Custom Corvair Motor Mounts and installation components. 

Builders;

Over the years 1996-2016 I built about 50 one of a kind motor mounts to install a Corvair in unique or limited popularity airframes.  If you look back over the old photos on my traditional site: http://flycorvair.com/ you can see pictures of mounts on airframes like the Pegzair, Eich/J-2, Buttercup, Tailwind, Jr Ace, Stitts Skycoupe, KR-1, Kitfox #4, Skylite,  and Varieze.  There were a number of designs that started as one mount, but took years for a second one to sell, these include the Dragonfly, the 701, the Flybaby and the Wagabond. 

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While just four designs, the Zenith 601/650, the Zenith 750, the Pietenpol Aircamper and the KR-2 and 2S make up 90% of the total mounts we have made over the years, I still wanted to support the airframes choices that some builders made. As a general policy, if it was a good match to the airframe, and the builder seriously wanted it, I was willing to make it.

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The plan got a number of interesting planes going and was a good way to demonstrate both the versatility of the engine, and our technical ability to support builders. But it also had several serious flaws: Although most custom mounts take four times as long to build, and a lot of planning, I typically only charged builders the same rate as the closest “big four” mount, and second, I didn’t always get builders to acknowledge that custom mounts took time, and were not the highest priority in the shop. This meant I lost money on every one of these mounts, and was often rewarded by having an impatient customer complain to on line discussion groups, without ever mentioning the price, nor the fact his was building an obscure, obsolete airframe. Let those mounts stand as “Exhibit A” that I am both dumb and a slow learner.

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Under the principle “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese” , Dan Weseman is now trying his hand at offering custom motor mounts and exhausts. Because he believes it isn’t required to repeat the mistakes of friends, he is making these mounts, but requiring the builders to understand they are going to cost more than standard mounts, and they are not in stock like the “big four” mounts. He is glad to look at doing mounts for builders as long as conversation starts with the understanding of these to points.

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Above, It looks like a number of other mounts, but this is a picture of a Savanna S mount.  It was built by Dan Weseman at SPA/Panther. Note that it has it’s own custom exhaust that fits it like a glove.  While the mount is built around the same basic “tray”  as other mounts, and the exhaust system uses our decade prove stainless steel subcomponents, they still take a lot of time to design and build. These items are shown on my dummy engine, installed on a rotting stand, because all kind of components have to be check for clearance and the ability to be routinely serviced. Additionally, calculations for both weight and balance, thrust line and stress must be done. This is why a one of a kind mount has to cost a lot more, because a popular mount can have these cost spread over many of it’s kind.  Builders interested in talking to Dan about a mount can call him at 904-626-7777.

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-ww.

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Zenith / Corvair installation 

Builders

Below are several photos of a current Zenith / Corvair installation I shot in my front yard this morning. 2016 marks our 13th consecutive year of  working with Zenith builders, dating back to Grace and I buying our own kit from the factory, and building and flying the first Corvair powered Zenith.

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Over the years, we have refined the installation in a number of details, but at its basic core, it is a proven American made engine with a long track record of serving individuals who selected it.

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Above 2400-L starter and DFI ignition.

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Engine is only 28″ wide.

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The firewall is common to all models of Zenith 601/ 650/750.  The mount shown is for a 750, the 600 series is nearly identical.

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Engine has a SPA/ Weseman 5th Bearing. .

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3,000cc Corvair (lower compression) engine

Builders,

Below is a look at an engine I just finished a few days ago. It is my own personal Corvair engine. We have several customer engines going together in the shop now, but I assembled ours in advance because I am shortly going to run a series of comparative tests with nitrous oxide injection. While the possibility of harming a motor is slight, you obviously wouldn’t test with an engine you are going to send to a builder.

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Above, break in run in our front yard. The engine is a 3,000cc displacement with 95 HP heads set up with a .050″ quench height. It has my own 5th bearing design as seen in this story: Group 3200, Wynne 5th Bearing .The Compression ration is about 8.4 to 1.  My intention is to run the engine primarily on 90 octane ethanol free fuel, commonly available in Florida for boats.  It’s only advantage over auto fuel is that it stores a lot longer without degrading. The engine will have no problem digesting 100LL, but I want to have a long term first hand study of lower octane fuel in Corvair powered planes.

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Above, I have actually owned this engine since 1991. It came in my 1967 Corvair Monza that was my daily driver for many years, accumulating 100K miles including a lap around America, ( look at the photo in this story: 2014 Conversion Manual Notes ) It went on to be the 2,775 cc engine at first flew in our Zenith 601XL in 2004, It was the test engine for my 5th bearing design in 2007, and it is staging this re-appearance as a 3,000 cc.  The engine has had roller rockers since 2004, and may have been the first engine ever to fly them. (No, they don’t make much power difference nor make the engine run cooler, both are misconceptions based on marketing claims which are only valid in limited circumstances.) To read more, look here: Pros and Cons of Roller Rockers. Over the years the engine has accumulated many details, most of which are things that we tested and found not to be a great value to most builders. If you look closely, it has ARP case studs (2003) ARP head studs (2004) and powder coated aluminum pushrod tubes (2007). and group 1800 powered coated lower baffles (2012)

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Above, a look at the topside. Almost all of the external conversion parts are our regular stuff. The engine has a HV-2000 rear oil case, a 2400-L Starter set up (the nose and bracket are powder coated black), a #2601 Gold oil filer housing, a #2802 block off plate, and an Adjustable Oil Pressure Regulator, #2010A. The top head nuts on the engine are Small Block Chevy rod nuts. This was an idea that morphed into #1706 head nut hardware, something Dan Weseman provides with finished heads.

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BTW, I was forwarded a picture of a first time builders enginge, a 3000cc motor. This guy made huge issue of objecting to using .041″ aircraft safety wire to hold the baffeling on the cylinders of his engine.  You can see this in the above photo as the neatly done stainless fine lines running at the base of the #6 and #2 cylinders. This is done because 3,000 engines have different cylinder castings which don’t fit the stock Corvair baffle clips. We have been using Aircraft safety wire for this task for more than 15 years, (because we used it on 3,100 cc Corvairs also.) The person, who evidently knows nothing about aviation, said “Bailing wire has no place in aviation.”

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Bailing wire? I have personal touched, with my own hand in museum restoration settings, a Lockheed SR-71, a North American X-15, and a Rockwell Space Shuttle Orbiter, all of which flew with Aviation Safety wire, so contrary to our new ‘expert’, it is approved for mach 3, mach 6 and mach 17 flight, as well as mach 0.12 experimentals.  Here is the stupid part: his forwarded photo shows that he painted his pushrod tubes flat black, which I have told people never to do because it makes them run very hot and gets the o-rings brittle. You know what actually has no place in aviation? People who can’t read. Perhaps a person shouldn’t be quite so proud of being from a state that ranks 5oth in the Nation in public education.

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Above, The engine at power during a 1 hour break in run. The differential compression test showed that the cylinders were perfect. The engine also has an #1100 cam:  Sources: Group 1100, Camshaft. This profile actually has slightly longer exhaust lobe duration than cams traditionally used. This doesn’t have a giant effect on normal engines, but it is a very desirable feature on ones using nitrous oxide. After some more time on the run stand we are going to progressively hit it with doses of N2O at 20, 25, 30 and 35 hp. The idea is to establish what is a safe level of power boost for 3 minutes. Contrary to what most people think this is not hard on an engine, as long as the fuel pressure never drops. I have worked with N2O on engines dating back to 1982, the stone age of commercial nitrous. Pushing a 550hp V-8 to 900hp is hard on it, but looking for a 20% power increase is not. Smaller engines like a Corvair flowing very low rates may run many minutes on a standard 10 pound bottle. The valve covers shown are the standard ones we sell in group #1900, like the ones pictured in this story: E-mail Now: Custom Valve Covers Available Through Monday.

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Nitrous boosts power in 3 ways sequentially: It is actually injected as a 1000 psi liquid, who’s basic evaporation robs all the heat out of the intake charge.  The temperature can easily drop below zero F, even in a hot motor. Then the N2O is compressed and heats above 800F, the molecule breaks up in a dissocation reaction, which raises the pressure in the cylinder, and frees up the oxygen. N20 has nearly twice the mass of oxygen as air, and this is then burned with additional fuel sprayed in. Think of this as performing a take off with your plane at a density altitude of 5,000′ below sea level. N2O works great, but it is very intolerant of anything that aggravates detonation, like not setting timing with a light, or using the wrong plugs, letting the engine run lean or not reading the instructions.  When you hear stories about to blowing up engines, smile politely and nod, and think “WW said it wasn’t for everyone, particularly people who can’t read.”

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I have no “secrets.” I have tried to teach everyone all the things we have learned over the years. Secrets are for people who want you to idolize them, have themselves remain ‘mysterious.’ To me, the only thing mysterious about such people is why potentially rational people abdicate from their ability to consider and learn, instead opting to spread myths about some alleged talents or knowledge that you are not allowed to look at. Think back to how people talk about others who own powerful vehicles, and realize that a lot of this is a weird form of hero worshp, peoplably because it takes less effort than learning what is going on.

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 Yes, I know a lot about Corvairs, but the goal has always been to share it with other builders. That is what the last two decades have been all about.

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-ww.

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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