Corvair College #20 Photo Album
Hillsdale (Michigan) Municipal Airport
June 3-5, 2011
Corvair College #20 is now in the history books. We had 12 engines run on the test stand, including a 2,850 cc, two 3 liters, and a 3,100. We had four Corvair powered aircraft fly in, with a total of nearly 2,000 flight hours between them. We had about 70 people on hand, who were without exception incredibly positive and friendly. The Hillsdale Municipal Airport proved to be an excellent location, and we have already made plans to return to the same location for the event the same month next year. The lion’s share of the credit for an excellent event has to go to Roy Szarafinski of RoysGarage.com. Roy has been a member of the Corvair All Stars for several years now. College #20 rounds out his longstanding contributions to the Corvair movement, including developing a popular fifth bearing, advancing the state-of-the-art on a number of technical issues, volunteering at six Colleges, and meeting countless builders at our display booths at both Sun ’N Fun and Oshkosh.
If you read aviation magazines that are 10 or 12 years old, you can come across countless articles advocating the use of automotive-based powerplants in experimental aircraft. At the time, their writers were considered important players in the world of homebuilders. Truthfully, the bar was set pretty low then. With a critical eye, you can read these articles and see that the people writing had never built anything that had flown. Yet magazines devoted space to their theories on piston speeds and torsional vibrations. These articles never touch on any of the practical aspects of coming up with a reliable tested powerplant. You can scan the classified advertisements in the back of the same magazines and read of alternative engine companies that exist only as a footnote today.
An ironic fate for companies that magazine editors told us were going to change the face of homebuilding.
Roy's work of the past five years is a clear demonstration of what it takes to be a respected member of the alternative engine community, to have your efforts pay off in the only way that matters, by people safely flying it. By comparison to the alternative engine advocates of years ago, Roy is Renaissance man of capability. He's the real thing emerging from a past history populated by speculators and posers who would encourage the unwitting to be their unwitting guinea pigs. At the conclusion of Corvair College #20, an event that really showcased Roy's commitment to builders, it is well worth taking the time to consider how far the alternative engine movement has come in the past 10 years, and how far advanced a program like the Corvair movement is today in comparison. While there are certainly still plenty of rip-off artists hiding behind LLCs, builders who are willing to do their homework, seeking out the people of capability and reputation like Roy, have an entirely positive experience awaiting them. Hats off to Roy Szarafinski, a guy really making a difference in the Corvair movement.
Corvair College #20 was the first College or airshow to which Lynn Dingfelder of Pennsylvania has flown his CH-601XL-B. I met him many years ago when he came down to our old hangar in Edgewater. He had just come down to Florida and finished his pilot training with about a week to spare. He offered to spend a couple of days helping out in the hangar. Over the years, a lot of people have good-naturedly made this offer, and I have sincerely appreciated the generosity behind each of them. But truth be told, there are very few tasks in the hangar that are of a simple enough nature that a builder could jump right in and be productive on. Very shortly after his arrival, I found out that Lynn is the exception. To say that he is mechanically inclined would be like saying that Einstein was acquainted with physics. For three or four days we worked together side-by-side in the hangar and I was stunned at how quickly he picked up all of the specialized details in our work. Some people you get to know slowly over time; with Lynn I felt that we were old friends at the end of a few days. To thank him for his efforts I insisted that we build something for his Zenith project together before he left. Lynn suggested a Motor Mount. He cut and fit all the tubes and I welded it together. After it cooled, we loaded it in his car and I watched him drive away. It's no secret that homebuilts have a weak completion record, but I had a very strong feeling that I was going to see this particular Motor Mount in the air one day. Four and a half years later, it flys in to CC #20 on the front of Lynn’s 601.
Lynn’s engine is a 2700 cc Weseman bearing powerplant with an Ellison EFS-3A carb. The aluminum cooling baffle is actually several inches behind the inlet ring in the cowl.
I often tell people that my work with Corvairs isn't always fun but it is consistently rewarding. CC #20 was a great event for a multitude of reasons, many that everyone there would attest to as a group, and others that would be personal, private thoughts of a single person. For me, I had such a moment watching Lynn open the cowl and share his craftsmanship with a new season of builders. I stood back and thought about how my friendship with Lynn had traveled a long course to come to CC #20. I have a lot of good friends who work in aviation, many of whom work on challenging projects and get paid handsomely to do so. A number of them have justly earned awards and accolades in the aerospace world. I am glad for them, but truth be told, none of them get to know the particular satisfaction of seeing a friend show up at an event flying something you helped him build. Ask any person who has completed and flown their own aircraft, and they will all tell you that it is a transformative experience that changed the way they thought and felt about themselves and their capabilities. Playing a role in this change is real reward of my work. Most people with aviation businesses get a number from their accountant and then decide whether or not their year was satisfactory. The sole criterion I use to judge whether or not my year was rewarding is how many people went flying on Corvair power.
Lynn Dingfelder gives a guided tour of his 601's engine installation. This was the first College that Lynn had flown to. It is a very special day in the life of a builder. Flying to an air show is an important milestone also, but at the College, you are among people who fully understand your accomplishment and congratulate you on the achievement.
The 2,700cc, Roy Bearing, MA3-SPA equipped Zenith 601XL flown in by Dr. Gary Ray of Michigan.
Dr. Gary Ray of Michigan explains his engine installation to other builders. Dr. Ray was one of our first builders to
fly a Zenith 601 with the Corvair. At our invitation, he flew the aircraft to Oshkosh 2007 and
displayed it in the Zenith booth. In 2005, he hosted a Corvair Night School at his house on
our Winter Tour, but #20 was his first College. He contributed a brief but very moving piece to our 2009 Flight Ops Manual. Well worth reading many many times.
Dan Glaze wrenches on his 2,700cc Weseman bearing equipped Corvair. His engine is set up with a Gold Filter Housing and a Gold Sandwich Adapter. For test runs, we do not use an oil cooler; the propeller blast over the uncowled engine provides plenty of cooling through the cooling shroud. In place of the oil cooler is the oil hose under Dan’s left wrist. The oil feed line to his front bearing is coming off of a specialty block Roy makes.
Joe Day of Chicago has made it to a number of airshows and events over the years. He is the owner of a very unique Corvair powered pusher aircraft built in the 1960s. It is currently awaiting restoration in storage.
A big wide grin from Pete Klapp after the successful running of his 2,700 cc Roy bearing engine destined for his KR-2. Pete is from Ohio, and he has hosted a number of Wings and Wheels events over the years at Alliance, his home airport. Alliance was the site of Corvair College #7. Pete's unique engine features a high output alternator mounted up front, and bolted on intake pipes. A note to builders thinking of painting their cylinder heads like Pete did: Be careful to lay the paint on fairly thin, especially in the area between the cooling fins. Really aggressive painting can interfere with the ability of the heads to cool themselves.
Wagabond builder Russ Mintkenbaugh of Ohio in the red shirt, with Garry Howell of Ohio in the blue shirt, next to Russ's engine before its successful test run. Russ is building his own copy of Dave the Bear's Wagabond. Russ has attended a number of Colleges over the years, but #20 will certainly be well remembered as the first place that his engine ever ran.
Russ’s engine from above.
Mark Statzer of Indiana checking out our Zenith Installation Manual.
Bob Dewenter, a.k.a. “earlybuilder,” of Ohio, at left, with Rick Schreiber of Indiana sporting a Brodhead Pietenpol Association Newsletter shirt. Bob wrote a series of very funny spoof e-mails to the Internet about his plans to attend Corvair College #20. A number of people missed that they were humorous and kind of a belated April Fools joke.
In person Bob is even more funny that his e-mails. Turning wrenches, he's a pretty practical guy and he closed his case at the College. I look forward to his engine running at a future event.
Mark Langford of Alabama, Pete Klapp of Ohio, and Emory Luth of Illinois all agree that the KR is their airframe of choice for the Corvair. While they have this in common, they evidently have different taste in brands of beer.
Joe Horton flew his KR-2S in from Pennsylvania. He is now approaching 600 flight hours. His engine is a 3,100cc Corvair equipped with a Weseman bearing. His prop is a 54 x 60 Sensenich. We awarded Joe the coveted Cherry Grove Trophy at Corvair College #19 for his contributions to Corvair powered flight.
Roy went all out in hosting College #20. He stated that he wanted to do something exceptional in terms of the quality and the quantity of food available to builders. He achieved this, including serving prime rib for dinner on Saturday night. Many years ago, Colleges were small events. Today, we carefully plan Colleges months in advance. The budget for #20 exceeded $5,000. This was predominantly covered by asking each of the builders to pay a modest $79 to Roy for the weekend. In the end, everyone agreed that #20 was an outstanding College, and we immediately began to plan for holding the event the same month next year.
Another view of the evening’s fare.
With each of the successful engine runs, spontaneous applause broke out amongst the builders. It was a very nice touch. For the engine runs late in the day, builders pulled up a line of lawn chairs to watch and enjoy. It was all music to builders’ ears.
Dan Glaze’s 2,700 cc engine making power on the test stand. Dan is a Zenith 750 builder from Ohio.
The pilots of Corvair College #20, from left to right: Lynn Dingfelder, Joe Horton, Mark Langford, and Dr. Gary Ray.
The lineup of Corvair powered aircraft that flew in for Corvair College #20. From left to right are Dr. Gary Ray and his 601 XL powered by a 2,700 cc Roy bearing engine, Mark Langford’s KR-2S powered by a 3,100 with a WW bearing, Joe Horton’s KR with a 3,100 cc Weseman bearing engine, and Lynn Dingfelder with his 601 powered by a 2,700 cc Weseman bearing engine.
Getting Gary Collins’ engine ready for its test run. It is a 2,700 cc Weseman bearing engine destined for a Carlson Sparrow II.
Demonstrating the installation of cam and crank in the case with the timing marks set appropriately.
Pietenpol builder Bill Princell of Indiana showed up with a fantastically detailed 2,700 cc powerplant.
The only thing that needed slight tweaking was his harmonic balancer, which was not fully seated on the crankshaft. A small detail corrected in a few minutes. The engine fired right up on the test stand and ran very well, however it began to leak a little oil after a few minutes. Normally this does not bother me. The focus of the test run is to break in the camshaft lifters. If the engine leaks oil, I usually let it go if it is not severe. I carefully studied Bill’s engine as it ran on the stand, and I noticed it was showing oil leaking from several of the pushrod tubes at once. There is an easy explanation for an engine leaking oil from a lot of different places unexpectedly: The breather is not working. Because Bill is installing his engine on a Pietenpol, he was a little reluctant to have the oil filler and breathers in the valve covers. He incorporated a breather into the top cover on his engine. And packed it with a Scotch Brite-like material to act as a filtration device. The net effect was to restrict the outflow of crankcase vapors excessively. When the crankcase becomes pressurized with blow by air, it does not take more than three or four pounds of pressure to make the engine leak oil from numerous places. If you're considering a unique oil breather arrangement, understand that I've tried almost every location on the engine, and numerous different designs. Having the oil filler neck and breathers in the valve covers was not my first choice; it evolved over years of testing. With a corrected crankcase venting system, Bill’s engine will show itself to be an outstanding powerplant and probably remain leak free.
Terry Samsa running his 2,700 cc Weseman bearing powerplant. Terry drove in from Minnesota, a 14 hour drive. At this moment, you can be assured that he thought it was well worth the trip.
Terry Samsa with his crankshaft tapping tool. Notice the Reverse Gold Oil Filter Housing and Sandwich Adapter on his 701 destined powerplant. This engine is equipped with a Weseman bearing. Although the Starter is not on it in the photo, it was installed before the test run.
A closer look at the crankshaft tapping tool. Terry rents this out to builders who wish to tap their crank at home. Terry’s email address is email@example.com
Running Doug Stevenson's Zenith CH 750 powerplant. It is a 3 liter engine with a Roy bearing.
Taking a moment with the engine running to carefully explain the effect of carburetor ice to the builders on hand. I allowed each of them to walk forward and actually put their fingertips on the Intake Manifold of the running engine to feel how cold it was even on a day that was in the high 80s. This is the type of in-person learning that cannot be done over the Net or even by observing a fully cowled completed aircraft.
Teamwork ruled the day on the test stand. An impromptu crew developed which changed engines even while they were
still hot from test runs. Here, KR-2S builder Emory Luth of Illinois and Fisher Horizon builder Jim Waters of
Philadelphia exchange engines on the stand. Neither of these guys had an engine at the event. They both just showed up
to enjoy the company of other Corvair engine builders and lend a hand to the successful outcome. Jim successfully
completed his own 2,700 cc Weseman bearing engine and test ran it at Corvair College #16. Emory
has attended a number of Colleges over the years, and shared his technical expertise to benefit the group.
Supervision is plentiful at the College. Here, Michel Tondreau from Canada, Zenith builder Ken Smith of Illinois and Fisher Celebrity and Zenith builder Tom Gebeau of Indiana supervise the assembly of Jim Barbour's future Zenith powerplant.
Jim Barbour of New York wrenches on his engine while sharing a laugh with Ken Smith.
Roy gives a demonstration on timing a Distributor with a timing light.
Ron Lendon, whose 2,700 cc Roy bearing equipped 650 powerplant ran at Corvair College #17, operates the hoist for the installation of Dave Glassmeyer’s 2,850 engine on the stand. Ron returned by Harley to lend a hand at this College. He was accompanied on the ride by Jim Waters, who rode his own Harley in from Philly. I really doubt that other technical seminars in aviation have people who have got what they needed from a previous event returning to volunteer at later events solely because they enjoy the company of the people. Yet another example of what makes the Corvair engine movement a completely different experience.
John Neff and Norm Lathrop have a flying Zenith and brought their 2,700 cc engine in for a rework and the test run. After logging some hours aloft, their engine had blown the head gasket area out on cylinder number five. A careful review of the setup pointed at detonation caused by incorrect distributor timing. Mark from Falcon reworked another cylinder head for them, and they brought the lower end of the engine to the College. Although they had originally purchased the engine rather than building it, they both showed themselves to be very mechanically talented and determined. I showed them an individual task on one cylinder, and they were easily able to replicate it on the other five. When it was complete, we put it on the test stand and it ran beautifully. We carefully set the timing with a timing light. The story has several things to take away: Always verify the timing of any engine with a light before flying it; the Corvair is a very tough motor and it will still run and fly an aircraft even with a severely blown head gasket; repairs to Corvairs are not difficult nor expensive - the cost of this repair would have been 10 times as much on an imported engine. And most importantly, a positive attitude and a can-do approach are the most important elements in solving any issue in aircraft building.
This is the cylinder that was removed from John Neff’s engine with a blown head gasket.
If you look closely you can see that it has molten aluminum stuck to the side of the iron cylinder. Again, this did not stop the engine from running or producing power. The replacement cylinder cost less than $50 and was available by overnight shipment from Clark's Corvairs. The only other aircraft powerplant that has parts prices comparable to the Corvair is the VW. In all other cases, this would have been many, many times more expensive.
Roy runs Dave Glassmeyer’s 2,850cc engine with him. It will power Dave’s Kitfox Model 5.
Mike Festa of Illinois, a professional aircraft mechanic with a lifetime of experience in maintenance on air transport aircraft, gets his first taste of Corvairs at the College. In the middle of the photo, Mark Petniunas from Falcon makes an adjustment on the valve train of this 3,100 belonging to Mike Robitaille of New Jersey. It is destined for installation in a Sonex airframe. Mike is utilizing all of the parts that the Weseman family makes available for this installation, as well as our Gold System Parts including a Reverse Gold Oil Housing and Sandwich Adapter.
VariEze builder Mike Scovel of Michigan, on the left, works on his engine with an assist. The Reverse Gold Oil Filter Housing will make the installation easier in the cramped engine compartment. He is planning on adding a Weseman bearing before flight.
Jim Waters, on the left, assisting Dave Glassmeyer.
Scott Bevier of Michigan torquing an engine case together. Scott's field of expertise is for an American company whose specialty is combustion analysis equipment. He travels the world visiting manufacturers of diesel engines. When a guy with this background chooses a Corvair, I take it as a compliment to the movement.
Chris Pryce of Florida, on the left, also appeared on our Sun ’N Fun 2009 Web update. I gave him a hard time about missing previous Colleges until he told me that he had spent a lot of time in Iraq and Afghanistan in the previous years. Emory Luth, at right, gives me a lesson on how simple it is to set up a PowerPoint presentation on a laptop. I hated to tell him that I could sooner teach my dog to speak fluent French than he could teach me to utilize computers effectively. I just nodded my head and pretended it was all sinking in. Emory put on an evening slide show that consisted of about 100 of Mark Langford's sunset pictures projected on the hangar wall. It set a very nice mood and it went well with late-night beer drinking.
Hanging out with Chris Pryce. He stayed to the very last hour of the College before driving home 1,000 miles to the Florida Panhandle. He drove the furthest distance to the College.
Pete Klapp speaks to Roy a moment after his engine comes to life.
The electric drill is being used in this photo with an old distributor shaft in order to prime the engine with oil pressure for 15 minutes before it is test run.
I present Joe Horton with stickers that say “This aircraft flew to Corvair College #20,” and a matching set for Corvair College #19.
Joe Horton and Chris Pryce check out Joe's KR.
Lynn Dingfelder carries on the tradition that pilots who fly in drink two beers at a time.
A moment of learning. This type of learning - talk about it, do it, run it - is only available at Corvair Colleges.
From left to right, the variations of learning at the College: group observation, discussion between individuals, and philosophical contemplation demonstrated by Just Highlander builder Richard Holtz.
At dinner Saturday night, we made a few brief speeches, and a lot of good conversations and memories.
The group photo centered around Mark Langford's 1,000+ hour Corvair powered KR-2S. This is 49 of the 70 people at the College.
Mark Langford took the opportunity to take sunset photos from ground level at the College.
Mark Petniunas gets a very good look at the temperature of the number five exhaust stack on a running engine with a handheld temperature gun. Like myself, Mark has been a licensed A&P for more than 20 years. Although it requires extreme care, both of us are comfortable working less than a foot behind a running propeller. I never recommend this to amateurs because if you inadvertently leaned on an exhaust pipe or were shocked by sparkplug voltage, the involuntary jerk could put one of your hands into the prop arc. Keep these thoughts in mind any time you're working near a running engine.
Although the camera was fast enough to catch the propeller still, this engine is actually running; you can tell by the way it’s blowing back Roy's shirt and Dino Bortolin’s arm.
Dan Glaze wheels his engine into the hangar after the last run of the evening.
Another Mark Langford sunset photo. This is the beacon at Hillsdale Municipal Airport.
Above, an engine mockup on a 701 motor mount on the workbench at Roy's shop. Because Roy owns a 701 project, I turned over all of the data and information from completing and test flying our 701 to him. In the foreground is an exhaust system that we jointly built for Werner Heller’s 701. Roy had previously built Werner’s 701 motor mount. Builders working on Corvair powered 701s should go to Roy for the three installation elements of the motor mount, intake and exhaust system. Roy and I have worked together to ensure that these pieces the he now makes will mesh seamlessly with the rest of our Corvair conversion and installation components. The fact that he’ll shortly finish his own Corvair powered 701 makes him the right guy in the Corvair All Stars to directly interface with builders for the three 701 components he makes.
I made a side trip to Angola, Indiana. There is a monolith to its Civil War veterans in the center of the town. I took a moment to take this photograph of the inscription.
Photograph by Mark Langford on the flight home. This is what it's all about: Hours spent aloft, most likely alone, enjoying your own personal achievement of building and flying. The people who make it this far do it for themselves. They are not out to impress anybody else. This is the personal satisfaction of taking on the challenge and meeting it. Building a Corvair engine takes time and money, but the view from this perspective is priceless.
"Real freedom is the sustained act of being an individual." WW - 2009
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