Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Watched a plane crash

Got back from a trip with my wife and kids, had just landed and was putting the plane in the hangar when a Navion took off on KCCR 32L, the runway right next to my hangar. He got to maybe 400 ft, I heard a pop or a backfire and the engine quit. He pointed the nose down, leveled off, then made the mistake of trying to circle back around. It looked scary as it was basically pointed straight at me and my hangar, then stall/spun at maybe 20 or 30 feet and crashed nose first into the dirt, a wheel popped off and flew a hundred feet away. I yelled to my wife to watch the kids and I ran to the plane and was the first one there... no fire, but gas leaking out the bottom, the engine basically separated from the airframe. I jumped on top and pulled open the canopy and two older guys were inside, alive and conscious but clearly in shock and bleeding from their heads. Some other guys ran out from their hangars with fire extinguishers and luckily there was no fire. I didn't try to pull them out for fear of injuring them worse. Fire dept was there a few mins later. 

I was already on edge after all the crashes this month, and this was quite a shocker, especially in front of my wife and kids. Scary stuff.  Some news reports:  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 849S71.DTL  I left an officer my business card in case the NTSB wants a report.   Very surreal. I just stood there watching and at first I didn't get it... I was thinking, what the heck are those fools doing? I was thinking they were training and had purposefully pulled the engine, then it sort of hit me that they were going to crash, then they crashed, right in front of me. The sound of it was sickening. Definitely makes me take pause and think about my flying. I also think it's just as important to have a single engine out mantra as it does for us twin guys... if you're below 600 ft or so, land straight ahead or turn 90 deg at most. You're not going to get around 180 deg from 400 ft. It all happened so fast, it's got to be instinctual.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where's the moon?

The winter weather flying this year has been interesting, we haven't had very many big storms but we have had a lot of clouds layers, fog, valley fog and a few cold frontal systems bringing in some ice at anything much above a few thousand feet.  Around here most MEA's bring you well below the freezing level and my most typical trip is to Socal which brings me over a mountain range.  Today at 10k ft the OAT was a chilly -15degC.  I've been seeing a lot of low level valley fog and mountain obscuration and multiple layers.  Here is an example:

The last few night flights I've done have been in early night, with the sun setting in Socal before 5pm, a launch at 6pm and a moon rising at 8pm or later, I've had a number of moonless flights.  When the weather is like above and it's night, you might well be clear of clouds but you can't see jack.  For example:

Once I got back to Norcal the cloud layers parted and I could see the ground lights, but after climbing through clouds Socal was like night over an ocean.  In the day time these layers are good fun though, here I am skimming clouds at 11,500 ft.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

50 hour gremlins

I'm now at 50.1 hours since the new engines were installed in August.  I had thought I had just about worked through all the new engine gremlins, but on my flight to LA last week my left alternator light started flashing intermittently.  Not a huge deal, after all I have two.  There was a cloud deck but it was broken and scattered, and I was in the clear on top at 10k ft.  In a single I would have had to scrub the flight... it's the paradox of the twin owner, you get to make some flights that would ground a single engine pilot, but you fly twice as often with something broken.  Once down in the LA basin I ended up shooting over from CMA to VNY in IMC, and it's such a short flight I didn't worry too much about having an alternator out.

The flight back was IMC through a layer that topped out at 9,000 and then I got on top again at 10.  Over the valley however I found the central valley was socked in with ground fog, there was a high overcast at 20,000 and the sun was falling fast yielding to a moonless night... basically I was clear of clouds but in solid IMC, no city lights, no visual references, just floating along IFR in a black void.  To make it more interesting, I pulled up the Wx at CCR and saw that it was deteriorating rapidly.  An 800 ft ceiling turned to a 400 ft ceiling turned to  200 ft ceiling.  The LDA approach at CCR takes you down to 440 ft, then you go missed, so there was no point in trying to get into CCR with a 200 ft ceiling.  The airport was basically closed.  I had filed LVK as an alternate, and since they have an ILS that takes you to 200 ft I knew I could get in there, so I diverted.  That was also handy, because my maintenance shop is at LVK and so I shot the ILS on in, left the plane in front of their hangar so they could deal with my failed alternator, and called my wife to pick me up.  When I got to CCR to pickup my car, the fog was so thick I couldn't even see 20 ft in front of the car.

Long story short, turns out I have the dreaded Kelly Aerospace alternators, which are the only ones certified for my airplane.  The problem is, Kelly Aerospace is known far and wide for producing the worst products in aviation.  How they are certified by the FAA is beyond me.  No one was surprised to hear of a 50 hour Kelly alternator going bad...  oh well, I'm sure the next one will crap out right after the warranty expires.  We're also only in December and I've already used up all my deice fluid... time to shop around!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Nice flight today, good flight with a mix of light IFR and stunning VFR on top.  Had a little Beech flyout planned to visit my buddy Alejandro for lunch at Camarillo.  First I flew over to Gnoss (KDVO) to pickup a friend Tim, but right after takeoff I heard that telltale whistle coming through the door... uh oh, a few seconds later it popped.  Doh, door open in flight is no biggie, but I sure felt dumb.  I circled around and landed and gave it a good slam this time.  Took off and got Tim at Gnoss, got a Bravo clearance and and headed for KCMA skimming a broken layer at 9500 ft... stunning.  I didn't have my camera going today though ;(

We had a great lunch with a super successful, cool and interesting crew.  Here are some photos Ale shot.

Those beautiful Beeches... clearly the finest piston aircraft ever made!

The lunch crew, great food in Camarillo.  My new favorite airport restaurant!

That's my bird behind, blocked by the Boyz

Then I flew IFR to VNY because those clouds were thicker over that way, I'm glad I did because I was in the clouds nearly the whole way, but I suppose I could have scud run it too.  Did my pickup at VNY, and then picked up my IFR clearance back to KCCR.  We popped out on top at 10k and had a nice smooth ride despite the 35kt headwind.  Landed at night in rain and mist 1:45 mins later and tucked the Baron away.  What a great, super capable all weather airplane!  On both legs I got about 185 kts true on 22 gph running LOP with all CHTs in in the 330 range or lower. 

Had an issue with the left alternator though, the warning indicator is flashing intermittently... probably has something to do with the battery issues I had?  Oh well, the JPI showed 28.2 volts and I have two alternators... another advantage of the twin, I would have scrubbed this flight in a single.  But yet another thing to get sorted, also the poster light on the backup AI is burned out.  No biggie...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Battery drain

This morning I went to go meet Jim Gruneiesen, one of the BPPP instructors for some training.  I went to fire her up and the left engine fired up right away, but when I engaged the starter on the right engine the blade basically moved a little bit and then stopped. It was as if the battery was low or dead, but I had the battery tender on and it should have been fine... grrr.  I had been juggling with Jim for weeks and had to cancel. Turns out the batteries had just hit their limit.  This afternoon Chris and Alan from MaintenanceExpress flew over in their 172 from LVK with two new batteries.  They showed me how to change out the batteries and then I fired her up.  She fired up so fast it surprised me. I've never had a plane start so fast, faster than my car.  Back to squawk free for now (knock on wood)!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ice is for cocktails

Had a nice beautiful IFR flight tonight, skimmed the clouds at 8,000 ft right at sunset which was so awesome I didn't even mind the headwinds. :thumbup: 

Started out kind of interesting, I knew I had to get though the wall of cold, mountainous clouds. Good day to own a Baron!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dialed in

At long last, the plane is 100% squawk free!  The prop sync issue turned out to be a problem with how they wired it up when doing the prop overhaul.  The shop pulled off the prop and sent it back to Stockton propellor for warranty repair, put it back on and boom, they synced up perfectly.  I took a flight down to LA and what a difference.  Also the fuel flow issue on the JPI is finally resolved, it still fluctuates a little bit but now only by a few tenths of a gallon, not 3-4 gallons like it used to.  It's accurate enough now that I know precisely what I'm burning and what my fuel flow is as I go lean of peak.  On the flight to LA I was truing out at 190kts on 22 gph running LOP at 8-9k.  CHT's were all in the 330-365 range with the higher ones being the #6 on both engines.  So now, at long last everything works... I mean everything, including the little clock on the yoke!  The engines are running so smooth...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

back in the shop

The plane is back in the shop getting its remaining squawks resolved, as well as the first oil change and a boot job.  I saw the boots and they look freakin great, gleaming and shinny instead of dull and chalky.  It looked like a lot of scrubbing work with chemicals so I was glad to have them do it.  The other squawks are the prop synchrophaser is still not working, and it appears that Stockton propeller may have miswired something within one of the props, so they are popping it off and sending it back over there to get fixed.  The other issue is that the fuel flow on the JPI is still erratic, so the shop has been working with JPI to try to figure that one out.  Last I heard they are downloading the data from the unit to send to JPI.  Hopefully we'll get all the bugs worked out here shortly, the main one that irks me to no end is the prop sync.  I don't know how someone could own a twin without one.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


With winter fast approaching we're coming back up on IMC time...  today we had the first cloudy/rainy day in months.  Sure, there has been plenty of fog this summer but it's so localized to the ground you're through in a few seconds.  This system coming through was a fast moving stable frontal system with low clouds and rain... in other words, perfect for practicing instrument procedures.   I spent the morning with my son so I couldn't actually get going until later in the day when it was starting to breakup, but it was good practice nonetheless.  Tomorrow I'm taking the plane back in to get the oil changed and the remaining squawks resolved (hopefully).  I've got another scheduled trip to Camarillo booked for Friday so I'm hoping it will be cinched up by then, heaven forbid I should need to fly commercial.  ;(

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Too much fun

I'm having too much fun flying my plane to update my blog lately.  Oh well.  On Monday I actually had an awesome flight.  Flew down to Camarillo for work and the Wx up here has been just gorgeous, and there was zero fog in the entire bay which is unusual in summer... but about 200 miles out I pulled up the weather for Camarillo on the G600, and they're reporting 200 ft OVC in fog and mist.  Hmmm...  when the heck is socal fogged in and norcal clear?  I got to OHIGH intersection an hour later, and started monitoring ATIS and tower freqs and heard a couple planes go missed.  I figured my options were to circle until it cleared a bit, but if I had to wait I might as well shoot an approach.  I got a popup IFR clearance from LA center which went without a hitch.  It's a sad irony that the GA air traffic is so low now that getting this kind of service from ATC is dead-easy even in the busiest airspace.

In any event, by the time I got to Filmore VOR the ATIS had changed and they were now reporting 400ft overcast and 1 mi vis... good enough for the GPS-Z, cool!  10k to Filmore and I did a better job of getting the slippery plane slowed down because I knew they were going to drop me down quick.  I flew the approach and popped out of the clouds at 400 ft.  I wish I had this one on my NFlightCam but sadly I geeked it.  The coolest thing was I was running a bit late for my business meeting, pulled up on the ramp and parked the plane, hopped out and there is my friend Alejandro beaming "I thought that was you!".  Cool!  I told him I was running late for a meeting and needed a cab, and he tosses me his car keys.  Gotta love it!  I got to my meeting on time, and had fun listening to how my coworkers got up at 4:30 am to leave the house at 5am, to drive 1 hr to the airport, to go an hour through security for the 6:55 flight, to land at 8, to hustle to the rental car and fight LA traffic for 1.5 hours to arrive by 10.  Meanwhile I got up at 7am and had an nice breakfast and coffee, took off at 8:30 and arrived 5 mins from the office and got there minutes after them.  I would have been earlier had I not had to shoot the approach.  Did I mention I love this airplane?  ;)

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I needed to complete an annual IPC for my insurance and since my plane was down for the engine work during this year's BPPP, I hadn't done it.  I went out and managed to get er done just before the August deadline expired, so I'm all set.  Here is a quick NFlightCam video I took of an IFR flight down to VNY I took on Saturday.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New hangar, running LOP

I'm past 10 hours on the new engines now so today I had a 3.8 hr flight and experimented with LOP ops. The engines are doing great LOP and run smoothly past 50 deg LOP at 8-9k. On my two leg course (Norcal to Socal and back) I was running WOT at 21 inches and 2450 rpm. At 50-75 ROP I settled in at about 191 kts true on 25-26 gph. At 50-70 LOP I was getting 184 kts on 21-22 gph. The fuel flow on my JPI is still jumping around too much, but it seems to fluctuate in a range the roughly corresponds to my stock FF gauge so I'm pretty sure these numbers are close. 

Also spent a couple afternoons moving into my new hangar.  The old one just had too many spiders and truth be told I didn't like being basically inside the 32R runup area.  The wind blew dirt and dust under the hangar door and when the wind wasn't enough, pilots would fill in the gaps by pointing their runups right in my face.  The new hangar has a nice gray painted cement floor, clean walls and is nicely snuggled in row D away from the rat filled fields and well wind sheltered.  Moving is always a pain in the arse but will be worth it I think.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Got 6.3 on the tach now and the engine temps have settled down nicely. I'm seeing EGT's in the 350-360 range pretty consistently, the hottest cylinder seems to be #6 on the right engine but the rest are lined up pretty much flat at high power. I bought an NFlightCam and recorded my quick gas hop over the TCY yesterday ($4.88) where I went to fillup before my fourth breakin flight. I think another few hours and I'll feel pretty good about loading up the family, the engines are purring but there are still a few squawks...

Erratic fuel flow still on the JPI
Spar cover passenger seat plastic cracked/broken somehow during all this work, I'd like them to fix or replace.
Carpet detached a bit from front pilot side wall
Syncrophaser INOP
Getting the plane reweighed for accurate weight and balance
Hole in the center panel where the hoskins was removed needs a cover plate.

Here is the vid, I'm still figuring out this camera so bear with me:

Friday, August 12, 2011

The knick knacks

After my 3 hour flight on Sunday, I discovered that the autopilot was not working like it should... basically at first the Alt hold would turn off on its own, then the autopilot turned itself off completely. I turned it back on and it would work for a period of time and then shut itself off again. At this point I'm thinking these problems could be related to wiring in the control wheel.  Maybe the wiring was jostled during the engine installation, I'm not sure.  In any event I want the autopilot fixed... there is also a new option available from Avidyne called the DFC90 which supposedly is a drop in replacement for the brains of the Century IV... hmmmm...  as for the other outstanding items, they are installing the new dorsal fillet now.  The avionics tech is going to try to figure out the fuel flow on the JPI issue tomorrow, and the most perplexing item seems to be the syncrophaser.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Second flight New Engines

Here is the video from the second flight. Unfortunately my good camera was out of batteries and my NFlightCam still hasn't arrived yet, so I shot this on my phone :( The cool thing was I got to dust off my tail dragger skills and fly a Citabria over to LVK to my plane instead of driving. I forgot how much fun those little planes are. I'd love to buy a share in one if I had more time to fly. It's no Baron for travel, but what a kick in the pants. My rudder skills were sucking!  We flew up to lake Almenor which is only about a 1 hour flight by Baron.  It' a really beautiful lake and with a runway right on the lake and a great little FBO that has free bicycles you can take into town.  We picked up a bigshot silicon valley venture capitalist (to remain nameless) and I took him to San Carlos.  Hmmm... 6 hours driving or 1 hour Baron flight?  He filled up my gas tanks so a win/win!  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

She flies!

Wow... holy crikey.... where to begin. After four long months I finally flew the plane today... In short, the plane is amazing, the flight was exhilarating and I'm just so, so grateful at the opportunity to own such a fantastic machine.  The plane was always smooth, but it's now ridiculously smooth. The levers move differently now, more smothly and easily, with no split between the two levers. I used to think that the shaking floating panel was normal, but now it's steady as a rock. It's quieter too, much quieter. I flew it with an instructor in the right seat. Basically his job was to keep his eyes glued to the engine instruments during takeoff and callout any issues. There were none! Actually, there's a few minor squawks, but for the most part the plane flies great, even better than before. I alerted the tower we would be flying a wide pattern over the airport at 3500 feet, briefed the takeoff and then blasted off and climbed to 3500 in maybe 2 minutes. I ordered the NFlightcam video system to hookup to my headset, but it didn't come in time so I just used my camera. I captured the video below but forgive the poor editing, I'm just learning imovie.

The squawks:

You can see in the video below, the JPI shows an eratic fuel flow. I'm not sure why, but the stock fuel flow gauge was steady as a rock but the JPI shows fluctuations as much as 4 gph which is obviously incorrect. There was a slight oil streak that formed on the right engine. Apparently this is from the dipstick, so they are putting on new seals or replacing the sticks. The ones TCM sent had to be modified so that's probably the reason.  A very, very small oil leak on the right engine oil filter adapter. Apparently the crush gasket was bent when it arrived, they bent it back and thought it would work but now we're just going to order a new one. It was basically just enough to smear on the finger after the hour flight. Also the prop syncrophaser seems to no longer work... it used to lock on when I got it close but now I had to make it precise manually.

I flew for about 1 hour, the CHT's started around 360-370 and crept as high as 400 with the cowl flaps closed and bumping up the power a bit to bang out 201 kts TAS. Cylinder number 6 on the right engine seemed to run the hotest. Gami spread was 50 deg on the left and 70 on the right. Not bad! I'm going to fly it again on Sunday and try to put 4 hours or so on it. Final items to fix:

Right engine oil filter crush gasket
Dip stick leaking slightly
Dorsal fillet still needs to be installed

But I can fly! Man after 4 months I almost forgot how much I love flying... I did okay I think, but my landing was sloppy. Also it's time to brush up those instrument skills for sure. Here's the video:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

She's alive!

She's alive!  Today they test ran the engines and is well.  The tubes hanging off the left engine are fuel lines so they can measure and adjust the fuel flows.  Almost ready for first flight, but unfortunately I have a six day business trip to Las Vegas scheduled... six days in Vegas is about 4 days past my tolerance limit for Vegas.  Waiting until I get back to fly it will be torture!  As soon as I get back I'll only have a few days before a scheduled trip to Hawaii so timing is getting interesting now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Final mile

A few people have asked if the reason I haven't updated in awhile is that I'm too busy out flying.  Unfortunately no... but we are getting close to the final chapter in this epic saga... The left boost (aux) pump, was leaking from its drain which is located between the pump and motor sections. According to the logs the right pump was recently replaced and it does not leak. The cowlings have been painted and assembly has started. The fuel system on the right engine has been tested and the JPI fuel flow works as well. The JPI has been wired into the Garmin 430. The avionics tech noticed that the configuration for port 1 on the 430 was in the map mode which the JPI doesn't understand, so he switched it to a more universal setting of aviation or something like that. He mentioned that the G600 understands a couple different languages and that its a possibility that the mapping setting was for the G600, but apparently this new setting won't affect the 600 negatively. Here are some more pics of the final pieces of the puzzle...

The old and new fuel pump... $1400 !

The top nacelle cowl all painted

Looks great

There's a lot of pieces to the puzzle!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Minor setback

Doh, a minor setback...
I do apologize for the delay, we have had a couple busy weeks, trying to meet a few deadlines.  We plan on running the Engines later today, The Engines cores are nearly ready to be re-crated and sent back!  Cowlings Need Painting, as well as the Dorsal and installed. Gears need to be inflated for Uplock checks. Interior need to be put back together. The Switch you discussed with Chris still needs to be installed and the Data Port. The closer we get the further we get from our Friday deadline. We are pushing this as best we can, to get N17788 out, but we do not want to rush it and over look anything.

Looking like Mid Next Week....
Again, we apologize, we just cant leave anything incomplete!

Oh well... I've waited this long, what's a few more days?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting close now

A friend was out at LVK today and stopped by MaintenanceXpress to check on the progress and snap a few photos.  Looking good, and getting close now!

The new strobe fences are installed along with the LED nav lights too. Still ned to get the JPI switch mounted below the G600 as well as the data port. I also ordered a new dorsal fillet since mine was cracked, which is not installed yet but that shouldn't take long. Hoping to fire her up on Friday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

JPI installed

I went down to MaintenanceExpress today to check in on the plane and it looks freakin beautiful. The engines are gorgeous, the photos don't really do it justice. The JPI is also installed now:

The wires hanging over the front are the switch for the fuel flow mode toggle, which I'm going to have them put with the other switches under the G600, and the dataport for the download. I was severely disappointed to learn that the JPI comes with a freakin serial port interface. That's not even 1990's tech, it's like 1980's. For crissakes, they don't even make computers with serial ports anymore. I'm going to have to get this adapter to make it work:  KEYSPAN Adapter 

Also removed the old Hoskins fuel flow computer from the stack, and took out the old Alcor EGT gauge and moved the stock fuel flow gauge into that slot.

I'm thinking I'll also pull out that Collins nav/com and the standby transponder, move the radar to the bottom and put a GTN 750 on top of the 430W. Going to look around for some quotes on that. The JPI wiring for the CHT/EGT is all done, the fuel senders are installed for the fuel flow option. They did a really nice wiring job and routed all the JPI wires along the bottom of the engine instead of hanging out in a bundle on the side like I've seen on most planes. Hard to tell from this photo but it really looks clean and tight in there.

Also the LED nav lights are installed and the reskinned elevator is installed. The elevator looks great although the white paint is a slight mismatch... hard to tell in this photo though.

What's left: wing strobe fences painted and installed, finish the right engine which still needs the GAMI's installed, prop install and JPI wiring as well as the throttle body arm modification. The cockpit switches for the JPI and both engines need new dipsticks as the ones they sent have no chance of fitting in the Baron nacelle. The end is in sight. I think I'll buy one of those NFlight cam's to capture the first flight. Can't wait.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Slow and steady progress

More slow an steady progress. 

Here all the flex hoses are wired up

Got the GAMI injectors installed

And the prop! Stockton Propeller did a really nice job on the blades, they look like new.

Still got a ways to go on the right engine though, still need to get the wing strobe fences installed, the LED's, the vacuum pumps that were on back order, the JPI finished up... and a few more air frame items. I haven't flown her since Apr 9th. What a massive job. I'm really suffering from withdrawls now and ready for some summer flying, but will need to be a bit more patient.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

No more oil screens

Got the FM Enterprises oil filter adapters installed.

This is something I wanted to do on the old engines but once they started making metal I figured it was a good idea to change the oil every 25 hours anyway, so I held off.  These filters double the oil change interval from 25 to 50 hours.  Since an oil change is 20 qts of oil at $6 a quart, plus $30 or so for Blackstone oil analysis, plus an few hours of time, I figure these suckers basically pay for themselves.  The filters along with the new quick drain plugs should also make much easier to do my own oil changes.

Here is a before/after shot of the left engine.

I'm also having them paint the inside of the cowls, I love the look of the white paint with blue baffle seals.  The white paint should make it very easy to spot any possible oil leaks, and it looks sharp!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


The engine mounts arrived!

The mounts are pretty beefy, but it's amazing they hold those massive engines with the kind of shaking and stresses that go on with 6 huge pistons pumping that giant metal prop.  It's remarkable how solidly built these are.  The more I dig in and learn about this plane, the more I'm seeing such quality throughout the airframe. Beech deserves its reputation for knowing how to build a solid airplane that lasts. When you compare these to a Cessna or Piper engine mount it's really striking.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No Mounts

Still waiting on the engine mounts, some #$% at AWI put his finger in the wet paint on one of the mounts, so they pulled it back to repaint it. Yet another delay. They did get that resolved and claim they shipped last week, but have not yet arrived so the engines are still sitting there standing by... can't mount a motor without a motor mount. grrr...

While we're waiting on the mounts though, the guys got all the baffling repaired/painted and installed along with new flex seals. The also got all the wiring ran for the JPI.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

LED Navs

While we're doing the wingtip strobe fences, I figured I might as well replace the bulbs on the nav lights, and while replacing the bulbs on the nav lights, I might as well upgrade them to LEDs.  These are an inexpensive upgrade from the old amp draining incandescent nav lights, and in my experience they are a LOT brighter.

I'm also replacing my covers with polycarbonate replacement clear lenses as well.  The system today uses a white bulb to pass light through red & green colored lenses, since the LED's put out colored light it makes sense to get clear lenses.  Supposedly these are an install and forget item that don't require routine replacement like the old bulbs, so well worth an upgrade.  I already have LED's on my beacon and belly strobe, you can see how bright they are in this video.  After this is done the thing will be lit up like a Christmas tree at night.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Props done

The props arrived!

Beauty, the project is finally starting to pickup some steam.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The new exhausts arrived! 

This is one of the items that seriously caused my CSOB card to be revoked (Cheap Son Of a Beech). I had a perfectly serviceable exhaust system, I just couldn't bear to put a used exhaust back onto my beautiful new engines. Oh well, maybe it's good to have a backup or maybe the old ones will fetch something on FleaBay...

These are beautifully crafted from Knisleywelding in Loomis California.  http://www.knisleywelding.com/ 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Firewalls lookin good

Finally a bit more progress. There is only one more modification needed to get these engines working, the throttle arm needs a small hole drilled so it can be connected from the correct angle it gets placed at due to the modified induction tubes. Thank god for Mike Jones aircraft, turns out there are a few small modifications that aren't very well documented in the STC install instructions. Also the firewalls are now stripped, buffed and painted.  

Here is a shot of the old firewall

After inspection, prep and paint.  Much better!

The engine mounts should be back from getting overhauled and powder coated next week, came out to $1960.00 for both mounts so that's much better than the worse case scenario. Hopefully this project will move along faster now that the engine mod issues are sorted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Finally some good news!


Good news, we got all the parts to mount the throttle bodies. I have been talking with Mike Jones Aircraft and they have been lot of help. Now we have moved on to the control arms on the throttle bodies. We have all the solutions for all the current problems we know about to date. The engine mounts will be here sometime next week. I'll start painting the firewalls and engine baffling tomorrow and Jpi will be installed after firewall is painted. Allan will be working on annual squawks tomorrow and the parts have been ordered. I'm waiting on Jared to give me a total for annual parts needed. I'll let you know if I need money for those. I'll have Jared get together pictures for your blog as well.

Woohoo! Made my day. I'm going to take the Gammis over there this week.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


My project has unfortunately ground to a bit of a halt. Colemill had used some different brackets and induction piping than what was shipped with my engine, and TCM and my shop have been going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth with shipping out various parts. TCM has been fantastically responsive and have been overnight shipping parts nearly every day, the problem is they keep sending parts we either already have or don't need.  Friday they overnighted yet more parts, and they don't fit.  Finally MaintenanceXpress tried out fitting the old parts, and those don't fit either.  I'm not sure what's going on, I think the only explanation is that TCM has made some slight design changes to the case since the STC was issued. Fingers crossed someone can figure this out...

Friday, May 6, 2011


Today I got my Gammi injectors in the mail.  I sent them in for a clean & flow check, and paid $398 plus shipping to also include a new set of STC paperwork.  Since the old STC's are linked to the old engine serial numbers, I needed them to issue new STC's.  I'm actually amazed at what I got back... I sent in 12 old, scratched & smudged gunked up injectors.  The injectors I got back are perfect, not a scratch on them and now I wish I taken a photo of the old set because I find it hard to believe they are the same injectors.   I swear the guys in Ada must have just taken pity and sent me back a brand new set...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Elevator done!

The elevator is done! I flew up to Chico and picked it up from Frank at Aerosurfaces and took it to LVK in the 182RG. He did an amazing job, it looks like a new part.  Here is Frank ready to load up his handiwork.

It takes some finesse, but by now I'm an old pro at transporting airplane parts by 182...

Here is the "new" elevator, a work of art.  It looks like a new part!

No more filaform corrosion!

I spoke with Chris after dropping off the part, they are still waiting on a few parts from TCM... otherwise I was a bit disappointed that little other progress has been made.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ways to go

Jumped out of BPPP today at lunch and hopped in the club 172 to wrestle the 25kt cross wind and flew to LVK to see the plane. Man those engines are beautiful in person! We've got a ways to go though... the mounts are off and shipped out for overhaul/bead blasting and paint. The baffles are off and getting repaired, painted and redone with new seals, they still have staples. The firewall is getting cleaned up with a scotchbrite and will be painted. The elevator is almost done and should be ready for me to pickup by Monday.

looks like TCM is going to send the new brackets and induction tubes and pay for the labor under warranty repair and guide my shop through the process if they have questions... even though this is not at all their fault.   Right now I'm glad I went with factory engines!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Doh, setback!!


The engines came with the Butterfly Assy. mounted at a 45 degree angle, instead of a Vertical to correct this problem, the brackets need to be replaced with the correct bracket, both Left right induction tubes need to be replaced with a shorter 90 degree induction tubes, 3 studs will need to be replaced with bolts, We think everything else will be ok from there.

The above note is from my mechanic.  Doh!  The induction tubes and brackets are wrong??  I fired an email off to TCM and holy crikey, I'm so impressed with them. They called me back late in the day. They said IO520-E7M is always shipped this way from the factory, and that Colemill originally modified the engine to fit into the Baron's nacelles in the way described above. They said they had no way of knowing what modification Colemill had made to the induction brackets and tubes. As my stomach started turning they then offered to FLY A FREAKIN SENIOR MECHANIC from Mobile Alabama to Livermore CA to do the work at no charge. I asked if that was really necessary or if my shop could do it, and they said it's an option and they would be willing to reimburse the shop for the labor to do it, but that if I was more comfortable having the factory do it they'd send someone out with all the parts and expertise. Wow. Of course this pushes back my schedule, but that's real serious customer service right there!  Way to go TCM.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The knick knacks

I was a bit dismayed to learn that new TCM factory engines do not come with oil filters.  It's simply amazing that these things cost what they do and literally are 60+ year old technology.  Oil filters doubles the recommended oil change interval to 50 hours, and with the price of oil these days plus the time it takes to pull out and clean the screens and do all the safety wiring I figured it would be a good investment to buy some filter adapters and go with filters and a quick drain plug.  This will increase my change interval but also make it trivial to do oil changes myself, which will save some dough.

There are two models of filter adapters available, a screw on type from F&M enterprises, and a remote mounted unit from AirWolf.  I decided to go with the F&M model because it costs less and you don't have to buy and route expensive hoses.  Here is what it looks like:

It basically just installs where the screen is currently and then you put a Champion filter on it.  The quick drain plug goes underneath the engine and will allow me to drain the oil without removing and re-safety wiring the drain screw.  I also got word that Stockton Propeller is just about done with my props so those should be back at the shop here shortly!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Elevator repair

Today I got word on my elevator reskinning job.  Apparently SRS forgot to send the nose skin with the kit.  The nose skin is on it's way, scheduled to be painted on the 25th and balanced on the 28th.  I have BPPP on the 29th and 30th, so planning to fly back up to Chico on the 1st to fetch it.  Here is a shot, that is the old nose skin on top.