Name: Frank


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Posts by fdorrin:

    Jan 2, 2021 – Ready to go Flying!!

    January 3rd, 2021

    2020 sucked for me too. Last month I lost my sister at the young age of 63. She was a smoker and paid the ultimate price for it. Last week I lost my live-in mother inlaw. She lived a good life and was receiving the best care possible here in my home. My wife has been dedicated to her, having lost her father in the last year or so. He had been living with us as well.

    So now I’m in a unique situation. We’ve had people living with us since we moved into our home in Chesapeake City. That meant we really weren’t free to enjoy the home or the area as we might have, due to the more important business of senior care. That has all changed at this point, so we are re-arranging the house and starting to go out to dinner more. Bev and I went out yesterday – together – and the house was empty for the first time in 3 years.

    What does this have to do with flying?, you ask. Everything, I’d tell you.  During the downtime and house arrest, I’ve continued to re-work our airplane to be ready to go flying. N833DF has a new Aspen ProMax, new engines, and freshly overhauled props. All of the squawks have been, and are being, addressed. The squawk list will never ever be zero, however, and it isn’t now with both the 530W and #2 Nav Head giving me trouble. I will, however, not be defeated. I’ll fix and replace as long as I own it!

    The Altimatic IIIB is also giving me trouble. It tries to kill me once a year. I get it worked on and it runs great for another 12 months. I’m tired of baby sitting it though, and just watched a video showing the basic features of the STEC 3100. The embedded Cessna 310 pilot video was very well done, and I’ve taken a lesson for them both on not only the equipment, but on video production as well. I want this autopilot!!


    So I’ve decided today on my next project. I’m putting a deposit down to encourage the STC process by Genesys. That is, after I get a few basic questions answered. With my existing ProMax investment, I’ll be able to get altitude pre-select, a new Flight Director, IAS and VS vertical speed modes, and a reliable autopilot that is warranted for three full years. I’m so excited.

    I also spent some time this morning trolling for places to fly my wife to. She has been a very patient person to set her life aside for both of her parents, and now I’m looking forward to enjoying some time traveling with her.

    Most will be 3 day trips or so, built around my work schedule. One will be a longer trip, and we’ll also start planning to make an around-the-CONUS trip over the next few years. No matter what – this is what we worked for.

    Fly safe!  I’ll get back to posting as my life comes back online.

    Out of the bad comes something good.


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    Nov 9, 2020 – Anniversary Flying

    November 9th, 2020

    These are crazy times. I’m not at all happy with the politics of today, but ready to get on with my life. It will all be fine – the pendulum swings for both sides.

    We are still caring for Bev’s mom and scheduling time away continues to be complicated and involve a good number of people and calendars. I also have an ill sister, so I’ve added a bit of travel and logistics to do what I can there as well.

    Work is going well and the G280 program is slowly accelerating in activity. My work calendar was recently changed on Friday to include new Monday activity (today), so I’m working with my program manager to not do that to me. The late change in schedule hit several appointments I had made for this week, but we are getting through it.

    N833DF flew very well from KILG down to KJGG; Williamsburg-Jamestown airport. This was Bev’s first flight in her airplane in probably 4 years, and it was awesome having her back. I treated her like the VIP that she is, and appreciated the beautiful clear weekend we had ahead of us.

    Our actually anniversary is the 9th, and I’m sitting in the Alliance FBO while Lancaster Avionics tweaks my autopilot and replaces my Aspen Pro-Max. Alliance is very nice to accommodate my stay. I’ll complete this blog and hopefully put out another autopilot video while I’m here.

    The flight down was smooth at 6000′ and I crossed the field at mid-field for the preferred right downwind to RW13. That runway seems a bit downhill, but it worked out. Turning base, Beverly told me that she hadn’t heard me call ‘Gear Down’. What a partner!  So proud of her!

    I have been using GUMPS for some time, and reminded her that undercarriage means the same thing. I verified the gear was down and we landed uneventfully. How’s that for her situational awareness after years of not flying!  What a girl!

    We taxied to overnight parking to tied down and cover the airplane. I made sure to keep Bev safe from airport operations and from the hot props on our airplane as well. It’s been awhile for her, but I very much enjoyed having here there to help unload, cover, and secure.

    We didn’t take on any fuel since I had tankered a full load from Wilmington. The car was ready for our overnight, and we loaded it up and were on our way to enjoy walking around on a beautiful day.

    Williamsburg-Jamestown airport is in good shape. The runway is aged but good. The taxiway and ramp space has been redone and improved since my last visit as well. I called for a car a few days ago, and that process went without a hitch. The ramp fee was $15 and well worth it. The car only cost me $45, and I think the ability to do this type of day trip is awesome!!

    I love this girl!  Forgive me the diversion from flying. I’m writing this on the 9th, our 23 anniversary. Beverly is home caring for her mom, and I’m in Lancaster while Lancaster Avionics is working to refine my Twin Comanche’s older autopilot. My wife is directly responsible for my success, and her support and encouragement is why I own an incredibly well maintained PA30.

    Williamsburg during the pandemic is lightly populated. Bev suggested we walk everywhere, and we did just that! I’ve finally found a method to lose weight, and walking is helpful in that regard. No breakfast, bread, or beer has helped me lose 15# already, and I feel it is continuing to come off.

    The weather was PERFECT. Chowning’s Tavern holds childhood memories for me, but I was disappointed to see a significantly downsized menu. Burgers and bar food was the rule of the day, and the only drink options were sitting out in the sun and completely unappealing. We decided to forfeit our reservation and found a surprisingly good dinner at Sal’s Italian restaurant on the way home.

    Sunday morning came with more awesome weather and we walked again. This time we found an excellent breakfast on the main drag, and headed back to the car. We’d pretty much walked ourselves out of energy by the time we reached the car, and decided to fly home a little earlier than planned. The idea was to go out to dinner before resuming our duties for Bev’s mom and sending the help home.

    Unfortunately, we were exhausted when we landed. I even put the airplane away and forgot to unload the luggage. I’ll get it tomorrow.

    There is so much more to tell, but I’m going to attempt to get another YouTube video out this morning too.

    Fly Safe!


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    Oct 7, 2020 – Fall Flying

    October 12th, 2020

    Flying has been great! I’ve been flying quite a number of hours per month lately. I’ve also been busy studying for work, learning handgun safety and techniques, dieting and exercise. Exercise has been lacking, honestly, but everything else is going gangbusters.

    I am an examiner in both the G280 and Astra at this point, and we just completed our first recurrent client in the G280 program. He left happy and the Wilmington team did a nice job with it. More on that in a subsequent blog.

    I did a nice flight to West Virginia with a friend last month to retrieve her mom and bring them both back for a wedding. That flight went very well, but had to wait until I replaced a failing vacuum AI. Done and Done. The Twin Comanche beat airline and driving options to that region handily.

    Life gets in the way of the fun stuff occasionally. I have one of the multiple tankless heaters in the house that won’t fire, a new door that has to be cut and installed, a porch construction project about to begin, and several other home projects tanking my time.

    My sister is also not doing well, with a serious health issue threatening her future. That is occupying my mind and one of my top priorities for this fall and next year. I will most likely get back to blogging and videos as the fall progresses and a routine develops, but wanted to explain the lack of activity.

    Two new videos coming soon to my YouTube channel. The Rae Ann flight and then a subsequent flight where I talk about the use of the Piper Altimatic III B autopilot. I’ll add a blog on the later next – most likely weeks away.

    Fly Safe!



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    Aug 10, 2020 – Prelude to a Cluster Flight

    August 23rd, 2020

    August 10th was a Monday this year – my late mother’s birthday by coincidence. I’ll try to piece the story together of my trip down to Dallas this time, and what I was thinking by the time I got down there (Dallas).

    Mid July: I have known I’d be flying to Dallas from Delaware on August 11th for some time now, and had planned to get all my ducks in a row well before hand. The airplane was to be packed and ready, and I’d be well rested the night before for the journey ahead. That was my plan, anyway, but it seems that I would not be in control of my schedule leading up the third big trip down and back. Roadblocks and complications were laid out before me at a pace and in a manner that became laughable.

    This is a different man talking to you right now. My boys will tell you that this string of events would have made me loud and miserable 20 years ago. Age, a little wisdom maybe, and a slightly increased amount of patience helped me take everything in stride and keep on moving. I actually started shaking my head and chuckling as each new roadblock stepped in front of me. I knew I’d make safe decisions along the way, and either get there or not.

    Let’s walk through it, shall we?  I flew back from Dallas after returning from the last trip on July 29th. Before I even started flying back home, I had arranged for my A&P to change my oil in preparation for the next trip, and clean up a few minor squawks. Paul was great about it, so I arranged to have my wife pick me up in Cheswold after I flew the airplane down to him. Getting my wife out of the house is no easy task. She cares for her mother in our home, and we need other people to cover for her if she leaves to help me. This necessity can be a real pain in the ass at times to contend with, but we do.

    I left early so I could drop off my oxygen tanks so that they’d be filled for the trip, then I flew the airplane down to Paul’s shop in Cheswold.  I flew down there with the understanding that N833DF would be kept in the hangar until the work was done. Then I’d fly it home to avoid any exposure to weather. I’ve had weather damage before, and I don’t leave this airplane out for one day if I can avoid it.

    As it turns out, Paul had another Twin Comanche in there ahead of me that he didn’t get finished. N833DF would spend the night on the ramp, but by now I was committed. Just two days prior to my leaving the airplane there, a rare tornado had touched down just a few miles east of this location. I felt good that the odds were with me that another big weather event would not happen again that soon, so I sucked it up and left the airplane there.

    The very next day a completely different storm landed another tornado just 25 miles northeast of his location. Really?! That was just a warning shot, I’m sure. I made it through that storm untouched, but the pressure was building to get my airplane home and in my hangar. That pressure was all inside me, but it was there.

    After the storm hit, I got a call next from Keen Gas telling me that one of my old oxygen tanks had an expired inspection. Updating that inspection would add a few days, bumping up against my planned departure. The oxygen would have to be a last minute detail, and I the pressure ticked up a bit more.

    Friday, August 7th: The airplane was ready to be picked up, but now I had oxygen tanks to retrieved (if they were ready), and then would have to drive south to get my FAA Medical completed. My old AME retired, so I chose a new one down in Dover. I meet the ‘new guy’ and he tells me that he is now retiring too. F#@$ you, and good luck, is what I was thinking. I just smiled and said – ‘Naturally’. I meant it when I wished him well.

    So now I’d be driving RIGHT BY MY READY AIRPLANE, but would have my wife’s car down there since mine was in my hangar up north. I can’t drive a car and fly a plane at the same time, so I started to make other arrangements and think this through. I stopped to see if all was ready, and offered to do the leak-test / run-up for Paul. That was a good idea until the clouds turned dark and it started to rain. I drove home and left my airplane there on the ramp. I did at least manage to retrieve my two oxygen tanks on the way home.

    Saturday morning, August 8th: Beverly couldn’t help me get to the airplane until late in the day. I asked my son Chris to drive me, and he graciously came over and drove me down. I’d be able to get the airplane home and take my time packing it on Monday night for departure Tuesday morning. Chris and I stopped for breakfast first, and then I had him drop me at the airport. No need to stay, I said, she had new engines and fresh oil and I haven’t had an issue with her since the new engines.

    I have my new 2nd class medical and my oxygen tanks. Just no airplane and I’m stuck in Cheswold with no way home. Both of the new temperature probes did get installed, and the oil is fresh.

    I paid Paul and spoke with him about the work. The airplane pre-flighted good, so I jumped in and fired up. Holding short of 27, I did the run-up and found that the left electro-air ‘mag’ was not firing at all. Zip. Nada. Paul took a look, checked a few readings, and declared it good. I taxied back out and the same thing happened again. Now I was in Cheswold without a ride. My head hurt thinking about what I’d spent on this mag replacement to have it sit there dead.

    Paul was convinced my old toggle switches were just that – too old to be reliable. It didn’t help much that this particular switch had been shorted when he hadn’t tightened it down all the way during the early test flights. The thin silver lining is that these issues do emphasize the modes of failure I might encounter, making me a better pilot in the end.

    Paul loaned me his car and promised to come back Sunday to work on it. That’d mean I’d have to arrange a ride back then; work all day Monday; but have plenty of time to get the airplane packed and fueled for the flight Tuesday. The Sunday work turned into Monday, so I knew I’d be working all day before the flight, flying late evening for the post-maintenance, and then flying all the next day. Whatever fat I had in the schedule had evaporated.

    Monday evening: I finished working an Astra initial class and drove Paul’s car back to Cheswold and my airplane. I paid Paul and another quality A&P to completely troubleshoot the Electro-Air system and ensure nothing was amiss. I’d be far away from home and didn’t want any complications I could avoid. Everything checked good, so I paid the bill and did the run-up, half expecting the mag to not light up again.

    The run-up was fine, and I flew back north to my hangar. Arriving home around 8pm, I ate a late dinner, organized my gear, and called it an early night.

    Tuesday morning I start out late, only to be blocked by a train at 6am. I’ve never seen a train before at this hour, and it wasn’t moving. After waiting about 5 minutes, I did a u-turn and took a longer, alternate route.

    Arriving at the hangar, I pulled the airplane out and packed it up nicely. Pulling the car into the hangar, I reached for my phone to ensure I’d received the latest expected routing. My hand found no phone clip and no phone. It was sitting on my dresser at home. No question now – I’d be delayed an hour. Do I leave the airplane sitting out and the hangar door open, or do this properly and put it back in the hangar for the round trip home. Keep it professional and safe – I put the airplane back into the hangar, but left the door open. It’d be fine until I returned.

    Phone in hand – I am on the return trip back to the airport. I’m not speeding and not pressuring myself to rush. That is a very good thing, because for the first time ever – there is a very large and very slow farm vehicle blocking the entire road. The car in front of me is losing his mind behind it, and decides to go for a pass on a curve. He ends up on the opposite shoulder when oncoming traffic surprises him, which is a sign for me to RELAX.  I do just that.

    The car is in the hangar now and the hangar is secure. I taxi out to pick up my clearance from ground, since they are open now because I’m delayed. This will be a full route clearance, in the opposite direction I had asked for – north around DC. I launch and talk to Philly, and he sends me south. On the second vector further south I tell him that this makes no sense according to the clearance I’d received. Turns out he still had my original clearance, so he turned me back north again. Wasted fuel. Wasted time. I am surprisingly not flustered yet.

    The hits just keep on coming as I realize that the 2 to 3 knot predicted headwinds are going to be 20-35 mph on the nose all day long. I’m also giving away another 8 knots to test LOP, so this is going to be a long trip. LOP is turning out the be an incredible performance booster, so I’m ok with not getting max speed today.

    The last roadblock I recorded was due to equipment complications. I was in IMC diverting around storms along the route with 1″ hail. Scanning the panel I noted that the CDI had a 1/2 dot deflection with the autopilot following LNAV. That never happens unless something is not working right. It turns out that my vacuum AI (drives the autopilot) had badly precessed in flight.

    Report? Don’t report? I disconnected it in flight and flew by hand for awhile to consider my options. The device righted itself, and I reengaged the autopilot with a vigilant scan for the rest of the trip. It would be overhauled either in Dallas or when I got home – depending.

    Further complicating this AI issue when I got to Dallas was a new AD that had come out on the Aspen. If you have version 2.10 or 2.10.1 of the software, and you have no analog backup, you are grounded. That’d be me in this circumstance. Lucky I had version 2.9 installed.

    Harrison Aviation is taking great care of me down here. I keep the airplane in a hangar and the airport is well suited for my needs.

    I’ll be doing a return flight blog as a companion to the video I just completed, so you can look for that if you have read this far.

    Fly safe!


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    Aug 2, 2020 – What I’ve been looking for

    August 4th, 2020

    I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I retired from engineering and have successfully transitioned to aviation. I’m instructing in jets, and my airplane is in great shape and actively flying. I have no clue how long all this will last, but I’m making the most of it while it does.

    I’m still working: I don’t want to explore the gory details here, but we have had a staff reduction. I had taken a voluntary 30 day leave, but came back full time after that. Some of my friends weren’t so lucky, and have since moved on. My interest in this new jet is the reason I’m still working, so I’m happy about that.

    One of the things I asked for when I signed up for this, is the ability to fly myself back and forth whenever I need to travel for work. I was thinking Savannah, but have been commuting to Dallas. Kudos to my management for staying with that commitment and supporting my desire to fly. In this environment, I’m even more excited to avoid the commercial flying experience, and supplement that with my hobby – flying myself!

    There are some friends really struggling in this virus economy, and I wish them well.

    Flying to work: So the really cool thing is that I’m flying the hell out of my new engines. I’ve logged 22 hours in June and another 26 hours in July, with 81 operating hours on these engines as of this writing. I’m ready for LOP ops on the next flight, and really curious what effect that will have on the time it takes to reach Dallas. I expect to reduce the 10 gph per side fuel burn at Rich of Peak to about 7.5 gph Lean of Peak. My range will improve, but at what impact to cruise speed?

    Check out one of my favorite videos in the link below. I made this while traveling back and forth to Dallas. I like this one in particular because of the colors, the view out the window, the minor weather challenges I encountered, and what i consider a successful experiment with the time warp video feature on a very long flight. I really like this video, and will use the technique again.


    I believe I’ll be flying additional trips to Dallas in August and September. After that time, our sim should be ready and the need for travel should subside. The experience has made me aware of just how capable an airplane this is, and moved one of my goals from being a stretch goal to a very real possibility.

    Sitting in my hotel room in Dallas, it occurred to me that flying to Oceanside, CA would take less time than flying home. I have been routinely traveling more than half way across the country a few times a months, and it’s no big deal.

    Once I got home, I spoke with Bev about it. We are going to plan an around the country trip to include San Diego,  San Francisco. Catalina Island, and Washington State. Then we’ll head back across the country east, with various stops along the way. The difficult part will be deciding where to stop and spend some time, while being careful to avoid the trouble spots.

    I’m getting better: As you’d expect, the increased flight activity has improved my performance all around. I’ve noticed my radio work has improved, and that will be reflected in the instruction that I provide. Fuel and Engine management skills have significantly improved, as has my understanding of those systems and subjects, since I now have new equipment to manage. Weather management has been a big deal in the summer heat, and my landings have improved in various conditions as I fly more.

    With all this flying, it still has been more than a year since I shut an engine down in training. I was supposed to fly to KXLL last night to do PA30 emergency training in their PA30, but postponed that with the incoming storms. My intent was two-fold. Mitigate the insurance increase everyone expects, and supplement my single engine training. Too late for the former – I got my increase yesterday. Not too late for the later – I’ll get it done over the next two months.

    What I need this week, however, is an oil change. I am expecting a call from my A&P today, and will fly down and stay with the airplane when he is available. I’ll either help him or I’ll study while he does the work. He and I can discuss if there is time to swap the probes out as well. I need this done if I’m going to Dallas next week. I’m not a fan of exceeding the 50 hour oil change.

    Studying Airplanes: I’m teaching initial ground school in the Astra on Monday, and leaving after that to fly to Dallas to provide sim instruction in the G280. I’ll be doing an initial simulator session to one client.

    My study plan is to bone up on G280 Initial SIM sessions first. Review limitations and procedures; ensure my plan and documentation for the client is in order. Once I am satisfied that I’m organized enough to instruct next week, I’ll review the Astra ground school material that I’m more familiar with. Once all that is complete, I’ll review multi-engine and single engine procedures in the Twin Comanche.

    Enjoy the day. Fly Safe!


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    Jun 16, 2020 – N833DF Follow-up Test Profile

    June 16th, 2020

    I heard from JPI regarding my replacement temperature probes. I am a bit disappointed that they didn’t run to the mailbox and send out new probes. Instead, they asked me to send them the POs and Invoices and questioned how long I’ve owned them. That made me go back to my A&P and have them do that research for me, which adds times. I gave JPI some lip that they should be able to look that up on their own and not be giving me homework. So far JPI is giving me attitude rather than support.

    Reviewing the last GAMI test to harvest more data is fascinating. What the heck did I do without an engine monitor? What was I thinking? Then again – you don’t know what you don’t know.

    Here are some interesting tidbits from the left engine I’ve observed that will help set up the next test. It is generally the same for the right side.

    • Cylinders #1 and #3 peak simultaneously and the fuel flow spread was 0.7 gph
    • 8.4 gph will yield 100o ROP at 65% power in this run
    • LOP operation: 6.3 gph will get me on the LOP side where all cylinders have peaked and have EGTs declining as we get leaner. This would have been 10o LOP on this test, but Mike Busch doesn’t care where the peak is. CHTs are what matters, and those are all less than 380 in this scenario. Cylinder #4 was the hottest, but I suspect we’ll be more golden there now.

    The next Test: I wanted to fly after work today, but have since seen that the weather south of us will not be all that great. I’ll wait a bit and do a flight down to Norfolk with a stop on the way back at Georgetown for gas. I’m looking forward to gathering some good intel on how best to operate these engines for allot of flying I have planned in July. I will not be operating LOP operations for this oil change, but I’ll gather data to get ready. Paul suggests I keep it ROP for another 50 hours.

    N833DF Test Profile 

    1. Climb to 6000′
    2. Lean as necessary on the way up to maintain 400o F on all cylinders
    3. Reaching 6000′ in level cruise, note the OAT against 38o C standard. Plan on adjusting MP (see below for details)
    4. Set power 24 squared, close cowl flaps, lean to 400o F and note the fuel flow
    5. Set power 23 squared, closed cowl flaps, lean to 400o F and note the fuel flow
      Note: Leave the mixture there as a starting point for the GAMI test
    6. Begin GAMI Lean Test – one engine at a time
      1. Open Cowl Flaps
      2. Verify props to 2300 RPM and MP to 21.6″ +/- OAT adjustment
      3. Lean slowly (0.2 to 0.3 gph increments)
        Note: Test is complete after all EGTs continue to drop as you decrease fuel flow with the mixture
    7. Determine LOP Range: Continue leaning slowly right up to engine roughness.
      1. Note the fuel flow. Expect cut-out at 5.7gph
      2. Enrich to smooth operation. Try 6.0 gph specifically.

    That is it for what I’m trying to accomplish. What follows is my thinking behind this profile. if you see a flaw in that thinking, please speak up. I plan to use the video to both share and to supplement the recorded data.

    1. ROP Operation: Right off the bat, reaching 6000′ let’s determine what fuel flow looks like for a CHT of 400o F on all cylinders. Keep in mind that fuel injectors, temperature probes, and baffle seals have all changed. Do this for both 24 squared and 23 squared operation.

    Note: I see definite improvement in cylinder head temperatures now, but would love to know where the improvements came from. Did the physical repositioning of the probe knock the problem out of the probe or connection for left CHT#4?  Did the baffle improvement really drop Cylinder #4 by 30o F? I have to assume at this point that sealing up the air leaks in the baffles made that big difference. Paul did that work on both sides. 

    Note: without an engine monitor – I’d be flying along and possibly toasting one of my cylinders. Continuously. 

    2. GAMI Lean Test: This requires a climb to an altitude that ensures I stay at 65% power, the recommended power setting for the GAMI Lean Test. From the PA30 POH, you can see that 6000′ will generally work. From the two charts below I determine that 65% power can be achieved using 2300 RPM and 21.6″ MP, This will keep me just inside the Red Fin for most of the process. I’ll never be in a truly abusive zone with high internal cylinder pressures.

    Power (MP) must be adjusted by 0.17″ for every 10o F above standard temps at that altitude, or lower by the same amount for temps below standard. Standard temp at 6000′ is 3o C or 38o F.

    The method I will use from the GAMI site is the download method, since I have an engine monitor with integral fuel flow and downloading capabilities. In flight at 2300 RPM and 21.6″ MP, lean very slowly from some point rich of peak EGT to some point where all EGTs are lean of peak. You will know that you are lean of peak EGT on all cylinders once the exhaust temperature of each cylinder continues to drop as you reduce the fuel flow.

    I am going to continue the leaning process right through to LOP operation and engine roughness. That will tell me everything – minimum fuel flow at smooth operation LOP; what fuel flow leads to the engine running rough or cutting out; the GAMI fuel spread; and even where ROP fuel flow is. I just need to do it slowly enough to gather meaningful data, all the while keeping CHTs below 400o F.

    I’ll publish this post, and then go to the SavvyAviation website and analyze the previous GAMI Lean Test for what it can tell me.

    Fly Safe!



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    Jun 12, 2020 – Oil Change and Re-inspection

    June 13th, 2020

    Oil Change Complete! I dropped off the airplane yesterday morning, and both Paul and Ralph jumped on the work and completed it in one day. You can see the squawk list on yesterdays blog, so I’ll just focus on the highlights today.

    The cowls on both engines were removed and all mounts, mounting points, fasteners, and general conditions were checked once again. Two of the exhaust mounts (straps with metal end caps) were brand new and both failed. These are WEBCO PMA units that run $56 apiece.

    The issue was reported to WEBCO. Two new ones were installed and I’ll be looking for money back from them soon. If these new ones fail as well, we’ll get the piper part installed and report the issue. Minor point that doesn’t affect my flying. No other issues were found. No leaks and no looseness.

    On the left engine, CHT #3 had been erratic. You can see here that the brown line is CHT#3 zooming up over the red line (450 deg F), and then right back to normal. This was from a flight on June 6th. On other flights, the CHT #3 went to +700 F and right back down to -90 F. At least I knew with great certainty THAT wasn’t happening.

    Paul replaced all the connectors in the CHT#3 line to rule out crushed and shorted connections. The character of the anomalies changed for this latest flight, with the CHT dropping to zero, but the issue remains. JPI has been directly asked to replace this probe.

    Next up was the issue of the left cylinder #4 being so damn hot that I have to shallow out climbs and reduce power in cruise. On JPI’s suggestion, we swapped the #4 probe and the #2 probe. Now here is where it gets a little sticky. The temperature problem did move to cylinder #2 in that it is now the hottest cylinder. It gets complicated though, as the guys did quite a bit of work sealing up all my new baffles.

    With the cowls off, both engine baffle systems were re-inspected and fireproof sealant was added to seal off potential leaks and maximize airflow for cooling. I didn’t expect any noticeable improvement from this, but Paul wanted to try it.

    As you can see from yesterdays flight, all temps now are in range and reasonable (except CHT #3 of course). The climb was unrestricted on a hot day and never got much above 400F. Wow!  That was nice! I closed the cowl doors for the entire flight.

    As a result, I asked JPI  to replace both the erratic and the hot probe based on these results. I included the ‘hot probe’ as well because it was just a bit hotter on this flight than previous flights. If they send me only one probe I’ll be ok, since It could reasonably be argued that the sealed up baffles caused the temperature to drop on cylinder #4.

    I’m now on 100W oil with CamGuard and have 50 hours to play with it. I’m working in Texas in July, and considering flying. Storm damage is my real concern there, while it sits on the ramp. Both trips are relatively short, and I’m seriously considering avoiding the airlines and flying myself.

    No squawks today, other than I left bugs on it last night and the spinners really need to be polished. I’ll get to that work soon.

    Fly Safe!  Frank


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    Jun 10, 2020 – Phase III Flying

    June 11th, 2020

    Sorry – I couldn’t resist talking in phases with all this virus stuff still holding us back. I have been busy at work and too lazy to fly after working all day. The heat, humidity, and thunderstorms have been part of that equation too. I cannot blame the winds, as seem to be a bunch gusting to a bunch more every time I open the hangar door. My crosswind skills have been sharpened, but I am tending to land fast all the time. For now, I won’t be getting off at the first taxiway.

    So my A&P, Paul, reached out last week to see how I was doing burning hours towards the next oil change. We have some issues to address on the Penn Yan engine work, and in general, and apparently he knew he’d have some time to address them. I had to get moving if I was going to get the full 30 hours in so we could change out of mineral oil.

    Where do we stand: Oil consumption has been great. I put in 2 quarts of 100W mineral oil in 30 hours on the right side and 1.5 quarts in 30 hours on the left. Operation has been smooth, which is EXCELLENT!. The climbs, however, must be kept shallow with power reduced fairly soon to manage CHT#4 on the left side. That is an issue that needs to be pursued to a solution. (Suggestions?  [email protected])

    The GAMI Lean Test results were addressed by the GAMI folks, who sent us two new nozzles for cylinder #4 on both engines (no charge). The new nozzles will increase the heat when ROP, so that means I’ll be even more restricted in climbs if we do nothing else. They’ll run cooler LOP in cruise, so that’ll be good. In any event, I’m only expecting a 5 degree shift either way, per GAMI.

    I’ll have to confirm this with Penn Yan and Mike Busch, but I think I can begin LOP operations after this oil change. That may actually resolve the heat issue in cruise, but that remains to be seen. I’ll be conducting another GAMI Lean Test after the new nozzles, to verify the improvement. See the GAMI Lean Test Procedure here.

    Paul will be pulling off all the cowls and inspecting mounts, connections, and everything else as a matter of course. While they are all off, I’ve given him a summary of the work I see that needs to be accomplished.

    1. Oil Analysis: Blackstone oil analysis starts with this change. Paul suggested waiting one more phase, but I’ll start that now.
    2. Left engine Throttle movement restriction: Left engine fuel flow is lower than right. This reduces fuel available for cooling at take-off, exacerbating the already hot cyl #4 issue.
    3. GAMI Fuel Nozzles: Install new fuel nozzles per the GAMI lean test
    John-Paul Townsend from GAMI writes: On your left engine, #1 peaks first at 7.2 gph and #4 is last at 6.5 gph.  That is a 0.7 gph spread. We really want that to be under 0.5 gph.  The other two peak at 6.9 gph, so we should make #4 leaner.  That will make #4 CHT cooler while you are LOP and warmer while you are ROP, but not more than about 5°F either way. The right engine is almost identical. Two new nozzles are on the way.
    4. JPI Repair: I’ve got a definite issue with CHT#3 and a possible issue with CHT#4
    Left Cylinder #3 CHT is erratic. JPI suspects crushed wires at a clamp causing a short
    Left Cylinder #4 is 30 degrees hotter and requires shallow climbs and open cowl door in level flight. This may be an airflow issue, a Penn Yan issue, a JPI issue, or a GAMI issue. We will eliminate one at a time. Tim Sullivan from JPI recommends:
    – Disconnect the one wire from the factory CHT probe on the # 3 cyl. If probe bad or not grounded well, reading can become erratic.
    – #4 CHT, leave probes where they are mounted and swap wires with adjacent cylinder, if problem moves the bad probe.
    5. Gear door crack: Check small gear door crack near hinge rivet-stop-drill
    6. Oil change and general inspection: We’ll be using 100W straight weight oil with CamGuard.
    7. Cyl #4 Heat issue: check BAFFLES for the cause of left cylinder #4 heat (air leaks). Take pictures of both engines so I can explain baffles to others.  Swap the temperature probes between #2 and #4. Repair the CHT#3 issue.
    8. Struts are dirty: Their extension is good, but I didn’t clean them so you could evaluate for leaks.

    Running the Engines: Ok – so we know what we’ll be working on. I’m hoping I can get all the squawks out of the way and just focus on CHT#4 being hot. In the mean time though, I needed to run off the remaining hours. As of the last post on May 30th, I had 10.2 hours remaining in the Phase II 30 hour mineral oil run. I began feeling the pressure to ensure I have recent experience in cross country and instrument flights as well, given that I may be taking the wife in our airplane to Florida in July. It’s been too long since I’ve dodged storms and flown actual IMC in this machine, too long.

    On June 5th I flew for 2.2 hours with storms in the area and strong winds. I intended to do this flight VFR, mostly due to the storms being embedded at times. The plan was to fly to Ocean City, Maryland for a few practice approaches in VFR. After that I’d fly to Salisbury, Maryland for a few more and then home to Wilmington. I watched the weather as I flew south and it became clear I would’t make it home VFR today.

    Since I hadn’t filed a flight plan today, I opted to land at Ocean City and use my phone to file IFR from Salisbury to Wilmington. ForeFlight really improved the iPhone interface to make that easy. I then flew to Salisbury and did an approach there to a low approach, picking up my clearance on the go.  It was becoming clear that developing storms in Wilmington might preclude me from getting back home even IFR, so I headed north after only one approach.

    Landing at Wilmington was in gusting winds and MVFR ceilings with a storm cell 10nm north of the field. Total flight time 2.2 hours with 0.7 IMC. It began to rain as I closed the hangar door.

    On Saturday, June 6th, my wife was busy. My plan was to fly for 2+ hours both Saturday and Sunday, getting closer to the oil change time. Then I found out that my wife had convinced several of her siblings to provide care for my elderly mother in-law on Sunday, and Bev was ready to get out of the house. She is an angel for doing what she does every day, and I wouldn’t think of being busy when she can get out.

    I canceled flying for Sunday to make our day out happen, and decided I needed to fly longer on Saturday. I’d been talking with a fellow PA30 owner recently about maybe meeting halfway somewhere for lunch. We are both in the same boat – not having flown the airplanes recently and with voluntarily raised personal minimum. Jim lives in Atlanta, one of my favorite towns. I decided to drop in for a visit. Bev packed me a lunch and I was off.

    Storms were expected, and the area was mountainous, but I had that Florida trip coming up and I wanted recent cross country experience. I launched on what would be 8.9 hours of flying, down and back. I made a few mistakes along the way, but the airplane was flawless. I will say I ran the entire trip ROP at reduced power to manage heat. Still made what I consider great time, when you include a stop for cheap fuel in there.

    One notable pilot error was stopping for gas at an unfamiliar airport. Cherokee County (KCNI) is in the middle of hills and terrain, and has one hell of a slope landing west (rwy 23). It also has cheap gas, which apparently drew every cessna and piper airplane into it’s pattern. It was a bit distracting hearing all these aircraft (5 or six at once) in the pattern call out ‘Cessna 123 left downwind 23 Cherokee’. By the time I entered the pattern I was number 3 and could only see one of the aircraft in front of me.

    I got the gear down early, but my mistake was in NEVER running my GUMPS check. This is part of my nature, but I got busy looking for traffic and it dropped off. I’m working hard to find traffic and two airplanes are waiting to depart. With a start!, I realized my omission on short final and stole a glance out at the mirror to verify gear down. Since I wasn’t looking forward, I didn’t see the runway slope filling my windscreen until the last moment. My landing was reasonable, but I only saved it in the last few seconds (that is what if felt like anyway). On a good note – I heard several compliments like ‘Nice Twin’ on short final.  I never looked at the AFD and was not aware of that significant slope. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.

    On Saturday, June 10th, I had completed the Phase II hours and was ready for my oil change. I made the short flight down to 33N, and my wife was freed up to come bring me home. As it turned out, Paul had an emergency and had left the field. He expected me to leave the airplane on the ramp, but I chose not to. Thunderstorms were in the area that night, and expected in the morning. I turned the wife around and flew back home. We’ll figure it out tomorrow.

    On Saturday, June 11th, as I write this, the airplane has been delivered. Thunderstorms are expected; winds are gusting as usual; and low clouds are in the area. Wilmington airport has shortened hours, and the tower is closed until 8am. I filed an IFR flight plan for a 7am departure and picked it up easily on the ground with Philly departure. I climbed into the clouds around 1500′, heading for 4000′.

    One of the reasons you need recency is learning to trust the instruments and the autopilot. The winds were 30-40 knots climbing through 2000′ and the drift bug and correction angle the autopilot was commanding looked wrong. I was communicating with Philly and watching the systems do their thing, while seriously considering disconnecting the A/P.

    I reconsidered, figuring I could monitor course and attitude easily, and take it when I needed to. Instead, I wanted to verify it was working when I needed it to. The approach from that point, including clearance changes for the RNAV 27 into 33N from Blare, was absolutely flawless. I disconnected the automation around 900′ because I was getting bounced around in gusting winds, but flew the needles right to the ground. Good to know what is available in an emergency, and I’m confident I could rely on the airplane to get me where I needed to be.

    That’s it for now.  If you have the chance to fly an instrument approach before you start your workday – do that. I’m stoked with enough energy to make it fun all day.

    Fly safe!


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    May 30, 2020 – One really good day!

    June 1st, 2020

    This past Saturday was one really nice day for me. The weather was very temperate and there were only a few clouds hanging out around 3000′.  I’m still flying conservatively by avoiding flying IFR while I’m analyzing and pampering these new engines.

    I had a nice breakfast with Beverly, as we watched the increasing pleasure boat traffic on the C&D canal. After that was all done, I pulled out the Harley, loaded up the cameras and my flight bag, and headed off to the airport.

    Todays mission would be to fly to Atlantic City, perform two practice approaches, and then head southwest to Salisbury, Maryland. There I’d do a few more approaches before heading back to Wilmington, Delaware.

    My engines are still being broken in. Actually, I think the right side is completely broken in while the left engine still has cylinder #4 making me wonder if its break in has been completed or not. Cylinder #4 continues to run 30 degrees hotter than everyone else, so I’m limiting power and maximizing airflow to control to that cylinder.

    The JPI system is having an issue I’ve spoken about before. CHT probe #3 is definitely broken in some way. The CHT for that cylinder looks normal most of the time, but has momentary excursions from -90 deg F up to +600 deg F that’ll get your heart going. I have been given advice to look for a bad ground, but that is doubtful given the behavior of the system as a whole. I may be wrong here.

    I spoke with JPI just now, since they didn’t respond to my email. They are confident that it is an installation issue, and will most likely be found at one of the clamps securing the wires. They want me to look for a crushed connection shorting the red and yellow wires together and involving this lead. An alternative would be to swap the probes to rule out a bad probe, though they said that probes either work 100% or not at all.

    I’ll need to fly off 10 more hours to get the oil changed, swap the two probes (#3 and #4), and see what that gets me. These issues are solvable. By swapping those two probes, I’ll also be able to ensure that the hot cylinder #4 is actually hot and not a probe issue. I know, I know – the odds of finding an issue that fixes everything at once like this is nil. Worth a shot though.

    Of course – if the probe I’m moving to #4 is actually bad – I’ll have a bad probe on a hot cylinder whose data I need. Let me think about that some more.

    Todays Flying: Every now and then the stars line up and it is a wonderful day. I came out today knowing that the issues I’m running down are not threatening problems, and I can start expanding my use of my airplane. Today I’d be doing a few practice approaches, checking the data, and fine tuning my engine management for the next go. I already know I’ll be shallowing my climbs on go-around, to keep that #4 temp down.

    I like the video I put together for this one…..  I’m slowly improving my editing skills, I think.

    The video link included here was only the first leg. The fun continued and included flying over the canal and my house on the way home. This was a very cool day indeed.

    Fly safe!


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    May 12, 2020 – Bumpy CHT inspection

    May 12th, 2020

    As you know, I’ve been tracking an issue with the left engine CHT #3 reading. You can get a sense for what it’s doing looking at the graph to the left that spans over an hour. Notice the two blips around 22 minutes into the flight that suddenly rise maybe 50 degrees over where they were. The sudden rise is a spike that lasts only 1 reading. Readings at the time of the flight were set to occur every 6 seconds.

    I never notice this has happened until I see an alarm around 37 or so minutes into the flight.

    You can see where the CHT #3 reading spiked over the bright red line that is set to Lycoming’s limit of 450 degrees. Those readings persisted for only two or three six second samplings, and then dropped right back to normal. They stayed high only long enough to startle me, and then settled right back down to normal readings. I was able to observe the spastic fluctuations that continued to occur for the next few minutes (you can see them approaching alarm levels again at 42+ minutes), although I lost 200′ paying too much attention to them.

    This graph looks to me like a loose connection, so I shortened the flight until I was able to look for those. My A&P suggested I remove a panel and check the connections. I’d come to the same conclusion and went over to the hanger yesterday morning (5/11/2020).

    Taking a look inside: Sometimes it makes sense for a non-mechanic owner to take a look. I’ve been able to do more with my airplane in that regard, but this time I had no idea what to look for.

    Click on the picture at left and you’ll see a good shot of what I was facing. No way I’m pulling things apart to look more closely. There was nothing amiss I could detect, so I called Paul. I did take a moment to reflect on how clean everything looked and enjoy the fact that I owned this thing.

    Luckily, Paul was available right at that moment. so I jumped on the chance to fly down. There were showers in the area and the winds were howling. I ignored my hangover, forgot that I had a dentist appointment that afternoon, and launched for the 15 minute flight to have him take a look. I’m anal retentive when it comes to driving that squawk list to zero!

    Paul and I had a nice lunch while the engine cooled off, and he opened up the bundle of connections at left and removed the fire sleeve on the blade probe itself to inspect connections.

    I was surprised that each individual JPI wire has the purpose printed right on it. CHT #3 was clearly printed on the lead wire, once the bundle was unwrapped. This is quality material.

    Connections within the sleeve verified tight and appropriate.

    Connections on the probe itself are also tight and appropriate.

    The only other connections are on the instrument side, and my understanding is that is a production cannon plug. All connections appear good, so we didn’t accomplish anything on the face of it. I definitely did – mind you. This was a necessary step before I talk directly to JPI, assuming the issue continues.

    I did learn that some zip ties are able to withstand more heat than others. That was a new concept to me. I also learned more about washer type probes versus blade type probes, and that the engine cylinders already have a plug in the cylinder to accommodate the later. Thanks Gary M for reading my last post and calling me to share what you know. It’s all great stuff and it helps when we work together. Thank you!

    The picture at left is not from my airplane, but you can see the plug on the cylinder where the blade would normally go. Getting my eyes on this stuff helps.

    There were no obvious connection issues found. Sometimes there are ghosts and gremlins in machines, and just touching them or swearing at them chases them away. Maybe that happened in this case. In any event, we put it all back together as the wind cranked up even more for the ride home.

    I made it home in time to hangar the airplane, but not early enough to do it properly. I had to zoom off to my dental appointment and return afterward to finish putting N833DF away.

    I’m looking forward to flying again. That might be today, but I’m not sure I know how to fly in less than 40 knot winds. We’ll see. The idea is to put 2 or 3 hours on the engines today, and try to get the CHT issue to repeat itself. When that happens, I’ll look for a warranty replacement of the probe itself.

    I am so lucky to have finished this project before all this virus disruption happened. Now I sit here with a clear way to avoid the airlines for all but international travel. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m now poised to take advantage of the results.

    Bev and I are planning Florida in July so we can vacation on the surface of the sun, and several other trips with our friends for the balance of the year.

    Fly safe!



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