3,000cc Corvair for Bearhawk LSA: Jimmy Mathis.

Builders

Friday was the first day of our Flycorvair/SPA Panther joint open house – workshop. The first engine to hit to test stand was Jimmy Mathis’s 3,000 cc Corvair which will power his Bearhawk LSA.

.

Jimmy and his lovely wife drove in from Texas, about 900 miles for the event, this was the furthest distance traveled of any of the builders who attended. His engine put down a flawless break in run. Look at the photos; This is the best of homebuilding, high achievement as the result of hard work and exercising newly acquired skills, all done among like minded friends.

.

.

Above, Jimmy and his lovely better half. His engine is a 3,000cc Corvair which well be installed in the Bearhawk LSA he is building. There is a real satisfaction to building your own power plant, and really understanding it inside and out. The builders who get the most out of what we offer are the ones who take advantage of all the skills knowledge and understanding we share.

.

.

Above, Dan Weseman and Jimmy go over timing light operation. 13 years ago I developed the modern Corvair E/P (electronic/Points) ignition, and over the years have made several hundred of these units. They have a near flawless record of service, there has not been a single forced landing attributable to the design. In a given year, perhaps 90% of the flight hours logged on Corvair powered planes in the world are accomplished with an ignition system I built. For all these years, we have also offered free direct hands on training at more than 40 Corvair Colleges and countless forums, workshops and finishing schools. The system is far easier for an amateur builder to understand and utilize than traditional magnetos, and it costs perhaps 1/3 what a pair of mags for an O-200 does. Unlike other alternative engines, the system is designed from inexpensive off the shelf automotive components. It contains no proprietary subcomponents.

.

.

Above, a great family photo. Look at the smile, Jimmy is a fortunate man to enjoy full support on the home front. Get a good look at the motor, it is built straight from our manuals, parts and guidance. Jimmy’s engine will offer many, many years of reliable service because he chose to follow the path that Dan Weseman and myself have long proven. He didn’t look to the net and people with mystery online names for advice, he just went with two people who know what they are speaking of.

.

What sets Corvair builders apart from most people in homebuilding? Read this an understand what motivates many builders like Jimmy: Thought for the Day: Mastery or?.

 

.

-ww.

Larry Elrod’s 2,700cc Test Run

Builders;

KR-2 Builder Larry Elrod and his lovely wife scheduled a visit to my hangar for a full day test session and a bit of one on one training this past Friday. They dropped the engine off at dinner time Thursday, and rested up at our local Holiday Inn.

.

We started at 9 am on Friday, and had a smooth, productive day were I answered every question Larry had. His engine arrived fully assembled, I just checked a number of adjustments, and for the most part found them spot on.We cover these same things at Corvair Colleges, but some builders prefer a more relaxed and personal day. We took a short break for lunch in my dinning room, and went back to prime the oil system for 30 minutes. At 4 pm rolled the engine out to my ramp for a break in run.

.

The engine cranked for 1 or maybe 1.5 seconds, about 2 revolutions, and it lit right off and ran smooth. It was a great moment of personal achievement to Larry. Although he spent 20 years in the USAF, he worked on missiles, not internal combustion engines. At age 66, he now joined the ranks of real ‘motor heads’ by fully rebuilding an engine with his own hands, and having it run perfectly.

.

Over the last 29 years, and 42 Corvair Colleges I have been present for this same moment, in the lives of more than 400 builders. I can assure you, it has never become commonplace. Playing a positive role in another person’s personal achievement, one which will be a foundation of their ultimate goal of being master of the complete aircraft they build themselves has a satisfaction which does not fade. It is the root of what is rewarding about my work.

.

.

Above, the moment of achievement: Larry strikes the obligatory “Captain Morgan pose.”  To read more about this integral part of Corvair building read: “Captain Morgan” Contest at #39

.

.

Above, a short video of the engine running. In the film you can see than my front yard is literally adjacent to our 2,600′ grass runway. Over the years we have had perhaps 30 guests to our home and hangar for an engine run. These have to be scheduled in advance, and a friendly reminder new people: I wouldn’t stop by their residence uninvited, so they should not invite themselves to mine.  

.

.

Above, Larry has a very important asset for his project, which not all builders enjoy: A highly supportive spouse. They have been married a long time, and are mutually supportive. After we spoke in the phone, they drove down from Michigan in a small pick up. The trip made sense to them because it allowed Larrys engine to be inspected an run here. The trip and the run seemed like a good personal risk management decision to them.

.

.

Above, a justifiably proud man.  Larry’s 2,700cc 100HP Corvair is straight from my Conversion manual, and it is built exclusively from my conversion parts and those from SPA/ Panther.  Although this engine is going on a KR-2, it follows the logic of this approach: Why Not the Panther engine?.  Its also worth reviewing this story: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #2, Hardest working engine.

.

As you look at Larry’s engine above, notice that it is built around all of our standard systems. It has an ultra-light front starter, E/P-X ignition, welded on intakes, a Weseman 5th bearing, short gold hub and a Gold oil system. For these reasons, it will have the same successful track record of the Corvairs we build, and it will be able to use our proven, off the shelf items like baffle kits, Oil Coolers, and cowls, intakes etc.

.

 Over the years, there was a general trend among KR builders influenced by the internet, to build ‘unique’ and one of a kind engine installations. While everyone has a right to build what they want, none of these installations had a track record of reliability that could match one of our standard installations. This should come as little surprise, I have been doing this a long time, and have always ‘reserved the right to get smarter’, and our installations have evolved. No builder on his first look at one engine could seriously match what I have learned with an outstanding education, a quarter century of specific experience, a number of smart professional friends, and the benefit of studying several hundred installations. This is why builders who understand the phrase ‘the second mouse gets the cheese’  choose to benefit from my work and research instead of being offended by it. For a look at some one of a kind KR installations and the results, look at this: Built by William Wynne? Built according to The Manual?.

.

Installation Components:

We have a full range of bolt on Installation Components to mount a Corvair in a KR. Check out some of these linked stories:

MountS: A 2016 story about our mounts: Zero back ordered Motor Mounts.

Cowls: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/complete-kr2kr2s-fiberglass-cowling/

Exhausts:  Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems

Intakes:  Intakes and Internet myths

.

Contemplating a individual test run? Call me, 904-806-8143.

Thanks, William

.

The Next Event on the Schedule:

FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20

Also get a look at:

Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

Read the links now and make a plan today.

Bob Dewenter’s Pietenpol project

Builders,

Bob Dewenter, aka “Early Builder”, is one of the most illustrious characters in the land of Pietenpols. Bobs plane combines a standard wood fuselage with straight axle gear, aluminum wing spars and a modern Corvair installation. How did Bob get this far? One day he decided to buy a manual, and go get a core motor. If you will one day have a project this far in your hangar is dependent solely upon this: Will you make today the day you get started, or will you eternally put it off until tomorrow? Your life, your choice. Be happy with your decision, Bob is. -ww.

.

From Bob: “Pietenpol Update”

Hello good Corvair people.  Greetings from Golden Valley North Dakota and Dayton Ohio.  William asked me to spend a few minutes and provide an update on my Corvair powered Pietenpol Project which I started by attending Corvair College 19 in Barnwell.

.

My main focus this past building season has been the wings.  One is 95% complete sans aileron hardware, the second is about 20% assembled.  Anyone who has built a house knows the framing makes it look like a house but you have a long way to go before moving in!  My good friend and Zenith 750 STOL and Corvair builder Terry Lambert has offered me a huge table in his hangar for laying out the wings and having access to his tools is very much appreciated.  Having a Hangar pal keeps you really motivated to make progress!  Terry has also taught me a lot about working with aluminum – he’s retired now but worked on a lot of Air Force aircraft.  And speaking of motivation, I’m trying to keep one step ahead of my friend, Corvair Piet builder, Terry Hand (“Hello Mr. Hand” re: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”)

.

.

Terry Hand, William and I discussed the merits of aluminum spars and I am really happy with this choice.  Being in the heart of Air Force country, My EAA Chapter is full of accomplished builders – mostly Zeniths and Vans and they all LOVE the wood ribs!

.

The fuselage and the rest of the plane are in my garage at home so I can make some progress any day I am home which is normally 5 nights a week if I’m not traveling on business or getting distracted with life’s little nuances.  I have been “test fitting” the oil cooler and engine baffling.  I need to re-do the baffling around the oil cooler – my prototype was not right.  Dan’s baffling kit is beginning to look better!  But I have a great sheet metal coach in Terry Lambert and would like to give it another try before throwing in the towel.

.

.

Where possible I have chosen to use all Williams’s parts (and soon Dan’s) because they are proven, they are reliable and it’s just “Plane” faster.  I have all of William Gold Parts – gold prop hub, gold oil system, gold oil pan and his non-gold parts such as safety shaft, hybrid studs, starter kit with ring gear, SS intake, SS exhaust, and a strong reliable engine mount welded by Vern.   I rely on professional like D&G for my carb and Moldex for crankshaft work.

.

.

My motivation at this time is to complete both wings as this will complete the build of all the “large objects that attach to the plane” and then to get the motor ready to run again. So I will need to get the fuel tank cleaned, test it for leaks, mounted and plumbed to the beautiful D&G rebuilt MA-3SPA carb.  I have to plum the oil cooler to the gold sandwich adapter.  Oh and finish the baffling and make a temporary cowl like the test stand has.

.

.

Things I took a LONG time to decide on are now moving forward.  I decided on a center section fuel tank.  I fabricated the tank last fall and had a retired (i.e. low cost) A&P IA weld it up for me.  It should hold a little over 13 gallons. Note the Don Harper fuel filler neck and cap, Thanks Don! See you in November in Barnwell! And I decided to order a Gold front alternator bracket mount from WW – was not sure where I wanted the alternator until I started looking hard at the firewall.

.

I have not set any records for build speed but I don’t care.  I have TRULY enjoyed every bit of time spent so far and look forward to every hour I will continue to spend on the project.  It is in my heart.  One day I will be flying over the corn fields I drive through today.  I will get to pull up aside a locomotive engine pulling a long line of freight and wave to the conductor.  I will see and smell the earth from a new perspective.  And of course I can’t wait for the first Pietenpol flown weasel roundup!

.

Everything I have done on this plane using my own two hands has been extremely rewarding.  Sometimes after a part is done I will just sit and stare at the creation I have made.  My son Tim is now about to turn 8 – roughly the same age as my project.  Tim coming into my life was the catalyst that actually got me started on this project at Corvair College 19 in Barnwell.  Introducing my son to Building an Airplane has been fantastic as well. I have a “MEME” of a beautiful J-3 flying at sunset with the phrase “Teach your kid to fly and they will never have money for drugs!”

.

I’m fortunate and grateful to be able to spend my weekends on a boat on a lake with my family, to be able to work hard at my profession, and to have a wonderful family with Tim by my side working with me on my Pietenpol project.

.

.

Above Gratuitous “Tim-e” Photo

.

*ww note: Sharp eyes can tell that Bob has not yet installed his Gen I Weseman 5th bearing, but he is going to because: Yes, Pietenpols do need 5th Bearings..

.

The Next Event on the Schedule:

FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20

Also get a look at:

Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

Read the links now and make a plan today.

.

In Your Shop: A Personal Path

Builders,

Below is a Picture taken in Saint Augustine last night. I am with my oldest friend in aviation, Scott Anson. I met him my very first day at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, three decades ago.

.

.

Today Scott is a gifted musician of significant skill and experience, in the photo he had just gotten off stage. When we met we were both 26, the two oldest students at the university. Being a pilot is a very small facet of Scott’s life experiences, he has had a varied and rewarding Personal Path in life. He followed his heart, he was immune to the counsel of people who had lesser motivations.

.

When we were students, nearly every one of our classmates were headed to careers which fit neatly into two categories: Airlines or DoD Aviation.  It was very rare to hear any student speak of working in general aviation, other than as a brief stepping stone. I can’t say the percentage of graduates who’s hearts lead them to airlines or defense, but there were many of them who simply chose the mainstream paths for Riddle graduates because they were expected to and the careers would be lucrative. Perhaps because we were older, and previously had jobs our hearts weren’t in, Scott and I both followed our hearts well off the fast track. As middle aged men looking back there are always things to reconsider, but in the final evaluation, we made a choice to follow our personal paths.

.

What this has to do with your Airplane Project: 

In your shop, or maybe just in the shop in your mind, resides your aircraft project; Be it metal or ideas, it is yours, and it need only serve your personal path in aviation. How well it accomplishes this mission will be determined by a number of factors, but above all others, you need to carefully and honestly consider where your heart is drawn in Experimental Aviation, and follow it.

.

Career choices are much tougher to make, but they are not the only decisions in aviation that people make while often being counseled, both openly and subtly, they should do what most people are doing, even if their heart lies elsewhere. This frequently leads to projects never finished, because going to the shop is voluntary, where as earning a living kept and people toiling in branches of aviation with different zip codes from the ones their hearts lived in.

.

Following your heart in Experimental Aviation doesn’t mean building a 1/3 scale YB-35 as your first project because Jack Northrop was your boyhood hero. It means building a Zenith even if Dick VanGrunsven is your EAA chapter president: Zenith 601HD engine; Spencer Rice’s 2,700 Corvair. It means when industry implies all panels should be glass you still consider: Thought For The Day: Mechanical Instruments.  It means when everyone tells you that you must use a Rotax 912, but you want to be there master of your power plant, not its mere owner, you think Why Not the Panther engine?.

.

The fact 70% of our builders are working on a Zenith 601/650/750 isn’t a sign of conformity, it is an example of the very high utility and value of these designs. But within these projects the builders still chose the Corvair, the level of finish, the panel, having an interior or not, etc.

.

The conclusions do not matter, it is how the builder arrives at them. Is it by informed choice, or following the herd?   I have worked to culture an atmosphere of thinking and rational consideration, so builders understand this: In Your Shop: Evaluate and Decide, is the best way for an individual to find his own Personal Path.

.

At work, most people must compromise to earn a living, but In Your Shop: Studio or Cell?, points out there is no need to compromise the hours in your creative space. That space is both your physical shop and the creative space in your mind.

.

wewjr

.

The Next Event on the Schedule:

FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20

Also get a look at:

Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

Read the links now and make a plan today.

 

.

In Your Shop: Evaluate and Decide

Builders;

.

Your life isn’t a democracy and the majority shouldn’t rule there, nor should you ever be anyones servant. If a man is to be in charge of his own life, he must be a dictator when it comes to decisions of consequence.

.

I present information on aircraft building and operation, the reasoning behind it, and often accompany it with the perspective of experience. Each builder can evaluate his options and select the building path that make sense for him as an individual.

.

Every builder receives countless pieces of unsolicited advice;

 1) Telling him what the majority would do,

 2) What the speaker would do,

 3) What he should do.

This advice is only valid if the goal is to: 1) do what everyone else is doing, 2) try to be someone else, 3) let other people decide what you should do.

.

If the goal was to do something that works for you and achieves your personal goals, then you must evaluate and decide for yourself, but a wise builder makes a plan that can withstand the logical evaluation of experienced builders.

.

At it’s very root, Homebuilding and flying are immensely satisfying because they are an unbroken chain of decisions of consequence that the individual gets to make…..a rare occurrence in modern ‘civilization.’

.

Above, 2004 at Oshkosh: Next to our personal Corvair powered Zenith N-1777W, I explain our dual ignition arrangement two executives from Falcon insurance, The EAA’s provider. To offer real support, an alternative engine provider must be an effective advocate for his builders on many fronts, including meeting the requirements of underwriters. Just being an engine guru is not nearly enough. 

.

WEWjr.

Pietenpol lift struts; $65, a free education, and fun with friends..

Builders,

.

Below a story in pictures of making a set of steel lift struts for Terry Hand’s Pietenpol. In this previous story: Pietenpol Project – Terry Hand, we had an overview and mentioned he was measuring it for lift struts. Terry lives in Atlanta and drove down for welding assistance in my shop yesterday. He has done me a million favors so it was a chance to repay him in kind.

.

The raw material for the struts were a set of pre-war J-3 cub struts, provided to Terry by fellow Corvair/Piet builder Bob “early builder” Dewenter. who found them for $40 at a fly mart. Cub struts are about 2′ longer than the ones on a Piet, so they can be cut down and re-formed. The smaller rear struts had slight bends near the bottom, but they came with good forks and barrels. $40 is a good deal, but not unusual at a flymart, particularly for bent struts which are essentially impossible to straighten, but are good raw material for shorter struts.

.

There are several options for material on Pietenpol struts, steel, aluminum, and wood. All have proven themselves to work, but I’m not a fan of wood ones. People point out that biplanes like Jennys and DH-4s had wooden struts, but they are showing they don’t understand aircraft loads, because every strut on a biplane is always in compression, even if the plane is pulling negative G’s. Conversely a lift strut on a monoplane is working in tension almost all of its life, and the tension loads at the strut/fitting interface are a whole different story than a biplane. The weak link on most wooden strut installations are the fittings, and the tear out strength of the bolt holes in the struts. The ornate fittings on some planes look like decorative gate hinges, but they are weak particularly in compression. If you think a Piet will never see 2 negative G’s, think again, loads in turbulence can be that high. I have also seen a set of wooden struts break while a pilot ran down a strip in a wheel landing attitude at 65-70mph with the wing sticking the plane down hard. He ran over a slight rough spot and the lift struts broke in column failure.

.

If I teach you one single thing, let it be this phrase I wrote 20 years ago;

“It isn’t the probability of being right, it is the cost of being wrong that matters”

If you are 50% sure your paint won’t flake off who cares; If you are 97% sure your lift strut will not break, it is unacceptable. The first has no serious cost, and the second would likely be fatal. Use my phrase to evaluate things you hear in experimental aviation and you will understand that much of the talk and priorities people have are a foolish misuse of their attention.

.

The work on these struts boiled down to removing the bent section on the rears and doing a FAA legit crafty splice ( they are stronger than the original strut) and then putting new wing attach fittings on all four. The additional material as about $25. If a guy can weld, that is the cost for first class struts. If you have a friend who can, good; in Terry’s case he is friends with both Vern (Fun with Agkistrodon Piscivorus and Vern’s Aero-Trike, and Vern’s 5/8 scale L-4..) and myself, so he got two welders for the price of none. Even if you had to pay for the work, it would be worth $300 tops. In Terry’s case it was just some driving, a chance to learn stuff, and a fun day in the hangar, the stuff that makes being an old school traditional homebuilders fun, elements I have worked very hard to retain in our world of Corvairs.

.

.

Above, working with approved engineering. I’m always stunned how people will go to the internet and ask people they don’t know, questions about airplane construction and engines. Often, the advice is dangerous misinformation. What these people should know is aviation is a vast library of known, proven ideas, and there is zero need to ask advice from people with no training nor respect for existing standards or methods. When you are building a plane, you need old and proven, not some fools idea misapplied to aviation. The drawing above is an FAA approved method of splicing lift struts. It is airworthy on certificated aircraft. We used this to take out the bent sections on the lower ends of the rear struts, while retaining the ends with the forks and barrels, which are in great shape in spite of being 78 years old.

.

.

Above, the splice elements of the drawing above, prior to welding. The insert tube is 1″OD, and 6″long.

.

.

Above, Vern on Left and Terry on right. Yes, Vern welds with two pairs of glasses on, I don’t get it but it works for him. To get a look at Vern’s credentials and experience, look at this story: Shop Notes, 10/26/14

.

.

Above, weld splice done. -NEVER, repeat NEVER grind a weld anywhere in aviation. It is a rule from the very first page of the FAA book on aircraft welding, AC-43.13. I have seen many people post pictures of doing this on planes “to make it pretty” including doing this on exhaust systems. In discussion groups this gets lots of “likes” which tells me that people don’t read FAA books on how to do things. The above repair is just to be cleaned and painted. It is not airworthy if a grinder touches it, period. Either you are going to follow proven methods, or go for “Likes” on social media, pick your path, its your life.

.

When I post things like this out, there is a certain kind of person who will instantly say ‘it worked on Joe blows plane’ as if that is the standard for how proven methods are developed. All they are doing is citing what one guy allegedly got away with. If someone wants to debate me on a topic, they should pick a one different than aircraft welding, a category I know pretty well.

.

.

The wing attach parts of the spars were fabricated by edge welding 1″ long .188 wall 5/8″ bushings to the edge of 1/8″ 4130 plates. These plates are inserted into slots cut in the strut tops, where they are fine adjusted for alignment and welded in, and then the tops are formed around this core. To start the process, the upper part of the strut needs an accurate slot 4″ deep in the leading and trailing edge. This could be done on a mill, but it only takes a few second on a 14″ chop saw with an abrasive disc.

.

.

Above, a picture of the slot cut into the leading edge of the top of the front lift strut. The plate with the pre welded bushing is slid down in the and checked for alignment before welding. It is an excellent and proven way of transferring the bolt loads from the bushing into the body of the strut.

.

.

Above, Terry cutting the strut end to shape with an air cut off wheel while I clown around taking selfies. I’m wearing a tee shirt from Corvair College #4, which had the slogan “I got my crank polished at Corvair College”, politically incorrect humor for Motorheads and troglodytes.  Airplane building was supposed to be about learning and having fun. If your not getting your share of both, perhaps it is time to plan on hitting Corvair events this year.

.

The Next Event on the Schedule:

FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20

.

Also get a look at:

Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

Read the links now and make a plan today.

.

WEWjr

Build a 3.3L Corvair at the May 18-20 Workshop/Open house.

Builders;

.

We are getting closer to our next event: FlyCorvair/SPA – Joint Workshop/Open house, May 18,19,20. We have already signed up builders of 2700-3000cc Corvairs for 1/2 of the test run slots, but we are reserving almost all of the other slots for 3.3L “Engine in a Box” complete kits. These kits are on the shelf at SPA. If you are considering using one in your plane, the workshop represents a golden opportunity to purchase a kit in advance, and come to the worksop to learning, assembly, and test run. On Sunday you will head home with a great American made motor, a lot of new skills and understanding, and some new friends to boot.

.

Get a look at all the links to stories, videos, and pictures of 3.3s. If you decide than you will take advantage of the workshop to make a quantum leap forward on your plane project, call Rachel at the SPA engine hotline to get more pricing and information about the workshop. 904-626-7777.

.

A good basic overview of the 3.3L Corvair can be seen here:

3.3 Liter Corvair, a Smooth Power House

.

 Above, Dan and Rachel stand on either side of their 3.3 engine at Oshkosh 2015. In the 33 months since the 3.3 has go on the become the ‘engine in a box’ kit, which as been assembled and flown by a number of builders.

.

Link to a video of the first 3.3 Running:

SPA / Weseman 3.3 Liter Corvair now running

.

A story about vibration testing at Sensenich props on the 3.3:

Testing at Sensenich Propellers

.

Story about a 601XL flying on a 3.3L:

Ken Pavlou, Zenith 601XL / Corvair, 620 hours.

.

A story about the billet cranks which are the heart of all the 3.3Ls and many 3.0L Corvairs

SPA Billet Corvair Cranks

.

A short discussion of the value of a large displacement Corvair

3,300cc Corvair 601XL, Oshkosh 2017

.

A look at how the standard baffling kits also clean;u fit the 3.3:

Baffling on 3.3 Liter Corvair 

.

A funny story about a test run on a 3.3:  3.3 Liter Corvair of Kamal Mustafa

.

WEWjr.

.