Home > Last 10 Percent, Main Landing Gear > A Tale of Two Suppliers – 9 hrs

A Tale of Two Suppliers – 9 hrs

Sunday April 27, 2014

This is a tale of two suppliers. The first is Build-Plates.com which is a maker of data plates. I found Build-Plates.com in a Google search on the web. They advertise plates for aviation and other markets like classic cars.I liked the look of their plates and the price was attractive so I ordered one. It arrived in less than a week and I was even more pleased with how it looked when I saw it in person. I installed it a few weeks ago and was happy until I read in a DAR inspection checklist that it had to be fireproof. The plate I ordered was aluminum and clearly would not survive a fire. In frustration, I fired off an email to the company complaining that they should have told me it was not a legal data plate and it should be steel. To my surprise I received a response from the owner of the company within a day saying I was the first to call this to their attention, he had done some research and found that the FAA had changed the regulations on data plates a few years ago and they had missed it. They would send me a refund and were investigating new materials. I told Scott the owner that I was interested if they could make it fireproof. To make a long story short, I received a replacement data plate in about a week in a brass plated steel material. I actually like the look with a brass background color in a field of black anodize (see below). I commend Build-Plates.com for how they responded to my complaint and could not ask for more. I’m not sure how the DAR inspector will respond to this material. It’s not like other data plates I have seen. Scott claims it is fireproof but the anodize looks like it could be a painted surface which would burn off. I asked Scott if he could send me a report on the flame testing he has done on this material. I have not heard back on that yet but it would be handy if the DAR asks. All in all, I would recommend Build-Plates.com but stay tuned to find out if mine passes inspection.


The second supplier is ACK Technologies. They make the E-04 ELT I installed behind the baggage compartment. I bought my ELT for just under $600 in November of 2012. I needed it at that time to make a custom shelf to mount it but I wasn’t going to install it until further in the build process. I wired it up recently and I did not test it until two weeks ago when I found it was completely dead. I checked the battery voltage and it was only 0.2 volts, not 12V as it should be. Not good. So I called the company and the representative I talked to said mail it in and they would repair it under the 2-year warranty. I packed it up and sent it to the factory in San Jose and three days later I got a call telling me I must have triggered the ELT at some point and let it run dead. It was going to cost me $65 for a new battery.  But I argued I never turned the ELT on because I had not registered it until two weeks ago and since it was switched off I can’t see how I could have triggered it. The switch was still off when I went to test it two weeks ago so I hadn’t accidentally turned it on. The only thing I can think of is it may have been dead when I received it in 2012 from Chief Aircraft. Since I did not test it then I never realized it. After talking to the technician for a few minutes he agreed to put a “used” battery in it with the same shelf life as my old battery and send it back to me at no charge. That’s more than fair and I appreciate ACK Technologies standing behind their product. The lesson I learned for next time  is to test the ELT as soon as I receive it. And I’ll do that when I replace the battery in 2017.

This weekend was the time to charge the brake system with fluid and bleed it. I purchased a quart of Mobil 1 synthetic automatic transmission fluid on the advice of many on VAF instead of the typical Royco 782. I also bought a pump-type oil can off Amazon along with some vinyl tubing from Home Depot. In short I connected the oil can to the brake bleeder valve via the vinyl hose and started pumping fluid into the lines from the caliper to the reservoir. The right ride was easy. The fluid flowed in quickly and in a minute or two I had pushed fluid into the reservoir. When I closed the bleeder valve and check the firmness of the right pedals they were rock hard. Charging the left side was much harder. The fluid did not want to flow easily with significant back pressure for unknown reason. It took a lot of slow pumping to get the fluid all the way through and it was hard to push out the bubbles visible in the lines. When I closed the bleeder valve and check the firmness of the left pedals they were a little squishy. And when I pumped them I saw bubbles come out of the master cylinders. I disconnected the hose at the top of the landing gear and pumped fluid through that line and the brake caliper but it was still hard to pump. It must be some restriction in the caliper. I reconnected the hose and pumped the brake pedal with the bleeder valve open to push fluid backward through the caliper hoping to discharge anything that might be in the line. That seemed to help a little. So I pumped more from the bleeder valve to the reservoir and after more time than I expected all the bubbles were gone and both sets of pedals are now very hard.


To catch any overflow from the reservoir I attached a straight AN fitting in place of the vent screen on top. To that I attached a short aluminum tube with a flaired AN fitting and a vinyl hose going into a clean water bottle. This worked perfectly to prevent an overflow. When I was done I opened one of the bleeder valves and pumped the pedal enough to drain any excess in the vinyl tube back into the reservoir so it would not spill out when I took the AN fittings off. Then I pumped enough out of the reservoir with a syringe to leave the fluid level about an inch below the vent screen.


I had a couple of plastic lines that are close to rubbing against the braided stainless steel lines so I put some split vinyl tubing on them for protection.


My wife helped me remove the canopy one last time (I hope) to install the rubber seal strips and to make it easier to rivet the front top skin on.


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