Category: N29TM

Aug 06 2012

Seattle, WA – > Portland, OR

After leaving the Seattle area, I few over Friday Harbor (where we had been just the day before). It took me 10 minutes to fly from Oak Harbor. The drive to the ferry was 3.5 hrs and the ferry ride was 2.5 hrs so to get to this same location, I did in 10 min what it took me 6 hrs on regular surface transpiration! Amazing


Flying south, quickly took me to the east of Olympic National Park which is a great drive if you ever have time.

This is Mt Rainer. Just beautiful!


Mt St Helens and some other snow capped mountain on the right. There are a lot of tall mountains out here!


After a beautiful flight to Portland area (1.5 hrs) I finally arrived for my visit with Bruce Smith. The flight was terrific and I enjoyed seeing the mountains from the air.
I was parked in a friends hangar with a Prospector airplane. It is a one of a kind, fiberglass airplane built in Alaska. What a beautiful plane.

Bruce is working on a LongEZ and is actually planning to use a Lycombing engine. Wow, I almost fell over. He is a retired airline captain and is working hard to get back in the air and is planning to keep it as stock as possible.
We took the opportunity to drive over Al Wicks airport to check out his cozy 4, Subaru 6 cylinder installation. It is a VERY impressive install with a constant speed prop hanging on the end. I ask Al if he would start the engine and he said sure thing, mind you I pointed out to Al he had junk all over the strakes with the cowls off. Screws, sockets, washes, wrenches, etc. He said no problem and just cranked it up. NOTHING MOVED. The engine didnt vibrate or shake on startup, just a vroom! As he rev’d it up a few times and the engine just purred. There was no vibration on the plane at all. I was floored. Al said he is going to taxi test the plane in the next few weeks. Cant wait to hear the results.
Bruce and I spent the day together, driving around the country, hiking up waterfalls, etc.



At Benson State Park, Bruce and I hiked up to the top of this waterfall. The very top where it starts. It was about a 45 min walk.


This is the view from the top looking down. Quite a ways up!


This is Horseshoe Falls.. just about a mile down from the pervious waterfall.


What a great time. This area of the county is certainly nice to visit and I want to come back and spend a lot more time!

Aug 03 2012

St Maries, ID -> Seattle, WA

The next flight of my trip was certainly the most beautiful of all the legs so far. I few from S72 (St Maries) to Oak Harbor (OKH) on Whidbey, Isl which is near Seattle (275 nm, 1.9 hrs).
The first 2/3 of the leg was over the “dry side” of the mountains which was flat with a lot of farming which looked like wheat.


As soon as I hit the mountains, ATC had me climb up to 11,000 ft which I thought was somewhat low for the mountains, but perfect for the viewing. The Cascades quickly rose up, and I was treated with views of snow capped mountains, Mt Rainer, and lush green ridges. Some appropriate music was selected for the Bose stereo headset and I relaxed to ride.

The Cascades quickly rose up, and I was treated with views of snow capped mountains, Mt Rainer, and lush green ridges. Some appropriate music was selected for the Bose stereo headset and I relaxed to ride.


Years ago, I remember driving from Spokane to Seattle across the North Cascades highway. It was amazing to travel from a almost desert environment to the top of the Cascades, then over the top to the “wet side” to be greeted to waterfalls, lakes and a lush forest in a matter of just a few hours. It is even more amazing to fly over the top of it and see the snow capped mountains from above. I would HIGHLY recommend flying this leg of the trip when you are in this area of the country.
Mike Collier met me at the airport??? which turned out to be a 25′ by 3000 ft strip of patched/cracked asphalt which was in desperate need of repaving. I had a hard time even seeing the strip because it was located just after a rugged cliff on the shore line, between trees and went down a hill. What fun. I am used to landing on a 200′ x 10,000′ runway in Charleston so this sort of strip is an exercise of “skill enhancement”.
Mike took me to a local park to look across the sound and see the mountains on the western side of Seattle. This is sure beautiful country!


Mike is building highly modified LongEZ?? if you can call it that now. It has Infintey retracs, Berkut style split canopies and a Berkut nose AND he wants to put a freaken rotary on it. It’s crazy that EVERY one I have met so far (except for Lee) wants to install a rotary. Naturally, after discussing the merits of the being a developmental leading edge test pilot for unproven engine technology in this application, he is now looking at a IO-360 for the EZ. It will certainly get him the air much quicker and safer.

On Saturday, it was off to the ferry to take a sight seeing trip to Friday Harbor which is about 15 NM NW of where I landed across the sound. The bridge at Deception Bay was a great place take some scenic pictures and it was off to the ferry for a 1 hr ride. Our first warning of problems was when we arrived at the terminal and found the ferry was going to an hour late due to a breakdown of another ferry on the route. Our ferry was going to take up the slack. After a beautiful 2 hr ride Mike and I arrived at Friday Harbor, had a great time driving around the island had some lunch.

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After a great meal,



and headed back to the terminal to find the ferry was going to be 3 hrs late (9 pm instead of 6 pm). We actually boarded at 10:15 and arrived back at the house at 1:30 am (instead of 7 pm).
wpid-IMG_2379-2012-08-3-19-181.jpg I see DEAD PEOPLE!

Overall, it was still a great trip. I felt like I was part Gilligan’s Island. What was supposed to be a 3 hour tour, turned out to be MUCH longer than expected, but still, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I met some great people while I was waiting. Mike was really fun to visit and the area/climate/scenery was terrific.
When I leave, I’ll fly back over the islands in 8 minutes what it took us almost 8 hrs to return from via ferry. After taking a few pictures of the the island from the air it will be off to Portland to visit Bruce Smith and Al Wick.

Aug 02 2012

Salt Lake City -> Boise, ID -> St Maries, ID

After leaving UT it was off to Boise (248 nm, 1.4 hrs) to visit Aero LED. The flight was at 16,000 ft again with no issues. Glad the O2 system was up and fully charged as I really needed it.
The Great Salt Lake

Normally, when I fly IFR it is so boring, I just read a book (my Kindle). The Trio Pro, flies he airplane better than I can and ATC takes care of watching for traffic so what’s one to do (joint the mile high club…solo?) On this leg I was enthralled with just looking outside the plane. The landscape started changing from dry and baron over the great salt lake to the mountainous terrain of Idaho. Very nice.

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After landing in KMAN, Napa ID, I borrowed the crew car was drove to Boise (about 20 min) only to find the address I drove to was Aero LED’s business address and they were REALLY located right near the airport that I landed out….shit! The blue caprice piece of crap car started backfiring and acting up as I was leaving Boise.


There was some really interesting architecture in Boise, and I stopped by Aero LED to see what their office looked like.

I finally got it going and headed back to the airport. Boise is a very cool city on the flat plain. I wouldn’t mind checking it out again, but the area looks too much like the desert of CO for my tastes. After driving for anther 20 min, I found the road to Aero closed, I couldn’t find a back way in and just about gave up my visit as I was feeling frustrated, pressed for time and was getting hungry. Finally the Susan (the owners wife) picked me up at the Walmart parking lot for the last 5 min drive to the office. It was very cool to see where my LED lights were manufactured and meet the workers.
After being dropped back off that the Walmart, the freaken crew car would not start. I spent 15 min trying getting it running, and finally headed back to the plane for fueling and a bite to eat at the airport diner.
The leg from Boise (KMAN) to St Marie’s (S72) was 245 nm at 1.7 hrs at 16,000 ft. After flying thousands of hours in my bird, this was the most nerve wracking flight I have ever made. The land was not only desolate but totally unforgiving.
The landscape changed from green with rugged mountains to

Dry barren land with deep crevices,

Beautiful but scary too!

NO place to land, no people. Just pointy mountains top, steep slopes and deep gorges. I put my satellite emergency locator beacon in my pocket (to keep it handy), checked the country side for possible landing sites (none). I watched my GPS count the miles down to my destination and couldn’t wait to get out of this area. FInally some flat areas which would give me some options. Ya! I am pass the really bad part.

If YOU ever contemplate a alternate aircraft engine and YOU want to be a test pilot of a rotary, auto engine, etc., I encourage you to fly this leg once and it will definitely see how important a reliable aircraft engine is. You will become an advocate for a engine that is 70 yrs old but is totally designed and suited to the application. In this country there are NO options. You fly or you die. Period. They probably wouldn’t even find the remains of your plane for a very long time without technology. The IO-320 purred away cruising at 165 kts at 7.1 gph. I’ll tell you what guys, I have NEVER been so happy to get on the ground after this leg, kissed the bird (wont tell you what part) and said THANK YOU for keeping me safe.
Arriving in St Marie’s I found a small town of 2500 people with a airport is in a valley. It was very tight pattern to get the airport with hills towering over you when flying down wind and final. Tom Carver met me at the airport, and it was off to the local saw mill for a tour of his plant which employes about 350 people (that 7% of the town). OK, here is your test… find the airport in the valley.

The airport is nestled in the hills which made for an interesting left hand approach in which you have to fly about 100 ft above a hill side to get in, or just do a direct approach to land.
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A small little airport which has the most unique wind vane I have ever seen. A fighter jet on a bearing which turns with the wind. How cool is that!


Tom has worked at a saw mill plant for 40 years, and has designed and built most of the control systems for operation the plant. It was so interesting to see how a log is cut into 2×4, 2×6′s etc and how plywood is made. The sawing machines work with incredible precision (+/- .001″) and are computer controlled to obtain the maximum profit and output from a log at speeds which would blow your mind. This machine will take an entire log, instantly decide on the best way to cut the log, adjust the bandsaw blade position and cut the log into 2×4 and 2×5 board 18 ft long in about 4 seconds.

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Tom showed me how plywood is made and took the time to show me all over the plant
I watch a log (24″ dia) being stripped into a 1/8″ sheet for plywood in less than 10 seconds. All that was left is a 4″ dia fence post, which was ejected and 4 seconds later another log was loaded into the machine and started being stripped into sheet. Incredible!
Every time I see a sheet of plywood I’ll thank Tom for his tour as I now know how it is made. What an experience.
We headed to his home for a salmon dinner with his wife Peggy and to look at his cozy 4 project. Tom is a terrific craftsman, but has too many irons in the fire.

We had a great night to talking about planes, and hopefully, I helped motivate him to get back into the project and get it done! The country side there was beautiful the people were so friendly as could only be found in a small town, but I would have an issue with driving 60 mile to Home Depot, Lowes or a Walmart (my favorite places to shop).
Before i left Tom took me to the local cemetery and showed me a tome stone of Edwin Ray who was a longEZ pilot. He had his plane and clouds engraved on his head stone. How cool is that!


My next leg is off to Seattle across the Cascade Mountains.

Aug 01 2012

Greeley to Ogden UT

On Wednesday, I said goodbye to Lee and flew the leg from Greeley, CO to Ogden UT (379 nm, 2.6 hrs).
Before I left while fueling a pilot in a Varieze stopped by to get some fuel with the most audacious EZ I have every seen. It was definitely a pimp mobile with blue fur material everywhere!
Flying IFR, one definitely needs O2 as the IFR airways MEA is 16,000 ft. The trip to SLC was definitely better than when I flew Pat’s plane to LA and was almost had an accident due to icing. The scenery was just beautiful!




All was good until I landed and found I had lost over 1200 psi in the cylinder because of a broken 0 ring on the fitting… shit I am now down to less than 500 psi.
The flight was over desolate land, with very sparse towns. I have to hand it to the cowboys of old as it would been quite a haul to travel between towns on a horse over dry land with sage brush without water for very great distances. Overall, it was VFR conditions, with almost no head wind.
After meeting Rick Irwin at the FBO I taxied over to his hanger to check out his bird and put mine up for the night. Rick and I spent about an hour hitting local shops to find a tiny O ring for my O2 system (which we finally found) and his A&P buddy Stewart filled my bottle for me. He used a “Oxygen Intensifier”…?? It is an O2 pump which pumps low pressure O2 up to 2,200 psi using an air compressor to power it. I never heard of such a thing, and after checking it out on the net I want to build one.
Rick’s cozy 4 is MOST unusual. Its 4” wider, with infinity gear, forward opening canopy, blended winglets, impeccable workmanship, he is going to make a one of a kind strake design with a 300 hp rotary engine. Talk about taking on a development project! Two other cozy 4 builders stopped by to check my bird out and head over to Rick’s house for dinner. I guess they are rotary crazy in UT as the two other builders are both going to the rotary route.
Diner was hosted by Rick at his house with a bunch of local builders and it was back to the hanger to give a ride to a local Longez builder (Chris) who has been building and never seen or flown in an EZ.
We went up just a the sun was setting, the air was smooth, I put on some nice music and he just loved the flight. What a motivator for him to complete his project.

What a beautiful sunset over the Great Salt Lake….


After landing and a very long taxi my brakes failed. Shit whats up now? I have experienced brake fade, but this was different. Both peddle went to the floor and I had nothing. Hum that was strange. The wheel pants were VERY hot and were removed to check damage and to let everything cool. I have SS lines from the master cylinder to the slave, and the only thing I could determine is that possibly the lines got hot enough to boil the fluid because after cooling, the brakes worked normally. With brake fade, you apply pressure, the brakes act normally but you don’t stop. This time, the was no stopping and I could pump away at the brakes and the peddles went to the floor like I had no fluid. Strange. After I took the wheel pants off and everything cooled off the breaks worked perfectly.
Had a great sleep and goodbyes it is off to Boise. Thanks Rick for your help and hospitality!

Jul 31 2012

Oshkosh 2012

After leaving Detroit (with my new vacuum pump installed), I headed over to KOSH at 10,000 ft (1.5 hrs, 262 nm) for the show. It was busier than ever.


I was told the number of planes attending is up 35% over the highest on record for the event. One of the car parking lots was even converted to home built camping. Unfortunately, I think they were mostly all RV’s as there was a ton of them there. Over 7000 are now flying. Most of the Lindy Awards for kit planes went to the RV crowd. I guess its because most kits completed now are RVs. Quite a few plans built awards went to canards which is a testament to our craftsmanship, ingenuity, perseverance, creativity and attention to detail.

The highlight of the event was actually seeing the canard aircraft and the excitement of being present when the Lindy award winner were announced.

From OSH website:

“Named after aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, the award acknowledges the tireless effort necessary to create an aircraft that’s truly best of show. The Grand Champion in each category is presented the Golden Lindy, while the Reserve Grand Champion nets the Silver Lindy.”

The winners definitely deserve their awards for their efforts. The planes were truly impressive.


Tim Andres, James Redmon (and his better half), Dennis Butler and Don Burton

Here is James Redmon’s beautiful Berkut (Lindy Winner) my overall personal favorite for paint design/fit finish


Tim Andres’s cozy is my favorite for interior design (Lindy Winner)


Finally, Dennis Butler (Grand Champion). A remarkably beautiful Cozy 4.


Besides attending the awards ceremony, the meeting builders/flyers at the dinner socials such as the the Cozy Girls spagetti bash (be careful of the Sangria!!) were the most memorable.



The Cozy dinner


Lastly, Saturday’s night airshow and firework display was a first for me. It was terrific.


During the show on Thursday, we had a incredibly powerful rain storm during Marc Zeitlin’s first cozy intro talk. It rained so hard we could hardly see the building next door.


After it cleared up, it was a short walk back to the tent


to check for damage when I passed this beautiful Thunder Mustang


which was damaged by a byplane recreation which was tossed on top of the Mustang. The canopy was crushed along with other damage.


Interestingly, the Thunder Mustang had already been judged and won a Grand Champion award for a new judging category called Historic Plane Recreations.

After having a leisurely breakfast and preflight Sunday morning, it off to Greeley, CO.


Lee and I found it surprising easy to get out of OSH around 9 AM as a flight of two. I had fears of a mad dash to leave as most years I left on Friday or Saturday morning to avoid the crush of planes leaving. I thought Sunday would be super CRAZY busy. Heck it on took less than 10 min to get air born after start up. I might have to do it again.

The flight to Greeley CO, 8000 ft (5.1 hrs, 744 nm) was relaxed with a surprising 5 kt tail wind. Lee and I flew together for the first leg (VFR) so I could guide him through a significant area of heavy weather in Iowa with the XM weather displayed on my 496. A large area of solid red and yellow cells with a small generally open E/W slot though the center. We only had a light dusting of rain. If you look closely, you can see Lee’s plane in the center of the picture. If you travel a lot XM is essential for your bird.


I was surprised by the total desolation and isolation of Nebraska. It was incredible! Miles and miles of… well…. miles and miles. Nothing.


It surprised me how freaken hot and powerful the sun is here in the West. Even at 8.5 k ft, the sun was blistering and the OAT was 80f. Lots of water and some sort of shade in the plane is essential.

Greeley is on the eastern side of the Rocky’s and tomorrow Lee and I are going on a photo trip to Rocky Mountain National park.

On Wednesday, it is fast 2.5 hr to Ogden UT to visit Mike Irwin. Last year I flew N123LE in IFR conditions on the same route (Greeley to SLC) in early October and came very, very close to buying the farm due to unexpected extreme icing on the bird at 15,000 ft. Luckily, I just barely made it over the mountains into the SLC basin. As I descended into warmer air, sheets of ice from the canard flew into the prop as was landing. What a scary experience.

It will be interesting to see the terrain I flew over in VFR conditions. Cant wait!

Jul 19 2012

Drag Reductions

Some questions were asked about how I increased my speed due to drag reduction.  Actually there were 4 thing which I did to improve my speed on this trip.

Here is what I did.

1.  Taped EVERYTHING to reduce drag.  A few years ago at OSH I attended a bunch of forums on drag reduction (Klaus included) and all said gap taping was extremely beneficial.  Before I left for SC, I taped the doors shut, engine cowls, screws which protruded, rudder/wing gaps, door lock, everything with some old electrical tape I had on hand.  On the way back at 15000 ft I remembering picking up about 4 or 5 kts. It made a significant difference.   Klaus uses a very thin mylar tape (about .003″) to tape everything.  I use white sail plane tape (.006″) wish is meant to be left on with minimal tape residue when removed.  Nice stuff.

Here is an air vent I taped over.

2.  The angle of the rudder arm (external cable type) was changed to the correct angle.  It was installed level when the plane nose was on the ground causing a significant positive angle of attack when the plane was +2 deg up in flight.  It is now level in flight.

This was an easy fix after all (I had avoided it due to making new parts, rebuilding the cable, etc).  I just found the correct angle and riveted a new base plate on set to the right angle.  It took about an hour or less.

Here you can see the change in angle.  The arm is now pointed down when parked (instead of being level).  It now should have zero drag in flight.


3.  Fared the blisters.  I have external fuel blisters (per plan) and then bump outs for the pipes on the cowl.  This ‘out-in-out’ of the airflow cause drag aft of the blisters.  The fairing went from the fuel blister to the cowl bumps to reduce separation.   I used some 1/4″ foam, heated it with a heat gun to curve it, one layer of glass and metal tape to hold it on.  It only took a few hours to form and glass.



4.  Winglet root fairings.  Historically, I knew they are good for a few knots and it was really much quicker than I thought to build them.  I have done the traditional one (glass, pour foam, glass, finish, paint) and wanted to try a quicker solution.

A pleasing shape was cut for the wing trailing edge with 1/4″ foam, 1/4″ was used for the vertical next to the rudder.  The angle was set such as the horizontal trailing edge addition was level when the plane had +2 deg nose up.  1/8″ foam was heated and formed around a 1 1/2″ pvc tube for the aft portion radius.  When satisfied, the foam was heated again and  fitted to the winglet in the forward portion.  5 min glued held everything together.  Then all was taped to the wing.



Overall all the changes took me about 6 hrs.  I can not tell what made a significant difference in speed since I also re calibrated my ASI at the same time, but each little changes adds up.

This is NOT how I would normally have wanted to present the speed changes to my plane as the data is more subjective than substative.  I like to test, measure and analyse the results first prior to presentation, but I just happened to have an unplanned free day before I left, and thought why not see what happens.

I dont really know the specific speed increase, but I do know that after flying this bird for 2500 hrs there is perceptible improvement.  When I get home I’ll start removing them and note differences in speed.  Then I’ll definitely make the fairings permanent.

Jul 18 2012

Western Trip 1

I had quite a few recommendations for places to visit, so It looks like I’ll be spending a bit of time in ID, WA and OR.  After checking out taxes it looks like WA has the edge as it has no income taxes.  OR  has no sales tax, so living on the border seems like a good idea. After spending a bit of time in the northwest, I plan to head south (along CA or UT, NV to visit AZ, NM then travel across the southern states back to SC.

My first leg from Charleston SC to Detroit MI was fairly uneventful, except for some REALLY hot weather on the ground.  Cruising at 10,000 ft was absolutely delightful with a OAT of 62f and it makes me look forward to the fall.

The only issue I had was the failure of the vac pump.  It has already been in service way longer than normal at about well over 1000 hrs.  normally, they last for 4-500 hrs.  The trick here is to disassemble them every 3-400 hrs and clean the internals with mineral spirits.  I am having my spare shipped out and it will be in the plane before I leave Detroit.  There was some weather coming into the Detroit area just before I arrived, but the loss of the vacuum system wasnt an issue as I have a backup electric gyro in the plane.

I did some simple mods to the plane (winglet root fairing) and fuel blister to cowl faring.  They were made in 4 hrs or so out of some 1/4″ and 1/8″ foam sheets with 5 min epoxy and attached with metal foil tape and am amazed at the speed I picked up.  The winglet airflow is now straight as an arrow.



After calibrating my air speed indicator yesterday (its now within 3 kts at 150 TAS) I find I am now cruising at 164 k, TAS at 6.8 gph at 2400 rpm (normally it was about 155 kts)  I just hope they stay attached through the western trip so I can cover them with glass and change them into something more permanent than an experiment.

Right now I cant tell the absolute speed increase since I did the ASI calibration and fairings at the same time but I know with certainty, I am going quite a bit faster.  As soon as they fly off, get eaten by the prop, or I return home, they’ll be taken off to get the real good data points for comparison.

Nov 01 2011

Piston Upgrade

The engine work was fairly easy to do but again took a bit longer than the 1.5 days I expected (took 2.5 days). I ran into a few issues such as properly honing the cylinders and the cylinder wrench which would not work with the wings installed on the bird. I had originally built up the engine in the shop with the wings removed and plenty of room to work.

The wrench came home, I cut about 4 ” out of the length and rewelded it. I was a bit concerned because of the 50 ft lbs of torque used to tighten the cylinder nuts. It worked just fine welded up.

Day one was spent getting a hone, welding the tool and replacing #2, #4 pistons. Day two was spent putting the baffles on the stbd bank, removed port baffles, and replacing the remaining pistons.

This picture shows the removal of #3 cylinder and baffles. I was amazed at to how obstructive the oil cooler is in the engine compartment. It really gets in the way of engine work. I cant wait to move it out the the wing as I did with Pat’s bird.


The cylinders were honed on the table with a cheap ass AutoZone honer. I had a really good one from Tony, but I didnt want to possibly affect the size of the cylinders. His hone was not the right type for a closed type cylinder.

I checked out the stores for a dingle berry type, but they were $179 and not in stock. Found a 3 bladed type hone at AutoZone for $31. For lubricant I used diesel fuel which was recommended with the hone Tony owned. The diesel lubricant worked surprisingly well and really helped cut the glaze better than using it dry.


I also talked to Klaus (Lightspeed Engineering) about timing changes needed when going from 7:1 to 9.1:1 pistons. He recommended retarding the time about 3 deg (to reduce engine CHT temps) and Pmag recommended retarding the time 5 deg. The Pmag only required a jumper to be installed, and Lightspeed required the removal of the flywheel to make a slight mod on it. Hopefully the engine wont overheat due to the increased power output.

About 4 hrs more on the 3rd day to balance the prop/engine and work is done.


I only ran into one serious issue. Since I was upgrading the engine (piston compression) which will raise my hp from 150 hp to 165-170+? hp the 150 hp prop no longer fits the plane. My brand new Hertzler prop had delaminations on the upper blade when I pulled it out of the storage box.

Gary Hertzler was very surprised and apologetic for the problem and had me send it back for refinishing. Gary’s support is really first class…. He is also going to upgrade the prop to the latest urethane leading edges he now installs on his props.

My 150hp Hertzler prop had his original LE protection which was easily eaten up by rain. While at Oshkosh one year, I found a manufacturer selling urethane which was designed for props. I ended up cutting Gary’s LE material off and installing a urethane LE using pressure injections (what a mess). Since then, I have flown through lots of rain with absolutely no effect to the prop (other and eating off the paint). When I first suggested the improvement to Gary, he jumped right on the suggestion, researched better materials and now has it on all the props be sells. You cant go wrong with a Hertzler prop.


The seperation was almost 18″ long. Seperation is highly unusual and it is only a very few props were affected when Gary went to a new manufactring process (which has been improved).

Strangely, I found a few delams on my prop too due to heating by the exhause. A quick repair, a little micro and paint and it was read for balancing and test flight. Cant wait to get my new prop back to really see how the engine upgrade affects speed and fuel efficiency.


Sep 09 2011

ACES 1050 Probalancer Mod

I purchased a new ACES engine balancer at the 2011 Oshkosh which has some great features I am looking forward to trying out this weekend.  In talking to Gary Hertzler about his experiences using the balancer I found a few short comings with the unit.

First is the mounting brackets.  As you can see there are two sensors (a position sensor and a movement sensor).  Shown are the two brackets.

The right two are the original ones for the sensor, but I decided I wanted them both together for ease of use and to better position them.  Today I constructed the one on the left.

Made of heavy aluminum angle it mounts the sensors on the center line of the crank case.

A second issue with the unit is the power switches.  It is very easy to turn on or reboot the unit as the switches are ultra sensitive.  I took a grommet and cut it in half and RTV glued it to the face of the unit to prevent inadvertent activation of the unit.

Next week I plan to balance the engine on the plane when I get her back to the airport….

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!