Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No good deed....

Well remember that nice long post about my prop change?  Well theres more to the story.  Turns out that the prop not only was the wrong color but it was the wrong prop entirely!  I ordered a WW200RV and what I got was the Scimitar prop designed for a 200+ HP engine.   There was a mixup at the factory and my prop was shipped to a guy who is building an RV-14 and I got his prop.  So after a bunch of wrangling and coordination the plan is to send me a "temporary" prop that will allow me to fly to Oshkosh and then eventually I will get my actual prop.  In the mean time I get to change out props two more times.

The first change out is done.  The temporary prop is installed but I almost want to cry.  Look at the pictures below and you will see why.




On a good note, Mariah and I flew to Montana to spend the weekend with Dad, Samone and Chad.  Several other family members showed up so we had a mini reunion.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fixed Pitch to Constant speed

Major update coming…please stand by.

Ok, so as I think I have mentioned in the past I love my Catto 3 bladed prop.  That is to say I love it at cruise, but not so much on takeoff.  Well I decided that I would switch to a Whirlwind constant speed prop and that is the topic of this post.  I will start out with some pro’s and con’s as well as a few notable comments about the process.  This is coming from somebody who has never flown constant speed and the experience of flying both is fresh in my mind.


  1. Pro’s
    1. Takeoff—holy cow the takeoff!  I did several touch and go’s as part of my testing process and I can’t tell you how amazing the pull on this prop is at full RPM.  I was climbing out at Vy for these touch and goes and I was at pattern altitude before I was turning crosswind!  If I tried to climb at Vx I felt like I was going straight up! 
    2. Taxi slower.  At idle the prop does not pull as hard as my fixed pitch prop did so I can now taxi slowly without using so much braking or running the engine at a very low RPM where it shakes like a wet dog.  Very nice.
    3. Slowing down.  Pull the throttle in the air on this prop and it feels like somebody literally hit the brakes!
    4. Landings are VERY short.
  2. Con’s
    1. Price
    2. I can no longer use engine sound as a primary indicator of many aspects of flight.  This may be something I learn to adapt to but I like to use the sound of the engine as an indicator of speed for many phases of flight
    3.  Complexity
      1. Flight management is more complex because now I have to think about a prop setting in addition to the rest of the flight.  However, this will become “muscle memory” soon I’m sure.
      2. Engine.  Prop governor, oil hoses, another cable run with associated firewall penetration and attach bracket all on the very tight back side (firewall side) of the engine.
    1. Adjusting of the high speed stop is a bugger due to location and limited access… and it has to be safety wired…hell I can’t hardly get one hand back there let alone 2 and some lock wire tools.  Fortunately I have a great friend Harry who has a nice lock wire tool that is a single piece of wire with crimp on ends.  I was able to get that in there…barely.
    2. Air brakes.  Yes I know I listed this in the Pro’s section but there is a negative side to this too.  I say this with a caveat that I might be doing something wrong but when I pull the power as I think would happen in an engine out situation my glide ratio tanks….big time.  With my fixed pitch prop if I pulled the power my glide ratio was about 12:1.  With this prop I don’t know if its even 6:1.  I have to be missing something here but I believe the prop is designed to go to the high speed top (at least that’s what the spring does) on a loss of engine oil pressure.
    3. Slightly less smooth.  Going from a 3 blade prop to a 2 blade prop I noticed a slight increase in vibration.  Not much but noticeable.  I still haven’t done the dynamic balancing yet so that will likely help.
  1. Notable – this is a section for things I noticed that are noteworthy but may change
    1. Landings are way different.  I got used to the size of the pattern I needed to land my Catto prop.  I had it down pretty good to where I could pull power at the threshold on downwind and fly the rest of the pattern to landing without adding power.  That is no longer true…I’ve yet to land without having to add power to get to the runway and that’s after cutting my downwind leg past the threshold in half!  Not only that but I feel like I’m coming in hot because the engine is running at a higher RPM than I am used to so I come in slower than normal.  This will all go away when I get used to the new prop but its an eye opener for now.
    2. LOP operations are a bit challenging right now.  As I mentioned I use engine noise to help me in many phases of flight.  LOP is one of those areas.  I usually lean until I hear the engine start to slow (lower RPM) but now the RPM remains constant and the power drops off.  I have to pay close attention to EGT’s now while leaning.  Along those lines I still need to figure out where best economy is as well as best power.  That will take some time.
    3. Nose is slightly heavier now so I can’t keep the nose wheel off the runway as long on my landing roll-out.  This could be partly due to the fact that this prop slows down so quickly.
    4. The recommended 2 ¼” prop extension that allows this prop to be attached to my engine with a James cowl is too long.  With my previous extension I had about ¼” of space between the spinner and the fwd edge of the cowling.  Now that gap is ¾” or slightly more.  I emailed Sam Tillman at SaberMFG to see if he has a shorter extension.
    5. My prop is the wrong color.    I ordered a white prop with blue crescent stripes to match my color scheme.  The prop I got is black with white stripes.  Its beautiful but doesn’t quite match.  Black and white go with everything so worst case scenario its not a big deal but its not what I ordered.
    6. Torquing the prop on was a bugger.  I don’t have the “special” tool needed so I had to put together a combination of tools to get the job done.  I also needed another set of hands to hold the prop while I was torquing.  I’m going to break out the welder and make a tool to do the torquing since I’m sure I will have to remove the prop sooner or later…even if its only to replace the alternator belt.
    7. Speaking of alternator belts, since the prop was off I went ahead and replaced the belt.  I also took the time to do a few other housekeeping tasks such as riveting the nut-plates on my battery box.


And now some pictures....



This is looking down the crankshaft after I had removed the plug in the end that is used for fixed pitch props.  I found all kinds of gunked up oil residue so I started cleaning it out before I took this picture.  Looking at the very back of the crank opening you will see where I have to install a 1/4" npt plug in the hole so the oil will go forward to the prop.
And here is the same crank location after I had cleaned it up a bit and installed the plug.
This is the governor adapter mounting location on the accessory case.  I couldn't see in there so I took this picture to make sure it was all there.


Here is the next step with the governor adapter pad installed.



This is the top of the PCU 5000X governor with the Van's bracket installed.  I had to use a file to oblong the holes to make it fit properly.  Notice the small stop adjustment screws and the lock wire ... a bugger to get to once installed.


Another shot of the governor before I mounted it.



Flywheel in place ready for the Saber extension to be bolted on.


Governor installed but no cable yet.
Top down view of the governor with the cable installed
Another top down view.


Picking up the prop from the shipping company at 10PM on Friday night I noticed this damage to the box.  We opened up the box and there was no penetration so everything inside was in good condition.


Loaded up in the truck and ready to go home.
Prop, extension and associated hardware installed.  Ready for some first start testing.
Spinner installed.  Inlet rings removed. Protective covering removed.  Time for engine start.
First day of flying I did a few touch and goes.  Its amazing how short this pattern is compared to what I was used to with the fixed pitch prop.


And finally...out in the wild!  This picture is my airplane sitting with Ben's at Fall City Airpark.  Yes, its in my phase 1 circle.  :-)






Sunday, May 7, 2017

Finally got to see Crater lake today

I was supposed to fly over to my dad's this weekend for his birthday but for some reason Montana doesn't want to join the spring craze...bad weather forced me to take my adventure elsewhere.  So, Jeff and I decided to fly to Crater Lake and then stop at Sunriver OR on the way back for some lunch.

I had an interesting thing happen to me on the flight today, actually I had a couple of interesting things happen.  First I had my lowest sustained fuel flow yet in cruise.  I climbed up to 15,500' to see how the new induction was going to work.  I kept the throttle wide open which is theoretically the most efficient position and then I leaned to about 40 degrees lean of peak EGT.  After about 30 minutes of flight I found that the fuel flow was pretty stable at about 6.1 GPH and airspeed was about 150 kTAS with 2400 RPM.  Then I pulled the throttle back about a quarter of an inch and watched the fuel burn come down to 4.5 gph with a 145 KTAS and 2350 RPM.  Holy cow that was getting me about 42 MPG!

The second interesting thing to happen was my GMC-305 autopilot controller decided to put on a Christmas show.  It was blinking constantly during flight and nothing I did would make it stop.  Even after a power cycle the lights came back on and went to blinking.  I emailed Garmin and we will see what they say.  Here is a short video of the process.  https://youtu.be/EJFl4oVPUB8



This was a picture I took at full throttle.  6.2 GPH and 148 KTAS.  The fuel flow and air speed will drift up and down a little.
Here is one of the many pictures I took after I pulled the throttle about a quarter of an inch.  145 ktas and 4.7 GPH

Another picture of the same stats.
I took this picture so I could remember what the throttle/mixture settings were.

Oh yea my head wasn't in the cockpit all day....  This is mount Hood as we were headed south.





A few pictures of crater lake as I circled it.




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

It's all about induction

Hello to my avid readers...both of you (thank you my dear for reading).  :-)

These past couple of weeks I have been working away on my new induction system.  As I think I mentioned Harry tried his hand on the metal lathe and produced a very nice base for the servo.  I put a little more time...and lots of plastic into the 3D printer and I think I have finally come up with a solution that will work.  I got a chance to fly it this past weekend and there was a HUGE increase in static RPM during takeoff.  Top end is still not measured but based on what I was seeing in cruise I lost nothing and gained a lot!


Jeff joined Amy and I for a trip up to Friday Harbor a Friday or two ago.  On the way back the sun was setting and it was beautiful out so Jeff formed up on my wing for a couple of pictures.  This is the best of the lot...sure wish my camera (IPhone 7) could do this justice!

This is the base piece.  The shiny aluminum ring you see is what Harry made and the plastic ring is the mount for both the air filter and the filter shroud.

This is a view just before I put the cowl on for test runs.

Perspective is a bit off here but what you are looking at is the new induction system from under the engine looking up.

This is how it fits in the cowling...almost perfect!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Catching up with lots of little stuff

It has been a while so I thought it was time to post a few pictures.  Lots of changes recently both flying and otherwise.  For example the West Seattle house renters have finally moved out so I have been busy trying to get it ready for sale.  The housing market has improved significantly from the last time I tried to see it.  I've already had an offer for almost double what I listed it for in 2009.

Elsewhere I have been having lots of fun with the CNC and the 3D printer, some of which you will see below.  The weather hasn't been great for flying so we only got a couple of flights in lately.    I redid my exhaust hangars as well as finish up my annual air worthiness condition inspection.


This is the new oil cooler exit ducting.  The red hose is the inlet to my cockpit heating.  Overall it seems to work well but I've really only got one flight with it installed right now.


This is the CNC cutting out a test panel that will eventually replace my pilot side instrument panel. 
This is the new carbon fiber panel as it is being cut by the CNC.  If you look closely you might see that this panel actually has a blue tint to it....Carbon fiber and Kevlar.  :-)

See that white gadget in the middle of the seats.  I used the 3D printer to print that up..  See next picture to find out what it is.
Now my seatbelts wont slide behind the seats when I move them forward!



These seats come with a small black plastic plate that is supposed to protect the leather from the cross member that the seats lean up against.  Well since I installed the "Almost a 14" mod on my airplane the original plates didn't line up with the new cross member.  I decided to buy some plastic and cut my own...with a twist!  This is the template.
And this is what the actual piece looks like after I cut it out with the CNC.  Still not installed so no pictures of that yet.

Remember this?  I do....too well.  Actually I have decided that I am going to put it back in the airplane...with a slight modification....see next picture for a view of the test fitting after giving it a slight "trim".


Ok, here it is.  I really like it.  It gives me some arm support as well as a little more storage in the cockpit.  Besides one of very few things I didn't like about my cockpit was this center section.  Too much stuff gets dumped into that area between the seats.  Now I have to figure out how I am going to "finish" the new forward section.  I'm thinking a couple of drink holders...

Oh yea, we did actually go flying.  First time Jeff, Harry and I have got to fly together in a very long time.  This is us passing over Portland at about 1500' on our way to some excellent Mexican food at Molino.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

First nice day in a while....and it was hailing airplanes out there!

Today Jeff, Martin and I got a chance to take nice lunch run to Sandpoint Idaho.  The weather on the way over was amazing, nice and smooth with a good little tail wind.  The flight back was a little bumpy but as I told my friend Ben, even a little bumpy is better than being on the ground!

Anyway, here are a few pictures of todays flight.

Belly up to the fuel pump everybody...

The mountains to the north as we flew over the Cascades

Another picture of the Cascades

Yes, this is another picture of the cascades to the South but believe it or not there is another airplane in the picture.
 
Ok, now the airplane is a little easier to see.

And here it is up close...with Jeff in the background.  This is Martin as I was closing in for some formation flight that Jeff could photograph.


The Sandpoint valley as we descended down for landing.

On final for the runway at Sandpoint.