Critical Understanding #12 – Yearly Condition Inspection 

Builders,

I am skipping over #10 and #11, but I will go back and cover them later. Be aware that I may expand this slightly in the next week also. If I do, I will put a revision date in the title.

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Above, my original copy of AC43.13 1A /2A from my training at Embry Riddle. In front of it is a logbook from a 1940 Taylorcraft BL-65, NC-24373. Even though a lot of people claim there was no private flying in the US during the war, nor gas for planes, the previous page shows the plane was purchased in southern California  on 3-28-45, and was obviously being flown a lot that week, even though Hitler was still alive and the battle of Iwo Jima was being fought.  You can correct a lot of myths with logs. Note the 3-30 entry saying “Engine running hot as hell”

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Homebuilts don’t get traditional Annual inspections, they get a condition inspection. Certified airplanes used for hire also get the same inspection on 100 hr intervals, but since you can’t rent out a homebuilt, it dosent apply.  But the ‘scope and detail’ which is specified in appendix D:

( https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2002-title14-vol1/pdf/CFR-2002-title14-vol1-part43-appD.pdf)

Is a beginning point of all of these inspections, and from it  you should develop a personal inspection checklist.

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Some important points:

Just because you own or even built your plane, doesn’t mean you can inspect it. You need a repairman’s certificate for your specific plane to inspect it or you need an A&P mechanic. If a guy the second owner of s a Flybaby,  but he built one before and had a repairman’s certificate  for that Flybaby, it doesn’t count, because the certificate is for a specific plane, not the type. Several years ago I looked at a plane that had 8 years of entries in the logs that said “A+P” looked official, but it turned out the builder and owner had never gotten a repairman’s certificate for the plane, and what he was doing was deceptively writing AtP or Airline Transport Pilot (which he was) in the logs. If anyone thinks they could dance around that detail when you meet the Feds, they are delusional. Have an accident in that plane and the FAA, would charge the pilot with falsifying federal records, his insurance wouldn’t be valid, and he would he personally liable for civil action. Good thing the plane was only used to fly about 50 young eagles. Flying a uninspected plane is something that people try to justify all the time. Just don’t be one of them.

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As far as your Corvair goes, these things need to be on your list:

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Perform a full visual inspection for leaks and cracked or broken parts paying particular attention to wiring chafing and any exhaust leaks. Wash the engine and dry it. Re-inspect it clean. This process should take at least one hour without interruption. Oil leaks on the engine are not considered acceptable and are to be corrected as detected.

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Change the oil and filter, Oil must have more than 800 PPM Zinc Phosphate

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Cut the filter open and keep a sample of the element in a plastic bag to compare.

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Change the plugs. If your plane has R-44F’s in it, go to Denso W20FP-U’s or better yet Denso IWF20’s While 44F’s have worked for decades, these are an important improvement.

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Inspect the inside of the cap, the rotor and the wires. visible  wear is not acceptable.

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Charge and Load test the battery. replace it if it fails or retire it if it is more than 5 years old. NEVER put a trickle charger on an AGM battery like an Odyssey.

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Perform a DIFFERENTIAL compression test. Note the compressions for each cylinder, and where the leaks are. Instead of 60/80 being minimum, make 68/80 minimum. anything less than 72/80 requires another inspection in 5 hours.

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Carefully check the full function of all engine controls.

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Carefully check the integrity  of all engine instrumentation sensors and systems.

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Clean or replace air filter, and note this in logs. Bracket brand air filter elements must be replaced at inspection, no matter how many hours they were used.

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Replace all fuel filters, drain and clean all sumps, including the carb float bowl.

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Carefully inspect balancer for any type of degradation of the elastomer. None is acceptable.

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Set the timing on BOTH, A and B ignitions, at full static rpm. Note the timing and rpm in the logs for each ignition. Make sure the RPM drop on the back up ignition is within limits.

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Verify , with a voltmeter, that the charging system is functioning to capacity. Note in the logs RPM required for the charging system to register 13.0 volts

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Re-torque the propeller to manufacturers specs. and enter this number in the logs, along with the next required interval for torque.

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Perform a “Two Minute Test” Write the OAT, DA, CHT, RPM and oil temp and pressure in the logs

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Date and sign the logs with the statement “I , xxxx xxxxx swear that I have inspected this engine, entered the data in the logs and declare this engine to be airworthy” put down your repairman’s certificate number or your A&P license number.

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NOTE: If the plane’s insurance specifies the engine is being operated  “In accordance with William Wynne guidelines” as some insurance does, this means the insurance will not be valid if the compression numbers in in the logs say “130 -125-….” indicating an automotive tester was used or if they find the motor to have NGK or Bosh plugs. Your plane, your choice, do as you wish, just answer for yourself what is to be gained by doing it differently, and what the potential cost is.

-ww.

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Eyeballing Prop Blades for Performance. 

Builders,
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Pictured below are two carbon fiber, ground adjustable prop blades from two known and respected US manufacturers, who have been on business 30 years (L), and 80 years (R) respectively. Let me share with you what you can tell by eyeball about the performance of each of these different blades.

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Above, A Warp Drive blade with nickel leading edges on the left. There are more than 150 of these flying on Corvair powered planes. I have been a WD dealer for more than 20 years, and you can look at pictures of my Pietenpol from that far back and see a 66″ two blade on it. The prop on the right is a Sensenich Saber blade, in the correct airfoil and pitch distribution to be a fair comparison to the WD prop. It has not flown on a Corvair, it was directly provided by the factory as a test article, the blades still have the node marks from their in house vibration survey. I have been a Sensenich dealer for almost 15 years.

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Here is what you can tell about their performance comparison by Eyeball : Nothing. The only valid commentary that will come, will be from impartial testing, period. Plenty of people will offer some comment on nearly any prop, but will they buy you a new one if it doesn’t work? I haven’t seen that yet. Ask any group of people at an airport or an EAA meeting about a kind of prop, and wait for the first guy to answer, then ask the four questions his expert opinion neglected to include: Have you ever flown that type of prop on the engine I asked about ?  Are you a dealer for that brand so you would have full access to their support staff? Have you ever had any formal training on propulsion, A&P work or worked in a prop repair station? Has anyone ever paid you a dime for you opinions on props, or is your advice worth exactly what you charge for it, nothing?

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Without even asking, you can pretty much guess the answer to the questions.  On the other hand, even though I had Dr. Ernest Jones as a mentor in propulsion at ERAU, am a 25 year A&P, have been a prop dealer for decades, Have worked in a certified prop repair station, and was paid about $80K a year by a global prop manufacturer, my experience tells me that you can’t tell anything valid by eyeball, only real testing counts. Show the picture above to the guy at your EAA meeting who dispenses advice on every subject that comes up, and ask him which blade will perform better. Regard it as a study of aberrant humans, not valid performance advice.

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-ww.

Evolution of a Pietenpol

Builders,

In the previous story, The small world of Experimental Aviation , I mentioned how much N-1777W changed over the years. He is a look at some of it:

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This is the plane at Oshkosh 1970. The picture made it to the back cover of Sport Aviation in January 1971. Notice it once had 140HP heads, and other well meaning, but weak ideas. If you have the Tony Bingelis book “Firewall Forward” the Pietenpol/Corvair pictures in it are all of this plane, in this era. Bingelis didn’t like auto engines, and his writing spread a lot of old wives tales. He was a good guy and a highly influential writer, but he held opinions that testing by his contemporaries like Wittman and Monnett showed to be wrong.

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Fast forward to 1995. Want to know how I became the expert on Pietenpol weight and balance? Want to know why I think it is annoying when people who can’t do a simple calculation, or have never weighed a plane on electronic scales question my work on Piet W&B?  Start with this photo: The reason why the cowl has a 6″ wide expansion in it is simple. After getting the plane, I found out the weight and balance, done on bathroom scales was dangerously wrong. I carefully measured, and in a single day, made a mount 6″ longer and plugged the cowl for test flying. In the picture is Gus Warren who did a lot of the work with me and covered much of the flying. It was an instant improvement in safe flying behavior. I have written extensively about this testing and work, you can find the links here: Corvair – Pietenpol Reference page, but today, the majority of Pietenpol builders willfully ignore the information. Much of this is driven by people in the Pietenpol community who personally dislike me for my tone or experience.

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Above, same plane 1999. This is an entirely different motor mount, the first high thrust line (#4201-C Pietenpol Motor mounts, now on the shelf, ready for shipping.)  and a completely different set of gear legs.(New die spring landing gear on a Pietenpol, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.)  Bring up the topic of axle location, gear leg length, CG changes or thrust lines, and people will tell you they think it makes no difference. Of course their opinion is not based on any testing, just a guess, something they heard from a guy. When I speak of these things on a Pietenpol, it was because for a number of years, ready to cut up a good flying plane, or a mount that I had made a month before, in search of something better. Some opinions are made of guesses, mine are made of testing.

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If you look in the upper corner of the picture, there is a blond girl sitting in the grass. She was getting away from her job as a newspaper editor. She liked planes a lot, and had a very pleasant way about her. Her name turned out to be Grace.

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Above, side view of the same plane, taken just before Corvair College #1. Notice how much longer the gear is than when the fuselage was orange. Also note where the axle is located. In the last few years, we have had two Corvair powered Pietenpols heavily damaged by being put on their back, even though I warned people to move the axle forward if using brakes. It is frustrating to not be able to motivate people to correct things like this before an accident. When you see what I was willing to rework on my own aircraft to make it better, it is obvious that I don’t operate things in a condition that simple work and modest money will fix. If you are too tired to improve things, pick a different hobby, this one has potentially harsh penalties for the lazy.

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-ww.

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Inexpensive carb testing

Builders,

Inexpensive carbs, the testing of the day. Dan Weseman had been looking at an adaptation of a specialized carb for a while. Today was the day we ran it for a long time and ran a lot of flow and hot start tests. It worked pretty good. It is made in America and costs about $400 new.

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Above, the carb feeding a 2700cc Corvair on my run stand outside the SPA/Panther factory.

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Above, The carb and adaptor to our standard Corvair manifold.  The carb is aimed at 200 cid industrial forklift engines. It is not approved for aircraft use by the manufacturer, so if you need support from their tech department, it has to asked in a way that doesn’t threaten the job and livelihood of the guy answering your questions. For people who have a hard time reading between the lines: Don’t call nor email the manufacturer.

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The 1/2″ thick aluminum adaptor was drawn by Dan at is desk, sent to his CNC machine, I tapped the holes, and it was on the run stand start to finish in 60 minutes. Note the carb mounting holes are recessed below the gasket line.As Dan said, some days it is fun to be at work.

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Above, the carb in action. On the same engine, under the same conditions, it gave up less than 40 rpm to a perfectly tuned MA3-SPA. This is the stuff you learn testing. Visually, you can see from the adaptor above, the carb has a much smaller throat diameter than the MA3.  If I show an internet discussion group the smaller carb, 90 percent of the people would state that it would be a terrible power loss. Testing proves that it isn’t. This is why talk is cheap, testing costs money, and being ignorant costs a fortune.

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-ww.

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Today’s contest: Identity this Corvair motor mount.

Builders,

OK CONTEST IS OVER!

The correct answer is Kitfox 5, 6, and 7, tricycle gear.  Three guys guessed this, and I will send each of them a tee shirt, as soon as they write back with their size and address. Mike Maury was the first guy to mention this, because he has been waiting for this for a long time, and he is the “Outlaw Kitfox”  guy mention in previous stories. He was say it in about an hour and mentioned this, but I didn’t say he was wrong, I just left it alone. Later, 2 other guys Bob Krause and Ken Paxton, followed Mike, and notice, I didn’t say they were wrong either.  Don’t be mad, it was a great brainstorming session of classic homebuilts.

Dan and Rachel built several of these mounts, Mike’s is just the first one pictured. If you are a Kitfox guy, you can call Rachel direct at SPA/Panther for pricing and delivery. 904 626 7777 ext #1. These were several years in development, and now they are an on the shelf item. Progress.  -ww.

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Here is todays contest: Use the comments section to identify this motor mount. Bonus points for knowing which models of the aircraft it fits, and the landing gear configuration. First builder with the right answer gets a tee shirt, and the first smart aleck who guesses Cessna 162 will get a sack of rubber dog poop flown in from Hong Kong:

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Above, the mount on a rotating stand. Picture was taken today in the SPA/Panther factory. Mount design and layout is by Dan Weseman, fabrication by Mr. Travis, aka “Retro Black“.

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Above, right side up. Notice it has it’s own custom MA-3SPA intake and Custom exhaust.

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Could be some hints here: Mounts at Oshkosh and Colleges.

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May the most eagle eyed builder win.  Start typing, if it takes two tries to guess right, we will send your tee shirt with the sleeves torn off, Larry the Cable guy style.

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-ww.

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The dummy motor pictured has actually made about six trips to Oshkosh as my display motor, when it was cosmetically more youthful. We dressed it out with accessories to look real, but it spared risking a real engine getting damaged by weather or in transit It has no valuable parts inside. Every year, after the last day of the show, I would unbolt it from the stand, and leave it right out by the road overnight to see if anyone would heist it. Inside it was a note saying “I hope you had fun carrying this boat anchor all the way to the parking lot.” A potentially fun joke, but no one ever took it.

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FMU – The greatest flying club never started.

Builders,

Grace and I were a small part of promoting the Sport Pilot program all the way back to meetings held at EAA headquarters in the winter of 2003. I had great hope that it would usher in a revival of purist stick and rudder flying, a giant correction to an industry which was mired in promoting ‘glass cockpits’ and the plague of powered parachutes.

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When is came to pass, it contained most of what I hoped for, but the media coverage was rapidly hijacked by ‘affordable’ $179K Rotax/Euro trash all sporting wheels and brakes liberated from Italian scooters and then Cessna’s Chinese fecal masterpiece, the C-162 ‘Spincatcher’. All of these things were marketed with pictures of yuppies who walked out of a 1988 J. Crew catalogue. Comparatively, I had hoped for Mark Donohue in Nomex, driving a 1968 Penske Camaro and they had sent a guy named Biff in a sweater, driving a Prius and told me to be happy about it..

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As an emotional revolt to this, I spent the after hours of Oshkosh 2005 drinking beer and ranting to Gus Warren and Grace about how we would start a revolt, a correction, in the form of a very loose knit flying club, a brotherhood of people who would understand what had always been great about flying pure and simple planes. All things about the club would be evaluated on one basis only : Would Pappy Boyington do this? 

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Above, the critical artwork, a visual call to arms for the faithful of flying, a summons from all that was holy in flight. This was drawn in a moment of inspiration by Gus Warren, and carefully pressed by Grace between the pages of Langewiesche’s Stick and Rudder to await the start of the revolution.

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The membership was to be somewhat secretive, so we could infiltrate the regular aviation media, and wait for the right moment to strike.  The members would know each other because their planes would bear a 4″ green roundel on the tail, with the letters “FMU”, reminiscent of  eight ball on the tail of a Comanche 400.  The more beer I had, the clearer the plan became. I had discovered the antidote. I put my head on the pillow that night contemplating the modest tone I would take in my inevitable speech at the theater in the woods, when the new regime was in control and a bronze statue of both Pappy and Paul hoisting a beer together under the brown arch, after they were done escorting the C-162 people off the premises.

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I awoke the next morning to the memory of A. E. Housman’s ode to ale, Terrence this is stupid stuff, his observation that “Ale does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways with man.”  I was particularly caught on the lines:

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Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

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What was FMU to stand for?  Flying Monkeys from Uranus of course.

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-ww.

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More DFI testing

Builders,

14 months ago, I wrote this story about a dual electronic ignition system that I was working on: Ignition part #3301-DFI, a new optional system. Past of today was spent running a further refined version on the test stand. This is a good illustration of how thoroughly new ideas are tested long before any customer ever flies one. Every bit of the testing has been positive, but yet, and the end of the day, Dan Weseman and I spent some time staring at it trying to figure out in what obscure set of circumstance it might be tormented into not working. Any supplier who doesn’t have this basic out look at his own products and efforts, a person who thinks he can’t make a mistake, is someone you shouldn’t trust around airplanes. Your safety isn’t a poker chip to be played by some ego who can’t picture being wrong. Guinea pigs cost $20 at a pet shop, and that is what a person who releases things that were not tested looking for how they might fail, thinks your life is worth. Having the correct attitude is what I was getting at with this story: Competing for 2nd place.

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On the left, the 2015 prototype system, on the right, The updated 2017 version. It has revised timing internally, the trigger wheel is a different shape, it used the modern production Fast modules, and they are recessed in the plate to allow better mounting for the full height of the rotor.  The development was all drawn into CAD by Dan, and the revised parts were made in house at the SPA/Panther factory. The revisions were evolutions from testing, primarily extensive professional Dyno runs on 3.0 and 3.3 engines done last year, which also provided the data for this: Critical Understanding #5, Knowing “+ROC/5” Rate of Climb on Five cylinders. This type of integrated design, testing, dyno runs and flights, through several revisions, all with the right attitude, is what sets our work apart from people who express pet theories on the net based on limited experience, and slanting information to support a pre chosen conclusion. Read what you like, take your pick, follow the opinions of whom ever you like, just understand what your wager is.

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-ww.

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