XCountry experience

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pieter001
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XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:43 am

Thought I'll share my latest adventure...

My intention has always been to fly from FAHG to FAAF near Overberg with my Mooney to visit my folks, who lives in Struisbaai. So the idea is to fly the whole family down whenever we please, weather allowing.

So, last Sat 23 Feb 2013 I did the recon flight, alone. From FAHG to FABW to refuel and use the facilities and then on to FAAF. With a firm headwind the flight to FABW took 4hrs, which was 45min more than I had expected, but I had plenty of fuel etc, so all good, except...

The engine started blurping every so often, past bloem, around 2h50 into the flight it actually started missing every now and then, at which point I checked everything and reset the Mix etc. The RPM was behaving weirdly in that it would "wander" of fluctuate from 2300 to 2500rpm and sometimes over to 2600! So I was slightly stirred, not shaken, but kept a keen eye on the ground just incase and kept at FL085. To top things off I noticed that my oil pressure started dropping... slowly at first by steadily!!

at 60nm from FABW I was getting low in the yellow arc of oil pressure, so I came back on throttle and tried to control RMP at 2400, but with the wandering it was nearly impossible! 40nm out I started gliding at 15" MAP and simply tried to keep the enige warm and low idle to keep as much oil in the motor as I could.

It turned out ok and landed at FABW, filled up the fuel and checked the oil, which was at 2 pints!! I took off with 6.5 and burned/leaked off 4.5 pints in 4 hrs of flight time!! Crazy, I did check under the plane, but there were not nearly enough oil streaks down the fuss to explain 4 pints of oil. Exhaust was burning BLACK, which never happens!

At FABW there is no aviation oil, so the manager at the field was on his way from town and after confirming with my AMO, he brought me 5l of 20W 50 motor engine oil. What else can one do? So filled to just about 8 pints I took off for FAAF.

To the brim with oil and fuel the TO from FABW was fine and even the RPM was settling.

The CSU is a concern and after MPI the prop would not cycle at all. They corrected a cable issue, but it was not the real problem... This was beginning to growl and show teeth...

To FAAF is 1h45 min, but 15min into the flight the RPM started fluctuating again. At least the Oil pressure kept in the green.

The weather was great so safely at FAAF and parked Jane and tied her down for the night. The next morning I met Andrew Burger from FAAF at the field and asked for his opinion. The consensus was that it could be a blown ring, as there simply was not enough oil on the fuss to explain a leak! I burned 2 pints in the 2hr flight time from FABW to FAAF!

Monday morning I took the plane to Robertson to meet Vincent Seagrave, who recently moved to Robertson from Vereniging I learned. He was very helpful and did a blowby, which confirmed that I did not blow a ring, but the plugs were in a sad state. The engine would run very rough at times and then smooth out again and it seems that at times not all the cylinders were producing power! So Tuesday my folks, bless them for their patience, drove me to Stellair to get new plugs and a CSU gasket, which we then took to Vince at Robertson. The remainder of Tuesday Vince replaced the plugs and CSU gasket, but it was clear that the gasket was not the problem...

The real culprit was an O-Ring in the CSU, which has 2 flanges and inbetween there sits this green oring. I think it is a Vitton one by the looks... This thing was not completely shot, but it was leaking and leaking big time! To the extend that the CSU could not govern the prop at effectively. This explains why my decsent into Robertson the day before had my RPM run away into the 2800 region and I battled to control the RPM!

Vince did the best job he could on this part and once everything was sorted, the motor was running smooth and the CSU was better than it has ever been, althoug it still seeps oil, it is much, much better.

The test flight went well but on landing I had a nervous moment... The left gear felt like it wanted to give way! I stopped and checked that it was locked, but Vince saw a big crack in the left landing gear. This is at the top bar which swivles through the leading and trailing edge! Ouch! It must have been there for some time, it was full of grease and oil etc. So it should last me to get back home, but then I'll have to take it to Rand Airport as there at Aircraft Refurbishments I believe it can be fixed.

So the weather this week is also not great and I hope to fly back to FAHG on Saturday, uneventfully :)

This has been a learning curve!!

Plane is now less than 10hrs after MPI, at which point the CSU was not working correctly, but with my limited experience I did not understand this. Pitty the AMO seem also not to understand this, nor see cracks in landing gear... Makes me wonder.

Will keep you posted on my return.

Fly safe,

Pieter
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by Rotor kop » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:59 am

Interesting reading BUT how on earth could you take a chance with a engine that is threatening to fail?? I would have landed at the first opertunity or at least NOT taken off from wonderboom. Not looking for a bun fight just interested to know why you decided to proceed with a problem?

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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by Chimsoro » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:55 pm

Brave boy--Pieter. You must become a member of LCC.
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:59 am

At FAWB, where the MPI was done, I took the plane for the test flight, as it was signed out SAFE to fly. So at the holding bay I did the run ups where I noticed the prop would not cycle. So taxied back and explained that there is a problem and the AMO got in the plane and recognised that there was a problem and he suspected the cable to be at fault. They crimped one of the metal telescopic seeths (don't know what you call this thing) so that the cable won't simply bend and it did help.
So the prop cycled, but it took a longer than normal time to return to the FINE position. I completed the test flight as the sun was getting closer to the horison and I needed to get to FAHG. I mentioned to the AMO that I'm not happy but will monitor and bring her back if it does not get better...
The engine never once missed a beat in all of this.I later requested the blowby's and was told 72 72 70 70, which sounded great. I only had one flight to Zebula after this and the engine again was fine. The RPM was stable and I never had any reason to doubt the motor.
I have to mention that I asked the AMO about oil consumption as Jane has always required at least 100/200ml of oil per hour, which seemed high to me. The AMO assured me that this is quite normal for big bore motors with big tolerances.
What I have to state is that the plane never quite "felt" the same after the MPI... The MAP would read like it was stuck at times, either at 23" or nothing, it would not simply move like it used to. Why this could be I have no idea. I noticed later that one of the nuts on the dash is missing, so it could be that they removed the panel and this caused tension somewhere..? Can't say, but the MAP is still not smooth as it used to be.
The question is why then would the oil consumption jump from 200ml per hour to 1ltr per hour in a 4hr flight to FABW? I managed the engine as normal, nothing out of the ordinary. I flew at FL095, comfortably and throttle almost wide open, just a tad from full position, which is what I normally do even if it is said to be better at full. I simply find that I save 6-8 ltr per hour just moving a tad from full.
So the motor started to run rough and oil consumption through the roof... In Robertson we took out the spark plugs and they were in an absolute shocking state! The chap said he'd never have put these plugs back in any motor and we put new ones in. After this and the entire flight back the motor was not missing at all. So I suspect that one cylinder did not fire every so often and that is certainly what the roughness was. Could a cylinder not firing lead to such oil consumption? Have to wonder why the plugs were not changed during the MPI 8hrs earlier?
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:52 pm

Good friend Kevin pointed out that I have stated my FL incorrectly at FL095 when in fact I was flying to FABW at FL085 going there.
Thanks Kevin, very sharp eye on the details :D
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by Lood » Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:59 am

WOW :!: You've been screwed, Pieter - not only by your AMO, but even more so by whoever overhauled that engine. Like my own engine, it sounds like every possible shortcut had been taken during the overhaul and the main objective was to do it as cheaply as possible. :shock: Apart from the money it costs afterwards, it might cost us our lives. #-o

I've said this many times before, but here goes again: Anybody intending to buy a Mooney, proceed as follows to avoid the exact scenario that Pieter described above and that also happened to me:
Take the Mooney down to SA Mooney and pay them for a basic MPI - in my book, there's no such thing as a pre-purchase inspection. It's only the labour you'll pay for and will set you back around R12k. This will be the best R12k you'll ever spend and it might not only save you mega bucks, but maybe also your life. If there's a snag on a Mooney, they'll find it and if the seller is not prepared to fix it or deduct the costs from the initial selling price - walk away.
My Mooney used to be maintained by two different "reputable" AMO's before I bought it. However, after the first MPI at SA Mooney, I was left with a R100k bill. Just about everything that could be wrong was and even things like SB's and IIRC, some AD's weren't complied with. Since then, I've never had either an overly expensive MPI, nor any snag leaving me stranded. Apart form a flat battery, I've flown from MPI to MPI without my Mooney missing one beat, for the past 5 years. =D>
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by Chimsoro » Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:51 am

And I agree with LOOD. +
KPK tanks were never sealed properly until it went to SA Mooney.
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:45 pm

Lesson learnt. I'm sure the snaglist on my Mooney will be extensive if I take it to SA Mooney as it is. Will try and get as much as possible resolved over the next 2 years and then bite the bullet and go to SA Mooney. For now it seems Jane is in for a top end overhaul at 365 odd hrs SMOH!
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by Lood » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:33 pm

Pieter, you should maybe make an appointment with Pat and sit down with him to discuss a process during which your Mooney can be brought to the condition you'd like it to be. It doesn't have to happen in one go and my experience with SA Mooney has been one of great satisfaction and peace of mind.
Wrt your engine, while you're at it, let someone who knows engine do the top end and don't let anything pass.
Good luck.
"An airplane might disappoint any pilot, but it'll never surprise a good one." — Len Morgan
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:09 pm

Spoke to Brian Clack today, he is looking at Jane's engine for me. Borescope only revealed that they will have to remove all 4 cylinders for a better look. There is oil everywhere, even on top of the pistons. They are preparing for their AMO inspection so not much will be happening this week, but hopefully next week I'll get more information. This sounds expensive already :(
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by Lood » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:28 am

Pieter, I really feel your pain. This is one of those nightmares came true of aviation. It happened to me as well, totally unexpected and out of time. Mine was much worse than yours and yes, it did cost me a fortune. I really hope you get through this one without too much damage.

IIRC, this engine wasn't overhauled too long ago by APCO or AEP :?: Even though your engine is probably way past its guarantee, I would certainly bring it under their attention that their work was sub standard. They should at least make some effort to determine the problem and give some answers. I'm sure they charged the full amount for their work, at the time.
Four cylinder Lycomings are not called "bullet proof", around the world, for nothing and even after a "poor" overhaul, should run for at least 1000 hrs. I wouldn't leave this one without making a few waves. Aviation service providers cost us owners mega bucks when they do any kind of work on our airplanes and they should account for it when things like this happen. :evil:
Good luck, Pieter and keep us posted. Bad as it is, it help when you can tell someone about it that understands what you're saying. Ask me...
"An airplane might disappoint any pilot, but it'll never surprise a good one." — Len Morgan
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:21 pm

Well, seems I've 2 cracked cylinders. So top end with replacement of 2 cylinders. All cylinders are +10, so 2 new ones are going to be a slight problem... Either 4 new/ish, or 2 +10 needed it seems.
Will be chatting to Brian on Monday, I'm in need or a quote and to get this job started etc. Plane has been standing for 3 weeks, but it feels like forever to me :(
When I know more, I'll share here :)
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:21 pm

Sjoe, make that 3 scrapped cylinders! Awaiting the quote.... 8-[
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by Lood » Wed May 08, 2013 9:14 am

Who at FAWB did the last MPI :?:
"An airplane might disappoint any pilot, but it'll never surprise a good one." — Len Morgan
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Re: XCountry experience

Unread post by pieter001 » Sun May 12, 2013 8:03 pm

AMC
All due respect, but I'll be taking my plane to a new AMO ;)
The engine was last rebuild at FAWB by AEP and all I can think is that everything barely made the grade for the rebuild.
2 Cracked and 1 worn cylinder at 360hrs after MOH! I did overspeed as the CSU basically failed in flight, but maybe for 10sec and not over 2800RPM and that is exaggerating hugely! I'd say maybe 6 seconds arouns 2750 was more like it... Fail to see how that can crack a cylinder, let alone two and then how can one be worn on 360hrs?
So, I should get Jane back from Brian Clack this week after a TOH to the tune of 45k, which all things considered is not too bad. I'll have two STD cylinders and 2 10+ and I trust I'll not have issues for the next 1000 hrs :)
Can't wait, been on the ground for a might long time. Thanks to Kevin for taking me along in his lovely RV7 every so often :)
Also found that I have a burning desire to build a Whisper X... When the kids are out the house 2 seats and 170kts will do just fine. So that will give me 6 years to get the job done. Just to save the cash after all the recent expenses :(
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