Archive

Archive for March, 2011

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.


Seatbelts, Wheelpants, and Racing

Somebody sent me an email asking about my shoulder harness attach point. I promised them I’d take a picture and post it to the web so here it is… about 2 months late! If you enlarge the picture and see that my bolts are way too short, don’t freak out. This was a loose installation for illustration purposes only.

The wheelpant installation has FINALLY begun. This was supposed to be one of those winter projects… I purchased a set of these wheelpants from Sam James. They’re sized to fit the smaller, 11x4x5 tires I’m now running. As with most all wheelpants available for experimental aircraft, these came without any holes or mounting brackets.

The fitting process is slow, but do-able. It’s pretty easy to replace fiberglass if you wind up cutting too much off, but I’d like to avoid that if I can. Once the big hole was cut, I expanded it about 1/4″ at a time. No sense in creating extra work for myself if it isn’t necessary.

As you can see, the pant is starting to fit pretty well in this picture. At this point I still haven’t drilled any holes to fix the position of the pant relative to the centerline of the aircraft. I’ll spend a fair bit of time making sure everything is pointed and tilted in the right direction. When you put this much surface area on a small aircraft such as the Midget Mustang, it’s critical that it’s aligned properly. If not, it’s easy to actually create drag instead of minimizing it!

I’m going to race in my first Sport Air Racing League race next weekend in Taylor, TX. This is an air racing league designed for sport flyers. It’s inexpensive to join and participate and seems like a fun thing to do. I quickly became disenchanted with normal airport fly-ins and open houses last year. It seems like the general public has no respect for other people’s property. I could see where it was only going to be a matter of time before my airplane was damaged due to inconsiderate adults or parents not supervising their children.
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I’m not an overly social person, but I really enjoy hanging out with other pilots. I fly to lunch or breakfast with friends all the time, but I was still looking for something else to do with the airplane now that it’s flying. I helped as a timer at a SARL race a few years ago and it looked like fun. I decided to give it a whirl this year as a participant.
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My Midget Mustang fits into the Sprint class. This is for aircraft equipped with engines of 240 c.i. or less. Mine’s got an O-200. The only problem with this class is that I’m thrown in with some pretty fast glass airplanes. This weekend, I’ll be racing for 3rd place now that there’s a Vari-EZ and a Glasair I in the mix. The Glassair is about 30mph faster than I am and the EZ is about 20mph faster than me. The next fastest behind me is a Zenith CH601. I should be able to beat him with one notch of flaps deployed for the entire race.
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The good news is that since this is my first race, it’ll be nice to NOT be battling neck and neck for a hotly contested position. I’ll be able to take a deep breath and focus on learning the ropes and flying a safe race. In the category of safety, I should also mention that the race has a staggered start where the aircraft are launched in 30 second intervals from fastest to slowest. Unless someone really misses a turn or their handicap speed is way off, there should be almost no passing on the course. I think this is a good idea given that most of us are just weekend warriors, not Reno racers.
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I won’t have the wheelpants installed in time for this weekend’s race so it’ll be nice to establish a baseline for speed and then be able to track increases (hopefully) as I make additional improvements to my airframe throughout the season. One of the things I’m pretty sure I’ll have to do at some point is have my Catto prop re-pitched. I’m able to turn about 3000rpm without the wheelpants at 8000+ density altitude. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of rpm’s I get at sea level.
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I’ve got more pictures to share, but I forgot to download them to my computer before leaving town last Friday. I’ll have to provide more updates later in the week. I’m also planning a fairly significant cross-country flight in conjunction with my trip down to Taylor, TX (T74). I’ll try to post something later in the week on that.


All’s Good

I’ve received several emails lately wondering how everything is going. I don’t have any pictures to post, but I decided I could do an update, anyway.
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I didn’t spend very much time out at the airport at all during the entire month of February. I caught a cold near the first of February and didn’t feel much like flying for the first 3 weeks of the month. I’ve never had a head cold hang on so long.
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I have flown the airplane a few hours since fixing my oil leak. I’m happy to say that there are no more leaks. I’m also happy to say that the shims I installed to correct the camber issue seem to be working out very well. Thanks Tom!
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I was really going through Midget Mustang withdrawal last week so I tried to sneak in a little flight. The weather was supposed to be awful so I wasn’t planning on being able to fly that day, but it was still pretty nice even after lunch so I headed out to the airport.
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The winds were 50 degrees off the runway centerline at 9 knots. I figured it would be good crosswind practice so I taxied to the runway. I hadn’t planned on doing anything but touch and go’s for an hour or so.
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Well, by the time I made it around the pattern the first time, the wind had increased substantially. I wrestled my little plane to the ground and was happy to add power to put some distance between me and the ground!
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As I climbed out, I glanced down at the windsock and noticed that it was sticking straight out with hardly a wrinkle in the fabric. Ruh, roh! I tuned in the AWOS just in time to hear that the winds were now 80 degrees to the runway at 19 knots gusting to 29 knots. More ruh, roh.
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I had 2-1/2 hours worth of fuel onboard, but I also had at least 3 glasses of soda onboard and safely stored in my 2-glass bladder so loitering airborne for a few hours wasn’t a pleasant option.
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I came around for a landing. Fought it the whole way to the high speed turn-off. I could smell my tires as I taxied to my hangar. I had to sit in the airplane and wait for the wind to calm down because every time I started to get out, the wind started to blow the airplane across the ramp. I was pretty relieved once I was able to safely tuck the plane back in my hangar.
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Looking back on the situation, I’m really glad it happened, but I’m not anxious to do it again! I’m glad it happened because it was a real confidence-building exercise for me. I now know that the plane and I are capable of 80 degree crosswinds at 19 gusting to 29. As I start to travel around the country with my plane this summer, this will be comforting information to have.
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On a mostly-unrelated note, I recently sold my Honda CR-V and purchased a used VW Passat. Things are still a little shaky at work and I want to put myself in as good a financial position as possible in case things go south in a hurry. Selling the CR-V let me get rid of a big monthly car payment. I paid cash for the Passat. The other side benefit of the Passat is that it’s getting about 32 mpg, which is about 25% better than the CR-V.
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I’m hoping for some serious airplane time over the next 3 weeks. I’m really hoping to participate in a Sport Air Racing League race on April 1. It’s down in Taylor, TX so it’ll be a long cross country. I still need to move my oil cooler, install the spin-on filter and install wheel pants. It’ll be tight to get everything accomplished by the 1st.