Ignition “issues” and I-U-S-F

Builders,

The last few weeks have seen builders with “issues” involving getting their engines to run on our ignition systems. Both of these builders stated that their ignitions were defective, in spite of the fact I test every single one of them before they leave the shop. Jumping to the conclusion that I sell defective stuff is not a rational response, nor one that engenders the better angels of my nature, particularly when both of the units were returned to my shop and tested, and found to be fine.

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Here is a story about  how to wire a distributor, the mistakes people sometimes make, and a example of an unreasonable response: E/P Distributor wiring notes:  A link to our nine page illustrated instructions : http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3301-epx-distributor/ notice these come with every distributor, and are on line also.

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Several Common threads appear with builders having an “Issue”:

They have a “helper” or a partner, who doesn’t understand how the system works either

They have not been to a Corvair College, even though they would learn the specific elements they are missing.

They are not using information resources we have developed listed here: Outlook 2016 – The Corvair ‘Information Network’ now in gear.

They didn’t follow rule number one of ignitions: DO NOT change the point settings, or anything else in the ignition, just install it following the directions. If you have any problem understanding them, DO NOT ask another person who doesn’t understand, just call us, before taking anything apart.

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I am developing a term called IUSF. This stands for “Insufficient Understanding for Safe Flight” I am not kidding about this, and I am going to write a story about this so when people are not reading instructions, or taking incorrect advice, or jumping to conclusions about tested parts, I am going to reference this story in a formal notice to them, and directly invite them to the next Corvair College for in person instruction. I will be meeting them ‘more than half way’, for free,  in order to offer them an opportunity to develop a better understanding, so they can safely fly their plane. Some people “Don’t know what they Don’t know.” This will be a way of telling people they are not learning practical information fast enough to understand it before their plane is done. I can’t force anyone to do this, but neither will I be responsible for the results of people who choose not to understand the proven ways to install and operate our systems. 

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Above: A General Motors engineering report on distributor advance, specifically referencing the 180HP Turbo engine. One of the builders said  an engine can not be cranked with the ignition advanced. Really? Look closely, the initial ignition advance for all turbo Corvairs was 24 degrees at idle. Before a ‘helper’ convinces you of something about Corvairs, consider that I might just know more about them than he does. All of our DFI distributors : More DFI testing are based on cranking the engine with more than 20 degrees of advance. It works just fine.

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Same report, sitting on the steps of my shop today, with a rear cover from a 180 HP corvair, notice the factory sheet metal timing mark extention, so that the idle timimg can be set to 24 degrees. I don’t make this up, many engines, including aircraft engines without impulse coupled magnetos, are all cranked with full advance.

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One builder had a buddy who said that his engine only ran when he installed the points above in place of the ones we use, because these were better, and noted we should look into using them, implying we sent him a second rate part.

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Same box as above, in front of my parts bin, showing that his helper wasn’t right, as I already use the identical points on every distributor we make. Yes, he took of the same set to replace it himself with the identical part, in spite of the fact the directions explicitly say not to touch the points.

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Distributor in my machine, returned by the builder, with the claim that I sent him a defective electronic unit. Guess what, it works perfectly. But, look at the white points wire: I pulled off a little piece of tape the helper put on, and low and behold, the wire had been cut by being carelessly pinched under the cap. Just in case anyone is wondering, a piece of tape is not an acceptable repair to any piece of wiring with damaged insulation, anywhere on your plane, and particularly not in the ignition system. The owner said he didn’t do this, meaning it was the handiwork of the helper.

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Above, a closer look at the cut wire under the tape. If any person did this on a plane I was in charge of, and hid it, I would never let them in the hangar again. Working on planes is serious business, and you have to take it more seriously than this.

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I fully understand that people are not born knowing these things. But, you have to be willing to learn them, willing to follow the directions, willing to stop taking advice or ‘help’ from people who don’t know what they are doing, willing to use our information resources, and if you still don’t get it, you have to be willing to travel to a college to learn these things in person. That is as plain as I can say it. I do not say these things to offend, I say it to prevent accidents that never have to happen.

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wewjr.

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Evolution of a Pietenpol

Builders,

In the previous story, The small world of Experimental Aviation , I mentioned how much N-1777W changed over the years. He is a look at some of it:

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This is the plane at Oshkosh 1970. The picture made it to the back cover of Sport Aviation in January 1971. Notice it once had 140HP heads, and other well meaning, but weak ideas. If you have the Tony Bingelis book “Firewall Forward” the Pietenpol/Corvair pictures in it are all of this plane, in this era. Bingelis didn’t like auto engines, and his writing spread a lot of old wives tales. He was a good guy and a highly influential writer, but he held opinions that testing by his contemporaries like Wittman and Monnett showed to be wrong.

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Fast forward to 1995. Want to know how I became the expert on Pietenpol weight and balance? Want to know why I think it is annoying when people who can’t do a simple calculation, or have never weighed a plane on electronic scales question my work on Piet W&B?  Start with this photo: The reason why the cowl has a 6″ wide expansion in it is simple. After getting the plane, I found out the weight and balance, done on bathroom scales was dangerously wrong. I carefully measured, and in a single day, made a mount 6″ longer and plugged the cowl for test flying. In the picture is Gus Warren who did a lot of the work with me and covered much of the flying. It was an instant improvement in safe flying behavior. I have written extensively about this testing and work, you can find the links here: Corvair – Pietenpol Reference page, but today, the majority of Pietenpol builders willfully ignore the information. Much of this is driven by people in the Pietenpol community who personally dislike me for my tone or experience.

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Above, same plane 1999. This is an entirely different motor mount, the first high thrust line (#4201-C Pietenpol Motor mounts, now on the shelf, ready for shipping.)  and a completely different set of gear legs.(New die spring landing gear on a Pietenpol, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.)  Bring up the topic of axle location, gear leg length, CG changes or thrust lines, and people will tell you they think it makes no difference. Of course their opinion is not based on any testing, just a guess, something they heard from a guy. When I speak of these things on a Pietenpol, it was because for a number of years, ready to cut up a good flying plane, or a mount that I had made a month before, in search of something better. Some opinions are made of guesses, mine are made of testing.

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If you look in the upper corner of the picture, there is a blond girl sitting in the grass. She was getting away from her job as a newspaper editor. She liked planes a lot, and had a very pleasant way about her. Her name turned out to be Grace.

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Above, side view of the same plane, taken just before Corvair College #1. Notice how much longer the gear is than when the fuselage was orange. Also note where the axle is located. In the last few years, we have had two Corvair powered Pietenpols heavily damaged by being put on their back, even though I warned people to move the axle forward if using brakes. It is frustrating to not be able to motivate people to correct things like this before an accident. When you see what I was willing to rework on my own aircraft to make it better, it is obvious that I don’t operate things in a condition that simple work and modest money will fix. If you are too tired to improve things, pick a different hobby, this one has potentially harsh penalties for the lazy.

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-ww.

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“I sure hope his opinion is worth money to someone”

Builders,

John Tower was a four term US Senator from Texas.  Between his service in WWII and being a reservist, he wore the uniform of the US Navy for 46 years. He was on the Senate Armed Services Committee for 20 years; he was on the Joint Committee on Defense Production for 16 years; Although he was a Republican, he lead the ‘Tower Commission’, that investigated and condemned the Reagan administration role in the Iran Contra Affair. After leaving the Senate Tower was the Chief US negotiator of the Strategic Arms talks at a critical time in the Cold War.

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In 1989 President Bush nominated Tower to be US Secretary of Defense. Because he had never been a man of blind party loyalty, Tower was attacked on many fronts in one of the ugliest Senate confirmation hearings in history. At the height of the battle in the Senate, Towers enemies stated he was unqualified to be Secretary of Defense, because after serving in the Senate, Tower had worked for General Dynamics and was paid about $200,000/yr. One of Towers supporters went to the microphone and “We are speaking of making this man United States Secretary of Defense, on these issues,  I sure hope that his opinion is worth money to someone.” 

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With the goal of finding someone who had not been paid for their perspectives, Tower’s nomination was defeated by a coalition of his political rivals and enemies.  Another nominee was found, a relative unknown from a state where he had few detractors. He was easily confirmed, 92-0, and thus began the rise to power of a Wyoming Congressman named Dick Cheney.

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Your Aviation Connection: In budget experimental aviation, there is a small (10%) but internet vocal minority that will constantly spout the myth any person who runs a profitable or successful business will advocate products and procedures, motivated solely by quick profit. In this distorted view, anyone who is ‘successful’ can’t be trusted, and their track record should be ignored in favor of getting advice from people who’s opinions have never been valuable enough for builders to spend money on.

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This is a disease that doesn’t affect mid level builders like RV series builders. A part of the reason why their are 10,000 flying RV aircraft is the message Profitable=Evil doesn’t resonate with them. They want to build a proven aircraft, and they want to fly it. They are not interested in getting sidelined by conspiracy theories on success. To the contrary, the majority of RV builders selected Van’s Aircraft, specifically because it was successful and profitable. To sane people, this is taken as evidence of having a good and proven product.

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When people who are against trusting successful people need medical attention, do they look for people who didn’t make it through med school? Do they look upon every successful professional with suspicion? Do the automatically trust the opinion of every amateur or failure? Your guess is as good as mine, I am an aircraft mechanic, I have little understanding of that kind of psychology.

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On the internet last week, the claim was made I advocate pressure cowls because I make money selling baffle kits.  This is a joke, first because pressure cowls work, evidenced by 98% of RV aircraft and 100% of Cessna 172 and 150’s having them, second, we have more than a hundred of flying Corvair powered planes that use a pressure cowl, but lets not forget the point, I don’t even sell baffle kits. Even if I did, I am well known as a person who can’t be bought: Read this story: Expert Witnesses in civil Aviation trials. and know that I was offered $55,000 for 2 hours of testimony against Cessna, and I told their lawyers to “F–k Off. ”  In 2001, I had several attorneys promise me a million dollar settlement if I would sue the PIC in my accident. I told them to drop dead also.   So perhaps it seems unlikely that I would sell out for the ‘big money’ available from Corvair parts sales.

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The anti-success line sold on internet groups isn’t just aimed at Corvairs; I have seen it used against any VW company that lasted, about half of the aircraft plans sellers, and a great number of people who offered parts for plans built aircraft. The people who sell this idea claim to be defending traditional homebuilding, but what they are really doing making it unattractive for people to make products of basic planes, to take away the opportunity for some builders to choose for themselves products that best serve their individual time vs money equation.  If you are a grass roots homebuilder who wonders why there are “A wealth of products for the wealthy“, but far fewer choices for those on a budget, here is a big part of your answer.

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Here is irony: One of the things I do with the modest profits from our 27 year business is put them back into events that serve grass roots builders like our free Corvair Colleges: Corvair College History….in photos. and use the time to write about our R&D and testing projects: Testing and Data Collection reference page. Yet, a number of people who claim I am solely motivated by profit, have actually attended a Corvair College, and certainly almost all people who make the claim have learned something from my websites. These are the some of the people I was writing about in this story:The Hypocrisy of Homebuilders.

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Every builder will choose his own path. Some will follow the proven path because their goal is success, and they interpret success as the sign of good product or service. I am glad to assist these builders, no matter how big or small their budget is.  Others, will choose to condemn any successful company, for reasons that are important to them, but in doing so will greatly diminish their personal odds of building and flying a reliable plane, all as the years drift by and their time runs out. Pick your own personal path carefully, most people don’t get two chances at this.

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Above John Tower in the 1960’s. If you can see past the political necessity of his vote against the Civil rights act to gain office, the man had a long run where he put his loyalty with his conscience instead of either party. It wasn’t a long term strategy for gaining the favor or protection of his party. He was killed at age 65 in the crash of an Embraer twin turboprop, a scheduled airline flight. The accident was traced to the failure of a Hamilton Standard propeller. A later, nearly identical fatal accident caused a major safety probe that laid responsibility on Hamilton Standard’s overhaul practices.

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-ww.

 

 

 

 

 

Air / Fuel ratios on Corvair carbs.

Builders,

Here are some short notes on the topic of carbs.  It is my hope that builders will read and think about them, consider the logic before jumping up to debate. The Comments are based on 25 years as a working aircraft mechanic and working with Corvairs since 1989. These comments are not based on a single planes experience, but take into account all types of testing, education, and practical experience.

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How Rich is right?  Recently, a builder has told people that correctly running aircraft carbs on Corvairs need to have black sooty tail pipes.  I can flatly state that this is way too rich, and there are a number of very good reasons why you should not fly a carb running that rich.

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As a logical base line for what exhausts should look like, perhaps we can all agree that an Exhaust of Certified plane, running 100LL fuel, with a correctly running engine, with by the book performance, a Certified aircraft carb running without adjustment for more than 20 years. is a standard we should use. This engine has never fouled a plug in 17 years, has never harmed the engine in any way. Notice that the inside of the exhaust pipe has a dusty light gray color, and that new paper towel was vigorously wiped on the inside of the pipe, and only produced that light stain between my thumb and the exhaust pipe. This is the correct color and soot content for any Corvair running an aircraft carb.  I know this from working with countless flying Corvair powered planes over the years.

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Why not black and sooty? A correctly running aircraft carb on an air cooled engine will have an air/fuel ratio of about 12:1 in normal cruise. This will automatically go richer, to some thing like 10.5:1 at wide open throttle, and in low power cruise at altitude, it can be leaned to 14:1 for maximum efficiency.  Any engine that is making black soot in the exhaust and can be seen to visibly smoke at 1,000 rpm is running an air/fuel ratio of 9:1 or so. I know this not just from books, and working on certified planes, but from directly reading a laboratory grade A/F meter while running an EFI Corvair on my dyno in 2007:

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Above, An exhaust evaluation as part of an Electronic Fuel injection test on a 2,700cc Corvair in 2007. It is shown running at power on my dyno. With this arrangement, a simple twist of a knob on the computer produced any A/F ratio you wanted to test. This is how I can say what A/F ratio produces visible smoke on a Corvair, and it is part of how I can speak about it’s relationship with power output.

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At any airport with a density altitude less than 3,000 feet, your Corvair should run perfectly smoothly and make good power with the mixture set full rich, just like any Cessna 150 with the same carb will do.  One of the reasons why I use MA3-SPA carbs is so they have the exact same ‘normal’ operation as any certified plane I have flown, and if the carb doesn’t work like it does on a Cessna or a piper, don’t fly it, period.

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A builder with an MA3-SPA carb reciently said his engine only ran correctly with the mixture pulled half way out. He was considering actually doing his first flight in that condition. His home airport elevation is only 516 feet. If I went to his airport, and got in a Cessna 150 and it took pulling the mixture out half way to run correctly, You could only make me fly that plane with a gun to my head. Something is wrong with it, and sane people do not fly planes with things wrong with them. It doesn’t suddenly become “O.K.” because the carb is now on an experimental. Wrong is wrong, time to correct the issue, not to find some condition where it kind of works for the first flight.

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Any guy who would consider flying a plane in that condition, has missed the point of this story: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place. Where Ken Lien was killed on the very first flight of his plane because he didn’t bother to correctly assemble the mixture control on his plane and it moved to idle cut off on its own. If you are in a plane, getting ready for the first flight, and the mixture has to be pulled half way out to run, please explain to me how you know that this isn’t the first sign that the mixture is assembled incorrectly.  You wouldn’t, and there is a significant chance the engine will quit.  People who want to die should step in front of busses, not fly planes that are not set correctly, as using a plane and poor judgment to end ones life only unfairly punishes those of us who practice intelligent flying.

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If the mixture was half way out on the first flight, and the new pilot had to do a go around on the first approach, most pilots would instinctively push the throttle, carb heat and mixture to the firewall.  This works, and it is the correct procedure. However if the pilot is tolerating a plane that must have the mixture half way out, when he does this, the engine will quit, he will overshoot the runway, and smash up the plane on the over run. All the local experts will then say “The Corvair quit, I told him not to use a car engine, he should have used an O-200” Neatly ignoring the fact that it is the same carb as the O-200, and it would have done the exact same thing.  If instead, the same pilot stepped in front of a bus, preferably while holding the hand of the ‘Expert’ who tells everyone not to use car engines, aviation would benefit, and the rest of us would come out ahead. Cold, but you know it is true.

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Engines running black soot are wasting fuel, prone to fowling plugs, can damage the cylinder walls, and will have excessive carbon build up. On the other hand……..wait, there is no upside.

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Anyone who says that an MA3-SPA needs to be jetted differently for different displacement Corvair engines is wrong. Think of how many different engines have run on my test stand, all with the same, untouched in 15 years, MA3-SPA. Note that I have the mixture set full rich on the stand, and it runs cleanly on all engines. And yes, my stand has both EGT and O2 sensors. Beyond this, Dan Weseman and I recently took his 3,000 cc and 3,300 cc Corvairs to one of Florida’s most respected dyno shops and ran them both is a day long session.  What carb did we use? Why the same one off my run stand. It ran perfectly on both motors and the shops very elaborate instrumentation showed that the air/fuel ratio stayed correct through out the power range on both engines, without any kind of adjustment. Aircraft carbs work like that.

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Would you like to know how aircraft carbs are supposed to be operated? Read this story: Cylinder Head Temperature measurement and learn what a Lycoming Operations Manual is.  Down load it, print it, read it and know it. This is what successful people will do.

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Conversely, You could get advice from a guy who is neither an pilot nor an A&P, who has never owned nor flown a plane with a mixture control, teamed up with a guy who has never seen a Corvair turn a prop in person, and another guy who damaged his engine by using a carb no one ever head of so he could save some bucks. Take your pick, but if someone doesn’t like the concept of listening to the professionals and people with experience, again, I am going to suggest that bus thing again, I know it sounds mean spirited, but people willfully doing dumb things shouldn’t even be called ‘accidents’ because they are not really. an accident is someone trying to do the right thing. Willfully choosing not to do the right thing is not an accident.

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This ends the technical part of this story.  No valid technical information follows.

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I am not listening to William Wynne because:

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One: He sounds arrogant, and although I have never met him, and he wrote stories about people he loved: Risk Management reference page in hopes that others could avoid being hurt, I still say he is a jerk because I found two sentences in the 855 stories that are on this site that offended me, and I refuse to learn anything from him since.

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Two: I own a Prius, and he is always mocking people who own Priuses, and I can tell he isn’t kidding, and he feels superior about this, which is stupid because as a Prius owner I alone have a right to feel superior to all other car owners because I know the best way to protest the use of fossil fuels is to buy a car that you can feel superior about.

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Three: When I was in his tent at Oshkosh pontificating about how America has been ruined because no one follows the Ten Commandments anymore, he asked me to name them, and I couldn’t. The year before I said the problem with America was no one followed the Constitution, and he asked me how many articles it had and I said 10, and he said “guess again, you are off by three” , and I guessed 13.  I don’t get the connection that I should read more before being sure I am right.  I never listen to people with long hair, even though William has essentially the haircut as Jesus and everyone at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

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Four: I don’t listen to people who sell things, because they are trying to make money off me. I only listen to people on the net who’s opinion about how to do things can’t get them a job doing it, nor is it apparently worth money to anyone. Those are the people I trust.  Yes, I know that I should trust William because he has a vested interest in my success even if he actually likes me or not, But I would rather trust people I have never met, who write in nicer tones, who I have a simplistic childish belief are motivated to tell me the truth, unstained by their limited experience, personal bias, and ego.

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If anyone read the above for points and didn’t find them funny, you probably have good taste, and I remind you I am a mechanic, not a comedian. I have a small but consistent group of people, most who have never met me, who remain quite sure that I have a “Condescending tone” and a “Giant ego”.  Before anyone is temped to say those things, I ask that they read the two paragraphs below, which appear both on my website and in every manual we print, and please share with me how this isn’t adequately honest and frank:

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“If you have never met me, but read this and think that I am charmed with myself, you got it all wrong. I know countless humans who are better people than I. They are kinder, smarter, and harder working. I can’t sing nor dance, I learn slowly, and I can’t stand to hear my recorded voice nor see my image on film. If I was once handsome, all trace of it is gone along with my uncorrected eyesight. I can be a conversational bore, and I deeply wish I had given my parents more moments to be proud of me. At 50 I look back on my life with a very critical eye and stand on the far side of a very wide gulf from the heroes of my youth. Even our dog, impeccably honest and loyal as canines are, Loves Grace and only tolerates me.

Honest evaluation leads to harsh thoughts like this. I spend a lot of time alone and have long bouts of insomnia, which can lead to thinking about things excessively. But the secret I would like to share with anyone who at times feels the same way, is that I have a sanctuary where I am insulated from much of my self-criticism, and a have a front, where at 50, I am much better on than I thought possible in my youth. When I am building things with my hands in my shop, I rarely feel poor. Although I now need glasses to do any close work, and my hands have lost a lot of dexterity, I am a far better craftsman than I ever was in my youth. I am not a great craftsman, but over a very long time I have worked to develop these elements in my life, and I compete with no one except who I was last year. While all else fades, these things flourish. It is a gift I am most thankful for.”

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ww.

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Eyeball Exhaust Evaluations

Builders,

For as long as I have been working with Corvairs, I have had a segment of ‘experts’ tell me their opinions about the  Corvair exhaust such as ” It would make 30% more power with headers” All of these people were basing their misguided theories on ‘eyeball evaluations’ and the were just sure they were right. I knew they were wrong because I have testing on my side.

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Below is a very interesting video showing how eyeball evaluations of exhaust systems are worthless. It shows a very potent 6,000 rpm V-8 on a dyno, in back to back tests where they flatten header tubes horribly, and it has next to no effect on the output. And that is on an engine making one and a half HP / cubic inch. The effect is even lower on engines like your Corvair flight engine.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azPKIjxmmdU

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Engine exhaust requirements depend on cylinder head design and camshaft design. Typically, low rpm engines like your flight motor, have modest cam profiles with short duration, to build torque. These engines are not punished for having the backpressure of a muffler, nor are they rewarded for having perfect free flowing balanced tubes. In our application, the systems we use are the correct balance of reasonable flow, matched to the cam profile, with the two critical factors: Low surface area and stainless construction to prevent it from heating the inside of the cowl, and having low weight and a stiff design that will not resonate and crack. The systems we offer are made of the best materials, with the best welding, to long proven designs. Sorry if reality offends the ‘eyeball evaluation experts’, but that is reality.

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Get a look at some of our exhausts here: http://shop.flycorvair.com/product/3901-a-zenith-exhaust/

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Read about our designs here: Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems

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Above, An exhaust evaluation as part of an Electronic Fuel injection test on a 2,700cc Corvair in 2007. It is shown running at power on my dyno. The urethane wheel directly reads foot pounds of torque off the digital scale. Note the engine has headers on it, that could be swapped in minutes for other exhaust. The EFI allowed the air/fuel ration to be corrected to optimize the exhaust instantly at the twist of a knob, giving the fairest scientific evaluation of exhausts. The air / fuel ratio was read on a laboratory grade digital O2 system. The data conclusively showed that headers make very little difference on a Corvair, and EFI was not impressive either. Read more here: Testing and Data Collection reference page

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-ww.

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YOU MUST SET THE TIMING ON YOUR ENGINE

Builders,

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This is not a story about people making mistakes, because everyone does that when they are learning, This is a story about people reading the correct way to do things, and then thinking it over, and deciding not to, because they have some rationalization like ” I think someone did that for me” or “I’m busy, I will look at that later” or “I read that once, I suspect that mine is wrong, but there is too much information on ww’s site, it can’t all be important.” I wrote this last night after working 18 hours in the shop. It has a lot of spelling errors, and we have just 24 hours before the college. I was going to take 10 minutes to correct the spelling, but thought about the guy who will later say “I didn’t set the timing because I decided the advice wasn’t any good because I am a grammar and spelling Nazi and I can’t get past that, even to learn how to save my life.” Have a nice day.

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Above is Gardiner Mason’s Pietenpol. The plane was nearly destroyed in the sun n fun tornado, but he rebuilt it. It flew for years and had a condition inspection every year. It was wrecked in a hard landing that tore a wheel off, it had a number of forced landings. During the years that Gardiner flew the plane, he adamantly refused to ever set the timing with a light, he never did it. He no longer flies a Corvair, and I am glad about that. Let some other engine be blamed for his death. BTW, Gardiner flew for both the military and Delta, and has 30,000 hours, and I honestly have to say he never learned anything from me, in spite of many attempts on my part: http://www.flycorvair.com/pietengineissue.html today his engine runs perfectly in the hands of someone willing to use a timing light: Terry Hand’s 2700 cc Pietenpol engine – w/Weseman 5th bearing

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I have said in countless places that every one must check the timing on their engine with a timing light before flying it. I have even said that I suspect more that 1/5 of the people who fly Corvairs never do this. Perhaps you have read this and thought I was bull shitting people….Well understand this, and read it clearly, Today, I had two people with flying planes tell me in a single day that they never checked the timing on their engines. Yes, two in one day.

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Guy “A” wrote with a picture that showed a broken piston ring, and asked what caused this? When asked, he stated that he had never checked the timing, because he had bought the engine from us years ago, and just assumed that it was OK to fly it without ever checking the timing.

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Guy “B” wrote to say that his plane has one flight on it that went OK. When asked, he stated that the Cowl inlets were only 3.6″, He had no EGT information, one CHT, and he never set the timing on the engine. Again he bout the engine years ago, and some how assumed that it would be fine.

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Here is what is wrong with that mentality: I have said in countless places, that being an aviator is about leaving nothing to chance that you can easily check yourself. Since you have to own a timing light, and you have to check the timing at least every annual, why wouldn’t you check it before flying. “Because I thought someone did this for me” is not an acceptable answer in aviation if you are planning on living long.   If I sold you a gun several years ago, and then you left it in your barn for several years, would you pick it up and handle it without checking to see if it was loaded? Only if you were a fool. Likewise, during an engine installation, there are many ways with lifting the engine, installing baffling, wiring the ignition, that the timing could be altered. It takes only ten minutes to check……but still, people who took 5 years to build a plane, evidently don’t have that 10 minutes. I wouldn’t install a Lycoming engine in a plane and not check the mag timing. Why is this OK to do with a Corvair?

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I have to ask myself why I bother to write detailed stories and organize the in this format: Engine Operations reference page if people are not going to read them. In a previous photo Guy “B” sent me a picture of his engine running on his plane, with no cowling or airbox. I have said countless times that this is totally unacceptable, the same as running a water cooled car without a radiator or coolant. Yet there was some need to do this on a brand new engine. If there was ever a time in the life of an engine not to do this, it is when it is brand new. Between this, the undersized inlets, no timing set, and no egt information, how much damage do you think was done to the engine? If the engine fails in a few hours like Guy “A”‘s engine did, please tell me if you thing that all the guys in their EAA chaperts are going to say “I can’t believe he didn’t bother to take 10 minutes to set the timing” or do you think they will say “Stupid Corvairs, what a rip off that long haired jack ass in Florida is.”

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How many people are going to try this? I don’t know, but here is a story about a guy refused to buy a timing light and check the timing on his Corvair, because I had build the engine 10 years earlier, and it had been sold twice since then, moved all around the country, and put on two different planes, but he was still sure that the timing must be set correctly, because I built it a decade before. Guess what happened? He crashed the plane on the first flight, with a passenger. Understanding Flying Corvairs Pt. #6, 98% DNA not enough.

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In 24 hours we are leaving for Corvair College Number Thirty-Five. Is anyone learning anything, or am I just assisting in a free assembly service? This website has 740 stories on it, including many specifically on the need to set the timing on every Corvair. Is anyone reading stories like Ignition Timing on Corvairs or When to check your timing, Lessons learned Pt#2 which contains the sentence : 1) The timing needed to have been set on installation and checked at least at each annual. Please show me where it says “unless you think someone set it for you years earlier”

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Every week brings this kind of news. Last week I spoke with a guy who has been flying his plane for four years…..and he has never done a compression test. Try this, call your FSDO, tell them you don’t believe in compression tests at annual condition inspections and see how fast they revoke your repairman’s certificate your plane. Better yet, tell ask your insurance agent if your coverage is still valid if you only do part of a yearly inspection. Freedom to build homebuilts doesn’t mean that one is free from following standard procedures of aviation.

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The thing that gets me the most is the guys who are the beneficiaries of some great research and writing I have done, but willingly choose not to use the information, because they don’t have the time to correct some stuff, but evidently they have plenty of time to rebuild their plane. .Example: Plane flying to Oshkosh, with the landing gear 9″ too far back. I inspected the plane in California, told them the plane had poor CG and incorrect gear location. Neither corrected. On the way to Oshkosh, the engine is running poorly, (problem later traced to certified carb) but they flew past several optional airports to get to the one where the support van was…and promptly put the plane on it’s back…and said nothing when internet people blamed the accident on the Corvair engine of course. Plane flying again now, but with Chinese rockers…..

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Plane under construction for 20 years, finished the engine at a Corvair College. Made a custom and unique cowl, but never felt the need for a CHT to see if it worked, operating at 7,000′ DA, leaning the carb, but of course no EGT, inspite of the fact I have said in countless places a Corvair leaned to rough running is detonating. Main gear installed 7″ too far aft, in spite of my reports on CG….First flight last 20 seconds to loss of power.. with gear too far aft plane ends up on it’s back….It is publicly blamed on my ignition buy builders “Expert”…plane is flipped over, and proves to run perfectly on points, pilot quiets admits he never flipped the switch to the back up…Later testing shows that distributor runs perfectly on BOTH ignitions, the problem was caused by the experts wiring.

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Want to know how many Corvairs have been wrecked by running out of gas? Read this: Comments on aircraft accidents, everyone on the net thought that the accident that sparked the debate was caused by the Corvair…Maybe, just maybe I already knew that the pilot was a danger….He had damaged his $35 cam gear by not reading the installation instructions, so he didn’t replace it, he chucked it in a lathe and turned the aluminum gear down to save the money….and later tried flying his plane with only 5 plugs screwed into it.

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Think that was the only time a pilot flew on five cylinders? Guess again, We had a pilot who did his first several flights, but missed that he never connected the 6th plug wire….He was also doing the flights with no working charging system. Same guy later flies his plane a 601, with 4″ of lateral slop in the stick from completely slacked aileron cables. Why? because he “just had to get to his destination.”.

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How about flying to Oshkosh, having 80 hours on the plane, and never having changed to berak in oil? How about the same thing with 65 hours? How often do you think those builders inspected under the cowl? What did they learn?

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I could keep typing these stories for hours.  Right now, there is someone working on making my list of stupid stories one longer…Just make sure it isn’t you.

.ww.

Comments on aircraft accidents

Builders,

I am well known in experimental aviation for speaking of the things we can learn from accidents. I have an entire section of my website devoted to this: Risk Management reference page . Very few people in our field do this. The reluctance of most companies to comment has nothing to do with protecting their work nor our industry, it is simply the unspoken acknowledgement that very few people are listening, and altering their actions as a result of findings. I have worked in experimental aviation for more than a quarter of a century, I was trained as an accident investigator at Embry-Riddle, and the focus of my work is teaching builders, and yet I have to concede that my fellow aviation business owners are actually correct, very few people in experimental aviation are willing to alter or improve their behavior over time. They may want to read about accidents and comment on them, but the statistics say that few people are learning and changing their actions.

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If you are an individual, it doesn’t matter that 90% of people are doing what 90% have always done. This statistic is a concern of the industry, but it need have no effect on you. It applies to people who behave like a herd, but not the individual. I write the following points with the assumption that I am speaking with an individual, but the acknowledgement that this will also be seen ( I don’t use the word read here) by people of the herd who will ignore, take offence at, or misquote it. I can do nothing about that because my craft is teaching aircraft mechanics, and if my goal was to control herds, I would have been a shepherd.

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For individuals who want to learn something, the following points are based on 26 years of continuous work with Experimentals:

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Know the ” WW 100 Rule “: If the prototype breaks or has an accident before anything is being sold, that is called testing and R&D, and that is what responsible companies do; If 3 or the 5 first prototypes have accidents before getting to 100 hours, there is likely an issue with the product; If 2 of the first 10 have accidents before getting to 100 hours, you are likely looking at something about people, not the product; if 20 of the first 100 people have an issue before getting to 100 hours, then you are certainly looking at a human issue because it logged 8,000 hours for people who used it properly, and I have plenty of evidence that more than 20% of people have no judgment around planes. Read : A visit to the insane asylum .

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There will always be accidents with every plane and product, even ones with several hundred examples. Fools would have you believe this a reflection of aircraft companies randomly producing a defective mechanical devices, and that is a joke. What it actually shows is that there is a large persistent group of people who think that transition training, following instructions, biennial pilot reviews, pre-flighting and spending money where it is needed, do not apply to them. This is not unique to flying, think of anything you engage in, boating, shooting, motorcycling, eating, breathing, whatever, there are at least 20% of people who also do these activities with a willful disregard for safety. The only difference with flying is that the results make better TV news.

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The fleet of flying Corvair powered planes is about 400-500 active planes. While my original builders may be as low as 5% fools, there are strong industry records that show second owners of aircraft are a very accident prone herd. They are drawn from modern societies’ Darwin award candidates, and they are often people who thought learning enough to build a plane was for egg heads who like books. Second owners have a very high percentage of people with the pre-flight motto “kick the tires, light the fires.” These factors produce a steady flow of accidents. In most cases, if the engine is a Corvair, I will get a call from the FAA or the NTSB within 24 hours of the accident.

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Remember Martha Stewart?; most people think that she went to jail for insider trading. She did not, she actually went to jail for simply misleading (not even directly lying to) Federal agents conducting an investigation. When a billionaire can’t hire enough lawyers to keep them out of jail after misleading Federal investigators, a reasonably intelligent blue collar guy like an aircraft mechanic concludes one should only say pure factual information to Federal agents. Not only because it is legally a good idea, but it is also the ethical thing to do.

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There are rules about what you can share before the preliminary report is filed. Now, just think about how many times I have been informed about what was found, but then read stupid speculation from people on the internet, saying things I already knew not to be a factor in the accident. In the last 25 years, I am yet to see a single speculator, who was later shown to be absolutely wrong, come back on the net and admit that their speculation was complete BS.

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Random Comments on the Net: Following an accident, there will be people who always comment, and in most cases, they will not use their real name. This may be the guys friends “sticking up for him”, but you are almost certainly looking at one of three things; 1) An on line know-it-all.  2) An axe grinder trying to do some PR damage by speculation. 3) A small business competitor. (The most famous cases of this were on the Matronics/Zenith list where there were it was later shown that many of comments following accidents originated from other aircraft companies.) Anything that doesn’t come with a guys name and address, from a known person is to be considered BS.

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When there is an accident, new builders focus on it, but the time spent learning about accidents, particularly when people are just speculating, would be far better spent studying the people who didn’t have an accident. I have seen countless new guys focus on what they ‘think’ happed in some particular accident, but they can’t name a single successful builder’s plane they have studied in the same detail. This is stupid. Their time would be much better invested in learning to emulate the success of another builder who isn’t having accidents. Good flying is about patterning your success after what is proven to work. Even if a builder had a god’s eye view of what went wrong in every accident of the type of plane he is building, this still doesn’t tell him anything about what is right, only what is wrong. Study success at least as much as failure.

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Keep in mind that when you see an accident, you are arguably looking at the guy who wasn’t following procedures nor exercising good judgment. If he comes right back and says, “I f^#*ked up, let me tell you the mistake I made”, he is the total rarity that can teach you something. but far more often, the person who had an accident says nothing because they didn’t know what they were doing, or still argue that they were doing nothing wrong. A person in that position has nothing to teach you.

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After an accident, out comes the guy who met him: In many cases this speculator is the guy who knew the guy from his EAA chapter, or knew him from an airshow. Invariably the guy will include a comment like “I thought his plane was nose heavy” OK, and this is based on? Notice the guy never says “I did a weight and balance on it personally and found it to be at the front of the CG range in the drawings” it is always some random judgment, often meant to express how his own personal plane is somehow better than the one in the accident. All of these guys “just want to share facts” but in realty they don’t know what they are talking about. Even well meaning guys who post a link and say “He had an engine failure” are jumping to a conclusion themselves.

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Do you know that the FAA lists running out of gas as a loss of power? I worked for several years with the late Jeremy Monnett trying to get a category called “Gross Pilot Error” to be included in the descriptive terms because we both thought that is a better description of running out of gas than calling it a “loss of power.”

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I have written countless times that any commentary on an accident, other than a PIC report or the actual accident investigation is nothing but speculation, But this never stops idiots from doing it. Consider that both this plane: Flying Zenith 750 w/3000cc Corvair, Doug Stevenson, California and this plane: New Zenith 601 XL(B), Conventional Gear, Jerry Baak, S.C. were destroyed in accidents.  If you search the stories on websites, you will find at least 200 random speculations about what caused these accidents, mostly centered on what a terrible engine choice the Corvair is. Ready for reality? Both aircraft were run out of gas.   I flew to California and proved this on video:

http://www.flycorvair.com/stevenson.html

  The Federal investigator agreed with the conclusion. Yet not one single speculator had the self-respect to go back on any list and say “I was wrong”. You can wait as long as you like and you will not see that on the internet.

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For people thinking of speculation on vague info, consider how stupid the TV news commentator feels today about reading the “Confirmed Names” of the pilots in the Asiana 214 crash:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1JYHNX8pdo

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-ww.

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Above, a 2007 picture of the homebuilt of Ken Lien of WA state. The following year, he was killed on the very first flight. You can read the story I wrote a long time later here: Risk Management, Judgement Error, money in the wrong place. By an absolute coincidence, a life long best friend of Ken’s, named Denny Jackson became my neighbor at our airport in FL just after the accident. Denny was deeply hurt by his friend’s death, and finding out that I was the ‘Corvair guy’ lead to him angrily confronting me at our EAA chapter. He was 6’5″ and 325 pounds and not to be trifled with. Because I was part of the investigation, I already knew what Denny did not: It was caused by his friend putting his carb together incorrectly, it had nothing to do with Corvair engines, yet I could not say this to him, I could only ask that he withhold judgment. Months later, Denny understood the report, came and explained that he was just hurt at the loss of his friend. I told him I might have done the same thing. We ended up as friends, spent a chunk of time around the airport together. Denny’s picture is now on our EAA chapter wall, as he was taken by cancer 3 years ago.

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An Internet drama in a teapot.

Builders:

A little internet drama is a guilty pleasure of many aircraft builders. Submitted for your approval, a little drama that ran this week; It has a cast, a plot and a twist. Fun, but in the end it is only drama, and like a dozen other dramas before, it entertains, but doesn’t advance your plane toward flying.

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Cast:

Mark from Falcon Heads, Roy from Roy’s Garage, and 601XL builder/pilot Ron Lendon.

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Background:

At the end of last year, I privately told Mark and Roy that I was no longer going to have them at Corvair Colleges nor in my booth at Oshkosh. After nearly 10 years of being their single most vocal supporter, I was tired of Mark not making heads and Roy telling people his work was “Technically Correct” with the implication that people choosing other suppliers were making a mistake. To retain some portion of builders, they decided Mark would come up with a special set of magic head mods for $500, and Roy would run people’s engines on his dyno with promises of further power increases. To sell this to people, they enlisted Ron Lendon to put it on his plane, and then tell people what an improvement it was. The broke the ‘story’ on the “Corvaircraft” discussion group, a venue where I am not allowed to participate.

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It all sounded pretty good to people who like a good drama/conspiracy theory. Mark and Roy had “discovered” the dirty secret of Corvairs: The way we tell people to build them (Just as Mark and Roy have done for years) is terribly down on power. They claimed to have raised Ron’s power output by something like 24%. Ron followed up with a detailed flight report that showed his plane to now run 116-117 mph, a large improvement. Roy then comes in with some graphs showing Ron’s plane now makes 100 HP.

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Sounds great, except:

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Several well known and trusted 601XL pilots with 2700 cc Corvairs chime in to say that their planes are that fast already. Lynn Dingfelder and Phil Maxson, who have both been flying for years, point out that their planes do 115 mph, and Ken Pavlou’s will break 120, in the same configuration as Ron Lendon’s in spite of Ron’s engine being a 2,850 cc. The logical observation is that these unmodified airplanes have the same output as Ron’s now does, which Roy’s dyno said to make 100HP. Most people concluded that the test validated my long standing power output claims, because there is little variation in 601XL airframes, so the same speed  = the same power.

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Points to understand:

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Roy claimed to have previously tested a 2700 cc engine and the output was only 82-83HP. His contention was that all 2700s built to my suggestions had that power output. Clearly that wasn’t so, based on the other pilots reports compared to Ron’s ‘modified’ 2850.

I have little doubt that Ron’s plane had an improvement. He had been plagued by engine problems in his first years of operation, mostly caused by his adamant use of a obscure carb of a 65HP engine. In spite of working for GM for decades and having significant flying time, Ron  missed that his engine was running lean enough to damage itself bad enough to need a rebuild. His plane was never a particularly good performer by 601 standards. He got another Carb, much closer to correct, but still didn’t recognize it was running lean.

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There was no ‘before’ run made on Ron’s engine, just an after. Although he mentioned that his plane now has flat top pistons, he didn’t mention that the heads were changes from 95 to 110 high compression ones,  the valve size increased, and again the carb was made richer. because it was never tested, there is no before and after, but judging from performance, his plane does run much better, but evidently not significantly better than other 2700cc 601XL’s. Changing the compression from 8;1 to 9.5:1 and making the carb a lot richer could account for the improvement alone. Perhaps the other ‘modifications’ have negligible or negative effect.

A great claim was made that Roy’s dyno was scientific because it used a data program called “Labview”. A guy who got it from his work traded it to Roy for a discount. Same guy claimed “This is basically the same software & hardware that is used on a $50-$100K dyno.” I tend to disagree because you can go on National Instruments website and see they sell the Labview dyno soft ware brand new for $1,290. I don’t think having  that software makes Roy’s dyno the equal tool as a $100,000 dyno.

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No mention was made of correcting the dyno runs to standard atmosphere. Without this, there is no comparisons between engines, even ones run a few hours apart, far less weeks or months apart.

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Above, Roy and I running an engine I built in 2014 on his dyno. Several people chimed in on Corvaircraft to praise Roy for his testing, even though they have no experience with dynos. Does this look like a $100,000 piece of equipment? On the day in the photo we could not get a test more than a few seconds long, and Roy had to manually manipulate the controls, there was no real data from this. I am sure it is better now, but this isn’t the “technically Correct” infallible tool that some people suspect.  If you would like to read a dozen stories of practical testing spanning 10 years, look here: Testing and Data Collection reference page

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Above, a 2008 dyno calibration run in my yard in Florida. Notice Kevin and I are wearing jackets. We’re waiting just before sunset for a rare weather phenomena to occur: a perfect standard day of 59F 50% relative humidity and a pressure of 29.92. Any time you read a dyno report and it says “corrected horsepower,” they’re making a calculation, sometimes accurate and sometimes not, to adjust for their test conditions not being at standard atmosphere. Because we live in Florida near sea level, there have actually been three occasions the past years when these conditions were met during daylight hours on testing days.

Our dyno relied on the super accurate optical Prop Tach for the rpm measurement and it will only reliably pick this up in daylight. A few minutes after the photo above was taken, we made a dyno run which required no correction. By testing the same engine later in the week, we reconfirmed our correction factors for this particular dynomometer and we retained accurate measurements all year round. If you want to read the whole story, it is here: Dyno testing Corvairs, 2008 Any dyno run that doesn’t reference a correction to the ‘ICAO Standard Atmosphere’ has no meaning, and there is a significant difference between  the reliability of a calculated correction and a measured one, as we are doing above. People get excited hearing about ‘software packages’ but in reality the value of the tests relies on basic things like atmospheric corrections. 

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Above, Ron Lendon, running his engine on my stand at Corvair College #17, having a good moment. Yesterday he said this on Corvaircraft: ” I even heard WW say to Dan W. that he would fly the engine I just built at CC17 to the Bahamas. But I don’t here him saying that now, no he is heaping his opinion on people he called friends because they are behaving as he did several years ago. “  A big part of why Ron’s engine ran great on my stand is that my stand has the recommended carb, a MA-3SPA. He promptly went home and bolted the incorrect carb on his plane, because it was cheap, starting a long series of issues. Oddly, the people Ron is championing today, Ron and Mark, supplied him with parts and service that he was previously angry about. As for his evaluation of the behavior of ‘friends’, perhaps he can review the definition of “ingrate.”

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As for Mark or Roy being able to claim ignorance of the output of engines they happily built and sold to people, I submit the photo above: Marks EFI 2,700cc Corvair in 2007, on my dyno, right in front of mark’s shop in WI. He certainly didn’t think this motor, nor a carbureted one was 82hp that day. You can also see that Mark was present in the calibration story above. Roy had also flown as a passenger in Lynn Dingfelder’s 601XL and saw what a good running plane, with a stock 2700cc ww engine could do. Before making his claims this week he understood that his ‘modified’ engine in Ron’s plane was no more powerful than Lynns.

 My testing was absolutely satisfactory for Mark and Roy to sell heads and engines to people for years, but somehow they have suddenly ‘discovered’ that none of these engines worked, coinciding with them becoming unwelcome at events I am hosting. Think it over.

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That concludes todays entertainment programing. I am headed back out to the shop to prep for the next Corvair College, I suggest builders intrested in progress do the same.

-ww.

Sherpas. Part #2

Builders:

Maybe you read yesterdays story on Sherpas and thought my central point, that no one should follow the advice of anyone who has never built a flying plane, was a little obvious, and that everyone knows that, it’s just a given.  If you are aware of that, you have probably been around planes for a while. On the other hand, a great number of new arrivals in homebuilding either don’t know this, or think I am overstating this. I am not.

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Above, the EFI 2,700cc Corvair in 2007, at power on my dyno. This was built as a joint project with Mark at Falcon. Conclusion: It offered little or no benefit while adopting a giant level of additional risk over a simple carb. Read more here: Testing and Data Collection reference page If you want to understand what successful people are doing, read this: Carburetor Reference page

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Case in point: A potential builder contacted today expresses an interest in EFI, specifically one promoted by a guy named Robert Haynes. New guy undoubtably read Haynes’s website, which clearly states that Haynes has been working on this project for 11 years, and it has never satisfactory run, far less flown. That  is the definition of a guy standing in the village for more than a decade telling people that he is going to climb the mountain real soon, just as soon as he gets his electronic climbing gadget to work. The new arrival is yet to understand why people who want to climb the mountain work with Sherpas.

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Haynes is at least direct and honest, if misguided. He says he doesn’t believe in 5th bearings, and he is so cheap that he assembled his engine with an old worn stock cam and gear. He changed the rod bolts and goes through an elaborate balancing routine, completely missing that resizing the rods is the critical element of rebuilding them, the one step he didn’t do. His basic engine is flawed, and represents an obsession with rationalizing not doing any of the advancements we have made in Corvair in the last 15 years. He then uses this as the basis of a decade long search for a way to make a cheap homebuilt EFI system. If you are thinking I am kidding about this, the site is: http://www.hainesengineering.com/rhaines/aircraft/corvair.htm. If you think I am judging harshly, read the part where he took apart a very filthy, internally rusty core, and he is actually going to use the same lifters again, because spending $3.60 each for new ones is a waste of money in his book.

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Now think that our new arrival looked at Haynes’s website, including his wooden motor mount and plywood disc in place of a test prop, the engine roughly running for 20 seconds in a video clip without a cooling shroud, nor even a rudimentary exhaust system, read descriptions of going through a series of batteries trying to make it run, even looked at Haynes welding skills like the photo below, and believes that this guy is on to something that negates my observations on EFI : Fuel Injection – Corvair flight engines reference page

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thatcher cx4

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Above, a photo of the motor mount weld Hanes did for his VW powered Thacher CX4 project. If this was good enough to photograph and use, I contend that Mr. Haynes doesn’t know how much he doesn’t know about aircraft construction. If you are not familiar with the definition of the word “Hubris”, take a moment to look it up, it will enrich your understanding of a mindset that does not match well with building planes.

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Haynes might be a very nice family man, clever with computers, but his value system and workmanship has not generated anything one would include in their Corvair with the expectation of trouble free reliable performance, but evidently the new arrival to village saw this and still thought that some of these ideas were better than what the Sherpas of the flying Corvair world are doing. In 25 years of homebuiling, I have met countless people who held the same perspective, yet I can’t think of any who built a reliable plane.

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There is a mindset that wants to believe that there are countless ‘un discovered’ improvements to any system developed over 25 years that can be revealed by an amateur who looks at it for a week, particularly if that amateur is going to apply high tech in the form of electronics. The root interest is almost always the promise of saving money, or not having to put in some type of work.  It doesn’t matter that they have thought this most of their life but can’t cite 2 example cases of it being true.  If any new arrival thinks that a guy with rusty old lifters in an engine he thinks he will fly with his kids, has discovered something about Corvair powered flight that I don’t know, he is working with a mindset that is common to many people who have not, and will likely never build and fly a plane. People can send me hate mail over that, but they can’t send evidence refuting it.

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It is important to me that Homebuilding find better ways of binging new people in, not just as a spectator/ EAA member but as real, active builders with an effective plan for success, which I define as finishing a good, reliable plane and really learning skills, traditions and ethics of aviation. That is transformative in a persons life, most other aviation experiences pale in comparison.

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So, How do we get more people into a position where they have a fair chance at success in homebuilding? First, you have to be honest with them. You have to tell then that the odds are against them going in, so before they look at anything else about it, they should me most interested in one single thing: Understanding the different approaches between the 20% who make it and the 80% who don’t. If they are focused on anything else, but have not even considered this, they are almost certainly in the 80%.

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In reality the new builders don’t divide into neat groups of reasonable and unreasonable. This division and the percentages actually exist inside each new builder, and I believe that you can appeal to the reasonable side of each builder by articulately explaining why he might want to invest the real effort in transforming is abilities and knowledge, and how merely finding a short cut to a finished plane is not synonymous with this. You will not reach all people, and some will take time, but after decades of hands on teach in writing, I still think it is worth the effort. -ww.

“Beautiful” Garbage from a bankrupt source

Builders:

At Corvair College #31, one of the builders on hand brought an engine he had waited 5 years for.  He had originally ordered it in 2009 from a Washington state outfit named “Magnificent Machine LLC”. They have long been bankrupt, but the former owner tried to make ‘good’ on a $10,000 paid order. When the engine came to the college, I got a good look at it, and even called the builder, to ask questions about it.  To cut to the chase, the engine is junk, it might have $1,000 in useable parts in it. It was a long time to wait and a lot to spend on trash.

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Above, a simple shot of the head of the engine in question. Can you instantly spot the issue? Yes, the motor has junk lock nuts on the valve train and no exhaust rotators, but that isn’t the big one. Look at the top of the push rod tubes: see how the flat guide plate is crushing the top of the push rod tube? This head actually had over 1/8″ milled out of the head gasket area, so much that the pushrod tubes no longer fit, and the rocker arm geometry is a mile off. This will destroy the guides in short order; the compression ratio on this engine is far too high; it can’t even have simple future maintenance such as a heli-coil put in a spark plug hole ever. I spotted this because the engine only had 6 fins on the head instead of 7.  The heads were junk anyway because the intake logs were milled off for a dubious special intake that ‘looked cool’ but had no actual testing or logic. The builder told me the engine was run for a few minutes, but confessed it was plagued with oil leaks. He didn’t see that they were from the push rod tube O-rings no longer contacting the correct part of the head.

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The engine had many other issues. The cylinders were not bored on a boring bar, they were clamped in a lathe, and cut with a fixed tool. No rational person would do that. The crank was nitrided at a shop with no magnflux equipment. It had no harmonic balancer; it had a starter on the back of the engine which loads the rear of the crank. And that is just what I could see looking at the outside and under one valve cover for 4 minutes.

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The builder’s name is Brady McCormick. I do not critique the man without knowing him. I held a Jr College at his shop in Paulsbo WA in 2009. I was friendly with him and had him at CC#13. I have stayed at his house before. Brady had ambitions of being a major player in Corvairs, but he actually didn’t know much about planes nor automotive engines. He had never built a plane, had never had a single hour of A&P training, was not a pilot, had no significant flight experience, had never soloed a plane, had a weak high school understanding of physics and chemistry, and he had never rebuilt engines nor been employed in the automotive world.  He actually didn’t understand the extent of things he didn’t understand.

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After the Jr. College I met with Brady and his father. Brady was close to broke, and they appeared to be open to ideas. I and counseled him to stop trying to ‘develop’ new ideas, such as their own 5th bearing  and just work toward becoming a west coast build center that worked with proven ideas. I pointed out that I had my own flight proven 5th bearing design, yet I build motors with Weseman bearings. Brady listened with folded arms and said he could design better things than anyone, this in spite of the fact my visit had revealed he had not yet built one single running engine. His wager on this turned out to be his company, his house, marriage and his fathers savings. He lost.

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Below is a picture of the final phase of Brady’s attempt to be recognized in Corvairs, and to prove that my values of education, testing, quality control and simplicity were antiquated and stupid. One of the elements of this phase is his attempt to bring Chinese cranks to the market, with no testing. To read how the very first one failed, read this link: Chinese Crankshafts

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CH 601 XL B with Corvair

Above is a 2011 photo from the Zenith Builders site. It is an engine that Brady built for a guy, (it was not Brady’s plane, he didn’t have one.) Many people were impressed, thought of this as something great. It never flew nor ran. Bray was a good welder and a fair machinist, and could make things that looked good to amateurs. Problem is that planes need to be good not look good.  To people who don’t know better, this is impressive. If you understand modern EFI, this is wired like a Christmas train set, has no redundant ignition, and no design in airflow. More practically, this engine has no harmonic balancer, no cooling baffles, no Safety Shaft, and the big one, no 5th bearing.

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Below are a sample of the comments from other Zenith builders that the above photo brought out on the Zenith site. This is a good lesson: Many new builders without appreciable experience in aviation think that they can read websites and make valid evaluations of products, like they were reading a copy of consumer reports. I am sorry if this offends, but it doesn’t work that way in aviation. It is a highly technical subject, and the same way that Brady didn’t have the experience to make the stuff, the people below didn’t have a clue about that they were complementing. When I collected the comments, I took a few minutes to look at the pages of each of the commenters. None of them ever finished their plane. Want to avoid ending up in the same boat? Focus your time, attention and funds on proven products from people who value education, testing and quality control. -ww.

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If you would like to learn more about how fuel injection is actually done, and see it on running Corvair flight engines, read this: Fuel Injection – Corvair flight engines reference page

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Comment by Greg Walsh on February 15, 2011 at 4:05pm

Beautiful looking installation.  What is the total engine (FF) weight??

Comment by Andre Levesque on January 28, 2011 at 2:44pm

Hi Brady !I have been on your site many times. Beatiful work…. Just didn’t realize it was you -:)Now I understand the cleanness of your install….you’re a PRO.So nice to see craftmanship.  It Keeps us inspired  -:) and standards to adhere to….LOL

Comment by Brady McCormick on January 27, 2011 at 11:26am

Thanks 🙂 I Like to keep things clean. :)Steven: you can check out my website for more info if you like? www.magnificentmachine.comI build parts & engines. 🙂 

Comment by Jesse Hartman on January 27, 2011 at 10:39am

That is seeeeexxxxyyyyyyy

Comment by STEVEN and TARA SMITH on January 26, 2011 at 8:10pm

Hi Brady. I have been trying to find how to build a corvair with a rear flywheel like yours. please send me in the right direction. Your airplane is gorgeous.