Chapter 29 - Flight Testing - The first 6 hours

Taped to the back of my pilot seat are a pink slip Airwortiness Certificate and a couple of pages of flight restrictions which were handed to me by Mr. Murphy, the DAR. The flight restrictions have two stages, phase 1, and phase 2. Phase 1 requires me to fly the airplane day VFR with only "required crew" for 40 hours within a 40 mile radius of KLNA. If I want to certify the airplane for aerobatics (which I don't) I have to test the proposed manouvers during this 40 hours.

Phase 2 applies to the rest of the airplane's life and basically restricts it from commercial use. This chapter will describe the phase 1 testing.

First flight 0.1

The first flight is described in detail in my first flight report.

2nd Flight - 0.2

My plan for the second flight was to talk to approach, climb through the class C and "toodle around" at 5000 ft or so overhead the field while I get to know the plane a bit more, do some fine tuning on the computer mixture MAP table and experiment with the landing brake, gear and rudders. The weather decided otherwise. Not wanting to repeat the low vis conditions of the first flight I waited while the mist burned off. By 11am the mist was gone, but the ceiling was 1400 ft broken. Wind was 4 kts at 30 degrees to the runway. This time Char came down to watch her fly and take some pictures.

The engine started. Not easily, but she started, then settled down and ran nicely. I think part of the problem with starting is me getting to know the engine and how much mixture she wants at initial crank, and once the fire starts. The hot wired coils seem to help, but its not a simple start yet.

With the engine running I repeated the previous day's taxi circle for coolant temps to get to 140 or so, did a high power runup, then took the runway for takeoff. She accelerated smoothly. I gave her a bit more gas as I passed about 50kts, and the engine spluttered a couple of times, then kept on running. I slapped the throttle closed, braked, pulled off at the midpoint and taxied back. I think the splutter may have been staging of the injectors. I did another runup and everything seemed fine. By the time I was lined up again the coolant temp was up to about 200. Ambient was probably 72 or so. Given the reasonably effective cooling I'd experienced the day before I opened the throttle a little more than half way and let her roll. Lift off this time had a bit of a bobble to it. (which Char noticed). I got her established in the climb and pretty much repeated the exercise of the day before, but this time I could see where I was going. Much better. Coolant temp went to maybe 210 in the climb, then backed down quickly to 180 on the downwind.

Approach and final were pretty much the same as before. Once I knew I had it made I checked oil pressure and coolant temp (100/175), then added throttle and did a low pass rather than do a touch and go on a relatively short runway. Speed picked up quickly to 110 and I was at pattern height half way into the crosswind. I'm not sure if I've mentioned trim. I must have made enough mistakes on the left side to make up for those on the right, because there are no trim issues. She flies straight and true. Elevator trim is on the Strong pitch trim and seems about where it should be. I'll consider elevator trim more in later tests.

My second approach was deliberately a little higher as I gradulally work towards a more normal glide slope with slightly lower speeds on final. At about 100 feet I tried extending both rudders. Nice. Kind of like a sideslip without all the angles. Each time I pushed the rudders out she just sorta went down a bit without gaining speed or changing attitude. Two or three 5 second rudder extensions got me just where I wanted to be, and the touchdown was gentle. Char has always graded my landings, and she's tough. She gave me a 7. (out of 10, I hope).

After shut down the cowl was fine, and my new layup was postcured. There was a fair amount of soot on the prop and the exhaust, so I'm still running over rich. Nowhere near as bad as it has been, but still too rich. I was hoping to get some more flying in this evening, but ended up at a family picnic in the park by the airport, watching the planes fly overhead. The conversation got around to my airplane, so I gave a tour. Part of me was "down here, wishing I was up there", but then again, the winds were at 10-15 kts crosswind to the runway, and the food and conversation was good, so this was much better than "being up there wishing I was down here".

Obviously, I've been checking the oil and coolant before each flight. There hasn't been any change, so everything seems ok in that area. I still have an annoying little oil leak from the sump / engine mount joint, and one of my fuel strainers is dripping a little. Other remaining bugs to be sorted out include oil temp indication - still reading < 100 - and the coolant pressure gauge wiring. The latter works fine, but goes into program mode every time I turn the master off and back on, so I have to remove a fuse to reset it. Annoying, but tolerable until I take the canard off to deal with a few other issues one day next week.

After 2 flights totalling maybe 20 minutes I feel fairly comfortable in the plane. She flys well and the engine purrs consistantly. I couldn't ask for more at this stage. Plan for tomorrow - a day off - unless weather conditions get really tempting. The LNA pattern gets pretty full of slow moving aluminum and fast moving cuisineart blades at weekends. I'd rather do my next flight early Monday. Besides, we're due a good thunderstorm to clear out all the haze and get the temps down a bit. It's only April and highs have been over 90 every day for almost a week. Come on, weather people, cut me a little slack here.

Waiting for the weather

Instead of cutting me some slack they sent me thunderstorms and high winds, so I spent some time cleaning up the back of the cowl, tracing the cold start switch - it does work - and fixing the voice system (the connector was loose). Repairing the oil temp (the sender died) and calibrating the water and oil temp gauges with Char's hot wax thermometer. The thunderstorms were followed by two more cross-windy days, so I caught up on some work work, microed the repair at the rear of the cowl, and preped the cowl and spinner and pilot fuse side for primer. It's interesting how working on the plane becomes less boring when you do it in-between flights. I'm being fairly picky about the conditions I'll fly in at this stage. On the few times the weather has been vaguely suitable, something's been either in bits or curing.

A few thoughts and comments

I received many congratulations on my first flight, and tried to answer every one personally. Many said I'd inspired them to press on. Excellent. I also received a few questions, the answers to which might be of interest to others:

>How is the exhaust noise from the inside?
Sufficiently quiet that I don't wear my headset when taxiing, so I can hear the engine. When airborne the noise is pretty much a non-event. I hardly notice it. I haven't even bothered to turn on the DNC yet. But - the most noticiable difference between flying mine and Dan's or a 172 isn't noise, it's vibration. There just isn't any.

>There is a ton of heat still in the exhaust and turbo after you shut down...
The fan helps a lot with this, but heat soak doesn't seem to be a problem. I consider the heat soak a problem if I find the cowl draped over the engine the next morning. So far this hasn't happened. :) Seriously - I think the turbo heat shield / augmentor system is ejecting a lot of the heat. The stainless shield is fairly cool on shutdown. The entire engine block is at water coolant temp on shutdown - that's where the heat soak is coming from. I open my coolant level inspection door and the heat comes out. Not a major issue I think.

>Keeping the nose wheel down will tend to reduce you're cooling capability significantly.
Right. I hadn't thought of that. My cooling is working fairly well with the gear down, so with it up I should be in good shape. I plan to raise the gear on the next flight.

>why are you taking off on half throttle?
Because I can. Step 1 is to be able to climb at all without overheating. Then we'll see how fast. I plan to work my way up by adding power & boost until the temps go out of control. I'll also play with the cowl flap and fan to see what difference they make in climb and cruise. It's rather like approaching VNE a little at a time. If I can get airborne in 1500ft and climb at 1500FPM on half throttle then that's enough to start with. Bit by bit I'll increase the power in take off and climb as I learn how well the cooling works and gain more confidence in, and knowledge of the engine. Also - I still need to fine tune the mixture map. Once I have the engine running sweetly at a respectable RPM I'd rather just leave it alone till I get some height.

MOGAS at airports

I've been researching where I can buy MOGAS at airports nearby. Unfortunately there aren't any in my 40 miles area. I found a web site that lets you search by fuel type and constructed a list of MOGAS airports by state.I can put 100LL in the plane, but apparantly the plugs will gum up with lead after a while. I'm having enough plug trouble as it is with the excess carbon.

I picked up a Garmin 196 at Sun & Fun and programmed routes to all the nearby MOGAS airports to help pass the time while I wait for better weather.

Are you OK?

I've been getting email asking if I'm OK because I haven't posted for a couple of days. Yes. I'm fine. The airplane's all buttoned up and ready to fly, but the weather isn't cooperating. So far Friday 16th has been the only day since flight 2 that weather was OK, and I spent the day at Sun & Fun. Today, Sunday, I got up early planning to fly before the winds picked up. We had 12kt gusting to 18kt crosswinds at 7:30am. I guess I'll paint the house and try again tomorrow.

There was too much wind on Monday in more ways than one. We had at 090/14 on a 33/15 runway. Also, I'm still getting over the beans at the Cozy hot-dog roast. I'm not ready to be locked in a closed cockpit with myself yet. I stayed home and tried to earn some money instead of tempting myself by going down to the airport. OK, I'm kidding about the beans, but I was not flying my third flight in a 14kt crosswind.

Test Flight #3

The wind was down to 4kts on Tuesday morning, so I headed down to the airport early. I gave the bird her morning drink of 5 gals of 97 octane with a 5 oz 2-stroke oil chaser, and wheeled her out. Note to self - must find a better way of fueling the plane - gas cans suck.

She started with a little difficulty, then ran well, so I taxied down to the end of 15 behind an ugly looking metal contraption with an engine on the wrong end. I planned to raise the gear on this trip and climb above the Class C, so I added an extra warning for myself. The word GEAR written in large letters on masking tape and stuck below the ASI. I worked diligently through my check list, then took the runway.

I gave her a bit more juice on take-off (but still no boost) and she came off smartly in about 1200ft or so. I brought the gear up and noted the slight vibration through the gear well as it came up. This time I was at pattern height halfway through the crosswind. Watching carefully for other planes I circled the field at 1000 while trying to get Palm Beach Approach on the radio. I got a good radio check earlier, but no response from PBI. After a dozen tries to reach PBI, and five or six 1000 ft circuits I decided that she was running fine, so I'd head south for four miles to get out from under the class C, then climb above it. Temps were running at around 170/175 coolant/oil as I cruised around. In the climb they went up 5 or 10 degrees. I'm running mostly antifreeze, so I could probably get lower temps with a 50/50 water mix. I climbed at about 1000 FPM and 100kts keeping close to the edge of the class C (thank you Garmin), levelled out at 5000 and headed back over the field.

With the field below me again I began experimenting. I've been in the experimental catagory for five years, but this was my first true experimenting experience. First I tried the DNC on the headset. The engine sound was cut out so much that I turned it off again. At this stage of the game I kinda like hearing the engine sound. It's quite quiet in the cockpit anyway, and there is hardly any vibration. I spent about 35 minutes belting back and forth over the field generally getting used to the plane and checking the gauges. Temps never got above 180/185, but the EGT seemed pretty high when I added a lot of throttle. I remember some email on the fly-rotary list about what to expect. I'd better go look it up, then check the scale on the gauge to see what I was getting. Speed was up to about 165 kts on my 3/4 throttle runs.

My last test of the flight was to be the turbo. I've been holding off using it until I had some height under me, so now was the time. I opened the boost (or rather closed the wastegate) on about 3/4 throttle and felt the back of the seat compress a little as we accellerated. Mmmm. Nice. We were passing through 170kts when the rpm dropped smoothly, as though I'd closed the throttle to half. I hadn't. Increasing throttle had no effect. Coolant temp dropped to about 140, but the other gauges were unchanged. The engine seemed to be running fairly smoothly, if not totally normally, but simply wouldn't go above 3500 rpm. I was directly over the field, so the simplest way home would be to call PBI and decend through the class C. Still no response from PBI, so either they're avoiding me, or my radio isn't working properly. I ran her around at 5000ft above the field for a few minutes. Everything seemed ok, except for the missing rpm and the low coolant temp.

I headed south to the edge of the class C, still with enough height to glide back if needed. I reduced throttle to idle and then went back to full (3500 rpm). I can climb easily with 3500. Engine response was smooth and consistant. Still no luck contacting PBI, so I decended to 1200 ft and headed north back to the field, keeping the speed well up in case I needed the extra energy. Torn between wanting height in case of engine failure, and wanting to be able to actually stop on the runway, I came in a little high and fast, then used both rudders and engine at idle all the way down final. I really didnt want to be faced with a go-around on this one, although the engine would probably have handled it. I crossed the threshold a little fast - 90kts or so, but had no trouble getting her down and stopped. I pushed her back in the hangar and removed the upper cowl. A quick check revealed the problem. That little turbo wheel you can see down the exhaust pipe was at a weird angle, and looked a little bent.

My phone had a message on it. Something to do with white smoke. I called the guy back. He's one of the hangar crowd who lives in Boynton Beach. Name of Murphy, believe it or not. What? - Does Murphy have a bunch of helpers stationed all around the country watching out for me? Mr Murphy had recognized my "distinctive sound" and ran out of his house to take a look with his binoculars. He saw a "puff" of white smoke come from my exhaust, then I was trailing a little white smoke as I headed south and back in towards the field. I guess a mixture of oil and coolant coming out of the collapsed turbo bearings and into the 1600C exhaust will do that. My coolant and oil were both about a pint low after the flight.

I removed the turbo and disassembled it. The weld had broken at the point where the shaft joins the exhaust compressor wheel. The wheel had bounced around a bit inside the housing, but thankfully it's too big to go through the hole. The bearings were obviously toast. Looks like I need a new/ rebuilt turbo before this bird flys again. So, I've established that at least one type of turbo failure is fairly benign, except that you can expect to loose most of you're oil and coolant through the bearings in reasonably short order. A pint of oil in, say, 15 minutes. I'd guess that you might loose the other nine in an hour or less depending on how badly the bearings were broken up. I can't complain. My first experimental flight was a success. Total time now, 1.2 hrs. Don't expect the next flight anytime soon, unless you have a stock Mazda 2nd gen single stage turbo you can donate to a good cause.

Note 1: Rusty, on the fly rotary list, sold me the turbo he removed from his RV, so I'll be back in business once he gets home and ships it in about a week. In the meantime I need to find out why the damn radio isn't working.

Note 2: My new Garmin 196 GPS has a handy little flight tracking feature. It says my ASI lied. It tracked my max speed today as 188.3 kts, and I sure didn't do THAT in the Saab on the way to the airport. What I find really interesting is that I reached 188 kts at 5000 ft, and I didn't even opened her up all the way. There wasn't much wind either. I'll do a triangle speed test when I get the turbo fixed. Watch out Tracy - I'm right behind you.

How does she fly

A lot of people have asked me this question, so I'll try to answer it here. The first word that comes to mind is "intuitive". The second is "smooth". Actually controlling the airplane takes very little mindspace. My plane feels just like Dan's, which doesn't help you much if you haven't flown a Cozy. OK, then think of it this way - except for the landing, it flys like a REALLY fast and responsive Cessna 172 with all the impairments to visibility removed, the vibration gone, and a lot of personal comfort added. After just 3 flights I'm finding that flying the airplane is automatic / subconcious, and landing it is uncomplicated. My hand just holds the stick and it goes where I want to go. I'm still "bobbing" occasionally as I get used to the light touch required, but otherwise I feel very much at home already. The ride takes me back many years to how it felt to fly a small jet after flying piper cubs. Smooth. Quiet and very fast. One advantage the Cozy has over a jet is that when I push the throttle from idle the power is there when I want it, not 15 seconds later. The other is that it glides like a bird instead of a brick.

The landings are becoming fairly simple already. I still think you need some approaches and landings with an experienced Canardian before trying it yourself, but once you've done it a couple of times, it's no big deal. I'm still not using landing brake or sideslip to widen my options, and I haven't tried any crosswind landings or take-offs yet. I'll get to this soon - in fact I'll probably be "waiting for worse weather" in a week or two. But, even after just 4 or 5 landings, I don't have any concern that I can get her down gently and stopped in time. There just isn't much of a pucker factor involved. My only concern at this stage is the engine and, especially, the periforals like ignition, fuel, oil, cooling etc. Other than the turbo, I've had no problems with these, but if a bad gremlin lurks, this is where he'll be hiding. The other way to get myself in trouble is to forget something, like the canopy latch, the gear or the landing brake. Hence the masking tape warning system. My voice annunciator hasn't had anything to say yet, but this is probably because, so far, I've been able to stay ahead of it.

Trouble in the electronic world

Last week I received an email from the new "owner" of the CanardZone complaining about my not supporting him in what I feel to be bad policies. He asked "What am I missing?" I replied "Pretty much everything." and he promptly deleted my admin priviledges. These mail-lists, forums and archives are not about power, ownership, control and copyright - they're about communication of information, helping those with less knowledge than yourself have as much fun as you're having, furthering the growth of the canard type, and, most of all, they're about camaraderie.

Mike Skorija (Dust) and I decided that we'd had enough, so we simply set up a new forum where new builders will be welcome and bickering will not be allowed. I hope other builders will find this new forum to be a more welcoming place where the pure fun of building and flying canard airplanes is issue #1.

A New Corporate Venture

I have been considering starting a composite airplane business for some time, and was waiting until I had completed flight testing. The issues with the forum, and not being able to fly for a week while waiting for my turbo, precipitated this. I obtained the server space, moved this web site to the new space, put up the corporate site, and agreed to host the new forum. Canard Aviation Inc. has existed for over a year. The company is now open for business.

More on the turbo

I realized I hadn't posted a picture of the back of the compressor wheel, where it attaches to the shaft. Apparantly this WAS welded, but it sure doesnt look like the metal took any kind of punishment. The picture is a bit blurred, but you can see that the metal in the area that was welded shows no signs of twisting or tearing. A post mortem by a turbo rebuilder says that the weld gave. Apparantly this is fairly unusual. He thinks it might have been a bad weld.

My replacement comes in today, so after a week off, the fun begins again....


While reinstalling the turbo I decided that the feed line may be too small. The hose recommended by my local Mazda guru was #10 size which is about 1/8 ID. All the input I'm getting now says this hose needs to be 1/4 ID. Maybe the local guy was thinking about typical sporadic road use rather than the sustained usage I'll get in airplane use. I had #6 fittings welded to the stock connections and installed a new hose. When it came time to remove the old hose I noticed that it went under the alternator, and seemed stuck. The only way I could get it out was to release the alternator tension adjustment and lift the alternator up. The hose had been trapped between the alternator and the top of the engine. There HAD been enough clearance, but the belt tension had pulled the alternator downwards and crimped the feed line. I guess the tension bolt hadn't been tight enough, or it needs some friction washers. Blowing through the hose it was easy to feel the restriction caused by the crimp. Excellent! I love it when you find a definitive cause like that.

The Local Experts strike again

Apparantly the "Local Experts" have been at work on their anti-anything-not-certified campaign. The guys at the weld shop had heard on the grapevine that I'd "blown the engine". Well, guys, if you're reading this, it's absolutely true. I blew my engine on all three flights. I have a device installed specifically to do that. It's called a turbo. I'll get to developing that animated gif image for you. I promise I will.

Flight # 4 - almost

I installed the new oil feed line, installed the turbo, changed the oil & filter (again), changed the plugs (again), topped off the coolant and put the canopy back on. Sunday morning May 2nd was 12kts down the runway, so I pushed her out and cranked. She didn't start easily, but after 20 seconds or so she ran fine. I taxied to the runway, did a runup and took the runway. We accellerated quickly. At about 60kts I glanced down at the oil pressure and noticed it drop from 100 to 40, then bounce back up. Hmmm. It did the same again a second later, so I chopped the throttle. Stopping is getting easier as the brakes bed in. I pulled off the runway and taxied back to the hangar to check the oil. It was a tad low, so I added a 1/2 pint. I think there must have been an air pocket somewhere which caused the fluctuation. I'd blown out the old oil from the oil coolers (into a bag this time). I'm glad I had an analog gauge. I'd never have noticed the fluctuation trying to read a digital readout.

I started her up and taxiied out again. This time the runup wasn't good. I wasnt getting the rpm I normally get. I tried disabling one set of injectors and she ran better, but still not quite right. If I engaged the turbo (closed the wastegate) she would surge a bit and run a little better. With the mixture at absolute minimum she ran almost normally. I tried lowering the injector flow a couple of steps in mode 3, and she ran a little better still. But, something definately wasn't right. I taxied back to the hangar. When I stopped the engine I found a LOT of black soot around the exhaust and prop. I took the cowl off again, and the problem was immediately evident. Duh. The 90 hose connector between the turbo outlet and the intake pipe to the intercooler was gone. I found it down in the bottom of the cowling near the oil cooler. Obviously, the engine wasn't getting enough air, so it was running very rich. OK. I put the connector back on and tightened up the hose clamps. They'd been tight before, but this time I made them really tight. The intake pipe to the intercooler isn't a very good fit. I need to extend it by an inch or two so the flexible hoses fit better. I tightened up all the clamps, changed the plugs (again), put the cowl back and prepared for another try.

Flight # 4 (0.1)

This time she started up instantly. Wow. That's a first. Perhaps this was the extra couple of notches toward lean in mode 3. I taxied out to runway 15 and did another runup. The engine seemded to be much "livelier". I waited for a Cherookee to take off and climb away, then took the runway and opened the throttle 3/4. Lots of power. Definately more than before. I checked the boost was off as we accellerated very quickly down the runway. 60kts. All is well. The engine's running better than ever before and I can really feel the difference. Oil pressure is stable at 100psi, temps about 170/180. After about 1200 feet of runway my scan took in the ASI - 85kts. Oops. Better lift her up. She came up easily and climbed nicely. This takeoff seemed faster and more powerful than any previous one.

I'm was innocently climbing past 300ft when the engine reduced throttle, by itself, from about 4500 to about 2500 rpm. Uh oh. The nose dipped down as the climb leveled of. This is not good. This is not good at all. The throttle hasn't moved, and there's no more rpm available. The engine's running smooth, but at about 1/4 power, and I'm in the worst possible spot for an engine failure. I'm at 400 ft, flying level, turning back toward the field and looking to see how the base to 21 would work for a fast return to mother earth. The engine is consistant. Running smooth at about 2500, so I leave well alone. I find I can climb a little, so I turn onto a tight downwind at 500ft and call my intention to return to the active. Now where's that Cherookee?

I've noticed that you have to watch out for these spam cans guys, 'cause they're doing 70 or 80kt, climbing at 60kt and it's easy to overtake them. I always give them a bit more room to clear before taking off behind them, and I'd done that today. He'd been at 500 ft turning crosswind when I rolled. There he was, on the downwind above and outside me. I apologized for cutting him off, and called a tight base, rolled around into a high short final, hit both rudders and put her down 1000 feet down the runway like nothing had happened. Phew. A quick check of the underware revealed no suspicious stains, and the leather seating looked no worse for the experience. I taxied back to the hanger, pushed her in and peeked in the left side of the cowl. I must have strained the hose connector for the intercooler while messing with the other end. It had blown off. OK. Enough is enough. Tomorrow I'm going to take the intercooler pipe to Charlie and have him add a couple of inches so the hoses arn't under tension.

So, I've expanded the experience a little more. I've learned how to "stuff her down" quickly when needed, and I've learned that she'll climb with very little power coming out of the engine. Basically another benign failure mode. A totally unnecessary one, admittedly, but a good warning to others with a turbo installation. Make sure you're pipes aren't stressed and the connections are well aligned. I guess there's a lot of air pressure in those pipes, even with the wastegate open, and they'll come off if they're not perfect. Full power run-up didn't reveal the problem, presumably because the rpm and boost gets higher once the prop's moving through 100 mph airflow. However, if the pipes do come off, the engine will continue to run, and it'll get you home. I decided that was enough for one day. There was some weather coming in, and I was getting tired and hungry. Tomorrow is another day. The good news is that my annoying minor oil leak from the motor mount / engine join has gone away. I think the gasket from the turbo oil return was a bit weak and a little oil was weeping from there. I'm still not happy with my radio. I tested it with a handheld, and it worked fine, and I get acknowledgements to my radio check calls, but I'm not getting any reaction to my calls once airborne. The guy in the Cherookee didn't acknowledge my radio calls and apologies - but, thankfully, he did realize what I was doing and kept out of the way. I have another com antenna, so I think I'll swap them over before the next flight. I'm beginning to feel very comfortable in the plane. During today's little "experience" I wasn't thinking much about the way a Cozy flys, as compared with what I was used to. The handling and control inputs were natural, and the plane did just what I expected. I think I'm really going to like this airplane once I have the engine settled down.

Flight # 5 (0.8)

Tom (Cozy Builder and spare time F18 Hornet jockey based in the gulf) was home for a short leave. I'd buttoned up the plane the night before, and was working on the radio antenna when Tom arrived. I'd guessed that the com antenna might have a bad joint either at the wingtip, or the strake. The wingtip join was easier to get to, so I removed the nav light fitting and pulled on the antenna wire behind it. It came out, leaving the connector inside the wing. Hmmm. We did a quick solder connection on the other com antenna and pushed her out of the hangar.

The engine started right up with no hesitation, but was still running rich. With the mixture at max lean it seemed to running very well. The wind was 040 at 11 kts. Enough of the "newbie Wimp" syndrome! It's time I tried flying this thing in other than perfect conditions. Take-off was no problem. She drifted a bit, but a couple of gentle taps on the brake were enough to keep me pointed along the black stuff. I climbed out at about 110 kts (about 3/4 power with wastegate full open) and did a pattern. Temperatures were 170/160 on the downwind. Oil pressure just below 100. An archer called downwind within a few seconds of me. I spotted him above and ahead and called to let him be number 1. He heard me, but commented that I was almost unreadable. Ah well. More antenna work is in store when I get back. Everything seemed good as I brought her around on final behind the Archer, but my speed was too high at about 120kt, and hadn't allowed enough room. The final was a little bumpy, and I had to work a little to keep her straight. As the archer rolled out, I did a low pass and spotted Tom at the edge of the runway taking pictures. Must be a real thrill for him to be so close to a flying airplane - yea right!

Everything seemed ok, temps were good and the engine was running smoothly, so I departed south from the downwind and headed for the edge of the Class C. Char's workplace just happens to be where I climb up to get over the top of the controlled airspace and it was about lunch time. I circled as I climbed to look at the little Tiki hut they use for their lunch break. No sign of people. Char says that she heard me, but couldn't see me. Climbing fairly leasurely at 3/4 power I noticed just over 1000fpm. Temps never went over 180. Once at 5000ft I flew north back to overhead the field and did a couple of circles before heading back down. I tried adjusting the mixture. As soon as it came off it's stop the engine slowed, so I put it back to full lean. I opened the cowl flap for a minute or two to see if it made any difference. It didnt seem to. If anything the temps went down a hair. I'll try this again later on a longer run. I also noted the temps during the decent to pattern altitude - coolant was down to 140 and oil was similar. Excellent. The one thing I was always told was the major issue, and the one thing I've never had a problem with is cooling.

I wasn't happy having to run on full lean, and I didn't want to keep Tom hanging around too long, so I rejoined the pattern to attempt my first crosswind landing. The air was a bit bumpy, and I had to work a little harder than usual on final, but I got her down ok. Tom got the above picture as I came in. The touchdown was fairly abrupt, but not too hard and no bounce. Tom probably thought I was trying to impress him with my carrier landings. What really happened was that I didn't want to give the wind a chance to push me sideways so I kinda planted it. Nothing broke, so it was an excellent landing in my book. I drifted a bit to one side of the runway during the roll out. I was using both brakes and it didnt occur to me soon enough that I need to release the brake a little on one side to hold direction in a crosswind.

After the flight, Tom said it still smelled very rich, and there was a lot of soot on the prop. I'll take another shot at lowering the overall mixture, but it's looking like I may have to get smaller injectors. The GPS says I hit 170 kts today. I didn't touch the turbo wastegate lever the whole flight, and I never went past 3/4 throttle. I think my ASI must be reading low. Total time now - 2.1 hrs. 37.9 to go. At this rate I'll have the time flown off roughly by Christmas.

Fixing Bugs

I have two main bugs I want fixed before flying again. I need a radio that works, and a mixture that's lean enough and adjustable.

I tried the adjustment on the fuel pressure regulator. I'm getting about 33psi without the engine running, and the pressure wont go any lower, so it looks like the mode 3 adjustment is the only way I'm going to get these 550 cc injectors to deliver the correct amount of fuel. That will have to wait till I run the engine next.

I set out to trace the com antenna problem. I removed the wingtip light from the left wing and fished out the antenna wire. Sure enough, it came out of its connector too. Now I have two unconnected COM antennae. OK, I bit the bullet and removed the left wing.

[Note: Don't bother making the aileron torque tube quick disconnects at the wing roots. It's easier to remove the MM4 at the bellhorn anyway.]

The connector inside the wing root was corroded too, even though I'd wrapped it with electrical tape. The Florida humidity gets everywhere. The stub of antenna wire coming out of the wingtip had black oxidization all the way up the shield under the outer cover. I dipped it in silver cleaning fluid to remove the oxidization. I decided to make a permanent waterproof join at the wingtip, then run new wire all the way to the panel. Threading the new wire was easy, except that I had to remove the canard to get to the back of the radio panel. I wish the fuselage top was removable without having to remove the canard first. Before I can remove the canard I have to detach the elevator torque tubes. The bolts are in one of those see-it-or-touch-it-but-not-both-at-the-same-time positions. With some pretty wild contorsions, my head in the leg hole and my feet sticking out of the canopy I can JUST see the bolts. Sitting in the seat and leaning forward with my face smushed against the panel, I can JUST feel the bolts. Ugh. I got the canard off eventually, and found that the antenna ground connection at the back of the radio tray also looked a bit suspect. Kevin (CNCDOC) on the Canard forum promised to drop in and test my transmission wattage, so while I was waiting I reinstalled the left wing and removed the right one to replace that cable too. Can you tell that I've just about had enough of not being heard on the radio?

Four other items needed minor attention.
1. Rewire the coolant pressure gauge so it doesnt go into calibrate mode every time I turn it on.
2. Move the tiny tach rpm pickup to be sure it's only getting input from one wire. Right now it seems to go wild at high rpm. I suspect it's seeing the pulses from more than one wire. 3. Add an extension to the pitot tube to see if I get better readings at high speed. 4. Tighten the nose wheel nut. There was some shimmy on the last landing.

Vistors Beware!

I've learned a little from Mike Skorija, and now I'm putting anyone who visits to work. Kevin (Cozy builder from Ft. Myers) dropped in one evening on his way home, so I kept him there till almost 1am soldering and crimping the new antenna cables. The following Saturday Karl & Mike (Cozy builders from Ft. Lauderdale) wanted to see the plane. Within minutes I had them holding the wing while I got it aligned and bolted up tight. I now have only a few minor items to address before I do the dreaded canard reinstallation and elevator hook-up job. Ugh. Perhaps I'll force myself and get that done tomorrow. It's time I got this bird back in the air.

More Delays

Readers may be wondering what the .... I'm doing. I did my first flight well over a month ago, I only have 2.1 hours on her, and the bird hasn't been airborne for over a week. Well, I've been catching up on a bunch of things that got dumped while I was pushing to get her ready to fly. You know - earning a living and annoying stuff like that. I've been "visiting" the plane fairly regularly, and patting her on the cowl, but I haven't really spent much time working on her. While the wings and canard were off I took some time to do a thorough inspection, checking things like the brakes, main and nose strut, engine mount, bolt tightness everywhere etc. etc.

I am, however, gradually approaching flight status. The nose wheel is tightened, the wings are back on and the radio antenna is fixed (I hope). I rewired the coolant pressure gauge and moved the tiny tach wires. Things to do before she flies again include:
Reinstall canard
Reconnect control linkages (aileron and elevator)
Reseal wing / strake joins
Reattach wing bolt hole covers
Modify pitot

The above is about 3 hours work so I'm back to checking the weather. One of the reasons I've been taking my time is that we've had strong eastery winds for the past week or so, and I only have a 3400ft North/South runway until they finish the work they're doing on 9/27.

Ready to fly?

I was just contemplating the job of reinstalling the canard when my friend Danny showed up. Dan's flying spam cans and working on his instrument rating. I put him to work. We put the canard in place and chatted while I bolted it up. When it came time to install the elevator linkage Dan reached through the front while I put the wrench on the bolt. For a few seconds there we were holding hands. Commenting that our friendship had reached a new level, I got the wrench in place and he managed, with some difficulty, to take over and hold it while I got another wrench on the nut and tightened. Up to his armpit in Cozy, Dan said that his arm was loosing circulation, and if I wasnt done in 5 minutes he might as well just leave it in there. When I finally got done he extracted his arm carefully and painfully. OK, I said. Ready for the other side?

We got the canard back on, so presuming I can adjust the mixture into a better range, the bird was ready to fly the next day. That evening I got a call telling me that things were picking up rapidly at a company I've been working with ( ) and I needed to be in Mississippi the following day. So now here I sit in a hotel room overlooking the Mississippi river, and the plane sits alone in the dark hangar back in Florida. I hope the hangar owl isnt blessing the plane too much. Meanwhile Steve Brooks gets his turbo rotary cozy off the ground and I get to read about his first flights. Ah well - such is life.

With a bit of luck I'll get back next weekend and fly her around a bit.

Life is but a circle

You're going to love this one.
I came back from a week of business travel (which I COULD have been doing in my plane) and headed down to the hangar. I spent a couple of hours checking and fixing minor loose ends, like the pitot head extension, and generally getting my head back into airplane things.

Eventually I pushed the plane out onto the ramp planning to start her up and work on the mixture adjustment. They've got both our primary AND secondary runways closed for repairs, so we're left with 3200 feet which just happened to be directly into the wind today. I figured I could live with that if everything else checked out, so I went through my preflight and start-up checks and cranked her over. The engine sprang into life immediately and ran well at minimum mixture as it did the last time. I punched the mode 3 overall mixture range down a couple more notches, and the mixture adjustment moved a little toward the center of travel depending on the rpm setting. I decided to at least taxi to the active and take a look at it.

Taxi to the active is via the closed runway. There I was, happily taxiing down the runway at maybe 10 mph when the plane started to drift a little. I tapped the right brake to straighten her out and she turned right.... and kept turning right. I stopped in the middle of the runway, pointing sideways, with a puzzelled look on my face.

Hmmm. Seems that I've got a sticky brake caliper. I opened the throttle and tried again using varing amounts of brake pressure and throttle. The more left brake I used, the slower I turned. The more throttle, the faster I turned. All I could do was rotate 360 degrees in the length of the plane. I had one choice. Fast or slow. Well, actually there was another choice - really really fast. I didnt try the turbo. After a few fun circles I got bored with this new game, shut her down and climbed out. The right (Char's) brake was totally locked. I tried moving the wheel and pushing the plane with no results. Pondering this, I smiled and waved as a couple of spam cans taxied by with the occupants trying to figure out what I was doing. Embarrasing.

Initially I'd eliminated the parking brake since I ASSumed that it locked both brakes at the same time. My left wheel was turning freely. The parking brake seemed to be the only possible culprit, and I'd had an issue with it earlier in the taxi testing, so I moved the actuator up and down while pushing on the plane. At one position, the brake freed up and I was able to move the plane in a straight line. Phew. I climbed back in, started her up and began taxiing back to the hangar. The return trip to the hangar involved a couple of involutary 360s and could easily have gotten me arrested for taxiing while impaired. I eventually made it by continually taping the brakes and moving the parking brake actuator. I pushed her back into the hangar, removed the seating and ripped out the actuator in disgust. I established a position where the brakes didn't lock and wire tied the parking brake lever tightly in that position. I've HAD IT with this parking brake. I've never used it, and it's really starting to be annoying. Imagine if I hit the rudders (and brakes) on final and the actuator moves into the brake position somehow. Both wheels is bad enough. One wheel. ARghhh! The parking brake is coming out of the plane as soon as I figure out how do an in-line join in the brake pipes. Take my advice. Do NOT install a parking brake. They're much more trouble that they're worth. Havind said that - anyone want to buy a parking brake actuator?

By the time I had the parking brake tied off I was hot, sweaty, tired and hungry. The ambient was at 86 and I didn't feel like flying with an already hot engine. Just to show there were no hard feelings, I got out the polish and cloths and waxed up the wings, canard and strakes for an hour. I had some urgent work to complete, so I called it quits for the day.

Flight # 6 (0.1) - Dawn Patrol

On Saturday morning, determined to beat the winds, I set the alarm for 6am and was wheeling the plane out of the hangar by 6:30. The engine started up smoothly and ran well. For a change there was no glare in the cockpit, and I was able to actually SEE the mixture reading on the air fuel ratio gauge. It was right in the middle at low rpm and a little low during the runup. I richened it a little. By 6:40 I was at the runway and ready to roll. The sun was just over the horizon behind some wispy clouds, the air was still and the pattern was empty. I recalled the Palm Beach Approach freq from the radio memory, kicked on the transponder and took the runway. I accelerated at 75% throttle with the wastegate open and noticed a reading of 45 MAP which seemed a bit high with the wastegate open. I checked that the boost lever was full aft (open). We lifted off in around 1000 feet and, as I climbed rapidly into the dawn I found myself thinking "This is what it's all about".

The thought didn't last long. I had been looking forward to climbing high and enjoying a nice long flight before the heat started to rise, but that was not to be. As I was turning crosswind at 800 feet the rpm dropped to 3000, the ZZZ sound changed to zzz and the nose dropped to the horizon. So much for a beautiful morning. Some might think this would be a major "pucker factor". Not really. I'm getting used to it, and at 3000 rpm the plane flies just like a Cessna 172, if not a little better. I have lots of hours in Cessnas. I continued the climb to 1000, did a normal downwind and brought her around for my first landing on our shortest (3200ft) runway. The engine was smooth and consistent, but to be sure I kept her high and fast and bled the height off on short final with the rudders. I misjudged it a bit, came over the numbers at about 15 feet and 95 kts, floated for a while and touched down firmly about 1000 ft down the runway. Stopping before the last turnoff was no problem. I taxiied back to the hangar and climbed out. I'm embarrased to say I knew what the problem was before I even looked in the cowl. In fact, I knew what it was immediately the rpm dropped. I've felt it before. A turbo hose had blown off.

Installing a one piece pipe from the turbo to the intercooler would have involved removing the lower cowl, so I made the pipe in two sections with a join at the center. Last time I blew off a hose I'd had ribs made in the ends of the pipes to be sure it didn't happen again. Unfortunately the ribs were made about 1/2 inch from the end of all the pipes, so the 2 inch silicone connector only extended 1/2 inch beyond the ribs on each side. My big Hose Techniques clamps are 3/4 wide, so a bit of the clamp was hanging off on each side. I knew then that I needed 3 inch silicone connectors, but I didn't have any, so I ASSumed that the clamps would hold. What I hadn't considered was that with 7 psi of pressure from the inside, the clamping force was enough to squeeze the silicone hose inwards and allowed the clamp to slip off. I spent a few hours unsucessfully trying to locate some silicone hose on Memorial Day weekend, then gave up and went home. Later in the day we bought a new dishwasher so in the evening I spent an hour installing it. When I was done, Char asked if was ok to test. I said sure - just watch out for the drain hose - it might blow off on take-off.

What I really need to do is remove the lower cowl and have the pipes welded to eliminate the connection, but a 3 or 4 inch connector would do the job fine. A temporary solution might be a length of reinforced radiator hose.

Why are these incidents occuring on climb out? Because I can't duplicate the conditions on the ground. I suppose I could tie the plane to a tree, set up a big leaf blower for cooling and give it a try, but still the conditions would not be the same and I'm just not comfortable with that approach. I can't hold the plane on the brakes over 4000 rpm, and I don't like the idea of trying to hold that much power back with a rope. Somethings gonna give.

Those considering a turbo - please note. These are NOT problems with the overall concept - they're problems with my implementation and lack of knowledge about how to set up turbo pipes properly. I'm learning. Slowly, but I am learning.

Fixing the turbo hoses

On Sunday I stopped in at Autozone and picked up a preformed 2 inch ID truck radiator hose. I removed the screws from the back of the lower cowling, but left the ones at the front. This way I was able to lower the aft part of the cowl about 3 inches without taking it off - this was enough to get my hands in and work on the turbo pipes which pass over the aft part of the radiator. The afternoon was spent removing all the turbo to intecooler pipes, replacing two 2 inch silicone connectors with 4 inch pieces of the reinforced radiator hose and reinstalling the whole lot with additional support clamps and safety wire. There is NO way these connectors are coming off in flight again unless a very brave gremlim decides to travel inside the cowl with a wrench AND wire clippers. Finally I gave the engine a good check over, changed the plugs and reinstalled the cowlings. After 4 hours in a 90 degree hangar I wasn't up for a flight, besides we had a 14kt crosswind and the airport was totally quiet. Not even the spam cans were flying. I went home for a shower and a rest.

Flight # 7 (0.8) - 5000 ft AGL?

Monday, Memorial day, I was wheeling the plane out by 6:45am. Temp was 78, wind calm, 7000 broken. Perfect. She was a bit hesitant to start, but got going after a few seconds and ran well. As I taxied out to the active I checked the air/fuel ratio. A little rich at idle and a little lean at higher rpm. A few mode 1 adjustments to the EC2 at various rpm settings brought it to the middle. Since we're using the main runway to taxi I took advantage of the smooth surface and gave the engine a solid burst of throttle. That nice acceleration feeling was there instantly. Everything seemed fine on the gauges and I was up to 50 kts in no time. I throttled back to stop at the hold point. The runup looked fine. Coolant/oil temps were 160/150. Coolant pressure 14psi. Oil pressure 100. I got myself organized, plugged in the ATIS and approach frequencies, turned on the transponder and GPS and took the runway.

I was a little gentler with the throttle this time, wishing to get some height before pushing anything. Lift off came at about 1500 feet and I had that "Oh what a wonderful feeling" thought as I began the climb out. Speed 80 kts, ROC 1500 FPM. Coolant temp 210. Oil pressure 100. Gear up. I pushed the nose down for more speed and a better view. Speed 110. passing 900ft. I leveled off at 1000 while turning crosswind. Pattern was empty. I called changing freq and orbiting at 1000 on the dead side. I checked the GPS. It was off. I keep spare batteries in the baggage area, so I fished them out swapped them over. OK, back to business. "Palm Beach approach, Cozy experimental Niner six Papa Mike with Charlie". I heard silence for a second, then Cozy Niner six Papa Mike, go ahead". . I thought "Thanks, Kevin.", told them I was an experimental on initial flight testing, and asked for clearance to climb through their airspace over the field. Once we established which field, I was given a squawk and permission was granted. Climbing at 4000 rpm, 40 MAP and 90 kts I had 750 FPM. Coolant temp went to 215 and oil to 190. Coolant pressure was 13.

A circling climb to 5000 feet didn't take very long compared to the Cessna's and Pipers I've been used to. As I was climbing, Approach asked me to recycle the transponder. Thats usually an indication that you forgot to turn it on, but it was on, so I recycled it. I reported level at 5000 and asked if they had the transponder. No, he said, nothing on the transponder, and your radio is barely readable. Ah well. Definately an improvement on the radio, but it looks like I'll have to try the other com antenna. The transponder, freshly serviced by Narco, probably has an antenna problem as well. Can't have everything. At least the engine is running smoothly. I noticed a slight "rumble" from the back. Very slight, but I hadn't noticed it before. You couldnt even call it a vibration. Just a slight rumble. It could almost be wind noise. It didnt change noticably with throttle setting, but did seem to vary with speed, so I decided it was wind noise and put it to the back of my mind. I turned off the backup fuel pump and ran on right tank only with return defaulting right. I like to take off with both pumps running. The only problem with this is that some degree of fuel transfer is going on then, since I can return to either tank, but not both. Today I had 20 gals in each tank, so this wasnt a problem, but it's something to watch if I'm running low on a tank. I like having total redundancy rather than using a "draw from right, transfer from left" type system like Tracy's, but my system does have it's drawbacks. Maybe I'll add a transfer pump and use the second feed system for emergencies only.

This was my first opportunity to really sit back (figuratively speaking), relax and enjoy the ride. I was feeling comfortable and relaxed, and I was well inside my cone of safety. Time to get back to this "test pilot" thing and note down some numbers.

First I paged through the Garmin 196 GPS options to get the panel and checked the ASI against the GPS reading. The ASI was about 10Kts lower irrespective of heading. I watched it as I flew a square pattern. 160 on the GPS, 150 on the ASI. Hmmm. I remember reading of people putting small bumps ahead of the static port. Better look this up. Maybe a second static port would be a good idea. Later the GPS told me my max speed on the flight had been 172Kts. Cruising at around 160 (GPS) on 1/2 throttle with the wastegate open I was seeing temps of 190/170. The EGT was sitting at about 1400, but it quickly increased to 1600 when I added more power. 1600 is the top scale reading on my EGT gauge. Maybe the sensor is too close to the turbo outlet. I need to check on that. I kept the throttle at half. I noticed that at 3500 rpm the MAP was about 40, but increased quickly towards 50 when I increased to 4500 rpm at maybe 65% power. That's more than I'd been getting on earlier flights.

I headed Northwest 5 miles and circled over the house. Char was probably still sleeping. I'd been flying about 35 minutes when the engine stuttered a bit and the rpm reduced about 700 rpm. Hmmm. What's this? A quick check around the gauges showed that everything was fine, except that the coolant pressure was flashing "low" which means it's under 5psi. I've seen this a few times before and haven't been able to get a feeling for when and why it does it. I've never lost any coolant, except the one time when the turbo bearings collapsed and let coolant into the exhaust stream. I kicked on the backup fuel pump. No difference. Fuel pressure 40psi. Coolant temp was 180. While pointing back to the field, I tried the throttle back and forth but left the mixture alone. The engine was smooth, but significantly low on power. RPM wouldnt go above 3800. I just wasn't getting enough information to give me a clue on what was wrong. "Uh. What's going on here.....? Flight. Let me get back to you".

Whatever it was, SOMETHING wasnt right. Fly the airplane. I got back over the field at 4000 and told Approach I'd like to decend for landing at LNA. They gave me clearance, but reminded me to get the com and transponder checked. Yea. right! And the engine too, I thought. Before decending I tried working the mixture. There WAS a difference, but richer or leaner, it was still way down on power and 3800 was the best I could get. This was different from the missing turbo hose feeling. With that, power was fairly normal below a certain rpm. This time power was reduced over the entire range and there was a very slight roughness at all rpm settings. The higher the rpm, the more the power loss until I got to 3800 which was as high as it would go. I decided that was enough experimentation for one day.

During the circling decent temps were 160/150. Oil pressure 80. Coolant pressure "low". Engine relatively smooth but still low on power. I decended into the downwind for 21, communicating with the Cherokee in the runup area for 03. OK, winds were calm, so I switched to 03 and did my downwind checks. I tried the throttle on the downwind. No change. I still have my "poor man's gear warning" A piece of masking tape with the word GEAR stuck below my ASI. I look at the ASI a lot and it's hard to miss the sticker. I havent yet heard the voice warning or seen the LED while in flight, because I haven't (yet) throttled back with the gear up. I like my masking tape warning.

Gear down, Landing Brake up, fuel sufficient, belts tight. Fuel sufficient for WHAT? Just for ONCE, I'd like to have the option of doing a go around, I thought. Once again, I'm high and fast on final by choice. 85kts and 20 ft over the numbers. I use up most of the 3200 runway, but stopping was no problem at all, and I was safely back on terra firma with 0.8 hrs more on the hobbs. As I taxied back down the closed main runway I gave her a bit of power and adjusted the mixture. Unfortunately I can't recall for sure which direction did the trick. I think it might have been richer. The performance was immediately back to normal. ZZZZoooom. I was at 50kts in no time. I taxied around for 15 minutes, up and down the closed runway trying static runups and fast taxiing. The engine was running just fine. Good enough for a take off, thought the plane. No F&*%ing chance, I thought back. I want to know exactly what's wrong with you before I let YOU fly again. Reluctantly she headed back to the hangar. I got the impression of a scoulded dog cowering with its tail between its legs.

I did notice that on bursts of 3/4 throttle, MAP went off the scale at 50 PSI plus with the wastegate fully open. I think I know what's going on here. There's a 1/2 inch bleed pipe on the intercooler which I'd though was for condensation and left open. During a recent visit, Todd (of pointed out that it was an air bleed of some sort and was letting boost escape from the intercooler. I plugged it. The wastegate, even when fully open, isnt bleeding enough air, and I don't think my radiator cap blow off valve is doing its job. Rusty - do you still have that blow off valve? If so, I'll take it. I think that this unintentional bleed was keeping my boost down. Either that, or Rusty's turbo is putting out a LOT more boost than my old one.

One other squark is my canopy stay. It's not holding, and the canopy has a nasty habit of slamming shut with the slightest gust of wind. The damn thing's wacked my head a couple of times while climbing in and out, and I tend to put my arm on the longeron when taxiing with the canopy open. Time to get a new canopy strut before I need a new arm.

After shutdown the cowl was a little hotter than usual, and the engine itself seems a bit hotter too. There was plenty of soot on the prop. I parked the plane and drove home for some breakfast. Maybe removing the cowl will shine some light on the situation. Perhaps I've had my first Attention Getting Lag (AGL) experience as described by other rotary flyers when the plugs get weak. These plugs have been sandblasted a couple of times. There probably isnt a gauge that'll tell you you have AGL, but I'm beginning to think the only way to get my mixture right is to get an EM2 monitor from Tracy. I definately need more information on what's going on with the engine. I could probably also use a lot more knowledge and experience of engines in general and rotaries in particular to help me get everything set up correctly. I seem to be shooting in the dark here. I drove home wondering if either Tracy or Ed would consider flying down and helping me get these wrinkles out if I paid their fuel costs and kept gave them a bed, hamburgers and unlimited beer. Hmmmm. Watcha think, guys? I'm guessing Tracy's too busy, but Ed's retired..... hmmm. Are you up for a challenge, Ed? Wanna take a break from making intakes?

Looking for a Smoking Gun

Next day I went down to the hangar hoping to find out what the problem was. I came back with a lot of questions. The first thing I noticed was what I can only decribe as a black gummy substance on the prop, directly behind the exhaust outlet. There was some soot too, and this wiped off easily. I was left with black stains that I could scrape with my fingernail, but couldn't easily wipe off with a dry cloth. A little acetone got them off. A little of the same substance seemed to be on the plugs which were also black with soot. I took off the turbo heat shield and examined the wastegate control. It's definately working properly. The wastegate flapper bearing is fairly sloppy, but that will just stop it sealing and might cost me boost rather than generate it. While examining the wastegate I checked the turbo bearings. The compressor wheel seems a little more mobile than it was when I got the turbo from Rusty. I'd guess at 1/16 movement. I'm a little suspitious of this. Could I be loosing a bit of oil from the turbo bearings? Would this cause the gum on the prop? Pure guesswork on my part. But then, this wouldn't explain the plugs. Coolant might have gone down an inch on the overflow bottle. Oil level seemed unchanged.

I went home to cool off and ponder all this, and received a call from another builder who'd read the above flight description. He said it sounds like a fuel flow problem to him. Some kind of restriction which might have been cleared by jolt of the touchdown. The landing wasnt THAT bad, but he does have a point. Tomorrow I'll check the fuel filters - it's time for that anyway - and take a good look at the feed lines and the rail.

Another suspect that's been bothering me is the scat hose from the plenum to the turbo intake. I don't like the way it has to do a sharp 90. Perhaps this is costing me air. Maybe the hose collapsed from suction, then popped back to shape during the approach. I'll order an aluminum 90 for this.

There is more investigation to be done before this bird flies again. I'd really like to find a "smoking gun" type of solution like I did with the crimped oil feed, but failing that I'll just have to check everything. My thinking so far is:

1. I don't think the turbo bearing should have the play it has. Closing off the air bleed on the intercooler seems to have bumped my boost way up (thanks Todd!). A short burst of 10 psi (I did read 50+ inches on the MAP at one stage during taxi) shouldn't be a problem, but could I have overspeeded the turbo and damaged the bearings without even closing the wastegate? I don't see how this would impact the performance in the way the I experienced it, so I don't think this one is likely. The play is about the same as I had on the old turbo, so maybe this is normal. I'm pricing a rebuilt turbo with modifications as described in

2. Plugs. The plugs have definately seen better days. They've been sandblasted twice and they're covered with soot. I think a new set of plugs is definately in order. Could the spark have been too weak to burn the fuel properly. Would this explain the "gum" on the prop? Speaking of plugs, I'd had a problem with insufficient spark way back during initial starting of the engine. Loss of amperage in the wire was suspected. This, combined with hammering the battery to get a start had cut power to one set of plugs. The solution I found at that time was to crosswire the 12v feed for leading and trailing plugs. That crosswire was still there until recently, and I removed it before the last flight. Perhaps my coil amps were low and the spark was weak, or even absent on one set of plugs. Writing this makes me think - yes - the performance change could well be the result of loosing a set of plugs. But, why would this only impact performance half way through the flight? Heat? Soot build-up? hmmm.

3. Mixture. The air/fuel gauge was behaving well during the flight and I was able to do some adjustments. Since the adjustments are done in a series of bands based on MAP I probably have a series of bumps in the graph. Mixture was definately right on take off. The bars were in the middle and she whined like a wilderbeast. Maybe all the soot is arriving during final approach when the engine's at idle. I need to adjust the mixture some more. Maybe what I really need is an EM2 so I can see fuel flow and a graphic representation of the mixture table.

4. Fuel starvation. The suggestion to check fuel flow to the rail is a good one, but gut feel says this isnt the culprit. Adding the second pump made no difference, and the performance degradation felt too consistent to be caused by a blockage. It felt like someone switched half the engine off, then flipped the switch back after landing. On the other hand, maybe a bit of crud in the line could cause that. Crud in the fuel is common in the first few flights of composite airplanes. I haven't seen anything in the filters yet, but it sure can't hurt to check everything in the fuel delivery area one more time.

I'll be working on the plane for a day or so. In the meantime, suggestions and comments are welcome.

How hot is it?

Working on the plane isn't fun these days. I actually avoided it for a couple of days, then forced myself to go down there and spend a couple of hours. When I opened the hangar door the air inside was HOT, and the hangar itself had that "hot engine" smell. Ugh. I opened the main door, put the big fan on and set to work.

Turbo. I'm told that some side to side play is normal on the turbo. It runs on a film of oil and centers itself when the oil pressure is there. End to end play is bad, but I checked and there's none. I'd still like to get a rebuilt turbo, but I'll give this one another chance. I ground a bit off the back of the wastegate paddle to let it open a little more, then reassembled the wastegate, exhaust and heat shield. I bought a Pop Off valve from Rusty to replace the radiator cap thing, that I don't think is working. I removed the plug on the air bleed from the intercooler. I think this was letting off some of the excess boost before I plugged it, so until I'm happier with the turbo, and Rusty's pop-off valve arrives, I'll leave it unplugged.

Fuel supply. I removed and cleaned the fuel filters. They had a very small amount of crud on them. The rail is very tight and difficult to remove, so I didn't do a full check of fuel flow. I plan to do some more full power runups and fast taxiing before launching. I did check the vents and they seem fine. I noticed that the injector wires were touching the top of the engine. They're protected by a hi-temp teflon spiral, but I wire tied them up away from the engine anyway.

Information. Fuel flow etc. I ordered Tracy's EM2. This will help a lot once it arrives and is installed, but that'll be a while. Tomorrow, if I can stand the heat, I'll install new plugs and rewire the coils, then I think I'll be ready to put the cowl back on and test run the engine again. If I like how it behaves I may take her around the pattern.

I've had quite a few emails with suggestions of things to check. Thank you. For example, Chrissi said to check the black radiator hoses in case that's where the black gum is coming from. I'm working my way through the list, but haven't found a "smoking gun" yet.

A Perfect Day for Flying

Friday was a perfect day for flying. We had a few rain showers and the air was still with a 10,000 ft overcast to keep the sun at bay. I watched a lone Cessna working the pattern, then got back to working the plane. Unfortunately I still had a few things to do before taxi testing and more flights. Rusty's 8 psi pop Off Valve arrived, so I ripped off the 6 psi radiator cap and made a flange for the POV. I installed new plugs, then got into rewiring the coils. The coils arn't supposed to take much in the way of amps, but I think I've been loosing some voltage due to the long wire run, so I bumped the 20 gauge wire to 16 gauge. Running a pair of wires from the firewall to the panel in a finished airplane is non trivial. I spent a couple of hours poking and feeding and wire tying. When I got to the switches at the panel I decided these also needed upgrading to switches with a higher amp rating. I stopped by radio shack on the way home and picked up a couple of 12V / 25 amp switches. I also pulled the canopy stay so I can get a replacement thats a little longer, and a little stiffer.

Smoking gun found 6/6/04

Yesterday I spent a hot afternoon running two 16 gauge wires from the leading and trailing coils to the switches on the panel. After working my way through the firewall, down through the spar, into the electrical channel, down the fuselage side and up under the panel I was exhausted. Char stopped by and we went shopping for a while so I could take a break. Shopping to take a break? Aghhh!

Back at the hangar, I decided these radio shack switches might also be a bit weak for the higher current, so I got a pair of high quality aircraft switches from Dan, the avionics guy in my hangar. I mounted these by the ignition key switch and continued the new wiring on to the essential buss. When I got to the buss I checked the fuses. The 15A fuse for the leading coils was blown. I'd removed the crossover from leading to trailing before the previous flight, so that was the first time the wiring had taken the full load. When I installed the wires I'd researched the draw of the coils and found that it was 7 - 9 amps max. So, a 15 amp fuse would be fine - right? Wrong. I'd omitted to consider the fact that each wire supplies two coils, not one. Gottcha!

I installed 20 amp fuses. A discussion on the rotary list followed about fuses versus breakers. A number of respected flyers, including Ed and Tracy, commented that they hate fuses in airplanes. Here's my reply.

As always I appreciate you're input. As you probably know, this is an age old 
discussion which has been played out ad nausium by people far more qualified 
than I.  Bob Nuckolls had a very comprehensive paper on the subject on his 
web site 
I think the logic goes something like this:
1. It is better to plan for a failure and be able to complete the 
flight without the offending item, than it is to try to ensure that 
the item never fails. It WILL fail sometime. Take a look at his 
product "guarantee". 
2. If a circuit breaker pops, either you have a bad breaker, or 
there's a reason for the overload. Resetting it in the second 
case is a bad thing, since you could now be overloading the wire.  
If it had been a fuse, then you wouldn't have had to reset it 
in the first case.
3. If a fuse blows, or a breaker pops, then the right thing to 
do (according to Bob) is to continue with you're backup plan 
and fix the problem on the ground. In this case that meant 
run home on trailing coils only. (not that I knew this at the time)
Of course, many old and bold flyers have stories of saved bacon 
from resetting breakers. We've all heard them, and I believe them. 
Bob would [and does] argue that these incidents were mostly bad 
breaker incidents, and there should have been a backup plan that 
didn't involve resetting the breaker. Given this argument, a fuse 
is more reliable. 
In my case, maybe the coils take 7 or 8 amps each. I'd designed 
the circuit for one coil, forgetting that there was double the 
draw because there were 2 coils on each circuit. So, perhaps I was 
in danger of seriously overloading the wire. Had I reset a breaker 
maybe I'd have had a fire to deal with instead of just a rough 
engine. Not a bad example of Bob's point.
Understand, I'm not so much arguing for one side or the other, 
as I am making sure that both sides are presented. I chose to 
follow Bob's logic. However - trying to cover my back (in case 
he was wrong) my fuses are within reach during flight, and I 
have spares lined up on the back of the fuse panel. :) 

Ready to fly

Once the coil wiring was finished and tested I tried the new canopy strut. I'd got a longer stronger one which is fine, except that its too long for the current position of the fitting and the canopy won't shut with it on. I'll have to move the fitting, but not today. The last item on my list was the transponder. I checked the fuse, then the antenna connection. It seemed fine, so I moved the antenna from its home in the heater plenum to a spot inside the side of the nose area away from metal.

I'd just pushed the plane outside to take some pictures for an article I'm writing for CSA when an SUV pulled up. The occupants, a guy and his three kids, were obviously facinated by the plane. I invited them to take a look and spent the next 1/2 hour introducing Mike, little Mike, Nicholas and I forget the youngest one's name, to the world of experimental aviation. I got lots of intelligent questions, sat the kids in the plane and explained how it was built. Young Mike may change his life because of what he saw today. The look in his eyes spoke of dreams beginning to form.

With the cowl back on and the plane ready to fly, or at least taxi test, I checked the weather. 14kts crosswind on the only runway. Geesh. Maybe later this evening the winds will drop. They did. To 11 kts. Reluctantly I decided to wait for better conditions and went home to cut the lawn instead.

Another emotive issue rears its head

Someone on the COzy list started a discussion about full power run-ups. I have about 7 hours total on the engine, including 3 hours flying, but I've never done a full power runup. Why? Because I can't. The brakes won't hold the power at the static I CAN get, and I can't get full power because the prop has so much pitch. I could have got part way using a club with the engine on a fixed firewall, but then I'd have to move everything to the plane, and start again anyway. It was suggested that I tie the plane down. I won't try this for three reasons -

1. I don't feel comfortable trying to hold back that much power with a rope to a tree. As I said in one post, something's gotta give, and I don't want to beat Burt to the X prize.

2. The cooling won't handle a prolonged high power runup. Even with a leaf blower the upper cowl would overheat. OK, I could get two leaf blowers, but I really dont believe the exercise would be worthwhile or valuable because:

3. You can't duplicate much of what's going on in a 120MPH climb or a 200MPH cruise with the airplane standing still. All you'll prove is that everything is ok when it's not flying. Maybe I'd have discovered some of the issues that have caused precautionary landings. Maybe not. Fact is that I prefer to do my testing in high speed taxi tests and the runups I can get while standing on the brakes. That's my choice. One writer on the Cozy list commented that "anyone who doesn't do full power static runups is an idiot". I'd counter that with "anyone who catagorizes people who don't agree with them as idiots, places themselves firmly in that catagory."

Back in the saddle again

Monday 6/7 was a nice, relatively cool (82F) morning with a few fairly sizable cumulus hanging around just off shore. I wheeled the plane out at 7:45am and started her up. She started fine once I turned the mixture full rich for starting. (I'd been starting on a leaner setting before I cranked the range down). Full rich is what Tracy says I should be using. Once started the engine seemed smooth and the mixture reading was good with a center setting. I taxied out, did a runup then took the inactive runway for a fast taxi test. With all the discussion about full power runups I decided to try a new approach. I held the brakes, then increased power until the plane started to move. With a whole runway to go at, I let her move against the brakes and continued to increase power. I didn't get all the way to full power, but I got to about 4600 rpm before I was going too fast. Mixture looked good in the middle at all rpm settings - I could actually see it because a cloud was blocking the sun. I turned around and taxied back up the closed runway, and around the field to the active, 03. By the time I got to the active the temps were 190/180. Everything seemed fine with the preflight engine checks. The reaction of the engine to loosing the leading plugs seemed vary familiar as I tried the switches. I took the runway, back taxied as far as possible and off we went.

Boost was under better control this time. The wastegate was fully open for the entire flight and my intercooler bleed is also open. I'm beginning to agree that the wastegate isnt doing very much. What I missed on the pre take-off ckecks, despite it being on my written check list, was the cowl flap which was also fully open for the entire flight, so keep this in mind as you review the cooling figures.

On the take off roll boost went to 42 MAP and we were off the ground in about 1200 feet. Climb figures were MAP 38, temp 220/200, 700 fpm, egt 1400, rpm 3400, coolant press 7. From now on I'll give these readings in this order, and I made a form so I can scribble the data down easily during flights. Steve, and others, perhaps you'd like to review it and modify it.

Back to the flight. I climbed to 1000 over the "dead" side and let her cool down to 180/170. After a couple of circuits over the field I called approach for permission to climb. No problems were reported with the radio during the flight. Communication was quick and easy. Thanks, Kevin. (dancing banana)*. The transponder, however, is still dead. I explained that this was an "initial" flight of an experimental and that I'd like to climb over Lantana. The nice man in Approach, who was fairly busy, was very helpful and gave permission. He wanted height reports as I climbed and said he'd advise me of any IFR traffic in my area. I climbed fairly slowly at 3400 rpm on the tach (which is still hard to read, but is now consistant with it's readings) and about 90 kts and 700 fpm. Temps held at about 210/190 during the climb.

* You'll need to join the canard aviation forum to understand the dancing banana reference.

At 5000 feet I leveled off and proceeded to fly a square pattern with sides of about 5 miles always keeping within about 4 miles of the field. Cruise readings were MAP 30, Temps 180/170, EGT 1200, rpm 3500, coolant pressure "low". I've been getting some strange readings from the coolant pressure gauge. On this flight the readings got stranger. When I leveled out for cruise the reading went from 17 psi to "low" which means less than 5 psi. The coolant and oil temps remained stable so I'm really mistrusting the pressure gauge. Later in the flight, during the decent, the pressure reading was cycling between "low" and 80 PSI. It was calibrated with a high reading of 23, so anything above that should read "hi" and flash. It just rollled up the scale, then went to low, then rolled up the scale again. I kept a close eye on temperatures, as always, but otherwise ignored it.

After a half hour of poodling back and forth I decided the only thing wrong with the airplane this morning was my flying of it. My flying seemed incredibly sloppy this morning. I wasnt holding heights well and I was beginning to annoy myself. I buckled down, trimed the plane up properly and tried to concentrate on flying a bit more. After a few minutes of self dicipline I asked for, and got, clearance to 7000ft and climbed at MAP 35, temps 190/195 and 3700 rpm with an egt of 1300 and a climb rate of 500fpm.

Level at 7000 I did a bit of slower flight, down to about 65 kts with no bobbing, then though it was time to open the throttle a bit. 3500 rpm is fine, but I was only seeing maybe 130/140 kts. I opened the throttle gradually to 5400 rpm waiting for a splutter or cough. No splutter, the ZZZZ noise increased a little in pitch and we accelerated quickly. There were a few clouds around and it got a little bumpy as the speed increased to 170 on the ASI. I held back on full throttle and settled for 5400 as max for today, MAP was 42, temps were 190 / 190 and egt 1600. The engine, and the plane felt smooth despite a few minor bumps from the convection that was starting to pickup. That was fun. I looked down and saw I was almost over the Everglades about 12 miles west of the field. You cover ground quickly at 215 MPH! The GPS told me later that I'd hit 187.6 Kts.

I checked the fuel using the sight gauges. I dont trust my in panel gauges yet because the calibration isnt right by a long way. I've calibrated them a few times now, and they dont seem very consistant. I'd been running the left tank. I took off on both, then switched the right pump off at 1000 feet. My mind said "lets switch tanks", but my hand didnt quite get the order correctly. It switched off the left pump first. The engine faultered, at which point my hand woke up and hit the right pump switch quite quickly. The engine purred again. My left hand, which was more a lert today for some reason, smacked my right hand smartly, then we continued on as a team.

I spent a while at 7000ft dodging around the cumulus, and heading back toward the field, when I noticed a fairly dark one heading in toward Palm Beach. I asked Approach for permission to decend and headed on down. As I throttled back past 2500 rpm Char said quietly in my ear "John. Lower the gear". . Cool. This was the first time the voice system had spoken to me while airborne. Rather than hit the STFU button on the very first time and cause her to sulk, I increased power a little till she was happy. I arrived at 1200ft on a 45 for the downwind. The darker cloud I'd seen was now dark all the way to the ground. It was spewing a fairly heavy rainstorm about 3 miles north of the field. There was no-one in the pattern. Downwind GUMPS (Gas, undercarriage, Mixture, Flaps). Gear down. Flaps. Hmmm. Maybe I'll try the landing brake today.

At 600 ft turning final I was a little fast at about 95 kts, so I hit the landing brake switch. Perhaps I imagined it, but it seems that I needed a little more pressure on the stick to hold the turn, and I got a faint whiff of exhaust. Hmmm. Other than that, the landing brake seemed fine. It slowed me to 80 kts, but the handling was definately not quite as good as I sneaked in over the numbers at 10 feet. Touchdown was a litle less abrupt than previous ones, probably because I knew I was plenty slow and I still had a working engine if I needed it. Cool! I held the nose off a bit, then let her settle gently. Fairly firm braking got me down to 30kts or so quickly, then I let off the brakes and rolled to the turn off. Excellent. Another flight safely done, a few more bugs out of the way, and another 1.1 on the hobbs.

As I taxiied in. a few spots of rain landed on the canopy. I shut down and put her back in the hangar. As I pushed I noticed a small ding on each prop leading edge, parallel with the cowl flap air exit. I'm guessing a small stone from the runway construction had been kicked up by the nosewheel and flown through the plenum during taxi. Maybe I need a wire mesh net on the cowl exit. I'm not sure if I need to do anything with the dings. They're about 1/8 deep. Maybe I'll leave them for Clark to fix when I send the prop back for "adjustment". There was some black soot on the prop again. I'm wondering if I'm getting this at idle as I taxi back to the hangar. I've got the idle as low as I can (about 1400 rpm) to avoid too much thrust on landing and roll out. Now the overall mixture is fairly close I'll try leaning the idle a bit more with mode 1 on the EC2. Hurry up with that EM2, Tracy. I need it.

checking her out

Sunday 6/13, after a week out of town, I went down to the hangar, just to say hi to the airplane. I took off the cowl and checked around for any missing bolts or parts that might explain the prop ding. Nothing was missing, but I did find a small socket extension sitting in the bottom cowl, lined up and ready to make it's own ding. I have no idea how it got there. I've been very careful to retrieve anything I drop when working on the engine. I have a magnetic tool for finding things that are out of sight and I've checked everywhere with a flashlight. Perhaps some other small tool had hidden itself and bit me. I'd swear there were no loose parts or tools down there, but ..... Note to self: Always taxi with landing brake down.

Everything seemed fine under the cowl. The oil and water levels were unchanged and everything seemed secure. I'm still getting a bit of an oil leak between the engine and mount plate when the plane is parked nose down. I found a solution. I park it nose up. This is fine while I have the weights in the front for solo flying. At some point I'm going to have to take the engine off the plane to fix this. I checked the sump bolts and found that a few of them took a 1/4 turn. Hmmm. I'd really hate to have the sump fall off. The plugs were black, so I changed them. I put 10 gallons of fuel in the plane (with 10 oz of 2 -stroke oil), checked the wiring for the coolant pressure guage and recalibrated it. When I turn on the power the gauge occasionally goes into that cycling mode I noticed while flying, so I think the gauge is bust. I won't bother getting a replacement. I'll just wait for the EM2.

With everything checked, the refueling done, the cowl reinstalled I put a little wax polish on the wings and canard the plane was ready to fly. By this time it was 3pm, the temperature was 95F and my teeshirt was drenched. I checked the local ATIS. Wind 110/11. Runway 03 in use. Density altitude 1800ft. I think I'll skip for today. I'd like to get another 10 gallons in her before the next flight anyway. I'm trying to work my way up to full tanks, but every time I put gas in the engine keeps using it up. This morning I had a nice congratulations call from George Graham who has a 13B powered LongEz. George is famous for his second gear redrive idea. He modified a used stock transmission, took out all the gears except second and used that as his redrive. Total cost - around $300. Laugh all you want - George has done 80,000 miles in his plane over the past few years. He cruises at 160 Kts or so and have never had an in-flight failure. He did have a gearbox failure on the ground caused by vibrations and torque pulses from running on one rotor. Other than that his second gear idea has worked flawlessly. Note: While it seems to work fine for an NA engine I wouldnt think this idea would support a higher power engine such as a ported turbo. George paid me a visit about a year ago. I had a good look around his plane, and copied his cooling plenum / radiator mount idea. I promised to visit him in Sarasota once I get my 40 hours done - some time next year.....

Pattern Work

Tuesday morning 6/15 was hot and hazy, but the wind was only 6 kts at 80 degrees to the runway, so I decided to do some local flying. The engine was smooth and consistant except for at or near idle where it seemed just a little rough. I tried weakening the mixture at idle, but it still wasnt totally smooth. I taxied out to the active, the run-up was fine and, after waiting for a couple of Cessna's I took the active. Take-off was normal. Temps went from 190/160 to about 210/170 in the climb. I know it's better for cooling to climb at 110 - 120kts, but at this stage of the game I want best rate of climb, so I climbed at 80 - 85 kts. Visibility was about 5 miles in haze so I decided to stay in the pattern. I spent a happy 20 minutes doing tight patterns with a fairly fast 110kt approach and breaking off at 300 ft. This way I felt that I'd be able to handle any engine problem that came my way. None did. The engine behaved well for the entire flight. After about six or seven approaches I decided to land on the next one. At Char's prompting, I put the gear and the landing brake down on the downwind. The buffet from the brake is quite noticable, and the coolant temp climbed 20 degrees as soon as I put it down. I'd been seeing around 190/170 on the downwind. With the brake down it went straight to 210, and was 220 by the time I was on short final. The buffet from the gear is also quite noticable now I'm getting more used to the plane.

I misjudged the relative speed of a 172 ahead of me and he was nowhere close to clearing the runway by the time I needed to go around. I'd already brought the brake up in anticipation of this, and the go around was no problem. The guy in the Cessna might have had an interesting experience as I ZZZZZed over his head at 100 feet. On the next approach I held off the landing brake until short final. Speed was good at 75kts over the numbers and the touchdown was soft. I'm getting better at this. As soon as the mains touched the ground I heard a strange TACK, TACK, TACK noise and felt a slight vibration through the plane. At first I thought it was the engine but no, I needed a little throttle to get to the turn off (I MUST be getting better) and the engine responded nicely. As I taxied fairly slowly down the inactive the TACK, TACK, TACK noise suddenly stopped.

Hmmm. In the hangar I checked around the plane looking for the culprit. I found it when I got to the right main wheel. The aluminum duct taped fiberfrax was a bit loose, and the tape was touching the brake disk. I retaped it with some more aluminum but something about this picture seemed wrong. Finally it clicked - the fan shaped aluminum heat shield between the gear and the brake disk wasn't there any more. As I turned the wheel I noticed something else - the safety wire on all the bolts holding the disk to the wheel was gone. I turned some more and discovered that one of the bolts was missing. The other two were finger tight. I'd been fairly close to loosing that wheel. The left wheel (my side) was perfectly normal. The safety wire was in place, the bolts tight and heat shield undamaged.

Here's what I think happened....
Lowering the landing brake on the downwind changed the airflow around the wheels considerably. The aluminum heat shield flapped in the wind and bent so it was in the arc of the brake disk screws. On touch down the heat shield severed the safety wire on all three screws and impacted the screw heads in such a way as to loosen them. Eventually, as I taxied back, the heat shield broke off. The strut wasnt at all warm, so I'm wondering if I really need the heat shield with the Matco brakes. When the pants are on the radiation from the disk will be a bit more intense. Then, if the pants had been on the airflow wouldnt have bent the heat shield in the first place. So. I need to get a new screw from JD and I need to make a new heatshield. This time I'll make the shield a little more square and less fan shaped, and I'll hold off on the landing brake til the speed is lower. Once I've flown the new right wheel setup I think its time to put my pants on, so to speak. Another 0.5 on the hobbs, and another bug found. If debugging software was like this there's be a lot less software bugs.

I took a picture of the exhaust outlet in the upper cowl. I need to install a longer piece of stainless here because the heat and soot are discoloring the paint at the back of the cowl. There's no damage to the fiberglass, but the discoloration is annoying. The amount of soot out the back is still too much. I think this is happening at idle. Perhaps there's a set of the smaller 460cc injectors in my future.

A wonderful weekend

June 19th I had the privilege of walking my daughter, Julia, down the isle at her wedding near Albany, NY. I'd originally planned to fly the Cozy up there, but the plane wasn't ready, and I wasnt prepared to get stuck because of weather problems and risk missing the event. Southwest Airlines stepped in and got Char & I there with minimum hassle. Have you ever noticed that when you decide not to fly yourself, and drive or fly commercial instead, the weather is always PERFECT for flying? The weather was perfect for the wedding. I met a lot of old and new friends, had some very proud moments, took my last opportunity to give Julia some advice, and enjoyed the whole weekend immensely. Every Dad thinks they're daughters are beautiful and smart. Mine really is. She'll graduate Medical School in a couple of years to prove the latter. I swear the Southwest pilot got lost on the way back. We departed Islip Eastbound, flew East along the South fork of LI, did a 180, flew past NY City all the way to Harrisburg, PA, then finally turned south. Unfortunately I came back with a nasty cold, probably from the airplane air conditioning. It's going to be sooooo nice not to have to rely on commercial flights. I measured the distance between the armrests in coach - It's much less than my Cozy pilot seat.

Bleedin Brakes!

Despite feeling like I'd been run over by a truck I decided to head down to the hangar on Monday evening. Char asked if I was planning to fly. I had a feeling she was about to hide my keys. I answered "No f^&%%%* chance" so she let me go. Would you believe it - perfect flying weather. I removed the right wheel and caliper. As I laid the caliper gently aside with the brake pipe still connected the pipe bent just a little at the connector. It fractured immediately - way too easily for my liking. To cut a long story short it turns out that the Nylaflow recommended in the plans comes with small brass inserts. On recommendations from lots of people, including JD, I switched to nylaseal which is a thicker tube. Wicks still send the brass inserts in my chapter 8 kit so I thought I had to use them. I had a helluva job getting them in the thicker pipe, but I managed it. As a result the pipe was crimped between the brass insert and the fitting when I tightened the nut, and the remaining bit of pipe was VERY thin. So... if you're using the thicker pipe, use the fittings made for it, and don't use the brass inserts. I checked the other side. It seems nice and firm, but I'll replace the heat shield and brake pipe fitting on that side too as soon as I get a round toit.

Removing the axle wasn't easy and I wasnt happy with the condition of the bolts once I got them off, so I replaced them. I made a new heat shield, but this time I fitted it between the axle and the strut rather than over the axle as I'd done it the first time. This way there's more meat left around the bolts and less chance that it'll fracture above the top bolts as the old one did.

Bleeding the brakes was actually very EZ, even without a helper. I used a small hand oil pump to pump new fluid up from the caliper. The reservoir filled up and there were no signs of air bubbles in the pipes. I held the brake with my hand and pushed the plane. The brake seems to be working fine, but I'll obviously give it a good test on the taxiway before flying.

Pumping Gas

I keep using up the gas in the plane, and I havent done anything about pumping gas from the car tank yet, so I bought a couple more 5 gal containers. Now I can get 20 gallons ($45) of gas in the truck of the car. I've worked out a fairly quick and easy way to transfer the fuel. I take the tops off while the containers are still in the truck, and add 5 oz of 2 stroke oil to each from a funnel. Next put the tops back on and carry the containers to the front of the wings, shaking them a bit to mix the oil as I go. I lay an old (damp) teeshirt on the strake, install the nozzel in the container and position it on the teeshirt so that the nozzel will go into the fuel inlet when I lean the can. OK. Put a thumb over the end of the nozzel, lean the can till the nozzel is in the hole, the remove thumb and lay the can down on the teeshirt. While I'm doing the same on the other side the fuel gurgles its way into the tank with no spills or mess. Using this method I can put 20 gallons in the plane in about 10 minutes.

I removed the transponder from its tray to check the antenna connection. I think the tray is set too far back and I may not be getting a good connection at the rear. I'll try to adjust the tray position tomorrow. Other than the transponder the plane is all buttoned up and ready to fly. This time I didnt change the plugs. The oil and water levels are unchanged. I pumped up the main tire a little and checked everything over, then polished the front and came home for some Theraflue.


6/26. Still full of a cold I headed down to the hangar for Saturday inspection planning to take another stab at the transponder. Last week I removed the connector from the main bus and put the multimeter in series with the feed. There was no amperage flow when I turned the transponder on. I removed the transponder and reached into the back of the tray to test that there was power on pin 16 and ground on pin 2. There was. OK, so either the transponder is dead or the edge connector isnt engaging. Working upside down under the panel I disassembled the connector and antenna from the tray and connected them to the transponder directly. This way I could be certain the connector was fully engaged. Still no power draw. I called Narco and just happened to get the guy who's name was on the yellow repair tag. Politely I asked him if it was possible that the transponder he fixed and upgraded could be DOA. Not a chance, he said, but he did offer to check it out for me again if I'd like to send it in. He confirmed that the ident light should glow for 20 seconds when the transponder is powered on, and when the test mode is selected. I'd never seen the green light at all.

I'd already inspected the pins on the connector, but today I looked closer. The connector has an internal plastic detent that the pins sit in. The pins have a 45 degree spring side that engages the edge connector on the transponder. I wonder - is the spring part bent flat so that it's sitting below the detent and never engages the edge? I pushed the power wire through the connector, bent the spring open a little and pulled it back into the connector. I plugged the transponder in, turned it on and the green ident light lit up for the first time. Phew. Success. It was 94 in the hangar and the cold meds were making me a bit whoosy. I'd had enough. I'll check the other pins and reassemble the tray another day. Thinking about it, the transponder would probably have worked without the Narco upgrade if I'd actually gotten power to it in the first place. Ah well. One step at a time. Next I have to find out if ATC can see it, then we'll see if the encoder works.....

An Excellent Cozy Visit

Cozy visits used to involve admiring the other guy's project. They get better as you move from project to airplane. Dan Cruger's wife, Lori was scheduled for an interview in Ft Lauderdale, so they flew into Lantana and Paul gratiously allowed them to park their Cozy as guests of the EZ hangar. 4hrs from Mobile, AL to West Palm. Beats driving. Waiting for them to arrive I walked out to the main runway to see what progress had been made on the resurfacing. I was just walking back when the distinctive pusher sound made me look up. There was Dans Cozy directly overhead, decending into the pattern. What a beautiful sight to see the Cozy profile outlined against the blue sky. I should have brought my camera. I watched as Dan came around the pattern, did a long low approach, disappeared below the tree line on final, then reappeared on the runway. 9kts of crosswind and he said he hardly noticed it. We parked the plane and headed quickly for the cool air of our home. They arrived at about 12:30 in the afternoon. Twelve hours and four steaks later the four of us were still sitting around the kitchen table with no break in the conversation. Nothing quite compares to the shared experience of having built and flown your own plane - except perhaps having lived through, and shared the experience as a supportive spouse. Lori and Char were as deeply involved in our conversation and in exchanging their own feelings and highlights as were Dan and I. Lori described the beauty of seeing a perfect circular rainbow from above, and watching you're own Cozy shaped shadow as it flits along the top of the clouds. Char talked about the pleasure of seeing the sheer joy in my face as the project became an airplane. The girls shared their enjoyment of watching their husbands' pride and sense of achievement grow with the project in between all the hard work, learning and frustration. Prospective builders often have a problem communicating the benefits of airplane building to their better halves, so I asked Lori & Char to post their thoughts on the subject to the Canard Forum in a "the spouse's perspective" thread. I hope they get around to it.

Next day Dan & I headed to the hangar. Dan fixed a loose strip of glass on one of his wheel pants while I got my transponder tray reassembled and installed. After an hour we were hot, but the jobs were done. Dan wanted to see what a rotary Cozy felt like, so we took my plane up and down the inactive runway a couple of times. It would have been nice to take him for a ride, but neither I nor the plane are ready for showing off yet, and I wasnt fit to fly with cold meds in me anyway. We got up to about 50kts. The lack of vibration seemed to firm up Dan's thoughts about replacing his IO360 with a rotary. He was expecting a bit more kick in the accelleration department. I had full tanks, 70lbs of ballast and 2 passengers, and I didn't use any boost. There's a lot more in the engine than I was able (or ready) to demonstrate in a quick blast up the runway. I promised to fly over to Mobile and give him a ride once the 40 hours is done. Anyone who'd like to put their name on a complete IO360 firewall backwards package for their project - contact Dan.

My replacement brake fittings came in today. I'm a couple of hours work away from the next flight. There's no rush, but then again - Rough River's coming up in October and I'm determined to be ready for that.

Back from the cold

Dan and Lori getting ready to leave. Wednesday 6/30 was hot (duh!) and a little breezy. My cold was gone so I headed down to the field to finish off a few jobs and see how it looked for a flight. I think watching Dan's Cozy disappear into haze had inspired me. I replaced the brake pipe unions in the gear well. Lots of fun - brake fluid running down my arms as I lay under the plane connecting the replacement fittings. Next came the trasponder antenna. It's fairly obvious I'm not going to get a signal out through 70# of lead in the nose, so I decided to mimick Dan's installation and put the antenna through the floor on the passenger side forward of the pedals. A quick burst with a 1/4 drill did the trick. I RTV'd the ground plane to the floor with the stub antenna sticking out under the fuselage about 1/2 inch. Next I removed the cowl, replumbed the intake air to the plenum, changed the plugs and checked everything under the cowl.

By 11am I was overheated and drenched with sweat, but the airplane was ready to go. The wind was 9kts at 80 degrees to the runway. Seeing how easily Dan had handled a similar crosswind I decided it was time I expanded my horizons a bit more. I went over to the FBO to get a cold drink and cool off in the AC for a while. My teeshirt was soaked with sweat so I bought a replacement at the FBO. Mile High Club - Instructor.

Feeling much more comfortable I went back to the hangar and pushed the plane out. Wind was now 10 kts and temp was 92. The brakes were fine - perhaps a little better without the brass inserts restricting the flow. Runup went well and I launched off runway 03 with lots of room to spare. Circling the field at 1000 feet I contacted Palm Beach Approach and asked for clearance to climb through the class C. The controller gave me a squark, then came back with the magic words "Radar contact" like it was no big deal. All right! Now I have communcation AND a transponder. Later in the flight I heard the controller giving advisories to another plane. The target was obviously me, and the height was 400 ft out. As soon as I'm comfortable flying into a field where there's an avionics shop, I'll get a pitot/static/transponder check.

There's not much to say about the flight. I did some airwork at 5000ft, then climbed to 10,000 and drove up and down the beach for 20 miles or so in each direction. I'd been cruising around at about 5100 rpm and 40 MAP. At this point I gradually pushed the throttle all the way forward and got to about 44MAP. Closing the wastegate didn't make all that much difference. I ended up at 46MAP and 5420 RPM at about 185Kts. That's all she wrote. This equates to 2500rpm on the prop, so unless a bit of tuning will perk her up a bit, I need to have the prop cut back so I can get a little higher up the rpm band. Engine temps were fine for the entire flight. I might have hit 210 in the climb at one point, but she quickly settled back to 190 or so, even at full power. I guess the next trick is to try full power at ground level.

I ended up at 12,000 ft, cruised around for a while, then headed back down. Approach was too busy so I had to fly south to get around the class C and drive back in at 1000 feet. As I decended the heat came back with a vengence and I began to wish the AC was operational. The wind had picked up to about 12 kts crosswind, but the approach and landing were no problem at all. I hardly needed any brakes to turn off at the inactive. With practice I think I could get this baby down on a 2000 ft runway, even on a hot day.

The flight was 1.5 hrs and there were no squarks, unless you count the transponder which squarked for the very first time. Temps were good and nothing came loose. The airplane flew perfectly as always, and I'm getting a little better at holding heights and headings. As usual, there was soot on the prop. I went home to cool off hoping that most of the bugs are now delt with and I'll be able to pile the hours on fairly quickly from now on. I may even head down there this evening and fly some more. This was my tenth flight and took me over 6 hrs total time. I had the impression that the plane would have just carried on ZZZZZing along until it ran out of fuel. It's beginning to feel like I can actually use this airplane to GO somewhere. If only I could figure out why I have so much soot. I'm hoping the EM2 will give me a better idea what's going on here. Come on Tracy - give me Bulent's. He doesnt need it for months yet.

I'll install the wheel pants soon and see what difference they make.

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