Airplane Owner Maintenance

A Maintenance Oriented Podcast For Airplane Owners

084 – I Want You to Question the Safety of Your Airplane

Yep, you heard me right.

But don’t worry, it’s not for some weird, fear-driven reason.

This is for a good reason… I want you to question the safety of your airplane, so that you will go on a search to find anything that might need some attention.  You might be able to do that search yourself, or you might want to grab your A&P, or a fellow aviator, to help you.

Whatever the case, don’t fly around with something like I discovered the other day as I was inspecting a Lycoming IO-360 engine.

If you look closely at the picture, you will notice the center plug is safetied backwards.  If you were to put a wrench on the plug and turn it in the loosening direction (left) you would be able to turn it perhaps 1/4 turn.  This would be enough to cause a significant fuel leak.  This safety wiring on the plug, is beautiful, but it’s backwards!

What about you? Have you taken a close look at your airplane’s engine recently? If not, it might be a good time to take a look. And one thing to look for, is to confirm that all safety wiring is installed properly, in such a way that not only does it look nice, (which is important in my opinion,) but it is actually done correctly so that the component or piece of hardware, cannot become loose. You certainly do not want to be flying along and have something shake loose on your engine!

I know you want to fly safely and confidently, knowing you’ve done everything you can to make that happen.

But what if you’re not sure what to look for? What if you lack the confidence to determine if all the safety wiring is done properly?

If this is your situation, I can absolutely help you. I have created a tool to help airplane owners just like yourself, to develop the ability, not only to evaluate safety wiring to determine if it’s correct or not, but to also develop the personal skill to perform safety wiring. “Safety Wire Like A Pro!” is a powerful video tutorial course, designed to walk airplane owners through all the necessary steps, to perform safe and effective safety wiring, on a variety of components, every time. It will also give you the ability to evaluate safety wiring, using my three-part criteria. You’ll know how to determine when safety wire is done properly, when it’s done poorly, when it’s backwards, and when it’s just ugly.

But more importantly, you’ll be able to install safety wiring yourself in a way that you know for sure it is done correctly.

It took me years to get really good at this skill. But I’ve boiled it down into a clear-cut, easy to follow, set of tutorial videos. If you go through the course, and practice your skills, you can learn quickly, what it took me a long time to learn.

If you’ve never done any safety wiring at all, this course is for you.

Or, if you’ve done a little safety wiring, this course is for you also, and has the very real potential to help you get much better at it.

And if you’ve done a lot of safety wiring, this course is still for you, because I’m guessing you may discover something you were not aware of, that will be a difference maker for you, and take your safety wiring skill to a new level.

So what are you waiting for?

Go sign up now, for “Safety Wire Like A Pro!” and take your safety wiring to a new level.

Don’t wait, because from now until the end of February, you can get a $30 discount on the course. The normal price is $97, but until the end of February, you can get it for $67 by using the code “WIRINGCOURSE” at checkout.

I look forward to seeing you in the course,

Dean Showalter

083 – Can Airplane Owners “Safety Wire Like A Pro?” Absolutely!

Good news:  The “Safety Wire Like A Pro” video tutorial course is now available!  You can read about it here:

Build Your Safety Wiring Skills with Dean

Or, just click the picture in the right sidebar that says, “Learn to safety wire with Dean.”

Regardless of your current skill level with preventive maintenance, I’m confident you can take your skill to a new level with this course.  And if you hurry, you can get a significant discount on the whole thing.

The normal price of the safety wiring course is $97.  But we are having a  discount to celebrate the release of our very first training course for airplane owners.  Now through the end of February, you can get it for $67.  What a deal!  Do it now, so you don’t forget about it.

To get the discount, just enter the code “WIRINGCOURSE” and it will take $30 off.

In today’s podcast episode, I talk about meeting one of the listeners who happens to be a student at the local A&P school at SHD.  It made my day!

I also talk about some recent things I’ve worked on at Classic Aviation, that made me think of the concept of “The problem behind the problem.”  You may be interested in going back and listening to episode #13, “Avoid the Gotchas,” after hearing this one.

The two issues we cover in this segment are a broken fitting on an engine driven fuel pump on a TSIO-550 engine in an experimental airplane, and a wiring harness plug that was not fully attached on the back of an HSI in an A36 Bonanza.

So back to the safety wiring course… I encourage you to try it out.  It’s a small investment that can make a big difference.  Think about it.  You need some safety wiring skills to  do some of the preventive maintenance items, and you need to make sure it’s done correctly.  Over a period of time, you can really save some labor bucks if you can perform these tasks yourself.  So invest in yourself and become confident with  your safety wiring.

It’s a no-risk investment… if you are not fully satisfied, you can get a full refund in the first 30 days.  That takes all the pressure off.

So go for it, and let’s learn together!

Also, some of you have asked me how you can help me.  Here are two ways:

  1. Buy the safety wiring course and hone your skills.
  2. Share this information wherever you can… forums, social media, and anywhere else you think is appropriate.  Thank you so much!

And if you need to buy safety wire pliers, here is a good option:

These are reversible, automatic return safety wire pliers.  There are cheaper options available, but these will serve you well.

A can of .032 safety wire is also a necessary item you’ll need for your safety wiring tasks.

As we release this first video training course for airplane owners, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Bob Huber, my video editor.  He has been a superstar with the quality of work he’s done on the videos.  I could not have done it without him.  All the intros, music, special effects, and conclusions, are all Bob’s work, and I’m beyond grateful.  Thank you Bob!

One more thing… If you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth area in Texas, (or if you want to fly there,) and have an interest in public speaking, I’d love to meet you!  And here’s the perfect opportunity:

My good friend Brian Holmes is hosting a “Maximum Impact” speaker training workshop on Thursday, February 22nd, and I will be there.  I highly recommend all of Brian’s training, so go watch the short video and see if this might be a good fit for you… and as a bonus, I’d love to meet you too.

Watch Brian’s short video here.

Have a great week everyone, and don’t forget to check out the safety wiring course.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

082 – Design Your Airplane’s Interior With Maintenance In Mind

When it comes to airplane interiors, an important detail that can be totally overlooked, is how the interior installation will affect future maintenance operations.  I highly recommend you give it some thought if you’re considering having new interior installed in your airplane.

Before we get into that, here are some highlights of today’s episode:

  • Audio message from Tom Martin with an option for a great tool to remove and install inspection covers on fabric aircraft.
  • If you own a fabric airplane, you may want to get one of these kits for yourself, and one for your A&P… it would make a great gift!
  • Two iTunes reviews.
  • A brief report about why I traveled to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this past week.  (I spent a few days with some of the most amazing young people on the planet! )
    •  Check out this unique and inspiring way to get a college degree.
    •  This is the conference I spoke at this week.

You might ask, why are you putting that information in here?  Good question.  Because I just spent a few days with some of the brightest young people I’ve ever seen, who have their sites set on really big dreams and goals.  I figured some of you might have kids who are about ready to go to college, and I thought I’d pass this info along as an excellent option and alternative to the typical college scenario.  Feel free to email me with any questions.

Now for today’s topic… Airplane Interiors, and how if affects maintenance.  The audio includes more details, but here are a few recommendations I have if you are considering a new interior for your airplane:

  1. Talk with your A&P or your IA and get ideas for how to design the interior in a way that makes the annual inspection simpler.
  2. Talk with owners of similar airplanes to get ideas.
  3. Ask questions in online forums.
  4. Brainstorm ideas for simple removal and reinstallation, especially seams and fasteners.
  5. Don’t use glue for areas that need to be accessible.  Use fasteners or snaps instead.

Remember, if you have a fabric airplane, scroll down and consider the tool kit Tom Martin recommended for removing and installing inspection covers… maybe get one for you and one for your A&P.

The “Safety Wire Like A Pro!” course is almost ready… I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Thanks everyone!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


081 – One Simple But Powerful Idea for a More Efficient Annual Inspection

I had a situation last week at Classic Aviation that made me think about this topic… cable tensions and how easy it is for confusion to creep in around this topic.  Listen to today’s episode to hear about a situation on a Piper Saratoga that took some digging to get to the bottom of it.

But first, I want to say thanks to Matt Reedy for his feedback about a gear down light in his Piper Arrow.  He referred to episode 058, and if you have not listened to it, you can find it here:  Airplane

If you have a gear down light in your airplane that is slow to illuminate after you extend the landing gear, you might find that episode helpful as one idea to consider.

Matt also shared with me something about safety wiring.  Here is what he said:

“I watched your YouTube video on safety wiring a brake caliper several times.  It really helped me figure out how to safety wire the oil filter and oil sump suction screen on my Lycoming engine.  I’ve now changed my own oil several times.”

Thank you Matt!

The safety wiring video course will soon be available.  More information to come on that.

In the mean time, if you’d like to watch the video Matt was talking about, here it is:

The upcoming safety wiring course, “Safety Wire Like A Pro,” will go far beyond what you see in this video.  I

Also in this episode, I mentioned a very special Christmas gift I received from my daughter.  Here’s a picture of that 🙂

(You’ll have to listen to the audio to find out why in the world she wrote “#bestbananaever” on that banana…  I loved this gift!

Today’s main feature:  Airplane cable tensions.  Find out what it took to get all the cable tensions up to proper specs, including the primary cables, trim cables, and autopilot servo cables.

And after this experience, I’m more convinced than ever, that it would be a really good idea for every airplane owner to put together some sort of maintenance file that can be used as a reference when it comes time for the annual inspection.  It could include things like:

  • Cable tensions
  • Tire pressures
  • Strut extension levels
  • Engine oil type
  • Common part numbers
  • Recurring AD’s
  • Acomplete AD compliance record
  • And more

And, if you have other great ideas about what to include in a maintenance file like this please let me know… leave a voice message here on the website, or send me an email.  dean{at}airplaneownermaintenance{dot}com

Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend!

080 – Citabria Annual Inspection Review

Do you know where the name “Citabria came from?  Check this out:  The name “Citabria” is actually “Airbatic” spelled backwards.  Interesting trivia.

Today, we cover a quick review of the annual inspection checklist for the Citabria.  Thank you to Dan Frankel for requesting this topic.

Also, I’d like to thank Brian Schober for his kind words in a recent iTunes review, and also in an email he sent me.  In that email, he mentioned how the podcast “allows us to identify concerns before they become actual issues.”  Yes!  That is precisely one of the things I love to see happen… airplane owners identifying possible concerns, and taking action to keep them from developing into dangerous situations.  So thank you Brian, for sharing that.  If anyone wants to hear the rest of what Brian said, just listen to today’s episode.

Finally, I’d like to thank Leon and Wynne Johenning, owners of a pristine 1997 Citabria, model 7GCBC.  I’ve mentioned them in some previous episodes, including the very first episode.  If you’re interested you can listen to that one at

I’ve enjoyed working with Leon and Wynne so much, and they’ve become great friends.

Thank you, Leon and Wynne!

Reminder:  The new video course, “Safety Wire Like A Pro!” will soon be available.  Watch for more details coming soon.  Even if you have zero experience in safety wiring, this course can help you learn to perform the task with excellence and make it look like it was done by a pro!

079 – YOU Can Check Your Exhaust System for Leaks With This Simple Technique!

This is the final episode for 2017!  Thank you everyone, for all your emails, messages, ideas, and encouragement.  You all mean so much to me!

A recent email I received, included this link for an article that is worth reading, about exhaust system issues, and carbon monoxide.  There are also a couple videos worth watching as well.

Thank you Steve, for providing that information!

As an airplane owner, there is a very simple technique you can use to detect exhaust leaks that might be a problem.  All it takes is a clean shop vac with the capability to BLOW air, a clean spray bottle, and some dish detergent.  (Oh, and maybe some duct tape and some pieces of sponge, or something to seal around the vacuum hose when you put it in the exhaust tailpipe.)

Here are some pictures from a Piper Turbo-Saratoga I’ve been working on at Classic Aviation recently.  The cylinder #3 exhaust flange was leaking at the gasket area, and blowing dust back onto the intake pipe.  This was one issue I needed to fix.  AND, it became really obvious when I did the shop vac pressure test… listen to today’s episode for more details about how to do this.

Here’s another thing I found.  The forward V-band clamp in this picture was loose.  Also, the transition flange going into the exhaust pipe behind the clamp, was seized at the slip joint, and caused the gasket to be loose, and leak exhaust dust.  It took some heat to free up the slip joint, and put some anti-seize on it to allow it to be drawn into proper position for torquing.

Also, the V-band clamp second from the top left, in the picture above, was leaking exhaust dust for a big reason… the gasket was missing!  Here’s a closer look:

Another indicator is how the two ends of the clamp are almost touching… after the gasket was installed, they were farther apart, as they should be.

And here’s  how the final installation looks after everything has been reassembled, torqued and safetied:

In light of all this, here are some ideas of what you can do on your airplane engine, to help ensure the exhaust system is safe:

During the oil change, or any time the cowling is removed:

  1. Check for exhaust leaks.
    1. Visual – look for dust.
    2. Pressure test – not complicated – use shop vac, but be careful!
  2. Note any discrepancies and report to your A&P.  How cool if you can say, “I have a little exhaust leak at Cylinder #4 attach flange… please fix it.”
  3. If turbocharged, do a visual check and “wiggle test” on all exhaust clamps… most are V-band clamps.  If there is any play at all, it needs to be retorqued.
  4. If you’re not comfortable doing the pressure test, ask your A&P to do it, including, and especially inside the muffler cover where the cabin heat is picked up.
  5. If you are having exhaust work done, ask your A&P to make sure all slip joints are free to move. 

If you do this and find any leaks, I’d be very interested in hearing about your experience – email me or leave a voice message.  (Click the button on the right side of the page.)

Coming in 2018:  Be looking for information on the new course, “Safety Wire Like A Pro!”  Owner performed preventive maintenance often requires some safety wiring, so if you need to learn how to safety wire oil filters, screens, brake calipers, and other items, OR, you’d like to get better at it, consider taking this video course… it can absolutely help you to make your safety wiring look like it was done by a professional!  More information coming soon.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I’d like to wish you the love, joy, peace, and abundant life of Jesus, as we celebrate Christmas and look forward to a brand new year in 2018.  God bless you all, my friends!


078 – A Cylinder Blow-Out, a Blue Fuel Stain, and a Leaking Vacuum Pump Seal

This cylinder definitely has a problem!  And I can’t help but think, could there have been a way to detect what was going on before it got this severe?  I’m not sure, but I do wonder what might have been detected if a borescope inspection had been done at the last annual.  (Perhaps that was done, and nothing showed up at that time.)

Whatever the case, this cylinder is not healthy.  Thankfully, it was found, and removed from that engine.  One complicating factor on this airplane, was that the #1 and #5 EGT probes were swapped, which could  have caused some confusion.


Another thing I saw in the shop this past week, was an area of blue fuel stain below one of the induction couplings on this Cessna 182.  (This is NOT the airplane that had the cylinder problem.)

The induction coupling clamps on this engine needed a little tightening… It’s always a good idea to check these clamps during the annual inspection, both on Lycoming, and Continental engines.

Another good way to check for induction leaks is to do an in-flight induction leak test using different power settings and analyzing information on the engine monitor.  (Thank you Steve, for pointing that out.)  You can google “Mike Busch induction leak test” for more information on that.


The third item in this week’s episode is about leaking vacuum pump drive seals, commonly known as Garloc seals.  This is the seal that keeps engine oil from leaking past the rotating shaft that drives the vacuum pump.  When this seal leaks, one indicator can be small oil droplets that are slung around in the area surrounding the vacuum pump.

Here is what this seal looked like when the vacuum pump was removed.


Remember, from last week’s episode, make sure your heating system is in good, safe, working condition.  If you have a combustion heater, make sure all checks are up to date, and consider having a pressure test done, even if it’s not “required.”

If your heat is collected from your engine’s exhaust system, make sure it has been thoroughly inspected for any defects that could allow carbon monoxide to enter the cabin.  Use a good quality carbon monoxide detector (Not the spot detectors.)  Get one that has a visual and audible warning.


Reminder:  More information coming soon about Dean’s safety wiring video course, to help airplane owners learn how to do excellent safety wiring, or to help them get better at it.

Fly safely!

077 – Is Your Airplane’s Heater About to Kill You? I Hope Not!


Check out this picture… any idea what’s going on here?

Now that we are into cold weather seasons, it’s a good time to talk about aircraft heaters.  They can be a necessary source of in-flight comfort, but if something goes wrong, they can also be surprising source of in-flight danger.

If your airplane has a combustion heater, make sure it’s maintained in a way that maximizes safety and reliability.  Some heaters have AD’s that mandate certain inspections.  Regardless of the AD’s, aircraft combustion heaters need regular and specific maintenance, to ensure proper and safe operation.

Two new AD’s have recently been issued on Southwind / Stewart Warner heaters.  In the past, these heaters were not required by AD’s to have a pressure test at regular intervals, but one of the new AD’s  DOES require a pressure test.  And it’s a good thing, as you will find out when you listen to this episode.

The new AD’s are these:

AD 2017-15-05 (Replaces AD 69-13-03.)  This AD is a one-time AD as long as the heater exhaust extension is stainless steel.

AD 2017-06-03 (Replaces AD 81-09-09.)  This AD requires fairly extensive inspection, and pressure testing of the old Southwind / Stewart Warner aircraft combustion heaters.  While it could be considered a cumbersome requirement, it really is a good thing, because if these heaters are not in good, safe, working condition, they can be flat-out dangerous!  This is the AD that caused me to pressure test that heater in the picture above.  And those bubbles are because the heater combustion tube has small holes in it, that can allow carbon monoxide gases to flow right into the airplane’s cabin during heater operation.

The interesting thing about this heater, is that unlike other heaters I’ve seen with cracks in them, this one ALMOST passed the pressure test.  It was a slow leak, but I could not get it to meet the requirements of pressurizing the combustion tube with 6 pounds of air pressure, and having it maintain at least 4 pounds after 45 seconds.

So, it was a very good thing the heater was removed from this Piper Apache.

There are three options for complying with this AD.  The first option is to do the required inspections and have the heater pass.  The second option is to disable the heater in accordance with the AD requirements.  The third option is to remove the heater in accordance with the AD requirements.  We did the third option on this one, which meant revising the weight and balance also.  Time will tell what the owner decides about overhauling the old heater, or buying a new one, or some other option.  I’m just thankful that dangerous heater is out of that airplane!

Here’s what that Southwind heater, model 940D, looks like out of the airplane.

How about your airplane?  Does it have a combustion heater?  If so, PLEASE do whatever you need to, to make sure it is safe.  Here is a sad accident report of a Cessna 402 crash back in May of 2012, that was caused by a malfunctioning combustion heater.

If you have a combustion heater in your airplane, whether it’s a Janitrol, Southwind / Stewart Warner, or something else, verify that all AD’s are up to date.  In addition, consider having a pressure test done, even if it’s not required by AD.  It just might prevent a very dangerous situation some day.

If you’re just not sure about all this, take a look at the Harold Haskins website, and give Hal a call.  He’s very knowledgeable, helpful, and easy to talk with.

Stay warm, be safe, and keep those aircraft combustion heaters in top-notch condition!

Thank you, Hal Haskins, for all your help and counsel you provided to me in this whole deal!


076 – Thanksgiving Edition: I Want You To Meet Brian Holmes

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you’re able to take some time to celebrate today, with people who are important to you.

I’m grateful to God for many people… my wife Maria, my kids, and many others.

Today, I’d like to introduce to you my good friend, Brian Holmes.  He’s a long-time multi-engine rated, commercial pilot of lots of different kinds of airplanes ranging from single engine Cessnas, to twins, to turboprops, and even some jets!  Something we have in common, is that we both love planes and people!  The thing we don’t have in common, is that Brian has no interest in turning wrenches 🙂  We won’t hold that against him 🙂

One of Brian’s favorite passions is helping people get past the things that have kept them stuck, and launching them into the places they were created for.

Brian also talks about the “Four Cornerstones For Strategic Living,” a concept he has developed for many years and has written a book about.  Be sure to listen to the episode today.

Thank you Brian, for recording this conversation, and for sharing your life with us!

Be sure to check out everything Brian has to offer at his website:


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!


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