075 – Your Airplane’s Induction System Might Need Some Attention

Induction system couplings and clamps.  They are often overlooked… until they become an issue!

But why let it go that long?  Why risk having a problem somewhere away from home, where there might be limited tools and any necessary help.  It’s much better to do a little preventive maintenance on your airplane’s induction system, to guard against any unwelcome surprises.

Listen to today’s episode to hear about some stories about airplanes that had induction system issues that became challenging to figure out what was going on, including a recent one with Bret Chilcott and his 1947 Stinson.  Find out how Bret discovered the real problem during a Facetime call we had a few weeks ago.  Good eye Bret!

It’s a good idea to tighten induction coupling clamps at the annual inspection.  The following coupling is on a Continental turbocharged engine with the induction system on the top.

 It’s actually on this Cessna 337 that we did some work on awhile back at Classic Aviation.

The following Lycoming induction coupling clamps can be tightened with a straight blade screwdriver, or a 5/16 wrench or socket.

It’s also a good idea to check the torque on the induction flange bolts.  Induction leaks can be a minor nuisance, until something falls apart… then they become a major nuisance.

Take a look at your induction system, or have your A&P take a look, to make sure you don’t have any issues.  You just might prevent a really frustrating situation, (or a dangerous situation,) someday.

Check back next week, for a special episode featuring a conversation with my very good friend, Brian Holmes!  You can look for that one next Thursday, Thanksgiving Day!

 

074 – Help! I Flooded My Airplane Engine

Before we get started, I want to thank two people for today’s episode.

First, my very good friend, Brian Holmes.  Brian absolutely loves aviation and all kinds of airplanes, but he has no interest in turning wrenches.  So I was curious about what kind of topics would be appealing to airplane owners and pilots, like Brian, who love aviation, but who don’t care to get involved in maintenance in a hands-on way.  And very quickly, Brian suggested the topic of, “What to do when I flood the engine on startup.”  Thank you Brian, for this idea!  We can all use this one, whether we are pilots, mechanics, or both.

Second, I received an email awhile back from the Honorable Arthur Rosen, suggesting it would be good to have an episode on hot starts.  Thank you Arthur!

So we will attempt to combine these two in this episode, since they are sometimes related, and one of the times that flooding an airplane engine happens, is during a hot start.

As pilots and mechanics, we’ve all seen it… that guy out there on the ramp who just cranks and cranks and cranks away on his airplane’s engine, and just can’t seem to get it started.

And if we’re honest, if we’ve done very much flying and ground running of airplanes, there’s a good chance WE’VE been that guy!

And you always hate to be that guy, because it’s flat out embarrassing!

You start to imagine that everyone around is staring at you, imagining what an idiot you are, but not acknowledging that they’ve also found themselves in the very same situation at one time or another.

That scenario is bad enough.

Now imagine, you’ve arranged to take some family, friends, or other important people for an airplane ride…

You’re so excited about this.

Your passengers are a little nervous…

And you flood the engine…

If you don’t get this right, your passengers can quickly start to question your ability.

The last thing you want is for your passengers to wonder if you can actually fly this airplane.

So what do yo do, when you flood your airplane’s engine?

Here’s my short answer:  Whatever it takes to clear out the excess fuel, until the mixture of fuel and air is just right, so the engine can fire.

But before we talk about how to do that, let’s back up.

And let’s also give a couple disclaimers:

This episode is for information and inspiration only.  Don’t just take my word for it.

Check all this with your local A&P and your flight instructor.

In other words, don’t come back and say, “Dean said on the podcast that I could do this dumb thing I did”… YOU are responsible to take all this and check it out for your own personal situation!

Listen to today’s episode, and hopefully you will find something helpful when it comes to starting an airplane engine that is flooded, or hot, or both.

Here are a few ideas we cover:

  1. Keep your engine well-maintained… it’s one way you might PREVENT flooding your engine, or having an engine that’s hard to start.
  2. Be sure your magnetos are well-maintained (500 hour inspections,) and your spark plugs are serviced regularly, (I recommend every 50 hours.)
  3. Get some one-on-one training with your favorite option… it could be a flight instructor, an A&P, or just a very experienced pilot-friend.
  4. Don’t pump the throttle in a carbureted engine… use the primer instead.  Pumping the throttle increases the chance of a fire in the induction system.
  5. Become familiar with your POH procedures for flooded starts and hot starts.
  6. Don’t run your starter too long.
  7. Discover YOUR engine’s characteristics for flooded starts and hot starts, both in summer and winter.

And if you end up in a different airplane sometime, and you’re pretty sure it’s flooded, here are a few things you can try.  This is what I do:

  1. Mixture – idle cutoff.
  2. Starter – crank.
  3. Throttle – advance to full.
  4. When the engine fires – reduce throttle to idle (important!)
  5. Advance mixture.

Once again, check this out with someone locally, whom you trust.

I also mentioned the procedure Bill Eubanks uses in his A36 Bonanza for hot starts.  Here it is:

  1. Mixture lean.
  2. Throttle full.
  3. Purge any vapor lock by running fuel boost pump 15-20 seconds.
  4. Mixture rich.
  5. Fuel boost pump on until fuel flow peaks.
  6. Turn fuel pump off.
  7. Throttle:  close, then open about 4 twists.
  8. Start engine, and be prepared to turn fuel boost pump on for about one second once engine first begins to fire.

I was amazed how well this procedure worked when I saw Bill do it.

You may also be interested in a couple of past episodes that are related, but also very different:

Episode 019 “Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Airplane Engines, But Please, Take it Easy On Them!”

Episode 067 “The Zero-Throttle Starting Challenge.”  (Only for cold starts.)

One final note, I’m currently working on a video-based safety wiring course, so you can be watching for that in the future.

 

073 – BFR in a Cessna 310 with an Airline Captain CFI

When was YOUR last BFR?  Who was it with?  What was it like?  If you’ve been getting the same ‘ol BFR for many years, perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit!

That’s what I did recently, and I’d like to share a few of the take-aways with you today. 

After my BFR last Saturday, I realized there are some things that would be worthwhile to talk about from that experience. 

Today, I’d like to share my experience from my BFR on Saturday, September 23, 2017, and then discuss some things that might be worth considering about BFR’s in general, and also about flying twin engine airplanes.

Rock’s Cessna 310 made for a fantastic learning experience!  Listen to today’s episode for the details.

And just for fun, here’s another airplane Rock flies… it’s a Wilga!  How about that for a different, interesting airplane?!  Reminds me of an overgrown grasshopper!

After my BFR that day in the Cessna 310, I collected some thoughts together, and maybe one or more of them will be helpful to you as well… here are some of my take-aways:

  1. Be honest with your own strengths and weaknesses.
    1. I was a little over-confident that day.
    2. Looking back, I realize I was struggling with the dangerous attitude of “resignation.”
  2. If possible get your next BFR with a different flight instructor than you’ve ever flown with before.
  3. Give your flight instructor a brief description of your experience, and the type of flying you currently do, so the experience can be tailor-made for you.  
  4. Don’t cut corners!  The regulation of 1 hour of ground and 1 hour of flight, is there for a reason – safety!  Always be learning!
  5. If you fly a twin, be very sure you are staying current with your training, especially single engine training.
  6. Get some dual on VFR charts… good to know, and rarely reviewed.
  7. Then, understand the value of an instrument rating… makes you safer, AND, you don’t need to worry so much about all the things that can trip you up as a VFR pilot.

Bottom line:  Make the most of your BFR!

072 – Beechcraft Bonanza Inspection Checklist, Part 2

In the last episode, we covered the engine portion of the inspection checklist.

This week, we cover the rest of the checklist, which is the airframe portion of the inspection.

One item on the inspection checklist that may be overlooked, is to check and make sure all the required POH placards are present and legible.  These required placards are listed in the back of the Limitations section of the POH.

In one recent A36 Bonanza I inspected, the emergency landing gear placard appeared to be a fabricated paper version.  The main problem with this one, is that it said “150 turns,” instead of “50 turns.”  This is an important piece of information that needs to be accurate.

Check out the difference between the old, improper placard, and the new, proper one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

This emergency exit window placard needs to be replaced with one that is legible.

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check back for the next episode, where I’ll share about my recent BFR in a Cessna 310.

 

071 – A Walk-Through of the Beech Bonanza Inspection Checklist

Do you know what goes on during your airplane’s annual inspection?  Do you know what should be going on, and what should not?   Perhaps todays episode can help think through some of these questions, regardless of what type of airplane you own.

Today’s episode deals specifically with the Beechcraft Bonanzas, and the “ANNUAL LONG FORM INSPECTION GUIDE.”

But don’t worry, if you like this idea of talking through an inspection checklist, and you own some other kind of airplane, just shoot me an email to “dean{at}airplaneownermaintenance{dot}com” and let me know what type airplane you’d like me to discuss in the future.  Or, leave me a voice message on the website:  AirplaneOwnerMaintenance.com.

Or, if you don’t like this format, and it’s too cumbersome or boring to go through the checklist, please let me know that as well.  (However, before you dismiss this whole thing, perhaps you might want to have your A&P/IA listen as well for some potential new ideas and perspectives.

Here’s the video about the autopilot roll servo cable in an A36 Bonanza:

Following is a link for the Beech Bonanza Longform Inspection Guide:

http://flyabonanza.com/Resources_files/Bonanza%20Annual%20Inspection%20Guide.pdf

I got through about half of this in today’s episode, and plan to finish “walking through” the rest of it in the next episode.

Also, the article by Paul New that I mentioned, called “No Further Action Required,” can be found here:

http://www.tennesseeaircraft.net/no-action-required/

And while your there at Paul’s website, TennesseeAircraft.net, go ahead and take a look at his other articles.  They are always well-written and very educational… thanks Paul!

P.S.  Happy 50 Year Anniversary to the American Bonanza Society!  ABS has been a fantastic support and resource for so many Beechcraft owners for all these years… Honestly, this is one weekend I wish I was in Kansas, instead of Virginia!

 

070 – Engine Hoses, And The New AD on Piper Oil Cooler Hoses

AD 2017-14-04 affects a huge list of Piper models, including Cherokees, Arrows, and Saratogas.

But before we get into that, I wanted to give an update on the alternator brushes mentioned in episode 069.  Here are some pictures of the new brushes I installed in that alternator:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That little red wire holds the brushes out of the way while the brush holder is installed in the alternator.  Then, after it’s in place and the screws are tight, the red wire is pulled out gently, and the brushes snap down against the slip rings in the alternator.

After installing this new brush assembly in the left engine of that twin Cessna I was working on, the charging system was back to normal!

Now for the new AD on Piper oil cooler hoses.  AD 2017-14-04 supercedes AD 95-26-13.

I discovered this new AD recently while performing an annual inspection on a Piper Archer.  The oil cooler hoses were still in relatively good condition, although they had over 1200 hours on them.  (This airplane gets flown a lot.)

These were not TSO-C53a, Type D hoses, so they had to be changed.  The good thing is, we ordered and installed new, Type D hoses, so that terminates the AD for this airplane.

This AD has a lot of information in it, and it can be a little confusing to figure out, but the bottom line is, if you have TSO-C53a, Type D hoses, they are not affected by this AD.  However, if you have Type C hoses, or any other hoses, they need to be inspected at certain intervals, and then replaced when they have either 8 years, or 1000 hours, on them.

How can you tell if you have Type D hoses?  Just look at the metal tag on the hose assembly.  If it says Type D on that tag, your hoses are not affected by this AD.  Generally, Type D hoses will be either the teflon hoses, with smooth, brown, exterior and a tag that says “Type D,” or, hoses with orange firesleeve, that also have a tag that says, “Type D.”

Back in 1996, another document that was issued by the FAA, was SAIB ACE 96-01, which offered some AMOC’s (Alternative Method Of Compliance.)  AMOC #1 gave the option to terminate the AD with Type C AND Type D hoses, as long as the oil cooler was mounted at the rear of the engine, and there were no defects noted on the hoses.

But with the new AD, that AMOC is no longer approved as a method to comply with the new AD.

So I had to change those hoses in that Archer… oh well, they should last a very long time!  And since we installed Type D hoses, the AD is now terminated in that airplane.

If you want to dig deep and learn some detail about hoses, how they are made, and the differences between type C and type D hoses, here is an AOPA article that is quite educational:

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2006/january/01/airframe-and-powerplant

Here are a few recommendations to consider when it comes to engine hoses, regardless of what type of airplane you have:

  1. Although not required for part 91 operators, good idea to change them every 8 or 10 years.  Many airplane engine hoses are 20 or 30 or more years old… you’re taking chances to let them go that long.
  2. Make sure there is clearance between hoses and any exhaust component.
  3. Verify hoses are not bent too tightly.
  4. Always be looking for any leakage… esp. at hose ends.
  5. Verify all hose B-nuts are tight, with torque putty applied.
  6. If you move a hose to the side, and you hear it creaking, it’s probably old and needs to be changed.
  7. Even though the brown, teflon hoses are sometimes described as having no life limit, it’s still a good idea to change them at a reasonable frequency.

Now for one final thing that surprised me the other day.  I was inspecting another Piper Archer, and part of the inspection is draining the fuel tanks.  After collecting some liquid from the left fuel tank, I noticed it did not look like Av Gas… and it did not smell like Av Gas.  So I continued draining until I got fuel… I had drained almost 1/2 cup of water out of that tank!

 

 

 

 

 

It was one more reminder for me to avoid complacency, and keep doing the routine, but important items.

Here’s another interesting thing about that left fuel tank.  The cap was broken… perhaps this was the reason it did not seal well, and let water in!  (A new cap will be installed.)

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks everyone!  See you next time!

069 – Airplane Alternators: Real World Issues, and Online Troubleshooting

Your airplane’s alternator is something you depend on, and if it’s not working dependably, it quickly becomes a serious situation.

In today’s episode, we talk about some actual charging system issues I’ve encountered recently in the shop where I work, at Classic Aviation, as well as some interesting discussion I found in some online forums about charging system troubleshooting… (it seems to me that much of that “troubleshooting” turns out to be wild guesses, but there is actually some good information in those forums, if you can sort through all the opinions and “armchair quarterback ideas.”)

Beyond the forums, there is A LOT of good information available online for aircraft electrical system troubleshooting, and one post I found was from Hartzell Engine Technologies.  This is the one I mentioned in today’s episode, that had the tip about using a hacksaw blade for a simple test… I’m going to try that one!

You can find that post here:

Top Tips for Troubleshooting Your Aircraft’s Alternator

Finally, here are some issues I’ve encountered just recently on a twin Cessna:

The “R ALT OUT” light was on, even with the engine running, and the alternator charging normally.

 

 

 

 

 

And here is the “Alternator Inop. Sensor” that turns that light on and off, under normal circumstances.  It’s mounted near the alternator at the forward, right side of the engine.

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to today’s episode, for a description of what the three wires are for, (the red, the white, and the black wire.)

 

Finally, the culprit was found… the wire that comes from the ground side of the alternator inop light in the panel, was shorting out on the air-oil separator, before it even got to the sensor at the forward, right side of the engine.  This caused the “R ALT INOP” light to be on, even though the alternator was working just fine.  After fixing that, the system returned to normal operation.  This one was challenging to find!

Here’s what that wire looked like after it was pulled out of that wire bundle.

 

 

 

 

 

And the corresponding area on the air-oil separator where that wire was shorting to ground.

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was another problem on the left engine, where the alternator would drop off line occasionally… this was different than the right engine, in that it actually stopped working.  It didn’t happen often, just occasionally.  Here is that alternator:

 

 

 

 

 

And here is what the brushes looked like when they were removed:

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, a new brush assembly has been ordered!

 

So, those were some interesting issues, and it’s good to finally have them solved.

 

In thinking about this whole area of charging system troubleshooting, here are several things to keep in mind:

  1. We all tend to approach troubleshooting from the perspective of our personal experiences.  So, if we had a particular problem or two happen in the past, we naturally tend to think someone else may have that same problem.
  2. It’s really easy to immediately think of the main components, like the alternator and the voltage regulator.  Unfortunately, these are some of the most costly times in the system, and many times, are not the cause of the problem.  Changing them without good troubleshooting, can be a shot-gun approach… it might fix it, but it might not.
  3. Out of the ordinary issues are sometimes not covered in the maintenance manual, and these can be very frustrating to troubleshoot and figure out.  Like that chafing wire that caused the alternator inop light to stay on, even though the system was actually working.
  4. Some issues I’ve seen, that have caused problems, have included:
    1. Loose connections (at alternator, at battery, at airframe ground, etc.)
    2. Corroded/burned contacts inside electrical master switch (field circuit side.)
    3. Chafing wiring in engine compartment.

 

So, as an airplane owner, what can you do?

  1. Learn all you can.
    1. Read online, but be cautious!
    2. Study your POH.
    3. Work with your A&P if possible.
  2. Ask questions.
    1. If you get obscure answers that sound confusing, ask someone else!
    2. If you get a defensive answer, definitely ask someone else.
    3. Example:  Can you explain to me why you think we need to replace the alternator?  (There should be a valid answer to this, other than, “It’s the most obvious thing to do.”)
  3. Be as gracious with your A&P as you can.
    1. They’re not perfect, after all! 
    2. Some problems are complex.
    3. This is not someone you want to be ticked off at you!

Happy troubleshooting!

 

 

 

 

068 – Overcome the Resistance in Aviation and in Life

Videos mentioned in today’s episode:

Mike Busch’s story about his aviation journey:  savvyaviation.com

(Scroll down on the home page, and the video is right there.)

 

Bret Chilcott and his new LED nav lights for his 1947 Stinson:

You can buy these nav lights at Aircraft Spruce:

http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/elpages/navstrobesextant40.php

(There is also a cheaper version of LED nav lights, but they are for experimental aircraft only.)

Bret also gave us a report on his starting procedure for his Stinson… thanks Bret!

Also in today’s episode, I share a question my wife asked me about how we start the lawnmower 🙂

And the featured topic of this week, is about overcoming resistance, to get to a new, significant place in life.  I was reminded of this when I was working on the nosegear of a C-182RG that drove me crazy.

The collar under the block of wood, was so stubborn to get off!

 

 

 

 

 

The piston at the bottom of the strut fork also needed to be resealed.

 

 

 

 

 

And during the reassembly, this little homemade block of wood, proved to be one of the most important tools in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

This whole deal, was a reminder to me, of how difficult it can be sometimes to press forward to a new level of anything in life.  Sometimes the resistance is overwhelming, but it’s worth it to keep moving forward!

And finally, back to Bret Chilcott… he had a question about some water droplets in his bottom cowling.  What do you think?  Are they from melted carb ice, or is there something else to consider?

If you have an idea about this, you can contact me, or contact Bret directly.  His contact information is at his website:  AgEagle.com

Thanks for listening to today’s episode!

067 – The Zero-Throttle Starting Challenge

How do you start your airplane engine?  Is it perfectly “by the checklist,” or some other method?  We’ve talked about this topic in the past, and it will come up again in today’s episode.  Listen in, take the challenge, and see if it might be worth considering a small modification to your starting procedure.

Also, if you have not listened to episode 019, you might want to go back and catch that one… it goes into much greater detail on the subject of starting airplane engines, and some things to think about.  It might surprise you!

Also, in today’s episode, we give an update on the Lycoming connecting rod bushing issue.

Thank you, Mike Busch, and the Savvy Aviation team, for keeping us all up to date on this issue.   The recent email from Savvy Aviation is how I first discovered the FAA had issued an AD on this connecting rod issue.

Here’s a link to SB 632B:

http://www.lycoming.com/sites/default/files/SB632B%20Connecting%20Rod%20Identification.pdf

And here’s one for AD 2017-16-11:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2017-16968.pdf

And finally, one for Lycoming Service Instruction 1458G:

https://www.lycoming.com/sites/default/files/SI1458G%20Connecting%20Rod%20Bolts%20%281%29.pdf

Bottom line:  If you have a Lycoming engine that is affected by this AD, your local A&P may very well be able to remove the cylinders, do the inspection, and reinstall the cylinders, as long as your connecting rod bushings PASS THE TEST.  However, if you need to have any connecting rods changed due to failing the bushing test, BE VERY CAREFUL about having the work done by your local A&P… this is a task that just might be best accomplished by a reputable engine-overhauler.  Just read through SB 632B (great pictures,) and SI 1458G, and you will discover that “This ain’t no task to be taken lightly!”  Make sure it is done with the care and precision necessary  for reliable operation.

Also, in today’s episode, I talked a little more about the instrument nut that I recently found behind the instrument panel of a Cessna 182.  This past week, I noticed some good techniques for fastening instrument nuts in place to prevent them from falling down behind the panel.  Here are a couple pictures from a twin Cessna I worked on this past week at Classic Aviation, LLC:

Notice how the lacing cord is used to tie the instrument nuts in place.

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s another method of tying the nut in place with lacing cord:

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much for the feedback I received from Arthur Rosen, and from Joshua Swartz, both about the issue of starting airplane engines, and what they found helpful from episode 019.  (Listen to the episode to hear what their emails said to me.)  This leads me to the challenge I’m giving today:

The Zero-Throttle Starting Challenge:
To find any piston airplane engine, where this technique does not work… because I don’t know of any at this point.  (This starting technique is describe in great detail, in Episode 019.)

I also received an email from Bret Chilcott this past week… thanks Bret!  If you have not listened to the episode with Bret, he is doing some very fascinating things in aviation, both flying his own 1947 Stinson, and also, providing drones that are used to survey crop fields.  Take a look at the notes for episode 055 and the great pictures and videos that Bret provided for us.  AgEagle is the name of his company (AgEagle.com)

Thanks for listening, and for checking out the website… if you appreciate the Airplane Owner Maintenance podcast, please go to iTunes and leave a star rating, and write a short review, so that others can become aware of what we offer.

066 – A Sticky Situation With Lycoming Engines

What kind of “sticky” are we talking about?  Listen to today’s episode, and you’ll find out.

But first, we have a couple of other things to cover:

  1. Update on the Cessna 182 that was mentioned in a recent episode, where some pitted lifters and a questionable spot on the camshaft, were found.
  2. Follow up on a situation with a listener’s attitude indicator.

In today’s episode, we talk about a variety of things, including sticking exhaust valves in Lyoming engines.  Lycoming has a Service Bulletin (388C) that was issued years ago to address this issue.  (Thank you to Barry Sparonello, who requested some information about this topic in a podcast episode.)  The specific test on the valves and valve guides is sometimes referred to as the “wobble test.’  Here is a link to that Lycoming Service Bulletin:

http://www.caa.si/fileadmin/user_upload/pageuploads/AD-NOTE/AD-2006/093_sb_SB388C.pdf

Paul New, at Tennessee Aircraft Services, in Jackson, TN, is very experienced with this procedure, and has the necessary equipment to do it.  Here is a link to an excellent article that Paul wrote on this topic:

http://www.tennesseeaircraft.net/422/

Check out some other items in this episode as well, including when to overhaul your airplane engine… for Lycomings, SI 1009 might be helpful as a reference.

Also, listen to today’s episode, to get some good information about the new Service Bulletin on Lycoming connecting rod bushings – MSB 632B.

Don’t take your Lycoming engine apart just yet if you don’t have to.  Let the dust settle on this service bulletin, and then make a decision.

Here are a couple Interesting / Startling things I found recently:

An instrument nut, that had fallen into a wire bundle behind the instrument panel in a cessna 182.  Thankfully, it was not shorting anything out!

 

 

 

 

 

A razor blade that was riding around in the tail of a twin Cessna for who knows how long!

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

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