Flight Stories and Trip Reports

Port St. Lucie

After lots of paint scraping, installing new tires, tubes and brakes and a quick half hour around the pattern to check for oil leaks, it was finally time to venture outside the 40 mile radius I'd been trapped inside for over a year.

There's no avionics shop on my field and I'd been unable to get a static and altitude reporting check done. This needed to be done urgently, and I had a KNS-80 and a KI-203 I wanted to get checked out. Greg Richter recommended Treasure Coast Avionics in Port. St. Lucie, about 70 miles up the coast. Tuesday 8/16, the weather was hot but otherwise nice. I was airborne by 8:30 am. Approach let me climb out over the field, so I stayed over LNA until I had 6500', then headed North. PBI was below me, and looking northwest I could see North County about 10 miles away. In just a few minutes and there was Witham Field on the nose and, as I cleared over the top of Witham, I could see St. Lucie County. It was a bit of an anti-climax really. Here was I, all set for a "long distance" flight, and it was over already. What a pleasure landing on a 6500' runway.

I landed and taxied up to the famous Tiki Restaurant. Six hours, a good lunch and a complete replumb of the static system later I was on my way with yellow tags on everything and sign offs on the transponder/encoder/altimeter and static system. Anyone in the South of Florida looking for avionics help, talk to Larry at Treasure Coast. I highly recommend them. Unlike many avionics shops, Larry is understanding of us "experimental" types and his fees are very fair. They were working on a nice Velocity panel while I was there. As I prepared to depart I noticed the mechanics and avionics techs lined up to hear what this strange bird sounded like.

The return flight, which took just over 20 minutes, was almost as uneventful as the flight up. At 6'500' and a few miles North of Palm Beach class C, I called approach for clearance and flight following into Lantana. Descend to 2000', he said. I asked for higher, but he wouldn't be shaken. Something about traffic. Ah well. I nudged the stick forward, but figuring I could always trade speed for altitude, I left the throttle alone. I'd been cruising along at about 3800 rpm and 140 kts indicated, just enjoying the day. Speed builds up quickly when you descend without throttling back. I was over PBI at 2000' with 185 Kts indicated. Approach perked up "Six Papa Mike, Say again type aircraft???"

My first approach into LNA was a total bust. I hadn't got rid of enough of that speed and had to go around. The second was much better. I pushed her back into the hangar after a fun day of flying. I'd actually gone somewhere for a reason. There's still some soot on the prop, and evidence of some fuel blowing from the vent of the tank that's still brim full, but the engine didn't burp once during the entire flight. According to the EM2 I used 17.2 gallons of fuel in 2.3 hrs for an average of 7.5 gph, and much of the flight was spent climbing to altitude. 43.3 hours on the hobbs and I think she's ready for a longer flight. Maybe it's time to buzzzzz Tracy.

Back in the Air

Believe it or not it was almost three months before the Kitten flew again. It was one of those domino type things. The paint scraping spread to the canard and wings, the vortilons had to come off and so she was grounded. I've been a little uncomfortable about the wood performance prop after reading stories of lost blades in the CSA newsletter, so this was the time to buy and install a new IVO in-flight adjustable prop. Installing the prop required a pitch control switch that needed to be close to the throttle. I found a spot for the switch down by the emergency gear retract socket. To get at this area a bunch of stuff had to be removed. This got me deep into the wiring behind the panel, so it was a good time to upgrade the navigation equipment but, to make room for this the EM2 and EC2 needed to be moved. You get the picture. We also had a hurricane. Finally, on 11/13, after a bit of a battle with the fuel pressures, the paint was done, the prop was installed, the panel was complete, weather cooperated and I was ready to fly. The prop change counts as a "major modification", so I need to do 5 hours in Phase 1.

Static rpm was 4250 and the take-off roll was disappointingly normal. Climb was a bit wimpy, but acceptable. I had great expectations for this prop, but the extra power I'd hoped for simply wasn't there. I did 0.9 hrs in the pattern, then landed to retorque the prop bolts and think about the results of this first flight test on the IVO. There was nothing to report from the flight. All pressures temperatures were nominal, everything worked, the landing was smooth and no-one got in my way on final. Next day in the shower it came to me. Fuel = Power. The EC2 is programmed to provide a precise amount of fuel at a specific manifold pressure. I had to tweak it toward rich to get the static I got. The new prop can draw more power, so I need to reprogram the EC2 to match what the prop can draw. No wonder performance was about the same. I'm looking forward to the next flight.

Back on the Ground

Next day I reprogrammed the EC2 to give me some more fuel at boost levels and took her out to the runup area. Static was still 4250 and acceleration was poor. I barely reached 60 kts with room to stop. I stopped. As I taxied back there seemed to be a bit of smoke coming from the back, and there was smoke from the (now open) coolant inspection door as she cooled down in the hangar.

I spoke to Tracy about the EC2 / IVO and what reprogramming would be needed. He told me that he wouldn't expect any drastic changes. The EC2 varies the mixture automatically based on both manifold pressure and rpm, so mixture wasnt the problem.

Later that week I took the cowl off and tried a runup without the intake duct in case the filter was starving the turbo of air. In the last few runups with the IVO I'd been intent on rpm and hadn't paid much attention to manifold pressure. This time I made a point of checking the MAP at full static. 30. Huh? I throttled back and it went down to 20. Throttle up again and 30 was as far as it would go. This time, with the cowl off, it was obvious where the smoke was coming from - the turbo. After it cooled down I found that the play on the compressor wheel was excessive. Looks like I blew another turbo.

Summary of a Turbo Learning Experience

So much for my turbo experiments. Four years ago, when I met Greg Richter and saw his installation I knew I needed a T04. Greg did his research and had his turbo built to spec at Turbonetics. I called them at the time and got a quote for the same spec at $3500. That was when I decided to try the cheap route. This was back in the days when I thought Paul Lamar knew what he was talking about. Paul was planning to use the stock turbo, and so were Mistral. How could these experts be wrong? (Answer: Very easily. Paul has, to my knowledge, never flown his 13B engine and The President of Mistral and I enjoyed sharing our mutual experiences of blown turbos last year at Sun & Fun.) Anyway, back to the story. I got a used stock '91 single stage turbo from Bruce Turrentine, and as you'll know if you've read this site, the turbine wheel seperated at 10,000' due to overspeed. Hoping that this was a one-off failure and confident that the failure mode was fairly benign I got a second used stock turbo from Rusty on the fly-rotary list. The same happened to this one, but this time parts of the turbine took out an apex seal and forced an engine rebuild. Frustrated I looked for an alternative to shelling out for a T04 and altering a whole bunch of stuff to accomodate it in the installation. I found Max Heywood of Turbonetics in Australia who could make me a T04 in a T03 box for $500au. Cool. I lost a lot of kick at low rpm, but at least it didn't overspeed. It did, however, overheat and blow it's bearings after about 15 hours of use. Ah well. Time to bite the bullet.

Turbo Homework

I talked to rv6ejguy on the
Canard Forum. Ross flys a turbo charged RV and certainly seems to know his turbo talk. It seems that the stock T03 bearings can't hold up to continuous boost. They're just too small and are designed for occasional spurts, not continual hammering. Ross is also not a big fan of Misubishi turbos. He says he's seen a lot of broken ones. After voice and email conversations back and forth he established that, based on my stated mission parameters, I needed a T04E-50 big shaft tangential with P trim, wet housing (i.e it has coolant galleries), an aspect ratio of 0.96 and a TiAL Sport 46mm wastegate. What were my stated mission parameters? 4500 rpm static at 46 MAP and a typical cruise at 12,000'. To go higher and still use lots of boost without overspeeding I'd need a higher AR, like 1.15 or higher, but this would cost me at the low end. The nice thing about T04's is that the housings are interchangeable, so for $150 or so I can change the AR. This, of course, assumes that I dont blow the whole unit to bits finding out that the AR is too low.

I know that, as always, the Cozy Girrrls did their research very carefully, so I asked Chrissi what model turbo they'd settled on. It's the exact same T04E-50 with P trim recommended by Ross, but with an aspect ratio of 1.15. They're planning on higher flights than I am, so the higher AR makes sense. I'm not sure if they got the big shaft. Maybe the "big shaft" option is exactly what it sounds like. Ross says I need it, so I'm getting the "big shaft". I hope I don't have to bend over and hold my ankles.

The good news is that the prices have come down in the past four years, and I can get a Turbonetics turbo built to spec by AGP Turbochargers for around $1200. Let's see. $350 for the first turbo. $300 for the second. $1000 for the engine rebuild and about $500 for the third turbo. Looks like I'm in for about $2150, plus $1200 for the T04 for a total of $3350. Wow! I'm still $150 ahead, and I got all that experience, frustration and delay for free. (Note: Beware of cheap internet specials on turbos. I hear that there a lot of Chinese knock-off's on the market that are made with inferior materials).

Planning a T04 Installation

The T04 turbo is big, and it doesnt fit the stock manifold. I'll need a manifold that fits the 13B at one end, and the T04 turbo at the other with a flange for the wastegate somewhere in-between. A tangential housing (as apposed to an on-center one) helps keep the turbo close to the engine and minimize the cowl rework that I'm sure to need. I just finished the paint job. Ah well. Most of the manifolds seem to move the turbo forward toward the water pump. I can see that my smog/vacuum pump is going to have to go. I'll either have to mount it somewhere else, or go with electric for the attitude instruments. Of course all the intake plumbing will have to change, and the coolant and oil fittings. The bolt pattern on the manifold has to match the external wastegate, and the wastegate has to fit without interferring with the engine mount. This is beginning to look like a major rework. I'm considering investing in yet another used stock turbo in the meantime. If I baby it, as Steve Brooks is doing, and just use it to normalize at altitude, perhaps I can get back to flying while I put this T04 thing together.

The Cost of Knowledge

Next day I received an email from Bob Tiley, who is planning a 13B installation on his Cozy. Apparantly my experimentation with the stock turbo has been enough to persuade him that he doesnt want to install the one he has, so he offered it to me for "destruction testing". When asked how much he wanted he answered "You can't put a price on knowledge" and wouldn't even let me pay for the shipping. I promised to fly it back when I was done with it, either as a box of bits or as a complete turbo. I removed the old turbo, shipped the center section to Ben at AGP for analysis and installed the temporary loaner.

A West Coast Trip

My Granddaughter, Ava, was born on schedule 11/9/05. In early December Char and I planned to travel to California in the Cozy to meet her. Obviously the Cozy wasn't ready, so we took a $99 trip to Las Vegas on Delta instead. As we drove through the mountains to Redlands, CA, I gazed skywards thinking how perfect the view would be from 10,000'. Ah well. Next time.

While in Redlands I contacted Lynn Erickson and he flew his "Evolution EZ" over from Chino. A cross between a LongEZ, an E-Racer a Velocity and Cozy, the plane sits on all three, has 2 + seating, a nose extension, and is powered by an 0-360. I found the exhaust augmentation especially interesting. Lynn did a fly-by on his way back to Chino, and seemed to be going like a bat out of somewhere very hot.

Arizona Cozy People

Nat & Shirley, still going strong Cozy builders Phil Silvester and Jim Sevenick Brian DeFord with his Cozy Phil Silvester with his Cozy project After a wonderful visit with Julia, her husband, Derrick & new daughter Ava we headed East to Phoenix where we met a couple of Cozy builders and had dinner at Falcon Field with them, their wives, Bryan DeFord and Nat and Shirley. An excellent evening of cozy talk.

Watch for Downdrafts

With me still looking up, we then drove on to Sedona, AZ where, in addition to looking at "the rock", we visited the airport on the top of a 3000' ft Mesa. We chatted with a local pilot. Watch out for downdrafts on short final, he said.

A cold day in the Canyon

I once said It'll be a cold day in Arizona before I climb the Grand Canyon. We drove on to The Canyon and watched the sunset. Wow! Next day we walked part way down the Canyon, then back to Vegas. I should rephrase that. We walked part way down it for 45 minutes, then took almost 2 hours to struggle back up to the car, then drove to Vegas. The worst part of the walk was the surface of the trail. Twenty or thirty mules have been going up and down this path twice a day for many years. They feed them at the top, and again at the bottom. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. On the way back to Vegas we stopped at the Boulder Dam. Very interesting, but it would have looked much better from the air. In Vegas we spent a couple of days feeding our remaining cash into slot machines, then headed home on Delta. The ad is true. What comes to Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Back at it

After a week away from work there was some catching up to do. It was another week before I had a chance to even visit the plane. When I installed the replacement stock turbo I left the oil drain leading to a gallon catch can to test the oil flow. With the plugs removed I cranked the engine for 30 seconds. This gave me about 2 cups of oil which, according to Ben at AGP, is about what I'd expect. When the rain stops I'll do another taxi test with the cowl off then, who knows, maybe I'll get to actually fly this thing.

More days went by, then she wouldn't start. I cleaned the plugs, charged the batteries and tried again. Still no start. I got the occasional firing as I cranked, but no start. The plugs were oiled up again. With the plugs out I cranked the engine to spit out any fuel that had accumulated. I noticed some oil near the plug holes, so I pulled the prop through and watched. As the rotor went by a tablespoon of oil came out of the plug holes. Where is this oil coming from? That's what I wanted to know too. An idea occured to me. Perhaps the oil came from the old turbo via the intake. I removed the intercooler and poured about 1/2 pint of oil into a can. There was oil sitting in the low spots of the intake piping too. I spent a 1/2 day cleaning everything up and reinstalling, then she started up first time. I did a run-up and one of my silicone hose connectors blew off. I cleaned the hose and retightened it. The next run-up blew off a different hose. Note: all my turbo pipes have ribs on the end to help hold the connectors in place, and I'm using top of the line stainless steel clamps from Hose Techniques. It's as though the oil had impregnated the silicone. The more I clamped, the more the silicone squished out from under the clamp. I removed both the remaining silicone connectors, cleaned them with degreaser, cleaned all traces of oil from the pipes and reassembled. This time the pipes held.

By the way, I said the hoses blew off during run-up. Not quite true. On each occasion they held during the static run-up up to 50 MAP, but blew off during the subsequent high speed taxi-test, typically at around rotation speed. This, then, is something to watch out for. In general I'd suggest using radiator hose rather than the pretty blue silicone connectors. Be sure to have ribs on the ends of the pipes, and dont try and use connectors that are too short for the job. There has to be a good overlap of hose on both sides of the clamp. Finally, give it full boost on a number of high-speed taxi tests before committing to the air. Loosing a turbo hose during climb out can be rough on the underware. Don't ask me how I know this.

It makes me Shudder

I've always had a bit of shudder on the brakes below 35 kts or so. I've changed the tires and pads and checked the run-out of the wheel. Actually, since I changed the tires the shudder seems to have got worse. On a recent taxi test I noticed that it seemed to be coming from the right brake more than the left, so I removed the wheel pant and investigated. The brake disk has what appear to be high spots every 1.5 inches or so around the disk. Could this be from corrosion when parked? I took pictures and sent them to JD for comment. I'm not sure any of the local brake guys are set-up to handle disks like this. New disks are $70 or so. The brakes work fine for now, but I'd like to get this fixed soon. I just have to keep off them as much as possible at 35 kts to avoid the shudder. I'll wait to see what JD and Matco have to say.

Airborne Again 12/27/05

With the turbo pipes now fully secured and tested I put the cowl back on and took her out for a spin. No. Scratch that. "Taking her out for a spin" has a bad ring to it when speaking of airplanes. I took her out for a flight. I noticed that the turbo has a tendancy to overboost, even with the wastegate fully open. Everything seems normal and boost increases gradually with throttle to about 48 MAP, then the boost seems to want to "run away". Keeping it to 46MAP and full fine pitch, I got about 4700 rpm. Acceleration was good and the take-off roll fairly short. Initial climb also seemed excellent so I backed off the throttle just a hair to go easy on the Bob's turbo. Ideally I'd like to return it in one piece. I left the pitch alone for the entire flight. Downwind 100 kts or so was 3800 rpm. I'd like to get some height before experimenting with pitch. While on the downwind I turned on my new KNS80 and tuned into Palm Beach. Wonder of wonders - it worked. It was nice watching the DME distance change from 4.9 to 5.0 and 5.1 as I headed South on the downwind.

There's not much more to say about the flight. It was a beautiful day, all engine readings were nominal and the plane performed flawlessly. I wish the same could be said of the loose nut in the cockpit. I felt pretty rusty after only one flight in almost 3 months, and found myself working to maintain a good pattern altitudes and speeds. After 1.3 hours I brought her in for a check of the rear end. The approach was a little slow, and the landing was somewhat "firm", but I was able to roll out on the 3100' runway without touching the brakes at all. There was a little oil smoke from all the finger prints as she cooled off, but no oil lost, no leaks and nothing missing. Before the flight I'd washed and waxed the plane, including the prop. The prop was still clean. No sign of oil or soot.

Oops

Next day I was checking the torque on the prop bolts during preflight when I noticed that the ends of the prop blades were a little ragged. Apparantly I'd touched the prop on the last take-off or landing. I use the word "touched" because the damage was very minor. A prop "strike" would cause serious damage. This was barely noticable on two blades, and just some broken gellcoat on the other. A little flox fixed it, but I had to wait for the flox to cure, so flying was cancelled for the rest of 2005.

So why am I "touching" the prop? This is the second time. The first was on my 66" wood prop. I'd forgetten that the IVO is 68, so its an inch closer to the ground. I checked the geometry again, and looked at the gear fairings for cracks. I don't think it's anything to do with the plane. It's got to be me. Paul, owner of our hangar and a 1000 hr canard pilot, feels that I must be landing with a nose high attitude. He's only witnessed a couple of my landings, but he suggests that I must be getting nose high on short final, especially when a bit slow or heavy. He says I should "push forward" just before touch-down to get the landing attitude flatter. Another canard pilot, Rob, suggests that I go to a field with longer runways and practice, practice, practice. That's what I'll do. During landing thus far I have beem more concerned with simply ending the flight safely and have not been thinking much about my technique. Obviously I've developed a bad habit and this thinking needs some adjustment.

A Landing Critique

Next day the flox was cured so I sanded it to shape and painted the prop tips gold. I was just finishing my pre-flight when Al arrived to pat his airplane. Al's a long time canard flier and a CFI. I asked him to watch a few approaches and tell me what I was doing wrong. With Al sitting by the side of the runway I went around a few times, then landed to get his opinion on my approach technique. All he could say was "Man that engine sounded soooo sweet." After a while I finally got him to comment on the approach and landing. Looked fine to me, he said. The prop was still there, so I guess I just have to be a bit more aware of deck angle on final, and avoid getting too slow as I come over the fence.

I would have gone up for another flight, but when I went to switch off the fuel pump the switch was hot to the touch. Hmmm. I removed the instrument panel cover and tested the amperage on the fuel pump circuits. 5.0 on the right pump. 14.5 amps on the left. I removed the pump and found that it sounded different - a bit of a hiccup as it spins. My spare pump sounded much smoother, so I decided to install it and buy a new spare. The amp draw from the new pump is much lower. Not as low as the right pump, but they're different makes so I'm not expecting an exact match. While behind the panel I also replaced a crimp on the left fuel pump switch, then left the pump running for a few minutes. The switch and the crimp connectors were cool to the touch. I think I'll install an ammeter so I can spot something like this in flight. Maybe I could use it to watch overall system health and also for prop pitch position sensing. (the closer to the pitch limit, the higher the amp draw from the pitch motor).

Unwelcome Passenger

Next day I just finished my pre-flight when Paul arrived. We chatted a little about landing, then I went out to do some pattern work. After a couple of times around, I was climbing out on crosswind when a wasp flew past my face. I tried to swat him with the checklist, but he flew off into the back. Could I have disturbed a nest? Were there more? Knowing I'm a little allergic to wasp and bee stings didn't help. The downwind was a combination of flying the airplane, doing the downwind checks and swatting at the wasp. Just as I turned final he settled on the canopy on the passenger side, and I got him with the checklist. Phew.

The landing wasn't the best I've ever done. It was a firm three pointer, but I was pleased to get down and get the canopy open. Once parked I checked around inside. There were no signs of a nest or other wasps. I think the wasp must have flown in when the plane was parked on the ramp with the canopy open. I feel bad for the wasp, but at least he had the flight of his life, just before it ended. Another 0.3 on the prop, and I'm starting to like it. I took off on full fine, and was showing 5600 rpm on the downwind. I nudged the pitch toward course for 5 seconds, and the rpm came down to 4900. As the rpm came down I felt a push in my back, and the speed went up about 30 kts. Interesting.

Yet another short flight

Wed, Jan 4th I got to the hangar fairly late, then chatted with Mike (Velocity RG) for a while. I finally got airborne with Mike watching to critique my landings. At the hold point I was just finishing my runup when a voice on the unicom said "Cherokee N1234 holding for 09 behind that interesting looking aircraft. What is it?" Grinning and feeling good, I answered, That'll be Cozy Mark IV N96PM, taking the active 09 for departure. Boosting about 40MAP she was off the ground in less than 1000' (according to observers) and climbing like a banshee. These days I have to leave a longer gap before taking off behind departing Cessnas, otherwise I catch them up at about 500'. Up in the pattern the haze was more than I expected and the spam cans were out in force. At one point there were three of us on the downwind. All was well with the engine, but I detected a very slight smell of gasoline. I'd just checked the drains and put the drain tube thing back in its place in the cockpit. Maybe the smell was coming from there. I'd also just replaced a fuel pump. There were definately no leaks after I fitted it but....

I brought her in for a landing concentrating on being a bit flat as I touched down. Again the landing was a firm 3 pointer. Speaking with Mike afterward he said the approach and landing looked perfect. Hmmm. That's three canard pilots saying the approaches are good. I used to land very smoothly and hold the nose up. Now, trying to be aware of the prop clearance, I'm tending to get much firmer touchdowns. I need to get back to smooth ones before Char rides with me - that last one would probably get a 3 if I'm lucky.

While chatting with Mike and walking around the plane to open the coolant inspection door and do my post-flight inspection I noticed a slow drip from the front of the cowl. Gasoline. I took the cowl off (7 minutes) and turned the fuel pump back on. Tracing the leak was easy. The AN 1/8 NPT T fitting for the fuel pressure sensors was leaking. Strange. The fitting was tight. I replaced the fitting, added teflon paste and tested with both pumps on. No leaks. OK. I reinstalled the cowl (23 minutes) and left the plane ready for another test flight. 46.5 hours on the hobbs. 1.8 hrs to go on the phase 1 for prop testing, and I havent even been out of the pattern with it yet. Maybe tomorrow.

I Had a Fine Flight Today

Saturday, Jan 7th I got to the hangar about midday. Temps were cool at 62F and there was an 8kt wind right down the runway. The plane was ready to go, so I pushed her out and did my pre-flight. Everything was fine, except that I had to wait a while for the oil temp to come up to the minimum recommended flight temp of 130F. I double checked full fine pitch and off we went. Acceleration, take-off and climb out were fine. She behaved just fine in the pattern with temps around 180F on the downwind. Palm Beach Approach was busy, so I headed South to get out from under the class C nudging the prop pitch toward course as I went. Once out from under I climbed to 5000' and headed back in toward the field. Climb seemed a bit whimpy. I nudged the pitch further toward course, but the rpm didnt change. Level at 5500' I had 5600 rpm, 25 MAP and 120 kts. Hmmm. Settled now with the field below me I experimented with pitch. Nothing changed. It looked like I was in full fine and stuck there. I remembered a note I'd read recently that the brushes usually last about 20 hours the first time. The second and subsequent sets of brushed last much longer. Something to do with the brush ring bedding in. Damn. I decided my brushes had failed leaving me in full fine pitch.

The plane was flying just fine, but I wasnt going anywhere fast. I didnt go above 5600 rpm. At 4500 rpm I was doing about 90 kts straight and level. While I was up there I gave the KNS-80 a bit of a work out. It worked flawlessly. I also tried turning on my DNS headset for a few minutes. Believe it or not, I didn't like it. Too quiet for my taste. I've gotten very used to the sound of the engine purring. Its a comforting sound and the DNS takes it away. With DNS on the engine sound is distant and muted - just a humming in the background. No doubt I'll come to appreciate the DNS later when I get used to using it and have more time on the plane, but for now I'll leave it off so I can hear every little nuance of the engine sound. After 20 minutes or so of cruising around at 90 kts I decided I might as well go back down and change the brushes. Palm Beach was still very busy, so I descended at the Southern edge of the class C and headed back in to Lantana. With 4 miles to run at 1000' I like to have speed in place of the height. I goosed the throttle up to 5800 rpm.... and the engine faultered. I was running on the left pump. A glance at the mixture (which I keep as default on the EM2 display) told the story - off the scale lean. I've seen this before. In fact I've been chasing this problem one way or another since day one. I clicked on the right pump, mixture came back to normal and the engine went back to it's smooth purring.

Rejoining the pattern was interesting. I came in at pattern height on the dead side and joined on the crosswind leg, announcing my intentions as I went. Just as I called left crosswind a Cessna twin called joining the left downwind. I couldnt see him anywhere. I was about to ask him for his position when a 172 called joining midfield downwind. Looking out for both I called turning downwind and asked the twin for his position. That was when I saw the 172 heading East to West across my nose about a 1/2 mile ahead. The twin said he was midfield downwind, which was about where I was. Ah! There he was - about 1/2 mile off my right wing. OK. The 172 seemed to be heading out to his choosen spot on a 10 mile downwind, so I ignored him and the twin dodged him. I offered to do a tight base if the twin thought that would work. He agreed, so I turned base, just as an Astek called a 3 mile final. Geesh! I dumped the brake, hit both rudders and cut the power. The landing worked out fine (ie I didnt strike the prop), and I got clear of the runway just in time for the Astec to touch down. Right behind him was the twin Cessna. I never did find out where 172 went. Weekends at Lantana can get pretty crazy, partly because there a lot of students all doing their own version of a pattern. Ah well. At least I'm getting back to a fair degree of currency.

Back in the hangar everything was fine. The engine was only at 190F on shutdown. No smoke, no oil trails, no soot to speak of. Just the prop stuck in fine. I tried changing pitch again. Nothing. The brushes looked fine. Then it struck me - the breaker! Sure enough it was out. I popped it back in and the pitch trim worked again. Duh! What an idiot! I'd got myself so convinced that the brushes were gone that I never even thought to check the breaker. This was the first time it had popped, probably when I checked I was on full fine during the take-off roll. Another lesson learned. Another 1.0 hrs of experience. On the way home I checked at NAPA for a replacement pump. They don't stock the all metal Walbro GSL394 I need. Perhaps it's not the pump. Tomorrow I'll check the filter (again) and will also try blowing back through the lines and the tank drain. If that clears it, then I've got crud problems in the left tank. If it doesn't, then I need a new pump.

Purring Like a Kitten

Next day I removed the in-line Earl's filters. As always, they looked clean. This time I tried blowing through them. They right one was quite restrictive. The left one was worse. My usual way of cleaning these conical brass filters has been to blow them off with an air hose. This time I soaked them in MEK, then blew them off for 10 minutes each. After this I could blow through them easily. I think what's happening here is that the tiny 20 micron holes inside the brass block are becoming blocked with tiny 21 micron sized pieces of crud. You can't see 21 micron crud, so the filters look clean when they're not. Being small these small filters also block up a bit too often for my liking. Another negative is that there's no nut on the center section, so getting them apart is a real pain. I think I'll replace these small in-line filters with the ones Buly is using - part number PRM-81794 from Summit Racing, but, then again, Buly hasn't flown them yet and the paper elements might be a bit restrictive.

With the filters cleaned I saw a dramatic difference in performance. Static rpm on full fine pitch when up from 4600 to 4950 and take-off was nothing short of exhilerating. There was a 4000' overcast, so I headed West at 1100' to get out of the Class C, then did my testing at 3000' over Willis Gliderport. This is a 4000' grass strip, so it's not an ideal place to land, but it sure beats a golf course.

I'm really starting to like this IVO prop. I'd coursened it up a bit on the way out, and was doing around 130 kts (indicated) with 5000 rpm. I coursened it up for about 3 seconds. RPM went down to 4500, speed went up to 140 and I felt a nice push in my back. OK. I brought the rpm back up to 5000. Speed went up to 150. Hmmm. I went through the cycle again and things changed by about the same proportions. I think I had more adjustment to go, and I stopped at 5600 rpm, but I was now reading 175kts Ground Speed (170 averaged for wind) at 5600 rpm and 32 map. I can't wait to find out what 6100 rpm at 12000' and 46 MAP will get me if things stay linear. Not far short of orbital escape velocity would be my guess. Unfortunately this won't happen until I have my new T04 turbo installed. The prop is very smooth (noticably smoother than the Performance 3 blade) and the pitch adjustment makes a dramatic difference to performance.

Once done with the testing I dropped to 1200' and headed back for the Lantana field 15 miles to the East. I kept the pitch course and the RPM at 5600, so 15 miles didnt take very long. The engine was purring smoothly and the prop was also very smooth. The combination, with DNC on, is like flying a jet. Lots of power, and very little in the way of noise or vibration. After so many hours in Cessna's and Pipers, it's a little weird and somewhat unnerving to be flying along at 170 kts without all the rattles and bangs. I think I'll be able to get used to it.

As I came over the field I reversed the procedure, running a few seconds toward fine, reducing the rpm, then repeating. It's a bit like working your way through the gears. The landing was acceptible (i.e the prop's still there) and I headed home to sign off the phase 1 testing. It'll take me a while to get the knack of the IVO, and I suspect a go-around on full course might be interesting so PITCH is going on my downwind checklist. So far all the signs are good and, once again, the kitten is free to roam.

Char's First Ride

After almost 7 years of patiently waiting, Charmaine got her first ride in the Slick Kitten today.

The day didn't start too well - her mike socket isnt working. In fact none of the mike sockets except mine are working. They DID work last time I checked. So, she could hear everything that was going on, but couldn't ask questions or make comments. All I could do was watch her expressions. I think she's suspects that I set it up that way.

Once we got clear of the class C and up to 5,500' I gave her the controls. She smiled. She took the stick, tried a left bank, rolled level and grinned. When we got overhead Sebring I told I'd take it for landing. She pouted.

After a few hours wandering the vendor tents, chatting with Wayne Lanza and a few EZ builders, and eating $7 Italian sausage (with Char still pouting) we headed home. Once clear of the field I let Char fly the plane and, finally, the pout changed back to a grin. She's sleeping now, and the grin is still there.

The flight up took 1.6 into a hefty headwind and used up about 10 gallons of mogas. The flight back was 0.9 and only used about 6 gallons. Other than the mike socket, nothing went wrong, broke or fell off. Max ground speed for the day was 176 kts, but that was probably during the decent into LNA. GS on the way up was pitiful at around 120kts. On the way back it was around 160 at 4500 rpm (engine). I don't think I was on full course pitch - (and didnt want to pop the breaker to find out.)

At last - we get to play in our toy! Next weekend - maybe the fly-in at Charlotte Co, FL. The weekend after that - who knows - Char's already asking how long will it take to Gulfport, MS to visit her son......