Corvair College #33: Behind The Scenes

Builders:

Every college has a number of people who do great work to make it happen. I try to make sure we thank people for this, even if they are the kind of person who likes to give back quietly.  Shelley Tumino, the Co-host of CC #32, took care of the online sign up for #33, and supplied all the builder info in very useful spread sheets. This was the running start at a great event. The week before CC #33 saw a great deal of physical work for the event, and here is a glance at some of it.

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Above, Grace in our ‘Green office’, calling in catering for the event as if she was a FAC. She said “Nothing but the best sustenance for our builders” when ordering vats of BBQ. ScoobE is trying to dig a protest hole, as he normally is allowed run of our place without a harness nor leash. But he was not allowed to before the college because the right combination of temperature and rainfall brought out the spring festival of water moccasins. I spent half a box of 20 gauge shells on them in five days. during the rest of the summer we will only see about one a week or so, unless we have a flood like this: Let It Not Rain

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Above, Corvair/601XL pilot, and Corvair/Panther builder Lynn Dingfelder came down from Corry PA to spend the week before the college assisting. Without hurting anyone’s feelings, I am going to flat out say that Lynn is the most mechanically inclined and productive human I have ever met. He is very good company, but he really knows his way around tools and processes, and can think on his feet. If world war three was ever fought, I am pretty sure that Lynn could have re-stared civilization and gotten it back to the industrial revolution in 36 months. Sounds like a fun exaggeration, but if you know him, you know I am not kidding.

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Above is a photo of Cliff Rose from CC #19 with his engine. He was also on hand as part of the prep crew for #33. He is a Cleanex/Corvair builder from our area, known my the nickname “Death Row” because he actually worked on Florida’s death row for many years, giving basic health care to inmates there. You don’t meet people who have worked with 200 murderers very often. This is funny because Cliff is the most easygoing, relaxed non confrontational guy I know.

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When everyone is in the hangar, that is the only place ScoobE wants to be. He will not sit in the house alone quietly, but once in the middle with everyone, he will fall asleep. He is happy to sit in the dog bed for hours. That is his paw on the edge of the bed.

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Above, Terry Hand and Bob Lester at the college in front of Terry’s project Pietenpol. Terry came down a day early to help out with the prep work. The timing was good, he was fresh when we were in the home stretch.  The in person visit gave us a chance to cover the last detail of setting up the Piet Vair discussion group: Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15

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Above, Bob Lester stands in front of his Pietenpol, with Pietenpol builder Chuck Callahan on the right. Every college has a returning builder that really makes it work, and at #33, it was Bob’s chance to shine. He has had this Corvair Running since CC#17, but as far back as 2001, Bob had a Corvair in his KR-2. At College #33, he gave a great number of rides and treated everyone to some fun late night stories. He camped out at the college, for the fun of it, but he was also fine tuning his packing and equipment list, as he is planning on flying his Pietenpol to Brodhead WI for the annual gathering this July. -ww.

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Corvair College #33, Mid Florida at Eustis Airport, April 17-19, 2015

Builders, here is a photo report on Corvair College #33:

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The major change in this year’s spring Florida College was the location: With just 19 days to go, we opted to change from the county airport we had planned on, to a privately owned, public use grass airport just 14 miles away. The shift turned out to be an excellent improvement, and made all the difference in the experience of Corvair College #33.

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Above, Bob Lester’s Pietenpol at CC #33, with the Ercoupe  and a Luscombe in the background. Bob gave an intro flight to almost all of the Pietenpol builders on hand. The airport is our new spring College location, Mid Florida at Eustis.

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Our new location’s full name Is “Mid Florida at Eustis.” It is a privately owned, public use, grass airport, with beautifully kept grounds. It is in the 12 o’clock position on the extreme northern perimeter of the greater Orlando area. Its identifier is X55. It is an airport completely focused on flying for pleasure and sport.

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Because of its private ownership, it is an integrated part of the neighborhood where it is located; entering the airport grounds is like finding a welcome park, in contrast to the fencing, gates and barbed wire that most county airports have adopted in the past decade. Our Colleges are educational, friendly and social events. They fit  in much better at a grass airport than one that could be mistaken for a maximum security prison.

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As nice as the location is, it is the ownership and management of Mid Florida at Eustis that sets the airport atmosphere, and makes it a standout. The field is owned by a gentleman universally known as “Rama.” In person he is very modest, but clearly of considerable personal success. He speaks of the airport, with its tree-lined green grounds, as an important peaceful refuge from a hectic world.  I had a single 20-minute meeting with him to explain what a Corvair College was, and he was captivated by the idea, and immediately made his facility and staff available to us. It struck me as the way of traditional aviation; a meeting of ideas, a handshake, and on to progress.

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Rex Wyatt, the airport manager, took every effort to support our College. In an era where many counties find their airport manager by calling HR and asking for any bureaucrat with an MBA, Rex is a reminder of the time when the title “Airport Manager” was reserved for the most experienced aviator on the field, a friendly but firm man of character. He is also quietly modest, but in conversation it is revealed that he flew F-84Fs, helicopters out of Pleiku, and continues to this day flying corporate jets. On the lighter side, he has an impressive GA background that includes being a longtime EAA member and having an enviable collection of classic American light aircraft. With some quiet pride, he shared that his grandson will shortly be attending Embry-Riddle. Having a manager with this depth of experience sets the tone for a friendly, but professional location.

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The airport provided spacious grassy camping areas shaded by live oak trees, next to a small lake. They set us up in a clean hangar, put up a large tent as a dining hall, and provided for every detail. The groundskeeper, Mr. Leroy, who lives adjacent to the airport, was available 24/7 throughout the event. He attended to the smallest point, such as finely mowing the camping area. When I tried to explain to him that Corvair builders were low key and didn’t require “the red carpet,” he smiled and simply said, “Rama said you were to be welcomed here,” and went back to his work. This welcome is part of Rama’s personal philosophy and has nothing to do with economics; the hangars are near full occupancy, they do not sell fuel, and there was little expectation that many of the College builders would be back before next year.  I spent some time thinking about how these men were solely motivated by a basic pride in their airport and its good reputation, the factor that makes all the difference.

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Above, first day of the College, builders gather around for a detailed inspection and discussion of rocker arms. Corvair Colleges are a mixture of small group discussions and individual progress.

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Some Colleges have many cores being taken down, others have lots of engine going to the test stand. #33 saw many of the former, a good indication that we always have many new people getting started in the Corvair movement. My sidekick, Vern Stevenson on the left, and 750 builder Lane Seidel on the right. Lane has been to a number of Colleges, and having worked in nuclear power operations for decades, he has a professional’s take on procedures and quality control that fits well with aviation.

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Above, a number of case assemblies were closed at the College, and I gave a demonstration on installing a Weseman 5th bearing on Saturday morning, which was replicated by a number of builders on their own engines. I keep a Weseman installation kit in my College tool box. It was supplied by Dan and Rachel to assist us in showing builders how to install their bearings at Colleges. Their builders who work at home can borrow an identical field kit from them. Even builders who just came to observe saw how simple the installation was.

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It was warm weather, and dining outside made more sense. Everyone who signed up was fed catered food all weekend and all they could drink, all out of our modest fee. 100% of the collected money goes right back into the event directly. Central Florida has many well known BBQ houses, and Grace selected Black Bear Smokehouse to provide us with vats of pulled pork and brisket, and plenty of side dishes.

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Hot weather isn’t really conducive to gorging one’s self, but builders at the College did a great job anyway, loading up on seconds. All the breakfasts were catered by the local Bob Evans, because eating BBQ three meals a day isn’t considered a balanced diet in today’s nutritional guidelines.

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The smaller nature of #33 led to a lot of close attention between myself and builders. Even at big Colleges like Barnwell, I meet with every builder personally, but #33 afforded more individual time. The spiffy new wash tank is part of my program of buying 4 of many of the pieces of College equipment and leaving them on site for the following year. Before the College, Vern, Lynn Dingfelder and myself made eight new 4’x8′ tables that can be disassembled and packed for any College where we need to assure space for more builders. They are sturdy enough to have 4 engines built on them at the same time.

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Pictured above are 12 cases, already chemically cleaned and machined to accept 3,000 cc cylinders. A number of builders sent their case in advance, and we processed it and they picked it up and started assembling it at the College. The price of this is included in the 3,000 cc kits we sell, but we are glad to break it out as a separate $300 charge, to allow builders to budget closing the case, and pay the balance of the piston, cylinder and rod kit later.

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Out of the blue, the early Corvair convertible above showed up 3 hangars down – the owner had no idea that there were 36 other Corvair engines 200 feet away.

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Above, on Saturday night after dinner, we had an “unplugged” gig from our friend Ron Thomas and his friend Ren. (The full band goes by the name “Afterburner.”)  They covered a number of tunes from the 1970s, including a powerful version of the song “Sandman” by the band America. Ron, who is singing above, is a native of New Orleans, and has made a living in music all his life.

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Ron has met a number of Corvair builders at our Oshkosh booth over the past two years. He is a pilot, an Ercoupe owner and fan, just getting to know experimentals. At Oshkosh 2013, he met Pat and Mary Hoyt when they flew in with their yellow and polished 601XL. At Oshkosh 2014, Ron got out of his truck after driving 1,300 miles solo, walked past a yellow and polished RV-12 being filmed, mistook it for Pat and Mary’s plane, and promptly said to the guy in front of the camera, “Dude, Pat and Mary, what great people! These Corvair/Zeniths rock!”  Ron said the guy being filmed had some kind of childish negative reaction. I later walked down to the Van’s aircraft booth with Ron, and when he pointed the guy out, I thought it was funny because it was Richard VanGrunsven.

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Above, Fisher celebrity builder Skip Beattie, Grace and myself in front of the hangar. Vern’s “Aerotrike” nose on the left in the picture.

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Above, late night Scoob E sits in his chair while the three rules sign is displayed.  Grace painted this several years ago, and it has been to all colleges since. The top is self explanatory: Politics is not an allowable topic of conversation. The second isn’t in the same context that John Lenon used it in the song Imagine, We use it in the sense that I consider faith a private matter, and the diversity of builders at the Colleges means that it is merely good manners to be quietly respectful of others. Anyone who has attended any of the 5 Colleges in Barnwell knows that P.F. Beck and crew start the dinner with a prayer to give thanks and a moment of silence to remember those past. The two words on the sign are to remind a small number of people the popular understanding of the term “Pious” implied a faith that was evident in deeds, and not spoken of. The third line is a reference to the notion that you can’t build a good American engine with torque wrenches made in a police state like the People’s Republic of China.

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Above, dinner time in the chow tent.  Vern Stevenson is standing in the red shirt, his Aerotrike, half Lancair 320 and half Geo Metro, is in the background. It has 18,000 miles on it now. Under Florida’s open minded Motor Vehicle code, it is considered a motorcycle. Behind it is its custom tiny 4×8′ 5th wheel trailer Vern built for it.

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Above, gratuitous dog photo. Scoob E was very happy to be at the College, but 7am on Sunday, he makes the “get started without me” face.

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The Last Man Standing Photo: From left above are Lane Seidel, Jack Reynolds, Grace and Scoob E, Richard Tomanio, Lynn Dingfelder, Bill Reynolds and Robert Audsley. Colleges have a tradition of a handful of builders staying late to get in the last wrenching and assist with the pack up. This crew was great assistance.

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If it looks like it was fun and productive, that is because it was. We are looking forward to another College in Eustis next year. Don’t miss it. -ww.

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #8, Learning from other’s mistakes.

Builders:

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If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.

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In recent weeks I have written several stories about a builder who was trying to fly a Corvair powered Zenith 601XL on one of two SU carbs from a 60 hp British car. For the people who assumed that I was just making the whole thing up to illustrate a point, let me share this link to the man’s webpage:

http://www.zenith.aero/profiles/status/show?id=2606393%3AStatus%3A391095

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I wrote the story How I became a genius in 6 minutes about the man’s first flight, where the engine was severely damaged. Yesterday I commented on his choice to still try to use the same carb in: Thought for the Day: J.S. Mill – On Liberty. Today several people sent me a link to his page where he reports his carb still chronically leaning out.

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If you care to read the man’s description, you can see he suspects that his joyous British carb can’t take forward air pressure. If he had cared to read the stories I have written on Corvair Carb choices, he would have come across this personal story about Bing carbs, which work on a nearly identical principle as the SU:

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“A personal example of why I don’t like Bing carbs; Steve Rahm, our neighbor at Spruce Creek, designed and built the ‘Vision’. It had a Stratus EA-81  Subaru with two Bings on it. Since they basically ran full time carb heat,  he wanted to try cool ram air in search of more power. He went as far as testing the set up with a gas leaf blower on the ground. He did this because some people said Bings don’t like ram air. On take off it worked great, until the plane hit 70mph over the trees at Spruce Creek. Then the carbs  shut off all by themselves.

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Plane slowed to 65, power comes back a little. Very  skilled flight at tree top level is executed. Several minutes of listening to  the rough engine clawing its way around the pattern.

He appears on final gliding  in. Steve was a new dad, and his own father had been killed in a plane when  Steve was a young man. I could not believe that I was about to witness a  horrific repeat of a family tragedy. He barely made it, touching down at 75  mph. People on hand thank God aloud.

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As the plane rolls out in the three point  attitude, the airspeed drops below 60, engine comes back to full power and tries  to take off on its own. Steve later tells me he almost had a heart attack at that  moment. He switches to a Lycoming with an MA3-SPA. which operates on the stone  age concept of the throttle opening and
closing when the pilot wants. (the throttle on a Bing is controlled by a vacuum diaphragm) Steve is a  master skydive instructor with
4,000 jumps, he can keep his cool under pressure.  I figure most other pilots in a plane with a five mile per hour  wide speed envelope and 100′ altitude would have bought the farm. -ww

From the story :A question of Carb location…..

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I have no idea why someone wishing to do something different with carbs would not read all the available information. The mans website notes says that if his tests don’t work, he may later use an aircraft carb like I recommend.

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 I sit here and type this less than 15 miles from the spot in Florida where Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd is buried. On the subject of people who like to experiment with substances known to be harmful, he sang the song “That Smell”, which included the bit of wisdom  “Say you’ll be alright come tomorrow, but tomorrow might not be here for you.”*

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Above, three aircraft parked in our front yard. L to R, Louis Cantor’s 601XL – MA3-spa, Grace’s Taylorcraft –  NAS-3 and Dan Weseman’s Cleanex, MA3-SPA. This was taken on the day we flew a flawless test flight in Louis’s 601, the same plane as the man in question is trying to fly on the British car carb. I ask, why not have the sucess that Louis had?

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 Most of the people who are looking at a cheap carb don’t think I know what I am talking about. I find the concept that a guy who has tested either zero or one carb on Corvair flight engines assuming that his guess is more valid that my 20 years of testing, annoying. On the subject of low-cost, it isn’t a stretch to say that I know more people building a Corvair engine for a  plane than any other person on Earth. While cost may be an initial attraction, the reason why people stick with it is to learn something, be proud of what they  have done, and experience this in the company of other like-minded aviators. If you want to fly cheap, rent  a Cessna 150. If you want to do something rewarding, fly something you built  with your own hands that is reliable and works well.

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While I advocate the use of aircraft carbs, I have also tested Dyno many things from 1 barrels to tuned port EFI. If someone wants to use a cheap carb, there are many better options than a British car carb. Above, a 1 barrel down draft ford carb. If you would like to read more on our testing of this,  In Search Of … The Economical Carburetor

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From Wikipedia:

* On Labor Day weekend in 1976, Gary Rossington and fellow Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins were both involved in separate auto accidents in their hometown of Jacksonville. Rossington had just bought a new Ford Torino, and hit an oak tree while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Van Zant and Collins wrote the song “That Smell” based on the wreck, and Rossington’s state of influence from drugs and alcohol at the time. It starts with the lines:”Whiskey bottles and brand new cars, oak tree you’re in my way.”

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You can see a live 1977 performance of the song at this you tube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hib4n9RmFrQ

Playing in it are Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Billy Powell, Steve Gaines, Leon Wilkeson, Artimus Pyle and Garry Rossington. Ironically, today only Pyle and Rossington are left alive. The others died at ages 29, 37, 56, 28 and 49 respectively.

 

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #7, Nothing to Learn

Builders:

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If you have not seen the Intro to this series, you can read it here: Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro., It will explain the goals of the articles. Please take a moment to read it, including the comments section.

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In 2011 the feds concluded an intensive study of homebuilts, and published a report that stated Experimental amateur built aircraft (Homebuilts) had an unacceptably high accident rate. They carefully pointed out where serious improvements could be made, and recommended that unless the rate got better voluntarily, they would seek some type of restrictions on hombuilt operations.

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Below is a summary of major points of the report, provided by Corvair builder/pilot Dale Williams: (New 3,000 cc Cleanex, Dale Williams, SC )

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1 )The largest proportion of E-AB aircraft accidents involved loss of control in flight
and power plant failures, and loss of control in flight has been the greatest contributor
to fatal E-AB aircraft accidents.

2) More than one-half of the E-AB aircraft accidents investigated in 2011 were aircraft
that had been purchased used, rather than built by the current owner.

3) A large proportion of accidents occurs early in the operating life of a new E-AB
aircraft, or shortly after being purchased by a new owner.

4) During 2011, more E-AB aircraft accidents occurred during the first flight by a new
 owner of a used E-AB aircraft than during the first flight of a newly-built aircraft.

5) The most common accident occurrence for first flights of both newly-built and newly
purchased aircraft was loss of control in flight.

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One of the really starting things in the report was that the accident rate for second owners with 2,500 or more hours as PIC in LSA legal homebuilts  is actually higher than 60 hour brand new light sport pilots in the same planes. A great part of this is Light Sport pilots are required to get specific transition instruction to fly a new type, and traditional pilots are not, and frequently don’t. The real culprit is that many pilots who have accumulated hours don’t feel they have anything to learn about their new homebuilt, especially if they perceive it to be simpler than what they were flying……many of his people have been dead wrong about this.

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Last month, I received an email from a pilot with a lot of ratings who had just become the second owner of a Corvair powered 601XL. In the email, and in a phone conversation he stated that he didn’t find a single word in the flight operations manual worth reading, and specifically stated that he was against transition training. Below, a verbatim excerpt from one of his emails:

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“I’m sure my flight might be of interest to your customers. And I intend to share my flight with the 601xl crowd. I have found little if any use in the corvair flight manual ( I am a professional pilot ATP-ME, Comm  A+I, CFI-IAME, AGI,  and A&P). “

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This is the exact attitude that produces a higher accident rate than 60 hr pilots. I will never teach one of these guys anything, and it isn’t my goal to do so. My goal is to teach people who want to learn. In you are new to flying, please read this story: Concerned about your potential?. Never believe the myth that pilots with 4 or 5 digits worth of hours are “safer” than you. Actual risk management lies not with hours, but with attitude, and the willingness to exercise good judgment. The accumulation of hours and ratings are not synonymous with possession of attitude and judgment. You don’t have to take my word for this, or even the evidence of the email above. This has now been statistically proven in the 2011 report.

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Use this understanding to choose who you fly with carefully. In our own EAA chapter we have several airline pilots with more than 25,000 hours who went out and bought RV’s as second owners. Some of them did it the right way, but a number of them never had a tail wheel rating, no transition training, and lacked any kind of basic information on the plane before flying it.

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One of them fly his new plane at 140 mph for many hours back home because he thought 2,300 rpm was the redline of a Lycoming (It’s 2,700) He never leaned it out even though he went above 10,000′, and arrived after dark and ran over three runway lights because he of course had no tailwheel experience. This man flew in the Navy, and then earned his living as an airline pilot. He has all the posturing one associates with the phrase ‘highly experienced pilot’. Meaningless to me, I would never fly in a light plane with him because he has no judgment. If you are new to flying, consider yourself un poisoned by that man’s disease, stay away from him, after prolonged exposure it is contagious. Set your goal today to be better than him. It may take time, but statistically speaking by the time you have 60 hours, you will be at lower risk. -ww.

 

Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #1, Intro.

Builders,

Here is a slightly different series, with the goal of giving builders a foundation of facts, which are the basis of all the information I provide.  We present a lot of details, and a fair amount of ‘big picture’ stuff, and philosophy, but I have noticed in conversation with builders at airshows and colleges, they are often missing many fundamental ‘truths’ that my testing has long conclusively proven.

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Here I present a series of perhaps 20 short pieces, Each providing a block for a solid foundation of understanding.  The things I say here are not up for debate. If anyone reading these says “I don’t think so’, they  will do well to consider that no one has been doing this longer, tested more ideas, and seen more Corvair powered planes, and studied the results, both good and bad than I have.

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If someone is betting that I am wrong, understand that their wager is pretty steep: They are betting years of their time, cubic yards of money, their life, and that of their passenger. Plenty of people have been convinced I don’t know what I am speaking of, and lost this bet. In most cases they lost lots of building time, and a fair amount of capital. It often was the undoing of their building momentum and the end of their project, and an exit to homebuilding. In a handful of cases, it cost a lot more. I sincerely suggest evaluating the need, at times emotional, to believe I am wrong on this topic, and then placing one’s  bet accordingly.

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Some people who thought I was wrong:

“If only someone had told him……”

Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place.

Cloudn’t have happened to a nicer guy……

How I became a genius in 6 minutes

“Local Expert” convinces builder to use cast pistons

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I have plenty of these stories. A number of them involve the aircraft being destroyed on the first flight.  Dragonfly, Quickie, Zenith, KR you name it, I have a story of a guy who was going to show me how wrong I was, and ended up with a broken plane in a field. Lots of them are just about people spending 8 or 10 years of their life in the shop, much of it building an engine installation I know will not work well.

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I had a guy call me yesterday and tell me he is going to design a gear box for the Corvair, put it on a turbo engine with 140HP heads, set it up for 200HP, and put it on a Zenith 701. He was serious.  Funny, we had a guy come to Corvair College #18 with basically the same engine (not running) to make the point that I wasn’t “the only guy who knew Corvairs”  He envisioned a business building these. A few months ago it was on barnstormers, never flown, asking $7,500, worth perhaps scrap metal value.

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Read the stories, follow the logic, adopt it into your perspective and understanding, plan your progress accordingly. The other option is to stick with an understanding based on an incorrect assumption long ago adopted, even if no evidence supports it. Take your pick, have it any way you like. -ww.

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“If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”

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William Clifford, The Ethics of Belief – 1877.

 

2015 Corvair Colleges – Locations and Dates.

Builders:

Here is a look at the 2015 Corvair College Schedule:

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Corvair College #32

San Marcos Texas. 27 Feb – 1 Mar, Local Hosts Shelley Tumino and Kevin Purtee. Same location as CC #28, Sign up active just after 1 Nov. 2014.

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Corvair College #33

Palatka Florida 17 -19 April, Local hosts Grace, William and ScoobE, Same location as CC#23. sign up active in January 2015.

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Corvair College #34

Mexico Missouri Mid September, the Tues.-Weds.- Thurs. before the Zenith Open House. Local Hosts Sebastien Heintz and crew at Zenith. Same location as CC#26 and #30. Sign up goes live just before Oshkosh.

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Corvair College #35

Barnwell South Carolina, 6-8 November, Local hosts ‘PF Beck and friends’. Same location as CC#19, #21, #24, #27 and #31. Sign up goes live just before Oshkosh.

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Corvair College in California 2015?

West coast builders: We are strongly considering a California College in 2015. We held CC#5 in Hanford, #11 In Cloverdale, and #13 and #18 in Livermore. For 2015, I am split between using Chino or holding another college in Cloverdale. The options look like this:

1) College in Chino,  2) College in Cloverdale, 3)One day fly-in and heavy tech seminar on Saturday at Chino, 3 ‘night school’ stops in the middle, and one day fly-in and tech seminar following Saturday at Cloverdale.

I am inclined toward #3, but I am interested in feed back on this, please use the comments section and specify which month you prefer. Before anyone votes for the end of July, let me remind them of a small gathering I am required to attend called “Oshkosh.”

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Corvair College Links:

Corvair College reference page

Corvair College History….in photos

College engine build options for closing the case

Basic Corvair College Skills, examples of learning

College Tech

Running an Engine at a College, required items. #2

Running an Engine at a College, required items. #1

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Pietenpol builder Mark Chouinard savoring the prop blast of the Corvair engine he assembled Corvair College #30. This has a lot more pride and meaning than buying an engine or doing the minimum amount to work to a flymart relic to get it going. This is a fully overhauled, zero-timed aircraft engine. But the real product in the picture is the change in capability and perspective of the man that chooses to learn and build rather than to simply buy. -ww.

 

The “Outlaw” Kitfox/Corvair project

Builders,

If you have ever thought of putting a Corvair on a Kitfox, here is a story to follow. Below are some pictures of a Corvair being sized up for a Tri-gear Kitfox model seven. We took these at Corvair College #30 two weeks ago.

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The game plan here is to make a set of installation parts for Kitfox models 5 through 7. (They are the same ahead of the firewall.) It needs a unique motor mount, it looks like it will work with our standard #3601-S intake, our #3901C stainless exhaust and we are going to base the cowling on one of our #4102 Nose Bowls.

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A Corvair builder in Texas already flew a 2,700cc Corvair on a Model 5, but it was a non-standard, hand built installation that did not have an aircraft carb. It worked, but not nearly up to the potential of the combination. I have another Texas builder, John Pitkin who is getting closer, but there are also one-off elements of his installation, and he is not in a hurry to get done. This time we have an eager builder who already has a completely standard 3,000cc Corvair done and test run at Corvair College #29. He brought the fuselage to CC#30 so I could get all the data I need to make the mount in Florida. This feels like the right plan coming together to see the plane done perhaps as soon as Oshkosh 2015.

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Now we get to the “outlaw” part of this. I have long talked to John McBean, the owner of Kitfox about doing this. Some aircraft company owners like the Monnetts have politely asked that we don’t overtly promote Corvairs on their designs, and I respect that (The have now reversed their position on this) , others Like Sebastien Heintz said “Buy a kit and have at it.” McBean has been a third path, where he has expressed a desire to make some of the parts and have say over details. I wrote about different company perspectives in this story:  Selecting an engine for your experimental aircraft , but Mcbean’s approach doesn’t sound promising to me, mostly because he has never seen a running Corvair and glossed over how unique the exhaust systems are and that they use bed mounts.

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At sun n Fun this year, we reached something of an impasse when he told me that he really wanted every Corvair installation to use one of his Lycoming cowls, a design 7″ too wide for a Corvair, simply because he wanted “his design” to have a “Certain Look.” At that point I decided that he is a good guy, but we have different views on things like who gets to choose how a plane looks (I say the builder does). The best solution is to develop the installation without any input from the Kitfox people. It is my personal belief that if a person buys a plane, it is their personal property, and they have the right to do with it what they want. Doing the firewall forward without the approval or input of the airframe kit maker is what I call an “Outlaw” installation. If you would like a look at how our nose bowls looks on different planes look at this link: Catching Up On Nosebowls ( p/n #4102 ) and at this one: STOL and utility planes for Corvair power.

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If the factory says people shouldn’t use a Corvair on a model they sell, let them make a convincing technical argument why. If it is right, builders will not use Corvairs. Simply telling people to obey works with most people, but a large chunk of traditional homebuilders only follow good reasoning, not commands. Saying “I want your plane to have a certain look” isn’t a technical argument, it is an opinion about another man’s property. Saying “I make money if you buy a Rotax 912, so it is the right engine for your plane” is not a technical argument, it is just an opinion about how you should spend the money in your bank account. It works with some people, just not many of the ones I know and spend time with. When I want Corvair builder to do things like use forged pistons, I make a technical argument why they are needed and make sense. It is a different approach that requires treating builders as intelligent adults.

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Many people are first concerned with what everyone else is doing before making a decision. They believe that finding out what most people are doing is the answer to doing it the ‘right’ way. Actually it is, if you are best described as an ‘average’ or ‘typical’ person. If there was one right way to build a plane, and it was based on what the ‘average’ person was doing, we would all be forced to read Mac McClellan’s editorials, then drive our imported mini van to the barber to get a John Edwards haircut while we read Flying magazine and the Sporties catalog. Then to the airport to use our swipe card at the chain link fence, go out to our Rotax 912 powered tri-geared plane with a glass cockpit, call ATC for permission to fly to the ‘practice area’, spend .8 hours there practicing something from a Rod Marchado video tape while never looking out the windows, Get permission to return to the airport, fly a pattern big enough for a 747-400 (because you were told to) land, put the plane away, and drive home wondering why some people talk about flying as ‘freedom’.

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Conversely, it isn’t my goal in life to be like anyone else. My goal is to follow my own path, as determined by myself, using my rational brain that I was provided with, guided by things that I care about. In 51 years on this planet, I have only been brought closer to that path by people who loved me, and a salesman telling me I have to buy a Rotax 912 is not in the group of people who love me, and for the most part, neither are the people who tell you what you have to do without offering a rational argument. They are just trying to have you obey to make something work better for them, like guy in a tower trying to have you fly a 3 mile final. Traditional homebuilding is the exercise of becoming educated so you can use your rational mind to make choices that are right for you. I am not sorry is that is inconvenient for people who would prefer is everyone was ‘average’. If you have never read it, make a point this week to drive to your local library and spend the one hour it takes to read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and understand it is an allegory about how the ‘flock’ attempts to peck any individual to death for not conforming and serving the ‘average’ need, but some individuals were not born to blindly serve the flock od society. Bach wrote it 40 years ago, but it is more important today than it was then.

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Above, our mystery man builder, known by alias “318 Detroit” with his identity protected at CC#30. (Isn’t this what outlaws do?) Get a look at how much bigger the fuselage on this model 7 is in relation to the engine than in the bottom picture of a model 4 with a Corvair.

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A very interesting side angle: Before the McBeans owned kitfox, the company built a large number of model 5 kits. If anyone is looking for a very inexpensive STOL plane option, you can run an ad on Barnstormers.com saying “Looking for unfinished model 5 kit.” We have ad 3 people do this, and on average they paid $9,000 for a complete kit that originally sold for more than $22,000. Technically these are not ‘factory supported’ in the same way as people who buy kits direct from the McBean’s, but they do have excellent manuals and they is a lot of on line know how from people who built them successfully.

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The “outlaw” kit above is a second hand buy from Barnstormers. It’s original buyer bought nearly every option available, paying $30,000. He took it home but did virtually no work to it. (I have pointed out many times that our consumer culture indoctrinated people to be good at buying things, but poor at working on them.) Our mystery builder paid only $12,000, because it is a supply and demand issue, and deals like this will always be available as long as homebuilt completion rates are low. At CC#30 I sat down with Mr. “318 Detroit” and he showed me on paper that he is going to have a first class model 7, with a complete high end 3,000cc/12oHP Corvair, all of the items ahead of the firewall like the cowl and prop, and a basic instrument panel and a flight line radio for less money than the original owner paid for the kit.

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This option is not for everyone, and I know from 25 years of working with experimental builders that there are many times more people who will drive to Oshkosh in a $500,000 Prevost motorhome, buy a brand new kit from the McBean’s, order a $40,000 fuel injected Rotax 912 engine and installation kit, and have someone build them a glass cockpit. If they get it done, they will have more than $100K in the plane. Are they taking the right path? Yes, for them. For a more traditional homebuilding oriented person with different goals, like our “outlaw” builder, the option is open to have a very similar performing plane, but a very different experience in homebuilding, for roughly 30% of the cost. Each of these two paths are the right one for the respective builders, and figuring that out for yourself is what making a good personal choice in homebuilding is all about.  Before too long another builder will come along, buy a model 5 kit off barnstormers for $7,500, buy some parts from us, put together a 2,700cc / 100HP engine with a Stromberg carb and a Weseman 5th  bearing, add some steam gauges and a hand held radio and have $16,000 in the plane, and he will probably wonder why our mystery builder chose to budget so much money.

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Above, a group photo, the freshly run 3,000 cc Corvair engine destined for the “outlaw” Kitfox is on the test stand as a centerpiece. This photo is from Corvair College #29. Can you guess which one of the 31 people in the photo is our mystery builder? Let me make it a little easier; From the left, it isn’t Grace nor ScoobE, The Son and Father Jameson team have their own 2700 Pietenpol engine, Vern works on our team, Bob Lester in the brown hat has a flying 2700 Pietenpol,…..

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At left with me above is Kitfox CEO and owner John McBean. He stopped by the booth at Oshkosh 2013. He is a good guy, and I am not building an “Outlaw” installation to antagonize him, I just choose the term to differentiate the result from the possible co-operative effort we had previously spoken of. He has owned Kitfox for about 10 years, and put a lot of work into restoring the companies reputation, his family is known for very good customer service. I have done more than 50 different motor mount designs for Corvair installations, and more than a dozen very detailed firewall forward designs for Corvair powered planes. I will capitalize on this when working on the design of the model 5-7 installation this winter.

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Above, A kitfox model four in my shop getting a motor mount. The earlier owners of Kitfox made more than 1,000 model 4’s. They are smaller and lighter than a 5 through 7 models, really too light for a Corvair, but the owner of this plane is a friend who weighs about 160 pounds, so it still has a high useful load. We used a #2601R reverse Gold oil filter housing to get the engine right up to the firewall for the weight and balance to be right. the model 5 through & will have the harmonic balancer about 10″ from the firewall. The relationship between the model 4 and the 5-7 is very much like the difference between a Zenith 701 and a 750. they look alike, but the later planes are substantially bigger. This model 4 has it’s own 3,000cc Corvair, already built and run at a College. When completed, this large engine/small plane/light pilot combination will be a short field rocket. Read the whole story at this link: Kitfox Model IV with Corvair mount. -ww.

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STOL and utility planes for Corvair power

Builders,

Below is an overview of STOL and Utility airframes that have been Corvair powered or are in excellent candidates for the engine, that we have already looked at closely. Included with many of the airframes listed are links to stories about them.

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This group of planes are all high-wing cabin monoplanes. There is a good selection of designs for builders to choose from. There are others that would work as well, for example Morgan William’s lite star http://www.customflightltd.com/aircraft-kits-1.html Has flown on Corvair power, but I have just written an overview of the planes most people ask about. If you have a plane in mind that you don’t see here, just send me an email.

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Zenith 750:

This is a good match for the Corvair. There have been a number of them flown in the last four years, and many more are in the works. The 750 has flown on 2700, 2850 and 3000 cc Corvairs. We make every part to install the engine on a 750 airframe and have a Zenith specific install manual. The last link below has a very complete over view.

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Above, the flying 2850cc Zenith 750 built by Gary Burdett of Illinois.  It has our full complement of Zenith installation components and one of our production engines.

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Zenith 750 Flying on Corvair Power, Gary Burdett, Illinois

Flying  Zenith 750, Tom Siminski, 2700cc, PA.

Flying Zenith 750 w/3000cc Corvair, Doug Stevenson, California

New “Zenvair-750″, Jeff Cochran, 2,850cc engine, N750ZV

 Zenith 750 / Corvair reference page, October 2013

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Zenith 701:

We flew our 701/2700cc Corvair test bed aircraft in 2007.  The combination works, and a few have been built, but the 750 has stolen a lot of the potential popularity. If anyone is looking at both airframes, they should pick the 750, because it has matched hole tooling and is far easier to build. It is a better match to a Corvair. Economically, a Corvair powered 750 will still cost a lot less than a 912 powered 701. The link below the photo has a very detailed look at the combo. The plane below was made of all our off the shelf engine components, and the entire plane and engine was built in our Edgewater hangar.

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Our Corvair powered 701 taxis out before its first flight, 2007. Gus Warren at the Controls.

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Zenith 701- Corvair reference page, November 2013

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Pegzair:

Is a 20 year old Canadian design with automatic leading edge slats. It has a metal wing and a steel tube fuselage. We finished and flew the first Corvair powered on in 2007. the story is in the link below the photo. The engine has all of our conversion components. Every part ahead of the firewall was built in our hangar in Edgewater.

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Read the story at this link:

3,100cc Corvair in Pegzair

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Wagabond :

Below, our Wagabond, N707SV, flying over the Intercostal Waterway near the Atlantic Ocean in 2005. The airframe is based on a highly modified 1964 Piper PA-22-108 (Colt). The plane was built as a group project by “The Hangar Gang” between 2003 and 2005. It has been flown by a number of well-known Corvair pilots who all found it to be a well behaved work horse. In person, the plane is very large for an LSA legal homebuilt. The airframe is the size of a Tripacer, and sitting on the ground the spinner is as tall as I am, yet a direct drive 100 HP Corvair easily flys this plane, including a test flight where the plane climbed out with a payload greater than its own empty weight.

Originally flown to shows by David Vargesko, today the plane has been modified and refined by Grace and myself, re-engined with a 120 HP 3000 cc Corvair, and functions as our personal Corvair powered plane. It is a 5 gallon per hour, 100 MPH plane with a very large baggage compartment. With Grace, the dog, myself and 36 gallons of fuel loaded, it can still carry 275 pounds of equipment and stay in CG.

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Below is a youtube link to the plane flying:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7XhuWmqcPw

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Merlin:

Below is a link to film of Jeff Moore’s Merlin flying on floats in Newfoundland. The airframe has a strong following in Canada. This particular plane was originally powered with a Rotax. Jeff’s plane uses most of our Gold engine parts and one of our stainless U-2 exhaust systems. The engine is a 2700 cc motor with a Weseman 5th Bearing.

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Jeff and the Merlin with Corvair installed.

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 Film:

Jeff’s story is at this link:

Corvair Powered Merlin Flying Over Newfoundland

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Buttercup:

The plane was originally Designed by Steve Wittman in 1937. It was vastly ahead of its time. Later modified to have full span movable leading edges.  Grace and I worked on the Buttercup pictured below with the intention of finishing it for ourselves before we had a change in direction. Our standard intake and U-2 exhaust fits the plane, along with all of our gold engine components.

Above, the motor mount for our Wittman Buttercup. It is an intensely complicated mount because it incorporates Wittman’s tapered rod landing gear sockets (the modern Buttercup actually uses RV-6 landing gear legs). Earl Luce, the plans provider gave me all the operational data and weight and balance info for his O-200 powered plane, which I mathematically worked out to the Corvair installation. The Mount resembles the O-300 mount for a Tailwind.  After completely welding it, I took it to our local powder coater, and had it done in U.S. Navy gray. It was the 40th different Corvair Motor Mount Design that I have built. Today two builders are closing in on finishing the Corvair Buttercup combination, but none have flown yet. The plane above is being finished in Wisconsin.

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Rebel:

The Murphy rebel is an all sheet metal Canadian design almost 25 years old. It is not currently in production. It is a complicated plane to build compared to other all metal designs like a Zenith. Below is a link to a story I wrote about how people who know nothing often say the Corvair will not work on utility planes like the rebel, in spite of all the evidence on this page that speaks to the contrary. The commentary and data in the story is worth reading for anyone looking at a Corvair engine for their homebuilt.

The case of the Murphy Rebel, “eyeball vs. testing”

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Bearhawk LSA:

I consider this plane to be the best flying plane in it’s category. I worked directly with the designer Bob Barrows to develop a Corvair motor mount for it. I flew Bob’s prototype, and it has excellent handling qualities. The design uses or standard intake manifold, and a stainless exhaust common to our Zenith installation.

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Corvair Motor Mount for Bearhawk LSA

Bearhawk LSA, Corvair motor mount in development

Bob Barrows to Fly LSA Bearhawk to CC #27, Barnwell, S.C., Nov. 2013

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Kitfox:

The only Kitfox model that has flown with a Corvair was the model 5. The builder had a number of issues, related to using a poor choice in carbs. Below is a link to a Kitfox 4 mount we made in my shop. The engine is slightly too big for the model 4, but it is a good match for the series 5 and up.  The factory likes to promote engines they sell cowls for and have a dealership on.  Kitfox has had three different owners in the last 25 years. The current ones did not sell the bulk of the unfinished model 5’s which are available second hand from internet sources like barnstormers.com for less than 50% of their original sale price. Combine one of these with a Basic Corvair, and it is possible to build a good plane for less than $18K, airframe and engine.

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Kitfox Model IV with Corvair mount

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Stits SA-7D Skycoupe:

Ray Stits, the man behind the fabric covering system designed a series of very successful planes in the late 1950s. The Skycoupe was once one of the most popular 2 seat planes in the EAA.  Several hundred were built, and their was even a FAR-23 type certified model. It is a stout plane, but it is small inside by modern standards. We put about 200 hours of flight testing on ours, it is a natural match for the Corvair. Below the photo is a link to pictures of turbocharging the design.

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Above, the Skycoupe on the ramp in front of our Edgewater hangar in 2007. We made every component ahead of the firewall on this plane.

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Read more at this link:

More Turbo Skycoupe photos

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Fisher Horizon 1 and 2:

Both of these designs have flown on Corvair power. I built the motor mount for them, and most of our off the shelf components fit the installation.  The plane has strong appeal for builders who like wood, but it is not as rugged as steel tube designs or all aluminum ones.

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J-3:

The first plane ever to fly with a Corvair was a J-3 in 1960.  The Corvair would make a very good power plant for any of the J-3, J-5, PA-12 family of airframes.

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Just Highlander:

Below is a photo of the first Corvair/highlander to fly. It was not a success because the builder insisted on using a left over cowl from a Jabaru 3300, and the Bing Carb from the same engine. He also ran the engine was a display without any form of cooling for a long period on the ground prior to the first flight.  With the wrong cowl and carb, it should come as no surprise that the plane overheated. From the pictures above, we have plenty of evidence that the Corvair can easily power larger heaver and slower planes than the Highlander when it is equipped with the correct cowl and carb. .

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Christavia:

Is an older design that is somewhat similar to a champ. The plane has many fans, but it would not be my first choice in a utility plane. It is called a STOL plane, and it is by Lancair standards by not by Zenith standards. The plane pictured below was powered by a 2700 Corvair with a Rinker Gearbox, a design from the 1970’s. The gear box failed in 28 hours because the machinist employed by the builder decided to omit a keyway critical to the design. The combination will work much better as a direct drive plane.

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Taylorcraft BC-12D replica:

Below is a one of a kind plane, built from some BC-12D parts. Today the FAA has cracked down on this practice, but with a friendly DAR this could still be made. The plane below is powered by a 2700 and has clipped wings. It topped out at 130mph.

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This very slick aircraft is the handiwork of Gary Loucks of New York.

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Corvair Colleges and Airshows – dates 2014

Builders,

So far this year we have covered colleges # 28 in Texas and #29 in Florida, and an appearance at Sun n Fun. For the second half of the year we have two more colleges and Brodhead and Oshkosh to cover. Below is a break down of these dates for planning purposes.

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The next event on the schedule is the annual Pietenpol gathering in Brodhead WI. It is the weekend before Oshkosh. I am going to be there Friday and Saturday, July 25th and 26th.  This is a basic gathering of Pietenpol fans, set at one of the most relaxed small town airports in America. We don’t do a commercial set up there, but I do have a trailer load of stuff that I am bringing to Oshkosh and I will be glad to deliver anything that people will not have a chance to pick up at Oshkosh. I spend most of my time at Brodhead looking a cores, and running seminars on topics like weight and balance. It is a far more relaxed setting than Oshkosh for covering technical questions. If you are a Piet builder and would like to pick up something special like a motor mount, now is the time to order it in advance. All of our standard off the shelf items will be in the trailer.

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We move 90 miles up the road to outdoor Oshkosh display space #616 in the north aircraft display area (Home builts directly across from Zenith, were we have been the last several years) on Sunday morning. Airventure starts the next day July 28th through August 3rd. We will have a full commercial display with almost every part in the catalog on hand and for sale. We are planning on manning the tent 9-5 for regular hours, but I will be hanging out late into the night most evenings in a relaxed social setting. If you look at this link to last years Brodhead and Oshkosh, you can get some idea of the feel of the events: Brodhead, Oshkosh and Beyond 2013. Other companies tend to man their booth with salesmen who can wait to bug out at exactly 5pm. I am just the opposite, where I like to kick back with friends, new and old, and hang out in lawn chairs until it’s dark. I am always glad to look at any core engine or part, see and collection of builders photos, or answer any question. I am driving 12,000 pounds of truck trailer and parts 1,300 miles to a 30’x40′ piece of grass I rented for a week for $3K, I am going to spend the maximum amount of time on site, not the minimum. I am usually the very last vendor to leave on the last day. Also get a look at the old photos at this link: 90 Days to Oshkosh 2014.

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Corvair College #30 is at the Zenith Factory in Mexico MO September 16th-18th. These are the three days just before the Factory’s 23rd annual open house: http://www.zenithair.com/events.htm. We will be staying all the way through the open house, but to allow everyone to do both, we are making sure the events are back to back, but don’t overlap. I have spoken with a number of Corvair/Zenith pilots who will be flying in for this event and staying for the open house. We had a very productive and fun College #26 at the same setting last year, and we are just fine tuning it this year, and adding a large dose of late night social stuff and more flying planes to the event. We had no registration last year, but this year it will be a regular event with food and drink provided for a small sign up fee. We will have the sign up page functioning shortly. A number of the builders with flying planes have told me that they are looking forward to Mexico because it is a lot less pressure and expense than flying into Airventure, and you have the freedom of a casual setting to hangout or go fly, what ever you like, things being more relaxed fun.  I am looking forward to this. As always Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith has made very clear that all builders are welcome, not just his Zenith customers. I think that says a lot about the Heintz family support of all homebuilders.

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October in California? This has come back up again. First, let me say that I don’t think we can get a full college done this year on the West Coast. But lately we have again been looking into having several small events in a single week in the Golden state, and maybe making an appearance at the Copper State fly-in. If we do anything in California, my #1 choice is to have it at Steve Glover’s Hangar in Chino. I have spoken with Dan Weseman, and he has actually considered flying the Panther out for this; we have several other people like Woody Harris and Andy Elliott who can fly in. But keep in mind that there are a lot of logistics to anything on the other side of the continent, and there are only 7 weeks between College #30 and #31 in which to put something in California. There is also the little matter that College #30 is 1,200 miles from us, and #31 is about 350, so it is a lot of packing, traveling and planning. I like the idea, but I don’t want to bite off too much. We will keep builders posted and have an answer by the end of Oshkosh.

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Corvair College #31 will be in Barnwell South Carolina, November 7th -9th. This will be an unprecedented 5th College at one location. We keep going back because it is an excellent location and P.F. Beck and crew really get it right every time. Go to this link: Corvair College History….in photos, scroll down and click on any of the links to the Barnwell colleges, #’s 19, 21, 24 and 27. There were outstanding events. This is the Year end social event also, where we award The Cherry Grove Trophy.  Again, the registration page for this college will be up shortly. While the event is fun, Barnwell is a very productive setting where a great number of engines have been assembled and test run. The all time record for running the most engines is still held by College #17 (http://www.flycorvair.com/cc17.html) in Orlando, which was a 4 day event. In speaking with a number of builders who have already begun planning for College #31, we have a good chance to break the record from #17. Don’t miss it.

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Above, 601 builder Steve Sims of  Florida assumes the famed “Superman Position” to celebrate the first run of his engine at Corvair College #17. This is where you lie prone on the bed rail of the pickup truck the run stand is bolted to, and “Fly” behind it, in the prop blast of your Corvair engine. Steve is now flying this same engine in his 601HDS.

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There are some places in the country were you can pay to learn how to assemble a Lycoming kit you buy. Sounds great, but somehow I suspect that they have rules against pulling a “superman” at their test facility. You are not actually old until you are too old to have fun. -ww.

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Corvair College #28, San Marcos, Texas

Builders,

Here is a review in photos of Corvair college #28 in Texas, with local Hosts Kevin Purtee and Shelley Tumino. The pictures are mostly people, because a lot of the focus of colleges are people. As you look, picture yourself, among new friends, making progress, learning. We are a few weeks away from College #29. Don’t miss the sign up, College #30 is six long months after #29. Don’t give up most of another flying season to delay. Success in aviation comes from having a plan, the support of a small group of experienced builders, and learning. You can find all three at a College.

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Byron Engle, old school EAA builder, working on a 2700 for his Turner t-40. He has been in the EAA since the 1960’s. Byron was also at CC#22 in Texas 2 years ago.

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Kevin wears the “Hat of Power” while builders gets started on core engines.

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Team work of new friends took cores apart very rapidly.

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A mentor in the making: Award winning Corvair Pietenpol builder pilot Hans Vandervoort, speaking with father / son Kelly and Joseph Jameson, who have a Piet in process. Dad is very clear that his 16-year-old son is heading up the project, he is just supporting it. Joseph has a set of skills and maturity that are truly uncommon in teenagers. Engine is a 2,700 Roy bearing power plant.

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Demonstrating an upgrade to exhaust valve rotators on Ken Bickers Piet engine. Ken has been working on his plane for 19 years but is closing in on finishing. Persistence pays, Kevin Purtee worked on his Piet for 16 years before it flew.

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Hands on practical demonstrations, done on builders engines, are what colleges are all about. In orange is Tim Hansen, who as a college student to a Greyhound bus 27 hours each way to Corvair College#9. Today he is a pilot and building a first class Corvair for his project. Success in airplanes is made out of determination to win, not money.

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1/2 of “Team Stinemetze,” brothers Tom and Karl, with an engine destined for their Pietenpol.

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Core from a manual trans mission Corvair. Pose with attitude comes from builder satisfaction at knowing Corvairs and Colleges are a good choice.

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Piet Builders Dean and Robynn Trzynka, working on their core. They drove 20 hours from Wisconsin to get to the college. They now have several personal friends in the Piet and Corvair community. This is how you build a group of supporting friends for your project.

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CC#28 is ScoobE’s latest college.  His first was CC#16 in SC. In between he missed only #18 and #20.  He wanted to go so bad that he sat in the Suburban by himself for many hours before our departure from Florida. Show him a suitcase, and he is headed for the truck.

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Mark from Falcon shipped in heads direct for Gary Bassham’s 3,000 cc Zenith engine. They came in this box. “Ice station Zebra” is how Mark answers the phone in his shop in winter. It is a metal building in Fitchburg Wisconsin. I called Mark last month and found out there was a 85 degree temperature differential between our shop in FL and his.

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Introduction speech on Friday. Our drive to Texas was slow going, taking 28 hours on the road with breaks. We arrived a little tired, but enthusiasm kicks in right away and we worked until 11pm on Friday. Saturday was the big productive day running from 8am until 11 pm. Sunday started with 75 degree sunny weather, which deteriorated to 50mph winds, torrential rain, and then snow by noon. Puddles in the parking lot turned to ice. People from outside Texas got very concerned, Texans just slowed down long enough to put on sweatshirts. I spent the morning trying to work through a bad migraine that was harsh enough to have me intermittently out of action. My sincere  thanks to the builders who recognized this and kicked into high gear support mode to assist Grace in getting things done.

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125026

Left, Hans Vandervort, middle Kevin Purtee and myself, all three Corvair /Piet guys with a total of about 1,000 hours on the combination between our planes. Photo was Friday afternoon. Although we have worked with him for many years, this was the first time Grace and I had a chance to meet Hans, a native of The Netherlands (Holland), in person. He has been flying his Piet a number of years, and is now building a Bearhawk.

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Zenith 601XL-TD Builder Andy Elliott flew in from Mesa AZ in his 3,000 cc Corvair powered bird. It has about 600 hours on it. The trip was about 750 miles. Read his story at this link: Zenith 601XL-3100cc Dr. Andy Elliott. Engine is now a 3,000 with a Dan Bearing.

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125063

John Franklin brought his Corvair powered Grega GN-1 to the college on a trailer for inspection and test run. The engine ran at CC#22. Stainless exhaust is one of our U-2 systems. Read the engine story at this link: Franklin Engine Runs at CC ##22 KGTU Spring Break 2012

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125073

Zenith 650 builder Larry Magruder and I putting a dent in the coffee pot. Larry’s engine ran at CC#25, but he brought it to #28 so I could install exhaust valve rotators. We did this with air pressure in the cylinder, so the heads did not have to come off. Neat trick with basic tools. Read about Larry’s engine running at: Corvair College #25, In Photos.

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125077

Saturday’s group photo, 55 Builders were on hand. The was the first college for 70% of the builders.

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We got the Pietenpol builders to pose as a sub group. The Chouinards are Tallest and shortest builders in the photo. Nice to have two marred couples and two father/son teams in the picture.

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125088

The “other”Builders, representing Dragonflys, KRs , Neuports, Turner, Little wing Gyro and more. Corvair works on many airframes. Yes, you can be in two sub photos, if you have both a Piet and a KR project.

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The Zenith Builder sub group. About an equal split between 601/650 builders and 750 builders. Many of these guys are planning on attending CC#30, which will be held in September in Mexico MO, at the Zenith factory, just before their open house.

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Kevin and Shelley arranged to have generous amounts of  hot chow available for builders at most time during the long days. Builders, took breaks and gathered in small groups to fuel up and compare notes. The only “formal” dinner was Saturday night. Friday we all ate the College traditional pizza dinner. Having the food on hand is a key element of productivity, that no one need to leave the hangar, even in a very long day.

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125117

Andy Elliott took a number of builders for their first flight in a Corvair powered plane, as weather permitted. This is fun, but it is also valid training. Understanding what a properly running engine sounds and feels like in the cockpit is important. Years ago I had a builder who had never seen another Corvair turn a prop call me before his first flight and say “My engines running good, It is almost as smooth as my C-150’s O-200.” I told him to stop immediately. Another inspection revealed he had reversed two plug wires. Anyone who has seen a correctly set Corvair run understands the engine is far smoother than any four-cylinder Continental.

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125122

Gary Bassham leads a team of builders that includes his brother, assembling his 3,000 cc engine. It is destined for his Zenith 601XL.

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125126

Kevin had pre-constructed several dozen 2′ x 4′ work tables. It proved to be very efficient, each engine having its own table. In a pre-college message Kevin called the 2″x4″ tables which lead to some jokes about the 18″ tall Stonehenge in the spoof film Spinal Tap.

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Byron Engle has the moment of victory on installing his Gen #1 Dan bearing, where his total run out was down to .0004″.

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Above, I check the timing marks on Gary Bassham’s 3,000 equipped with a Gen #2 Dan bearing.

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125147

Piet builder Ken Bickers cam in from Colorado with his 2700 cc Roy bearing engine. We popped the heads back off to install rotators and change the sub standard exhaust valves that were installed by a local machine shop. It was a quick lesson to everyone present that it is never worth putting off things your motor will benefit from. The entire job took a few hours of casual work. Ken’s airframe is done and painted.

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125153

Zenith 650 builder Larry Magruder changing to rotators on his exhaust valves. This was done with the heads on the engine. Larrys heads were done a number of years ago. Today all heads done by Falcon have rotators installed.

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125158

Builders enjoy smiles and stories on Saturday. Tee shirts are a good indication of the weather we enjoyed other than Sunday afternoon.

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I stand on a stool to assist Piet builder Mark Chouinard to install his balancer. This was the in-person training to go with the written story: Balancer Installation. The engine is a 2,700 Roy bearing power plant, with Falcon heads.

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Zenith 650 builder Brian Manlove works on his 2700 cc Roy bearing engine while Kevin Purtee watches. By the end of the event, Brian had the engine completely assembled.

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Grace and Old friend/KR expert/Mr. NVaero.com Steve Glover. He is kind of a prankster; Two weeks before the college I walked into my shop with a neighbor, and caught the end of a phone message where an ominous voice repeated “You can expect trouble in Texas.” My neighbor was worried until I explained that this was just my friend Steve saying he was planning on attending the College. Steve’s sense of humor and definition of entertainment was developed during long service in the Marines.

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Many builders talk about all the things they get out of Colleges, but lets reverse this for a minute. The above photo is a snapshot of what Grace and I get from colleges: a level of friendship and mutual respect we have with our builders. I have been working in experimental aviation a long time, I know many other people who also do, and I will flat-out tell you that other businessmen do not enjoy the friendship of builders at the same level. Being constantly exposed to builders, not at airshows but in the workshop setting, gives us a priceless reality check on the success of our program in the way that mere sales figures never could. I can say that we really understand builders in a way that most other aviation business never will. The Colleges have refined our work in so many ways it is hard to consider what out efforts would look like in their absence.

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Thanks again to Kevin and Shelley for hosting their second college. They are truly the kind of people I hoped to meet and have as friend when I was daydreaming in 1989. Only a handful of the things I expected when I started working on Corvairs have come to pass, but I always envisioned the work being done in the company of great people like Kevin and Shelley, and in the final measure, if I could have only have one element of my vision come true, I would pick that one.-ww

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