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

Embryonic airplane

2013 June 02 09:22

You'd think that after I spent all that time over the winter getting my blogging software sorted out that I'd actually use it and I'd blog more. *sigh*

A quick update on the airplane, for anyone who's reading this or more likely as a record that I can look back on. I first saw the airplane in an advertisement in the MAPA Log (magazine) last July or August, I think (10 months ago? wow). I drove down and investigated it at the beginning of November. I put all the pieces in place quickly and the money moved November...12, I think it was? I picked the airplane up on January 8 or so, and finally got it back on January 11th. It's now the beginning of June and I haven't flown it nearly as much as I'd like. Here's a brief recap why.

January/February was a really horrid spate of weather. I flew it a few times to test things out and get used to it. My wife and I flew down to Huntsville Alabama to visit the rocket museum. That was fun. It was a bit bumpy. Unfortunately, the nice GPS in the airplane reset mid-flight, so that suddenly put that into question as the primary IFR navigation device. I then spent a bunch of time getting used to using the OTHER GPS as primary. I'm all set with that now; I talked about that process in other blog posts.

Around that time I also noticed that it seemed to be using more oil. It almost seemed like it was using a quart per flying hour, which is a lot and a lot more than it had been. But I was trying to figure out if that was just bad luck or not keeping good records. My big mistake was I should have paid more attention--it was in fact using a lot of oil.

My wife and I flew to Missouri in March, where the oil loss became very apparent during a 2 1/2 hour flight. We continued the flight, and limped it back, and ended up overnighting in Lexington because of weather. Going out to the airplane the next morning, we had a bad magneto. So it sat there being repaired for almost two weeks while the magneto was overhauled and they dealt with the obvious oil leak.

So I flew it back mid-April. I hoped at that point that sealing the top of the case of the engine would fix the oil leak. Nope. I took it flying down to Knoxville to check the VOR. Total flight time about an hour, and it used about a quart of oil.

That was a couple of weeks ago. I took it to the local mechanic to have two things done. First was overhaul the other magneto. As much as I hate having the airplane down again, it's a lot easier and cheaper to have it fixed at home than on the road when I'm also paying hotel and rental car bills. So the other mag is being brought up to date. The other thing was to look for the oil leak. The local mechanic spotted a couple of things that others hadn't which correlated with other things people had noticed. The number 2 cylinder was showing signs of trouble, so he pulled that cylinder. I didn't see it, but he told me on the phone that it was an oily mess inside. He also said he found a broken ring on that cylinder.

So right now, we're waiting for the cylinder/piston/rings to come back for #2, and for the other magneto get to back from being overhauled. Those will fix at least the currently known problems with the airplane. Hopefully soon I can start actually flying it places.