“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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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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E/P and E/P-X Distributors, #3301

Builders,

I drove up to the SPA/Panther shop today, to drop off four E/P-X distributors that I had assembled and test run yesterday.  These are among our most popular conversion parts ever, in the last 10 years I have made hundreds of them. E/P series distributors I have built are in 90% of the flying Corvair powered planes in the world.  These are proven parts, they are the standard of what works, and for these reasons they are enduringly popular.

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George Carlin pointed out that the terms Rainforest and Wetlands had to be invented because no one was particularly interested in saving what was formerly known as Jungles and Swamps. “Enduringly popular” is a pleasant euphemism for “back ordered.”  However, today was a magic day, because when I drop off the latest four, Lisa, the inventory manager at SPA told me ……I was actually slightly ahead. I had not been in this position for the last 2 years.  I have another 12 distributors in the works right now, so I have finally reached the point were they should be ‘on the shelf’ from here forward.  This is progress, largely made possible because we now use SPA to distribute and support our product line: Outlook 2016, New order page and distribution method.

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Above, an E/P-X running in my distributor machine. For 20 years I used a 1950 Allen distributor machine. The one above is actually older, it is a 1947 Sun. ( Notice the volt meter only goes to 6 volts, 12 volt cars were yet to be sold in 1947 ) The orange arrows are projected onto the degree wheel by a spinning strobe under the center green disc. There are actually six arrows projected, the camera just didn’t catch the top three. I actually inherited this machine from a Florida gentleman who passed last year. He was a very competitive guy in offshore boat racing in the 1970s and 80s. I didn’t know him well, but was one of the few people who toured his machine shop who knew what the distributor machine was. His facility was sold to friends who told me to take the machine and put it to good use. Next year it will be 70 years old and still in fine shape.  As you go through your day today, ask yourself which mechanical device you see for sale that will still be useful in 2086. People can talk all they want about “green” things and “recyclable”, but there is a good argument that making things that last and don’t need to be endlessly replaced is actually less stress on the environment than disposable appliances, even if they are allegedly “green” and “recyclable”.

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To learn more about E/P-X distributors:

http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3301-epx-distributor/

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 To learn more about E/P distributors:

http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3301-ep-distributor/

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-ww.

New Ellison Carb supplier, NV Aero.com

Builders,

While MA3-SPA’s and Strombergs are on the majority of Corvair powered planes, there are a number of Corvair powered planes that are equipped with Ellison EFS-3A carbs, including Phil Maxson’s and Lynn Dingfelders 601XL’s, Mark Langford’s KR-2S, and even some new planes just getting to the flight line like Jim Tomaszewski’s JAG-2 twin: JAG-2 Corvair Twin, running on film.

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In my manual, the Ellison is #3602-C. The Ellison is a very high quality, made in America, noted for efficient operation, no float, resistance to icing, and the ability to work at any angle, including inverted. It was designed decades ago by Ben Ellison. Although it is shaped like some other carbs, internally it is a very sophisticated, and it’s design details are matched by no other carb in it’s class.

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After many years of running Ellison Fluid systems, Ben Ellison announced his retirement. This caused a bit of a stir about his carbs, because there was no public announcement on who would take over new sales and service for the existing fleet of them. Privately it was said that Ben Ellison was deaf to large financial offers, he was willing to wait to find the right person who was willing to continue his design with the same standards he had.  While there was a list of people who wanted to buy the design, Steve Glover, our local host for the Chino Corvair College, made an extended personal trip to meet with Ben and be trained by him on the Carbs.  After months of lining up high end machine shops in the LA area to machine the parts, and setting up his own FAA level fuel system repair station and live test equipment, Steve is now getting the carbs in the hands of builders.

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When I was in California last week prepping for the College, Steve gave me a full tour of his Ellison operations, including visiting the CNC shop and watching as an EFS-3A body was being machined on a Haas 5 axis mill. The Ellison isn’t a carb design that would tolerate being slapped together with hastily made parts. It has taken some time for Steve to get the right shops and people, but he is there now. Steve sent me a short video yesterday of Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter’s EFS-3A running in testing in California. It is being shipped to Paul today.

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If you are interested in these carbs, I have a section on them in group 3600 in the manual. We make specific intake manifolds to mate them to Zenith aircraft. ( Other airframes using an Ellison use our standard manifold. ) These carbs are not cheap, they run about $1,200, but they are new, and made in America. This is actually about the same price as an overhauled MA3-SPA, and hundreds less than a new MA3-SPA. You can also look at Steve’s website: http://www.nvaero.com/    or contacting him directly at: Email: info@nvaero.com Phone: 1-800-515-4811.

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Grace and Steve Glover, photographed at CC #28.

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-ww.

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E/P Distributor wiring notes:

Builders:

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Above is a photo on an E/P-X distributor.

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Both the E/P and the E/P-X distributors (Part #3301) we offer have very simple wiring. The E/P-X has a quick disconnect plug, but the wiring is just the same:

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The wire from the points goes to the negative side of the “B” coil. This coil terminal is also the connection for the condenser. The Condenser is part #3402 in my manual

The black wire with the yellow trace goes to the negative side of the “A” coil.  This is the ‘signal’ wire from the crane unit. It does not get a condenser, because only points use condensers.

The black wire with the red trace goes to the positive side of the “A” coil. This is the source for 12 volt power to the crane unit.

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That is all there is to it.

If you would like to read the 9 pages of illustrated distributor installation instructions that come each one, here is a link:

http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3301-epx-distributor/

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The most common errors people make:

Reversing the yellow and red wires, even for a nano-second burns the Crane unit out.

Having a condenser on the e side

Pinching a wire under the cap

Having a poor crimp on one of the wires

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No valid technical advice below this line:

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Things that make me question the brilliance of my career choice:

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Over the weekend, I got an email from a builder who had attended several Corvair Colleges, and even ran his engine at #34.  He said he was planning on starting his engine on the airframe over the weekend, but he already knew that his the electronic ignition wasn’t working.  Mind you, every single unit we have ever sold had to be run in the distributor machine, because they have to get the initial setting. Also, there was no way for him to say the E side wasn’t working, if he had not even tried cranking the engine. But this builder was comfortable jumping to the conclusion that I had sold him something defective.

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By his second email, it was clear he wasn’t following the 9 pages of instructions. This was nothing new, I had already spoken to him at colleges about reading instructions and not jumping to conclusions.  I told him the only way that the Crane unit that worked in my shop but didn’t work on his plane, was if he reversed the red and yellow wires, and if he did this, the unit would be burned out. I added that a few people had done this, and that I had even done it once by simply letting the yellow wire brush over a positive terminal on the distributor machine. It is a split second, $75 mistake.

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Because this builder is making a KR-2, Mark Langford agreed to fly over there and figure out why he couldn’t get it started. Mystery takes Mark little time to solve: The condenser is not grounded. If you didn’t know that was needed, that isn’t a problem, because in the #3402 section of my conversion manual, it plainly states that condensers must be grounded to the coil body and to the airframe. The builder didn’t bother to read that.

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Once the motor is cranked, it turns out that nothing is wrong at all with the Electronic ignition system the builders said was defective in several emails. He writes back, but never mentions that his claim was not true.

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What he writes back to say: Although he and his son don’t know enough about ignitions to know condensers need to be grounded, or know how to read installation instructions nor my manual, they have done “Reasearch” and found out that I don’t know what I am talking about!  They looked at the website of a company selling Crane units for cars, and it says something about reverse polarity protection. So he writes me:

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So that’s good to know that you don’t damage anything by switching the wires. Because of the reverse polarity protection. “

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He never slows down to consider that I have seen these units burn out right in front of my eyes, when the red/yellow wires are reversed. The reverse polarity protection is only speaking of  reversing the red wire and the ground of the body. Although the guy can’t follow directions, nor even start his own plane, he can use Google, and he can find some words to prove that he is right, and that my experience building more than 500 distributors means nothing. Not one word about how he didn’t read directions, was wrong in his claim the ignition I sold him was defective, not the slightest doubt that he could find something on Google in a minutes that would prove I didn’t know what I was speaking of. That was his reality.

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If you are a reasonable person, and you are yet to meet me, but wonder why I sometimes seem harsh with people, it is because there are a lot of people in this world who are nothing like you…..there are many unreasonable people out there, and I have at least 100 stories worse than this.

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My Mother turns 90 in another month. She has been sparse with her commandments to her children, but perhaps foremost among them is a tenant of her faith that requires we “Befriend the friendless.” My mother instilled in us a code that required that we demonstrate our gratitude for the family and friends we have, by extending some human kindness, particularly to people who are isolated by appearance, social graces, or circumstance. My mother felt that no one should be indifferent to the loneliness of others.  In the course of my work, I am often surrounded by old friends, better people than I deserve. I remember my mothers words when into such a setting comes a different person. Over the years I have tried to welcome these people. I love my mother dearly, but she failed to mention that many people who I have extended some extra measure of understanding toward never have the slightest appreciation for it. I am sure Mother would remind me that the exercise wasn’t for others it was for our betterment, but perhaps I could be granted some understanding, as I have a hand that has been bitten more times than I could count.

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Consider that we have about 500 active builders at any given time, so the percentage of unreasonable people is still pretty low, if it is only 1 in 20, and they have two ‘issues’ a year, hardly a week goes by without one of them stiring the drama club on the internet, claiming things were defective, telling everyone they have discovered I was ‘wrong”. what a horrible person I am.  I get bored of it, because I can remember a time where less than 10% of our builders knew what the internet was, and in those years, the unreasonable people just seemed a little further apart.

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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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Parts production improvements – E/P-X distributors.

Builders,

Here is a quick story to explain a dramatic improvement in 2016 parts production.

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Above, is a picture of 50 stainless steel points plates. These are the core element of all the Corvair ignitions systems I have made since 1998. There have been several evolutions, but the current layout has been unchanged for eight years. This plate is inside every E/P and E/P-X distributor we make See: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3301-epx-distributor/

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Over the years we have had these plates made by machining, hydro cutting, and laser cutting. The last of these is the best option for production. For many years these were produced for us by a very large Defense/Aerospace contractor called Shapes Group Ltd. They are located near the Cape Canaveral complex. They normally don’t make parts like points plates, but Grace is very close friends with the former owner, and he made our stuff between things like C-5B titanium flap tracks and ballistic submarine hatches. Needless to say, the quality was good.

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After the ownership changed, service was polite, but not easy nor quick. This is understandable with a company that which  does 100 million dollars of machine work in a good year.  Since then we have had another CNC shop make them for us, and again the quality was good, but it was not easy to get quick service nor fine tune detail changes. The E/P distributors I have made are in more than 90% of the flying Corvair powered planes in the world. They are popular parts, and for this reason, and the supply difficulty, it was traditionally a part builders had to wait for.

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Enter Dan Weseman: Because Rachel and Dan have hundreds of parts made and sourced for their Panther kits, they have developed excellent suppliers for their own parts, and they do quantity business with them. When I mentioned the points plate to Dan, he said he would run it past his laser cutter. Dan is a highly skilled CNC draftsman, and it took only a moment to finely alter a hole size and email the drawing to the Laser cutter. In a week we had the first pile of plates, they were perfect, and also affordable. In the last 90 days we cut the back orders on E/P distributors to nearly zero, and we will shortly have plenty in stock.

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When I decided last week that I would fly back to Florida to spend a week in the shop making parts before CC#37, I called Dan and asked him to get another run of plates made. Five days later, when I returned from California, a box containing the 50 plates above was waiting on the bench in my shop.

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We are applying this type of effort to the items in my catalog which have been traditionally in short supply. Improving the supply of subcomponents and having Dan and Rachel take care of the distribution of our parts has made a dramatic difference in the availability of our stuff, and we are just getting started.  We had a brief meeting yesterday and reviewed output, sales and deliveries in the last 90 days, and came to the conclusion that it is a very reasonable goal to have every single catalog item in stock, in quantity before departing for Oshkosh.  This also puts us in the position of being able to make available items that have that have been on the back burner like Kitfox 5-6-7 series Corvair mounts and on the shelf 3,000 cc Corvair closed cases built around Gen II 5th bearings.

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A box with 50 stainless steel plates doesn’t look like a big deal until you consider it as a small part of a big improvement in manufacturing operations. 2016  is evolving as a year of serious improvements in the accessibility of Corvairs for builders who choose to get more out of homebuilding.

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-ww.

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