N174PM First Flight
February 5, 2023 – N174PM gets paint!
I had the paint done at Flying Colors of Texas in Gainesville. It took two months, which included the holiday season, so I really can’t complain about the time it took. The price was also reasonable. There’s not much to describe here, so I’ll just put the pictures in gallery format.
Replaced Wingtip Lighting
January 23, 2022 – I had always said when I built my wingtip lighting that if I ever had an issue with them, they’d come right out and I’d replace them. After a few hours of flying we noticed noise when the Nav lights were switched on.
I bought a set of AeroLED Pulsars and installed them.
Here’s the original lights:
…and my new ones:
January 23, 2022 – I have been working on the gear fairings when I’m not flying. I haven’t kept track of time, but here’s the lot of the pictures I have taken.
Continued Interior Install
October 22, 2021 – I continued with the installation of the interior. I’ve been holding off on the baggage compartment because I have had to work under the panel because of the fuel tank issues, but I’m convince that my wiring is not at fault.
I laid down the carpet in the baggage compartment, then the carpet on the sides.
The upper sidewalls form pockets on each side, which I think will be handy. These pieces were a bit confusing at first, but I finally figured it out.
These attach at the aft bulkhead and around the F705 bulkhead. There are two screws that will go to rivnuts in the F705.
The pockets are lined with material that velcroes to the longitudinal formers and the skin above the side carpeting.
I got these done on the left side, I’ll do the right side on Monday.
Fuel Tank Drama Continues…
October 22, 2021 – I have given up on my right tank fuel quantity issue, for now…
I got a new sensor from Van’s. I installed it, reinstalled the tank, ands started the fuel calibration again. Believe it or not, no help. The sensor and float move just fine, and electrically it works. but when it’s in the tank, there is still no apparent movement (i.e. voltage change) when I add fuel.
I tried bypassing my wiring; running a wire from pin 21 of the Dynon EMS to the sensor. That was no help. I also double-checked the ground.
OK. I’ve had enough. I decided to go scorched-earth, and reconfigure the tank back to the fixed pickup tube and relocate the float sensor to it’s normal place in the inboard bay of the tank.
I removed the tank again, and ordered the pickup tube with a screen and the anti-rotation brackets from Van’s.
I removed the access plate on the inboard rib, to see if I could tell if the float was hanging up. I was able to stick something through and move the float. I also checked the resistance while I was moving it. I couldn’t find anything wrong.
I cut an access hole in the back baffle of the tank as needed to get access to the bay.
Here’s the flop tube inside the tank.
I removed the flop tube and the float from the next bay over. I left the small mods that are installed with the flop tube; there’s a twisted strap that keeps the flop tube from hanging up in the next rib, and there’s a small trap door that acts as a check valve to keep fuel in the inboard bay so fuel doesn’t slosh outboard and starve the flop tube.
I drilled the hole in the inboard access plate for the sensor…
…and when I got the pickup tube, I located that hole, then secured the tube in place along with the anti-rotation bracket.
So here’s everything in place:
The float does not and cannot hang on anything. It also doesn’t touch either the top or the bottom.
I made the panels to close the tank back up and installed them.
Two days later, I pumped up the tank with a bike pump and used soapy water to look for leaks. Absolutely nothing…
I plugged the hole at the leading edge where the flop tube was mounted, and where fuel exited the tank. I used an AN fitting with two AN caps and thoroughly sealed them inside and out…
I also had to make a new fuel line to the fuselage since the location was different…
I installed the tank, and proceeded to begin the calibration.
Guess what?… It still doesn’t work.
Well, I was able to get a “calibration”, but I had to thump the top of the tank with my fist to get the sensor voltage to change after each 2-gallon addition.
I filled it to 21 gallons, and the Dynon accepted the calibration.
I proceeded to drain 10 gallons from the tank to put in the left tank. The indicated quantity did not change.
My drain valve was dripping, so I drained the rest of the fuel so I could check the o-ring on the drain. I did expect to find a piece of aluminum stuck there, and I did. I reinstalled the drain. With an empty tank, Dynon still indicated 20+.
OK. This airplane needs to be flown, so I decided I’ll not hit my head against the wall any more, and just manage the fuel for the time being.
I may call Van’s at some point, and probably will end up ordering another sensor, but maybe not until the condition inspection next year.
Work after First Flight
October 8, 2021 – I took care of the items that were noted during the first flight.
Chuck suggested that I remove a little bit of the dam in front of the #1 cylinder, because it was getting a little warm.
I also took care of some of the items that were related to configuration on the Dynon. Battery voltage showed a steady 14.5 volts, yet was annunciated in yellow. I changed the parameter for the yellow to 15 volts. I also had a yellow caution band on the RPM gauge. Chuck questioned whether it had to be there. I called Aerosport Power, then Hartzell. Based on my engine and prop combination, there was no restriction, so I changed the parameters for that sensor in Dynon to remove the yellow band.
My airspeed issue was because I reversed the AOA and Pitot connections at the tube. My transponder guy came out, found that, and he also pumped up the airplane from the pitot tube back. No leaks and an accurate indication.
I also had a slight yaw issue, where the ball was a little bit to the right. I installed a temporary tab, and we will investigate further during the next flight.
After the first flight issues were taken care of, and because my pilots are on vacation, I decided to pull the right fuel tank to try to address my calibration issue.
Yay. What joy to remove the bolts that attach the tank to the wing spar…
I took out the float sensor. It electrically checked out, but it seemed a bit stiff. I decided to go ahead and order a new one from Van’s.
I have since installed the new one. I’m going to give the sealant time before I put fuel to it.
I moved on to the interior.
I’ve had to make some small mods because of things that I have done differently in the airplane.
This small panel wraps around the air vents. Since I made my own air vent brackets, I had to make a cut about 1″ long to accommodate…
The big side pockets fit under the armrests. Since I installed the J-stringer sections to stiffen the armrests, I had to modify these…
Another Step to the Dream…
On June 3, 2021, after almost two years in the making, I received my PPL. Slow projects seem to be my thing…
Life Gets in the Way…
I lost my best riveter. My bride Lenora had been struggling with dementia since 2011. On October 8, 2017, she passed away. She helped rivet most of my fuel tanks. One day, I just needed to shoot two rows to finish one tank. She quickly learned how to use the gun. After we finished those 12 or so rivets, I said that we were done, and she replied “You sure? There’s nothing else we can do?” So I gathered the parts for the other tank and we shot most of it over the next couple of days. I’ll just say she was “cautiously supportive” of the project, but she came out and helped when I needed an extra hand, and towards the end she just sat out in the garage with me.
UPDATE— Life continues… I met an amazing woman named Julie and married her on March 30, 2019. She is excited about this project; in fact her dad restored an airplane in his garage, and there’s a lot of aviation history in her family.