Friday, April 30, 2021

Annual Inspection, Part II of III

Monday 4/26 - The Annual Resumes 

I am up and out the door by 8 am in order to get to the shop when they open.  The plan is to resume the annual inspection on 3 Tango Charlie. Noticeable traffic this morning but I still make good time, right up until I make a Dunkin Donuts stop. DD was packed, the line wrapped around the building. 

With a hot tea, black, in the cup holder and a croissant with bacon and cheese, I'm back to road warrior mode. I pull up to the shop and Steve rolls in right behind me. 

It was a slower paced day since the Navajo that keeps bumping me had to be run up and checked for refrigerant and a cold AC system check. 3 Tango Charlie got some sunshine while we moved planes around and then everyone went back in the shop and assumed  their previous parking  positions. The Navajo had to be cowled, and with that it should be complete.

The new parts kit
My Commander did see some service, Steve rebuilt shimmy damper, main landing gear doors were reattached and the prop was greased with Aeroshells finest. 
There are two grease fittings for each blade, six total for the Hartzel Top Prop. When adding a few pumps of grease it’s SOP to remove one fitting to relieve potential pressure in the hub. 

Various systems under the rear seat area were checked. The flap motor and the potentiometer that drives the flap position indicator were good, along with all the hydraulic lines for the gear, and the low and high pressure control valves.
Flap motor and pot for the gauge

High and Low pressure control valves for gear
The oil filter that had drained from day one was cut open and examined today.  The oil filter had some carbon residue but the filter fabric portion was clear of carbon and no shiny bits.

I decided to call it a day and bug out for home around 4pm. Traffic was moving well and I made the run in forty minutes. 

Tomorrow the plan is to install the new left Mag and time, then add seven quarts of Phillips oil and the Camguard. This should complete the engine compartment work.  Next up will be pulley and cable inspections along with lubrication. Next the PITOT static slow leak and then the Avionics guy can adjust the Aspen. We will still have airframe lube, elevator AD borescope and the aileron hinge to replace. 
I ordered a torque link kit from Aerodyme and that will be here in two days. I think there is a bit too much play, and the shop wants to look up the specs before committing one way or the other. 

Tuesday 4/27 - The Reassembly 

Ahhh...the breakfast of champions, a hot tea, left over cinnamon bun and an Advil. Ziva is all squared away and back in the bedroom with my bride. They are bonded through their sleep habits and schedules. 

I'm off for the shop just before 8am and plan one quick stop for my "real" breakfast at McD's. Time for an egg Mcnuthin', hashbrowns and orange juice. The morning cinnamon bun was just a wake me up and I have to eat something to take pills. I know, worse then a child.

The Navajo is completed! The owner and his wife picked it up this morning after coming in with their Cessna 172. 3 Tango Charlie is now shuffled back deeper into the hangar taking the Navajos spot. Inspection plates are reinstalled as I follow along behind Steve's inspection and lube procedures. 

Next up is the aileron hinge replacement. First step is to remove the aileron and set it on some foam pads to protect it while Steve works, and I watch. 
Original hinge
Drilling new rivet holes in hinge
Ready to rivet new hinge on aileron
Finished product
The process was to drill out the old rivets and then keep the holes aligned with the cleco clamps. Securing each hole held the hinge in place as each new rivet was replaced and bucked, it was an interesting process to watch and learn.  I have a whole new respect for my friend Adam B that is building an RV10
Next up is removing the interior for cable and pully inspection and lube under the seating area and in the tail of the plane.  Steve can get in there and move around, if I had to do it they would have to call rescue for confined space. I may be able to get in, but not without breaking something on the plane or my body in the process.

Wednesday 4/28 - I can just see the light

My computer work for the side gig is completed, at least as much as I can before heading off to the shop. When I return home this afternoon I'll update the remaining portion of work on quick books. Time to grab something to eat, my Advil, and get on the road.
When I arrived Steve was in the plane finishing up on inspecting the cable tensions for all controls. The numbers are affected by temperature and all of 3 Tango Charlies numbers looked excellent. 
The left Mag was replaced and timed yesterday afternoon, so the to-do list is getting shorter as items are checked off. I cleaned the interior parts of the console and installed the flap inspection covers on both wings. I will deliver the torque link parts tomorrow and they will be installed. 

The plan for the remainder of the day is to find the pitot static leak and get that squared away and then have the Aspen barro adjusted.
One added note, I'm going to need a new muffler, the baffles are shot.  The riser tubes are still good (pictured from the clamps up)and the shroud is good to go. Unfortunately the only shop with one on the shelf is in Canada so I am hunting for more shops that repair existing units. More on this tomorrow. 

Thursday 4/29 - Waiting for parts

I'm going pass on going to the shop today since my torque link parts did not arrive last night. Hopefully today UPS will drop a box off.

The stay at home day works out just fine as we await our new plumbing fixtures to be delivered for our guest bathroom remodel. There are only a few items left to complete and it should be wrapped up by Friday. 

Friday 4/30 - Torque link parts install

Updated price is $70
The parts arrived Thursday night and I am going to deliver them to the shop today. I also have the plumbing contractor coming in around 10am to complete the sink, faucet and toilet hook ups along with the company I work for to finish touch up painting and final clean up. My bride may have to be the inspector today, we shall see how the timing works out. 
I arrived at the shop to drop off the parts and take a look at 3 Tango Charlie. There were interior parts stacked up around the plane, including the panel and instruments. My eyes bugged out when I took a look inside. After I caught my breath and made sure my wallet didn't jump out of my pocket and run away I gave everything a good once over.  Tracking down the Pitot static leak has been a royal pain. There are old brass fittings with some new connections along with old hoses that just fell off the brass. Obviously there was a good bit of original, along with each avionics update spliced in. It was time to clean house and modernize. Pretty much a rip the band-aid off moment.
muffler shroud
The muffler was shipped out for repair so that was a plus. With the muffler out access to the nitrogen and hydraulic fitting made life a bit easier to top the gear off.
Fill fitting is the yellow cap, top of NLG
There is another plane in for annual so that will keep the shop busy until my muffler returns. I hope they get the pitot static lines finished up without a bunch more time involved. One good note, the engine run up, prior to the muffler removal was perfect, and the mag timing was good. 
Torque link kit installed
For now I wait. I am hopeful for a quick return of the muffler and then a call that 3 Tango Charlie is completed.

Stay Tuned for Part III, The Annual Wrap Up

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

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Catching up with a former co-worker

One of my former co-workers at the Cape May Airport will be retiring.  I believe he said he has nine days to go, I remember that countdown. Although I was in the engineering department and my friend John was in maintenance, our paths crossed on many projects. My main coverage was the New Jersey Airports and Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminals.  John was always an up front no BS kind of guy, which worked well for me since I was never shy about my opinion, and we both followed the rule of doing the job right the first time vs the just get it done corporate attitude. 
So this morning I decided to make my way over to the airport for the short hop across the Delaware Bay. Pretty straight shot to Cape Henlopen and then direct to Cape May, with a possible circle to lose some altitude before joining the pattern. 

My departure time will be around 10am with the flight taking just about twenty minutes for the 44 miles.  I launched around 10:40 so I was pretty close to my schedule. The flight was smooth and for the most part quiet as I made my call departing the pattern and heading North East. I flowed through my typical WIRE mnemonic; Weather, Instruments, Radio, and En-route altitude/pattern altitudes. 
As I followed the MD and DE coastline I switched to Dover Approach to listen in. Once reaching the Cape, and going feet wet, I switched to Atlantic City Approach for the ride across the Delaware Bay. 
I was now letting down for Cape May and I needed to switch to CTAF. It was another quiet ride until an F16 called Atlantic City with an emergency. The military flight was at seven thousand and heading for ACY, the approach controller pushed all flights clear of the airport until he had a handle on what was the emergency. It sounded like ATC tried to have the F16 meet up with additional F16's heading back to Patuxent so they could at least provide a definite location of the emergency aircraft.  I never heard the military aircraft just the ATC side of the conversation.

This would have been a perfect time to monitor ATC on comm two but I wanted to focus on traffic in the area to get on the ground safely. I made my calls and crossed midfield to enter a left down wind and followed with a real nice landing  making the first turn off for the parallel taxi way.

John met me at the terminal and we sat and enjoyed lunch. It was great catching up and checking on some other former co-workers along with airport and ferry terminal updates since I've been gone. I did manage a picture of John next to 3 Tango Charlie for this blog, and with that shook hands and vowed to keep in contact when either of us our in each others home town. Most likely I'll drag a few of the old timers out to meet for breakfast again when I'm in Cape May.

I climbed aboard after a brief walk around since there were aircraft now parked on each side of me. 3 Tango Charlie started right up and with the oil temp showing well into the yellow I taxied for runway one-zero. Once in the air I dialed up Atlantic City, they were back to normal operations. After making two circuits over Cape May I pointed for home, crossing the Bay at six thousand. 
While I enjoyed another smooth ride I set up for my arrival into Ocean City. ASOS noted and radios set I made for runway one-four.  It was starting to get busy at home. One Cessna took off, one was landing, and there was an Arrow coming in from the North West about the same distance out as me.  I advised I would turn west and fall in number two behind the Arrow and continued my search for a visual confirmation. I spotted the plane on final and turned base to follow him in, slowing down the Commander for spacing. I made another nice landing at home and taxied for the hangar.  A fun day of flying even if it was only an hour total. It was great to catch up with John and I enjoyed a smooth ride both ways, a first for me in weeks. 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Brothers Breakfast Meet Up

My brother and I traded text messages while we were watching the Phillies opening day game yesterday afternoon.  We decided to make plans for a breakfast meet up and had two plans in place.  The first, I would fly to Summit Airport (KEVY) and Joe would pick me up, then take a short ride to the Middletown Diner.  The back up plan, in case of weather, was to each drive to Lewes Delaware, about 45 minutes for me and about an hour for my brother. Breakfast would be at the local IHOP or Cracker Barrel. 

The weather was looking good, at least when I made my check before leaving home. It was going to be windy (3209G18), but pretty much right down the runways at each airport. I was packed up and headed to the airport early, leaving the house at 8:15.  I planned to set up the tail came then said the heck with it. Todays flight would be a panel cam, crew cam, and old reliable front view cam.  

I unplugged the pre-heats and tugged 3 Tango Charlie out of the hangar and quickly climbed aboard. My hands were cold from the blowing wind and it felt good once in the protection of the cockpit. I set up cameras and then got the fan turning, trying to generate some heat. The ASOS reported winds 36018G30. What? Oh man, it's going to be a bumpy ride, I just know it.
Sure enough climbing out was bumpy and so was my ride north. I did pick up flight following with Dover approach although the air was void of traffic this morning. I guess that should have alerted me.  I canceled with Dover once clear of their airspace and in VFR conditions shot the GPS 35 approach by hand. 
For the most part the approach was ok, I was VFR and looking for a CAP flight in the area. It was fun hand flying today despite the risers and sinkers. I rolled it on runway three-five and taxied off for the ramp, it was empty. Once shut down and the plane secured I headed inside to meet my brother waiting in the parking lot.  One small problem, I noticed the step up to the doorway landing but didn't see the small step into the building. Yep, face plant, caught myself with my hands out front and didn't damage any of the metal joints, plates, rods and screws.  I gave the folks at the desk a good scare and after making sure everything still seemed intact I stood back up. Yes embarrassed, but only a bruised ego. 
photo from our visit to Florida
I climbed in the SUV and we were off to the Middletown Diner. The food was very good and the service was excellent. I had creamed chip beef and home fries and Joe had eggs benedict. We certainly had a good time catching up, talking baseball, politics and future plans for Florida. We sat so long we doubled the tip and teased the waitress that we get the hint we're leaving, as she was clearing the neighboring tables. She laughed and said no worries, stay as long as you want.  I responded no no, I know what its like to be tossed out of a place and at least this time I'm not on the pavement. The waitress really had a good laugh with that one. 
Joe and I headed back to the airport and once parked we sat and talked even longer. I watched the cloud layer dropping and decided it was best if I headed home.  I climbed aboard 3 Tango Charlie and got the fan turning. It took a few minutes to set up cameras which worked out perfect, in order to bring up the oil temps. 
I taxied out for runway three-five and briefly held short for a CH-47 that looked ready to launch. I queried to see if the Chinook wanted me to hold short, but there was no response. Instead I continued to the runway and performed my run up. With the run up completed I launched for home and climbed away from Summit on the down wind leg of the pattern. 
The ride south was bumpy but the tail winds produced excellent ground speeds. I decided on monitoring Dover but did not pick up flight following. I made my calls for Ocean City and completed the circuit, landing on runway three-two. 

It was a fun day catching up with my brother, talking baseball and future plans for both our families. Good times!