Job Offer: Work from home, learn a lot, make up to $400/hr.

Builders:

I will explain the title a little further into the post, but to start, examine the Corvair powered plane below. It is a brand new 3,000 cc Corvair powered SPA Panther, built by Brent Mayo, of Florida.  Besides the fact that it is an outstanding example of craftsmanship, read this next part slowly: Brent’s builders log shows that he has a total of only 828 hours of work into the plane, 14 months of build time, and this includes building the whole airframe and the Corvair engine for it, all the way through being ready for his FAA inspection.

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Rachel Weseman wrote at story about Brent’s plane on the Panther website. You can read it and see a lot of great pictures of the plane at this link, it is the second story down: https://flywithspa.com/category/panther/ Included in Rachel’s story is a link to Brent’s builders log, it is a treasure of information and pictures, and it clearly documents how little time it took him to do each of the tasks, and total hours for different sections. The log is inarguable testimony that both the Panther airframe, and the Corvair engine can be built in a very reasonable amount of time.

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Above, Brent Mayo’s Panther LS, powered by a 3.000 cc Corvair. It is a done aircraft, awaiting only it’s FAA inspection.  If Brent’s name rings a bell, it is because he was one of the five builders who finished and ran his engine at out first “finishing school” Get a look at this link and spend a few minutes looking at the video of the running engines. Brent’s engine was the first one to run, notice how quickly it starts and runs:  Corvair Finishing School #1, Video report.

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OK, get a look at Brent’s builders log, and see that he has 104 hours under the engine category. Note that this includes installing everything ahead of the firewall. If you break out just the part with is assembling and test running the engine, the hours total only 34 for the assembly and 8 hours more for the test run at the finishing school.

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Conceding that any engine needs to be mounted, cowled, have a prop and spinner installed and be wired, then selecting a Corvair and building it for his plane only added 42 hours to Brent’s total build time. Over the years I have seen plenty of magazine articles saying that “choosing and alternative engine adds a year at least to your build.”  While that might be so for a poorly supported engine that has never been mated to a particular airframe, it clearly doesn’t apply to the Corvair or installing on the Panther, or the other airframes we have long ago proven it on and support with installation components.  The reality is that the decision to use the Corvair, and build it himself, didn’t cost Brent any significant amount of time in his build.

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42 hours is less than 6% of the total of 828 hours invested in the whole plane.  But stop and think for a moment, that a Panther is one of the fastest planes on the market to build.  There are plenty of other good planes out there, but many of them take more than 2,000 hours to build. If you built the same 42 hour Corvair for a plans built fabric covered plane that took 2,000 hours to build, the engine would constitute just 2% of the build time. So much for the “traditional wisdom of experts” who speak on line and at EAA meetings.

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But lets stop and consider what a builder gets who decides to invest 42 hours gets for his time. First, he knows the engine far better than any guy who just buys some imported engine in a box and bolts it on. Second, there is a great satisfaction in building your own engine. I have shaken the hand of 300 builders a moment after their engine started on my stand. You can literally feel a builders pride in their grasp at that moment, it is a genuine, and it is a moment that doesn’t happen for people who buy engines. These are the two best reasons for any builder to select a Corvair.

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A third reason is the title of this story: Consider for a moment, that Brent’s engine is an absolute first class engine that utilizes nearly every part in in the FlyCorvair and SPA/Panther catalog of parts. I am pretty sure it has more than $10K in parts in it. The next least expensive engine option is probably a Jabaru 3300, and because of exchange rates that engine is actually down in price, near $18K.  Rotax and others are north of there, up to the UL-350 somewhere around $30K. They are all reasonably good engines, but just looking at the price vs the 42 hours, Brent saved between $100 and $400 per hour he invested in his Corvair build.

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BTW, the 42 hours isn’t a record. We have a number of people each year that come well prepped to Corvair Colleges, and fully assemble and test run engines in a two and a half day event. Before anyone remotely suggests such engines don’t involve learning or are less than perfect, let me say that I have seen these engines built and run, they are first class, and I was there when they were assembled and can attest that these guys were motivated to do their homework and learned a lot. Open minded people with a plan happen to write a lot of success stories in experimental aviation.

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Before anyone gets too upset or comes back with other calculations or alternatives, let me flat out say that people should use/buy/build which ever engine they like, and it has always been my policy that Corvairs are not for everyone, and I don’t portray them as such, I just say they are a very good option for the right builder. I have owned, built and flown behind many different engines, there are reasons for the right builder to own any of them. The whole purpose of the story is just to illustrate that you can build a Corvair is a short number of hours, it isn’t a significant portion of the total build hours, even on a really quick building plane like a Panther, in comparison to other popular engines it is economical, even when you select the highest end build, and the biggie, that there is a lot to be said for the learning and accomplishment of building an engine yourself.

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There is nothing wrong with a guy who has had a Corvair in his shop for years, and he enjoys tinkering with it. Building the motor isn’t a contest, it is a group of choices and actions that are supposed to teach you things and provide satisfaction when looking at the completed engine.  But know this: I have seen countless guys spend years on internet discussion groups, following people who counsel making all manner of starters, hokey oil systems, and poorly thought out parts, all with the goal of making something ‘unique’ or saving some bucks. Even if that crap worked as well as the stuff we sell and teach people to use, (which it doesn’t) I can still make the case that it is a poor use of your life to spend five years making parts, when better stuff is available that bolts right together in 42 hours, proven systems you can trust. There is nothing ‘unique’ about making one off poorly thought out parts and finding out they cost nearly as much as our stuff, but discovering they don’t fit on your plane, you don’t trust them. This isn’t “unique” at all, people waste years of time and thousands of dollars doing this all the time. Want to do something that will set you apart? Make some smart choices, use proven stuff, build it according to our methods, and go out and enjoy it. In a world of people letting years slide by, deciding that you will not let that happen to you is a unique decision.

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The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics had the following data:

“–Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8
hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average,
for those age 15 and over. “

2.8 hours a day is 1022 hours a year.  That is far more time than Brent spent building is whole airplane.  At that rate, it would have only taken him 15 days of TV watching to finish his engine. Is there really anything you saw on TV in the last to weeks that would make you feel like Brent did when his engine fired up?

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“There is a combination of simplicity/effort/money that can get a great number of people flying. You can be one of them, and the odds that you will be go up dramatically if you use my experience to avoid every mistake I made and paid for.”

from: Thought for the Day: Time…..Your enemy.

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Alan Laudani 3,000 cc runs at CC #38

Builders:

Vision builder Alan Laudani fired up his 3,000 cc Covair on Sunday at 10:00 am, and put down the last run of CC #38. It started in a few seconds of cranking, and ran straight through a perfect break in run.

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Above, Alan standing beside his engine just before the run.

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Nate Maier’s 3,000 cc Sonex engine runs at CC #38

Builders,

The featured engine today is the 3,000 cc Corvair for his Sonex. I laid down its first test run today. It fired right up and ran perfect during the full break in run.

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Above , a short film of the engine running  at 2,200 rpm.

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Oil priming videos

Builders:

I am just finishing up the last engine in Steve Glover’s hangar, a 2,700 we will run in the morning. Late this afternoon we used the 1/2″ drill to prime it, just as I have done to several hundred other engines. At Colleges I do this for every engine, and we have specific equipment that makes doing this in rapid succession on many engines easier.  We show builders how this prevents wear, collects assembly debris in the filter, allows checking for leaks and pressure before the engine is started, pumps up the lifters, and also gives a chance to verify that oil is flowing all the way to the rocker arms before the engine runs,

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The noise in all the videos is the drill running the oil pump. I am not sure the video links will work, but here is a try, from the grease monkey:

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Above is a shot of looking in the top cover as the engine is turned by hand with the plugs out. If you look closely, you can see how oil is pumped out around the connecting rod caps.


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Above is a video of oil dripping off the rockers. I like to verify that every rocker is getting oil before putting the valve covers on  for good. This can take up to 20 minutes to get every rocker to drip oil. The drip pans were made from old valve covers.

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Above is a look at a main bearing and the volume of oil it will pass. Watch how fast the oil builds up as I wipe it away.

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Running 3,000 cc Corvair for 750 – Ed Wang

Builders:

Below is a short story about the last engine to run at CC #37, a top notch 3,000 cc Corvair, built from FlyCorvair and SPA/Panther parts.  I am going to write a longer story about this later, but I just wanted to share the video we shot of it today.  Would you like an example of how dramatically improved delivery times are in 2016?  Ed bought his core engine just 7 weeks ago, and it ran today, completely rebuilt and converted for flight, 49 days later.  While previous part suppliers thought it was acceptable to make builders wait a year or more for a 5th bearing or set of heads, Dan and Rachel Weseman were determined to make a dramatic change in the market and make Corvair parts much more accessible to builders. Ed’s rapid timeline is evidence of their success, and their support and distribution of our products allows me to be out here on the west coast, on an extended tour directly working with builders like Ed to advance their goals in homebuilding.

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Code Monkey meets Grease Monkey:  Ed is a very sharp, accomplished 30 year old from California. He holds a masters in Computer Science, and has a strong mechanical background ranging from the shooting sports to putting a LS-1 in his Nissan 240.  Two years ago, he set his sights on aviation, and became a private pilot comfortable in the LA basin’s dense airspace, and got started on building a Zenith 750 cruiser. Although he could budget any of the available power plant options for his Zenith, including those costing several times the Corvair, Ed selected the Corvair specifically because it offered the greatest learning opportunity.

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Although his career operates with far more advanced skills, Ed mentioned being proud of the fact that he still possessed a mastery of the most fundamental skill set of the Computer Science world, being a “Code Monkey.”  There is a parallel in my craft; although I do a number of different things in aviation, they are all underpinned by my pride in mastering a skill set called “Grease Monkey.”

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While we live in a world where it is ever more common for those in management to not be able to perform the craft of those they are said to manage, there will always be a kind of person who prides themselves in knowing they can do all the tasks that make up the organization they run.  For some of us, at work, this means being a capable Code Monkey or Grease Monkey. When it comes to our hours in  homebuilding, the same type of person wants to posses the all the skills that go into building the plane, not just some of them. At it’s very core, this means not only knowing your airframe, but really knowing its power plant also, and this only comes from personally building it yourself. Possessing the fundamental “grease Monkey” skills to build your own engine sets you far apart from others who don’t have the same “need to know” in aviation.

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A video of the engine run. Note the obvious pride in the moment of accomplishment:

https://youtu.be/iWOiaJx18sA

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A few seconds of a Corvair with a 60″ prop at 2,600 rpm, pulling a pickup truck:

https://youtu.be/u0AmGPWQpFY

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Storing a completed engine

Builders,

Some of the most frequently asked  questions are about storing a completed engines. The following notes cover these topics.

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The last engine run at Corvair College #21 at Barnwell SC belonged to Robert Caldwell who came all the way from Texas with his lovely wife Barbara. This engine’s long block was completed more than 10 years earlier at CC#2. It started and ran perfectly. It was a nice moment, it was also Roberts birthday.

Read more here: http://www.flycorvair.com/cc21.html

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How long can an engine sit after it was assembled without being damaged? Indefinitely, as long as it is protected from moisture and corrosion. Look at the engine above, proof that your Corvair is great, but it isn’t capable of understanding calendar time. If it is stored properly, it would have no issue waiting 50 years to be started.

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If we do a break in run on my engine at a college, do we have to treat it with preservatives or something before it gets stored? No, this isn’t an issue. At Colleges, we run engines on unleaded fuel for a very specific reason: The byproducts of the combustion of Avgas are corrosive in the presence of moisture. If you run an engine on 100LL and then store it in a less than dry atmosphere, it will attack the combustion chambers and seats. Unleaded auto fuel does not do this. During the break in run we keep the oil temp way above the boiling point of water, and it boils out the entrained water, and coats the inside with oil. If it gets sealed up as it is cooling off, the engine is set to be stored, as is. I do not drain the oil. If I cut open the filter, I replace it with another, or seal it with a small plastic bag.

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What about ‘Fogging’ the engine like people do with outboards in the fall? Not required. Because many outboards have open exhausts in the lower end that lead right to the cylinder bores, fogging is a good idea, but you are not going to keep your Corvair outside like most boats are kept over the winter. Outboards face condensation issues even if you wrap them with tarps. I have fogged Corvairs in the past, but I do have some question about the compatibility of our rings with fogging, and since there isn’t a need for it, we don’t do it.

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What about dehydrator plugs? You don’t need them. They are a good idea on aircraft engines which are still stored on the airframe, but you are not doing this, you are putting your masterpiece indoors.

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What is the right way to store it? First, put four ‘feet’ on it, these are made from four 1/2″ x 4″ carriage bolts and eight 1/2″x13 coarse thread nuts. You put these through the four mounting points in the bottom of the case, and they prevent the weight of the engine from sitting on the pan. Then tape off the six exhaust ports, the two intake tubes, and the two breather ports. Seal up all the oil ports and the filter area. Put the entire motor in a very thick (8mill) Clear plastic bag.

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Catch why the bag has to be clear: Just before you close the bag, you put in a 4″x 4″ piece of mild steel sheet, completely stripped of all finish, either sand blasted or wire wheeled clean and bare. You put this on top of the engine, in the bag, where you can see it at a glance walking by. This way, six months later, if you notice that the plate has rust forming on it, you know you need to reseal the bag, move the engine or both. If the bag is a dark color, you will not be able to see it until it is too late. Even though this makes a lot of sense, I have done it this way since before the first Gulf War, many people will just wrap it up in a blue tarp and put it in the pool shed, because their better half didn’t like the idea of putting it under the glass coffee table top in the living room.

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On the day that was going to be the glorious moment where the pristine test run masterpiece was to be unveiled and mounted on the equally magnificent airframe of craftsmanship, and Horrors! some evil-doer has taken your tribute Tonawanda and replaced it with a rusty, corroded artifact from Robert Ballard’s warehouse! Don’t let this happen to you. Store your masterpiece properly.

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Video of rebuild and run of Corvair, from a 13 year old.

Builders:

Pietenpol builder Bill Reynolds wrote a story on our “Piet-Vair” discussion group, about the 3,000 cc Corvair he and his son Jack rebuilt and just test ran at our first “Corvair Finishing School”. Included with the note is a link to the 8 minute film that Jack made, documenting the process from start to finish. It is an impressive visual story, even before you consider that Jack is just 13 years old. 

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Bill and Jack have attended three Corvair Colleges, and many people have gotten to know them. We have a great number of father/son teams building, and even at Grandfather/father/son team, but the Reynolds are still standouts.  They have an infectious sense of fun and positive attitude, but they also both really learned their chosen engine inside and out.

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I have taken countless opportunities to explain to people why the Corvair is a completely different engine option, but perhaps this short film explains what is available from a Corvair that you will never find with a “buy it in a box” consumer product engine like a Rotax.  Look at the start of the video, from 2 years ago, and see that Jack is a very sharp kid, and at the end of the process, he is obviously a young man. That credit goes to his parents and to Jack, but I think about how, many years from now, Bill and Jack will be out flying in their Pietenpol, and the engine powering it will be a running testimony to the time they spent together on it……. and that my fellow builders, is something that can not be purchased in an imported ‘box motor’ with a tag that says “No user serviceable parts inside.”

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From Bill Reynolds:

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“The satisfaction of being able to put together a great engine with my own hands cannot be overstated and to share this experience with my son Jack makes it all the better. I currently have 400,000 miles on my 7.3 liter F-250 but I know infinitely more about my 3 liter Corvair because we had to learn about and assemble every component ourselves.
With regard to the team of folks that helped make our success possible, let me say that working with William and Grace has been something other than the standard consumer experience. Many builders go into a build with William, possessing a point,click, buy and install mentality. If you are even marginally awake, you will soon enough figure out that is not the way this works. Unlike parts suppliers who will happily take your money then show you the door , William actually has expectations of the people he sells parts to, he expects you to learn something and do things right and this takes a little time and patience.”

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ4nwUg9uwg

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Above, the film Jack made of the complete rebuild and test run process. Bill  is the kind of guy who comfortable speaking plainly about things which are important to him.  We are the same age, and over a few Colleges we had a chance to speak about some of these things. On the phone the other night, I said even though I am not a parent myself, sometimes  I see someone with their child, and it gives me real pause to consider what I missed.  I said to Bill that seeing him work with his son at the Corvair Finishing School was one of these times.

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Bill is on our private Pietenpol discussion group:

Piet Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

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See Bill and Jack at Barnwell College #35:

Corvair College #35 Barnwell builders video

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Bill and Jack attended 3 Colleges, CC #31 and #35 at Barnwell, and #33 At Eustis FL:

Corvair College #33, Mid Florida at Eustis Airport, April 17-19, 2015

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Barton, Charlie and Robert Reddit are our Grandfather/father/son team who built a 3,000 cc Corvair for their Zenith 750. The EAA made this video about Corvair College #27, and the centerpiece of the film is the Reddit’s experience. Watch for the part where Charlie explains that building the engine together was the best way he could think of for his son Robert to really understand how special his grandfather Barton really is. The Film closes with Barton’s observation on what makes a life meaningful:

New EAA video on Corvair College#27, Barnwell 2013.

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