Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mysteries Abound; The Annual Continues

On the way home from rural Licking County today (read: 5+ hours travel time for a 12 minute conference with the judge; yes, I would have flow if the plane wasn't AOG, thankyouverymuch), the IFR Pilot swung by the airport to check on the progress of Mike Hotel's much-extended annual. The new fuel pump and strobe power supply had arrived earlier that morning, and we were hoping against hope that everything might have been buttoned back-up and Mike Hotel returned to the flight line.

Looked like Lady Luck was shining on us. The mechanics had replaced the power supply, which had rapidly cured the problem of the intermittent strobes. And they were just getting ready to pull Mike Hotel out of the hangar for a test run with the new fuel pump. So the IFR Pilot jumped in and "helped," by which I mean "try to stay out of the way and not drive up the hourly bill."

We pulled Mike Hotel from the hangar and started him up. Or at least we tried.

The first attempt failed after the IFR Pilot neglected to return the fuel selector to a position other than "Off." Doggone it.

The second attempt went much better. A little primer from the electric pump and the engine turned over and caught.

But then just as quickly it went out again. Okay, not enough fuel. Let's try that again.

On the third try, the engine caught right away, ran for about 3 seconds, and then started to die. We threw on the boost pump and everything smoothed out right away.

Hmmm, this is interesting.

Kill the boost pump, engine dies. Keep the boost pump on, engine purrs, but the fuel pressure gauge isn't even reaching the bottom of the green range. Something just isn't right here.

So Mike Hotel is returned to the hangar and the pump removed. Which is no small task. We check the cam on the accessory case, and by turning the prop, we can confirm that the cam is working just fine. We examine the pump and the cam lever appears to be a bit out of alignment. That's cured via a quick trip to the vise.

The pump gets installed, and we haul the plane out of the hangar again for more engine tests.

Same story. No boost pump, no pressure, engine dies. But keep the boost pump on and everything's OK (but still the fuel pressure isn't registering).

Clearly, this pump isn't working. Did I mentioned that we splurged and bought a new, not rebuilt, pump?

We yank the pump off again. The cam lever is again out of alignment. So the cam seems to be beating on it, but the lever isn't actuating, it's just getting bent out of shape.

Time to call the supplier.

You've seen this coming, right?

They are not much help. They indicated they've never had this kind of complaint before, and we need to call the manufacturer to see if they can help us troubleshoot the problem. Of course, the appropriate person has left for the day, but "do feel free to call back in the morning."

Plan B: Order another pump from a different supplier. So we do that, at a cost of another $250. It'll be here Friday, and the mechanics will try installing that.

In the meantime, the IFR Pilot will argue with tech support at Aero Accessories (at least I won't be transferred to someone in India, I'm willing to bet) and Customer Service at Chief Aircraft. Our mechanic had just happened to have lunch with a rep from the manufacturer today, so he's going to make contact, report our difficulties, and see if the rep can help smooth things over with Chief to help us get our money back.

Bottom line: Aircraft still on the ground. The annual continues. The balance on the VISA continues to climb.

Stay tuned for more updates from the front line of Mike Hotel's Legendary 2006 Annual TM.


Anonymous said...

Uhh... you know that strobes are supposed to be intermittent... right? I mean, that's sorta the point. If they're not intermittent, they're broken. Unless you meant that they were intermittently intermittent and are now simply intermittent which would be good.. right? Are you flishing what I'm flashing?

IFR Pilot said...

Yes, of course, I know the strobes are supposed to be intermittent. Clearly, I needed to choose another way to explain this. How about: "Although the strobes did occasionally fire, the delay between firings was substantially longer than normal for most strobes that I've seen in operation."