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Flying again / GoPro camera

The short story is that the new accessory case and new oil pump gears solved the oil pressure issue and the new Aeroquip AQP hoses and fittings solved the problem of keeping the oil contained within the oil system! I was finally back in business and flying again.

To celebrate the occasion (and because I had become accustomed to spending wheelbarrows full of money on my airplane on a monthly basis) I purchased a GoPro Hero2 video camera.

PB240001.JPG The GoPro comes with a bunch of different mounting options. I purchased the motorsports edition and it came with several flat mounts and a few stick-on helmet mounts. The curvature built into the helmet mounts fit my canopy almost perfectly. The mounts have the really good 3M VHB double-sided tape so they stick very well. I was still a bit paranoid about trusting the 1″ square of double-sided tape to hold my new $300 toy, so I tethered the camera with some electrical wire. I ran the wire inside the canopy and tied it to my shoulder harness. My thought was that if the camera came loose, it would pull on my harness to alert me. I could then make the decision whether I could reel in the camera and land or if it was flopping around beating the tar out of my airplane, I could just jettison the camera and say goodbye to my new toy.

PB240006.JPG I used one of the flat mounts on the underside of my right wing near the wingtip. You can see where I used a tether system in this installation, too. I simply removed one of my wingtip screws and replaced it with a longer screw and a large washer. In this picture, the camera is facing straight down for some ground shots. I’ve also pointed the camera forward for more scenic shots.

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GOPR1279.JPG Here’s a photo taken with the camera looking straight down as shown in the previous photo. There’s a bit of waviness in the picture. I’m told this comes from a slight buzz that the stock mounting bracket allows when the camera is hanging out there in the wind. I’m probably going to try to fabricate a better mounting solution for buzz-less pictures.

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Back1.jpg Unfortunately, early in the month of December, I ran into a bit of a back problem. I had a pinched nerve in my neck that caused extreme pain, numbness and tingling down my left arm. Everyone thought I was having a heart attack, but it was just the pinched nerve. I went to a chiropractor for a couple of weeks before he gave up and suggested I consult with a neurosurgeon. The MRI showed a bulging disk causing a pinched nerve causing the left side symptoms. I went in for outpatient neck surgery on December 21st and a month later I’m pretty much good as new. The incision is still a little lumpy and there’s a bit of lingering tingling in my left index finger, but I feel great, can move my neck and I’m ready to get back to flying (at work and my little plane). My FAA medical expired at the end of December so I haven’t flown anything at all in over a month. With all the doctors in agreement and the paperwork in place, I’m scheduled to go take my FAA medical on Monday, the 30th of January. With any luck, I’ll get a flight in on Monday afternoon!

Airwolf Adapter & New Oil Cooler

I put the porcupine fins on the oil filter and started building brackets for the remote filter installation. It’s surprising how much time it takes to fabricate brackets. If you look closely in the picture, you’ll notice that I used waxed lacing to hold the Adel clamps closed. The lace lays down fairly flat and allows me to get a nut and bolt started without too many cuss words. After the nut is started, I use a razor blade to cut and then remove the lacing.

The Airwolf oil filter adapter pickup is really a work of art. In my Continental O200 installation, I removed the original screen and replaced it with the Airwolf adapter. The fittings shown in this picture are just for test purposes. I’ll probably end up using 2-90 degree fittings.

Once I was satisfied with the fit of all my new brackets, I primed and painted everything white to match the engine mount. I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. Note that I’ve removed the porcupine fins. I talked with a friend who tried them and said if they helped at all, it was VERY little. I’ll be sending mine back. For $100 they need to be more effective than the width of my temperature needle!

The pictorial manifestation of my oil cooler situation. I started with a used Stewart Warner cooler. I then switched to a used Positech cooler. I have now decided to go with a brand new Setrab cooler. It’s the one on the far right in this picture. It has about the same frontal area as the other two coolers, but only half the thickness. This is a 10 row cooler so I’m hoping it’s adequate for my O200. A friend is using a Setrab cooler in his Giles 200 with great results. The price was right at only $106–BRAND NEW!

Of course in true homebuilder spirit, I had to make a few modifications to my brand new cooler! I cut the mounting tabs off one side of the cooler to allow it to slip through a hole in my bottom engine cowl.

This was the painful part. I marked the outline of the material to be removed (yes, cut out) from my lower cowling. The idea is that I’ll slip the cooler down into a new air duct fabricated to provide a direct stream of fresh air to the cooler. So much for my shiny checkerboard cowling!

With the hole cut in the cowling, it was time to start fiberglassing in a few mounting pads to support the oil cooler. I used white duct tape to hold the cooler in place and then a couple of blocks of foam to help shape the mounting pads. This will be a multi-day, multi-step layup process so keep following along and the method to my madness will [hopefully] become apparent.

This is how I left the project when I left the airport at about noon today. With any luck, it’ll still look somewhat like this when I return to the airport tomorrow morning. It’s been getting into the 90’s each afternoon so I’m guessing the fiberglass will have cured by tomorrow morning!

We had a very special visitor at the airport today. Dick Vangrunsven of Van’s Aircraft stopped through on his way to Oshkosh. A few of us went out for BBQ this evening and had a great time listening to Mr. Vangrunsven. He’s a very smart and interesting person to talk to and I’m honored to have met him. When all the dust settles 50 years from now, I believe Mr. Vangrunsven will be seen as one of the top 5 most influential people in general aviation in recorded history. On top of that, he’s a really nice guy.


Oil Cooler Relocation & A Little Flying

Just for a little background, I didn’t originally install an oil cooler at all. I had some pretty high oil temps on my first 2 flights and decided I’d install a cooler. Because I hadn’t made any provision for a cooler in my original plans, I looked for the most convenient location. I installed the cooler on top of the engine and re-worked my plenum to provide for a small fiberglass tube to feed the cooler from each side of my forward intake. I never got around to making it look pretty because I was waiting to see if this was a viable solution.

The short story is that my first cooler installation worked, but just barely. I sometimes had to run at reduced power settings to avoid over-temping the oil. Not good. I’ve got a fairly high quality Stewart Warner oil cooler so it should be more than adequate if given an adequate supply of air through the fins. I’ve decided to re-locate the cooler to a more traditional installation behind the cylinders. I’ll redesign my plenum to feed air to the oil cooler.

In the picture, above, you can see 2 of brackets I fabricated to support the cooler. This picture shows the 3rd bracket. I used Adel clamps to attach the brackets to my engine mount. I realize the black silicone at the edges of the cooler is a little tacky. I’ll take care of that as I move forward with this new installation.

I’ll make something similar to this diffuser box for the backside of the cooler. What I’d like to do is make a very smooth bend to point the outgoing air towards where the opening is at the aft edge of the lower cowl. I fabricated this diffuser box many months ago, but it ended up not working out. I just held it in this picture as a general idea of what I’ll be shooting for.

I snapped this picture because it shows the brand and part number of the spin on oil filter adapter I recently installed.
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I’ve finally been doing a little flying lately. I had planned to go visit my older brother last Thursday and then head down to Taylor, Texas on Friday for a Sport Air Racing League race on Saturday. Well, the weather didn’t really cooperate. You’ll recall that Thursday was the day the big storms hit Sun ‘n Fun in Florida. There was a stream of fronts moving through the country on Thursday and they seemed to start about halfway between Loveland and my brother’s house in eastern Kansas.
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I could have fought my way down to Taylor on Friday, but I’m afraid it would have been a fight. Wherever it wasn’t raining, the winds were blowing in excess of 25 knots. With that much wind and weather, it was going to be a stressful and bumpy trip. I just can’t get excited about doing a stressful and bumpy trip for fun, so I stayed home.
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I ended up flying 4 out of 5 days in a row. A couple of the days were pretty windy and bumpy so I just made a beeline for the lunch destination and then headed straight home afterwards.
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Tuesday was the longest of the lunch destinations. A friend is breaking in a new engine overhaul in his Sidewinder so we headed out to Sterling, Colorado for lunch. It’s about 93 miles each way. I’m always a little bummed that my friend is 25 mph faster than I am and seems to meet or beat my fuel economy, too. He’s got an MT electrically-adjustable prop with an O-320 engine running dual P-Mag electronic ignition systems.
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Full tilt boogie, I’m still seeing about 175mph true airspeed. I don’t really mind running my engine at high RPM’s. Somehow it just seems to come alive at about 2900 rpm. My Catto prop is redlined at 3200 rpm. I’m thinking that when I finish my wheelpant installation, I’m going to get with Craig to have him put a little more bite in my prop.
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I did 4 laps in the pattern yesterday before officially declaring the plane out of service for oil system maintenance. The oil temp reached about 205 degrees F while doing touch and go’s so there’s definitely a need to address my cooling situation. The OAT yesterday when I was doing touch and go’s was about 75 degrees F… so really fairly mild when you consider I’d like to run an air race or two in Texas this summer!
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I’ll do my best to keep everyone posted on my progress via this website. I’m going to do my best to have the oil cooler installation finished by the end of next week because I’d like to run in an air race down in Texas on April 16th.


Long time, no posts…

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I haven’t been in the mood to fly much now that we’re into the cold weather season. As of today (January 28, 2011), I have 61.4 hours on the plane since putting it back into service in June of 2010.

I’m still having issues with my comm radio so as part of the troubleshooting process, I made up this little harness. It breaks out the push-to-talk circuit and allows me to verify that my PTT is not the source of my radio problems. It was a bit of a pain to fabricate this harness, but it was still better than breaking apart my real harness to isolate the PTT. Bummer. the PTT was verified to NOT be the source of the problem. The antenna is the next step in the troubleshooting process.

Another nagging little issue I’d like to resolve is that I seem to have a twist in my airframe. My left aileron must be deflected upward slightly (forcing the left wing down) to maintain wings-level flight. A guy I worked with suggested that my elevator trim tab located on my right elevator could cause a twist. I bent up a fixed trim tab with the same deflection as I normally carry in level flight. I then taped this trim tab to the left elevator and left the trim tab on the right elevator in trail. Bummer. Still didn’t fix the problem. Keep looking…

A friend of mine has a Bridgeport mill. He offered to help me make some shims for my landing gear to adjust the camber. We fabricated 2 shims. One of them is 5 degrees and one is 7 degrees. I haven’t taken time to install them yet, but will probably do so within the next week or so. Frequent readers might remember that I had planned to machine the bases of some new axles I recently purchased from Grove. After I did the math and figured out how much material I’d have to remove from the gear legs, I decided it would be best to have external, separate shims.

This little guy almost ruined my whole darned day earlier this week. This gasket goes between the housing for my oil screen and the engine case, itself. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you’ll notice that there’s a tear in the gasket… Well, the other day I was taxiing out for takeoff and my low oil pressure light came on. Argggh!. The pressure gauge confirmed the light so I shut the engine down immediately. I got out of the plane right there in the middle of the taxiway to see if I could see an obvious problem. The problem was VERY obvious!
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I left a trail of oil approximately 1000 feet long between my hangar and where I stopped. With the help of a friend, we dragged the plane back to my hangar and found part of this gasket poking out from between the case and the oil screen housing.
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A half-roll of paper towels along with copious quantities of Stoddard solvent later, I removed the oil screen housing and found this torn gasket. Not good. Lucky for me, we’ve got Firewall Forward located on the field. Those guys are really good to all us locals. They spend a half-hour looking through their boxes of gaskets trying to find the exact part and in the end ended up just giving me some gasket material to make a new one.
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After having pumped all but 2 quarts of oil out of the sump, I decided I may as well go ahead and do an oil change. It had already been 20 hours since the last oil change, so I wasn’t too far away from my 25 hour interval anyway. Happy to find nothing in the oil screen and with the new gasket fabricated and installed, I left the plane on Wednesday night sitting with fresh oil and ready for a leak-check run-up the next day.
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The leak-check was dry as a bone so I went and flew it for 0.8 hours on the Hobbs today. Came back and it was completely dry inside. I’m really fortunate that this incident didn’t ruin my engine, or worse, cause an off-field landing. If that little gasket had held out 10-15 minutes longer, I would have been airborne and might be writing a very different report… or none at all, if things really went poorly.
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The moral to this story (i.e. the lesson I learned) is that no leak, no matter how small, should be ignored. I’d been chasing a leak from day one on this engine. I thought it was coming from the oil screen or the oil temperature bulb. I hockey-puckied the heck out of the threads and replaced the copper crush washers several times trying to fix the leak. It seemed to go away for a time, but had come back within the last 5 hours or so. I was putting off dealing with it because I’m planning a re-work of my oil system anyway when I install the spin-on oil filter and re-locate my oil cooler. Putting it off almost cost me dearly.

Since the upper and lower cowling were removed anyway, I decided to tackle a little project I’ve had in mind for several months. I’d like to fabricate plugs for the inlets on the front of my cowling. I’d like to make fiberglass plugs so that they fit nice and look nice. I taped off and waxed the openings in preparation for the fiberglass and resin.

These are some of my fiberglass supplies. The cloth was cut on the bias so that it will lay down better around all the curves. The roll of white is shelf paper. I find that it’s sticky enough to adhere to the part, but not so stick as to leave residue. The greenish roll is just just masking paper. The white tub is Partall paste wax that I’ll use as a parting agent.

I’ve laid up at least 2 layers of 6-ounce cloth in this picture. I have a tendency to make my fiberglass parts way too thick so I decided to start with 2 layers and add another later if it’s necessary. You’ll notice I didn’t cover the smiley inlet with the shelf paper. Instead, I relied on a few good coats of Rejex polish and a few coats of the paste wax parting agent. This approach almost bit me in the fanny. I had to use a little elbow grease to get all the epoxy off the paint. Lesson learned for next time!

Nothing was curing too quickly with our 40 degree overnight temperatures so I took advantage of the cured-to-tacky-but-not-rigid state of cure and rough-trimmed the plugs. Of course these won’t be very effective as plugs in this state so I plan to cover the openings with additional fiberglass. I plan to cover the backside of the plugs with felt so that they won’t scratch the cowling when I take them in and out. I know a lot of metal airplane builders hate working with fiberglass, but I kinda like little projects like this. If nothing else, it’ll be nice to have these plugs ready to go for this year’s flying season!
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I had a visitor today. A gentleman from Australia is considering building a Midget Mustang. He’s 4-5 inches taller than me so he was interested in trying the plane on for size. Much to my surprise, he actually fit without much trouble. His legs bumped up against the fuselage fuel tank, and the headroom was a little tight, but workable. If he puts the fuel in the wings to get rid of the fuselage tank and if he goes with the M1A slider canopy, he’ll fit just fine.
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Sorry it’s been so long since my last update. I’ve recently decided to stop posting to a different site and concentrate more effort on maintaining this blog on a more regular basis. I’ll try for weekly updates even if there’s nothing going on.
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Happy flying. Rod.


Great Weekend Flying

Sorry, no pictures this weekend, but it was a great weekend for flying!
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My weekend actually began on Friday with some early morning touch and go’s. I was excited to try out the larger, 5.00 x 5 tires and 1/2 degree alignment shim I had installed late Sunday afternoon before I had to go to work on Monday. I’m very happy to report that one or the other (the shim or the tires) turned my airplane into a much more docile bird on landings and ground handling.
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I’m not ready to call it a pussycat, but it’s MUCH more controllable now. I still like the concept of using 11.000 x 4 x 5 tires because I think they look more proportional. I plan to re-install the little tires and try them one more time with the gear more properly aligned before I give up on them completely.
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I’m still dealing with camber issues. My gear legs splay out a fair bit which causes the top of the tire to tip inward toward the fuselage. From a handling standpoint, this isn’t all that significant. However, it really burns through the tires because all the stress from ground operations is focused on a small segment–perhaps 1/3–of the tire rather than spread out over the entire width of the tire.
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I can’t believe the amount of controversy a thing such as landing gear alignment can cause on the internet forums. For camber, the debate is whether or not you should have the wheel at 0 degrees of tilt with weight on or off the wheels. I.e., is it desirable to touch down with the wheels at zero degrees and then accept a certain amount of splaying out when weight is applied or should the bottom of the tire be pointed inward somewhat so that as the landing gear absorb the weight of the plane, the wheels reach a zero degree state.
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I’m going to do my best to achieve zero degrees of camber with weight on the wheels. My reasoning is that the majority of time the wheels are touching the ground, the tires are supporting the full weight of the aircraft. The time with the wheels on the ground without the full weight of the aircraft is transitory and short-lived. If nothing else, I’m sick of listening to people tell me my tires are tilted.
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As for toe in/out. I’m shooting for zero. If I have to error one way or the other, I’m going to error to slightly XXXXX. Ha! I’m not saying. Talk about controversy. You’d think we’re arguing about Ford vs. Chevy when people start talking about toe in versus toe out. I’ve got a pretty good idea which I prefer based on discussions with experienced folks who’ve flown and built a wide variety of aircraft. So far, it’s working very well.
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After I’m finished fooling with my alignment, I plan on having a machinist bevel the bases of a new set of Grove aluminum axles that I recently purchased. I’d rather not fly around with a half-pound of shims on my axles, so I’m hoping that beveling the bases will get me in the ballpark and only minor, if any, shimming will be required.
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Enough of the technical stuff. I built this thing to fly, right?!?
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Yesterday morning, I got up very early. I wanted to get to the airport in time to make sure my plane was bug-free and ready for the airport open house that was being held at Syracuse, KS (3K3). A little bout of insomnia provided me with plenty of extra time so I decided to start my day of flying with breakfast at Greeley, CO (KGXY).
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I had the biscuits and gravy while I sat and read a few pages on my Kindle ebook reader. I dragged my plane 100 feet over to the self-serve pump and topped off for the 200 nautical mile journey to Syracuse.
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I’ve been tweaking the K-factor on my JPI fuel flow for about 30 hours now. For all practical purposes, I’m done tinkering. The JPI said I needed to fill 5.8 gallons and I actually filled 5.74 gallons. That’s pretty danged close in my book! A VERY useful piece of equipment, if you asked me.
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The trip from Greeley to Syracuse was uneventful except for some cloudy sky. I stayed low for the first 30 miles or so and then popped up through a hole. I flew between solid layers for about 150nm until the clouds broke up about 20nm prior to Syracuse. I ran into a little light rain and slowed down a bit to keep the rain from eroding my Catto prop. As it turned out, I don’t thing the rain was heavy enough to have damaged the prop in any case.
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Arrival in Syracuse was uneventful. I tested my crosswind technique with an 8 knot crosswind, but the plane handled it without a problem. The winds were blowing and it was overcast and rainy most of the day. I was actually pretty cold standing on the ramp. Dumb me, I didn’t bring any sort of jacket or sweatshirt. Lesson learned.
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I had to shoo one toddler away from my airplane as he threw his first leg up on to my wing as he tried to climb on the extended flaps and on to the wing. I thought I was pretty calm about the incident, but his mother was pretty offended. Oh well. I can’t believe how parents think their little darlings can do no wrong and are offended when other people step in to do the job that the parent is too stupid or uncaring to do themselves! Honestly, stuff like this is enough to make me want to avoid going to any fly-in event where the general public is invited. I think the organizers should publish a list of tips for airplane/fly-in ettiquite in all advertising materials and on a HUGE sign as guests enter the event.
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The organizers originally asked me if I would park right at the entrance next to a real P51. I wondered if I would have problems after I saw that the P51 pilot had roped off his aircraft. Sure enough. I moved my plane to the far corner of the field after about a half-hour of watching people feel-up my plane. Even after moving the plane, I noticed that somebody moved the propeller about 30 degrees when I wasn’t watching. How frickin’ bold is that?
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I really enjoy going to these type of events, but I’m going to have to fabricate a system to rope off my airplane or I’ll go nuts with all these inconsiderate people! I’m thinking I may try to assemble something out of PVC pipes that I can carry with me and set up quickly. I really wouldn’t even mind letting children sit in the plane with my supervision, I just can’t stand all the hands-on (or feet-on) attention I seem to attract.
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Rant off.
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The nice folks at Syracuse sold me 8.7 gallons of 100LL at $2.00 per gallon, gave me a free T-shirt and served me a nice BBQ lunch for free. It really was a nice time in spite of less than perfect weather conditions. The Yak group was there in full force and did a few formation fly-bys. There was a wide variety of aircraft including a Sea Fury, a P51, a Chipmunk, a Hyperbipe and a bunch of RV’s.
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I burned 4.8 gallons per hour on the way down to Syracuse and 4.9 gallons per hour on the trip back home. I’ve been running at 2750 rpm and about 22-23″ of manifold pressure. Since I’ve got a fixed pitch prop, the manifold pressure is extra information that I share for comparison purposes. If I push the throttle up all the way I can get 2950 to 3000 rpm, but I don’t usually run it that hard because it feels like I’m abusing the engine.
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This morning, I had the pattern at KFNL all to myself for about 20 minutes while I did a series of touch and go landings. I can’t tell you how rare it is not to be duking it out with a bunch of 172’s on a nice morning. I guess they were all sleeping in! After I had my fill of touch and go’s I headed for Longmont (KLMO) for some less expensive 100LL. I caught sight of a Cub doing low level recon so a brief “hello” diversion was necessary before proceeding to Longmont.
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I had planned on spending the rest of the day diagnosing and fixing my inoperative fuel quantity gauge. I was, instead, happy to see that a fuse had fallen out. I couldn’t find the original fuse so I just installed a new one. Works like a charm. The only thing I can figure out is that I must have missed the actual fuse slot when I originally installed the fuse while standing on my head and using my fingers to feel for the opening.
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With the big fuel gauge issue resolved, I had some free time so I called my Mom and had her bring her car out for an oil change.
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I finished up with Mom’s car just in time to greet some visitors from Durango, CO. I won’t publish his name because I haven’t asked his permission, but he’s building an O320-powered Midget Mustang and wanted to see my project. We talked for an hour or so and he went on his way. I’m always fairly self-conscious when someone who’s obviously got a lot of flying and building experience wants to come see my project. I’ve learned quite a bit during the last 6 years, but I’m by no means, an authority on anything!
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I had a string of visitors the rest of the day with one person arriving as the other was about to leave. It was really great. I visited a few open hangar doors as I left the airport and was able to see an RV-7A under construction that I hadn’t even known was on the field prior to today. On top of that, I also found that there’s a guy on the field who’s building a Radial Rocket. That’s a VERY cool airplane. If somebody told me I could have a Lancair IV-P or a Radial Rocket, it’d be a tough decision. That’s one very cool airplane.
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Well, this entry is rapidly approaching the ridiculously long point so I’ll wrap it up. I’ve got to get my 2009 tax stuff together tomorrow because I’ve got a meeting with the tax lady on Tuesday. Probably won’t be any flying tomorrow. A bunch of us have a photo shoot planned for Wednesday morning up in the mountains. We’re hoping to get a few shots with the fall colors early in the morning. Since I’m bringing nothing to the table in terms of photo-ship capabilities, I’m planning to buy somebody some fuel and maybe even breakfast!


Spin-on Filter, Forest Fire

I decided I’d really like to have a spin-in oil filter on my O-200 so I purchased this F&M brand adapter from Steve’s Aircraft in Oregon. Steve’s also makes and sells a spin on adapter that gives you ports to install an oil cooler. I ordered the whole shebang because it’s a really elegant solution. Unfortunately, as you can see in this picture, the engine mount interferes with the F&M adapter. Bummer. I ended up sending everything back to them yesterday. These guys were fantastic to work with, by the way. They’re very active with the Cessna 140 community and seem to run a nice business with some innovative solutions to common issues. Highly recommended.

When the F&M adapter didn’t work out, I reinstalled my custom-machined in/out fitting where I had hoped the F&M adapter was going to go. This bracket was custom fabricated by a local machinist. I run lines to and from here to and from the oil cooler.

Since I’m back to using the custom fitting, I’m thinking about using this automotive remote oil filter bracket. It’s about $100 from Summit Racing. I’m thinking I’ll come out of the case, go to the filter and then to the cooler and then from the cooler back to the engine. I don’t see why this wouldn’t work. It’s kind of like the Airwolf setup, actually… only about $400 less money!

Depending on where you are in the country, you may have heard about the recent forest fire just west of Loveland, Colorado. My family has owned mountain land west of town for more than 40 years. We’re down to 80 acres at this time and it was, unfortunately, part of the recent fires. I went up earlier this week to take a few pictures. The TFR was still in place up to 9500′ MSL so these were taken from approximately 2500′ AGL. It’s kinda cool to see the orange line of fire retardant. Less cool to see how much of our property was burned. I’d have to say that the Midget Mustang isn’t necessarily a good photo ship!


Canopy Cover, Certificate Display, HSR Fly-in

Taking inspiration from my friend with the Sidewinder, I decided I needed a snap-on canopy cover for overnight trips. I had an old grey Evolution II car cover up in the attic from a Saab 900T I sold about 15 years ago. It was in reasonably good shape, so my Mom and I cannibalized it and fabricated a canopy cover. My Mom’s been sewing for 60 years so this is well within her comfort zone. I know more about sewing and sewing terms than any straight guy should ever know simply from listening to my mother talk about it for almost 42 years!

The regs require the Airworthiness Certificate to be “displayed.” The original builder of my airframe installed a manual trim system that required 4 holes in the side of the fuselage for the trim lever mechanism. Since I switched to electric trim as part of my refurbishment, I had 4 extra holes in the side of my fuselage that weren’t being used for anything. I purchased a scrap piece of plexiglass, cut it to size, beveled the edges and then attached it using the pre-existing holes and a few acorn nuts. Looks pretty danged clean if I do say so myself.

This is the famous and always-entertaining Larry Vetterman of Vetterman exhausts. Larry’s company supplies exhaust systems to a large majority of the Van’s Aircraft community. He hosted a fly-in at his home airport in Hot Springs, SD on the weekend of September 10th. I hoped to talk him into doing an exhaust system for my Midget Mustang, but he doesn’t have any of the tooling to work with the 1-1/2″ pipe on an O-200. Bummer.

The winds in Hot Springs (KHSR) were predicted to be a factor so I made it a point to get up there early on Friday. I was the first to arrive and scored a free T-Shirt from last year’s fly-in! There were 50-something RV’s in attendance and a whopping 3 “other” flavors of aircraft. I felt a bit like a turd in a punchbowl! The Midget Mustang made the RV’s look like they are huge aircraft. Speaks more to the size of the Midget Mustang, not the size of the RV’s.

There is a huge archeological Wooly Mammoth dig going on in Hot Springs. They are constructing this statue to honor the Wooly Mammoth at the top of a hill as you head out of town towards the airport. It reminds me of something you’d see in a Monty Python movie! Makes me smile every time I see this picture.

Larry came up with this self-guided aerial tour of South Dakota for the fly-in participants. Pilot briefings were held every 30 minutes or so most of the day on Saturday and folks took off in groups of 3-5 airplanes to follow the trail. After visiting Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devil’s Tower and Sturgis, the group landed in Wall, SD and went to Wall Drug for lunch. After that, they cruised through the South Dakota “badlands” area before returning to Hot Springs. My allergies were killing me so I left early and didn’t do the tour.
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I’ll probably head back up to HSR some nice day to do the aerial tour. It looked like fun.
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As I departed HSR to head back to Loveland, I experienced a drastic loss of oil pressure. It was a cool morning with a short taxi so I had to wait for my oil temperature to get above the minimum 75 degrees for takeoff. I took off when the temp was showing approximately 90 degrees.
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A few minutes later as I was circling overhead trying to decide if I wanted to go fly by Mt. Rushmore before heading home, I noticed that my oil pressure had dropped to 15psi. Ruh roh.
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I made an immediate landing. It wasn’t pretty, but I was back on the ground and the engine was at idle. With the help of all the great people at the fly-in, we removed my oil screen and the pressure relief valve. I found a small aluminum shaving in the pressure relieve valve housing that must have kept the valve from sealing when the oil temperature got above 100 degrees or so.
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We didn’t find anything at all in the screen so everyone agreed that I was safe to fly it home if it made pressure.
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This is the second time I’ve found aluminum shavings in my pressure relief valve housing. I’m about 95% certain that the aluminum shavings are entirely the result of my own stupidity in not making it a point to plug my spark plug holes when I was installing and drilling the sidewalls of my engine baffling. I thought I was being careful, but these shavings look suspiciously like shavings from a #40 drill bit making holes in .032″ aluminum!
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I took off from HSR and circled overhead until the oil temperature was at 180 degrees. The pressure was holding rock steady at 45-50psi so I headed for home.


Zulu Headset, Salida for Breakfast

I took a little time this morning and tidied up my Lightspeed Zulu headset installation. Since the cord on the Lightspeed comes out of the left earcup, I put the LEMO plug on the left side of the seatback bulkhead. I then ran the wire up the bulkhead and attached the headset control unit under the longeron with velcro. This way, I can still unplug the headset and take it with me to a hotel room if I’m going to have to leave the plane sit someplace unattended overnight. Simple, but it seems to work really well.

A bunch of us converged on Salida, Colorado (KANK) for breakfast on the morning of September 4th. This is my friend and tech counselor’s Sidewinder sitting on the ramp in Salida. Dave first flew this aircraft in 1982. He’s officially an old-timer homebuilder! This thing’s fast, too. He routinely beats up on a local guy who’s got an RV-4 and races in the Sport Air Racing League.

This Rocket is owned by an eye doctor in the Denver area. I purchased my RV-3 from this guy back in 1999. It was nice to catch up with him at breakfast. I like the smiley air intake on his bird.


FNL-PUB-LMO-FNL Breakfast

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything on this website, but I finally have something to share.

There’s a group of pilots based in the Denver area who make it a habit to fly somewhere for breakfast on Saturday mornings. One of the guys invited me to tag along this week. We ended up having 11 people and 10 different airplanes show up for breakfast in Pueblo, Colorado (KPUB) this morning. I flew down with a friend from KFNL. He has a Sidewinder that he built himself and first flew in 1981.
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The route is displayed to the left. I avoided the Denver and Colorado Springs airspace to the east on our way down to Pueblo and to the west on the way back home. We also stopped in Longmont (KLMO) for cheap fuel at $3.78 per gallon.
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As of the end of today’s flight I now have 20.9 hours on my Midget Mustang. There are a few squawks, but nothing major. The fuel burn is a little higher than I had hoped, but I’m not leaning aggressively and I’ve been flying around at relatively low altitudes and at full power to help the engine break-in. The airplane is not nearly as fast as I would have hoped, either with a top speed of about 175 mph at 8,000′. My friend with an IO-320 powered Sidewinder could pull away from me with 18″ of manifold pressure and 2300 rpm. I’m hoping the wheel pants and a few other aerodynamic clean-up mods will provide a few more mph.

Airborne near Hudson, Colorado. Photo by Allyson Schauer. Photo ship: Mike Schauer, RV-6.

Gotta love the silhouette photos and our beautiful blue Colorado sky.


Flying Report

I’ve been flying the wings off my Midget Mustang over the past week or so. As of this morning, I now have 12.8 hours on the Hobbs.

I’m starting to get comfortable with light airplane flying again. My approaches are much more consistent and my landings are improving nicely. I can now do a wheel or 3-point landing whenever I want and my landing distance is down to a more reasonable level.

This morning I went out with the intention of getting a baseline for speed improvements. Right now, I’ve got an aileron that’s slightly out of rig–which then brings about a need for a little rudder trim adjustment. I don’t have the wheelpants installed, either. I want to be able to quantify the improvements as I start cleaning things up so I made a few full-power runs at approximately 8000′ density altitude.

I’ve got a spreadsheet where you plug in your groundspeed and track on three different tracks. The spreadsheet does the trig calculations and poops out True Airspeed and the calculated wind direction and speed. I took measurements from 6 different tracks. I let the airplane accelerate as much as it could and carefully held heading and altitude while making sure the airplane was in coordinated flight. I plugged all the results into my spreadsheet and came up with consistent results… I’m doing 175 mph True Airspeed at this time.

I’m bummed because I was really hoping I’d be closer to 200 mph. Oh well, it *is* just an O200, after all. Maybe the wheel pants will work miracles.

I’ve been keeping close track of my fuel burn and the amount added at each fillup. I’m using self-serve fuel farms so the fill-ups have been to a consistent level. I’ve got a JPI fuel flow computer so I’ve been slowly tweaking the “K-factor” to achieve accuracy. As of this morning, it looks like I’m within 3-tenths. I’m really happy with its performance.

I spent $50 updating my Garmin 496 Nav database. I’ve decided I’ll probably just do it once a year. I really like the 496 and its various alert functions. It’s alerted me a couple of times as I approached a few of the widow-maker antennas in the local area. I’m pretty careful about knowing where they are, but it’s reassuring to hear the alerts, too.

I’m a little shocked at how long my takeoff rolls are. It’s taking me about 2500′ before the plane is ready to fly. My latest technique is to get the tail up as soon as I can to improve ground control and visibility. It’s really not ready to fly until about 80mph so I’m holding it on until I see at least 80-85. In fairness, the lowest density altitude I’ve seen is about 6300′. I’m sure my swerving around is soaking up a little takeoff energy!

I may have to do something different with my comm antenna. I’ve got a stainless steel bent antenna under the belly. It’s bent at about a 70 degree angle. I’ll look through the photos section to get an idea of what others are doing, but I’d also love to hear of any sure-fire solutions, too. My XCOM radio is one firmware revision behind, so that may have something to do with my poor radio performance, too. A friend bought me a Zulu headset at Oshkosh yesterday, too, so I’ll get everything else sorted out and then start jacking with the antenna.

All-in-all, I’m enjoying this phase of the game. I’m finally starting to trust the plane and no longer pucker up each time I’m more than gliding distance from the airport. I should have some decent air-to-air photos to share by the end of the week. A friend and his wife took 200 pictures from their RV-6. He left for Oshkosh without emailing the pictures so I’ll have to wait until he gets back to town to see the results of the photo mission.

Yes, my posts are long. I guess that’s what happens when you type 60 wpm and you’re excited about a new toy!