William Wynne

"The Corvair Authority"
5000-18 HWY 17 #247
Orange Park, FL 32003

The Distributor:
Dual Points and Electronic/Points System
2008 Update

Here is a long awaited update on our Ignition Systems. In the above photo, the same Allen distributor machine I have been using to test Corvair distributors for more than 10 years. I actually first used this machine to build drag race distributors at Speed World of Union, N.J., from 1982 to 1986 when Englishtown was my Oshkosh. After I developed our Dual Points Plate for offground I went back to my alma mater and with Grace's help bought the machine from my old boss and friend Ron Murphy. I have been working with distributors for a long time.

Comparing the background pictured above with photos from last year shows that we've cleaned up and organized our private residential hangar/skunkworkshop. On the bench are 16 perfectly prepared, line bored, dual bushing Corvair housings. I internally reworked them to make their advance match our flight tested advance patterns. Here, they're awaiting installation of their individual Ignition Plate and 1-hour test on the machine. 2008 has seen many of our long backordered items made readily available by conversion to CNC mass production. Our Front Starter Bracket Sets and Deep Sump Oil Pans and Oil Pan Install Kits are good examples of this. These items went from long lead times to being permanently in stock.

Now is the time for The Distributor's mass production. The time consuming aspect of making flight ready Distributors (beyond years of research on the dyno and behind our flying planes), is overhauling the housing and installing the bushings in perfect alignment, then mating them to the shaft. After looking for a long time, I now have a machine shop that performs this operation for us in batches of 30 at a time. While I still change the advance rate and the springs, machine and install our Points Plate and run The Distributor, my personal handwork with The Distributor has been reduced from 5 hours to 90 minutes.

I test ran the first housings for over eight hours at 5,000 rpm to check for any wear or temperature rise: There was none. If you have a Distributor on backorder with us, it will be filled shortly. New orders will be filled in a timely fashion.

Gratuitous High Performance Photo
The above photo shows a highly modified 140hp cylinder head that flew 200+ hours on our 601. The head gasket area extending to the head bolt holes shows it to be a 3,100cc head. It has flanged VW exhaust. This head was reworked by Mark at Falcon in preparation for its installation on Dr. Andy Elliott's high performance 601 XL taildragger. A strong word of CAUTION: No one should consider using stock 140 heads on any flight engine. They are notorious valve seat-droppers, and will actually produce less horsepower on typical 2,700cc engines. Flow-wise, they only make sense on high rpm 3,100s.

Mark installed incredibly modified seats with his first class Falcon handiwork on the heads pictured above. Do not try this at home. I'm not shy about pointing out the extensive technical and University education of me and my crew, but I humbly know what real brain power is. Andy Elliott's aeronautical engineering degree is from MIT, his flying background includes instructing at the Air Force, and he teaches graduate mathematics at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. It's a compliment that he chooses our shop for all of his Corvair work. The crankshaft in the photo is also for a 3,100. The floating wrist pin in these engines allow the connecting rods to be put on the crankshaft before assembly, just like a Lycoming or Continental.

16 Electronic/Points Plates ready for me to install on housings.
Fourteen months ago, I developed our Electronic/Points Ignition Plate. I was inspired to develop it by our friend Steve Makish. After getting four of them in the air and test flying, it showed itself to be a natural development from my Dual Points Plate, which I've been offering for 10 years. While some companies are only interested in selling a product, we build relationships with the people who have chosen Our Products for the Corvair. I contacted many of the people flying Corvairs to ask if they were interested in upgrading for parts cost alone. There was a large flood of people interested. By having our existing flying customers upgrade to the system, and installing it on all the new engines we've built and test ran in the past year, we were able to get extensive run time on the system. The Distributors show themselves to be consistent performers.

We temporarily removed The Distributor from our Products Page because I wanted to ensure that all those currently flying could upgrade before we offered Distributors to builders just Getting Started. If you're a new builder reading this, know that when you're a Corvair Flyer, we'll have the same priority service for you.

Despite our Web site updates, erroneous rumors were nonetheless spread that we no longer were offering Distributors. This could not be further from the truth. Off the top of my head, we built the E/P Distributors for the KRs of Flyers Mark Langford of Alabama, Joe Horton of Pennsylvania, Mark Deerhunter Jones of Wisconsin and Bill Clap of Georgia. The 601s of Greg Jannakos of Georgia, Phil Maxson of New Jersey, Woody Harris of California, Dr. Ray of Michigan, and the dyno-tested engines we built for Ralph Mirabal of Florida, Jay Bannister of Texas, Ray Griffith of Arizona, Dale Powell of Washington and Gig Giacona of Arkansas. I built E/P Distributors for Both Flying Cleanexes (with Dan flying it, you know it works upsidedown.) Ours is also flying on P.F. Beck's Pietenpol in South Carolina and Sandy Crile's ZenVair 701 at our old Edgewater hangar. One-of-a-kind airplanes like Gordon Alexander's PegVair are flying it, and I even made a reverse rotation E/P Distributor for John Locke's Pulsar in Arkansas.

Patient builders are rewarded with a heavily flight proven system that is largely CNC manufactured rather than hand built. The Distributors going out the door today are the best ones I've ever produced, and I'll be glad to make one for you. By the way, a builder asked us if the plate should be made out of aluminum to dissipate heat. I told him that we'd had no heat issues all year, and attributed this to the stainless construction. The distributor in a running Corvair engine runs fairly hot, and an aluminum plate might actually transfer more heat into the unit than out of it. It would take a serious amount of flight testing to prove the theory one way or the other.

Several people requested two electronic units. The very nature of redundant systems makes diversity desirable. The only trouble we've had all year was in Joe Horton's KR-2S. A few minutes after takeoff, his electronic unit became erratic. He switched to the points, and smoothly flew back to the airport. After some very careful analysis I discovered that his points cam had become magnetized at some point in its life. This did not bother the points at all, but would have certainly taken out two electronic units just as fast as one. While I now check every Distributor component for magnetism, there could always be a voltage spike or engine generated heat issue that could take out two electronics that your backup points would be immune to. The points running as a backup but not flowing electricity will have no appreciable wear during the year.

We do not sell the Points Plates separately because after building hundreds of running ignition systems, it's readily apparent to me it's not within the capability of 98% of homebuilders to install a points plate and rework an ignition system.

E/P Distributor running on both Ignition Systems on my Distributor Machine.
I run every Distributor extensively after I've assembled it. I use the time while it's running to return phone calls or drink coffee or multi-task. Builders MUST UNDERSTAND THE DISTRIBUTOR COMES PRESET. We've had a number of Corvair flyers and builders start off by opening up The Distributor and resetting the points. I set the points within their acceptable range of dwell so that both the Crane electronic unit and the points spark simultaneously. When you get The Distributor from us, JUST INSTALL IT, DO NOT ALTER THE GAP ON THE POINTS.

Adel clamp on E/P Distributor.
An E/P Distributor will have 3 wires coming out of The Distributor cap. The electronic unit has a single wire and 12 volt power source. The points will have a single 18 gauge aircraft wire with an aircraft grade ring terminal. These three wires should be neatly bundled with a piece of heat shrink where it exits the cap. Placing a #3 Adel clamp on the outside of The Distributor body will provide strain relief for the wires. Carefully check that the wires are not being pinched by the cap. If they are, use a Dremmel tool and slightly carefully relieve the underside of the cap.

Engine ready for Distributor installation.
1.The #1 sparkplug is the one closest to The Distributor. Remove it from the engine and put your finger over the hole. Rotate the engine in its direction of rotation until you feel compression. Watch the balancer for the Top Dead Center (TDC) notch to align with the timing marks. The engine is now at TDC on its compression stroke for #1 cylinder.

2.The marks on the Corvair case show 0, 8 and 16 degrees Before TDC. The length between the 0 and 16 degree marks is .950". Two times this length from the timing notch should be marked on the balancer as 32 degrees BTDC. It is a simple matter to mark the balancer with a silver Sharpie.

3.Rotate the engine slightly so that the balancer TDC mark is aligned with 8 degrees on the case.

4.We always install The Distributor so the notch cut in its plate faces the centerline of the engine. If you're standing beside the #1 cylinder head facing The Distributor, this notch will be in the 12 o'clock position. With The Distributor cap off, there's an empty screw hole visible in the 11 o'clock position. We always set the plug wire terminal in the 10:30 position as the #1 terminal.

5.Look down The Distributor hole with a flashlight. You will see the slot in the top of the oil pump shaft which is driven by the tang on the bottom of The Distributor. This slot needs to be aligned with a long screwdriver until it runs from the 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock position.

6.Make sure that you have a gasket beneath The Distributor. Insert The Distributor in the rear accessory housing. Hold the plate notch at 12 o'clock and make sure the rotor is pointing at 10 o'clock. As The Distributor drive gear begins to engage the crank gear, the rotor will move slightly clockwise. If you have it timed correctly, the last 3/8" of downward travel will smoothly engage the bottom distributor shaft tang with the oil pump drive. If it does not drop in smoothly, lift out The Distributor and realign the oil pump drive with a screwdriver.

7.The correctly installed Distributor will have the rotor pointing very close to the #1 terminal. Verify that the balancer mark still points at 8 degrees.

8.With a multi-meter or test light, check for a circuit through the closed points. You can ground anywhere on The Distributor Plate, and put the positive lead on the points terminal. Rotating The Distributor body while examining the points closely will show you the points just opening as your meter or light shows the circuit opening. This is how a points system works: The opening points collapse the field in the coil and send the high voltage spark on its way. When you have it set so this occurs when the TDC mark on the balancer is aligned with the 8 degree setting on the case, you have the ignition close enough to fire up on the test run. Put down the distributor clamp and secure The Distributor in this position.

9.Reinstall The Distributor cap, being careful not to pinch any of the wires. In the photo above, my fingers are touching the #1 sparkplug lead. Moving clockwise, the firing order is 1-4-5 2-3-6. Notice that we always set up the sparkplug leads so there's room to remove the cap without having to pull the leads from it. This is one of the many small details I've learned and included in this Web site, my Corvair Conversion Manual and 601/Corvair Installation Manual that make some engines easy to inspect and maintain.

10.When you get ready to start your engine for the first time, you absolutely, without exception, must use an automotive timing light to set the final ignition setting. In this case, the 8 degrees is referred to as the static advance of the engine. In flight, you're concerned with the total advance of the engine. The total advance is the static advance plus the centrifugal advance I've built into your Distributor. This varies from unit to unit, and is part of the reason why I test them all individually to ensure each centrifugal advance is within limits.

11.The easiest timing light to use is a model with an inductive pickup, like they sell at Sears. The inductive pickup is a clamp that goes around the #1 sparkplug wire, which will trigger the strobe in the timing light. If you've never used one before, any automotive mechanic can show you how they work. The engine should start almost immediately on the static setting. Once it's thoroughly warmed up, the actual timing of the engine can be set. With the tail tied down, and a competent pilot at the controls, the rpm of the engine must be raised to 2,700 rpm. In most Corvair powered aircraft, this is near the full static rpm of the propeller. This is the point where the timing is checked with the timing light. Countless dyno runs and hundreds of engine builds have taught us that the great majority of Corvair powered planes are best served by 32 degrees of total timing advance. They make expensive digital timing lights which can automatically calculate the 32 degrees for you, but I never use one of these because some are equipped with switches for the number of cylinders in the engine, and others have very vague timing scales. You're best off with the simplest timing light, and using the 32 degrees you already marked on your balancer. When the timing is correctly set, the 0 mark on the case will line up with the 32 mark on the balancer when you hit it with the timing light at 2,700 rpm.
WARNING: Corvair ignitions as I build them are extremely powerful. NEVER touch The Distributor cap or wires on a running Corvair engine. Although the possibility of being surprised with a 40,000 volt shock is low, it happened to a builder in Australia, and the involuntary jerk of his body put his other hand in contact with the turning test club prop. He was very lucky to escape in as good a shape as he did. When adjusting the timing, stop the engine to turn The Distributor and then restart.
WARNING: These Instructions apply ONLY to This Distributor. Stock Corvair car distributors have very stiff counterweight springs inside. They will frequently add 8 or 10 additional degrees of advance above 2,700 rpm. Distributors not verified on machines to a specific rpm could easily destroy your engine by sending it into detonation when the rpm picks up in flight.

These are not new recommendations. There are many references on FlyCorvair.com to checking timing with a timing light. You can Google [TM] it in the box at the bottom of Our Home Page. A careful look through our Web pages will show you how frequently we use them with the dyno. Every 601 Installation Manual we've sold includes a photo of Gus and I performing this operation on our 601. Manuals I wrote as far back as 15 years ago contained capitalized warnings about flying any engine you might even suspect would detonate.

The Number One cause of detonation in Corvair powered aircraft is careless builders setting the static timing, but neglecting to check the total timing with a light. Remember that you cannot hear detonation in most aircraft. And it's possible to damage a Corvair engine even in a 2,000 rpm ground run with excessive ignition advance. Engines that "sound good" to most builders from idle to 1,500 rpm frequently have 10 or 15 degrees too much ignition advance. Opening the throttle to takeoff rpm on these engines would send them into detonation. 32 degrees has a reasonable factor of safety built in. We've tested engines in idealized setups with timing far advanced beyond this. However, new engines that are run lean or on auto gas or have unproven cowlings have very little margin of safety against detonation.

If you have any questions at all when installing The Distributor, please call. Iíll be glad to spend the time to get your questions thoroughly answered. Remember, safe practices are paramount. By choosing a Distributor with my Points Plate, which has hundreds of hours of proven flight time on it, and is made of the best materials, you have taken a giant step toward minimizing the risks associated with ignition systems. Thank you for your purchase and congratulations on your good judgment.

Your purchase of parts like The Distributor offered through www.FlyCorvair.com makes possible my continued research and development on the Corvair. In this way, youíre investing in the future development and perfection of your chosen engine.

The notes above are supplementary to my most current Conversion Manual. The Distributor is developed as part of the system that we use to convert aircraft engines and is outlined in the Conversion Manual. The parts alone, without the information contained in the Manual, will not allow you to develop as reliable an aircraft conversion. When I develop and market a part, it is fully flight tested, and designed to work in concert with the other parts in the conversion. I take into account the way that most people are capable of installing and operating the part. Thereís a great deal of consideration that goes into these issues, and I urge you to utilize all the information in the Manual and the parts in the way that they are intended to be used. Of course, contact me at any time with any question you may have.

To be fair, everyone needs to understand that these are not certified parts, and it's not a certified motor. Experimental is not a misnomer; everything we do in this field is of increased risk. If anyone even suspects that they have a problem, E-MAIL or CALL ME. If you have never worked with torque wrenches and precision fasteners, get help from an A&P. Let's all remember to use our heads and not take unnecessary risks. I have gone to great lengths to make these components as reliable and easy to install as possible within the bounds of affordability. I have personally flown all of these parts, because I have a low opinion of people who market aircraft parts without flying the parts themselves. I believe that each and every part I sell is the best solution to its respective aspect of converting a Corvair engine. Take your time and Doo Good work. The system is proven and will reward you with the same type of reliable flight performance we have always had.

Another Corvair Powerplant
Headed For Installation and Adventure

A quick update with a photo of our latest test-run production engine. The photo above shows a powerplant destined for Gig Giacona's 601XL. The engine is a state-of-the-art Corvair from our facility. It features all our Gold System parts, including our Billet Oil Pan, as well as our complete Gold Oil System with Niagara Cooler. The cylinder heads are from Mark at Falcon Automotive. Every production engine we've built in the past few years has included Falcon heads. This engine was assembled by Kevin at VairForce.com. If you'd like to order an engine built to our standards using all of our parts, you can contact Kevin through his VairForce Web site.

Gig's engine running on the dyno, as viewed from the back.
This engine is being shipped to Gig with its heavy duty Gold Oil System and Niagara Cooler installed on one of our Baffle Kits. This is a good example of how all of our systems are designed to work in an integrated manner so builders at home can smoothly assemble their engines, including the support systems, and get the same reliable performance we've publicly demonstrated in our own aircraft. The view above shows the compact nature of the Gold Oil System. The extremely small and very efficient K&N 1008 filter has a nut and safety wiring capability just like certified aircraft filters. This is the same filter used on modern Mazda automobiles.

The digital temp gun reading the underside of the head near Cylinder #4.
Above, the engine in the middle of a 30-minute run at power. The Corvair has a cylinder head redline temp of 575F. In aircraft use, we rarely generate more than 450F in any application, including turbocharging. The underside of #4 Cylinder is the highest CHT point on the Corvair. While some builders might suspect the right side of the engine with the alternator in front would run warmer, it is historically #4 that runs slightly higher temps in aircraft.

Engines on the Dynomometer have consistently lower oil temps than those run in complete cowlings.
After 30 minutes of running at a high power setting, this engine registered only 166.5F on the Gold Oil Filter Housing. Our Gold Housing has a half-inch NPT port to directly measure the temp of the oil in the engine at its highest point. By having all of our builders reference the oil temp before the cooler, I can confirm their engines are running cool enough when they call with test run notes. The efficient cooling of the Corvair cylinder heads, with their high redlines, matched with our Gold Oil System and Niagara Cooler, is a flight proven application for the 601 that allows the pilot to simply operate the airplane at any power setting, airspeed, gross weight and 100F OAT without worry of overheating. We put a lot of effort into designing the complete system as a unit to meet the skill set and experience of 601 builders. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We have all the parts shown above in stock for immediate shipment.

Now At The Hangar

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December 2006 At The Hangar Part 1

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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

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