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Trimmed Upper Cowl at Firewall – 8 hrs

January 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Saturday Jan 12, 2013

The prop extendsion that I ordered from Saber Manufacturing came in on Thursday and I need it installed to align the cowl so that seemed like a good place to start today. The extension is basically a spacer that places the prop at the correct distance from the flywheel for the cowl and spinner dome. This one is made specifically for the Catto 3-blade prop and is 2-1/4 inch thick aluminum with stainless steel inserts. It was kinda pricey but this one is recommended by Craig Catto and is very well made. Installation onto the flywheel was easy with no problems encountered.

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The spinner bulkhead was a different story. I expected it to slip right on but the bolt holes were too small to fit the stainless steel insert tubes for the bolts. It took me a while to discover that this spinner is made for an O-320 engine which uses 7/16 prop bolts, whereas the O-360 uses 1/2 inch prop bolts. You have to enlarge the holes in the spinner bulkhead for the larger bolts/inserts. After enlarging the six bolt holes to 3/4 inch with a unibit to fit over the IO-360 inserts and deburring everything I mounted the spinner bulkhead to the prop extension using the crazy expensive prop bolts ($16 each) that came with the extension from Saber. Because I don’t have the prop or crush plate installed I used some leftover PVC pipe to make spacers so I could snug up the bolts to clamp the spinner bulkhead firmly against the extension.

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Here is another view that clearly shows the stack up of parts.

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Another step necessary to align the upper cowl is to install the hinge strips along the upper flange of the firewall. I considered using 1/4 turn fasteners along the upper cowl to attach it to the firewall but ultimately decided to stay with the Vans stock hinge method. I like the ease of removing the 1/4 turn fasteners but I really like the clean, almost invisible seams of the hinge method. I also read of issues with puckering between fasteners with the 1/4 turns and don’t forget the additional cost (about $180) just for the upper firewall kit). I think there are techniques that can eliminate or minimize the puckering but it requires extra work and cost. So for this kit I am sticking with the stock design. After all, 1/4 turn fasteners can be retrofit later if the hinges turn out to be a pain.

I measured out and cut two pieces of the larger piano hinge material for the upper firewall flange per the instructions. I offset the hinge forward about 1/16 inch so the notches between hinge eyelets will be buried under the cowl and won’t be visible through the gap. With the hinges aligned and held by cleco clamps I match drilled through the firewall flange and the hinge.

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A long slot has to be cut in the lower cowl for the nose gear strut. At first I was struggling with finding the exact center of the cowl because there are no square edges on this thing to measure from but then it occurred to me I could use a plumb bob and locate the center relative to the two side walls. I put a long steel ruler on the floor to measure the width of the cowl and then adjusted the plumb bob to fall at the mid point of this width. I marked the cowl at that point and laid out the slot dimensions relative to that.

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I cut the slot a little under size for now. The plans call for a 1-3/8 slot but I cut it 1-1/4 in case I need to bias it a little one way or the other once I get it mounted to the fuselage and find out exactly where the strut falls relative to the centerline. I’m hoping everything will match up closely. I cut the slot with a cutting wheel on my electric cut-off tool and smoothed the edges with sand paper.

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Then I put the upper cowl on the fuselage and aligned it as best I could. I set a 0.20 inch gap between the front of the cowl and the back of the spinner bulkhead. I also put a small block of wood on the flywheel gear to raise the cowl to center the spinner bulkhead with the front opening in the cowl. Actually, I tried to bias the cowl about 1/8 inch below this point to allow for future settling of the engine on the mounts. I also checked side to side to make sure the cowl was level.

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In this picture you can see the gap between the cowl and the spinner bulkhead. No the gap is not uniform. As you can see it gets larger toward the lower edge of the cowl. Some of this will disappear when I attach the upper cowl to the lower cowl in the nostrils. The rest I will have to take out with epoxy and filler. This is really common with these pink pepto cowls.

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Before I aligned the upper cowl I drew a line on the fuselage skin two inches aft of the front edge of the firewall as a reference line. Then with the cowl placed on the fuselage and aligned as described above I drew a line on the cowl 2 inches forward of the reference line. This line should correspond with the forward edge of the firewall.

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I took the cowl off the fuselage and cut the excess material off the aft end based on my line. I was not brave enough to cut right to the line on the first try. In fact I cut about 1/8 inch shy of the line and sanded the edge smooth for the first test fitting. It took about 5 or six iterations on the fuselage, measuring, and sanding to fit to get it to where you see it now. I have 0.2 inch clearance between the spinner bulkhead and the cowl and the fit along the firewall edge is quite good. I used a 12-inch long block of wood with sandpaper attached to get a nice straight finished edge. This all took a fair amount of time since I was afraid to take large steps for fear of over trimming.

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Last but not least I cut the whole in the upper cowl for the oil filler access door. I left 3/8 inch overlap for the perimeter of the door and rounded the inside radii as you can see here. The edges were all well smoothed with sand paper as recommended in the plans.

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Categories: Cowling, Engine

Hung the Engine! – 8 hrs

December 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Saturday Dec 22, 2012

Well the day has finally arrived. It is “hang the engine” day. As far as I could tell there was nothing left to hold me back from putting the engine on the mount so I invited my friend Scott over to help. We were both excited. First thing we did was remove the sides of the crate to expose the engine on the pallet. Here Scott poses with the engine as we were getting organized.

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This is just another good shot of the IO-360 from Aero Sport Power. Isn’t she prety?

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Then we rotated the pallet 180 degrees to get the engine oriented properly with the fuselage. To get the hoist aligned with the hook directly over the engine lift point we had to lift the pallet up on three stacks of 2×4’s. At this point we had verified that all joints of the hoist were properly tightened with retainer pins installed as required. Then we lifted the engine just enough to take the weight off the attachment brackets to the pallet so we could get the bolts out.

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Then up she came to the approximate height for mounting. Like everybody says, it is a bit uncomfortable having this thing hanging above a concrete floor.

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Then we positioned it roughly for the first bolt installation. Here I am with my pointy pillow hair. It turns out we had a water leak in our house yesterday causing a flood and significant damage. All the water was turned off while workers were in the house pulling up carpet and cutting out wet dry wall so I could not take a shower this morning. Don’t tell Scott (I think he figured it out by the smell). But we had scheduled this engine hanging earlier in the week so I was determined to press on.

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We did not take pictures during the bolt installation process. We were too focused on the job. But let me summarize by saying we followed the instructions on the Vans Air Force web site. The first two bolts were not too bad. The third bolt gave us the most trouble because we just could not get the holes to line up no matter how we wiggled the engine or adjusted the hoist. But we finally got it and with the first three bolts down tight the fourth one went in without too much difficulty.  I had to use two small washers under each nut to put the cotter pin holes in the right spot relative to the notches in the castle nuts. Here I am again with the engine hung and all bolts tight.

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Here is one more picture as my joy motivates me to hug the newly hung engine.

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After that I still had enough energy to start fitting some of the easy hoses between the engine and the firewall. Here is the main fuel line from the firewall to the mechanical fuel pump inlet (with red fire sleeve). The fitting on the fuel pump as it came from Aero Sport Power is angled back at about a 45 degree angle but the Vans drawing shows it going straight down. I actually think ASP did this on purpose because it keeps the hose from hang down quite as far below the engine. This may provide more clearance for the fuel injection control cables so I will leave it this was until the fuel servo is installed and I can see how those cables will route.

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In this picture you can see how the hose hangs down slightly below the fitting at the firewall. With the fuel pump fitting pointed straight down this hose will hang down another inch or two easy. It looks like the control cable will have a clearer shot with this routing. Nothing is torqued yet so I can always adjust it later.

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The engine breather tube attaches to the firewall with an Adel clamp (center bottom below). This is temporarily in place because I have to install the exhaust system first to determine where to trim the bottom end of the tube so the breather blows directly onto one of the pipes. I also attached the two oil cooler lines temporarily for fit checks.

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The mechanical fuel pump came with a 45 degree angle fitting on the exit port. That must be removed and a special 90 degree fitting from the firewall forward kit is installed. The fitting has two ports, one for the fuel line to the FI servo and the other gets a restrictor fitting and that goes to the fuel pressure sensor on the manifold block. Installed the fittings using a little fuel lube on the o-ring and threads and hooked up the hose to the manifold.

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This is going well so far but this is the easy part. The firewall forward kit for the O-360 is working out fine up to this point but there is still a long way to go.

Categories: Engine, Firewall Forward

Oil Temp Sensor – 2 hrs

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Monday Dec 17, 2012

Let me start this post by saying that I really appreciate that Aero Spot Power pre-installs some of the key fittings into the engine that normally would have to be installed by the customer. Specifically, the oil pressure port already has a restrictor fitting installed in the desired orientation. The oil cooler output and input ports also have the correct fittings installed. One thing that is not installed of course is the oil temperature probe which is part of the Dynon engine sensor kit. I had some difficulty installing the oil temperature probe into the oil filter adapter yesterday. Initially I tried to spin the sensor into the port by hand but the threads would not even start to engage. After several attempts I could get it to just grab but it would not turn more than ~1/4 turn before it stopped cold.

I sent an email to Aero Sport Power this morning and Nikki responded back that the threads might be out of tolerance and I should either chase the threads with a 5/8-18 tap or they could send me a new adapter. I decided to try the tap approach tonight because I have nothing to lose. If it doesn’t do the trick I will have to replace the adapter anyway. To protect the interior from metal chips I plugged the hole down deep with a rolled up piece of paper towel. I also applied grease to the flutes of the tap to collect the chips. After taping I removed all the grease with Q-tips, vacuumed out the hole, and removed the paper towel plug. Well after slowing chasing the threads I can now easily spin the probe in by hand. The threads look OK down in the port but the alodine on the thread surface is now totally gone. I was surprised how much torque it took on the tap to chase the threads. Either the tap used to cut these threads originally was seriously worn (or out of tolerance) or something else is going on. I’ll ping Nikki again tomorrow to see if Aero Sport Power thinks this is good to go or if I should just swap out the adapter. The photo below shows the oil temp probe in the port next to the oil filter.

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While I was at it I looked up the torque recommendation for the copper crush washer under the probe. By the way, Aero Sport Power included the crush washer with the engine so I didn’t have to go find out I needed one and what size to get. According to the Lycoming Overhaul Manual the 18 thread/inch probe should be torqued 135 degrees past initial contact with a copper washer. Here is the table just for the record. It says I should lubricate the threads also.

Crush Washer Torque

Categories: Engine, Firewall Forward

Engine Arrives!

July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Thursday July 26, 2012

The engine is here! After nine days in transit from Kamloops B.C. by Vitran Shipping it was delivered to my garage this morning. The crate looks good. No shipping damage.

The lid was held on by a couple dozen drywall screws and inside is the 180 HP, port and flow balanced machine with AFP fuel injection and dual Pmags. Here you see it after I removed the plastic bag and two large dessicant bags. There was also a box inside that contains various components yet to be installed; the fuel servo, spark plugs and wires, various brackets and hardware. There is also a log book, instructions for the AFP fuel injection and two surprise T-shirts with the Aero Sport Power logo.

She looks great. The gold color is very subtle. More like a champagne color and the black components provide a nice contrast. Very classy looking. I like it, although I care a lot more about how it runs than how it looks on the outside.

Dear engine, you will stay in the crate for now, but your day to be installed is coming soon!

Categories: Engine, Firewall Forward

Engine Update – 0 hrs

July 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Monday July 9, 2012

Exciting news from Aero Sport Power today. My engine has been assembled and run on the test stand. It should be ready to ship within the week. They were kind enough to send along a couple of photos of my engine in the shop. This is the top side. You can see the two PMags and the fuel injection spider. No spark plugs are installed in this photo.

This is the bottom showing the vertical intake sump with the AFP fuel injector body mounted.

Now I just need to brace myself for the big drain on my bank account.

Categories: Engine, Firewall Forward