Nov 22 2010

LED light tubes….awesome!

Doug bought over some more dirt today.  Four huge truck loads of fill soil to be spread out in the yard.  I am planning to use a rotary laser level to do the final spreading of the soil to make sure the slope of the yard is correct for good drainage which was why I couldnt use this part of my yard in the past.    The rain would collect in a low area and the ground would turn to mush.

Lots of work ahead!

I took my heater to Gerharts to try out.    Boo hoo, it didnt work exactly as planned.    I was focused on having lots of surface area (60 ft of 3/8″ tubing) to raise the temperature of the oil.  I found out the temperature increased nicely, but the second part of a good design is adequate flow rate.  I considered this, but thought the oil would get thin enough to easily flow through the tubing.   It doesnt. 

The flow rate is about 1.1 gpm with a 40 f temp rise.  The temp was fine if you want to spend a couple of hours twiddling your thumbs waiting, but I know I will eventually rebuild the heater using 1/2″ tubing to increase the flow rate (I hate when something is right).   Right now the overall system is good enough to last through the winter.  Next fall, I’ll tear the heater apart, sell the copper and change it over to larger tubing.

The panel is being reworked too.  I wanted each light switch position illuminated with a blue, green or orange LED.   In order to match the rest of the panel and since the LED’s are very small (T-1 type)  I decided to use light tubes with the LED’s positioned behind the panel.   Each hole had to be very carefully drilled on the milling machine.

A white LED light is shined behind the switch to see how they would look.   Awesome!

The panel will be sent back to Aerotronics to have the label replaced with a new one which corresponds correctly with the new LED lighting.

Nov 21 2010

WVO Heater

Today’s project was church, flying and construction of my WVO heater.   

It is getting cold in Charleston, and the WVO does not filter when the temperature gets below 80 f or so.  The fats in the oil coat the inside of the filter bag and flow drops to almost nothing.

Since we do not have 220v electricity in the storage shed, I decided to go with a propane heat.  Most of this project is made out of junk I had around the house.  The old crab cooker was sitting unused in the shed, the handles are made out of an old bed frame, bolt were from my drawer, the cover from some extra flashing.   

 The only thing of value was the soft 3/8″  copper tubing I had to buy for the heater coil.

This is it.  I’ll take it over to Gerhart’s tomorrow and try it out.

Nov 15 2010

The dash is trash

The yard is started to open up.  I have been spending lots of time on the dozer.  I’ll tell you one thing, it is not as easy as it looks to operate one.  That beast beats me to death sometime and it is very hard to get everything level.   Doug is going to bring me a couple of big truckloads of soil so I can continue building up this area of my yard.

The garbage man had fun with the pile of brush I cleared out of the yard.  My pile filled an entire trailer.   Tomorrow, I’ll start again clearing out more shrubs.

I wanted to show you the before/after.  I decided to go with flush mount LED instead of having them sticking out of the dash.   

The clear lens hold the LED’s behind the dash.


I also decided I didn’t like the way the lettering was on the panel for the lighting control.  It has been redesigned for a different look and I am going to embed LED’s to indicate which lighting circuit is active.    The panel will be disassembled and sent back to Aerotronics for re-lableing.    It should take about 2 weeks or so to get it back.

Nov 13 2010

Off to Myrtle Beach

Today was a VERY busy and interesting day for me.    After prep’ing the plane in the morning, I stopped by Jack Wilhelmson’s house at 1 pm.  Scott (his son) was married to woman he met on the internet a year or so ago (she was lived in St Louis).  Afer the decision was made, she moved to Charleston, immediately found a job and it is just amazing how well they get along.  Another internet success story. 

Scott was married in Jack’s back yard with just a few friends and family in attendance.

The happy bride and groom!

After the wedding, I stopped by Mariner’s Cove for their annual oyster roast/party  (2:30 pm).  I wanted to see Mike (my buddy) as he was organizing the event.  He is a great cook and I love stopping by his house when I am so lucky to be invited.    I had to leave before it really got busy.

At 3:30 pm, I took off for Myrtle beach for the annual reunion of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 4 (dinner at 5 pm).    Flying is sooooo much faster than driving.  It only took 35 minutes of relaxing flight time to get there instead of 2 hrs of boring driving. 

NCHB-4 is the military unit I deployed with during Desert Storm/Desert Shield over 20 years ago.  We were overseas for 8 months. 

I can’t imagine it has been that long ago, boy how time flies.    Needless to say, it took a bit of time to start putting name/faces together.  What amazed me is at first I didnt recognize many of my shipmates, but as the night progress memories of them started re-emerging.    I really enjoyed the comradely and will certainly go again next year.

I stayed at the the Palace Resort right on the beach…..

This is Tom Bruder.  He sold me Sherman (my WVO car).    While talking to him I found out he has been following the blog to keep track of his old car.

A brisk walk on the beach Sunday morning

and it is off to the airport for a quick flight home…

Nov 12 2010

My new toy…..

It is Friday, and I finished the oil valve system for Geheart’s WVO system.  It looks and works MUCH better.  Took 1.5 days of work to complete, and the only part yet to make is an oil heater to raise the temp of the oil prior to filtering.  It is getting cold in Charleston (65-70F) and the oil is too thick to be properly filtered.

This looks MUCH better than what he was using!

My buddy Doug brought over a new toy for me to play with in the yard.  A bulldozer.  What fun!    Everyone should have one around.

I think it is about a 1/2 size model.

Doug had brought over some fill soil years ago and I never spread it out.  I decided it was time to open my yard back up and build a shed for my car and trailer.  The big piles of dirt had some large trees growing.  Man what a bunch of work I have ahead of me!

After playing with my new toy a bit, it was off to the aero club for the monthly EAA meeting.

Nov 08 2010

An instrument panel is born

I decided to take a few pictures of the current work as I am going to take a couple of days away from the work to get a some chores done.  Sort of a working vacation.

Here is the shape of the outlet duct I came up with.  It is a much smaller outlet than original and compresses the air prior to injection in the airstream.  I wanted a slight kick out to create a low pressure area just in front of the outlet (somewhat like my plane which I know works well.  When I start flying the bird, I’ll record some data reading to see just how well it compares to my plane.

the oil cooler was tilted 25 deg from orginal.  Te final effort is creating the inlet duct.   Some sanding and it is ready for paint!

I made the decision to organized all my electrical stuff.  It is much more efficient to have everything inventoried, organized and easily assessible to speed up electrical work.   I was getting frustrated looking for stuff asit was slowing my progress down.

A table full of … stuff….    Now I have to sort through all this stuff and get it organized.   This will take HOURS (but time well spent ).

I also wanted to populate the instrument panel to see how it would look and it is freaking beautiful.  This picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice.  It it going to look fabulous when installed in the plane!

I am extremely pleased with the result.

Nov 07 2010

Almost a Gear Up…..

Today was a great day.  I drove up to Summerville this morning to look at a 1995 Mercedes diesel.  It turned out to be a bust…  I then flew over to Mt Pleasant to meet up with Mike to fly together.  

He has a beautify acrobatic plane a IO-360 (180 hp) christian eagle.   Mike is taking his wife up for her fist flight. 

I bet she was happy when he did a quick barrow roll!

This is a great shot over Charleston with the new bridge in the background.  The crazy thing he kept asking me to slow down.    Mike had his plane firewalled at 130 kts, so we slowed down to 125 kts (2700 rpm) and  I was only turning 1900 rpm.    When I left him, I firewalled my plane and quickly pulled away from him.  I never felt so fast!

While I was landing, I noticed the lock gear down light was not lite and I could not cycle the gear down properly (about 1/8 turn from full down).   This seemed strange to me and  I felt the over-center device hadn’t engaged so I called the tower to let them know I had a gear warning light.   Sure enough when I touched down, the nose started to collapse.   Sort of progressively dropping instead of a quick drop, BANG.    I was almost stopped with I hit the ground.   The plane was moved off the runway, I lowered the gear (this time it locked) and taxied back to the hangar.

Minutes later the towered called me.  Within 30 minutes the S.C Flight Standards Office called for an update.  If only the rest of the federal government worked as well as the FAA.  

I told the FAA there was no problems, the plane wasn’t damaged, (it wasn’t) and everything was ok (it was) then immediately started tearing into the nose to find what what going on.  I was lucky this time, I only ground about 1/4″ off the nose bumper!

I removed the nose gear assembly and found the gear had stripped.  It was tuned 180 degrees (just flipped over) and it was as good as new.  Reassembled the plane, test all and decided it was an anomaly and watch for any warning signs in the future.    Another new experience to learn from.

One good thing about this event is that I now think I can install a electric nose lift in the plane.    I always thought there was not enough clearence in this area, but after disassembling everything, I now believe it can be done.

After fixing the plane, I stopped by to see a bunch of my retired navy officer friends at the yearly RINK roast at the Elks Club.  It was great seeing some of my old buddy’s.

Overall, quite a busy and exciting day!

Nov 01 2010


I have to take a necessary break from the wiring to wrap up a few last items.  The oil cooling, the 406 ELT and final installation of the fire suppression system.   

I didnt really like the straight down (original plans) type oil cooler installation.  There is no expansion of the inlet air (increases pressure) or contraction of the air (pressure recovery) so I decided to tilt the oil cooler 25 deg to allow a smoother flow of air into and out of the cooler.    I also replace the cooler with a more efficient Stewart Warner.

First step is establishing a base plate and shape of the outlet duct.

Next is to glass it.

I now have to build flanges on the duct to bolt the oil cooler on.

The flanges have been glassed.    Tomorrow, the cowl will be glassed for the outlet air flow after which the inlet duct will be fabricated.

In between all this, I installed the back seat electric panels.  The came out exactly as planned.  Very cool looking!

Both panels have a 12 vdc constant on plugs (so you can charge your phone at an airshow).