Maintenance & Technical

Maintenance & Technical (128)

DENNIS WOLTER continues his series of articles about interior renovation with a deep dive into how corrosion occurs, as well as where you’re most likely to find it. With all the interior components and insulation removed, the clock has been turned back to the day your airplane went down the assembly line. Think of how many years it’s been since anyone has seen what you are now looking at: a completely bare inner cabin with all its aging airplane issues in plain view. I can’t tell you how many owners have insisted we will not find any corrosion in their airplane. They often tell us that they have assisted in every annual since purchasing the airplane and have found no evidence of corrosion in the cabin area. After a week of disassembly and evaluation, we send a teardown report to every renovation customer that includes (guess what?) several photos of hidden corrosion that no one found on routine annual inspections. So, now I’m going to get up on my soapbox and discuss this somewhat complex and very important subject of corrosion. If left untreated, corrosion is the most irreversible threat to the longevity of the airplanes we love so much.…
New paint, new interior and new Plexiglas make John D. Ruley’s 1975 Cessna 182P look and feel like a factory-fresh airplane. Sometimes, small problems can lead to more complex projects. This Skylane restoration started with a flat tire and fuel leak. The tire was a quick fix, and the fuel leak ended up being straightforward as well (leak at the filler neck). However, a check of the logs showed that N4696K’s fuel bladders were 20 years old—with an expected life of just 10 years. It was time for replacement. (For that story, see “Step-by-step Fuel Cell Replacement” in the January 2018 issue.) Once John Ruley and his four partners caught “upgrade fever,” they kept going. This month, the Skylane restoration continues with several cosmetic and safety upgrades. After N4696K’s fuel bladders were replaced in July and early August 2017, we once again had an airworthy aircraft, albeit one whose annual was coming due by the end of August. We elected to paint N4696K, redo the interior and replace the aged Plexiglas windshield and windows. The Plexiglas and glareshield would come first as part of the August annual. Great Lakes Aero Plastics delivered the Plexiglas parts early, which provided plenty of…
Steve, Is there a way to reseal the rear window of my Cessna 172 without removing the window? My airplane was recently in not one, but two, torrential downpours at my airport. I discovered leaks around the rear window and a mega leak around the baggage door. I can easily repair the seal around the baggage door, but I’m wondering if there is a shortcut for the rear window repair. Being a desert rat, I rarely venture into rainy areas and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on the fix. Is there an easy and inexpensive way to accomplish this? Arlene Hi Arlene, Well, maybe. Part of the problem is that all Cessna windows “float” in between a couple of flanges. On your Cessna 172’s window, the skin of the aft fuselage forms the outer flange. A riveted piece inside the airplane forms the inner flange. Initially, all windows had a strip of felt installed around the edges. Any space or gaps surrounding the window(s) were cushioned with putty. In the old days, Cessna used zinc chromate putty. Time takes a toll; the felt begins to compress, the putty migrates and the window becomes loose in the…
As an aircraft owner and pilot, you can legally perform some maintenance tasks, but you must adhere to strict guidelines when doing so. Steve Ells walks us through packing wheel bearings, while highlighting what’s important to stay legal. As most readers of Cessna Flyer know by now, all aircraft maintenance tasks must be overseen or performed by an appropriately-rated person. For maintenance tasks, this means an A&P mechanic—or a technician, as some like to be called these days—is frequently both performing and signing off on the work. This mechanic must (by regulation) have up-to-date versions of the appropriate manuals, bulletins, tools and equipment necessary to complete the tasks. However, there are also a number of maintenance tasks that owners may legally perform. These are termed preventive maintenance (PM) tasks. There’s a long list of them in Appendix A of FAR 43. What is considered preventive maintenance? Appendix A is titled, “Major Alterations, Major Repairs and Preventive Maintenance.” Paragraph (c) lists preventive maintenance tasks. Type “Appendix A of Part 43” into your favorite search engine (or find the link in Resources on Page 35. —Ed.). There is a surprisingly long list of tasks allowed. For instance, owners are permitted to remove…
Identifying squawks and properly sequencing your Cessna refurbishment projects can save you time, money and aggravation. So you’re now the proud, new owner of a not-so-new airplane that you plan to own for a long time. Fortunately, you properly vetted this new-to-you airplane during a thorough pre-purchase inspection, and you’re looking forward to renovating it into your ideal machine. The most important component in successfully making your dream a reality is to develop a cost-efficient, thorough and well-planned renovation. A very important first step is to get to know the airplane before moving forward with major renovations and upgrades. I highly recommend that an owner fly their newly acquired airplane for at least a year and get it through its first annual inspection. Even though a thorough pre-purchase inspection was done, be prepared for that first annual to possibly cost 10 percent of what you paid for the airplane. I’ve made this statement several times in the past during seminar presentations. Looking out at the audience, it’s interesting to observe the various reactions this comment generates in the expressions of those seated in front of me. Surprised or shocked looks indicate non-owners considering their first purchase. Nods of agreement come…
Understanding magnetos and manufacturer recommendations for maintenance can help ensure your safety. The following is an excerpt from Bill Ross’ book “Engine Management 101.” Published by Superior Air Parts Inc., this book is a compilation of what Bill has learned during his 35-plus years of experience as a pilot, aircraft owner, piston aircraft engine industry leader and FAA A&P/IA. Although the basic magneto has provided very reliable service to aircraft operators for over 100 years, it’s still a very misunderstood part of your engine. For example, while many owner-pilots think it needs the aircraft’s battery to operate, the fact is your magneto is a self-contained unit capable of full functionality that is independent of the aircraft’s electrical system. There is no battery power required to start or sustain an aircraft magneto operation. Oh, there are a few that would say, “Without the battery (to turn the starter), the magneto is not able to function.” Obviously, they did not grow up on our airport in South Alabama where hand propping was the normal procedure. Many of the aircraft that I cut my proverbial pilot’s teeth on had, and still have, no electrical system. Therefore, the only way to start the engine…
Evaluate and maintain a new-to-you aircraft using all of the tools available today. So, it’s been a year since the pre-purchase/annual inspection was completed and you have been the owner of this new-to-you airplane. As the months passed, every flight revealed more details about the condition and usefulness of your new flying partner. You probably encountered a few issues that required immediate attention and many others that became line items on your to-do/wish list. (In last month’s Cessna Flyer, Dennis Wolter outlined best practices for preparing to tackle a renovation. —Ed.) With this list and your maintenance technician’s familiarity with your new airplane, the arrival of annual inspection time presents the perfect opportunity to sit down with your mechanic and put together a schedule for the renovation of your airplane. In the list that you put together when flying the airplane during previous months, it’s important to include maintenance and performance issues that need to be discussed before starting that all-important first annual. I definitely believe that you should read all applicable Airworthiness Directives and Service Bulletins and confirm that important issues are well-understood and properly completed. Just because an AD is signed off in the logbook doesn’t mean that…
Many single-engine aircraft rely on alternators to power aircraft systems, avionics and cockpit gadgets. A&P Jacqueline Shipe guides you through how alternators work and what to do when yours isn’t functioning correctly. Nowadays, with everything from glass cockpits to auxiliary power outlets for iPads and phone chargers, there are more demands on the average aircraft’s electrical system than ever before. Most General Aviation airplanes rely on an alternator to provide a steady, reliable source of electrical energy to power electrical components and recharge the battery. Electrical system components The main components in an average airplane’s electrical system are the battery, alternator, voltage regulator, bus bar and wiring. The battery provides stored power for starting the engine. It also provides a reserve of electrical power in case the alternator malfunctions in flight. The electrical bus bar provides a central point of power distribution to almost all electrical components (except the starter). The bus bar receives its power from the battery or alternator. Electrical components are connected to the bus bar through a circuit breaker or fuse. Electrical system specifications The electrical system on most airplanes is either a 14- or 28-volt system. 14-volt systems have 12-volt batteries. 28-volt systems utilize 24-volt…
A&P Jacqueline Shipe lists dissects the system and offers troubleshooting tips for Cessna’s retractable singles. In the late 1940s and through the decade of the 1950s, General Aviation began to really take off as airplane sales increased. The postwar economy was favorable for the production and sale of both single- and twin-engine models, and the “big three” in the aviation industry were Beechcraft, Piper and Cessna. It was 1947 when the Beechcraft Bonanza appeared on the aviation market. The Bonanza was the first retractable single-engine plane on the market that had a wide appeal to a large number of customers. Sales were good, and in the late 1950s, Piper also entered the single-engine retractable gear market with the debut of the Piper Comanche. Cessna enters the RG market Cessna wasn’t going to be left out, and in 1959, the Cessna 210 made its debut. Early 210s were essentially Cessna 182 frames with a stronger engine and a retractable gear system that was very complicated in its design. The main landing gear doors had their own actuators in addition to the gear actuators, along with an accumulator for the main gear doors. The hydraulic pump on the earliest models was engine-driven.…
A&P Jacqueline Shipe describes how to service wheel bearings in this article, the second in a DIY series for pilots who wish to take on preventive maintenance of their aircraft. FAR 43 Appendix A lists the preventive maintenance items owners may legally perform on their planes. This list is fairly long—and some of the items are a little involved for a person to perform the first time by themselves, while other tasks on the list are pretty straightforward. There are several preventive maintenance tasks pertaining to the landing gear, including tire changes, strut servicing and servicing the wheel bearings. (Last month, Shipe discussed the steps involved in changing an aircraft tire. See the June 2016 issue for more information. —Ed.) A tapered roller bearing with pits on the rollers caused by corrosion due to water. Bearings: small but mighty While cleaning and greasing wheel bearings doesn’t seem like too difficult a task, there are some guidelines that need to be followed. The failure of a wheel bearing can cause major damage to the wheel and can even allow the wheel assembly to slide off the axle. Wheel bearings are relatively small, but are incredibly strong. They have to support the…
In the third article in a DIY series for pilots, A&P Jacqueline Shipe goes through the steps an owner can take in order to properly service the struts on their aircraft. Among the preventive maintenance items listed in FAR 43 Appendix A that pilots may legally perform on an airplane that they own is strut servicing. The struts on any airplane serve a critical purpose. They provide the shock absorption necessary to prevent the airframe structure from enduring too much stress from the impact loads incurred on landings. Even taxi operations impose stress on an airframe every time the gear hits a bump or uneven surface. The strut absorbs the bulk of these loads and prevents them from being transmitted to the airframe. Overinflation or underinflation can affect the operation of the squat switch on this Cessna 210. Types of struts There are several different kinds of struts used for shock absorption. Over the years aircraft manufacturers have used different materials to limit the stress from the impact of landing. Some have used rubber biscuits, bungee cords and spring steel. The most common type found on most planes (and the only type used on fairly heavy planes from light twins…
Various things can cause nosegear shimmy. Here’s what to do. There’s nothing worse than completing a near-perfect landing and rollout only to have a sudden shimmy in the nosegear cause the whole front end of the airplane to vibrate. The shaking can be alarming to pilots who have never experienced it before, and can be worrisome for passengers. The vibration is also very hard on the airplane itself. A nosewheel shimmy is a rapid back-and-forth oscillation of the steerable part of the nosegear and wheel. It can be caused by a variety of problems, and it sometimes takes more than one trip to the shop to get the issue resolved. The nosegear has several points at which it pivots and rotates. These pivot points naturally wear over time, and excessive play in any one of them can cause the nose to shimmy. The photo is a close look at torque link bearings and bushings. Regular servicing these with clean grease helps prevent wear. The torque links (shown disassembled here) are made of aluminum castings. The torque links attach to a steerable nose collar on the top Cessna nosewheel design The nosewheel is turned left and right by means of a…
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