Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shop time

Today I flew the plane up to Pacific aircraft at Modesto for some shop time.  Finding a good shop to maintain your 33 year old airplane is a bit of a black art.  On the one hand you need to find someone you trust as to some extent you put your life in their hands... on the other hand you want to find a shop that will focus on what's important for safety without throwing money away by replacing serviceable (and expensive) items, or gouging you by padding hours and charging you for ridiculous items.  My friend Jerry recommended Pacific, and so today I flew down there to meet with Dick and his crew.

I had a few squawks I wanted to have looked at including the headset jack that I screwed up, as well as my backup giro/boot pressure pumps which are generating too much pressure and needed to be adjusted.  I also wanted to get another opinion on the filaform corrosion on the left elevator, as I'm hopeful that I can strip and repaint it rather than having it reskinned for 6 AMU's (aviation monetary unit.  1 AMU == $1000).  While I was there I went ahead and got an oil change because I'm about due and I wanted them to take a look at my oil screens.  The good news was the right engine looks great, no metal in the screen and not burning up oil.  The bad news is once again we found a bit of metal in the left engine.

I put it on a piece of lined paper and took a shot of it to give perspective as to the size.  I took it with my camera phone which sucks at macro shots, but you can probably tell it's about 3-4 thin shaves of metal.  I also bought 2 blackstone oil analysis kits and sent those off so that should be interesting.  Pacific thinks it looks like spalling on one or more of the lifters, and recommends taking all the rocker covers off and inspecting them.  The lifters are replaceable so if that's the issue I could repair it and keep flying the sucker.  I'll keep flying it either way, it's nowhere near the amount of metal flagged as problematic by renowned mechanics like Mike Bush http://www.avweb.com/news/savvyaviator/savvy_aviator_44_making_metal_195044-1.html but nevertheless I don't like the idea of an engine making any metal at all.  My guess is lifter spalling or a problem with one of the valve guides, though if it's a cam problem or cam lobes I'll probably need to do a firewall forward job there.  Overhauling the engine would be an expensive endeavor though, and I'd rather put that off a few years if at all possible.

All in all I got the pressure pumps adjusted, refilled my alcohol reservoir for the props and windshield deice (yes I know it's summer, I've heard it's better to keep it full), fixed the headset jack as well as changed the oil and captured the samples for analysis, as well as got Dicks opinion on the elevator corrosion.  On the evelvator, Dick thinks I can strip and repaint so I'm going to give that a try to save some dough.  I'll be needing new tires soon so I'll probably try to coordinate it with that job.

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