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    Kevin Horton's RV-8 Project One Rivet At A Time    
 Welcome to Kevin Horton's RV-8 Project
 Thursday, July 31 2014 @ 09:27 AM EDT

Flying Again - Really!

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General News

The repaired Hall Effect Module for the Light Speed electronic ignition system arrived on Friday. Klaus replaced the seal, cleaned the oil off the circuit board inside, and updated the unit to the latest configuration (the later ones have an oil shield to increase the reliability of the oil seal).

I went out to the airport first thing Saturday morning to put everything back together and do some other maintenance. When working inside the forward baggage bay I discovered the source of the big oil ďleakĒ that had been troubling me. I had a quart of oil in the forward baggage bay, way over on the left side. The quart had fallen on its side, and the seal on the cap had broken (I had climbed to 9,500 ft during the flight when I had the big oil ďleakĒ). The oil that leaked out of the container had gone down the inside of the skin on the left side of the forward fuselage until it reached an angled brace that went down to the lower left corner of the firewall. Then it went down the cockpit side of the firewall and came out between the firewall and the skin on the lower fuselage, then ran along the bottom of the aircraft.

I was very relieved to understand where the oil had come from, and that it was not an engine issue. I had been very puzzled as to why this oil on the belly looked so yellow, when the oil in the engine was a bit brown. I was also completely befuddled why there was oil on the left side of the fuselage bottom, when there was no oil on the left side of the engine.

I did a ground run and a flight test after putting it all back together. Everything is working nicely now.

Next weekend I hope to fly to Oshkosh for the big EAA Fly-In. Itíll be great to meet up with a bunch of old friends.


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Grounded Again :(

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The ďUVĒ light bulb I ordered arrived on Thursday. i took a day off work on Friday to look for oil leaks. I was disappointed to see that while some things ahead of the firewall highlighted nicely under UV light, oil wasnít one of those things. Oh well. I cleaned everything up as nicely as I could, then went flying.

After landing it was clear that there was no evidence of a large oil leak, but there was still some oil coming from something.

Saturday I took another look, and noted a drop of oil in a strange place, on the bottom of the Hall Effect Module for the Light Speed electronic ignition system. Everything below there had sign of oil, and everything above was dry. Hmm. I removed the cover on the back of that module, and found roughly one teaspoon of oil inside, where there isnít supposed to be any oil at all. The circuit board attached to the cover was contaminated with oil. The oil seal around the input shaft had obviously failed, allowing oil to sneak in from the accessory case. Drat.

At first I hoped I could find an oil seal locally and change it myself, but online research suggested that it really should go back to Light Speed so they could do the job. This is apparently a fairly common issue with the Light Speed Hall Effect Modules. The good news is that the unit will tolerate a lot of oil inside, and I found no reports of any adverse effect on the operation of the ignition system. But, Iím not sure that the ignition would continue to operate correctly if enough oil got in there, so I need to get this sorted out ASAP.

I boxed it up and shipped it via UPS from Ogdensburg on Sunday afternoon. Iím hoping they can turn it around quickly and have it back to Ogdensburg by Friday afternoon, so I can reinstall it on Saturday. If I have a repeat failure Iíll either switch to the other option for crank position sensing - magnets on a plate attached to the crankshaft, with sensor bolted to the crank case, or ditch Light Speed ignition completely and install a second PMag.


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Flying Again

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The PMag installation took quite a bit longer than I hoped, largely due to poor access to some of the areas I was working in. It was a real pain running the wires to the aft end of the switch console in the cockpit so I could have the CB in a logical location. Access was poor to the mag area on the back of the engine - there were many times when I could only get one hand on a task when it would have been 10 times faster if I could have used both hands.

I finished the installation late Saturday afternoon. I had hoped to do an engine run on Saturday, but I was pretty beat by the time I finished, and I knew that I should do a good final inspection first, and I was too exhausted to do a proper job. Sunday morning I did the inspection, then a short engine run to check the ignition system. The ignition worked well, but the rpm indication on the engine monitor was screwed up - it was reading zero at low rpm, and twice the correct value at higher rpm. This was an easy fix - I changed the engine monitor number of pulses/revolution setting from 1 to 2, and the sensitivity from low to high.

I looked for oil leaks after the engine run, then installed the cowling and went flying. The ignition worked perfectly, but I noted quite a bit of oil on the bottom of the aircraft after landing. I pulled the cowling again, but there was so much oil on the back of the engine that couldnít nail down where it was coming from. The area around the PMag seemed dry, so I donít think it was the source. I checked torque on all the bolts, nuts and hoses on the back of the engine, but didnít find any obvious loose items. I was able to turn three oil hose connections slightly, but I donít think either of them was loose enough to cause such a large leak.

I also need to redo the manifold pressure plumbing for the PMag. I couldnít find one of the fittings I would have preferred to use, so I did a temporary jury-rig job. I think I have found a source for the needed fitting on Monday via another RV aircraft owner.

Iím searching for a UV light bulb, as apparently aviation oil shows up well in UV light. Iíll confirm the UV light shows the oil, then clean the engine, and confirm it is clean under UV light. Then Iíll do short engine run and check again.


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Magneto Failure

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It’s been a busy week. One week ago I had to cancel a flight to Carp, for the EAA Chapter 245 Fly-In Breakfast, due to a hangar door opening winch failure. We quickly determined that the reduction gear box had failed, but the gear box had no data plate or markings on it, so it was not possible to source a direct replacement. We found a larger gear box at Princess Auto, but it wouldn’t fit on the existing mount, so quite a bit of barnyard engineering was required to get it all working again. We (those with aircraft trapped in the hangar) had several work sessions over the course of the week, and finally got it all sorted out on Wednesday evening.

Terry and got up early yesterday morning, to fly to Green Bay, WI. But that plan fell apart at the engine run-up prior to take-off. Terry had noted that she thought the engine sounded a bit different than normal when we were taxiing, but I couldn’t hear anything strange. But, when I advanced the throttle for the run-up, I could tell that the engine didn’t sound right, and the amount of rpm achieved for a given throttle position was quite a bit lower than normal. When I selected the magneto OFF, the rpm increased by 300 rpm, which was very abnormal. This clearly indicated that the magneto timing was much too far advanced.

I left the mag off, and taxied back to the hangar. I removed the cowling and hooked up the mag timing box. I heard a momentary nasty noise from the back of the engine as I turned the prop to Top Dead Centre. That noise didn’t come back, but there was no indication that the mag points were opening and closing at all. We clearly weren’t going to Green Bay, so we unpacked and headed home.

Today I went out to the airport early to dig into the issue. I found that the mag base was broken, and the impulse coupling was very loose. There were signs that the impulse coupling had been hitting the base of the mag. The teeth on the magneto drive gear looked in perfect shape, and I couldn’t see any damage on the teeth on the drive gear in the accessory gear box.


I thought at first that some of the small mag case pieces were inside the engine, but looked around on the floor under the back end of the engine and found that all the missing pieces were accounted for. Whew!


The aircraft currently has one magneto and one Lightspeed Plasma II electronic ignition. The Lightspeed ignition works well, providing more ignition advance than the magneto at cruise power settings for increased efficiency, but it does require aircraft electrical power to function. The magneto will function even if the aircraft electrical system has completely failed, which is a huge plus.

I’ve been watching the developments at E-Mag for several years. They developed two closely related electronic ignition systems that fit in the magneto spot on the accessory case. The E-Mag, like the Lightspeed, required aircraft power. Its brother, the E-Mag model P (aka P-Mag) has an internal alternator, which generates power sufficient at 800 rpm to run the ignition. The P-Mag requires aircraft power to get the engine started, but after the engine is running it will function even if the aircraft electrical system fails, as long as the rpm is kept above 800 rpm. The first design P-Mags had some significant in-service problems, but they updated the design to address the problems, and the latest configuration (series 114) has proven itself in service.

I had decided to replace the mag with a P-Mag when the mag was due for its big inspection at 500 hours. Now that it has failed, I’ll do that change now. I’ve spent several hours planning the mod, making a list of all the things I should require, and I’ll order all the goodies Monday morning.


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Most Recent Post: 07/02 08:16AM by Kevin Horton

Wash and Wax Job

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We finally had the right combination of weather and schedule this weekend to wash and wax the RVĖ8. We never got it done last year, so it hasnít had this much TLC since 2012. We used the Motherís California Gold three step process, as recommended by the painter who painted the airplane four years ago. Between the number of steps, the large area to clean and wax, and the intricate shapes to deal with, it takes Terry and I two full days to go the job right.


Saturday we got the plane washed, and the upper surfaces and sides cleaned and waxed. This is what it looked like at the end of the day on Saturday.


Sunday, we got the lower wing surfaces done, and Terry cleaned the canopy after we removed it from the aircraft. The inside of the canopy had quite a bit of residue from two static cling sunshades that we used last year - l left the sunshades in the canopy all summer two years ago, which was a huge mistake, as they left a lot of almost impossible to remove residue behind. It took Terry a lot of elbow grease and good quality 3M marine transparency cleaner/polish to get the canopy looking like new again.


The aircraft looks pretty strange without the canopy.


While Terry was working on the bottom of one of the wings, I removed the cowling to assess an issue with the exhaust pipe mount. The four tail pipes are secured as one unit by the exhaust mount, but the four of them are somewhat free to move laterally. I had noted signs that the large heat muff that surrounds the two right most pipes had been hitting the side of the exhaust exit tunnel.

At the moment the four tail pipes hang from two supports that bolt to the back of the oil sump. The supports locate the pipes vertically, but donít restrain lateral movement. The only thing holding the pipes in one position laterally is the friction in the ball joints at the front of each tail pipe. The engine shakes around quite a bit during startup and shutdown, and I think this flailing would sometime be enough to overcome the friction in the ball joints and leave the pipes resting against the side of the exhaust exit tunnel.

Iíll add a third diagonal support which should hopefully keep them in their proper location.


Thanks Terry for all the help over the last two days!


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Picton Fly Out

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Summer weather has finally arrived in the Ottawa area, and Saturday was pretty much perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, very light winds, and a high temperature of 28įC :)

The excellent weather was especially timely, as Saturday was the scheduled date for the second of the three planned group fly-outs from the Smiths Falls Flying Club. the first one, to Peterborough for lunch on 10 May, was a blowout, as the high winds scared most of the participants off. Terry and I missed that one, as I was on my to Europe on that day.

Saturdayís destination was Picton, ON, with a visit to the Waupoos Estates Winery. Picton Airport is one of the many airports built during WWII as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. These airports typically have three 2500 ft long runways in a triangular shape.


Picton is only 77 nm from Smiths Falls, so it was only a 30 minute flight.


Five aircraft flew down, with a total of 11 people.


Dale, the trip organizer, had arranged for two mini-vans to take us to the Waupoos Estates Winery. We had a very interesting restaurant tour, then the passengers had a chance to taste some of the wines.


We finished up with a delicious lunch in the wineryís restaurant.


Terry snapped a photo of the winery as we ripped back to Smiths Falls.


Terry and I had a great day - thanks to Dale for organizing this super fly-out! Weíre looking forward to the next planned event, an overnight trip to Montpelier, Vermont.


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Manitowoc and Back

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We just got back late this afternoon from a trip to Manitowoc, WI in the RVĖ8 to visit some of Terryís sisters. We flew down Saturday morning, via a Customs and fuel stop in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. 4.0 hours of flying time, and we landed at 11:30 AM.

On the way home, we took advantage of the unusually strong westerly winds, and came back non-stop, climbing up to 15,000 ft to cross Lake Michigan. 2.9 hours of flying time, with an average ground speed of 201 kt from take-off to landing, including two separate climbs to 15,000 ft and an instrument approach in Smiths Falls.

I had planned to cross the lake at 17,000 ft, but I should have climbed higher VFR before I picked up the IFR clearance. The 50 kt tailwind during the climb had us halfway across the lake before I got to 15,000 ft, and we were already within gliding distance of the eastern shoreline, so we started a slow descent to 9,000 ft. We had to climb back up to 15,000 ft approaching Torontoís airspace, as their normal traffic patterns were disrupted with thunderstorms north of Toronto, and ATC couldnít accommodate us at a lower altitude.


The O2 system was key to making it back in one leg. Without it, we wouldnít have gone across Lake Michigan, as we would have been at a much lower altitude, and there would have been a long stretch in the middle where we were out of gliding range of land. The trip duration to go around Lake Michigan, even with the tail winds, would have been longer than we would accept for one leg.


There were quite a few Towering Cumulous in the Toronto area as well, but we were able to avoid them with minor deviations from our route.


The ground speed was over 200 kt for most of the trip, except during the climbs and during the instrument approach to get into Smiths Falls.


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On the Road Again

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I was in Toulouse, France last week, via a stop over in London. I left Saturday morning, 10 May, and got back home late Friday afternoon. I was pretty jet-lagged on Saturday, but had got back on the step by Sunday afternoon, so I took advantage of the apparent good weather to get an RVĖ8 flight in. The weather upon arrival at the airport wasnít quite as good as I had expected, with rain showers approaching, so the flight was pretty short. I landed just before the rain started, but didnít quite manage to get the plane in the hangar before it got wet.

We had hoped to wash and wax the plane last weekend, but we didnít trust the weather forecast enough to start that task. I really want to get that done before Oshkosh, at the end of July.


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Wheel Maintenance

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The weather has been pretty terrible the last few weeks, with long periods of day after day of low cloud and rain. This has definitely put a crimp in my RV flying.

I did get up 10 days ago on one of the rare sunny days, during the week. It was blowing pretty hard though, about 15 kt straight across the runway, so it was good to get some crosswind practice in. I did some aerobatics, then did six landings. The first one was pretty ugly, but all the rest were passable. Then I changed the oil and filter and inspected ahead of the firewall, and did the annual compass swing.

This weekend we had low cloud forecast for both days, so I didnít plan to do any flying. I did head out to the hangar on Saturday morning to clean, inspect and grease the wheel bearings, and the tail wheel pivot. Of course the clouds lifted and the sun came out as soon as I had the aircraft ripped apart, and it closed back in again as I finished and put it all back together. Oh well.

To jack the aircraft, I use a jacking point that I made from a bolt, screwed into the tie down location under the wing at midspan.


Ron, the hangar owner, has these nice jack stands that support a small hydraulic jack. They are optimized for his Mooney, but they work for the RV if you set them on some wood blocks.


The tie down holes are a bit farther aft than optimal as jacking points, so there isnít much weight on the tailwheel after you jack one of main wheels clear of the ground. It wouldnít take much to have the aircraft tip onto its nose, so I tie the tail wheel spring to something heavy for security.


Left wheel off the ground. The bottom of the wheel pants are getting a bit beat up. Oh well.


I found a bit of light corrosion on the cylindrical support for the brake disk. Iíll have to keep on eye on that.


Ready to go, whenever the weather allows.


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Cruise Perf Testing

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I was in Wichita all week last week, for some avionics ground testing. The long-awaited first flight of the Lear 85 occurred while we were there, but we didnít see it as we were beavering away doing testing on an avionics test rig.

Saturday the weather was quite nice, and I found pretty smooth air at altitude, so I took advantage to do some cruise performance testing. Iíve had the impression that the aircraft was slightly faster with the new four pipe exhaust system, but hadnít gathered any hard cruise performance data until this last flight. I need to crunch the data and convert it to standard weight, altitude and temperature so I can compare it to my previous results. But, I need to finish my taxes first, so the data crunching is on the back burner for now.


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