Airplane Owner Maintenance

A Maintenance Oriented Podcast For Airplane Owners

Month: February 2016

015 – Tell Me What You Want to Hear / ABS Maintenance Academy

February 26, 2016

This is going to be an abnormal podcast episode this week… thanks for bearing with me.

Since I am not able to produce a full length show this week, I thought I would do two brief things.

First, I tell about the American Bonanza Society, Maintenance Academy that I am planning to attend in Houston, Texas March 11-13.  I’m really anticipating that to be some excellent training!

Second, I need your help for next week’s episode:

Please tell me which subject you would like me to talk about in next week’s show.

In light of the feedback I’ve gotten from some of you, here are a few possibilities:

  1.  Running Engines Past TBO.
  2.  Piper Brakes and How to Effectively Bleed Them.
  3.  Some other subject.

Whichever subject gets the most requests in the next several days, I will do my best to put that one in next week’s episode.

So, thanks in advance for your feedback!

Just leave a comment below, OR email me at

Thank You!

014 – Do You Have a Bad Mag? How to Know For Sure.


February 19, 2016

For an airplane owner, magneto checks are one of the most important items to be done during the preflight runup.


But what is the best way to interpret a rough mag?  Are you maximizing the information that is being presented to you on your instrument panel?

In today’s episode, I will share with you an experience I had last week on a Piper Cherokee Six, and what we did to resolve it.  I’ll also share another story from this week, from a Piper Cherokee 140, and what we’re doing with that one.  (Both of these stories involve ignition system troubleshooting.




Here is the green corrosion in the tower of the magneto;  this is what prevented the #6 bottom spark plug from firing.  (This was on the Cherokee Six.)



First, here are some tips for troubleshooting a rough magneto, starting with the simple things first.

Perform a thorough ground run and gather as much information as possible.

Remove the engine cowling and do a quick visual inspection of the ignition system.

Remove and check the affected spark plug or plugs.Test the affected ignition leads.








If the lead is working properly, you will see a strong spark in the small window above the button that says “Push to Test.”


Check mag to engine timing and P-lead condition for further information.

Repair or change the magneto.

Keep in mind that the first 3 items on this list, you can perform as an airplane owner or operator, as preventive maintenance, and sign off yourself in your maintenance records.

AND, the more familiar you are with this whole process, the better prepared you will be to communicate with your mechanic when you need assistance.

Listen to the audio and get much more information than you see here.

And please… leave me a comment below if you found this helpful, and also give me your requests for any future episodes.


013 – Avoid the Gotcha’s! …by Fixing Known Squawks

So… what is a “Gotcha?”

In the context of today’s podcast, it is a significant issue, an important issue, or a potentially dangerous issue, that you may not find out about, unless you take action to repair, or resolve, a lesser, or more routine, issue.

Where did I get this term “Gotcha?”  From my previous boss, who got it from a gentleman he worked with many years ago, named Virgil Gottfried.

Virgil has an important lesson for all of us in general aviation.  If we want to operate safely, on a consistent basis, it is vitally important for us to fix known discrepancies on the airplanes we fly, even if they seem like small and insignificant issues.

Why?  Because in fixing the “small or routine issues,” we sometimes discover far more critical problems that need attention.

Like fixing the loose headset jack plate, and discovering that the ground wire for the fuel pump indicator light was attached to one of those screws (that one has been bothersome for awhile.)

IMG_1052… or, like finding corrosion on the wing spar while complying with Piper SB 1006.  (Service bulletins can be easily overlooked since they are usually considered “recommended,” but not required, for part 91 airplanes.)

Today I give some ideas of possible topics for future episodes, like:

  1.  Ignition system troubleshooting and how to know if you have a bad mag.
  2. Running an engine past TBO… good idea or bad idea?
  3. Anticipating the ABS Maintenance Academy in Houston, Texas.
  4. Report on the ABS Maintenance Academy.

After listening to today’s episode, I hope you will be motivated to take a look at your airplane and evaluate if you have any issues you should deal with, so you can avoid any “Gotchas.”

And please, if you have any stories to tell me about avoiding “Gotchas,” or if you have an idea for a future episode, please leave me a comment below.

Thank you, Lance Bryant, for your comments and topic request this past week… I appreciate it!

012 – Servicing Landing Gear Shock Struts

February 5, 2016

Servicing landing gear shock struts… can you do it as an airplane owner?

Absolutely!  Just take a look at the list of items in Part 43, Appendix A.

However, MAKE SURE you are familiar with the procedure before you launch into on your own.

Why?  Because servicing landing gear shock struts can be both messy and dangerous, if not done properly.

(Both Bogert Aviation and Aircraft Spruce have some cool strut servicing equipment, but it can be a little pricey.)

If you want to learn more about an airplane strut, you can go to this link and read an excellent article by Mike Busch, with Savvy Aviator.  I find his articles to be very educational and helpful.



This is a strut that I serviced the other day on a Piper Cherokee.



Notice the seepage on top of the wing, coming from the plug that covers the Schrader valve for servicing the shock strut.



There was a puddle of hydraulic fluid around the Schrader valve.



This is a simple tool for removing and tightening the valve core in the Schrader valve. Before adding air or nitrogen to a strut that is low, it’s a good idea to verify the core is tight. (You can buy this tool at an auto parts store, or even Walmart,)


In the case of the above strut, I found the Schrader valve itself needed a little tightening (with a wratchet and 3/4 inch socket.)

Listen to the audio to hear the rest of this story.





Here is a typical nosestrut on a Beech Bonanza.  Notice the Schrader valve (servicing valve) with the white cap in the center of the picture.  This is where fluid and nitrogen are added to the strut.



In today’s episode we’ll answer these questions:

  1. What type of landing gear do you have on your airplane?
  2. If you have an oleo (air-oil) strut, how do you know if it needs servicing?
  3. Does your strut need air/nitrogen, or oil (aviation hydraulic fluid,) or both?
  4. When does your strut need more maintenance than just “servicing?”
  5. What tools and equipment will be needed?
  6. What is the procedure for “servicing” a shock strut?
  7. What are some cautions to be aware of?
  8. What can happen if you ignore the condition of your shock struts?

So, after listening to today’s episode, I would encourage you to do the following if you have an airplane with one or more shock struts:

  1. Take a look in your POH or Owners Manual, and find the recommended inflation setting for your shock struts (typically in inches of extension, but can also be in psi with no load on the strut.  This information will typically be in the chapter on servicing.
  2. Measure the extension levels on your struts and see if they meet the specs.  While you do this, dampen a cloth with a little avgas, and clean the chrome shaft on the shock strut.  This will help prevent any dirt or other debris from getting in the sealing area as the shaft moves up and down inside the strut housing.
  3. If your strut needs servicing, get some help the first time from someone with experience, and go for it!
  4. Make it a part of your preflight inspection, to verify your struts are at the proper level, have no fluid leakage, and that the strut shaft is clean.

One final tip for enjoying this podcast, or any podcast for that matter!  (You’ll have to listen to find out what this is!)

And please… if you enjoy this podcast and want it to continue, let a few of your aviation friends know about it, and rate the podcast in iTunes.  (You can also find it in Stitcher, if you prefer that.)

Also, PLEASE leave a comment below and let me know any future topics you would like to hear about.  Or, you can send me an email at