Chapter 30 - Flight Testing - part Deux

Introduction

When the 40 hours was done I decided that my Cozy project was essentially complete and the need for a daily log of events was at an end. This web site had been created to relate my experiences during construction for the benefit of other builders, not document my entire life.

When I posted the "final" chapter I received quite a few emails and phone calls from people who were suffering withdrawal symptoms. Apparantly many people liked to begin and/or end their day by checking on my progress, my sucesses and my failures. My response was to apologized for the trauma and encouraged these people to get on with their own dreams. Still the complaints kept coming. Even my hangar mates were on my case, and they got one-on-one updates every week. Strangely, I also found that I missed the daily exercise of recording the good, bad and ugly events. The learning exercise is certainly not over, in fact in many ways it is just beginning. I settled on a compromise. This page is being built day by day as things progress. Maybe some day I'll release it under the title "John and the Sorcerer's Stone" or something similar. Maybe I'll just post it on the web site in one big lump. Who knows? At least the on-going saga is being recorded and the detail, the trauma, the fun and the frsutration isn't being lost in the haze.

Pure Agony

We take up the story on July 4th, 2005. After the final flight to complete the 40 hours I got home to an enourmous honey-do list. The first item was chain-sawing a few small trees in the front yard. I dutifully dragged the chain saw from it's hiding place and pulled the start handle.... and pulled and pulled. After 15 minutes at this I was exhausted and gave up.

Next morning I couldn't move. Getting to the bathroom was an exercise is pure agony that involved sliding out of bed and crawling across the floor very carefully and painfully. It took me an hour to make it to the couch, and there I stayed. No way I could even think about getting showered or dressed. I wanted a cup of coffee, but just the thought of getting off the couch and crawling to the kitchen was enough. I did without the coffee and slept most of the day.

When Char got home from work she gave me some Celebrex we had in the cabinet and looked after me. By Friday of that week I was able to walk with assistance ...just enough to make it to the ER. They diagnosed a pinched nerve and/or pulled muscle/tendon and gave me pain and muscle relaxant shots (that hurt like hell) and some serious pain pills to get rid of the extra pain they'd just caused. To cut a long and agonizing story short, it was almost 3 weeks before I was off the pain pills and felt fit enough to fly.

A Wasted Three Weeks?

Not really. I got a few things done. By doping myself up with pills and stealing the instructor's recliner chair I managed to sit through an excellent two day (20 hour) "accelerated IFR Written" course. It took a while to get over this, but I set the laptop up by the couch on the DSL wireless network and used a very useful website to help with revising all the material. A week later I hobbled down to the airport, took the FAA test and passed with a 92. Believe it or not, this is the third time I've passed the IFR written. On the two previous occasions I ran out of money, time or both and didnt complete the flight test. This time I'm determined to get it done. The clock is ticking again until July 2007.

I also continued my amicable discussion with Polyfiber about their (now withdrawn) TopGloss paint product that had developed the measels all over my beautifully finished airplane. I spoke with an executive there who passed me on to the President, Jon Goldenbaum. I was very impressed with the way these guys handled the discussion. Not at all defensive, they were open, forthright and eagar to reach some sort of satisfactory conclusion. Jon had already sent me a full kit of primer and gloss Aerothane paint at no charge, but, I told him, he forgot to send the 15 illegal immigrants I'd need to get the old paint off and do the prep work.

I know. You want to hear about flying, not about paint. OK. Cutting a long, but pleasant series of phone conversations and emails as short as I can, here's the bottom line. Without the need for threats, accusations or unpleasantness of any kind, PolyFiber offered me a very liberal "refund" for ALL the materials used in the original paint job. This included estimates for abrasives, masking materials, etc. etc. Then they added in a refund for the retail value of the free paint they'd already sent. Interesting logic for sure, but if it satisfied their internal policies, I wasn't about to argue. The total was a fairly healthy sum which I accepted as reasonable compensation for all pain and suffering involved in scraping off the old paint and preparing the plane for repainting. It wouldn't add up to a respectable hourly wage, but at least I would feel better as I did the work. I agreed on the figure, and they cut a check.

Thinking about their side of the equasion I felt that they had no way to come out of this whole thing ahead unless I used their product and had success with it. Also, I'd built a 250 mph airplane from scratch. I did the original paint job myself on my outside patio and was damn proud of the result. I just hated the idea of spending thousands of $$$ to have some local "expert" shoot the paint. Another part of the decision was that the standard, PPG concept, is disgustingly expensive and, if Polyfiber have a good, less expensive, competing product, builders need to know about it. I decided to play guinue pig once again. With Gentlemen like Jon & Greg at the helm, Polyfiber deserve a second chance, and a better share of the composite paint market. I decided to do the work myself, use the free paint Polyfiber had sent, and use the "refund" to buy an SL30 NAV/COM for my panel. This way my remaining panel budget can go toward flight training and a top-of-the line Vor/GS indicator for the SL30. Hmmm...I might even go for an EFIS Lite or Sport. (Later note: As it turned out, the money went to a new IVO in-flight adjustable prop and an Ebay nav system).

So, I advised PolyFiber that I planned to paint the plane myself using the Aerothane paint they'd already sent. Polyfiber's immediate response was to volunteer a complete new kit of Ranthane, a mil spec urathane product line they'd recently acquired when purchasing the Randolf Aircraft paint division, together with trim paint of my choice, all at no charge.

I can't say enough good about the customer support at PolyFiber. Apparantly they'd already "settled" with at least one other builder who, they said, had put them through the wringer with a deluge of emailed accusations, nasty letters and threats of legal action. I wasn't prepared to go that route, and I told them so up front. They came through anyway, and I probably came out well ahead. I'll report how the new paint job works out to the canard world and, if things go well, maybe Polyfiber will come out ahead too. They certainly deserve to. Of course, if the new paint sucks I could also be responsible for putting them out of business. Welcome to America.

Panel revisions

The final achievement of my convalecence was aquisition of a cheap secondary nav system off EBay. With a limited cash budget to spare, I'd been bidding on a KNS-80 LOC/GS/DME but backed out at $202. (I did say limited). I was the highest bidder, but the bidding didn't reach the reserve. The guy also had a KI-203 indicator but the opening on that was $285 so I didn't even bid on it. After the auction I was suprised to receive an email asking if I'd like the KNS-80 unit at the high bid - $202. I said "Sure, and if you'd like to throw that KI-203 indicator in the box, I'll send another $200. Incredibly, the guy agreed, and threw in a DME antenna for free. So, for less than $500, I now have a complete functional number 2 nav system.... that is, so long as it works as advertised and I can make space for it in the panel. The units are guarenteed for 30 days and I've found an Avionics shop just up the coast in Vero Beach and recommended by Greg Richter who'll work on them if needed. (Later note: The avionics shop pronounced the KNS80 and KI203 good to go and gave me yellow tags for both).

A Roll Down the Runway

July 19, 2005. Late evening. I was feeling a lot better. I'd stopped taking the pills the day before and was almost completely pain free. Eagar to get airborne again, I headed down to the hangar. It was a bit late, but then I realized - I can fly at night now. Hmmm. Maybe I'll let the sun go down a bit and start to get a feel for night flying the Cozy.

I'd experienced an oil leak during the previous flight which only occured when the engine was running. Suspecting the crankcase breather I tried blowing through it. Sure enough, the catch can was blocked. Without removing the cowl I disconnected the can and rerouted the breather pipe to the bottom of the cowl. A replacement fuel pressure sender was on my bench, but I didn't feel like taking the cowl off to install it. Also my new tires and were waiting in the box. I wasn't up for that type of work either, so I rolled the plane out and prepared to fly.

The engine started up, Zzzzzd very nicely but was a little rough at idle. It was nice to be back in the saddle as I taxied out to the active in the cool evening air. High rpm was fine during the runup, but the engine was still unusually rough at idle. By the time I completed the take-off checklist and waited for a couple of spam cans, the temps were getting pretty high. Finally I took the runway, gave her 46MAP and 4100 rpm, got up to 70 kts, then thought better of it, hit the brakes and taxied back to the hangar. Next day I was back on the couch and the pills. Ouch. Maybe I wasn't ready for aviating after all.

Fuel Leaks

Over the next week I visited the hangar for a few hours each day to strip some paint, I also filled the tanks to the brim so I could do a second calibration of my fuel flow.

July 23, 2005. After the last runup I decided the cowl had to come off to clean the plugs and check around for a source of the rough running at idle. While the cowl was off I could also replace the fuel pressure sensor. The old plugs were brownish black. I installed a clean set, then removed the old fuel pressure sensor and hooked up my cheap mechanical gauge. 37 PSI. 39 with both pumps. That was when I noticed fuel dripping out of the bottom of the cowl. My quick hookup to the mechanical gauge wasn't leaking, so where was the fuel coming from? I tracked it down to the fuel pressure regulator. With the pump on there was a steady drip which appeared to be coming from the manifold pressure connection on the regulator. Hmmm. I removed the regulator, stripped it down to bare components, checked the diaphram, rebuilt it with ultra-grey sealant and reinstalled it. No leaks.

I'm still not sure why it was leaking. Maybe the hose wasn't tight, but no - I swear the fuel was coming from the manifold connection which should never see fuel. After a very hot and uncomfortable 3 hours in the 120F hangar I was confident that whatever had been leaking was now not leaking. I hate not knowing why it was leaking in the first place, though. Had this leak been present during my last taxi test? I guess it must have been. Had fuel been running back through the manifold pressure hose to the manifold, and screwing up the mixture at idle? Could the leaking fuel have ignited during climb out? I went home hot, sweaty and uncomfortable, thinking about Glenn and the fate I might have just avoided. Thoughts also moved toward fire detection and halon as I cooled off and rested from the day's efforts. A long Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The Hidden Value of Gatorade

I read on a mail list somewhere that Gatorade is THE drink to take with you on a long flight. Why? Because it contains gloucose to help keep you awake? No. Because it tastes good? Definately not. Gatorade is good to drink because, once it's gone, the neck of the bottle is just the right size for use as an emergency toilet. I bought a 6 pack of Gatorade on the way to the hangar. Note to passengers - take a sneak sip of my orange Gatorade at your own risk.

On the next visit to the hangar I made a point of checking for fuel leaks. As soon as I turned on the fuel pump, there it was again - a slow drip from near the regulator. I removed the hoses, hooked them up to the air compressor and gave the entire intake system a leak down test. It held 100 PSI indefinately. Very strange. I removed the fitting that had seemed closest to the leak, cut off an inch of hose, then split it to check the internal condition. It looked like new. I reattached the AN fitting and hooked everything back up again. No leaks. I'm beginning to think this has something to do with expansion of the fuel in the brim-full tanks, but there's no way fuel should ever be able to leak from the hoses or regulator under any circumstances. It shouldn't even be under pressure there. Hmmmmmm.

A few days later I checked for leaks again. No leaks. A little uncomfortably, I installed the cowl and, not feeling much like pushing the plane out in 96F heat, settled for stripping paint from the nose. Two days later, July 30th, 2005, it was my Birthday. Char had a weekend surprise planned, but she'd allowed me a couple of hours in the morning to "play airplanes". At the hangar by 8:30 am, I pushed the plane out and began my pre-flight. While checking the coolant level through the inspection door I turned on the fuel pump, got my flashlight and looked down the firewall. There was a slow drip of fuel from near the regulator which went away after a minute or so. Hmmmm. Let me think.... surprise birthday treat weekend? Fireball in the sky?

There wasn't time to remove the cowl and investigate, so my birthday flight was scrubbed. Just then, two prospective Cozy builders arrived for their first look at a Cozy. I gave them a tour. Calno is a long legged 6'2". He couldn't get his legs under the panel or his head under the canopy, even with the seat cushion removed. I offered to take him for a taxi test ride, but he was just too uncomfortable to stay in the cockpit with his knees tight up against the bottom of the panel. He's set on building a stock Cozy, but there's no way he could ever ride in mine. He'll have to move his seatback aft a little and steal a few inches at the armrests, then I think he'll fit just fine. The fuel leak seemed to be holding off for the moment, so I did a short demonstration run-up, then parked the plane and headed home for my birthday treat. Next week that fuel leak is going to get solved.

Got it

After two days recovering from the weekend (Chars birthday treats tend to be energy intesive) I finally I got down to the hangar on Wednesday. I set up a large light and watched as visitor Tom hit the fuel pump switch. A fine jet of fuel came from the steel braided teflon return hose. There's a dark mark on the hose just at that spot which looks to me to be the result of electrical arching. Who'd have thought that a short would burn through the teflon hose and create a leak. I'd swear I have never cranked the engine with the ground strap missing. (I'm told that's a great way to put lots of amps through the steel braid.) Another possibility is a short with the alternator B-lead, but that would have blown a fuse. I replaced the hose, checked the other one carefully and added insultated heat protective tubing on the outside of all fuel hoses. Hopefully, that's the end of my fuel leak problems. By then it was afternoon thunderstorm time. I reinstalled the cowl and left the plane all buttoned up ready to go.

First Free Flight

Finally, on August 5th, over a month after completing the 40 hrs, the weather was perfect, the fuel leak was fixed, and I was ready. I'd seen no signs of oil leaks after taxi tests, but wanted to do a fairly short local flight to verify that the oil leak was gone. The lift-off seemed a little slow, but she flew nicely and the engine purred happily. I was wondering if the lack of paint might be effecting lift, but then realized that I was full to the brim with fuel. 360lbs of fuel takes the gross weight up to 1930 lb. That makes a difference and I should have expected the slightly longer take-off run. I flew the pattern for a while, staying at 1000' and watching the gauges. All was well, so after 30 minutes I brought her back in to check the oil. The landing was smooth and, all in all it was a pretty uneventful flight. I like that. Back at the hangar there were no signs of oil or fuel leaks. Excellent. The next flight will be of longer duration, then it's time for a little airport hopping. 40.6 on the hobbs. Oh - how did I fix the oil leak? Simple. I followed Buly's advise and unblocked the breather pipe.

I try to do a little scrapping (or is it scraping?) every day. Today it was the underside of the fuselage. A couple of hours of work got the area forward of the landing brake stripped. I considered taking her up again, but was getting hungry, and had paint dust all over me. Maybe tomorrow when I'm fresh.

As I drove home from the airport I watched a guy with one of those powered glider things toodling along at 500' or so. He was 1 mile West of the field heading North. The active runway at the time was 27 (left turns), so he or she was happily crossing the business end going the wrong way on the crosswind. What, if anything, do they teach these people? Do they realize that students climbing in 172s don't tend to look under the nose as often as they should? I wonder if part of the "sport pilot" training involves a "test fit" for a pitot head. From the dictionary I see that "Sport" can be used in the context of mockery or jest. Perhaps that's how they chose the "Sport Pilot" title. Geesh!

The Hindmost's Guide to Flight Testing a Unique Engine Installation

I've read posts by a lot of non pilots who are building Cozy's and planning to get certified along the way. Many of these are planning on or in the process of installing non-standard engines. It occurs to me that a short tutorial in flight testing for dummies, or should I say cowards, might be useful. Those who've read Larry Niven's Ringword will understand the title. Hindmost was a three legged creature from a planet where the biggest and best coward got voted the leader... and he always leads from behind. I feel eminently qualified to give this tutorial since I've been though it, and I'm the biggest coward I know when it comes to flying.

Flight Training. Get current in whatever you've flown most. Do some flaps-up landings, then get at least 2 or 3 hours left seat in a Cozy or similar with 4 or 5 satisfactory landings under full control. Whether you're current in an Airbus 340, a complex Piper Lance or a 152, do NOT fly you're plane until an experienced Canard pilot says you're safe.

If you have a complex alternative engine installation consider approaching the FSDO for approval of a second pilot as essential crew. I recently spoke to someone who did this and did receive approval because "someone had to monitor the computer". If you ask in writing, and they say no, they're butt's on the line, and you've lost nothing. I wish I'd thought of that. Read the FAA flight test circular cover to cover, then read it again. Then again, some flyers I know have decided that the pilot's definition of "essential crew" is what counts, and just gone and flown with two pilots without asking. Perhaps this is a better approach. What they don't know can't hurt them, etc. etc.

Taxi Testing. Do lots of it. Don't lift the nose, and if it starts to come up cut the power immediately. Too many taxi tests turn into inadvertant and ill- prepared first flights or semi-violent hops. Get a feel for how long it takes to stop from 65 kts. Do lots of full power engine runups. Make a nuisance of yourself. Get the engine hot, let it heat soak for a while, then try another long run-up and practice take-off. Try to break something. Only when you've been unable to break something with your best efforts, and you've fixed all the things you did break, is the plane ready to get airborne. Based on your experience with the plane and other peoples efforts prepare physical check lists for pre-flight, pre take-off, downwind and emergencies. (I borrowed Marc Zeitlin's lists and modified them for my plane).

Do Pre-flight, start-up and run-up checks from the typed, ideally laminated, checklist until you know it backwards, then use it line item by line item anyway. Always strap in, wear the headset and close the canopy as you would if you were going flying. The objective is to become totally at home in the cockpit. In the rotary or any electron dependant installation, you'll probably have more buttons, switches and dials than the standard engine installations. Injector defeat, backup fuel, backup battery etc. etc. There are also more inputs to be familiar with - coolant temp, coolant pressure, fuel pressure, possibly manifold pressure etc. etc. Learn what the "normal" readings and trends are. You might even try taxi testing in the dark. Not a bad idea if you can do it safely. You need to be so at home in the cockpit that you can identify any switch by instinct and know your way around the cockpit so that you could do a run-up (or handle an emergency) blindfolded.

First flight. Ideally use a field with at least 5000' of runway, very little traffic, an intersecting runway, no class B or C airspace above, and lots of places to put her down if things go wrong. (I can say this with authority after doing it with only one of those five parameters. I had 3000' of runway in a built-up area - it's nerve-racking and not for the feint of heart). No wives, press, kids or audience of any kind. At most a qualified friend with a handheld to double check you, let you know if anything appears wrong (smoke, bits falling off, etc), but knows enough to STFU and leave you alone otherwise. Have half tanks and mid C of G.

Go when you're ready and not before. Have printed pre-flight and in-flight checklists with you and use them religiously reading each item, not scanning. I found that there's a feeling of haste when the engine's running. Gotta hurry up or it'll overheat - right? Wrong. Take your time. If it overheats shut down and do it again later. Gradually you'll get faster at the details without missing any. Back out at the slightest hiccup either in the plane, the weather or your own performance. If the only negative you hit that day is that the traffic lights aren't all green on the way to the airport, put it off. Forget one thing - ok - maybe. Forget a second - stop and do it another day when you're fresh. Check ALL your redundant systems during the runup, and check your max static rpm. You know what it should be by now, right? Give any departing aircraft lots of time before beginning your take-off roll. (You'd be suprised how quickly you catch up with spam cans that took off before you). Any issues whatsoever on the take-off run - abort. If all seems well at rotation point (including oil pressure, coolant temp, fuel pressure and distance remaining) let her fly off at 75 kts then keep still and don't touch anything except the stick. If you reach 80 kts and she's not flying, give a slow and gentle tug on the stick. Once climbing, don't touch anything except the stick (and that very gently) until you're ready to throttle back a bit on the downwind. Others disagree, but I'd suggest one tight pattern and landing. Period.

The argument to climb over the field, as recommended by the FAA Flight Test circular, and get a feel for the controls makes better sense for a standard engine installation. With a unique installation, and sufficient training in another Cozy, I'd rather get her around once and put her down just in case something's wrong at the back end. During that first flight you will be subjecting the engine installation to a number of "first time" events. Airflow and its effects through the cowling. Deck angles on climb out. Higher rpms on the belts, water pump, alternator. Higher power and higher fuel flow than you've been able to achieve on the ground. Potential for things to come loose with airflow or vibration. There is possibility of leaks caused by any of the above. Many of the possible failures are time related. For example, one first flight pilot had an oil leak from his redrive. Another blew an alternator breaker and subsequently lost ignition from low volts. Both of these incidents would have been minimized or avoided with a short flight.

The argument for an extended flight is that, if you're overhead the field, you can always dead stick to the runway. Great. If something does break that will make your very first landing a do or die situation. No chance to adjust things on final if you get it wrong. Even with Cozy training you probably have zero experience of stopped prop glide in a Cozy. One other consideration might be expense. By the time the engine has stopped the damage may be done. Loss of oil or coolant will probably fry your engine and require a rebuild. Same with the redrive. Another argument put forward is that you need to get some feel for the plane in slow flight. You dont want to be close to stall for the first time close to the ground. I agree. So stay fast on final. Keep well away from the stall speed (canard bob) and worry about this stuff later. If you made it to the downwind it's obvious that the airplane flys and turns like it's supposed to. You know that it starts to fly at around the speed you lifted off, so don't get below that speed plus 15%. Use these newly proven attributes to fly and turn your way home. Now.

Leave the gear down, and don't mess with the speed brake. No victory rolls, please. Touch as few buttons, switches and knobs as possible. As you turn base you might feel that you're short on aileron authority. Use a little rudder to help you in the turn. Do a long flat approach at around 90 kts. (KTs not MPH) Not below 80 kts. Shoot for 80 kts over the threshold. You're ASI hasnt been calibrated yet, so take it's input with a pinch of salt. If 90 kts feels soggy, bump it up to 95. Don't let it get too slow, especially if you have a long (5000') runway. Use both rudders at the same time if you get fast or high on short final (but remember to release just before touchdown). Resist the temptation to flare as you settle on the runway. Just keep still and let her fly on. Check that you're throttle is all the way back. Don't try to hold the nose up or get fancy. Settle for a three pointer or "carrier arrival" on your first landing. Taxi in & shut down. Take the cowl off and give her a good check out, then go get a beer because that's enough for one day. Sleep on it, bask in the success and think you're way through the flight for a day. Let her (and you) cool down. Next day check under the cowl again, then you'll be ready for your second flight.

Second Flight. The objective here is to see if anything goes wrong over time. Stay above the field and in gliding distance of a runway. After two or three tight patterns remaining at pattern altitude on base and final, climb above the field. If it's class B or C airspace, get clearance. If they won't give it, land and call them. Ideally go and meet them beforehand, explain what you need to do and discuss the best time of day for them. Do NOT get outside your cone of safety for the home field for any reason. Raise the gear as you climb out past say 300' (the change in wind noise is very noticable), then lower it again on the downwind to get into the habit. I highly recommend a voice activated gear warning piped into the headset. I'm not a lover of automated systems to raise or lower the gear for you, but if you install one - don't let it do the work for you unless you totally forget. Do the downwind checks from the physical checklist. Keep the flight fairly short - say one hour at very most. You'll be suprised how fast you get tired at this stage. Use your physical check lists. Don't worry about doing practice stalls or slow flight. The "canard bob" is very benign. It's not going to jump up and bite you. In fact its a bit of an anti-climax when you do feel it, so long as the first time isnt 10 feet above the runway because you let it get too slow over the numbers, it's just not an issue. On the second flight I wanted to leave the throttle alone as much as possible. The engine's running fine, so don't change anything was my feeling. Just fly the airplane and keep a close eye on the engine gauges.

No touch & gos, high-speed low-level fly-bys or long practice approaches. Be high and fast on final. Climb-out is your most vunerable time. Avoid it like the plague. Being in that "Oh Sh.t" zone once during each flight is enough to begin with. If anything seems just a little bit wrong, and I mean ANYTHING - bring her in for a landing. If something feels wrong at a bad time, say when you're turning crosswind with a 172 on the downwind ahead, don't hesitate to call Mayday, take the active out of turn and put her down immediately. I DID call Mayday on one occasion. Spam cans scattered in all directions and the field was mine. One less thing to worry about. It turned out to be a non-event, but there were no phone calls from the FAA, no forms to fill out and no worries. If you need priority, just take it and worry about the consequences later. There probably won't be any.

Subsequent flights. Get some altitude (over the field) and get used to "cranking and banking" the plane as you might have to in a precautionary landing. After some experimentation with Paul Conner during my check ride, I got my practice for real. It would have been nice to get ahead of the game. Get a feel for slow flight and canard bob and the speed at which it occurs under various weight, C of G and bank conditions. Get used to the effect of one and both rudders and the slight pitch change from the landing brake. For at least the first 10 hours or so, or longer if you like, stay in your cone of safety. Treat that cone of safety like your mother's milk. You're not going anywhere during the first 40 hours anyway. Calculate the height you need to be at to "airport hop" around the local airports. For example, I have three airports, each about 35 miles apart in a triangle. From 10,000' I can glide half way with room to spare, so 10,000' was my play height and I didn't venture far outbound till I reached it. The controllers get use to you after a while. Speaking of controllers - use them. We pay they're salary and they're mostly good people - really they are. If you tell them you're an experimental on flight testing they'll help you any way they can. If they won't talk to you, try "Experimental Cozy Nxxxx on initial flight testing. Pause. Request a response" This worked well for me once when I needed some help. Another thing about ATC is that they often ignore VFR traffic when they're busy. They seem to ignore experimentals even more, when calling them, try just the N number as first contact. I found that "November 96 Papa Mike, Palm Beach" worked where a prefix of "Experimental" didn't. Obviously the next call should include "Experimental". The book says you should say Experimental, or type but not both. Cozy is a quick word to say, so I tend to say "Experimental Cozy .....". This gives them extra information that'll help with they're traffic clearance and I've never had a complaint yet. When you just tell them "experimental" I've found that the traffic alerts and vectors go all wrong as they assume you're an ultralight doing 60kts. More than once they've come back to me, confused, with "Say again aircraft type". The answer "Cozy four" usually works and Cozy is an accepted ATC type. Another valid response is "Hotel Xray Bravo" where H=homebuilt, X=experimental and B=100 - 200kts IAS cruise speed.

You'll have teething issues to deal with. Every time you do something to the engine, treat the next flight as a first flight - i.e. once around and back down. That will probably mean a lot of "first flights". A large percentage of engine-outs happen after maintenance, and you'll be doing lots of maintenance during those first few hours. Torque the prop after the first couple of hours and change the oil. Leave the wheel pants off for the first 10 hours or so, then do some high speed taxi testing with them on before flying.

Write down your squawks on a clip-board and physically check them off before the next flight. Do not fly with a known squawk of any kind. There should be no sense of urgency in flight testing, or flying for that matter. If you feel pressure to fly; either self induced or from your peers - ignore it. It took years and many dollars to create your new toy. A few extra days, weeks, or even months of checking and/or correcting errors should be accepted as part of the process.

Be a pedantic Hindmost, and proud of it, but finally, when everything is right, open that throttle wide, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride. Thank you for listening to my lecture. I hope it helps someone.

I'll end this with a short comment from Tracy Crook:

In choosing to do this, you are betting your life that you have the necessary skills and knowledge [I would add tenacity] to develop a one of a kind aircraft propulsion system - not a trivial task, and a far greater challenge than using time proven systems based on conventional aircraft engines. If your primary goal is to build an aircraft and fly it safely, buy an aircraft engine from a reputable source and install it to the best of your abilities. Do not consider cost as the primary reason for doing otherwise. Only if you have some 'Fire in the Belly' to power your aircraft with some alternative should you even consider it. If you do, there is no better alternative than the Mazda rotary. The up-side is the satisfaction gained from successfully meeting the challenge - it is beyond description. If you save a nickel in the process, consider it a small bonus.

Nearly another flight

I planned a flight to Vero Beach to visit with the avionics guy. In between thunderstorms, paint scraping and honey-dos I didn't get another chance to fly until August 9th. I was at the hangar by 7:30 am and by 7:45 I was running up at the hold point. Everything was fine, except the EGT which had been reading over 2000F since the first moment of start-up. I'd looked behind me while taxiing and was pretty sure there wasnt a fire, but still - 2000F doesnt feel good. The main clue that the reading was false was that it went down to 1500 during the runup. Must be a bad ground on one of the EM2 sensors. I moved a couple recently to give me the temperature of the coils and the alternator. Tracy had a coil failure with in-cowl temps of 190F. I have a blow tube on the coils to help keep them cool, but it would be nice to know what the running temperature is. Anyway, I wasn't about to take off with an EGT reading over 2000F so I taxied back to the hangar. So, instead of flying I scraped paint for a while, then decided it was time to replace the tires, tubes and brake pads. I want this done before Char rides in the plane and all the parts were on hand. I removed the wheel pants and decided that yes - it was high time these tires came off. Both tires were bald on the outside (which is strange since gear is a bit splayed and the tires are running on the inside), but there were no threads showing. The right one looked somewhat mishapen - that is the outside was lower than the inside - much more than could be accounted for by the wear. According to the instructions (that I didnt get with the first set) the new tires need to sit inflated for 24 hrs with no weight on them so that the tire expands evenly. Apparantly you get shimmy if you dont do this. Hmmm.

How do I jack up both mains at the same time? I lower the nose, put padded supports under the wings, then raise the nose on the nose-lift. I had to help it as the weight came on and it didn't seem very happy so I stopped there and jacked the wings up a few more inches with my car scissor jack. I removed both wheels, dissassembled them, installed the new tubes and tires (with the red dot next to the valve), and reinflated them to 60 PSI. Next I removed the old brake pads and replaced them with new ones which came ready assembled from Matco. The old pads were about 25% worn, but I now have instructions for bedding in new pads that I didnt have before. I'm really hoping for much improved braking and a big reduction in the shimmy from this refit. I left the plane sitting on jacks while the tires did their expansion thing.

Next day I safety wired the calipers, repacked the wheel bearings and put everything back together. The bedding in instructions say to do a run-up and note the static at which the wheels will turn. 3950. Now do three high speed taxi tests with medium braking. Let the brakes cool off for 10 mins, the try the static again. I got to full static of 4050 with no movement. I took her on the runway and tried another braking test from 50 knts. It seemed to stop better, but there was some serious shimmy down at 25 kts or so. I'm hoping this will go away as the brakes bed in. Before doing the taxi tests I added a ground for the thermocouple at the coils, but that didn't fix the EGT. I think the thermocouple on the alternator must be picking up some stray volts, so I'll move this thermocouple back to where it was in the morning. Hopefully that'll set the EGT back to normal, then the cowl can go back on and I should be able to do a longer duration flight.

Port St. Lucie

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

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

I landed and taxied up to the famous Tiki Restaurant. Six hours, a good lunch and a complete replumb of the static system later I was on my way with yellow tags on everything and sign offs on the transponder/encoder/altimeter and static system. Anyone in the South of Florida looking for avionics help, talk to Larry at Treasure Coast. I highly recommend them. Unlike many avionics shops, Larry is understanding of us "experimental" types and his fees are very fair. They were working on a nice Velocity panel while I was there. While I was at treasure coast avionics having my altimeter and encoder checked I also asked Larry to take a look at my KNS-80 and KI-203. Oh no, more Ebay avionics!",he said resignedly as he hooked the items up to his test gear. Over a period of 15 minutes his expression changed. He was muttering to himself. I caught the words Nice and excellent!. When he was all done, he pronounced both items to be in perfect health, and wrote out yellow tags for them. When I told him how much I paid, he suggested I could sell them and almost have enough profit to pay for a decent radio. There was a slight hint of sarcasm in that statement, but I let it go. What I need next is an IND 351A to go with my KNS80, and an SL30 to drive my KI203, then I'll have a full set. Later I'll upgrade the heads to EFIS Lites, or even a Sport. A cheap ADF would be nice for IFR practice.

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

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

Only one squawk resulted from that flight - the EGT is still reading unpredictably.

A Three Month Rework

Once the phase 1 was done I decided to fix the paint, rework the panel and install a new prop. Just like in the plans, you can decribe a hugh amount of work in one sentence. A lot of scraping and sanding, rewiring, a nasty hurricane and almost three months later, the Kitten was finally slick again and ready to fly. What follows is the story of that three months.

Elevator Balance Weight Issues

While preparing the elevator for painting I inadvertantly dropped it on the elevator balance weight. It wasn't much of an impact, but I later noticed that the balance weight had broken it's flox bond with the UNI strap that holds it. Looking at the structure it occured to me that the UNI strap does absolutely nothing to prevent the weight moving in a vertical plane inside the strap. The only things holding this assembly together are a flox bond with the lead, and a small piece of unprotected high density foam. What would happen should this weight break loose in flight? Answer: Immediate and catastrophic elevator flutter and/or a jammed elevator, neither of which are very attractive. I thought about the original design, and whether these issues had been considered. It occured to me that this little piece of foam was the ONLY unprotecteded foam on the plane. Everywhere else the fiberglass and foam hold everything together but here, in this absolutely critical component, we don't protect the foam or form a rigid composite structure. I concluded that this has to be wrong. Either the original designer assumed that we would know by now that you don't leave foam unprotected, or it was a simple ommission from the plans.

What would it take to correct? All we need is a small 2 ply BID wrap that goes over the sides of the counterweight, covers the foam and bonds onto the elevator skin. The cost is negligable, the effort is a matter of an hour or so, and the minimal extra weight could even be countered by skimming a few thou off the front of the lead weight. Whenever presented with a choice I look at the up sides and the down sides. Here there were zero down sides. That makes the choice very easy for me. No downside in one hand, potential catastrophic failure of a flight critical component in the other. A "no-brainer". No?

This is when the trouble started. I announced my findings, conclusions and the proposed fix on the Cozy list and the Canard Forum. I stated that, based on my findings I would ground my plane until the matter was corrected on both balance weights. There ensued the most ridiculous, petty (and, at the same time, enlightening) verbal battle I have ever had the misfortune to witness, and I (and many others, I think) lost a lot of faith in the advice of a few "Engineers" as a result. It was argued that my "dropping" the canard on the balance weight was an unreasonable force that could never be replicated in flight, and that the correction was totally unnecessary. Input was solicited from retired Cozy designer, Nat Puffer, who predictably agreed that the "fix" was unnecessary and took the opportunity to add that I shouldn't be giving advice to other builders. No formal experimentation has been done, so there is no physical evidence other than my example. Not once did any of the naysayers give credence to the logic that the proposed fix could not possibly hurt anything. By these arguments the "engineers" managed to persuade at least one builder NOT to add the fix. What did they accomplish? What added safety will this builder have over those who do the a BID wrap? Answer - absolutely none. What reduced safety will this builder have? Answer - we don't know. Common sense got completely lost in the shuffle. They missed the entire point and put a lot of effort into bashing the messenger. I got to wondering why that might be. These people are usually fairly logical and sensible. Could there be a hidden agenda here? Something of a witch hunt, perhaps? OK, call me the wicked witch of the South. See if I care. I have always been very outspoken, as this entire web site will attest. I've never been shy about admitting my mistakes in the hope that others will be able to avoid the same ones. Along the way I've ruffled the feathers of quite a few fairly fragile egos. Do ego's have feathers? I know Emus do. Is it Emus that bury their heads in the sand, or is that Ostriches? At around this point in the process I came to the conclusion that it is was all a bunch of BS, and wasn't worth the mindspace.

Later, at Rough River, I took the opportunity to walk around and look at elevator balance weights. Interesting. 17 out of the 20 planes I looked at had BID wraps over the balance weights. It seems that a large majority of builders simply figured that that you don't leave foam uncovered, and did the sensible thing by adding a proper composite structure to this very important part. Ah well. Another lesson learned, this time in personalities. My advice, for anyone who wants to listen, is to add a BID wrap to the elevator balance weights unless someone can explain to you why this is not unnecessary, but is actually a BAD idea. I would add that sifting the advice of "experts" through a logic strainer can be both educational and beneficial.

Later still I read that Jannie Versfeld in South Africa had a wheel pant problem on landing and ran off the runway into the "scrublands". Sadly various items were damaged, but what caught my attention was that one of the elevator balance weights came off. I suspect that this was not from any kind of impact, but from vibration as the plane bounced along on the rough grass. I've heard that flutter caused by rudders, elevators or ailerons, or loss of a prop blade, can result in severe vibration of the canard. Dave Domier, who lost a prop blade to a heat muff, decribed the canard as moving about a foot each way, so fast that he couldn't see it. Could this vibration create forces similar to those experienced by Jannies canard? Enough to break the foam / flox bond and detatch the balance weight thus turning a very bad situation into a killer? Can you think of a way to ensure this doesnt happen to you? Hint - it isn't what the "experts" and the designer recommend.

Hurricane Wilma

About 50% of the aircraft at Lantana were destroyed by the storm.

More than a hundred singles and twins both in hangars and on the ramp were totalled. The door of the hangar opposite me collapsed and crushed two 172's, a mooney and a J3 piper cub.

I'm minus one patio, a hot-tub and about 200 sq ft of roof, but thankfully the storm did no damage to the structure of our house or to the airplane. Al parked his car up against the door inside the hangar. I highly recommend this technique to anyone facing an oncoming hurricane.

The wind pushed the heavy steel door inward enough to dig large holes in the concreate and shift the car sideways about 18"... but it held. A little repair on the door mechanism and we're good as new, other than the dings in Als car where it impacted the tip of his LongEZ spinner.

The only problem I had was a little delay on the paint job while I waited for the power to be reconnected. A few months later I chain-sawed all the downed trees and rebuilt the patio roof.

Rough River

Strange pictures for a fly-in? This was the stage I was at when Rough River weekend arrived. I had been targeting Rough River as the first long trip for the Cozy. The storm and other delays left me spraying the trim colors late on the Friday of Rough River weekend, when we should have been departing for Kentucky. Before leaving the hangar I threw my Performance Prop in the car, just in case. I got home at about 7pm and, tentatively mentioned to Char that this was Rough River weekend. OK, she said. We're not missing another one. Lets drive. It's in Kentucky, I said. Have you looked at the map? Its about 1000 miles each way. Hmmm. She was obviously thinking about it. Actually she was calculating. If we drive through the night we should get there about mid-day, she announced. So... we threw a tent and sleeping bags in the Tahoe and headed North. As we cross the Florida border at about midnight it occured to me that we were about 1/3 of the way. Ah well. At about lunch-time Saturday we rolled into Rough River, checked into our room at the Pine Tree Motel (a lucky cancellation) and met up with all the canardians at the airport. I still had the maroon trim paint on my hands, so at least I was able to show off the color. We spent an excellent afternoon and evening watching the canards come and go and talking Cozy, then chatted with the Canard Forum guys and others late into the night.

Next morning we awoke late to the sound of engines roaring over our heads. We had the end room at the motel which is almost directly in line with the departure end of the active runway. The canards were leaving. As Char dressed and did whatever it is girls do for an hour when you want to go somewhere, I stood by the door and watched. Each time a canard took off, Char rushed to the door in varying stages of "readiness" to see the bird pass overhead. The supercharged IO540 Cozy did a high speed pass. Wow. Char was too slow and missed it. I almost missed it, and I was watching the sky! After a good breakfast and more chatting with Cozy builders, I handed my Performance Prop over to Chrissi for a test of her prop duplicating machine, and we headed South. We arrived back in West Palm just in time for Char to get to work on Monday morning. 2200 miles and 34 hours on the truck "hobbs". Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? No. Next time we're going in an airplane.

Builder Assistance

As you may know, I formed a corporation, Canard Aviation Inc., under which I registered the airplane. Once the testing was done I planned to travel around the country visiting builders who needed a "push" on their projects. As it turned out, the testing took a little longer than expected, but the Canard Aviation Inc website was up, and interest was being shown. Chad Robinson in CT didn't want to wait for the plane to be ready, so we decided to utilize SouthWest this time. I arrived at Hartford International in early October and Chad picked me up in his "rally car". I think it's some kind of special Subaru. I don't think regular Subaru engines go that fast.... even in a Cozy. The drive to his home was fun, but it convinced me that Chad needs to complete his airplane soon. If only to keep him off the roads.

Chad & I spent five very full days working on his wings. It was work, eat, work, eat, talk cozy, sleep, eat, work for the entire time. We hot wired all the cores, assembled them into wings and installed the sheer web on one of them. I really enjoyed the trip, and I think Chad got the progress and motivation he was hoping for. He must have, because when presented with my invoice, he said it was too low and almost tripled it. Chad has already suggested that I return two or three times for more "pushes" next year. He wants his plane finished in early 2007. So do all the other residents of Conneticut.

An Ugly Moment in Cozyland

After my week long visit with Chad he commented on the Cozy list that I'd helped him with his build. He immediately received (and forwarded on to me) a private email from a Cozy builder, flyer and sometimes respected engineer in which he was advised NOT to use my services. The email stated that my aircraft was structurally unsound and "an example of how not to build an airplane". The interesting part of this was that the email was from an individual who has NEVER SEEN MY PLANE. Apparantly this guy had talked with a few people that had, and said he trusted their judgement. They didn't want to come forward, so he had taken on the role of point man. A series of private emails and phone calls followed during which we attempted to find someone - anyone - who had actually seen my plane and had something - anything - bad to say about it. No one could be found. I considered taking the whole thing public and demanding that ANY evidence of a problem be brought out. There was a dicotomy here. Surely it's a builder's responsibility to give detail on any safety issue. No detail could be unturned. My accuser had already made similar comments in public and refused to provide details or names. More of the witch hunt?

In the end I listened to the advice of a couple of builders and took the high ground. I considered the very detailed inspections done by Dan Crugar, Paul Conner, Benoit LeQuoc and, last but by no means least, my very experienced canard builder and DAR, John Murphy. All these inspections had resulted in a few minor comments and a lot of major compliments.

The long and short of it seems to be that this Dickhead had overheard some builders laughing and joking about my various trials and tribulations and had taken the opportunity to try to discredit my efforts and skills for reasons of his own. I've butted heads with this person in public on a number of occasions. It's another example of ruffled feathers and damaged egos. EGO has no place in airplane building or flying. I'd advise this person to get a life and cease and desist with what could easily construed as liable. I'd also advise him to stay well away from Char. Me - I'll share a beer with him any day - but I'll make a point of never turning my back.

The really funny part of all of this is that, as might be expected from any clear thinking builder, the email had the exact opposite effect to what was intented. It rebounded. The dicotomy and the biased accusations served to discredit not me, but the accuser himself. Chad & I have since become very good friends and have worked together several times since. In fact I ended up moving to Connecticut and working with Chad in some of his business enterprises. In the scheme of things this incident is petty and insignificant, but it says a lot about the character of one individual who, as you've guessed by now, will remain nameless and, in my personal opinion, gutless.

Installing the IVO

So, after that slightly distasteful and sordid interuption, back to the story. The IVO prop arrived 8 days after the order was placed. It seemed like a very small box for a three blade prop. The three blades come bolted together. Cost was just over $2000. IVO will not supply this prop for use on a Lycoming engine because of the vibrations and pulses. It is available for the rotary and Franklin 6. A parts bag contains the motor with it's knurled pressure plate, a matching knurled back plate, three plastic (delron?) spacer rings, two aluminum "electric" rings and a machined aluminum end plate that (if you order it right) matches the SAE2 drive plate on the end of engine or, in my case, the redrive. All bolts needed to assemble the prop and various plates are included. The bag also contains a small delron brush holder with two carbon brushes. This has to be mounted so that 12V power is supplied to the two isolated rings which connect to the motor. Also supplied is 16g wire (not quite enough for a Cozy), a 10A CB and a plastic 2 pole (on) OFF (on) switch. When power is applied the motor rotates a steel lever which is engaged in slip fittings at the end of each blade. As the motor turns the blade twists visibly.

My switch seemed a bit sticky and hard to press, so I called IVO. The reaction - "I'll express a replacement out today. The replacement is better, but I might replace this switch with a higher quality metal one. I also ordered some spare brushes and a spare brush holder. Apparantly the brushes need to be replaced after about 30 hours for the first set, then they last increasingly longer up to about 100 hrs.

Mounting the brushes isnt very hard. I checked with Tracy at RWS, then made a flat horseshoe shaped 4130 1/8 steel bracket which is anchored by four of the redrive end-plate screws. The horseshoe has a protrusion as shown in the picture below which is drilled for a 3 inch #5 AN bolt at just the right spot to position the brush holder 1/16th from the power transfer rings. I cut the head off the bolt and threaded both ends for nuts and washers to allow adjustment. The clearance is tight, but entire installation seems very rigid. If I were doing this again (which I probably will) I'd make a bracket which turned a right angle once past the redrive stub, then another right angle to get out to the brush area. This way I'll be able to fit my flow guide. Then again, this would mean that the prop has to come off to change the brushes.

Assembling the prop is quick and easy. It took about an hour. It is torqued to 65lb, then checked, checked and rechecked after the first taxi test and during the first few hours of flight. Once settled it needs to be checked about every 10 hours. In my case this will involve removing the spinner. I found that the prop bolts didnt move after about 3 hours.

Speaking of spinners, fitting one is a little tricky. I think it needs one because the motor sticks out the back and looks a bit too "phallic" for my taste. Your mileage may vary (a lot). As shown, the backplate is very close to the brush holder. (about 0.1 inches).

In general the prop looks excellent. It seems to be very well made. The blades come in any color you like so long as it's black. They're marked with the final balance weights which are exactly the same to 0.1 grams. Total weight of the entire installation is 27lbs. Its a clever design which to me seems beautiful in its simplicity. The company has been excellent to deal with. The prop is now ready to go. I mounted the switch close to the throttle and spent a few minutes sitting in the left seat twisting the prop blades back and forth.

I did a number of runups and taxi tests on the new prop experimenting with different pitch settings and retorquing the bolts to 65 ft lbs religiously before every run. There's no direct indication of the pitch setting, so it's largely a "suck it and see" thing. Note: See "A Wash and Blow Dry" below for details on how to fit an amp gauge for prop position.

Back in the Air

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

The new 68" black in-flight electric adjustable pitch 3 blade IVO looks good on the back of the plane, and the panel now sports a KNS80 VOR/Glide Slope/DME with a KI203 head. I'm very pleased with the new paint job, and the Ranthane paint Polyfiber kindly sent at no charge. I've written a seperate report on Polyfiber, their customer relations and their products.

I was ready to go, but fuel pressure on the left side was 5 PSI low. I checked the pumps, filters and lines, swapped the pumps, tried again and eventually discovered a bad crimp on the left pump ground.

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

Back on the Ground

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

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

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

Summary of a Turbo Learning Experience

So much for my turbo experiments. Four years ago, when I met Greg Richter and saw his installation I knew I needed a T04. Greg did his research and had his turbo built to spec at Turbonetics. I called them at the time and got a quote for the same spec at $3500. That was when I decided to try the cheap route. This was back in the days when I thought Paul Lamar knew what he was talking about. Paul was planning to use the stock turbo, and so were Mistral. How could these experts be wrong? (Answer: Very easily. Paul has, to my knowledge, never flown his 13B engine and The President of Mistral and I enjoyed sharing our mutual experiences of blown turbos last year at Sun & Fun.) Anyway, back to the story. I got a used stock '91 single stage turbo from Bruce Turrentine, and as you'll know if you've read this site, the turbine wheel seperated at 10,000' due to overspeed. Hoping that this was a one-off failure, confident that the failure mode was fairly benign and short on cash, I got a second used stock turbo from Rusty on the fly-rotary list. The same happened to this one, but this time parts of the turbine took out an apex seal and forced an engine rebuild. Frustrated and even worse off for cash, I looked for an alternative to shelling out for a T04 and altering a whole bunch of stuff to accomodate it in the installation. I found Max Heywood of Turbonetics in Australia who could make me a T04 in a T03 box for $500au. Cool. I waited almost 3 months, then lost a lot of kick at low rpm, but at least it didn't overspeed. It did, however, overheat and blow it's bearings after about 15 hours of use. Ah well. Time to bite the bullet. While I was waiting for the T04 and planning the installation Bob Tiley lent me his stock turbo for "destructive testing". I babied this turbo for about 15 hours with no problems. I used a MAP of about 40 (or 5 PSI) for take off but kept the MAP at 32 or so at altitude. When I removed the blown hybrid and installed the stock unit my mixture and soot problems all went away. I suspect that the hybrid was leaking oil into the intake from day one, so maybe it failed because of an inadequate or incorrect rebuild rather than from anything I did to it. Finally the loaner stock turbo blew just as I was ready to install the T04. I sent Bob a note titled "mission accomplished" and dived in to install the part I should have bought at the beginning. In between turbos I borrowed a Mazda compression checking machine (a small thermal printer hooked to a compression tester) and checked my engine health. It was perfect at 90 PSI + and even across all six pulses.

The Detonation Devil

This last point leads me to some thoughts about the ideal rotary engine configuration. On the advice of four seperate rotary experts, all of whom have used, tested and seriously punished the exact same configuration, I settled on a '93 REW turbo engine with the 9.7 (non-turbo) high compression (HC) rotors and 3mm RWS indestructible seals.

Why the HC rotors? The renowned, or is it infamous, Leon Promet (you'll find many of his nuggets of knowledge on the fly-rotary list), when speaking of the REW turbo 13B engine, said "At 8 PSI of boost this engine will make 200 BHP @ 5,200, and even @ 6,300 you are going to be scraping the barrel at around 235 BHP. Up the comp to 9.7:1, and apply a bit of die grinder therapy to the ports, and the REW motor has the capability to easily turn a 280 BHP prop, even with the stock Series V turbo." He added "We've been running 30 PSI through these engines for 20 years (with Nitrous!!). So 10 PSI is really nothing."

Of course, mixture, timing and inlet temperature have to be spot on and be closely watched, but the engine is entirely capable of taking the forces placed on it indefinately at 6300 rpm and 46 MAP. Get a turbo that has a compressor map to handle 46MAP at 18,000' and you have yourself a rocket ship. According to Leon the 86-91 engines will be about 20HP under the REW. He doesn't like the 86-88 engines at all.

Detonation is the "devil" that lives somewhere out there. Just like the one Chuck Yaegar and Scott Crossfield chased, the detonation devil isn't quite what he's made out to be. During my testing and high power runups, and once during a high gross take-off, I've heard the onset of detonation or pre-ignition many times. The power falls off and there's a slight popping sound. Observers on the ground also report a popping sound. I back off the throttle and the sound stops. Buly has reported the same. After doing this maybe a dozen times in 50 hours of testing I set my Blow Off Valve to dump boost just below the threshold. I still have to be careful because intake temps and mixture setting can lower the point at which it occurs. I checked the engine compression with a Mazda thermal print out tester. This will always indicate ANY problems with apex seals or side seals. The compressions were perfect. My 3mm apex seals may have helped with this, but in general, my experience is that the compression devil is not quite as quick to turn the engine into a hand grenade as many people well tell you he is. With no valves or piston rings to damage he has less effect on a rotary. He's no pussy cat, for sure, but he CAN be avoided. The last part of the argument here is the impact of failure. The likely impact of catastrophic detonation is blown seals and vastly reduced compression. I have returned 35 miles to base with a blown seal (caused by a turbo part entering the exhaust port). I wasn't sure what was wrong, but knew it was time to go home. The plane flew fine straight and level. Recently, Chuck Dunlap lost all compression while airborn (for as yet unknown reasons). He flew 15 miles to the nearest field and landed normally. So, the impact of a failure is probably one of the cash for a rebuild and possibly the inconvienience of being stuck away from home. This point weighs heavily in my decision to use a HC turbo.

On the other side of the coin, Tracy Crook and Bruce Turrentine both prefer, even strongly recommend, normally aspirated engines, nevermind HC turbos. Why? Because without a turbo the rotary is virtually indestructible. With one, and a few incorrect settings, it isn't. Both of these esteemed experts will freely admit that they have no experience whatsoever of flying turbo rotarys. Tracy does offer an ignition product for turbo, but he's never choosen to install one. Bruce has a lot of experience of fixing turbo engines, but these were typically broken by hotrodders boosting away from the lights where the issues are very different.

I may yet be proved wrong on this, but all the indications so far are that an HC turbo rotary is a solid alternative power source and, in my view, the pure joy of having 250+ HP bolted to your rear end is well worth the trouble. As I write this, two more rotary Cozy's await their first flight. Bulent Alieve's engine is identical to mine, except that it's a Cosmo with even more power. Joe Hull is starting out na, but I think he's planning a turbo later. Steve Brooks is flying a turbo, as was Dave Leanord before he overheated the engine due to coolant loss. Time will tell.

What about the Renesis? Tracy Crooks 4 port NA Renesis is running very well. The standard compression on the Renesis is 10.1:1, so it's not ideal for boosting if that's what you want to do. Aftermarket companies are already offering turbos, and Mazda themselves may well come up with a turbo version soon. Right now, normally aspirated, or supercharged and normalized for altitude it might be the best choice. Again. Time will tell.

Turbo Homework

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

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

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

Planning a T04 Installation

The T04 turbo is big, and it doesnt fit the stock manifold. I'll need a manifold that fits the 13B at one end, and the T04 turbo at the other with a flange for the 46mm wastegate somewhere in-between. A tangential housing (as apposed to an on-center one) helps keep the turbo close to the engine and minimize the cowl rework that I'm sure to need. I just finished the paint job. Ah well. Most of the manifolds seem to move the turbo forward toward the water pump. I can see that my smog/vacuum pump is going to have to go. I'll either have to mount it somewhere else, or go with electric for the attitude instruments. Of course all the intake plumbing will have to change, and the coolant and oil fittings. The bolt pattern on the manifold has to match the external wastegate, and the wastegate has to fit without interferring with the engine mount. This is beginning to look like a major rework. I'm considering investing in yet another used stock turbo in the meantime. If I baby it, as Steve Brooks is doing, and just use it to normalize at altitude, perhaps I can get back to flying while I put this T04 thing together.

The Cost of Knowledge

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

A West Coast Trip

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

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

Arizona Cozy People

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

Watch for Downdrafts

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

A cold day in the Canyon

I once said It'll be a cold day in Arizona before I climb the Grand Canyon. We drove on to The Canyon and watched the sunset. Wow!

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

Back at it

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

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

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

It makes me Shudder

I've always had a bit of shudder on the brakes below 35 kts or so. I've changed the tires and pads and checked the run-out of the wheel. Actually, since I changed the tires the shudder seems to have got worse. On a recent taxi test I noticed that it seemed to be coming from the right brake more than the left, so I removed the wheel pant and investigated. The brake disk has what appear to be high spots every 1.5 inches or so around the disk. Could this be from corrosion when parked? I took pictures and sent them to JD for comment. I'm not sure any of the local brake guys are set-up to handle disks like this. New disks are $70 or so. The brakes work fine for now, but I'd like to get this fixed soon. I just have to keep off them as much as possible at 35 kts to avoid the shudder. I'll wait to see what JD and Matco have to say. [Later note: They said they didn't know and asked me to send back the disks for analysis. Not wanting to be down while this took place, I ordered two replacement disks from JD which arrived a couple of weeks later. I'll install these, then send the old ones back to get Matco's input on why they're damaged.]

Airborne Again 12/27/05

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

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

Oops

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

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

A Landing Critique

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

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

Unwelcome Passenger

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

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

Yet another short flight

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

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

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

I Had a Fine Flight Today

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

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

Rejoining the pattern was interesting. I came in at pattern height on the dead side and joined on the crosswind leg, announcing my intentions as I went. Just as I called left crosswind a Cessna twin called joining the left downwind. I couldn't see him anywhere. I was about to ask him for his position when a 172 called joining midfield downwind. Looking out for both I called turning downwind and asked the twin for his position. That was when I saw the 172 heading East to West across my nose about a 1/2 mile ahead. The twin said he was midfield downwind, which was about where I was. Ah! There he was - about 1/2 mile off my right wing. OK. The 172 seemed to be heading out to his choosen spot on a 10 mile downwind, so I ignored him and the twin dodged him. I offered to do a tight base if the twin thought that would work. He agreed, so I turned base, just as an Astek called a 3 mile final. Geesh! I dumped the brake, hit both rudders and cut the power. The landing worked out well (ie I didnt strike the prop), and I got clear of the runway just in time for the Astec to touch down. Right behind him was the twin Cessna. I never did find out where 172 went. Weekends at Lantana can get pretty crazy, mostly because there a lot of students and weekend flyers all doing their own version of a pattern. Mix this with three or four training choppers and a few charter twins to the Bahamas and you have quite a bees nest, or should I say wasps nest. Ah well. At least I'm getting back to a fair degree of currency.

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

Purring Like a Kitten

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

Breakthrough

With the filters cleaned I saw a dramatic difference in performance. Static rpm on full fine pitch went up from 4600 to 4950 and take-off was nothing short of exhilerating. I'm using much less boost that I was, and getting much more power in return. What I had thought was the "limit" because of excess boost was, in fact, the limit because of insufficient fuel flow. So, I was on the right track with my Eureka, just the wrong component. Now I'm giving it more fuel the boost is much lower at the same rpm. I never use full throttle, so the take-off was proceeding normally - then I glanced at the boost level. MAP was only 34. Hmmm. I gave her a bit more throttle, took the boost to around 38 and and she surged forward as though someone lit a rocket on the back. Wha hoooo! This is the best performance I've ever had, and then some, and and there's a lot more left that I'm not using. I'll get you some performance numbers soon, but you probably won't believe them. For now you'll just have to accept words like exhilerating and holy cr.p to describe the difference because I'm having way too much fun to take notes.

I'm really starting to like this IVO prop. The prop is very smooth (noticably smoother and quieter than the Performance 3 blade) and the pitch adjustment makes a dramatic difference. Take-off is much shorter now and the climb keeps getting me too close to the Cessnas that took off 5 minutes ago. One minor issue I've noticed is that the flat part of the blades opposite the exhaust changed after the first couple of flights. The black gelcoat, which was totally smooth, developed a slight roughness and while the gelcoat is undamaged, the weave of the fiberglass is showing through a little. I called IVO about this. He feels that it's just a bit of "post curing" of the glass going on and is not a problem.

Cruising out of the pattern at just below max fine pitch I was doing around 130 kts with 5000 rpm. There was a 4000' overcast, so I headed West at 1100' to get out of the Class C, then did my testing at 3000' over Willis Gliderport. This is a 4000' grass strip, so it's not an ideal place to land, but it sure beats a golf course. Once at 3000' I coursened the pitch for about 3 seconds. (It takes 14 seconds to go from one limit to the other). RPM went down to 4500, speed went up to 140 and I felt a pleasant push in my back. OK. I brought the rpm back up to 5000. Speed went up to 150. Hmmm. This is interesting. I went through the cycle again and things changed by about the same proportions. I pretty sure I had quite a bit more adjustment to go on the prop, and I didnt take the engine over 5600 rpm, but I was now reading 175kts TAS (170 averaged for wind) at 5600 rpm and only 34 map. Wow. I feels like I finally found fifth gear after driving in fourth for two years. I can't wait to find out what 6100 rpm at 12000' and 46 MAP will get me if things stay linear. Not far short of orbital escape velocity and a long way past VNE would be my guess. Unfortunately this won't happen until I have my new T04 turbo installed.

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

As I came over the field I reversed the procedure, running a few seconds toward fine, reducing the rpm, then repeating. It's a bit like working your way through the gears. I expect I'll do it all in one go eventually, but this works for now. The landing was acceptible (i.e the prop's still there) and with 48.3 hours on the hobbs I headed home to sign off the phase 1 testing. It'll take me a while to get the knack of the IVO, and I suspect a go-around on full course might be interesting so PITCH TO FINE is going on my downwind checklist. So far all the signs are good and, once again, the kitten is free to roam.

Char's First Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Wash and Blow Dry

After the flight to Sebring I had a few squarks to deal with. First, I'd really like to know the current pitch setting on the prop. Jim Maher on the rotary list uses a small panel meter and a resistor to view the relative current being taken by the IVO motor. He inserted a 0.015 ohm 5 watt resistor in series with one of the wires that drives the motor, then connected the meter across this resistor. The parts came from mouser.com as follows: 5watts 0.015ohms resitor: 71-LVR5-0.015; Panel Meter: 391-0105. Total cost $12 inc. shipping. For that price I think I'll try it. (later note: it worked perfectly).

The next problem is a small but annoying oil leak which only occurs when the engine is running. These are the hardest to find because the airflow blows the oil everywhere and a little oil makes a big mess. I removed the cowl, tightened all the fittings, sprayed the engine with gunk, washed it off, then dumped talcom powder over all the oil fittings. After running the engine for a few minutes everything was still white. I washed the engine off again, let it dry, then took her for a taxi test. No sign of oil anywhere, but there was a fair amount of smoke coming off the engine when I got back to the hangar. I'm pretty sure this was the gunk burning off from places I hadnt reached with the hose. Next I fixed a problem with the spinner. The airflow was bending the cut off points around the prop blades. I added strips of 301 stainless secured by the spinner attach bolts to support the edges. Finally, the passenger mike circuit. I tested all four circuits and found that the mike was dead on three of them. The wiring for the intercom is under the instrument panel cover, and I didnt want to take the canard off. I removed the pilot mike connector, soldered a 22g wire to it and snaked the wire behind the seats and upholstery to the passenger mike. Walah! Passenger intercom. Next time the canard comes off I'll fix the intercom properly and remove this extra wire. I put the cowl back on, cleaned off any greasy fingerprints and left the plane ready for a possible flight to the Charlotte Co fly-in in the morning.

Charlotte or Bust

Unfortunately it was bust. My first task was to get the engine hot, then go back to the hangar and make sure yesterday's smoke was really from the gunk, not the turbo itself. This time there was no smoke, so I taxied back to the active. I was rolling on 09 at LNA, and about to rotate when I felt the power drop. MAP had fallen to 30, so I knew immediately what the problem was. Those damn silicone connectors on my intake. Back at the hangar I took off the cowl, adjusted the clamps on both ends of the intake pipes, refitted the 2.5 to 3 inch connector to the throttle body, tightened the clamps very tight and reinstalled the cowl. This time the hose came off during the runup. Off came the cowl again. This time I looked more closely at the throttle body flange where the hose keeps coming off. It has a 1/2 inch channel cut into it. My clamp is 3/4" wide, so it can't seat in the groove. Obvious. Why didn't I spot that before? I need a thinner clamp.

As I drove home the weather was 1400 overcast, so a fight over to Charlotte hadn't been likely anyway. Another day, another lesson learned.

The following Friday I visited the hose shop. Apparantly the expensive pretty blue silicone hose connector I got from hosetechniques.com is a piece of crap. It's 1/8 thick. The hose shop had the same thing in stock, but in 1/4 thick material. I thought the thin one was expensive. Wow! I won't say how much it cost. Let's just say I didn't have enough cash in my pocket, so it was a credit card purchase. My next stop was the U-pick breakers yard. I searched around until I found a strong looking narrow 3 inch clamp on a throttle body. The guy waved me through without charge. Next day, back at the hangar, the big beefy connector with the narrow clamp looked very secure. My new turbo is ready to trial fit, but I wanted to fly some more before taking her apart yet again. I'd just finished buttoning up the cowl and was about to push the plane out when Char called. Her truck had broken down, so I had to play AAA instead of flying. Ah well. It was 20kts gusting higher anyway. Maybe tomorrow.

Potty Training

Saturday wasn't good weather. On Sunday 1/29 it was 3000' overcast, but otherwise a nice day so I did some pattern work and local flying. I'd been thinking about my takeoff techniques and decided to try something different. During static runup I get 4950 rpm (full fine pitch) at about 38 MAP, then the boost starts to run away with further throttle, so that's where I stop. Take off has always been a little different to your daddy's 172 because I never use Wide Open Throttle (WOT). Instead I give it what it can take, or what I feel I need depending on the runway, the weight, wind etc. while keeping the boost at a reasonable level. Since I installed the IVO adjustable I've been coursening the prop a little during climb out but leaving the throttle setting alone. This has been getting me off the ground fairly smartly and a provides good rate of climb so I've been happy to repeat what works.

This time I decided to experiment a little more with throttle. Instead of coursening the prop I added throttle late in the take-off roll thinking this would get me higher up the power band. It did. She literally lept off the ground with about 5200 rpm and I was at pattern height much quicker. Everything seemed to be working purrfectly. I was able to sit back and enjoy the experience. I did about an hour in the pattern and the local area then came in for a landing. As often happens, a rag & tube contraption took the runway while I was on short final. No radio call, nothing. Feeling a little annoyed I called a go-around, retracted the gear, moved to the right a little to avoid passing directly over his head. I leveled out at about 50' to build up some speed. I think the rag & tube guy probably got the point.

I'd added a bit more power than I normally would. Rpm was showing 5600 as I began the climb. Woa! While still over the field I had to push quite hard to avoid busting the class C. There's obviously a lot more power available than I've been using, and flying this engine / prop combination is becoming more fun every day.

After shutdown I noticed a dribble of coolant from the lower cowl. It would stop, then start again, dribble for a few seconds then repeat. Kitty has a prostate problem? Couldn't be. She's female. I pushed her in the hangar and watched. After a couple of minutes, there was another 10 second dribble, then nothing for a few minutes, then again. While funny to watch, and only a cup of fluid was lost this is not, of course, acceptible. It looks as though I have a pressure leak at a coolant fitting somewhere.

T04 Turbo trial fitting

old installation Trail fit of new T04 Next day I removed the cowl and inspected the coolant fittings. There was no real evidence but I suspected the coolant fittings at the turbo, so I removed them to check. Since I was into it I decided to keep going and remove the turbo. It took 1:40 hrs to remove the heatshield, turbo and manifold. I then spend the morning doing a trial fit of the new T04 turbo.

Good news:
1. The new turbo will fit without any modifications to the cowl/s
2. The T04 is 5lbs lighter than the stock T03
3. The XS Power manifold (ebay - $99) looks well built, and will fit around my engine mount with minor "adjustment". It needs beefing up in one area.
Bad News:
1. The turbo ends up right where my smog / vacuum pump used to live
2. Without the smog pump in place I'll need an idler gear for the alternator belt
3. The wastegate flange on the manifold is the wrong size for the TiAL 46mm (even though it was advertised to fit).

The $99 ebay xspower manifold The $99 ebay xspower manifold I'll need to fabricate (ie have made) a 3 inch exhaust with a slight dog leg to get it to exit the cowl at the same place. I'll also need a small exhaust for the wastegate either joining the large one at an angle or seperate to the exit. The turbo comes to about an inch from the upper cowl, but the housing is ceramic coated and I think the cowl will be ok with some fiberfrax.

The air connection to the intake and intercooler will be fairly easy to modify and the oil and coolant fittings shouldn't be too much trouble. Fitting the boost controller will be easy except that I don't see any way to mount it.

It looks like the smog pump vacuum is history, so now I'm faced with several choices. Electric giros or EFIS (ie $2500), an alternate vacuum supply of some sort (electric?), or finding somewhere else to fit the smog pump (ie goodbye AC compressor). Maybe I could get a much smaller alternator that would fit above the turbo and swap the alternator position with the smog pump. Once the new turbo is in I'll need to make a new augmentor venturi, possibly using the material from the old one. Finally I'll need to fabricate brakets for the wastegate and turbo to support the manifold. My plan is to figure out what I need to buy, make or steel, then reinstall the old turbo so I can use the plane while I get the bits together.

Here are the weights of the parts:

ItemOld WeightNew Weight
Turbo22 lbs17 lbs
Manifold10 lbs8 lbs
Wastegatena3.5 lbs
Exhaust2 lbs4 lbs (estimate)
Smog pump12 lbsna


Total (with smog pump)1.5 lbs lighter.
Total (no smog pump)13.5 lbs lighter.

The old and new parts side by side

Vacuum Sucks

Next day I solved the problem with the smog pump. With the turbo bolted in place I held the smog pump above it to see if the belt would hit anything. It didn't. Looking for a way to mount the pump I came across two lugs - would you believe it - these are the stock lugs for mounting the smog pump. I remembered that I'd lowered the pump and made new brackets to get it under the cowl. I installed the pump and then the cowl. It fits. The only problem is that the vacuum connection (now removed) comes out of the top of the pump. OK. We can change that. I took the pump to Charlie and asked him to drill & tap the side of the air inlet for a 1/4 NPT fitting. This way my connection will avoid the cowl and everything will fit as before. That's a big problem out of the way.

I was suprised to find that the stock turbo heat shield fits nicely over the new turbo. The only problem is that it's 6 inches too short - I can fix that with some more 0.020 304 stainless sheet. The outlet is also 2.5 inches too far outboard for the hole in the cowl, so I either move the hole or move the exhaust. Hmmm. It would be nice to have the exhaust further outboard to keep it away from the prop, but the thought of cutting up my purrfect cowl isnt pleasing. Another though is that there might be room for a small muffler. The na guys have problems with mufflers blowing apart, but maybe the turbo smooths out the pulses and a muffler would hold together better. The sound is just fine now, but reducing it to the sound of an automobile is still attractive. Also, there may be an advantage in that the muffler would form a venturi in center of the augmentor.

More Potty Training

Once I had all the measurements for the T04 exhaust and the smog pump properly installed in it's new location I reinstalled the stock turbo so I can fly while I wait for the various pipes, welds and fittings for the T04 to come together. I got a new 53" fan belt to accomodate the new smog pump location and installed an ammeter to give me prop position indication. The parts I used were Mouser.com, 71-LVR5-0.015 resistor and 391-0105 indicator. Total cost about $12. The resitor goes in series with the power feed to the pitch switch and the indicator is in parallel with the resistor. The result is a reading whenever the prop pitch is adjusted. The nearer you are to neutral, the less torque and the less amps drawn. The further away from neutral, the highter the reading until, as you approach the limit at either end, the meter goes off scale. It's not ideal, but it's cheap and its useable.

I did a taxi test with the cowl off. After shut down there seemed to be a little coolant around, but no dribbles. Perhaps that was from spills as I reconnected the turbo pipes and when I refilled. Everything else seemed normal, so I installed the cowl and took her once around the pattern. The kitty purrformed purrfectly and I was tempted to take her to Pt. Charlotte or somewhere else interesting, but thought better of it and landed for a leak check. There it was again. A half cup dribble. Off came the cowl once again.

Wing Walking

Next day I ran her up, got her good and hot, then taxied back to the hangar where Mike was waiting. He signalled that there was a leak. I shut down and he ran over to see where the leak came from. Too late. It had stopped. OK. We tried again. This time I sat in the plane with the engine running, feet firmly on the brakes, while Mike lay on the port strake and looked down into the lower cowl. Got it. It was a bulkhead fitting for one of the heater hoses. With me inside the plane and Mike behind the cowl we tightened the fitting about 1/4 turn. There was no leak on the next runup so the cowl went back on in preparation for some flying in the morning.

Another Test Flight

Next day, Saturday 2/11, I took her around the pattern a few times, then landed to check that the leak was truely gone before heading off to somewhere exotic. The leak was still there. That does it. The hose and fitting are coming off completely and being replaced. 52.9 on the hobbs.

Next day I removed the silicone heater hose. It looks like the swivel AN fitting by the bulkead was leaking. Geesh. I thought these things were supposed to be fool proof. I replaced the hose with braided teflon and installed new fitting. Getting the teflon hose over the 1/2 inch barb fitting on the engine took some persuasion, but eventually I got it on and clamped tight. I think my coolant leak problems are over. It was cold and windy, so I just buttoned the plane back up and left her ready to fly when time and weather permits. One quick pattern to check for leaks and then, maybe, I'll go somewhere. Hmmm. Where to go?

A Clean Sheet

On Valentines day, 2/14, I took her once around the pattern to check for leaks. When I taxied back in Mike checked while I kept her idling. Ticking over is the British term for this and it's a much closer description. She now "ticks over" at about 750 rpm on the engine which is less than 350 on the prop. I think the IVO might be helping here because there's much less resistance when the prop's on full fine. This lets the engine turn smoothly at lower rpms. I think it also helps with less push on short final. She seems to loose speed much easier than before.

Mike gave me the diver's "all is well" sign, so I checked the temps - still about 190 - and decided to take her out for a proper ride. Back in the downwind I raised the gear and coursened the prop. Too much too quickly. I almost bust the 1200' ceiling. Need to settle down here. As I called departing the pattern the EM2 engine warning light came on. A quick look showed nothing out of order and nothing flashing. It's probably the low fuel warning which is based on usage and I haven't told it I added more fuel. With a bit of a headache going on I'd been on the edge of flying or not flying. I made a quick decision, called base, lowered the gear, ran the prop back to full fine, and put her down. After shut down there were no leaks, no smoke and the Kat seems good to go for a longer trip in the morning. I went home and took some tylanol.

A Quick Hop

Wednesday, 2/15, I'd hoped to get some time and distance done. I even called in for a brief to KPGD across on the West coast of Florida. The only notam of interest was parachute jumping from 5k at North County, which had been on my planned route. I picked up 15 gallons of 93 on the way to the hangar which took me to a total of about 40 gallons. I added 7 pumps (5oz) of 2-stroke to each 5 gallon can and poured them all into the wing tanks. I've become quite efficient at this. I can now do it with no mess and very little time. Picking up the gas takes 5 minutes. Adding the oil - 2 minutes. Pouring into the tank - 5 minutes during which I can be doing something else. Total time - 12 minutes. Cost $36.75. I've seen people wait much longer than that for the 100LL truck, then pay $60+ for the same amount of gas.

Take-off was normal and all was well on the downwind. I did one pattern at pattern height just to be sure, then coursened the prop a bit and headed West to Willis field at 140kts IAS. Once over Willis and out from the class C I coursened the prop to about neutral and began a climb. Climbing at about 4800 rpm I added power and felt the engine hesitate. It wasnt a miss or faulter. It just felt as though I'd hit a limit of some sort and more throttle didnt help. I think I'd gone too course on the prop. I ran it back toward fine and rpm came up. The overcast was about 4000 which meant that I'd have to head West at 3500 where the briefer had told me it was clear. This would put me outside of my cone of safety. I guess I'll have to venture out of that cone at some point, but there was no pressing need to go anywhere today. I decided to wait for a higher ceiling.

I had a lot of diffculty getting hold of Palm Beach Approach. Mike later told me that he has the same problem out near the antennae. Antennae. Right. We have 2 1200' antennae 15 miles West of the field that I use as a navaid to find Willis. It seems that radios dont work too well near them. Palm Beach finally came back to me, so I headed in toward Lantana at 3500 even though he quickly told me I was unintelligble. He did reply, and he didn't say "stay clear", so I was in! Once I got 5 miles from the towers he could hear me fine. I told him where I was, what I wanted and that I had the field in sight. He cleared me to change freq and that was the end of that. I decended into the pattern and landed. Back in full fine pitch the engine seemed totally normal now. I guess I'm still getting a feel for the IVO.

Mission Accomplished

Bob Tiley had sent me his stock turbo for (in his words) "Destruction Testing". I can now proudly declare "mission accomplished." I was doing a runup and all ready to go flying when the aircraft behind me called to say I was blowing a lot of smoke. Hmmm. I taxied back to the hangar. The exhaust area and prop were covered with black liquid oil. A look up the exhaust pipe confirmed the problem - the turbine wheel was missing a couple of blades.

By this time all the parts for my new Turbonetics T04 turbo had arrived, so I set about getting the installation done. An out of town work trip was looming close, but I managed to get everything done except the heat shield before leaving. Fast forward three weeks. The heat shield took a lot of work, and I took the opportunity to modify it a little. The old shield was one piece, bolted to the intake. I had to keep it shorter than I'd like so I could get the cowl on and off around it. The tail pipe of new shield is a separate piece which bolts to the main shield and slides fore and aft on a bolt in slot. This allows me to push the tail pipe in about 2 inches during cowl removal, then pull it back out after the cowl is in place. I then bolt it to the cowl using embedded nutplates. The new tail pipe is smaller in diameter leaving an air gap between it and the cowl, and it extends about 2 inches further aft to protect the cowl from exhaust heat. All this took a while to engineer, but it works well and doesnt seem to impact cooling.

Flying the T04 Turbo

After a lot of delay from out-of-town work, patio rebuilding, and "cut & paste" stainless steel work on the heat shield, I can finally report that the new turbo T04 installation flies. The instructions that came with the turbo were very specific about how to pre-oil the unit and check for oil pressure before starting the first time. They then ask that you idle the engine for about 15 minutes before giving it any rpm at all. I started her up and let her idle. The sound is a little different. Not quite a rawcus and a little deeper in tone, presumably because of the 3" exhaust. (The old one was 2"). With the engine idling sweetly at about 700 rpm and Al holding onto the canard I climbed out and, for the first time, walked around the plane with the engine running. I got out the camera and took a short video

I was particularly intrigued by the final instruction on the sheet from AGP Turbo which I'll quote here word for word. They say "do about 100 miles of normal driving on the turbo before beating the crap out of it".OK. At least they're realistic and recognise that people who buy their products are buying them to do exactly that. I figured that 1.5 hours was about equivelant to 100 miles so I did quite a few taxi tests and runups in preparation for the first flight.

At last, on March 22nd, the heat shield was ready and the "normal driving" was done. Time to beat the crap out of it. There were eight (countem) spam cans in the pattern so I waiting for things to quieten off a bit. At last we were down to four or five, so I took her on the runway.

Boost still has a tendancy to run away above 44 MAP. I've been gradually tweaking the boost controller toward minus on each ground run, but the wastegate doesn't seem to be doing anything. I held her at 40 MAP for take off which was more than enough to get me 80kts less than half way down the 3000' funway.

Take off acceleration seems to be a little less than with the stock turbo. There's no sign of oil or soot on the prop and the oil (recently changed) is staying "oil color". With all the stock turbos the oil went black within an hour of running. The one issue I had on the 0.9 local flight was an erroneous EGT reading. I installed a new sensor and it's reading very low - 300F. Maybe I'll put the old one back in.

Perhaps now, finally, the fun begins.....

Sucking instead of blowing

I took the wastegate apart to see why it wasnt working. I hadn't noticed it before, but there's a 1/8 NPT port on the bottom rear of the housing. I'd plumbed intake pressure to the other port - the one with a fitting already installed. Its obvious, now I think about it. Intake pressure should go to the housing behind the spring. The port I'd used is for intake suction. I reassembled the wastegate (much easier to write than do - that big spring is a bear) and plumbed the intake pressure hose to the right port. It seems that the spring I have is probably too strong. With a regulated air hose I was able to get the wastegate to open slightly at about 9 PSI. - That would be 48 MAP. I removed the boost controller from the system until I can get a new spring. I got everything reassembled and the cowl on just as dusk fell.

I had 4 days before my next trip up North. The plane's not going to be ready, so it looks like Southwest one more time, but at least I should get some more testing in. It was not to be. I was down with a nasty cold for the next 3 days. On the day before my departure I was feeling better and went down to the hangar to get a flight in before leaving. Knowing I was headed out for a couple of weeks, Mike had swapped the airplanes around, so I'd need to push his Velocity out, push mine out, then push the velocity back. On return from flying I'd need to reverse the procedure. I felt too weary to shift the airplanes, then decided that if that was too much for me, maybe flying wasnt a good idea. I went home and took a nap instead.

Sun & Fun - Not

Fast forward another two weeks. Two Cozy builders, Mark and Casey, called and said they'd like to break away from Sun & Fun and drive down to see the kitty on Saturday 4/8. Ah yes - Sun & Fun. This is the first year I haven't been to Sun & Fun since buying the plans in 1999. I miss meeting all the Cozy builders and flyers, but that's all I miss. The air show is just a noisy distraction for me, and I don't much feel like flying into that hornets nest. Also, if I flew in I'd have to stay overnight, or leave before the Cozy dinner. I didn't feel much like driving 2+ hours each way. Add the high-priced hot dogs and the fact that they want to charge me for going and I decided to skip the event this time.

So, a small part of Sun & Fun is coming to me. OK. Mark said he wanted to see the plane. I replied "you and me, both. I havent seen her for 2 weeks myself."

They planned to show up at the hangar by about 11. I pushed her out, and did the preflight but at 11:30 they hadn't showed, so I decided to take her up for a while. As I headed downwind for the second time, Paul called on the radio to say the guys had arrived. Rather than just land I pulled up at 200 feet and did a low pass right over their heads, then came around to land. The EGT is still reading low, but everything else seems fine. I seem to have more control of boost than I did. After landing we shifted the planes around to let Rob out with his VariEZ. I still have 3.5 hours or so to do in phase 1 for the turbo change, so experience flights wern't possible, but I took the two guys for a quick taxi test each before we went for some fajitas. All who heard the fly-by said that she sounded very sweet. Mark also commented that the sound was less noisy than a Cessna. Over dinner both guys commented on the lack of vibration and overall quietness in the cockpit. After lunch, Mark & Casey headed back toward their home, and their set of plans, in Atlanta with renewed enthusiasm.

Lazy Circles

Fast forward through a week of thunderstorms, 25 kt winds and heavy keyboard work. On Friday April 14th the weather looked good, and I'd completed a job I'd been working on. Time to play. Everything looked good in the pattern, so I took her out to Willis Field and climbed. My EGT is still reading incorrectly and I noticed a mixture drop off when running the right tank above 5000 rpm. Kick in the left tank and the mixture comes back up. Flying lazy circles over Boca Raton and Palm Beach I experimented with this problem until I was sure. It's that old fuel flow problem again. The left tank works fine. The right tank is perfect up to around 5100 rpm, then the mixture drops off every time. Looks like I need to clean the filters again. I think its time to order new ones.

I spent some time experimenting with the prop / turbo combination. I find that if the the rpm gets too low with the prop fairly course the boost goes up up if I try to bring the rpm back up. Makes sense. I have to run the prop toward fine, get the rpm up, then coursen the prop. It's tasking a bit of getting used to, but I think it's a good setup. Maybe the $300 constant speed gizmo from IVO would help, but I've heard a couple of bad reports about it.

A Trip West

Bruce (I don't know his last name) emailed me from France. He's an American working over there and building a Cozy. He would be vacationing in Ft Myers, considering a rotary and would love to see my plane. Also, a new business partner was vacationing in Venice, 40 miles up the coast and it would be nice to drop in and meet him face to face for the first time. I'd wanted to do a West Coast trip for some time, so I worked on the plane most of Friday evening. I removed, cleaned and replaced the filters, then removed the cowl and turbo heat shield so I could replace the exhaust gas temp probe. While doing this I noticed that the pretty ceramic coating on my new turbo was flaking off as dust. Hmmmm. I put everything back together ready for a trip in the morning.

Next day I fueled up, then decided to check the torque on the prop. When I removed the spinner, Mike (Velocity owner with IVO prop) stepped up and asked if he could borrow it to make a mold. OK, I handed it to him and went flying without it. As I turned crosswind the EM2 warning light came on. EGT was flashing 1735F. Hmmm that's not good, but it might explain my missing ceramic coating. I backed off the throttle a little and it went down to 1600. Everything else seemed fine, so I continue in the pattern for a while, then headed out to Willis for the climb. So long as I kept the rpm below about 5000 the EGT stayed reasonable, so climbed (slowly) to 5000' and circled the field for a while. Eventually I decided that everything was stable, so I headed West to Ft. Myers and had a great visit with Bruce, and 4 generations of his family. His Dad, Steve, was particularly interesting. His questions were way too probing and detailed for the average grandad. Turns out that as well as being Bruce's dad, he's also a high-level engineering guy from Georgia Tech.

The family all watched as I climbed out for the quick 40 mile run to Venice. After another excellent visit in Venice it was getting late so I took off and headed East toward the lake. With the sun setting behind me I cruised into Lantana at about 7:45 pm and landed with half of the ball of the sun below the horizon. I guess that counts as a night flight. It was dark by the time I had the hangar door shut. In all it was a fun trip, but not a fast one. With the rpm at 4600 most of the way I was barely making 150 kts. 3.3 Hours today for a total of 60.5 on the hobbs. Now I need to find out why my EGT is so high. Could it be the new turbo passing the exhaust gas quicker? Maybe my timing's a bit off.

Next day I got my anwser from Tracy Crook. "Hells' bells John, 1650 on takeoff is stone cold. I normally saw 1760 - 1800 on a NA 13B. Turbos normally run higher (pre- turbo) than NA. A turbo with LESS restriction will give higher EGT readings down-stream of the turbine so this could be normal." Ah well. I guess I was worried about nothing. I'll try adjusting the timing a little during the flight to see if it makes any difference.

Back at the hangar, Mike had carefully extracted my spinner from his carbon fiber wrap and cut out the prop blade holes to match mine. Then he tried his new spinner on his plane. We both laughed. The accurately duplicated blade holes were for a prop turning the opposite direction.

Joint Membership

Wednesday, April 14th I was preparing the Kitty for a trip North. The weather for the following day looked good. I planned to take her up, adjust the timing a little to see if I could reduce EGTs, thrash her a bit over the field then fuel her up ready for an early start.

Buly called. His plane has done its first flight and he needs some canard time. We've already tried to get him in my cockpit with no success. Now he's desperate for some experience so he can fly his own plane, he wanted to try again. He showed up at around 11. We removed the seat cushion and set the rudder adjustment at maximum. He managed to shoehorn his large 6'4", 230# body into the passenger seat and, with his shoes removed, was just able to get his feet on the pedals. His knees were up against the bottom of the panel when he did, but it was possible. Aside from the rudders he was quite comfortable, even with a headset on and the canopy shut. when I climbed in I was suprised how much room there was. We wern't in each other's way at all.

Off we went. The noise in the cockpit was unusually high, but everything seemed in order on the gauges. I put it down to the prop being slightly out of balance and continued the flight. I raised the gear on climbout and walked Buly though a pattern. I was planning to do a go around, so I left the gear up. A slow Cessna screwed up my approach and I executed a go around at about 300 feet, then turned the stick over to Buly. With me talking him through the speeds he flew the downwind and base. He was a little erratic at first, but he was getting the hang of it fairly quickly. Being in the right seat didn't help him. On short final we were offset from the runway by at least 20 feet. The speeds were OK, but he thought he was lined up, and we were aiming for the grass. AT my siggestion, Buly added power and around we went for another shot. This time the approach was a little fast. I suggested that he try both rudders at the same time, but his access to the rudder pedals was severely limited. We'd get one rudder, then the other. The yaw from side to side was quite impressive, and we were still offset to the right. As we passed through about 50 feet I said something like - "This one's a mess, but we can fix it."

Thinking it would be useful to show Buly how controllable the Cozy really is and how a bad approach can be easily fixed, I took control, dumped the rudders, brought us back to the centerline and gently touched the mains on the runway. I held the nose off for a second, then let her drop. She dropped.... and dropped. Bang. We were sliding on the nose. It happened very fast and there was no time to react. I said something beginning in S and steered us toward the side of the runway. When I thought the speed was low enough I steered off onto the grass and we came to a stop just clear of the runway. S.S.S. The "roll/slide" took about 300 feet. We climbed out to survey the damage. The nose didnt look too bad, but one wheel pant had hit the runway and broken apart. Part of it was still attached and trapped under the wheel. The rest of the parts were scattered along the runway. The hockey puck was gone along with the fancy little hinged door I'd installed to seal off the front of the strut. The bottom of the nose was flat, the glass was almost all gone in about a one square foot area, and the birch reinforcement in the lower nose was showing. A couple of helpful guys pulled up in a golf cart and took Buly to retrieve the bits of wheelpant while I lowered the gear and taxied back to the hangar.

Thinking about it later it was clear what had happened. I'd handed off control...and with it responsibility for checks. I always have trouble keeping my head in gear, so to speak, when someone else is flying the plane. When flying with Char I was aware of it enough that I took control as we entered the pattern. This time Buly needed to fly, so I let him fly and stupidly abdicated responsibility. Buly was busy dealing with a new airplane and was relying on me, as P1, to handle the little stuff like radio calls and downwind checks. I'd been busy talking Buly through the handling and speeds and had totally forgotten to do downwind checks. I hadn't been planning to land, but then changed my mind at the last minute in order to demonstrate a touchdown. What happened to the voice warning? It was noisy in the cockpit, the frequency was busy, we were fast (with power) on final, chatting back and forth most of the time, and neither of us heard the warning (or saw the bright red LED). Both the LED and the voice warning had worked during the preflight checks.

Ah well. What's done is done. We were lucky really - we got two memberships in "the club" for the price of one.

Buly obviously felt bad about the damage to my newly painted nose, so he stayed the rest of the afternoon to help me do the repairs. We disconnected the nose lift, removed the nose strut and were suprised to see that part of the aluminum plate holding the strut to the upper bearing was still there. We removed what was left of the old plate, installed a new one with new bolts, and then reinstalled the nose strut. In three hours we were done. After Buly left I sanded an inch around the edge of the "flat bit" and did a 3 ply repair layup. I think I'll install one of Wayne's Walmart delrin cutting board horseshoe bumpers when I get a chance, but this'll do for now.

Faced with an upcoming meeting in New York in a couple of days, I didn't have time to get the plane ready for a long cross country, so Southwest stepped in yet again. Since I was going to be away on business for a couple of weeks I decided this was a good time to get the redrive upgraded from an early RD1A to the six pinion 300HP rated RD1B. This meant removing the prop, so I also took this opportunity to send the prop blades back to IVO for checking and balancing. I stayed late at the hangar the next day, removed the prop and the redrive, packed them in boxes and left them with Char for shipping.

Back at it

Fast forward another two weeks. I was back, and so was the redrive. The prop came in a few days later. They'd cut it back to 66 inches and rebalanced the blades. In between getting my house ready for sale and working I fitted the redrive, reinstalled the prop and generally got the plane ready for flight.

The first runup with the IVO for torqueing went well, but there was a very slow drip of coolant as I put her back in the hangar. About 1 drip every 5 seconds. It was coming from the gasket. I looked closer with a flashlight and noticed that the three short water pump bolts were missing. Gone. Not there. Not in the lower cowl either. I swear I put them in with locktight. The four long bolts were present and tight. This might well be a case for drilling and wire-tieing when I can get around to it, especially since Buly reported loose water pump bolts on his engine. Strangely, others have been flying for years with no loose bolts. I installed new bolts with locktight and moved on.

Mothers day, May 14th was hot. I installed the cowl, then went home and waited for the evening cool. At 7pm static was up to 5300 with the 66 inch prop, and she lept off the runway like a scolded cat. Climb was good and all the numbers were good. I punched in three clicks of adjustment on the timing and the engine seemed to settle a little. EGTs are very much linked to throttle, but they may have gone down a bit. Its hard to tell in the pattern. I need to get some altitude and experiment some more with the timing. This flight was to be a short one - 15 minutes is IVO's recommendation for retorquing. The next flight can be 30 minutes, then an hour, then two and so on to 10 hours. Once the prop settles and the bolts stop turning at each retorque I'll put the spinner on. Anyway, the flight was good, the landing uneventful and the hobbs clicked over another 0.3.

Next time I managed to get to the hangar was Friday, 5/19. I spend some time cleaning out my garbage from the hanger, cleaned up the wheel pant repair, the pushed kitty out for another dusk flight. I took her around the pattern a few times to settle the prop a bit more. After three times around I did an approach followed by a go-around. As I turned downwind the oil temp light began flashing. Hmmm 234. It had been sitting at 190 - 200 as usual until then. I throttled back a bit and it wnet down to 220, but now the collant temp was coming up to meet it. Strange. I landed on the next approach and taxied in. Everything seemed fine at the back end, so I parked her and carried on with my hangar clean out job. Thinking about this later I'm wondering if I'd lowered the brake on the go-around approach, then left it down for the climb out. I could swear I didn't, but the symptoms would certainly support that conclusion. I'll give it another go tomorrow, after checking the oil and coolant levels, of course. Meanwhile, looking at the weather, it looks like I have a good weather window to fly up to Connecticut on Monday. I need to be there by Wednesday so this gives me a day of buffer.

Next day, Saturday 20th, I was at the hangar at 10:30. The guy who'd topped my 100' pine trees had been begging for a ride, and this was the chance to keep my promise before heading North. Mike had never been in a small aircraft, and only a couple of times on a commercial flight - but he was excited and keen to experience something new. Mike showed up at 11 and we pushed the plane back. Oil and coolant levels were unchanged. I told Mike that we were going to stay in the pattern while I watched the oil temp, then would head West if eveything seemed ok.

After four patterns with the oil temp glued to 185F I headed West toward Willis. Mike was having fun, taking pictures as we turned overhead one of his tree cutting buddies. As we approached the everglades practice area I had just started to climb when a low-wing span can appeared in my periforal vision. I pushed fairly hard and banked left to get out of his way, then glanced over at Mike. "You ok?", I asked. "Well, said Mike, "Lets just say I wouldnt be at all upset if you told me we were heading back now". Hmmm. That bit of negative G had got to him. "Mike, we're heading back now", I said. I gently brought us under the class C and back into the pattern at Lantana. Mike was feeling a bit queasy and was dreading the landing because we would be going down again. I told him not to worry - it wouldn't be the same kind of forces and wouldn't affect him. We landed a squeaker and taxied back in. Mike said he'd really enjoyed the experience, but would I mind if we do lunch another day? He didn't feel much like eating. Oops. Anyway, another troublefree 0.7 on the hobbs and I'm beginning to think the plane might be ready for a long flight. This would be good because the movers are coming May 30th.

Monday May 23, I was ready. The plane checked out. There I was.... The kitty's been running purrfectly for the past few flights. Not a hiccup of any sort, and people have been coming up to me to tell me how sweet she sounds. Tanks are full to the brim. I have my flight plan, iced tea and sandwiches all organized on the passenger seat. Weather looks good all the way up the East coast. I got a full wxbrief for the one-way trip to WST where the new cat box is located. I was ready to go. Time to get the uck out of lorida!

Runup looks great at 5300, and take-off is quick and EZ. Up in the pattern the rpm is 5800, so I go to coursen the prop. Cough, splutter spit. I pull the throttle back to 4600 and she runs normally. Increase throttle. Cough, splutter spit. I circled the field three times experimenting with all the backup systems - ignition, ECU, injection. No change. Mixture adjustment doesn't help and all readings look normal.

Disappointed I landed and rolled off at the last intersection. When I add throttle to taxi she coughs and spits even more, then starts running very rough at 1100 rpm - no more or she dies. It seems like she's on one rotor. I'm sitting on the taxiway with not enough power to even move the airplane. The rpm reading is jumping from 2400 to 1100, but we're going nowhere.

I was able to stop and restart the engine and get exactly the same symptoms. I called Tracy from right there on the taxiway. He tried to be helpful but all I learned was that it "could be any of a thousand things".

Great. I pushed the plane back to the hangar. One possible suspect is heat soaking of the coils, so I ordered a new set of coils then hopped Southwest to Hartford to get to the meeting I had to be at. Now I have to get this cat running right by next weekend, or it goes in the moving van with the rest of our stuff (and the other two cats).

Down to the Wire

Friday, May 26 I'm at the hangar early coils in hand. First I wanted to see if she'll run to eliminate mechanical and/or internal problems. She starts up fine, runs up to 5300, the starts to cough and spit once she warms up. OK. Off with the cowl. I started removing the old coils, then noticed the crank angle sensors. Hmmm. Sudden electrical problems. The crank angle sensors are central to the ignition system. I tugged on each of the wires in turn. One came out of the silicone way too easily. Gotcha. I resoldered the wire in place temporarily and took her out for a runup. purrfect. Problem solved. Lesson learned - dont use RTV to waterproof connections - the acetic acid in it rots connections.

I took the coils back, put the $206 back in my pocket and picked up some connectors from the U-pick. The same connectors are used on the Mazda MPV on the left as you look at the engine. This time I got longer pigtails. Next day I fitted two new connectors to the crank angle sensors, resoldered the wires, heat shrinked and reinstalled the cowl.

Back in the pattern the engine behaved normally. No coughing or spitting. The landing wasn't my best by a long way - full tanks and too much sink caught me by suprise. I added power and did a hop, skip type of landing. Once again, she seems ready for the flight North. 63.1 on the Hobbs. I have 3 days before the house is empty and Char drives North, and I have to be at the closing on our new house in Connecticut on June 1st.

Two Dogs, Two cats and a Fish

Over the past few weeks things have disappearing. Put down a screwdriver or a coffee mug, turn around and it's gone. By Monday May 29th. the house was all packed up. I headed down to the hangar to give the kitty a last check-out. There's been a tiny oil drip from the turbo oil return, so I decided to replace the braided hose and fittings. With this done and a runup showing no signs of oil, I felt she was ready.

As usual on moving day, things didnt go as planned. The movers were late and I had to go to DMV to get a replacement title so the guy buying my Saab could register it. Char finally dropped me at the airport at about 3pm., then headed North in her Tahoe. The truck was packed to the ginnals with boxes, our two Golden Retrievers Buddy & Bailey, our two cats Harley & Geecee and to cap it all, Oscar the fish swimming around in a 5 gallon water bottle. Even the front passenger seat was packed with stuff. If there's a problem with the plane I have nowhere to sit.

A Long Ride North

After a full wx brief I climbed aboard and got airborne. As usual I circled the pattern a couple of times, then headed out to the gliderport at the edge of the class C. It was 96F at LNA and very hot in the cockpit. I climbed out Northward looking forward to a bit of cooler air as I reached altitude. I picked up Flight Following (FF) with Palm Beach Approach, final destination WST. They seemed unimpressed.

My wxbrief had told me to expect 40 - 50 kt headwinds at 12,000', but I wasn't prepared to exchange altitude for speed. I was also determined to take it easy on this long trip. Getting there was much more important than getting there fast. Running at around 4900rpm I was showing a ground speed of 120 kts for most of the way through Florida. All other engine readings were in the green. Temps were 186/195. FF cleared me through the MOAs and handed me off to JAX Approach as I turned right to hug the cost of Georgia, direct SFQ on the GPS. I'd been way too hot on take-off. Not the engine - me. Now, at 11,500' the OAT was 42F, and the draft coming up through the leg holes was the same. I was getting cold and developing a full body shiver. I'd choosen 11,500 to get a good glide distance, and at the same time avoid the need for Oxygen. I had OX on board with a cannula within reach in case I needed to climb over any weather. It is what it is. I decided to suck it up and keep flying.

As I crossed over into S. Carolina, still fighting a horrendous headwind and tolerating vicious cold drafts, the fuel was getting down and I knew I wasnt going to make SFQ without a top up. Over Manning, SC at 11,500 the low oil light began to flicker. I know this just means I'm down about a quart, but safety first. I was about 200 miles short of SFQ. I did a long circling decent into Manning field and landed. As I turned final I realized I couldn't feel my feet on the rudders. They were numb with cold. I managed ok, and the landing was normal. When I got out of the plane I had pins and needles in my feet and hands that took 20 minutes to go away. I put it down to the cold. It was 7pm, there was only one guy still there and no accomodation available, so I added 15 gallons of 100LL and a quart of oil, wiped a little oil off the cowl and took off again. By now it was getting toward dusk and would be dark before I got to SFQ. I picked out FLO as a likely place where I could get a ride to a motel and put her down just as the sun was setting. After giving the usual explanation of canards to the puzzelled line-guy I got a courtesy shuttle to the local Holiday Inn. All the hotels are at the intersection with Rt 95. Hmmm. I wonder where Char is. She'll be passing less than a mile from the hotel.

It turns out that Char had a few delays of her own, what with the dogs wanting to pee every 50 miles, and the cats tipping over their litter box. She was approaching St. Augustine. Hmmm. Only 416 miles to run and she'll be in Florence. I got a meal and went to bed early while Char continued her trek North. In the morning, 8 am, I was up and dressed waiting for the fog to burn off when Char finally rolled into Florence. She stopped off at the hotel for a quick (45 minute) shower while I walked the dogs. After a brief visit Char then climbed back into the sliughtly rank smelling Tahoe and got back onto 95 while I caught the shuttle over to the airfield and prepped the plane for the next leg.

It was a short run up to SFQ, but FF "strongly recommended" that I avoid Semore Johnson MOA. I flew around it rather than decend below 7000'. Approaching SFQ the GPS threw me a curve. As I decended into Suffolk it told me I needed a heading of 040. Strange. I was 5 miles from the field and looking at it on the nose last time I checked. I was still on the right VOR bearing. Hmmm. I'd overflown SFQ, and the GPS was pointing me to the next waypoint, but I didn't figure that out until later. I tightened the turn and there was SFQ below me. I joined the pattern and landed at about 1pm. The self serve mogas was $3.05, but it was only 87 octane. Ah well. I burned quite a bit of 87 early in testing with no problems. I'll just keep the boost down and we'll be fine. I filled both tanks to the brim, then walked over to meet Steve, a LongEZ builder who hangars with Wayne Hicks. Steve's very pretty LE was due for inspection in the morning. The restaurant was closed, so Steve drove me over to the truck stop for lunch. When we got back Wayne had arrived, so we chatted some more and I finally taxied out at about 4pm. Realizing I'd left it a little late for the final leg to WST I skipped the wxbrief thinking I'd get flight watch in the air.

The 5 - 7kt wind seemed to be at about 40 degrees to every runway, so I used the closest one because the engine was already hot at 210F on the coolant. I guess it had heat-soaked on the ramp in the sun. Runway length was 5000' - much more than I'm used to, so I didnt bother with a full back taxi. Keeping the boost to 2 PSI and with brim full tanks I was a little slow getting airborn, but had lots of runway left. As I climbed through 200 feet the engine monitor flashed 230 on the coolant and 220 on the oil. Hmmm. I backed off the throttle. Coolant went to 235 and oil to 225. Uh oh. Why wasn't the temp going down? Not wanting to overheat, I leveled off at 400 feet and flew a pattern while checking the obvious things. The first obvious thing solved it. Landing brake was still down. Damn. With the brake up and throttled back to 4500 rpm she gradually cooled off and I began the climb toward Norfolk kicking myself for this silly mistake.

The Kitten has Landed

I couldn't get FF or Flight Watch on the radio, so I climbed over the class C and negotiated my own way around the MOAs. It was very hazy, and the coast of Delaware was shouded in a fog bank. As I crossed into New Jersey at 11,500' it was looking worse and worse. As I flew over the bay south of Cape May I was over a solid layer of fog with no ground or ocean in sight. Thankfully the fog cleared just west of the coast near Atlantic City and I had good sight of the ground once more. The cold draft on my legs was... well, cold. I was shivering again and my feet were beginning to feel numb.

Flying the coast of NJ I could see the edge of the fog bank gradually working it's way westward and inland. Monmouth, NJ, JFK and Farmingdale were totally socked in according to the ATIS, and I couldn't raise flight watch. The JFK atis way saying something about "Check your alternates". Hmmm. I could see land within gliding distance, so I carried on, keeping a little West of my planned route and still running at 130 kts ground speed into 50kt headwinds. Over the Class B 12 miles south of JFK, feeling very cold and with no way to establish the weather in Connecticut I decided that enough was enough. It was time to put this baby down and reassess the situation.

I hit "nearest" on the GPS. I knew Monmouth was socked in, and I wanted to put down somewhere close to RT95 in case I needed a ride from the chase truck. Old Bridge, NJ looked like a good candidate. 3600' and 10 miles West, but only one runway. It'll do. I want this plane on the ground NOW. I found the field and circled for decent. Passing 6000' I called Unicom. It was a right hand pattern, which was fairly unusual for me, and I kept loosing sight of the field. Finally I got down to 1500' on the crosswind and called right downwind. The wind sock looked pretty limp as I passed over it. Again, I couldn't feel the rudders as I turned final, but I could feel the results of using them. I was using them a lot since I was high and fast on final, keeping the plane straight by sight rather than feel. 110kts over the trees at 100' I realize that the trees are pretty close to the runway. I pulled back and added power to level off, then pulled the throttle and pushed her down once the trees were behind me. Speed was up to 110 and the runway was disappearing under me. Should have been time for a go around, but I wanted down. Now. The runway is quite narrow. I was lower than I thought. Bam. We're down. Definately down. I rolled out eaily without brakes on what was left of the runway with room to spare. As I taxied to the ramp the prop sounded different. Uh oh. Sure enough, when I climbed out the IVO was toast. The tips of two blades were damaged. The third blade had a delamination about 8 inches in from the tip.

Walking around the plane I again noticed the same pins and needles in my feet and hands. I felt a little "punchy" as I inspected the prop, then looked for my phone to call Char. It took me a few seconds to remember and dial the number. Char said I sounded a little strange. I was still shivering a bit. Char asked what altitude I'd been flying at, and if I'd been using the oxygen in the plane. "Put it on.", she said. I didn't. I was coming around, but it took me 20 minutes for the pins and needles to fade and to feel normal again.

Thinking about the landing later, I realized that a number of things went wrong. First and foremost, I was on the edge of hypoxia and probably wasnt operating on all 8 cylinders. The predominant thought in my head had been to get down, right now. Second, I misjudged the runway and the height of the trees close to the threashold. Third, I made a bad decision not to go around and forth, my main gear is flexing much more than it should be. The plane should have taken that landing without whacking the prop. Under normal circumstances she's fine, but anything close to a hard landing and the gear doesnt keep the rear end high enough off the ground. I need to replace the gear. In the meantime, all landings must be either good ones, or go arounds.

It turned out that Char was already in Delaware, so I only had about 3.5 hours to wait. I knelt the plane, ensuring it was pointing toward Mojave, and put the cover on. At 10:45 pm a channel news truck showed up. Chatting to the reported as he prepared to go live with his report on the 11 pm news, I learned that a local pilot had tried to get into Monmouth in the fog. The plane fell out of the sky in pieces and all three occupants were killed. I was happy to be sitting in the dark with a broken prop waiting for a ride.

Char rolled in, complete with the dogs cats and fish, at about 11:30pm. We waved goodbye to the Kitty and set off for Niantic, finally arriving at 3:30 am. Closing on our new home was scheduled for 4pm next day. First thing in the morning I called the FBO at 3N6 to let them know who the Cozy on their ramp belonged to.

The Last Leg

Ten days later the weather was looking good for Sunday. My spare prop had arrived in the moving van. We dropped a car off at Westerly airport Saturday night and set off to retrieve the Kitty early Sunday morning. Four hours later we arrived at Old Bridge, NJ. I removed the cover and the cowl and gave her a good check out. Removing the IVO took a while and I needed to borrow an allen key from a friendly RV builder. Finally, at around 2:15pm I was ready. The winds were 8, gusting 12 at right angles to the runway and I used up a few hundred feet of runway keeping her straight on the narrow runway. Acceleration is also a bit less with the fixed pitch prop and I was well past half way before reaching take-off speed. Still, it wasn't the nail biter I was expecting and I was climbing through 300' by the time I got to the trees. I climbed over the field to 5000', then headed North to skirt the Class B while trying to reach NY Approach. I could see NY City and most of Long Island off to the East. I could fly around the West side, then cut East from Westchester, or take the direct route, right over Staten Island. Even though I was higher than the Class B cieling, I didn't feel comfortable being overhead such a busy area without flight following. Then NY Approach got back to me with a transponder code. I asked for direct JFK, then East to Calverton at 9500. "That'll be no problem", said the nice controller, so I turned East and enjoyed the view. Crusing at 4800 rpm and 160 kts I passed over Staten Island and there was JFK off the nose, and beyond it was Farmindale. A few minutes later I saw ISP, with Bridgeport runway pointing directly at me across the water. I was handed off a total of 6 times, but the controllers were always pleasant and easy to get along with. Once I was given traffic at 1 o clock, a DC8 descending out of 14,000. There he was whishing past me about 1/2 mile away. Cool. The coast of Connecticut took shape off to the left and I picked out Groton about 15 miles to the NE. The GPS said WST was 25 miles on the nose. Time to begin a slow descent. I arrived over WST at 6000' and made a circling descent into the pattern. As I taxied off the runway a voice on the unicom said "Six Papa Mike, do you read?". Strange. This is an uncontrolled field. "Go ahead for 6PM", I said. "Follow the golf cart." said the voice. Ah. Yes, there's a golf cart with three guys on board and flashing yellow lights on the back. I followed it to the hangars. Whenever we passed any aircraft or hangars, two guys would jump off and guide me past. I followed around the back side of the hangar row, and the golf cart stopped just past an open hangar door. The guys guiding me indicated for me to taxi into the empty hangar. I did, then shut down. What a nice welcome! The golf cart driver was Tom, my new hangar landlord. The Kitty was home.

After jawing with the guys for a while I got something to eat, then drove the 30 miles to Niantic. Three hours later, Char arrived after her round trip to New jersey in the truck. A long, but sucessful day. The Slick Kitten now has 76.3 hours on the hobbs, and the engine hadn't missed a beat all the way from Florida.

A Tour of The Area

The next time the weather was good on a weekend was Saturday July 1st. The day got off to a slow start then, at about 11 am, Char asked if I was heading to the hangar. She volunteered to come with me. We stopped on the way for gas. 10 Gal for the truck, and 10 for the kitty. We finally pushed her out and climbed aboard at about 2pm. The original idea had been to go for an ice cream in Jaffery, NH but it was fairly hazy and I decided to do some airwork around the local area instead. We climbed up to 5000' and Char took control. Doing 170 kts over the ground we headed West to take a look at our new house from the air. Char was flying, and doing all the turns to the right, so I didn't get a chance to pick out the exact spot. I did notice how crowded the beaches were. After a while we headed back toward Groton for the return flight to Westerly. I couldn't spot the field ahead. A quick check of the GPS explained why - it was 4.7 miles behind us. Wow. That was quick. Must be a big tailwind. I hadn't had a hand on the stick since we leveled off from the initial climb. Char turned us around and I talked her through decending us into the pattern. We ended up at 160 kts and 800' on the crosswind. Not too bad. I took it as we turned downwind, brought the speed back to 120, did my GUMPS and turned an extended base allowing for a Citation on final. Landing was smooth, and we taxied in to park the plane. 5 minutes later hangar owner, Tom, taxied up in his 1941 T6. What a beatiful beast. He uses more fuel in a runup than I did on the entire flight. Apparantly he'd landed before us, then heard me in the pattern and stayed to watch.Tom told me how beatiful the Cozy looked with the sun glinting off the wings as we turned base to final. His friend is a professional photograper who loves to fly, so now we have a plan to fly formation and get some air-to-air shots some time later in the year. Tom is an accomplished formation pilot. My formation experience is very dated, so I'll just fly with no sudden changes, and he'll fly around me to get the pictures. Sounds like a plan.

Hacksaw Hell

My EGT's used to be under 1700. When I installed the T04 I noticed a sudden increase of around 100F. I've been reading 1750F or higher on climb out, even with the throttle backed off, so I took it very easy until I had time to address the problem. One thing that's different, other than the turbo itself, is the exhaust. When the welder joined my wastegate exhaust into the main pipe he left a good inch of the pipe sticking into the main exhaust. Initialy I thought I'd leave it as it was, and perhaps this would break up the sound pulses. Recently I started to wonder if this impediment to exhaust flow was affecting my EGTs. Last weekend I hit the hangar early and spent the day dealing with the problem. I removed the cowl, turbo heatshield and exhaust. The offending piece of pipe was 4 inches away from the end of the exhaust, and it was 321 stainless. I couldn't reach with the die grinder, and there's no welder on the field that I can find. A handheld hacksaw blade and three hours of laborious effort got the job done. Now my exhaust is unrestricted. While I had the heat shield off I inspected the turbo oil drain once again. There's been a small oil leak from this area since I installed it despite changing the fittings and re-tightening everything. I wonder if the weld on fitting has a small pin-hole. This time I added JB weld to the inside and outside of the weld. Determined to leave the plane in flyable condition I carefully reinstalled everything and went home late.

The following weekend was the NE EAA fly-in at Lawrence, KLWM, just a short hop north of Boston. Saturday morning I was at the hanger by 9. She seemed a little slow to start, but ran well as normal and the flight up was pretty much a non-event. EGT's were the only notable item. I was showing 650F on the runup, and assumed that the reading was wrong. Everything else was in the green, so up we went. I climbed all the way to 10,500 and cruised over the Boston class B to Lawrence, then let down over the field contacting the tower as I passed through 8500. The tower asked me to head North for 5 miles, then loop back for a 5 mile final on 23. Fine. Decneding quickly I was 3 miles out at around 6000 when the controller spotted a gap in his arrival and asked if I could could turn final now and still handle the descent. "We can do that", I said dumping gear, landing brake, power and rudders. less than a minute later I was over the threshold at 120 kts. No problem. I bled the speed off and touched down with lots of runway to spare. I even made the requested turn off. I taxied over to the fly-in and was vectored around the back of the hangars for "Canard parking". There were 6 or 7 LongEZ's, a VariViggen and another Cozy. Heads turned as I taxied up with my weedwacker engine sound.

I didn't know anyone at the fly-in, but Ken Miller came up and introduced himself, as did four or five others who knew who I was and/or were looking into the rotary. They have a good idea for fly-ins. The food, seminars and information CD cost $20, but you get in for $5 as PIC of a canard or RV you flew in. They should try this at Sun & Fun. $15 isnt going to make much difference, but at least it acknowledges that there'd be no fly-in without the planes.

When I came to start up for the return flight there must have been 20 people waiting to hear the Zzzzzzzzz noise of a rotary. Embarrasing. She wouldn't start. The engine was heat soaked and I think I gave it too much mixture. After multiple tries and lots of spitting and coughing she finally burst into life. There was a strange looking homebuilt ahead of me during the long taxi to the active, and he was in no hurry. We held short in line for a while to cross the active, then waited for arrivals before getting access to the runway. It was a hot day (for Massechucets) at around 86F. Coolant and oil stabalized at around 205F. By the time I was done with the runup I had 215 on the coolant and 210 on the oil. I did a low power take-off and temps were below 210 as I climbed out, and went down to 205 by the time I got to 2000'. Runway 23 at LWM points at the edge of the Boston class B, so I skirted to the West a little using the GPS to keep me in the clear until I reached the 7,000' class B ceiling. The trip home was uneventful and I arrived over WST at 6500. A quick descent on the dead side got me on the crosswind with an empty pattern to play in. I was a bit fast on the downwind, so I held off lowering the gear until I'd got the speed back to 140 kts. Another smooth landing went in the book, and I taxied back to the hangar.... to be met by the airport truck. Uh oh.

Airport manager, Bill, had the dreaded message. Would I call Tracon at this number. I called the man. He asked if I was familiar with class bravo airspace. Certainly, I answered. I'd just come out of Lawrence and carefully skirted the Boston airspace. What was the problem?. The man said that a 757 on approach to Logan had identified a LongEZ they'd tracked inside the class B without clearance. They thought it must be the Cozy they'd just tracked into WST. I assured "the man" that I was well aware of the requirement for clearace to enter a Class B, and that I'd navigated clear of it via GPS. I mentioned that there was a canard fly-in at Lawrence, with 6 or more LongEZ's in attendance. Perhaps they'd tracked the wrong plane. "The man" apologized for the inconvienience and wished me a nice day. After I was done with the call, airport manager, Bill, said that he knew they were looking for me when Providence approach had mentioned that they'd tracked the aircraft at 165 kts on the downwind at WST. Oops. 79.5 on the hobbs and no issues to speak of. Back at the house I'm gradually getting my broken wheel pant back into shape with BID and micro.

What happened with the EGTs? The 650 reading gradually climbed to 1600 during the flight. On the return flight it read 1650 during cruise at 5000 rpm.

A Visitor from Nevada

The next weekend I ran up the engine, but with 300' ceiling and 1/2 mile in fog I wasnt going anywhere. On Monday 7/24 it cleared. This was good because Fred Neilson (Nevada based LongEZ driver) drove up from his vacation in Stamford to visit the Kitty. We went up for 0.7 to let Fred get a feel for the plane and vibration, or lack thereof. We toodled about for a while with Fred flying. Fred is a 20,000 ex Delta captain with 35 or so in his LongEZ before a misbehaving piston (you know - those things that are supposed to stop at the top, but sometimes don't) brought him down hard in a short field. After 12 years in recovery his back is almost better, so now he's putting a turbo Renesis on the Long. The experience showed as he handled the Kitty gently but surely. We headed over to Providence, then back to Groton before I took the controls again for landing. He seemed suitably impressed, especially with my landing which, according to Fred, was perfect technique with a touch of power over the fence to bring her in flat. I thought I could have done a little better by holding the nose off longer, but still - a compliment is a compliment. I'll take it.

A Slow Fall

I'm refering to the season. It was slow partly because I was working and didn't get a chance to get out to the hangar, and partly because I screwed up. The screw-up was in early September. I'd been working toward getting the plane ready for Rough River at the end of the month. I got the wheel pants ready for paint and decided to do some touch-up on the fuselage while I had paint in the gun. This turned into more of a job than I'd expected. Finally I had everything prepped and ready, but I wasnt sure quite how to blend the new paint into old. I wasn't ready to repaint the whole plane, so I masked her off everything behind the strakes and the canard. Painting in Connecticut on a 60F day turns out to be very different to painting in Florida on a 90F day. The paint went on just the same, and I had a beautiful shine right out of the gun. 30 minutes later the paint looked like crap with nasty big runs all over the place. In Florida it just stuck. In Connecticut, with the lower temperature, it sagged. Ah well. Too late to do anything about it now. My worst paintwork job ever is now on the top. Maybe next summer (when it's hot) I'll sand it down and repaint the entire plane. For now it'll do.

More Destruction Testing

Next weekend my IVO prop came back from it's most recent trip to California. The prop started life as a 68, but I've been trimming it back a little at a time. A prop strike early on in Florida cost me 2". The latest prop damage had been from my slightly heavy landing in New Jersey on the way up from Florida to Connecticut. This time Ron had cut two of the blades back to 64 inches, and made me a new third blade to match. On Saturday morning I ripped off the masking from last weekend's painting disaster, ignored the ugly results, installed the wheel pants, retorqued a few bolts and fittings, installed the prop, changed the plugs, and did a few other minor jobs. By 4 pm I was done except for the cowling. It had been a long day, and the weather was IFR but I wanted to at least run the engine get the first prop bolt re-torquing session done while, at the same time, checking the wheel pant installation. I decided to do a quick taxi run with the upper cowl off - that way I could check everything after the run. I cleaned out the tools from the left side of the cowl where I'd been working, and from pushed her out of the hangar.

I wasn't planning to fly, so I skipped the pre-flight checks, jumped in and fired her up. (are you getting the warning flags?) I taxied down to the hold point and did a run-up. Static RPM was around 5600. I decided to taxi up to the FBO, so I let the brakes off with the rpm at around 5500. Big mistake - the front wheel came off the ground with the accelleration. I cut the power quickly and continued at a more reasonable pace. Accelleration was absolutely stunning - far better than I've experienced before. I got up to the runway intersection and turned around to taxi back. This time I goosed her a bit more to get a feel for all this new power. Wahoo! I was back at the hangar in no time. As I climbed out and checked around the cowl, Bill's now familiar yellow truck pulled up. "Is this yours?", he said, holding up a wrench. Now let me clarify - this was no ordinary wrench. This sucker is a 1 and 5/8". It's over 2 feet long and weighs in at about 15 lbs. With dismay I realized that I'd used it for the only nut big enough - the coolant line fitting I'd checked tightness on earlier. Oh sh.t. I must have left it in the cowl, and the accelleration had been enough to propell it backwards (uphill) and out of the back into - guess what. With some degree of deja vu I checked the prop. Yep. There was a pretty sizable ding in the leading edge of one blade, and a couple of marks on the other blades where the gellcoat had been chipped off. My new prop had lasted all of 3 minutes. Interestingly, the main ding wasn't that bad. I wouldn't take off with it for sure, but if it had occured in flight (I have no idea how that could happen - an eagle strike, perhaps???) my guess would be that the blade would have survived until landing. The only example I've heard of an object going through an IVO was Buly's exhaust. He said that the damage was so minor that he continued the flight. So, I'm going to define my "wrench experiment" as a destruction test and move on. Rough River was less than two weeks away.

Moving on involved a call to Ron at IVO. "You know that nice new prop you just sent me....." While two blades are easily repairable, I decided that, rather than buy another 64" blade and wait for two way shippng, I'd cough up for a new set of 68" blades. While it's a little better on accelleration, 64" has got to be poorer at cruise. Ron had a set of 68's in stock and could have them to me by Friday. I could buy another 64 later, or use (or even carry) the two (repaired) 64" blades as a back-up. I was prepared for three blades to cost $350 * 3 = $1050, but they have a deal on buying three blades at once. $750. I was about ready for some good news. Ez come. Ez go. I gave him my credit card number and sure enough, the following Saturday, I was testing my newly installed 68" IVO. This time without the wrench. Static was 5300, and acceleration was excellent. Not quite as good as the 64, but still a neck wrencher. It was another IFR day, so I left the plane ready for a test flight and went home feeling a little better than I had the previous week.

As we went through the week approaching Rough River the weather wasn't looking good for a long East Coast flight. I'm still being very particular about weather, and much as I'd like to get to Rough River, I won't launch on a flight to KY under scud running conditions. Char & I were all set to depart on Friday morning after a quick test flight of the prop, but there wasn't a sign of even marginal VFR conditions until Saturday mid-day. The return trip on Sunday was looking iffy too, so, RR 2007 is the new target. Disappointed I went down to the hangar on Saturday afternoon determined to get a flight in.

Vacuum Sucks

Compared with the fixed pitch prop I'd been using, it was nice to feel the plane accellerate to rotation speed so quickly I was off in less than 1000' and at pattern altitude by the numbers. Much better. I had a very nice flight over Eastern Connecticut enjoying the fall foliage and cruising at around 6000'. As was well, but after an hour I decided it was time to land and retorque the prop bolts. As I descended toward the field a glance around the gauges showed coolant temp to be over 220 and climbing. Oil temp was about 180. Strange. I'd expect more like 140 for coolant during descent at low rpm on a cool day. I lowered the rpm a little more then concentrated on joining the pattern. On the downwind the temp was up to 230. I put her down gently and taxied back to the hangar. I was late for dinner, so I just reached into the coolant inspection panel to see what was wrong. I knew the first part of the answer immediately - there was the serpentine belt charred and broken where it had obviously spun on the engine pully. The alternator and smog pump pullys turned freely, so it had to be the water pump. Hmmm. I drove home thinking about where Char & I would have been after an hour flight on the way to KY. Somewhere over Old Bridge, NJ was my best estimate.

Next weekend I took the cowl off and turned the water pump. It turned fine, but had just a little stiffness to it. I removed the water pump bolts and extracted it. Hard to tell, but it seemed fine. It certainly wasn't stiff enough to lock up the belt. What else could it be? Ahha. The smog pump. It turns fine now, but the clutch isnt engaged. I went to the cockpit, turned on the master and flipped the vacuum switch. Now the smog pump was locked up solid. OK. Here's the culprit. I heard later that smog pumps usually fail this way, so the replacement will have a start and run switch position. The run position will go through a vacuum switch (Digikey 480-2057-ND) that'll release the clutch if the vacuum stops. The ideal solution is to replace the artificial horizon and directional giro with a Dynon or similar, but I'm not ready for that level of rework, especially in winter. Apparantly the RX7 speed freaks take the smog pump off to get additional power. I found a guy on the RX7 list who had one for sale for $20. He also had a couple of 550 injectors for $45, so I bought them too. While ordering the water pump and housing gaskets, I decided to replace the pump as well since it was already off. Given that half the coolant went onto the hangar floor, this would also be a good time to top her up with anti-freeze. It actually gets cold up here.

Ready to go again

Well, almost. The replacement smog pump came in, then had to be doctored to fit under the cowl. As with the previous one, I drilled & tapped for a 1/4 NPT > AN6 fitting to connect to the vacuum system pointing aft instead of up. I sealed off the stock inlet with an aluminum cap. The vacuum switch (made by Hobbs - see part number above) arrived and I found an AN6 adapter with a 1/8 NPT hole which allowed me to install the switch at the firewall end of the vacuum pipe. One weekend in late October I got the new water pump, smog pump and switch installed, but that took most of the day and it was cold and dark in the hangar.

The following weekend, armed with a 55,000 btu propane heater and some inspection lights, I routed the wiring up to the vacuum switch. While installing this one extra wire for the "run" vacuum position I took the opportunity to also install a new battery (it's 2 years were up) and a shielded 2 pair 22g wire for the CAN-BUS based avionics system which will be replacing all my instruments, hopefully next spring. More about this later. By the way, the new water pump was a little stiff to turn, just like the one I took off.

With all the wiring done and the seating back in it was time to do a test run. November 5th. Bonfire night. Hmmm. Not a good day to test something that can burn. Ah well. I pushed her back and started up. When I switched the vacuum to "start" the vacuum reading went off the scale, then reverted to 4.5 inches, as normal. It was a much steadier reading than it used to be. Perhaps the unsteady reading I'd seen from day one, and assumed was from the regulator, was actually caused by the failing pump. As I taxied about with the cowl off I noticed that the Artificial Horizon had not erected. The DG seemed to be working, and there was good steady vacuum, so either a vacuum hose has become disconnected, or the AH is locked up. From the cold? Too long standing? I guess I'll find out which in a couple of weeks. Next weekend is taken - My grandaughter's 1st birthday party in Redlands, CA.

Nothing to report

Saturday, 11/19 I installed a fiberfrax lining on the upper cowl. I cut the fiberfrax to shape, spread RTV on the back, placed it against the fiberglass, then taped it in place with aluminum duct tape. AT arounf 2pm I reinstalled the cowl and pushed her out of the hangar. Start-up was good, but she seems to want to run on one rotor for a few seconds, then the second one kicks in, the rpm goes up and the nose goes down against the nose lift spring. I didn't give her a rich enough mixture when cold and she stalled as I increased throttle to taxi out. Restart was EZ and the engine ran normally once it got warmed up a little. After the runup at 25 I decided the wind was favoring 32 runway so I taxied back and across to 32. Temps were stable at about 175F and still below 190 after the second runup. Static was just over 5000 and take-off distance was amazingly short. OAT was 47F. I was at 100 feet by the runway intersection and pattern height before reaching the end of the 4000' runway. Sure beats 97F performance. Temps during flight were around 185F/190F with EGT peaking at around 1700F.

There's not much else to report about the flight. I toodled around the local area for a while enjoying the severe clear, then came back in to check the rear end for loose, lost or broken stuff. The vacuum run/start switching worked fine, but the AH was still tumbled for most of the flight. As I taxied back in following a nice (if I say so myself) landing I noticed thet the AH was erect and working. 81.9 on the hobbs, all is well, and the bird is ready for a longer flight next weekend.

It was Christmas Eve before I got near the plane again. Weather was 25 overcast so I just did a half hour of pattern work. A week later, New Year's Eve, Char came with me. We climbed up to 5000' and loafed around for a while, then Char neeeeded to come back to P, so I cut the flight short and brought her back in "no delay".

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