Cozy

Chapter 27 - The Rest of the Story

Yes, I know there isn't a Chapter 27 in the plans, but I've got to call this part of the process something. This is where everything comes together, hopefully, so I'll record all the updates from here on here rather than in the seperate chapters.

A minor diversion

About the time I was getting ready to register the airplane a Velocity flyer (non-builder) friend called. He wanted help repairing his door which had "departed the airplane" in flight. Apparantly the latch wasn't fully engaged, and the entire passenger gull-wing door had simply blown off. He was lucky. It didn't hit the prop, impacting instead on the top of the port strake before falling in pieces on the runway. There's more to the story, but you'll have to get that from him. Don't let him forget to tell you about how he recovered the pax headset from the slipsteam... with both hands.

It occured to me that I'd learned some valuable skills while building the Cozy and helping people fix and/or work on their composite airplanes might be a nice way to earn a megre living in my spare time. Once the Cozy was done I could use it to travel around to wherever someone wanted something done. So, I decided to form a corporation. Both the name Canard Aviation Inc. and the web site, canardaviation.com, were available so I took them. My velocity owner friend would be my first customer.

Fixing a Velocity

My buddy - I'm not sure he wants to be identified for fear of having to explain what happened to his door, so lets just call him Jim - flew his Velo down to West Palm and, over July 4th weekend, if you count Wednesday thru tuesday as a weekend, we worked on repairing the door. It turned out to be quite a big job because, in its eagerness to return to terra firma, the door had ripped one of the hinges right out of the fuselage, complete with it's hard point. The door was in a total of eight pieces. Incredibly no pieces were missing.

A Fast Learning Experience

Jim works while I watchFinally the Velo was fixed. The job wasn't perfect because we ran out of micro and time (What do you expect in 4 days?) and we didn't have any matching paint for the trim work, but the door functioned properly, fit where it was supposed to and latched. We agreed that it was about a 15 footer. (i.e. It looks ok from 15 feet).

Jim had been a canard owner for some years, and Cozy IV plans owner for even more years, but he'd never had the confidence to start building. He bought a LongEZ, but it taxied itself into a hangar one day (another really fine story :) and he didnt have the skills to fix it, so he bought a Velocity. I found it interesting that he picked up the skills very quickly from watching me, so I turned the whole experience into a teaching exercise.

In four days we covered all the stages of building, from cosmetic and structural layups, hardpoints, flox corners and aluminum work through finishing and painting. Jim just lapped it up, and by the time we were done he was pretty good at most of it.

He spent quite a lot of time sitting his 6ft in 3inch, 260lb frame my Cozy dreaming, and left with the determination and confidence to finally start on his own Cozy. Jim's a big guy, and he found my Cozy a tight but comfortable fit. His head didnt hit the canopy and he was able to reach the stick and pedals fairly easily. We spend a while discussing what minor measures he could make to give himself a bit more room. As soon as he got home he planned to build the Cozy tub and, using the knowledge gained, fix the canard support structure on his Long. Then he'd sell the Long, and use the income to fund the Cozy, then sell the Velocity. Sounds like a plan. Anyone who's looking to buy a used Velocity or LongEz, please contact him.

Inspiration and motivation

As I watched Jim taxi out and climb into the dawn on his way home I decided it was high time I got the damn Cozy down to the airport and got it finished. I went home and immediately started moving the plane. No plans, no preparation - I just decided to move to the airport. That day.

Those who've visited my project or followed this web site will know that the first job was to get it over the hot tub. With no engine, wings, canard or canopy the fuselage is fairly light (I wonder how light) and it was easy to slide the back of the plane sideways. Using blue foam supports I inched the plane over the hot tub and onto the grass.

Hmmm. I think I remember making the gate big enough four years ago when I put up the fence. My step son, Tom, and I pushed the plane through the yard, through the gate with a couple of inches to spare each side, and into the front yard. Next we carried the wings and canard around to the front and I got on the phone calling wreckers and flat-bed operators. Many of them freaked out when I told them what I needed moved, but finally I came across Steve's Towing. The owner, Chris, volunteered to come out himself to make sure the job was done right. I gave him directions and mentioned that he'd spot the house easily. It was the only one with an airplane parked outside.

The first Flight

We pushed the plane up onto the flatbed with ease and I set the parking brake, thus discovering parking brake use number 14. Chris was aware that I was a bit nervous. He was very careful to make sure the tie downs weren't too tight and didnt damage anything. I asked him if this was a first for him. He said, no, but we didnt have to take so much care of the last plane we moved. It was broken anyway. Hmmm.

We followed the Cozy down the road at 25mph. After a 1/2 mile or so, Chris stopped and checked all the tie downs. At a red light he jumped out and checked everything again. I was very impressed by his concern and dilegence as we drove the rest of the way to the airport. We unloaded without incident, parked the plane in it's assigned spot and drove home.

Char was sitting on the patio, right where the plane had been born and had grown over the past 4 years. I'm not sure if she was sad to see it go, or glad to get her patio back.

Getting a number

I reserved an N number, N386JS, when I first got the plans and religiously sent in my $10 every year to keep it. A friend runs a printing company, so I had him make me the number in 3 inch letters. There isn't much room on the Cozy winglet, and I decided the number was too long. "November three eight six Juliet Seirra" is also a bit of a mouthfull, as is the last three letters which I'll be repeating many many times in the future. So I decided to dump the number and get a new one. I went to the FAA's new interactive number finding web site which is a link from the main registry site.

Registering the airplane

After a bit of searching around I found a short number I liked, November Nine Six Papa Mike. Once you have a number you have to pay $10 to have it assigned to you're airplane, then $5 to register it. I wonder if I can do it all at once. The lady in OK said OK - just leave the number blank on the forms and give us five preferred number choices in a letter. Don't forget that you need an 8050-88 affidavit of ownership, and it has to be notarized.

I called Hazel back at the FSDO and asked her what forms I needed for the airworthiness certificate and A&P license. In a nice way she pretty much told me that this information was "part of the learning experience" and I should go find out from the FAA circulars. I explained that I had all the circulars in a book I picked up from the FAA booth at Sun & Fun, but just needed a form 8050-1 which can't be downloaded because its a multi-part form. You have to come down to the FSDO and pick one up, she said. But you won't let me in without an appointment, I whined. Hazel caved in and agreed to mail me an 8050-1. The OK lady in OK sent me one as well.

I found out that you can register the plane long before it's finished. If registration really takes 90 days that might be a good idea, but the lady at the FAA registry in Oklahoma says it shouldn't take very long at all. We'll see.

So, my registration application went in with a letter requesting 5 possible numbers, an 8050-88, an 8050-1 and a check for $15.

A week later I checked the FAA web site by N number for my first choice and there was my registration. Cool. Now I can get the numbers and stick them on. A few days later my registration certificate came in the mail. I put it in a plastic ziploc and put it in the airplane.

Putting the wings on

I'd washed the wings down when I retrieved them from their storage area (hanging from hose pipe under the patio roof), but there were still some mud dauber and wasp nests in the wing bolt holes. A few days after the move, my brother-in-law, Frank, and I manouvered the wings into place and bolted them up. I'd been using hardware store bolts for ease of removal, so this was the first time I'd got the Chapter 19 AN8 bolts out. The long ones were too long, and the short ones were too short. I measured the holes and the bolts, made notes, then came home to figure out which bolts I needed. It came down to AN8-21 and AN8-23. I checked the plans, and thats what they say I should have. The bolts I got with Chapter 19 must be the wrong ones.

Next day I checked the bolts, and they were the right ones. Hmmm. I went back and tried again. The long ones were still too long. I tightened up the short (outboard) bolts and realized that the stiffness we thought was "tight" was, in fact, the nut lock hitting the thread. Putting a lot of torque on the nut I was able to tighten it a few more turns and get a couple of threads showing. Those nuts are NOT coming off on their own. The inboard bolts were way too long. I checked again, and found that I had AN8-30A instead of the proper AN8-23A bolts. Yet another order to Wicks.

While waiting for the correct bolts I decided I could proceed with the outboard bolts and get the tie down plates (as in Marc Z's web site) installed. I took the left wing off, once again and balanced it on sawhorses while I cleaned up the area around the lower outboard wing attach to give the little tie down plate good movement. I'd also double checked the plans and found that a thin washer goes between the wing and spar. The gap between the wing and spar was too small for the 1/8 inch tiedown plate to pop out, so I sanded about 1/16th away until I had just enough room.

I had everything ready to assemble, but no helper. Using blue foam wedges I raised the wing into position and carefully walked it toward the spar. Just as I was starting to struggle my new hangar-mate and landlord, Jerry, showed up and helped me align the bolts, tuck the wires in place and put the wing on. This job is much easier with two.

With the wing in place and the bolts tight it was time to install the bolt hole covers. Since the vortilons are installed with silicone, I decided it could hold the bolt hole covers on too. I masked around the area to avoid getting that nasty silicone stuff all over the paintwork, then pressed the covers in place. When the silicone cured I got out the roll of white platic tape I'd bought from another Cozy builder decades ago, and sealed off the joints between the wing and strake. Another small step toward a complete airplane. Next weekend I'll do the other wing.

The following weekend Char helped me with the other wing. I had one thick washer on the top bolts to keep the alignment right. Plans require a thin washer between the attach fittings, so the top bolts got a thick and a thin to maintain the same alignment with a thin one on the bottom bolt. We got everything lined up, moved the wing into position and put the nuts on. Then I remembered the tie down plate. I managed to get it in place and sand away a little of the edge for good movement without removing the wing again.

The following week I discovered that I had a short in one of the com antenna leads, and the right wing had to come off to fix it.

Working at the hangar

My first hangar didn't work out too well. There wasn't any space to put anything, so I moved two days after getting the plane down to the airport. I just pushed the plane down the row to the new hangar I'd arranged. The owner of the new hangar, Jerry, is an A&P/AI who works on restoring Stearmans and the like. His wife, Lisa, is an airplane builder. I remember reading an article in the local paper about her test flying her Pulsar a few years ago while I was still working on my tub. Now she's building a Kolb (sp?). Lisa is a EAA tech councilor and has volunteered to look the Cozy over in detail before it flys. I couldn't ask for nicer hangar mates. The hangar is the end one on the row and it faces the hold point for two runways. In the summer we work with the door open, so I have a clear view of all the traffic in the pattern, and every 10 minutes or so an ugly pile of aluminum trundles by, makes a lot of rattling noise, then staggers off into the air. My strange looking back-to-front airframe seems to get a lot of attention from the occupants of these contraptions as they pass painfully by. Talk about motivation to get finished and show them what a real flying machine looks like!

It's hot working in the hangar in July. Due to work committments I've only had time at the weekends, and the hangar is only comfortable in the mornings and evenings, so I'm tending to get about 4 or 6 hours on the plane each weekend. Even at this slow pace I'm quickly reaching the point that there's nothing more to do until the intake gets finished at Japtrix and we can start installing the engine.

EZ Street

Paul Mason of VariEz and LongEz fame.Unfortunately, my new hangar mates have a restoration business thats "taking off". After 2 months they told me they'd need the space for their own projects, and I should look for a new home. Counting the original move to the airport, and moving across the hangar once, this will be my fourth move in 9 weeks.

Around this time I bumped into Al, who flys a LongEz he bought from Paul Mason. Yes, the notorious Paul Mason of the VERY early VariEz and LongEz days. What a coincidence. My tail letters are Papa Mike. Apparantly Paul was a bit of a speed demon in his younger years. He retired from racing his VariEz the year that Klaus came along. Good timing. It turns out that Paul owns the hangar in which Als Long and Tim Ragonese's (or is it RagonEZ) Velocity are housed. Paul's an Aussie, but we can't hold that against him. He's also about 7 feet tall. How he ever got in a VariEz I'll never know. Al's shorter than me. They introduced themselves as "The long and the short of it". Tim was the guy who did a tech inspection for me way back in Chapter 4. He seemed a little surprised to see the bulkheads he'd inspected 4 years ago surrounded by a completed airplane. One Saturday in late September Paul, Al, Tim and I moved airplanes around until there was space for my Cozy. Paul put me through a bit of an interview, showed me around ALs LongEZ which he built, and took a close look over my plane. I got the impression that he wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before he allowed me in the hangar. I must have passed, because I moved in.

There was much interest in my rotary installation, and thankfully none of the sideways looks that one occasionally gets from Lycoming drivers. The hangar has a sign outside "EZ Street" which I believe was put there by Ken Miller of equal canardian fame. It seems my bird has some lofty reputations to match. The REALLY neat thing about this new hangar is that the hangar gremlins here are very old and experienced in the ways of the canard. On my first day working there I simply flew through stuff. The intercom worked, the landing brake and pitch trim worked and the engine turned over on the starter for the first time. It didnt start, of course, because there's no intake system attached, but it did make a nice wrumm wrumm noise.

The "hangar gremlins" also help me out on occasion. For example, they trained the screwdrivers for me. Have you ever noticed how screwdrivers tend to congregate by type? I probably have 20 screwdrivers of one size or another, and whenever I'm looking for a phillips, all I can find are flat and vice versa. At the EZ street hangar the screwdrivers have been trained to hang out in pairs. This is a big time saver.

A bad thing about working at the hangar is that it's 6 miles away, so I have to plan my work and make an effort to get out there. This is balanced by the fact that, once there, I'm committed, and I work on the chosen job till it's done. I have a note on the fridge telling Char I've gone down to the hangar. When I get home I reverse it for reuse. The note has become redundant. If I'm not home, I'm at the hangar.

Airworthiness Certificate

There are quite a few paperwork steps to getting in the air. I spoke to the Hazel at the local FSDO who handles coordination of the inspectors. She told me it was a pity I hadn't been in touch sooner so I could have been assigned to an inspector early on during the build. I told her I called when I first got the plans, and they said "call back when you're done", beside I thought they didnt do that any more. Hazel says, informally, they're trying to get back into it. She told me that they have people that know composites and canards, and that they should be able to get to me within 30 days or so. But... I have to contact the MIDO first. What's a MIDO, I asked?

MIDO stands for Manufacturers Inspection District Office. They coordinate the FSDOs with respect to manufacturers (thats us) inspections. There's one in Orlando that handles the southeast US. I called the MIDO. They said it takes 6 months to get an FAA inspector, and they don't know sh.t anyway, so I'd be better off getting a DAR to do the inspection. (They really did say something like that). Hmmm. I get the feeling they're trying to hand off the work.

I learned that you can't apply for airworthiness until you have registration. Strange. Why,then, does it say on the pink copy of the 8050-1 that you can use this as registration for 90 days?

I can't set up an appointment for inspection until I have the plane "finished" and the engine running.

ELT

I knew I had to install a ELT. I just though it attached to the back of the seat. Oh no - this thing wants space on the panel for it's little control board, and it wants a 3 foot ground plane. Yea right! Where am I going to put a 3 ft circle of metal. The manual suggests an alternative of 6 * 18 inch spokes of copper tape. I asked on the aeroelectric list and was advised that all I really need is a dipole antenna similar to the COM in the winglet. The ELT weights in at over 3lb. Well, actually, the ELT weights about 8 oz. The 6 D cell batteries weight the rest.

I thought about putting it under the spar with the antenna inside the spar, but I decided I needed the weight up front. I found a spot in the nose above the air conditioner and made a bracket to support the ELT there. I put the antenna in front of the nose gear cover and stuck copper tape on the floor and up & over the nose cover. I covered the tap with one ply of BID and used the antenna clamping nut to trap the ends of the foil strips. For the ELT control panel found a tiny bit of unused real estate above the pilot's eyeball air vent. I added a "battery next change" sticker for a year from now, and made an entry in the avionics log book.

The baby's first words

Any mother will know that the first time a baby speaks is an important day. One day in Sept '03 I sat in the plane between jobs and decided to try the radio again. No, it didn't say "dadda". As before, I could hear the guys doing pattern work. Last time I'd tried the radio the winglets had been well inside the metal hangar, and I was hoping this was why I got no response to my radio check calls in the past. This time the airplane had been repositioned, and the winglets were closer to the door. I called "Niner Six Papa Mike, Radio Check". and immediately heard "Niner Six Papa Mike, loud and clear". Wow. First Words. Cool. Now all we need is first steps.

First Steps

I'd long ago decided that I wanted to fly my own first flight. To do this safely I need to be comfortable in a Cozy, so I posted a request on the mail list. Basically I said I'd fly commercial anywhere in the country to get some left seat time in a Cozy. I only got 2 or 3 replies, one of which was from Rich Hughes in Islip, LI. We agreed that I'd fly up there and train in his plane, then someone mentioned the Rough River fly-in on the mail list. Rich responded that he'd like to go, but wasnt able to because of the expense. I know an opportunity when I see one. I spoke with Rich and agreed to pay the gas cost from Islip to Kentucky and back in return for his left seat on the way. Rich agreed, so I booked Southwest roundtrip to Islip. I arrive ISP at 10:35am Friday and depart 6:10pm Sunday. This should give us time to fly from ISP to Kentucky and back for the RR flyin. Should be an interesting weekend.

The weekend before the planned trip I read that Marc Zeitlin wouldn't be going to RR because of corrosion pits discovered on the bores of his low time Lycoming engine. Ouch. Next day, Rich called to say that HIS Lycoming was blowing oil out the breather. One cylinder compression is down. He's investigating, but the weekend trip is dependant on this being fixed in time.

A successful weekend?

Rich called late on Thursday evening. He'd replace the rings, had the cylinder honed and reassembled everything in the mornings and evenings, going to work in between. The plane was back together and running fine. He'd taxi tested it and done a run up, but it was dark and he'd decided to wait until morning to flight test it. I caught the Southwest flight, but Islip was marginal VFR when I arrived, so we had brunch while waiting for it to clear. By 12am the weather was clearing so Rich and Rob (a Cozy IV builder who knows Rich's plane well) taxiied out planning to test the engine for an hour before Rich and I set out for Rough River. After 20 minutes they came back. The engine had stalled twice, and the rpm was a little low on the runup. After all the taxiing and runups the engine temps were red lined and they decided not to take off. Much as he wanted to go to RR, Rich decided to pull the cowl and see what was wrong. Perhaps the rings are just bedding in, we hoped. Maybe the plugs were oiled up. Hope, hope. When we pulled the prop over it seemed stiff. Too stiff. It felt as though something was grating inside the engine. Just a vague feeling of scraping, but enough that Rich decided to do a compression test. The repaired cylinder failed dismally and air could be clearly heard coming out of the breather. With amazing composure, Rich decided that the jug would have to come off.

Rich and I pulled the cylinder and I got my first close look at the insides of a Lycosaurus. The first thing I noticed was that the piston was enourmous. The second thing I noticed was that it was scored "all to hell". So was the bore. This engine had been VERY close to seizing. After some telephone discussions, and a visit from an A&P called Charlie I think we established that the new rings were chrome, and had been fitted in a chrome cylinder. Apparantly this is a big no-no for some mystical reason known only to Lycoming magicians. You can tell it's a chrome cylinder by the red paint on the fins. Who knew? Charlie knew. The A&P that Rich had consulted had thought that it was a cast cylinder, and the red paint was wrong. You'd think there'd be a better way to identify this kind of critical stuff. Ah well. I'm happy that I don't have to worry about the intricacies of Lycomings.

By the time we had the cylinder off it was 4pm. No way we were going to get parts on a Friday. In any case, the engine will be full of metal particles and the bearings and crank should probably be checked. Rich drove me back over to the terminal and I changed my flight to return that day. No point hanging around the airport crying in the beer. This Cozy wasn't going anywhere for a while. My flight experience weekend was shot. Was it a sucessful weekend? Absolutely. A lessor pilot might have decided it was "just bedding in" and "would be ok" and launched for Rough River. A less diligent person might well have accepted the runup the night before as proof that all was ok and took off with me in the am. 20 minutes flight time, which is about how long the engine would have lasted, would have put us somewhere over the water between long island and New Jersey, or low over western LI with nowhere to land. Rich's patience, care and diligence might well have saved our lifes. So, thank you, Rich and Rob, for a very successful weekend!

I felt bad for Rich, and he felt bad for me. I was going home after a one day wasted round trip flight from Florida to New York. He had a broken airplane. I decided he had the worst of it. I bought dinner. We agreed to meet the following year at Rough River. (but this was not destined to happen, either). Returning home to my lovely wife, it struck me how differently the weekend could have turned out, and how ironic it would have been to have been killed by a Lycoming the week before starting my 13B powered Cozy for the first time.

So now I'm on the lookout for Cozy flight experience again. One good thing is that I hit the 6 trips total, and my next Southwest roundtrip flight is free. Maybe Rich will get his plane repaired in time and we can punch some holes in the Long Island skies. They say the best compliment you can pay to a pilot is to fly with him or her. I'd fly with Rich Hughes ANYTIME.

[Note: That same Lycoming failed on approach a few weeks later and forced Rich to land on a residential street. After the accident the FAA fired up the engine and it ran just fine, so mechanical failure is eliminated. Sounds like the failure may have been caused by icing on the throttle plate which is pull to close / spring to open. Anyway, Rich failed to get a restart, clipped a house and ended up in someones back yard. The airplane was destroyed. Incredibly Rich walked away, so it counts as a good landing. Not excellent, though, since he won't get to reuse the airplane. My condolences to Rich on the loss of his pretty airplane.

Project visits

Jerry Schnider, who's building Cozy up in Tampa, has visited my project a couple of times over the past few years. In September he came down again and took pictures of almost everything. It was interesting watching Jerry as he looked around the plane from stem to stern. Most people who visit are interested in the plane, the workmanship, what's involved in building it, how it looks etc. etc. Not Jerry. He's like me. Focused. When I visit another project my interest in the progress of that project is peripheral at most. My focus is on any details which might impact me and MY project. Sounds selfish, I guess, but a builder shouln't take offense at this. I sure don't. It's just a sign that Jerry's doing a good research job, which was the purpose of his trip. After he'd poured over my plane for a while we drove down to Ft. Lauderdale to visit Bulent where he did the same thing. Bulent's doing a nice job of finishing up the final details before paint. I always like visiting Bulent - he's far enough behind me that I feel much better about my own progress. He thinks he's catching up, but he doesnt know about the black hole of Cozy building - have you noticed that everyone who seems almost ready to fly seems to disappear into a black hole for about 6 - 12 months. I'm in that black hole right now. Hopefully I'm near the far end of it, but navigation inside black holes is a black art. I could be heading back out the way I came in.

Bulent had his P51 scoop mold sitting on the bench. I commented that, with the scoop fitted, his plane would be handy for forest fires - he could swoop down and fill the scoop, then dump the water on the fire. Jerry laughed. Bulent didn't. I think he's saving his laughter for when his engine cools, and mine doesnt.

Weight & Balance

After asking around the airfield and looking in places like harbor freight and biglots I finally found "chuckthedog" on the canard forum. Chuck aka DJ bought a pair of 1000lb digital scales when he weighed his plane, and offered to rent them to me for $50 plus shipping. A line is already forming. Jim Sower gets them after me. If you want to get on the list,
contact DJ.

The scales arrived UPS. I opened them up and tested them right by the front door. My mistake was leaving them switched on. Char arrived home, stepped through the front door and saw two digital scales (with 1000lb capacity, no less) staring at her. ooops. My points count went to zero faster than the digital rpm on a Lycoming with a thrown conrod. Ah well, such is life.

I took the scales down to the hangar that evening. They're only 3 inches tall, but how do you raise the plane 3 inches on your own? I tried a ramp, but couldnt push the plane up it. The EZ-Street hangar has a couple of wing jacks, so I used these to lift the plane one wing at a time with wood, then foam to spread the load. The first attempt took a while because I was jacking out by the wing tip. I wised up on the second wing and put the jack at the wing root.

The big moment

As I drove down to the hangar I wondered what the weight would come out at. If it's under 1200lb I'll be happy, I thought. Over 1300 would make me unhappy. Over 1400 would be chainsaw time. I lowered the plane onto the first scale then thought I'd turn it on to get the weight on one wheel, just as a guide. The reading was 20lb negative. These scales need to calibrate themselves with no weight, then you can use them. Ah well. I jacked up the other wheel, calibrated the scale, then began lowering the jack. It was fun watching the weight go up as I lowered the jack. Round and round the digits go. Where they stop, nobody knows. They stopped at 530lb. Hmmm. I jacked up the other wheel, calibrated the scale and lowered it again. 542lb. Now the other wheel was 528 and the UPS scale under the front wheel read 35. 1105 total. Yea right - I hadn't put the canard and canopy on yet. I carried all the extra parts over to the plane and set them in place. With everything in place except the prop, radiator and intake manifold the total weight came in at 1233. Without the leather seats it was 1195 and without the leather seats and turbo / intercooler it came down to 1151. Marc Z's plane came in at 1155. I believe this is less than Carl Denk's Cozy 3 which is closer to 1300. With all luxuries including the prop, radiator, intake manifold, air conditioning, electric nose lift, turbo, leather seats, headrests et al I figure the empty weight will be around 1280. I can live with that. I'm only 165, so I'm about 100lb ahead of SOME builders I know.

Next day I realized that there were 23lb of weights in the nose. That makes my empty weight around 1210 with everything installed. Next, as a totally fruitless exercise in self justification, I considered the "extras" I'd installed, but could always remove if I wanted to, extrapolating backwards to get bare empty weight:

empty weight1210
Turbo-44
AC -35
Seats -38
Upholstery -15
Cooling fan -11
walnut panel -10
extra landing light-5
misc -3


total "extras" -161


Bare empty weight 1049

Cool. I beat Nat!

I have the weight. All I need now is the balance.

Shady Bend

October is Shady Bend fly-in month when wanklers from all over the country decend (literally) on Tracy Crook's house in Bell, North Florida. This year there were over 50 people in attendance and 6 rotary powered RVs. Canards don't fly into Tracy's 2800 foot bumpy grass strip. At least not yet.

At this years event Ed Anderson gave us all a thourough education in the ways of the intake pulse. He put a lot of thought and analysis into why he was getting a "sweet spot" and significant HP boost on cold mornings, and it sounds like he's onto something. Keep an eye on Ed and his intake manifold designs. He might just come up with a breakthrough.

Ed (lastname unknown) installed the new tangential muffler on Tracy's test engine. A very small neat little package. If I wasn't going with a turbo I'd want one of them. Richard Sohn showed off his single rotor engine, but what REALLY interested me was his method for making fiberglass pipes. Here's how it's done...

You take a PVC pipe and an inner tube. Slide the inner tube into the PVC pipe, tie the end then fill the tube with sandblaster sand. Pressurize the tube with an air hose to make it expand a little and allow the sand to settle. Remove the inner tube from the PVC, bend it to the required shape, then glass it. The inner tube keeps it's shape while the glass cures. The inside of the resulting pipe is perfectly smooth. Brilliant!

While I was at Shady Bend Tracy upgraded the software in my EC2 and put it through its paces on his simulation rig. I have a lot to learn about how this thing is programmed, but his demo was very helpful. I also picked up an air / fuel monitor gauge to help me with the tuning.

A three month Gap

Not really. I've been plugging away at it, and updating my things to do list, plus making new entried in the engine chapter. I'm still somewhere in the last 2% which is the "Black Hole" of airplane building. I'm hoping to emerge into the light soon.

South Florida Annual Cozy Dinner

Didn't know there was one? Well, Bulent, Todd and I, and our better halves have developed a habit of getting together on holidays. This year (New year 2004), Tom, a Cozy builder and Hornet driver (you know - one of those aviator guys who can't land in a crosswind, so they have to turn the runway into the wind for them) was visiting his parents in Ft. Lauderdale. Interesting how someone can fly a Hornet for a living, but dream of owning a Cozy. I suppose it makes sense. At least in the Cozy no one is going to firing bullets at you.

Tom, his lovely wife, Jennifer, and their daughter Emily tried the plane out for size while Bulent and Todd examined the engine installation.

That morning, Jan 1st, I'd headed down to the airport early. It was clean-up time, partly because I was expecting visitors, and partly because I couldn't find anything anymore. I have stuff spread about on both wings and three tables. Most of this stuff has to go under the cowling. Most of it has been in place more than once. Now I'm gradually installing things like the injectors, intake, alternator, lower cowl etc. for the "final" time.

There's a storage area in my hangar, and a ladder leading up to it. It's a good way to get a crows eye view of the plane. Here's a picture taken from above. As you can see, there's a lot going on.

A bad day at EAA

A number of things came to a head on the same day. A few weeks earlier I'd decided it might be a good idea to take out some life insurance, so I looked up the details on the EAA website. Most life insurance policies exclude even private certified flying, never mind experimental flying. EAA have a special policy arrangement with Harvey Wall & Co., so I filled out the application and sent them a check. I also contacted the EAA insurance guy about liability coverage on my plane.

Today the life policy arrived, and I got a phone message from the EAA saying they coulnt get ne any coverage on the plane. The life death/ dismemberment policy is very badly worded (why do you think they do that?), but the bottom line is that it in one section it excludes ALL flying as pilot in ANY plane owned, controlled or leased by the member, and in another section it provides for coverage while flying in an "aircraft while it is being piloted by an EAA member pilot, provided such aircraft has a current and valid normal, commuter or transport type standard airworthiness certificate"The "implication" is that you're covered in a certified airplane provided that you're not the pilot, and you're covered in a certified airplane as pilot, so long as you dont own, lease or control it. I wonder if they mean "control" as in control the asset, or as in control the airplane. Either way the policy excludes anything "Experimental" by omission. Considering that this policy is recommended by the "Experimental" Aircraft Association, I have a problem with this. I worked my way through some of the hierarchy at EAA and ended up speaking with a very sharp lady called Karen. I'm guessing she's fairly high up the ladder. Karen told me that the life policy arrangement with Harvey Watt was specifically designed for experimental pilots (as you might expect), and that I'm fully covered. I explained carefully that, while I'd like to believe that, the policy in front of me says otherwise. She says I'm missing a clause. I'm not. Karen offerred to talk to Pat, the President of Harvey Watt. I left him a message to call, but didnt get a response, so I wrote him a letter, copy to EAA, asking for written clarification.

While I had Karen on the phone I explained my problem with aircraft insurance and vented my frustration at EAA fly-ins which charge entry fees to their "core people" i.e. people who've spend years building the very exhibits which attract all the membership fees. I'd have thought they'd pay them to come, or at least give them a free hamburger. Maybe they will once enough flyers stop going. I vented on a couple of other issues too, including the fact that my application to Falcom for ground liability insurance was denied by the guy leaving a phone message. I asked what EAA membership was doing for me. Karen was polite and sympathetic and thanked me for my "feedback".

An hour after speaking with Karen I got a call from Bob at Falcon Insurance. I suspect he's fairly high-up also. Bob discussed the insurance situation with me. He mentioned that there used to be 20 companies underwriting aircraft. Now there's only 8. I suggested that's because they aren't very good at assessing risks. They'll insure a Cozy with a Lyc for full hull without hesitation, even though they've lost two in the past month, but they won't even consider GROUND LIABILTY for a plane with a 13B and zero time in type. Bob said they didn't like custom auto conversions, but preferred firewall forward solutions. I mentioned that Powersport had cost the insurance companies a lot of money, that a local Mazda expert is supervising my installation, and that I have redundancy in spark plugs, ignition coils, injectors, EFI computers, batteries, fuel pumps, filters and fuel tanks. I also explained that I have an ATP/CFI with 10,000 hrs and his own LongEz in the same hangar and will be taking transition training with him. And we're talking about GROUND LIABILITY here. Bob says he'll see what he can work out. He later wrote explaining that he could not get me any coverage siting the Mazda engine. Crazy! Full hull insurance in my Piper Cherookee (with an OLD Lycoming engine and 2400 hrs TT) was $400. Here I am begging for a GROUND COVERAGE policy at any price on a plane that's much lower risk. There's an old IO360 in my hangar I could probably get cheap. I think it's run out, and it hasnt run for over a year. If I screw it to my plane as is, and thereby risk life and limb, they'll give me coverage immediately. When are these insurance people going to realize that it's actually possible to make money if you assess risk intelligently. Why don't they have knowledgable people who inspect the planes and interview the pilots?

The one thing I learned, other than confirmation that insurance companies are REALLY bad at what they do, is that if/when you are denied coverage, you need to come right back with "What do I need to do to get coverage?" Also, apparantly the first agent who approaches a company on your behalf is considered the agent of record, and they wont talk to any other agent but him/her about you.

Hangar Visitors

Now I'm in the hangar I get a lot of visitors. AL (longEZ owner) comes in fairly frequently to fly his model helicopter around the hangar. I wonder why he isnt flying the Long instead. Today my ex hangar mate and Glasair builder, Tom dropped by. He hummed and haaaaed all around the plane, saying "I don't know, John". "What don't you know?", I asked. He replied in the same tone, "I don't know, John". Then it hit me. Of course he doesn't know. Tom "merely" assembled a plane. He didn't build one. Constructive critisism is always welcome, but what I don't need is died-in-the-wool well-insured Lycoming drivers who can't see past their 8 inch flat topped pistons. Almost every week for the past month or so, I've read about an airplane crash in the local paper. We had a twin go in at LNA only the other day. Engine failure. Two guys got pulled from the lake after their 152 crashed. Engine failure. An instructor and student were killed on a night approach last week. Engine failure. We lost 3 Cozy's in the space of two months. Engine failure. I hope the insurance helped, because the Lycoming engines sure didn't.
[Note: I'm guessing Tom reads this web site, cause he hasn't been back since :) ].

More Insurance

I made a little progress. First I spoke to Pat Hiebel, President of Harvey Watt insurance (800-241-6103x222). He agreed that the EAA Life/death/dismemberment policy was "a little confusing". I countered that it wasn't confusing at all. It very clearly states that EAA members flying experimental airplanes are NOT covered. Pat conceeded the point, but added that he had a letter of clarification from Zurich which catagorically states that Experimental Aviation IS covered. Something to do with a generic policy being amended to suite the EAA group. The coverage is limited to $100k for flying accidents irrespective of what level policy you take out, but Pat assures me that it does exist. He promised to send me a copy of the letter from Zurich. Later, the letter from Zurich arrived. I was expecting this letter to specifically state that EEA members were covered at any time while flying experimentals. I should have known better. Taken literally the letter said that EAA members were covered while flying at EAA sponsored events, EAA members were covered while flying at non-EAA sponsored events, and that the addressee of the letter, Pat Hiebel, (refered in the letter as "you") was covered when flying experimentals other than at events. Geesh! Where do these people who work for Zurich learn their communication skills? What I think the writer was trying to say is very simple. Just in case he ever reads this, here's a simple lesson in logical expression of ideas....

1. Since we're covering EAA sponsored events and non-EAA sponsored events, doesnt that mean we're covering ALL events? 2. Since we're covering flying outside of events, doesnt that mean its not necessary to mention events at all?3. Are you trying to say "EAA members are covered when flying their experimental airplanes. period."?

If so, why not just say that?

I called Pat. He hadn't noticed the "typo", but when asked, he confirmed that the policy had, in fact, paid out to EAA members injured while flying, but not during events. So, I'm verbally assured that the precedent is set, and I have to proceed on the understanding that I'm covered. Trying to get a meaningful policy description from these guys just isn't worth the effort. But then again, maybe that's the point.

Next I spoke to Bob Mackey at Falcon Insurance (877-230-3252). Feeding his words right back to him I asked "OK, what will it take?". How many hours in type? Would they like to send an engineer to inspect my installation at my expense? If I fly off the 40 hours, will they cover it then? Remember - we're talking about ground liability here. Bob told me a story about them not wanting to write ground liability because if someone files a claim for a flying accident for which they dont have coverage, the insurance company then has to go to court to clear the claim. Sounds pretty lame to me, and I told him so. I'm beginning to wonder if EAA is "bending" the insurance away from automotive conversions for political reasons. Bob says not. I'm suspitious. It doesnt make sense for the companies to walk away from lucrative ground liability business on the basis of uncovered claims. I don't beleive they're that stupid, or that the system is that screwed up. The bottom line is that Bob will work on the insurance companies some more, and get back to me in a couple of weeks. Good ammunition would be details of existing coverage for Mazda fliers, so I agreed to research this and let him know.

A little later Bob (Falcon) did get back to me with a fairly reasonable quote from AIG. They want 5 hours dual "Cozy Experience" flying.

Launch Countdown

In an effort to get some focus and force myself to work my way thorugh the overwhelming list of things to do, I ran a
launch countdown in the canard forum. Reporting my progress every night seemed to be of interest to those trying to get an idea what was involved in installing a rotary, and it certainly helped me make progress. Needless to say, I didn't make the first flight target date of 2/29/04, but that was always a bit tongue in cheek anyway. What I DID achieve was the first engine run and, a couple of days later, the first taxi.

First Taxi

On March 2nd, '04 the engine was running fairly consistantly and I was ready to bolt the prop on to do the EC2 EFI computer adjustments. I called Buly to ask him a question about the oil pressure regulator, and he volunteered to drive up and help with the prop.

After an hour or so of fiddling around we got the prop on. Tight but not torqued up. We cleared all the cr.p off the wings, moved everything out of the way and wheeled the plane out onto the ramp. I'd promised to call Char when the bird was ready for its first taxi so, much to Bulent's disgust (he's newly married - he'll learn) I called Char and let her listen to the engine start and the first few feet of taxi, then I hung up and concentrated on what I was doing.

First impression was that the engine was running MUCH smoother with the prop in place. It needs the load to get the preset mixture in the ballpark. The second thing I noticed, as I taxied past my car, was that this plane is very easy to steer on the ground. I rolled down between the hangars and out onto the taxiway using very little power. There was a metallic noise I hadn't heard before, so I swung her around and taxied straight back. As I shut her down I noticed a prop vibration that didn't seem right.

We noticed that there was a lot of lag on the prop. Buly peered down into the flywheel area and spotted a bolt lying at the bottom of the case, just waiting for the best opportunity to jump up and attack the expensive and really important piece of wood right behind the redrive. Wiggling the prop a bit more I noticed that the flywheel was moving a little with respect to the counterweights behind it. That sure aint right. That evening I went down to the hangar again and removed the redrive. Forward of the redrive is the damper plate which is attached to the flywheel. The entire assembly was loose. I removed the damper plate and found, behind it, the 6 small bolts and one very large central bolt that hold the flywheel in place were all loose. I said 6. Actually there were 5. The other one, the one Buly found, had already come out. This situation could have taken a very serious bite out of my ass if the remaining bolts had come out during the first flight. Can you say "catastrophic failure"?

I know what happened. Three years ago, when we were making the engine mount, we had assembled the redrive to the engine. We'd mounted the flywheel and damper plate, probably finger tight, at that time. For three years the engine had sat around with that damper plate in place. When it finally came time to install the redrive properly I had forgotten that the flywheel had never been torqued down. It had been "part of the engine" for all that time, and I'd ASSumed that it had been correctly installed by Chris when he made the engine. I guess this is why we do taxi testing.

Tomorrow I'll pick up a new bolt from NAPA and a new bottle of locktite.

Day Zero....and holding

While the redrive was off I took the opportunity to revise the turbo piping which was touching the cowl on both sides. This meant moving the intercooler which was now interfering with the throttle cable, so I needed to remake the throttle cable bracket (bracket #6). I did, and the remake didnt work well so I have to take another shot at it.(bracket #7). A long day of scratched hands and scratched heads with no visible progress. Didn't even get close to putting the redrive back. I also have to do something with the ELT mount that is interferring slightly with the canard, then I'm going to drain the oil and water and redo the w&b. Before taxi testing comes EC2 programming. Oh - and it would be nice to have my radio and turn & slip working, and the vacuum guage is jiggling too much. The annunciator is flashing on & off when the engine's running, and my no-charge light is on, even though the voltmeter shows charge..... the list goes on and on.

What a big nut!

Tracy's manual says the eshaft nut needs to be torqued to 350 ftlb. No problem. I have my set of monster wrenches. I cleaned the threads, put loctite on and proudly whipped out my 18 inch long wrenches. The biggest is 2 inches. The nut is 2 1/8. Came up short again! I decided to remove the nut until I had the proper tool in hand. I didn't know that loctite set so quickly. I couldn't get the nut off. I took my 2 inch wrench over to the bandsaw and converted it to a 2 1/8 wrench. Even then it took a lot of effort to get the nut off.

Next day Bulent showed up with his impact wrench and 54mm socket. Tightening the nut took about an hour. 2 minutes with the wrench and 58 minutes enjoying Fajita, Margarita and good Cozy conversation at the local Mexican restaurant.

With the flywheel nuts properly tightened I reinstalled the redrive, holding it's weight while tightening the bolts to keep it centered. I reconnected all the oil lines and the plane was back to where it had been a few days before. Time to make some forward progress again.

Smog Pump mounting

I was unhappy with the smog pump mounting. The pump had shifted during the first run and allowed the fan belt to touch the water pump outlet pipe. There was evidence of black rubber on the pipe. I stopped in at the welding shop and asked Charlie to run his engineer's eyes over the problem. He followed me around the the hangar and took a look. After a few seconds he said "All you need is a steel brace from here to here". Obvious when you look at it. The steel brace would form a triangle with the mount and stop any movement. I should have known that. An hour later my smog pump was securely mounted.

I remounted the redrive, torqued all the nuts and hooked the oil lines back up. I ended the day, Friday 5th, with a few more snags out of the way, and a little closer to the second taxi test.

Throttle Linkage

My throttle cable bracket (#6) worked fine, except that I wasn't quite getting full travel. I also needed to reverse the throttle return spring so I get full throttle instead of idle in case of cable break. I ordered a ball joint type linkage from Vans to allow the cable to pull past the TB linkage rather than impacting it as it does now.

First Fright

It was 9pm Saturday evening. Char & I were relaxing, channel surfing for something to watch on the TV. Instead of vegging on the couch tonight, let's DO something, I said. We went down to the hangar together. Char was going to work on the airplane cover pattern for the Covergirl (a nip & tuck job with straight pins as in a dress) while I got on with the prop spinner. When we got there she took one look and decided to clean up my work area instead.

I got on with mating the prop, spinner, backplate and flowguide. I'd bought the flowguide and backplate used and holes and nut plates were all in the wrong places. Using a perfectly flat surface (the floor) as a guide, I redrilled the spinner and backplate and remounted the nutplates. After a couple of hours or so of juggling I had the spinner in place.

While I was busy with all this Char had organized my tools, cleaned out the hangar and cleaned the airplane windows inside & out. It was gone midnight. I decided to end the evening by starting the engine breifly so Char could hear it for the first time, and we could see if the spinner was properly centered. (no wobble at the tip). I figured I was only going to run the engine for a few seconds, and I'd run it in the hangar a bunch of times, so I wouldn't bother pushing the plane out to the ramp. (mistake #1). I moved everything out of the way, opened the hangar door part of the way, positioned Char in front of the left wing so I could see her, and she could see the spinner, and climbed in. As I cracked the throttle ready for start I remembered that I'd been working on the linkage. "Can you see the throttle cable moving?" I asked. "Yup", said Char. "The cable's moving ... in the air". I climbed out and examined the cable. The linkage was off waiting for the ball joint from Vans. I decided to attach it to the throttle body linkage with a #3 bolt, just for this run (mistake #2).

I climbed back in, cracked the throttle, turned on the fuel pump and cranked. She didn't seem to want to go. I cranked some more and gave it a bit more throttle switching to computer B. Neither computer is programmed yet, but she seems to run better on B for some reason. She fired up.... oh yea... she went straight to about 2500 rpm.

Now I remembered why I shouldn't have started her in the hangar - the previous in-hangar runs were sans-prop. I did have my toes on the brakes, expecting close to idle rpm, but this baby was running at about 1/3 thottle and she wanted to MOVE. I close the throttle, but it hit a stop of some kind, and the engine kept reving. Oh Sh.t! The plane was moving forward against the brakes and reving like a son-of-a-bitch. "The engine hasn't run this good before!" was all the periforal part of my brain could come up with. I glanced over at Char to see a wide-eyed look on her face as she ducked to avoid being hit by the wing. I hit the master off. She kept running. "Of course with Bob's circuitry, she's supposed to", said my perifory. I turned the ignition off. She kept running. "Computer B ignores the coil defeat circuitry" mentioned the smiling little red-suited guy on my shoulder. Now, I'm moving forward across the hangar floor at about 5 mph (my evil friend figured that out at 7 ft / second) and I'm rapidly approaching Tim's beautifully finished Velocity. Beyond that is AL's pretty LongEZ. This is not good went through my mind as I learned my way around the cockpit much more quickly than expected. I hit the six switches for the coils, injectors and computers with the flat of my hand. The engine stopped immediately.

Phew! I stopped with the canard about 12 inches from Tim's wing. "Was that the second taxi test?" asked Char, grinning. "Hmmm. Don't worry, I'll get better at this". I replied, more than a little embarrased. The plane had moved about 10 feet altogether, so the whole episode probably didnt last more than 3 or 4 seconds including the time before she started moving against the brakes. We pushed the plane back where she belonged and I considered the cause. When it got past about 1/3 travel,the throttle cable had slipped inward so that it was up against the throttle body linkage, stopping a return to idle. "Oh, by the way", said Char, "the tip of the spinner is wobbling. It's about 2 inches off center". Wonderful.

Did I mention that we have a hangar owl. Really. When I'm working late at night he's up in the roof somewhere watching me and going "Huu. Hu. Huuu." every couple of minutes. I've often wondered what he's saying. He's born to fly, and here he sits watching my pathetic efforts at mimicary. I closed the hangar door and switched out the light, the hangar still smelling of exhaust and slightly rich fuel. "Huu. Hu. Huuu." said the owl. I think I've figured it out. Last night I swear he was saying "Fooool. You Fooool".

Today, Sunday, I'm taking a day off. Tomorrow Kevin (canardzone CNCDOC) is coming over for a visit. He knows Mazda engines, so maybe we'll work on tuning the engine, once I fix that ....... throttle.

Hershey Kiss

I bought my spinner from Klaus so I'd have a go faster part on the plane. I got the flow-guide and aluminum bulkhead used from another builder. After a few tries at getting it installed I learned a few things that might be useful to others:

1. The carbon fiber is quite flexible, so you can probably cut the hole for the prop blade with one cut extending to the rim, and manipulate the spinner over the blade for a perfect fit with no missing pieces. I didn't do this, but you probably could. My approach was to cut the hole too large, then fill in the gaps with fiberglass. The advantage with my method is that you get to sand and fill micro while restoring (or attempting to restore) the finish.

2. It's much easier to mount the spinner on the bulkhead temporaily, measure the height from a table while rotating the prop and adjust until the tip is perfectly centered, then drill the holes through the spinner and the bulkhead. Finally, use the holes in the spinner to drill the flow guide. My method of using a flat surface to align the spinner with the bulkhead just plain don't work.

3. Don't try to start the engine with the flow guide hanging loose.

OK, I didn't do number 3, but I thought about it.

Next day I sanded the micro and installed the spinner. The holes still weren't perfectly aligned. Something happens when you bend the spinner to fit between the backplate and the flowguide and the holes go out of alignment even if you drilled them that way. Don't ask. I adjusted the holes and measured the height while spinning the prop. It took most of the day, but I finally got it within 0.1 inches of true. I needed longer screws because the fiberglass layup on the inside thickened the edge of the spinner.

Instrument Bugs

My nice reconditioned electric T&S from Howard Francis has been in the panel for almost a year. I disconnected it to save running it up every time I switched on the master. Mistake. After a year it was stuck. The off flag would retract, but the motor didnt spin. I read in the Aeroelectric list that sometimes the comutators get gummed up and you can clean them (carefully) with alcohol and a cotton swab. I removed the cover and, before touching the commutator with anything, tried nudging the giro with the end of a tie wrap. The motor spun up and hasn't given me a problem since.

The horizon spins up and settles as soon as I start the engine. Kinda nice to watch after all this time with it sitting at 30 degrees of bank. I haven't tested the VSI, DG, altimeter and airspeed. They all SEEM to be working. I either have a bad vacuum pump, regulator or gauge because I'm getting a fluctuating vacuum reading.

The big problem is my (new at Sun & Fun last year) ICOM radio. It used to work. Now it doesn't. Worse - it blows the fuse when I turn it on.

Taxi Test # 3 - A sniff at the runway

Thurday morning (3/11) I finished off the spinner installation, made throttle bracket number 8 and installed the turbo inlet scat hose. Kevin (CNCDOC) arrived and checked out my com antena. He looked over the radio instructions and came up with two items of interest - the radio requires a 10a fuse, so it's no wonder it blows a 3a one. Secondly, there's a 5 amp internal fuse which was blown. What we don't have is an explanation for why the intenal fuse blew, or a replacement for it. I'll pick one up from Radio Shack. Maybe my radio isnt fired after all. Next we looked at the charging schematic and checked the LED for polarity. It seems I might need a proper diode and a regular bulb for the warning light.

My Westach oil pressure gauge is behaving strangely. It reads 90 psi before the engine starts, then goes off the scale. Westach's "tachman" support guy says I need a new transducer for $175. I don't think so! Thinking this is all about resistance, I cut the white data wire and inserted a resistor left over from my LED experiments. The engine-off reading reduced to 75 psi. Hmmm. I added another resistor. Now it reads 60 PSI, but it still goes off the scale when I start the engine. I tried a bigger resistor. I ended up with 2.2k ohms. Now the gauge reads zero with ignition on and gives expected readings when the engine is running. Maybe I had a 24v transducer. I sent another email to Westach explaining what I'd done and asking for comments. The response, when it came, was something like: "Yea, I guess that might work". Later I thought to check the Wicks catalog. They list a new sender for the Westach gauge at $33. I wrote to the "tachman" and told him so. The email bounced with the message "mail quota exceeded". Hmmmm. So much for the Westach and the "tachman".

While Kevin worked on the radio I installed the backup battery, checked the fluids and cleared stuff out of the way ready for the next taxi test. The infamous Phil Johnson was supposed to join us for the evening, but his business commitments took precedence so Kevin & I wheeled the plane out of the hangar and I climbed in and cranked. She stuttered a few times, but didn't fire up. The main battery was a bit low, so I switched on the backup battery. Now she cranked over MUCH faster, and eventually started to run - kinda. There was a lot of vibration. It felt like it was running on one rotor. I shut it down and checked the plugs. The trailing plugs were wet. I installed my spare set of plugs and tried again. This time she fired up right away and ran fairly smoothly (although still very rich).

I flipped on the cooling fan and taxied out to the ramp, circled around and taxied back. Everything seemed to be running well, so I decided to give her sniff at the runway. I did a 180 between the hangars and parked cars - wow this bird is very easy to turn - and headed out to the ramp again. This time I crossed the ramp and headed off down the taxiway. As I crossed from the ramp to the taxiway I noticed that the ride is fairly springy as you go over bumps. I think this was the point where the plane graduated in my mind from a project to a vehicle. I gave her a bit more throttle. The higher the RPM, the sweeter she runs. At maybe 3000 (engine rpm) she was accelerating quite quickly. I checked the temperatures - 180/120 (water / oil). I chickened out at about 25 mph and throttle back to idle. I needed brakes to stop at the runway intersection about 1/ 2 way down the 4000 ft runway. I swung her around and taxied on back. On the way back I gave her a quick (10 second) burst of maybe 4000 rpm. Even sweeter. For a fraction of a second the though of flying came, and was quickly dismissed. I haven't bolted the canard on or reconnected the elevators yet, partly to save time, and partly keep me away from temptation.

The voice annunciator is still flashing on and off twice/second but the volts seem to be holding at about 14.2 which seems good. I noticed that the vacuum had failed, and decided this was enough for test # 3. Time to see what's going on at the back. I taxied back to the hangar and shut down. There was a noise after shut down. "What's that noise?" I asked Kevin. "You're ferrari fan", he says. Ah. I turned it off and checked the temps. 160/140. Excellent. Looks like I don't have a cooling problem on the ground.

Kevin mentioned that the spinner is still wobbling about 1/4 inch either way. Hmmm. I thought I'd got it perfect. The main problem in the engine compartment was obvious - the alternator belt had climbed onto the side of the vacuum pump pully. I though it was aligned correctly. Apparantly not. It looks like the vacuum pump needs to go forward about 1/4 inch. Also, the wire connectors to the vacuum pump had seperated. The wires are too tight. [Note: I fixed the vacuum pump by adding a steel stay to stop it trying to rotate when pulled by the belt. I rerouted the wires and the vacuum now behaves well].

Easy come, easy go

Last Sun & Fun I bought a TIG welder and all the accessories. After getting it home it didn't take me long to realize that my welding skills were lacking. Sure - I can weld two aluminum plates together - no problem. You don't want to see my first attempt at welding a pipe to a cast manifold. Ugh. I decided I didn't want my life depending on my early attempts at welding, and I didn't want to spend the time (read - didn't have the patience) to go through the learning curve. So I paid someone who's been doing this for years to do the welding on the intake and various other important parts. The welding fees probably cost me almost as much as the machine. Today I sold the TIG welder. It cost me a few $$$ to take what I believe was the safer route. OK, it was the lazy route. I had enough to deal with on the engine setup as it was. By contrast, Jerry Schnieder bought a TIG on the same day as me. He took the time to learn to use it and has made his own rudder pedals and various other expensive parts. He's probably already saved the cost of the machine. Ah well.

Certification

I got all my paperwork together (based on the list in the sample cover letter on the EAA web site) and called the FSDO. I explained that I'd like to bring the paperwork down so I can meet the inspector and make sure there were no errors in the papers. I spoke to Eddie Morales who was very upbeat and helpful. We made an appointment for 11AM the following day. I drove the 50 minutes to FAA and was met by Eddie, who explained that they don't do certifications from the FSDO any more. So why did you make an appointment with me to go through the papers? No answer. Eddie cheerfully went off to find a supervisor, Jim, who happily explained that they haven't done certifications for five years, says I need to contact the MIDO in Orlando. After a 2 1/2 hour drive home (detouring around an overturned tanker truck) I talked to the guy in Orlando. He tells me that the MIDO doesnt do experimental certifications any more. There's a list of DARs on they're web site and I need to contact one of them. Impressions of the FAA? They have a whole new freindly attitude. Unfortunately, while smiling and trying to be helpful, they're just as ineffective as they always were.

The FAA web site listed DARs, but none that seemed to handle experimentals. I went to the EAA web site and found a list of ABDARS (amatuer built DARS). The list for florida was a bit short, and the first two numbers I called were disconnected. Eventually I spoke to Randy at EAA. Randy suggested "CJ" in Ft. Lauderdale, so I left a message. CJ called back. His fee is $650. I spoke to another DAR who said it would be anywhere between $800 - $1500, but he couldnt do it for 2 weeks.

Finally I networked my way through the local EAA chapter to a guy who's recently had a Velocity signed off. He gave me the name of his DAR together with a very high recommendation. I contacted the guy, who isnt on either the FAA or EAA list, and set up a provisional appointment for the following week. He needs a FAX copy of the Airworthyness application, weight & balance, data plate, and all the other forms listed on the EAA sample cover letter. We discussed positioning of the data plate. He wants it on the outside of the fuselage (per FARS) over the gear. He says those with the plate inside the cockpit are not compliant. He also wants to see a compass card.

A Dead Radio

I investigated the radio problem I've been having. The wiring all checks out fine, and Kevin checked my antenna, so it comes down to the radio itself. I left the top off, replaced the internal fuse, slid it into the tray and turned it on. The internal fuse blew immediately. I spoke to ICOM tech support who were excellent. They told me I'd probably it had probably got a voltage spike and fried the diode. My new ICON A200 now has to go back for repair, and the plane isnt flying anywhere till it comes back. The ICOM guys say they'll turn it around in 48 hrs, so I should have it back early next week. No problem. I have lots of little stuff to do, like getting the data plate engraved and painting the cowl, that'll keep me busy until the radio comes back..... but I sent it overnight anyway. ICOM were as good as they're word. I had the radio back early the following week. The parts (a 29c diode and a 76c fuse) and labor were free. There was a note suggesting that I "check the supply for voltage transients". A nice way of saying - "please don't fry it again". I've rewired the alternator sensor circuit since then, but I plan one more runup watching the buss voltage carefully before I reinstall the radio.

Taxi Test # 4

Thursday evening, 3/ 19 I finished off a bunch of little stuff, bolted the canard on and took her for another ride down the taxiway. I learned a few more things about the plane. For example, don't try to turn with the nose gear halfway up. She won't do it. Once I lowered the gear all the way the easy turning came back. The second thing I noticed is that the prop starts to bite at about 35 kts. I gave her just a little throttle - nowhere near half - with the boost off, and let her get up to about 30 kts so I could see the ASI start to move. It did, and so did the plane. As I went past 30 kts there was a pleasant kick from behind, and all of a sudden I was doing 40 kts without increasing the throttle setting. I took her all the way down to the end of the taxiway and back. Total run time was only 4 minutes, but it was 4 minutes of fun I felt I deserved after 2 days of fiddly details. When I throttled back to slow down at the end of the runway the engine cut. It restarted fine, but cutting aint good. Tomorrow I'll do some EC2 tuning. The vacuum is working fine now, but I'm still not sure about the alternator. When I got back I noticed that the paint on the intake near the turbo is showing signs of heat. I think I'll put a small stainless heat shield there to help keep the intake cool.

More Gauges???

My panel is FULL. I have more switches, dials and buttons than a 747. Last night Jim Sower shamed me into buying another gizmo. Using the old "Friends don't let friends fly without coolant pressure" ploy he persuaded me to get a digital oil pressure gauge which I'll plumb into the water system. One benefit of this, perhaps, is that words "essential crew" take on a whole new meaning when you look at my panel. I'm beginning to wonder if it would have been cheaper and easier to spend $900 on Tracy's EM2 system.

Scratch Test

I mentioned to Todd of Todd's canopies that I had some scratches on my canopy so he volunteered to come up and help me buff them out with some special Novus buffing cream he uses. I'd bought my canopy from Airplane Plastics before Todd started his canopy business, but he was prepared to drive up and fix it anyway. What a guy!

First we had to push the plane out onto the ramp because Tim needed to get his Velocity out. Since we were on the ramp I offerred to take Todd for his first Cozy ride. We fired her up and taxied to the far end of the runway and back. I STILL haven't tuned the computer, so it's still running very rich, but other than that the run went very well. The voltmeter is showing charge, so the only problem left there is the charge indicator light. Temps stayed down with the fan on and the engine responded well. I didn't get above about 2500 rpm the whole way. Any more than that and she wants to rocket off down the taxiway at unreasonable speeds. I ran her up to about 3500 rpm static, but that's all the brakes would hold comfortably. I'm beginning to get the feeling that this engine is a VERY powerful.

After the fun came the work. We removed the canopy (it needs new hinges anyway) and Todd buffed the canopy while I polished the strakes. There are still a few scratches on the canopy that Todds Novus buffing compound wouldn't get out, but they're not very noticable. The big difference is that all the tiny scratches or "craze" that had accumulated over the years just "went away". After three hours of buffing, Todd left to make a LongEz canopy I got down to replacing the canopy hinges. Unfortunately some of the nuts (embedded in micro per Chapter 18) turned, so here I am with just a few days to go before final inspection, dremelling holes in the perfect gloss canopy so I can get a wrench onto the nuts. Do yourself a favor when you do Chapter 18 and use an aluminum plate with nutplates to hold the hinge to the canopy, rather than just leaving the nuts embedded in micro. Once I had the new hinges tight I filled the holes with flox and covered the mess with dry micro. Ah well. I have to get the paint gun out for the cowl anyway. Why was I replacing the hinges? Simple - I'd done these very early on and wasnt happy with the quality of the work. A couple of the holes had been misdrilled, and the hinges had bent from being used while clogged with epoxy and paint. Basically the old hinges were a mess and I didn't trust them.

Altimeter

I'd noticed that my reconditioned altimeter frm Howard Francis was reading about 450 feet out, so I removed it and took the front cover off. With the front cover removed I found that I could pull the adjustment knob out and turn the pressure scale without moving the indicator needles. Excellent. I checked the ATIS for current pressure, double checked this against the altimeter in Al's LongEZ, then reset my altimeter to read correctly. Another minor problem solved.

The EGO Sensor

Yep! They've finally invented one. It's probably about as much good at a fly-in as a radar detector in a shopping mall, but I apparantly have one on my plane.

Mike (Canardzone mplafleur) came for a visit, so I put him to work. He's been well trained by Michigan building team and was happy to help. I'm not used to having a helper. We installed the canopy, experimented with the charge indicator light, then installed the canard. This time I decided to install the elevator linkage - what a pain! It's not easy to get you're head under the panel. I think Mike took a picture of me with my legs in the air. With that elevator connected I found that the trip wasnt working. Geesh. It WAS working fine up til last week. Rather than remove the linkage and canard again I decided it was play time, so we took the plane up and down the taxiway a few times. Starting this time was very difficult. After some experimenting I found out why. Last night I'd followed the instruction in the EC2 manual to set computer A to Tracy's settings. It had worked and I'd forgotten I'd done it. The mixture setting was on max lean. Once I centered the mixture (and changed the plugs) she started right up and ran much better than before. After running up and down the taxiway for a while I decided to try swapping the alternator leads, and Mike read the EC2 manual. The air / fuel ratio gauge (Mike - who's in the engine computer control business calls it the Exhaust Gas Oxygen (EGO) sensor) isnt reacting the way it did so I tried cleaning it off with compressed air. On our second run I forgot to turn on the fan. After a couple of runs down the taxiway I noticed that water temp was at 220. The fan didn't seem to make any difference so we shut her down. Perhaps the engine was hot from the previous run, or perhaps the temps stay up once they get away from you. Total engine time is now over an hour and I still havent tuned it. So... I'm left with a few bugs - the elevator trim, the EGO sensor an, engine tuning, and the charge light, which still doesn't go off even though the alternator is putting out 13.2V. I called Tracy for some input on cleaning the EGO sensor. He said they're about $20 at NAPA, Boshe part # 11027.

Bug Swatting

I'm gradually working my way through the list of bugs and minor issues. I keep a notepad on the wing and, when I spot something that needs to be done, I either add it to the list or divert and do it. I'm getting things done, but the list is getting longer. This one's been on my todo list for a long time. I read somewhere that hidden bellhorn rudders don't get the full rudder travel, and that seems to be the case with me. The fix, which I also read, is simple. I made a small bracket out of 4130 steel which bolts to the rudder pedal and raises the pivot point about 2 inches. This gets you more ruddder travel for the same pedal movement. Another problem solved.

I have a slow drip of oil from the engine / sump plate join under the water pump. Seems my RTV gasket didnt stick in that area. I'll use paper gaskets next time. Following Tracy's advise, I cleaned up the area with sandpaper, then acetone and laid a bead of RTV along the seam. First I drained the oil - Man! that oil is black. Draining the oil was interesting. The sump plug is about an inch above the radiator. I've been trying to figure out a way to install a tube to carry the oil away, but where to? The escaping oil would have to come up about 6 inches to clear the lower cowl. I REALLY dont want to have to remove the lower cowl every time I change the oil. I came up with a simple solution - I put a collection pan under the NACA scoop and simply removed the plug. The oil spilled out over the edge of the rad, down the sides of the cowl, and out of the NACA scoop. The mess was variEZ easy to clean up.

I needed to calibrate the dipstick and opened a whole box of worms on the fly-rotary list which ended up with an offer to "slap our dipsticks on the table" at Rough River. Something I hadn't thought about - when you use the sandwich plate mounting method, you lower the sump by the thinkness of the plate. This raises the pickup tube relative to the body of oil. Bulent thought to add a spacer to lower the pickup. I didn't. To compensate for the difference he shortened his dipstick "hole" by the plate thickness. Mine is standard length, which is correct since I have no spacer. I just won't be able to get at 1/4 inch of oil in the sump which is probably no big deal unless I get very short on oil. Of course I'll check the oil before every flight. If the oil gets THAT low during a flight it's obviously going somewhere it shouldnt very quickly, and 1/4 inch wont make much difference. The sump capacity is 3.6 qt, so I'll add that much oil and mark where it comes on the stick. I got a new KN 1004 filter. Unfortunately there is still a quart or more of oil in the oil coolers and pipes. I might try to find a way to get that out since the oil is so black. An easier way might be to change the oil twice in fairly quick sucession.

The oil was SO bad that I didn't want to leave any in the engine. To empty the oil coolers I remove the inlet to one cooler, and the outlet from the other, pointed the outlet into a large plastic container and put an air hose to the inlet. Didn't take but a second. Some of the oil even went into the plastic container.:) The rest - well, I'll let you picture it for yourself. Suffice to say Char wasn't to pleased with the state of my clothes. With the filter, coolers and sump empty I added the RX7 spec 3.6 qts to the sump, noted the height on the stick with the plane level, then added another 1/4 inch to allow for the engine mount plate. This showed overfull on the dipstick when level but, as luck would have it, lined up perfectly with the full mark with the plane positioned nose on the floor. Perfect. Next I poured oil into the filter and cranked the engine till I got oil pressure, then topped it up to the full mark again. Total capacity of my system turns out to be 5 qt.

I found a bad crimp in the connector to the trim relay. The wires were too short and one wire was tight. I moved the relay box to a better location. Sounds like a simple fix. Right? It took me about 4 hours to remove the elevator linkage, remove the canard, remove the vacuum air filter, find the problem, fix it and put everything back together again.

I changed the EGO sensor and added a stainless heat shield between the existing heat shield which surrounds the turbo and the intake. Hopefully this will help keep radiant heat away from the intake. I repainted the intake so I can watch for new heat induced paint bubbles in the gaurenteed, dyno tested, 500F engine paint.

I rerouted the wires to Ferrari fan to keep them out of the wind. Next on the list was to remove and clean the fuel filters. The right filter had a few tiny bits of crud on it, the left one was clean. I cleaned the fine metal filters with compressed air, reinstalled them and installed the gear cover. Removing the gear cover to get at the filters may seem like a pain, but I used torx screws which come off in no time. The firewall has no spare room for filters and, anyway, I wanted them out of the engine compartment to keep them cool and minimize the impact of leaks.

I fished out a spinning nut plate from the nose ballast compartment and reglassed it in place.

In between all the jobs I've listed I've been doing little stuff like adding wire ties, calibrating the fuel sight guages and taping a fuse location key to the fuse box cover.

Alchemy, POP and sand

This is one of those things I wish I'd done years ago. I've been stuffing diving weights in the nose all this time. Now I know I need 60+ lb of ballast in the small nose compartment to fly solo (or even more further back) I have to get rid of some of the air in there. I read up on lead melting in the cozy archives, bought $5 worth of plaster of paris (POP) and set out to make lead weights that fit the curves of the nose compartment. The job was so EZ I couldn't believe it. I duct taped the inside and dumped wet POP in the nose. In about 20 minutes I was able to pull out the correctly curved lumps to use as male plugs. I taped the plugs with duct tape, then got some sand from outside the hanger (this is Florida) and mixed about 50/50 with dry POP, added water to get a nice goo, and covered the plugs to about 1/2 inch deep. 20 minutes later I had curved molds. Rather than mess with a stove and pot I just put my old faithfull diving weights in the molds and melted them in-situ with a propane torch. These weights have served me well from the day I used them to weigh down the seat back layup, so they deserve to come with me in the plane, along with the epoxied mosquitos. In some cases I didnt even have to melt the weight since it was below the level of the top. I just surrounded it with molten lead. The molds worked perfectly and didnt even care if I played the torch on them - they just glowed red and held the lead while it cooled. In a matter of a couple of hours - well maybe three - I had lead weights which match the bottom curvature of the nose compartment and leave a space for the pitot tube, headlight and wiring. I could have used these weights for the last two years. They fit tight, so they wont bounce around and cause damage. Total weight so far is 20lb and that doesn't even come up to the horizontal bulkhead. Tomorrow I'll make some more shaped weights to fit above these. I should be able to get 60lb in there without a problem.

I ran out of diving weights. At Jim Sower's suggestion I stopped by the local Firestone and asked what they did with their old balance weights. They have a firm that collects them. He shows me the bucket and says I can have the contents, but not the bucket. No problem. I tipped the bucket into an old box and became the proud owner of 60lb of lead. I found that the weights melt better if you sandblast some of the dirt & grease off first. Saturday was spent making molds and forming weights for the top part of the ballast compartment. I ended up with 70lb. The lead rubs off on your hands when you handle it, so I painted the weights gold with my engine enamel. Now they look like gold ingots. This may give a customs guy a thrill one day, and it looks better and its more pleasant to handle. For the trekkies, the square ones look a lot like borg cubes because of the irregularities and multiple layers. Looking back at my weight & balance I figured that the full ballast should be used for anything less than 250lb front seat load. A front seat load of between 250 and 360lb will be nicely centered with just the bottom 32lb weights in place, and greater than that requires zero ballast. I think come up with a way to secure the weights under the back seat when not in use. Don't want 70lb of lead flying around in the cockpit during turbulence, now do we? At the Saturday "inspection" Paul asked me if I'd done any high speed taxiing. "Not until I have the radio installed and the weight and balance right", I said. I was rewarded with a sage nod.

A call from Yoko

This afternoon I received a lot of calls. One from each of my daughters, and one from Yoko. The calls from my daughters were a pleasure. Julia's doing well at Med school, passed here Nuero, and is busy preparing for her June wedding. Vicky's working hard in NY and planning a birthday trip to see if she'd like to live in Santa Cruz. So - who is Yoko? Not the famous one. Yoko works for the DAR who'll be doing my inspection. She's been through all the papers and they're planning the inspection for next Tuesday, Mar 30. That's good. The provisional plan was for Friday - i.e. tomorrow, so now I don't have to work through the night. I hope the inspection doesnt slip a couple more days to April 1st. Then, on the other hand, that might be appropriate. The only problems with the papers were that I'd written Cozy IV in one place and Cozy Mk IV in another, and I'd failed to include my first name in the box that said "name". Consistency is everything in FAA forms.

Down to the wire

I have 23 items left on my things to do list, some of which will take 20 minutes, others much longer, and I have 4 days to go before the DAR shows up. It's not required for the inspection, but I'd like to fit a water pressure gauge and see how it tends to read before she flys. I ordered a digital oil pressure gauge & sender from JC Witney last week to do the job. FedEx left it on the doorstep and it was gone when I got home. I found the empty box in the verge a few yards along the road. I hope whoever took my gauge enjoys it, or the crack they got from selling it at the pawn shop. They're not gonna spoil my day. I ordered a replacement via US postal service. Next day I put a note on the door to advise freight drivers not to leave packages. ICOM had shipped my radio back without a signature required and would have left it on the door step. I'm glad the water pressure gauge came first.

I need to get the hobbs wired up so it'll record flight time. My tiny tach has a time meter on it, but beyond an hour it doesn't record minutes. How stupid is that? I don't have an oil pressure outlet to plug the hobbs into so, unless I figure that one out in time I plan to wire the hobbs to a switch. As you'll see from the list, there are a few other minor issues which HAVE to be done. Beyond that there's a little matter of aesthetics. I need to clean the plane, especially underneath, and there are quite a few areas that need "touch-up" paint. I'm using the term "touch-up" loosely. We're talking about the pilot fuselage side, the spinner and upper cowl, the passenger side canopy top etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately Top Gloss doesnt blend worth a damn (I hear they've withdrawn it from the market) so any paintwork will be a botch job at best. Anything would be better than the dirty greasy primer I have now in these areas.

The day before the inspection I installed the radio, tie wrapped some wires and pipes, fixed the gear fairing where the weight had cracked it, and repaired the trim paintwork where it had been damaged. I'd had trouble starting the engine because of the rich mixture setting - I still havent gotten around to tuning the engine properly since installing the new EGO sensor, so I bought a new set of plugs and installed them. Thinking that the DAR might want to see the engine run I decided to install the plugs, but not run the engine until he was there. I cleaned away all the mess, swept the floor and checked everything I could think of. At 11pm I decided she was ready, closed up the hangar and went home for a well earned hot-tub dip.

Murphy's Law

I'd been through the EAA list and the FAA list. All I got were people who seemed uninterested, unavailable, not knowledgeable of canards, composites or even experiments and, on top of that, were VERY expensive. When I heard the name of the DAR recommended by a local Velocity builder I knew he was the guy for me. Murphy's law has followed me thoughout the built, so John Murphy was the perfect guy to find anything wrong with my plane. John covers pretty much all of mid and south Florida from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale. He flys a velocity and has built eleven (count 'em) canard airplanes from VariEzs to Velocitys.

I spoke to John on Tuesday morning. The mist was clearing at his home field of Merrit Island, and he'd be down around 10:30. I headed down to the hangar, did a last check of my paperwork and wire tied a few more cables.

At almost exactly 10:30 a velocity taxied up to my hangar door and out climbed John & Yoko. This is when the fun began. George Harrison & Ringo were in the back. Seriously, a police car followed them. The officer wanted to know if everyone was ok. That's when I noticed the winglet. Apparantly the flight hadn't been what you'd call uneventful. The nose gear had failed to retract fully on takeoff and they had a nose gear warning buzzer even when the gear was lowered for landing. The gear had appeared to be down to an observer, so John landed. The gear WAS down, but the landing was HARD. A winglet had scraped the grass and some blue foam had been replaced by a fair size chunk of Palm Beach County.

John decided that the airplane was unflyable with the damaged winglet and was deciding how to proceed when I volunteered to repair it. I told him I have fast cure MGS epoxy that'll be cured in a couple of hours. John agreed, so I set to work replacing grass with glass. I filled the void with new blue foam and micro and layed up 2 ply BID around the area. It wasnt a pretty job, but it was structurally sound. what do you expect in 2 hours - paint? As John watched I joked that having the builder do a proper fiberglass repair was an innovative way to extend the inspection, but seemed a bit excessive. As I worked on the winglet, John took a look at my plane. He told me that it was excellent workmanship throughout, and he only had two issues worth mentioning, neither of which would affect my getting a certificate. Issue number 1 was the engine. He's not a fan of automotive engines. The Mazda's the best one if you're going to use an automotive engine, he said, but I don't like non-certified engines in general. "If it had been a subaru I wouldn't have signed it off", he added. We had a discussion about the issues which can bite - fuel, ignition, cooling etc., and I explained how I'd delt with them and provided for redundancy.

The other concern John had was the batteries on top of the spar coming forward in a VERY "sudden stop". I explained that I had fiberglass strap on each battery, and a composite panel which mounted above the spar to secure the batteries. John felt this was acceptible. In general the certification was a breeze. No hard questions and a nice guy with a good attitude and a good understanding of what's involved. John ended the inspection by saying that usually he can find a few things wrong, like a loose nut or a possible chaffing hose, but on mine he couldn't find anything. He signed me off with a 40 mile radius test area. When it came time to write him his $300 check, John insisted on giving me $100 discount for fixing his winglet. I got my pink slip airworthiness certificate and accompanying standard flight restrictions.

Back to the Velocity. John wanted to do a gear retract check, so we jacked up the plane and retracted the gear. The nose wheel didn't come up all the way, but came back down fine. As we worked, I asked how often he decided not to sign off a plane. Oh, it's happened a few times, he said. Once because he felt the engine (a Subaru) didn't have enough power for the airframe (a Lancair), and once because of seriously faulty workmanship on a canard. (The layup over the spar cap was sanded through).

With the repaired winglet pretty much cured John & Yoko climbed back aboard and - would you believe it, John's own law struck him again - the battery was too low to start the engine. We pulled her back in and put it on charge.

With the battery charged she started up fine and they taxied out, half way down the runway and back to the hangar. John said he couldnt steer the plane because the nose wheel is too stiff. We put some WD40 on the mechanism and they taxied out again. (Note: the reason for the nosewheel steering problem later proved to be a bent nose wheel fork. You can see it in the picture. This also explained the retract warning light.) This time John taxied to the full length runway and took off. The take-off was LONG. I think he used the entire 3000ft runway, but I watched them climb away and went back to admire my pink slip. Relunctantly I then closed up the hangar and went home to let the dogs out. Maybe this evening or tomorrow I'll do some serious taxi testing in my newly certified AIRPLANE.

For others looking for a good DAR I highly recommend John Murphy. He can be reached at 321-453-7616 (Work Fax),321-431-3584 (cell) or 321-783-1515 (Home).

<<< Back | Index | Next >>>