Corvair College #22 Photo Album
Spring Break March 9-11, 2012
About two thirds of the attendees of Corvair College #22 March 9-11, 2012, gather in front of
host Kevin Purtee's Pietenpol. Kneeling in the front row is Gary Boothe of California who was attending
his fifth Corvair College. Gary's Piet is almost done and his engine ran at Corvair College 18,
yet he comes back for more because the spirit and the camaraderie of the events are contagious in a modern era of aviation where a real spirit of community is often difficult to find.
Our illustrious host Kevin Purtee, above. Kevin lives two lives in aviation: His day job is piloting an Apache helicopter and his passion is his Pietenpol and his part in that community. Symbolic of his wearing two hats in aviation is the fact he's wearing a sock monkey knit hat while making a serious point on his introduction speech.
The weather for the first two days of the event was cold and rainy, but this just kept people inside where
work continued unabated. Other than being on the chilly side in the hangar, the setting of the event was
outstanding. Above, Kevin has taken the cowling off his Pietenpol and gives fellow builders a tour of his
engine compartment. His engine is a 2700 cc Corvair with a Weseman bearing fed by a Stromberg carburetor.
It has one of our Front Electric Starters and a Gold
Oil System. Kevin is one of the people who gets
everything out of aviation by immersing himself in it: He pointed out that he plans built his airframe,
built his engine himself, and has flown it to Oshkosh twice. Hosting a Corvair College is an additional
facet of an aviator who works to put back as much as he's gotten out of flying. In the gray coat in front
of the prop is Kevin's wife Shelley Tumino; she is a very effective organizer putting most of the behind-the-scenes work into the College. They have been married only two years. Their family photo album includes lots of pictures of Shelley covering the Pietenpol's wings. Shelley is an illustrious self-described “East Texas Girl” and is also in the U.S. Armed Forces.
A major part of what Shelley accomplished was keeping everyone fed and on scene during the entire event. A lot of detail work went into making sure that builders could remain focused while not starving to death. Above, Shelley with a big smile in front of some of the catered food that was continuously on hand for the event. 100% of the fees that we charge during registration go directly to the host to allow them to apply it to expenses directly related to the College. All the work at the College is done by volunteers, and none of them make money off an event. People outside the Corvair community are often surprised at this and somewhat incredulous. I have good reason to boast that the Corvair movement and the people involved are very special amongst modern-day aviation.
Kevin and Shelley keep a busy schedule. For example, the week before the College they were having dinner at the White House. Above, they sit in front of a portrait of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the Vermeil Room. The event was to honor Iraq war veterans. Kevin was chosen to represent the State of Texas at the dinner. While his accomplishments in experimental aviation are a standout, it means a lot more when you consider that he spent most of the past eight years deployed.
Above is our foldout display table that we use at airshows and Colleges. People attending their first College often ask if we will be bringing parts for sale. The answer is that I am always bringing parts for sale wherever I am going to whatever extent the method of travel allows. At airshows and Colleges east of the Rockies, this means parts by the truck and trailer load. In years past, we were frequently backordered on a number of items, but this has long since changed and we literally brought
more than 1,500 pounds of engine and installation components for sale. The Colleges are focused on learning and camaraderie, but it is important to have readily available hardware for builders.
Grace and Scoob E decided that they had so much fun at Corvair College #21 that they were definitely going to CC #22. Colleges are a lot of work and to stay in shape they have both taken up bicycling. Here on a chilly evening in Florida, the two of them log a few laps around our airpark.
When you only weigh 9 pounds, you don't have a lot of spare insulation. When it got good and chilly, Scoob E enjoyed a pile of blankets on his chair at the College. The windy bicycle training at home had toughened him up.
This one photo gives a good idea of the size of the hangar that Shelley secured for the event. This photo was taken just after the corporate jet was rolled outside into the rain to make way for something really important in aviation. The hangar was clean and well lit and roughly 100’x100’ in size.
Above, Kevin and I talk policy by the tail of his Pietenpol, while Greg Crouchley from Rhode Island eyeballs an engine on the test stand in the background. To keep it out of the rain but demonstrate it, Kevin ran his Pietenpol in the hangar after carefully tying down the tail to a truck and chocking the wheels securely. A handful of builders present had never seen a running Corvair before and were duly impressed with the smoothness and the ease that it started with on a 45° day.
Kevin briefs other builders on his installation. His aircraft has several hundred hours on it now. Start to finish the plane took 17 years to complete. My Golden Rule of Experimental Aviation is “Persistence Pays.”
Above stands Chuck Campbell, 87 years young, of North Carolina, behind his Corvair engine. He started with parts at the beginning of the College and finished up with a nearly complete engine. It is destined to power his Pietenpol.
Many of the photos used in these updates were provided by Pietenpol builder Mark Chouinard of Oklahoma, at
left above, to whom we extend our grateful appreciation. Standing next to him is Robert Caldwell, who ran his
engine on his birthday at Corvair College 21. He is also a Pietenpol builder. It may be a little hard to scale from the photo, but Kevin's Pietenpol sits up higher than almost any other one I have seen. Mark is a friendly and gentlemanly giant, about 6 foot five.
The award for the cleanest case at the College goes to Vic Delgado, in the center above with Grace and I. Vic is building a 3 Liter Corvair with a Weseman bearing. Grace is wearing vintage College jewelry, a necklace I made up of Corvair rod nuts strung on safety wire.
The last day of the College brought excellent weather and sunny skys. Kevin took advantage of this to give a number of people their first flight in an open cockpit aircraft and/or their first flight in a Corvair powered aircraft. Most of the people on hand were very impressed with the rate of climb available in his aircraft.
When you’re a badass like Kevin, any hat you wear is The Hat of Power.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. When the going gets chilly, smart people congregate around the propane heater. Old school EAA builder Byron Engle sits with Grace and Scoob E and enjoys some BTUs. Byron has been in the EAA since 1972 and as an active member has seen all the changes that have happened to the organization. I take it as a great compliment when builders from his era congregate in the Corvair movement. It lets me know that we are seen as one of the faithful who remain focused on the EAA's original motto of “Learn, Build and Fly.” Byron brought out his photo albums and shared many photographs of his projects over the years. He has a very impressive Turner T-40 in his hangar.
Norm Beauchamp, the first man ever to fly a Corvair in a Kitfox, takes a moment to goof around with an
Intake Manifold. Norm is currently reworking his installation, to refine it and bring it back as a state of the art installation. His airframe is a Kitfox Model V.
At the center of this photo is Craig Anderson who drove down with his wife from South Dakota for the College.
Craig is now the proud owner and restorer of the Stits Skycoupe that was our testbed 10 years ago. We're looking
at the installation of the Weseman bearing onto Craig's case. Craig got a Set of 2850 Pistons and Cylinders
from us, and a pair of cylinder heads from Falcon Machine. Along with all of our Gold Installation Parts and
the existing installation on the Skycoupe airframe, he is well on his way to having the aircraft back
airborne by the end of the summer. I look forward to seeing this piece of history, a part of the Corvair
movement, flying around to events and Colleges.
Above, Byron Engle takes apart a core motor. Kevin and Shelley constructed dozens of individual 2' x 4' benches for builders to work from. They were extremely sturdy and allowed builders to walk all the way around the engine while it was being constructed. We had previously focused on 4' x 4' and 4' x 8' benches at the Colleges, but they may have started something new here.
Near the end of Corvair College#22, we took a moment for Kevin, myself, Grace, Scoob E and Shelley to have a portrait with the tail of Kevin's aircraft. It was a very satisfying event, and well worth the 2200 miles of driving. Before we packed up and headed home, Kevin and Shelley pointed out that he may very likely be deployed next year again, but they wanted to get it on the schedule right now that they are hosting Corvair College in 2014. We are all looking forward to it.
Shipman Engine Runs at Corvair College #22 KGTU Spring Break 2012
Above is a look at Becky Shipman’s engine before I finished the assembly. Notice that the fins extend all the way around the head studs. These are 1960 Corvair cylinders machined 1/16 inch over bore. This makes them standard bore for a 1961 to ’69 Corvair. After carefully machining a notch in the bottom of the cylinders, it is possible to mate them to a set of 1964 heads and a long stroke crankshaft. This combination produces one of the lightest Corvair engines without resorting to unreliable or unproven components. Although these cylinders have more fins on them than standard 1964-69 cylinders, the fins themselves are thinner in cross-section and the cylinders are lighter. 1964 heads are about 1 1/2 pounds lighter each than ’66 and later heads. A number of small details like this when watched closely add up to an engine that is approximately 10 pounds lighter than typical Corvair powerplants. The cylinder heads on this engine were prepped for me by Falcon. A close look shows that the pistons in the engine are Sealed Power products with coated skirts. This particular set was made in the U.S.A. before production was corporately outsourced to India. Connecting rod bolts in the engine are ARP. The valves on the engine are one piece stainless with rotators on the exhausts.
Above is a view of the engine complete with its Gold System Components
installed and prepped for a test run. I broke in the engine for approximately an hour before we brought it to the
College for a further run and delivery to Becky Shipman. This view shows how thin 1960 fins are by looking at the
upper stud on the number five cylinder. This engine is equipped with a Weseman bearing fed by the
silver braided oil line leading directly from the Gold Oil Filter Housing to the bearing behind the
Ring Gear. It has the inboard section of its front
Alternator Bracket installed, the gold corner of which is just barely visible.
I rarely install a charging system on an engine while we are doing the break-in on the engine stand, but it is far
easier to install the inboard bracket before the ring gear and the Prop Hub are in place.
Above, I stand with Becky and her running engine at the College in Texas. The engine is destined to be installed in her Zenith 650 airframe. Becky drove all the way down from Minnesota to attend the College and pick up as much technical information as possible as well as bring the engine home. Her teenage son Kyle also came down from Minnesota. He proved to be a very sharp student himself and has plans to attend the Air Force Academy.
Becky is an Ivy League trained PhD engineer who works in manufacturing for 3M company. She has a good mechanical background and a significant amount of flight experience. I am always glad to work with any builder who shows a genuine interest in learning about the engine they will be operating.
Another view of the engine during an extended run on Saturday.
After the run, the engine was brought inside, allowed to cool off and removed from the test stand so that John Franklin's engine could be run next. At Colleges, there's always a lot of helping hands for any task to be taken care of.
Above is another view of the same engine running in our yard in Florida. The test stand is chained down to a giant concrete block in the ground. Our neighbor Wayne, an aviator of long experience, stands next to me and enjoys the smooth sound of Corvair power.Wayneis six months away from 80 years of age, yet he is an active IA, and flies his Wittman Tailwind and RV-7 every chance he gets. I have heard many men 20 years younger than Wayne talk about not going after their dreams in aviation because they felt too old. Probably something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Wayne never goes for such negative thinking. He constantly is working to enjoy the day at hand. Anyone attributing Wayne's energy and longevity to clean living would do well to look closely and notice the beer can in his hand. He grew up on a rural farm in South Carolina that did not have running water, went on to raise several children as a single parent, served in the military and later as a Fire Chief in Jacksonville, has owned, built and flown a wide variety of aircraft. The common thread through his entire life experience is his outstanding positive attitude.
Here is a brief film of Becky running her engine at the College:
Click Here For Film and scroll
to photo at bottom then click on arrow in middle of photo to play film
Franklin Engine Runs at CC #22 KGTU Spring Break 2012
Above, Grace, John Franklin and his new running 2700 cc Corvair powerplant. John worked on this engine at
Corvair College #21, and finished it at CC #22. It is a smooth running powerplant that
features a simple stock oil system and no fifth bearing. This is a good example of the baseline economical
powerplant headed to a Pietenpol. If John chooses, he may later upgrade to a Weseman bearing or any of
our Gold System Parts without a major rework on the engine. This engine has a nice set of Falcon heads on it and a first-class nitrided crankshaft.
Above, Kevin Purtee, Guy Bowen and Greg Crouchley surround John's engine after it is placed on the run stand. We primed the engine with an electric drill for a long time with the valve covers off to make sure that the lifters all flowed oil before we ran the engine. Because it was cold, one of the lifters was very reluctant to flow oil. After the test run, we brought the engine back inside, cracked open the valve cover, and confirmed that warming the oil and the test run had gotten the system to flow plenty of oil. When you build up the engine yourself, you have the confidence to look into things like this and verify that it is to your satisfaction. Building a Corvair is about building your own skills and getting away from being beholden to mechanics, engine distributors and importers. Real freedom is knowing that you can count on yourself.
Above, John and I check the oil flow on the engine.
During the assembly phase we went over a number of details, including instrumentation. While we do have some very
high-end showpieces at the Colleges, the events are still largely about rank-and-file builders building powerplants
that will serve their individual needs. I always encourage people to build the best powerplant they can afford, but
the Colleges are about educating people to judiciously apply the money in their budget to get the maximum effect for
At Colleges, you will have plenty of help for any task at hand. This was the real spirit that all aviation events
were supposed to have but many are sadly lacking. I can't fix the rest of the world, but Corvair College will always
have the spirit of camaraderie and friendship between aviators that has always been a central part of good aviation
John's engine ran after dinner on Saturday night, and he had many fellow builders to cheer on his achievement. It was chilly and wet out, but John didn't seem to mind at all.
A milestone event in the building experience: Your engine runs for the first time. John shares a few words over the sound of the powerplant with Grace.
Above, John's engine, a good example of a baseline Corvair powerplant. Notice its stock oil system, including a
12-plate cooler. Internally, however, this engine is built of first-class components. If John chooses
later upgrades, he will not have to do anything internal to the engine as the upgrades will
bolt on externally. He made some good choices about quality components internally where it would be difficult to go
back and upgrade, while leaving open the possibility of a Weseman bearing or further evolved oil system.
A Corvair engine like the one above has approximately $4000 in parts in it. There will always be people who would
rather buy a C-85 without logs out of the flymart for the same kind of money no matter how many times I point out
that a quality C-85 does not need to be dragged all the way to Oshkosh to be sold for $5000 (only the bad ones have
to be transported that far and sold anonymously), some people will still try to get away with such an alleged
bargain. That's their choice; they aren't in experimental aviation to learn things, they're here to try to get
away with stuff. Conversely, a guy like John has put in some real work, learned a whole lot of stuff, and has
an engine that is internally new and well proven for the task ahead of it. It also comes with all of our
support and the camaraderie of Colleges. Not everyone values such things, but for those who do, we have plenty
more Colleges lined up and I will be in this for as long as I live.
After verifying the oil flow in John's engine, we took it back out and ran it again just for the heck of it. It sounded great, and he was very proud of building it, as well he should be.
Schwartz Engine Runs at CC #22 KGTU Spring Break 2012
Above at left with me is Blaine Schwartz of Texas, a Zenith 750 builder who assembled his 2850 cc, Roy bearing equipped engine with Falcon heads at Corvair College #22. In this photo, we hold Blaine’s license plate displaying that he is a devout Chevrolet fan. 10 years ago, General Motors put up billboard advertisements with pictures of red Chevrolet Corvettes. The only caption they put on the bottom of the sign was big print that said “They don't write songs about Volvos.” Building Corvairs is part of my lifelong admiration and passion for Detroit engines.
The above photo shows where Blaine started midmorning on Saturday. Roy shipped the case already assembled with his bearing on it with the crank and cam in it. This is how he delivers his product to builders. This is why at first glance it appears to be substantially more expensive than the parts to build a Weseman bearing engine. Blaine found it a good value and worth the wait to get a running start at his engine. This assembly from Roy is completely compatible with
all of the products that we sell and directly works with Falcon heads.
In the above photo I am demonstrating to Blaine the use of my Snap-on electronic torque wrench on the rod bolts.
An overhead view showing the Pistons and Cylinders installed. Blaine’s engine is a 2850 cc powerplant, utilizing a Piston and Cylinder Set from us. The cylinders used in the Kit are Clark's full fin heavy duty cylinders, bored .105” oversize.Clark’s does this boring for us on their very accurate machinery.
In the above photo, I use a soft rubber mallet to tap on Blaine’s Gold Prop Hub.
Engines equipped with Roy's fifth bearing use a Short Gold Prop Hub.
The above position, with the engine standing on its nose, is my preferred position in which to set the valves. This photo also gives a good view of the full fin heavy duty cylinders from Clark's that are part of our 2850 cc Piston Kit.
Above we are bolting on the Front Starter and giving it a good look before taking the engine outside to fire it up on the ramp.
30 hours later the engine is on the test stand ready for its run on Sunday afternoon. We utilized the engine to teach many people the assembly and priming sequence and how to install a
Above, Blaine's engine a few minutes into its test run. We did a full 30 minute break in on the engine with the RPM between 1800 and 2200. The engine ran flawlessly. Hats off to Blaine, John and Becky for running their engines at Corvair College #22.
"Real freedom is the sustained act of being an individual." WW - 2009
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