am a mechanic, not a comedian. I have a small but consistent group of people, most who have never met me, who remain quite sure that I have a “Condescending tone” and a “Giant ego”.  Before anyone is temped to say those things, I ask that they read the two paragraphs below, which appear both on my website and in every manual we print, and please share with me how this isn’t adequately honest and frank:

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“If you have never met me, but read this and think that I am charmed with myself, you got it all wrong. I know countless humans who are better people than I. They are kinder, smarter, and harder working. I can’t sing nor dance, I learn slowly, and I can’t stand to hear my recorded voice nor see my image on film. If I was once handsome, all trace of it is gone along with my uncorrected eyesight. I can be a conversational bore, and I deeply wish I had given my parents more moments to be proud of me. At 50 I look back on my life with a very critical eye and stand on the far side of a very wide gulf from the heroes of my youth. Even our dog, impeccably honest and loyal as canines are, Loves Grace and only tolerates me.

Honest evaluation leads to harsh thoughts like this. I spend a lot of time alone and have long bouts of insomnia, which can lead to thinking about things excessively. But the secret I would like to share with anyone who at times feels the same way, is that I have a sanctuary where I am insulated from much of my self-criticism, and a have a front, where at 50, I am much better on than I thought possible in my youth. When I am building things with my hands in my shop, I rarely feel poor. Although I now need glasses to do any close work, and my hands have lost a lot of dexterity, I am a far better craftsman than I ever was in my youth. I am not a great craftsman, but over a very long time I have worked to develop these elements in my life, and I compete with no one except who I was last year. While all else fades, these things flourish. It is a gift I am most thankful for.”

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ww.

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Cam Washer, looking for a gray area

Builders:

On the surface here, the issue is the fit of the cam gear washer, part number #11o2. I have covered this topic in my writing for 10 years. I have always told builders that this washer must be held tight between the cam and gear.

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In a nutshell, they were always tight, but Clarks, the supplier of our specified cam switched from using US made washers to Chinese ones, and they didn’t catch that Chairman Mao’s fan club forgot to put a critical bevel on it, and if you now tried to clamp it tight, it offset and ruined the cam gear. So they decided that it was OK for the washer to be loose. Working in my shop, I solved the mystery, and showed everyone that putting a small chamfer on the washer, which took 2 minutes in a late solved the issue. Clark’s corrected this, and things went well for years, but they have recently slipped back to using non beveled washers and loose gears. If you want to avoid the issue and have a cam that is 100% made in America you can get it from us: 1100-WW Camshaft Group

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To demonstrate that I have been covering this for years, read these stories, and note that they have pictures and stories in them that were first published on FlyCorvair.com 10 years ago. This isn’t a new issue. If you are building a Corvair, I suggest spending more time reading my website than internet discussion groups. Read: Getting Started in 2013, Part #3, The Camshaft Group (1100) and Jump Start Engines – part #5.

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NOTE: although the pictures show a cam in a press, UNDER NO Circumstances is it acceptable to press a cam gear on cold, or EVER press down the length of the cam. The pictures are showing how the cam is held when the gear is heated and seated under pressure, but it isn’t being pressed cold. If you press the gear cold, and it moves, it IS JUNK, because you wounded it. If you press down the length of the cam, I will assure you that you cracked it (Cams are cast iron, not steel, find a junk one and hit it with a hammer and watch it break in half) Anyone who suggests hitting the gear with a hammer or pressing it cold, is suggesting you to crash your plane.

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The Issue Today:

A builder is Australia read my story after he bought the cam from clarks with a loose gear. The solution is to remove and throw away the gear, chamfer the washer, and put a new gear on. But evidently that sounded expensive, so he went to the internet looking for a second opinion, a gray area, where other people could tell him it was OK to have it loose, or come up with some cheap fix. He wrote the following letter to the “CorvairCraft” group, which I am banded for life from for being intolerant of people who offer advice there, having never built a flying plane before. Here is the letter, and the response he got from Lon Wall, a Corvair car guy who has never flown in a plane in his life, the same guy who sold cast pistons to aircraft builders for years telling them they were better than forged. Read “Local Expert” convinces builder to use cast pistons. Lon’s business is basically over, but he is still around on the net to give advice. Follow it, but make your peace with God first.

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On 2/18/2015 6:30 AM, John Woods via CorvAircraft wrote:

Guys,
I need some practical advice regarding a recent post on WW blog regarding
the washer on the cam shaft.
I have the OT-10 from Clark’s and the washer is not clamped tight in place
as William recommends.
The washer can be rotated but there is very little side movement. I can’t
get a 0.04mm feeler gauge between the washer and the cam gear.
I’ve rotated the cam together with the crank shaft and there is no binding.
Is this acceptable to use?
I’ll email WW also, but wanted the view from his who are flying with a
similar free turning cam washer.

Thanks.

John Woods
Perth, Australia

Reply From Lon Wall:

Hi John – This is an issue that just won’t go away!

Of course the washer must be tight. Put it in a press and press it back tight – Note – if it takes very little pressure to get it tight then you have a loose cam gear and that’s the kiss of death. To those who have said that a loose washer is ok – Then where is the published specs on allowable tolerance (looseness)?

A new cam gear is REALLY cheap insurance for the last part to fall out of the engine and a part that sets timing. Lose the gear and you lose your engine.

Lon Wall

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Note that Lon is saying it is OK to press the cam gear cold, That if it moves this is OK, note how he agrees that it needs to be tight, but his “method” of “Fixing” it is something I would expect from a car guy with a marginally existing business. He has been on CorvairCraft for 15 years offering this kind of advice, and I am pretty sure he has never seen flown in a light plane of any kind. I have covered his problem in many stories like this: MA3-spa carb pictures, Wagabond notes. 

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It’s your life, take your pick on where you get advice on flying Corvairs carefully, If you constantly look for gray areas, rethink that as an approach to flying planes. You will not always get a “Do Over”, and you can be certain that no one who offered unqualified advice on the net will show up to assist you in building another plane or help your family with the cost of your burial.  -ww.

Zenith 601/650 – Corvair reference page

Builders,

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

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

This page is broken into the following sections:

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1) Introduction

2) Engine and build options

3) installation components

4) Support for builders

5) Flying 601/650s

6) Builders in process

7) 601/650 flight data and safety notes

8) who is WW?

9) Comments on dangerous trash.

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

I will be glad to answer further questions just email WilliamTCA@aol.com or call 904-529-0006. You can also check our two websites, 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 601/650 builders.

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

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1) Introduction:

The Corvair has been flying since 1960, and I have been working with them as flight engines since 1989. It is a story of careful development and testing, a slow evolution to the engines we have today. It is ‘old and proven’ rather than ‘new and exciting.’  If that approach appeals to you, read on. There is a lot of material here, and it isn’t something you are going to absorb in one quick scan. Frankly, your engine selection deserves careful consideration, and it isn’t the kind of decision you should make based on a 4 page sales brochure.

Corvairs have proven themselves to serve a very broad variety of builders. Many alternative engine options for the Zenith are offered only as a “buy it in a box” import, more of an appliance than a machine, with little or no consideration of the builders, skills goals, needs, budget or time line. The Corvair has options to address these valid considerations, because your power plant should conform to you, not the other way around.

This said, Corvairs are not for everyone.  In the 25 years I have been in the EAA and working with builders, the Corvair has always been very popular with ‘traditional homebuilders’, the people who have come to experimental aviation to discover how much they can learn, understand and master.  The expansion of the EAA has brought more of these builders, but it has also brought a great number of people incapable of distinguishing between mastery of an aircraft or an engine and just merely being its buyer and owner.  People who’s consumer mentality and short attention spans are better suited to toy ownership than mastery of skills and tools in aviation. Corvairs, and perhaps experimental aviation, are a poor match for such people. Many salesmen in our field will gladly sell anything to anyone with green money. I am an aviator, not a salesman, and the gravity of the subject requires more frank discussion and ethics than many salesmen bring to the table.

If you came to experimental aviation to find out how much you can master, not how little, then you are among the aviators who follow Lindbergh’s timeless 1927 quote: “Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved.”  Even if you are brand new to aviation, I am glad to work with you. I have a long history of working with builders of all skill levels. We have a number of successful builders out flying their Zeniths who are the masters of both their airframes and engines, who had never changed the oil in a car before building their plane.  If you got into experimental aviation just to buy stuff, then any salesman will do just fine for you. If you got into experimental aviation to learn, develop your own skills and craftsmanship and make things with your own hands, then who you work with really matters. You can’t become and old school homebuilder / motor head by buying things from salesmen. They have nothing to teach you. What you will do in experimental aviation is not limited by what you already know. It is only limited by what you are willing to learn, and selecting experienced people to learn from.  If you are here to learn, I am here to teach. It is that simple.

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a) – Complete Lindbergh quote is here: The Quote, 1927, C.A.L.

b) – Explanation of machines vs appliances : Machines vs Appliances Part #2

c) – Story of real engines vs ‘ideal’ ones: Unicorns vs Ponies.

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

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

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

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

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2) Engine and build options:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3) Installation Components for the 601/650:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4) Support for Builders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 Flying Corvair powered Zenith 601/ 650s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6) Examples of Builders working on this Combination:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7) Operational Data for this combination:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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8) Who is William Wynne?

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

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

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

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

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

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

c) In defense of plain speaking……

d) Turtles and Cell Phones, 6/24/13.

e) A thought on Easter….

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

g) Effective Risk Management – 2,903 words

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9) Notes on trash from Bankrupt LLC’s:

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

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

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

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

Great moments in aircraft testing -2003-2004-2008

Builders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dynamometer testing the Corvair and O-200

A page devoted to all kinds of testing:

Testing and Data Collection reference page

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Corvair Oil Change interval….. Lessons part #1

Builders:

Quick Quiz: William gets a little depressed around the holidays because:

1) That is an appropriate reaction to seeing masses people shopping, wandering around like zombies text messaging on I-phones and very few people considering what is really worth living for.

2) His birthday is the last week of the year, and when you’re in your 50’s it’s hard to pretend your 24 years old anymore and not pay for it the next day.

3) His private question “I am supposed to be a great engine teacher, What have I accomplished this year?” Must be reconciled with the actions of builders who made some really foolish mistakes this year.

If you chose any of the answers, you are correct, but if you chose answer #3, you are also getting to a topic that distresses me all year round. In this short series, I am going to cover examples of people who made mistakes with their engines.

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Some basic rules on this: A) Make a mistake, even a dumb one, and I don’t use your name. B) Make the same mistake a second time, and I reserve the right to use your name in the story. C) If you go on the net and complain about the effect of your mistake, but don’t understand that it was your mistake causing this effect, 50% chance the story has your name in it. D) If you make mistakes all the time because you want to argue every paragraph on my website, but also complain that the engine doesn’t run like I said it would, then your name and photo are going in the eventual story.

Why this matters: Two fold, I need people to slow down, read and ask questions. Every time people make mistakes like this, It puts them at unnecessary risk and it gives Corvairs a bad name. Even if the guy doesn’t complain on discussion groups, every person at his home airport sees his issues and says ” That’s because it is a car engine”.  None of those observers look and understand that they were looking at a self-inflicted wound. The observers are the people who always say “We had a guy with a Corvair at our airport, nothing but problems.”

They never stop to think that the same guy would have had issues with any engine he had. Corvairs like to have the oil changes, but so do brand new O-200s. Some times peoples mistakes, their public demonstration of these self made problems and the stupid comments people make about them lead me to wonder “Where do I do to restore the reputation of my 25 years of work with the Corvair?” Unfortunately, the only answer is that reputations are a commodity that are built very slowly over time with a 1,000 good examples which are very easily destroyed by a few careless people. Everyone who takes their own life work seriously has challenges, and this is mine. It has no good nor easy solution, we are left with just stories about lessons learned.

For the serious builder, take heart. for every guy out there messing things up, there are two dozen having no problem at all. The most important thing to understand here is that these mistakes don’t strike builders at random. I am going to spend some time here showing that individual personalities, like being in a rush, not respecting details and thinking you are to smart to listen to me are all the root of these mistakes. They are not random, they have nothing to do with experience nor IQ. They have to do with personality traits that are poor matches to serious work like engine building and flying planes. That is what you need to take away from this.

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2013 saw a long standing record broken in the land of Corvairs. This was done right at Oshkosh, in the row Ken Pavlou reserved for Corvair powered planes, right behind my display booth. I should be really happy about that right? Guess again. The record was Longest time flying on the break in oil that should have been changes at 30 minutes to 1 hour: The new mark, set by a builder who had flown in from the east coast is 86 flight hours on the break in oil. It had never been changed, and was several years old.  This took the previous record away from the person who set it in 2008, flying to a College with 56 hours on his break in oil.

Is this a Corvair issue? No, these guys would have done this to any engine they put in their plane. I have a hard time understanding how a person would spend the time carefully assembling and engine and they go about poisoning it. Both of the guys are smart enough to get paid a very good living, but they are both from the “Office building” world, and have little exposure to mechanical things that need some level of care. Both have busy lives and may not have focused attention on their operation. Although neither engine broke because of it, I am sure that the life spans of these engine was shortened by 50% or more.

Two years from now when they are overhauling their engines, and people at their local airport walk past and say to each other “Didn’t he just build that? I guess car engines don’t last.” These builders will not do me nor the Corvair the justice of hanging a sign outside their hangar which says ” Self inflicted wound. I tried to extend the recommended initial oil change interval by a factor of 100.” It is worth noting that neither of these builders thought they were doing anything wrong. It came up in conversation, so I don’t actually know how long they were going to go, it could have been 100 or even 200 hours. I try to be an optimist, but right now, I am sure we have a builder somewhere, who will not read this, who will try to break the 86 hour record.

Should Mr. “86 Hours” have known better?: Yes, I published this story: Notes on Corvair flight engine oils. about a month and a half before he left for Oshkosh. It specifies 25 hour intervals. Also, the plane was more than a year old, and should have had a yearly condition inspection by federal law. If the oil wasn’t changed, the inspection was bull shit. The A&P who did it needs his license jerked. If the builder did it himself, he needs his repairman’s certificate rescinded, and if he didn’t bother to get a Repairman’s cert for his plane or have an A&P look at it, the plane flew to Oshkosh illegally.

The Corvair is a very tough motor, and I changed the oil myself at Oshkosh at night. I cut the filter open and there was almost no metal at all to be found. I expected damage, but I was just guessing, because in all the testing I have done in 25 years, none of it included seeing how long I can run break in oil in an engine without making metal.

OK, what about Mr. “56 Hours?”: He should have known better also. lots of people claim that information was not easy to find on our webpages. OK, I took me 60 seconds to go to Flycorvair.com, go to the bottom of the page and type “Oil Change hours” into the search box and it spit out the 2007 story I have reprinted below. I am sorry if that was too hard.

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From Flycorvair.com 2007:Above, Fred Roser’s engine on the dyno. The photo is a reminder that we prime, test run and operate Corvairs on  Shell Rotella T 15W40 oil. Although everybody has a favorite oil that’s served them well on projects years ago, several  industry experts have told me that the formulation of many favorite oils has been changed for environmental reasons, often  compromising break in qualities by eliminating metallic based additives. Since we test engines on Rotella all the time,  builders can be confident that the current formulation of this oil works well in our favorite engine. We change the  oil and filter at 1 hour, 5 hours, 10 hours and 25. As KRVair Builder/Pilot Steve Makish pointed out, he’s yet to see an engine hurt by  having the oil changed too often.”

Corvair CHT, letters and notes.

Builders:

We picked up several letters from friends on this topic. Let me share some of them and offer a follow up on the story.

Zenith 601XL builder and flyer Ron Lendon wrote:

“And after all that reading I’ll be dipped if I can find your recommendations for the temperature range your followers should be shooting for.  Try putting those details in too, OK?”

Ron, for a guy who made his own cowl and experimented with carbs, I would have guessed that you would have liked reading the information. The topic was the measurement location and test tools, not so much the values. For people with busy schedules and short attention spans, The numbers:

GM Factory limit, measured on bottom of head: = 575F

Highest temp I have personally seen in a Car, measured on bottom, without engine damage = 575F

Highest sustained temp I have personal seen on a CHT in a plane without any damage to the engine = 480F, measured on bottom of engine

Highest temp on bottom of engine  that builders should consider tolerable before stopping to rework cooling system = 420F

A reasonable goal temp in a hard climb that will still have a very wide margin of safety = 380F, measured on bottom of engine, easily achievable with our existing cowls and cooling designs, even in large planes.

Highest Temp that Dan Weseman saw on bottom of engine in full air combat maneuvers in 3100cc “Wicked Cleanex” = 375F

Typical Max climb/ 5 gal/hr cruise temp numbers in well prepped Zenith 601on 80F day = 375F/320F

My target goal, measured on bottom of engine, for gross weight Vx climb in 3000cc Wagabond, 100F day, 5″ inlets, 60mph, 1,600 lbs = 350F.

Lowest cruise temp recorded for a plane with a full cowl, measured on bottom of engine, Chris Smith 3100cc “Son of Cleanex” = well below 300F.

Lowest cruise temp recorded for a plane with a J-3 cowl, Jim Weseman, 3100cc Celibrity biplane = 250F

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Above, Phil Maxon’s 601XL, finished in our hangar in 2006, flies over the Atlantic Ocean near Ponce Inlet FL. This aircraft was one of the first 4 Corvair powered Zeniths, yet is has never had any cooling issues. Corvair Cooling, especially on airframes like Zenith XL’s is not a mystery. Anyone who chose to follow our directions and used our designs did not have to be a pioneer. If you want your plane to work, just make it a clone of successful aircraft.

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For readers with a little more time, get a look at the following links to stories I have written. I found them all simply by searching “Cowling” , “Cooling”, and “CHT” in the search block at the top right side of this page. If you are only going to read one story for right now, make it the last one, because it highlights the difference between measuring the CHT under the plugs and below the engine:

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

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Corvair Cooling, Three 2007 examples from our hangar.

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Corvair Cooling, something of a human issue…..

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Corvair Cooling

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

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Measuring Cylinder Head Temps on Corvairs.

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Right here and now I am going to make a very important point: I could put an engine on the run stand, hook up two of the finest CHTs, fuel the engine with pure ethanol free 94 octane gas, have it be ice cold and get ready to start it.  Then I could reset the timing from 30 degrees total to 44 degrees, (a number that people without timing lights often think “sounds good”) Start the engine, and take it to 2,700rpm.

It would take more than 3 minutes for the CHT to exceed 400F on the gauge. Long before this, the detonation would begin, and within 30 seconds of it really knocking, (which would be hard to hear over the prop,) the engine would blow out at least one head gasket, and crush down the ring lands on several pistons.

I could then honestly report “The engine had never exceeded 400F.” I could give many examples like this, and then we could have a lot of internet people offer opinions about the cooling system design we use, and some car guy is going to offer the “expert opinion” that the cowl needs 6″ inlets.  If you want to learn something in aviation, the discussion is going to have to be held at a higher level than that.

CHT is not something that can be discussed as an issues divorced from other operational parameters. I have seen people waste incredible amounts of time trying to solve a “cooling problem” who have not bothered to check any of the basics.

I have been doing this for a long time, and I still have no idea why some people get to the point of having 5 years of work and $30,000 in their aircraft project, but they refuse to drive down to their local auto parts store and buy a $39 timing light.

About a year ago, a guy contacted me who bought an engine I had built for someone else in 2005. He had it ground running on his plane. When I asked him what the timing was set at, he said he had no idea, he just assumed, without a single word to confirm this, that I had set the timing before mailing it to the original owner six or seven years earlier.

I explained that this was a very poor assumption, that even if I had, there is no telling that it wasn’t changed by the first owner, or bumped as it went in or out of the two airframes and was shipped around the country. I pointed out that if I said I unloaded a firearm before selling it to someone else 7 years ago, I would hope that no one would never say to me “I can point it at people today because you unloaded it half a decade and three owners ago.”

About a month ago I heard from the same guy, The engine still was not running evenly on both ignitions but he still had not checked it with a light. If someone presented me an engine that had a years ground running on it, but had never had the timing checked, I am going to flat out say that I would not fly it without tearing it down. Why? because you can check things the easy way with a timing light right away, or you can check things later the hard way with wrenches. Or of course there is the third option, which is just say “I am sure it didn’t hurt anything, It will be alright”

‘Sprint’ builder Joe Goldman wrote:

“William I as am not building my engine I would feel comfortable with 6 cht’ too know what is going on with each cylinder. Does the stock location average temps or would it indicate a particular cylinder over heating. You would not know which one, then how do you locate the trouble.”

Joe, we are friends and you know I think you are great, but lets get a little more thoughtful on this one. First, why are you not building your engine? If the goal of asking me a question is to learn something, then let me offer that building your own engine is the best way to learn many things. Honestly, what are 6 chts going to tell you that 2 are not? Lets say that flying along at 5,000′ and the CHT reads very hot. What are you going to do? Land, that’s what. If your right side CHT indicates an excessive number, please explain to me what knowing if it was #1 #3 or #5 is going to do for you at 5,000′. I have said it many times and many ways, but please know this well; You detect issues in the air, you land. Diagnosis is always done on the ground. The only guy who argues against this is the one who is going to rationalize some reason to keep flying. Each CHT sender cost more tan a Raytech thermometer. If the plane isn’t running right, land and use tools on the ground to look into the problem.

Besides, if you build and equip your engine correctly, you are not going to be flying around looking at issues in the air. Stop for a minute and honestly tell me what is going to happen to an engine, in flight which is going to make an individual cylinder suddenly go up in temp? If you were looking to tell which individual cylinder was causing an issue if your engine started running rough, you are a poor decision maker, and you need a better flight instructor. Any skilled pilot will tell you that the first thing you look for when your aircraft runs rough is the nearest airport. -ww

Thrust testing 85 and 100 hp engines

Builders,

Here is another set of testing from the days at our Edgewater hangar.  Thrust testing is a very common number to quote, but it is also the most commonly faked or deceptive piece of data people quote.  It is very easy to set a ground adjustable prop so low on pitch that it produces fantastically high thrust numbers, but the plane would be required to have a 40mph cruise speed to use them. (airboats operate in this range)

For data to be useful for more than inpressive sounding number in a brochure or website, it must have two elements. First, the prop pitch must be realistic to the type of flying you will be doing. Second, you have to use the same equipment on the same day to test known engine prop combinations like the O-200 C-150 for comparison.

All of this can take time and be a real bother comparied to just making up a number that sounds good.  After years of this type of testing, a am going to guess that 75% of the numbers people quote on this topic are simply made up. Just stop and think about how many times the numbers you have seen came without any kind of photo of the test being conducted. I have found that people wo like to talk about planes they will build one day most often cite numbers known to be fake. On the other hand, buiolders who are working on the plane they will finish and fly  follow data like this story.

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Thrust Testing;

Zenair 601, Cessna 120, Cessna 150, Hudson Corvair, Shop Corvair, Corvair Turbo

Friends,

Over the years we’ve done a lot of thrust testing in order to compare the output of engines, the thrust of different propellers, and the effects of systems installations. The method used to measure thrust is a hydraulic cylinder attached to a remote gauge. It is easy to calibrate because you can hang a known weight from it. In our case, the thrust is 1.54 x the number shown on the gauge. This is because the piston in the hydraulic cylinder has more than 1 square inch of area.

A few days ago, we tested a lot of different combinations at the hangar for comparative purposes. All tests that we’ve done recently are conducted on 100ll fuel. All of the Corvairs were tested with 32 degrees total ignition advance. The only exception to the ignition was the turbo engine, which was set at 22 degrees total. A $300 digital, optical tachometer was used to measure rpm. Weather conditions are measured on the spot with digital instruments. Here you’ll see tests of certified engine and propeller combinations also. Over the years I’ve been working with alternative engines, I’ve noted that many people who are fans of alternative engines know very little about certified engines. Being an A&P mechanic, I have the greatest respect for certified powerplants. I like everything about them except for the expense of obtaining and operating them. All my work with the Corvair motor is patterned after the success of certified engines. I use their performance as a baseline, and their level of reliability as a goal. Anyone who tells you that alternative engines have superior reliability, or fantastically better performance than certified powerplants is either not telling the truth or has no practical experience with them. In our case, we own, maintain and fly certified powerplants in addition to our work with Corvairs. This gives me a greater range of experience and a more balanced view of the capabilities of alternative powerplants, specifically the Corvair. The next time you hear somebody comparing alternative to certified powerplants, either pro or con, ask them if they’ve owned and operated both and you’ll find that very, very few people have personal experience in both fields.

The Zenvair 601

Above is our 601’s engine measured as installed in the aircraft. The only thing different about this engine is that it has roller rockers and our modified cylinder head intake pipes. I doubt either one of these mods would have a substantial effect on the output of the engine. The prop pitch setting of 11.5 degrees at the tips would be an appropriate setting for a direct drive Corvair motor to move the 601 at 140-150mph. If the prop was set flatter for a slower speed airplane, or used a slightly larger diameter prop, the thrust numbers would be even higher.

Engine: Corvair

Displacement: 164cid, .060 over

Carburetion: MA3-SPA

Exhaust: Collected, open

Cowling: WW 601 Corvair Cowling, 13″ spinner

Propeller: Warp Drive 2-blade HP hub and blades, stock tips, 66″ diameter, 11.5 degrees pitch measured at tips

Temperature: 85F

Humidity: 35%

Pressure: 30.11

Density Altitude: -174

Wind: 4-9mph headwind

Performance

Thrust: 347 pounds static

RPM: 2550

MAP: 29″

1946 Cessna 120

In the photo above is Gus Warren’s 120 that he rebuilt from a basket case to 1998 Oshkosh Champion. It lives in our hangar. The engine has about 100 hours on a first class overhaul. It has flow matched Superior cylinders.

Engine: C-85-12 Continental (85hp, redline 2575rpm)

Displacement: 188cid

Carburetion: Stromberg NAS-3, 1 3/8″ Venturi

Exhaust: Stock 120

Cowling: Stock 120

Propeller: McCauley 71×46 Met-L, aluminum (This is a climb prop for a 120)

Temperature: 85F

Humidity: 35%

Pressure: 30.11

Density Altitude: -174

Wind: 4-9mph headwind

Performance

Thrust: 340 pounds

RPM: 2350

MAP: 29″

Larry and Cody Hudson’s Corvair Engine

This father/son team from Indiana built their own engine, in the photo above, from our Conversion Manual and components last year. They dropped it off at our shop before Sun ‘N Fun for a break in on our test stand. The prop installed is appropriate for a 180mph airframe. This is why it has low static thrust numbers. It is good for comparative purposes, and is the same prop used on some of the 2002 tests. This engine is not fully broken in, as it has less than two hours of test stand time on it.

Engine: Corvair

Displacement: 164cid, .030 over

Carburetion: MA3-SPA

Exhaust: Cast iron manifolds, automotive muffler

Cowling: None, cooling baffle only

Propeller: Sterba 62×58

Temperature: 82F

Humidity: 51%

Pressure: 30.05

Density Altitude: -122

Wind: 5-7mph headwind

Performance

Thrust: 225 pounds

RPM: 2445

MAP: 29″

Cessna 150

Pictured above is our neighbor Arnold’s 1959 Cessna 150. The engine in this aircraft is one that is the subject of the AD that requires the timing to be reduced to 24 degrees. The engine is a mid-time engine that just came out of a 100-hour inspection. It can be considered to be in good working order. Contrary to what most people think, O-200s in 150s are only certified to use propellers up to 69″ diameter. No 150 left the factory with a propeller diameter of 72″.

Engine: Continental O-200, 100hp, 2750rpm redline

Displacement: 200cid

Carburetion: MA3-SPA

Exhaust: Stock 150

Cowling: Stock 150

Propeller: McCauley Clip Tip 68″ diameter, aluminum, standard pitch

Temperature: 82F

Humidity: 51%

Pressure: 30.05

Density Altitude: -122

Wind: 5-7mph headwind

Performance

Thrust: 335 pounds

RPM: 2332

MAP: 29″

Shop Test Engine

We built up a test engine, below, from parts in our shop. We built it up to use in potentially destructive ground testing. Since it’s made of used parts, it is not only dirty, but also fully broken in and has very low internal drag. I believe this is why it will turn slightly higher numbers than the Hudson engine. We utilized the same distributor, intake, carb and exhaust on this engine and the Hudson engine. The only difference would be the status of the internal assemblies.

Engine: Corvair

Displacement: 164cid, standard bore

Carburetion: MA3-SPA

Exhaust: Cast iron manifolds, automotive muffler

Cowling: None, cooling baffle only

Propeller: Sterba 62×58

Temperature: 75F

Humidity: 71%

Pressure: 30.06

Density Altitude: -133

Wind: 2-3mph headwind

Performance

Thrust: 231

RPM: 2520

MAP: 29″

Turbo Test Engine

The engine above is the same as the test engine, with the addition of a new Garrett turbocharger, which we had specifically sized and set up for a drawthrough condition. I wanted to test this on a junk motor with a mild steel exhaust to evaluate the sizing of the turbo, and to ensure that it produced boost in the rpm range we wanted. Turns out that the sizing and the trim of the turbo are nearly dead on. We’re going to run a lot more ground tests, and then develop our flight installation package. Based on early tests, we should have absolutely no problem getting 100hp at 10,000 feet on a 164cid engine. While the installation looks very Mad Max, it gave us the data we needed. Keep in mind that everything on this installation was less than optimal, and it has already met my expectations. Despite being told by armchair experts of the antiquated nature of drawthrough installations, and the requirement for an intercooler, this simple installation of a modern, efficient turbocharger worked exceptionally well. At full output, you could reach up and put your hand on the steel intake manifold, and it was not too hot to touch. While it would be hotter at altitude, I think the installation’s off to a great running start. A little practical testing has once again shown that you can learn a lot more by testing rather than talking.

Engine: Corvair

Displacement: 164cid, standard bore

Carburetion: MA3-SPA

Exhaust: Cast iron manifolds to Garrett T04B turbo, 2.5″ outlet pipe 18″ long

Cowling: None, cooling baffle only

Propeller: Sterba 62×58

Temperature: 74F

Humidity: 62%

Pressure: 29.92

Density Altitude: -1

Wind: 3-4mph tailwind

Performance

Thrust: 331 pounds

RPM: 2950 (there was more power available, but I did not want to boost the motor past 45″ without working EGT in place)

MAP: 45″

Conclusions

We have more testing lined up on the turbo engine, and we’re going to maintain a separate Turbo Testing Page on http://www.FlyCorvair.com for it. We have a 72″ Warp Drive propeller we’ll be installing for a maximum thrust test, which will give fans of 80-120mph aircraft a better idea of the potential of the powerplant in their speed range. Please keep in mind when you read these statistics and look at the pictures that all the data is factual. I frequently read stories where people claim to have VWs which produce 500 pounds of thrust and Subarus which produce even more. We professionals in experimental aviation get a good chuckle out of inflated numbers from advertising brochures and press releases. But, people new to sport aviation should know that you can come down to my hangar any time and I’ll gladly duplicate these tests.

Thank you.

William Wynne

Corvair Oil System, information on oil pressure gauges.

Builders,

A friend of ours who is building a Zenith 750 wrote in with a quick note asking about oil pressure gauges and senders. I pulled together this general set of notes on oil pressure measurement and instruments as a good resource on the general subject. Over the years Corvairs have flown with just about every kind of oil pressure instrumentation imaginable. Going back to my point of Principle vs Preference. On this subject, it mostly falls in the category of preference.

The Builders specific question was focused on sending units for electrical gauges, and their reliability. If I had to pick one brand over another, I will say that I have never had an issue with the senders that are used in Autometer gauges. VDO is usually trouble free, but I have personally had one mess up, and it caused a lot of work with it’s erroneous information. Goes without saying, I wouldn’t use one from the land of Chairman Mao.

Some people are concerned about mechanical gauges bringing oil into the cockpit, but in actual experience, I have never had an issue with it. The line itself is 1/8″ on the outside, but only 1/16″ on the inside, and I generally put a #80 hole in a restrictor, at the engine, so even if the line came off, the flow rate is about 1/2 gallon per hour. For the record, I have never seen even the poorest mechanical line installations leak. You can take the nut off at the gauge with the motor running, and it does not “spray” oil, it just oozes, and even when the engine is hot, the oil really isn’t after six feet of line.

Below is the close up of the mechanical oil pressure gauge I have in the Wagabond. In addition to all the other things I like about mechanical gauges, I like the fact the needle covers a 300 degree arc, allowing you to see very fine changes. The gauge below is $54.97 from summit racing.

Auto Meter 5721 - Auto Meter Phantom Analog Gauges

Now get a look at the next part, which is an analog electrical gauge. My primary complaint beyond the fact it is electrical is that this type of gauge is only a 90 degree sweep, making small differences had to see. They also cost about twice as much as mechanical after you get the sending unit. It is priced at $69.97, but the sender is about $40.  I buy Autometer because of the tiny letters at the bottom of the instrument that say “made in USA”

Auto Meter 5727 - Auto Meter Phantom Analog Gauges

 

For Builders interested in digital instrumentation, Google the name “Dakota Digital”. Below is one of their instruments, but the come in many different varieties, all made in the USA. They have a website you can buy direct from, it has many choices. Just a reminder, never mention to anyone on the phone while ordering from a non aviation company that you are building a plane.  Summit will actually black list you. The people answering the phone have $9/hr. jobs, so don’t jeopardize anyone’s just scraping by living by saying that on the phone, and having them get in hot water for not turning you in. It is an annoying fact of a litigious society, but you are not going to fix it by getting a single mother just above the poverty line fired.

If you would like to read a two part story about the simple panel I built for the Wagabond, get a look at these two following links:

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Inexpensive Panel……..part one.

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Inexpensive panel…….part two.

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If you would like to read a story about Andy Elliott PhD arguing with ww the A&P about instrument choices, look at this one:

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

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The story below has comments on oil pressure errors in electronic instrumentation. That part is 2/3rds of the way down at the picture of the Corvair/701.

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MGL vs Corvair ignition issue

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As you are looking at parts of the oil system, I have reprinted the numbering system of the parts in the oil system for reference here:

Rear oil case group (2000)

2001- Rear oil case casting

2002- Rear oil seal

2003- 5/16 hold down hardware

2004- 3/8 hold down hardware

2005- Case to block gasket

2006- Harmonic balancer

2007- Balancer bolt and washer

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Oil pump and regulator group (2100)

2101- Oil pump assembly

2102- Oil pump gaskets

2103- Oil pressure regulator piston

2104- Oil pressure regulator spring

2105- Oil pressure regulator plug

2106- Plug washer

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Below is a good article of flight ops with comments on oil pressure indications:

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

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Below is a short guide on what oil to use:

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Notes on Corvair flight engine oils.

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Below is a visual reference to where we take the oil pressure on the Corvair engine:

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Gold Oil Filter Housing, Standard and Reverse

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Below has notes on how the pressure bypass works:

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High Volume Oil Pump

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Have a pleasant and productive evening.-ww

:)