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  #1  
Old 10-12-2009, 10:23 AM
Lycosaurus's Avatar
Lycosaurus Lycosaurus is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ottawa, ON
Posts: 681
Default Starting a Lycoming with a dead battery

Flew for family Thanksgiving dinner to a town only 1/2 hour flight from home (normally takes us 2:20 hrs to get there by car). Shut down engine, magnetos off, turn off electrical switches .... forget to turn off master!

Ok, so you know where this post is going ....

Next day found a dead battery. Should not be too much of a problem, since I have magnetos and can start the engine by hand propping. Took a while until I figured out the right amount of throttle primes (... you see, the electric prime system and electric fuel pump were obviously not operational), throttle position etc. Kept a fire extinguisher nearby ... finally fired up the engine. Woohoo

Hmmm.... electricals are still dead, no voltage.... of course! No voltage for the alternator field, therefore the battery will not be charging. Had to remove the top cowl and use booster cables (another trip to the airport, since we did not have any on-hand). There's not much to grab onto the battery post of the Odyssey battery with those big booster clips. Managed to clip it on, and not short to ground around it. Let the car idle for about 20 minutes so the battery would hold some sort of charge.

Removed booster cables, cowled it all up, and hand propped it again (wasn't sure I had enough charge in the battery for an electric start). Engine starts and battery is being charged at ...> 50 amps by the PlanePower alternator. This at idle speed. Let it charge for a little while on the ground, testing electrical operation such as flaps etc., then went for a 20 minute flight around the patch until charge current came down to a close to normal level.

Later that afternoon, was able to start the engine normally, and fly back home.

Lessons learned?

On shutdown, now I plan to just turn off the magneto key switch and master switch (one after the other). I will position the other switches as necessary before next engine start. Yeah, a checklist for that portion of the shutdown could be useful as well.

I have a 12V socket fused at 20 amps in the cockpit. I'll make a "slow" (may need a high wattage series resistor to limit current) booster cable set so I can quickly charge the battery from a nearby vehicle. This will be safer than the car booster cable, and I will not have to remove the top cowl. Not that I plan for this to happen again.

Even though we have mags, a dead battery means you won't be able to fly out after just hand propping the engine, since the battery won't recharge on its own. I have passive instruments for backup (steam gauges and such), however engine and fuel monitoring equipment would be inop.

P.S. In our case, the airplane was tied-down when hand propping the engine.

Battery being charged. Moved the truck away before hand propping the engine.





In the photo below, you can see that there is not much to grab on to. Easy to short the cable to ground ... could have used some insulator like duct tape. Connected the Positive lead first, then once I was assured it was solid, connected the ground and left it alone to charge over a good 20 minutes to 1/2 hour. I plan to make some sort of booster connector attached to the battery post so this will be a little safer to do.
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Last edited by Lycosaurus : 10-22-2009 at 07:56 AM. Reason: Added photos
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  #2  
Old 10-12-2009, 10:32 AM
RVnoob RVnoob is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: London
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Default

quick note for noobs: chock the wheels before hand prop
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  #3  
Old 10-12-2009, 10:47 AM
steveKs. steveKs. is offline
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Fowler, Kansas
Posts: 162
Default

My master was left on and I hooked up jumpers to the alternator/engine side of the master and launched into the dark some years ago. Of course same thing, no juice to open the switch to/from the battery side.

The alternator stayed up with all the electrics until I switched on the landing light on approach to home base.....everything went black, breaker killed the alternator. I practice lights out landings occasionally and stayed with the approach and landed uneventfully. Same lesson learned.

Tie tail down also.
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  #4  
Old 10-12-2009, 10:48 AM
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rocketbob rocketbob is offline
 
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Location: 8I3
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Default been there done that

Nine times out of ten a small whack on the master contactor will be enough to get it to engage with low voltage, so the alternator will come online.
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  #5  
Old 10-12-2009, 11:19 AM
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Sam Buchanan Sam Buchanan is offline
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Location: North Alabama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lycosaurus View Post
Lessons learned?
A lesson I learned after running down a battery trying to start a chilled engine is to not charge a dead battery with the aircraft's alternator. I saw 49 amps being pumped out of the little 35 amp alternator as it desperately tried to recharge the dead battery while still on the ground with little air flowing through the blast tube. Not surprisingly, the overheated diodes in the alternator died soon after.

Best to charge the battery prior to engine start so the alternator won't be tasked with handling a huge load.

On a related note, the Radio Shack audio transducer I wired across the oil pressure light is doing a fine job of reminding me to turn off the master switch.
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Last edited by Sam Buchanan : 10-12-2009 at 11:22 AM.
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  #6  
Old 10-12-2009, 11:34 AM
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lucaperazzolli lucaperazzolli is offline
 
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Location: Trento, northern Italy
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BTW, be extremely carefull if you hand prop.
You can really die.
I had an horrible experience years ago seeing a pilot hand propping a J3 Cub, he survived but with major injuries.

There are some techniques ....

http://www.eaa50.org/education/propping.htm

http://www.eaa1000.av.org/safety/handprop/handprop.htm

and much more


my two cents
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Last edited by lucaperazzolli : 10-12-2009 at 11:38 AM.
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  #7  
Old 10-12-2009, 12:16 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Back when I had my old Grumman Yankee with the BIG engine and LITTLE battery (mounted behind the baggage area), I occasionally had to jump start in visits to the cold country. It was always a pain - dragging cables through the cockpit, drawing huge arcs if you momentarily shorted to ground trying to clamp on with car cables.....I vowed that any airplane I had thereafter would have an external Aux Power hook-up, good enough to plug in a cable and start from a cart. that's how I built the Val, and I never have to be worried about getting stranded with a dead battery! (Have only needed to use it that way twice in 1000 hours, but it's well worth it when working on electronics...)

Paul
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  #8  
Old 10-12-2009, 12:27 PM
MNAv8or MNAv8or is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Denver, Co
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I always leave my beacon on or if their is no beacon I leave the nav lights on at all times. This gives me an indication that power is still on when walking away from the airplane, and it has saved me more than once!
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  #9  
Old 10-12-2009, 12:36 PM
RVnoob RVnoob is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: London
Posts: 167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironflight View Post
Back when I had my old Grumman Yankee with the BIG engine and LITTLE battery (mounted behind the baggage area), I occasionally had to jump start in visits to the cold country. It was always a pain - dragging cables through the cockpit, drawing huge arcs if you momentarily shorted to ground trying to clamp on with car cables.....I vowed that any airplane I had thereafter would have an external Aux Power hook-up, good enough to plug in a cable and start from a cart. that's how I built the Val, and I never have to be worried about getting stranded with a dead battery! (Have only needed to use it that way twice in 1000 hours, but it's well worth it when working on electronics...)

Paul

any pix and diagram on that?

TIA
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  #10  
Old 10-12-2009, 12:40 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MNAv8or View Post
I always leave my beacon on or if their is no beacon I leave the nav lights on at all times. This gives me an indication that power is still on when walking away from the airplane, and it has saved me more than once!
I will hang my head in shame and admit that once I left the Master on and left the airplane WITH THE EFIS STILL POWERED UP AND GLOWING!! I'm not even sure that a strobe would have helped me ....

Bob Knuckoll's has drawings and diagrams, and a great "How to" on the Aeroelectric web site.
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RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
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http://Ironflight.com
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