Friday, April 23, 2021

Annual Inspection, Part I of III

Wake up sleepy head. It's that time again, the annual inspection of our Commander 112A is upon us. I will once again fly 3 Tango Charlie to Sussex Aero Services located at Delaware Coastal (KGED) airport in Georgetown Delaware.  

The original start date was scheduled for Monday April 19th. Since I will need an IFR  certification I figured on taking care of everything all at once. One stop shopping. One problem, the tech that does the IFR cert will be away all week but he did agree to knocking out the cert on Friday, the 16th. So depending on weather I’ll either drop off Thursday afternoon or early Friday morning. 

Thursday, 4/15 - Reposition Flight

The rain has subsided and the weather was looking ok to head to the shop. The Friday forecast was for sun and windy conditions. This windy stuff along with having to get up early to get to the shop, 9am appointment, helped me decide to make the flight this afternoon.

Since todays weather worked out, Mary did the road course and I flew 3 Tango Charlie to the shop.  I shut down on the ramp adjacent to the hangar and started to secure the plane when Steve hollered over for me to park in front of the hangar. It was a quick hot start and short taxi to the shop hangar door. 

I helped push 3TC in the shop for a compression check while she was still hot. Steve and I removed the top cowling and started to remove plugs. My shop time was cut short today since Mary soon arrived. I left the log books, keys, shimmy damper rebuild kit and an aileron hinge that I needed to have installed. Tomorrow is the IFR certification with the remaining annual work to begin on Monday. 

Sunday 4/18 - Get it Organized 

It was a beautiful day to fly but with no plane all I could do is watch others commit aviation. 

I made a quick run to the airport to grab my travel tool bag and screw gun. Once home I sorted out what I had in the travel bag; put some tools back in my snap on box in the garage, and put my battery on the charger for the screw gun. I’m ready to take part in the annual inspection tomorrow. 

Monday 4/19 - Hands on learning

I'm off to the airport but feeling like I am behind schedule.  I exit our community and in doing so enter the left turn lane heading south to the Ocean City airport and my hangar. Hmmm, wrong airport, wrong hangar, and wrong direction, not a good start.  I salvage the wrong turn and make the first right turn that takes me through a development that leads to Dunkin Donuts. I order a hot tea black and a croissant with bacon and cheese...for the win!  Now lets get pointed in the right direction and get back to motoring.

I arrive at Sussex Aero around 8:25 and Steve pulls up at 8:30, perfect timing for not having any idea when the shop opened. We get right to work on 3 Tango Charlie, Steve on the gear and I start opening all the panels, elevator first. There is an AD (2011-07-13) and the elevator tips must come off for a borescope inspection. 
Jack screw and trim chain
Next was the tail cone and wing tips. I bagged all the screws with washers and labeled the bag before setting it in a 3TC parts box. The inspection panels also will reside in the box since this shop does not like leaving one screw in leaving the panel open and free to rotate that could cause a scratch on the paint. I like their way of thinking. 
rudder horn and cables
Wing tip removed, viewing strobe pack 
Inside wing view
More inside wing view
As I was walking around the plane and getting ready to remove the under wing inspection panels I noticed my lower cowl looking pretty nasty.  I'll bring some cleaner wax with me for Wednesday and get that cleaned up along with the belly of the plane. 
I removed the dorsal fairing so the attach bolts and wiring harness could be checked and immediately reinstalled when the inspection was completed.

It was closing in on 1:30 and Steve took a break for lunch. The plan was to swing the gear this afternoon and then complete the oil change with a cleaning of the screen and cutting open the filter,  now that it had drained.  I received an email alert that my for Camguard order was delivered at home while I was at the shop, so I'll bring that with me on Wednesday.  

No work on 3 TC Tuesday. The Cessna 310 that is in on the ramp is going to have its props delivered and installed. This plan works out great since I am scheduled for my second Moderna shot in the morning and I want to make sure I feel ok before crawling around the plane.  I also want to take the tail cone to a body shop to match my paint colors so I will be able to purchase touch up for any scratches.  The plan is to also do a cleaning of the beacon cover since it is starting to yellow. I got tired of looking at it and wanted to get it squared away. Plastic/plexiglass cleaner to the rescue. 

Some bad news  

3 TC did not pass her IFR Cert. I have two issues that need to be resolved, one with the aspen, the barro setting is off by .04 as compared to my steam gauge Altimeter. Tango Charlie also has a very slow leak down of the static pressure system. Both issues will be addressed next Monday when the avionics tech returns form Florida.

The second piece of bad news is my left mag is just shy of 500 hours. I'm going to purchase a rebuilt unit and trade mine in for the core deposit. Why wait, I'm in the shop now and I want it replaced. I know I don't want to get stranded away from home like my Ocean City, NJ Mag Misadventure

And finally, I hope this is the last bit of bad news. My prop is almost due for service due to time, not hours. Hartzell Top Prop is 2400hours/6yr TBO. I need to dig a bit deeper into this and check for the last service in the Adlog once back at the shop. 

Pilots operating under Federal Aviation Regulation Part 91 are not obligated by the FAA to comply with a manufacturer’s service document. But even though complying with overhaul times is not a legal requirement, there’s a reason why manufacturers like Hartzell Propeller set overhaul limits for their props. Neglecting your propeller by operating it beyond these limits may not be illegal, but it could lead to reduced reliability, propeller malfunction, expensive component replacement, and potentially unsafe operating conditions

Typically part 91 is based on hours vs time, much like an engine TBO. For me it’s a safety thing, while not mandatory to comply, the manufacturer makes the recommendation. My method of operation and maintenance practices tend to be conservative, so this will be overhauled next annual. 

Tuesday 4/20 - The list
  • Moderna 2nd shot completed!
  • Beacon cover refurbished
  • Color samples purchased
  • Cleaner wax packed for Wednesday
  • Camguard packed for Wednesday
  • Dog food and treats
Mary and I headed out for our second shot this morning to finish up our vaccines. When we arrived we walked in a few minutes early, ID's were checked and within ten minutes we were sitting on the rec center bleachers for the mandatory fifteen minute observation period. I asked Mary if it was ok to fall out of my seat and roll around on the floor, you men know the look I got. Enough on that subject.

We pointed for home making a stop at two auto body shops and neither one could mix paint to match our airplane colors. I was not happy. I was told autobody shops shoot a water based product then seal with the clear coat. I have another plan, plan B. We headed for the airport to pick up the few items on the list and made a stop for Ziva's food and treats, don't forget her treats.
Vince flying the Commander
My Plan B was to call Vince G. If you have been reading my blog you know Vince is the guy I flew with when based at Wilmington and he has been in the Commander for one trip, Cherry Ridge.  Vince paints airplanes, well, he does a lot of work on airplanes, jets to be exact. Vince hooked me up after I sent him my paint codes and he secured the white and blue along with the accelerator/hardener. 
The only remaining mystery is the red, there is no matching paint code so there may have been an error recording the number.  I will need to bring my tail cone to the shop so it can be scanned and then the paint mixed to match.  This will be four hours of driving sometime this week.

Wednesday 4.21 - Back to the shop

Another early start to get some computer work done for my part time gig and then off to the shop for more annual. I loaded the truck last night so I was ready to roll at 8am. When I arrived at the shop Steve was working on the Navajo and the props were in for a Cessna 310. That means my Commander is getting bumped.
It really did work out since I wanted to go pick up the paint that Vince secured from a shop in Elsmere Delaware, McMenamin Auto Body Paint. Two hours each way but it was great to catch up with Vince and have lunch at the Dog House in New Castle Delaware. The dog house was a favorite for years when I worked at the DRBA main office at the Delaware Memorial Bridges.
The paint colors? 
817 is a Chevrolet Fleet White
63203 is also a Chevrolet color, Mariner Blue
43104 was a bad number.  After Scanning it, it came up as an aircraft match, Vendetta Red - R2325. 

Friday 4/23 - Annual to resume?

Thursday was another no work day for 3 Tango Charlie.  The shop focused on the Navajo and finishing up the props on the 310.  I hope I'm up next.

I am hoping to meet up with a fellow Commander Owners Group pilot Chuck W, flying in from North Carolina. Chuck is heading home to Taunton, MA. I'll call the shop at 8:45 and check on the work status then head over after meeting up and maybe enjoying some breakfast with fellow COG member. 

My meet up with Chuck was a no go, he had some fouled plug issues. I've been in that situation, in flight, last November, not fun. 

I called the shop in the morning and they said check back around one, I did, the Navajo is just finishing up.  The plan is to resume work on our Commander on Monday.

Stay tuned for Part II


Chris said...

Well, you've been busy! Just reading about all the driving back and forth truly makes me appreciate that I've got access to one of the best A&P/IAs in the region right at my home airport. When it's annual time, he just pulls it out of my hangar and tows it to the shop. But there's no denying that the travel is worth it when you've got a great shop that you trust.

Those shots of the wing interiors were nice and clean!

I'm also assuming from the timeline of your narrative that your second shot went without any significant issue, which is awesome. Mine totally kicked my butt. I lost an entire day.

Hope you get 3TC back in the air soon. After all, we need to meet up!

Gary said...

Chris, The drive to Delaware Coastal (KGED) really isn't too bad, maybe 40 minutes. The ride to Wilmington to find a paint shop that will mix and match was two hours each way. Yikes! I wish the shop on our field would allow owner assisted annuals but they don't and their Commander knowledge is zip.

So far everything is looking great, 3 TC is a very clean plane having always been hangared. I'm heading to the shop this morning to help (get in the way) with the aileron hinge removal and install of the new, it should be fun. The avionics tech will be back today so the hunt for the leak should be interesting. I'll be glad to get that squared away.

As far as the second shot I did very well. Mary went down with flu like symptoms and then started a migraine, my poor bride. She was back to normal yesterday and we did get out for some dinner. The first shot we were both good to go. About a week after the first round I got a big red blotch like I had a spider bite but it went away in two days. When I told the folks at the second shot they laughed and said we've heard that. Mary and I thought that response was a bit bizarre.

Chris said...

Commander knowledge is most definitely worth the drive and owner-assisted is a plus. My current mechanic runs a small but incredibly busy shop and is not overly keen on owners being underfoot. He'll allow it, but he doesn't encourage it. But I think he does a better job than my previous shop (he has fixed things correctly that they didn't) and he's way more convenient, so I was willing to give up the owner-assisted annuals for the other benefits.

They laughed? That seems...inappropriate. It might not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but isn't exactly the best customer service.