Below are several photos from Grace's collection. Enjoy.
This brings the total of Corvair powered planes she's flown in to seven.
Flying with Tom Brown, Unity, Wisc., in his
Corvair powered Pietenpol NX37979 at Brodhead 2005 was quite a highlight.
Grace has yet to fly in the plane above, but it lives at Brodhead, Wisc., where we're headed next week.
This airplane is a stellar example of Bernie's handiwork in person. Any Pietenpol builder should inspect
this plane closely at the Pientenpol Reunion at Brodhead July 21-22, 2006.
Note to Tom, as well as Sue and above, Bill Knight, in Bernie Pietenpol's Last Original:
We'll see you Friday.
Our ZenVair 601. Click on the photo to view a short flyby movie.
Grace took this photo of Dan flying the
Cleanex over the St. Johns River early Sunday morning, July 9, 2006. If you click on the photo, you can see
a segment of film she shot later that morning. The filming is for our upcoming hour-long DVD, which
Merrill is working on for Oshkosh. Fifty percent of it is air-to-air scenes and in-flight cockpit perspectives.
It's intended to be motivational and entertaining.
DISCLAIMER: The weakest link in most aerobatic maneuvers is the pilot. Flying aerobatics requires
serious training, not some hangar tips offered by friends who themselves have no serious training.
We've flown aerobatics in planes as diverse as L-39s, 450hp Stearmans and S2-Bs. Grace and I had the same
flight instructor, who had trained legions of pilots in aerobatics to national competition standards, and
he drilled into our heads that this type of flying is only done with intense training, and no one should
encourage any type of amateur or self teaching. Dan has the skills for these types of maneuvers. My
Conversion Manual clearly states that the Corvair, like the vast majority of
airplane engines, is not approved for aerobatics. The film is for entertainment purposes only; I don't
want to start a big debate. We're all adult enough to enjoy what's presented without regarding it as
Merrill films Whobiscat and I in front of Rick Lindstrom's Quick Build Zenair 601XL in our hangar.
Dan Weseman's Wicked Cleanex in flight.
Quick Build XL At The Finish Line
As most builders know, we have Kit Planes writer Rick Lindstrom's 601XL in our hangar. He's flown
out several times from California to work on the airframe. Kevin and I built him a
very nice firewall forward package. Gus worked directly with Rick on the
airframe and functioned as project manager. Our intention was to fly the plane to Oshkosh. It's of special
interest because it's very likely to be the first Quick Build 601 to fly.
Unfortunately, the plane will not be going for two reasons that are not in our direct control. If you're
a first time homebuilder, these offer an important lesson. Rick got poor information that the FAA could
process registrations quickly on a special order basis. I had never heard of this, and it turns out it
isn't true. It can take several weeks to several months to process a registration, and builders should get
on it if they think they're within six months of finishing their aircraft. The EAA has an excellent
step-by-step information package available to members. There's no need to listen to old wives' tales
about registration told by people who've never been through the process. The EAA package is outstanding
The second issue with the plane is avionics. Rick writes a lot of avionics articles for Kit Planes,
and intends to use his 601 as a flying test installation for a lot of new products. Months ago, he placed
orders for glass cockpit displays for the flight and engine instruments. The engine EIS was done by
Ralph at IK Technologies. This arrived in time, and is purpose engineered to mate with the Corvair's
systems, including the tachometer, the achiles heel of most EIS installations on a Corvair. The IK
unit will likely become the EIS of choice for Corvair builders who choose this type of instrument.
The EFIS was to be provided by Blue Mountain Avionics. It was promised months ago, and has yet to be
delivered. The Blue Mountain unit looked very promising in their Sun 'N Fun displays, but the actual
product was not ready for market, Rick said. Anyone considering that type of flight instrument would
obviously be much better off with the Dynon D-10.
The lesson of real use to builders is broader than undelivered avionics: When Gus and I saw this coming,
we sat down and worked backwards from Oshkosh to pick a drop dead date for flying the airplane to Wisconsin.
This was based on not rushing through a safe test period. When this date passed without registration or EFIS,
much to all our disappointment, we closed the door on the plane going to AirVenture Oshkosh 2006. Over the
years, there have been too many stories with unhappy endings of planes rushed at the last minute to airshows.
Some things in life are worth doing, even if it carries a great risk of death and this is not one of them.
Builders working on their first plane should follow our lead and never rush to a deadline. Live to fly another
The plan is to finish and have Gus test fly Rick's airplane two weeks after Oshkosh. After its test period,
it will head to its permanent home in California's Bay Area. Although we do not professionally build airplanes
in the hangar, there's a lot of positive benefit gleaned from projects like Rick's. West Coast builders
will be able to see firsthand a first class example of Corvair power in action. The firewall forward package
provided numerous photos for our new 601 Installation Manual. The aircraft will be featured in an
upcoming series in Kit Planes magazine, which will bring more momentum to our
Corvair movement. When Rick's plane flys West, we'd like to have another 601XL
project replace it in the shop. If you're interested, call Gus on the shop line, or speak with him in
person at Oshkosh. He'll be in the Zenith booth when he's not flying showcases.
While some people will certainly point out that over the years there have been oodles of delays of our
shipment of parts to builders, I still feel comfortable criticizing Blue Mountain, because they were told
that it was needed for Oshkosh. Although I've been told by a few builders that a delayed part from us is
the only thing holding them up from flying around the world, I'm yet to see any real, fair, concrete evidence
of it. Certainly nothing that would weigh in against how much we've helped people get closer to flying. By
the way, the record for going on the Internet and complaining that a part from my shop is holding up your
project belongs to a builder out West who stated that his spinner bulkhead, on order for two months, was
the only thing keeping his plane from flying. I delivered it more than 2 1/2 years ago, and the plane's yet
to see daylight under the tires.
Here's a top view of Rick's engine last week. The oil cooler is a Niagara 2002. We use this as the ultra
heavy duty installation. I have put these on our own 601, Dave's Wagabond and
Phil Maxson's 601. They're not a requirement, but are a nice option. We'll have
more details on this in our 601 Corvair Installation Manual. By the way, Phil will be flying his
plane to Oshkosh.
The most important thing in this photo is the drill priming the engine through the
distributor hole. I've shown numerous photos of this, and reminded people many times that all engines must
be primed before they're run. One of the engines we built in 2004 was ordered without a starter because
the builder opted to use a reverse rotated rear starter. This meant we could not run the engine at the shop.
To ensure it was primed before it was run, we actually delivered the engine with a priming tool in place of
the distributor. This engine was run, but not flown, in 2005. When the builder removed the crank for nitriding,
he called to complain to me about scratches on the bearings. My first question to him was, "Did you use the
priming tool?" Do you have a guess what his answer was? He answered "No."
I ran the above setup on Rick's engine for 1 1/2 hours. During this time, I moved the position of the crank
every few minutes. This circulated all the oil through the engine, including the filter, many, many times.
You cannot hurt an engine by priming it too much or changing the oil too often or running too high quality of
a filter or oil.
Builder And Shipping Notes
We are working hard to knock off all the back orders before Oshkosh. Grace and I will be bringing a lot
of parts to Brodhead and AirVenture. If there's something specific you'd like, give us a call at the
hangar, (386) 478-0396. We want to tell everyone that we'll be at
Brodhead and AirVenture July 20 to
Following AirVenture, Grace and I are going to be on the road for two weeks. Gus will be flying to
his parents' place in Michigan for 10 days or so. There will be a skeleton crew on hand at the shop, but
we are not planning on conducting regular business operations for the first two weeks in August.
Almost every year, someone calls our shop number every day the week we're at the largest airshow in
the world and promptly reports to the Internet that no one's answering and we're likely out of business.
While I'd like to say that this used to make me livid, but now I've matured and accept this as part of
being in business, the truth is that it makes me just as angry as it ever did. I'm as immune to anger
management training as John Monnett. So no, we're not out of business after 12 years, we're all at
Brodhead and Oshkosh like we always are this time of year and hope to see you there.
Technical Oil System Notes
One characteristic difference between my work with Corvair engines and most businesses whose primary
focus is the sale of engines, not the education of builders, is that we will openly discuss builders'
difficulties and operational issues here. Our handling of the crankshaft issues
is the primary example of this. Here's another example:
On Sunday, after the filming, I got a call from Corvair/KR-2S builder/pilot Joe Horton of Pennsylvania. He explained that
he'd had a power failure at 400' after takeoff. Showing excellent judgement, and sharp knowledge of his
aircraft's parameters, he stayed focused on flying the plane and executed a smooth 180 degree turn to the
runway with plenty of room to spare. The airplane was undamaged. (In my own accident
years ago, the pilot got distracted by trying to restart the airplane at 600' and turned what
probably would have been a harmless forced landing in a long, smooth field into a near fatal accident.)
When we talked, Joe hadn't had a chance to look at the engine closely other than to verify that the crank
was not broken. We discussed a number of indications leading up to the problem, and Joe was going to check
them out and give me a call. Joe's plane has 81 hours on it that have been trouble free. His 3,100cc engine
has a rear starter on it and a unique oil system. We discussed a number of possibilities, most of which
will likely be eliminated as the cause of the engine stoppage. But my observations here on oil systems are
worth noting for all Corvair builders.
Joe's airplane has a remote mounted filter and cooler. They are rigged in series in what I refer to as a
three-hose system. On his plane, the oil exits the engine and returns to it where the original oil filter
housing was. Based on testing I have done,
I recommend against running a system configured this way. Although numerous people saw
my Pietenpol running with a three-hose series system as long ago as
1999, there was one important difference: The oil lines on my plane entered and
exited the engine where the stock oil cooler was. When it's configured at that location, the engine is
protected by the stock oil cooler bypass. A system configured from the oil filter location does not have
a functioning bypass for the cooler. Even if one is in the filter itself, the series orientation means
that all the oil pumped, no matter what temperature or viscosity it is, must go through the cooler.
When the engine is first started, even if it's relatively warm outside, a stock Corvair engine will
bypass the cooler for several minutes. If it's 30F outside, it will bypass the cooler for more than 10 minutes.
It's designed to do this by opening the bypass with only a 7 pound reduction in the oil pressure. The
cooler itself is designed to promote this by having a lot of drag internally on high viscosity oil to make
the bypass work and let the engine heat up the oil quickly. When run without a bypass, the cooler is capable
of putting far more than 7 pounds of pressure reduction on the system, even with thin oil.
Joe told me that his pressure gauge in the system came before the cooler. When the engine's heating up, this
provides no indication of what the actual pressure in the bearings is. At the very least, the system needs to have
the pressure measured after the cooler. I'm certain that builders would be alarmed to see the pressure
reduction. The Corvair engine's oil system is not difficult to understand if you
study it, but many people have made incorrect assumptions about its operation, and my shop is the only place
where I've seen real testing on flow rates at different temperatures, drag reduction and pump efficiencies done.
If there is a flaw in the oil system that starves the engine for oil, the first thing that will go is
the number 5 or 6 rod bearing. Being a plans built product, the Corvair engine is subject to enormous
variations. I always want to encourage people to copy something that we've flight proven, or at least discuss
the system with us. It could save you a whole lot of trouble.
Note To Anonymous Admirer In North Carolina
Thank you very much for your present. Grace greatly appreciates it.
Now At The Hangar
June 2011 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