Van's RV-9A in Aurora

The Big Picture

The Big Picture
Flying! 8/28/2011

Sunday, November 27, 2016

At Last....

For those following along live....

Cav has weight on the nosewheel again!

Got the engine hung at about 6:30 tonight. So much for working on the rest during the break. The bill was staggering.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Actually made progress on the engine today. The cylinders were put on last night, and today we mostly finished installing the rest of the required parts.

Painted the inner cylinder baffles and the induction tubes. Tomorrow we should finish installing everything and put the engine on the lift. Then we have to install the main forward seal. Then it can go on the plane!

Thanksgiving, 2016

Another Thanksgiving in the books. The calendar pages are flying past.

The blog has been in disarray for a while thanks to google. The previous post had the photos all messed up, due to hosting from google fotos. I need to spend some time figuring how to fix them. I got at least one picture working since the Atlas Air 747 was showing up, but there are supposed to be a bunch more pics.

Actually made significant progress on the engine. There was a long delay getting cylinders shipped. Then the mechanic screwed up the first attempt at assembling the case. A Lycoming engine is pretty simple. The main case is just two case halves, the crank, the cam, and three sets of crank bearings. 10 parts. He put them together (without me) and the crank would not turn. One of the bearings had slipped. Then he let it sit like that for a month, stringing me along, disappearing, waiting on the cylinders, and not communicating with me.

Here's the case assembled for the first time. It will need to be split because the crank is frozen.

I was thinking about this, and realized that if the bearings were binding, and the case had been torqued together, something had to have bent. Sure enough, he finally gets around to splitting the case (with a three week delay waiting on a case splitter) and one of the main bearings is screwed up. He has to order a new one, that only took two weeks. Finally the bearing is in, and he is in town so I help him put the case together again. This time it's good. Oh, but the cylinders are in Tulsa. He doesn't tell me this, only another two weeks go by with out me knowing what is going on. Finally the cylinders arrive. His wife has to make a tortuous drive from Tulsa to Austin. I'd have been happy to fly up and retrieve cylinders, and I told him that much earlier.

So finally, yesterday, 8 months after tearing the engine apart, and 4 months after I requested it be reassembled, I have a zero time engine with brand new cylinders. A couple of key parts still missing, but we can now put it on the plane and I can start putting the firewall forward back together. We'll see how long it will take to get the rest of the details in place for an engine start.

We had a pleasant surprise on Saturday, October 29. Brenda had scored a bunch of tickets to the UT game. So off we went, my first college game since I went to UT. We have watched the Cav's play in this and many other stadiums.

And they beat Baylor! That makes it even better!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Catch up

Here's a post to catch up on recent events.

Hosted cousin Matt. He flew this bird into Gray Kelly, very close to where I lived when I went to Copperas Cove High School.

I have many fond memories of the area, I learned to drive there, and used to hang out at the end of the runway at KGRK and watch C5-A's land and takeoff.

Conditions were not promising, we had a very unusual low system settle in over central Texas in mid-August. 2 weeks of clouds and rain followed. So I drove up to Killeen and picked up Matt at his hotel, and brought him down to Austin. All the family gathered at my sisters house and got to spend time with him. Good to see you, Matt! Next time I'll have Cav back in the air.

This rare twin bonanza has paint design elements that I have chosen for my scheme, except mine is going to be much nicer. Yes, I do have paint design. It needs to be finalized by an expert, but now all I need is the cash.

Gotta brag on my niece. She's been working at the State Hospital Lab, in an apprenticeship program for running a lab. I had asked her for a tour. She said, be there on Friday, August 19. I didn't realize it, but this was graduation day. Now she can actually get paid!

After five months, many different types of delays, I started putting the engine back together. This time for sure!

BTW, Google has me really pissed off. I'm trying to add photos to this blog, but I can't figure out how today. It took a while last time. Also the blogger interface is doing stupid things like creating extra copies of posts that have to be carefully sorted and deleted. It used to be so easy to edit this blog, but google has really screwed it up. What was wrong with picasa? I get tired of tech companies forcing transitions to new things when the old thing was perfectly fine. I may have to try out a new photo hosting service. That may lead to moving the blog to new digs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Google finally killed off the Picasa interface, replacing it with google fotos. I don't like the new interface. Maybe it's because I'm not used to it, but I think it sucks. I liked the Picasa interface. So photos from now on live in the google foto albums.

Posting a few news odds and ends. Closed on and moved into the new condo. Still a few punch list items, but we're getting settled in. Most of the boxes are gone. Most of the curtains hung, etc.

Actually got to work on the engine tonight! Unfortunately I noticed that the prop bolt nuts had not been swapped from the old crank. Rick Romans was supposed to do that for us. So we stopped work before it really got started and will get the nuts swapped between the two cranks. Hopefully we'll be back in progress by the weekend.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Cav's engine rebuild should start soon. Talked with the mechanic today, bearings and gasket set are ordered and should arrive this week. Once they're here, we can start assembling the case. Still need to close on the house before ordering cylinders, but we can have the case ready to go for when cylinders arrive.
Here's the painted case sections. They turned out nice.

Here's the old crank. This is a rejected crank. I will try to sell for an airboat application.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cav is still down. No major progress recently. I did paint the engine case, and most of the parts are back in Texas. I will need to buy 4 new cylinders, since the old ones were rejected. Again, I think this was too drastic. Those cylinders were working fine. Sure they're old, but they were working fine, were showing no problems (other than one sticky valve) and still have a lot of life in them. I guess I'll list them for sale for use in a power boat engine, just like the crank.

Have to wait for closing before ordering cylinders. Not having a plane is really starting to bother me. I have been getting some time in 1793D and 1177F, so at least I'm staying current.

Here's the accessory case and sump.

Masking for paint

The engine block. It's made of cast aluminium

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Nicest Texas Spring in recent memory!

Let's see, lots of miscellaneous stuff over the past few months. In order from newest to oldest:

Attended Paul Smith's wedding. There were a bunch of the old timers from KMW and AMD. It was especially good to see Tim and Karen Wright who currently reside in Belize. They were looking very relaxed.

In other posts I'm detailing the engine problems that Cav is going through. So I haven't been flying a lot recently. But I did finally build up enough hours in the C170 1793D to make the insurance happy and pass a club checkout. So now I have solo tailwheel priveleges. Also checked out in the club 172, 1177F. This is a really nice old 172. It has vortex generators, which lower the stall speed and make it a sweet flying airplane. A bit underpowered, and climb rate is a bit low on a hot day.

The Spicewood hangar finally sold after more than a year. The new owner wanted to keep RV's as tenents. The rent went up a little, but I decided to stay.

Flew to Port Aransas with Max. We walked down to the beach, then south to the golf course for lunch. It was a good day of flying with my nephew.

For Mom's birthday, my sister Suanne and my wife Lynne went took Mom out to a cooking class at Central Market. Mom was kind of grumpy, but we still had a good time. I'm not sure I would recommend this particular event though.

Robert White of Lakeway, our local DPE, passed away. He was a great guy, and will be sorely missed by everyone. Tailwinds, Robert. At the reception following the funeral, ran into Mary Schott, who is flying jets and working at Redbird in San Marcos. It was good to see her.

No swimming for a couple of weeks, they are resurfacing the Lakeway pool.

No airplane, no formation work. Also focusing on tailwheel time, poor weather and lots of other reasons have kept me away. I hope to start this up again once Cav is back in the air. I'm missing all of the clinics this year.

I almost forgot: During annual I decided to powder coat some interior part on Cav. They turned out nice!

Granddaughters #1 and #2.

Engine Woes

Annual on the RV

Started knocking tasks out in February. If the weather is crappy, might as well work on the airplane since it has to be done anyway. With an El Nino year, it never got too cold, but we had a lot of clouds starting in February.

Finally got to the end of the list at the end of March, and was trying to get it ready for an upcoming formation clinic. The last item to take care of was some TLC for the #2 exhaust valve, which had been showing signs of morning sickness. It hadn't been a problem since November, but starting the engine up for the oil change, and for the compression check it was back.

Sure enough. Compressions were 74, 20, 79, 79. That unfortunately is not a typo. #2 was stuck open for the check, and it was hissing at the exhaust pipe. I knew from the EGT gauges it was #2, but this proved it also.

So I arranged for the local Spicewood mechanic, Chris Albrecht, to help work on the valve.

It took a lot of effort to get the valve punched through, and he was commenting the whole time that this was unusual. Once the valve was through, a quick look at the guide with a borescope revealed problems. He suggested pulling the cylinder for rework.

So off comes #2.

With the cylinder off, it is possible to see some cam lobes. After 500 hours, they were starting to show signs of distress. I had not seen any metal in the filter, and the oil analysis was normal and steady for all of the past samples (including the one I eventually got back from the oil change at annual).

But with the cam starting to degrade, he suggested a tear down. This was probably to drastic, I think Mike Busch would have said so, and I know that Seth though so. But we started working on it.

This is an image of the forward crankshaft journal from the Magnetic Particle Inspection (aka magnaflux). The circle is the main oil journal that collects oil for pressurizing a constant speed prop. The two tiny white streaks emanating from the left half of the oil journal show that my crank suffered a prop strike in the past. My prop is in perfect condition, so this was like this when I bought the engine. As a result, I had to find another crankshaft. This only cost $3200. I hope to sell this crank for use in an airboat. It should be fine for that application.

213 Darwin's Way

I started a side blog to document our new place.

Follow the link to

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gotta brag about my Dad!  He earned the coveted title as the Virginia wine grower of the year!

In other Dad news, their place in Western Virginia was in the purple zone of the blizzard that hit the east coast last week.  Here's one picture, I'm trying to get more.