Group 1100 cam kits on shelf.

Builders,

I just got in another round of our camshafts, and have assembled them with new made in the USA gears. We now have them on the shelf at SPA/Panther ready for delivery. They come as a complete kit, with lifters, lubricant and ZDDP oil additive, every component in Chapter 1100 of the conversion manual is included. If you are planning on assembling your bottom end in the next week or month, it would be a good idea to have one of these shipped to you. If you have been good this year, maybe someone will buy you one for Christmas, but if you are in what I call the “Bag of Coal Club” , maybe just order it for yourself:

http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/1100-cam-shaft-kit/

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Above, three cams with new gears sitting outside my shop. We now have 7 kits on the shelf. The entire assembly, including raw materials and processes, is made in the United States. To learn more about cams, read this:  1100-WW Camshaft Group .

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-ww.

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How tough are Corvair engines?

Builders,

Below, two photos of damage inside core engines from running cars (not aircraft). The top was a motor run without oil, and one with finger tight rod nuts, the bottom was run with the belt off the cooling fan.

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The damage shown in the pictures didn’t happen in a second, nor in a minute either, and the engines still ran, very poorly, but they were not locked up.

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Over the years I have seen perhaps a 1,000 core motors, and very few of them had this kind of issue, almost all of them were simply worn or tired, but still capable of running acceptably when the car was parked. The major problem that makes some core motors unusable is being stored outdoors and getting water inside. You can check this easily when looking at a core engine by making sure it rotates 360 degrees before buying it. Ones that have had water inside, will not turn.

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The examples below are from cars, but I have plenty aircraft examples also; An engine run for 11 minutes turning a prop at 2,200 rpm (about 45 hp) without any oil in it. It stopped but only did $700 in damage; The guy who’s ‘local expert’ set the timing for him, but thought the 0-8-16 timing marks were 0-3-6, so he set the timing for about 60 degrees advance, which blew out 3 head gaskets. the static rpm dropped from 2,700 to 2,000 rpm but the builder actually flew it 2 more times because he had a long paved runway at his airport; the 30,000 hr airline pilot who flew a cross country with a bad enough oil leak that the pressure went to zero, twice, and he felt comfortable adding a “quart or two” and proceeding. This doesn’t even touch on the several dozen people who damaged engines by never setting the timing, but thought they were getting away with it because their engine didn’t stop abruptly, it just tolerated the blown head gaskets and broken rings without quitting. The list is endless, but let it be said that the intelligent Corvair builder has a very robust engine to work with.

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Above, two rods from car engines; the bottom was run for more than 10 miles with no oil in it. Notice that the rod bolt and nut are still intact. The bearing melted, and took out the rod, but the motor did not stop, the driver just reported it “made a lot of noise” on the drive back home. The top one was from the shop of a “race car builder” who rebuilt the engine and it lasted long enough to leave his shop, where he claimed no further responsibility. Without question, the “race car builder” forgot to torque the rod nuts on these bolts. The driver reported it ran poorly, but he drove it around for a while that way. The piston was just jammed at the top of the bore, and the engine kept going.

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Damage tolerance isn’t a primary engine selection criterion in experimental aircraft, the way it was when the US Navy specified that it would only accept air-cooled radials for combat service in WWII. Many newer engines cease to run the first moment any small piece of material gets loose in the engine, but the Corvair has more in common with the damage tolerance of radials than it does with modern engines.

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The majority of the general public when looking at photos like these will say “I would prefer to have an engine that will never break” much the same way that children have a decided preference for unicorns despite a historic supply problem that suggests the perfect engine and the unicorn will be delivered on the same day hell freezes over.

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For people into a higher level of discussion, I can point out the design features of the Corvair that give it an extraordinary resistance to stopping when damaged. First and foremost, go look at your core engine and see that the cam and crank timing gears, the only part of the engine where a chip of metal can not be allowed to pass, live in their own part of the crankcase, and don’t share the same compartment with the rest of the parts in the case. There are many other elements, like forged components which are not brittle, and particularly being air-cooled and having no possibility of loosing coolant into the engine, etc. If you like machines, it is a very interesting study.

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Above, a core engine that came to our shop in 2005, from a person who drove their Corvair for a week with no cooling fan belt on it. Both the valve seats in the above cylinder have been beaten into the ports and broken up, yet the engine continued to run on the other bank of cylinders. Notice that neither valve head come off the stem. The rusty bits imbedded in the head are broken up valve seat.  While your engine will obviously never look like this inside, it is a very desirable characteristic of aircraft engines that they be able to sustain some damage without complete failure. The next time somebody points out to you that a Corvair engine is slightly heavier than a VW, Jabbaru or Rotax, tell them that you accept this because there are robust qualities to the Corvair that you appreciate.

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ww.

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How many Corvairs are left?

Builders,

The title of this story is a perfectly acceptable question, and one I frequently place an educated estimate on.  It doesn’t bother me, even if it is asked many times a day at Oshkosh.  I do however contrast this with the person, who walks into my booth at Oshkosh and pronounces, “There are no Corvairs left. “ or “They don’t make parts for Corvairs anymore.”

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I was just about to type “It takes a special kind of idiot to say such things in the face of demonstrable evidence otherwise” but that isn’t correct. Statements like that are not the utterances of special idiots, they are spouted by common idiots. I have actually had a guy flatly say they don’t make parts for these engines while leaning on a stack of new boxes of pistons that was 4 feet high. I pointed out to another person who said their are no engines available, the dozens of pictures on my website of recently finished Corvair powered planes, and asked him where he thought those engines came from. Ironically, no answer from the same guy who knew everything 2 minutes before.

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It has been my experience that you can’t use budget, prior experience, age, nor outlook to predict is a guy will be successful in homebuilding, however, I have noted that the guy who likes to start every conversation in homebuilding with a statement that he absolutely ‘knows’ to be true, is the guy least likely to enjoy learning, and therefore least likely to be a guy who finishes a plane. Be aware that common idiots are not just found at Oshkosh, they are at nearly every airport in the country. For a laugh, I highly suggest getting a look at this: A visit to the insane asylum .

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Above, a very heavy box in the back of my 3/4 ton truck in the front yard this morning.  It was 48″x 40″ by 40″ and packed solid with Corvair cylinder and connecting rod cores being truck shipped to Clark’s Corvairs in Massachusetts. the rear suspension is compressed about 8″.

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The box has about 50 engines worth of cylinders and rods, and these are all going back to Clark’s for reboring and rebuilding. I collect them up over time, and send them back in a large lot. Think this is a big amount? I have been to Clarks shop, and this isn’t 5% of what they have on hand, and I strongly doubt that Clark’s is holding 5% of the remaining Corvair cylinders….Oh, by the way, 2,850, 3,000 and 3.3L Corvairs are all based on new cylinders and rods, so everything in this box can be applied to 2,700cc Corvairs.

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There are probably less than 5% of the original 1.8 million Corvairs left. If that sounds small, it is 90,000 cars. We live in a nation of 250 Million registered cars. Any reasonable person can look at those numbers and understand a ratio of 2,778:1. and probably on the order of 20,000:1 in a daily driver comparison, why you don’t see a Corvair driving down your street everyday. But only the common idiot looks at those numbers, the giant box of cores, the fact I have been doing this since 1989, and Clarks has been doing Corvair parts for more than 40 years, and still is sure enough to say there are no Corvairs left.

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Automotive production numbers dwarf anything aviation has ever made: The Jabbaru 3300, the Rotax 912 and the Continental O-200 are all good engines that serve particular builders. These engines have been made for 20, 30 and 60 years respectively. Corvair were produced for just 10 years 1960-69, but consider this: They made more Corvairs in the first 10 days of production in 1960 than Jabbaru has built 3300’s in the last 20 years; To match 30 years of 912s took GM till the third week of production in 1960; To match 60 years of O-200s took the GM engine plant about 50 days in 1960. And from there GM went on to another decade of engine building. It is my educated estimate, that there are more Corvair core engines remaining in the US, than the entire combined production of 3300’s 912s and O-200s. Give that some thought the next time someone tells you there are no more Corvairs.

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-ww.

Front Alternator Belt, Part #2904, new source.

Builders:

In our conversion manual, (http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/conversion-manual/) , The front alternator group is #2900, and the belt itself is Part #2904.  In the manual we specified a Continental AVX10-710 belt. A number of people have asded about another source, as Conti, now lists their number as obsolete, and people had a hard time at their local auto parts store getting an interchange.

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The issue is that most countermen don’t know enough about the parts they sell. Conti is a German company, and the “10” in their part number is 10mm wide, and in the US that is a 25/64″ width belt. “710” is the pitch length in mm’s, which is pretty close to 28″. The belt pictured below, available from any NAPA store, is a valid interchange. Please write this note in your conversion manual.

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Above the correct replacement belt.  This has been verified to work on a Gold hub, with a Front Alternator bracket set and a front alternator.

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-ww.

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Corvair Case sale, 36 available, $100 each.

Builders:

Below is a picture of 36 Corvair Cases I pulled out of my hangar over the weekend.  I gathered these is the last three years without even trying, just picking them up by running an occasional ad on the Jacksonville Florida Craigslist. I have moved these to the Shop of Dan and Rachel Weseman, where they will be available for sale to supply our builders with an option for getting in the game or making progress on their project.

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Above, thirty-six 1964-69 Corvair Cases pictured on the patio between our hangar and house. They have since been moved to the SPA/Panther factory.

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Here is the idea: The cases sitting in my hangar don’t support my mission of getting people building Corvair engines. They only do this when they are part of a builders active project. Since Dan and Rachel already process 8409 cranks and offer Billet cranks, and also supply the finest remanufactured Corvair flight heads, having the cases at their shop allows them to coordinate a number of different build options, and integrate these cases into their plans.

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Let’s look at a few build scenarios these cases might serve:

Picture a guy who wants to build a 3,000 cc Corvair (3,000 cc engines and parts going out the door.), but has not yet found a core; He could start with one of these cases, have the Wesemans prep the case and bore it, he can pay the core fee on a 8409 crank ( The Wesemans have a number of these on hand) and get things in the works so he can assemble his case at home or at a College.

Picture a builder who wants to get started on a 3.3 liter stroked Corvair (3.3 Liter Corvair, a Smooth Power House): he needs a case, but because all 3.3 engine have a new billet crank, he doesn’t need a crank nor does he have a core fee. Just having a case available gets him started with a 3.3 liter crank order and a group 1300/1400 piston-rod-cylinder kit.

Picture a builder who wants one of the Wesemans new “Engine in a box” Kits, (https://flywithspa.com/product/corvair-engine-box/)  these cores can support those engine kits.

Picture a builder who sends his case to the Wesemans for modification to a 3,000 0r 3.3 liter, (https://flywithspa.com/product/corvair-3-0l-case-machining-service/)  but it is found to have an issue that is uneconomical to repair. Such a builder can simply get one of these cases from the Weseman’s rather than go back out and look for another core.

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Keep in mind that for $100, the cases are not “mint”, they are serviceable. Most of them need at least some studs replaced. Good news is that the Weseman’s are experts at this. They can prep any of these cases to make sure it is ready to be the foundation of your Corvair Flight engine.

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There are many ways these cases can serve a wide variety of builders plans and needs. If you have questions about how one may serve your building needs, please contact the Wesemans : https://flywithspa.com/contact-us/

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-ww.

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Just in case the guy at your airport who has an opionion on everything but obviously knows nothing, has a comment about Corvair cases, let me share a little factual data: Both Continentals and Rotaxes are good engines that work, but they have astronomical prices on parts by comparison. Neither of them have a spotless record on case issues, and when they have one, it can cost an astronomical amount of money to solve. For example, ten years ago, Rotax 912’s an engine that is relentlessly fictionally  portrayed as always going 3,000 hours between overhauls, has a serious case issue, where a great number of them fretted the case to needing a replacement in less than 1,000 hours. The case on these engines is more than $5000. Read the thread below to understand that it was an issue that could be caused by issues as slight as excessive prop pitch or even unsynchronized Bing carbs. It was not usually covered by warranty. Rotaxes are fine engines, but they are not for people on a budget:

http://www.rotax-owner.com/en/rotax-forum/3-4-stroke-technical-questions/2271-rotax-912-uls-fretted-crankcase

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Lest any expert claim that Continentals are “inexpensive” Look at the two adds below, the used case on barnstormers is $1200, the one on Ebay is $2,000. These are not rip off prices, they just represent market values for a high demand, limited supply item:

TELEDYNE CONT’L O-200A CASE • $1,200 • OFFERED FOR SALE Excellent first run case for O-200A • Contact Stephen E. DunbarVIKINGOK, Owner – located Broken Arrow, OK USA • Telephone: 918-568-8880 . • Posted August 24, 2016 • Show all Ads posted by this AdvertiserRecommend This Ad to a FriendEmail AdvertiserSave to WatchlistReport This Ad

http://www.ebay.com/itm/TCM-Continental-O-200A-Crankcase-P-N-643250-W-Data-Plate-915-24-/141878151225?hash=item210898c839:g:IAYAAOSwQTVV8dkN&vxp=mtr

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The next time anyone wants to tell you about magic engines that have no issues or how inexpensive other engines are, please understand they are just speaking of unicorns: Unicorns vs Ponies.

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-ww.

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3.3 Liter Corvair, a Smooth Power House

Builders:

Dan and Rachel Weseman, the SPA/Panther people, Will have their flying 3.3 liter (3,300 cc) Corvair on display at Oshkosh 2016.  This displacement Corvair is achieved by using an American made billet crankshaft with a 5/16″ stroke increase, along with the large cylinders of a 3,000 cc Corvair. The engine has had more than a year’s development and testing, including extensive ground runs, professional dynamometer testing, and now flight testing, conducted on a Panther airframe. The engine has proven to be an outstanding powerhouse with very smooth operation.

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Above, Dan Weseman’s #.3 Liter Corvair getting dressed out with baffling just before it was installed on a Panther airframe. The best way to understand this engine in a nutshell is this: It is lighter and more compact than a Continental O-200, yet dynamometer tests show it can match the power output of high HP Lycoming O-235, at the same RPM.   For more pictures , get a look at this story: Baffling on 3.3 Liter Corvair .

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The heart of this engine is the new, billet, made in America crankshaft. A standard Corvair has a 3.437″ bore and a 2.940″ stroke, yielding a 2.7 Liter displacement. Increasing the bore to 3.620″ with larger pistons and cylinders increases the displacement to 3.0 Liters.  When that is combined with increasing the stroke by .312″ with a new crankshaft, the displacement becomes 3.3 Liters. Externally, the engine remains the same size as all the Corvairs we have made for the last 27 years, but it is actually substantially lighter because the new crankshaft is lighter than the original GM crank, as are the new cylinders.

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“There is no Replacement for Displacement” is a time proven axiom of American automotive performance. It has been the traditional method of power increase.  To increase the engines’ displacement, rather than try to get more work from the same size motor. The fundamental logic of this approach is it keeps the engine stress and rpm low, the keys to reliability. The same logic has always been used by American aircraft engines. The same way Continental developed the 177 cubic inch/65HP  A-65 into externally same sized 200 cubic inch/ 100HP O-200,  The 3.3  moves the Corvair from a starting point of 164 cubic inches/100HP to 200 Cubic inches (3.3 Liters) and 125HP, without increasing the external size of the engine.  This isn’t a new aviation idea. A Lycoming O-235 is nearly identical in size to the engine it later evolved into, the O-320.  The engines that emerged from this process, the O-200 and the O-320 have outstanding reputations of reliability primarily because they were good designs to start with, and they raised their power output my increasing their displacement, not asking a small motor to work harder.

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The 3.3 is the most expensive Corvair flight engine ever built, but it still is less expensive, in some cases by half, than other engines in it’s class. At Oshkosh, all the tire kickers want to compare price tags, but any serious builder understands he is in search of good value, which in a serious subject like aviation, is not synonymous with cheapest price. Consumer culture has conditioned people to obsessively seek out the cheapest price on things. That mentality may work when comparing blenders at Walmart, but an Aviator selecting a power plant for his home built needs a mindset driven by value. By this measure, the 3.3 and all Corvairs stand up as proven, well supported options for homebuilders. I have said many times, Corvairs are not for everyone, but they are an excellent choice for builders who understand their value. The quote “Most people know the cost of everything but understand the value of nothing” still holds true about most of our society.  My work with Corvairs and their isn’t going to change society’s short comings, it is just to provide individuals with good options that make sense when examined closely. The 3.3 Liter engine from the Wesemans is a further extension of this concept.

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Is this a New Engine?  Yes: The only parts in a 3.3 liter engine that were ever in a Corvair automotive engine are the two case halves, the bare cylinder head castings, and the rear accessory case casting, and these parts have been carefully inspected,  extensively machined, and completely remanufactured. All the other parts in the engine, The Crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, cylinders, valve train, gears, bearings and accessories are all new. Nothing in this engine was taken straight out of a salvage yard.  More importantly, the new parts are not just new automotive parts, they are components specifically designed and tested to work as parts in a flight engine, a much more rigorous standard.

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The 3.3 liter Corvair uses all the same installation components as our other Corvairs use, the same mounts, exhausts, cowls and intakes. It is also fully supported by our builder programs like Corvair Colleges and Corvair Finishing Schools, and our private on line builders groups. A builders selecting a 3.3 Liter Corvair is part of the same community of Corvair builders that we have developed and supported over many, many years.

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 Above, Dan and Rachel stand on either side of their 3.3 engine at Oshkosh 2015. The engine is a further development of many years of previous work with Corvairs.  It has been carefully developed and tested before being offered as an option for builders.  To see a video of an early test run, check out this 2015 link: SPA / Weseman 3.3 Liter Corvair now running.

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Above, Dan Weseman and I in 2012 at the test run of his 3,000 cc Panther engine. No person flies a Corvair harder than Dan, this fact combined with his mechanical talents and conservative approach to development, make him the right person to develop a large displacement engine.    His 3.0 liter performed flawlessly through a full years of aerobatics, and this itself built on many years of flying a 3,100cc engine in his Sonex airframe. The 3.3 is a further development, made of the same materials and processes as the 3.0 Liter, tested with the same methods. To Learn more about 3,000 cc engines read these links: Why Not the Panther engine? and The Panther’s engine, worlds strongest Corvair flight engine.

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-ww.

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“I know all your tests” …..Well, maybe not all of them.

Builders:

I got an email from a guy today saying he knew “all” of the testing I had done, a bit of a conclusion to jump to for a guy who has never met me, nor owns a copy of my manual.

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The guy had a statement about cam gears, a subject I know pretty well, that was made as if I had never looked at them in the last 27 years. In reality, we do all kinds of testing, and a lot of it never reaches the point of being an interesting story. Less than a third of the testing we do becomes a story, but all of the data is integrated into the products and processes we promote.  On any subject on the Corvair engine, it is a good bet to say “ww probably looked at that, you could write him about it rather than jumping to a conclusion.” But people who jump to conclusions just want their opinion validated, and writing me isn’t guaranteed to do that.

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Above, the underside of the 3,000 cc Corvair that has been flying on the Panther prototype for several years. Look closely at the front of the oil pan, in the cam gear section.  The silver part is a removable cover plate.  It allows the cam gear to be inspected on an assembled engine while it is still in the airframe. We made several of these oil pans during a period where we were evaluating different cam gears. Not all tests have been written about.

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Look close: No, it isn’t Dan Wesemans Panther. This is Paul Salter’s. This plane will be at Oshkosh in a few weeks. It is getting the engine compartment finished. The 3,000 cc Prototype engine has moved to this airframe, and the prototype airframe has now been re-engined with Dan’s 3.3 liter stroker motor.

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In the history of the modern Corvair flight engine, there have been just 3 broken cam gears, two of them on the same plane. These happened many years ago, and neither aircraft had substantial damage, both are still flying today. When considered against the great number of flying planes that didn’t have a cam gear issue, this isn’t a large number. Below are listed factors that builders should understand, these come directly from our processes and literature.

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(1) When the crank is processed, it should have a new steel gear put on it.  All cranks, both billet and 8409 cranks processed by the Weseman’s all have new gears installed. Problems with cam gears often start with Crank gear issues.

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(2) 10 years ago, we left crank gears in place when the cranks were nitrided. Although none of the 3 gear failures were attributable to this, we have not done this in many years. It is not as good as replacing the gear. Some builders who had their cranks nitrided at alternative shops failed to clean the gear teeth after the process. Inevitably this would cause someone’s cam gear to fail.

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(3) Most crank shops never grind cranks that have gear driven cams.  They fail to remember, unlike chain or belt driven cams, there is almost no tolerance for eccentricity on the gear. You can take a crank that is ground perfectly straight when measured in Vee blocks, that will still have run out on the crank gear. This will produce two tight spots on the cam gear, and if the run out is bad enough, it will eventually cause a cam gear failure. All the cranks done by the Weseman’s are done by grinder who spends the extra time to zero in the crank before it is ground. This can be seen on assembly, as the gear backlash is uniform in all positions.

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(4) Any prop strike is a cause for cam gear replacement. This may not have been the cause, but it is a common factor in 2 of the 3 previous cam gear failures. If you like to gamble, I can point to 6 people who prop struck a Corvair and then flew 200 more hours without replacing the cam gear.  Saving the hassle of pulling down the engine and the cost of a $70 gear is what they gained against the potential of a fatal accident. Place your bet as you like, just understand the wager on the table.

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(5)  One of the comments forwarded to me included a note from Joe Goldman saying he was going to use a “delta” cam in his soon to fly plane. Delta is a budget cam grinder whose dubious claim to fame is regrinding cams without removing the original 50-year-old aluminum cam gear, allowing the builder to ‘save” $70. Although there are several of these flying, I have said for more than 10 years that this was a very bad idea for many reasons. I know Joe, he is a great guy, but that isn’t an endorsement of his decision-making on cam gears. Watch any conflict between money and known better practice, and you will see the moment when one person makes the statement ” It will be alright.” That is the moment the wager is laid on the table, and if they were actually 100% confident they were right, they wouldn’t hesitate nor verbalize their evaluation. But they do, and what you are witnessing is a persons laziness or cheapness overpower what they know to be right.  People almost always get away with this. Almost.

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