Airplane Owner Maintenance

A Maintenance Oriented Podcast For Airplane Owners

Year: 2015

006 – Magneto Timing for Airplane Owners

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas everyone!

Today we talk about how to CHECK the magneto timing on your airplane engine.

This is NOT about how to adjust the timing, but simply how to CHECK it.



In order to check magneto to engine timing, you will need: A timing indicator.  (A popular one is called a magneto synchronizer.)





Recommended kit is called the Rite System magneto timing kit.  It’s available at Aircraft Spruce for about $150 for the one including the synchronizer.










If you get the Rite System kit, I recommend also buying a threaded top dead center plug (18mm) since it is much better than the nylon TDC pin that comes in the Rite System kit.  Aircraft Tool Supply sells it for about $16.



IMG_2773You must be an A&P, or be supervised by one, to adjust mag timing, but as an airplane owner, you could CHECK the mag timing so that you know if it needs adjustment BEFORE it goes into the maintenance shop.

Have a great week!

005 – Valuable and Specific Maintenance Training

Airplane Owner Maintenance

Podcast Episode 005

Valuable and Specific Maintenance Training

Specific aviation maintenance training is often extremely focused and highly beneficial.

Some specific training I’ve had the opportunity to participate in:

1997:  Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engine school in Montreal, Québec, Canada

2003:  American Bonanza Society (ABS) service clinic in Poughkeepsie, New York

2004:  King Air C90B familiarization and inspection procedures in Rocky Mount, North Carolina

2005:  Diamond Aircraft factory maintenance training in London, Ontario, Canada

2007:  Flight Safety Westwind jet maintenance training in Wilmington, Delaware

2012:  Twin Cessna Flyer / TAS Aviation twin cessna engine and airframe maintenance training in Defiance, Ohio

2013:  Continental Motors Inc (CMI) factory engine training course in Mobile, Alabama

Benefits of Specific Aviation Maintenance Training

  1.  It keeps things interesting;  and an interested aviator is a safer aviator!
  2. It gives you a distinct troubleshooting advantage.  You will be more equipped to solve in-flight problems.
  3. It sets you up to be able to help and teach others who may also benefit from what you have learned.

Please do two things:

  1.  Choose a specific training course or seminar to attend in 2016 that relates to your airplane.  It will make you a better pilot!
  2. Leave me a comment on this page… what has been YOUR most outstanding specific aviation training you’ve ever received?  Share it so that others can also benefit.  Thank You!

Do you want to learn how to produce a podcast?  Check out  Cliff Ravenscraft’s course is excellent… use the code “dean” and get a $500 discount!  Want more information before you decide?  Check out  There is all kinds of free content there.

Please, if you would like me to talk about a specific topic on the podcast, leave me a comment below.  Thanks!

004 – The Day I Got Hit by a Prop

10 Tips for a Safe and Successful Compression Test

  1.  Run the engine.
  2. Check the mag switch for proper grounding.
  3. Be sure your compression testing equipment is calibrated.
  4. Use a helper!
  5. The person holding the prop is in charge.

Special Announcement:  Learn how to produce a podcast!  Take Cliff Ravenscraft’s course, Podcasting A to Z, and get a $500 discount by using the code “Dean”.

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6.  Helper:  Don’t hook the hose to the cylinder fitting until instructed to do so.

7.  Don’t let go of the propeller until the hose has been disconnected from the cylinder.

8.  When finding compression stroke positions, turn the prop in the opposite direction of normal rotation to avoid snapping the impulse coupling. (Tip:  For 4 cylinder engines, if you use the reverse firing order, 4-2-3-1, you only need to turn the prop 1/2 turn when going from one cylinder to the next.)

9.  Finish with cylinder #1.  That way you will be ready to check mag to engine timing.

10.  Examine any questionable cylinders with a borescope.


AD 76-07-12

AC 43.13-1B

Continental Motors SB 03-3 (Compression Testing and Borescope Inspection)

14 CFR 43, Appendix D (Scope and Detail of a 100 Hour or Annual Inspection)

Bonus Tip (Not in the Podcast):

Buy, or make, enough fittings (you can use old spark plugs) so that you can put one in each cylinder before starting the compression test.  Then, you can just go from one to the next without needing to transfer the fitting from one cylinder to the next.

Have a great week, and let me know if YOU have a compression testing tip.




003 – How to Choose an Inspector or Shop

Podcast Episode 003 – How to Choose an Inspector or Shop

(10 Key Questions to Make the Choice Clear)

Read all the way to the bottom for a bonus question that is not in the podcast!


I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Two more people I’m thankful for:

My wife, Maria.  (She worked as a home-health nurse to put me through aviation school while we lived in Northeast Tennessee.)  Thank you Maria!

Kyle London.  He is the owner of Classic Aviation, LLC in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where I work.  Thanks Kyle, for making it a great place to work!

For these two, and for all the people I mentioned in last week’s podcast, I am grateful to God!

Now for this week’s topic:

Choosing the inspector or shop who will inspect your airplane, is one of the most important maintenance decisions you can make for the safety and efficiency of your aviation experience.


This podcast is for information and inspirational purposes only, and the things that you may learn here must be confirmed with your local airplane maintenance professional, and/or FAA regulations and procedures.

Always keep in mind, that in the regs:

§91.403   General.

The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition.

Listen to the podcast for 10 questions you can ask an inspector or shop.

The Continental Service Bulletin mentioned in the audio:

Announcement:  If you have a reason to produce a podcast yourself, take a look at Cliff Ravenscraft’s course, Podcasting A to Z.  It is top notch! atoz

Go to and check it out!  And remember, if you use the code “Dean” (not case sensitive), you can get a very nice discount!

Also check out for all kinds of free content to help you get to know Cliff.

Remember, this podcast is available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Please leave me a comment below… Tell me about a question you have used to select an inspector or shop for your annual inspection.

And now for the bonus question that is not in the podcast:

Can you give me contact information for a couple of your satisfied customers?  Testimonials from other airplane owners can be incredibly valuable in making a decision.

Have a great week!

002 – Thankful Aviators

Podcast Episode 002 – Thankful Aviators

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

It occurred to me the other day that since it’s Thanksgiving week, it would be a great time for me to tell you about some of the people who have helped me in my aviation career.

Join me this week, along with a very special guest, my daughter Morgan Showalter.

We discuss the following people and the impact they have had on my life:

Marvin Showalter:  My uncle.

Al Rice:  My introductory flight instructor at Moody Aviation.

Jerry Foulk, Dick Martin, and Gary Robinson:  A&P instructors at Moody Aviation.

Nard Pugyao:  My private pilot flight instructor in the Fall of 1992.IMG_0922  (This picture was taken in 2015 when Nard was passing through the airport where I work.)

Bill Powell:  My private pilot check ride examiner.  (Find out how I have a good memory of this check ride, even though I failed it the first time.)

Dan Gleason:  My instrument flight instructor.

Richard Kiser:  Founder and previous owner of Classic Aviation (A general aviation maintenance business at SHD in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.)

Steve Bradley:  Previous manager at Classic Aviation.

Kenny Painter:  My multi-engine flight instructor, among other things.

Jerry Stough:  Beech V35B owner, and Classic Aviation customer for many years.

Bob Olsen:  Maintenance Clinic inspector for American Bonanza Society (ABS.)

Scott and Jenny French:  Cessna 182 owners, local EAA members, skydivers, friends and customers of Classic Aviation.

Tom Wilkinson:  Cherokee 180 owner, local EAA member, friend and customer of Classic Aviation.

Zach Hastert:  Recent A&P graduate, flight student, and my co-worker at Classic Aviation.  (And… one of my valued podcast reviewers, I might add.  He has given me some very valuable advice and feedback.  Thank you Zach!)

Well that’s it!  I am thankful to God for every one of these people, and how they have helped me to get where I am today in aviation and in life.  I would not be here without them.

So… who has helped you?

Today’s challenge:  Write at least one or two hand-written thank you notes to people who have made a good impact in your life… it will be greatly appreciated!  Then leave me a comment and tell me briefly about it… thanks!

Next week’s podcast:  How to choose a mechanic or shop;  some key questions to ask to make the choice clear.

Thanks for listening, and see you next week!


001 – Airplane Owner Maintenance Introduction



Welcome to Airplane Owner Maintenance!

This is a place where you can learn about maintaining your own airplane.

My name is Dean Showalter.  I got my initial aviation training in Northeast Tennessee, and have been maintaining and flying general aviation aircraft in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for the past 21 years.

I love to connect with airplane owners and talk about maintenance issues.

Whether you own a Beechcraft, Cessna, Piper, Cirrus, Diamond, or something else, there is a good chance I have worked on your type of aircraft, or at least something very similar to it.

If you have any questions that you may want to have answered on a future podcast, please leave a comment below, or shoot me an email at


Dean Showalter