Sun 'N Fun 2008
Probst ZenVair Flys The Canadian Skys
Thank You To All Who Emailed And
Congratulations to Patrick Hoyt, First to Identify
The New Project In Our Hangar:
The Steve Wittman Buttercup
ZenVair #20 takes to the sky, above, for the first time April 17, 2008.
Congratulations to Lincoln Probst of Canada, builder of ZenVair #20 now flying North of the Border. Starting with a standard Zenith Kit in 2005 and a Corvair
core, Lincoln has now joined the ranks of the flying. Lincoln is in his 30s and has a demanding career and homelife competing with aircraft building. Additionally,
building in Canada involves weather challenges. Despite these obstacles, Lincoln completed his aircraft in a timely fashion by exercising a lot of perseverance,
utilizing All Of Our Installation Components, and choosing to build an engine that was a clone of one of our early production engines,
right down to the systems and Falcon heads.
You can find Lincoln's photos throughout our Web site by typing his name into the Google [TM] search box at the bottom of our FlyCorvair.com
Home Page; he attended two of our Corvair Colleges and was part of our Night School Tour. We're looking forward to seeing
Lincoln flying to air shows this summer. If you're considering Corvair power for your aircraft, let me personally assure you that we will be glad to assist
you as we did Lincoln, and you can make your place amongst the pantheon of successful Corvair builders.
2008 marked my 20th consecutive year at Sun 'N Fun. In the world of alternative flight engines, only Steve Bennett of Great Plains Aircraft has been there
longer. Having this consistent track record of serving builders' needs has built our network of friends from coast to coast and around the world. People who
know this track record understand the enthusiasm of our fans in the Corvair Movement.
The above photo shows our complete firewall forward package displayed in the Zenith Aircraft Company booth at Sun 'N Fun 2008. This is the fifth year in a
row that our work has been part of the Zenith display at Sun 'N Fun. Zenith is a well respected and conservative company. We earned their support by being respected
in our field for taking care of our builders. The above Corvair conversion is Gig Giacona's 601 engine featuring all of our Gold System Components, Falcon heads and
our Electronic/Points Ignition, now flight proven on more than a dozen different aircraft. Thank you to builder Dan Dempsey for sending us the photo above.
Longtime Corvair supporter and owner of the Turbo Skycoupe, Gary Coppen, was on hand at Sun 'N Fun 2008. I met Gary at a Dragonfly
Fly In nine years ago. He attended my forum on Corvair engines at the Tandem Wing Fly In that day so many years ago and has been sold on Corvairs ever since.
Contact! magazine, published by Pat Panzera, again organized and hosted the engine forums at Sun 'N Fun 2008.
At this year's event, I gave four forums that were well
attended by lots of new people and old friends. I gave my first forum of the 2008 show at noon Wednesday. A crew of us had worked through the night at our North Florida hangar
in preparation for the show. I caught a one-hour nap, did some light packing, made coffee, then began the drive to Sun 'N Fun at sunrise. Unexpected
traffic left me 1 mile from the forum tents with 10 minutes to go. I parked the truck and jogged the last mile. It was an unusual start to my 20th consecutive
year at Sun 'N Fun.
A few days before Sun 'N Fun, Kevin came up to give us a hand readying the display engine for the show. Above, he's prepping our Fifth Bearing engine for
its run on our Dynomometer.
We have run more than 50 engins on this Dyno. The run stand we had before the dyno broke in and test ran about 75
more. Research, testing and years worth of study and learning make our recommendations valid, and make Kevin The Undisputed Master of Corvair Aircraft Engine Building.
Anyone interested in the finest assembled and test run Corvair engine can contact Kevin directly through his www.VairForce.com Web site. While you could always
find someone to build it cheaper, I assume no rational person would select a heart surgeon on the basis of who was cheapest.
A week prior to the show, Mark Petniunas of Falcon Automotive drove down from Wisconsin to our North Florida hangar to give us a hand assembling
and test running our Fifth Bearing test engine. I told him on the phone I thought it was a day or two away from running. Late into the sixth 18-hour day
of his visit, Mark said: "I'm going to have to fire my travel agent. I have yet to see one girl in one bikini on one sunny sandy beach. This Florida vacation is nothing like the
Above, Mark on the right confers with Kevin right after the first start up of our Fifth Bearing Motor.
Above is our Fifth Bearing Engine at power on the Dyno. The natural aluminum CNC billet Bearing Plate is between the case, Ring
Gear and the Gold Prop Hub. It is intended to address both thrust and bending issues.
I came up with this design myself, but the CAD modeling was done by our aeronautical engineer Spencer Gould, below at right. Mark Petz's firsthand knowledge of dozens of
different engines, and his 25 years as a Spartan educated A&P, brought a lot of practical input that improved the design far beyond what I could have done myself.
Sharp eyes will notice that this utilizes All Our Regular Production Components. The added 1" round spacer in front of the
CNC Starter Bracket shows the length of the engine. The engine has a Gold Billet CNC Pan on it.
The week before Sun 'N Fun '08, we got surprise notice from Wittman/Vair builder Tom Cummings of Lousiana that he'd be in Jacksonville for an aviation event. Tom is a graduate of
Corvair College #1. Grace invited him down to our Doge Palace place, and we enjoyed a nice dinner among friends. Grace and I
conduct no retail storefront business from our residential hangar. If Tom was once a customer, he's long since become a friend. I've stayed at his house in
Louisiana on the way to and from other Corvair events across this great land. When Tom was here, I realized that every person who graduated from Corvair College
#1 has visited our homes. Many of our earliest customers have grown to be close friends, and Grace and I try and treat everyone in such a way that we'll
always enjoy this type of close friendships. Grace is at left and our aeronautical engineer Spencer Gould sits at right with Tom in the middle in the photo above.
Above is Dan Weseman's Cleanex engine sporting his independently designed fifth bearing setup. I shot this the week before Sun 'N Fun on a visit to
Dan and Rachel's hangar. Dan's bearing is designed to absorb bending loads. He now has several flight hours on it. The centerpiece is a casting that takes
the place of the Corvair's end cover. It's painted orange in this photo, but you can clearly see the -6 oil line feeding it. It makes the engine a half inch
longer. Note that he still uses our Low Profile Front Starter and Billet Brackets. He cleverly shortened his
Gold Hub slightly to put the propeller right back in the same spot. Dan's design is intended to be retrofitable to existing engines. He did not
disassemble his own engine to install it. Dan and his dad Jim worked out the design over the past several months without outside input or influence. They're an
intensely practical team, and I cannot imagine anyone else coming up with a more simple or practical design.
Although many builders work their Corvair engines hard, there is no question in my mind that Dan's 3,100cc engine sees the most severe duty of any engine
flying. After extensive flight testing, Dan is considering making these setups available to builders.
While at Sun 'N Fun this year, I spent a lot of time with Roy Szarfinski, who has a third entirely original and different, sophisticated fifth bearing setup
for the Corvair. He had two display engines on hand at the show. Roy is good company, and I had enough fun with him that I have to confess to forgetting to take
any photographs. What's hard to explain to many people is that the most important element of any mechanical design is the character and integrity of the
designer presenting it. Roy and Dan are both first class guys, and I would trust the data they present from their tests as valid. Anybody can fly something
around the pattern a few times and claim that it's airworthy and flight proven. Real people of character understand that flight proven is a much more
The week before Sun 'N Fun 2008, Dave and Fran Stroud, who hail from Canada, passed through North Florida. They traditionally host a very lively party
for Corvair people at Sun 'N Fun. We rounded up at Dan's Cleanex hangar after dinner. In the photo above, Dan's middle son, with a little coaching from us,
holds up five fingers for the fifth bearing on Daddy's plane. Although the weeks preparing for Sun 'N Fun are strenuous, they also hold a certain magic as old
friends and new converge for the event, show up to help out, and call in to say they'll be there.
Twenty years ago at Sun 'N Fun I literally did not know
anybody. Within a year, I understood that having a cast of characters to pursue the fun with would be a much better adventure. While the publicity surrounding
general aviation will always drift toward glitzy commercial products, I was free to shape the Corvair Movement as a gathering of creative individuals. While
it's seen a small minority of people (one percenters like the ones at Bike Week, only different) who were somewhat antisocial in their pursuit of an inexpensive
powerplant, the overwhelming majority of people involved in the Corvair Movement are social individuals who enjoy the company of like-minded builders.
Dave and Fran's traditional parties are a living thread in the movement.
While I was at Sun 'N Fun, Grace stayed home to mail out an enormous amount of orders from the booty we collected before the show. Two items she cleared
of backorders to February 2008 were Oil Pans and Oil Pan Installation Kits. In the past, builders had
patiently waited for the hand produced Pans with CNC rails. With the new CNC production all the way through, and the stock we now have on the shelf, we will
not have backorders on Pans again. Grace will get out the March orders shortly. While I'm sure detractors of my work with the Corvair, motivated
by whatever reason, will trot out the backordered parts issue for many years to come, the reality is that we've made some stunning progress on changing
this. Those who will choose the Corvair and Fly IT will enjoy the fruit of these efforts. Those who criticize will do what they've
always done: Nothing.
The boxes of oil pump pickups in the photo above are brand new pickups we make into our Deep Sump models. The only part from the original Corvair oil pickup
that we need sent in from builders as cores is the short piece of tubing shown at right in front above. The prototype for our Mark II Flightweight Black Hub
is on the left.
Above, we spotlight a photo of Gary Coppen and his lovely bride Vicki taken a month ago at their Good Friday 2008 wedding. Gary, an avowed bachelor, abruptly
changed his ideals upon meeting Vicki around last Thanksgiving. Vicki flys around Florida in helicopters. They were both on hand at Sun 'N Fun.
The day after Sun 'N Fun we were back at our North Florida Hangar conducting more tests and unloading and unpacking the trailer after the show.
Here, Kevin, myself and Mark on the other side use all hands on a run of The Fifth Bearing Engine.
Above is the balancer on The Fifth Bearing Motor. The timing scale on the back of the Corvair engine shows 0 to 16 degrees. The length of this scale can
be transferred to the balancer to show 16 and 32 degrees BTDC (before top dead center).
As stated in my Conversion Manual, the proper way to set the timing on your Corvair engine is to know what the full advance is at
full static rpm. I have long told people to tie down the tail of their airplane and check the timing advance at its full static rpm. Installing the distributor
and not setting the timing this way is foolish. All aircraft engines, including those with magnetos, have their timing checked at maximum advance.
The difference is that aircraft with magnetos have their timing set statically at full advance, and then their impulse couplings retard their timing. The
Corvair engine can have its timing set statically at idle for an idle setting, but it must be run to its full static rpm to have the timing checked because
distributor ignition has mechanical advance, not retard.
If you're a builder and you didn't know this, that's perfectly okay. That's why we issue instructions. If you hold an A&P license and you don't know this,
you can stick the powerplant section of your license in an envelope and mail it back to Oklahoma City. This is a good example of how I've intentionally patterned
the Corvair engine to philosophically duplicate the proven aspects of Lycomings and Continentals.
Dyno calibration after Sun 'N Fun.
Above, you'll 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 in the past four years when these conditions were met during daylight hours on testing days.
relies 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.
As the post Sun 'N Fun work wound down, we stopped for a photo op with Grace's Taylorcraft. From left above: Dan Weseman, Mark Petniunas of Falcon, Kevin,
myself, Grace and Scoob E were on hand for the last hour of tests. Although it marked the end of another Sun 'N Fun as it became a collection of good memories,
friends and fun, the talk already centered on what we were going to do this summer, plans for Oshkosh and good times ahead.
The pace of the Corvair Movement affords little time for reflection. And certainly the best of times are ahead of us. If you are new to the land of Corvairs,
there's time to express creativity, make your mark, enjoy new friends and join the adventure.
Sun 'N Fun also marked another landmark point: Both Nosebowls and 601 Motor Mounts went from
being on order to being in stock.
On an Internet Discussion Group, one of our builders commented it took many months to get a Motor Mount from us last year. In reply, I thanked the people who
waited, and I understand that it might be a little frustrating to know now that anyone who ordered a Motor Mount today would have it three days from now.
This is progress. The same is true now of our Corvair Nosebowls. It took many many months of hard work and investment to get here
while still maintaining our rigorous testing, new product development, free Colleges, air shows and forums schedule. We're very close to having
Every Part In Our Catalog on hand at all times.
Keep in mind that this is not the rule in experimental aviation. If you wanted to buy an RV-8 kit today, there's a waiting list for it. Popular products will
always be in demand and it's difficult to meet demand and grow at the same time. Unproven or unpopular products are usually readily available from people
who regard homebuilders as sales opportunities rather than friends.
Six Intake Manifolds finish welded and ready for shipment.
I photographed our Intakes on the lawn above, where I pressure washed them after porting them. Still, builders should always wash parts they receive as they
occasionally get dirty in shipment or storage. This is especially true with engine parts like crankshafts.
The centerpieces of our popular 601 Complete Sheetmetal Cowling Kit.
Although our 601 Cowling Kits are not cheap, every single builder who's purchased one has very nice things to say about the craftsmanship. Here, the
two standouts of the Cowling Kit: The entire airbox assembly and lower panel and the roll formed upper panel as they're shipped, completely riveted and ready
to be installed. The kit also includes the four side panels with hinges. All forming is done and only simple trimming remains. We have these kits in stock,
fully packaged with instructions, ready for immediate shipment.
For your Cowling Kit, please visit http://www.jsweseman.com/corvair.html:
Four Prop Hubs I developed for the Corvair engine over the years.
On the left above is my first Hub. My friend Judith made it for me in 1992. She's an intensely skilled
machinist as well as a classically trained opera singer and one heck of a jitterbug dancer. If you're one of the dozens of people who flew in our
Pietenpol or one of the 75 or so people who flew in our 601 when it had a 2,700cc engine, you flew behind
this exact Hub. Hubs built according to the drawing we've supplied to builders with every Conversion Manual we've ever sold look
just like this. The drive lugs are optional. It weighs 4 pounds 1 ounce.
The 1996 Hub was a trimmed down version of The Original Hub. If you're one of the 40 or so people who flew in our 601 when it was powered by the 3,100cc
engine, you flew behind this exact Hub. Very few of these Hubs were produced with drive lugs. Almost all of the production run was made without them as they
are not a necessary option. It weighs 3 pounds 7 ounces.
The third Hub is our enormously popular Gold Hub. The architecture of the Gold Hub has further weight reduction in it. It was
extensively analyzed during CAD modeling by our aeronautical engineer Spencer Grand Integral Gould. It weighs only 3 pounds 7 ounces. We currently have more than two
dozen Gold Hubs in stock ready for immediate shipment.
The latest member of the family is the Ultra Light Mark II Black Hub. It's based on the architecture of the Gold Hub, and it weighs
a mere 2 pounds 9 ounces. We make it for hand prop Corvairs, die hard fans of the rear starter, and One-Third Tiny Vairs. We have the first run in production
right now, and we're offering them at $299. This is the same price we've sold Black Hubs at since 1996. This is futher proof of my commitment to keeping the
I heard rumors that a machinist on the Internet intended to make non-anodized Black Prop Hub copies. I've long planned to reintroduce the
Black Prop Hub fully anodized in its lightened form made on the same machines at the same facility that's made countless Prop Hubs for us. The Gold Hub and the
Mark II Black Hub cover affordably with proven products every application I can think of. There is no need for loyal builders to look elsewhere.
Some builders ask why the Gold Hub is more expensive than the Black Hub. The big picture is that the Gold Hub used in a Front Starter
application replaces all of the pieces pictured above at left: the Ring Gear mounting Puck, the small Alternator Pulley,
the Hub and the drive pulley. The Gold Hub is 1 pound 13 ounces lighter than the modular Front Starter System pictured above. The price of the Gold Hub is near
identical to the cumulative price of the former pieces while having the advantage of being lighter and a single unit. This too is progress.
Scoob E stands on a 601 Cowl Kit on its way to the Post Office. Behind him are outgoing Engine Baffle Kits.
As time allows, we're still working on the One-Third Corvair mounted on the front of Ed Fisher's Skylite. Seen here is the first Light Weight Mark II Black
Hub mounted on the One-Third engine.
Now At The Hangar
June 2011 At The Hangar
May 2011 At The Hangar
April 2011 At The Hangar
March 2011 At The Hangar
January 2011 At The Hangar
December 2010 At The Hangar
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December 2009 At The Hangar
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Christmas 2007 At The Hangar
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April 2007 At The Hangar
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December 2006 At The Hangar Part 1
December 2006 At The Hangar Part 2
December 2006 At The Hangar Part 3
December 2006 At The Hangar Part 4
November 2006 At The Hangar
October 2006 At The Hangar
September 2006 At The Hangar
August 2006 At The Hangar
July 2006 At The Hangar
June 2006 At The Hangar
May 2006 At The Hangar
At The Hangar In April 2006
At The Hangar In March 2006
At The Hangar In February 2006
At The Hangar In January 2006
At The Hangar In December 2005
At The Hangar In November 2005
At The Hangar In October 2005
At The Hangar In September 2005
At The Hangar In July 2005
OSH, Illinois and SAA June 13, 2005
At The Hangar June 13, 2005 Part II
At The Hangar In May 2005
At The Hangar In April 2005