Mail Sack – Core Engine Worth


Here are some updated replies on the value of cores…….


Builder Matt Lockwood wrote:                                                           Submitted on 2012/02/26 at 2:51 pm

“I would agree with the comment that these engines are widely available. My story: About 6 years ago, I paid about $100 each for two engines, but during disassembly, I found some issues with each. I then purchased another core for $75. Same thing, some problems with the case. My latest was a core I purchased for $20. Its perfect. The engines are out there. Use craigslist, and look to your local Corvair club-Matt”


Buttercup Builder Daniel Kelly, headed to Corvair College #22 writes:                          Submitted on 2012/02/23 at 6:34 am

Phoenix area;     (2 Cores for sale)


  Builder Al Kruckeberg writes:                                                                                     Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 1:29 pm

I have had a love of Corvairs for years, infact my first car was a Corvair. My son has knows this and has been pointing out different aircraft that are Corvair powered. My response was “where are you going to find a Corvair engine to use”. This past weekend my son came home from college and brought a stack of Kit Planes magazines. I was pleasently surprised to see an article on Corvair conversions by William Wynne, and another article on a vw powered homebuilt called the Thatchercx4. This looked like a match made in heaven to me. I retired from airline flying and general aviation as a whole; inspite of holding an A&P license, twelve type ratings, and one major homebuilt project (a Questair Venture). To get to the point, I checked Craigs List for Corvairs and found several, but prices for junk cars were sky high. Out of curiosity I posted an ad under “auto parts” looking for a Corvair engine. In less than 18 hours I had my first response for a guy that had three engines in the car, and one that had been removed. He wanted $250 for a 140hp engine with the transaxle. Last night I got a call from another person offering to give me two engines if I would get them out of his way. The spark has been lit, maybe I will fly again. “Al”


Builder Brian Manlove, headed to Corvair College #22 writes:                                             Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 2:45 am

“Core #1, Craigslist in Pennsylvania, 3 years ago, $150. It cost me more than that to have it shipped back to TX. The seller sent me photos of engine in the car, and pictures of the crankcase and head numbers, which were good. The engine was as advertised, turned over easily with a socket wrench with the plugs removed. Core #2, 3 weeks ago, again Craigslist but this time the seller was only 60 miles from my house. The seller had just pulled the engine out of a modified VW dune buggy. He wanted $200 for the engine, transaxle, and a adapter plate. The dune buggy had bottomed out on some rocks and bent 2 pushrods on one side. It had all of the oil in it. I pulled the top cover off and the crank & connecting rods all were intact and oily. The numbers were right. He sold it to me for $150 without the transaxle. When I got it home, I removed the bent pushrods and plugs and it turned over with a socket wrench just fine. On this one, the heads had already been de-flashed by someone in the past… Hopefully, it will at least furnish backups for heads & crankshaft if it turns out I need them. There are also several complete running Corvairs for sale for >= $4000 on Craigslist here, so I’d pay $4K and drive it home before I’d spend $1200 on the junk H2OLess has advertised – I looked at his eBay site and they’re not even “assembled” – Just cases with studs. I think eBay has become a trap for Corvair “flight engines” and ridiculous prices – Brian “


Builder and international man of aviation, Tom  Graziano writes:                                               Submitted on 2012/02/22 at 12:45 am


You’re spot on with your core value assessment. I’ve bought several over the years from the local junk yards, all for less than $100 each. Lots of junk yards still have Corvairs & Corvair engines. As you stated, Craigslist is a good bet for a core engine too. – Tom” 


Zenith 750 builder and vetran of 4 colleges, Dan Glaze writes:                              Submitted on 2012/02/21 at 10:18 pm

“William, I found my core through a local CORSA club, 120.00 bucks, and very neat person that had 5 restored vairs that looked showroom new, Dan-o”


Builder Sonny Webster wrote in the letter below after reading the story on the value of cores. It is yet another reminder that Corvair engines may not be on the shelf at Wal-Mart, but they are a lot easier to find than most people first guess. I will be glad to update this story today with any other letters builders would like to write in on how they found their cores and what they paid.-ww


“One day while talking to my cousin up in the Amarillo/Lubbock area about my CH650 build I mentioned that I was looking for a Corvair motor for a conversion project. He said that he knew of a complete Corvair 500 that had been sitting out by his neighbor’s barn for as long as he had lived there, which was several years. He stopped by one day and left a note asking if they would like to sell it and the neighbor responded that for $200 my cousin could take the whole care off their hands! He thinks it is a 1968 model that was running when it was parked there. I’ve yet to get the block code to verify which motor it has but this just proves your point that there are engines out there. If you can’t find them on Craig’s List or other on-line sources you may very well find one by simply asking around. – Sonny.”

SP-500 – 2,700cc – Spencer Gould


This letter and photos came in from Spencer Gould. Some quick notes on his background are in a letter he wrote in the “Mail Sack – Stromberg” story.  If you have one of our Zenith Install Manuals, his picture is right up front in the introduction as one of my Hangar Gang. In that paragraph I am pointing out that many experimental aviation companies are staffed by polo-shirt-clad salespeople while our crew has always been 100% hard-core aircraft builders. Spencer was my key guy for the CAD work that went into our 5th bearing and many of the Gold System Parts. He is no Troglodyte, he is an intensely driven very smart guy The design you see here was actually flight tested in a 1/4 scale RC model. Spencer flew it with a live video downlink in the plane focused on the left wing, which was tuff tested to look at the airflow pattern over it. Every layup in the plane has a structural calculation associated with it, nothing is eyeballed. The SP-500 is not your average homebuilt.-ww 

(Note: Being a Troglodyte, I am not very good at posting pictures, and if the pictures take a while to load, it’s probably my fault, and I will have to ask Grace to fix it later. My neighbor’s dog Kirby will stare at you intently and appear to follow your every word if you look at him while talking about any subject, even degreeing a cam. Yet it would be unfair of me to be angry at him if I later asked him to degree a cam and he couldn’t.  I ask that anyone temped to write me an e-mail starting with “resizing Gif files into Dfxl files is easy, you just…” not get angry later. It has been my observation that in the spectrum of mechanical people, Tribe Grease Monkey has always been willing to accept that the Tech-Geek tribe was just born different, and leave it at that. However, the Tribe Tech-Geek tends to have the feeling that the Grease Monkeys have just been deprived of the opportunity to become a Tech-Geek, and if they just patiently instructed Grease Monkey and used small words, he would see the light and trade his ball peen hammer collection in for an Iphone. It’s actually motivated by a beautiful view of human nature, that given the opportunity we are rational enough to “better” ourselves. unfortunately, Kirby was born a dog, and I am a born Troglodyte, and no one should be mad at either of us.-ww)


Hello William,

Here are some current photos of the SP-500 project. Since the early ’08 picture the wing primary structure has been completed. The wing is a constant chord NACA 63-618 that features a ring molded nose and tail rib with a very tight profile tolerance. The spar design has been computer optimized and utilizes Graphlight protruded carbon fiber stock for the caps and G-10 for all the point source load reinforcements. All the bonding operations in the wing were achieved with 1/8” cleco’s on a 2” to 4” spacing, alignment and bond constancy went off with out a hitch with no imprinting required. The fuel tanks are integral covering 3 bays (see the grey Jeffco coating below) with 2 suppression bays before the cockpit.

Below: The engine is a fairly Stock 2,700 cc (O-164). It’s all cocooned up in climate control right now, there is some minor work to be done before it can run but I do intend on getting a 5th bearing set up on it before I fly. I’ve learned a ton about engine building between the Colleges and all the help from you and the Hangar Gang. All those years of working on the TSIOF-550J FADEC installation for the PA-46 I think gave me some hints on the gold color scheme.


All the tail feathers, flaps, ailerons and wing tips are hot wired blue foam. The H stab is removable but the V stab is fixed.


 Above, tailwheel assembly.


When I first started out in this project in ’06, I designed a couple machined components for Piper and had seen their CNC equipment in action but it was not until the hands on training you gave me on manual lathes and mills all those years ago at the old Edgewater hangar that the lightbulb really clicked. Since then I have manually machined many complex components on my Smithy for my plane including the tailwheel assembly and main gear/adapters. All this manual machining knowledge has proven to be very valuable on the P&W aircraft gas turbine work I do now.


Above: The seat crush structure and panels are now complete and I’m working on some trial and error work on the instrument panel (cardboard is my friend and makes for some free and easy prototyping). You can also see the wicked internal support system for the landing gear. It’s similar to a Wittman or RV style but its integral to the fuselage rather than the engine mount.

Below: There has been some coverage about my project on the main Web site but I thought an up to date 3 view of the plane would be helpful:

Above: The wing butt rib showing the attach points that go into the spar box. Caps are carbon fiber .


Hope this has been an informative update on the project.

 See you at Sun ‘N Fun 2011. Spencer


Mail Sack – Troglodytes


I typed “Lifestyles of Troglodytes” between 3 and 4 a.m. last night.  Vern and I worked on Zenith Motor Mounts all day. He rode his motorcycle home at sundown to avoid the projected 25F temperature slated for midnight. I worked in the heated shop, putting crank and cam gears on a 2,700cc engine that will be run at Corvair College #22 in three weeks.  At 10 p.m. Alex called and said he was going to have a late cookout. He is the sailer in the “Mail Sack – Sterling Hayden” post. It was a fun night with 10 people there, including a guy from England and one from South Africa. A lot of good conversation fueled by beer and interesting people. As I was planning on flying at dawn (the weather looked like visibility was going to be 100 miles), I was just drinking a small river of coffee.

I walked across the runway back to our place at 2 a.m. To wired to work or sleep, I spent some time looking at airfoils, toying around with shrinking the Tailwind chord from 48″ to 42″, getting the same spar depth in a 15% thick section, ending up with the same area, but several more feet of span and a better aspect ratio.  The evening’s conversations had sparked a lot of thoughts, and I ended up typing the Troglodyte story.  I looked at it for 10 minutes before sending it.  Would builders think it was funny? Offensive? Plain old weird? I sent it after realizing that it is a little late in my life to suddenly get concerned about being thought of as weird or offensive by middle of the road types. I was too tired to fly at dawn, I went to bed instead. I got up when Vern came back at 9:30 a.m. By this afternoon, the counter on the story indicated that 535 different email addresses had been to the story. In came a long stream of letters, many of which required a lot of thought. Evidently it touched a nerve or a funny bone in a lot of people. As a final note, I want everyone to understand that I have many more friends that are Tech-Geeks than Troglodytes, and I meant no offense to people who are smarter than I am. Maybe one of you Tech guys could explain the hierarchy of the tech world, it would be entertaining, but please, use small words for us Troglodytes.


601XL builder and Pilot Andy Elliott, Phd, aerospace engineer from MIT wrote:      


“As a long-time member of the geek tribe, I mention the classic book “Theory of Wing Sections,” Abbot and von Doenhoff, 1948, that is the standard reference for any of the NACA series airfoils. It includes both ordinates and performance data. It is republished by Dover Books in paperback and is available new from Amazon for <$16!
Another good resource it the Univ. of Illinois airfoil data base, which is found at The Clark series are all there in high precision. Note that this database uses the geek-standard approach of providing the airfoil ordinates in the zero-lift orientation. This obfuscates the flat-bottomed nature of the Clark Y. Again, referring to old data to get away from modern misrepresentations, you can find NACA Report 502 online at This report has the Clark Y coordinates in the troglodyte reference frame, that is with the flat bottom flat. There you can easily see that the airfoil is 11.7% thick!   FWIW,   Andy”

Andy, As an owner of a giant collection of aviation literature, I have most of the stuff you reference right on the back porch. believe it or not, the Clark Y is not in Theory of Wing sections. I have the Troglodyte ordinates in the back of a number of old books, but the references you mention are good assets. Thanks-ww


Builder Jerry McFerron wrote:
Hi William, I have written a program that will convert an Excel file containing the airfoil coordinates to an AutoCAD drawing of the airfoil in one second. The program could certainly use some “real world” testing if you are interested. Take care, Jerry.

 Jerry, Thanks for the very kind offer, and I may take you up on it.  Here is the only issue: I am a genuine Troglodyte of the first order, and I hate to say this in public, but I don’t know how to write up a spreadsheet on Excel.  I would need some help from Grace on that one. I think that if I learn to use Excel, then I might be jeopardizing my status, and before you know it, people will start thinking of me as a Neandertal.


Tom Graziano, man of a thousand global aviation adventures, Super DC-3 owner, etc., writes:

“William, You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble by just getting a copy of Harry Riblett’s book GA Airfoils from the EAA. With a Riblett airfoil, you’ll end up with a superior wing. For a Tailwind, look at the GA35A413.5 and GA35A415 airfoils. You can draw out the ordinates & airfoil by hand – I’ve done it for a couple of projects (butcher paper works well) – or use a computer program. I use Compufoil. Works great! Cheers, Tom”

Tom, Great to hear from you.  I have Harry’s book, read it cover to cover many times. The Tailwind has a real funky packaging problem at the butt rib because the root chord is choked down so much, and the area around the rear spar attachment and where the torque tube passes is generally not covered by the footprint of a lot of good airfoils. You can’t use a lot of them because with the correct angle of incidence they would be either too low for the door to open or too high to blend the cabin top and windshield into the wing. I’ll get a look at the two airfoils and see how they lay out.-ww


Harold Bickford, NE, writes:

“Quite a spectrum there William and a very enjoyable read. On the one hand I’m a geek in that I look to the soon to come day when 3D printers allow the fabrication of many parts useful in an airplane and at reasonable cost. Yet the building will still have to occur, however simplified. Still the Pietenpol (Neanderthal Aviation?) has an appeal as an old school, proven idea. The Corvair engine follows suit. Ditto ‘steam gauges.’

“Just like manually plotting an airfoil using accurate information, it is the engagement that makes the experience fun and a learning experience. Whether cutting and milling wood parts to precise sizes (and being willing to try again) or simply researching the engine numbers to determine which engine you really have, the activity becomes a means of involvement that uses all of the senses.

“It is not instant gratification by any means though the process does become continuing gratification as at every step some bit of learning and progress occur and then the stage is set for the next act in what is a real life adventure.”


Joe Goldman, Sprint builder N198JL from Florida writes:

“William, That’s the way my ribblett wing went. Harry Ribblet airfoil GA35U-A315 . Got a long 1/4″ luan plywood, made my center line and went one from the X column, one from the Y, and one from the Z…. Checked it many times. Looks good and allows for a straight up 8.7″ spar. Hope it flies like the original. Joe.”


Terry Hand,  USMC & ATP,   (    Writes:

“William, As a Captain for a major airline and an airline pilot for close to 25 years, I can appreciate your comments on flying and technology. I spent 4 and 1/2 years instructing glass cockpit jumbo jet training, and we worked hard to instill the concept of ‘automation download’. Simply put, automation download means that once the technology gets in the way of flying that keeps you out of risky situations, download to the next level. If necessary, download to the next level, whatever it takes to maintain safe control of the aircraft.

“How about an example? Say you are flying an airplane such as a 767 that has FMS and you set up the FMS to fly the ILS to 27L in ATL. It is in the box, and you are monitoring the systems while actually flying a Visual Approach to 27L. You call the runway in sight, and Tower offers you 27R since it is a quicker turnoff to the terminal. You accept the runway change, but now what? You download the automation, turn off the FMS (because reprogramming it requires a heads down cockpit- not good at 2000 AGL). You kick off the autopilot, and hand fly the aircraft down the PAPI that you see giving you great glide path info. In other words, you fly the airplane, not the technology. That is the trick – teaching pilots when to make that automation download decision, and avoid going heads down, trying to load the ILS 27R approach in the FMS, and ending up flying across the 26L final approach course (look at the ATL airfield diagram – yes that happened many years ago – unbelievable!). Just my thoughts on the subject. Keep up the great writing. You make me think.”


Rob Schaum, Murphy Rebel w/3,000cc Corvair builder writes:

“Yikes….that story is as scary as it is entertaining. You’ve alluded to this before in your writings, but I’m convinced that the greatest challenge any homebuilder faces is knowing which information sources to trust, and which ones to run away from…quickly. This process, for me, takes almost more time than building. It is compounded by the fact that I, like so many of us, am a part-time builder and cannot rely on an Embry-Riddle education – and decades of experience – to immediately identify the flaws in someone’s argument. Nevertheless, the process of screening out the good info from the bad is critical to our being able to one day confidently sit at the controls of our aircraft, lined up for takeoff, and push that throttle forward.”

Rob, Fear not, you can trust the things you read here, and over time you will develop more and more of a sense of good vs. b.s. info. BTW, did you see yourself in the group 2005 photo on the Dr. Ray Post? I’m pretty sure you’re in there.-ww




Mail Sack – Sterling Hayden


It took me a little while to decide how to organize the letters that come in responding to articles.  Our first round of Mail Sack was a grab bag of letters, but after some thought on readability, I like grouping the notes and letters on a topic on a single page which leads to hearing them as voices in a conversation.  I like the idea that this particular conversation extends all the way to Sweden.

Yesterday, I stopped by the hangar of a friend who is beginning to pack up his Catalina 22 for an extended sail to the Bahamas. He wasn’t home, but I hung out for a little bit and looked over his equipment with a twinge of envy for his pending adventure. You can learn a lot about a person’s priorities by checking out the stuff they have prepped before such a trip.  Among the cartons of Marlboro reds and cases of Bud was his dog’s life jacket, a Mosin-Nagant and a copy of Sterling Hayden’s book.


Sten Backhans, 701 builder from Sweden, wrote:       (Submitted on 2012/02/03 at 3:50 pm)

“If it would be appropriate to be personal, here would be a good reason for it. You and this Howard Hill:ish buccaneer do reach down deep with your Call of the Wild. Perhaps one should be sad for those who cannot, or will not allow themselves, to feel it…..Sten”


 Brian Manlove, builder headed to CC#22  writes:               (Submitted on 2012/02/04 at 1:24 am)

William, I just love this stuff… what an atmospheritude you got going there! Today, Sterling Hayden, and all of your other philosophical nuggets… I keep finding more stuff in my Corvair Manual every time I re-read it. It’s as much a philosophical read as it is a “flight engine instruction guide,” and I’d rather be involved with this effort, to build and fly a machine of my own making, powered by something I know every single little detail about, (with help, of course!) than just about anything else. It just amazes me that you are doing what you are doing, that SOMEONE out there is doing it, in this crazy world of screwed-up values and priorities… THANK YOU. Life is good.


Our friend Larry wrote:            (Submitted on 2012/02/05 at 10:11 pm)

“Yeh! on the Hayden piece – He was just one of several in those gentler years who took their wanderlust and dissatisfactions to the serenity of the oceans… Tangvald, Moitessier, Tenia Aebi and more recently Roger Taylor, etc., etc., (and many other wanderers who never wanted their names in print) all were cut from similar cloth to Hayden in varying degrees…”

Mail Sack – Stromberg Carbs


From Spencer Gould:     (Submitted on 2012/02/03 at 10:34 pm)

Hi William,  On the subject of carburetors what make / model would you recommend for a low wing / fuel pump system like in a 601XL? & When is the next planned Florida Corvair College?

Thanks, Spencer (TGI) 2700 cc & SP-500 builder

Above, Spencer’s original Corvair powered design, the SP-500 single seat aerobatic aircraft. This photo was taken in 2008, the aircraft is far closer to being done today. In the meantime, Spencer has also switched jobs from Piper to Pratt-Whittney, become a homeowner, gotten engaged and beaten serious cancer. Some guys are just overachievers. Spencer is my cheif engineering resource and CAD guy. He has a completed 2,700cc already built for the plane. He is an Embry-Riddle Aerospace Engineer and he is working on commercial and instrument ratings.

Spencer: My first choice for any aircraft that is going to have pressure to the carb, not just gravity feed, is a Marvel Schebler MA3-SPA. Second is an Ellison EFS-3A.  Our next Florida event is Sun ‘n Fun, my 24th consecutive year.  If we are going to have a Florida Corvair College this year, we will announce it at SNF, but right now, I think Barnwell, S.C., in November is going to be the closest event for Florida builders. Please send us updated photos of your bird.-ww


Pete Kozachik,  west coast Pietenpol builder, wrote:    (Submitted on 2012/02/03 at 6:25 pm)

Thanks for the in-depth Stromberg piece; your explanation of the how and why carbs such as my particular unit have no mixture control puts to rest a concern I’ve had (and others I’ll bet). That’s empowering.


From Lyle Fast:           (Submitted on 2012/02/02 at 11:42 pm)

Thanks for your efforts getting this information out into the public domain. I considerate it a valuable service.


 Dave Gingerich asked:    (Submitted on 2012/02/01 at 11:51 pm)

Which float needle are you using in the Strombergs: neoprene tip, steel, or delrin?

Dave,  although the others seal better, I am a big fan of the all metal needle and seat because I think that it is the most tolerant of fuel additives of any of the combinations. If I were thinking of using auto fuel, I would stick with the metal needle, as there is no telling if they will blend something in your batch of car gas that will bother the delrin or neoprene.-ww

Mail Sack – List of Flying Zeniths


 Here are some letters we received on the List Of Flying Zeniths:


 Joe Goldman, a Sprint builder from FL (Submitted on 2012/02/09 at 9:52 pm)

“William, Could you add the location of the planes. I am looking for a ride in Corvair powered Zenair 601xk or 650 as it is the closest to my Sprint. I am in West Palm Beach, Fla.Thanks”

Joe, Scott Thatcher and Zersis Mehta are both in your area, Charles Leonard is on the other side of south Florida. They all have pages on the Zenith Builders and Flyers Web site, a Facebook-style page that is administered by the Zenith Factory, and you can touch base with them directly there.-WW


Sonny Webster, 650 builder from TX (Submitted on 2012/02/09 at 8:33 pm)

“Many of these names certainly look familiar. According to my countdown clock I have 8 years, 5 months and 16 days to get my CH650 on this list. Until then I’ll be occupying my place in the arena. That’s too bad about Scott Laughlin (aka cookingwithgas). He was the first scratch builder I can recall who had a good Web site documenting his build. Larry Winger and Ron Lendon have provided a lot of good insight via their respective blogs and e-mail correspondence. I’m anxious to see these two take wing.”


Becky Shipman, 650 builder, 2700 engine, Submitted on 2012/02/09 at 4:13 pm

“It’s a pretty impressive list. When I went to the Zenith builder’s workshop last March, half the participants were talking about using Corvair Power. Hope to add my 650B to the list, though not likely by Oshkosh. Also, I love the ZenVair logo with the Korean Yin Yang circle superimposed on the Chevrolet badge.”

Mail Sack – James Stockdale


Here is a sample of the letters we received on The James Stockdale – Philosophy story:

From  Andy Elliott,  601XL builder and flyer, Mesa, AZ. (Submitted on 2012/02/07 at 9:11 pm)

“Regarding Admiral Stockdale – I heard Admiral Stockdale speak at a pilot graduation one year when I was a young LT. He was a truly impressive man. I was totally depressed by the performance during the vice-presidential debates, thinking that he should have taken those little men who were his opponents and simply vaporized them with the strength of his character, that they so clearly lacked.  There is a Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the USNA.”


From Stu Bryant, Atwater, California
“PP-SEL. and wanna-be homebuilder; the dream remains ALIVE!”  (Submitted on 2012/02/07 at 4:12 am)

“There are just two blogs which consistently have enough substance to be worth my while to follow regularly. Each are penned by men who tend to swim against the current. Who else is bold enough to stray away from the well worn ruts to actually say something both significant & interesting? Both of you are patriots, and both deeply touched (as I have been) by the generation who fought the last world war. Thank you for all you do for the homebuilding cause, but also for your well spoken thoughtful musings of matters /significant/ in general. It is my increasingly curmudgeonly opinion (despite my age being within a couple years of yours) that most live life in the shallowest way possible. I find it refreshing indeed to see someone express something which transcends the merely selfish and comfortable in order to provoke both deeper thought and feeling. Life is wasted if we settle for less! Anyway, this was right on!”


Terry Hand, USMC aviator, wrote:

“I had just checked into the Training Command in Pensacola as a T34C Instructor in early 1987, when the entire Training Command shut down for one day. We all drove over to Mainside Pensacola to attend the Naval Aviation Association’s 1987 Symposium. The morning’s symposium was a discussion of the topic, “The Air War in Vietnam.” I will never forget the moderator’s first question posed to retired Admiral Tom Moorer, who had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for much of the Vietnam War in the Mid 1960s. When asked what he had learned from the Air War in Vietnam, Admiral Moorer’s reply was, “I didn’t learn a damn thing about how to conduct an air war in Vietnam. I knew how to conduct an air war. The politician’s just wouldn’t let me.” The cheers just about brought down the house!

The afternoon’s discussion was “The Code of Conduct, and its Effect on POWs”. Admiral Stockdale was one of several members of the discussion. The strength of character of the man was so evident as he spoke, and you knew that he was a man who had walked the walk, and not just talked the talk. His words were strong, heartfelt, genuine, and could be seen as having come from the crucible of his experiences. I had just finished reading his book, In Love and War, and, afterward, I wanted to shake his hand and simply thank him for his sacrifice as well as his words of that day. I was fortunate to shake hands with not only Admiral Stockdale, but his lovely wife Sybil. He spent a good amount of time speaking to myself as well as many other pilots and student pilots. I hung around til the end just to say one last goodbye, and as he walked away, I saw that he walked with such a limp, that I said to myself, “That man truly carries the scars of his service to this country, and bears them with pride and honor. What a man!” I have carried the memory of meeting him for almost 25 years now.

On a slight aside to the story, in the first publication you reference of Admiral Stockdale’s discussion of Stoicism, he mentions that his wingman on one of his cruises was a young Marine Lieutenant Duane Wills. I knew him almost 20 years later as Colonel Wills, and he was my MAU (Marine Amphibious Unit) Commander in 1984 and 1985 while deployed aboard the USS Tarawa in WestPac. I had the privilege of flying with Colonel Wills many times during that deployment, and he was another fine Officer and Aviator. I just did not know until I read that paper that I was only one degree of separation from Admiral Stockdale!

I hope that all of this only serves to motivate you to keep writing of the things that you care about in Aviation, because there are many of us that can and do relate to what you write. Thanks again. Semper Fi”

Note: The time stamps on this web page are in Zulu time (GMT).

Mailsack 1/13-22, 2012

Big news on Scottie Blankenship’s Corvair-powered Highlander: on January 10th, at the Just Aircraft factory (where Scottie works), he ran his Roy-bearing engine for the first time — on the airplane. It fired right up, and the wonderful sound and smoothness of the Corvair dazzled a lot of people.

Scottie still has a little work to finish up the airframe, but the first Corvair-powered Highlander will be in the air soon.

My 3-liter engine is at Roy’s now, and I expect the engine and I will be at his next hosting of the Corvair College. Though my Highlander is still well behind Scottie’s, I’m building every day, so I’m making steady progress.

The blog is a fine idea. Thanks for your continued good work.

Richard Holtz, Highlander builder, alumnus of Corvair College #20


Thanks for the photo and the update. Hopefully we’ll see this bird at Sun ‘N Fun 2012?

Please give our congratulations to Scott. Looks like and outstanding job. Send us the word and a photo when the first flight happens.

Thank you.





Flying Zenith 601 with 2,700 cc Corvair, Corvair Colleges alumni


This pump is only recommended to builders using a Weseman bearing. Roy tends to use stock pumps with his bearing. Send us an updated flight report on your airplane and some fresh photos when you have a chance.

Thank you.


I’m no guru, but oil is a subject mechanics really toss about. I’ve heard a million reasons for or against a certain oil, oil pressure, volume, SAE grade, etc. I sold Amzoil for about 2 years and my hardest sell was to aircraft mechanics. I knew it was tough as nails oil, and it could really take the punishment of aircraft engines. I ran it in everything, cars, boats, motorcycles, and I could not convince the aircraft owner to put it into aircraft applications. I think that opinions are like noses, everyone has one. Aero Shell was what they wanted, and they were not to be swayed. Shell is a very good lube, but I think Amzoil is a tougher product.

Perhaps the fact that they are more armchair quarterbacks, than actual pilots who assess the real life issues facing piloting a homebuilt. Besides, this heavy duty oil pump was accepted and ok’d by Scoob E. That’s enough for me. William be well.

Mike Festa, CC20


Thanks for your comments. As you’re an airline mechanic, I hold your opinion in high regard. We flew a lot of hours on Amsoil and it works great in a Corvair. I want to caution builders to NEVER use Aeroshell in a Corvair. It has no zinc phosphate in it, a required element that is protecting the cam and lifters in a Corvair. Our favorite oil remains Shell Rotella T 15W40.


I enjoy reading your writings, philosophy and about your experience. I feel and work very much on the same principal as you, and relate to your philosophy because I feel we are driven by the same things, and also our need to learn how and why. You are doing an excellent job of getting the word out on your work, and I while I am still in the early stages of learning about and building my Corvair conversion, the more I learn, the more I know I have made the right decision for me and my project.
Vic Delgado


Thanks for your kind words. I write the stuff from the heart. It doesn’t resonate with everybody, but the style is honest and a number of people, like yourself, appreciate it as an addition to the technical expertise. Keep us posted on your progress.


Is this the same high volume pump I saw at the last College in November? I wasn’t that familiar will all of the parts but I thought I saw a machined deep case like the one in the picture at your table along with the carbs. It was a nicely machined piece.

Gary Burdett, 2,850 cc CH 750 builder, CC #21 alumni


Yes, we had the prototypes at CC #21. The Colleges are often the first places we display new ideas.


Brian Manlove, heading to CC #22, comments on High Volume Oil Pumps:

Mom’s Singer sewing machine, circa 1956. I was 4. Totally disassembled. She said I got screws loose that she could never budge. She promptly bought me a nice Erector Set… Which lasted until the lawn mower a few years later…



This is a great site. Thank you for taking the time to put it all together.

I read through this article on the balancer with interest. I really appreciate the pictures and your detailed explanation. This gives me a much better picture of what is going on, on that end of the engine. My balancer is stock that came with the engine. I had thought of using it but I am now having second thoughts and will probably replace it with a rebuilt. Is there a good way of telling if the balancer is good?

Jon Coxwell, CC#20, GN-1


Thanks for your coments. My New Year’s Resolution this year was to swear off watching anything on a television set. As a positive substitute, I’ve been working on our aircraft a little bit and reading a lot more. I just picked up a copy of Laura Hillenbrand’s New York Times Best Seller “Unbroken,” the World War II biogroaphy of Louis Zamperini. Chapter 8 starts with describing a B-24 mission out of Hawaii on January 8, 1943.  I believe it is describing your father and his crew. The note is a few brief paragraphs, but I’m sure it will be of interest to you. it

On your balancer, if the rubber is extruded above the surface of the metal, I would not trust it. Rebuilt balancers have a eurethane type material in place of the rubber. Dale Balancers have a four-digit serial number stamped on them and two witness marks to align the inner and outter part. If you have one of these, it is good to fly.


The billet crank, for the reasons stated, looks like a very promising approach. The methodical and careful approach to R&D is what impresses. At the same time I can appreciate that the standard 164 Corvair is more than adequate for an airplane such as the Pietenpol that I’ve started on.

Harold Bickford, Manual #8606


The best evidence we have available suggests you’re right. If someone wanted to use a billet crank in a Pietenpol, I’m all for it. If someone chooses to fly another aircraft on a stock crank, I’m all for that as well. As I stated in the post, I’m here to present the data as we know it and let each builder decide for himself what makes sense on his own aircraft.  


Thanks for your responses regarding my motor mount. I am still practicing my gas welding technique. It has to be good if I’m going to attempt to tack-weld to a spool on a wood table top!

On another note, I was wondering if you could comment/report on the status of the turbo set-up. Even though I am 90% set on the 3L option for the heavier Rebel (about 925 lbs. empty), turbo normalizing on a bush plane seems like a good match (max take-off power even at high density altitude, etc….). Roy hasn’t even started on my 3L conversion yet, so it’s not too late to change my mind.

Rob Schaum, Murphy Rebel


Here’s the good news: A 3 Liter engine has the dished pistons in it which allow later turbocharging should you choose to upgrade to that. We had very good results testing the compatiibility of turbos and OT-10 cams. There are a few small changes to turbocharging an engine, but they are all external on a 3L. Anyone building a 2,850 or a 3L engine is in a good position to upgrade to a turbo later if they choose to do so. It will not require changing anything internal on the engine.


Back in the day when I worked in a shop remanufacturing Allison transmissions we used TimeSerts. Never saw one fail. Did however see some Helicoils unravel during disassembly for whatever reason. Perhaps not adequately installed? But none I saw failed in operation, only disassembly.

(I am a mechanically inclined PP-SEL with some taildragger time; dedicated observer & fan but not a builder at this poin t- but /only/ because of present financial and time constraints. Have pretty firmly concluded that Corvair would be the best/only choice for me if/when I build. Kudos to William for his philosophy & zeal in encouraging this most sane of alternative engines!)

Bull Elk

Dear Mr. Elk,

Thank you for the comments. The number one thing that helicoils and some time-serts have a problem with is having excessive carbon hanging out on the end of a sparkplug thread protruding past the helicoil into the cylinder. When such a plug is removed, the carbon will occasionally jam the threads and back out the helicoil. For this reason, I like time-serts in sparkplug holes on Corvairs more than helicoils. However, helicoils do a darn good job in places where the bolt will not be removed and replaced frequently.


I like the Panther construction concept. Is there any new info on Ed Fisher’s Fleet or Zipper designs? 

Thanks, Pete Chmura


Ed Fisher is not currently actively working on either of those designs.


Great work. This site looks good — Larry Hatfield, #21 CC alumni, 3L 750 builder

Thanks for the kind words, Larry.


Your new blog is the perfect forum for this kind of information sharing. It is so easy to get distracted by the noise and chatter of the online discussions that seem to attract strong (but often uninformed) opinions from self-proclaimed experts. I continue to appreciate your practical approach to helping builders follow a proven path to their first flight and beyond. Thanks, William. Now it’s back to the shop so I can see you in the air in 2012!

Larry Winger, California, CH 650 2700 cc/Weseman bearing, engine ran at CC #18


I thought you’d appreciate the photo above taken during the housecall I made to you after Corvair College #18. Keep us posted as you close in on your first flight.


Becky Shipman, 2,700cc CH 650 with Weseman bearing, comments on Chinese crankshafts:

Part of my job for a multinational corporation is to train Chinese engineers to maintain and operate coating equipment. It takes a while to get them to understand the importance of maintaining tight tolerances. I think I’ll go for an original GM crank nitrided.


The original GM crank nitrided with a fifth bearing is the most popular combination that people are building for their Zenith aircraft. Although there are a large number of 601/650s flying without a fifth bearing, many of these people plan to upgrade to a Weseman bearing. We recommend that everyone with a STOL airplane utilize a 5th bearing because they can generate large asymmetric loads at high angles of attack.


Dan Branstrom comments on Chinese Crankshafts:

I concur with your evaluation of Chinese manufacturing. They are capable of making some excellent products, but quality control is not their strongest suit. Price is their strongest motivation, and, when they compete for business with other businesses in China, their margins are often paper thin.

China has a vastly higher number of engineers than we have here in the U.S., but in their move from what was basically a feudal, agrarian, society before the revolution, to a much more modern and still economically controlled society, there have been a number of shortcuts that have been taken. It shows up in quality.

It’s the wild west there. There are no standards and they don’t use W. Edwards Demings’ quality control principles in many of their products. Caveat emptor.


I read your comments with special interest, aware that your mother and father worked a great deal of their lives in mainland China before the revolution. Your international background, hailing from an American family working in China born in India, gives you a unique take.


Rick Lindstrom, contributing editor of Kit Planes Magazine, 2,700 cc 601 builder and pilot, comments on Chines Crankshafts:

Years ago I worked for a computer manufacturer that had our circuit boards built by relatives of the CEO in China. These boards were plagued with compatibility issues, and I headed up the service organization charged with making them operational. This is where I learned a lot about the Chinese philosophy of manufacturing. Two things still stick out.

The Chinese are VERY frugal, to the point of using a known incompatible component until it’s gone from inventory. The silk screened revision number might be correct, but the mix of parts on the board was anybody’s guess.

And they also have a common saying when dealing with westerners. It goes “You can ALWAYS fool the foreigner!” We think this is unethical. They think it’s good business practice.

I keep these two things in mind whenever I purchase anything. I’ll pay double or triple if I can avoid the serious quality issues inherent in Chinese hardware.

But, I still like Chinese food.


Thanks for your comments. We included the above photo with you in the center flanked by myself on the right and Michael Heintz after you won the Best Engine Installation Award at Copperstate in 2007. We also love Chinese food. Our local restaurant is owned by a family that emigrated from Kowloon. When you think about it, the food they make now is made in America.


Dan Glaze, Corvair College graduate with running 2,700 cc engine comments on Chinese crankshafts:

Well said William, my trust is in your vast experience with the Corvair.


We’re here to present the facts. We trust your ability to decide for yourself based on the data we present.


Ron Lendon, 2,700 cc, Roy bearing equipped, CH 601, 1st engine run at CC #17, also writes about Chinese crankshafts:

Thanks for taking the time to provide a well thought response to the crank issue. Hopefully those who need to know this story will read and understand its full meaning.


Your thoughts on this carry some weight. The fact that you work for the engineering branch of General Motors and understand international manufacturing makes your recommendation noteworthy. Looking forward to seeing your airplane airborne this year.


Talked to Ken P tonight and learned about this blog. Looking forward to lots of good info being passed around.

Peter Shean


We couldn’t have gotten this started without Ken’s help. He’s been an unbelievably productive and encouraging friend for many years.



Nice blog site! .. I’m very glad to see you back on the web with a Q&A forum that includes pics. It’ll be a great resource to builders and Corvair flyers alike. I just passed 80 hours last weekend on my Corvair-powered Zenith CH650 and the engine I built seems to produce even more power in the past 30 or so hours .. I assume that’s because it was finally breaking in? I have yet to re-pitch my Warp drive prop just yet as I’ve been enjoying flying too much on any nice weekends. At 3000 rpm I get 115 mph indicated on these chilly days here in Indiana .. and that’s at 8.5 degrees of pitch.

By the way, I firmly believe the Corvair engine is a perfect match for my home-built aircraft and delivers outstanding performance for an engine that I built and can maintain going forward. Thanks again for launching this site and the support you will provide here.

Dave Gardea, Flying Zenith 650


Great to hear from you. Thank you for the progress report. If you can e-mail us a few current photos, we’d like to do an aircraft update on your plane here like we did with Andy Elliott’s. A YouTube video link also would be greatly appreciated.


Hi William,

I just found out about the blog; guess I have been living in the past. The content is great and I look forward to learning from the discussions. Love the philosophy!

Blaine Schwartz, 2,850 cc Zenith 750 builder from Texas


Looking forward to seeing your engine fire up and run for the first time at Corvair College #22. Thanks for the positive word on our new efforts.


These valve covers look really nice. I wish mine were powdercoated, but I didn’t even think of that, back in the day.

I think this blog is a great idea. It looks like this will be a great forum to record your vast knowledge about all things Corvair.

Phil Maxson, 2,700 cc/Weseman bearing, Flying 601XL, New Jersey


 I watched the YouTube video the other day of your airplane flying over Daytona Beach. It had 30,000 hits on it. You’re a movie star.  Send us a few new photos and an update and we’ll write a Flying Planes post about you like Andy Elliott’s.


Hey, William,
It’s great to be connected with you in this way, looking forward to staying in touch and up to date!

Dr. Steve Mineart, Flying Zenith 601 with 2,700 cc Corvair


Just like Phil, we need updated photos of your aircraft, preferably some in-flight, and word of your adventures to date. Just email it them to Looking forward to reading it.

Thank you.


Hi William and Grace,
Glad to see you get this site up and going. I always liked reading the daily Q and A on the other site. Flying the Piet every chance I get a warm enough day.

Randy Bush, Tennesee, builder and pilot of Miss Le’Bec, a 2,700 cc Roy bearing equipped Corvair powered Pietenpol


Great to hear from you. You’re one heck of a tough guy flying an open cockpit plane even on warm winter days. Hoping to see you at Brodhead again this year.


William and Grace,

It’s great to have a single-point resource for open discussions on the Corvair conversion. Have been following “The Movement” for several years and am now building a CH650 which is slated for Corvair power when the time comes. However, I must say that my enthusiasm was curbed a bit after hearing of Mark’s crank failure but I remain optimistic that this conversion will continue to evolve into a reliable alternative power solution.

Thanks for all of the expertise and insight that you so generously share with the rest of us. Looking forward to following along with hopes of sharing something meaningful in the future.

Sonny Webster, Magnolia, TX


Thank you for the note. We’re going to cover a lot more of the successful flying Zenith aircraft, to give people a more rounded view of how many successful flying aircraft there are out there on Corvair power, particularly Zeniths. The notes above include 3 guys who are out there flying the Zenith/Corvair combination you’re building. Given all the data, most builders agree it’s an excellent combination. Hope to see you at CC #22.


Hi William & Grace
I really like the new Corvair Communication Center, you all did an oustanding job setting it all up.

Thank You,
Russ Mintkenbaugh
Building Wagabond w/ Coravir Power, first engine run CC #20


Great to hear from you. We had a fanatastic time with you at Corvair College #21. Looking forward to seeing more of you this year. Keep up the good work on your project and please email us photos of your project.


Howdy William!!

Good to see you back, missed you over at Corvair list. Buttercup is sleeping nice and snug, hope to have shop room in a month. Looking forward to a CC at Roy’s place.

Joe Brown, Merrill, WI


Good to hear from you. I was just saying to Roy that the housecall we made to your place may very well have been the northernmost one I’ve ever made in the U.S. Good to hear that your plans for a shop are coming together. There are many people who would like to see you put the rest of our old Buttercup project together and demonstrate how well that combination will work. Please keep us posted on your progress with photos.


Hi William and Grace,

I would post some pictures of my Dragonfly/Corvair but I am not sure how to do that on this blog. I am not a blogger does one have to join a group or something?

Charlie Johnson, Ogden, Utah, 2,700 cc Corvair with Weseman bearing now in taxi testing, veteran of CCs # 13 and 21


 Since you’re a real life rocket scientist, we would have figured you knew all about blogs. You do not have to join or subscribe, you can just come here and read and send us photos to our regular email address, This blog has a notification feature that will let  you know when we have something new on here if you click on the RSS link and subscribe. Looking forward to hearing of your first flight.



Welcome back !

Just saw Pat P’s note about this site on Mark’s list. Glad to see you back online.

Charlie, N.J.


Thanks for the encouraging word. Tune in, we’ll have a lot more to say here.


Good news is that you are doing this blog site. I feel like my principle information source is again available to me. My 2850 cc is mounted and waiting on me to finish up the remaining tasks of completing the the Sonex, such as wiring the panel and painting. Just a couple of more months!
Clarence Dunkerley, Cleanex builder with running engine, CCs #19 & 21


Great to hear from you. Watching you and your brother work together at CC #21 to get your engine up and running was fun and inspirational. I got a message from Sensenich the other day, so I suspect your 54×56 prop is ready to go. Looking forward to seeing your bird in the air this year.


Congratulations William this is a wonderful blog site. It will be a real asset to Corvair builders and flyers.

Carroll Jernigan, builder of the first engine to run at CC #17


Great to hear from you. I used the flywheel tool you graciously gave to us just the other day. Brought back nice memories of having you at CC #17.


Thank you!

Dale Williams
N319WF – Reserved


You’re welcome.


The new blog is great. I hope to be in your flying section soon!!!

Great looking Blog William. Great to hear from you!!!

Jeff Moores, Merlin builder with running Corvair, Newfoundland, Canada


We thought you’d like your airplane being featured in the Stainless Steel Exhaust article. Keep us posted as you close in on flying.

Thank you.


Mailbag is a collection of quick notes written in by builders, friends and readers.

“Looks great. About time!”

Rhonda Weseman,, Corvair powered Fisher Celebrity now flying, pictured below


Thank you for the lovely words of encouragement. Yours was the first comment we got on this site.


“William and Grace,
“You guys did an awesome job. It’s only going to get better as time goes on and more content is added.”

Ken Pavlou, 601 XL 95% complete


We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for all your technical support. Thanks and kudos as well for running the online registrations for Corvair Colleges.


“Congrats on your new blog site. I much appreciated your advice on my Corvair conversion, and see this as a great asset for all of us neophytes trying to make a safe and reliable engine. Best wishes!”

Pete Kozachik, California, Pietenpol builder, CC #18 alumni


 “Yes! This is great. Is there a date set for a C.C. at Roy’s In Michigan?”

Peter B. Chmura


We have not picked out a date for a College at Roy’s this year, but we had such a great time at Corvair College #20 last year that we are certain to have another event there. Check the Event tab on for the latest.


“Nice to have you back. I am diligently building and showing steady progress.”

Terry Samsa, Minnesota, 701 builder, running engine at Corvair College #20


Thanks for the kind words. We thought we’d toss in the photo of your engine running at Corvair College #20.


“Great news William! And glad to see you back online…am personally looking forward to getting more great informaiton from you!”
Garry Williams


We think this format is going to work out great for people really focused on making progress and hearing positive news from their fellow builders. Glad to have you following.


“Thanks Grace & William, this is what I have been waiting for, Just an update on my progress, as you know my engine is complete and waiting on an airframe, I  purchased the wings kit for the Zenith 750 and have the left wing about 80% complete, my goal is to fly to a future College. Leaving the nay-sayers behind.”

“This  is too cool, I flew in P.F. Becks Piet. at CC #19 and loved it, thanks for a great clip.”

Dan Glaze, 750 builder, alumni of Corvair Colleges #17-21


Thank you for the positive comments. The above photo is your engine when it fired up for the first time at CC #20. You and Albert are great assets for builders at Corvair Colleges. We look forward to seeing both of you again soon.


Congratulations on the new site. I don’t tweet (or is it twit), Facebook, or friend, but I do enjoy the ability to access factual information from informed sources .”

Gary Burdett, Illinois, 2,850 cc powered, Zenith 750  builder, Corvair College #21 alumni


I’m not really into the social media stuff, and I don’t really know how all that stuff works. But I do know that this blog is working out well enough that I have to take back all the uninformed things I said about blogs in the past.


“Hey, William–

“It will be fun to watch this venue/resource mature. It looks like it will be a wonderful addition to the information hiway for the Vairhead community.”

Bob Pustell, 601XL/Corvair, still building, alumni of Corvair Colleges #13-17


Our pleasure. I was just telling some local F-4 guys the other day about my admiration for your Phantom experience. The above photo is you at Corvair College #14 in Massachusetts.  


“Nice forum WW.  It looks good from the iPad also. Getting closer to flight ready, I’ll be spinning the prop later this afternoon.”

 Ron Lendon, Michigan, 601 XL, CC #17, 20


Good to hear from you. Keep your iPad handy. We intend to update this site frequently. From the archives, we brought out the picture of your engine running for the first time at Corvair College #17.



“1st test flight today. Ran hot but strong. Made some mods. Will try again tomorrow at dawn.”

Bob Lester, KR-2, Florida (Aircraft has been converted to new airfoils, Front Starter and Weseman bearing.)


Congratulations on getting back in the air. We’re looking forward to more updates on the performance of your aircraft. Please e-mail us a video when you get a chance. Grace and I picked out the above photo because it’s the first run of your updated Front Starter engine at Corvair College #17. 45 F and 150 mph wind chill. You look so toasty.



“Just found your new forum site. Hope all Corvair fans will log on to participate in and share the wealth of good information available here.

“We at Barnwell are rebuilding the storage room/bathroom in the big hangar where we hold the Corvair College. Also adding more overhead lights and will build two more work tables for this year’s event.

“I plan to be at Sun ‘n Fun and will again volunteer in the wood shop. If all goes well, we will likely be working on Pietenpol fuselages for John Godwin and Michael Oberlies.

“See you there.”

P. F. Beck, Pietenpol builder and pilot, Barnwell, S.C., host of Corvair Colleges #19 & 21


Thanks for the good words and the good news. We will again have a commercial booth at Sun ‘N Fun this year. It will be my 24th consecutive year at the event. We look forward to spending some time with you there. We drew out the photo above from our Corvair College #19 album. Grace took it from the front seat of your bird when you gave her a flight. Congratulations on flying more than 210 people and counting in your aircraft. Looking forward to another Barnwell College in the fall.