Launch Countdown

In Late January '04 the guys over in the canard forum got me thinking. I was in a rut and seemed to be struggling to make real progress in any particular direction. A big complex project like this can get overwhelming. My problem was that I was floating, with no specific goals or deadlines. I was getting a lot of emails from people who are following my progress, and planning to install a rotary, so decided I could perhaps help them follow some of the deatils while also challenging myself a bit. So, I picked Feb 29th as "launch day" and announced a countdown. Here is the text from the forum a few days behind, expanded here and there as I think of new stuff, and with a few pictures to help clarify things.

The Announcement

OK. It's time to put myself on the line and set a target for first flight. This will help motivate me (being accountable like this) and might be of interest to others. So what's the target. Leap year day, of course! My plans arrived in late Feb '99, and I started building on 3/6/99, so this date fits well. It will be exactly 5 years from start date.

So. This is day 30 and counting. I have absolutely no idea whether I'll make it or not, and I'm sure not going to compromise safety, but a target is a target, and I'll shoot for it, work permitting. By the way, one thing I will NOT do is fly the first flight with well wishers looking on. Even Char isn't going to know when the first flight will occur. So, don't decide to show up on Feb 29th. This will effectively cancel the first flight, should it be on target by some weird freak of luck. A bit of pressure to FINISH is a good idea. Pressure to FLY on a specific date isn't.

What do I have left to do? Here is the list. I'm trying to keep it upto date, but much of what I do each day isnt even on it.

Day 30

Yesterday I cut off the lower pipe from the cast water pump housing and adjusted the angle to allow it to miss the alternator belt (which is running lower than stock because I lowered the smog pump to get it under the cowl. I left it with Charlie to weld the piece back on at the new angle.

Today I collected the newly welded water pump housing and installed it on the engine using Ultra-grey and the stock manifold gasket. I installed the water pump itself, then disassembled the smog pump to see how easy it might be to remove the clutch and have it run without having to energize it. It doesnt look easy, so tomorrow I'll probably reassemble the clutch and install the smog pump as is. Tonight I'll ask in the flyrotary list in case Ed (he's also using the smog pump for vacuum) knows how to do this.

I duct taped the exhaust shroud, installed it in the cowling, then used modelling clay to make 1 inch curved forms between the shround and the cowl for a layup. Right now my exit holes are simply cut out of the cowl shape. I'm adding a short (2 inch) tube at each cowl exit hole for the exhaust shroud and intercooler exit ducts to ride in. Pictures will make this clearer shortly. I layed up 2 BID tapes over the clay forms onto the cowl and duct taped shroud. I also duct taped the new cowl door I've cut at the front of the cowl for checking coolant levels. I layed up a 2 BID lip on the inside of the cowl around the new door.

Total time 3 hours.

Plan for tomorrow. 
Reassemble and install smog pump
Install and tension alternator belt
Install vacuum regulator and vacuum pipes

Day 29

I don't know if this countdown thing is helping anyone else, but it's sure helping me. If you don't set targets, then you won't meet any. Now I have a target, and I'm motivated to meet it.

OK. The plan for today was:

Reassemble and install smog pump
Install and tension alternator belt
Install vacuum regulator and vacuum pipes
When I got to the hangar I dived in to cleaning up the cured layup on the rear of the cowling. When the clay was all gone I laid up another 2 ply BID on the inside curve. I moved the exhaust shround to the other side, reversed it to get an identical curve the other way and did the modelling clay thing on that side too.

I fiddled with the smog pump for a while, but decided that removing the clutch would require an properly engineered center for the replacement pully. I decided to defer this issue and just mount the pump as-is. I have the tension bracket already made so installing the pump was a breeze. I've been trying to decide where to mount the vacuum regulator. The ideal place would be on the firewall above the aileron torque tube, but this would mean drilling through the spar, and would take up room I want to use for the overflow bottle. In the end I decided I could mount it right on the smog pump with a 1/2 NPT to 3/4 npt 90 degree fitting. This will also save me a hose and a pair of connectors. The regulator will be hanging off the smog pump, but it's made of steel, so I dont see a problem with that. I tensioned the belt, but then had to take it off again to remove the incorrect hose fitting.

This evening I went down to the hangar again, cleaned up the second set of layups on the cowl exit holes and microed them so they'd be cured ready for sanding tomorrow.

Total time 8 hrs.

Plan for tomorrow. 
Sand and remicro cowl exits
finalize exhaust shroud fit
Test smog pump clutch and wire it to a switch
Test fan wiring
wire air/fuel ration sensor
wire water temp sensor
wire alternator field

Plan for Monday
Order 9 * 9 100 4031 steel sheet for brackets
Order more BID
Get smog pump fitting from hose shop
Look in breakers yard for a smaller compressor. 

Day 28

The day started a bit late and ended a bit early.

I did the following:

Sand and remicro cowl exits - almost ready for primer.
finalize exhaust shroud fit - I'm pleased with the new look.
Test smog pump clutch - works fine.
Test fan wiring - replaced bad crimp. Wiring is good.

Didnt do:
wire smog pump to a switch
wire air/fuel ration sensor
wire water temp sensor
wire alternator field
But I did install the cowl door latch and hinge.
Total - 3 hrs

Plan for tomorrow:

Order 9 * 9 100 4031 steel sheet for brackets
Order more BID
Get smog pump fitting from hose shop
Get washer for turbo water union from hose shop
Look in breakers yard for a smaller compressor
wire smog pump to a switch
wire air/fuel ratio sensor
wire water temp sensor
wire alternator field

Day 27

This was another very short day. The [house] AC broke and I had to wait home for the repairman. Don't cry for me, you Northerners. On top of that today is Char's birthday, so she got some special attention. Gotta keep the GIB happy!

I managed just 2 hours on the plane. I got the ordering done, but didn't make it up to the hose shop or the breakers yard. I did sand the cowl exits and cowl door some more and now have the whole cowl pretty much ready for primer. Yes, it HAS been gloss painted once. Since then it's had 2 doors added and the rear exits modified. Perhaps I painted too early. Anyway, I'm rubbing it down and will paint it again, along with a few other areas on the fuselage that need attention.

I'd previously run a 22 gauge 3 pair color-coded teflon wire from the engine compartment to the panel, so hooking up the water temp, fuel pressure and air/fuel ratio sensors to the gauges was a very simple 30 minute job once I found the wiring diagrams. I also bolted the engine temp sensor to the engine and wired it to the voice system.

Tomorrows plan:

Get smog pump fitting from hose shop
Get washer for turbo water union from hose shop
Look in breakers yard for a smaller compressor
wire smog pump to a switch - where to put the switch???
wire alternator idiot light
work on fitting compressor

Day 26

Did I say the cowl was almost ready for primer? I should know better. Nothing is ready for primer until the paint's in the gun, and often not even then. I worked on the cowl for an hour or so getting it closer, but not quite there.

Next I worked on the exhaust. I cut it off to about 2.5 inches short of the end of the stainless shroud and installed the EGT sensor. My exhaust pipe is now a total of 7 inches long. I cut into the end of the pipe about 1/2 inch in four places and bent the ends of the pipe to create a bit of a swirl effect.

I started work on the smog pump wiring, but ran out of time. I did identify an unused switch, kinda. The AC fan was on a seperate switch. I'll run it on the same switch as the compressor and use this for the vacuum. Can't see any reason why I'd need to turn off the vacuum, but I dont like the idea of hot wiring it to the battery switch, so it gets a switch and a seperate fuse. I tested the pump clutch and found that it wants 2.3 amps to stay closed. Seems like a waste of amps, but I'll live with it for now. Now I have 1 spare fuse. I also spent some time checking circuites on the voice system and cleaning up the wiring at the firewall, rerouting some wires and connecting the air/temp sensor. I'll finish this wiring in the am.

I paid a visit to a guy who has a complete panel from an old Cessna twin he wants to sell. My thought was that maybe I'd be able to pick up some cheap nav/com gear. The panel was from a '64 model, mostly original and 24v with some items running 115v. Too big, too heavy and too complex. Its not worth having a rec 1a between panel rev 1 and 2. I'll get a handheld GPS until I can afford rev2, and I'll be just fine.

I got my parts from the hose shop, then stopped into the neigboring breakers yard. The MX3 compressor I already have seems small compared to almost all the ones I looked at. There's a small Saturn that has something that seems smaller, but after an hour wandering around the yard, I decided to have another shot at fitting what I've got. I did get a nice square overflow bottle from a small Toyota.

total time - 7.5 hours (4 at the hangar)

Tomorrows plan

Install vacuum fitting & hose
Install turbo union washer
Finish wiring smog pump 
wire alternator idiot light
work on fitting compressor
adjust stainless shroud length slightly

Day 25

Quite a productive day.

I installed the new vacuum fitting, but there was a problem. This is the sort of stuff you trip over when you're not very experienced at this. There's just too much to get you're head around and you (at least I) miss little details that bite. The smog pump adapter plate is a 1/2 NPT and the regulator is 3/8 NPT. The adapter I got was a 3/8 > 3/8 90 degree with a 1/2npt adapter bushing. Are you with me so far? When I assembled everything the regulator was an inch too high because of the fittings. I scraped the original aluminum adapter, made a new one with a 3/8 NPT so I didnt need the bushing, and had it tapped deep to lower the fitting as much as possible. I finished wiring the smog pump to it's switch, fuse and ground. Now I have a completed vacuum system and the cowl still fits.

I installed my union washer and tightened up the turbo water outlet. This led me to installing a connector hose and hose clamps to the turbo air outlet.

I "adjusted" the stainless shroud with the dremel and, while I was cutting stainless, I cut a square to cover the hole in my firewall where the heat duct used to be. This was installed with JB weld, and while I was down there I modified the fuel vents to point forward a bit more and JB welded the vent covers in place.

I tested the AC switch and checked the draw. The AC switch now activates the condensor fan and the compressor clutch, plus lights a blue LED on the panel.

While I was installing the wiring I noticed a spot for my Tiny Tach rpm gauge. It fits nicely on the lower center console, now that the console is properly screwed down. The tach is directly in front of the throttle. Perfect. I screwed the tiny tach in place.

I spent some time fiddling with the AC compressor trying to figure out how to get the clearance needed for the fittings. I think I have a solution which I'll describe in detail if it works. The AC compressor is the last major item to be done under the cowl other than the turbo air pipes.

I didn't get to the alternator warning light.

Total time - 9 hrs.

Tomorrow's plan (which I've started printing out and taking with me)

Bulent is paying a visit to pick up a 2nd gen oil cooler I dont need
Alternator warning light
Route tiny tach wires to engine
AC Compressor
Drill heat shroud for air/fuel sensor access
Swap AC and Vac pipes for better routing 
Tighten hose fittings behind firewall using Buly as slave

Day 24

I decided it would be a good idea to put the alternator idiot light on the panel next to the alternator overvoltage breaker. I've got the LED thing down to a fine art now. Drill a hole a push fit size for the LED body, grab an LED and a resistor, solder it all together, wire it up, shrink wrap and stuff it in the hole. Bingo - an LED alternator warning light.

Bulent turned up with coffee & donuts around 10am. and we compared notes for an hour or so. I asked him if he thinks I'll get this baby airborne in 25 days. His quick one-word answer: "Nope".

Buly held the wrench at the firewall while I climbed in the back and swapped over the vac and H2O pipes for better routing, then tightened up all the firewall fittings. I think he left a bit overwhelmed at all the work he hasn't done yet.

We jiggled with the AC Compressor trying to check which way it's supposed to turn. Apparantly the large port sucks and the small one blows. Aint that always the way. There's no fluid in my compressor now, so its impossible to tell. I also got a PM pointing out that some compressor's go on and off, and some don't. I replied that this will be a case of "suck it and see". I'll worry about getting the AC working properly after the bird has flown, before the summer sets in, and before the wife gets in.

I held off on the tach wires because I have a few more wires for CHT/EGT/Oil temp/Oil Press to run, and might as well do these at the same time. As far as I can figure this is THE LAST OF THE WIRES!

I drilled the heat shroud for the air/fuel sensor and managed to install the sensor from inside the shroud with the wire and part of the body sticking out of the hole. Next I tightened up the bolts and bracket holding the heat shield / shroud and tried the cowling fit. No good. I got it on, but with the lower cowl in place it would be impossible. The fit is too tight. Something is going to have to be adjusted. Either the cowl, the bracket or both. This goes on tomorrows list.

total time - 5 hrs.

Plan for tomorrow

Route tach, CHT/EGT/Oil temp/Oil Press wires to engine
"adjust" cowl opening / shroud bracket for better cowl fit
mess with the compressor some more

Day 23

I'm here to tell you that an MX3 compressor CAN be installed on an RX7 engine. I have also learned that there are quite large parts of compressors and throttle bodys that you simply don't need.

I arrived at the hangar early, and took some recharged batteries with me for the camera. As I was heading for the camera I spotted the portable CD player I'd recently bought for the plane. Hmmm. I put batteries in it and decided to divert for a while and hook it into the intercom. I installed a plug in the Passenger map compartment and fed it into the intercom aux input along with the voice annunciation system.

Now, a small confession. I allowed myself 10 minutes of self indulgence. I turned on the CD player, closed the canopy, sat back in my leather seats and enjoyed John Denver's "Dreamland Express" followed by "Sunshine on my Shoulders". I've always enjoyed JD's songs, and I feel a special affinity with them now I'm about to fly a canard. I think I'll call my bird Dreamland Express. Fits, don't you think.

Anyway, I digress. I wrenched myself away from the music and made a new bracket for the turbo shroud. After some adjustment I got a good fit with the cowl and moved on. I spent most of the day battling with the AC compressor. First I removed the studs and replaced them with bolts. This way I could slide the compressor in place already attached to its bracket, since one of the bolts can't be reached once its installed. The big problem was how to attach the freon output pipe which sits right at the corner of the throttle body. I hacked off the corner of the throttle body. No more problem. [I did drill and tap for an AN4 bolt to secure the missing corner.]

After 9 hours at the hangar I left with the throttle body and compressor installed. I'll need to futz with them some more in the morning, and the AC fittings need drilling and tapping for AN fittings, plus a bit of welding where I hacked off the aluminum pipes, but I was dreading this job and its well on the way. By Monday I should be able to start installing the lower cowl - no mean feat.

Tomorrow's Plan

Work on compressor

Day 22

Two steps forward, three back.

I finished off the compressor installation, checked the pully alignment and added the belt and belt torsion wheel, then Paul arrived for his inspection (and hangar rent). He suggested I add safety wire to prevent the heat shroud moving backwards into the prop. Good idea. I added safety wires both top and bottom.

I'm gradually working my way around the engine checking tightness, adding hose clamps and rerouting wires & cables as needed. This will be much easier to now before the lower cowling is there. I came to the remote oil filter pad and remembered that the hoses here have to be reorganized to avoid impacting the cowl and blocking the airflow out of the left cowl exit. I removed the oil filter pad and experimented with spare fittings until I knew what was needed - a 3/8 npt > dash 8 90 which I don't have. This will lower one of the hoses an inch and allow me to route it out of the way. Looks like I need another trip to the hose shop. While there I'll look for an AC dryer unit so I can figure out the connections from the compressor to the condensor.

Plan for tomorrow

Short day - maybe a bit more wiring if I get a chance.
Make bracket for overflow bottle
Plan for Monday
get 3/8 npt > dash 8 90 from hose shop
Get AC dryer unit and connections from breakers yard

Day 21

Ouch! Three weeks left. Better get movin!

I snuck down to the hangar for a couple of hours this morning and actually got a few things done. I figured out exactly what fittings I need to clean up the remote oil filter plumbing.

Looking at the installed AC compressor I decided I could adjust it about 1/8 inch lower to get a bit of clearance below the throttle body. While doing this I also changed the "missing corner" screw on the throttle body. I'd drilled and tapped the intake, but wasnt happy with the thread. I cut the edge off an AN4 bolt and pushed it through the hole from inside the intake, secured with a little JB weld. Not wanting to follow someones footsteps and have a loose piece of intake eaten by the rotor seals, I drilled the end of the bolt for safety wire.

I spent an hour or so tidying up the pipes, cables and wires at the top of the engine.

The afternoon was spent rewiring the patio [now called the Florida room] and preparing for hanging the ceiling. There was a nostalgic moment when I cut down the hose pipes that had been used to hold the wings and canard.

Home chores done, I'll be back to the plane full speed in the am.

Day 20

This was one of those "nowhere days". I worked hard but got nowhere. There are a lot of days like this when building an airplane.

I picked up the fitting I needed, then headed for the airport. Unfortunately a tanker had overturned on 95 and I got stuck in the traffic. I finally reached the hangar at 11:30am. I installed the remote oil filter hoses and was able to shorten one of them by 4 inches to make it neater, out of the way and less weight. I remade the throttle cable bracket [twice] and fiddled with the compressor / throttle body interface a bit more. After a while I got frustrated with this and went home to cut the lawn. At least with the lawn you can see the results of your efforts.

Total time 6 hrs. 4 at the hangar. Early start tomorrow with renewed motivation.

Tomorrow's plan

Finalize TB / throttle cable
Wire oil temp / oil pressure / EGT / CHT gauge

Day 19

What an interesting day! I got so much done it's all bluring together. Let me see if I can sort it out... First I made another new bracket for the throttle cable. I had something of an inspiration. Well, to me it was an inspiration, to a trained engineer it would probably be a "well, Duh!".

The throttle cable was working, but it had a few minor problems. It was a bit short and the angle wasnt quite right. Also the travel on the quadrant was too short. I made a replacement for the flange on the throttle body with it's pivot hole at a better angle and slightly father out. This corrected the cable routing AND the travel problems. Brilliant. Once I had it right in AL I remade it in steel, then bolted it to the original flange with safety wire ties. I may be being a bit anal on the throttle, but it something I really dont want to break or come loose. Anyway, I'm really pleased with the result.

While making the al flange I discovered something interesting. Dan (my hangar mate) keeps a small bowl of water by the belt sander. I thought it was for dipping hot metal in to cool it down - nope - it's primary purpose is to put you're fingers in to quelch the burn when you test how hot a piece of metal actually IS.

Anyway, back to the progress report. I did the final install of the throttle body with ultra-grey gasket sealer and safety wire everywhere. This is it. The compressor is on, the throttle body is installed. Just a few wires to get out of the way and its time for the lower cowl, pipe connectings - wow - almost engine start time.

I'd run out of space in the existing wire holes in the firewall so I drilled a new one and threaded all the sensor wires into the cabin. This morning I sent an email to the tech gut at Westach for help on the wiring diagram, so I can't do this wiring till I get a reply [note: he replied this evening, in less than 24hrs, with a PDF wiring diagram. Excellent service. I'll do this wiring in the morning.]

With the wires out of the way I installed the lower cowling. That sucker is HEAVY. It has the oil coolers, rad, fan, cowl flap, and ducting all built in. I manhandled it onto the table and wedged it in place. After a bit of jiggling I got it screwed up tight. I didnt mind the work because this cowling aint coming off again....

With the lower cowl installed I tried the upper cowl fit. Pretty good. I think this is going to work. I took off the upper cowl and proceeded to hook up the nasty front water hose. I say nasty because its only about 14 inches long and it has to bend a bit. I've had it on before and its a bear. I got it on ok after a struggle, but I can't tighten it because I dont have a big enough wrench = trip to Harbor Freight in the morning.

Around this point a couple of Finnish guys, Ray and Jon showed up to admire the plane. Jon was thinking of building a Defiant. I think I talked him into a Cozy. Ray's building a sort of extended Tripacer with a V6. We had a good chat and I promised both guys rides when the plane's flying. After 6 hours at the hangar I came home, very pleased with the day. Tomorrow I'll hook up the oil and water hoses and will almost be ready to start thinking about firing the engine.

I should have stopped while I was ahead. This evening I went back down to get a head start on the oil pipes, and everything went backwards. First job was to shorten one of the oil hoses by 3 inches to get a cleaner run. I did this and the hoses looked great, all nicely tucked out of the way. OK, now to install the hose on the engine oil outlet... With the compressor, TB and cowl in place there's no way to see and touch the fitting at the same time. One or the other. After a half hour of struggling and contortionism I concluded that the fit is sufficiently tight that the hose has to go on BEFORE the compressor. This means that the nasty hose, the cowl, TB (with all it's safety wire) and compressor have to come off again. Geeez.

It gets worse. I moved on to try the rad hoses and found that the main hose to the back can go through a nice gap below the compressor - if it's fitted first. OK. I'll do both at once. Let's try the intercooler for size. I've had this on before. It fits nicely... with the outlet directly in line with my neatly tucked away hoses. The oil hose I shortened may now need to be lengthened to get it out of the way of the intercooler. Anyone know how you do that? Answer - you buy another 4 foot length of VERY EXPENSIVE hose. Agghhh. I didn't need another trip to the hose shop.

At this point at was 11pm and I was looking for something - anything - good to end the day. I'd hooked up the bigassed fan in the lower cowl, so I flipped the switch to hear the nice "turbine" effect. Nothing. I checked the wiring. Power's there. As I reconnect it (from under the plane half way up the NACA scoop) I see the fan jig a bit. Don't tell me my brand new Ferrari fan has burned out. I checked the amperage draw with my spare battery. 0.8 amps. That ain't right. I think I have it figured out... all three of my batteries are either severly discharged or scrap, or my trickle charger is killing them. They'll run the LEDs and radios, but nothing with any draw. I'll take a REAL battery charger down tomorrow.

I came home fairly depressed. Char could see by my face that things didn't go well. She asked, so I told her the list of problems. "That's WONDERFUL", she says. Huh? "Well," she says, "you've found a whole bunch of things that were wrong. Now you'll be able to fix them. I think that's great progress."

Plan for tomorrow

kiss the wife
take battery charger
get wrench from Harbor Freight
go back to where I was 2 days ago
fit engine out oil hose
start working forward again....

Day 18

Isn't it strange how things always look better in daylight?

Work reared it's ugly head this morning, and then there was Harbor Freight. I challenge any airplane builder to go into that place and come out in less than an hour. The only 1.75 inch wrench came in a huge set of 5, so I bought a $6 pipe wrench and put three layers of duct tape over the jaws. Worked just fine.

I eventually got down to the hangar at noon. It didn't take long for me to realize that I could extract the compressor without removing anything else. It's tight, but it can be done. With the compressor off I was able to hook up all the water and oil hoses with good routing to avoid the intercooler etc. I managed to take 11 inches off the big 2 inch steel braided hose that runs to the back of the rad. The oil hose worked ok without replacement. Everything was back together in three hours. I forgot the battery charger, so that's the only remaining item from my list of problems.

Things must be really bad in Pittburgh. I say this because my brother-in-law said it would be a cold day in hell before he'd fly in an airplane. He's arriving on USAIR this afternoon. I mention this only because it's probably going to slow me down a bit over the next few days.

Plan for tomorrow (or the next day)

Charge batteries
Test fan
Wire oil temp, oil press, CHT EGT
Finalize intercooler & condenser mounting
Consider AC piping needed compressor > drier > condenser
Figure out what pipes & bends I need for the turbo piping
Shrink wrap starter terminal
get push-fit barb for engine top air bleed
Oh, by the way - I got a call from Falcon today. They think they'll be able to get an insurance quote for me next week.

Day 17

Today was looking like a total bust, what with a bit of work and a lot of visiting with friends and family. At 7pm I finally managed to sneak off and get down to the hangar.

I put the batteries on charge. The Panasonic (LC-RD1217P) came right back. The other two cheap ones wont take a charge. Ah well. As they say, "You pay peanuts, you get monkeys". I need to order another (panasonic) battery for my alternate. Once I had a charged battery the big Ferrari fan lept into life. No problem there.

I'd been dreading the last major wiring job. Between the oil temp, oil press, CHT, EGT and tach I needed to run 11 new wires from the panel to the engine. I have some 5 core 22 gauge color coded teflon aircraft wire I picked up at a fly-in, so I ran two strands of this. Advice to others - get a bunch of this stuff, mark the ends and run about 5 (25 wires) early on, then use them up as you need them. Getting the wire in place at this stage meant removing the console (again) and fishing the wires through all the holes. It went better than I'd expected. Another thought here - I find that certain jobs somehow take on a "bad rep" in my mind. I'll go to extraordiarly lengths to delay them or get around them, but then when I finally face up to the job I usually find it wasn't anything like as hard as I'd made it out to be. This was one of those. With the wiring diagram at hand and my trusty crimpers at the ready I had it done in about an hour.

I shrink wrapped the starter terminal and messed with the turbo pipes a bit trying to visualize what bends I needed.

In all I had 4 hours at the hangar and got quite a lot done.

This is starting to look like an almost finished jigsaw puzzel. You know, when you're down to the last dozen or so pieces its just a matter of picking them up and placing them.

The only significant (building) tasks left are plumbing the turbo and plumbing the AC system in the engine compartment. After that its down to testing, debugging, engine start, tuning, weight & balance, taxi testing and inspection. I must be getting close. I can say whats still needed in two sentences.

Plan for tomorrow

Finalize intercooler & condenser mounting
Consider AC piping needed compressor > drier > condenser
Figure out what pipes & bends I need for the turbo piping
get push-fit barb for engine top air bleed

Day 16

Another largely wasted day in terms of significant Cozy progress.

I received my Brother 1500PC label printer (<$50 reconditioned on ebay) and spent a couple of hours learning what it could do.

I am very pleased with the printer. I've read of people who have they're panels etched - that wouldnt work for me. I just know I'd want to change something the day after the pretty panel was delivered, and the following day too. Using the label printer I can print white on clear labels which look excellent on the dark walnut background. I can use any font and size I want and even include icons (auto style) for ease of recognition.

I managed to visit the hangar for 1 1/2 hours. I made notes of all the labels I'm gong to need, then worked on the turbo plumbing. I have some 2.25 al intake parts which dont fit, but I found that I could cut the bends out and put the parts back together at different angles with duct tape. In 1/2 hour I had a suitable pipe for the intercooler to TB. In six pieces, perhaps, but Charlie can glue aluminum really well. I made notes of what bend parts I'll need from burns stainless for the turbo to intercooler pipe, then came home to place the order.

Plan for tomorrow

Finalize intercooler & condenser mounting
Consider AC piping needed compressor > drier > condenser
get push-fit barb for engine top air bleed
work on panel labels

Day 15

Working with the excellent label printer software and I spent a couple of hours composing and printing labels for everything in the panel. Armed with my printed label strips and a pair of scissors I headed down to the hangar and spend another couple of hours removing the old dyno labels and putting the new lables in place.

Paul arrived [Saturday inspection] and said "Why don't you leave that cosmetic stuff till after it flys". I replied,"Because there are a lot of switches and buttons, and even I don't know what they all do yet. Besides, the FAA guy is going to want to see labels on everything." Paul, being the good mentor he is, accepted this, then proceeded to grill me on a bunch of other details - how are you controlling boost? Are you planning to use boost on the first flight? Do you have a fire extinguisher on board? Who's going to be at the back when you do the first engine start? When are you going to fit the prop?

My answers (Manually, no, yes, me, later) to his questions were greeted with, "Good. I think we're on the same page", so Paul went off for his nap and I carried on with my to-do list. The day was cut short by a trip to an Indian (as in from India) cultural event where we enjoyed six different curries, beer, ice cream and sitar music. Before leaving the hangar I was able to examine the AC fittings a bit more and work out what was needed from the hose shop. On the way home I dropped off my duct taped turbo pipe at the welding shop and asked Charlie to "make it whole". He mentioned that next time I should use masking tape, not duct tape. Apparantly the duct tape adhesive causes a problem with welding. I thought I'd invented this method of prototyping pipes. Apparantly not. Everyone else does it this way too, except they all use masking tape.

No chance of a trip down to the hangar this evening. It's Valentines day, and Char wants me home....

Plan for tomorrow

Finalize intercooler & condenser mounting
get push-fit barb for engine top air bleed
remeasure labels for annunciator panel
shorten expansion tank return hose and fit
make bracket for overflow bottle
Fit overflow bottle

Plan for Monday Get hose & fittings for AC Order al bends for turbo Order silicone transitions for turbo Order hose clamps for turbo Order 2 feet 2.25 scat tube for turbo inlet

Day 14

Sunday was a family day. We had a house full and ate crab legs, shrimp and steak until we could hardly stand.

However, I DID manage a couple of hours down at the hangar before it all started. Sometimes a short visit can be very productive. This one was. Not in terms of physical progress but in terms of "getting my head around" a couple of issues.

My first task was cleaning the upholstery. Yes, I know this could have waited, but the front seats, console and the shoulder support had really gotten dirty and it was bothering me. I found some leather cleaning fluid and set to work. In about 1/2 hour the seats looked like they're supposed to - brand new.

Satisfied I went around to the back and started looking into the AC connections from the compressor to the dryer and condenser. I found the short pipe and dryer I'd taken from the Honda Civic when I got the condenser. The pipe is 1/4 aluminum, about 12 inches long with the ac type connections on each end. I found I could bend the pipe fairly easily. Based on the length of this pipe and the best position for the condenser, I found a home for the dryer, strapped to the engine mount upright with a couple of clamps. All I need now is a pipe from the condenser to the firewall. I can have a boss welded to the connector and do the rest in AN stuff. I'll take another look at this in the morning and make a list of the parts I'll need.

I shortend the expansion tank drain hose and fitted it. Next I moved on to the bracket for the overflow bottle. I had this half made when it came time to leave. Just before leaving it occured to me that I hadnt turned the engine for a while. I flipped the master, moved the key to "start" and was rewarded by the sound of the engine turning. I could hear the compression "pops" as it turned which I hope indicates that the seals arent stuck.

I was locking up when someone called Jerry stopped by to look at the plane. I gave him a quick tour and invited him back another time.

Plan for tomorrow
Intercooler & condenser mounting
get push-fit barb for engine top air bleed
remeasure labels for annunciator panel
finish bracket for overflow bottle
Fit overflow bottle
Get hose & fittings for AC
Order al bends for turbo 
Order silicone transitions for turbo
Order hose clamps for turbo
Order 2 feet 2.25 scat tube for turbo inlet
Order battery - Panasonic (LC-RD1217P)

Plan for next week
Complete AC plumbing
Start on FAA paperwork
Prepare engine for first run (add oil, fuel, coolant)
Start engine by Friday

Day 13

I got down to the hangar early determined to make some serious progress. The first job on my list was intercooler & condenser mounting. It took me about 8 hours. I'd made the duct a while back, and was planning to connect it to the plenum with 3 inch scat hose. The scat stuff bends pretty well, but well not enough to link my plenum outlet and the duct inlet. Looking at the duct I decided that the inlet would be better from below rather than from the back. This would also keep the hose away from the turbo. I hacked the inlet off the duct with the dremel and experimented with it to find the best position. In the end, since I was going to have to fiberglass the inlet back on anyway, it seemed that the best way to connect to the plenum would be to extend the inlet with fiberglass. I cut and sanded a blue foam plug until it reached the plenum, curved the edges with modelling clay, duct taped the whole thing, then layed up a pipe to the plenum. This is the way I did the intercooler duct. I like it much better.

While this was curing I remeasured the labels for the annunciator panel, then gathered up all my AC pipes and fittings and headed down to the welding shop. Charlie had finished my intercooler to throttle body pipe and it looks excellent. Now I know how it's done the rest of the turbo pipes will be easy. I left the AC fittings with Charlie for drilling & tapping for AN fittings and welding up the old holes. We also discussed the push-fit barb and it looks like he'll be able to weld an angled barb onto the old fitting (which I had him seal up earlier).

I messed with the overflow bottle for a while, then decided I'd much rather have the Mazda 626 double bottle if I could just squeeze it in somewhere. This bottle is bigger (I hear you need 1.5 qt) and it has a screen washer bottle attached. I've installed every cooling technique known to man (or at least to me) except a water spray (and big draggy ducts). This screen washer bottle and the attached motor (which I tested) will complete the set. I'll have to dismount the expansion tank and move it off to the side, but I think it can be done.

I'm short one -6 weld on boss for the AC fittings, so I headed up to the hose shop with all my receipts and a bag of unused fittings. This might just be my last trip to the hose shop, so I thought it was only fitting that I come away with more money than I went with for a change. I exchanged my bag for three new fittings and some dollar bills.

Afer the hose shop I went home and ordered everything on my list except the spare battery. Speaking of batteries, I noticed that my primary battery was HOT this morning. I'd left it on charge overnight and it was still taking 6 amps. Not good. I'd better replace them both. Damn that "smart" trickle charger. It ate 3 good batteries.

This evening I went down for a couple of hours to clean up the duct layup and add some lips to attach the condensor to the duct, and an aluminum hardpoint to the duct to hold it tight to the cowl.

Total time today - 10 hours.

Plan for tomorrow
move expansion tank
finish bracket for overflow bottle
Fit overflow / screen washer bottle
wire screen washer pump
find a place on the panel for yet another switch

Day 12

Not much progress today, I'm embarrased to say.

I had a few non-airplane errands to perform and only managed 3.5 hours at the hangar. I cleaned up the condenser duct and trial fitted it yet again. I think the gremlins changed the shape of it overnight. I had to make a few "adjustments" with the dremel and do a new layup to get it to fit nicely against the cowl. I left it curing for the third time. (not counting the original construction).

I stopped over at the welding shop and picked up one of the AC lines that had been bothering me. The pipe was a little kinked where I'd bent it, so I chopped off the whole pipe and took the remaining lump of AL back for a welded AN fitting. I explained to Charlie that I wanted him to weld on the new fitting and "make that hole go away". He was working on the other fittings while I was there, so in the morning I should have everything I need to complete the AC system plumbing. You may wonder why I get Charlie to do all my machine work. Answer - because he's much better at it than me, has really cool tools and machines to do the job with precision, and he isn't expensive. Add all this to the fact that it saves me time, and makes me very confident about the quality of some really important connections and I figure it's worth it. Same applies to the welding. Sure - I could probably have learned to do quality welds eventually. I decided learning to build a plane and configure an engine was enough. Maybe later, when I have some spare time I'll play with the TIG machine. On the other hand I could sell it and buy a GPS. Much more useful, and lighter.

Back to my to-do list. I removed the expansion tank (which ain't easy because the bolts go through the firewall. I was (just) able to hold a wrench on one side and reach over the top to undo the nut on the other. I could have used nut-plates, but I wasn't planning on taking this thing off very often. With the expansion tank out of the way I experimented with the Mazda 626 dual bottle arrangement. It's just the wrong shape to fit and still leave room for the expansion tank. After an hour or so of trying various combination of tanks and positions I came to the conclusion that I need a differently shaped overflow bottle to make this work. I also decided that I'll forgo the screen washer bottle for now. I don't need the extra weight and complexity. I can always add it later. Maybe I'll put it under the back seat. This way we can "refill" it in flight. Hmmmm - an alternative spray on the exhaust???

I'm wasting too much time looking for wrenches and parts buried under blue foam scraps and used duct tape. Every once in a while, usually when I finish a major task, my work area gets a clean up. I hate doing it, but I do enjoy the improved efficiency once it's done. I can't finish the turbo until the al bends to come in from Burns Stainless and the pipe connectors and clamps to come in from Hose Techniques, so tomorrow's clean-up day.

Plan for Tomorrow
Visit breakers yard to search for a better overflow bottle
Visit pound to search for our runaway Golden retreiver
Collect & install AC fittings
Install drier, condenser duct, condenser
Complete AC plumbing
Clean-up shop

Day 11

Today started well. I was walking out to the car to head for the pound when who should trot past me into the yard? Buddy. He'd been away 5 days, but the look on his face said something like "What? Is there a problem?". I fed him and settled him down, locked the door, then headed off for the hangar.

With the pound trip cancelled I decided I'd also skip the breakers yard (which is near the pound) and make my existing overflow bottle work. I screwed the bracket to the firewall and the bottle seemed fairly secure. "Fairly secure", unfortunately doesn't cut it, so I plan to work on that some more tomorrow.

I dropped in to see how Charlie was doing. He was working on one fitting, and two were done, sitting on his welding table. I picked one of them up to examine it just as he said "don't touch them yet!" Being a seasoned engineer, and knowing what the tub of water is for, I quenched my fingers quickly and didn't suffer too much of a burn.

While waiting for the remaining fittings I worked on the condenser duct. I noticed a few spots where I could see daylight through the glass, so I touched these up with flox, painted the whole thing with gold engine paint, then used red RTV to seal the duct to the condenser. I added self tapping screws around the sides to hold the parts together. This will be cured by morning ready for "final" installation.

The stock pipe from the drier to the condenser gave me a battle. It's too long for where I've put the drier. I bent it into a "U turn for spacing", but didn't like the idea of this loop of piping close to the rudder pulley. I tried various locations for the drier. A perfect spot for the pipe length would be above the aileron torque tubes on the firewall. I considered this briefly, but opted not to put a lump of metal anywhere close enough to interfer with the torque tubes. I'd rather have it below, so should something vibrate loose it wont go anywhere dangerous. Also, the aluminum seemed to a bit soft where I'd bent it. My better judgement decided the issue. I loped off the tubes and took the end fittings to Charlie for 1/8 NPT tapping. I'll have a short teflon hose made up to join the two. Ah well - back to the hose shop with that refund....

The drier now has a home, but it needs to be supported better and insulated from the engine mount with some silicone baffling.

At lunch time I found that my delivery from Hose Techniques had arrived. I took these goodies down to the hangar and installed the 3 to 2.5 inch transition piece on the throttle body. I had to loosen the compressor bolts to get it on, but eventually I got it fitted and held very tightly in place with it's 1/2 inch T clamp, not to mention the compressor. Note: I previously bought some cheaper clamps and deliberately overtightened one to destruction. Destruction came WAY too soon for my liking, so I dumped them. The polished AL turbo pipe now fits up to the throttle body. Next I worked on sealing the intercooler to its duct with more RTV. I left this curing overnight with weights on top. Total time today - 6 hrs.

Once the AC plumbing is finished the only remaining "construction" job of any size (that I can think off right now) is the intercooler to turbo pipework. I know how to do this now. The parts should be here tomorrow. Once I get this done it's time to put fluids in the fact I could be doing that while waiting for the pipes to be welded.

Did I say I was going to clean up the shop? Didnt get to it.

Plan for tomorrow
Revise overflow bottle installation
Install modified AC fittings
Complete drier installation
Install condenser and duct 
Complete intercooler installation
Get hose made for drier > condenser
Get end fittings for compressor > firewall
Get oil/water overflow hoses
start work on turbo pipe?

Day 10

Oh sh.t - single digits
I arrived at the hangar at 9am. I tend to do fiberglass work first so it has chance to cure while I'm busy with other stuff. The intercooler duct needed modification. That compressor bit me again. The 2.5 inch air pipe to the throttle body was too close to the compressor, so I had to "move" the duct about an inch forward, which meant moving the inlet connection to the plenum. Anything made of fiberglass can be adjusted. I cut off the end of the duct, built a blue foam plug to extend it an inch, and reattached it with 2 ply BID. I was done by 10am, but I had some epoxy left.

Hmmm. I've been meaning to add a duct on the lower cowl to help smooth the air flow out of the back. I could use the excess epoxy to make a flat layup that could be bent and tailored to fit above the radiator. I looked around the hangar for something flat to do the layup on. A piece of glass, acrylic or aluminum would do. I couldn't find anything big enough and was about to use the wood table top when I had a thought.... I really want a curved shape for the outlet duct. Since it's ducting air, an airfoil shape would make sense. I happen to have a nice smooth airfoil shape readily available - my wing. Yep. I taped clear plastic on the end of the wing and did the layup on that.

While the epoxy was curing I picked up my various fittings, now welded, drilled, tapped (and cooled down as needed, and began installing them. The first was the "push-fit barb" hose connector that I'm going to use for the air bleed from the top of the engine (flywheel end) to the expansion tank. It was a perfect fit - thanks Charlie. I tapped it into place with a small hammer, connected a 1/4 ID silicone hose, and threaded the hose under the inlet manifold. I noticed that the hose was a fairly tight fit in one area, so I tried blowing through it to make sure it wasnt obstructed. I could blow through it just fine, but I noticed a "breath" of cold air on my other hand when I blew. Now where is THAT coming from? Eventually I located the leak - it was the air bleed inlet for the expansion tank - the spot where I was about to connect the hose. Slowly this fact began to make sense. I'm blowing through the engine water galleries. Cool. So... continuing the thought...I could test the integrity of the coolant system by blocking the outlet hole and blowing pressure into the engine. Obviously. I blocked the hole and was rewarded by back pressure. But the back pressure dissipated in a few seconds. I decided that it shouldnt do that, and I must have a leak somewhere. While blowing into the tube I felt around all the coolant fittings until I felt cold air - I found it quickly - the expansion tank drain connection to the radiator. This connection is behind a bunch of stuff and I had to remove the oil cooler pipes to get at it and tighten it up. With this fitting tight the pressure didn't leak away any more. I suppose I could do a real pressure test using a regulated pressure source and a gauge, but I dont have these - hey wait a minute - yes I do. I have a tire pressure gauge and I have an air line. Maybe I'll try this in the morning.

I installed all the AC fittings, fiddled with a couple of pipes and got everything connected apart from the two hoses that I have to go and get. At least I got everything figured out and made notes of the parts needed to complete the system. Then I removed all the AC fittings again so I could get replacement o rings. Might as well do this now rather than later.

Next I worked on the drier installation. It fits nicely under the condenser near (but not interfering with) the rudder pully. I clamped it to the engine mount with silicone baffle rubber to stop any vibration. Seems very firm. Now, if I could just get a new drier of the correct type ('93 honda civic) I'd only need the freon (or whatever they call it these days) and the AC would work. Maybe I'll look into that tomorrow. The condenser and attached duct are a good fit, but I left them off until I get the 2 missing hoses installed.

By this time (2pm) the intercooler duct was cured so I cleaned up the bare ends of glass, painted it the proscribed gold color and installed it. Now the air pipe to the TB fits nicely. I cut off about an inch of the pipe because it was intruding too far into the silicone transition piece. I noticed that the intercooler is now held in place by the ram air inlet and the pipe to the throttle body. It really doesnt need any additional mounting. It's held rigid already, and there's another 2 inch pipe from the turbo to be clamped to it yet.

Speaking of which, I got home to find 3 right angle aluminum bends and a 2 foot 2.25 scat tube waiting for me. I was going to head down to the hangar at 8pm tonight to start work on the piping, but decided to check my email first. Big mistake. It's now 10:30pm and too late to head out. I'll get an early start in the am instead.

It's Friday tomorrow. I said I'd start the engine this week. However, I need to do the empty weight without fluids before I add oil, coolant and fuel. This seems strange, because the plane is always going to have coolant and oil in (I hope), but I'll do the weight without fluids anyway. Total time - 8 hrs.

Tomorrow's plan
get o rings for ac fittings
get ac pipes & fittings
get oil/water overflow hoses
cut turbo pipe and bends as needed and take for welding
Revise overflow bottle mount
get AC drier?
temporarily install upper cowl, prop, spinner 
weigh plane
add fluids
start engine???

Day 9

The hose shop got the last word, in more ways than one. I spent more on fittings than I got back last time, and the hose guy told me I can't use braided teflon for freon, so I'm back to square 1 with the two flexible hoses, plus I have to make a short AL pipe from the condeser to the drier.

It gets worse. Jim Sower sent me some info I didn't like the sound of, (this time about air conditioning so I stopped at an automotive AC shop and had a long chat with the owner, Tom. Tom built his own 1000HP drag racer, so he's a kindred spirit of sorts. He confirmed what Jim said, and added a few titbits of his own. I learned a lot about automotive AC today, none of it good in terms of getting my system running. I'll add more to the AC section in my web page, but in short I have to use 134 refrigerant. This stuff is just dyeing to leak Tom thinks my AN fittings might hold it, but he's pretty sure that my pipe thread connections won't. The system has to be evacuated for 45 min to get rid of the moisture before it can be filled. The pump for this is fairly small, but once the system is filled he has to lug a "freon recovery" unit the size of a welding machine if something needs to be changed. I need about 8oz of special polyol oil spread evenly around the system first, and I can't install the drier until immediately before charging the system. By the way, if ever you're AC system in the car goes warm, turn it off. The freon carries the lubrication oil, and if the freon's gone, the oil doesn't travel and the compressor gets ruined. Compressors are $400+.

I can't use anything except aluminum or special barrier hoses, so I have to go back to the breakers yard to scavenge hoses, but I dont know if flared AN fittings will seal the ends. AC fittings are ENORMOUS. Aghhh! Anyway, I got my new o rings and the special oil and headed on to the hangar wondering if this AC thing was such a good idea after all....I think I'll put the AC system on the back burner for now.

Cutting the u-bends for the turbo went fairly well. This is one of those chicken and egg jobs. You need to have the pipes in place to figure out where to cut them - but you cant put them in place until after you cut them. I snuck up on the solution by cutting way too big, then cutting closer and closer to the best point. Cutting a 2 inch pipe takes 10 seconds with a band saw. I routed the pipe under the back of the engine mount, ended up with a nice fit, taped everything with masking tape and took the pipes to Charlie for welding.

I installed the plenum to turbo scat hose with some difficulty. It'll do for ground run-up, but I need a 2.25 AL 90 degree casting and a couple of silicone sections like I did on the outlet to do it properly.

I remade the overflow bottle mount for a tighter fit and screwed it to the firewall. The bottle now sits securely, but I safety wired the whole thing, just to be sure. Now I'm wondering where to send the overflow outlet. Into the plenum? Maybe I don't want to pressurize the overflow bottle. Hmmmm. Same is true of the oil breather outlet. Out the back of the cowl? Maybe this will create a vacuum and suck all my oil out of the breather. Hmmmm. If you know the answers to these questions, and are reading this today, please send me an email - sladerj at bellsouth dot net.

Next I laid the upper cowl in place, stuck the prop and spiner on loosely, put the canard in place, and cleaned all the cr.p off the wings. The latter took the most time. The excellent 1000lb scales I rented from Chuckthedog (on this list) came out of their boxes. Thanks, Chuck! You turn them on with no weight on them to zero and calibrate them, then lower the plane onto them. Not as easy as it sounds. Jacking the plane up one wheel at a time is a pain. The hangar has a screw jack attached to a stand. I put this under the inner wing attach points with foam to protect the wing, then sat under the plane and screwed. I've heard this is what they do at fly-ins.

With both main wheels on the scales I put my table under the lower cowl to catch the plane if it tipped back, then put my UPS scale under the nose. Bottom line - 1260lb bare empty weight (plus the weight of the absent intercooler pipe). About 20lb negative weight on the nose with the longerons level. I'm up 50lb from last time I weighed it, so I'm definately achieving something. Tonight I'm going to read up on weight & balance in the Cozy Pilot Handbook.

No, I didnt get to the FAA paperwork yet. Paperwork isnt one of my favorite things. When I hear noise, I'll fill forms - OK?

Total time today - 8 hours - 6 at the hangar

Plan for Tomorrow
Don't read email in the morning
Collect welded turbo pipe and install
Weight & balance
Take the plane off the scales
tidy up and label some loose spare wires behind panel and at firewall
add fluids (following the detailed instruction for priming the oil and burping the coolant which I got from the fly rotary list)
dont forget the 2 -stroke oil in the gas
start engine???

order 90 degree al cast from turbonetics
order 2 * 2.25 silicone sections and 4 clamps
get ac pipes from breakers yard?
make AL pipe from the condenser to the drier.

Day 8

Today I reached a milestone. I did an engine start.... attempt. The engine didnt start, but it COULD have. This counts as a milestone, right?

I got to the hangar a bit late. I picked up the intercooler and turbo pipes from the welder (not finished, but I needed them for weight and balance). I'd left the scales on overnight to avoid jacking the plane off to recalibrate them. I didn't have enought weights to keep the nose positive, so I tied the weights to a wire and hung it from the pitot tube way at the front. Still not enough, so I duct taped a battery on there as well. I ended up with 41lb of weights hanging from the pitot. I double checked the levels with a spirit level (if that's ok, Joe). My smart level battery died. I dont trust the UPS scale under the nose, so I plan to get a new scale and redo the numbers one more time.

I noted the dry empty weight numbers, then put the back seats, headrests and cushions back in the plane. The numbers I really want are with seats and fluids, so I grabbed my container of GTX and added 6 qts of oil. No leaks. This is good. With about 1/2 full showing on the dipstick I filled the oil filter and poured oil down the pipes until it wouldnt go any more. Following instructions from someone on the fly rotary list I turned the prop backward, then added more oil down the pipes to prime the pump. Since it was Saturday, Paul was watching with interest from his "director's" chair. I removed the redrive supply and asked him to tell me when oil came out, then went to the front and craked the starter. After a couple of turns of the engine Paul shouted "Stop" very loudly. When I went to the back I realized why he'd shouted so loudly - the pipe was pointing directly at him, and the spurt of oil had failed to reach him by about a foot. One more turn of the engine....

The Westach oil pressure gauge doesn't seem to be working right. It reads 100PSI before the engine turns, then dips a bit when I crank. I checked the wiring and it seems correct. I removed the sensor head. Now it reads 60PSI whether the engine is cranking or not, so I need to contact Westach about it.

Now it was time to add water. I poured a gallon of coolant into the expansion chamber and listended while it bubbled its way through the system. Next I added most of a gallon of water. (I plan to use a 50/50 mix). I noticed a drip from the water pump to radiator connection. I tried to tighten it with my pipe wrench without success, so I went to harbor freight and bought their set of enormous wrenches. The closest was 1 7/8 which is 1/16 too big, but good enough. I tightened it more, but still couldnt get the drip to go away. I removed the fitting and found that the seating on the male al fitting welded to the water pump seems to be a bit uneven. I hope I don't have to remove the water pump to fix this. I also noticed a slight drip at the welded water return pipe from the turbo. At least this one's easy to remove and fix.

With the basic fluids in the plane I leveled the plane, put the cowl and prop back on and read the scales again. I now have the basic weights. I still have to the plumb bob and chalk thing to check the fuselage stations.

I kinda installed the plugs. The special ones I'd ordered per Ed Andersons recommendation are obviously for a 2nd gen. They're too short, so the nut part disapears into the cavity and you cant get at it to tighten it. I got them as tight as I could.

Moving on, I got my 5 gal plastic fuel container with hi-test gas in it, added 5 oz of 2 stroke and poured it into the left tank. I can see now that I need to hook up my car fuel pump to a pipe so I can fuel the plane from the car tank. I've always thought I'd do this. Now I know for sure. Adding fuel from jugs is a pain.

With the fuel in I turned on the pump. It buzzed a bit then stopped. I think the left battery is totally dead. I put it on charge and tried again. This time I got a better noise, but no indication of fuel pressure. It was getting late, and I was tired, but I was determined to at least do an engine start attempt. Checking the location of the fire extinguisher I turned on the computer, injector and coil switches, then cranked the engine. Ning, ning, ning, ning, ning, ning, ning, ning, ning, ning. You get the picture.

Ah well. Tomorrow is debugging day. total time - 7 hours.

Plan for tomorrow
Get new plugs (stock '93 RX7)
Get new smart level battery (9v)
Get new scale for the nose wheel
plumb bob and chalk thing to check the fuselage stations. 
tidy up and label some loose spare wires behind panel and at firewall
Check ignition / spark at plugs / fuel pressure at rail
Engine start attempt # 2

Plan for Monday
Take intercooler and pipes back to Charlie for welding
order 90 degree al cast from turbonetics for turbo intake
order 2 * 2.25 silicone sections and 4 clamps

get ac pipes from breakers yard?
make AL pipe from the condenser to the drier.

Day 7

I'd promised to start on the FAA paperwork this week, so I spent a couple of hours working on it last night. I pretty much have it done, but I'm not going to mail it until the engine is running. Once the engine starts I'll probably drive the paperwork down to the FSDO to save a day. There's a nice cover letter on the EAA web site which lists everything you have to include in the package you send to the FSDO, or have ready for the inspection. I've never been one for forms, but this stuff looks pretty simple.

I picked up a digital scale (Char WILL be pleased), a battery for the smart level (I don't trust the spirit method), some plugs (finally found them at Discount Auto), a K&N #1004 oil filter (friends don't let friends fly Fram), and some gas (hi-test $1.89/gal) for the right tank. While at the auto store I also picked up a manual oil pressure gauge ($12.89 complete with line and fittings).

I don't want to run the engine until I know I have oil pressure, so I installed the gauge by the firewall for temporary use until my Westach gauge gets fixed. Hmmm. I can't see the gauge while cranking the engine from the front. I climbed in the back and hot-wired the plane so I can operate the master solenoid, the starter and the essential bus override from temporary switches by the firewall. I can now turn on the master and crank the engine. Once the engine starts I can turn off the master, but keep the engine running off the essential bus. This way killing the essential bus will kill the EFI computer and stop the engine. Tomorrow I'll hot-wire the fuel pump as well so I can kill this quickly if necessary.

I cranked the engine from the back and watched the oil pressure gauge. After a couple of turns I get 20 - 30 psi. OK. I put the new plugs in except one which I grounded and watched for a spark while the computer was on and the engine turning. No spark. You're supposed to see a visible spark - right?

Since I have no spark I didn't bother checking the fuel. I checked for power at the coils. Yep. Looks like I'm going to have to recheck all the EC2 wiring, and my EC2 manual is at home.

Total time - 3 hours including the shopping. This is day seven, so I decided I could rest.

Plan for tomorrow
Take intercooler and pipes back to Charlie for welding
Check EC2 wiring / fault test instructions
Take Tracy's phone number to hangar
reweigh using new scale
plumb bob and chalk thing to check the fuselage stations
tidy up and label some loose spare wires behind panel and at firewall
order 90 degree al cast from turbonetics for turbo intake
order 2 * 2.25 silicone sections and 4 clamps
engine start attempt #2 ?

get ac pipes from breakers yard?
make AL pipe from the condenser to the drier.

Day 6

A day of consolidation

Last night before going to bed I almost went down to the hangar to check that I'd taken the battery off charge. I didn't, and I hadn't. This morning you could smell "battery" when I walked in the hangar. Last time I left the charger on overnight the battery was hot. This time it was pregnant. I didn't know batteries could do that. It is visibly swollen and obviously toast. It still has a couple of volts left in it, but not enough to even move the nose lift, never mind crank the engine. Luckily I have a replacement coming in the morning. Now I need to order a replacement for the Aux battery too. Maybe I need an auxiliary power plug?

Tim RagonEZ was there working on his Velocity. He needed more room, so I had to move my plane. Perfect time for a clean-up and reorganization, especially since I have no amps to turn my engine today. We wheeled my plane onto the ramp - she looks great sitting on the ramp (I attached a picture). We cleaned up the space, then rotated my plane 180 and brought her in forwards. Now my back end is by the door where I have more light and better access. I reorganized my tool trolley and started on the bench.

Cleaning up - 1 hour
Reorganizing - 2 hours
Being able to find tools and parts when I need them - priceless

Since I couldn't do much with the engine I decided to get started on reweighing the plane. I tried Chuck's 2 * 4 trick, but there's 600# on the lever, and the 2 * 4 gets in the way of the sliding the scale into place. I reverted to the "EZ" screw jack. While I was jacking up the plane I came to a decision. The "engineering" (if you can call it that) is done, but I don't want to spend any more time on the AC right now. So - why carry the weight? I removed the compressor, belt, tension wheel, condensor duct, condensor and pipes and stored them under the bench. Later, when I've flown off the 40 hours and have some spare time (and cash) I can retrofit the AC system in a day. (Jim's right. There's a lot more to this AC stuff than meets the eye, or the wallet.) I explained the decision to Char and she accepted it....for now.

I contacted Westach about the oil pressure gauge problem. They say it sounds like a transducer. A new one is $175. Geeze. I can buy a replacement gauge and sender for MUCH less than that, and the analog gauge is temporary anyway. Hopefully Chuck's right and it'll work when it gets enough volts. Failing that I'll run the manual one to the cockpit with a restricter in the line.

I took my faulty pipe to Charlie. It had a small pin hole in the edge of the weld. He fixed it immediately and I reinstalled it.

Tomorrow I should have my turbo pipes and a battery, so maybe I'll be able to move forward. The guys on the fly rotary list think that the most likely reason I'm not getting a spark is a lack of volts. Tracy explained how to check the crank angle sensor wiring in case this is the problem. Combine this information with me having a dead battery and, maybe my starting problems are a non-issue. We'll see.

Oh, by the way - how about this for a brilliant piece of engineering design... The upper cowl can't be installed without removing the prop. Duh. I'm going to have to rethink the cowl / turbo shield interface.

Plan for tomorrow
Collect intercooler and pipes from Charlie
"final" installation of intercooler and pipe
reweigh using new scale (once the nose lift works again)
plumb bob and chalk thing to check the fuselage stations
tidy up and label some loose spare wires behind panel and at firewall
install new battery & charge
engine start attempt #2 ?

order 90 degree al cast from turbonetics for turbo intake
order 2 * 2.25 silicone sections and 4 clamps

Day 5 - Judgment day

Judgement day is the day when you have to face up to all you're sins. Today I met a few of mine head on.

I'm having trouble remembering what I did first thing this morning, So much has happened since. Hmmm. Ah yes - throttle cable bracket # 3. I removed the AC compressor yesterday. My throttle cable bracket was bolted to it. I figured a way to mount a new one on the engine mount support and set to making it out of 4130 steel. Next I worked for an hour or so on the lower cowl screws. The cowl seems to have changed shape since I made it. I had a couple of torx screws in place. There are a total of 25 on each cowl. One screw just wouldnt go in. Finally I realized why - I'd used a small size nutplate and the screw was too big to go in. Thankfully it was one of the easy to reach ones, so I replaced it and moved on. The lower cowl is now securely fixed in place with tinnerman washers and screws in all the holes.

My turbo pipes wern't done, and the battery hadn't arrived, so I started on the weight and balance with my new nose gear scale. The nose lift didnt work, but this was a perfect opportunity to test the manual system with a socket wrench. It worked just fine so I carried on with the weighing. Tim arrived to help so I checked the scales, sat him in the pilot seat, checked the scales again, then weighed him. This way I could confirm the pilot moment. I came to 58.76. The Pilot manual says 59. Not bad. Next I added 5 gals of fuel to the right tank and checked the scales again. I now have about 8 sets of scale readings, with and without seats, with and without Tim, with and without fuel, oil & coolant, with and without the AC etc. etc. All done without the intercooler, but with a weight in its place. I weighed the AC stuff I'd removed - 25lb., but it's moment is close to the cg, so it doesnt really make a lot of difference to balance, but I'm getting ahead of myself....

This morning I mentioned my upper cowl problem to Tim. He suggested a small removable plate at the top of the cowl, in line with the vertical blade. This way I'd be able to remove the plate, then the cowl would slide back off the turbo shield. I'll do that tomorrow.

With all the weighing done I packed up the scales and went home to check on the battery. It had arrived, so I put it on charge (briefly). After lunch I picked up the finished turbo pipes and intercooler and worked on fitting them. I didn't complete the job because I was anxious to do the plumb bob stuff needed to calculate all the fuselage stations and finish off the balance part of the weight and balance. I hung the plumb bob from the nose, the canard LE, the wing root, the firewall, the nose wheel axle, the main axles and the prop flange. On the floor I stuck duct tape and marked each point. Now it was just a matter of connecting the dots and measuring along the center line. I came home with a few pages of notes and dived into Excel.

The first thing that became clear was that I wasn't too clear on what was in the plane when. My notes say the total weight went up 29 lb when I added just over a gallon of oil. That can't be right. There are a few other anomolies in the data that make me mistrust it, so a rerun is needed. I do almost everything at least twice - why should this be different?

The moment stuff is fairly simple once you get the hang of it. I played what-if in excel for a while. This will help me have a better understanding tommorrow when I do all the balance work again. I finally came to a bunch of dubious bottom lines. If I trust my data, which I don't, the good news is that with Char and I on board the plane won't need any ballast and will easily carry full fuel, even with all the baggage Char tends to take on trips. Depending on where I set my gross weight we'll be able to carry back seat passengers, plenty of fuel and some baggage. Weight isnt the problem. Balance is the problem. The bad news is that with just me (at 157lb) I'll need a LOT of ballast. I need to put on some weight! Just to get in the "acceptable" envelope at a cg of 102 I'll need 62 lb of ballast. To get in the recommended first flight envelope I'll need 91 lb. Now we're talking about ballast in the ballast compartment at -3 moment. Here's where the sins start to line up on me. I used up half of this area for my nose light. I'd be suprised if I could get more than 30 or 40 lb in there now.

So... when the ballast moves back, it gets bigger. There's very little room in the nose compartment because my AC plenum is in there. I could move the batteries from the firewall (2 * 13lb), but there's nowhere to put them up front. I'm probably going to need a couple of 50 lb sand bags on the passenger seat.

I built a light airframe, then I started adding stuff and couldn't seem to stop. All stuff I'd like to have, to be sure.... leather seats, turbo, etc. etc. Now I have to pay the piper (or should we say the sandman). Lots of horses help get you off the ground faster, but they don't make you land any slower. I wonder - how different my plane is to others? Norm, Marc - what do you weigh and what ballast do you carry when solo? I guess it's a combination of me being light and having a turbo that adds the extra ballast requirements. Where can I loose some weight near the front? Should I care too much about the ballast? Hmmm.

I'm tired. Perhaps everything will be clearer in the morning. I hope so.

7 hours at the hangar, 2 playing in excel

Plan for tomorrow
Get lead shot
reweigh using new scale (once the nose lift works again)
plumb bob and chalk thing to check the fuselage stations
finish "final" installation of intercooler and pipe
finish throttle bracket # 3 (or is it 4)
tidy up and label some loose spare wires behind panel and at firewall
install new battery 
engine start attempt #2 ?
cut cowl and make plate for easy cowl removal

order 90 degree al cast from turbonetics for turbo intake
order 2 * 2.25 silicone sections and 4 clamps

Day 4

I started the morning by redoing the plumb bob fuselage station calculations. I got different numbers in daylight - go figure. I also received good input (including weight and balance spreadsheets) from Marc and Norm on weight and balance issues. Seems I'm not so far out after all. We don't talk about it much, and I guess its really a non event for those who are flying but, unlike a 172, the Cozy needs careful attention to weight and balance, and needs considerable ballast for solo flying. This is just one of the features. Deal with it. The advantages in efficiency, glide ratio, speed, range and coolness factor more than make up for this minor inconvienience. I also hear that most Cozys and LongEzs tend to be tail heavy, that flying aft cg (within limits) is better, one guy says its even faster. I've been told that one Cozy (no names) flys just fine at 2200lb gross on a standard day. Per Marc's advise I'll redo the weight calculations at least once. This time with the hangar door closed.

I decided to leave the next weight measurement session until after the engine's running. Everyone, including me, wants to hear this sucker MAKE NOISE.

I swear the turbo pipes were perfect when I took them for welding. Charlie's too good to weld them wrong, so I think the Cozy gremlins must be in town again. I had to saw off an inch from one pipe and a 1/2 inch from the other. I spent about 3 hours battling with them before getting an acceptable fit. Apart from the turbo inlet from the plenum the turbo and intercooler pipes are now done.

The new throttle cable bracket worked out nicely first time. I like the sound of that. I don't get to say it often.

I removed the pregnant battery and installed the new one. Maybe I should give the old one some more volts - it might deliver a little battery for my lawn mower.

With the new battery the engine cranks over REALLY fast, especially with the plugs out, but it still doesn't spark. Also, I'm not sure if I have a problem with my fuel pressure regulator. It seems to be holding the pressure and not releasing any fuel to the return. The pressure gauge doesn't give me any reading at all, but there's definately fuel pressure on the rail. More debugging.

This evening I went down to the hangar to look into the spark problem. I tried it with both controllers, then checked the crank angle sensors. They seem to generate a tiny pulse when you move a piece of steel away from them. Tracy says the positive side of the pulse goes to the EC2, and the negative to the return wire. The pulse is very small, but it seemed that I had the wires reversed so I swapped them. Still nothing. There are 2 sensors. The "outer" one which gets a pulse every rev, and the "inner" one which gets lots of pulses per rev. I tried them both ways. Nothing. Next I pulled the coil connectors one by one and checked the connections to the EC2, ground and power. I also tested the "trigger" pin to see if it was getting a ground or power when the engine turned. Nope.

I spent a couple of happy hours testing the connections from the EC2 pins to the control panel pins. There are 30 or so pins on the EC2. I hooked each one to the meter in turn, then jumped out of the back to test the other end. That's a lot of jumping in and out of the back.

Every wire checked out fine. Conclusion - take 2 asprin & call Tracy in the morning.

Plan for tomorrow
Call Tracy for debugging tips
Get lead shot
tidy up and label some loose spare wires behind panel and at firewall
cut cowl and make plate for easy cowl removal

Outstanding orders
order 90 degree al cast from turbonetics for turbo intake
order 2 * 2.25 silicone sections and 4 clamps
Call Polyfiber for new crosslinker
Order clevis pin for cowl flap
Order replacement alternate battery

Day 3 - Houston. We have ignition!

I had a chat with Tracy first thing this morning and went down to the hangar with a few ideas of things to test. On the way I called Buly and asked him if he'd like to drive up and help with the debugging. I had given him my spare crank angle sensor. Maybe we could test this against the two on the plane.

I removed the sensors, put some duct tape on the faces and hooked them up to the lowest volt scale on my meter. If I bring a piece of steel to the face quickly I get a positive jump on the needle. With this jump positive, and the jump when you move the steel away negative, plus = live, minus = return. I was correct originally. I'd misread Tracy's email and reversed them, so I reversed them again. I'd just reinstalled the sensors when Buly arrived. We removed all the plugs and Buly held one to ground while I cranked the engine. Spark! We have a SPARK! Buly had HELD the plug against the block. I had just taped it to a braided hose (which I'd tested for ground). I thought ground was ground and that was that. Apparantly not.

We tried all the plugs and had a spark on both trailing plugs, but nothing on the leading plugs. We put the plugs back in anyway and pulled my Saab into the hangar for a few extra amps. I cranked, and after a few turns the engine coughed. Two, maybe three fires - just enough to help the starter along, then stopped.

Three more phone calls to Tracy and a lot of wire chasing didn't get us a spark on the leading coils, but together we eliminated a few of the possible causes. Buly had to leave, so I carried on with checking the coils and plug leads by swapping connectors. There is 12v on every coil, but only two of them spark. Swap the connectors and the other coil sparks. Hmmm. During another chat with Tracy I suggested cross connecting the trigger wires on leading and trailing. He said this might work, wouldn't do any harm, and might help us understand the problem. It didn't do any of the above.

It was gone 6pm by now, I'd been at the hangar 8 hours and I hadn't eaten all day. Char brought dinner to the hangar and with it some good vibes. After dinner she went home to check the dogs (plural still), and I carried on staring at the problem. I dismantled the GM wiring harness, removed their big suspect interal connectors and reassembled it. As I was doing this I noted that the power for leading and trailing coils is supplied seperately. Hmmm. Both read hot, but maybe one is "more" hot than the other. I thought volts were volts and that was that. Apparantly not. I cross connected the hot leads and cranked. Spark on all four plugs. Weird. Ah well! I blew off the plugs and installed them, primed the engine with a couple of squirts of gas and cranked. It was firing. Not running - just firing. Enough to help the started along, but not enough to pick up on its own. But - better than what I had been getting.

I gave the starter a rest, put the battery on charge and removed the plugs for cleaning. They were wet and oily. I'm sure there's a lot of grease and preservative left in the housings.

After 1/2 hour I reinstalled the plugs, primed the engine with gasoline again and cranked it some more. It fired, kept up with the starter, then, Brrrr aaaa PPPPPP. Oh! What a beautiful sound! Not only because I'd been looking forward to hearing it, but also because it truely is a beautiful sound. Somewhere between a deep growl and race car whine it spoke of power and precision. I'm looking forward to hearing more of it tomorrow.

The engine ran for maybe 6 seconds and generated a blast of black smoke. I hadn't turned on the fuel pump. I turned it on, tried again, but didn't get even a cough of recognition. I wasn't ready to remove and clean the plugs again. It had been a long day, it was 9pm, and this was a good note (literally) to end it on.

I noted a small oil leak from the turbo oil feed, and a slight drip of water from the water pump lower fitting.

When I got home Char said I smelled of "engine". She liked it.

Plan for tomorrow
Fix minor oil leak
Find out what's wrong with the volts on the leading plugs
Remove, clean & reinstall plugs
try to run engine for more than 6 seconds

Catch up on ordering, especially second battery.

Day 2

Another long day. Yesterday was 12 hours. Today was 9. The battery had been on charge all night, the starter was cold and the plugs were clean. I cranked the engine from my amatuer built rear remote operations center - three switches by the firewall, one for master, one for essential bus and one for starter. It cranked fine, but didn't attempt to fire at all.

I removed the plugs. I noticed that the trailing plugs were very oily, and the leading plugs were just wet. Hmmm. I cleaned them with compressed air, cranked the engine with the plugs out and sprayed the wing (and myself) with oily gas spots, put the plugs back, then got on with something else while the battery got its breath back.

My first task was to eliminate the firewall based starter solenoid and feed the solenoid on the starter directly from the battery. Maybe I'll reconnect the second solenoid later as a protection from a stuck starter, but right now it and it's connections are drawing valuable amps.

Moving the starter cable meant also moving the fat alternator cable. Unfortunately this was too short to reach across to the battery solenoid, so I had to make a new fat wire. I had the wire, but my propane torch was out of gas.

I've been wondering why I get no fuel pressure reading. Tracy suggested that perhaps it was on the return side of the regulator rather than the feed. I checked the manual and didn't get much help. Before taking off the regulator I thought I'd check the wiring to the gauge. I removed the canard and looked down at the back of the gauge. There were no wires going to it. This could be the problem right here Once I had the gauge hooked up it showed me an off the scale (50+psi) reading. Here the manual did help. I adjusted the regulator until I got about 35psi.

Time for another crank. This time I pulled the car up to the plane and hooked the battery directly to the starter. The engine cranked really fast.

I removed and cleaned the plugs again and got on with something else while the battery got its breath back. The pattern was getting familiar, I was getting really quick at getting the plugs in and out, and me and the wing were getting really dirty, but I wasn't making progress, so I went home for a break.

This evening I stopped at an auto shop and picked up a can of starting fluid and some propane. I also priced RX7 starter motors - $168 and they'll test your motor for free (yea, and I'll bet they usually discover that it's no good).

The plane was all ready for another start attempt. In short -Nothing. Not even a "pop", even with the starter fluid. I got on with something else - I forget what - and, well you know the rest...

A little later I tried weakening the mixture and cranking with the fuel pump off.

A little later I tried with computer B.

A little later, it was gone 9 pm and I was ready to call it a night. I was leaning inside the cockpit wondering why the fuel pressure was fluctuating when I decided to try another start attempt from the cockpit, this way I could try moving the mixture and flipping computers while it was cranking. I cranked and it popped immediately, before I had time to touch any switches. It seemed to be turning a lot faster than it had been. It tried to keep up with the starter, popping a few times here and there, but it couldn't quite make it.

Now this is going to sound a little weird. I thought - maybe the bird wants me to sit in the pilot seat. I hooked up the throttle cable, got in (without cleaning the plugs), settled myself in the seat and worked through a pre-start checklist. Master on. Fuel pump on. Fuel pressure good. Ignition to start.

Pop...pop...pop..pop..pop.pop.pop.poppoppop brrrrappp, brrrrappp, brrrrappp, brrrrappp. Yellow flash. Engine stop. This time I got maybe 25 seconds of wonderful noise. Hmmm. What the hell was that yellow flash? One of my "light up when blown" fuses had blown. I checked, and found it was a 5amp fuse for the ignition circuit. That explains why the engine stopped. I've heard that the coils need 7.5. Not sure why I had a 5 in there. Checking all the fuses against draw is on my todo list. This is one way todo it. I checked for leaks around the engine, put in a 10 amp fuse and tried again. The starter was too weak, so I quit for the night.

I suppose there's a scientific explanation for why the bird started when I operated the controls from the pilot seat. I can't imagine what it might be. The wires are shorter from the firewall and they make the same contacts. Anyway, I'm comfortable with the idea that "dreamland Express" likes having me in the pilot seat, so from now on that's where I'll be starting her from. Of course, it could be that she only likes to go after 9pm at night.....

Plan for tomorrow
Check fluids. Try to get to the point where she'll start at will and run till I turn her off. Check for leaks. Tracy the problem with the leading coil circuit. 

Day 1

Well, I achieved my objective, so I guess I should be happy. Unfortunately I now have a whole new set of objectives.

I picked up a new set of plugs on the way to the hanger. Paul and Tim were waiting when I arrived. I installed the plugs and cranked and she fired right up. Relatively smooth and sweet. I ran her for about a minute, then shut her down to check for leaks etc. Paul and Tim did monotoring duties at the rear while I started her up from the cockpit.

Over the next 3 hours I ran her for a total of eight minutes in short bursts of a minute or so each. So - the engine's running. The engine was packed with petroleum jelly when it was rebuilt, and all that was needed was perseverence to burn it out. Now it starts easily every time. I'm past the ignition and oily plug problems, but I've found a whole bunch of new ones.

Obviously I have some programming to do on the computer to get it into sync with the engine's fuel needs at various RPM etc. But, I have a few mechanical issues to deal with too.

1. Cooling. I don't think the coolant is circulating at all (hence the short runs). This may be because of the small leak at the water pump outlet which is allowing air to be sucked into the system - just a wild guess.

2. I think the turbo may have overheated because of item 1. Also, I think the engine is starved for air - I'm showing very low manifold pressure (fluctuating around 20inhg) and the engine cycles on its own from 2000 - 3000 rpm without any throttle change. Something is definately not right here. I'll take a close look at the turbo tomorrow. No big deal. I was planning on having it rebuilt anyway.

3. Vacuum. The clutch isn't working. Have to check the wiring on this.

4. Oil pressure. I get 30 - 40 PSI on cranking with no ignition. When she starts the mechanical gauge does a full circle and goes off the scale. Hmmm.

4. Electrical. My "charge" light does not go off and the voltmeter isn't showing a charge. Need to check if the alternator solenoid is closing. Something really weird is happening with my EC2 computer fuse. It's one of those LED ones that lights up when it blows. It's lighting up based on RPM, but not blowing. I have no idea where to start on this one, but something sure ain't right there.

It's interesting how people show up when I run the engine. They wander in from all the surrounding hangars intrigued by the strange sound of a rotary.

Day zero tomorrow. Anyone want to take a poll on whether I'll take this beast around the block?

Day Zero

I hope no-one reading this seriously thought I was going to fly the plane today. It's nice to know, however, that I've actually reached the stage where I could have. It would have been a crazy stunt for sure, but it could have been done with maybe a 20% chance of survival. Not my kind of odds. It would only have taken me an hour or so to install the prop, canard and upper cowl. The engine is running (consistantly if not smoothly) and the airframe is ready.

This morning I started by checking the turbo. It seems just fine. I guess I'll get used to how hot the turbo gets. That reminds me - the stainless turbo sheild doesn't get very hot at all. It has engine paint rated for 500 c, and it hasn't even blistered except in the area where it's closest to the turbo. The turbo itself, however, could be used as a tail light. You can see an orange glow when you look up the exhaust pipe. Note: If doing this - listen out for the word "Clear" . Anyway, as I was saying, I removed the turbo oil feed and cranked the engine. I got lots of black oil. Time to change the oil and filter. What I didn't catch with a rag went all over the turbo where it created a nice cloud of smoke next time I started up.

On to cooling. I removed the thermostat, replaced the housing and added some water. Now I could hear the air bubbling around the system. The thermostat had been blocking it's path. Maybe I don't need a thermostat. They say I have to block a bypass channel to remove it, but I dont see one on the 3rd gen. The guys on the fly rotary list have been helping me though the difficult spots over the past few days. They're incredible! I asked a question at 9am and left for the hangar an hour later with a printout of the answers from five experienced rotarians, including Tracy himself.

I checked the vacuum pump clutch wiring. I traced the wires down the harness to the firewall and came to a knot in the wires. That is - two wires tied togther in a knot. Now I remember - I ran out of butt spices, so I just knotted the wires so I'd know which ones they were. Butt splices work much better than knots for conducting electricity, so I put one in.

I started the engine, ran it for about a minute, then switched off and checked the cooling system. The pipes and radiator were warm and it took a little more coolant. Looks like I've got a cooling system after all. I turned on the cabin heat fan and was rewarded by warm air from the vent. Pity about the AC, but we'll get to that later. It's February.

I restarted the engine and ran it at various rpm for a total of about 7 minutes. It's very picky on throttle setting, tough to find a sweet spot but I found a few at various rpm by playing with the mixture. I ran her up to about 5500 rpm (The Tiny Tach is working fine) but most of the run was done at about 3000rpm. The noise level isn't really that high, and it's a very nice sound - at least to me. I can tell the difference in sound when I open and close the wastegate. With the wastegate closed it is a little quieter. The coolant temp climbed slowly to about 180, and the oil to 160. I switched on the Ferrari cooling fan, and the temperature readings moved downwards visibly almost immediately. Interesting. The EC2 obviously needs programming for correct mixture at various rpm, but I can't do that until I install the prop.

When I checked the engine after this run I found a water leak from my air bleed hose connection at the top of the engine. I had been thinking about bolting the prop on and taking her around the block (on the ground) just for the hell of it, but this water leak put an end to that idea. I really need more static run-ups before taxiing anyway.

The alternator contactor is definately not closing. I need to check the wiring on this against my Bob Nuckolls wiring diagram and revise as necessary. And I still have my variable glow LED fuse to figure out.


"Day zero" has come and gone, and she's not quite ready to fly. But - she's a LOT closer than she was a month ago. There is no "construction" left to do. Just checking, debugging and minor stuff like the alternator wiring and the cowl flange for easy removal. Of course I'll give it another 30 days, or 60, or 90 or however long it takes until I'm totally comfortable that everything is working properly, both with the engine and the airframe.

This was an exercise in making progress. As such, it worked. A "deadline" for a first flight is just what it sounds like. I haven't even sent off the FAA paperwork yet. Now I have to catch up on a few things - like earning a living, doing some jobs around the house etc. etc., I hope this countdown has been interesting for those trying to get some perspective on what's involved in putting a rotary in a Cozy. It's fun, it's challenging, at times it's frustrating, and it's rewarding. The fact that the "deadline" wasn't met is also a good lesson in airplane building. Set them by all means, because without them you can just "float", but there's always something that gets in the way and slows you down. Don't be put off by this. It's par for the course. Just do something (anything) every day and you'll get there eventually.

Plan for Tomorrow
rewire the alternator contactor
run the engine some more
check vacuum, oil pressure
catch up on ordering
Fit a carpet in the new "florida room"
Paint the house
Earn some money...

Day Zero and Holding...

Fixed the vacuum clutch - It was nice to see the horizon line itself up.
Wired the alternator solenoid properly - Voltmeter now shows charge
Did layup for upper cowl remval flange
Did layup for battery retainer straps
Did layup around cowl / turbo shroud interface to help with alignment during installation
Ran engine for a few minutes to confirm vacuum and charge

Installed prop
Taxi test # 1
Discovered loose flywheel
Removed redrive
adjusted turbo pipes
remade throttle cable bracket (twice)

See the end of Chapter 27 for the continuing saga.....