Chapter 29 - Flight Testing - Part 2

Why are you adding 2-stroke oil to the gas?

I've been getting quite a few personal emails asking this question, so here's the answer.

The stock rotary has an injection system which squirts sump oil on the apex seals for lubrication. Given the heat in this area the oil is burned which creates a coking problem in rotaries which have 60k+ miles. All the race guys and all the flyers I know dispense with the stock injection pump and use a 100:1 ratio (1 oz/ gallon) of 2 stroke oil in the fuel to provide the seal lubrication. Mazda presumably avoided mixing 2 stroke because no one would buy a "2 stroke" sports car. Adding 2-stroke works well, keeps to the KISS principle and avoids the coking. No one else using added 2-stroke has the soot problem I have and, yes, I've checked that I have the right stuff. One alternative is an aftermarket injection pump from Richard Sohn which gets 2 stroke oil from a separate reservoir.

Another warning about Epoxy allergic reaction

While working to prep for the last flight I got very hot and sweaty. So much so that the sweat was stinging my eyes and I found myself rubbing them. After the flight the car was about 140F and I had the same problem while driving home. Next day my eyelids were swollen and uncomfortable enough that I didnt want to fly.

Then it occurred to me. I've had this swollen eyelids symptom quite a few times before. Epoxy. Two days ago I needed a little flox to fill some minor dings in the prop. The hardener reservoir was almost empty and I used a syringe to extract few cc of hardener and then mixed by volume. I had to lean over the open reservoir. I'm certain that the epoxy never touched my skin. I think breathing the fumes from the open resorvoir is what did it. This is the first time I've used epoxy for weeks, if not months, and it's the first time I've had the swollen eyelids problem for a similar time period. Why the eyelids? While building in the Florida heat there were MANY occasions where the sweat got in my eyes. I developed a bad habit of rubbing my eyes. Occasionally I probably got epoxy on my eyelids, and I'm sure they're a very sensitive part of the body. It's not a good idea to get epoxy on the body at all, but the senestive areas are the worst. Keep that in mind next time you have to take a pee break during a layup. :)

As many have said before - wear nitrile gloves and take care not to get epoxy on the skin. I was lazy during the early part of the build and I'm paying for it. No. It didn't kill me, and the swollen eyelids are a minor 2 day inconvienience, but I rather I didn't have this problem and I wish I'd taken heed of the warnings and wore gloves for every layup. Ah well. They do say it's a learning experience.

Programming the EC2

One of the reasons I've had trouble programming the EC2 is that the air fuel gauge is unreadable in daylight. So... I went down to the hangar at night. I used the procedure I learned from Mike LaFleur to check the EGO sensor. It's simple really - you connect the + lead of the multimeter to the lead from the sensor, connect the - lead to the sensor case, then heat the sucker with a blow torch. If it's good you'll get a reading of 0.9 v or better. When you remove the flame the reading goes down immediately to 0.1 or less. By shoving the blow torch up the exhaust pipe I was able to do the test without removing the sensor. It passed with flying colors (red).

I pushed the plane out onto the dark ramp and climbed in. Once I got the big red LED panel lights positioned properly I started the engine and taxied out onto the ramp. It was nice taxiing with the taxi light, nav lights and strobes on for the first time. Such a nice evening too. I was tempted to take off - but my flight restrictions say day VFR only till the 40 hours is done. Ah well. I'll be good. Just this once.

I messed with mode 3 and mode 1 programming for a while trying to lower the mixture setting with no visible results. The air fuel reading didn't change and the engine didnt run any different no matter how many times I pressed the program button. I gave up, put it back in the hangar and asked others on the fly rotary list what impact a program change made on their planes. The answers varied.

Next day I planned an early morning flight. She wouldnt start. After cranking for a few minutes with no attempt to start I switched to computer B and she started right up. Weird. Its as though my programming changes took hold overnight, and now computer A was way too lean. I taxied around on B for a while and even considered flying, but decided something isnt right here and I'd better ground the airplane till I know what's going on. Any attempt to switch back to A killed the engine immediately. I dont want to fly with no backup computer. Back in the hangar I used the reset option to set mode 3 (overall injector flow) back to the defaults, then tried a start on A. It started. I called Tracy. He was out.

Putting my Pants on

Frustrated with the computer I decided it was time to fit the wheel pants. This took me most of the morning, and yes - I did put them on one leg at a time. They had been a perfect fit, but it took quite a bit of persuasion to get them on. The molds I used were for a LongEZ and they were a VERY tight fit. When I originally made them I had to modify them quite a lot to get them on and still there wasn't much clearance around the tires. Now I had to cut away a bit of the opening on one side to get any clearance at all. One thing I've noticed, that may be causing part of the problem is that the main wheels are now angled such that the bottom is a little further outboard than the top. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? I think what happened here is that I fitted the axles in chapter 8, and the wheel pants somewhat later, then the gear spread a little when I added the weight of the engine. It seems to handle fine on the ground, so I'll leave it alone - at least for now. Maybe I should add shims to change the angle of the axles. I wonder - how do you know how much clearance you need to handle any flattening of the tire on touchdown? Hmmm. See if you still have wheel pants afterwards?

Are We There Yet?

Y'know when you're building you're always saying "When the plane's finished I'll......". Guess what. If my experience is anything to go by it isnt finished for a long time after the first flight. I've heard others say it took them 6 months to fly off the 40 hours. One guy took a year. On the other hand, I know someone who flew off his hours on his Long in 10 days. I've been at it almost 3 months now, and I'm getting closer, but its not "finished" yet.

Yet another "Ureka"

I finally got hold of Tracy late in the morning. He'd taken the morning off for a fun flight to the Bahamas and back. Must have gone right over my field. I described my symptoms and all of a sudden it clicked - "What type of injectors do you have?", he asked. Tracy explained that Peak & Hold injectors, installed without the required 5 ohm, 25 watt resitors would give very much the symptoms I describe. Without the resitors they get too many amps and dont open and close properly, so the mixture wouldnt react to programming changes. Bingo! I got two injectors from Bruce T. years ago and tested the resistance to see what type they were. They were the saturation type which don't need resistors. I fitted these in the primaries. When I needed two more for the secondary rail I got them from the local Mazda shop. They were the same color so I assumed they were the same as the ones I already had. I didnt do the resistance check. (approx 2 ohms for peak & hold and 14 ohms for saturation). After speaking with Tracy I headed down to the hangar to check. I was so confidant that he'd figured out the problem that I stopped at Radio Shack and bought resistors on the way. They didn't have 5 ohm, 25 watt but they did have 10 ohm, 10 watt. Two of these in parallel would get me 5 ohms, 20 watt, so I bought 4, then confirmed with Tracy that this would do the job pending getting the recommended ones from him.

Sure enough the secondary injectors tested at 2 ohms resistance so I interupped the 12v power to the secondaries just before it went through the firewall, installed two sets of parallel resistors and fed an individual 18 g wire to each secondary injector. Once this was all done and the wires spiral teflon wrapped I reinstalled the cowl and went home to cool off.

That evening I pushed the plane out and started her up. It was immediately obvious that the engine was happier. It felt "tighter" and more responsive. I wanted to try and shake the wheel pants loose at speed, so I took her up and down the runway about 5 times up to about 50kts with hard braking at each end. Power was definately up. I'd guess at a 30% improvement. The engine was still a bit rich, but programming changes now had an impact on the engine and the air fuel ratio. I got the ratio a little higher than center and tried a couple of full power static tests. Static is italic because the brakes wont hold her. I ended up doing about 30 mph down the inactive runway after about 10 seconds of full power with all my weight on the brakes. You might think these tests are well outside of "normal usage". Yes they are. I'm deliberately punishing the systems every way I can during this phase of testing. I want to know the limits, and if anything's going to break I want it to happen while I'm at (or above) my home field. Unfortunately I'm finding the limits. Perhaps I'm overdoing it.

By the time I was done testing the brakes were fading and the coolant was up at 220, so I parked the plane and called it a night. The brakes were hot and the wheel pants were also hot. No. I don't have cooling vents in the pants.

Not a good day for flying

Next morning July 4th (get rid of the colonies day) I left Char sleeping and got to the hangar at 7am. The weather wasn't looking too hot with a thunderstorm hanging just off the beach, but that didnt matter. I wasnt going anywhere. There was a pool of red brake fluid under the plane. It has obviously come from the right main, so I pulled the wheel pant and investigated. The heat had conducted through the fitting and softened the nylaseal brake line enough that it was now loose in the fitting where it connected to the caliper. I replaced the fitting and bled the brakes. By 8:30 the brakes were fixed, but I'm thinking about replacing the nylaseal with metal pipes to stop this happening again. Of course, I could also avoid it by not punishing the brakes as hard.

For a while now I've been concerned about how much force I have to put on the brakes to get the plane to stop. And why can't I hold the plane on the brakes during a runup. Is the engine too powerful, or are the brakes too weak. I think I've found the problem. Chatting with JD and Matco about these issues via email and voice I took a picture of the pedals to show that the master cylinders were installed correctly. Looking at my own picture I'm beginning to wonder. Matco say you have a 2.5:1 ratio on the cylinder. Looking at my install I probably have more like 1:1. If the master cylinders were mounted on the steel tab near the bottom of the (Dennis Oelsen) rudder pedals I'd have much more leverage from the pedal to the brakes. And yes - I know I need to move that antenna cable out of the way. I should add here that 5 years after the sale, JD's support has been ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT. We've been chatting a lot lately. He sent me the replacement disk screws no charge, then called to check that I got them. He's been bouncing back and forth with Matco (who have also been very helpful) about my braking questions. At first he thought that the brass inserts might be causing a restriction, but the problem remained when I took them out. Then we considered that the parking brake might be faulty, so he arranged for unions to be sent so I could eliminate it. Now we're looking into the ratio on the pedals.

An important footnote on the brakes.

It's now clear that the drawing in Cozy newsletter 64 shows a far from ideal way to fit laydown master cylinders. Infortunately, Marc Z, Myself, Jerry Schnieder and others followed those drawings, and put pictures in our web sites. Now people are following us. The resultant ratio advantage is about 1.5:1 on the lower hole of the upper tab. Using that hole I now have "tolerable" stopping power. That is - I can slow the plane down quite well, so everything is fine under "normal usage". I cannot lock the wheels at any speed, so in an emergency braking situation I would not be getting all the stopping power the brakes have to offer. The solution is to install a small steel bracket between the tabs with a mounting hole at 2.8 inches above the pivot. This will give a 2.5:1 ratio and allow the brakes to work at full torque. It'll also save your leg muscles. I plan to do this modification shortly. Of course, another issue here is that with the reduced ratio the 1000# limit of the plans nylaflow brake line is not easily exceeded. Change the ratio to what it should be, and you'd better change your brake lines to Nylaflow or aluminum because while 667# (1000 * 1.5) is hard to do, its fairly easy to put 401# of pressure on the pedal.

Another issue I've been a bit bothered about is the camber on the wheels. Working close up to it I decided that it needs attention. The camber is out instead of in. i.e. the bottom or the tires are further outboard than the top. I measured the angle at 7 degrees. The axles were fitted in chapter 9, before the engine. I think the weight of the engine splayed the gear (not that its heavier than a Lycoming). Either that or the [featherlite] gear has spread with time. I think I need to remove and reinstall the axles with a negative camber. I checked the plans and couldn't find any indication of what the angle should be so I sent the picture to Nat. He says that there should be some negative camber when the weight is off the gear so that the outside of the tire touches down first, but that my camber might not be a problem and I wont see it anyway when I install the wheel pants. Hmmm.

After a protracted discussion on the Cozy list I lifted the wings one by one and the camber didnt change. Next I jacked both wheels off the ground at the same time, and the gear hung nicely at 2 degrees negative camber. This ties in with the fact that I have a little wear on the outside of the tires. When I lowered the plane the camber remained at -2. The next experiment is to check the toe-in and move the plane backward and forward to see what this does to the camber.

A couple of hours on top of the world

Tuesday 7/6 was a nice puffy cumulus kind of day and still below 90 degrees when I wheeled the plane out at 8:30 am. Amazing. Wind was 50 degrees to the [short but open] runway at 10 kts. The engine started and ran well even though I hadn't changed the plugs since the last run. That was a first. As I taxied out I could tell it was running much better with the secondary injectors now properly wired with resistors.

The runup was good, except there was a bit of a splutter at the injector staging point. I've got a matt black hood over the air fuel gauge now, so I can see whats going on. I richened it up to one bar over the middle and tried the runup again. This time it screamed to be let go, so I let it go. She leaped off the runway like a banchee and I was climbing at almost 2000 fpm and 130 kts on 3/4 throttle and 46 MAP. That's MUCH better. At pattern altitude I circled over the field, got climb clearance from approach and climbed up to 5000. Steady climb numbers were 42 MAP, 205/200 temps, 1400 EGT, 4700 rpm and 100 kts at 1000 FPM. After 15 minutes at 5000 I was released from radar, so I decided it was time to do some travelling. I climbed up to 12,000 and headed North West. During the next two hours I did two large triangles from Lantana to North County, across to the lake, over Pahokee and back to Palm Beach. I noticed that the fuel level wasnt going down anywhere near as fast as it did before. I don't think I used more than 15 gallons on the entire flight. I was planning to put some hours on and stay up until the fuel was low. It looked like I was going to be up there about 4 hours. Cruise numbers at 11,500 feet were MAP 38, temps 185/190 EGT 1300, rpm 5150, TAS 178 kts, IAS 155 Kts. I took a few pictures, then sat back and smoked a cigarette as we ZZZZzzzzzed smoothly over Lake Okeechobee.

Did I say two triangles - scratch that - I mean one and a half. There I was, truely enjoying the ride and thinking the plane was fit for travel when the sound changed suddenly and the rpm dropped to 2500. Uh oh! Now what? I checked around the gauges. Coolant temp was low, but everything else seemed fine. Fuel pressure was good, but I turned the backup fuel pump on anyway. The engine was running rough at 2000 - 2500 rpm. I tweaked the mixture 1/4 turn richer and she picked up to 3500 rpm. Maintaining height at 11,000 I circled Pahokee field for a few minutes to see if the engine was consistent. It was. I REALLY didnt want to land at Pahokee where there are no rental cars (or even people, I think), then try to fix the plane on the ramp, or worse, disassemble it and truck it back. The GPS said I was 38 miles from LNA. I decided that if I could stay above 10,000 ft I could easily glide to either field from the halfway point, so I set off for home at a slow plod (130Kts).

Temps were 150/140 with EGT at 1000, MAP at 27 and the speed held at 130 KtS. The engine purred quietly but weakly as I plodded back. At the halfway point I started a gradual decent and arrived over LNA at 6000 ft. I called approach, ready for some "straight talkin" if he wouldn't clear me through the class C, but he didn't give me a problem and I decended over the field for another high and fast precautionary landing. My "masking tape under the ASI" sign reminded me to put the gear down. A few quick blips of throttle told me there was still some power if I needed it. Once assured of the field I tried killing alternate sets of coils - both gave a decrease in rpm - and alternate sets of injectors - both killed the engine, (or reduced rpm enough that I didn't want to know). Apparently I was trailing a vortex of black smoke as I descended into the pattern. This probably helped keep the spam cans and whirly birds at bay while I took the active.

My "final" started at 1500 feet and 160Kts, but I was able dump speed and height and get her over the numbers at 80Kts and 15 ft. The crosswind and short runway weren't a problem and I cleared the active with room to spare, even without the landing brake which I didn't use. The engine wasn't running at all well as I taxied back to the hangar.

Back in the hangar I was getting ready to check the voltage on the secondary coils when I spotted oil on the exhaust and prop. I looked up the exhaust. Just like the last time I blew the turbo, the turbine wheel was sitting at an odd angle blocking the exhaust outlet. The first failure was caused by a crimped oil feed line. The second might be a bad turbo, but I think the stock turbo just can't handle the punishment of continual boost. (just like Ed said it wouldn't :)

I checked the oil. The level was JUST showing on the dipstick. I'd had good oil pressure all the way to touchdown, but there wasn't much left. I checked the compression. Both rotors showed over 100PSi - just a bit higher than last time, probably because the engine's bedded in. The coolant level was unchanged.

Now where's the phone number of that Ozzie guy that rebuilds turbos????

Char called at lunch time to see how the flight went. I told her about the turbo. She said "Then we'll have to get a better one. How much is the one you need? About $900?". I said no, it could be a lot more than that. The reply was typical. OK.

A few days later, I got an email from my brother in Cyprus. He used to do a lot of automobile racing so he knows engines. Here are his questions and my answers:

Why do you think the turbo is failing?
Basically I'm revving it's balls off.

The stock turbo is designed for normal car usage - lots of quick boost for acceleration. Short bursts of usage and no continuous high boost situations. By contrast, at 11500 ft and 180Kts I'm drawing continuous power and running continuous boost. The turbo is overworked and never gets a chance to cool off.

The wastegate is too small, so I can't limit the amount of exhaust gas going into the turbo compressor. I have a 1/2 inch air bleed and an 8PSI blow off valve, but I still get 8 - 10 PSI of boost at the intake. The turbo is probably producing 16PSI of boost, much of which is being thrown away in the blow off valve and the the pressure bleed. The extra pressure is also heating the intake charge which doesn't help with power or detonation. The air is thinner at height, so the turbo is working even harder to keep the pressure up. This means it spins faster. If only my GPS could tell me where I am on the compressor map!

Is it a lubrication problem?
I blew the first turbo because the oil feed line was crimped, so yes, this was a simple lubrication problem, probably exacerbated by the above. The second one might have had weak bearings which would have probably survived under normal auto usage. It was getting plenty of oil volume and pressure (as evidenced by the fact that I dumped about 4 qt of oil through the collapsed bearings on the way home). It's been pointed out that this isnt much oil to loose, so I need to check the oil flow through the turbo. I'm confident it's fine, but I'll check. [Later note: I did, and oil flow is fine]

What can you do to prevent it?
I need to have the turbo modified to give less boost pressure and increased air volume movement. This can be done by changing the aspect ratio of the compressor. They machine out the inside of the housing and change the compressor wheel to improve the flow and reduce the compression. Next they widen the wastegate to allow more exhaust gas to escape the system and give better control of the boost. When I open the wider wastegate the turbo will slow down and do less work.

Turbo Max

A few months ago Ed Anderson on the rotary list pointed me to a turbo shop in Melborne, AU where they modify stock turbos to permit more airflow with less pressure and heat, and expand the wastegate for better boost control. This evening I called the owner, Max, in Melborne. Its a 14 hour difference, so I actually got hold of him tomorrow. Max will do all the modifications at a very reasonable price in Aussie dollars, which turns out to be something of a steal in US$. For a little more he'll find a core locally to save time and shipping costs. We discussed what I need done to allow the turbo to run continuously at medium boost. Basically all the changes detailed on his web site are aimed at what I need. I told Max to go ahead and build me a turbo. He says I should have it in 2 - 3 weeks. I wonder - if he ships it overnight - will it get here the day before he ships it?

I asked Max if the new turbo would handle continuous boost. He said "No worries", but that's the same as saying "Have a nice day" in New York. I hope he meant it, and does he mean "no worries" for him, or "No worries" for me?

Torn between two...options

OK. I have to wait for the new turbo. I could reassemble my old one with all the guts removed, and fly normally aspirated....provided that the engine has enough guts to turn the big prop and get me off the ground. Alternatively, I could remove the engine and fix the oil leak between the engine / oil pan and mount plate by adding the gaskets I should have put there in the first place. I also need to replace the last 6 inches of nylaseal brake pipe with braided steel and install the brakets to get a full; 2.5:1 ratio. After this I could fit the wheel pants (again) and do some color sanding on the paintwork where it's been patched. Hmmm. Tough choice.

Maintenance Time

I made the tough choice and settled for fixing a few things while the plane was down waiting for the new turbo. Here's a list of jobs I'd like to get done before the turbo arrives:
1. Install gaskets above and below engine mount plate to stop pesky oil leak
2. Do layup on gear strut inside the gear well to correct camber problem.
3. Install stainless braided brake lines at the calipers
4. Install brackets on rudder pedals to get full braking (see brakes.jpg)
5. Install EM2 engine monitor from Tracy
6. Overall clean-up

Those are the main jobs. Since I had to drain the fluids I'll be changing the oil (Castrol GTX Synthetic this time), oil filter and the coolant. While I'm stripping the engine down and reassembling I'll be checking for loose items, checking the engine mount, retorquing the prop and generally cleaning up inside the cowl.

I started the work over the weekend. I removed all the oil and coolant connections and removed the lower cowling. Man that thing is heavy! Next I supported the engine with a come-along tied to the hangar rafters and removed the mount plate and sump bolts. I had trouble ordering the gaskets. I asked the parts guy for a "sump gasket" and he didnt know what I meant. Eventually I realized that "sump" is a British term and it's called an oil "pan" over here. Even after 20+ years I still come across terminology problems.

Everything went well with the disassembly except that I'd used (non removable) red thread locker and one of the bolts holding the oil pickup broke when I tried to remove it. I stopped at Pepboys to pick up a bolt extractor. I'm considering removing the Spal fan from under the radiator. I rarely use it, and its probably restricting airflow. While I have the "pan" off I'll add a 1/4 inch extension to the oil pickup so that it gets the oil from the right level. I'll also expand the hole in the mount plate for the dipstick, cut 1/4 inch off the dipstick support tube and check where the level should be compared with stock. One thing I noticed when I removed the oil pan was lots of cured strips and chuncks of RTV. I'd used way too much and it had squished out inside the oil pan. One of these chunks of RTV might have caused me a problem at some point. I wonder - there couldn't be piece of RTV blocking in the turbo oil feed could there? Hmmm. What about the redrive? I'd better check all this stuff. Actually no - thinking about it, the oil pickup has a screen on it, and it was clear. I think I'll check around anyway.

I got the bolt extractor tool, drilled a hole in the bolt and inserted the tool. It broke off in the hole. Wonderful. Now I have to try and drill around and through the broken extractor. This didnt work, so I went out and bought a tungsten carbide dremel bit and ground the center of the bolt out slowly and painfully. The entire process took most of a day, and I was left with somewhat damaged threads in the bolt hole. If I get a leak in this join and the oil pump will suck air instead of oil. I found some permatex thread repair compound at NAPA and followed the procedure on the box. While the thread repair stuff was curing I made the 1/4 aluminum spacer and a couple of gaskets from gasket paper. The sump (sorry - pan) and engine mount plate are cleaned up and ready to go back together, so I should be able to get the engine back in place and move onto the other jobs soon.


The thread repair stuff didn't work. In the end I cleaned out the hole, went one step up from the red thread locker and filled it with JB weld. I hope I don't need to remove the oil pickup again. The trouble with RTV is that it cures Very FAST in a 100 degree hangar. I smeared the bottom of the engine with grey RTV and installed the gasket, then did the same with the sump pan. By the time I had the mount plate in place the RTV was dry. I hope it retains some degree of elasticity as it continues to cure. I bolted everything back together, this time with blue thread locker on the pan and engine mount bolts. The engine mount bolts also have a safety wire. With the engine back in place I released the winch and pushed the plane back to it's usual spot. In between working on the plane I've been cleaning the pool, mowing the lawn and replacing the AC ductwork on the roof of the house - in July. You know - the fun stuff.

Gear Spread

I created some discussion on the Cozy list with my questions about gear spread, but I never really got an answer to why I have a problem. First, lets define the problem.... With the weight off the gear the wheels are at about 2 degrees negative camber - about where they should be. With the weight ON the gear, after moving the plane on the wheels the gear settles down to about 7 degrees positive camber. (by positive I mean that the bottom of the wheel is further out than the top). What is happening? The bow is bending between the attach points. I can tell that this is the case by the fact that there are no cracks in the micro and paint on the gear legs, and the gear cover fairings are about 1/2 inch clear of the gear when the weight's off, and are being crushed when the weight's on. Why - I don't know. The gear had all of its proper UNI wraps, so all I can conclude is that the gear is faulty and the bow is too elastic. At this stage I'm not prepared to remove and replace the gear, even if Featherlite were to give me a new one. I'd rather put up with what I've got until I can afford to retrofit a set of retracts. I came up with the following fix for the overly flexible fixed gear.

I jacked the plane up and used a come-along to pull the gear together. Next I heated the gear bow with a heat gun until it was hot to the touch. After heating, the tension on the come-along was significantly reduced. I pulled the gear in some more until the bottom of each tire had moved inward about 2 inches. With the gear held in this position I did a 5 ply UNI layup on the bottom of bow inside the gear well between the attach points. I added another 4 ply around the top of the bow overlapping the layup on the bottom. Once the layup was complete I left it to cure for 4 days. When I lowered the plane and rolled it up and down the hangar the camber had reduced to 3 or 4 degrees positive. It will be interesting to see where it settles after the next flight. I have a nasty feeling it'll be back where it was and I'll be left with one piece of advice I received - "put the wheel pants on and don't worry about it".

A Bit More Progress

On Monday 7/26 my EM2 arrived! I also heard from Max in Melborne. Apparantly his son "repaired" the computer and he's been unable to get his email. Max says he'll ship the refurbished turbo today, and will probably enclose his son in the box. I should have the turbo back in 7 - 10 days. By the time it arrives I hope to have everything else done so that I just have to install the turbo and it'll be ready to fly. Meanwhile I'm reading about Marc's journey and thinking that I'd like to do something similar (without the incidents). I'd include Seattle and Los Angeles in the trip to see my two daughters and visit with canard people along the way.

Tuesday, 7/27 I managed a couple of hours at the hangar. I removed and cleaned the fuel filters. Still no crud worth mentioning. I changed the brake caliper fittings to 1/8 NPT to AN4 and installed five inch stainless braided teflon hoses and fittings to rejoin the nylaseal line behind the strut. This should get rid of the weak point on the brakes. While at the hose shop I bought two female 1/8 NPT unions so I can remove the parking brake. Hey Marc - it couldn't have been a parking brake problem that caused you're wheel lock-up could it? Mine once locked one wheel all by itself while taxiing. Both wheels I could understand. One wheel and I just dont trust it any more, so out it comes.

Fixing the roof took up a lot of my time and I didn't get back to the hangar until Saturday 7/31. I spent a good 3 hours removing the parking brake and about 5 minutes disassembling it. As JD says, it's a very simple device. The lever turns a rod which has cams to push two plungers against springs. Since the cam HAS to turn as one piece, the only way that one wheel could be locked and the other not is if one of the plungers stuck. Simple or not, I do not want any more incidents and without it is simpler. I reconnected the brake pipes and left the parking brake in my box of rejected parts.

Bad News and Good News from Oz

I thought my turbo was on its way over the Pacific somewhere. It's not. Max decided at the last minute to send it to a nearby firm that has a heavy duty turbo testing machine. He usually does this himself, but he sold his machine in anticipation of a new one arriving from UK. Having balanced the turbo to 1/2 manufacturers specs he decided that a high speed (120,000 rpm) test of the balance and bearings was in order so he mailed the turbo to the firm that bought his tester rather than to me, so delivery will be delayed a few days. I wrote back thanking Max for his concern and telling him "No worries". There's a lot of work to do on the EM2 installation (and the roof) so a few extra days on the turbo won't hurt.

On the airport front, it's still HOT, but we're getting closer to cooler weather. One of our longer runways is now open again and there's a good chance we'll have the main runway back by mid August. It will have been a long hiatus by the time I get airborne again, but I'm dealing with a lot of minor issues in the meantime, so hopefully the testing will proceed quickly and smoothly beginning in a couple of weeks.

No News from Oz

A few extra days must be Aussie terminology for 2 weeks. I haven't heard from Max, so he'll be getting another phone call on Monday night. About 8pm will catch him at 10 AM the next morning. The good news - I think - is that the rebuild cost has been charged to my credit card. I'm hoping this means it's done and on its way....

Meanwhile, at the front of the plane.....
Installation of the EM2 is progressing slowly. I started by ripping out the semi-removable temporary center panel and building a face plate for the EM2. It has its own face plate, but I got the small LCD version which is only 3.5 inches wide. This works out well because the EM2 comes with four push buttons, a switch (for the backlight) and a contrast control knob and suggests that you install these where convienient on the panel. Yahoo! More buttons switches and knobs! I'm trying to set a record for the most controls on a Cozy. I made a 6.25 * 3 plate out of aluminum, cut a hole for the EM2 in the middle, and installed the extra controls down either side. Next I removed the EC2 controller and updated the chips. That was too easy. I hope I got it right. While I'm in the back I also want to reinstall the Nuckolls starter solenoid which I bypassed to get more volts to the starter while trying to start an engine that had the injectors wired wrong and was full of vaseline.

Meanwhile, at the back of the plane.... while waiting for a couple of brake line fittings to eliminate the parking brake I worked on installing and checking the sensors. Having discovered that I was measuring water temp in two places, I screwed the new oil temp and pressure sensors into the oil filter bypass pad (with the aid of a 90 degree 1/8 NPT connector from the hose shop) and removed the old water temp sensor from the water pump housing. The new sensor is larger than the old one. Still 1/8 NPT, but the diameter of the brass probe is almost the same as the threads. It wouldn't go in the hole. I'd used a double threaded aluminum boss to convert the hole from whatever it was to 1/8 NPT so I decided to remove the boss and drill out what was getting in the way. The boss broke off when I tried to unscrew it. Three hours and a trip to Harbor Freight later I managed to get the broken boss out of the hole and replace it with a brass one that the sensor fitted. On to the water pump sensor. I'd had Charlie drill and tap the water pump housing for this, but there wasn't much meat and the threads were only 1/8 deep. This had been nagging me for a while, so I removed the thermostat housing and took it back to Charlie with a 1/8 NPT boss and asked him to use some of his special glue to join the two together. Next day I had a nicely welded fitting for the water pressure sensor. Incidentally I was expecting to have to change the sensor, but it turns out that its a VDO - the very one that Tracy recommends. Can't be unlucky all of the time.

Meanwhile, back at the house.... The roof repair is progressing nicely - in between thunderstorms. I spent Friday evening wiring up the switches and buttons to the EM2 and pre wiring the connectors. There are 4 connectors. Two 15 pin and two 25 pin. That makes a total of 80 wires. They're not all used, and the connector for the display is prewired, but that still leaves a LOT of connections. I almost ruined the first connector because my propane torch is gotting a bit old. No. I'm not really soldering with a propane torch - it's a little propane soldering iron from RS. I love it, but the tip has gone flat and I was getting too much heat on the job. A new tip was $13, so I bought a new iron for $19, then I picked up a wonderful little headset from Harbor Freight. For $5 it has a built-in magnifier lens and a light either side. If you're doing any soldering you just gotta get one of these.

Most of the wiring for the EM2 is already in the plane, so I soldered 12 inch wires to each terminal and labeled them. When I get down to the hangar all I need to do is remove the old instruments and butt splice the right wires together. Should be easy - right?

The brake fittings came in today, so now I can start reassembling stuff. First the brake lines, then the coolant lines to the heater that I had to undo to get to the brake lines, then the gear cover and wheel pants that had to stay off until I could check the brake lines for leaks, then the lower cowl that stayed off until I got the sensors wired up, then the center armrests that came out when I removed the tiny tach wiring, then the turbo which should have arrived by then.....


I can tell from the hate mail that some readers are getting a bit frustrated at the lack of flying progress from N96PM. I'm frustrated too, but I'm trying to be patient and reasonable about it - which is more than I can say for a couple of YOU guys. . Trust me - it'll be worth the weight. The weather is awful down here right now. It's either 96 degrees and too damn hot to work or fly, or its raining so hard that you can't drive. I'm not that anxious to be flying until the weather improves anyway. They're almost done with our new runway, so by the time I'm airborne again I should have a three runway triangle for emergencies, less crosswind and more length. (No. Weight wasn't miss spelled above. It was there to see if you're paying attention and to see what connotations you could draw from the non existant pun). Just trying to keep people entertained while we wait......

Good News from Oz

I spoke to Max's son who confirmed that the turbo will ship tomorrow, 8/11, so I should have it by 8/21 latest. An aviation rotary enthusiast from the rotary list who happens to live in Melborne dropped by the ATS shop. Max showed him my old turbo and the new rebuilt one ready to be shipped. It nice to be a member of the worldwide community of Wanklers.

Wicks Screws Up

I ordered a 9 * 9 inch sheet of 0.090 4130 steel to make the rudder pedal brackets. The shipping slip says 0.090, but the sheet I got weighs about 3 lb and is 1/4 inch think. I called Janet. She quickly volunteered to send the right steel and told me to just keep the 1/4 plate. I thought she might want it back to hit the stock guy over the head with, but she said no - they've probably got a 1/2 inch 2 * 2 plate in stock for that. I added a couple of vacuum hose fittings to the order so I can hook the EM2 to the pitot and static lines.

So far I've been able to do everything without removing the canard. Getting to the voice system to program "John - Check the engine monitor" is going to be a problem, so I may just have to use one of the current programs like "Voltage is low" and translate it manually for now.

The new order from Wicks arrived. Incredibly, they screwed up again. No steel. I called and they agreed to send it. An hour later I got a call from a supervisor apologizing. She said the "steel guy" had forgotten to include it. They caught the error the next day and the steel was already on the way. I thanked her and suggested that "Maybe you need a new steel guy". The steel arrived a day later, but I think I'll hold off on modifying the brakes. I want to find out if removing the parking brake made a difference.

No More Ambulance Chasing

For a few years now I've been coveting the green oxygen cyliners and cannulas that about 50% of the population down here carry around when they go shopping. Thinking it was for a good cause, I've even considered cutting the tube and running off with one, but Char wouldnt let me do it. Marc gave a good report on his Ex-ox system so I ordered their 640 system which should keep two of us in Ox for 7 hrs at 17,500. The kit comes with a 22.6 Cuft bottle, a regulator, 2 conserving cannulas and one mask. It fits nicely in the passenger strake. I plan to add a couple of retaining straps through the fuselage side just in front of and behind the seatback. Later I'll get a big welders Oxygen bottle and a hose to connect the two for refills per this excellent article called "Getting high on welders oxygen".

Something On The Plane Every Day

The golden rule of airplane building. Do something every day. Yesterday (8/10) I installed fittings to bypass the parking brake, bled the brakes and checked for leaks. Having done it four times, I'm getting good at bleeding the brakes. I just attach my $2 harbor freight oil can to the caliper nipple with a tube and pump until the reservoir fills up. VeryEz. I didn't do the rudder pedal bracket yet (the one to change the advantage ratio on the master cylinders), partly because I don't have the steel, partly because it's a totally seperate job, partly because I want to see if removing the parking brake makes a difference and mainly because it's too damn hot in the hangar and I couldn't be bothered. Once I'd checked for leaks in the gear well I reinstalled the gear cover. This time I countersunk the tinnerman washers a little better to stop them sticking out into the airflow. One of the threads for my gear cover screws is either stripped or gone, so I left that screw out for now. Next I rebuilt the forward side of the armrest which had to be cut away to get full aileron movement. I used an old piece of instrument panel, cut a channel out of the foam for the aileron torque tube and Strong pitch trim, then did a glass to glass layup on the inside. I floxed this piece in place and 2 BID taped it. Tomorrow I'll reinstall the padding and leather and no one will ever know.

Today I didn't get to the hangar, but I did do a couple of airplane things. I ordered the fuel senders from Vans to feed fuel data to my EM2. The falcon capacitance senders / gauges didnt work worth a damn with MOGAS anyway. I also did some wire labeling on my EM2 connectors in the evening. My main effort today was the roof repair which I want DONE by the time the turbo gets here. I'm trying to arrange things so that the only thing to do when the turbo arrives, is screw it on and fly. The EM2 installation is almost ready to go in the plane, but I'm waiting for an order of butt splices from Wicks. The next job is to reinstall the lower cowl, hook up all the coolant and oil hoses and add new fluids.

Charley - a non event

Hurricane Charley passed 100 miles to the West and didn't even drop any rain on us. It hit a few Cozy builders around the state, but thankfully no projects were damaged. I finished attaching wires to the connectors (all 65 of them) and took the EM2 down to the hangar to do the physical installation. I installed the EM2 with it's back plate, then a cover plate for the remaining hole (which will eventually hold a GPS/com) and bolted the new GPS mount in place. The panel top mount that came with the GPS is perfect for the job once you give it a horizontal surface to mount on, and the view angle from the pilot seat is just right to see the GPS and all the data on the EM2.

The first step in hooking up the EM2 is to give it static and pitot pressures, so I broke into the these lines, added T's and reducers to plumb up to the 1/8 EM2 inputs. This wasn't as easy as it sounds with the canard in place. I had to remove the ASI to get at the pipes on the back. I think I've discovered how the 3 1/8 standard instrument size was picked. The hole is EXACTLY big enough to get your hand through, but JUST small enough to make manipulating anything behind the panel impossible. An uncomfortable hour of contorsion got the job done. Next?

I wanted to Char record a voice message for the engine monitor, but there's no way to get at the connections with the canard in place. Then I realized that the LED annunciator lights at the top of my panel were on the same circuit. I picked one at random and grounded it. "John, the landing brake's down".. I want to keep that one. The next one I tried was the oil pressure warning which is now redundant. Char came down to the hangar and I showed her how to "insert the pin on the end of this wire into the middle hole on this connector" while I climbed under the panel and reached up through all the stuff behind there until I could feel the record button on the top of the voice box. OK. When you're ready, insert the pin into the connector, then speak into this area behind the radios. We had to practice a few times. The first recording was fine, except for the 4 second delay while Char looked up from the connector and figured out where to speak. The second was quicker. The third was too much like shouting. On the forth try we got it. I played it back. "John. Check the engine monitor".

Now I have the EM2 handling a whole bunch of parameters with one message I have a few spare. I'm using one for the gear, one for the canopy and one for the landing brake. The EM2 has one, so unless I'm forgetting something I have 4 left unused. Next time the canard is off and its more convienient to record messages I plan to use these as gottcha jokes controlled by hidden buttons on the pilot side. I've got a few ideas, such as "Passenger ejection in 5 seconds. 4...3...2...1", "Don't TOUCH THAT!" and "Hick's. Get your hands off my plane!". I'm open to any suggestions readers might have. Please add them to the thread on this in the canard aviation forum

First flight.... for my toolbox

Monday 8/16 I removed the big radio shack temporary resistors for the secondary injectors and installed two of the nice little gold ones from Tracy. While I was in the back I reconnected the firewall starter contactor which I'd cut out of the circuit when trying to overcome the vaseline - but that's a whole other story. I didn't like the idea of having a permanently hot wire under the cowl, so the secondary contactor is now back in the circuit. I also added wires from the two battery busses and the ground bus which terminate behind the back seat cushions so I can charge the batteries without removing the bulkhead over the spar. (yes I did insulate the ends and protect the wires to avoid any possibility of a short when you sit in the back seat). Finally I hooked up the starter terminal and climbed in the front to make sure the connections were correct. I keyed the starter for a half second. BANG. CRASH....REALLY BIG THUMP.

My big "workshop on wheels" toolbox (you can see it in the picture above in "meanwhile at the back of the plane") was on its side and everything out of all the little plastic siding drawers was on the floor. It doesnt look like it's in the arc of the prop in that picture does it? I didn't think so either. Maybe a gremlin moved it while I wasnt looking. Ignoring the large pile of AN bolts, washers, nuts and rivets I examined the prop very carefully and saw no (new) bumps scratches or nicks. Somehow the prop had upturned the toolbox without damaging itself. Oops. It seems the starter is working just fine. :) Time to go home and get out of the heat.

Evicting the Snake

Next day I was all set to go down to the hangar and start in on the EM2 wiring hook-ups when I realized that my keys were in the glove box of Char's car which she had already taken to work. No keys = no transport = no airplane work. Damn. Since I was stuck at the house I decided to accumulate some honey-do points, to be used up later when I have keys. The first job was to evict the snake. Yes. We have a 3 foot grass snake living in our pool. He's been there a few weeks. We decided to let him stay 'cause he's eating the tadpoles. Are you getting the picture? The pool needs some work. I fished out the snake with the leaf catcher and let him go in the yard, then pumped the green storm water and tadpoles from the pool. I was just in time. A lot of them had legs. Next week I'll power wash the pool and refill it. I also did some more roof work and mowed the lawn, so now I'm all set for a full day at the hangar tomorrow.

I did do some airplane stuff today - I reread the EM2 installation manual, and I called Max in Melborne to check that the turbo is definately on it's way. Max was out. The girl who picked up the phone said it'll ship tomorrow. I politely mentioned that I'd been told the exact same thing this time last week. I called again at 2am and got the man himself. He apologized that he hadn't around got to shipping it yet and PROMISED he'd get it out tomorrow. Max is a pleasant and knowledgable guy to talk to, and do business with. He's just very, very busy. If you send him a turbo to rebuild, do it early. While chatting with Max I asked if I could get a compressor map for the new turbo. He said it's the same as a T04-V2 and there's a map on the web site. There is. I just wish I knew what it meant.

Another day, another EM2 input

I'm slowly working my way through the EM2 input wiring. Today I did the Outside Air Temperature sensor so the system can calculate TAS. Where do you put a 1/8 inch black circular sensor on the outside of a Cozy? I searched around for a while, then decided on a spot just under the canard where it joins the fuselage. This was convienient for running the wires, and it's a good spot to keep an eye out for icing. I also wired up a temp sensor to the intake manifold by installing it in a 1/8 NPT plug. There's a capacity for yet another air temp sensor, but I dont know what else to measure. Next came the oil temp (this time it will really be oil), oil pressure, coolant pressure, coolant temp, fuel pressure. There's quite a list. Each one involves hooking up my meter to the end of the wire by the sensor and to the end under the panel to double check that I have the right wire, then butt splicing it to the right input wire for the EM2. I'm leaving the analog manifold and fuel pressure gauges in since I'm taking out the fuel gauges and I have to fill up the holes with something. I think the analog MAP gauge will be handy since it's the primary power instrument.

While I was working on the wires behind the panel I dropped a razor blade into the forest below. I searched and searched, probed with a magnetic telescopic thing and climbed underneath with a light. I couldn't find the razor blade. These days, when I drop something I don't stop till I find it. I don't need a razor blade bouncing around shorting out my ignition wires. Eventually I hooked up the air hose and blew high pressure air behind the panel. Out popped the razor. Phew! OK. Now for the EGT/CHT inputs. There are 4 of each and Tracy explains how to make J and K type thermocouples from thermocouple wire, so I ordered 20 feet of each from Since I only have one EGT and two rotors the extra inputs can be used to get temperature values anywhere you like. For example, Tracy suggests measuring the delta T (that's the variance between temperatures) between the input and output of the radiator and oil cooler/s to help find out how various parts of your cooling system are performing. I think an EGT type probe at the back of the turbo shield might be useful to see what the temperature of the air is as it exits. To start with all this data will probably come under the catagory of "too much information", but eventually I'll take it all in, or not.

News from Oz is sketchy. My fly-rotary list spy in Melborne offered me a knock sensor he isn't using, and volunteered to drop it off at the turbo shop so they could put it in the same box. The turbo was still there. Hmmm. Max promised it would ship tomorrow, which I think was yesterday. I had to deal with "Island time" when having the engine rebuilt by a Jamacian. Does the concept apply in Oz? I suppose it IS an island.

Why do I need a knock sensor?

In a car the knock sensor, which is a simple microphone, sends it's data to the computer. Software in the computer recognizes the amplitude of "knock" and automatically retards the ignition and/or richens the mixture until it stops. The EC2 computer has lots of functions that make it good for aviation, but it doesnt have knock sensing software. I'm told you can amplify the knock sensor output and feed it into your headset. This way you can HEAR what the engine is doing and back off if you start getting into the detonation area. It's like what the old time mechanics used to do - put a steel rod against the engine and listen at the end. No. I'm not planning on having the engine sound in my headset all the time. It's just for testing while I find out where the limits are with different octanes and MAPs. I'm still trying to find out the best way to amplify the sound. I got an amplifier for my walkman CD player from It's stereo, and my intercom is mono, so I'm going to try feeding the knock sensor output to the other channel.

Great news from Oz

My rebuilt turbo shipped ATS in Melborne today, 8/21, which is yesterday there.... I think. I know for sure because I have a scan of the shipping receipt and a tracking number. Max's wife shipped it Express so I might even get it back late last week. Here's a list of what was done:
Labour: Disassembled, cleaned, micrometered, checked shaft run out,
balanced, machined backplate to suit larger diameter T4 V2 wheel, polished
backplate internally, strengthened thrust assembly (2 springs instead of 1),
machined back of comp wheel, profile machine comp cover externally &
internally, machined "funelled" turbine housing outlet, back-cut turbine
wheel, assembled turbo core, shipped to adelaide, VSR balanced, on return
assembled end housings.

Parts: Second hand series V 13b turbocharger n/c (couldn't use yours),
T4 V2 Comp Wheel, extra thrust spring, bearing & seal kit. gapless turbine
seal. Also removed hose barb with rubber cap, taped hole 1/8" gas thread &
fitted plug.

End Housings are not tight, rotate to where you require & tighten, tighten
gradually in a criss-cross pattern so as not to cock an end housing to one
side, check wheels appear central & fold lock tabs.

Don't use any silastic on oil feed or drain pipes (I assemble dry), can
block up an oil gallery when it squishes.

Carefull it doesn't overspeed

I sent back a std comp wheel for comparison - the new wheel has to slow
the turbo rpm down for the same amount of power, hope its enough.

Now the pressure is on to get everything else done before the turbo gets here. I work best under pressure. Fed up with struggling with the EM2 wires I took the canard off. It's not a fun job, but I timed it at 24 minutes. I'll time the reinstallation and make a mental note for next time I'm trying to get something done with the canard in place.

I completed most of the EM2 wiring today. All that's left are the CHT and EGT thermocouple cables and extensions which are on order from After wiring the EM2 power I turned it on. Nothing. Hmmm. I'd borrowed the 1 amp fuse for the (now redundant) Hobbs meter thinking this would be enough. The fuse was blown. I inserted a 3a fuse and tried again. The EM2 is up and running. Excellent. It told me that the temperature in the hangar was 98F, so I went home to cool off.

Thermo Coupling

I got my thermocouple wire Monday 8/23. The extension wire is VERY thick. I managed to get 2 cables of each type down the full wiring conduit on the right side, then came home to read from Todd Bartrim that multi-pair wire is available from part number #4KX24SPP and #4JX24SPP. Joining the wire to the extension cable can be done by twisting and crimping, or properly using omega's BS-16 terminal strip and BSJ-K/BSJ-J barriar strip jackets. Who knew? Ah well. I only really have a couple of places to measure temps anyway, so I'll just crimp and run for now. [Note: I was delayed by hurricanes and fried computer components, so I ordered this stuff from Omega]

I installed the walkman amplifier from canakit, and was a disappointed. It raises the volume from a 2 to maybe a 3 on a scale of 1 - 10. I can hear John Denver ok, but I'd like it louder. As with the theromcouple wire, it'll do for now. I borrowed some redundant wires for the knock sensor input, added a switch for the amplifier and wired it and the GPS to the main buss. I also ran the GPS antenna wire through the panel and mounted the antenna in the nose just ahead of the canard. Later in the week I wheeled the plane out of the hangar to let Tim get his Velocity out and took the opportunity to test the GPS. It acquired a bunch of satalites with no problem. The GPS has a nice feature I didnt know about. When you switch off the master it says "Power lost. Press any key to switch to battery power". I played a little more with the EM2. Fuel pressure seems to be a problem. It shows 100 when the pumps are off, and goes down to 65 when I turn the pump on. Hmmm. Seems to be working opposite or something, but there's only one wire from the sensor. I wired the sensor to the analog gauge for now.

The next little job was to finish off the brakes. When I stood on the brakes after bleeding them I noticed a tiny blob of crimson fluid at one of the fittings. I removed the fitting, added some teflon paste and reconnected it. There was no need to bleed. I just topped off the reservoir and the tried the brakes again. The leak has gone, so I added a fiberfrax wrap held in place with duct tape - the real aluminum stuff, not the cloth tape. Last job for the day was to setup the oxygen ready for use. I cut a slot in the bit of fuselage behind the seatback ahead of the baggage area and fed a strap through, around the ox cylinder and back to a snap catch. This holds the cylinder firmly in place with the flow valve and regulator gauge where I can see them in the co-pilot baggage area. I ran the ox line behind the headrests and put the canulla behind my headrest. I'll install the Y for the pax ox later. I really need a valve so I can turn the passenger side oxygen on and off. I'd only turn the passenger ox off if flying solo, or with someone who was being really annoying.

What's left to do?

According to USPS.Com my turbo left LA on Monday, so I'd guess that's it's in Florida by now. Here's a partial list of whats left to be done:
 - Complete CHT and EGT sensor wiring to EM2.
 - Tidy up wiring at front
 - Install canard
Install wheel pants
 - Install lower cowl
 - Reconnect hoses
 - Add coolant & oil
Connect knock sensor
 - Install turbo
Install upper cowl
A dash in front means it's done. I'm leaving out, for now, installing the new fuel level senders and the brackets to adjust brake advantage.

A good and bad day

The turbo arrived Wednesday 8/25. The package was a bit battered and torn, but the turbo itself was undamanged apart from one of the exhaust studs being slightly bent. This was easily corrected with a sharp blow from a hammer. The promised knock sensor was not in the box. I called Mazda - the part is $226, so it looks like I get to visit the breakers yard one more time. On Thursday I got to the hangar early and started in on the wiring. I went through a lot of wire ties, but everything is now neatly tied up and the amplifier is mounted in front of the passenger stick.

Reinstalling the canard went well until I came to the right side elevator torque tube. I'm missing one of the small steel washers. I thought I had a spare at home, so I took a look at installing the turbo. Leon suggests that I reinstall the automatic wastegate control. No can do. It would interfer with my intake pipes, and I'm not changing them right now. Greg Richter welded his wastegate closed, so I'll just keep my manual control, at least for now.

Since my left tank is empty I decided to have a go at fitting the Van fuel senders. The holes on the old flange are a perfect match with the new senders, but thats where the good part ends. There's no easy way to fit these things without the tank being open at the top. The hole in the flange is too small, and I'm not about to start grinding away and dumping crud into the tank right now. I reinstalled the capacitance sender. Maybe I'll take another shot at calibrating it, but in the meantime I'll live with the fuel sight gauges. Nat's driven his Cozy for 15 years or so using them and hasn't runout of fuel as far as I know. Also, I have an engine monitor that knows how much fuel I'm using. If I tell it how much I've got, it can tell me how much I have left.

Speaking of the engine monitor, today it seems to think the outside air temp is -57 degrees, my TAS is 156 inside the hangar and my average MPG is 1856. I hope Tracy comes back from vacation soon. There are still at least a couple of days of work before I can restart the engine and there have been so many changes that I'll be doing some runups, taxi tests and EFI tuning before flying. I hope to be back in the air sometime next week.

Good habits and bad habits

I couldn't find a spare CS washer, so I made one out of a 1/4 socket. When I came to fit it I found the proper part - on the canard. I've developed a good habit of putting parts back where I got them when I disassemble things. Unfortunately I've developed a bad habit of forgetting that I developed a good habit. The canard took about 1.5 hours to reinstall, not counting the time looking for a part I hadn't lost. Not too bad. I'll remember that next time I'm resisting removing it.

I reinstalled the center consoles, back and front, the rear armrests and the spar bulkhead. I put the cushions back in and cleaned up the leather. The cabin is now done, so its on to the back end. I tested the cooling fan under the rad and marked the wires to get the right rotation when I reconnect them. I considered removing the fan, but that would involve taking out the radiator so it can stay for now. Reinstalling the lower cowl is an interesting task which involves a table, foam shims and a lot of jiggling to get the oil coolers around the engine mount. It's done. The cowl is on. This time I added a bead of RTV around the join with the firewall to stop any leakage from the plenum. Last job of the day was to make a fiberglass pipe for the intake air. Max made me promise not to fly again with that 2 inch Scat tube. He's concerned that it'll starve the turbo of air. I found some 3 inch silicone, 2.75 radiator hose and a section of aluminum 2.5 inch pipe with bends that bridged the gap between the plenum output and the turbo intake. I duct taped them all together, smoothed the join with modelling clay and layed up 3 ply BID over the whole lot. Tomorrow I should have a good solid intake pipe.

The EM2 flies!

Unfortunately, not in my plane yet. It's in a FedEx plane on the way back to Tracy. Tracy's instructions emphatically tell you to ground all the unused inputs. I wasn't using Air Temp 2, so I grounded the wires. All of them. Apparantly the red one is a 5 volt feed. Who knew? It seems that grounding a live wire isnt a good thing to do. Tracy says it probably fried one of the components on the board and let all the smoke out, and that's why my outside air temp reads -58F. He says he can fix it and return it in a day, so with a bit of luck I'll have it back by Friday. The good news is that the 3 amp fuse for the EM2 is still intact, so at least I dont have to replace THAT.

The rest of the reassembly is going well. My new intake pipe was cured, but not quite the right shape, so it got some rework and reglassing today. The engine is now fully reinstalled, cables and hoses are all attached, and I only have a few small insignificant pieces left in the box of parts. Tomorrow I'll add the fluids, test for good oil flow to the redrive and turbo and maybe try an engine start. The EC2 computer has new program chips, so I'll be starting from scratch on the tuning.

Installing the upper cowl is going to be a problem. I used up all the remaining good torx screws for the lower cowl. I still much prefer these (10-32 3/4 100 degree flat head torx) from Microfasteners, to the phillips ones, but they're not indestructible, and the cowls have been on and off a LOT over the past few months. I ordered another 200 screws. I hope these will last me a bit longer than the last batch. By the way - they're not listed on the web site. You have to call and ask for them. I understand that they're getting 1/2 inch ones in stock in the next few weeks which will be better for our needs.

I mentioned earlier that Hurricane Charley missed us by 150 miles. The next one, Frances, seems to have a bit better aim. As of today, Monday, we're dead center on its projected path for arrival on Saturday, and there's a good chance it'll be CAT 5 by the time it gets here. Just what I need. 145 MPH crosswinds.

Ready to fly

The intake pipe needed a little more adjustment so I got on with the fluids while it was curing. First the oil. I added 4qts of Castrol Synthetic to get the oil on the dipstick, then cranked the engine for 30 seconds with the fuel and ignition off, gave it another pint, and cranked some more. Next I disconnected the oil return from the redrive and the feed to the turbo and pointed them into quart containers. I'd use the turbo return if I could, but it's a real bear to get off, so I'll assume that Max built it right.

I'd been working alone in the hangar and had just started cranking the engine when Paul "appeared" by my side. Scared the living xxxx out of me. Not so much because of his semi-magical way of suddenly just "being there" with no signs of an approach, but because I hadn't yelled CLEAR. I thought I was alone. No one to yell to. Wrong. What if he'd decided to check out the new turbo and had leaned through the prop arc? Thankfully he knows better than to do that, but it sure gave me a kick to always shout, whether I think there's anyone around or not.

After a minute or so of cranking the two quart containers were half full of oil, so I think that proves I'm getting plenty of oil to the turbo and redrive. I put the oil back in, checked the level again and added the rest of the 5th quart to bring the level up. It was getting hot, so as a last job for the day I added two gallons of 50% Prestone antifreeze and 50% water. The level will go down when I run the engine for the first time, and will need topping off. I don't seem to have the airlock problems that some rotary flyers have reported.

So, other than the EM2, the intake pipe and the upper cowl she's ready to fly. I'll leave the wheel pants for now. I suppose I could fly her tomorrow, but the only engine data I'd have would be binary. i.e. it's running, or it's not. On the way home I picked up a couple of gallons of the recommended TCW-3 2-stroke oil from Walmart where it's $6/gallon.

Coming out of the closet

Next day, Thursday, the EM2 came back. Tracy turned it around in less than 24hrs, and enclosed a note saying that the repair cost was "whatever the price of shipping is on the outside of the box". What a guy! Also enclosed was a revamped page of the installation manual explaining more clearly which wires to ground. Apparantly another user had a similar problem. With the EM2 reinstalled and apparantly working, and the intake bolted up the plane is ready to go. But then there's Frances less than 24 hrs away. I considered flying out ahead of the coming storm, but decided against it. Doing the first long cross country under duress with only 8 hrs on the plane, and zero hours on the new turbo, would probably not be a good plan. It might save the plane, but it would put my butt in danger. Planes can be replaced. Butts can't. So, the plane will stay in the hangar which is well built, well insured, and surrounded on all sides by other hangars. There are a few planes left on the ramp. I wouldn't want to be the owner of one of them.

My brother-in-law, Francis, dropped in and explained that he'd decided that the closet in his house was the safest place to hide during the hurricane. So, I said, give us a call when you "come out of the closet".

Provided I still have an airplane after the storm passes, the test flights will start again in earnest.

While at the hangar, I noticed that the LongEz has finally had it's baby. The proud father, Al, is delighted, because he's into flying airplanes too small to get you're butt in. Al says he's going to put a video camera and transmitter in it so he can see where it's going from a pilot's eye view. This is while his LongEz sits in the hangar. I must be missing something. Cute baby though.

No Start

Friday morning, 9/3 there was still no sign of a hurricane, so I went down to the hangar to try an engine start. Winds were 20 - 25kts when I pushed the plane out, so it was rocking a little. I cranked the engine. Not a squeak. Nothing. The cranking rpm and oil pressure are showing on the EM2, but there was no attempt to fire whatsoever. I removed the plugs. They were clean and dry, so it looks like the injectors aren't pulsing for some reason. The fuses on the injectors are fine. Frustrated with this, I installed a side panel by the passenegr's right leg. Have you noticed how you can see all the wires, pipes and cables down there when you look into a parked Cozy? I have, and it always struck me as looking a bit tacky, so I've been planning to add a cosmetic panel there for years. I finally got around to it. It's a sheet of 2 BID cured glass covered with a left over piece of the upholstery material. I think it looks good. So what if it weights 4 oz. I decided to leave further diagnosis until later, parked my car inside the hangar to stop the door from pushing inward and headed home with Char.

Still No Start

Our pool after the storm Trees block the roadway. I cut an arch with the chainsaw so people could get through. Hurricane Francis came and went with no damage to the house or the airplane. Just a few days delay, a bunch of debris in the yard and about 7 huge trees felled that'll take months to clear up. The power is out, which means that we have no TV, AC or, even water, since we have a well. One tree took out all our supply lines, but I found the severed phone company cables and was able to hook up the phones. The "hot tub", now a cold tub, serves as our bath and we flush the toilet with a 5 gal bucket filled from the pool. Occasionally the bucket contains a tadpole which gets left swimming around in the toilet until the next flush. I get to play with a chain saw. We eat off the barbeque grill, play chess by candlelight and go to bed at 9pm. Life is good, except for the tadpoles.

Thankfully the power is back on at the hangar, so Tuesday 9/7 I went down to collect my car and do check on the starting problem. While the batteries were charging I retorqued the prop to 35# (about 1/2 a turn on each bolt) and realigned the spinner. I wheeled the plane out and cranked under various configurations of A & B computer, mixture, injector switches and cold start selection. Nothing. The plugs were totally dry. I have a big fat spark on both leading and trailing plugs, so this confirms that it's a fuel problem. I have fuel pressure, and releasing the feed hose at the rail produced liquid fuel, so it has to be the injectors. They test for 12V, so I'm down to the fact that the injectors are just not firing. A conversation with Tracy gave me a few more things to try, then the EC2 is going to have to go back for diagnosis. One casualty of the storm was my digital camera which fell out of the car into a deep puddle, so there won't be any pictures until I get it replaced. Thankfully the roof repairs held up fine. [Later note: After it dried out I disassembled it, poked at the boards and chips and somehow got it working. After a struggle I managed to get it reassembled with only one unidentified part remaining. All I can say is these koreans must have really small hands.]

Next day 9/8 I spent 3 hours tracing wires and debugging the injectors. I inspected the solder connections to the EC2 plug with a magnifying glass. Next I connected a small 12v bulb across one of the primary injector connectors and grounded the pin on the EC2 which is normally grounded by the EC2 to fire the injector. The bulb lit up. I tried this with the other primary injector and the same happened, so the wiring is good. When I reconnected the EC2 and turned on the power, the bulb lit up briefly. When I cranked the bulb didnt light up at all. I tried disconnecting the EM2. I even tried removing the new EC2 program chips and reinstalling the old ones. Still nothing. Eventually I removed the EC2, put it in a box and dropped it off at FedEx on the way home. Later it occured to me that there's a remote possibility that the EC2 control panel is the culprit, so I decided to remove it and ship it up to Tracy as well. Also, my outside air temperature reading is still -58, so I might as well use the time to get a replacement for that too. The manual mentions that the sensors are LM34-DZ which are available from at $2 each if you dont mind soldering the wires on yourself. I'll order a few spares. Note - The LM34-CZ sensors are listed with a wider temperature range for $6 each. Tracy says they're the same part, but with a wider range of guarenteed accuracy. I ordered a couple of these too.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Francis strikes again. It knocked out Tracy's power, so he can't work on my EC2 until his power is back on. The Rough River countdown clock is ticking, and I'm not getting any closer to being ready for the trip. Things are going to have to go really well over the next few weeks for the plane to be ready. Meanwhile, back at the NOAA web site, I see that Hurricane Ivan is heading north east toward the Caribbean at 18 MPH...

Good omens

Things seem to be improving. Hurricane Ivan turned West and looks like it's going to miss us completely. That's great for me, but at the same time I feel for the rotarians on the Florida panhandle, Paul Conner, Rusty Duffy and for Cozy flyer Dan Crugar. I hope they come out of it as well as we did.

On Sunday 9/12 Tracy sent an email saying his power was back on, and he'd found a couple of problems with my EC2. The channel on the chip that talks to the EM2 was bad (possibly chip "infant mortality"), plus the injector pulse width is incorrect (less than 50% of normal) and he's investigating. Great news. If he hadnt found a problem with the EC2 I'd be totally stumped. Next day I got a tracking number from Laura. Speaking with Tracy it seems that this one might not have been related to anything I did. Apparantly one of the stored parameters in the EC2 was incorrect, and the pulse width for the injectors was set at less than the reaction time. In short - no squirt. Tracy thinks it might have been an initialization problem between software versions when the program chips were changed. It's impossible to tell what caused the problem, but it's fixed and my EC2 should be here on Thursday.

So, I might be back in business later this week. Hmmm. 15 days till Rough River and 32 hours to fly. That's 2hrs / day. I might still make it, but then, to steal a quote from the Apollo 13 movie, "Only if my luck changes".

Today I replaced the canopy stay with a stronger one of the right length, and rewired my alternator warning light to include a relay, diode and an LED. The stock wiring diagram shows an incandecant bulb, but apparantly you need this circuit to get the alternator started. You don't want a bulb that can fail, so the bulb gets replaced by a small radio shack relay that switches on an LED. The diode points at the alternator so current can't backflow. Once the alternator is producing charge it should equal out the current from the switch and release the relay which will turn off the LED. At least that's the theory.

Tomorrow my new temp sensors and EGT/CHT terminal blocks & wires should come in, so I'll get these installed in preparation for receiving the EC2 on Thursday.

Smart Spouse Syndrome

Every day Char wants to know, in detail, what I've done on the plane. While she has no formal engineering training, she does have a good sense of what works and why, and she's an excellent lateral thinker. Occasionaly I'll get too close to a problem, and she'll see the answer (or a better solution) from her more distant viewpoint. For example, I recently explained that I'd reinstalled the second starter solenoid. Not having it used to be handy for charging, because I could hook the charger to the starter. Since this option was removed I added wires from the battery busses to the rear cabin to facilitate charging the batteries without removing the upholstered panel over the spar. "Why do you need the second solenoid", she asked. I explained that otherwise the fat wire going to the starter was permanently live, which is not a good thing. "And these new wires into the cabin for charging.... aren't they permanently live?" She asked. "Well, yes, but they're fused and capped off", I explained. "so.... you've removed one bad idea and introduced two new ones", she said, smiling. I grunted acknowledgement. Next day I removed the "convienience" charging wires. It only takes two screws to remove the panel. It's good to have someone second guessing your ideas, even if it is bad for the ego.

Tuesday, 9/14 UPS brought my terminal blocks and temp sensors. By reference to the web site I figured out which jumpers and wires go where. Digikey's site provided a wiring diagram for the LM34DZ sensors. The only problem with the sensors is that the pins are REALLY tiny and close together. Soldering wires to them is going to be a bit tricky.

The big day. Not

I threaded the big 4 pair thermocouple extension wires from behind the center of the panel to the firewall by pulling them through as I pulled out the heavy expensive single pair wires I'd installed only a week or so ago. The 10' lengths I got were barely enough. I had maybe 12 inches left after the wires came out of the passenger side electrical conduit. I searched for a good mounting spot within a 12 inch radius. The obvious place to mount the terminal block was the firewall, but I was a little unhappy about having those heavy fat wires and all the theromcouple cables so close to the aileron torque tubes. It was also a little hard to get to back there, so I settled on a flexible mounting using wire ties on the engine mount upright on one side, and a heater hose on the other. While not exactly "per plans", this supports the terminal block well and makes it easy to get at. Maybe I'll make a nice aluminum bracket some day, but not today.

Today I read an interesting booklet by Greg Richter on aircraft wiring. I wish he'd written this 4 years ago when I needed it. Some of his recommendations are in direct contradiction to those of Bob Knuckolls, but Greg knows his stuff and I'd follow a lot of what he says if I were doing it again. The only problem is that he recommends a 24v system, and I don't know if you can get 24v alternators, starters, injectors etc. for the Mazda engine. I think you'd spend a lot of time converting to 12v for various components. No doubt Greg has an answer for this, but I didn't see it. In any case, the booklet is well worth reading. But, then again, I read a review of Greg's document by Bob himself. If you're about to follow Greg's teachings, this review makes for good reading too.

Back to my huge bundles of wires...Using the EGT and CHT probes I already had, and my J and K themocouple wire to make extras, I made wired up probes for 4 CHT and 4 EGT channels. Since the turbo merges the exhaust I only have one real EGT on the single turbo exhaust outlet. This is EGT 1. I can move the other EGT probes anywhere I want them. Currently EGT 2 is mounted to the back of my heat shield to see how hot it gets. EGT 3 measures the heat of the air coming out of the oil cooler, and EGT 4 goes to the top of the cowl to see how much heat soak I'm getting. The first two CHT probes are bolted to the rotors above the trailing plugs. Right now CHT 3 goes to the intercooler and CHT 4 goes to the radiator.

On to the temperature sensors. I already have an intake manifold sensor and an Outside Air Temp (OAT) sensor. For now I used the third available air sensor input for cabin temp. There are still some anomolies with the EM2 readings. EGT #3 cycles random temp readings between 1400 and 32 whatever probe I hook to it, and my OAT reads -58 UNLESS I unplug the P4 connector for the EGT and CHT sensors, then it reads correctly. Geesh. This is becoming frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating, the EC2 arrived Thursday midday, on schedule. I rushed down to the hangar, installed it and wheeled the plane out for a test runup. Nothing. The plugs got a little wet, but not as much as you might expect from 2 or 3 minutes cranking with cold start on and full rich on the mixture. Annoyed and frustrated I wheeled the plane back in the hangar and headed home. As I drove westward I took the above picture of two nasty looking cunims in the sunset. Not good flying weather. Maybe tomorrow will be a nice day. I'll restore the programming defaults in the EC2, charge the batteries, change the plugs then bug the .rap out of Tracy till I get to go flying again. The only RWS part that hasnt been back for repair is the EC2 control panel. I wonder - it couldn't be blown too.... could it???

Ignition - sort of

While charging the batteries I worked on the EM2. First I bolted all the loose CHT & EGT probes to the engine. This fixed the cycling reading. Grounding the probes with a wire doesnt seem to work. Tracy says you have to ground the red lead at the EM2 end if you want the probe ungrounded. I installed one of my new temp sensors on the Air Temp 2 input and got a good reading. For the time being I mounted this in the top of the panel to give cabin temp. Next job was the OAT. I tried replacing the sensor with one of my home made ones and got the same -55F reading. I know that removing the P4 connector makes it work, so something has to be wrong with the wiring in this plug, even though the OAT is wired into a different connector. After a 1/2 hour of checking I came across one of the "spare ground" leads which was connected to ground my fuel sensors. I snipped it, and the OAT changed to a correct reading. Curious, I tested the lead to the fuel sensors. It read 0.5 volts. Weird. I'm not using the fuel sensors anyway, so this completes my initial installation of the EM2. All the CHT, EGT and air temp readings make sense and the other sensors seem to be working. I still have to calibrate everything, but the basic unit is working correctly. Later I'll experiment with placing the probes in various places, but now it's time to get the engine running.

I checked the plugs one by one. They were slightly wet. As I replaced each one I checked for spark. All the plugs sparked. Over to the fuel side, I checked the voltage on each injector. The secondaries read 2v. Ah ha. I traced the voltage loss back to the switch which fell apart in my hand. Serves me right. It was one of those radio shack mini switches and I've been meaning to replace them ever since the same switch type caused a problem with the coils. They're rated for 10A, but take one apart before you use it. The innards are pathetic. I got two new big fat DPDT switches from radio shack, installed them, wheeled the plane out (again) and cranked. She fired up almost immediately, but it was clear that only one rotor was running, and that one was running badly. The engine was vibrating quite badly - almost as much as a good lycoming - aghhh - and there was very little response to increased throttle. All it did was burble along at about 1600 rpm. After a minute or two I shut her down. The plane is making noise again. Not good noise, but noise nontheless. Enough for one day. I'll debug the problem tomorrow.

Next day, Saturday, I put in new plugs. The compression is 105# on each rotor and voltage at the all injector plugs is good. I tried again and got exactly the same result. I rearranged the probes so that the two spare EGT's show oil temp into and out of the coolers, and the two spare CHT's show water temp in and out of the rad. Tracy thinks it might be a bad solder join somewhere in the injector wiring, so tomorrow I'll put a load (headlight bulb?) on the circuits and test the voltages again. I later received a tip to hold down the button on the compression gauge.This way you can see the three pulses as the rotor goes around. All I tested was that at least one apex seal is good. I'll try this next chance I get.

Sunday I hooked a 12V fan to the injector connectors one by one. I put my digital ammeter in series and checked the amps under load. The secondaries were lower because of the resistors, but everything seemed fine. Next I checked the cold start and injector switch wiring. Everything seemed good here too. I disconnected the fuel line and pumped some fuel through the system, cleaned the plugs and tried another start. Exactly the same. I noticed that turning the secondary injectors off, or the cold start on made it run better. I think this is because one of the secondaries isnt firing and disabling a set of injectors invokes cold start which fires double fuel from the other set. Next I disconnected the plugs leads from rotor one. It ran worse, if that's possible. More vibration and lower max rpm. I think I'm on the scent. It has to be one of the secondary injectors - probably the one on rotor 1. I ran short fat wires direct from the battery buss to resistors and then to the secondary injectors. If it runs ok with the wiring bypassed I know the problem is in the wire. If not, it HAS to be the injector itself. I think this will turn out to be the problem. Maybe it got gummed up while it sat for 9 weeks. The injectors are mounted under the runners, so to remove the injectors I have to remove the entire intake. To get to the intake bolts I have to remove the turbo heat shield, and maybe even the turbo. The throttle body, throttle cables and intake pipes also have to come off. Ah well. All I can do is keep at it until I find the problem. Did I mention that this is getting frustrating?

Why fish smell the way they do

Monday, 9/20, I noticed that the gasoline smell in the back was getting worse. After a bit of investigation (read ripping out soggy upholstery) I found that the passenger side fuel sender is weeping fuel with the tank full and the nose down. I transferred the fuel to the other tank and replaced the gasket with the thicker one that came with the Vans senders. I found some black stuff for carburettor gaskets to seal it with. Unfortunately some of the upholstery in the baggage area has soaked up some gasoline. I'll try washing it with soap & water, but I suspect that, like the fish, I'll never get rid of the smell. Fish? Didn't you hear the joke about Eve skinny dipping?

After the fuel system was back together I wheeled her out once again to see if the new injector wiring made any difference. It didn't. I pushed her back in the hangar and began removing the intake manifold to get at the injectors. The last bolt I came to was loose. Finger tight. This bolt holds the ground strap and the engine ground for the coils. I'd removed a ground for one of the old sensors weeks ago and never retightened the bolt. Could this be the problem? An insecure ground for the coils surely wont help. I was almost done taking the intake off, so I completed the job and removed the injectors. I have no way to test the spread or flow without sending them out for testing, but they all clicked happily when fed 12V. As far as I can tell they're ok, so I began the job of reassembling the primary and secondary rails and installing them on the intake. Clearances are very tight with the rails under the intake and everything has to be done in a specific order otherwise the next piece wont fit. It's one of those jobs where you need 6 pairs of hands to get everything aligned. Many years ago I reassembled a grandfather clock. I remember trying to hold all the cogs and springs in place while installing the backplate. It was good training for this job. By 8pm I was tired, but the worst was over. In the morning I'll finish off the intake system reassembly, reinstall the turbo heat shield, tighten the ground bolt for the coils and give it another try. If this doesn't work I'm totally stumped. Ten days to Rough River. I guess the trip's still possible, but getting less and less likely.

The End of Puberty?

We'll get to the heading in a minute. First, a distraction. On arrival at the hangar I looked at the turbo heat shield, and decided to implement a plan I'd had for a while. The stainless steel sheet between the heat shield and the intake hasn't been doing the job. I know this because the heat resistant paint on the intake had bubbled up. Obviously the stainless was getting very hot, which you might expect since it's an inch from the turbo. It was then radiating that heat onto the intake. To fix this I cut a piece of fiberfrax to the size of the sheet and fixed it in place with some left over steel mesh held to the shield with pop-rivets. Satisfied with the improvement I proceeded to install the manifold. Once the rails were tight, but before bolting the manifold to the engine, I tested the seals by turning on a fuel pump to pressurize the system. Fuel poured out from under the plane.

I disassembled the rails and removed the manifold. One of the O rings had been pinched half in and half out of the groove. After a quick trip to NAPA for a new O ring I assembled the rail with the manifold upside down so I could watch the O rings go in. This time there were no leaks. At this point it occured to me that I could test the spray pattern by triggering the injectors, so I hooked the battery charger to a pair of wires and touched the pins on one of the primary injectors. Wow. I didnt expect the blast of fuel to be so strong. A neat circular jet of fuel sprayed my chest. Cool. I tried the other one and got the same result. The secondaries are a little tricky since they're captured between the rail and the manifold, so I can't see the jet. Triggering them produced a respectable dribble of fuel from the manifold which stopped after a second or two. I think that proves that they're working and shutting off correctly. I did the swiss watchmaker thing for a few hours and, by 9PM, had everything bolted down, screwed tight and wire-tied as needed. I cleaned the tools and garbage off the wings, thought about pushing the plane out for a test start, and decided against it. I'd rather take a good look around in daylight and with a clear head to see if I've missed anything. So. Tomorrow morning we'll know if the bad coil ground caused the problem. Presuming it did I plan to treat this stage as a first engine start. I'll begin with taxi testing with the cowl off, then move on to full power runups and high speed taxi testing. When I'm confident that all is well I'll do a "first" flight staying over the field. From there, I'll catch up to where I was, then proceed with a full flight test plan. Before leaving I cleaned and reinstalled the plugs and reinstalled the upholstery in the back which doesn't seem to smell of gas (much) any more. Lastly I added 15 gallons of gas (plus 2-stroke oil) to the left tank. How's that for confidence?

Oh. About the puberty thing. One of Vance Atkinson's balls has finally dropped. It's true! The pilot side orange ball in the sight gauge is sitting at the bottom of the glass with 20 gallons of fuel in the tank. Maybe it's stuck there with a bit of grease left over from installation. Maybe it's lost it's bouyancy because of contaminants in the MOGAS. Maybe it'll shake loose when I start flying again. Time will tell, but for now it's dropped. Perhaps the other one will drop soon. Who can tell? I'll take it as a sign that the plane's puberty is over and it's ready to "be a man". I wonder if it'll talk to me with a deep voice now.

This part of the flight test page, covering just 2.3 hours of flight time, has almost reached 100k of text. It's time for some airborne adventures....

A chance to work on yard clean-up

To answer your question - No. The engine didnt run right. The symptoms were the same as before. 2300 rpm max, no throttle response and running rich. I called Tracy. After listening to my ranting for a few minutes he asked me to check the voltage on the mixture adjustment pot. He explained how the EC2 reverts to a default high mixture setting if it gets no input from the control panel and this would give the syptoms I'm describing. I should put a voltmeter between the top connector on the pot and ground and see if I get a variable voltage from 0 to 5v as I move the pot. I removed the Program Control Module (PCM) from the panel and was about to hook up the voltmeter when I noticed that two of the pins holding the pot to the board were loose. As I moved the pot I could see them moving in and out. Got it. The board wasn't mounted as well as it could have been, and the pins had been under strain. I called Tracy again, explained what I'd found, excited that we'd found the problem. Well, said Tracy. "We've found A problem. That doesnt mean there arn't others." . I packed up the PCM and the EC2 and dropped them off at Fedex. The lady there recognised me from last time.

So. Now I get a chance to do some much needed hurricane clean-up while I wait for Tracy to fix the PCM and send it back. This is just a few days delay. No big deal, I keep telling myself this. It's not working.

Things to do while Waiting for my PCM

To add insult to injury, and more than enough to qualify for a
BOHICA award, Hurricane Jennie did a sharp left turn and headed straight for West Palm. The Post Office, whose motto says something about maintaining service in "Wind, hail and snow", but doesn't specifically mention hurricanes, closed up shop a day before the hurricane arrived. I assume they have my express mail package from Tracy somewhere.

Saturday, 9/25. To punctuate the yard clean-up I went to the hangar and color sanded one of the strakes. The paintwork has a lot of touch-up where the Polyfiber Top Gloss paint peeled off. I'll repaint it one day, but for now I'll just polish it as best I can. It'll look great from 10,000 ft.

I noticed a gas smell inside the cockpit again. The Vans rubber washer had "squished" out from under the fuel sender and it was dripping fuel. Being over confident, I'd filled both tanks ready for flight, so I couldn't transfer the fuel to the left tank. Instead I removed the fuel line at the rail and added an extension pipe to reach a 5 gallon container. 45 minutes later I had 3 full 5 gallon containers and the level in the tank was well below the fuel sender. I reinstalled the original gasket with the carburettor sealant and tightened it down. Hopefully this time it'll hold. Finally, I parked my car inside the hangar to keep the doors from blowing in, and Char picked me up. Back at the house I boarded up the house windows in the rain, then settled back to watch the storm and read a Clancy novel.

Hurricane #4 came and went quickly with no damage to the house or the plane. Just another 100 ft tree down in the yard. We lost power, of course, but got it back less than 24 hrs later. I checked my email, and received a shipping notice for my EC2. It should be back on Tuesday. Things are looking up. One more day of yard clean-up, then it's back to airplane stuff.

Getting the Repairman Certificate

With another day to kill until my EC2 comes back I decided to finish-up the paperwork. Once the registration is done the FAA, at least at my FSDO, require that you visit the FSDO personally to apply for your repairman certificate. I called to get an appointment (they wont see anyone without one) and check what I needed to bring. Application form, builders log, registration, airworthyness cert, green card (since I'm an alien). I stopped in at the hangar on the way to pick up the copy of this web site I'd laboriously printed, chapter by chapter for this occasion, only to find that it wasnt there. It must be on the bookshelf at home. Hmmm. I didnt feel like a 10 mile round trip to collect it, and I DID have a box full of construction photos. If he wanted to see the log, I'd point him to the web site. Decision made, I headed south to Ft Lauderdale.

I stopped in to visit with fellow Cozy Wankler, Bulent Alieve, on the way. His plane is really coming along. He's at the overwhelming stage of installing wires and pipes at the back. This is going to be one excellent airplane when it's done. I don't think I want to park next to it. The paintwork is way better than mine (not that that's hard with the peeling Top Gloss), and the zolotone inside looks excellent. Almost makes me want to rip my tacky looking upholstry out. The Lancair canopy and wider front seat makes the front much less pointy. Probably not quite as good for drag, but great for visibilty and comfort. The one thing I'm not sure about is Bulys P51 scoop arrangement. I hope it works for him. Buly & I had a Mexican for lunch, then I drove over to the FSDO in time for my appointment.

I was greeted by Joe, who sat down with me and asked if I'd built the entire plane myself. I verbally listed a few of the things I hadn't built - wheels, gear hoop, canopy, AN hardware etc. then showed him a couple of pictures of me working on the plane. This seemed to satisfy him. He took my pilot certificate, green card, drivers license, registration, airworthiness cert, (to take copies) and application form 8610-2 and disappeared. Almost an hour later he returned with a neatly typed (temporary) Repairman Certificate with my name spelled wrong, and the date of certification reversed, English style. Oops. Ten minutes later I was on my way with a corrected certificate. Like the DAR, he didn't ask to see my builder's log. There was no "grilling" to see if I knew anything about airplanes and no details requested regarding what was build when. Just 2 pictures (from a box of hundreds) and a 2 minute conversation was all it took. The bad news is that the DHL web site is rejecting my tracking number. Maybe I'll have the EC2 back tomorrow. Maybe I wont.

Apparantly DHL didnt want to drive all the way out to Bell, FL to pick up packages. It IS a long way, but isnt that what they DO??? As of Tuesday evening 9/28, the EC2 is still at Tracy's awaiting collection. All I can do at this point is either drive up and get it, or polish the paintwork till it arrives. I polished the paintwork. The cowl was painted a long time ago, but it never got color sanded. It probably never would have. I sanded it down with 400, then 600 grit. Tomorrow or the next day I'll work my way through 1000, 1500 and 2000, then polish with medium and fine cut paste before buffing with swirl remover and finally waxing. Like the rest of the plane, it's going to need repainting anyway, but in the meantime it'll look better with a bit of a shine on it.

Swedish Tractor

Thursday 9/30 I gave up my reservations at Rough River and asked if someone there would setup reservations for me for next year. I missed RR last year because of problems with Rich Hughes' engine on his Cozy III. This year I couldn't go because of problems with my own engine. That's a step forward - right?

DHL's web site says my EC2 is "With the courier" somewhere in West Palm. The courier is apparantly keeping it for himself, or lost, cause it's 6pm and he isnt here yet. Their new motto must be "If you definately, positively need it some time next week...". The DHL rep says I should have it by 7pm today. I'll believe it when I see it.

To help pass the time I hooked a tow rope to my swedish tractor and towed 10 foot logs off the lawn to the roadside for pickup. So far I have about 30 logs averaging 2 feet in diameter lining the roadside. I'm probably about 1/5th done. Next morning my neighbor, Butch, showed up with his American made tractor of slightly more appropriate design, and finished off the front yard in about 30 minutes.

On Thursday evening I was told by DHL customer service that their driver couldnt find my house. After getting lost three times (despite receiving directions twice), and delaying delivery a further day, they finally delivered the package at 4:30 on Friday. Pathetic. By 5:30 I was at the hangar fitting the new parts.

Caring for a Racehorse

Tracy supplied a new EC2 control module (PCM) complete with a nice black & white etched panel. Rather than attach the PCM to the panel using the switches and pots as before, I cut a slot and used the predrilled holes in PCM backplate so there will be no strain on the individual panel connections. The PCM is 4 inches wide, so there's a 2.5 space on one side of it where I need to put the injector switches. I made a small aluminum panel to mount these, and moved the two switches which power the EC2 to a new location.

I don't consider myself superstitious, but I find myself doing things that would make you think I am. For example, the EC2 and PCM were installed, and I was ready to try to start the engine. Did I? No. I'd noticed that the seats had got a bit dirty from me climbing in and out, so I decided to clean them first. I took them out and dumped all the crud, then cleaned them with the degreasing fluid I'd bought for the engine. This got rid of the dirt and took the scuffs off nicely. Next I used compressed air to blow dust off the interior and the canopy. There were a few runs of colored water where I'd been color sanding the paint, so I wiped these off with a damp cloth, then poshed the nose with fine cut and wax. Why do all this cosmetic stuff before starting the engine? As the heading says, it's a bit like looking after a racehorse (not that I've ever done that). You don't just climb on and ride. You have to feed it sugar lumps, brush it down and talk to it first. Perhaps it's just that I know that once the engine's running these little things won't get done. I don't know. I just find that I have this "NEED" to look after my bird, pamper it and make sure it's happy. Strange, but true.

Sometimes I get the feeling that a series of unrelated events are conspiring to keep me on the ground. First the EM2. That was my fault combined with less than explicit instructions. Then a hurricane. Next the EC2. That was a software problem. Then another hurricane. Then the PCM. That was my fault for mounting it badly. Then DHL took a week to bring it 400 miles. Today I was expecting to be ready to do some taxi testing, but no. What could be wrong now? The hangar door is bust. It opens about 4 feet then the runners start to bind. I can't get the plane out of the $%#@ing hangar.

With everything ready to go, and all the clean-up done, I decided to try an engine start in the hangar. I climbed in and, feet firmly on the brakes, went through my engine start steps.

Injector switches on. 
Coil switches on. 
Boost off. 
Cowl flap closed. 
Throttle 1/2 inch. 
Mixture full rich. 
Mode zero set.
Cold start on. 
Computer A select. 
Fuel pump switches on. 
Master on. 
Essential bus on. 
Alternate battery on. 
Start switch to both. 
Look around. Shout clear. 
Key to start...... 

The solenoid clicked, but the starter didnt turn. I tried again. This time, not even a click. Maybe the batteries are low - the EM2 says I have 12.6v. Maybe the contactor on the firewall failed. Maybe she wants another sugar lump. I shut off the light and went home for some lunch.


Thinking this might act as a good "sugar lump", I used my Brother PC 1500 label printer to make new labels for the injector and coil switches, then went down to the hangar for another evening session.

Well, I got some noise. Not the proper noise yet, but it's progress. Here's how I worked up to it:
First the starting circuit. I jumped the battery to the starter contactor on the firewall. It clunked. I pulled the ignition switch and tested for voltage on the start terminal. No volts. What about incoming volts to the switch. No volts. OK. Has to be the fuse. Yep. The fuse was gone. I replaced the fuse, reinstalled the ignition switch and the starter worked. But - why had the fuse blown? When I first set the system up with two contactors, one on the firewall and one on the starter, I'd jumped the fat lead on the starter to the solenoid lead. This time, when I reinstalled the firewall contactor (to stop the fat lead in the engine compartment being always live), I'd omitted to put the jumper on. So the starter solenoid was getting it's voltage from the ignition switch. That's two contactors on the same fuse. Hence the blown fuse. At least that's my theory. I reinstalled the jumper and the starter works fine now.

I'd relocated the switches, so before trying a start I decided to check voltage on the coils and injectors and check the labels were on the right switches. The coil check went fine. I removed the connectors from the primary injectors and checked the voltage on the incoming pins. Rotor 2 showed 12v on both pins. That's not right. One should be 12v and the other should be nothing. Looking closely at the plug I saw it was wet. The cup that the plug goes into on the injector was full of water. Geesh! That can't help matters much. The plane had got wet during the hurricane. The cowl was off. Water must have landed on the injector plugs and stayed there. I dried the plug and connector off with compressed air and got rid of the cross connection. Hmmm. Maybe I should waterproof these plugs somehow. You wouldnt normally expect water to get up there, but still.... The plug for rotor 1 was also wet, and I was getting 4v on the dead side. I blew it off and still had 4v. Strange.

Are you getting bored with all this detail? If so, please send me an email to sladerj at bellsouth dot net [lets see if the spiders can figure THAT out] to let me know, and I'll cut it back some.

Anyway, back to the chase. I traced the wire back to the EC2 connector. Still 4v. OK. I removed the EC2 connector. Still 4V. I was about to go into the connector plug when I checked the EC2 manual and realized that this wire also goes to the EM2 for fuel info. Hmmm. I removed the EM2 plug P3 that the wire goes to and the voltage went away. So. The EM2 is sending 4v up the ground wire for rotor 1 primary injector. Maybe it's supposed to do this. Maybe not. I'll check with Tracy in the morning. In the meantime I decided to try an engine start (with the hangar door closed), hopefully to end the evening on a ZZZZ note. The engine started right away and ran more smoothly. Still limited to about 2300 rpm, but at least it didnt feel as though it was going to hurt itself. Not wanting to choke myself on exhaust fumes, I only ran it for a minute or so. Even then I had to go outside fairly quickly to get some fresh air. Perhaps a little tuning in mode 3 will get the mixture in range and it'll run normally. Perhaps my EM2 is still faulty and has to go back to Tracy. Maybe the water in the injector connectors shorted something out. Maybe I can snip the connection to the EM2 and run the engine ok for now. One thing is certain. If it has to go back, DHL won't be taking it. Tomorrow I have a 50 foot 4000lb door to fix before I can run the engine outside and try any tuning. Come on, Mr Murphy. Give me a break here.

Free at Last

Instead of flying back from Rough River, much of Sunday 10/3 was spent looking up Al's shorts as I supported the ladder he was working on. Al's a fellow canardian who drives the LongEZ in our hangar. We worked hard for 6 hours removing and replacing cables and pulleys. One of the pulley bearings had collapsed, so we "borrowed" one from the hangar across the way. They'll never miss it.

I spoke to Tracy. He suggests trying a run with the suspect wire disconnected to see if it makes a difference. After 6 hours working on the hangar door I was in no mood to do anything with the airplane. The door works now, so the airplane is free at last. I'll start fresh and early in the morning.

Inner Doubts

Next day I disconnected the rotor 1 primary injector connection to the EM2, installed clean plugs, wheeled her out and cranked her up. Same as before. I reconnected the EM2 wire while it was running. Same, except now I get an RPM reading on the EM2. The engine starts fairly well, and runs consistently, but has VERY poor throttle response. 2300 rpm is all I can get on full throttle. I tried leaning the overall mixture range, adjusting the timing setting in the EC2, turning primary and secondary injectors off in turn, turn leading and trailing coils off in turn, flipping to computer B. All these things make it run worse. Nothing makes it run better. As Tracy said - it's got to be something really basic. I noticed the MAP again, bouncing around 30 at any high throttle setting. It drops when I reduce throttle, but wont go over 30. Strange. After shutdown I removed a couple of wire ties that were holding the MAP sensor hoses. Maybe they got crimped, but surely not both of them by the same amount.

After a lunch break for the engine to cool down I removed the plugs. All were black with soot, but the prop wasn't covered as it has been when I had mixture problems in the past. I've pretty much proven the ignition system by seeing a good spark on each plug, so I dived into the injection system. I put a 12v bulb on each circuit to ensure good conductivity then grounded the other side of each injector to check for the "click". Everything checks out. So, if the ignition and injection systems are good, we're back to compression. I've done a simple compression check, but that doesn't check the individual pulse of each rotor. I drove over to Japtrix, the local mazda race shop, where they have the proper compression tester, and asked Roger to come down to the hangar and check my engine out. I described the symptoms. He said "When I hear it. I'll know".

When I first heard the engine run after the refit I had a gut feeling that there was an internal mechanical problem, that's why the first check I did was a compression test. There IS 105# compression on each rotor, but it could be on just one face instead of three. Maybe an apex seal has broken leaving two of the faces rotors unsealed on one rotor. The engine has never run this way before, despite all the mixture and wiring issues I've been through. With the mixture way out of wack it might run rough, coat the prop in black oily stuff and blow blue smoke, but it was always responsive to throttle. Full throttle always brought the rpm up quickly with a WWWoooooW sound. Now I get more of a Brrrrooouuuggg. I'm beginning to resign myself to the thought that something has blown inside the engine. O rings, perhaps - these were the standard ones, not the high temp teflon now recommended by Tracy. But then - there's no oil in the water or water in the oil. I'd lay good odds on an apex seal. These are 3mm, but they're not the special ones Tracy has come out with since. Then, on the other hand, it doesn't seem likely that I'd have two failures at the same time, and the manifold pressure reading seems strange. It ran fine till the turbo blew, and was actually running better on the return flight with a blown turbo than it is now. There was plenty of oil left when I landed. Hmmmm. What could it be? Hopefully I'll know tomorrow .... provided Roger shows up.

This page is getting way too long. This is what's known as a cliff hanger. You have to go to the next page to find out what happened.

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