Archive for September, 2010

Maintenance Day

I was off work this week from Thursday through Monday. I had a few things to do Thursday, so I didn’t fly until Friday morning. I went over to Greeley for breakfast. It’s always nice to run into a few old friends and chat over breakfast. I topped off the fuel tank at $4.21 per gallon (which is about 50 cents per gallon cheaper than KFNL) and headed home. I removed the upper and lower cowling and stated draining the oil for an oil change. I finally made it back out to the hangar on Sunday to finish the oil change. I’m hoping to have all the parts and pieces gathered up by the time my next oil change is due so that I can install a spin-on oil filter at that time. Wonder how long it’ll take me to rack up another 25 hours?

Since I have a wooden/composite prop, I need to check the torque on the prop bolts on a regular basis. I’ve decided to make it my policy that I will check them whenever I change the oil. Since I had the spinner off anyway, I decided to install nutplates on my spinner backplate. I’m doing this in anticipation of doing a dynamic balance on my prop. Normally, during a dynamic balance session, the machine tells you where to place weight on your spinner to balance the engine and prop installation. Without the nutplates, adding weight would require removing the spinner to drill a hole in the backplate to install a nut and a few washers as weight. I decided it would be simpler to just have nutplates positioned every 30 degrees so that installing or removing weights would be quick and painless… and I wouldn’t have to beat up my spinner taking it on and off multiple times as we dial in the balance. I used AN470 rivets (the round headed ones) rather than the flush rivets that are normally used for nutplates because I didn’t want to machine countersink the backplate–removing more material– and making it just a little weaker. The heads of the 470 rivets shouldn’t be a problem in this application.

Next up on the days’ activities was checking and adjusting my landing gear alignment. A friend suggested I should be using greased plates under each main tire to allow the gear to reach its natural point with weight on the wheels. I stumbled across these plastic cutting boards at Wal-Mart the other day in the aviation aisle. They’re really slippery and much lighter and less messy to work with than greased steel plates. Total cost for 4 of these cutting boards was about $16. And hey… If I ever host a wine and cheese tasting party at my hangar, I’m all set for the serving trays…

I added another (my last) 1/2 degree shim to help correct a left-turning tendency. It was also time to replace my first set of tires. I only got 40 hours out of the first set, but that amounted to 122 [really bad] landings. I was using the 11×4.00-5 tires made by Cheng-Shin. They’re cheap at about $35 each, but they aren’t known for being durable or very high quality. I had a set of McCreary Airhawk 5.00×5 tires and tubes laying around so I installed those this time out of curiosity. It’ll be interesting to see how the bigger tires change the handling and landing characteristics. This is the standard size tire for Midget Mustangs and the RV-series of aircraft. Now that I’ve had the little 11.00×4’s installed, these things look like tundra tires to me!
The McCreary tires are fairly cheap as far as tires go at about $52 each. Now that my alignment issues are pretty well fixed and my landing technique has improved, I think I’ll get closer to 100 hours of use out of a set of tires. I like the idea of the smaller tires because I think they look more in proportion to the size of the aircraft and they weight a little less and create a little less drag. This being said, however, if the larger 5.00×5 tires improve the handling dramatically, I’ll switch in a heartbeat!

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.
I’ll probably head back up to HSR some nice day to do the aerial tour. It looked like fun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.