Can’t read instructions?

Builders

To even apply for an aircraft mechanics license in the United States, The applicant must swear to and demonstrate they can read, write and converse in English. There is a very good reason for this. The instructions on how to work on planes are all written in English, and people who can’t read English can’t follow directions and do safe work in an English speaking system. Non aviation people might want to have some kind of “bias examining encounter group with safe spaces and neutral pronouns” but I’ll bet they wouldn’t want to take an airliner to such a conference if they were told the mechanics who just worked on the plane couldn’t read the maintenance instructions.

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Here is a more practical problem I deal with: I have a number of builders who evidently can’t read English, or if there are too many words in a story they think it is justification for not following the content.  I have no sympathy for this. The average A&P mechanic with 25 years of experience, like myself, earns a whopping $36K /year. (Yes, the professionals who worked on the airliner that took your family to Disney World last year are paid less than your wife’s hairdresser.) And for this salary, they are willing and able to read the most convoluted Air-worthiness Directives, Instructions which are the mutant products of the FAA, Lawyers and Engineers, all to protect the safety of people they will never meet, people who’s sole criterion for selecting a ticket was how cheap they could buy it.

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And that is why it stuns me that a guy who is fully planning on flying himself, his wife, his kids and his grandkids in a plane, can’t force himself to read a few paragraphs in English and follow the directions they contain. A&P mechanics do for strangers, what these people will not do for their own blood. Before anyone suggests that A&P’s are professionals, just remember that Physics Chemistry and Gravity don’t have a different set of laws for homebuilt aircraft, all the work on flying planes must be done to standards.

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So, Lets look at an example form the previous story, about someone who either can’t read English, or has an attention span that didn’t carry them through 3 pages of instructions in big print with pictures. If you are a Corvair builder, what is wrong with the oil pressure sender above, besides the fact it is completely overloading the 1/8″-NPT threads?

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The correct answer is the sender isn’t even screwed into the correct hole for pressure. The 3 pages of  instructions that are shipped with every Gold Oil filter housing clearly state the temperature sender goes in the 1/2″-NPT port, and the pressure sender goes in one of the two 1/8″-NPT ports.  That is just plain English. The guy who sent the picture to my friend reversed this. Result? He will be reading falsely high oil pressure, and falsely low oil temperature.  Give him an adjustable oil pressure regulator, and he will crank it down until he starves the bearings of oil; On cold days he will wait forever for the oil temperature to reach acceptable levels. On hot days he will have no real idea how hot is oil is. Who’s fault is this? It is 100% the fault of the guy who couldn’t be bothered to read three pages of big print and pictures to protect his family.

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The really ironic part was the person who made the contraption was writing my friend because they noted the sender instructions required it point upward. So they followed the instrument makers instructions, but not the guy who wrote the book on the engine. Make sense of that.

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I am sure there will be several people who claim they were justified in ignoring the directions because the sender their “glass cockpit” company sent wouldn’t thread in the hole I told them to put it in, so they stuck it in a different one. Here is reality: Top left is a common electrical temp sender in 1/8″-NPT. To put it in the 1/2″ NPT temp hole requires one AN-912-6D bushing, page 110 in the Aircraft Spruce catalog, it is going to set the builder back a whopping $6.50. That is what is pictured in the middle. The end is a brass version of the same idea with a temp sender in it, but I ripped it out of a plane because it is a dumb idea to have a Chinese fitting that weighs three times as much as it needs to in your plane, and probably costs the same.

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SERIOUS ADVICE:

If anyone consistently finds themselves missing simple instructions like the ones above. Seriously consider making a concerted effort to find out why, and how to bring more attention to bear. Do this now, in the building phase, because the later flying phase has very harsh penalties for people who make a lot of mistakes and have trouble following operational instructions.

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If anyone thinks missing instructions or not following them is justified because I don’t write in short enough sentences, They should PLEASE, write that to me in an email. Because one day, when something bad happens, I’m really going to appreciate having that letter when the FAA, their insurance company or the lawyer their wife hired calls.

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If this tone sounds offensive to anyone, stop and think of this: What if you had a 25 year family business, and some people never read the instructions you carefully wrote sent, and taught for free. How would you speak to such people if you had plenty of evidence that a good number of them were willing to take 0% responsibility for the outcome of their choice, and some of these people felt perfectly justified in hiring lawyers to lie on their behalf in an attempt to rob you?  What if you were raised under these ethics: Values of my Father. What tone would you have?  I firmly believe that people have a right to destroy their own lives. I just don’t believe that they can later hold other accountable for their choices, but obviously we have plenty of people in our country who find nothing wrong with that.

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-wewjr.

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WARNING: 1/8-NPT thread weight limit.

Builders:

THIS IS A WARNING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT COULD KILL YOU.

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Please feel free to forward this to other aviation groups. It is already standard practice and knowledge, it is not a new concept, but evidently one that needs additional publication. I saw a builder photograph today, that initially I thought was a joke. When I realized it wasn’t, I understood that this warning had to be written, because what I had previously considered common sense, evidently isn’t common to everyone.

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SUBJECT: The smallest common pipe thread in aircraft is 1/8″-NPT (National Pipe Thread). It appears many places on aircraft. The thread is small, and it has a low tolerance for heavy items being screwed into it, particularly if these items are cantilever on aircraft engines. Things that weigh too much, are prone to breaking off the 1/8″-NPT fittings. This is much more common on aircraft that automobiles, because aircraft are a much more vibration prone environment. If the line or fitting contains pressure oil, breaking it off will result it a total loss of oil in minutes, a possible engine fire, a certain engine stoppage, AND A FATAL ACCIDENT. It is the 100% responsibility of the builder to make sure his aircraft does not have excessively heavy items supported on 1/8″-NPT threads. This is not the responsibility of the engine builder, nor the kit manufacturer, nor the tech councilor, nor the DAR, nor the FAA. In this country we have the liberty to build planes of our own construction. With this comes the absolute, 100% responsibility for the outcome. If someone chooses to ignore this, neither they, nor their next of kin can claim someone else was even partially to blame.

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Above: AN fittings, L-R: 1/2″-NPT , 3/8″-NPT , 1/4″-NPT , and 1/8″-NPT. Quarter, .22LR, Standard 13/16″ sparkplug and 6″ rule are for scale, use what you are familiar with. The Aircraft Spruce catalog has always contained full scale drawings of these threads.

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Above, THE PICTURE ABOVE IS NOT AIRWORTHY.  It is a simulation of the photo I saw.  The original was sent to my friend, and when he saw how angry I got looking at it, he decided that he shouldn’t reveal to me who was planning on flying a plane with such a rig. He correctly understood that I would use the persons name in this story if I knew it. The sending unit they were using was even larger than the one pictured. This isn’t an installation, it is a suicide attempt. The brass elbow and nipple above all have 1/8″-NPT threads. Almost all brass fittings on the market today are made in the communist Peoples Republic of  China, and are very prone to failure. If this installation would have lasted an hour 20 years ago, it will likely break in minutes today. If this fitting breaks, all the oil in the engine will be overboard in 2-3 minutes, the engine will seize about 1-4 minutes later, and if the plane didn’t catch on fire from having a gallon of hot oil sprayed on the exhaust, it will then have a forced landing, where the pilot, passenger, and people on the ground could be killed. This is 100% the fault of the person who made screwed an overweight fitting in an 1/8″-NPT hole.

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Above, Just to be clear, THE PICTURE ABOVE IS NOT AIRWORTHY EITHER. The giant sender is a ridiculous idea on an aircraft, period. If a “Glass Cockpit” company suggests  an oil pressure sender that weighs 6 ounces, get a new company run by people who know planes. If someone is using stuff like this mated to an I-Pad and thinking that is “Aircraft Quality” I respectfully ask them to use someone else’s products to commit suicide with. The unit above is vastly too heavy to be supported by a 1/8″-NPT thread on a running aircraft engine. If someone wants to debate this, let them give their full name and address, so they can get sued when the inevitable happens.

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Above: If a heavy sender must be used, the correct way of doing it is to move the sender to the firewall, and run it off an aircraft hose. This hose must be installed in accordance with the manufacturers hose installation hand book. If you look at well built examples of Van’s Aircraft, it is very common to see installations like the one above, and the company sells small manifolds to complete the firewall installation on sending units.

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Above: There are several places on a Corvair with 1/8″-NPT threads, like the 5th bearing housing. BUT NOTE THE HOSE ATTACHED IS PROPERLY SUPPORTED WITH AN AIRCRAFT CLAMP, so it is a cantilever installation, nor is the fitting subjected to loads imposed by the hose.

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Above, Another 1/8″-NPT thread on a Corvair are the oil pressure ports in the gold oil filter housing. Again, note the hoses attached to the fittings are properly supported with pass-through grommets in the baffling and Adel clamps. The smaller braided line runs to the firewall, to take the weight off the 1/8″-NPT threads. Lycomings and Continentals are done this way also. There is nothing wrong with smaller threads, just as long as they are not overloaded by fools putting in excessively heavy fittings and senders.

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Above: THIS IS THE WEIGHT LIMIT ON A 1/8″-NPT THREAD: The sending unit on the left is a common oil temperature sending unit. It is being balanced on the see-saw made out of a 6″ ruler by three U.S. Quarters. If the fitting being screwed into the thread MATCHED OR EXCEEDS THE WEIGHT OF THREE U.S. QUARTERS, IT IS TOO HEAVY.  This is my personal limit. Again, if anyone is bold enough to say something heavier will work, please include your full name and address, and your net worth, because these are the kinds of things the lawyers will want to know later.

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-wewjr.

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* If there is anyone who finds my tone in this angry, or paranoid, they should send me their name and number, and later when I can speak about the ridiculous things an attorney could try to blame on someone , I will call and share with them why I write this way, and then they will have a chance to apologize to me for their assumptions.

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