The Garbage of Fools

Builders,

I was alerted by a friend of this item on eBay:

.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2014-ZENITH-601XL-B-66-SNEW-WYNNE-CORVAIR-100H-P-92-S-BUILD-FLIPPED-AFTER-/132925887895

.

I have no idea who’s plane this was. If someone knows, please message me.

.

Wentworth , the seller, is a very well known salvage operation, but the copy on this add sounds like it was written by someone who knows nothing about planes. It is listed as easily repairable, but I have built the same model plane, and I’m calling it 100% destroyed.

.

Problems with the engine; it is listed as built my me, but I really doubt it. The plane is said to be a 2014 model, but the Gold Oil filter housing is not anodized, it is a preproduction item from 2006. Notice it has no 5th bearing.

.

Ask yourself why anyone would be registering a Corvair powered plane without a 5th bearing in 2014. Sound like a person with good judgement? Read the ad about how only one prop blade is broken, so the engine is good. Sure. Just assume the engine is junk.

.

I’m going to call Wentworth in the morning and ask what evidence they have i built the engine, and if the answer is ‘none’, watch how the add changes tomorrow.

.

I hope not, but I’m sure someone will buy this for $4,500 and want to know if they can just put another prop on it and go flying. Just make sure it isn’t you.

.

Wewjr.

.

.

Wrong place to ‘save weight’

Builders;

Smoky Yunick, was famous for the quote ‘In 50 years of racing, from Baja to Bonnieville and from Daytona to Indy, I have seen a great many things, but I have never seen a blown motor win a race.’

.

Yunick was one of the great communicators of practial mechanical experience. I have read most of what he published, the copies of his books I own are all well worn, dog eared and full of notes in the margins. He was very clear on one point: most engine failures he had seen in modified engines came from one source: People trying to make parts lighter. To Yunick, the idea was simple; if it did not run on the last lap, you could not win, therefore any theoretical advantage of a lightend part wasn’t worth it. In airplanes, this is ten times as true.

.

Below is a picture of a Corvair piston. It is from an forced landing several years ago. An engine failure leading to a forced landing, which fortunately ended in no injuries and light damage to the aircraft.

.

I came across this souvineer cleaning up. It was in the #5 position of a flying motor when the #6 piston grenaded. There was little of #6 to tell the story, but #5 told the tale: Look at the wall thickness of the wrist pin. Next to it is a stock wrist pin, three times as thick. Neither the guy who owned the plane nor the guy who assembled the motor saw this comming. The pistons had been purchased years earlier, and then donated to another builder. Lost along the way was the fact they were ordered with incredibly light pins, made by a company which I later found out went bankrupt after a number of failures. The total weight savings in the engine had been less than a pound, but it had been the cause of the failure. The same plane is flying today with regular wrist pins.

.

When I wrote in my manual:

“Nothing you get in exchange for reliablity was a good trade, in aircraft weight isn’t the most importiant factor, reliablity is” 

I’m not speaking theoreticaly. I have a lots of souvineers in my hangar, where builders wanted to ‘try something better’. I have quite enough, avoid all temptation to add one to my collection. Thanks.

.

.

Smokey Yunick was one of the most colorful mechanical Americans of all time. He was both an aviator and a motorsports innovator of the first order. He was a prolific practical tester and technical writer. He lived in Daytona Beach for 50 years, and he was unusually accesible; when I was a student at Embry-Riddle I drove over to his shop on Beach Street to ask him a technical question. His Garage appeared closed, but his daughter had a pet shop next door, and if she thought your question was valid she would pick up a phone and say “Dad, can you come up front?” and the man himself would apear and walk you inside and answer your question. Yes, a man who designed and built cars that won both the Daytona and Indy 500 was generious like that. Take a minute and read his story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Yunick

.

Wewjr.

.

Blue Monday

Builders,

It was a very long weekend of Stromberg carb testing. Sounds interesting and it was, but it also felt like taking a carb on and of the intake 20 times and sitting in a 100 mph breeze for several hours on a chilly day. It was actually nice to be in the heated shop all day.

,

I write up the results shortly, but today was Monday, and that meant regular parts production. Winter is ‘slow season’, but we still work every week on regular orders. The winter has a different schedule because Colleges are in the spring and fall and Brodhead and Oshkosh consume the focus of the summer. This leaves large R&D projects and custom work like landing gear until this time of year, but regular parts are make year round.

.

.

Above, we spend most of Monday welding production Zenith and Pietenpol exhausts exhausts, the blue light of Tig welding illuminating the workshop. Although both of us can weld and fabricate, we usually end up with Vern welding all day while I fit the parts and reload the fixtures. This also allows me to cover other tasks at the same time. Today that was machining and riveting distributor plates.  We spent the day cranking old 1980s and 1990s music, and in there was New Order playing ‘Blue Monday’. but Liz Phair was singing ‘Supernova’ when I snapped the picture.

.

Wewjr.

.

Stromberg Shootout, Pt #2

Builders,

Dan and Tracy Sheradin arrived at 9pm Friday, after a long drive from NC. They were here to have some fun, and put a great effort into the Stromberg Shootout. Below are a few pictures of a long Saturday of testing which ran from 7:30am until midnight, with only a few short breaks.

.

.

Tracy does a ‘Vanna White’ style presentation of our test carb line up. We ran them all today. That is a lot of carb, airbox, fuel line and throttle linkage changes on a hot motor in a single day.  We also paused to do compression tests and adjustments on my 3,000cc Corvair to insure we were running controlled tests.

.

.

Above the engine running in front of my house with the first carb. The timing light is giving the RPM. Large round gauge is manifold pressure.

.

.

Above, we ran two different kinds of plugs in the engine and tested fine valve adjustments to precision tune the engine. In the photo we are using a dynamic compression tester to measure trapping pressure in the cylinder, and comparing this with adjusting intake rockers.  It wasn’t the focus of the testing but it fit in with the series of tests.

.

.

Above, this is what is inside a Stromberg. Hangar ‘experts’ claim these are “just a one barrel carb” but in reality they are a very well made, fully adjustable, robust carb. We disassembled three of the carbs to make internal adjustments.

.

.

Above, Dan works on setting the float height, which is one of several mixture adjustments. the higher the fuel level in the bowl, it runs richer, This combined with main jets and air bleeds sets the air fuel mixture. A unique feature of the design is being able to set the float height on the table with the top of the carb off.

.

.

After a full fay of testing, we looked at the results and chose to follow this recommendation from Bob Kachergius, “the Stromberg specialist.” We reset Terry Hand’s carb to this, and it will be the first one we run on Sunday. (Sunday update, I suspect we copied a number wrong, as this didn’t want to run well from 1,000-2,200 rpm. More later)

.

.

Above, Dan got a kick out of looking at my decades old carb books, dating from my days at Embry Riddle. In looking through the book he saw that a scored 100% on the exam on MA-SPA  series carbs, but later found that I only scored 70 on a snap quiz on Strombergs…..he thought it explained a lot of why the day was taking a long time.

.

.

Above, the engine running cleanly today

.

More, after further tests..Wewjr

Welding, The Good the Bad and the Ugly.

Builders,

Since we have been looking at some nice welding in previous posts, let us look at the other side of the coin. Sometimes you can learn more by looking at the full range of work.

.

.

Above, This is 100% NOT-AIRWORTHY.  This weld actually looks better than it is, the tubing is completely oxidized around the welds. This came off a complete fuselage which a builder brought to my hangar for inspection. I cut it up as garbage.  He had a $3,000 tubing kit and near 400 hours in welding it. How did this happen? This is the fault of closed-minded idiots in his local EAA chapter, and headquarters needs to directly address the attitude that produced this.

.

The welder went to meetings, but told his EAA chapter president and tech counselor that he is using an automotive engine conversion on his plane. Because they are vermin who don’t understand the responsibility of their positions requires they share what they know with every builder, not just their friends assembling RV’s, They refused him any guidance and did their best to socially isolate him.  As a result of working in isolation, he missed that Gas welding is done this 5 psi pressure on both the O2 and  Aceteline. He mistakenly ran the O2 at 25 psi because that is the correct setting for a cutting head. It was a simple mistake that any qualified tech counselor would have seen in one minute….if he had been there instead of judging other builders choices. If you have found yourself in this situation, contact me early, I will be glad to offer all the assistance I can. To this builders great credit, he didn’t argue scrapping the fuselage at all. He just spent some time learning from Vern and myself, and is now doing good work.

.

BTW, I have actually seen worse welds flying in planes that were signed off by a DAR, which tells you the DAR is there to inspect the paperwork, not the plane. Never assume just because a homebuilt ‘passed’ inspection that it is airworthy nor safe to fly in.

.

.

OK, not all welds have to look like modern Tig welds to be good. I did the welds above with a gas welder, 22 years ago. This is a chunk of my Pietenpol mount.  If you look at the bent parts, you can see that none of the welds came anywhere near failing, even though the plane was completely destroyed from spinning in from 80′. Good welding is never brittle, and gas welds that look like the ones above will serve a lifetime in a plane, even if your friend makes a mistake close to the ground.

.

.

Welding is a great skill to have in your personal capablity list. If you think of getting welding equipment just because you want a plane with a welded fuselage, forget learning the skill, just buy a factory fuselage, even if it is $10K (never go to a ‘buddy’ to weld a fuselage because he promises to be cheaper, I have never seen that as a success story.) On the other hand, if it is a skill you have always wanted to have, then go for it, but take the learning very seriously and understand it might be a long time before you can make something airworthy.

.

Once you have the skill, you will suddenly see that since the industrial revolution, nearly everything in our world is made of steel, and you can now fuse it into nearly anything you like. The photo above is a mount for my Detroit engine. I made it last week. It is Tig welded.  The round tube is a section of a driveshaft and the 2×3 tube was laying in an outdoor pile. Clean them up in the blaster, fit them and weld, and you can have a structure which will mate a road grader engine to a pick up truck, something not for sale in stores. It’s liberating when your skills free you from the limited choices offered by the consumer world.

.

.

Art work in the living room of a Motorhead. This is the remains of my Pietenpol. Cleaning up the hangar on Christmas Day I came across a drum of old burnt steel parts, rusty from being flooded several times in the last 13 years. I spread it on the floor of the hangar and Mig welded it into the shape you see. I call it “Please use carb heat.” Blow it up and get a look,  you can see how mangled it was, but none of the welds failed. I cut it into pieces, but every bend is a result of the accident. The Goodyear Zeppelin in the background belonged to my father, he got it when he was five in 1930.

.

Happy building and flying,

Wewjr.

.

Pietenpol CG and gear welding

Builders,

On day two of Earl Brown’s visit to my shop we worked on his Pietenpol gear legs. Earl is using split axle gear, laced wire wheels, and disc brakes. The pictures below show some of the stuff Earl, Vern and myself worked on today.

.

How do you know where to place the axle in the plane? Follow the 1933 plans? Think again, pre-war Piets didn’t have brakes, and if you try the 1933 gear location of the axle 10″ behind the leading edge, you can be the next guy to put one of these planes on its back. People make that mistake all the time. Why? I have no idea, because from 2010-2012 Myself and Ryan Mueller did an enormous project measuring W&B data from 40 different Piets, developed a mathematical formula to calculate the heaviest pilot who could fly any Piet, and then wrote a series of very clear, concise articles on the information. Problem solved? Not at all, almost no one outside Corvair builders used the data, and they went merrily ahead believing old wives tales and building planes with aft CGs and the tendency to go on their nose.

.

Fortunately Earl is a smart cookie, and in a few minutes we placed the location of his Axle 11.6″ behind the firewall, about 1″ behind the leading edge of the wing, and set up this way his plane will not go out of the aft CG limit unit the pilot weighs more than 280 pounds. Five minutes of paper work vs years of building wondering if you will have to move the wing or build new landing gear legs…..or both. Your choice, but Earl is a low stress guy, so he chose 5 minutes of looking at the old articles we wrote long ago.

.

.

Above, a page from the 2012 BPAN newsletter, where all the CG articles were published. These are still available. The is no rational reason to ignore the existence of this painstakingly gathered data, but many builders do. I wrote the articles myself, they cover all popular engines for Piets, and they are presented very simply. It is not required to be a math wonder to use the data, there are many examples of each engine to follow.

.

When I presented this data at Brodhead, a man actually told me that I was “ruining Pietenpols” because they are for people who “Like to fly low and slow, and not think too much.” I pointed out that he was literally advocating running out of Altitude, Airspeed and Ideas at the same time.  Some people you just can’t reach.

.

.

Earl made a wood fixture which took the place of the bottom of his fuselage. It also located the axles. Pietenpols have a flat steel tension strap connecting the fittings on each side of the plane.  In the foreground are the the completed die spring assemblies.

.

.

Above, a look at the front fittings, and the beginning of the landing gear leg. $130 steel parts were made by Earl, and Vern welded them with my Tig welder.

.

.

Above, the rear attach fittings, these wrap around the sides, and are also the lift strut attach points.

.

.

Above, Vern stops for “dinner.” It’s Herring out of a can. To make the shop smell better I had to burn more of Earls particle board fixture with the welder. It didn’t really cover the scent, so I may have to empty the contents of several cat litter pans into the shop just to freshen things up. Vern’s jacket celebrates the Bonneville Salt flats. He hand painted the image and the lettering on the jacket one day when he was bored, about 10 years ago.

.

Wewjr.

.

Pietenpol welding with Friends

Builders,

In the winter, work shifts to several activities we save for the slow season. They are R&D and Testing, Building up inventory, and specialty custom work. Today was good example of the last category. We had Corvair/Pietenpol builder Earl Brown at the hangar, and Vern and I did some welding on parts for Earl’s wheels and landing gears.

.

Over the last 10 years, Earl and his better half Katrina, have attended a great number of Corvair Colleges, always showing up to assist more than make progress on their own stuff. Although they are from Pennsylvania, they coveral all the Corvair Colleges we have held in Texas, and we also in attendance at many Barnwell Colleges. That sprit of giving back and assisting others is the fundamental element that makes the Corvair world different. I appreciate it beyond words, so I was glad to have Eral at my hangar to advance his project with some welding .

.

.

Above, Wire wheels are popular on Pietenpols, it gives them the original pre-war look. The hubs for these are made from tubing and plate, and welded together. For a look at some nice welding, check out the bead on Earl’s hub. It was done in my shop by Vern today. Vern has been welding for 50+ years. To get a look at part of his story, please read :American made tools, built to last. When I have had just the right amount of coffee and a good nights sleep, I can come reasonably close to Vern’s efforts above, but I rely on the pulse feature on the machine to produce uniform ringlets. Vern is old school, and the bead above was done solely by hand motion and working the pedal. He is exceptionally skilled.

.

.

If you follow Piet stories, you know that we make die spring gears for them. For a detailed look at how we have made many of them in the last 20 years, review this 2012 story: New die spring landing gear on a Pietenpol, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  The Parts above are the caps for a set of die spring gear for Earl. The Rod ends are from SummitRacing.com, as well as the weld in threaded sections. they are 1/2-20.  Each of the above parts has two very fine weld beads on them. This is what first class TiG welding looks like.

.

.

Above, Your humble narratior, Earl and Vern in my workshop. A fun and productive day by any measure. We are working on the gear legs tomorrow, I share some pictures of the final work in the next installment.

.

Happy Building and Flying,

Wewjr. 

.