William Wynne

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

What's New

December 31, 2005

Last House Calls of 2005 - Dec. 14-20

We took a brief break at the end of the year for a 3,000 mile whirlwind tour of builders in the advanced stages of their projects. Gus and I hopped in the truck for this unpublicized tour. It was planned at the last minute, and we were moving quickly, which precluded our typical Night School type setting. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Phase I: Gus and I load up my 300,000 mile GMC pickup for the first leg of the journey. The weather in the Midwest is reported to be 10F. When builders ask how we have enough resources to build the planes we want, I point out that it is through prioritizing. This view of the GMC's dash and instrumentation illustrates that my ground transportation has received very little budgetary consideration in the past eight years.

Fortunately, we are close friends with Dan Weseman, creator of "The Cleanex." The night before leaving, I told Dan of our travel plans. He graciously offered us the use of his 2005 Ford pickup for the trip. At first I said "No," but .6 seconds later I reconsidered and took him up on it. We swapped trucks at Dan's house, and headed for the first stop, Clyde Barcus' 601 project near Nashville, Tenn., 800 miles away.

The weather was terrible, and I'd only slept an hour the night before the trip. Gus logged hour after hour in steady rain. We made it to Clyde's about midnight. On the left, above, is Clyde, with his friend and fellow 601 builder Kevin in the center. They waited up for us. The two of them had previously visited our hangar. Clyde returned for Corvair College #9. Clyde's gameplan for the College was to come, have fun and observe everything very closely, then upon his return to his own well organized workshop, assemble his own engine at his own pace. Our visit fell just as Clyde had everything laid out for the assembly process. His meticulous nature and background from the tool and die world showed in his prep work and organization. Clyde's 601XL project is approximately 50% complete, but he's making very rapid progress. His plane should take to the air in 2006. Although he's building his own engine, Clyde has purchased every 601 installation piece we have in the Catalog. Kevin is also a 601 builder, with a strong aviation background. His project is proceeding at a slower, but steady pace. We left Clyde's at 2 a.m., headed for Casey, Ill.

Casey, Ill., had two important goals: To get Cleone Markwell's Corvair powered 601HD up and running, and to meet with Mark Petniunas, the CEO of Falcon, the company we selected to do all of our cylinder head work for 2006. Our main cargo headed north was 88 cylinder head cores for Mark to rework for us in 2006. We brought these up in the pickup and trailer, and transferred them to Mark's trailer for his return trip to Madison, Wisc. Standing here on the left is Mark, with me, outside Cleone's hangar. It was chilly weather indeed. Mark overlapped with us for 24 hours, which allowed us to enjoy the Markwell's hospitality and go over the fine details of Mark's supporting role for Corvair engine builders in 2006. Driving 400 miles in a snowstorm on little notice to meet us again displays the initiative that convinced me that Falcon is the right company for our head work.

When loading head cores, I showed this particular head to Mark as a joke. If you look closely, you can see that it has new bronze guides installed. However, they were jammed in so crudely that you can see giant flakes of alumninum extruded from the guide boss. These are half the size of a dime. Additionally, the guides were smeared in anti-sieze, and apparently driven in with an air hammer. Where does garbage like this come from? From an "expert" of course. A customer brought this head to our shop in 2005. He told me that he paid hundreds of dollars to have these guides installed in his head, and the local machine shop that did this in his home city was touted as experts, even by local Corvair car owners. Be very wary of even well meaning endorsements. We've seen a lot of work done by people who claim to be experts in Corvairs; 75% of it is garbage. This is the reason why I specify sources and steer people toward companies that have personally proven to me that they understand what quality work is.

Cleone Markwell gives the thumbs up beside his running Corvair powered 601HD. The airframe was originally powered by a Rotax 912 when Cleone built it several years ago. After experiencing difficulty with service issues on the 912's ignition system, Cleone opted to sell off the Rotax and purchase a complete Corvair engine from us. He used 2005 to complete the installation, using our full Catalog of installation parts. Cleone is a true gentleman, and an aviator of great experience, the kind of person any aviation business would be glad to have as a customer. In discussion with the Hangar Gang, I felt it was important to pay a visit to his hangar before the end of the year and assist him in getting the engine fired up on the front end of his airplane. Gus and I worked on it for a day, and at 8 p.m. on a 20F night, we took it outside and it fired right up. Its Ellison EFS-3A carburetor ran flawlessly, even from the first second in very cold weather. In the photo above, Gus is in the cockpit operating the controls. All that's left to return the airplane to airworthiness are some instrumentation and wiring issues related to the conversion from Rotax to Corvair. After enjoying a celebration dinner with Cleone and his wife Eleanor, Gus and I hit the road for the next destination: Detroit.

Gus' parents, the Flying Warrens, live in Pontiac. We used this as a base for our next two stops. First visit was to Dr. Gary Ray's, to see his 96% complete 601XL. If your New Year's resolution is to build the nicest 601 ever, I suggest you reconsider and resolve to build a very good one. My reasoning is that it would be very difficult to exceed the fit and finish of Dr. Ray's airplane. He has been working on his airplane for two years. In the past six months, he has gone after interior, avionics, and a thorough polish job on the exterior. The plane is well planned, and exhibits craftsmanship in every detail. At first glance, it's difficult to believe it's his first shot at building an airplane. Dr. Ray said that flying in our airplane after Oshkosh was a big motivator. Dr. Ray has owned general aviation aircraft before, and after his flight with Gus he remarked that the 601XL really filled all of his needs. Many homebuilders faced with choosing an airplane overestimate their needs for speed, range, and instrumentation. If they proceed, their project is slow and drawn out. Conversely, builders like Dr. Ray with more realistic and down to earth plans typically build much faster, but also much cleaner airplanes. It is far easier to build an outstanding example of a well developed, simple plane than it is to build an equivalent example of a complex one. We're looking forward to seeing Dr. Ray's plane fly early in 2006. Its carburetion is Ellison EFS-3A, and again, it uses every 601 installation part we offer. His engine was test run at our hangar early in 2005.

In the photo above, Dr. Ray is on the left. On the right is 601XL builder Lincoln Probst, of Canada. Lincoln's aircraft is almost complete. He drove over to Dr. Ray's to pick up a number of parts from us for his final engine assembly. Lincoln lives nearby Zenith's Canadian distributors, CAN-ZAC Aviation. As many 601 builders know, Mark Townsend of CAN-ZAC has elected to install a Corvair in his Canadian demonstrator. Both Lincoln and Mark's airplanes are scheduled to be finished in early 2006. These aircraft will give a lot of positive exposure to the installation North of the Border. Although I didn't catch him in the picture, 601 builder Paul Miksys also stopped by Dr. Ray's. Paul's airplane is essentially done also. He was originally planning on a Subaru installation, but opted for the Corvair when the airplane was almost done. A delay in plans, but well worth the effort. In the big picture, it will take him longer to get the first flight in, but with all of our R&D into the installation, he will certainly have little to no effort in debugging and fine tuning his particular plane. The inherent simplicity of direct drive air cooled engines and a flight proven path on your specific airframe is a smooth path to success. Almost every guy I know who installed a liquid cooled engine on a plane took many renditions of cowlings and radiators before it would cool realiably. Years ago, I also read countless magazine articles about the advantages of liquid cooling. They all had great drawings of diffuser ducts and P-51 style scoops. It took me a long time before I noticed that there were no photos of flying airplanes with these articles, and the writers had good intentions, but zero experience with their subject in the air.

Our next stop was to visit Paul Chandler and his 601HDS in Flint, Mich. We ran Paul's engine in our shop in early 2005. Paul's HDS is an elegantly simple airplane. HDs and HDSs generally have header tanks, and therefore can use gravity feed fuel systems. This means the two electric pumps, fuel pressure gauge, and associated wiring and switches can all be eliminated. Paul's plane will simply have a fuel valve flowing to the gascolator, and a line to a Stromberg carburetor. The Stromberg is roughly half the price of an MA3 or an Ellison. It's restricted to gravity feed planes. I've said many times, if you have a plane like an HD or an HDS, or any plane that can use a gravity feed fuel system, it should never be set up with fuel pumps. Between J-3s and Cessna 150s, there are 50,000 airframes that logged millions of hours on gravity feed. Unless you have to have fuel pumps, don't use them. Paul's wings are done, and he only has the canopy and some simple day VFR instrumentation to go. We're looking forward to seeing his plane airborne early in the year. Again, his engine's installed with our 601 components. All models of 601s have identical firewall forward components. Only their fuel systems differ.

Paul had picked up a collection of Corvair cores before he built up his engine in our hangar. With his project nearing completion, we picked these up off Paul for our return trip. While we'd intended to return empty, we ended up bringing back the same weight we'd left with. Above is a photo of Dan's pickup and my trailer in Gus' parents' driveway. Most of the trip was through snow covered areas. The cores you see in the back of the trailer have already been broken down in our shop. One of them starred in our new Engine Disassembly Video, shot by Merril Isaacson the week before Christmas. We'll have these available the first part of January.

While Gus and I were on the road, work in the shop continued. Seen running here is Siggy Feuersanger's 601XL engine. Siggy lives in Florida, and was one of the very first builders to purchase Zenith's new fast build 601 kit after Oshkosh. At the same time, he made arrangements to purchase a complete firewall forward package from us. We timed the build of his engine to coincide with the delivery of his kit. The highly prefabricated nature of the kit and our package means that Siggy's airplane will take to the air in early 2006.

If you read newsgroups on the Web, it's easy to see that a number of people are opting for a Corvair on the front end of their plane, especially if it's a 601. What may be difficult to gauge from your location is the extent of the popularity and progress builders are making. During the year, we often wrote how busy 2005 was shaping up to be. This brief road trip shows just the tip of the iceberg. Interestingly, you probably don't recognize the above builders as day to day names on the Net. I've found that many of the most productive builders keep a low profile. Many of the most prolific contributors to discussion groups are building at a comparatively modest pace. If you were to extrapolate their progress to builders in general, your conclusions would fall far short of actual progress. In 2006, the number of Corvair powered aircraft present at airshows will continue to grow dramatically. As you make your own plans for this year, use the above builders and the others like them as your yardstick for what is possible. The road trip served many purposes, and personally for me it recharged my faith that determined builders can efficiently perform outstanding craftsmanship when they decide to. It's the beginning of a New Year. Decide tonight that you'll be one of them.

December 12, 2005

Supplier Update ... continued

Here's the second installment of our updates on our preferred supplier list. We're going to cover propellers and engine instrumentation.

Before we dig into it, let me address a little feedback we received from our December 7 post on heads and carburetors. Although I worded it carefully, some people asked for a further clarification on the applicability of the Falcon Automotive cylinder heads to their particular Corvair powered project. Some people wondered about the price of it, and some asked if the concept of high end cylinder heads, and replacing the seats and guides, was new.

This is a good illustration of the difference between what people talk about and what gets built and goes flying. About half the engines we built in the shop this year went out the door with high end cylinder heads in place. Here are a few prominent examples: At Corvair College #8, we assembled and ran Dan Weseman's Cleanex engine. It's a 3,100cc engine, and Dan did not cut a single corner building it. He told me that he has about $7,000 in it. About $1,000 of this was money well spent on the cylinder heads. Although Dan had his done by Jeff Ballard, the work is in the same scope as Falcon Automotive cylinder heads. Dan's engine now has 40 flight hours on it. Our own 3,100 engine has approximately $1,100 invested in the cylinder heads. I had this work done by Bob Sutcliffe many years ago. It now has 85 flight hours on it. All three of the 2,900cc engines built and run at our place in the past year had more than $1,000 in the heads. Steve Glover's 2,700cc engine had $750 in the heads, and they did not have replaced seats. None of these prices include the intake pipes being welded on.

This money was not wasted. When the seats and guides are replaced in a Corvair head and it's done properly, and first class valves and springs are used, the already stout Corvair gets closer to the bulletproof category. Typically, homebuilders have a valve job done, replace the valves and springs, have the head gasket area cleaned up, and have the exhaust guides replaced. What I've just listed generally exceeds $500. Going the extra distance, to me, just makes sense. One builder told us that he felt the engine wasn't as inexpensive as it used to be. Let me add this perspective: You can still build an exact replica, parts and procedure wise, as Bernie Pietenpol taught homebuilders to do in the 1960s. These engines certainly ran and flew, but my extensive in person contact with homebuilders tells me that very few people are interested in building this type of engine today.

KR/Corvair pilot Mark Jones is representative of the typical Corvair builder. Mark flew about 60 hours this year on his plane. Mark spent about $4,000 on his engine. Mark is a working guy with a growing family, and the engine he built is a solid powerplant that brought together the factors of his budget and time, taking into account that he did not grow up in a flying family. Mark's flying background of a couple hundred hours is typical of most of our builders.

Cleanex builder Dan Weseman chose to leave no stone unturned in his engine. Dan is amongst the most skilled pilots in the Corvair building fraternity, having grown up in a flying family and being around planes his whole life. In spite of this, he budgeted as much money ahead of the firewall as behind it on his project. Notably, Dan spent zero dollars on lights and radios, figuring that he'd first build the best flying machine time and budget would allow, and only later worry about things that are truly accessories, and not part of the airplane itself.

While not every engine we build has the same power output as Dan's, they all are built with the same no-stone-unturned philosophy toward strength and reliability. I long ago realized that when people come to us for a complete engine, they are not just buying a powerplant, they are purchasing my judgement as to what's worthwhile to include in an engine. My perspective is that if I know how to make an engine stronger or more reliable, I'm obligated to include this in the build of an engine. This is why I only build what some people perceive to be "expensive" engines. Let's keep in mind that the engines built in my shop are still generally half the price of an import. If you're at home thinking about what kind of Corvair engine to build, use this discussion as a guideline. I've said it many times before: It just makes sense to build the best engine you can afford. The first day our 601 flew 18 months ago, it had about $5,000 in engine parts in it (of which $800 was the cylinder heads), no radios, and an overhauled MA3 carburetor. The first flight was done by Gus, among the most skilled of pilots in the land of Corvairs. That day, I drove to the airport in my 1986 GMC pickup, worth less than $1,000. Perhaps you're reading this and you're thinking about radios, a $1,500 EIS, and a fancy paint job for your Corvair powered airplane. Maybe you're a 100 hour pilot, and you drive a $30,000 SUV. If you're budgeting $2,000 to overhaul your Corvair, it's time to re-think your priorities.

If you're beginning from the opposite end of the scale, and you would ask me if there's anything that's unnecessary or too much, I'll honestly say you'll never be disappointed by building the best engine that you can.


Over the past year, my preference in propellers for Corvair engines has been distilled to two brands: Sensenich and Warp Drive. Six of the nine airplanes at Corvair College #9 use these props. In all likelihood, the two other planes at the College will convert to Sensenich props in the next 90 days. Let me take a moment to explain why.

We've been using Warp Drive props for nine years. In this time, they have proven to be unmatched in their ability to produce very strong rates of climb on Corvair powered airplanes. These ground adjustable props are made out of solid carbon fiber, and are extremely durable. Performance-wise, they're an excellent example of how your eye and old wives' tales tell you nothing about real performance. Conventional wisdom says that these thin, narrow chord blades with a fairly sharp leading edge should prove to be a poor performer, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our aircraft have about 1,000 hours total on these props, and they work astoundingly well. Their ground adjustable nature allows them to be used on a wide variety of aircraft, and tuned to each particular plane. The fact that both blades come out of the same mold guarantees that they're symmetrical. These props are serial numbered and balanced with great precision at the factory. The only Warp Drive to use on a Corvair is a two-blade HP hub model. If you're building a 601, 66" is the correct diameter. For other applications, call us. I'm a dealer for Warp Drive, and when you order one from us, it is drop shipped directly from the factory. Lead time is only one to two weeks. Our price is about 10% below list, and we have custom front bulkheads to match this to our spinner of choice. Our 2006 price on the prop is $625 in any diameter.

For aircraft with cruise speeds above 150mph, Sensenich is the right answer. In 2005, we supplied Sensenichs to six Corvair powered aircraft. All these aircraft had previously used other propellers. The Sensenichs are getting very positive reviews for performance, but they're an absolute standout in smoothness. Mark Langford is very pleased with his 54x54, and Mark Jones' favorable commentary on his 54x52 can be read on his KR Web site. The Cleanex's outstanding performance is delivered by a 54x58. We've utilized a 64x47 on our 601 since we switched to the 3,100 engine. These extremely efficient wood props are available in right and left rotation. We've been contacted by a number of builders who've placed orders with us. If you'd like to get one of these props for your aircraft, call us on the hangar line, (386) 478-0396. I have OEM dealer status with Sensenich, and can provide builders with a slight break over Sensenich's standard price. The only downside to these propellers is they currently take about eight weeks from order to delivery. My dealer agreement with Sensenich is predicated on the fact that we'll field the technical and application questions for builders. I have a very strong background in propellers, and Sensenich was comfortable that we'd be able to make good recommendations to builders. They're very polite about answering questions, but reminded me to encourage builders to call us first. The average price for a Sensenich is about $700. Additionally, if you're a builder of an antique aircraft like a Pietenpol and you'd prefer the look of a wood prop over a Warp Drive, we're going to get Sensenich to make us a few props to test with pitch appropriate for 75-95mph cruise speeds. My first choice in this speed range will always be Warp Drive, but I'm confident that Sensenich will make as efficient a prop as possible in this speed range based on the solid performance of Grace's Taylorcraft on a certified Sensenich wood prop.


When Grace and I recently attended the Performance Racing Industry show with California 601/Corvair builder Woody Harris, we had a chance to visit the very impressive 20x40 Auto Meter display. Auto Meter remains my favorite Corvair instrumentation company. If you want seriously accurate instruments with a wide variety of face styles and inexpensive pricing, you want Auto Meter. Their Web site is www.AutoMeter.com, although I usually purchase all our Auto Meter products through SummitRacing.com. Our aircraft utilizes the Phantom face style. However, there are 15 other face styles from which to choose. Check out the wicked looking Carbon Fiber and the classy Ultralight. Auto Meter is a high end data acquisition company also, with some truly impressive data loggers. If you're looking for an inexpensive tachometer which can be divorced entirely from your ignition system, check out an Auto Meter part no. 2890 0-4,000 rpm tach. It's only 2 5/8" diameter. We've had one of these in the Skycoupe for years. At the PRI show, we also spent some time at the MSD booth, and they showed us a brand new inductive tach pickup that works by sensing the load on the positive side of the coil. This new MSD product should be available at Summit Racing after Jan. 1 for about $30. It's half the size and weight as a book of matches. These are completely compatible with the 2890 tach. Because they're an inductive pickup on the low voltage side, they'll provide very smooth operation. And being inductive, they'll keep your ignition system divorced from any trouble in your instrumentation. If you're looking for a sample layout in Phantom, a typical Corvair powered airplane will have a 5791 volt meter, 5721 oil pressure gauge, and 5741 oil temp gauge. If your airplane requires electric pumps to run like a 601XL, you'll need a 5761 fuel pressure gauge. It's expensive, but it's a full sweep electrical which will isolate the fuel pressure outside the cockpit. Notice that they have super accurate EGTs in the same face style. Remember that car EGTs are referred to as pyrometers. They offer all kinds of neat gauges, like intake temp, air/fuel ratio, boost and vacuum gauges, even fuel gauges and clocks. If you have very little panel space, Auto Meter even produces their gauges in 1 1/2" diameter.

As a final note on instrumentation, let me share a story. Last month, a brand new builder told me that he had to have six CHTs and six EGTs on his engine. Wouldn't consider building anything less. I asked him how many hours of flight time he'd logged and he told me he was a student pilot flying a Cessna 150. I asked him how many CHT and EGT gauges were in the 150 that he flew. The question stopped him in his tracks. He said he only had about 25 hours, and quite frankly, he couldn't tell me. He was too busy just learning the fundamentals of flying. He was very reluctant to believe it when I told him that a 150 has neither a CHT nor EGT gauge. Same goes for the 30,000 Cubs produced. I suggested that perhaps he could get by on his Corvair project with slightly less instrumentation than he'd previously thought was required.

Good instrumentation is nice, but let's keep it all in perspective: We're building airplanes to go flying.

December 7, 2005

Supplier Update

Cylinder Heads

As I noted in an earlier post, the person I've selected to do all of our cylinder head work for 2006 is Mark Petniunas of Falcon Automotive. I selected Mark for many reasons. He has long experience with Corvairs, especially with reworking their cylinder heads, and has driven them for many years. Mark has an excellent current background in high end road racing. He has personal, firsthand experience with today's world of turbocharged, extreme duty race cars. In addition to this knowledge, he is an airplane guy. He is currently building a Corvair powered Murphy Rebel. I am very impressed with Mark's technical background. A standout feature of our relationship was his willingness to travel to our shop and produce test samples based on his experience, to our specifications. He understands that success is not defined by selling someone a reworked cylinder head. His understanding of success is the same as ours: When a builder takes his airplane into the air and it performs with absolute reliability. Being able to work directly with Mark allows his craftsmanship to be integrated into how we teach people to build engines. At the hangar, we have a very ambitious engine building schedule for 2006. Builders working toward producing a clone of one of our production engines should exclusively look to Mark for their cylinder head work. Mark's intention is to offer the completely rebuilt cylinder heads on an exchange basis. Builders will be able to directly mail him their cores, and receive in return fully overhauled 95 or 110 heads with either 1964 or 1965-69 castings. To increase Mark's core supply, I'm shipping him more than 100 cylinder heads from our shop. One of the common problems we saw in 2005 with other head shops was that they always tried to rebuild the customers' cores. In some cases, it's far better judgement to provide the customer with another head. Working from a large collection of cores and having exchange sets on the shelf makes Falcon immune to this issue. So that customers can deal with Mark directly and have aluminum intake pipes welded on their heads that will line up directly with our CNC intake manifolds, I am providing Mark with a set of duplicate head pipe jigs to our own. Mark is integrating the welded on head pipes into the overhaul process because it is much easier than welding the pipes on after the rest of the head work is done.

The overhaul of the cylinder heads will include brand new stainless steel intake and exhaust valves selected for their durability and flow characteristics. The guides will be replaced with bronze thick wall units. The guide bosses will be blended into the ports for a mild porting effect aimed at cooling the exhaust port. The head gasket area will be cut and the quench adjusted to allow the use of 93 octane unleaded fuel (our 2006 engines are being set up with a dual fuel rating of 93/100 low lead). This head work is part of the setup. The valve seats in the cylinder heads will be replaced with stainless ones which are much thicker and deeper. We selected them for their expansion characteristics and durability. The seat material is commonly used in high performance turbocharged engines and are my preferred material for turbo flight engines. These seats are shrunk into the head with a 7/1000" interference fit. In short, they're never coming out. In addition to this work, the heads will have new springs which I selected to complement the OT-10 and TB-10 cam profiles. Mark and I have had extensive discussions about the final install height of the valves to eliminate the need for builders to have custom length pushrods made. In 2005, shops that ignored this condemned builders to a lot of extra time and work to come up with the correct valve geometry. Mark and I are taking care of this because the goal is not to sell you a set of heads; again, it's to see you safely flying your airplane. Time serting of sparkplug holes and welded on intakes will be the only two options on the cylinder heads.

This work is not cheap. If you are a builder on a tight budget, I still suggest that you seek out a good set of cylinder heads from a core motor and rework them by the methods described in the Conversion Manual. On the other hand, if you are a builder who was previously looking at the price of a Jabiru or a Rotax, you can still build a Corvair motor utilizing the best of parts, and cylinder heads from Mark, and come up with a bulletproof American made engine for far less than half the price of an import. In my discussions with Mark, I encouraged him to price the cylinder heads in a way that would allow him to generously offer his time in technical support for the people who purchase them. In addition to being technically competent, Mark is a good communicator and has a very positive take on the world of homebuilding. He's the kind of guy you wish was your next door neighbor at the airport.

The price of the cylinder heads is in the range of $950 per pair. Again, not every motor needs this, but consider that Kevin and I, after long discussion, decided that they are an excellent value and are an integral part of the kind of motors we want to build. We have built motors which utilized the head work of most of the high end Corvair shops. The good work is never cheap. We've also seen a lot of replacement seat and guide work that came from lesser known shops that was simply junk. Some of this work actually cost the builders more money than a pair of Falcon heads would have. If you have questions about the applicability of this to your own plans, call me on the hangar line, (386) 478-0396. If you're interested in Mark's work, here's his address and phone number:
2043 S Fish Hatchery Road
Oregon, WI 53575
(608) 835-3317

As a serious request, let me point out that Mark will be glad to talk to people, but let's be respectful of his time. If you're interested in his work, call him. If you have a quick question about doing your own valve work, he's a good resource for this. However, if you need to grill him for technical information because your local machine shop needs help doing your heads, perhaps you should just send your heads to Mark instead. Let's use some common sense and welcome him to the Corvair aviation community. If you're reading this and building a VW engine, I have instructed Mark, who never works on VW engines, to respectfully give out Steve Bennett's phone number and then hang up. I'm looking forward to having Mark as an important asset to my work furthering the availability, scope and performance of Corvair engines in 2006.


There are four different carburetors that dominate the field of flying Corvairs. These are divided among two applications: gravity feed fuel systems (most high wing airplanes and low wing airplanes with header tanks) and pressure fuel systems (mostly seen in low wing airplanes without header tanks). If you are using a gravity feed fuel system, you can use any of the four popular carburetors. These carbs are the Ellison EFS-3A, Marvel Schebler MA3-SPA, Stromberg NAS-3, and Monnett Aero-Carb. If you have a pressure fuel system, like a 601XL or a KR-2 without a header tank, then you should be using an EFS-3A or an MA3-SPA. The Corvair runs well on all of these carbs. Mark Langford's and Steve Makish's KRs both run on Ellison EFS-3As. Dave The Bear's Wagabond and the Skycoupe both fly on Strombergs. Our 601 and the Cleanex both have MA3s.

Ellison Fluid Systems sells the EFS-3A. And the Monnett family is the only place to get an Aero-Carb. Either of these carbs fit on a single model of our CNC stainless intake manifold. Alternatively, the Stromberg and MA3 both fit on a slightly different manifold we make. All of the carburetors except the MA3 require a primer. We weld a single primer port in the up tube on the right hand side of the intake manifold. This is common practice on certified engines. The MA3-SPA's accelerator pump makes a primer unnecessary.

Many new homebuilders do not have extensive contacts in the aviation world. In order to give these people access to certified quality rebuilds of Marvel Schebler and Stromberg carbs, I sought out a well known and friendly shop willing to work with homebuilders. After a lot of searching, we came to D&G, a certified repair station for aircraft fuel systems, in Niles, Mich. D&G is run by the extremely friendly and knowledgeable Russ Romey. I've had extensive phone conversations with Russ, and he has shown great interest in serving the needs of Corvair engine builders in search of certified carburetor work and parts. I was most impressed with his open minded attitude toward a non-certified powerplant. Some people from the certified world tend to be close minded toward experimentals. I found Russ to be just the opposite.

There are many different models of MA3s, and two major variants of Strombergs. Russ knows them all well, and has taken the time to get a number of good cores of each so that Corvair builders can call him and make an outright purchase of any of these carbs. The MA3s are outright priced about the same as an Ellison, at $900. The Strombergs are significantly less, more in the range of a new Aero-Carb. Additionally, Russ is willing to overhaul your MA3 for a Corvair for $500. This includes throttle shaft bushing replacement. This is provided you have the correct 10-4894 part number. The price for a certified overhaul on a Stromberg is $300. While this is not cheap, it does represent an excellent value. Russ is giving Corvair builders a slight break on normal overhaul costs because of the reduction in record keeping required for experimental components. However, it's the same certified quality work. If you'd like to contact Russ about acquiring one of these carburetors, please call him at D&G, 800-446-8160. I like his work well enough that I sent him our spare MA3 to overhaul. We'll be flying this throughout the 2006 season, while the MA3 currently on the 601 will be relegated to dynamometer operation.

Again, let's be respectful of Russ' time as a small businessman in America. Not all repair stations will handle experimental parts, and we certainly want to treat Russ right for his positive attitude toward the Corvair community.

Falcon and D&G are both important high end resources for Corvair engine builders. Not a requirement, just a very good option and an excellent value. I still look forward to helping builders of all budgets and backgrounds. We just wanted to take the time to share the background information on these two companies.

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 renewed enthusiasm.

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

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Christmas 2007 At The Hangar

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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

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