2nd Annual Condition Inspection

September 18, 2016 Leave a comment

After two years in phase two of flying the airplane it was time for the second annual condition inspection. Since I hold the Repairman’s Certificate I can sign this inspection off myself.


Engine bay and prop inspections

I am happy to report that the machine is holding together well after about 110 hours on the hobbs meter. The only thing I found of consequence was a broken support brace on the engine baffles in the area of the oil cooler.


Can you see it? At the end of the support brace from the #4 cylinder to the rear baffle next to the oil cooler fins. It was cracked all the way through. I put this support brace here because others before me have reported cracking in the baffles around the oil cooler due to vibration. I guess this shows that there must be some strain in this area. But I found no cracks in the baffles or the oil cooler flanges so I guess the support brace did its job while it lasted. I replaced the support brace with a new one that should be stronger. The aluminum tubing that I used for the original support brace is thin and not that strong. At the end where it is flattened it is further weakened by a 45 degree bend. If there is any flexing there it is likely to crack and break. For the replacement support brace I made a end fitting from .062 2024 aluminum which is much stronger than the tubing material and thicker.


Replacement Support Brace

The end fitting is riveted to the tubing  further up the tube where it showed no signs of strain before. We’ll see if this version holds up. If not, I’ll up the ante again with an even stronger support brace.

Results of the engine oil analysis were all normal for an engine with 110 hours. No abnormal wear detected. Cylinder compression measurements were also consistent with the previous two measurements.

This next picture just shows the inspection of the wiring and control linkages under the seat pans.


Inspection under the seat pans.

I also made a new jack stand for lifting the weight off the landing gear. Or perhaps I should say I recycled an old fuselage stand for the jack stand. That’s a harbor freight 4-ton jack on top of the stand. I used a 1.25 inch socket from harbor freight as the receptacle for the jack with a 3/8 inch bolt and nut going into the tie down ring hole. It’s not fancy, but it does the job.


Low cost wing jack

This close up shows the receptacle more clearly.


Wing jack and recpetable

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Installed an O2 System

April 10, 2016 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I posted anything new on this site. What have I been doing? Just flying and enjoying the airplane. But just recently I added an O2 system to the airplane for high altitude flying. In particular, we are planning to fly to the Grand Canyon and that will involve flying at 11.5K ft in certain corridors. So I thought it would be good to show the system and how I installed it.

The tank is a new size D medical O2 tank I bought on Amazon. The regulator is a medical HCS8708M regulator with a pressure gauge and adjustable flow rate from 0.12 up to 8l/sec.Together these two items cost less than $100. I also bought a pair of Oxysaver Cannulas and a Y fitting plus a second pulse oximeter. Total cost less than $200.


O2 System Components

To install the tank I made a pair of custom brackets that will hold the tank against the flap cover on the copilot’s side of the baggage compartment. The bracket surface matches the radius of the tank and there are two velcro straps that hold the tank in place. I could have bought brackets for this purpose for about $70, but I haven’t fabricated anything in a while so I decided to be creative.


Tank Mounting Brackets

Here is a view with the flap cover and brackets reinstalled in the airplane.


And here it is with the tank installed. It feels quite secure with the velcro straps snug. This position allows me to open the valve, see the pressure gauge, and adjust the flow rate all from the pilot’s seat. Now let’s go fly high!


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GoPro Test – Mounted Under Left Wing

November 8, 2015 Leave a comment

08 Nov 2015

I occasionally feel some shimmy from the landing gear when I land so I decided to mount my GoPro under the wing so I could get video of what’s happening down there. I made a new “duplicate” inspection cover for the left wing and made a mount for the GoPro that attaches to it. Here is a photo of just the mounting base attached to the inspection panel.


GoPro Mounting Base

Here is the mount with the GoPro installed.


GoPro mounted under the left wing

This video is an initial test to see how stable it is. I angled the camera to capture all three landing gear legs. There is definitely some shimmy happening. The video also shows a nice day at Corona airport.

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Upgraded Dynon to Touch

November 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Saturday, 7 Nov 2015

I decided to upgrade my left Dynon D1000 EFIS to the touchscreen version while Dynon still offers the trade-in option for $800. It was simple to pull the unit out and ship it back to Dynon for the upgrade (pre-authorized by Dynon with a RMA).


Left Dynon EFIS removed for upgrade

It took a little more than a week from the day I shipped my old unit to Dynon until the new Touch version arrived at my door. I put it back into the panel today and made sure it was working properly. It’s all good except I have to get a new license code for my navigation map subscription.

Here is the panel with the new EFIS mounted. You can see the Touch logo in the upper right hand corner if you look closely. I decided not to upgrade the copilot EFIS because it’s not really needed. The right EFIS is great for the passenger to see what’s going on but the primary control of the EFIS is virtually always done from the left seat.


New Touch EFIS installed for the left seat.

While I was messing around I made a little cushioned pad for the edge of the fuel pump cover. My leg rests there often and the bare edge gets uncomfortable after a while. This little pad does the job.


A little padding for the edge of the fuel pump cover

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Started Annual Condtion Inspection – 6 hrs

August 30, 2015 1 comment

Sunday, Aug 30, 2015

I started the annual condition inspection on the RV-7A today. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since I got the airworthiness certificate and made the first flight. I started with the prop area, removing the spinner and checking the bolt torque, spinner plate condition, etc.


Then I pulled off the cowl and started the firewall forward inspections including checking the spark plug condition, performing a cylinder differential pressure test, resetting the ignition timing, and about 50 other things.


The only issue I found under the cowl was some evidence of contact between the exhaust pipe and the cowl as you can see in the photo below. It damaged the thermal insulation near the aft hinge. It was easy to patch it up with some aluminum foil tape. I’ll readjust the pipe to give a little more clearance.


The spark plugs looked good for 83 hours of hobbs time. It looks like the lean-of-peak operations are keeping the buildup down on the lower spark plugs and there are not significant signs of lead buildup.


I spent about six hours on the firewall forward work today. Next week I’ll move to the cabin area and continue there.

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A Major Cross Country Flight

July 26, 2015 Leave a comment

23 July, 2015

Denise and I just completed our first major cross country trek in the RV-7A. We have been talking about flying up to Canada to visit our daughter and her young family for years and we finally felt that we and the airplane were ready. We left early on July 16th from Corona – or at least that was the plan. Our departure was delayed by two hours by a low cloud deck at KAJO. It opened at 9:00 AM and we were off. Our first leg was to from Corona to Yolo County Airport (KDWA) just west of Sacramento; about a 2.5 hour flight.


Here is a selfie from the cockpit.


This next shot is on approach to KDWA. Mostly flat farmland in this part of the valley but it was getting hot. By the time we landed it was in the upper 80s.


The next leg was from KDWA to Corvallis, OR (KCVO).


This leg took us up over Redding and Shasta Lake looks at least half empty now.


Mount Shasta loomed over us at 14,000+ feet. We were at about 8500 feet as we passed though the valley over Interstate 5. It got pretty bumpy north of here and through Oregon.


Corvallis had two nice runways but no restaurant at the airport. We got fuel and then I filed our manifest through eAPIS for the border crossing into Canada. Then we hopped back in the airplane and headed on the last leg to Abbotsford Intl, B.C. Canada (CYXX).


This picture is of Porland, OR as we passed to the west. You can see downtown and the main airport. Clouds began to appear at about 6000 feet.


This shot is near Sedro Wooley, WA. Lovely terrain that reminds me of the English countryside.


I contacted the Canadian FSS as we approached the border and they opened a VFR flight plan for us. You have to have an active flight plan with a transponder code to cross the border. We landed at Abbotsford at about 7:00 PM and were directed to the east end of the field to the Customs check-in. A ramp attendant directed me to a phone in a box on the outside wall of the Shell Aerocenter. It didn’t have a dial or buttons. I just picked it up and someone answered on the other end in French. He switched to English when I told him I didn’t speak French. He just asked for my tail number and a few other questions and then he gave me a confirmation number. That was it. We were free to move about the country. We then taxied to the west end of the field where I had arranged a tie-down spot with Duncan Poynton who is with the local flying club. Here I am by the airplane after securing it.


A big part of the trip was to see our grandson and be there for his 1st birthday on July 22. We were fortunate to be there on the day he started walking unassisted for the first time. What a blessing.


The scenery on the ground is great in this area. This is 40 – 50 miles east of Vancouver and is mostly farmland with the mountains to the north. Gorgeous on a clear day.


Our departure from Canada was on July 23rd. We had hoped to leave on Friday the 24th but the weather was predicted to turn bad on Friday and Thursday was supposed to be much better. I filed our eAPIS manifest the evening of July 22nd and called NAVCanada to file a flight plan to cross the border. Our route was generally the opposite of the flight into Canada but we had to stop at Bellingham Intl (KBLI) to go through Customs. The hop from Abbotsford to Bellingham was less than 15 minutes. After getting through Customs at KBLI we launched to the south. This picture is of the Puget Sound in the area of Squamish Harbor.


Off to our left was Mount Ranier, partly in the clouds.


We stopped at McMinnville, OR (KMMV) for gas, and again at Yolo County, CA (KDWA). We ran into lots of smoke from forest fires as we approached Mt. Shasta from the north. It got so bad at one point I was wondering if we could get through but I could always see the ground and so stayed VFR. There were several helicopters engaged in active fire fighting at Yolo County also but we were able to stay out of their way.

We landed at our home base of KAJO at about 7:00 PM. After a long day of flying we were tired but grateful for a safe journey.

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Tested Wheel Chocks

June 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Saturday June 20, 2015

I tested my homemade wheel chock today. It seems to work great. I put the tow bar on the nose gear and pulled hard. The wheel didn’t budge.


After passing this test, I made a second set for the other main landing gear wheel.

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Made Wheel Chocks

June 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I wanted to make some decent wheel chocks that are light enough to take on cross country trips. I have some chocks made of PVC pipe but they are heavier than I would like. I priced some chocks at Spruce but at $20 per pair or more I decided to go the homemade route. I started with three feet of 1.5 x 1.5 x 1/8 aluminum angle I bought for about $5 at Spruce. I cut it into four strips of 6-inch length with enough spare material to make one more. I cut two of them down to 1.25 x 1.25 to reduce weight and I drilled a bunch of 3/4 inch holes to reduce the weight further. Here are two completed parts next to two raw pieces.


I etched, alodined, primed and painted the two lightweight parts to make them stand out as you can see here. The final weight of each part is about 52 grams. I just need a couple of short pieces of bungee cord to connect them and I will have a completed pair of chocks. I admit these are a knock-off of some shock you can buy at spruce but cheaper because I put some time into making them instead of paying someone else to do it.


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Minor Mods and Maintenance

May 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve just been busy with life and work, and flying. I have noticed that my oil temperature maxes out at about 180F which is right at the low end of the range recommended by Lycoming. Some people say it is better for the oil temperature to run at about 200F at cruise so any water in the oil will vaporize and reduce the chances of corrosion. I decided to block part of my oil cooler to see if the temperature will increase. I put a 2-inch strip of aluminum foil tape across the top of the cooler as you can see in this picture.


While I had the upper cowling off I noticed a ding in the protective foil on the inside of the lower cowling near the right muffler. So I pulled the lower cowling off and found two spots where the foil was broken and smashed. It looks like the muffler made contact at some point, probably during start up or shut down when the engine moves quite a bit. I readjusted the muffler and exhaust pipe to increase the clearance.


I smoothed out the foil and applied a layer of new foil tape over the top. You can hardly tell it was ever nicked in the photo below.


I also have wanted to add a lock to the canopy latch for times when I leave to airplane in transient parking. My solution is really simple. I drilled a 9/64 hole through the latch handle on the outside of the airplane. You can see it if you look closely in the photo below.


I picked up a small key lock with a cable at Walmart. It is typically used for luggage. It’s not strong enough to stand up to a pair of bolt cutters but it is a good deterrent to someone looking for an easy target or someone rude enough to think they can open the canopy to look inside. When the cable is inserted through the hole in the latch it prevents the latch from retracting through the slot in the fuselage which prevents the canopy from releasing. Simple, but effective for keeping undetermined thieves out.


I also installed the instrument panel cover I received as a present for Christmas.


Categories: Flying

First Time to Cut Open Used Oil Filters

March 7, 2015 1 comment

Saturday Mar 7, 2015

I recently bought an oil filter cutter to enable me to inspect the inside of my used oil filters. This is commonly done on aircraft to look for signs of excessive or premature engine wear as evidenced by metal particles in the filter. This photo shows the cutter on the first oil filter. It slices through the can with a rolling knife.


When you open it up you see this.


Then you pull out the filter and cut it free from the center mandrel and then you can open the pleats of the filter and look inside. The good news is I saw no metal particles I could detect. It is certain that some are there but they are too small to see with the naked eye. So far it seems like my engine break-in has gone well. No signs of problems and my oil consumption is running about 18 hours per quart which is really good for a Lycoming.


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