Sunday, February 27, 2011

ForeFlight GeoRef

This morning I upgraded to the new version of ForeFlight which has geo-refferenced approach plates and taxi diagrams.  My first impression is that it is really super cool, but I wouldn't rely on it. In today's test flight it accurately showed my position on taxi diagram but did NOT show a position on the DP as apparently DP's are not supported.  Then it accurately showed my position on the approach plate up until the course reversal on the procedure turn... it jumped around which you can see in the video below and showed me well off my actual position which you can see on the Garmin.  Following that, it accurately showed my position on an LDA approach and seemed to have no more issues going wrong. Short synopsis, think it's worth it for just $75 a year, but as always, verify!  For reference I'm using a WiFi IPad 1 with the BadElf. ForeFlight was reporting 10M accuracy from the GPS...

And here's how the taxi diagrams work, you can see it's spot on in this one showing me in exact position on the 19R runway threshold...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Big Project - double firewall forward

So I'm about to start the monster of all airplane projects. Double Firewall Forward on my Baron. I bought the plane with run out engines, last overhauled in 1989 and now have over 1425 hrs. The plane also spent a few years sitting which never bodes well for engine longevity. Maybe it was a bad call but my thinking was that if I bought a plane with run outs, any time I got out of them would be a bonus, then I'd be able to get the overhaul of my choice and subsequently be very familiar with how they have been operated. Paul McCracken did the prebuy and recommended doing the props right away, flying it for a year or so with the current engines, then doing one engine if not both. Well a year or so is up, everyone else I talked to said just do the props when you do the engines, which made sense to me.

So I've got 22 year old props and 22 year old engines. The engines have been making metal since the first oil change, which never really sat well with me, but it hasn't been getting much worse and the amount of metal has varied from none to small amounts on alternating engines at each 20 hr change. The oil analysis guys say wear metals are on the high range of normal for engines nearing the end of life. In short, it's about time.

After a fair bit of research, I've decided to go with factory engines.  I've read a lot online about the various overhaul options with great interest, and I know there are some great overhaul shops out there such as Western Skyways, Zephyr, Lycon, Powermasters etc. Some folks far more experienced in these matters than I whom I know and trust have advised that the factory is the best option in my circumstance. I think the kicker was when Charlie Melot himself told me I should go factory. I think that shows something about his integrity. I know there are those that think the factory makes crappy cylinders, I guess I will find out.

Of course, while I'm in there I'm doing the props and governors, and while the engines are off of course I have to overhaul the engine mounts, get the baffles done, maybe the exhaust too... Oh and my annual is due end of March so let's do that too... basically i'm declaring war on my bank account. Kids, college is overrated and I hear plumbing is very lucrative these days.

And what the heck.. I don't have an engine monitor yet either, might as well throw one in there too. The engine monitor is pretty much the only undecided factor right now, though I'm currently leaning towards two MVP-50's as primary replacements. I like the idea of two independent units, and the MVP-50 has all the features I need and more, and might as well go all glass since I've already got the G600. I don't really want to wait for the AUracle and the way they handled the 2120 launch rubs me the wrong way, I prefer no promises to broken ones. My only hesitation is that I don't want to lose my prop sync indicator, my ear is not well trained enough yet! I like that little wheel!

I send the order in tomorrow. 5-6 weeks and I get my engines, so I'm hoping/praying for a quick turnaround since we're coming into prime spring flying season and I want to take some trips. Also BPPP is April 29-May1, am I dreaming it will be done by then?  The geopolitical tension and threat of $300 a barrel oil is real, not to mention the possible demise of leaded aviation fuel, but I can't wait forever.  If I can fly her for another 10 years assuming gas doesn't go to $20 a gallon or leaded fuel becomes unavailable or some crap like that, I'll be happy as Larry.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Old man winter

Today I flew over to LVK to meet with Chris to discuss the engine job and work out a few details.  We opened up the cowl to grab the make and model of the magnetos, and measured the oil cooler size.  TCM requested these details in order to get cracking on my new engines, which they say will take about 6 weeks.  I haven't officially placed the order yet, but I will probably do so this week.  It's a bit sketchy with all the volatility in the middle east and the price of oil going through the roof.  Oh well, I won't worry about what I can't control.

Timing wise, this is not going to be ideal... we had a pretty hard core winter by northern California standards, cold and lots of rain, even some hail.  This weekend I felt like I lived in a ski town as it actually dumped a ton of snow on Mt. Diablo.

I don't relish the idea of my plane being in the maintenance hangar through the spring.  I really want to take some trips and also I need to get my plane back by BPPP which is April 29-May 1.  That's looking unlikely unless the stars align perfectly.  Maybe I'll order the engines tomorrow!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Getting close now

Getting close to pulling the trigger on my big project. I spoke at length with Chris from Maintenance Express today, and asked him to put together a more extensive quote which includes a worse case estimate for things that could possibly come up while were in there. A double firewall forward job on a twin is no small project, I just don't want to be surprised with a myriad of "well, while we're in there" type of items. Things that come to mind are possibly overhauling the exhaust system, the engine mounts, various parts of the fuel system, the control cables, etc. The list really can go on and on and on. I've decided to go with factory remanufactured engines despite some anecdotal stories I've heard about various cylinder problems with factory motors. At this point I'd rather pay a bit more for a known quantity than deal with potential upcharges for the case/crank. The factory lead time right now is 6 weeks, and I want to make sure I have the plane back for BPPP in late April, so I've gotta make a final decision here soon... I'll definitely be taking tons of pictures and following along with the project which is another reason why I'm going with a local shop.