« Posts tagged fuel injection

Idle fixed.

5.5 hours.


I don’t have time for a lot of jibber-jabber, so I’ll make this short and sweet:

I installed the new idle linkage bearing and spent a bit of time dialing in the idle.   I got it to idle smoothly at 750 RPM with a solid transition to power on throttle advance.   CHT’s sitting there uncowled don’t get past 245, which is good.   We had a really strong wind today, so it was a good day for engine testing, but a crap day for flying.  Nobody was out there, so I was left to my own devices.  The idle fix took about two hours, so then I went for a drive.   I taxied down to the west end of the runway, then came back.   20+ knot winds variable from 070 to 085 make for some fast footwork on the pedals.

After that was done, I set about making the fire extinguisher mount.   I ended up putting it on the fuel pump cover, in easy reach of both pilot and copilot.  Of course, if the fuel pump’s on fire, getting the the extinguisher is going to be interesting.   I had to reinforce the fuel pump cover with some .032 so the bracket could be safely bolted on, but it seems to work.


Zero Sum

6 hours.

I spent a whole lot of yesterday doing various things, which is the surest way to feel like I got nothing done.   I had two goals: Fix the idle stumble and run down that AP engage joystick wire issue.

The first part was almost easy.   I set the mag timing to 25 degrees per the engine data plate.  I’m getting to be an old hand at setting mag timing.  I got them both firing in sync, then made the idle richer by a couple of flats of the adjustment linkage, per the AFP manual.  Sure enough, that cured the off-idle stumble and my CHT’s and EGTs dropped noticeably.  But there was still a rough idle, so more adjustment needed to happen.

The manual says that adjusting the idle is done with the engine running.  The problem with that is twofold: One, working near a spinning prop scares the crap out of me.  I haven’t had the training to do so safely.  Two, because of the orientation of the throttle body, the idle linkage is on top, between the throttle body and the engine case, and the only way to get at it is by reaching past hot exhaust pipes.  Even if I did have the stones to crawl under there with the prop spinning, I can just see burning my forearm on the #1 pipe and yanking it back into the arc of the prop.  No thanks.  I did my idle adjustments with the engine off.

With Mike as the casual observer, it appeared that my idle was too rich, because there was a bit of smoke coming from the pipes when I was idling and the idle was definitely a bit rough.   This is caused by multiple symptoms, but a too-rich mixture is the first and most obvious culprit.

The manual also says that the best way to adjust the idle is to leave one of the jam nuts “just snug” and turn the block one flat at a time.   Well, yours truly interpreted “just snug” as “don’t touch” and after a couple of turns of the block, the left-hand rod end bearing snapped off at the jam nut.


So now I have to find/buy a LH thread #3 rod end bearing and I can get back to business.

As for the other stuff, I did chase down the AP engage wire.   Turns out I have to figure out a way to do some kind of voltage differential and use the MGL script editor in order to remote-control the EFIS to engage the autopilot.   A simple “Hey, I’m Grounded” won’t work.   This will take a minute to work out the logic, but I’ll email Matt at MGL and see what he says.

Also, Owen and Ron got the racing scales, so I can do weight and balance.    This gets done first thing today, because I need to return the scales ASAP.   It’s   I’m just hoping the W/B comes in as expected.

I also fiddled about with the wheel pants, but that’s not high on the priority list right now.


5 hours.

Today was about putting things back together and getting a handle on some of the chaos.   The first bit of good news is that the oil temperature probe works fine.  I pulled it out of the engine and hit it with a heat gun and sure enough, it gave me a reading.  So I’m not going to worry about that anymore.   I secured the wires back in their bundle and i’m calling that squawk done.

I also wasn’t real happy about the weird way I had the fuel pressure sensor set up.  The Adel clamp holding it was maybe a size bigger than it should have been, and this way seems more secure:


As I mentioned last time, I flipped the governor arm over and it seems to work just fine:


My biggest problem with doing it this way was where the injector line was going to go.   A piece of angle solved that.   Now it’s out of the way, and less likely to be heat-soaked down near the cylinder.  I still haven’t safety-wired the screws yet, or put the cotter pin in the cable attach nut, But I think this is how it’ll stay.

Last week, Owen recommended tightening up the tailwheel chains.   Van’s recommends a half an inch of slack, but if you ask ten different people how they like their tailwheel chains, and you’ll get at least five different answers. But my chains had an inch of slack, and if I took a link out, I’d have none.  But I did take a link out of each side, and while there isn’t really any dangling slack, I can move the chains up and down by about a half an inch, and I’ll tell you, based on today’s test, it taxis just fine:


That little gap in the rudder fairing is kind of annoying.   Not exactly sure what to do there, except put nutplates in there and hope for the best.

Today’s test was all about seeing how things went with the cowl on.  First, I wanted to make sure I could actually get the cowl on with the flipped-over governor bracket making the cable rise a bit more than it did before.   Turns out, I’ve got about 1/8″ of clearance between the cable and the top cowl, which is good enough.   And from what I remember, the cowl inflates a little in flight, so that 1/8″ becomes a little more.   And that’s fine.   I just don’t want to have to put a clearance wart in the cowl to accommodate the cable.


But before taking it out for another test, this adjustment had to be made to the baffle material on the lower cowl.  I had to cut it back a bit, because it was covering up about 6 square inches of air intake.   Bad.   So with this mod in place, I put the top cowl on, and pinned it down.   Then I put a few of the floor panels in, and you’d be surprised how much the plane stiffens up with the reinforcing action of the panels.   I ran it up, then shut down the left mag.  Engine died.   Started it again, repeated.   OK, right mag dead.   Grr.   Still runs fine on one though.

So I said screw it, let’s taxi it around.  The new tailwheel chain tension was much better.  Now it’s more like Mickey’s Citabria, and the ground handling is nice!  I took it to the end of the hangar row, turned right, went down the next row, turned right again, then went back to the barn.  CHT’s never got above 210.   As soon as I get this mag situation sorted out, it’s time for ground runs.

\Last time, shutting off the left Mag made a lot of popping and missing, which I attributed to timing.   This time, I’m pretty sure the timing’s right, but now shutting off the right mag shuts off the engine.  Now, it might have something to do with the fact that I left the pop-rivet I was using for a timing pin in the hole when I pulled the prop through, but I can’t say for sure.   What I do know is that before, on the right mag, I had backfiring.   Now I’ve got squat.


Cowl surfacing, part 2.

6 hours.

Before I knew anything about fiberglass, I figured the pepto-pink Van’s cowl was pretty much the norm. It’s not. The Van’s cowl is shite. You’re supposed to fill in all the pinholes (and the whole thing is mostly pinholes) by rolling on straight epoxy, then squeegeeing it off. 3 coats go on like that and theoretically, the pinholes are filled in.

The reality is far from theory. What I’ll have to do now, if I want this thing to be even remotely smooth, is to squidge on a layer of micro slurry. Not the paste used for building up a shape, but enough to fill in all the divots. Once that’s done, I’ll be able to sand it smooth, then seal it with another layer of resin.

Or, I could take it to a body shop and have them do it. I need to be very careful not to bust the 51% rule, though, since I got the quickbuild kit to start with.

So the third coat of resin is curing right now, and should be ready for sanding tomorrow.

Since I was in fiberglass mode, I finished the cutout I had to make in the snorkel to allow it to clear the alternator. This is also curing, and should be done enough to permanently install tomorrow.

Aside from that, I reworked the fuel feed line so it makes a little more sense and doesn’t bend at such an extreme angle on the input.

Snorkel and Baffles again.

8 hours.

Yesterday and today. I’ve been blowing this off, mainly because there was no good time to spew fiberglass dust all over myself, and the fact that I accidentally sheared off the cord of my Dremel tool with the fiberglass bit last time. The sparks were epic. Yes, that was stupid. So yesterday I went to Home Despot and picked up a new Dremel 4000, and this time, I got the flex-cable attachment that lets me use the thing a lot more like a pencil or some other fine instrument.

I tried to take a lot of pics, because the process of fitting the VA-132-1 snorkel to the AFP FM-200 fuel controller and the front inlet ramp is a complete and total whore. Hopefully my documentation can help somebody have less of a ride thorugh hell. There is very little in the way of direction in the plans that actually provides useful information. About the only thing I needed the plans for was to tell me which side of the snorkel the filter mount flanges go on. It’s the inside, in case you’re curious. Oh, and the reference photos on the plans are terrible, and there aren’t enough of them to give you any in-depth information as to how things are supposed to fit. Yes, I get that there should be a big square hole in the front inlet ramp that should have an air filter under it. All aboard the NS Sherlock. Even so, fitting it to the AFP fuel controller brings with it its own set of travails, which is largely the root of the issue. Now, the FM-150, released the year after I got mine, has a square flange on it, like the Bendix or Precision Silverhawk servo, which means the snorkel will fit a lot better. Too late for yours truly, however.

So today, I was determined to make the filter mounts and mash up the parts necessary to make the filter fit.

This was the state of affairs after trimming the snorkel to match the contour of the inlet ramp, bend and all. This was a tweaky, iterative process, the first of many. With the snorkel attached to the fuel servo (throttle body), I had to trim away millimeters of material until it was kinda sorta flush with the contour of the inlet ramp, including the bend in the material designed to match the contour of the cowl opening.

With this in place, I was able to trace the shape of the snorkel opening onto the bottom of the inlet ramp.

View from the top, before anything was cut. At this point, I’m test-fitting the filter retainer, which is going to connect to the whole apparatus by way of #6 screws.

I gave myself plenty of room to work. The initial cutout for the opening was about 3/8″ inward from the actual edge. I wanted to make sure things could shift around a bit when installing the W-sections that would become the filter mounts.

First step was the aft side, which is the hardest, because there’s a joggle downward from the angle attached to the cylinders and block to the actual ramp. This means that the W-section of metal designed to accommodate the filter needs to fit in there, and match the angle of the snorkel’s surface. This was not easy, and I think I’ve got enough edge distance to get by, but I’m not altogether sure.

So after cutting away a good amount of the flange on the filter mount, and bending the metal to match the angles, I got a pretty decent fit. Here, you can see the metal flange through the fiberglass, with positions marked for where the rivet holes are going to go. It was at this point I figured I should take a look at the drawings, useless as they are, to make sure I wasn’t committing an obvious error.

Once this one was nailed down, everything stopped moving, and it was much easier to work with the whole assembly with it anchored at both the servo end and the filter end. Good thing I checked the plans. As mentioned before, the flange goes on the INSIDE of the snorkel chamber, not like it is in the previous photo. Fortunately, there was enough give to let me squidge the snorkel back enough to make this work. But blocking it out like this gave me a perfect reference as to where to cut down the snorkel to clear the joggle on the W-section.

The next filter mount section was relatively easy. Too bad I cut the W-section too short with the bandsaw. Stupid muscle memory. I thought about it, I double checked it, I marked it, but I wound up cutting it too short anyway. Not a big deal, I have a template now, and I know how it’s supposed to go. Replacing it will be simple. The next step beyond the filter mounts will be opening up that inital cut to clear the horizontal part of the filter mounts. The idea is that the air filter rests on the joggle in the W-sections, but the forward lip of the filter just slides in under the opening.

To get the outboard one, I had to shave down the filter mount flange at a slight angle. I also finally had to bend the lower flange on the outboard baffle to match up with the inlet ramp. But this actually made things easier. Plenty of edge distance, and the third filter mount went on no problem.

A closer look at the outboard filter mount, from the front. The little piece of metal that looks like a ‘J’ is the horizontal part of the W-section where the filter lip rests. The snorkel will still have to be trimmed up front to allow the lip to clear. Probably should have photographed the filter a little. I will next time.

So that was the scary bit. I had no desire to start anew with a new snorkel (which is pricey), and other than the inboard filter mount, I don’t have to order new parts. It’s an iterative tweakfest, but eventually, things stop being awkward and you can actually get some stuff done. Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I put the lower cowl on, and everything seems to clear just fine, but the cowl will require a little bit of trimming.

Next is to enlarge the filter opening and make the filter retainers, and install the K-1000-6 platenuts that hold the whole thing together. Once that’s done, I can finish the front baffles, which are going to be interesting on their own.

Snorkel 1.

7 hours.

Saturday and Sunday. The snorkel fit fine with no modifications. April Fool’s! Seriously, this thing is the biggest POS in the whole inventory. There’s no way it will fit without mods, ever. It doesn’t even fit well with the engine Van’s sells. It is a black hole of suck, no two ways about it. Firstly, I hate fiberglass. Second, I have the AFP fuel injection system. Third, this thing has to line up in at least three places before it can be said to ‘fit.’ Let’s have a look.

What you see here is an attempt to make a plug in the shape of the throttle body intake. To do this, I make a ring out of .032 aluminum, then riveted it to another ring just inside that one, with the shop heads sticking out. This slipped over the throttle body intake and the idea was that I’d tape it off, fill it with spray foam, and have a perfect foam plug from which to form all my fiberglass and use as a sanding block later. No such luck. The foam can I used had probably been sitting on the shelf for about 6 years or so, and never quite cured. Mess. And before you ask, yes, I taped up the throttle body so no goo would get down inside. Back to square 1.

I don’t have a lot of pics of the snorkel in its totally hacked up form, because I didn’t want to get fiberglass dust all over my phone. Basically, I had cut away pretty much everything near the flange of the snorkel, leaving a hole big enough to get the throttle body into. A lot of people cut the snorkel in half and re-glass it back together after fitting each half, but I didn’t want to do that, for some reason. Since I was committed to glassing a whole new flange on it, I didn’t see the need to cut it in half. So that led to the next process:

When fitting this thing, not only does it have to line up on the throttle body intake, the filter end has to line up on the left front inlet ramp, and it has to do it while clearing the #2 oil line, the governor baffle, and the front side baffle. Plus there needs to be enough meat around the edge of the air filter hole to attach the supports and meet any riveting edge distance requirements involved. The only way to get it into position is to take off the inlet ramp and try to fit it that way. surprisingly enough, this does work. I wound up suspending the snorkel in a cat’s cradle of PVC pipe tape (all hail pvc pipe tape, that sh*t rocks!) in the position it would eventually be in once everything is glassed and cut.

I also found my new best friend for fiberglass work: Contractor’s carpet guard. This stuff comes on a roll like Saran Wrap, and it’s the stuff contractors lay down on your carpet before they start trudging in with muddy boots and taking out old sewer pipes. It has a mildly adhesive backing, and it clings to itself and smooth surfaces like crazy. Think of the blue stuff that comes with Van’s kit parts, but clear. It leaves no residue behind either, although they do recommend you don’t leave it on for more than 30 days. Anyway, this stuff became the new throttle body condom, as well as a wrapper for anything else I didn’t want to get stray resin on. I took the alternator off, because it was seriously in the way, but I just wrapped a bit of this stuff around the starter and the alternator bracket. Oh and all over the throttle body. Like so:

Here’s a mostly side-on shot of the opening in the snorkel next to the throttle body. As you can see, it’s not even close. But with the TB protected, I can slap glass on this thing until the cows come home.

From the back.

Now the photos stop, because I’m not about to get resin all over my phone. I used two layups of the same stuff I had when I did the canopy. I’ve got a crap-ton of it left, wo a few pieces got me through. I was able to make a decent connection between the TB and the snorkel, the end result of which is this:

A perfectly-shaped snorkel-to-throttle-body interface. OK, not perfectly shaped, but close enough to keep going. This is after 8 hours of cure. There are some voids where the plastic wrinkled around the throttle body opening, but that’ll get fixed in the next couple of days or so. I did find a perfect facsimile for the throttle body opening though. At the hardware store, they sell this demoisturizing stuff. It’s basically little balls of salt, but what’s of interest to me is the container. The container is smooth plastic, and it’s exactly 3.25″ in diameter, same as the throttle body. Half an inch up from the bottom, I wrapped about 1/8″ thickness worth of pipe tape around it to simulate the lip of the TB, and I was able to use that as a plug for the next 3 layups of reinforcement of the opening.

The inside is a different story. I’m going to be in there with micro, shaping a smooth guide for the airflow around the parts that indent too far into the snorkel chamber and will cause turbulence rounding the corner into the throttle body. That’s when I squidge some micro between the plug and the interface there to fill the voids as well.

Baffles: To Do.

If you don’t know what any of the terms or parts are, this won’t make a damn bit of sense to you. This is more for me to have a written plan of the order of operations to hopefully avoid some future FUBAR. So I’m going to lay out what I think is the proper op order for getting the baffles on and trimmed, the cowl finished, and the airbox done.

See, this is an interlocking puzzle, kind of like a Rubik’s Cube, but none of the pieces are square and there’s no colors to tell you when it’s right. You just need to end up with a shape that meets certain requirements, i.e. everything fits without rubbing on something else and nothing makes the prop stop spinning.

First thing to do: Clean the shop. I swear, sometimes I don’t even know why I bother having a tool box. Everything winds up strewn all over the place anyway. It’s reboot time, because when something I’m looking for is buried under crap I should have put away and it takes me 10 minutes to find it, it’s time to fix that.

So, the baffles:

1. Order new front left inlet ramp. This is because I may have already trimmed too much off the front edge to get the thing to fit inside the cowl. Have to check. I can still use the old one for lineup and getting the shape right, but there might not be enough meat on the front of it to brace the air filter.

2. Make the bracket that connects the ramp to the engine. With this in place, I’m not trying to hit a moving target as far as shaping the opening of the fiberglass snorkel/airbox, and also the angle of the front upper baffle that goes around the prop governor. OBTAIN PROPER BOLTS FOR BRACKET. Big, meaty 3/8″ Grade 8 bolts that connect to the pad just below the governor.

3. Find the rest of the airbox kit, especially the W-channels thqt hold the filter in place. I know they’re in there somewhere, I just have a filing system for parts that closely resembles the Sargasso Sea.

4. Make a collar for the opening of the fuel servo’s intake to assist in fitting/trimming the snorkel. Yeah, that should have FA to do with the baffles, but like I said, it’s an interlocking puzzle. The takeaway from this is that sorting out the snorkel before cutting any holes in the baffle means there’s no need to cut the snorkel in half and re-glass it.

5. Cut/grind off the extra ears on the starter so they don’t interfere with the snorkel.

6. Cut a relief into the snorkel so it clears the alternator bracket. This is a common mod. Why Van’s sells a part that doesn’t work out of the box with 90% of installations is a mystery to me.

7. Maybe not actual step 7, but finish the conical gusset, trimming, and fastening for the right-hand side, which seems to be working OK.

8. Glass in the top cowl inlet ramps. These will be necessary for the next step.

9. Begin the iterative process of trimming the top sides of all baffles down so the top cowl fits and the baffle seal strips will seal.

Baffles 5

2 hours.

Continuing work on the front left inlet ramp. I had to puzzle some stuff out, because this one is a little different from the right side. On the right side, bending the inlet ramp at an angle lines it up to the cowl inlet pretty well. On the left side, you need a big flat spot for the air filter. Also, the amount of crazy you get to deal with when it comes time for the filtered air box is directly proportional to how well you line up the hole in the inlet ramp for the air filter.

Tonight I cut the big stupid flange off the FAB to make the opening somewhat resemble the AFP fuel servo intake. It’s still not even close, but it’s probably wide enough, there will be more trimming. I’ll also have to do two things: Cut a relief hole in it for the alternator bracket (why this isn’t in there from the get-go is beyond me), and grind off one of the ears on the starter. When that happens, I’ve got a fighting chance of lining up the FAB where it’s supposed to go on the inlet ramp.

The other thing about the left inlet ramp is that I have to fabricate the inboard bracket that attaches it to the engine. Fortunately there’s a big square pad with two 3/8″ threaded holes exactly where I need them to be to mount a support bracket for the inlet ramp. After some diggin on VAF and around the internets, I’ve found that even with the bend in the inlet ramp, the filter will still fit, because it’ll flex around the bend. Then the FAB just has to be trimmed to accommodate the shape, and it’s on.

Wandering aimlessly.

4 hours.

I got a call from Don Rivera at Airflow Performance regarding the quandaries of my servo installation. He said I was basically on the right track, but that yes, i’d have to make my own brackets for the throttle and mix cables. Also, there’s no reversing the butterfly. I found about $200 worth of hoses that can go back to Van’s, and I got the temperature probes installed and the extensions run back to the RDAC. I almost got the breather tube done, but I really need to get off the FWF install and go back to wiring and avionics. Basically, I puttered around, unfocused, looking for an easy way into the next step. There isn’t one. I don’t have the cables, hoses, or fittings I need to do more FWF, so screw it, I’m going back to electrical.

This is harder than you might think. Every time I walk past the engine, I find something to distract me. All these little distractions start out as “I wonder if THIS will work.” As a result, I got nothing significant done, other than the installation of a couple of probes and senders. Not that this is a bad thing, but if I had focused on avionics and panel, I could have gotten a lot more done, since I have all the stuff required to get that done.

I’m also looking at the baffles. I suspect I might have some problems where the prop governor sits, and that is going to suck.

Linkages, obstacles.

I read all the warnings. “Use a Van’s-approved engine or you’ll have a ton of trouble making everything fit.” Or this one: “By the time you convert the engine to what you want, you’ll have spent just as much money as if you’d bought new.” Tinker or fly? So, I now have a laundry list of issues related to my particular setup that will now require no small amount of customization, some of it in steel, which I haven’t had much to do with since shoehorning large snowmobile engines onto the backs of go-karts back in the mid-80’s. Here’s the list of fun so far:

-Throttle body interferes with the starter. The Kelley Aerospace starter has a retaining bolt on it that prevents the TB from being mounted in the diaphragm-up position.
-Stock brackets won’t work. Either the mixture or the throttle arm goes the wrong way when pushed, so a bellcrank is probably going to be required.
-AFP throttle body won’t play nice with the airbox. More fun with fiberglass.
-Fuel hose from engine pump to TB inlet is too short in any position except the one that won’t work because of the starter.
-Custom-length quadrant cables will be required.
-Throttle and mixture arms interfere with factory-set linkages when oriented in directions that work for me. I’ll need a straight arm from Don at Airflow.
-Right magneto interferes with battery box. Will need to be re-indexed for harness to clear and be retimed.
-Left magneto had to be removed to adjust oil cooler fitting. Timing will need to be reset.
-Breather tube is a little close to the RDAC. Should be OK though.
-Alternator interference unknown at this time, since I haven’t purchased it yet.
-Oil cooler taken off the engine when I got it is cracked. Need a new one.