Corvair Powered Tricycle Gear Zenair 601XL
June 2, 2004
Here's installment Number Two on Thomas Peters' Corvair powered 601XL tri gear. Above is a close up photo
of the nav light mounted on the rudder. Our own 601 is set up as a day VFR only aircraft without lights.
Thomas' airplane will be set up with a complete complement of lights and slightly more instrumentation.
We're intending to polish most of the airplane. Thus, as a time savings, the area of the rudder near the
edge of the light housing was polished before the housing was installed.
We spent some time working on the empannage in the past two weeks. We applied some of the details that we
learned from building our own aircraft to this one.
We took the time to get an excellent fit between the rudder and fuselage. It really wasn't difficult; we just
test fit the piece several times before riveting it in place.
The gasket in the joint between the horizontal stabilizer and the fuselage is door-edge trim that we got from
our local auto body shop. It fits thin sheets of aluminum very tightly, and can be tucked in to fill the gap
between two parts. It's light and cheap. We also fabricated cosmetic gap seals between the bottom of the horizontal
stabilizer and the fuselage. The structural connections between the fuselage and the stabilizer were mistakenly
riveted with #4 rivets early in the project by another builder. These were drilled out and properly riveted with
#5 rivets as specified in the plans.
A tail on view of the nav light on the rudder, above.
Here's the underside view of the twin steps provided by the Zenith Aircraft Factory with the kit. When
installed, they seem very sturdy, and should allow much easier entry and exit on the tricycle geared
airplane. Our own airplane, being a taildragger, does not need steps.
One of the advantages of Zenair's construction methodology is illustrated in the photo above: Thomas was looking for an
exceptionally clean fit of the aluminum turtledeck. The Avex rivet construction allowed us to drill off the
turtledeck in 15 minutes. If this had been a hard riveted airplane, it would have been a much more substantial
job. With the turtledeck off, we used a shrinker to reshape the metal in a few small places to prevent
little wrinkles in the corners. We took advantage of the access granted by removing the top to paint the
corners of the baggage compartment, run the control cables, and complete the installation of the flap system.
This was a significant time savings.
Here's a view of the painted cockpit with most of the controls installed, above. The color is New Ford Gray, and is
painted with a very tough engine enamel. Gray is a neutral color that goes with many interiors, and it doesn't
look dirty. We did not paint the interior of our own plane early on, and it's a much more difficult job to do later.
Having the two airplanes side by side, Thomas' with the gray interior has a much more finished factory look.
Here's another view of the fuselage, above. You can see the bulkhead that forms the end of the baggage
compartment was easier to paint with the turtledeck temporarily removed. In the background in this photo is
601/Corvair builder John Kearney, visiting from Reno, Nevada. He and his wife Jean drove in to build their
engine under our supervision. They left with a test run motor a few days later.
We're still shooting to have Thomas' entire installation done and test flown before Oshkosh. While this is ambitious,
keep in mind that the airframe is virtually done, and when we built our own 601, we carefully made jigs and
tooling for all the parts, so replicating them is relatively easy. It took about 10 days of solid work in the
shop to come up with the exact, correct location for the Motor Mount for our own aircraft, fabricate the jig
in which to produce the Motor Mount, and finally go ahead and build ours. By comparison, it took 10 minutes to
remove Mr. Peters' Motor Mount from our stock, walk over to his plane and bolt it on. We have many of these
parts available at the www.FlyCorvair.com Online Catalog. Take a look
and let us know how we can help you.
We'll update this page frequently to keep everybody posted. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to
call or e-mail me.