Airplane Owner Maintenance

A Maintenance Oriented Podcast For Airplane Owners

Month: September 2016

037 – Total Electrical System Failure, and One Way to Avoid it in Your Airplane

When it comes to flying an airplane, total electrical system failure is something you hope to never experience in real life.

But it happens, and it happened at our airport the other day.  Thankfully everything turned out well in this case.

Your aircraft battery is the heart of your electrical system.

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But, there’s only a certain amount of power stored in that battery, and it must be continuously charged while flying in order for all the electrical system components to function normally.

Listen to today’s episode to hear about the safe landing of an airplane that had an electrical system failure, what the apparent cause was, and a possible solution for it.

There is ONE MAIN THING I’m asking you to do in your airplane to help guard against an electrical system failure:  Do an in-flight test to verify that your charging system is adequate for the equipment you have installed.  This is an especially important test after any electrical modifications are made, or new avionics installed.

IF you do have too much electrical load in your airplane, for the capability of the charging system, there is a simple solution that works for many airplanes.  Listen to today’s show to find out about it.

Tip:  If you read this article that appeared in Director of Maintenance magazine, on October 1, 2012, you can get a good idea of what this solution is.

I also give a few other recommendations in this episode.  Here they are:

  • If you don’t have a digital voltage indicator in your instrument panel, consider adding that.
  • Incorporate some electrical system problem scenarios in your next flight review.

  • Review your POH electrical system operation and schematics.
  • Read Savvy Aviator #27 article about aircraft battery maintenance.

  • If you have any electrical mods done, or equipment added, verify your charging system can keep up.

Thank you, to those of you who left a rating and review in iTunes… I really appreciate it.  If others of you will do that as well, hopefully more airplane owners can find out about the podcast, and I will try to mention you in a future episode.

Thanks and have a great week!




036 – Tell-Tale Colors in an Airplane’s Engine Compartment

As an airplane owner, you are authorized to remove and reinstall your engine’s cowling, as long as it does not involve “removal of the propeller or disconnection of flight controls.”

So, have you ever wondered what to look for in there?

Listen to today’s podcast episode to learn about some key colors that can be indicators of some issues that may need corrective action.


BLUE:  Possible fuel leak… fix ASAP!

RED:  Possible hydraulic leak.

HONEY color:  Clean engine oil.

DARK BROWN oily color:  dirty engine oil.

DARK BROWN, dry dust:  steel part chafing.



Notice the dark brown dust, indicating a loose, and chafing, steel part.







DARK GRAY:  Possible indication of aluminum chafing mixed with rain water.

LIGHT BROWN:  Possible exhaust leak, especially at cylinder flanges.

TRAFFIC LIGHT COLORS:  Red, yellow, and green:  Colors to look for on exhaust valves with a borescope.

For more information on this, read the following article with AOPA, by Adrian Eichhorn:

This article is an excellent, simple explanation of borescoping and exhaust valve inspections.

Remember, when it comes to exhaust valves, GREEN MEANS STOP!

Here is a PDF document from AOPA about exhaust valves and what to look for:


And one more color:

:  The color of my personal torque putty.

Listen to the podcast to hear the story of why I use a lot of this stuff now!


Finally, if you would help me by leaving a review on iTunes, I’d greatly appreciate it!  This can help more airplane owners find the show.  Here’s how to do it:

  1.  Go to iTunes store.
  2. Search for “Airplane Owner Maintenance” or “Dean Showalter.”
  3. Click on the podcast picture or the name “Airplane Owner Maintenance.”
  4. Click “Ratings and Reviews.”
  5. Click “Write a Review.”
  6. Give a title, write a short review, and give a star rating.
  7. AND, if you include your real name in the body of the text, and anything else you’d like other airplane owners to know I will try to recognize you in a future episode.
  8. Thanks!


So…  go take a look at your airplane engine, and see if you have any “Tell-Tale colors” that need to be addressed!

Have  a great week!


035 – Airplane Exhaust Systems Tell Stories… Are You Listening?

It’s getting cooler these days!

This ‘ol gravel road is one of my favorite places to take a walk in the morning.









And the last two mornings, it has actually been slightly chilly… today I even wore a jacket.

It’s such a contrast to the recent, normal hot summer weather we’ve been having.

…Which reminds me that in the cold weather season, heat is needed to keep an airplane’s cabin warm.

And one of the most common ways to heat a small airplane cabin is to collect it off the engine’s exhaust system.

So today, we discuss things to be aware of with airplane exhaust systems, and how to keep them in a safe, airworthy condition, especially in relation to heating the airplane cabin.

One danger we face is CO (carbon monoxide) in the cockpit.

Mike Busch wrote an excellent article on the subject that was published in the AOPA blog October 20, 2014.  The title of this article is “Carbon Monoxide, Silent Killer.”

Please, please, read this whole article!

The information in this article is so important, it could have the potential to save your life or someone else’s life some day.

There are two printable, high-resolution pages in this article that I would highly recommend you laminate, put in your airplane, and review the information frequently.

Here is a scary looking muffler that was removed from an A36 Bonanza.









The muffler was severely deformed, AND had a large crack in it.








The cover over the muffler was telling a story, saying, “It’s hot!  Really, really hot!”








The heat from the hot exhaust gases was a factor in causing the heat shield band clamp to break.








Listen to today’s episode and hear some ways your airplane exhaust system might be talking to you.

I’ve also put some recommendations in today’s show, that can help make your airplane safer as we approach colder weather, and all the time, really.

Any comments, questions, and feedback on this episode are much appreciated.

And one last request:

Please go to iTunes and leave a rating and review for the podcast… it can help other airplane owners find it, and it’s very helpful to me as well.

Have a great week everyone!

P.S.  One great place to get help with exhaust issues, and to buy exhaust parts is The Parts Exchange.  You can visit their website at  They also have some useful inspection tips on that site as well.