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Back in Business? Maybe…

I know I haven’t posted anything pretty much all year this year. I’ve been busy and I’ve not been in the mood to figure out what’s wrong with my website. After a relatively short call with a very helpful Hostmonster representative, it would seem that I’m back in business with my website…
I took this picture a few weeks ago. Pretty decent, if I do say so myself. I’m no photographer, but my Olympus camera sometimes makes me look good. I’ve been doing a bunch of construction at my house and I’m sure I must have disturbed this venomous lady. She didn’t last long after this photo was taken.
Poor thing didn’t last long…

Testing

GOPR1279.JPG This is a test to see if the text will wrap to the right of the photo like all my other posts. I’ve been having a difficult time with my new software.

OK. It looks like it’s working so I can start updating the blog again. Sorry for the lack of updates.

This photo was taken by a GoPro Hero2 camera mounted to the underside of my wing. It doesn’t have a remote shutter release button so I set it up to take a picture every 1/2 second. I would up with over a thousand pictures. I’m going to work on a more solid mount that I hope will help to eliminate some of the waviness you see in this photo.

Accessory Case & Oil Lines

PA040047.JPG This is the accessory case after the paint dried and before I removed the masking tape. I’m pretty happy with how well the red rattle can engine paint matched my original red powder coating. The generator cover laying on top of the case is an example of the original powder coating.

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Unfortunately, after all the hassle of replacing the oil pump and accessory housing, I had problems again with my oil lines. Even after replacing this hose and leaving a little more wiggle room to allow for more wiggle room between the oil filter and the engine, the line still broke–again.

The short story is that I was close enough to the airport to shut the engine down and glide to the runway. Even made the reverse high speed turnoff. Dripped oil all over everywhere. A real mess… and it got my heart rate up pretty well, too.

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PA090064.JPG If you look down towards the bottom of the battery you can see where the hose failed. After significant discussion with a bunch of different people, it was determined that I made a significant mistake in mixing one brand of hose (Aeroquip) with another brand of fitting (Earl’s). More than the brand name, I think it was an incompatible type of hose. Keep reading for future posts showing how I fixed this oil line problem once and for all.

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PA120075.JPG A friend of mine has an engine vibration measurement machine. For a small fee he helps all kinds of folks with Experimental aircraft balance their props. This particular plane is a Giles 200 based in Longmont, Colorado. If anyone in the area needs a prop balanced, shoot me an email and I’ll put you in touch with Dave.

Plenum, Oil Cooler and iFly700

Once I decided to put my oil cooler at the bottom of the cowling, I needed to re-work the aft portion of the left side of my plenum to remove the air outlet for the oil cooler. My poor plenum has been hacked up and re-worked beyond recognition. I used clay to re-shape the aft portion of the plenum.

I used PVA mold release to keep the glass from sticking to the clay and then laid up about 4 layers of 6 ounce cloth. Complex shapes are pretty easy with clay and fiberglass.

Once the resin cured for the top half of the plenum, I trimmed it to fit and then covered it with duct tape in preparation for the next fiberglass workday.

Once again, I used PVA mold release on everything I didn’t want the resin to stick to. I made a lip for the top of the plenum to nest inside when the plenum is installed. Worked out pretty slick.

I finally got around to installing my tailwheel attach point fairing… sorta. I used duct tape for now because I wanted to make sure it didn’t cause any problems. It fits nice and cleans up the look a bit so I’ll probably have it painted when I install my wheelpants this winter.

Here’s a profile shot of my new oil cooler inlet. I think it looks butt-ugly so I’m not sure it’s going to last long. We’ll see how effective it is…

Being the absolute gadget freak that I am, I bought a new toy. You can never have too many GPS’s, can you? The new, big, GPS is an iFly700 from Adventure Pilot. I think it’s a great value at a little less than $600 for the unit itself and a year’s worth of sectional charts and airport facility directory. I hard wired it to the master switch and installed an external GPS antenna under the cowling.


Remote Filter Installation

With the fiberglass work mostly finished for the new oil cooler installation, it was time to finish the installation of the Airwolf remote oil filter installation. The gold piece to the left on this picture is the oil pickup adapter from Airwolf. It replaces the original oil screen. You’ll notice that I’ve installed a nifty AN fitting with a 1/4″ port for an oil pressure transducer. Summit racing sells these fittings as test fittings, but they work well to provide an additional oil pressure pickup port. I now have 2 independent sources of oil pressure indications. The primary source is a line coming off the left rear side of the engine case. That line goes to a transducer that drives the oil pressure gauge. The pressure switch shown in this picture turns on a low pressure light when there is less than 5psi and activates my Hobbs meter when there is more than 5psi.

This is a birds-eye view of the remote oil filter installation with all the hoses attached. If everything goes well, I can accomplish an oil and filter change without removing the lower cowling. The silver piece below the gold piece is made by Steve’s Aircraft. It spins on the oil filter adapter to provide ports for oil cooler lines.

I ran into a little problem when I ran the engine for a leak check after installing the spin-on oil filter adapter and the Steve’s Aircraft oil cooler. This stud that comes out of the Air Wolf adapter is slightly too long to allow the Steve’s Aircraft adapter to set properly against its rubber o-ring seal. The 1/32″ gap allowed oil to spray out between the parts.

Looking back on this picture taken before the leak check, you can see a little daylight between the silver part and the gold part. I incorrectly assumed that when the silver piece bottomed out it was bottoming out against the o-ring seal when it was actually bottoming out on the treaded stud protruding from the gold part. Luckily, I’ve got a good friend who’s a retired machinist who’s got a lathe in his garage. He took off about 1/4″ from the stud and all is now right with the world.


New Oil Cooler Installation

I cut a hole in the bottom of my cowling and poked the oil cooler through. I used clay to help define the mounting points for the cooler. The phenolic blocks sitting on top of the cooler will be encapsulated in fiberglass to provide for a mounting surface that can be tapped to accept a #8 screw to hold the cooler in place.

You can see the phenolic block now encapsulated in fiberglass cloth and a resin/flox mixture. The clay visible in the previous picture is still in place so that when the whole mess cures I can remove the clay and have nice clearance for the flanges on the oil cooler.

With the cooler mounting points firmly established, the next step was to fabricate a nice inlet for the cooling air. I used clay to form a smooth transition.

The intake scoop is now pretty well finished and ready to be bonded to the lower cowling. I’ll need to finish some of the transitions once it’s bonded in place, but it’s ready to go for a test flight.

This is how the mounting pads turned out. You’ll notice I’ve got the black square from my original cowling checkerboard paint scheme taped off. I painted all my new fiberglass work white before I bonded the scoop in place. I don’t like to leave any fiberglass unfinished because it has a tendency to soak up dirt and grease/oil.

A rare treat! My brother’s girls stopped by the hangar for a quick visit. As you can see, my brother’s 5’3″ 100 pound 12-year-old fits nicely in a Midget Mustang cockpit… much better than her Uncle Rod!


Oil Filter & Cooler Hoses & Fittings

I made a simple bracket to hold my oil thermostat. I’ll attach the bracket and thermostat to the engine mount using the 2 Adel clamps you see in the picture. I was shocked to see how much the AN fittings added in terms of overall size to the thermostat. Luckily, space isn’t much of an issue under my cowling.

Here’s an overview shot of the entire installation. The oil line comes out of the engine to the filter then from the filter to the thermostat. From there, it goes in and then back out of the cooler and then from the thermostat back to the engine. Lots and lots of hoses so I’m hoping this pays big dividends in terms of oil temp reduction.

Here’s a close-up of the installation of my hose fitting. I learned from a friend to put some tape on the hose before you start screwing the fitting together to make sure the hose isn’t pushed out of the fitting as the parts are joined. I’m using Aeroquip Lite hose. It’s about $8/foot, but it’s approved by all the different car race associations as fireproof. It’s also rated for 500psi so that should pretty much handle my 90psi (max) O-200!

A close-up shot of where the oil lines come in and out of my case. This is the same location Continental uses for the installation of an oil cooler, but it’s a custom fitting. The O-200’s rarely had an oil cooler installed in a Certified installation. They put oil coolers on Cessna 140 planes, but only in the seaplane configuration… Fairly rare. Cessna wants many hundreds of dollars for their official fitting so I was happy that the prior owner of my plane had this fitting custom built for this engine. You’ll remember that I tried the F&M or F&S or whatever brand oil filter adapter and oil cooler spin on adapter, but my engine mount interfered.

A close-up shot of the fittings and hoses coming and going from the thermostat and the spin-on oil filter adapter. If you look closely you’ll notice that the blue anodizing has been removed from the fitting on the right side of the oil filter adapter. I had a clearance issue so a friend cut the threads down by about a 1/4″ and then re-threaded the fitting. Worked perfectly.

A close-up shot of the fittings on the oil filter adapter. You can see where the modification to the right fitting gave me just enough clearance to account for the curvature of the firewall flange.
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I don’t have a picture, but a friend came over to observe an engine run to check for leaks. Good news! No leaks. With 6 hoses and 12 fittings, I’d never want to just assume I did everything right. It’s very satisfying to have a dry installation.
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The fiberglass work on the plenum is coming along nicely. I’m pretty much to the point of using tape to cover a few holes and testing the system. If the weather is good, I’ll tape up the holes and go flying. If the weather isn’t flyable, I’ll spend the day doing more fiberglass work, instead. I’ve got Monday, Thursday and maybe part of the day Wednesday of next week to work on the plane. I’m planning to head down to Abilene, TX on Friday for an air race on Saturday. I think the only thing that’ll stop me this time is weather.


Plenum, fittings, thermostat and cheeseburgers

This is a top-down view of the new oil cooler ducting with the fiberglass cloth in place. It’s not perfectly straight airflow, but it’s much better than the previous installation.

This is the oil cooler exit air plenum wearing a few layers of fiberglass cloth.

This is a sampling of the fittings I ordered for the oil cooler installation. The silver piece with 4 ports is my new oil thermostat. The brass right angle fitting is a new breather port fitting. I’m going to solder in a piece of copper pipe to reduce the amount of oil that finds its way to the belly of my airplane via the breather tube. More pictures of this mod later.

Some folks were asking about the weight of my new oil temperature thermostat so I took a picture of it laying on a postage scale. The weight of the piece isn’t significant, but when you consider all the related fittings and hoses, I’m sure I’ve gained a few pounds. Gotta be done!

Sometimes it’s hard for people to visualize just how the fiberglass process plays out so I included this picture. Since I used a combination of foam and clay for my mold (plug), once the epoxy resin cures, I have to dig the foam and clay out from the inside. It takes a bit of time and patience, but it’s kinda cool to see the part take shape.

Here’s the new exit air plenum box after a bit of trimming with the Dremel tool and some light sanding. I always end up leaving a few “pokeys” (extremely sharp shards of resin-impregnated fiberglass) on my layups so I do a little light sanding to minimize my blood loss when fitting the new part.

This is the bottom piece of the new oil cooler ducting prior to much trimming or sanding.

Here is the top half of the plenum with the new oil cooler ducting grafted into place. I’ll test-fly the new installation before I spend a bunch of time sanding, filling and painting. No sense in spending a bunch of time on cosmetics until I know the installation will work.

I submit this picture as evidence of my progress towards full-fledged adulthood. My new year’s resolution was to start acting more like an adult and less like a college kid. Part of my plan is to start incorporating furniture and vegetables into my day to day existence. I still don’t have any furniture in my house, but I have started putting vegetables on my cheeseburgers when I barbecue! Those are some darned-fine looking cheeseburgers if I do say so myself.


Fiberglass ducting for oil cooler

I started the process of fabricating a duct to provide high pressure air to my oil cooler. I used a bunch of vinyl tape to protect different surfaces from resin. The resin releases easily from this vinyl tape. I used a few pounds of clay to form a reasonably smooth duct from my existing rear cylinder baffle to the oil cooler.

I painted PVA mold release on the clay. You can see where the mold release pooled near the oil cooler. If my dimensions were absolutely critical, I would have had to do something about the pooling, but since it doesn’t really matter, I’ll just accept the longer dry time and move on.

Here I’ve laid down somewhere between 3 and 4 layers of 6 oz. fiberglass cloth over the clay and PVA mold release. You can see where the green from the pooled mold release shows through the wet fiberglass. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t concerned about the pooling, but it *is* important that the PVA is dry before you start laying the fiberglass cloth over it. I let the mold release dry a full 24 hours before I did the layup.

I try to have multiple projects going on simultaneously while I’m doing fiberglass work. If you don’t do this, you end up wasting a bunch of time because you have to wait for each layup to cure before making any additional progress. This is the start of a mold for the oil cooler exit air diffuser box.

This is all I’m going to do in foam for the exit air diffuser. The rest of the shaping will be done in clay. This would be a huge chunk of clay if I didn’t start out with some foam. I’ve painted the foam with a mixture of resin and micro balloons so that the clay will stick to the foam core more readily and my clay won’t be contaminated.


New Antenna, Spin on Filter

I’ve been having problems with my radio forever. Some of the problem remains in that my XCOM 760 radio simply doesn’t do everything the sales literature says it’ll do. The rest of my problems ended up being rooted in my stainless steel bent whip antenna installation. The problem with the bent whip installation was that it didn’t have a BNC connector at the antenna. I had to split out the conductor wire from the shielding to make the connection to the antenna. This effectively left about 4 inches of conductor unshielded.

The problem I ran into is that the Midget Mustang is so small that the distance between my headset connection and my antenna connection was only about 18 inches. Every time I keyed the mike, I got a loud squeal in my headphones and all my panel instruments jumped around. I purchased this new antenna from Delta Pappa Aviation for about $125. Because the Midget Mustang sits so low to the ground, I had to mount the antenna out on the wing. I don’t know whether moving the antenna solved the problem or if the fact that the new antenna had a BNC connector and allowed shielding all the way through, but the problem is SOLVED!!! Wooo, hooo. Nice clean transmissions and significantly improved reception.

Since the antenna wire now comes out of the radio and goes down the side of the fuselage, I decided I had better reinforce the connection or my antenna cable could eventually come lose from the crimp-on BNC connector. In the Keep it Simple spirit, I just used some waxed lace and tied the connectors together for additional support. Hope it works good and lasts long time…

This is what I ended up with for a spin-on oil filter housing. I had previously purchased a Hamburger brand spin on adapter from Summit Racing. The Hamburger adapter was very heavy-duty and had AN-12 size ports and a much larger housing. A friend of mine with a round-engined Yak bought this one, but decided he wanted the heavy-duty Hamburger adapter. A trade was arranged and I now have this appropriately demure adapter. The firewall is very well supported at this point so I just used three bolts and some fender washers on the backside of the firewall to hold it in place.

I still need to add the hoses in and out of the case and to the oil cooler. I’m concerned about having enough room to run the hoses and the 180 degree fittings so I took this picture so I can start my scheming for hoses and fittings.