Saturday, March 27, 2010

1st oil change

I've hit 25 hours on the Tach and the new cylinders should be well broken in now, so it's time to change the oil.  I've been hunting around for cheap oil since I need a fair bit.  Buying it in quarts locally is expensive since I need 10 qts per engine and by the quart it's usually priced from seven to nine bucks a quart.  You can find it online for less than $5 a quart, but by the time you factor in shipping it's back to eighty or ninety bucks for a 12 quart case.  Long story short, I found out that I can buy it directly from the distributer in Richmond, an industrial area not far from my house.  I bought 3 cases of AeroShell 100W SAE 50 for $53 a case from Golden Gate Petroleum ( not bad!

I had only a vague idea of how to do the job, but it's expensive enough to hire someone to do it for two engines that I realize an easy way to cut my expenses is to learn to do it myself.  You open a plug, drain the oil, and refill,  how hard could it be right?  I contacted Paul aka Pi, a fellow pilot I've known for a few years who is an A&P/IA and an overall real cool guy, who I knew would be willing to help me.  He is based out at Byron and works a day job as an avionics tech for United, but also works as a shade tree mechanic a bit on the side... basically a great guy to know.  I asked him to teach me how to change the oil and make sure I can do it safely.  This morning I flew down to Byron to meet up with Pi.  I taxied up and Pi checked out the plane, it's quite a contrast next to his Champ that he bought for $8,500!  Actually his Champ is pretty awesome, if I had more free time I'd buy one as a fun plane to tool around in.

I learned how to change the oil, but I also figured out that there are parts of the job I need way more practice with before I'll feel comfortable doing it unguided.  My engines don't have quick drains, so you have to cut the safety wire off a big plug and then unscrew it.  That part is easy, as is getting the oil screen out... the hard part is putting it back on and getting it properly safety wired.  The access panel for the drain plug is small, so it was hard for me to see what Pi was doing.  It even took him awhile to do it right.  We pulled the filters out and ran them through some mineral spirits to get the gunk out.  Both engines had some ferrous metal particles in there, not a whole lot, but you could see it grab on to the magnet.  I'm really unsure of how much is enough to be concerned about, but Pi said to just keep flying it and monitor the trend.  I ordered some safety wire and pair of wire pliers from Spruce, we'll try this again in 25 hours.


  1. Working on learning the same procedure but on my baby beech, a Sundowner. I am going to switch to the add on Standard Lycoming Style Adapter,filter, gasket and special mounting
    stud vs. the existing screen on my next change. I ordered the wire and pliers too, now to practice up with them. I do have the quick drain, it's really nice.

    By the way, great web page! I added your link to my favorites on my blog.

  2. Adam, if you're at all concerned about the metal, you might consider starting oil analysis. I used Aviation Laboratories with the last plane and will again with the new plane:

    It does add cost, but I suppose you could do the analysis every other oil change. Through their analysis they were able to tell me which component was making metal and whether it was something to be worried about.