Corvair College #14
I've just returned from Corvair College #14 in Lowell, Mass. It was a very successful event. The 82 pre-registered guests made this the largest College ever held
outside of Florida. However, the story is in the quality, not the quantity. Host Pramod Kotwal and Master of Ceremonies Ken Pavlou put in a lot of effort to learn from
previous Colleges and bring a lot of detailed preparation to the event. This paid off with allowing builders in attendance to focus on learning, making progress and
having a good time. To make it a little easier to download, the photos are on several pages. Get a cup of coffee, and take the time to really look at the people in the
photos. Over the years, we've hosted hundreds of people at Corvair Colleges. With four events scheduled Coast to Coast this year, we are providing free of charge a lot of
opportunity for anyone willing to take the initiative and claim their seat at the table. The faces of the builders tell the story: This College, and all the others, are
much more than technical events. They are a true meeting of builders whose common bond of creativity, self reliance and friendliness unites them. Enjoy the story, and take action to find
your place at the next College.
At noon Saturday, we dragged everyone available into a quick group photo. Ken told me that the total online registration count was 82 people, a good majority of whom
can be seen in this photo taken by Dave Mullins.
Into The Shop
Above, our emcee, Ken Pavlou, indulges himself with a bullhorn he bought off eBay. It was a surprisingly effective tool for herding people in at lunch and dinner. Behind Ken is
Pramod's CNC milling center. Ken asks those who attended the College, if you haven't already, please take a moment to fill out a survey at https://cc14.wufoo.com/forms/corvair-college-14-survey/
Above, an overhead shot showing a group gathering for a technical point I'm explaining on Jared Geary's engine. Although Jared had really good prep work on a number of fronts, he
had removed the head studs from the case. Replacing them is time consuming and potentially a source of trouble if any of them bind up on the way in. For many years, I've actively
discouraged people from removing the head studs unless extreme corrosion or mechanical damage makes it absolutely necessary.
Above, a few of the eight separate groups tearing down core engines at the event. The industrial nature of Pramod's
facility made heavy mechanical work easy. Nitron is outfitted with a loading dock, crane, palette jack, and a herd of very heavy duty industrial carts. The builders
naturally gravitated to small groups and dove into any project that interested them. I floated among groups and covered the technical details of each process.
Jared Geary and his girfriend Katia work on a very nice 2,700 cc engine destined for his own Cleanex project. Jared had previously attended Corvair Colleges
#9 and #11 which set him on the Corvair path and allowed him to formulate a detailed plan. Despite having a job that requires a lot of travel, at times overseas,
Jared has made a lot of progress on both engine and airframe, and may very well finish by the end of the year.
KR/Vair builder and pilot Joe Horton from Pennsylvania, center above, is welcomed to Corvair College #14 by Pramod, at right, and myself. This was Joe's fourth College, and the
third one to which he's flown his own plane. He now has 400 hours on his 3,100 cc KR-2S.
Louis Leung, extreme right, above, was one of five builders who opted to pick up a core engine from Pramod at the event. He's completed about 85% of his 601 XL airframe. The photo
shows how many helping hands are available for any task at a College. Louis is no slouch with tools: He impressed a lot of people by working with a ratchet in each hand at
Louis and his group made short work of disassembling the core he'd purchased from Pramod. Louis was born in Hong Kong, a place with a well earned reputation for generating some of
the most dynamic people in the world. My father, who'd been to Hong Kong a number of times, enjoyed reminiscing with Louis about the vibrant city.
Four hands make short work of a core.
This fully assembled engine was done by 601 XL builder Larry Webber of Rhode Island. Larry is a very dynamic guy, with a long history of doing tradeshows in the
woodworking industry. At the opening day of Oshkosh 2008, Grace and I were greeted by a very enthusiastic Larry, who pitched in to tell anybody
within earshot the merits of the Corvair from his own personal experience.
KR-2S builder Dave Mullins of Nashua, N.H., brought down his Corvair engine project, sporting a planetary reduction. He's chipping away at a highly modified airframe with
a unique engine installation. The Corvair has served as a beginning point for many people with extremely diverse ideas.
Corvair College #14 Part 2
Corvair College #14 Part 3
Corvair College #14 Part 4
Corvair College #14
News From The West Coast
3,100 Under Construction
Baffle Kits and Cowling Sheetmetal Direct Links
We're less than 2 weeks away from Corvair College #14 at Nitron Inc., 26 Wellman Street in Lowell, MA 01851, the weekend of May 22. This already promises to be a very large
and productive Corvair College. Tireless and
creative promotion by Ken Pavlou, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and Pramod Kotwal have netted pre-registration of about 60 people. If you have not yet signed up, I strongly encourage you to do
so in advance at the http://aerovair.com/CC14.html Web page. There's room for plenty more people; it's just easier to plan the logistics even with a few days notice. This said, if you find yourself without
a reservation, but with a strong urge to attend the College, get in the car and show up. As always, the event is free, but Ken has a modest donation program to cover the cost of food and drinks.
Also as always, the event is purely for builders, or people thinking about getting started. Anyone thinking of copying our products in a get-rich-quick scheme, or becoming an "instant expert for hire"
should stay home, as our friend "Mr. Bogli" is planning on attending.
The vast majority of pilots now flying behind their own Corvair have a common thread: They each will tell you that attending a College
was a motivational turning point in their project. Make the same thing happen for you. Showing up is all that it takes. Don't wait till you have a core to work with.
Ken and Pramod made a big field trip to gather a number of good cores that will be available for people launching their project now. Every single person with a
flying Corvair reached a point where they acted decisively to advance their project. This can be your time.
The above photo shows part of a large batch of machined parts we picked up on May 11, 2009. Some of the items shown are going in boxes tonight to fill back orders for which builders have
patiently waited. Visible are 17 Gold Hubs, 7 Gold Pans, parts for 24 Gold Oil Systems, 10 Front Spinner Bulkheads with Crushplates, 25
Saftey Shafts, one of our Gold Rear Alternator Pulleys,
our light weight $319 Black Prop Hub (intended for engines using Mark Langford's rear starter), 20 Top Covers, a dozen packaged Alternator Brackets,
and very importantly, enough CNC machined
304 stainless stacks to make 24 601 Exhausts.
A goofy guy at Sun 'N Fun told many people that if he were going to, he would run the Corvair movement "Like a real business . . ." When asked what he meant,
he said, "Get a big tent and glossy brochures." A booth only rents for $700-$1800, and brochures are cheap. Well designed, flight tested parts are not cheap. Today's machine shop bill was more
than I made in
the first five years of sales. When you look at all the engine building parts we have on hand, stuff from our other suppliers and our tooling, you begin to understand the level of
we have to builders. In the years 1989 to 1999, I primarily worked as a high end composite aircraft builder. This allowed me to feed tens of thousands of dollars into Corvair R&D
for a trickle of sales. I was not concerned. I had no business partner to please, no family to feed, and few bills to pay. I was on a long-term mission. 2000-2007 were years of devoted
work only on Corvairs, with the Hangar Gang. A tremendously productive period, but taking profits out was a far lower priorty than further R&D, hosting
10 major free Corvair Colleges and
continuously supporting and encouraging all builders, regardless of the thickness of their wallet. Today, in our 20th year, we are well into the third phase of operations, where a lot
of our formerly handcrafted parts are now made by CNC machine shops or produced by qualified, well-respected, certified subcontractors. Heading into CC#14, we remain successful by
what builders really need: information, encouragement, and flight tested components, all wrapped up in a little fun and good times.
News From The West Coast
This past weekend was the annual Open House at Quality Sport Planes in Santa Rosa, Calif. QSP is Zenith's West Coast facility. Numerous aircraft flew in for the event,
and Corvair powered Zeniths were well represented by Andy Elliott's 601 XL, 3,100cc, tailwheel N601GE from Arizona, and Woody Harris' 2,700cc, tricycle gear, 601 XL.
Woody is our West Coast rep, and has flown his plane all over the state of California over the past six weeks.
Andy Elliott's round trip from Mesa, Ariz., put
another 12 hours on his Hobbs meter. He called to say it was an enjoyable trip, and he gave many people a flight in his plane. Both Sebastien and Roger were on hand from the
Mexico, Mo., Zenith factory, and each flew with Andy.
These two members of the Corvair community have really gone out of their way to share their adventure with other builders. Woody and Andy are excellent representatives of the
spirit of the Corvair movement.
3,100 Under Construction
Above is a photo of a fresh 3,100 with a Dan Weseman fifth bearing from Fly5thBearing.com coming together in our shop. This particular engine is going to a West Coast
CH 750 builder. Over the years, my crew and I have built about half the 3,100cc engines out there, including the one in Andy Elliott's aircraft, our own 601,
Chris Smith's Son of Cleanex and Gordon Alexander's Pegzair. Additionally, we've compared notes and worked with the three best known 3,100 pilots in the Corvair movement:
Mark Langford, Joe Horton and Dan Weseman.
Although it is flight proven, a 3,100 remains a challenging engine to build. Making it significantly easier is the goal of the purpose built pistons in this engine.
These were developed by Brady McCormick of Magnificent Machine. Traditional 3,100s use 94mm VW pistons. VW pistons have 22mm wrist pins. This requires boring out the small
end of the rod, allowing the pin to float in it. This is not the kind of work you generally trust to your local machine shop. Not every set of Corvair rod cores have the
wall thickness to tolerate this. We traditionally relied on extremely high end rod rebuilding from specialists like Ray Sedman at American Pi. The far easier solution
is a purpose built piston utilizing the Corvair's stock .800" size pin. Brady's pistons are made in America, forged to his specifications. They're put on the rods the same
way standard Corvair pistons are. The pistons feature a number of other design details, but their main feature is coming from a manufacturer known for very accurately
made strong units. We'll have another update on this soon.
Baffle Kit and Sheetmetal Cowling Direct Links
A review of flying Corvair-powered 601s shows that almost all of them are equipped with our distinctive Nosebowl. After the
first few aircraft flew, we asked Jim and Rhonda Weseman to develop the highest quality sheetmetal Cowling Kits to fit aft of the Nosebowl, as well as
matching Baffle Kits. Since their introduction, these have remained very popular items. I believe the first one sent out the door is the one now flying on
Jay Bannister's Lil' Bruiser 601 XL. In the period since, dozens more have gone as far away as Australia. We protoyped and flew these Baffle and Cowling Kits on
our own 601 in 2004.
With this system, 90% of the engine can be seen in seconds after releasing a few quarter-turn fasteners. The ability to properly pre-flight the engine, especially early in
test flying, is mandatory for safety. A full fiberglass cowl that takes a while to remove will invariably lead to the bad habit of flying an engine without looking at it first.
If you are a builder working toward completing your plane, you may not have the full grasp of the importance of this yet, but everyone who is a licensed pilot or A&P knows the
importance of thorough pre-flighting. Aircraft safety is nothing more than proven designs, good training and the self discipline of good habits.
The Cowling and Baffle Kits have become so popular that we're sending 601, 650 and 750 builders directly to Jim and Rhonda at http://jsweseman.com/corvair.html
to get the same Kits previously
sold through us. This fits in with our longstanding tradition of sending builders directly to suppliers for ready-made parts. Jim and Rhonda have moved into the retail arena
with JSWeseman.com, and orders for the two Kits should be directly placed with them. Keep in mind that Nosebowl and
Warp Drive propeller orders still should be directly placed with us. People who have already placed Baffle and Cowl Kit orders with us
will see them shipped directly from the Wesemans shortly in a seamless transition.
Over the years, there has been an Internet myth perpetuated by a tiny number of conspiracy theorists and people without anything positive to offer that I tried to
monopolize the Corvair market. The obvious reality is that I have developed, aided or supported more than a dozen Corvair niche companies, each with a unique
product from good people. The Wesemans are just the latest example. Reasonable people and genuine builders understand the role we have played.
On the topic of select products offered by good people, Roy Szarafinski of RoysGarage.com now has his fifth bearing design in flight testing on Dr. Gary
Ray's ZenVair 601 XL N42845. Dr. Ray is well known as one of our earliest XL pilots and the host of our Valentine's Day Midwest Night School. We
also displayed his 601 in the Zenith booth at Oshkosh 2007. After several years of trouble-free flying, Dr. Ray decided to upgrade his
engine with a fifth bearing. Roy's Garage is not far away, and Roy and Dr. Ray worked together to complete the project in short order.
Roy is a highly skilled machinist and offers a very nice fifth bearing setup he's developed over the past few years. His system includes line boring the case to
match his split housing. Roy caters to builders who send their lower end assembly to him in order to receive the system back from him fully assembled. The initial flight
test went very smoothly and Dr. Ray had a lot of positive things to say, not only about the product, but Roy's service as well. We've known Roy a number of years, and
recently had him as an invited guest at Corvair College #12 and Corvair College #13.
Roy's bearing, our own and Dan Weseman's offer three options from reputable people from which builders who want to use a fifth bearing can choose. Although a
minority of negative people may not believe it, the three of us spent a lot of time together at Sun 'N Fun this year because we get along as
true friends. The bearings are each a unique reflection of our approaches to this option, and as such are not really competing with each other. Again, my simple philosophy:
If it's from good people, and it's good for Corvair builders, I'll support it. We'll have more updates as we go.
Now At The Hangar
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December 2006 At The Hangar Part 1
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November 2006 At The Hangar
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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