William Wynne

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

What's New

September 15, 2005


Here's our first update since Oshkosh 2005. We've been extremely busy as a result of the positive reception at Oshkosh, combined with the very complimentary eight-page article by Rick Lindstrom in the September issue of Kit Planes magazine. Keep in mind, if you've tried to call the hangar line and gotten the machine, it's very likely I was already on the phone with another builder. As a courtesy, we do not have call waiting on the hangar line. If you get the machine, please leave a single message. This is the first week since Oshkosh where things have calmed down a bit, and we're looking forward to a productive Fall, peaking with Corvair College #9 at our hangar Nov. 11-13. If we've been difficult to get in touch with, you have our humble apologies and assurance that when the rush is over, we'll still be here, and what you'll accomplish on your own personal goals in aviation is largely determined by your perseverance over an extended period of time. Pace your enthusiasm, and use the following update to keep your fire of determination burning at a steady glow.

Above is my 3,100cc engine in the 601. The installation now has about 50 hours on it. The only trouble we've had is with the gaskets of the flanged VW style exhaust. This exhaust modification is frequently used in sand rails in California. Although some of the land based shops are quick to recommend it, my dynamometer and flight experience suggest that it's barely worth the effort on a hot rod engine like our 601's, and certainly not worth doing on a standard Corvair powerplant. A blown exhaust gasket is serious business in an engine; it's not just carbon monoxide, it can burn wiring and cause vapor lock, and if it's bad enough, start a fire. The Corvair's standard exhaust system is virtually immune to blown gaskets. The Corvair's overlapping tube design gets my recommendation. If someone advocates the VW stacks on the Corvair, simply ask them if they've flown both and tested both on a dynamometer - my comments are based on being the only person who has done so.

This is a Lancair 320 airframe that was damaged by a nosegear failure. The airframe was not economical to repair for the prior owner. With some horsetrading, it ended up in our possession. I'm tucking it away in the rafters of the hangar for future use. Grace Ellen has always wanted a fast but simple two-seat aircraft. A long-wing version of this airplane with fixed gear and a Corvair might prove to be a very fast, efficient airplane. This is a good indication of how much we believe in Corvair engines. I'm going to be working in aviation until my last day on this planet, and I plan to build an awful lot of airplanes between now and then. Virtually everything we dream up focuses on the Corvair.

Whobiscat mopes inside the hangar during Hurricane Ophelia, above. Although it never came ashore, it caused torrential rains in our area for a week. It kept Gus and I from flying up to the KR Gathering in Illinois. This is the cat's favorite spot in the hangar. She was crabby about staying inside for a week. Last year, the cat was out all night during the peak of Hurricane Frances. I found her the next day, very clean and fluffy. This year, it wasn't as difficult to force the cat inside during bad weather.

Above is a set of fully modified Corvair heads packed inside a 60-quart plastic container. They're wrapped in plastic and then carpeting, sealed with expanding foam, and the lid is zip-tied on. These heads came to our shop to have the low profile intake pipes welded on, and the plug holes time serted. We've found that this is the best way to ship them back. Although it adds a little expense, it protects them and doesn't take long to get them in the mail. We have a number of pairs of heads to do right now, but we're knocking off an average of one set every two days in addition to all the other orders.

The back of Grace's 1965 Greenbriar on the way to the Post Office. This was Monday morning, and the back of the van is filled with the weekend's output of parts. If you were one of the customers with a backordered Rear Accessory Case, you should have it by now. We're now 100% caught up on these, and we have components to do 30 more in the shop. The past few days, we've been pouring effort into Distributors, and they should be 100% caught up very shortly. In preparation for Corvair College #9, we had the laser cutter produce 40 more points plates, which we received yesterday. These will be turned into exchange distributors before the College. Simultaneously, we're working on Oil Pans.

With the discussion of crankshafts, some people have been left with the false impression that the Corvair engine is not tough as nails. Here's great visual evidence of how robust and brutally strong the Corvair is. The cylinder head above was removed from a Corvair van which was driven many, many miles with a very poorly running engine. Keep in mind that the bottom end of this engine did not throw a rod, jam up or cease to run. It was driven all the way back to the owner's house. I cannot think of another automotive engine that I've seen this heavily damaged which continued to run. Take a good look at a Rotax engine and honestly tell me if you think it would still rotate with damage like this. By the way, this van was equipped with forged pistons. The owner had lost the fan belt and continued to drive it anyway.

Notice above that four valve seats on this head are no longer in place. This did not happen in a millisecond. The extensive damage shows you that the engine continued to run and pound the little bits to rubble inside it for quite some time. In this photo, the squarish chunks driven into the head are a broken up valve seat. Note that none of the valves dropped their heads.

Both the valve seats in the above cylinder have been beaten into the ports, yet the engine continued to run on the other bank of cylinders. While your engine will obviously never look like this inside, it is a very desirable characteristic of aircraft engines that they be able to sustain some damage without complete failure. The next time somebody points out to you that a Corvair engine is slightly heavier than a VW, Jabbaru or Rotax, tell them that you accept this because there are robust qualities to the Corvair that you appreciate. This is not the only example of land-based engines I've seen like this. It just happens to be a fairly good representation of the engine's damage tolerance.

Above, Gus and Dave run Dave's Wagabond engine on the dyno. Although the engine was previously done and running, as seen at Sun 'N Fun 2003, Dave opted to tear it down and modify it to our most current configuration. Thus, he discarded the rear starter that had flown on my Pietenpol for years, and switched to a Front Starter and welded on, low profile intake pipes. The engine has one of our Deep Sump Pans, and our Rear Oil System. Since Dave works in our shop, it's important that his own airplane represent how we teach builders to convert engines. Just last week, I spoke to a builder whose engine was configured with a rear starter. In one minute on the telephone, I detected a major flaw in his modified oil system. Although I pioneered rear starters, and three-hose oil systems, very few people accurately followed the details of this work. A simple mistake, like running the three-hose lines from the rear accessory cover and not the oil cooler flange, produces an oil system guaranteed to spin a rod bearing in cold weather. Builders can simply avoid this trouble by following our lead and using our Front Starter and Rear Oil Systems that we fly every day. I'm not against people exercising their creativity; it's just time and time again people who modify the engine are not taking into consideration all the ramifications. Respect my 15 years of experience on this. I'm not smarter than you, I've just made many of these mistakes already years ago. You needn't repeat them.

Above is engine #15 for the year. This belongs to 601 builder Bill McMannus of Florida. Building complete engines is only about 10% of our work. The bulk of our time is in direct support of people working on their own engines. In some cases, like this one, we build and test run the complete engine. Bill was in love with the idea of roller rockers, so this was one of the very few engines we built this year equipped with them. It adds about $1,000 to the cost of the engine. Much of the time is spent redeveloping the pushrod geometry and having custom parts made. I have more flight time on roller rockers than all of our customers combined, and my opinion is they are not worth having. People frequently ask about the engine for sale on our Web site. The engine in the photo sold long ago, but we have since built, test run and sold many clones of it. If you're one of the few builders who would like one of these engines, please call me on the hangar line, (386) 478-0396.

KR-2/Corvair Update

Above is a photo of our new KR cowl 10 minutes before its first flight. The cowl is the latest way we are making the installation of a Corvair on the front of a KR even easier. Although 601s make up the mainstay of our work, our friends in the KR community have been with us over the years, and I have not ignored their requests to provide support for their installations. I had wanted to do a KR cowl for a long time. The cowl is based on the proven geometry of our 601's cowl. I wanted the cowl to use a 13" spinner, provide generous cooling, allow the use of a Front Starter, and eliminate any temptation to use an extended prop hub or extension on the Corvair. The job was done by our professional moldmaker, Tim Hall. Tim has built absolute first class molds, and we will again be utilizing his services to make extremely nice vacuum bagged, oven baked, pre-preg cowlings. Wet layup techniques and inexpensive materials have their place, but for this project, I wanted the opposite end of the spectrum represented. Just because a KR is traditionally thought of as an inexpensive aircraft does not mean it is not a suitable candidate for high quality components. In many cases, doing things first class really doesn't cost much more than a gel-coated piece made from polyester.

This is a KR Motor Mount that I built last week for Ricky Farley, a Texas KR-2S builder. Although this mount looks very similar to Mark Langford's, it contains subtle differences that are significant improvements. At Corvair College #2, Mark Langford and I sat down and sketched on a cocktail napkin the basic design of all modern Corvair/KR mounts. The next day, we built his mount. The first tricycle-gear mount of this design is flying on Mark Jones' KR-2S. Since then, I've built about 30 KR mounts. Rather than being stagnant, we've subtly changed the lower tube location, and put a slight splay in the bottom four tubes, which make the motor mount bolts vastly easier to install. I knew this was important not from builder feedback, but from installing mounts myself. There are plenty of people in the alternative engine industry willing to turn out the same stuff year after year because they never have to work on any of it themselves. Over time, I am driven to evolve these components. After taking countless engines all the way through complete installations and flying, I'm well versed in how something like a 3 degree slope on a tube can make your installation easier. If you're thinking of installing some other engine on your KR, honestly ask yourself if you feel the installation has been developed to this degree. In my opinion, only the VWs from Steve Bennett are in this league. If you're a first time engine builder, having someone who knows every nut and bolt of your installation is your best chance of successfully building and operating your plane.

This KR-2 belongs to Steve Jones of Naples, Fla. It won the 2005 People's Choice Award and Best Engine Installation at the KR Gathering. This airplane was formerly powered by a 2,600cc VW, and was featured in Sport Aviation. Steve opted to replace it with a turbo Corvair. Most of the creative work is from his own hands, but many of the components seen on his airplane, such as the Starter and Prop Hub assembly, are our parts straight off the shelf. The propeller is a Sensenich 54x64. It is a complex installation, and Steve is still working out a few bugs. We're looking forward to a complete performance report from him soon, and it's a good bet he'll be at Corvair College #9. Congratulations to Steve Jones.

Standing behind the propeller in the above photo is Mark Jones of Wisconsin. In the foreground is his Corvair powered KR-2S. Mark Jones is my candidate for friendliest guy in the whole Corvair community. He provides relentless friendly encouragement to everybody with whom he crosses paths. He now has about 60 hours on his installation. Although it has a rear starter, it uses our Prop Hub at its stock length, and it has many components from our shop, like his Dual Ignition System. After six years of building, this was the first air show Mark flew into with his plane. Congratulations to Mark Jones.

Above is our friend Steve Glover and his currently VW/Soon to be Corvair-powered KR. Steve is from Southern California, and won the long distance award. His engine was completed and run at our shop a few months ago. In the coming months, he's going to convert the airplane to a 2,700cc Corvair, with Front Start. I built Steve's mount, and am working on a custom stainless exhaust system for him. There were 16 flying KRs at the 2005 Gathering. Four of these were Corvair powered. We did not get a good picture of Mark Langford's long awaited KR, which he flew to the Gathering. There's a nice air to air photo on his Web site. After many years of work on his own plane, and countless hours in support of the KR community, it was a special moment when Mark Langford flew in his airplane to the Gathering. Amongst my friends and closest colleagues in aviation, there is only one rule: Persistence pays. Skills, money, ideas all mean nothing without the persistence to see it through. Mark's dedication over the years proves this rule to be true. Congratulations to Mark Langford.

Cleanex Now Flying

You can click on Dan Weseman's "Cleanex" in the photo above to see an in flight photo of it. It started out life as a set of Sonex plans, and was finished with a very potent 3,100cc Corvair. Dan completed his engine at Corvair College #8. On Sept. 11, 2005, Dan made the first flight in the plane. He reported it to be a teriffic performer, and very powerful. Qualify this statement with the fact that Dan spent that morning flying a 180hp RV-7 to tune up his taildragger skills.

Above is a glance inside Dan's engine compartment. I'd easily rate this as the nicest, most technically correct Corvair customer engine installation of all time. This is the new benchmark. Grace Ellen and I drove to Dan's the day before the flight and inspected the airplane with a fine tooth comb for several hours. I could not find as much as a piece of safety wire out of place. Not only did the work look sanitary, the installation had no technical flaws nor craftsmanship question marks. It really lived up to the plane's nickname, Cleanex. During test runs, the engine would static the 54x58 Sensenich prop 2,910rpm. This is extremely powerful. The prop on this airplane is one of the initial batch of props we have worked with Sensenich to perfect for Corvair installations. If your Corvair project will fly at more than 150mph, E-mail me or call me for more information about these propellers.

Dan chose to use as much of our R&D on Corvair engines as possible. His engine has a Front Starter, welded on low profile intake pipes, most of the parts from our Catalog, an MA3-SPA carburetor like the one on the 601, and a bunch of small details we recommend like the oil fill in the valve cover. Every week, I hear from at least one person who wants to build a totally unique engine to reflect his individual craftsmanship. As I listen, my 15 years of experience with the engine tells me his ideas are unworkable, unfinishable or unsafe. I don't worry much because this type of attitude rarely results in a finished engine. I understand the drive to express yourself, but let me make the most sincere suggestion that builders who feel this way channel their energy on a heading closer to Dan's. Here, he has utilized all that I have learned over the years, and made it work for him. Undoubtedly, this aircraft, although it has many technical details that originated in my shop, will be a lasting tribute to Dan's craftsmanship and perseverance. He'll enjoy hundreds of hours flying this before someone tempted to build a unique engine ever gets to the airport. Bluntly, none of the people I speak with about their desire to build one-off, different engines with fuel injection, dual plugs, inverted oil systems, etc., have the skills to even consider the challenges of pioneering something different. When a highly skilled guy like Dan chooses the proven path with his own touch of craftsmanship, less experienced builders should take careful notice.

Above is Dan with his lovely, supportive wife, Rachel. When many people find out that Dan's family is loaded with career aircraft builders, and that he lives on a grass strip with a hangar 100 feet from his house, they think they've discovered the main elements of his success. While these factors undoubtedly are helpful, the key factor is most certainly his supportive partner, Rachel. After you meet her, you get the impression that with her support, he could have been a first time builder working out of a toolshed and flying it off a sidewalk. Congratulations to both of them on a project well done. We're looking forward to seeing the plane at Corvair College #9, and we'll have performance numbers then.

For the truly curious, the engine above lives in the back of Dan's hangar. Twenty-five years ago, this three-cylinder upright Corvair actually flew in a BD-5 for about 10 hours. This proves that with enough ingenuity and lack of respect for the finality of death, you can fly just about anything. Kevin and I have run 3-cylinder Corvairs before, and it came as no surprise to hear that this engine was capable of disassembling the BD-5's driveshaft assembly in short order. The builder of this airplane is still active in North Florida EAA circles, mostly because he decided to stop this experiment after a lot of trouble. This comes back to doing something unique vs. something useful. I'm sure this month someone will send me an e-mail about their unique idea to use half a Corvair engine, and how they want to be the first guy ever to fly one.

Dragonfly Project For Sale

We're cleaning up our hangar in preparation for Corvair College #9, Nov. 11-13. One of the things that has to find a new home is this Corvair/Dragonfly project. It is a plans built aircraft with the desirable inboard gear. The plane flew several hundred hours on VW power. It is part of the way through an overhaul and conversion to Corvair power. A dummy engine is shown above sitting on a mostly complete motor mount. The price of the aircraft includes the completed Corvair mount. The canard on this airplane has been redone and set at the proper angles, and has a very smooth finish. The main wing and the fuselage need to be sanded out, as they have faded paint. Structurally, the airframe is very good. The low price reflects the fact that it is missing the elevators, canopy and instruments. There is a fair amount of work to go to finish this airplane, but everything that is here is in pretty good condition. The plane has Matco wheels and brakes. The quick sale price on the project is $1,750. It comes with a complete set of plans, correct serial number, newsletters, etc., and a bill of sale. It does not come with FAA registration. The last time we had a canard project for sale, I had a small minority of people e-mail me asking if I would take 25% of the sale price. Let me just say, if you're one of these people, don't bother to even try me. The project will sell at this price, or I'll cut it up and throw it away. Obviously, I've always enjoyed sharing my building knowledge with people, and have spent 15 years proving this on a daily basis. I'd like to see this project go to a serious builder with whom we'd be glad to work. I'm not interested in hearing from speculators. If you have more questions about the project, call me on the hangar line, (386) 478-0396. Answering long e-mail questionnaires and requests for photos of obscure parts of the airframe would understandably be a very low priority. To my way of thinking, the right guy will look at this, have a few questions which I'll gladly answer, and we'll close the deal.

Crankshaft Update September 2005

Mark Langford flew his 2,700cc engine on a long cross country flight from Alabama to the KR Gathering in Illinois this month. This return to flight status was done with a nitrided crankshaft in a standard displacement engine. He reports that he's very happy with this smooth running combination, and after much research, he feels very confident in his engine because he has the added insurance of a nitrided crankshaft.

Nitriding is a heat treatment process that strengthens crankshafts. Although we have not previously recommended nitriding, nor have any of our standard engines shown the need for it, there is no doubt that nitriding improves the strength of crankshafts considerably. Last month, we had a batch of crankshafts deep gas nitrided by a metals lab in North Florida. After some testing and evaluation, we're now offering this as an option on all of our crankshaft work. The cost of nitriding on a crankshaft from our shop is $150. We sent one of these crankshafts from the first batch to 3,100cc KR-2S/Corvair builder Joe Horton in Pennsylvania. He may have flown it by the time you read this. The crankshaft in the 3,100cc engine in our 601 is also nitrided. Builders also should keep in mind that virtually none of the thousands of hours of flight time people have logged on Corvair engines have been flown with nitrided crankshafts. It's simply an optional technical improvement available. I most certainly want to convey that nitriding is not to be used to make builders mistakenly feel better about making mistakes like installing prop extensions.

In South Florida, longtime Corvair/KR pilot Steve Makish called to say he flew the second of our new KR cowlings. Steve's airplane had previously flown about 150 hours with a 4" propeller extension on it. This was done to allow the use of the pre-existing VW cowling. When he switched to our new Corvair/KR cowl, he was able to use our Prop Hub and discard the extension. Although he'd personally not had a problem in his years of Corvair flying, Steve decided the prudent thing to do was use the new cowling and discard the extension. I felt good about this, as Steve was the last guy flying a long extension on a Corvair engine. The removal of these from the Corvair fleet is a big step in the right direction. We have gone to great lengths to make the new cowling, nitriding and high quality Sensenich props available to our Corvair/KR community. These factors, and a new emphasis to follow our proven path closer, should benefit the Corvair/KR community.

Word has leaked out that we are working on a fifth main bearing case for the Corvair. This is true. This project has been underway for more than a year and a half, and has recently shifted into higher gear. The design puts a very large plain thrust bearing (small block Chevy rear main) right up behind the propeller. I've studied the problem in great detail, and drawn on the technical expertise of many professionals. The key to making it work successfully is having the ability to place the fifth bearing accurately in relation to the other four. The tooling to do this is far more complicated than the finished part. I'll display some of this work at Corvair College #9. I don't want to waste time between now and then giving out a trickle of information. Before anyone goes off and thinks that this is required on a Pietenpol, let me assure you my only interest in building these is to allow the use of 25 pound constant speed props on turbo engines. I cannot think of a single other installation that would make sense that wouldn't effectively be covered by the standard crankshaft or a nitrided one. I was personally motivated to investigate this when it became apparent in our Tri-Motor project that the outboard props would swing within 10 inches of your head, and run partially in the wake of the center engine. Further, once we began flying the Turbo Skycoupe, it became apparent that some turboed installations would be sold short unless they had an in-flight adjustable propeller. And all the proven in-flight adjustable props, like the Hoffman HOV62 and the MT-1, weigh 20-25 pounds. Look forward to a detailed photo update after the College.

Thank you.


Now At The Hangar

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December 2006 At The Hangar Part 1

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At The Hangar In July 2006

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At The Hangar In December 2005

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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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