Friday, February 8, 2019

Mega electric tug

I have a thing for giving my big Bone a good tug, apparently.  I have a Sidewinder, a re-engined gas tug, and now a brand new super heavy duty KingAir ready electric monster tug.  I bought it from a KingAir guy in Livermore after he decided to move into a managed situation that includes pull out service.  Even though I don't really need another tug, it was too good a deal to pass up.  There is just something about a great big power tug is so satisfying.  The thing weighs a ton and I had to rent a heavy duty uhaul trailer just to pick it up.

Electric car towing an electric tug.  Brave new world!  Unfortunately the thing hadn't been run in at least a few years, and the batteries were toast.

It's two 12 volt heavy duty marine batteries wired in series.  They didn't even have enough charge to move the tug, and it was a bitch to drag it around without power.  $215 worth of batteries later...

All wired up and ready to rock and roll...

Hopefully I'll try her out this weekend!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

New old stock

Now that I own a vintage airplane nothing sounds like music to my ears more than the phrase "new old stock".  Sounds like an oxymoron, but the term refers to old surplus parts that have sat on the shelf for years and years and never been used.  Thus they are new in the sense that they haven't been used, but old stock having been manufactured decades ago.  Fortunately, the TwinBonanza was used in military service and the military would always keep 3-4 spare parts for every part flying, resulting in plentiful parts availability for my old bird.  Most of the stock was bought up by various parts warehouses and you can call them up if you need something specific, or do a parts search, or monitor eBay.  So far I haven't had any issues finding things.  There are a few items I'm always keeping an eye out for,  for example exhaust pipes and augmenter tubes.  Recently I saw a set of "NOS" fuel caps and since one of mine was a bit sticky, I bought the lot.

Beauty.  I love the gunmetal grey look, vs the old ones that had been painted over a few times.  I had seen caps before, but they usually had gallon markings engraved that didn't match my fuel tanks, and I didn't want that.  Here are the old caps.

Used ones seem to fetch 60-75$ each so hopefully that will offset the pain of $200 each for the NOS ones!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

smoked out

Had to get out of town because smoke from the Camp fire has gotten so bad we could hardly breathe in our own home. Can't go outside, can barely see across the street... my chest is tight and burning eyes.. horrible. They finally canceled the schools and it took me all of 5 minutes to throw some clothes in a bag and say "let's get the F out of here"... Norcal is hell right now. 

luckily Tbone also stands for "The Big Out Now Escape" machine. Loaded up the wife, kids and dog and blasted off into darkness and smoke with < 1 mile vis. I've got a lot of screens though...

Plenty of room in the Big bone and the dog gets his own seat. Took an hour of flying before I could make out some ground lights and was finally clear of the muck. Who goes to LA for fresh(er) air? I do!

Friday, November 9, 2018

New audio panel

Begone Garmin GMA 340 audio panel, and welcome PS Engineering PMA 450!  I never thought much about audio panels until I flew with my buddy in his Cessna 210 with a PSE Engineering panel.  The sound quality was so much better, so crisp and clear.  The difference is like a noise canceling headset vs passive, which is to say quite significant!  The other issue I wanted to address was the Garmin 340 has no dedicated inputs for music.  That prompted the prior owner to wire the XM audio into the ADF monitor function.  Not ideal!  I couldn't change the volume for different locations, and it just generally sounded crappy.  

The unit has some nice features, like bluetooth input and dynamic sound where you can set the copilot voice to seem like it's coming from your right side.  All sweet, but my primary motivation was simply better sound quality and it's definitely much better.  It was a simple swap.  I still need to have an avionics shop rewire the music input properly, but I got the radio installed myself in all of 2 minutes.  You just unscrew the hex nut for the 340 and slide it out, and slide in the 450 and screw it in.  Got a great trade up deal from Chase from Avionics Source, whom I also purchased my Avidyne's from.  Great guy/company, highly recommend! Here she is, looking good under the IFD 550.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

paint prep

Got the Tbone back with a new starter overhauled by Aero Accessories Inc in San Antonio.  They knew exactly how to overhaul it and all the ADs and service bulletin's for the old Bendix starter.  Now that it's back on the plane, the right engine fires right up as soon as you hit the starter, whereas before it was spinning for a few seconds before it engaged.  I also replaced the air-stair door hinge.  The old one had been repaired before but they had only replaced about half of it.  Here she is with the new hinge all freshly riveted.

The left main wheel well gear door hinge also has a small broken section so I'm debating replacing that one as well before she goes for paint.  I'm gathering thoughts on the scheme, but leaning towards a modern twist on this classic scheme.

Basically I'm thinking of inverting it and putting the white on the bottom and then the top would be red.  I've never been a huge fan of red planes or red cars, but something about the vintage TwinBonanza seems like red would be a good match.  We'll see...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

First non annual bone maintenance

Other than my avionics upgrades which I did myself via the Avidyne self install kit, I've been pretty lucky with the plane.  I've had no out of annual shop maintenance at all.  The oil changes I've been doing myself, at quite a cost savings I'll add.  But now I have an issue with my right starter sticking, so it's coming off to go for overhaul.  While it's there I'm having them look at a minor oil leak on the left engine, and a small leak in the left pilot side brake master cylinder.  I'm also having them rehinge the airstair door.  That is probably going to be a lot of labor ($$$) but I'm going for paint in November and I figure I might as well have it done right before paint.  My hinge has a half assed repair on it and a few of the hinge groves are worn out.  Hopefully it won't be down too long.

Friday, August 10, 2018

liquid amazeballs

My windows are in good condition with only a few light scratches. I'm a huge proponent of top quality paint jobs.. if you're going to spend big bucks anyways, spend a bit more and do it right. Whomever did my last paint job, a prior owners decision and the shop shall remain nameless... well, they made it look okay but let's just say they were no Don Copeland. It's subtle, but after flying this plane for year now I realized that when they did the last paint job, they didn't cover the windows very well and some very very light specs of paint seeped through the window covering and left extremely faint small paint dots on my windows. It's hard to notice, but once you know it's there you can look closely and see it.  

I'm a stickler for windows... the Tbone windows are like coming to a 60 inch 4k OLED TV compared to an old CRT standard definition TV with an aerial antennae.. Those huge beautiful windows and unobstructed outside view are a huge part of the appeal of this plane for me. Once I noticed those micro paint specs, it wore on me to the point I was considering replacing my windows entirely. No longer! I ordered this stuff... Micro gloss liquid abrasive, and took a 6 inch orbital polisher to my windows and polished the shit out of them... the results are amazing. They look like new windows. It even took out the light scratches... I had put brand new windows in my Baron and these windows now look the same. Highly recommend this stuff, the photos don't do it justice.