My 2023 Condition Inspection continues over the weekend of 3/24/23 through 3/26/23. A couple of weeks ago I inspected, cleaned, and lubricated the tail. The only notable finding was a small crack in the faring that covers the intersection of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers.
I was concerned that it would need a fiberglass repair which is beyond my skill set. I took it to the guy who built the airplane 20+ years ago, fortunately he is still on the airport, to get his opinion. After I got it off the airplane it was obvious that it didn't crack all the way through. After he looked at it for a while he was able to determine that it was just a crack in the filler, not in the structural glass.
He suggested sanding out all of the filler that was cracking and putting in new filler. The drawback to this repair scheme is that it would require a paint touch up. The painter who helped with my wing tip has some of that paint left over, so that is a good thing, The bad thing is that the color doesn't really match very well. He doesn't like doing touch ups because you can always tell they've been touched up. He would want to painting the whole thing, and then the whole thing wouldn't match.
After a little more thought, he suggested getting some wicking super glue and just flow some of that in there to keep any more breaking up from occurring. This seemed like the least intrusive repair, so that is what I did.
Note that the area near the forward screw hole where the filler already fell out has been there for a while. A small piece of blue electrical tape hides that fairly well, from a distance at least.
The next day I did the wings. There was really nothing to talk bout there, it was all straight forward. The inspection per SB 16-03-28 revealed nothing new and looked exactly as it did last year as shown here.
With all of the smaller stuff out of the way, it is time to get serious about finishing up. That means doing the firewall forward and fuselage. I generally do those together since they are the largest, most time consuming part and they both sort of need to have the seats and most of the interior out.
On Saturday 3/25/23 I rolled it out and flew for about .5 to get everything warmed up. It was cloudy and bumpy but at least I made a good landing. I know it was a good landing because there was no one around to see it and I didn't have any cameras on.
When I came back I rolled it in and took the top cowl off and did a compression check. Cylinders 1 and 4 were in the low 70s and cylinders 2 and 3 were in the mid 70s. For an engine with over 2,300 hours I count that as pretty good.
The next step was to get the old oil out. With the setup installed last year allowing oil to be drained from the front boss, it is much easier and less messy to get oil out than it used to be. The one drawback is that I have to raise the tail to get as much oil out from that location as possible.
My old drain pan had developed a leak at the drain spout, so I chucked it and got a new one. The new one is bigger, not greater capacity, just greater surface area. It seems to work well. Once I had the plug off, the oil sample out and and the oil draining I called it a day as there were other, non-aviation-related tasks that had to be performed.
I came back Sunday afternoon with the intention of getting the finger screen inspected and the oil filter replaced. I didn't think that was too aggressive a schedule for a couple hours of work, but I may have over estimated.
For the first few years I owned the airplane I had been finding some pretty significant carbon chunks in the finger screen and smaller particles, almost like sand, in the filter. Because of that, I had been checking the screen every oil change. It has gotten better the past few oil changes and I think I can go to every other oil change, but since this was the CI, I wanted to look at it this time.
Ordinarily, removing and inspecting the finger screen is no big problem, however I have a Christen inverted oil system which adds about a plus 10 to the difficulty factor. I have gotten quite used to it and it usually isn't a problem, but I didn't do as good a job with the safety wire last time. There are two items anchored to the same lug on the case. I couldn't tell which was which so, naturally, I cut the wrong one. Now I have to redo both. The other goes to the useless quick drain on the other side of the case.
One problem is two oil lines, one going to the slobber pot for the inverted system and the other for the breather line coming out of the slobber pot.
In order to gain a little more room to maneuver tools, I wanted to get the breather line and that hose disconnected.
The breather hose is just held on with two hose clamps, so I thought it would be easy to get out of the way. Wrong. It has been where it is for a few years and is, apparently, quite happy there as I was unable to persuade it to come off.
I disconnected the line to the bottom of the slobber pot, not expecting anything to come out, the crank case had already been draining over night. Nothing came out. Well, nothing came out at first. As soon as I loosened the finger screen I felt something cold on my leg. It turned out, it was stuff coming out of that hose. What came out was a nasty combination of water and oil and who knows what.
My left lower leg was soaked. I figured I had just ruined an old pair of jeans that I use for working on the airplane. I needed to get more done, so I just kind of suffered though it for a while. It turned out that most of what was on my leg was just water and it had evaporated by the time I got home.
I was very surprised by all of that. I had never taken that line off before, but it is very definitely routed under the oil sump, so anything in it is below the drain ports in the sump.
Obviously, when draining the engine, the contents of this hose are trapped and don't get drained. The good thing, is that since I haven't taken it inverted, the contents of that line have also not gotten back into the engine. It looks like it will need to be part of the oil change to disconnect that hose and drain it too.
Fortunately, there was very little carbon in the finger screen, less than I have seen since I bought the airplane. At least I can feel confident going to every oil oil change to check it.
By the time I got all that done, it was time to call it a day and head home since I have to go to work tomorrow UGH.
Next week I plan to remove the old oil filter and install the new reusable oil filter, remove and clean the slobber pot, and hopefully make more progress than I did this weekend.