Planning your build: Call for Heads, Cranks, and Cases.

Builders:

In 10 days I am going to open up the registration and sign up for our November Barnwell South Carolina Corvair College. read: Barnwell Corvair College, 2020, it has a video link about this very special event.

.

Although it is a number of months away, It is very important to plan and get started on prep work with Heads, Cranks and Cases, now. These critical items come from the Weseman’s at Sport Performance Aviation, the Panther people. For the sake of efficiency, they are done in batches. In speaking with them last week, we covered getting a large number of builders ready for fall building and the Barnwell College. Looking at the time lines, it is very important that builders who want to make progress or run their engine at Barnwell need to send in the three long lead time items above. This next batch will get into the process pipeline in the next 2-3 weeks. They will be done long before Barnwell, but projecting forward, the next batch will be mid-September, and that round isn’t guaranteed to get all done, and back in builders hands before Barnwell. Thus, it is critical that builders planning on running at Barnwell have their critical components in to SPA very shortly.

.

Heads are the longest lead time item, and the sooner your cores get to SPA the better. Occasionally, during the disassembly inspection phase, it turns out the builder needs 1 head or would be better off with nicer cores. We can track these down, it isn’t a big deal, but it is far easier if this is discovered earlier. Even if you are not planning on attending Barnwell, but are serious about advancing your engine sooner, get on the phone and speak with SPA about scheduling.

.

There are several options on processed cranks through SPA, but the most popular is using your 8409 GM forged core crank, after complete reprocessing, mated to a Weseman Gen II fifth bearing. Again, this has lead time on it, and it is important to get these in the works. If you are considering a 3.3L engine, they all have Billet cranks, and right now SPA has a limited supply on hand. The Billet crank is optional on other engines, and you can cover the pros and cons of this with them, great motors can be built based on either crank.

.

On the subject of Cases, if you are building an engine 3,000cc or more, the cases have to be machined. For this, they need to be sent to SPA. Again, this has a bit of lead time. For engines smaller than 3,000cc, you can just clean up your case at home, and await the return of your crank and heads.

.

Planning and action are critical for progress. To get your components into the progress pipeline, call SPA at 904-626-7777, and you can get pricing and core shipping information. The crucial element is that you can’t wait until mid summer to act on this, the train for Barnwell is leaving the station soon, make sure you are on it.

.

IMG_2196

.

Above, a close up look at the inside of the top Cover of Paul Salter’s 3.0L This engine originally flew on the the Panther Prototype. The handwriting is mine, this was the fist engine assembled with an SPA billet crank. Over 8 years of very rigorous service, they have a perfect track record. Read the whole story: SPA Billet Corvair Cranks

.

ww.

.

New tech tips videos:

Builders:

.

Putting pistons in bores:

.

.

Lifter positions during valve adjustments:

.

.

WW.

.

Thoughts on Character

“The test of character is not ‘hanging in’ when you expect light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty and persistence of example when you know no light is coming”

– James Stockdale, USN,  MOH.

.

.

Stockdale as a POW.  The man endured more than 2,700 consecutive days in the ‘Hanoi Hilton’, including protracted torture sessions that broke his legs. He is 42 in the picture.  Most people have a definition of ‘character’ , but perhaps they don’t count the same as Stockdale’s. He thought real character was revealed when a person is doomed, they know it, and yet they still have fidelity to their own ‘Moral Purpose’ , even if no one is there to witness them going down fighting. 

.

My Father and Stockdale were at the the U.S. Naval Academy at the same time. Their thinking and values were forged by the same intellectual machinery. Very few men who passed through the gates of Annapolis were tested as Stockdale was, and Dad would have been the first to tell you that certain men are made of harder material, and it did little good to try to comparatively measure them. All that mattered was the private internal question: When your ‘crowded hour’ comes, will your fidelity waiver? 

.

America has a weak national memory. It has a good side, we don’t carry on 500 year blood feuds like many parts of the world do, but we also don’t remember what we once had either, times when Character was paramount and celebrity was trivial. The fact that Stockdale was once a national political candidate to be the Vice President of our country, has long faded from awareness, even among people who claim to follow such things. In the seven election cycles since, we have been served an ever lower strata of options, until it came to the point we were asked to choose between a candidate who said the unthinkable, that POW’s like Stockdale were not heroes, and another candidate so corrupt, voting for the first became imaginable.

.

My own fidelity is to the ideals of America, not it’s actual execution. As I get older, the gulf between these two gets ever wider. In the land of my Ideals, all people are judged by ‘The Content of their Character”, and the measurement of that, is on a scale that would make sense to Stockdale….or my Father.

.

Dad has been gone more than 3 years now.  Most days I’m stoic about it, but late Sunday afternoons, I invariably think, three or four times, “I should call Dad.” Every once in a while, I’ll have a morning like today, where I sit in the office and read passages from books, selections that affirm that we really did revere men of character in this country once, a long time ago.

.

I understand, that such times, and my father, are never returning. Yet I will not allow my fidelity to the ideals of America waiver. I still conduct myself in a manner my father would find ethical, even if he will never know it, and almost no one in our nation appears to care of such things……and this, is my own small version of “performance of duty and persistence of example when you know no light is coming”

.

WEWjr.

.

After thought:

‘Your Moral Purpose’

 

Video on three engines

Builders,

.

Check this out; it is a close look at external detail on three engines in my hangar this week. Details everyone needs to see.

.

.

ww.

The Log book or The Check book?

Builders;

.

I spoke with a new home builder on the phone the other night. I listened to him for most of an hour; He told me he had always loved planes, but was just now becoming a student pilot; He had found an inexpensive CFI; Although he is building a plane known to be a fun, 80mph day/VFR plane, This man told me a great length about the “Full IFR” package he had ‘selected’ for his plane, and spoke of how he decided what the ‘best’ auto pilot was.

.

He went on this way about paint and interiors. He repeated used words like ‘buy‘ and ‘have’  in the places where homebuilders  use the words ‘make’ or ‘build’. This isn’t a question of saving money, people who use the latter words actually like creating things and learning, they are vastly more successful in home building.

.

 When it came to talking about power plants, he had only two questions: “How much does it weigh?’ and “What is the lowest cost for a ‘Firewall forward Package’?” I was polite, but this man expressed no interest in building or learning, the acts which transform an individual into an Aviator. This man was just on a shopping trip, a pure consumer experience, which by deffiniton and design, can not bring the participant lasting satisfaction. 

.

 

.

Above, a small sample of timeless Aviation information from my home. The Copy of Flying for 1937carries an inscription to my 11 year old Father, from Frank Walsh, VP of Chance-Vought. Walsh was my Grandfather’s closest friend, they had fought side by side in the trenches in 1918. 

……………………

Looking for a starting point from which I could turn his attention to the learning part of home building, I asked the man if he had always loved aviation, and was now a student pilot, what aviation books he had read? I asked him about a dozen classics I consider important. None of the titles even registered with him. He offered that he had learned a lot from reading about avionics websites and some discussion groups. He said he know “Who made the best stuff and who the good people are”.  I pointed out that I had been in aviation for more than 30 years, and my evaluations of products and people sounded less judgmental than his, and I figured I was better informed than him. His only reply was something about  him being good at “Evaluating anything”. The certainty that he said this with was a bit disturbing. 

.

Not once in the hour did the man mention any book he wished to read; nor any tool he would like to master, and building skill he would like to posses, any aviator he looked forward to meeting, any instruction he wished to receive beyond the lowest cost minimum; he never mentioned anything he looked forward to building. When he kept speaking of IFR ‘glass’ cockpits, I asked he had ever heard that the #1 killer in aviation perennially was “Continued VFR flight into IMC conditions”.  He had not heard of this.

.

It’s hard to exactly say where hubris like this comes from, but it isn’t rare anymore in world taken over by consumerism. When these ‘values’ are applied to aviation, the consumer mentality person is actually accepting an enormous risk, without even being aware of it.  The marketing forces effect everyone to some extent, and everyone in aviation should have self awareness of how it might color your own decisions or attitudes.

.

When the EAA began, all attention was focused on learning and creating, skill building and sharing experience. Now the pendulum has swung all the way to the far side, and consumerism has taken over, and most journalism, discussion and displays are directly focused on selling things. Armies of salesmen both seen and secretly compensated people producing discussions and ‘evaluations’, are now pervasive. The man I was speaking with felt he was on the right track in home building, because his communications with others validated his focus on buying things. He just didn’t see that many of the ‘influential’ builders he was speaking with were actually compensated salesmen. Conversely, No one is promoting and selling learning, it has no dealer network, you have to understand for yourself its value. 

.

If you are new to experimental aviation, let me make the very strong suggestion that you consciously invest your time, money and attention on things that are based on learning things, rather than owning things. I refer to this as “Log Book” items.  This is deciding you will read a classic aviation book once every 3 months, making the time for this by cutting back on websites that sell stuff and discussion groups.  This is deciding, that after being inactive for years, you will work with an instructor to be come current.  This is hiring a CFI to put you under the hood for an hour, so you can tell if you actually like IFR flying and are up for the challenge. This is getting a tailwheel rating. This is buying a set of plans you have wanted for a long time, and picking one part on them and making it this month, without  worrying about how long it will take to build the whole plane. This is taking a demo flight in a plane that you have spent a lot of time thinking of building. This is buying a tool that you have always wanted to be skilled with, and inventing a project to use it on, just for the personal satisfaction of having physical evidence that you have skills today, which you only daydreamed of yesterday.  

.

As you select something from the paragraph above, realize that there is no external validation coming from the discussion groups people or the FB pages. The validation that you get will have two unique characteristics: It will be internal, and it will be real. You will be selecting skills and experiences that can not be lost nor taken away, they will be with you for good, unlike most of the consumer products marketed in aviation, which will have short lives in the sunshine and then spend a 1,000 years at the bottom of a landfill, alongside used diapers and copies of People magazine with pictures of the Kardashians on the cover.  It’s your time in Aviation, select wisely. 

.

………………………………….

.

“At any real level, flying is not a sport, a hobby, a pastime nor entertainment. It is An Endeavor, worthy of every hour of your life you invest; Those who dabble in it find only high cost, poor reward and serious risk. They are approaching it as consumers. Conversely, for those who devote their best efforts and their serious commitment, the rewards are without compare.”  -ww-2006

.

 

Performance evaluation proposal

Builders:

Here is a proposal for a comparative performance evaluation.  While it could be done for many types of aircraft, I’m primarily picturing this event taking place at the Zenith Aircraft factory’s annual Homecoming in September.  It is focused on highlighting the aircraft created by builders, and gathering data from them to assist current and future builders in making choices which tailor their projects to better suit their particular needs.

.

In recent years, STOL contests have become very popular, and Zenith has run them at the Homecoming as far back as eight years ago. In national and international STOL contests, regular Zenith STOL planes have consistently demonstrated their performance and value, even against purpose built, trailered in, aircraft costing many times more.  This is good, but STOL contests only provide one facet of a planes performance, and most pilots don’t fly that way on a typical day. This performance evaluation is aimed at gathering comparative data over a much broader flight envelope, one that represents more typical use of the designs.

.

Although I am an engine guru, I have grown weary of nearly every opportunity for builders to learn, being distorted into a marketing opportunity for somebody. I have spoken at many Zenith gatherings in the last 15 years, and other than the engine panel discussions, I make a point of not using the word “Corvair”,  when doing so. Marketing has a place, but it should never be allowed to displace builder camaraderie or learning.  While the very nature of the evaluation will provide accurate, useful data for comparing power plants, my goal is to provide a much broader overview of the performance potential of the designs, their utility and to specifically highlight the achievement of individual builders and encourage those currently building.

.

Above, Phil Maxson’s 601XL over the Florida coast at Ponce Inlet, 2006.

.

Here are the steps a builder takes , participating in the evaluation: 

.

A ) After being warmed up, the plane’s fuel tanks are topped off to the bottom of the filler necks, a level that can be visually replicated at the completion of the flight.

.

B ) The plane is placed on electronic scales and weighed in, without the pilot.

.

C ) Plane heads to the designated runway and takes off.  At he 800′ mark there is a very light tape spaning the runway, 6′ off the ground. Any Zenith model will clear this without difficulty, even with full tanks, but we have it to preclude anyone using a very high prop pitch setting which would skew the cross country speed evaluation.

.

D ) Plane proceeds to fly a designated 3 leg course, approximately 100 miles.  Two very visible land marks are used as pylon turn points. The flight is done at a set altitude, perhaps 2,500′. There are observers at the turns, pilots make a radio call when approaching. The visual is just a back up, the data can be collected for any aircraft with a GPS with a system like this: https://www.cloudahoy.com.

.

E ) The three legs are flown, the last one over flying the point of origin at 2,000′. The time to fly the course is halted there. Plane comes back to land and proceeds immediately to the fuel pumps.

.

F ) The plane is re-weighed for fuel burn.  The plane is topped off, refilled to the exact same location on the filler necks, and re-weighed to confirm the fuel consumption.

.

G ) Plane goes back out. It must use the exact same configuration as the cross country course, particularly the prop pitch setting.  Pilot climbs to 2,000′ and flies at a stable, level speed of 75mph for one minute. From there, he climbs at any airspeed he chooses, directly to 4,000′.  He calls on the radio, but again the performance is measured electronically.

.

H ) Builders can fly the cross country portion at any pace they like, but they are encouraged to demonstrate flat out performance. I  would also like at least some of the planes to do a second run at the course completing A – F again, but at a typical cruise power setting for comparative purposes. This could be run at a single model appropriate speed, such as running the 601/650’s at 115 mph, as it would give a comparison of fuel burn rates at casual cruise setting.

.

…………..

.

What do we get from this? Real data. If you have been in the EAA for 30 years, you can remember the CAFE foundation’s performance evaluations, published for many aircraft, in long articles in Sport Aviation. This was information I treasured. The EAA was pressured by some kit manufactures to not publish information that contradicted their marketing departments. That was a transition point of the organization being asked to serve the manufacturer and not the member. In the internet age, things have deteriorated, and quality information is even harder to find, and the hidden compensated relationships between the ‘evaluator’ and the product being harder, not easier to see. We can lament a bygone time, or we can take actions to provide our own real data. These projects have lasting value. Ask any Pietenpol builder, the W&B work done a decade ago by Ryan Meuller and myself has improved a generation of Piet’s by by giving their builders real data to plan their builds and making the operation of the design safer. It is hard to overstate the lasting effect of real, accurate information.

.

Who does this serve? Builders. I speak to people potential builders who mistakenly think they must have a STOL model to fly off a 2,200′ airstrip; there are also people who float on the choice between a STOL and a Cruiser, have questions about typical builders useful loads vs factory design prototypes. The 100 mile cross countries will provide a very good look at the general potential utility of each design. Comparisons of a sustained 2,000′ climb under known conditions will answer many questions builders have. This type of data will be much more useful than pictures of glass cockpits with a single set of information.  The better data builders have going into the process, the much more likely they are to finish their plane, and they are vastly more likely to be happy with their creation.  The current data available is ok, but a lot of it is really marketing and not an evaluation. This can be corrected in one weekend, and it will have the additional benefit of being a deterrent to future excessive marketing claims.

.

This will be a builder focused event. I don’t want to include data from aircraft that belong to, or were built by engine guys as demonstrators….  Between parts from myself and Dan from SPA, I can assemble a 3,550cc Corvair, and I have nearly 40 years of experience with nitrous oxide installations on all kinds of vehicles. But a $22K Corvair festooned with Fogger nozzles isn’t what I teach builders to assemble nor what we sell. It would be useful if this was a ‘contest’ but it is not, it’s an evaluation.

.

Additionally, the factory planes will be left out also, because, like planes coming out of professional shops, they are not representative of current builders creations. The evaluated planes will be in the stock airframe configuration with only minor mods like fairings.

Additionally, each plane must complete all the steps A-G. If the weight of the plane is a ‘secret’ or a plane with a very high pitched prop and poor climb performance doesn’t want section G recorded, it will not give a complete data set, and that would only serve someones ego or marketing plan, not builders.

.

I value everyone’s constructive input here. Please use the comments section to add any thoughts which might improve this concept, or explain how you would find this data useful.  Thanks in advance.

.

WewJr.

.

 

 

 

 

Tools every builder must have.

Builders;

Below are 4 ‘tools’ that every builder must have and know how to use. If someone does not have them, they can not do an annual condition inspection, or even the initial set up on the motor. 

.

.

OK, a Doctor has a Stethoscope , X-rays, CAT scans and Blood work. the four tools above are their equivalent.  If you went to a doctor and he said he was not going to use any of the above tools, because they cost more money than he liked to spend, you would thank him, and leave, because without them, he is down to leaches and other less pleasant remedies. Likewise, if you are not in possession of the tools above, you are not in a position to keep your engine healthy. 

.

Oil Sample Kit: 

Read: Corvair Oil Analysis

Watch:

 

.

Timing Light:

Innova #5568. Has built in tach, volt meter and digital delay. Look at Summit Racing or Jeg’s. 

Read: YOU MUST SET THE TIMING ON YOUR ENGINE

       and:     “Corvair Fast Burn” Ignition timing settings

Watch: 

.

Volt meter:

They are $10 at the auto parts store. 

.

Differential Compression Tester:

Part # 12-00829 & 12-01283 from aircraft spruce.

Read: Yearly Condition Inspection on Corvair Engine

Watch:

.

wwjr

.

Thought for the Day: Lindbergh War Diary.

Builders:

In 2013 I woke this short read on the life of CAL: The cost of being Charles Lindbergh I spent a long time writing it. It is well worth the 5 minute read. It is something of a precursor this video:

.

.

If you have not yet done so, please remember to subscribe to my YouTube Channel, thanks.  PS, YouTube comments are open on this video.

.

William.

.

Cooling failure caused by ego

Builders;

.

.

What you are looking at is the bottom of a Corvair/Zenith Cowl. It is upside down, the rounded part is where the nose gear strut exits the cowl.  The right side is the part closest to the firewall where the air exits.  The orange level and square is there to visually show what 45 degrees looks like. To the right of the end of the level is the 2″ exit lip of the bottom of the cowl. This forms a fixed cowl flap, which makes the low pressure zone on the bottom of the cowl.  I have relentlessly specified that this must be at least 2″, and it absolutely must be 45 degrees to the bottom of the cowl.

.

Look at the picture and see the builder set it to 20 or 25 degrees at most. The effect? His 601HDS ran hot, he overheated the motor more than once, he publicly complained about the cooling and implied that other builders like Larry Nelson, flying the exact same combination in Yuma AZ was lying about his cooling success. He questioned if any Corvair ran cool, he was willing to search for any excuse, except the obvious one: the part of my advice he was unwilling to follow was the exact cause of his hot motor. This is a Cooling failure caused by ego. 

.

I spoke to this builder many times on the phone and pointed him to cooling articles I had written, and asked him just to copy it exactly instead of questioning every bit of it and treating the information as if it was all a big conspiracy theory to some how keep him from using his plane. In the end, he flew about 100 hours, and then took his plane apart and sold it in pieces. The wounded engine? he sold it to another builder, without clearly saying that he had overheated it badly. 

.

This isn’t a case of a kindly old guy who wasn’t good on the internet and missed a detail and we let him down. No, not that at all. Try this, He was an A&P mechanic in his 30’s who had attended a big Corvair College and seen plenty of working planes. His issue was simply not being willing to listen to my experience when it conflicted with his perception of what should be happening. That is not a failure of engine nor materials, it is a failure caused by ego.

.

The stupid move above was not the only thing he needed to do differently. he tried running his engine on the ground with no cooling ducts for 30 minutes and never thought to shut it off as the rpm decided. That was $3,000 for new heads and pistons. The is the same individual who made his cabin heat muff right up against the bottom of the head impending airflow. He used a blunt spinner, arguing it didn’t effect cooling. He did put 5″ inlet rings in his cowl, and then bitched they didn’t work. Doing this but having no working cowl flap on the exit side is akin to complaining about the radiator in a pickup truck not cooling, and saying you have the grill clear, but neatly failing to mention you have a piece of cardboard between the radiator and the fan. All of these actions were not caused by lack of information, it was simply because he was unwilling to follow information that was readily presented to him. 

.

You don’t know his name, but you have met him many times: He is the guy standing there with his arms tightly folded for 15 minutes as I answer a question he asked, but I’m not saying the words his ego needed to hear to feel vindicated. He is the guy who will not follow advice for a guy with 800 hours of Corvair time without incident, but spends hours studying an old website from someone who quit Corvairs a decade ago, after having a long series of failures. He is the guy who’s ego needs to make his engine ‘different’ or ‘unique’ because the positive comments from internet tolls mean more than successfully flying his plane with a proven system. He is the guy who blames everyone body but himself when he exits Corvairs, and issues a earnest sounding warning to other builders that doom is in the future, because a brilliant guy like him couldn’t succeed, so they have no chance. 

.

I have said countless times, new builders and the eternal ‘I’ll build one day’ people are fascinated with every story of people who claim to have issues, but they will spend next to no time studying the Builders who are out successfully flying the same combination that the guy exiting claims will never work.

.

William.

.

Like to see more on good cooling on the same plane? Check out this video:

 

Engine puke oil out the breather after rocker arm adjustment?

Builders:

Here is a new video about the results of incorrectly setting the push rod to lifter orientation. Not a very common occurrence, but one worthy of a video.

.

.

ww.

.