Saturday, June 30, 2007

Oil Change

Forgot my camera today, sorry!

At 11 hours on the hobbs and 7.5 on the tach, I decided it was time for an oil change. The draining went smoothly (I have a quick-drain from Van's), but the filter removal was not so good. Lots of oil was still in the filter, and the 45-degree adapter made sure it all drained out all over the fuel pump, engine mount, and floor. This was after a short flight to warm the oil -- maybe I need to let it drain overnight next time?

Prospective RV builder Steve flew in and checked things over. He's just >< this far away from pulling the trigger, I bet.

The Airwolf filter cutter made quick work of cutting the filter open, no metal found.

After getting cowled up again, I flew out to the last unexplored part of my test box: Watsonville and Salinas. Watsonville (where I am not allowed to land) sounded busy -- to be expected at an airport with a restaurant on a nice Saturday. Salinas (towered, where I am allowed to land) was dead, and had hundreds of empty tie-downs waiting for a visitor. I will try landing there tomorrow for lunch.

Back at South County, I found that the fuel island is out of gas. Now I really have an excuse to get to Salinas tomorrow!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

First 10 hours

The plane is running pretty good right now. I cleared some squawks off the list, some other problems disappeared (the high fuel pressure, in particular), and I finally felt like the engine was broken-in enough to try some pattern work which went pretty well.

I've landed at Hollister twice now, and although the food is good, the air is bumpy and I have seen runway conflicts both times I've been there. One of the two included me making a go-around while a glider landed on the crosswind runway. The weekend is especially busy there...lots of gliders inbound and outbound, parachute jump planes, and just a few spam-cans. And I'm pretty sure some RC aircraft buzzed me on takeoff...the AFD lists a RC field nearby.

Parked on the ramp at CVH

Ding-A-Ling Cafe at CVH

And despite being confined to a fairly uninteresting test box, I've seen a few interesting things...

Castle Air Museum, from the air

Some Yaks departing E16

CDF spotter aircraft departing CVH

35 squawks and counting

Well, the early days of N42PE have been marked by lots and lots of small problems. Enough that I had to start keeping a detailed list, lest I forget them all.

You RV owners can click the photo and read the whole list if you're curious.

Out of all those, there have been five problems that have been more significant.

#1: Super-high fuel flow. The first time I flew the airplane, the EMS started beeping as soon as I leveled off in cruise -- Hmm, 20 gallons per hour...that's either an incorrect reading or there's 10 gallons an hour dumping into the cowl somewhere. I turned back to the airport, but then noticed I forgot to turn off the fuel pump. That dropped it down to 10 gph. Once back on the ground, a quick web search told me that apparently the Facet boost pump can send pulses through the sender that confuses it.

#2: Cowl hinges breaking off. After only a few flights, the cowl attach hinges started shedding eyelets at the bottom near the exhaust. Apparently this is a common problem, but so soon? That whole area was vibrating like crazy...I've since dropped the exhaust pipes down a lot so hopefully it will get better.

#3 Electronic ignition gets confused at engine start. I've had the prop off several times now trying to debug this -- right after engine start, the indicated RPM drops to half of what it should be, and the electronic ignition is clearly only firing on two cylinders. But then it goes away within a minute. It's nice that I've got a backup magneto, but I thought this electronic ignition was supposed to be MORE reliable than a magneto...

I've been on the phone with Klaus at Lightspeed multiple times but the debugging is going slow and hard.

#4 Gear shimmy. Initially I think just the nosewheel would shimmy on landing, now I think all three wheels are doing it. I've checked all the parameters on the nosewheel and it's all set to spec, although it is still not rotating very freely as Van's promised it would. There are many ways I can go to try to fix this, but so far all I've done is played around with tire pressures, to no avail.

#5 High fuel pressure. This only showed up once, but high fuel pressure is bad because it can flood the carb -> fire or engine-out. I think it only happened with the boost pump on, so I can turn it off if it happens again.

First flight photos

No writeup yet, but you can see some photos here.


Following on from my RV-9A build log, this is where I will write about what's going on with the airplane now that it's built. Travel, maintenance, upgrades, etc.