With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog

The Loosest Slots

2012 October 25 07:16

I like to have at least one photo for every blog post, but I'm going to have to take a brief break from that.

The good news is I drove my vintage VW to Illinois and back again last week. This is the second serious (outside of AAA towing range) trip that I've taken in it since it's been re-habilitated. I think, though, that this will be the last one until I re-build a bunch of the front suspension, and replace bushings and adjust things. The front end is starting to get loose and sloppy. This will be a good project for the winter.

The other thing is I've been missing with the jetting in the carburetor. The first trip to Illiois I made with this car, a few months ago, I was getting temperature warnings if I tried to get 70 mph on the gauge (really about 66 or 67 mph, according to GPS). If I braced the deck lid (engine cover) open by a couple of inches (the famous "tennis ball trick"), I could drive 70 mph. I wanted to figure out how to get the other 5 mph back so that I could drive at a reasonable speed for long-distance trips.

By the way--a "jet" is a calibrated orifice that restricts the flow of a fluid, in this case liquid gasoline. You can make subtle adjustments to the way the carburetor runs by changing which jets are in the carburetor. The 34PICT has at least 6 jets installed in it. Two of them are pressed into the carburetor body, four of them are removable. Of the removable four, there are two that you can easily buy different values for: one is the "idle pilot" jet and the other is the main jet, the one that controls fuel delivery at highway speeds and power settings.

The stock main jet in 34PICT series carburetors for that car is 127.5. I bought a set of jets for that carb, and for an initial new setting I went up two jet sizes, to 132.5. The car drove great, and I was able to drive at 75 mph no problem, but fuel milage dropped quite a bit. Since then, includin on the trip I just took, I split the difference and have a 130 jet installed. My fuel economy on this trip at 75 was pretty poor, something around 24 mpg (it had been around 29). So I was pretty dis-appointed about that...

And then I went to check the oil after I'd gotten back, and I noticed that everything in the engine compartment has a light sheen of oil on it. Clearly the engine pulley has been slinging oil around. That hasn't happened before; something changed. I checked the oil level, it hasn't gone down, if anything, it's gone up. Uh-oh. ...and the oil has a slight gasoline smell to it. Crap.

I haven't had a chance to deal with it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the fuel pump has a ruptured diaphram, and it's leaking gasoline into the oil sump. The increased volume in the sump was pushing oil/gas out of the pulley, and flinging it around the engine compartment. It also explains the drastic drop in fuel economy. It may mean that all of the fuel economy measurements I've made for the last several hundred miles are invalid and I have to do them again. *sigh*

One bright spot in all of this is that the fuel pump that has now presumably failed is the same one that I almost lost the pin from on my first big test drive after the engine was re-built. So there is reason to suspect this pump has had a hard life. I would have been considerably more annoyed if this had been a newly installed pump with only a thousand or two miles on it.

Too Much News

2012 October 13 07:55

Let me explain...no, there is too much. Let me sum up. :-D

Since it was recently the 25th anniversary of the release of the movie The Princess Bride, that's a particularly apt quote, aside from the fact that it's absolutely true right now for me. Two months since I've blogged. Holy cow.

I'll have other posts to bring things up to speed, but I'll start with this post with flying stuff. I got my complex endorsement in my log book, so I'm now qualified to fly stuff with retractable landing gear. I've updated the table on my pilot skill matrix web page, although the text is stale. Basically stuff that's green is what I have now, stuff that's yellow I'm actively working on, and stuff that's cyan (light blue) are things I might get someday. I got the complex rating at a flying club in Michigan in a Mooney F with manual gear; that was pretty sweet. I'll blog more about that some day. It was en route to Oshkosh for the big air show.

I did a bunch of flying late August through early September. This included flying my month commute to Illinois; that was fun. I got to take some friends flying. Then over Labor Day weekend, I flew myself and my wife to Missouri. The remains of hurricane Isaac made the return flight interesting for weather reasons. I got to flex my instrument rating. I got like an hour and a half real instrument time on that trip, including an approach into Bowling Green Kentucky in real live actual instrument conditions. My confidence in my ability to fly IFR increased by an order of magnitude that day. Good times.

So here's a graph of my flying time, as of late September. Since this is October, and technically fourth quarter, the last column should be red now, but honestly, I don't feel like re-rendering the graph.

I've now downloaded the latest images from my phone, so more pictures forthcoming.