Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
Searching for an engine!
After nearly 20 years of hoping/stolen plans, tools, and equipment, my wife and I are beginning a restart of our 650 project. Today we should receive two Fly Corvair manuals on Disassembly and Installation so the search now begins in earnest to find a suitable Corvair for conversion.
Don't know where to start so any suggestions would be extremely welcome.
We just moved to Clarksville, TN
~Ron and Sandy Moore
Rule #1 is be patient and read the manual. There are plenty of cores out there, it just takes a little time at the beginning to get connected to the people who have them in your area. It took me 6 months to find mine from the moment I started searching in earnest. That being said, I found mine about this time of year. I think most people are cleaning out their garages in spring, so now is a good time to search.
Rule 2) Read the manual to learn the best ways of finding a core. Go to the usual places, i.e. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The going rate, even with inflation out of control, is about $300-$350. Good cores might be a couple hundred more or less depending on who's selling. If the seller lists it for $500, then that is a decent price to bargain him down to something more reasonable. If he refuses to move on the price, then walk. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. Anything listed over $500 is an absolute rip off, don't even bother. Corvair clubs are an invaluable source for finding the people who hoard cores, but aren't computer literate enough to sell them on Craigslist/FB Marketplace. If all else fails, William Wynne has a cache of donor cores.
Rule 3) Read the manual and learn what parts off the engine you will need. If a core is missing a few minor parts, they can usually be ordered from Clark's Corvair. However, if the core is missing major components or is already disassembled, then walk away. The act of disassembling the core is an integral part of getting familiar with the engine. It is also a convenient way to inventory all the parts that are on the engine. Greaseball cores are actually preferred. A clean core probably means there is no oil in the crankcase and it probably won't turn over. A first time builder probably shouldn't be dealing with the hassle of trying to cut connecting rods to disassemble the core.
Rule 4) Read the manual, read the manual, read the manual. You don't have to read everything from cover to cover at the start, but you will be reading it all before you are done. At least read everything through about parts group 2000 for the information you will need about the core parts. Tackle the other parts groups when it is time, but read all of them thoroughly. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then WW will chose the 1,000 words. This is not a slight against him, just an observation. If you read all 1,000 words then you will have a very good picture about not just what needs to be done, but why. However, if you just skim through it you will be building an engine based on an incomplete picture. There are Zenith/Corvair builders on this forum who have had forced landings because they didn't completely read the manual and understand everything that is written in it.
Between the Corvair Colleges, which no longer exist because of Covid, and the one-on-one builder workshops that WW has at his house that have replaced the Corvair Colleges, engine failures in the core from something that occurred during assembly have been almost entirely eliminated. The main source of failures at this point seem to be from incorrect installation of the firewall forward components. Remember that we don't use magnetos, and that the ignition system is tied in to the charging system. An incorrect assembly of the firewall forward package can result in an engine failure. This is technically true for a Lycoming or Continental, but it is far easier to do with a Corvair engine. These potential failure points will most likely be missed by a DAR or FAA inspector. EAA Technical Counselors or chapter members are only helpful with the engine if they've actually built a Corvair engine before. That being said, the documentation on how to fabricate the firewall forward components has improved dramatically, even within the last year. Read the Zenith installation manual, the MOP manual, and get the appropriate wiring diagram for your airplane from here: https://flycorvair.net/corvair-wiring-diagrams/.
Rule 5) Once you are done reading the manual and you still have questions, don't be afraid to call William Wynne. If you haven't met him before, then you might be under the false assumption that he is difficult to work with. The only trick to working with him is that there is no trick. In person he is extremely personable and easy going. The phone number on his website and on the cover of all of his manuals is his personal phone number. The reason why he doesn't have much of a social media presence is that he prefers a phone call to a Facebook post because he can go into greater detail. Also, he is a one man operation. He is the CEO, CFO, factory manager, chief engineer, sole machinist, and customer service representative for FlyCorvair. The reason why he does have time to talk to you is because he isn't managing 27 different social media accounts on top of all the other hats that he has to wear. That being said, engineers and technicians don't always make the best customer service representatives. I'm saying this as a software engineer, myself. We absolutely do want to help, we just have funny ways of showing it sometimes. It is helpful when calling WW to approach it less like calling a large corporation with a fully staffed customer service department, and more like calling a friend who has decades of experience doing the thing that you want to do.
Sorry for the novel, I didn't intend for it to go on this long when I started.
Here is my experience on a CH-601. 50 hours of continuous maintenance with a WW Corvair. 180 hours of trouble free flying behind a Viking 130 turning a 3 bladed WhirlWind prop. The Viking 130 did cost me 3 pounds but i gained 30 horse power. The Viking 130 FWF did cost me $50 more than the Corvair FWF as compared to my wife"s expenditure reports.. My customer support from WW was very limited. A friend of mine experienced the same with his CH-750.
My experience was back in 2016
Richard: Curious....can you give some details that required "50 hours of continous maintenance" Thinking of doing a corvair conversion as well. Want to make sure my eyes are wide open to the challenges. Thanks. Paul
one example - one day on downwind #6 spark plug blow out of the cylinder of a WW engine.....
Here is the logic I used to select the second engine for the CH-601 for about the same total cost ;
Engine with General Motors 1940 Technology with a carburetor
Engine with Honda 1970 Technology with fuel injection