William Wynne

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

June 16, 2007 News Flash -
Charles Leonard's Airplane Flys
Back From Break
Tech Notes
The Monday Policy

As we were preparing to post this on the Web site, I got the good news that Charles Leonard's ZenVair 601 had made its first flight. A few days earlier, Charles called just before and after N920EL, above, passed inspection. He'd made the prudent decision to have someone with time in type make the first flight. Charles, of Punta Gorda, Florida, called to say it was truly a special day, and thanked everybody who helped him. I reminded him that help is important, but really, a typical builder like him put in 90+ percent of all the hours that went into his plane. In a world of group projects, and being a small part of many accomplishments, the day you finish your airplane is a tribute to you, the individual. It is a standout experience in life. Congratulations Charles Leonard, Corvair College #9 and #10 veteran, creator of the 12th Corvair powered 601 to fly.

People who've visited Venice, Italy, will recognize Grace's location: She's standing above the main entrance of St. Mark's Basilica. The first two weeks in May, we took a long-delayed honeymoon to Venice, the Greek Islands and Croatia. Although Grace has been many times before, it was my first trip to Europe. It was an enlightening trip, and we found the people very friendly without exception.

When we got home we had no messages on our telephone answering machine. Same story when we returned from New Jersey. We figured out that when nearby lightning causes the power to flicker, the outage resets and clears the answering machine. If your May message went unanswered, please e-mail or call (904) 529-0006 during our regular business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern weekdays.

Cross Country

The above photo shows off Chris Smith's new paint job on "The Son Of Cleanex." The plane lives outside, a few miles away from the Atlantic Coast. Chris felt that the paint job would offer the plane better protection than polishing.

Chris recently flew the Son of Cleanex cross country from Florida to its summer home of South Carolina. He wrote to say his Son of Cleanex offered smooth, reliable transportation. He's just beginning to savor the rewards of his efforts.

The Corvair Movement In Action

Two events recently held in separate parts of the country are complete standout examples of what makes the Corvair so different from other engines. In North Dakaota, John and Jean Kearney hosted an "Unfrozen Fargo Corvair High." John and Jean are veterans of Corvair Colleges #5 and #6, as well as the California event at Michael Heintz's Quality Sportplanes facility last year. Simply because they like the people in the Corvair movement, they volunteered to organize a small technical conference. John's intention is to promote the popularity of the Corvair in his neighborhood and use this group as the nucleus for a larger Corvair event next year. John has a running engine on the test stand.

The event was a big success. The most telling commentary came from a builder who wrote an eloquent letter explaining his initial skepticism, and how he was quickly won over by the group and the Kearneys' hospitality. He contrasted the warm welcome of fellow builders with the small minded individuals in day-to-day life who have a difficult time understanding people who need to create and fly airplanes. Hats off to John and Jean Kearney.

Above is KRVair builder Pete Klapp, organizer of the Corvair Wings and Wheels event June 8-9. Pete's idea was to have a super friendly event at the picturesque Barber Airport in Alliance, Ohio. He engaged Corvair pilots and builders as the backbone of an event that attracted people of many interests two years running. We'd previously taught a Night School as well as Corvair College #7 in Alliance and we can attest to the kind hospitality and positive energy of this area's builders. Pete is an energetic, gregarious organizer, and made everybody feel welcome.

Rotaxes and Lycomings are certainly good engines. But it's difficult to imagine either one generating the type of grassroots events organized by the Kearneys and Pete Klapp. From the very beginning of my work with Corvairs, I've always made it more about people than hardware. This is the vital difference that leads to these events. Our kudos go to these hosts. While the most common gripe we hear about light aviation is that it's over-commercialized, these organizers and their guests have had a lot of fun proving that experimental aviation, at least in the Corvair world, is still all about people.

Above is a shot of Joe Horton's airplane taken by Mark Langford during Corvair Wings and Wheels 2007. A few weeks earlier, Joe had a nosegear failure on his airplane that got his prop and did some damage to the underside. The fact he's back in the air this quickly shows that once you get a good taste of flying your creation, it's difficult to have it down for any length of time. You can see more of Mark's great photos at www.krnet.org/alliance2007/

Family Reunion in New Jersey

Above are my parents and their four children. At the end of May, Grace and I and 53 other family members traveled to New Jersey for my mother's 80th birthday, occasion for a family reunion as well. Many years ago, before Grace was a civilizing influence in my life, I did dumb stunts like working in the hangar on Christmas Eve with Kevin ... 5 years in a row. This extreme work focus got things done, but obviously was not a normal life. Although I still enjoy working a lot of hours and regard work as a privilege, not a punishment, my life is far more balanced between work and family now. In the photo, in back is my brother Michael, born in 1953 in Coronado while our father was deployed with ACB-ONE in Korea. Michael is a civil engineer specializing in water management. On the right, my sister Melissa was born in 1956 at Lakehurst, where our father was the project officer on the catapults and arresting gear on the upcoming nuclear carriers. Melissa is a politician, attorney, wife and mother. At left, our sister Alison, born in Pittsburgh, followed by me. In Pittsburgh, our father was Admiral Rickover's executive officer, developing the reactors that powered the atomic submarines and Enterprise CVN-65. Alison is a nurse practioner who specializes in complex organ transplants.

Throughout it all for 57 years, my mother Mickey has remained the foundation around which the family is built. All of my better characteristics are directly attributed to my parents.

Tech Notes

Above, on a Sunday afternoon I'm welding Spenser Gould's SP-500 flight controls. Spenser is our engineer, and you can see a photo of him sitting in his custom fuselage in April 2007 At The Hangar. He's exceptionally good at structural analysis. His control system was extremely light and rigid, made from .035 wall tubing and folded thin steel sheets. It's reminiscent of the extremely strong, light weight designs of Curtis Pitts. Because of the thin sheets, the control system was a challenge to weld. The largest factor in my favor was the Lincoln Precision 225 Tig machine Grace got me for Christmas. It is one of their newest models, with Microstart technology among its features.

I've been welding since 1980 or so. Today's Tig machines are vastly easier to use than the ones I started on. Any homebuilder who'd seriously enjoy welding can now use one of these modern machines and a little bit of instruction to produce airworthy welds in a small fraction of the time it used to take to become good enough to do flight work. I recommend this Lincoln machine without reservation. Oshkosh is six weeks away, and you can test drive all these machines there. Lincoln frequently offers deep discounts to EAA members at the show.

The photo above shows our most important technical advancement of the past 12 months: Our integrated oil filter housing, cooler bypass and installed Niagara 2002 cooler. The cylindrical object behind the oil cooler mounted on the firewall is an Aircraft Spruce Air/Oil Separator, Part No. 10570, about $40. We use it on just about every Corvair powered plane. These three elements combined produce our Integrated Oil System. Our previous Heavy Duty Oil System used a firewall mounted filter and bypass. These were off the shelf items served by four AN-6 hoses. We've been flying that system for several years with a perfect track record. But staring at it, I always felt there had to be a cleaner and simpler way to do it. The new system carries out all the same functions, but with only two hoses and no firewall mounted components.

The key part is the integrated Oil Filter Housing, a beautifully CNC-machined part that mounts on top of the Rear Oil Accessory Case. This housing is machined to accept a K&N 1008 filter. What cannot be seen are the numerous passageways machined into it to allow instrumentation that won't impede the internal flow. It renders the passages in the block to the stock oil location superfluous. The K&N filter is much lighter and more compact than the stock Corvair unit, and for those asking about messy oil changes, it has an internal rubber baffle that prevents it from leaking oil when unscrewed.

The engine in the photo is Gordon Alexander's 3,100 cc on his Pegzair. The Fram filter in place is just for priming. Between the filter and the housing is a prototype Bypass. The actual production models are a third smaller, elegantly CNC machined. Gordon's installation is being plumbed with 150 degree AN-6 full flow hose ends we had on the shelf. These two lines run right over to the cooler and complete the oil plumbing.

This view of Gordon's prototype installation gives builders a look at the oil system layout we'll be using on all engines. The final products are significantly cleaner and even more elegant. In addition to neater appearance, the system offers several other advantages:

  • The two hoses in this system will always be the exact same length, regardless whether the engine's going on a 601, KR or something else. Thus, we can build these hoses and stock them, rather than custom fabricating the lengths for customers.
  • Complete engines from us will be test run with the Flight Oil System in place. We're moving toward delivering production engines with all the cooling baffling and wires in place. This will significantly reduce installation time.
  • Years of testing engines has convinced me that the pressure and temperature senders are now in the optimum location.

    Our previous methods obviously work and have been proven in a lot of flight hours. We developed these parts in order to optimize certain facets of the Corvair installation. If you've got a Corvair engine on order in our shop right now, Your engine will be delivered with these systems. If you have any questions, call us. Engine buyers who've patiently waited will be well rewarded with a superior system. We've refrained from writing contracts on new engines since Sun 'N Fun because it's our intention to deliver new orders with all these systems in place and test run with a commensurate price increase yet to be determined. We'll post the new pricing information shortly.

    Above is a top view of our 701 engine installation. It is also being fitted with the new Oil System. No oil components on the firewall make the 701 installation much easier with its very limited firewall space. An oil filler neck is custom welded into the Top Cover of this engine. It is made from a 1" aluminum tube, and has a Moroso O-ringed aluminum cap welded into it. This was done for potential cowling clearance when we were thinking of a super narrow custom 701 cowl. At this point, we're steering toward a 601 style cowl on the 701. We want to get this one flying and gather flight test data. We're trying to keep as many of the parts for the 701 installation common to the 601 to avoid a long development. We'll have more commentary on this installation when it's done and flying.

    This is a view of the lower portion of the 701 installation. Although I had my doubts, Kevin found a way to rotate and trim our CNC bent stainless pipes for 601s into a slightly different configuration that neatly fits into the 701's mount. This engine will be equipped with an Aero-Carb.

    The business end of Gordon's installation. In the photo above, several of our most popular parts are visible: The Gold Hub, Alternator Brackets, Safety Shaft, Hybrid Studs and Baffle Kit. Builders should know that all these parts are A Category available, in stock for immediate shipment. The correct belt length for the Gold Hub/John Deere installation is 28". The small blister on the baffle below the alternator was custom made by Kevin to cover the flanged VW style exhaust on Gordon's heads. This exhaust was a modification sold to Gordon by California car guys we do not recommend for any flight application. Gordon chose the orange silicon rubber baffling; it works, but I much prefer the black fiber reinforced rubber baffling available from Aircraft Spruce in 3" wide rolls, Part No. 05-00826.

    Above is a 110 head modified by Falcon. It's not real easy to see, but the heads have significant porting done while the valve seats are out for replacement. The late Larry Koutz performed before and after flow bench testing on Corvair heads that had very similar porting clean up. This testing showed an 8 to 10 percent improvement at all practical lifts. On air cooled engines, smooth exhaust ports make a big difference in eliminating hot spots. Even with great care and small tools, porting like this is difficult to do with the seats in place. If you've already had your valve job done somewhere else, don't be tempted to take out the valves and try it - I've never been able to do it without messing up at least one of the ground faces.

    Above, Fred Roser's engine on the dyno. The photo is a reminder that we prime, test run and operate Corvairs on Shell Rotella T 15W40 oil. Although everybody has a favorite oil that's served them well on projects years ago, several industry experts have told me that the formulation of many favorite oils has been changed for environmental reasons, often compromising break in qualities by eliminating metallic based additives. Since we test engines on Rotella all the time, builders can be confident that the current formulation of this oil works well in our favorite engine. We change the oil and filter at 1 hour, 5 hours, 10 hours and 25. As KRVair Builder/Pilot Steve Makish pointed out, he's yet to see an engine hurt by having the oil changed too often.

    Above is a photo of the 701 airframe in the main Edgewater hangar. This illustrates how we tackle complete airplane projects in 2007. The 701 is being built as an E-LSA, which allows it to be built 100 percent for hire, unlike amateur builts, which must meet the 51% rule. The owner separately contracted us to build the firewall forward package for his airplane. Gus Warren of Fly With Gus separately contracted to build the whole airframe. At the conclusion of the 701 project, Gus will be available to assist other builders with their airframe work. The final details of the engine installation are being taken care of for me by Kevin.

    Although we've done a tremendous amount of airframe work and will continue to develop new firewall forward packages, we no longer do airframe work. It was once necessary to jump start the Corvair movement and get a lot of airplanes flying, but the program today is to stick with the knitting and just work with engines and installations. Gus, whose strongest expertise is in airframes, should be happy to assist builders with airframe needs.

    Production Notes

    In the photo above are 20 sets of components for our CNC stainless Exhaust Systems. Even in this highly pre-fabricated state, there's still a few solid days of welding here. These 20 sets significantly exceed all the existing backorders for Exhaust Systems. Thus, when I finish welding these, a part with a long history of being backordered will be moved into the A Category of Availability. I have the components for another dozen sets in reserve, which will permanently keep this system in stock. It takes time and a lot of work, but things are changing for the better.

    Corvair Flyers

    The mail last week brought a DVD from Murray Green in Canada showing his Corvair powered RW-20 Stork in flight. Another first for Corvair power. Hats off to Murray. Chalk up another one for the Men of the Frozen North.

    The same week brought news from Norm Beauchamp of Texas that he'd gotten in some flight time on his Corvair powered Kitfox Model V. I'm reasonably sure that Norm is the first guy ever to fly a Corvair in a Kitfox, although there's been years of discussion and intense interest. He reports being genuinely pleased with the combination, and his only squawk is a slightly high oil temperature. The Model V has a gross weight of 1,550 pounds, and is capable of climbing at some fairly slow airspeeds. In a phone call, I told Norm that the plane is a good candidate for a larger Niagara Oil Cooler.

    It may not be intuitive, but faster planes like KRs and Cleanexes have good performance from stock Corvair oil coolers. Slower planes such as Wagabonds, Pietenpols and planes in the Kitfox category, which are capable of full power climbs at slower airspeeds, are primary candidates for heavy duty oil coolers. We put these coolers on all our production engines because they're new and perfectly clean inside, and they keep oil temp low in any weather/climb/load situation.

    In the photo above, Dan Weseman sits in his Cleanex, chatting with the master of the light plane, Ed Fisher. Ed and his wife Val traveled from Sebring to visit with Dan and his family. Ed's a really humble guy and he hates it when we point out he's the only person in history who's designed, built and flown two different Oshkosh Grand Champion aircraft.

    "Gee whiz," Ed says when we address him as Mr. Grand Champion. Ed always has new ideas emerging on his drafting table, and I've supplied him with a complete mockup engine to steer more of his ideas and work toward Corvairs. You can take a look at Ed's creativity at www.RaceAirDesigns.com

    Long Term Project

    I frequently ask old school EAAers who've completed a variety of different projects to give me some feedback on the Corvair movement and their impression of what element is underserved or insufficiently addressed. After some serious consideration, Dan Weseman came back with an unexpected reply: He told me that despite having one of the most powerful and expensive Corvair engines flying, he felt that the basic foundation of the Corvair movement would always remain the builder on a tight budget, and therefore these people should specifically be served with flight proven recommendations instead of leaving that group to speculate on what would be the best low-cost combination.

    What emerged from the discussion was the search for an engine that might not have the longest TBO, but would not break. We're talking about building a proven engine that emphasizes elbow grease and craftsmanship over all else. Where the flight experience comes in might surprise you: If you were given a choice between using new valves in the intake or exhaust, which would you choose? Without testing, you might guess the exhaust valves, because they're worked a lot harder. However, the correct choice is intakes because testing has taught me that a Corvair flight engine will easily withstand a burned out exhaust valve without a drastic reduction in power. However, the highly unlikely event of losing an intake valve is a much more serious matter. Most Corvair powered airplanes would have a difficult time maintaining altitude with a heavily damaged intake. (The ignition in that cylinder will tend to blow out the mixture on the entire bank.)

    We kicked around the idea of buying a core off eBay and keeping very accurate records on what the steps were, what it cost, and where every part came from. Good car magazines like Car Craft do stories like this all the time. We've been investigating the low cost extreme for a few months, and it's a more attractive idea to me than many builders might guess. We'll likely dig into the reasearch after we clear the back orders and finish the 601 Installation Manual.

    Important Policy Note: "The John Monday Rule"

    I recently spent a lot of hours thinking about this, and if you read the following paragraphs and the sentiment doesn't take hold at first pass, please give it another read. Like a lot of strong feelings, it's difficult to articulate, especially in writing, but I think it's important to take a shot at communicating the point.

    John Monday, by all accounts, was an exceptional guy. While I spoke to him on the phone many times, the only time we spent in his company was at Corvair College #5, which he attended with his son. About a year later, he was killed in a tragic Bonanza crash. When looking for something on our Web site, I'll occasionally stumble over the photo of him and his son at CC #5, and it always disturbs me that this man full of so much energy isn't with his family anymore.

    Prior to the accident, John had sold his Corvair engine to a South African builder. Mr. South Africa has a background working on motorgliders, and has friends who operate VW engines in his home country. Although he hasn't run his Corvair engine yet, he's become somewhat fixated on changing the ignition system. He's thrown a lot of his ideas out on the Internet, which met with lukewarm response. He's so sure his ignition idea is a good one, and people are mistaken about not choosing it, that he spends a fair amount of time trying to prove there's something wrong with the Ignition System I developed that's flying around on the majority of Corvair airplanes.

    Mr. South Africa isn't the first guy down the alarmist "Solving Nonexistent Problems" path. Every other year, someone on the Internet emerges to play this role. To give him his due, he's been more persistent in his exaggerations and implications than most of the others. The issue is really distasteful to me because it can't be fixed or solved. He'll never get off the Internet, he'll never come to the United States, and experience has shown me that like the others, he'll never build and fly the system he advocates. We wrote him a number of private letters. His responses were a mixture of compliments, attacks, contradictions and implications in a tone we found annoying. It was profoundly ironic to me that John Monday's engine was in this person's hands.

    While staring at John Monday's photo, it occurred to me that if he were granted another 24 hours of life, he would certainly spend the majority of it with his family. He might spend an hour aloft, or even take a few moments to create something with his own hands. But one thing I'm absolutely certain he would not do is spend a single second arguing on the Internet with a guy on the other side of the world he'll never meet. While we all have a lot more than 24 hours left, the point's the same. From now on, when confronted with an e-mail from the argumentive types, I'll simply refer them to these paragraphs. We all have something better to do.

    Now At The Hangar

    June 2011 At The Hangar

    May 2011 At The Hangar

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    January 2011 At The Hangar

    December 2010 At The Hangar

    November 2010 At The Hangar

    October 2010 At The Hangar

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    December 2009 At The Hangar

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    September 2009 At The Hangar

    August 2009 At The Hangar

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    June 2009 At The Hangar

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    December 2008 At The Hangar

    October 2008 At The Hangar

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    June 2008 At The Hangar

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    January 2008 At The Hangar

    Christmas 2007 At The Hangar

    November 2007 At The Hangar

    October 2007 At The Hangar

    September 2007 At The Hangar

    August 2007 At The Hangar

    July 2007 At The Hangar

    April 2007 At The Hangar

    March 2007 At The Hangar

    February 2007 At The Hangar

    January 2007 At The Hangar

    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

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