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  #1  
Old 06-08-2012, 01:05 PM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
 
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Default Test pilot tales: N614EF

(Cross posted from the blog)





This morning, I took N614EF up for our first trip together and, as she's been for the 11 years we've been married, it wasn't simple. I am, of course, now into the test-pilot stage and I take these things pretty seriously; there's no time to be distracted by deep thoughts of journeys and self-satisfaction -- that's what Sunday was for. There's work to be done.

I can't say it was a particularly enjoyable half hour of work, because I haven't yet accepted the reality that things are going to go wrong and I'm not going to know what to do about them until I learn what to do about them, pretty much like the previous 11 years.

The weather said the winds were 3 knots this morning at Airlake Airport, but like previous times I've arrived, I found different weather conditions -- slightly windier and a little gustier. That's when I realized the AWOS system at Lakeville sucks and they haven't bothered to add a NOTAM or make an announcement to the effect of, "everything we just told you is mostly BS." But it was manageable, so a flying we would go.

The one thing nobody has told me -- maybe the only thing nobody has told me -- is that the plane makes some interesting sounds -- unfamiliar sounds -- on takeoff. Or at least, mine does.

The mag checked showed a drop of about 60 when I shut it down, leaving only the electronic ignition on (Updated correction: This is incorrect. The drop was when I was operating only on the mag). That's more than I've seen drop in the few times I've started the engine, but it's not significantly lower. Still, it was different, just different enough to get in my head.

I could only get 1900 RPM on a static RPM check, lower than the 2150 Tom Berge reported last Sunday, and lower than the 2300 it should be. People have suggested the RPM would go up once the plane was moving so I attempted a takeoff and aborted it fairly quickly. The plane was making noises and, frankly, I couldn't tell if it was engine noises or airframe noises. It could have been backfiring or the engine could have been missing. I seriously don't know; I still don't know. I didn't have anybody standing nearby to tell me.

I removed my headphones to listen but I honestly couldn't tell what I was hearing because, for one thing, I've not been in this position before and I have nothing to compare things to.

I taxied back to the runup area and tried it again and did not detect any particular noises (the RPM hadn't changed). So I took the active runway and took off and, again, found the noise quite distracting, especially considering the fact I had it in my head the plane wasn't developing full power. But it was developing enough power to get airborne and so we did.

On turning downwind, a warning light cane on the engine monitor, showing a fuel pressure of 19 psi. The operating manual for the engine does not list a minimum fuel pressure, and it registered 37 psi on the ground. So I'm assuming the pressure is reduced because the engine is taking a big drink of juice during takeoff that it's not taking when taxiing. But after reaching pattern altitude, I switched tanks anyway.

I started heading for the test area but was fairly glued to some of the numbers I was seeing. I was at about 90 knots, 2,300 feet, and notice the manifold pressure wasn't going higher than 19 (altimeter 29.91, temp 77. FP prop 85 pitch). Cylinder temperatures were all in the green, though the hottest was the #1 cylinder. Curiously, the lowest exhaust gas temperature was also on the #1. I wish I hadn't followed Van's instructions and riveted the #1 cylinder air dam on the baffle.

Keep going? Or return for landing.

I went out five miles and then circled back to join a downwind for landing, which -- considering the winds had now come up -- wasn't that great. Wasn't horrible, it just wasn't up to par for me.

My left brake problems seem to have dissipated but now the right brake seems to be sticking a bit. I'm going to take that apart and clean it and retorque it, as I did the left one.

Back in the hangar, I pulled the top cowling off and noticed a fairly large amount of oil on the bottom cowling "floor." I now engines spew oil, but one problem is -- like the noises -- I have no benchmark to know what's a problem and what's not. Still, this seemed significant to me.



I noticed a little "spray" of oil on the back side of the baffle, just below the oil cooler.



But I couldn't quite find the source. I didn't see anything on the cooler itself to warrant concern, and both connections to it seemed solid. A hint of fuel lube was still around the base of the steel fittings and there was no drips at the connection with the hoses.

I did find a drop on a couple of the bolts at the base of the fuel pump...



I found some oil around what I presume to be drain plugs -- one safetied, the other is a hex nut. But is it coming from here? I don't know.



Looking closer, I can see oil around the sump bolts. By the way, you may find it more helpful to click the image and see the bigger version.



Kind of a dark, oily soot on top of the filtered air box. As long as I was here, I doublechecked to make sure there was no blockage of the filter. There wasn't.



At the front of the engine, you can see a drop of oil near the bracket for the prop oil line (plumbed but not used). Again, it's at the split of the engine case.




(Continued below)
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St. Paul, MN.
Blog: Letters From Flyover Country
RV-12iS Powerplant kit
N612EF Builder log (EAA Builder log)
Last article: "Gonna Finish This Sucker" (Kitplanes)
Waiting for the avionics kit (backordered: chip shortage)

Last edited by LettersFromFlyoverCountry : 06-10-2012 at 08:55 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2012, 01:05 PM
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And you can't see it here but there appeared to be a small drip at the hose connection to the fitting for the oil cooler return to the engine (or maybe it's from the engine, I forget).



I also noticed oil on the sump bolts that are used to hold the hangars for the exhaust.

I'm pretty sure we're looking at two separate issues here. The oil situation is, perhaps, a matter of just tightening stuff, unless I'm missing something.

The engine power situation is an entirely different one. Frankly, I've stopped trusting that left magneto. I don't know whether that has anything to do with; I just don't trust it.

I inspected the rest of the engine for any telltale signs and didn't see anything, but then again, I don't really have any knowledge of a systematic way of working my way through analyzing what's going on here.

I do wish I'd hooked up the computer to gather the engine readings for later analysis, but I didn't bring it with me.

It's supposed to be a pretty crappy weekend so flying is probably out of the question, but a crow hop or two is possibly doable. If you've got a good set of ears and a little bit of knowledge about engines, how about standing by and listening from the outside of the plane?
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Bob Collins
St. Paul, MN.
Blog: Letters From Flyover Country
RV-12iS Powerplant kit
N612EF Builder log (EAA Builder log)
Last article: "Gonna Finish This Sucker" (Kitplanes)
Waiting for the avionics kit (backordered: chip shortage)
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  #3  
Old 06-08-2012, 01:24 PM
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Congrats on your first flight with your new bird Bob!

Hey I plan fly to your neck of the woods the end of next week. We will be in the La Crosse and Winona area, leaving hear Thursday and returning on Sunday.

I hope to be able to jump over to your airport home there and see you and Stein and his crew. Let me know if you are going to be around.....
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  #4  
Old 06-08-2012, 01:58 PM
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Default Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!

Congrats on taking the controls for the first time.

Oil----------a little goes a LONG way under the cowl.

Snug up the bolts/nuts you think may be leaking, but do not obsess about it if there is no sign of a reallllly big leak.

The engine will be using oil during the break in time, so dont worry too much about the level going down on the dip stick either-------check with your engine paperwork, there should be information on the acceptable use during the first hours.

From what I saw in your photos, you do not have a problem oil leak----a nuisance one, yes, but not a problem.
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  #5  
Old 06-08-2012, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brantel View Post
I hope to be able to jump over to your airport home there and see you and Stein and his crew. Let me know if you are going to be around.....
I'll make it a point to BE around if you let me know when you'll be in.
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Bob Collins
St. Paul, MN.
Blog: Letters From Flyover Country
RV-12iS Powerplant kit
N612EF Builder log (EAA Builder log)
Last article: "Gonna Finish This Sucker" (Kitplanes)
Waiting for the avionics kit (backordered: chip shortage)
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  #6  
Old 06-08-2012, 02:14 PM
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Hey Bob,
I assume you were throttled back when you were seeing 90 knots and 19", that would make sense. FT on take off you should see Baro" - about 1", MP will follow throttle position.

My FI system reads 24-26 psi, (goes up 1-2 psi with boost pp on) min pressure is 12 psi. It doesn't make sense that you would see 35 psi on the ground and 19 in the air. It shouldn't vary like that. A voltage variation will cause indications to change... and that buss loads can affect voltage on a buss. Any changes in what you had turned on between the time you saw the 35 psi and the 19 psi? A blocked/obstructed fuel tank vent can lower tank pressure resulting in lower output pressure.

Ground static RPM should be at least 2200.. with take off roll around 2400+. 1900 is not right.

Make sure that oil pan strainer plug in the back of the engine pan is in tight. That copper sealing ring is designed as split on one side (facing the pan). Hopefully the plug is tight and the ring is installed facing the correct way.
The RV-8A I'm currently test flying has an Aerosport IO-360 with a small but persistant oil leak which so far I can't find the source of either.

I'm glad you got to fly it, but it certainly sounds like you have some "bugs" to figure out before flying again.
Good luck!!
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  #7  
Old 06-08-2012, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rv9av8tr View Post
Hey Bob,
I assume you were throttled back when you were seeing 90 knots and 19", that would make sense. FT on take off you should see Baro" - about 1", MP will follow throttle position.
Nope, full throttle.

The situation brings us back to where we were a few weeks ago when we retimed the mag and I was able to get static RPM to 2100 without the throttle fully open. Is it possible torquing down those clamps moved the mag slightly? Eh, maybe. Guess I'll pull it off and start over.
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St. Paul, MN.
Blog: Letters From Flyover Country
RV-12iS Powerplant kit
N612EF Builder log (EAA Builder log)
Last article: "Gonna Finish This Sucker" (Kitplanes)
Waiting for the avionics kit (backordered: chip shortage)
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  #8  
Old 06-08-2012, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rv9av8tr View Post
Hey Bob, I assume you were throttled back when you were seeing 90 knots and 19"....
Quote:
Nope, full throttle.
Bob, in anything other than an RV you might already be dead. Quit fooling around.....ground that thing until it's fixed.
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  #9  
Old 06-08-2012, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanH View Post
Bob, in anything other than an RV you might already be dead. Quit fooling around.....ground that thing until it's fixed.
Those were my thoughts after reading Bob's post also.

When I had my first flight I encountered a problem with my airplane power plant. Without boring anyone with the details I also experienced some power issues on first flight. I ended up talking to one of the guys at VANS after I experienced some problems in the pattern on that first flight. My problems were not exactly like Bob's with low power but my problems prompted my discussion with the Tech guys anyway. I cannot recall the particular fella I was talking with at VANS but he mentioned that my RV could easily lift off at 1700 RPM and maintain a positive rate of climb doing so. That was a very interesting conversation. Definitely NOT something I would ever want to do but still good to know.

Oh, and Dan, pardon the diversion off topic but, your comment kind of reminds me of a certain blog post about a certain blogger who keeps talking about how wonderful it is to fly an expensive twin around the country. Would be interesting to see him try on one of these Experimental RV's just once.
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  #10  
Old 06-08-2012, 03:24 PM
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Quit fooling around.....ground that thing until it's fixed.
It was six hours ago. The only flight I've had. And now I'm at work and have no plans to fly it again until I can get it diagnosed. I'm not sure why you would characterize this as fooling around. I think I'm approaching things correctly.

This had a test flight the other day with a test pilot. The RPM static was a little low but was not judged to be deficient. I asked about RPM on climbout because people on VAF had told me a month ago that it would increase from a static RPM. But that number was no recorded.

Expect to be jumped on? For what? A few weeks ago people were telling me I was foolish for hiring a test pilot, denying myself the joy of a first flight.

Let's go back over this here, fellas. There was no indication of any problem with either fuel pressure or manifold pressure on Sunday's test flight, nor was there any indication today of a problem until climbout. Engine parameters were quite good.

As for flying again without paying attention to squawks, I've said nothing -- nothing -- about flying this thing again before I get these problems solved.

Look, if you're tempted to pick apart what I've written above, just do me a favor and refrain. What would actually be helpful here, is helping to establish a flow for diagnosing the situation.
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Bob Collins
St. Paul, MN.
Blog: Letters From Flyover Country
RV-12iS Powerplant kit
N612EF Builder log (EAA Builder log)
Last article: "Gonna Finish This Sucker" (Kitplanes)
Waiting for the avionics kit (backordered: chip shortage)

Last edited by LettersFromFlyoverCountry : 06-08-2012 at 03:35 PM.
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