I graduated from class 76-01 at Del Rio, Tx. Fly B52's in North Dakota for 5yrs. Also flew in the ACE program. Went to Sheppard AFB as an instructor, check pilot, instructor evaluator. Went to ATC Air Staff at Randolph. Got out of active duty and joined reserves when I moved to Longview Tx, working for Eastman Chemical Company as an electrical engineer. Retired from reserves as a LtCol. Still working for Eastman at least for another year or maybe two. Have about 50% of my 650 completed.
Happy to discuss the oil cooler shroud. About 90% of my operations are off airport and I became worried about sending something through the exposed cooler. (I have already cleaned off one transponder antenna with flying rocks.) I sculpted a plug and laid it up in fiberglass then bonded it to the cowling. Easy to do. Later models move the cooler into a more protected area and vent the air into it. It hasn't hampered cooling as I still have to occasionally tape off some of the watercooler to keep the operating temps in the normal range about 3 months per year. I have found a half dozen marks on the shroud over the last 6 years. I left plenty of wiggle room around the cooler so the motor can vibrate without chaffing anything. I'll add another pic so you can see the front.
Considering your experience the comment you made about the 701 landing problems raise a bright red flag for me. I do not have anywhere near the amount of hours logged that you do and most of my experience has been in "bush" type tail draggers. One of the most difficult aircraft I have ever tried to land was a heavily modified Super Cub which was poorly set up. But I digress.
I read some interesting information concerning the slats on the Zeniths yesterday and it made me consider not even putting them on the 750 I will build. If you have not read this web site here is the link: http://stolspeed.com/. Maybe this web site is all hype, after all they are trying to sell a product but I would value your opinion.
I think if I had a Zenith right now I would remove the slats and see how it affected the flight especially the landing. If I noticed any improvement I would likely spend the $200 for the VG's and experiment.
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