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

A few photos

2013 February 26 14:25

I sent a message to the MAPA list; some people had some questions about the plane and some of the accessories.

My Mooney has "Johnson bar" manual gear. That is, the landing gear retraction and extension is actuated by the pilot. There's an aluminum block in the bottom of the instrument panel that the lever locks into to provide the gear down lock. It's important that the socket in that block is round and holds the handle securely. The socket wears over time and the fit gets sloppy. I decided to go ahead and have the block replaced when I had it inspected/annualed over the winter.

Here was the old block (probably the original from 1967):

And here's the brand new socket that's now in the panel:

Here's the hand tow bar from the side; it doesn't even stick out as far as the end of the spinner:

(I have the cowling off and a heat lamp inside pointing at the oil sump to heat the engine in the cold. That discussion will be in another post.)

Also, the tow bar is low enough that the prop won't hit it if it got left on for engine start.

Back down to a dull roar

2013 February 26 06:21

Well, the plane is home. The football season is over. We had been going to fly and have a big visit to Missouri in mid-February, but we cancelled because of weather. We went to Huntsville, Alabama instead (that will be another post). My aunt and uncle visited, which we've been trying to schedule for the couple of years, and now things have settled back down to a dull roar as the spring semester continues.

I've flown the airplane on a few trips now, but nothing with serious long-term parking. I put a couple of things in place in February that are important for road tripping with the plane.

The first thing has to do with the unique Mooney nose gear. Most aircraft have nose gear that has a very wide swivel angle; that is, you can attach a tow bar to the front gear and pretty much pull it any way you want. Not so in the Mooney-it only goes about 15 degrees to either side. It's not a problem when you're hand-moving the airplane, but if you put a truck-style tug with a long boom and the driver doesn't know what they're doing, you can severely damage the nose gear of the plane.

I never want to have to try to recover money from some place that bent my airplane because they were careless, so before I park the airplane anywhere for any kind of period of time, I want to have some mechanism for preventing someone from attaching a tow bar. One way to do this is to lock my tow bar to the nose gear. I bought a 1/2 inch bolt and modified the end so that I can put a padlock through it to do this.

Here's my hand tow-bar on the nose gear. You can see the head of the bolt sticking out of the tow bar on the right.

Here's the end of the bolt that I modified by dremeling two flat surfaces and then drilling through.

And the lock through the hole in the end of the bolt.

I realize there isn't a lot of metal around the hole that the lock goes through; it could be cut easily. It isn't truly secure, but that's not the point. It prevents someone from carelessly towing the airplane without knowing what they're doing without talking to me first.

The other thing I wanted to have before parking the airplane outside for any period of time is a cover. This is from Bruce's Custom Covers for aircraft.

It covers the windows, the luggage and personnel doors, and the avionics covers at the back of the engine compartment. This is an antique airplane with a steel tube fuselage; you want to keep as much water out of it as possible. It also keeps the sun from baking the interior (and the electronics and the uphostery, and the plastic trim). I'm very happy with this product. It fits very very well.

The main color of the cover is made to match the overall color of the airplane, and the trim corners match the other colors. Nice.

The cover comes with its own bag. (Also note the "NO STEP" stickers I put on the flap--another thing of the to-do list for the airplane.)

And in its bag, the cover easily fits in the hat shelf in the plane.