A Zenith Cruiser Engine is Born

Builders; 

Pictured below is the first start of a brand new, no expense spared, 3.0L Corvair engine destined to power a Zenith Cruiser in Texas. 

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.Here is the video: https://youtu.be/0Q_PvskZdLI

Above, Greg Crouchley, the engine builder, in my front yard at the airport this morning. He is in the white shirt. Next to him is Ken Pavlou, 800 hour Corvair/Zenith 601XL pilot. Greg and Ken are old friends, if you have been around my Oshkosh tent after hours, you have likely seen their version of tough love friendship, which involves Italian vs Greek pride jokes, immodest drinking and great story telling. Corvairs are not new to Greg, eight years ago he built a 3.0L engine for his Waiex.  Today he is a Zenith guy, in the home stretch of his Cruiser.  He has built a number of planes, previous ones were powered with  Jaibaru and Continental engines.  He can tell you the merits of each, but for the last decade, he has been a Corvair guy.

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The new engine came to life in 2 seconds of cranking. It put down a perfect break in run, and after just 30 minutes on my run stand, the cam was broken in, and it had excellent compression on all cylinders. He had one tiny oil leak, that turned out to be an oil fitting that needed another 1/2 turn.  The engine is a clone of his Waiex engine, a first class power plant built around an SPA billet crank.  Nearly every single part in this engine, including the crank, is the product of American craftsmen.  This is not an imported engine. Every person should be proud of the work of the skilled craftsmen of his homeland, and the Americans who buy products from me can be assured they are supporting good manufacturing jobs here. 

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We will have a video on the break in run shortly. 

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William

 

Corvair Motor Mounts available

Builders;

Two days of savage Tig welding by guest welder Bryce Gilbert and myself, and we have six more motor mounts going into the available inventory. 

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Above, it may be hard to visualize, but in this 36″ x 10″ x 10″ cardboard box are seven Corvair motor mounts. They are precision CNC machined in Canada to my design by the industry leading tubing firm VR-3. I am one on Don Vanraay’s older aviation customers. His skills and quality are unmatched. All the tubing here is made in the USA. 

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Above, after two long days, six mounts on their way to powder coating on Monday morning.  In the picture are two Zenith 601/650 mounts, two Zenith 750/Cruiser mounts, and two Pietenpol high thrust line mounts. In a week they will be back and ready to be boxed and shipped to builders. 

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On Monday afternoon, Im going to call up Don and order another box of tubing, and increase the depth of inventory even further. 

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William.

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AGM Battery Charger – a missing tool.

Builders, 

The majority of experimental aircraft use Absorbed Glass Mat, (AGM) batteries, the most common brand for the last 20 years has been the Odyssey, recognizable by it’s orange top.  For as common as these are, the majority of people using them miss the important detail that they should never be trickle charged, and the have vastly better performance and lifespan if you use an AGM specific charger. 

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Pictured above is a BatteryMINDer 128CEC1. This is a good choice for an Odyssey battery. This particular one keeps the Odyssey 680 battery in Phil Maxson’s 601XL topped off at my place.  They are not cheap, but they are the correct tool for the job. 

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The moment I share this, someone will comment that it isn’t required, that they have never used one, etc. That is their opinion. In experimental aviation, you will face 100’s of occasions where the path boils down to “Do I follow the specific recommendation of the engineers who designed the part, or do I follow the advice of a guy on the net who I have never met in person, who is telling me I can save some money?”  I have worked in Experimental aviation for three decades, and I can tell you where each of these paths lead in the long term. Even if this is your first month in homebuilding, you can probably guess the destinations of each mindset. 

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Full Disclosure: I don’t sell batteries nor charges, I have no sponsorships nor hidden dealerships, I have no friends who do these things either. My website shows that I’m obviously a dealer for some aviation products like Rotec carbs and Warp Drive props, but unlike many people offering ‘friendly advice’,  I pay regular price for all the stuff I comment about.  My comments here are solely based on using AGM batteries for 25 years……..Oh and reading the instructions written by the engineers that made them. 

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William Wynne

“WW FlyCorvair” Face Book Group

Builders, 

If you are looking for a lot of builder generated discussion, pictures and some video, updated every day on our breed of Corvairs, there is a lot of this happening on my FaceBook group, “WW FlyCorvair”. 

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OK, I dislike the very premise of Facebook also, and I recognize that J. Edgar Hoover never in his wildest authoritarian dreams imagined people participating in such a data collecting project, and let me add that I grew up with Neil Armstrong as a national hero, and I feel sorry for people who think of Mark Zuckerburg in the same way.  This said, our Corvair page there does see a lot of activity from 700 members, and there is useful inspiration to be found there. It is much more conducive to builders sharing their own content there, which is the biggest argument for tolerating FB for our greater purpose. I’m pretty sure you do not need a FB account to see and read the page, you can use this direct link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1117842541937300/

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Above is a screen shot of the page. Between all the Corvair car and alternative applications for the engine, there are more than 50 Face book Pages on Corvairs. If you are unfamiliar with FB, spend a moment making sure you have arrived at the correct page, the cover looks just like the picture above. 

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I write to, and monitor the FB page to make sure it is civil, stays on track, and stays unpolitical.  It is a useful tool. However, if that isn’t for you, don’t be concerned, Im back writing here on an everyday basis, and we will be cranking out many more videos shortly on our YouTube channel. 

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Thank You, 

William 

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Call between the hours of Larry and Larry

Builders,

When builders call outside the 9-5,  M-F time window, many of them will say some variation on “hope I’m not bothering you after hours”. One of the ways I assure them its no bother at all

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Quite frequently the first call of the day is Larry Wade, who is building a 3,000cc Corvair powered Q-200.  He likes getting the day started early, and a lot of his calls come in at 7-7:30am. This is not an issue, I’m almost always ready for a second cup of coffee by then. Larry is doing detail work on his engine installation, and calling early means I can always get the part he needs in the mail the same day.  It isn’t all about parts, Larry is a 7,000hr pilot from a family of Southern crop dusters and he has first hand experience with rare planes like N3-N’s. A few moments of that stuff is a good way to start any working day.

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On the other end of the working day, invariably, the last call of the day comes from Larry Nelson, 601HDS 2,700cc Corvair pilot in Yuma AZ.  We are tight friends, and Larry is our oil analysis guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybTF6ntVpV0&t=28s. Larry is three hours behind me, and if I post something on the new at 12pm or 1am , its only 9-10pm Yuma time, and Larry will frequently call for a few minutes to catch up. The subject and be a builders oil test, or a video Larry is working on, or some part he might need. Its a good way to end the work day.

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Above, Larry Nelson stands beside his 601HDS. Larry was the first pilot to fly my new STOL nose bowl (pictured) in 2019. 

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In summary, you will have to get up very early, or stay up very late, to expand the daily calling window beyond what the two Larry’s already have covered.  Have no concern about sending a text or calling anytime between the hours of Larry and Larry. During the day, I can get pretty busy, and I don’t talk on the phone while driving, but I can usual return all calls in an hour or two. If you have a longer series of questions, try calling after dinner in the evenings, it gives more time to cover plans or ideas in depth. Call me old, but I would much rather speak with any builder on the phone than try to cover questions by email, but if it suits you better, we can do email also.

Thanks

William

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Corvair College #48 getting full

Builders,

Corvair College #48, in November at Barnwell SC, sounds far away, but we are just 114 days from it. We opened the registration 30 days ago with the link in this story: Corvair College 48 Barnwell, SC

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If you are thinking about going, it is time to act. As of this morning 65 of the 90 available seats are already taken. Part of the reason why I had a record sales month in June was many of the 65 builders buying parts well in advance of the College, getting a plan of action together to build their engine at Corvair College #48

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This will be the tenth Corvair College at Barnwell. P.F. Beck was the leader of the Barnwell crew, and out of respect for his passing in 2019, we did not have a Barnwell College last year. This year, Don Harper, P.F.’s compadre and fellow Barnwell aviator, made the command decision that we would hold one more College.

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In previous years, we didn’t always have a full house, and when I asked individual builders why they had not yet signed up, I frequently got some variation on “I’ll go next year” , as the long running series of colleges at Barnwell had made some builders think they were some sort of guaranteed part of homebuilding. I have never counseled anyone to put off homebuilding, and I always reminded builders that Barnwell might not always be there….and last year it came to pass.  This year may be the start of a new grand run, or it might just be a great event, a tribute to P.F.’s contributions to homebuilding, and a rounding out to an even 10. If it has been something on your bucket list, do not blow off this chance. 

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Above, Ken Pavlou poses at Barnwell Corvair College #31, with his plane and The Cherry Grove Trophy, He will be one of many Corvair Builders flying his plane into Barnwell College #48.  This plane now has 800 hours on it. 

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William

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Outstanding Month for Corvairs

Builders, 

This is my return to daily blogging after a very busy month. On June 1st, we launched the new website and returned to my long standing model of direct distribution of my manuals, parts and engines.  If you missed the news, you can find out about it here: Return to direct Support and Distribution.

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On one hand, I expected it to be a fairly strong month of sales, because it coincided with the opening of our first Barnwell Corvair College in 2 years: Corvair College 48 Barnwell, SC. On the other hand Oshkosh was cancelled, we have a global heath crisis , the economy has taken a real hit, and it’s an election year, which has billions of advertising dollars spent to convince you the world is going to end shortly unless you blindly vote for their candidate.  Frankly, even after excessive coffee consumption, which usually brings on unbridled enthusiasm, I was a bit worried that I had selected the wrong month, and perhaps the wrong year, to make a major shift in business gears.

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Turns out, I had nothing to be concerned about. June was the strongest individual month of sales in five years.  So far, July is tracking right along with it.  Turns out, that being directly connected to individual builders, the traditional way I operated,  is a really good system. I remain very grateful to SPA for providing an excellent and businesslike distribution of my parts in the last 4 years, it was timely to the events in my life. Moving forward, as a single person with no kids or other obligations, I can field builders calls and texts from 8am to 12pm seven days a week, and make more than one trip to the post office and/or UPS each day to get stuff out the door six days a week.

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In preparation for June 1st, I invested another $40,000 in inventory to make sure I will nearly always have every part on hand. If it isn’t ready or nearly ready to ship, the new web store will tell you the item is back ordered and it will not take your money. The rate I have been making and shipping orders has made it difficult to work out the last kinks in the inventory chain on a few items, but overall the stockpiles of parts has kept availability outstanding.  If you have a question on any part, call or text me directly, 904-806-8143.

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Don’t worry about success ruining my hard core homebuilding ways.  I still drive my 34 year old truck and still have my ‘Wardrobe of the homeless’ clothing style. I’m using the benefits of the sales to builders to fund more inventory, some really cool R&D that we will have on video soon, and to purchase some serious old school shop equipment……..oh yeah, I also bought a lot of coffee, because evidently I’m going to need it. 

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Above, My compadre Vern Stevenson, old school craftsman and builder, brought his latest creation by. It is a single seat, 300 pound street legal trike, powered by a 250cc motorcycle engine. It has a steel tube fuselage inside a sheet metal body. All aircraft construction techniques.  I drove it, as much fun as you would expect. The goal is 100 mpg at 60 mph.  All part of the old school home building skills and positive attitude I include in every bit of my aviation work. 

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Thank You,

William

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Corvair College 48 Barnwell, SC

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This coming Corvair College in Barnwell, SC on November 6-8, 2020 will be my 48th College. We have now been holding these events for 20 years, all over America. This is an unmatched record of hands on training and education, all in a friendly, fun setting. The Colleges have been an integral part of my work with Corvairs, and #48 will be an excellent opportunity for you to be part of a real grassroots aviation event that will directly advance your personal goals in homebuilding.

College #48 will be at the Barnwell SC airport, November 6-8th. Advanced registration is required to attend.  I welcome all homebuilders, but it is a private event.  We are limited to just under 100 people, the food is catered in advance, and we do have written safety briefings in advance. These three factors preclude having people ‘walk in’ or stop by. If you would like to go, register early and make plans. 

Barnwell has been the setting for 9 previous Corvair Colleges. These have been our ‘Flagship’ events, The EAA has even sent a professional film crew to capture the accomplishment and spirit of Barnwell Colleges. All of these were made possible by the leadership of one great man, P.F. Beck. He was the embodiment of being an aviator, and his generosity of spirit, enthusiasm, and southern hospitality.  He passed in 2019, and we did not have a Barnwell event in 2019 to allow his friends and family to address our loss quietly. We are going back for College #48 in November because it was the expressed wish of P.F. that the Colleges continue after he departed. The evening dinner program on Saturday will be a remembrance and expression of gratitude for the fortune of knowing P.F.

Builders who did not meet him will hear in person from the people who’s lives he moved. 
If you have not previously registered for nor attended a Corvair College, take the time to read some of the stories of them on my blog. The “Corvair College Reference Page” is a good place to start, or watching the EAA’s film of Barnwell.  This will give a better idea of the unique nature of Colleges. If you still have questions, please call me, 904-806-8143. 

Barnwell Colleges are set at a large, but quiet county airport. We have camping directly adjacent to the hangar, and more than half to the builders take advantage of it. There is plenty of space for campers and RV’s but we don’t have hook ups. The airport is easy to fly into, and we have a number of Corvair powered planes planning on attending, including the public debut of the JAG-2 twin, a one of a kind homebuilt who’s engines were assembled and run at a previous Barnwell College. The event is focused on learning in a friendly environment. People attending will range from people just getting into Corvairs making a recon-intel run, to Pilots who attended all previous Barnwell colleges, returning in their Corvair powered aircraft. Every level is welcome, the event it designed to meet the goals and desires of Corvair builders at every stage of the experience. 

Builders can bring their own engines and assemble and test run them at the College. We have run well over 100 engines at the previous Barnwell colleges, and these have been milestone achievements in the journey of these builders, but the College is focused on learning, not ‘getting it done’. Test runs are done to confirm the builder understands and is the master of his power plant, they are not done just because the engine is assembled. Builders with the goal of learning find progress flows from this. I’m at Colleges to teach, if you are attending to learn, it will be a great match. 

The College is “Free” in the very real sense that everything you can learn and do is provided by myself, our local hosts, and a cadre of experienced builders returning to Barnwell. However, the registration has a $110 per person fee, which entirely goes to our local hosts to address their costs of catering the event. P.F’s crew do tireless work to make Colleges happen, all of them are volunteers, they are giving their time, and no respectful person would fail to cover their share of the direct costs of the College. Registering and paying the fee accomplishes this.  Corvair pilots who fly their Corvair-powered planes to the college get 50% off the registration fee.

The colleges are a lot of fun, and you will have a chance to meet and get to know many of the characters in the world of Corvairs, on your way to becoming one of them. The event is an intense immersion into real, traditional homebuilding, the very opposite end of the spectrum from the ‘Consumer airshow’ mentality.  This is all done with the awareness that we are still in a serious safety setting with turning props and the ever present awareness that we are all guests of our local hosts, in ‘the Hangar P.F. built’, and registering for the College comes with the understanding that we are guests and recipients of great generosity, and our actions will reflect our gratitude.

I look forward to seeing friends, both old and new there. We’ll see you on the Flightline. 
William Wynne

Return to direct Support and Distribution

Builders,

Today, June first, marks the return of my traditional ‘direct’ work with Corvair builders. This story, and the accompanying video, will explain this in detail, but in very simple terms, I am returning to directly working with builders and making direct sales to them.

From 1989-2016, this is how I worked with builders. Essentially all the sales of my catalog parts were directly from me. Along the way, Clark’s Corvairs sold some of my parts which also served car people, and Woody Harris was my rep at west coast airshows, where he did distribute manuals to new builders. With these exceptions, all of the regular catalog items went directly from me to the hands of builders.

In 2016, I had a long planned, 7,000 mile tour of the US, that involved holding four Corvair Colleges along the way. (Back in Florida after 7,380 miles on tour.). Unexpected changes in my personal life, dominated by my father’s failing health, made a new parts distribution and support system an urgent priority. My old friends, Dan and Rachel Weseman, from Sport Performance Aviation, the Panther people, and I quickly reached a handshake agreement where they would distribute and support all the Corvair products in my catalog, in addition to their own line of Corvair conversion products. The agreement worked well, the College tour was a big success, builders got their parts and support, and most important, I spent a lot of irreplaceable time with my father in the last years of his life, and deal with losing him, a harsh period friends had warned me of, but I still underestimated. For the support of my friends Dan and Rachel during this, I will remain eternally grateful.

Today, I restart my direct work with builders. Dan and Rachel will still work directly with builders, and they will offer support for their full line of Corvair Conversion parts, Billet cranks, 3.0 and 3.3L kits, 5th Bearings, cylinder head work, rework of forged 8409 cranks, EIB kits, a host of smaller parts and airframe installation components for airframes such as the Panther and the Sonex. I have an all new products page, using modern e-commerce format to sell and deliver all of my own products directly . I will directly offer support on them.

This video further explains the return to my original sales and distribution model:

In a few days, I’m going to open the sign up for our giant November Barnwell Corvair College. Just like the previous nine Colleges there, it is a fully catered immersion event. There is a required registration, and the College is ‘free’ but everyone attending pays for their share of the catering and hosts costs. This registration will appear as a regular item on my new products page. More news shortly.

  • In the four SPA years, we did not directly sell nor deliver parts at Colleges and Airshows. There are reasons why the SPA business model precluded this. Going forward, I will return to directly selling parts to builders at all times, at colleges and at airshows. I will have plenty of inventory with me on trips, and my new e-commerce site will allow selling it at any location.
  • Any builder who has a support question for any part in my catalog, should call me for technical information, no matter which distribution system he purchased it under. SPA was the primary tech support before, but this was not intended to be permanent , and it is reasonable that if I designed and made it, I’ll be the primary support no matter how it was distributed.
  • We have a few items on order with the SPA system, and they will be filled through that system, for obvious accounting reasons. If you have one of these orders, understand that I’m working to complete it asap.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you still have any questions, just pick up the phone and call me, 904-806-8143, any time you like. I have anticipated speaking with a lot of builders this week, and I have the time to do so. Don’t hesitate to call or text.

William

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