C-182Q N96934 at West Valley Flying Club

Monday, December 04, 2006

Home at Last

My recovery mission was a success. The weather Friday was perfect. Clear skies everywhere, light winds, smooth air and moderate temperatures. I met my friend Brad at the airport and we departed at around 9:00. Brad was working on instrument approaches, so he was under the hood the whole time. We headed for SNS where we flew the GPS 13 followed by the VOR 13. After that, we picked up a clearance for SMX and headed south.

On arrival at SMX, we flew the ILS. I got my first glimpse of 934 on downwind for landing. We were on the ground a little after 11:00 and admiring the plane moments later. Brad had a quick meeting with Phil at Coastal Valley about having work done on his plane, then he took off for home.

It was time to check the work and pay both Coastal Valley and the paint shop. The paint job lived up to expectations, so I walked over to Artcraft and gave them their balance payment. A bit later, I realized there were one or two things not done quite to spec. When I went back over, Teresa, the owner, was very responsive. She offered to take care of the loose ends any time that I had the plane back in SMX with Phil.

The work on the plane was top notch, as expected. In addition to the repair, I had Phil move the OAT sensor for the JPI from the fuselage to the wing. On the fuselage, it was reading a few degrees high. I discovered this last winter when flying into a cloud at what I thought was 36F. Oops. He also relocated the oil temp probe for the JPI from the outlet of the oil cooler, where it reads too low, to the preferred location before the cooler. A quick look at oil temp records from a JPI download shows that oil temps are reading more normally now. This is important, because if the oil temp doesn't get high enough when the engine runs, it won't evaporate water vapor from the crankcase, which promotes corrosion.

He also installed flap gap seals, a minor speed mod which was well-timed since the flaps were off and the wings were being painted.

The last major item on Phil's list was reinstalling the repaired pitch computer for the STEC autopilot. That was completed, but he didn't have time to check it in his flight test. More on that in a moment.

After a very thorough preflight, I fueled the plane and headed for the runup. I gave the plane a good runup since the engine had been sitting for months, except for Phil's short test flight. The autopilot passed a ground prefligh. All systems were go. Takeoff roll and climbout were great. Others have said that the flap gap seals enhance climb performance. I don't have objective data, but the plane did climb eagerly. I have noticed the same on all subsequent flights. Whether that is a real improvement or just the result of all my recent Citabria experience, I don't know.

On initial climb to cruise, the #2 CHT quickly popped through the 400F mark. Despite a bunch of work by Phil, that cylinder still wants to run hot. I guess it will be a sort of long term project for now. Otherwise, everything ran nicely and the plane felt nice and tight.

When I tried the autopilot, it failed selftest. This is the exact same problem that required sending the pitch computer back to STEC. It seems like it was able to run for the length of time a preflight required, but after that it failed. I don't know if they failed to fix the problem or if something is causing it to reoccur.

Other than that, the flight was uneventful, just as it should always be. The plane is already back in CASSi. At my request, it is blocked out until later this week, so that I can be sure everything is ready for safe and satisfying use. Feel free to wander by L-28 if you are in the area.


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