December 4, 2005
We had a productive and full week at the hangar. In addition to our regular production schedule, I'd like to share
a number of the highlights here. We're working to pack as much as possible in the next weeks to close out 2005 on
an upswing. These highlights are samples of the positive attitude in the hangar.
Dave The Bear's Wagabond flys, above. After three years of part time work on a tight budget, Dave's airplane is airborne.
The airplane was essentially complete prior to Corvair College #9. In the interest of safety, and
proper preparation for CC#9, we called a halt on the plane so that the prep for its first flight could have our full
attention. DAR Charlie Kohler of Spruce Creek inspected the plane and did not find a single discrepancy. After one last
careful look, Gus lined up on Runway 36 and had it airborne against a slight headwind after a 500 foot roll. The
photo above shows the airplane near the 1000 foot mark on the runway. It flew hands off, and Gus commented that it
had perfect aerodynamic manners.
Gus brought it back after a 40 minute flight. Here, Dave congratulates Gus on the taxiway. For as long as Dave can
remember, he always wanted to build a plane. He's been a pilot for 25 years, he served in the Air Force, and worked
at both Vero Beach and Lakeland Piper plants. Still, in his heart, he would not be satisfied until he created his own
plane. Dec. 2 was a very proud day for Dave.
If you've ever dreamed of building a Bowers Flybaby, take special notice of these two builders. On the left is
Donald Brantley, and at right is Glen Goode. They hail from Vidalia, Ga. In my estimation, they will very likely be
the first people to fly the Corvair/Flybaby combination. The Flybaby is an all wood, plans built, single seat, low wing
homebuilt. It is one of the all time greatest homebuilt designs. It is a natural for the Corvair. Ron Wanttaja runs
an excellent Web page on the Flybaby at http://www.bowersflybaby.com/. Donald and Glen are jointly working on the
last stages of their Flybaby. With a running engine and an airframe needing only cover, it should fly in early Spring.
They brought down a fully jigged motor mount built from one of our Trays. I finish welded the
mount for them, and kept the jigging dimensions so we can build them for others in the future. The finished mount
weighed about 5 pounds and had exceptionally strong geometry. The Flybaby is the 27th different motor mount design
I've built for the Corvair.
They brought down their engine for final assembly and test run. Glen had been at CC#9. He had observed in detail, and
both men returned for the final work. It was not without problems. But concentrate on the success; the Golden Rule:
Persistance Pays. These guys dug in for three days of work at the hangar, and came away with a perfect running engine and
In this photo, at right is Woody Harris. Woody is a Northern California 601 builder. He was in Orlando for the
Performance Racing Industry show. He owns MSI Motorsports in Vacaville. He has a tremendous background in the
motorsports industry which would be hard to summarize in a few sentences. After Glen and Donald's engine was done,
Grace and I were Woody's guests at the show. This show had 3,900 booths of pure high end technology under a square mile of
roof. We personally met with engineers from ARP, MSD, Mahle and many other companies whose products we use in Corvair
conversions. Being able to speak with these people at an industry-only show was priceless. In return, we gave Woody
our humble thanks and Gus took him up for an hour in the 601. All this, and he was good company for a few days too.
Above is a sample of the problems in the initial Flybaby engine build. I looked inside the engine and discovered that it
had weak, early model rods. Longstroke engines all originally came with heavy duty rods. In the
Conversion Manual, I warn people never to use early rods. The root of all the problems in this engine was a local
machining "expert." This person supplied the Flybaby guys with a "special set of rods," and charged them hundreds of
dollars to prep them. I wrote the numbers on the rods, and you can see in the photo that they are not balanced, despite
the fact that the guys were charged for this. Additionally, look closely at the piston. Notice that it has drill holes
in the wristpin boss, and very crucially, on the underside of the dome. This was allegedly done to balance the pistons.
I weigh every set of pistons we put into an engine, and the forged pistons are so accurately made that I've not seen a
one gram difference in any set we've put in an engine this year. Drilling holes at random critically structurally
weakens pistons. Never drill a hole in a piston crown. Weight is removed from pistons with a mill, not a drill. If your
local machinist tries to talk you into work like this, treat him as if he's trying to kill you because that's what he's
doing. Just take the pistons out of the box and use them as they are.
The day was saved by Jeff Ballard of SC Performance. I called Jeff at 3 p.m. his time and asked him to next-day air in a
set of properly prepared late model rods. At 10 a.m. the next morning they arrived and I installed them in the Flybaby
engine. Glen and Donald kept their positive attitude throughout, and were rewarded with an excellent running engine.
I've said it many times, but the only two places from which to get connecting rods are Jeff Ballard at SC Performance and
Clark's Corvairs. Jeff's rods can be considered the gold standard. Available at slightly less cost are Clark's Part No.
C9203WW. Both have ARP rod bolts, are shotpeened and fully rebuilt. Jeff's rods feature 12-point nuts and polished beams.
Both of these outfits work with batches of hundreds of rods. Producing matched sets from a large collection requires
very little work to balance them perfectly. Any local machine shop working with one set of rods is forced to remove a
lot of material from five of the rods to make them match the lightest one. In many cases, this will lead to seriously
weakened rods. Save yourself a lot of trouble and go to Jeff or Clark's.
The milestone that all builders work toward: The engine comes to life. Although it was late, we ran the engine on
the Dyno for an hour. It started off with a little bit of valve train noise, but in 10 minutes
the noise was gone. By the end of the run, the engine sounded positively sweet. The guys left the following morning
full of renewed enthusiasm for their project. For our part, I'd like to say they were excellent guests who went out
of their way to fit in during a regular working week in the shop. They worked hard in the shop and they treated us to
lunch and dinner every day they were here.
The obligatory Whobiscat photo. I took this photo through a taillight hole in one of Kevin's Corvair project cars.
The ever curious cat was sitting inside the engine compartment on the battery tray.
Fifty feet outside our back door, two bald eagles have built a nest in a 30 foot tall tree. Their call is something
to be heard up close.
A great photo of Colorado Corvair/601 builder Marty Chader and Gus. Marty is a graduate of Corvair College
#5, and we'd last seen him at Sun 'N Fun 2004. He stopped by, having also been in town for the PRI show. Although
we try not to work on Sundays, Marty being in town was a special occasion. Gus took him up for a half hour in the 601,
and we stopped to get this photo at the end of the day. Today, the 601 is 18 months old. It now has 285 hours on it.
Marty is the 76th person who's flown in the plane. We're looking forward to doubling these numbers in the next 12 months.
Plan now for a productive Winter of engine building. Your efforts will be rewarded with a fine running engine, as
Donald and Glen's were. With steady persistence, you too will have your own day of celebration as Dave did. These are
the memorable rewards accorded to anyone who follows the proven path and remains steady with good craftsmanship.
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
November 2010 At The Hangar
October 2010 At The Hangar
August 2010 At The Hangar
July 2010 At The Hangar
May 2010 At The Hangar
April 2010 At The Hangar
January 2010 At The Hangar
December 2009 At The Hangar
November 2009 At The Hangar
October 2009 At The Hangar
September 2009 At The Hangar
August 2009 At The Hangar
July 2009 At The Hangar
June 2009 At The Hangar
May 2009 At The Hangar
April 2009 At The Hangar
March 2009 At The Hangar
January 2009 At The Hangar
December 2008 At The Hangar
October 2008 At The Hangar
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August 2008 At The Hangar
July 2008 At The Hangar
June 2008 At The Hangar
May 2008 At The Hangar
April 2008 At The Hangar
March 2008 At The Hangar
February 2008 At The Hangar
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
June 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
At The Hangar In July 2006
June 2006 At The Hangar
At The Hangar In May 2006
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 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