Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Yet another modification to the slider

One of the aspects of my airplane that I have always been unhappy with was how poorly the canopy slid fore and aft.  The canopy itself fits very nicely but has enough flex and play that it moves side to side and the wheels tend to rub on the sides making a scraping sound.  The wheels don't turn easily and they tend to "rattle" as the wheels jiggle on the bolts that hold them in place when the engine is at idle.

So, I decided to do another little modification to the canopy.  I put new wheels on....but this time the wheels have real bearings in them!  I also used wheels with tapered edges on them.  The idea here is that at some point I can put a track in that holds the wheels fixed in the middle of the track so they don't rub at all.

After doing the bearing mod I found that the canopy slides much more easily.  Once I get the whole machining process down I may actually work on a new slide that has the grooves necessary to track the wheels.

Just as a reference if anybody wants to duplicate this mod here are the parts I used.

1. Wheels - I used the wheels from my CNC kit manufacturer.  (  I did have to put them on my lathe and turn the diameter down to the correct size and I didn't use any of the bearings included in the kit.  I did get the idea for using bearings from this kit though.

2. Bearings - I ordered these bearings with the idea I would put two per wheel in similar to the way my CNC machine works.  However I found that if I put in two bearings the bolts would stick out too far and rub on the inside of the track.  So I mixed up a bit of epoxy and glued a single bearing at just the right depth to hide the head of the 1/4" bolt holding the wheel on.

3. Spacers.  I used a lathe to turn the spacers you see in the picture below but I could just as easily have purchased a piece of aluminum tubing with 1/4" ID and 1/2" OD to do the same thing.

Anyway that's it and I am really happy with how the whole thing turned out.

Here you can see the new wheels with the bearings.  I have the SuperTracks slider mod on the airplane which is why I have two sets of wheels on each side.  This is looking from the outside of the cockpit back at the canopy slid all the way back.

A little better veiw of the mount. You can see the taper in the wheels with this picture.

While I had this all apart I decided to modify the inlet to the SuperTracks rails to be a little less "sharp".  I found that I jabbed my shoulder with the original design and this just seems to work much better...and it looks better.

Outside view of the SuperTrack rail mod.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse 2017


That one word about sums up my entire 3 day adventure surrounding the eclipse 2017 in Madras Oregon.  Let me start this post by saying that of all of the airplane trips I have made so far this was easily the most enjoyable.  There were no showers, the porta-potties were poorly stocked and didn't work even after you stood in line for 30 minutes to use one, the taxi line to get out went on for about 5 hours, and it was in the 80's or higher....but it was still on top of the list.

So, what made it so special?  Well obviously the totality event was the crowning moment.  I wont do it justice trying to explain it but it was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen.  I was not expecting to be as impressed as I was having seen the one back in 1979.  Never the less I was astounded by the event.  I surely hope somebody with a good camera captured what I saw but so far none of the pictures I see online come close to that memory...including the pictures below.

The atmosphere at the event was "different" than anything thus far.  Oshkosh is fun, no doubt, but its commercial in every aspect.  Its about making money and the atmosphere follows suit.  There are tons of "rules" about what you can and can not do.  You get packed in with 600,000 of your closest friends and you get to rub elbows with them, all of them, every time you leave the confines of home built parking.  Still its fun and I will keep going for a bit longer... but this trip to Madras for the eclipse was a whole new adventure.  Lots of open space at the airport, lots of festive people, and a great group of people in general.  Keep in mind that I am talking about the airport camping, not the huge camp ground they called "Solar City".

There is so much more I could say about this trip and maybe I will come back and update as things come to mind because I want to remember this!

Anyway, it was a wonderful weekend with good friends and a very special event.  I wish more of my friends could have been there to share with us.  I am seriously planning to be at the eclipse in 2024 with as many friends as I can convince to come.  Oh, and both of you (my readers) are invited.  ;-)

Oh, one more thing...I took a couple of video's with my cell phone and my go they are. The actual eclipse surroundings.

Our camp which was about 150' from the runway. 

Pano of the camp area on Saturday evening.  See the long shadow?

The beginnings of a great sunset

Can't miss out on a chance to take a picture of N1605A in a beautiful setting.

Ok, this picture needs a story.  So we were on a quest for some Mexican food in Madras on Sunday but since Madras is a pretty quiet town the recommended Mexican place was closed.  So Jeff talked us into this place....  Yes, thats somebody's house with a few blue tents strung up above the "kitchen" as the mother whipped us up some Carne Asada burrito's!  Best Mexican food I've had in a very long time! 

Half the the burrito ....dang that was good!

Oh, just as a special gift...try this pork dish out....mmmmmmmm

Ok, back to the sunsets....spectacular thanks to the fires in California.

Yea, another shot of N1605A...just can't resist!

These next few pictures are hard to see but it was one of the most fun nights I've had.  Jeff and his daughter brought a bunch of glow sticks and we had a blast with them!

Jeff and his necklace.

Ok, back to the sunsets...did I mention how spectacular they were?

Yea, cell phones looking through eclipse glasses are not the best way to photograph the eclipse.

Look how sharp the shadows are getting...this was taken at about 80% coverage on the eclipse.

Another picture of how sharp the shadows were.

Pano of the campground at the airport as the eclipse was about to go totality.

One more poorly created Pano of the exit line for aircraft leaving was a mad house!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Constant Speed conversion - 30 day review

As you both (my 2 readers) know, last month I converted my airplane from a fixed pitch Catto 3 blade prop to a Whirlwind 2 blade constant speed prop.  I have been flying the new combination for a little more than a month now and am getting comfortable with the new configuration so I thought I would write up a 30 day review.

My original review posted several Pro's and Con's to the conversion.  I have started to develop/evolve a few opinions about the conversion and that will be what I focus on for this discussion.  Keep in mind that this is only after about 30 hours of flight time behind the Whirlwind so I'm sure there are aspects that I am neglecting or that will change as I get more experience.

Pro's:  These have not changed much.  I am still impressed with the climb rate on takeoff.  The thrill of climbing out at Vx is almost scary!

I did have one fact reinforced on my recent trip to Oshkosh.  RPM has a huge impact on my oil temperature (go figure huh?).  I was climbing out in 90 plus degree days and I found that if I climbed at anything above 2400 RPM my oil temperature would climb up quite rapidly.  On one takeoff I pulled the prop back to about 2500 RPM for the first 5 minutes and my oil temperature hit 230 degrees.  At that point I remembered that I had a constant speed prop and could decrease the engine RPM and still have outstanding climb capacity.  I count this as a plus since I can now manage my oil temperature more precisely with the ability to control engine RPM and not impact climb performance significantly.  Its ironic that I never have issues with CHT's but oil temperature will bite me if I'm not careful.  Rarely do I see CHT's greater than 370F.

Another pro that I encountered was a significant decrease in cruise noise level.  I found that if I pulled the prop back to about 2100 rpm in cruise I could maintain pretty close to the same speed but the noise dropped considerably.  On the other end of that spectrum the noise on takeoff is louder simply because the engine is developing full RPM.

Con's:  Again these have not changed much but I have noticed a new con that I didn't mention before.  When I am taxiing with my canopy pulled back for cooling air I noticed that the canopy jumps around a LOT more than it used to.  This has to be because the two blades are pulsing the air evenly on both sides of the fuselage (something my 3 bladed prop never did).  This concerns me a little due to the flexing that occurs.

Previously I mentioned having a harder time with speed control because I have been using my engine noise level as a good indicator.  I will say that I am getting used to this change and its not as drastic of a change as originally thought.  I am getting used to hearing air noises on the airplane and using those to manage speed but I still find its darn hard to hold a constant airspeed when approaching an airport as I slow down for pattern entry.  Once the governor gets down to the low rpm stop things are fine but I see my airspeed varying by as much as 20 knots if I don't pay attention to the ASI.

Glide ratio.  Yesterday I got a chance to do a little glide ratio testing with the engine at idle.  Its not as bad as I originally expected once my speed has bled off to about 85 knots.  Pulling the throttle really slows the airplane down but at best glide speed the glide ratio is slightly greater than 8:1.  Doesn't sound too bad until you compare it to what I got with the fixed pitch prop at closer to 12:1.  8:1 is roughly equivalent to the RV-7 and RV-8's I have seen.

Conclusion:  Ok, so I have been asking myself lately if I thought the conversion was worth the cost and honestly I don't think so.  My 3 bladed Catto performed well in every aspect of flight (including formation flight) with the sole exception of takeoff static RPM.  The extra $6000 I spent to increase my takeoff climb from 1000+ fpm to 1500+ fpm was probably not money well spent.  Density altitude was never really an issue before so the improvement is negligible.  The fixed pitch takeoff roll was longer but never as long as 90% of the GA fleet so its not really an issue either.

No I won't be pulling my Whirlwind off and putting the Catto back because I have already spent the money but if I were going to build another RV (except the 10) I don't think I would do it again.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Oshkosh 2017 and more

I've been back from Oshkosh for a few weeks now and figured it was time to do an update.  Turns out Oshkosh was....different this year.  Let me explain.

Departure from Puyallup was planned for Thursday afternoon.  Things went well and there was some significant overcast so Jeff, Martin and I all filed IFR and flew out one after the other.  This was FUN!  We had some pretty heavy rain just before breaking out of the clouds at 11,500' but from there to Montana was nice.  We opted to spend the night in Helena MT and as we approached western Montana we started picking up some significant haze from the wild fires.

Friday morning the plan was to fly to Oshkosh with two fuel stops along the way.  Mid way through the day there was some pretty nasty weather building up around Oshkosh so we opted (after much discussion) to stop for the night and finish our trip on Saturday.  I have to pause here for a minute to warn everybody that if you ever ask Martin to be the navigator for your lunch run be prepared for just about anything....including a trip to another state to get Subway sandwiches.  :-)

The next morning we got up early and headed for Oshkosh.  Again we had to delay a time or two to avoid weather but we finally landed in mid afternoon and set up camp.  The great part about this trip was the actual arrival at Oshkosh.  In the past few years we always arrived on Friday and managed to avoid the mad rush on the weekend.  This year we were in the thick of Saturday afternoon traffic and we had to keep our heads on a swivel to avoid the incoming traffic.  This was the first time we got the full Oshkosh arrival treatment and fortunately we didn't have to hold over the lake or go around due to too much traffic on final.

Saturday was pretty hot and humid but the grass was all green and our camp site was nice.  The evening cooled off nicely which made sleeping possible in the tents.  Sunday we spent the majority the day on the edge of runway 27 watching the arrivals.  No accidents, thankfully, but there were a few pretty spectacular close calls.

Monday was a day of forums and vendor visits...and the arrival of the B1B in full afterburner!  Holy cow that thing is loud!

Tuesday morning we awoke to a public announcement that Wednesday had "Damaging winds and hail" in the forecast.  We again discussed this and decided we would rather be home wishing we were here rather than the opposite so we packed up a couple of days early and headed home.  We stopped in Dickinson ND to spend the night at my sisters.  On Wednesday morning Jeff has a mag failure that kept us from an early departure.  Fortunate for us the FBO on the field actually had the correct mag in stock so we were able to launch for home shortly after noon.

All in all it was a great trip but I would like to have had one more day in Oshkosh.

Fueling up for the first leg.  You can see Jeff's RV-7A and Martins RV-4 in the background.  What you can't see is our ground support team (Harry) sitting in his truck watching the departure.

First fuel stop after Helena...I didn't take any pictures in Helena...

Second fuel stop and our unplanned hold point in Laverne Wisconsin.  This is also where Martin took us to Ohio for lunch at Subway!

Parked with the welcome wagon in the background.  You can see Victors RV-9A just on the other side of Jeff.  Martin opted to fly to Appleton and stay in a hotel there.

A view off to the North from our parking spot.  Thats an RV-14A sitting beside me by the way.

All set up and ready for evening.

Random RV-10 interior that I saw and loved.  

Blue Origin rocket on display.

My vantage during the Monday airshow...who says you cant find shade under a low wing aircraft!

Lots of sky writing this year...

I think we took this picture and sent it to Harry who could not join us this year...  Dinner at Applebee's.

Jeff working on pulling the mag that failed while in Dickinson.

Using the courtesy truck I made a run to McD's for lunch before we launched out of Dickinson...holy cow... I don't think I've ever sat in a McD's line that long!

One of the bigger fires in western Montana.  Look below, you can't see the ground due to the smoke layer.

As the sun set in the west my shade wasn't providing any cover from the sun so I had to "improvise" for the last hour or so of our return to KPLU.