Renewing a Skylane, Inside and Out

Renewing a Skylane, Inside and Out

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 time to unpack them. Installation was contingent upon receiving back the glareshield that was repaired by Dennis Wolter and the Air Mod team in Batavia, Ohio.

While waiting, the mechanics at Pacific Aircraft Service at my home base of Modesto, California (KMOD), drilled out the rivets that held in the original windshield and popped it out.

Installing the windshield

About a week later, after the refurbished glareshield arrived, the new windshield was installed. It was a three-person job, with Paul Kline and Rudy Valdez on the outside, and Shane Cooper inside. The outside men had to pound on the windshield to force the felt-covered edge into the channel. I made a small contribution to the effort by noticing that the airplane rolled back each time they hit the windshield—the parking brake wasn’t set. Setting the brake and chocking the tires helped.

The process was complicated by using a 30-minute sealant, which forced them to work fast before it set up (evidently the two-hour version was not on hand). Cleco fasteners were placed in all the rivet holes to hold the windshield in place until new screws could be installed.

New windshield unpacked and ready.
Paul and Rudy seat the windshield.
Paul applies sealant.
Shane secures the windshield from inside the cockpit.
Paul and Rudy push the windshield into place.
Paul applies more sealant to the windshield trim.

Fastening the windshield was a two-person job, with Shane on the inside adding nuts and washers, while Paul handled the screws from the outside. On the whole, it was a quick but labor-intensive install. The process took a full day.

The following day, it was time to peel the protective paper off both sides of the windshield. It came away clean and looked awesome—much clearer than the original.

Cleco fasteners hold the windshield together until screws are installed.
Inside view, showing blind holes awaiting screws, washers and nuts.
Paul installs screws from outside.
Paul places temporary Cleco fasteners.
Shane reaches through the panel to install nuts and washers.
One by one, the Clecos are removed and are replaced by screws.
It is much easier to fasten nuts when they’re out in the open.
Nuts and washers in place.
Paul pulls off protective paper to expose the finished windshield.
Compare the new windshield to the faded windows!
A bit of corrosion

Unfortunately, that same day Shane showed me a nasty surprise that turned up while he was behind the panel attaching screws and washers. A severely corroded area, probably due to factory insulation that trapped water, needed addressing.

The mechanics reassured me that despite an ugly look, it didn’t present any threat to the structure and wasn’t worth the effort to sand and treat with zinc chromate primer. Instead, it was soaked with ACF-50 anti-corrosion oil. Paul warned me that it would stink, but the smell would eventually go away.

While the fuel bladders and windshield were being done, the flaps came off and were sent off to West Coast Wings to replace the cracked plastic skins. Those were reinstalled shortly after the windshield. The rest of the annual inspection was completed and the airplane was returned to service by the end of August.

Ugly-looking corrosion behind the panel.
Repainting the airframe

We delayed installing the other windows until October, just before the airplane was shipped off for new paint and interior work. We knew that the new paint and interior would take time, and delaying until the fall—when the weather gets iffy and fewer partners fly—seemed like a good idea.

Just how long it would take we couldn’t have predicted. Installing the new windows and other prep took the guys at Pacific Aircraft just a few days. The airplane was delivered to the paint shop the first week in November. It finally emerged over three months later.

I’m not going to name the shop, but I will say they were highly recommended and ultimately did a fine job. Unfortunately, they were shorthanded, which led to a serious schedule slip.

That, in turn, delayed the interior work we’d planned to have done by Jeff Belardi in Watsonville, California. Jeff moved to a new location while waiting for the airplane to arrive and had to work us into his busy schedule. He did a fantastic job replacing the old fabric seat covers and cracked plastic trim.

Jeff also installed B.A.S. Inc. four-point inertia reel shoulder harness/lap belts for the pilot and copilot, something I had my doubts about. While the old manual belt and shoulder straps were not ideal, I’ve used updated four-point restraints in other aircraft, and have had trouble getting them on and adjusted.

The ones from B.A.S., however, are easy to get in and out of, comfortable—and could make all the difference in the event of a crash. Compliments to my partner Michael Iocca for insisting on them, and compliments to Jeff, too, for a classy installation.

N4696K flies home

I got a ride to Watsonville from friend and fellow Commemorative Air Force Col. Ron Ramont, and flew the airplane home—with my instructor in the right seat. By the time the aircraft left the shop, I was overdue for a biennial flight review and instrument proficiency check. I hadn’t been in the pilot seat for five months!

The result—as you can see in the photos—is an airplane that looks new and is a genuine pleasure to fly. The new solar gray windshield and windows not only offer a much clearer view than the old ones, but also noticeably reduce the temperature on sunny days, which is a big plus in California’s Central Valley. We couldn’t be more pleased with them!

Beyond ramp appeal and comfort, the airplane also benefits from overdue corrosion treatment and catching up on many minor deferred maintenance items. One of those turned out to have a surprising side effect that we’re still working on, however.

Our new antennas work—too well

I’m a bit of an avionics geek, and pushed for replacing the original VHF navcom antennas, which showed visible wear.

The new ones look great and work perfectly—which turns out to be a problem: the old antennas apparently did not transmit all the energy being delivered from the transmit side of the King (now BendixKing) KX-155A installed in our No. 2 slot. The new one does—and on some frequencies, it now interferes with our Garmin GNS 530 GPS.

I discovered this while doing practice approaches. The GNS 530 annunciated a warning that it had lost GPS position—something I had never seen it do before.

The lead avionics technician at Sky Trek Aviation contacted BendixKing and was told they have seen that before—and there’s no fix for it. The KX-155 series was designed before GPS. To eliminate the problem, we’re going to have to replace our KX-155A.

Fortunately, the folks at TKM Avionics have been working on a slide-in replacement which should work with our exist-
ing wiring, but as of this writing, the MX155 is not yet shipping. In the meantime we’re working around the problem
by changing which COM frequencies we tune on which radio.

Additional plans

There are two other upgrades we plan to do later this year. One will be purely cosmetic: while the new paint and interior work makes N4696K look new from the outside, we still have the same ugly cracked plastic covers on the instrument panel. A custom replacement cover to match the new interior will take care of that problem.

The second is a new transponder for ADS-B compliance. As the avionics geek among the partners, I’ve been tasked to recommend one. I’m leaning toward one of the newer Garmin models, because that will provide an option to display traffic and weather information on the GNS 530 as a backup to the iPads we all carry. (For more on ADS-B options, see Steve Ells’ ADS-B articles in the July 2017 and March 2018 issues. —Ed.)

The main lesson from our experience that may be significant for other pilots is that a restoration takes time—you have to coordinate between multiple locations (in our case, a local A&P, and remote paint and interior shops)—and a delay at any one can cascade through scheduling at the others.

But the result is worth it. N4696K looks and flies like a brand-new Skylane!

John D. Ruley is an instrument-rated pilot and freelance writer. He holds a master’s degree from the University of North Dakota Space Studies program (space.edu) and is archivist for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) operational history project. Ruley has been a volunteer pilot with ligainternational.org and angelflight.org, two charities which operate medical missions in northwest Mexico and provide medical patient transport, respectively. Send questions or comments to .

Resources

CFA SUPPORTERS

Air Mod
 
B.A.S. Inc.
 
Great Lakes Aero Products, Inc.
 
TKM Avionics, Inc.

ADDITIONAL SERVICE PROVIDERS

Bellardi Interiors, Inc.
 
Pacific Aircraft Service
209-524-1758
 
Sky Trek Aviation
 
West Coast Wings
707-462-6822
Read more...
Q&A: Resealing Windows, “Flashing the Field” on a Generator

Q&A: Resealing Windows, “Flashing the Field” on a Generator

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 flange, allowing water to enter the fuselage. When it’s been years since a windshield installation, it’s not unusual for floating windshields to clunk from movement when taxiing over rough ground. 

Today, Cessna uses windshield sealant tape. You can look for Cessna Part No. U000927S. It’s oftentimes listed as “Sealant,” “Tape” or “Perma Gum.” It’s a non-hardening sealer and is used along with felt.

I’ve tried various methods for resealing rear windows such as yours.

The quickest and least expensive method is to use semi-flexible RTV sealant found in hardware stores. Try to find a clear, cold-weather, high-adhesion sealant. 

First, clean the window with isopropyl alcohol. Clean the metal around the edge of the window. Next, mask around the edge of the window and the edge of the metal. You want to lay the tape about one-quarter inch from the edge of the window and one-quarter inch from the edge of the metal. This will create a one-half inch gap between the tapes. This gap should be evenly spaced along the window/skin joint.

While wearing examination gloves, squirt a bead of the sealant where the metal and window meet, then smooth it out to the tape edges using your fingers. Have plenty of rags close by because you’re going to be removing some sealant as you smooth out the bead. You’re looking to create a smooth, not-too-thick coat of sealant across the metal/window gap. 

After it looks good, pull the tapes, being careful not to spread the sealant or drop any on the back window. If you do, use isopropyl alcohol to clean up.

Having said all that, it’s not likely that this fix will seal out moisture for more than a couple of years, simply because the window will continue to move in the flanges. 

A more expensive and longer-lasting trick uses PPG Aerospace’s P/S 890 Class B-1/2. This two-part sealant is more durable (and about five times more expensive) than RTV. It is a brown color. The same prep method is used.

Regardless of the method you elect to use, it’s very important for Cessna owners to understand that sealing the back window prevents corrosion. Here’s why. When water leaks into the aft fuselage of any Cessna single, it saturates the carpet. Later, when the sun comes out, that moisture in the carpet evaporates and rises. Some of it condenses on the inner skin of the upper fuselage, above the headliner. This moisture, in contact with bare aluminum, is one of the components needed for the formation of corrosion. 

Cessna didn’t paint the inner skins of its single-engine airplanes. One of the most likely places to find corrosion on a Cessna single such as yours is on the inner side of the upper fuselage skin.

Happy flying,

Steve

 

 

Hi Steve,

I fly a Cessna 140 that I have owned for six years. It’s has served me well and fits my needs perfectly. 

Recently, I joined with five other local Cessna 140 owners for a breakfast flight to an airport about 100 miles away. There are few things I love more than an early-morning flight; except maybe a late evening flight in my little 140.

My wife came with me because we are avid antiquers and had been planning to visit this little out-of-the-way town to look around and shop at the stores.

The others had left by the time we got back to the airport for our flight home. After starting my 140, I saw that the ammeter needle was deflected to the “not good” or discharge side. 

I taxied back to the tiedown area, without a plan. I didn’t know what was wrong or how we were going to get home.

I opened up the cowl to look around and before long, an older gentleman appeared and asked what was wrong. (I’m 72, so when I say older, I know what I’m talking about.) I told him the ammeter was going the wrong way.

He looked under the cowling for no more than two seconds, told me he would be right back with a tool to get me going, and within a couple of minutes showed up with a piece of wire with alligator clips on each end. 

He told me to get in and turn on the master switch. I didn’t see what he was doing, but after a few seconds, he secured the cowling and told me to try it. 

I started the engine and lo and behold, the ammeter was showing a charge. 

My question is: What did he do? 

140 Flyer

 

Hi Flyer,

Your mystery magician and airplane fixer performed a task called polarizing the generator, or “flashing the field.” 

The Cessna 100 series service manual states, “A generator of the type used on aircraft must maintain a residual magnetism in the pole shoes in order to produce a charge. To polarize a generator, connect a jumper (wire) momentarily between the armature and the battery terminals of the (voltage) regulator before starting the engine. A momentary surge through the generator is enough to correctly polarize it.” 

The next sentence in the manual warns that if the generator is not correctly polarized, the regulator and generator may be damaged. NEVER polarize an alternator-type system.

You’re fortunate; I would place a bet that the topic of flashing the field is not often discussed or known these days.

Happy flying,

Steve

 

 

Know your FAR/AIM and check with your mechanic before starting any work.

Resources

P/S 890 CLASS B-1/2 SEALANT
PPG Industries, Inc.
ppgaerospace.com/Products/Sealants/Fuel-Tank-Proven-Standards/P-S-890-Class-B-Fuel-Tank-Sealant.aspx

Read more...
Oregon Coast: Choose Your Adventure

Oregon Coast: Choose Your Adventure

Fall is the best time of the year on the coast, and you have plenty of airports to pick from.

 

Welcome to the (Oregon) coast. 

First things first: if you want to try to blend in, even as a temporary interloper, it’s “the coast.” Yes, I know, elsewhere you may take trips to the beach, to the shore, to the oceanside, to the waterfront… but here in Oregon, it’s not any of these, or anything other than simply the coast. 

The Oregon coast is 363 miles long, bordered to the north by the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, where Lewis and Clark first sighted the Pacific Ocean in November 1805. At the southernmost end of the coast, you’ll find the redwood forests of northern California. In between is some of the most beautiful, wild shoreline in the Lower 48, with attractions and outdoor-centric activities to appeal to just about everyone. 

Perhaps you’ll build a sandcastle, fly a kite and take a hike through the dunes, or maybe you’re after no activities at all. The Oregon coast is a great place to grab a well-loved book, a warm cup of cider and a blanket next to a roaring fire. 

A drive to the coast from Oregon’s inland population centers of Portland, Salem or Eugene takes around 90 minutes. Two-lane highways wind slowly up through Douglas fir forests, then over low Coast Range mountain passes before following sparkling rivers down to the sea. 

For those of us who are blessed with the gift of flight, our airplanes can spirit us to the ocean’s edge in 30 minutes or less. From any of the inland cities, it’s only around 50 nm to the Pacific as the Cessna flies.

When you begin your descent toward the ocean, you’ll have your choice of 15 airports, evenly spaced along the coast. Your pick will no doubt be guided by your aircraft, your skill, your intended ground destination and the weather. 

It’s time to choose your adventure.

Sunset surf session at Pacific City. 
Pacific City: Weekend getaway

Despite its name, Pacific City isn’t a big place. Around 1,000 people call the town home year-round. Pacific City used to be a quiet backwater with a small fishing fleet and a few dairy farms. Things have changed in the past two decades; it’s now a trendy destination in the summer tourist season and the beach can get quite busy (by Oregon standards). 

Fly in to Pacific City in March or November, and you’d never suspect all that hubbub. You might well have the place to yourself.

Activities and amenities at Pacific City are centered around Cape Kiwanda and its signature offshore sea stack, Chief Kiawanda Rock. (Not a typo; the cape and the rock have different spellings.) It’s hard to miss from the air and even harder to miss from the ground. 

To get to Cape Kiwanda from the airport, walk a few blocks to the west toward the sound of the waves, turn right and stroll up the beach. It’s about a 20-minute walk over the sand to the cape. 

The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive is the funny-looking boats on the beach and the boat trailers backed into the surf. The Pacific City dory boat fleet launches directly off the beach to chase salmon, tuna and rockfish just a few miles offshore. You can charter a boat from one of several operators; to arrange a charter, ask the captains at the beach a day or two before you want to fish. (See Resources for a brief video showing how a dory boat is launched. —Ed.)

Cape Kiwanda is a protected natural area and marine life fills the tidepools. The rocks and pools just to the north of the boat launch give children and adults alike up-close views of sea stars, anemones and crabs. 

Feeling up for a workout? Grab a kayak from Nestucca Adventures and head off into the winding Nestucca Bay estuary. Birdwatching is especially good in the fall. 

If conditions are right, surfers play in the beach break just south of Cape Kiwanda or the point break to the north. Information, rentals and lessons are available from Moment Surf Company. 

If you see surfers here, you’ll notice they wear wetsuits—the Pacific Ocean is cold year-round. Peak water temperatures in the summer rarely exceed 60 F. 

Strong waves, cold water and lack of lifeguards make swimming here (and anywhere else on the Oregon coast) a poor and possibly dangerous idea. Wading is fine, but keep your eye toward the ocean. Occasional large waves have surprised many a beachgoer.

After you’ve explored the beach at Pacific City, there’s no need to head elsewhere for lunch or dinner. Grab a cold Northwest IPA, a glass of wine—or an iced tea, if you’re flying out soon—and watch the people and boats come and go from a comfortable perch at Pelican Brewing’s beachfront taproom. 

Meridian Restaurant & Bar, just to the north of Pelican, offers upscale dining with locally sourced ingredients and a fantastic view. You’ll want reservations during the high season and on holidays.

Lodging books up quickly, as there are only a few boutique hotels and inns in Pacific City. Airbnb options are usually a better bet on short notice, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to snag one of the units adjacent to the airport.

As for Pacific City State Airport (KPFC), it’s a handful. The runway is a mere 1,860 feet long by 30 feet wide, and there are several buildings and trees near the runway. The runway is at only 5 feet msl and is adjacent to the Nestucca River. The runway occasionally floods. Heed the FAA Chart Supplement’s suggestion to call the Oregon Department of Aviation at 503-378-4880 before using KPFC, especially during the winter. 

Make sure your aircraft and personal skills are suited for operations here. Though the airport is challenging, it also serves to keep the crowds down; I have only once seen the six transient tiedowns full. Other than tiedowns, there aren’t any aviation services at KPFC.

The nearest fuel is at Tillamook (KTMK), which also makes a good alternate. KTMK has longer and wider runways, AWOS-3 weather reporting and a GPS approach with 750-1 minimums. Since it’s inland about 6 miles, Tillamook usually has calmer winds than Pacific City and other airports nearer to the beach. You can rent a car at Tillamook and make the 30-minute drive to Pacific City. If you’re there already, it’s tempting to take a quick detour and stop by the Tillamook Air Museum’s huge blimp hangar, or the Tillamook Creamery for a free tasting and tour.

Whether you turn left or right when you get to the ocean, you’ll find your way to a fun destination. 
Newport: Family-friendly fun

Roughly halfway down the Oregon coast, the bustling town of Newport sits on the north shore of Yaquina (pronounced “Ya-kee-nah”) Bay. 

Newport has been an escape for Oregon families since the early 1900s; the Nye Beach historic district was, and is, especially popular. Visitors can browse through art galleries, antique shops or simply just sip a cup of coffee with brunch (the best on the coast) at the Nye Beach Café. The sounds of the ocean are never far away. I’ve always found Nye Beach to be a comfortable, quiet area to stay the night; there are numerous lodging options here and throughout town.

The Bayfront District has a decidedly different feel (and occasionally, an unusual smell). Yaquina Bay is home to Oregon’s second-largest commercial fishing fleet and the Bayfront is very much a working waterfront. The fishing fleet processes most of its catch here, much to the delight of the hundreds of sea lions that inhabit the Bayfront docks. 

The sea lions are easily seen and photographed at the docks next to Mariner Square on Southwest Bay Blvd. If you’re having trouble finding them, just listen for their barks.

You could choose to battle these 1,000-pound pinnipeds for fish scraps, but it’s a safer bet to go to one of several fish markets nearby. I like Fish Peddler’s Market; they have fresh-off-the-boat seafood for cooking at home, and also do an excellent grab-and-go fish ‘n chips. 

Mo’s Seafood and Chowder is an Oregon institution and was a staple of my childhood trips to the coast. There are now several locations on the coast and the original location is in Newport. However, I think there’s better seafood at Local Ocean Seafoods. Beer hounds love Rogue Ales and Spirits’ three Newport locations. 

Newport’s premier attraction is, perhaps unsurprisingly, ocean-oriented. Oregon Coast Aquarium is open daily, both summer and winter. Its mission is “to create unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon coast and inspire ocean conservation.” 

The museum grounds cover several acres. You can easily spend a full afternoon visiting all the exhibits. My favorite is the Passages of the Deep exhibit, where visitors pass through a series of underwater walkways covering the three different ecosystems (reef, shelf, offshore) present in the nearby Pacific Ocean. For intrepid younger explorers, you can even book an overnight stay in the exhibit. To be honest, I’m not sure how well I’d sleep while surrounded by sharks.

For offseason travelers, the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival features hundreds of Northwest wines and seafood offerings from up and down the coast. The 2019 festival is February 21–24. 

Newport offers some of the most accessible whale-watching on the Oregon coast. Gray whales migrate along the coast in the early winter and again in the late spring. Several charter operators run whale-watching tours from the Bayfront District. A two-hour family-friendly “Sea Life” cruise with Marine Discovery Tours costs $42 for adults and $28 for children. 

For the do-it-yourselfer, drive just a few miles north to Agate Beach and Yaquina Head Lighthouse. You don’t have to climb the lighthouse to spot whales, but you certainly can if you’ve arranged a tour in advance. 

Newport Municipal Airport (KONP) is about 3 miles south of the Bayfront District. The airport is one of the best on the Oregon coast, with two good runways (the larger of the two measures 5,398 feet by 100 feet). KONP has several instrument approaches; two VOR approaches, a VOR-A approach, two GPS approaches and an ILS approach. The ILS and GPS approaches to Runway 16 have minimums of 250-3/4. 

Fuel is competitively priced at $5.00/gal for self-serve 100LL and $3.90/gal for full-service Jet A. The City of Newport runs the FBO and offers a courtesy vehicle during business hours (maximum two hours). For longer stays, you’ll need to call a cab or rent a car. Tiedowns are always available. If you show up on a Saturday in the summer, there’s a free barbecue at noon to welcome visiting pilots! 

Herb-crusted halibut with English peas, rhubarb, turnip, fiddlehead and asparagus.
A tiny crab found in a tidepool.
The Tillamook Air Museum is housed in a World War II-era blimp hangar, the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world.
The brave can spend a night and sleep with sharks in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Passages of the Deep exhibit. 
Whale-watching tours leave daily from Newport’s waterfront during the summer and fall. 
Manzanita/Nehalem Bay: “Roughing it”

Nehalem Bay State Airport (3S7) is a treasure for visiting pilots. Touch down, then taxi off the paved runway and onto the grass. Pull into the clearly-marked tiedown area and shut down. Unpack and pitch your tent in one of the several campsites nestled in the trees, just a few hundred yards from the beach. You’re home for the night at Nehalem Bay.

The Oregon Department of Aviation and Oregon State Parks have made six fly-in camping spots available exclusively for the aviating public. In Oregon, standard campsites at state parks are by reservation only and are often booked several months in advance. That’s not the case at Nehalem Bay’s fly-in campground. The sites are first-come, first-served and are seldom full, even on the busiest summer weekends, though you might want to come in on Thursday to guarantee a spot. 

Camping is $11 per night, per plane. That gets you access to the park facilities, including water and hot showers. For a few bucks, you can pick up a bundle of firewood from the camp host. During the summer, rangers present nightly interpretive programs about local history and wildlife at the park’s amphitheater. Pack an inflatable kayak and you can launch it right off the end of the runway to explore the bay.

The beach is about a 10-minute walk to the west through the trees; those with more energy can hike to the Nehalem Bay Jetty, a 5-mile roundtrip from the campground. Walking a mile to the north will have you in downtown Manzanita. To get to town you can also take the scenic route, via the beach.

Nehalem Bay is a straightforward small airport (the runway is 2,350 feet by 50 feet) when conditions are benign. You’ll fly your downwind over the ocean, turn base and cross over the sand spit, and then turn north on final. Final puts you over Nehalem Bay; the runway threshold is only a few feet from the water. 

Here’s the catch: when it gets windy, Nehalem Bay will bite you. There’s high terrain to the north of the airport, and on summer afternoons, strong winds can spill over and cause all sorts of unpleasantness at the surface at Nehalem Bay. Be ready to go around and/or divert if the conditions exceed your comfort level. 

Nehalem Bay has no aviation services, but Tillamook (17 nm to the south) has fuel and can serve as a diversion.

 

 

Time to unload the camping gear!
Walking south on the beach toward Nehalem Bay Jetty.
 
Winds at Nehalem Bay typically favor a landing to the north. 
Planning your flight

You’ll want to keep an eye out for forest fire TFRs in the summer and fall. Fire TFRs often affect routes to and from the inland population hubs. Smoke can also affect in-flight visibility.

All but one of the airports along the Oregon coast are non-towered. Fourteen coastal airports share three radio frequencies: 122.7, 122.8 and 122.9. Make sure you’re on the right frequency and announce your position as well as the relevant airport. En route, I like to monitor 122.9; it’s an unofficial frequency for low-level traffic along the beach. 

Several MOAs overlie the Oregon coast and nearshore waters. I have never seen military traffic in any of these MOAs, but you should nonetheless check notams for current status.

Many of the rocks, islands and reefs near the coast are part of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge system. These refuges are marked on VFR sectional charts. Pilots are requested to maintain a minimum of 2,000 agl above these refuges. Low flights that disturb wildlife are a violation. 

Flying over the beach and out over the water is part of the adventure and allure of flying along the coast. Prudent pilots will maintain an altitude that allows for a safe emergency landing ashore should an unexpected loss of power occur. Beaches are usually the best option for forced landings. 

Much of the land along the coast is rocky or tree-covered. Still, land is likely a better bet than an offshore ditching in the ice-cold Pacific. For extended routes over water (as found on IFR T-route T257), you will want to bring a life raft, life vests and an extremely reliable engine (or better yet, bring a twin). 

Summer means frequent fog along the coast.
Sometimes, the difference between VMC and IMC is only a few hundred yards.
Grab the KTMK courtesy car and enjoy an afternoon on the beach at Oceanside.
Gold Beach, like many coastal airports, has self-serve 100LL for a reasonable price. 
Weather considerations

You’ve probably heard it rains a lot in Oregon—you’ve heard right. It certainly does rain, in the winter and spring. The rainy season typically extends from mid-October until mid-April. Moisture-laden storm systems roll ashore every few days and drop their cargo as they ascend the slope of the Coast Range.

Even during prolonged stormy periods, the skies will often clear up long enough for a VFR flight as bands of clouds and rain pass through. Winter winds are usually more problematic than visibility and ceilings. Icing is a concern, especially when colder systems descend from the Gulf of Alaska bringing the freezing level close to the surface. 

For as much as it rains in the winter, it doesn’t rain much at all in the summer. However, the best weather on the Oregon coast is not during the height of the summer tourist season (June–August). Summertime is fog time and wind time. Coastal fog can appear in the blink of an eye. I’ve had to hasten a departure more than a few times as the fog bank approached the airport. 

Summer surface winds are nearly always out of the north and can approach 40 knots in the afternoons and early evenings. Schedule your flights to arrive and depart early in the day and winds are usually a nonissue.

In my opinion, fall is the time to go. But if you pick your days (or bring your instrument rating), there’s great flying to be had year-round.

September is the warmest month of the year along the Oregon coast. There’s usually very little wind; the fog machine slows down and there is less traffic both in the air and on the beach. 

Wind is a constant in the early summer months.
Fall brings warmer air temperatures and clear skies.
VFR or IFR?

You can certainly travel the coast VFR in a VFR-only airplane—I do, quite often—but you’ll run the risk of having to divert or cancel more often than if you hold an instrument rating and fly an all-weather aircraft. 

An instrument ticket will help you get to the coast—even if you’re unable to get in to your VFR-only airport of choice, you can land elsewhere, rent a car and drive the rest of the way. That’s a big deal if you’ve got a weeklong non-refundable hotel reservation. 

Four of the coast airports have GPS approaches, and three have ILS approaches. Though these approaches won’t be of much help in winter high winds, they will certainly assist in punching through the pesky summertime 600-foot-agl marine layer.

From a smiles-per-mile perspective, do everything you can to make your flight on a clear day. You want your passengers’ noses to be pressed against the side windows, watching the ocean for whales and the treetops for bald eagles. It’s not nearly as fun to stare at the inside of a cloud.

Each one of Oregon’s 15 coastal airports has its own story and set of things to see and do nearby. Load up your family and friends, start your engine and point your trusty bird toward the ocean and all the Oregon coast has to offer. I look forward to seeing you there!

Though you can land under VFR, will you be able to leave? 

Scott Kinney is a self-described aviation geek (#avgeek), private pilot and instructor (CFI-Sport, AGI). He is associate editor for Piper Flyer. Scott and his partner Julia are based in Eugene, Oregon. They are often found buzzing around the western U.S. in their vintage airplane. Send questions or comments to .

RESOURCES >>>>>

PILOT AND AIRPORT INFORMATION
Pacific City, Nehalem Bay and 
other state-owned airports 
https://www.oregon.gov/aviation/Pages/State-of-Oregon-Airports.aspx

Newport Municipal Airport FBO
newportoregon.gov/dept/onp

VISITOR INFORMATION
Oregon Coast Visitors Association
visittheoregoncoast.com

Travel Oregon
traveloregon.com

PACIFIC CITY
Dory launch at Pacific City
youtu.be/Al5H_r4EZvw

Meridian Restaurant & Bar
headlandslodge.com/dining/meridian

Moment Surf Company
momentsurfco.com

Nestucca Adventures LLC
nestuccaadventures.com

Pelican Brewing Company
pelicanbrewing.com

Tillamook Air Museum
tillamookair.com

Tillamook Creamery
tillamook.com

NEHALEM BAY
Nehalem Bay State Park
oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=142


NEWPORT
Local Ocean Seafoods
localocean.net

Marine Discovery Tours
marinediscoverytours.com

Mo’s Seafood and Chowder
moschowder.com

Newport Seafood and Wine Festival
seafoodandwine.com

Nye Beach Café
nyebeachcafe.wordpress.com

Oregon Coast Aquarium
aquarium.org

Rogue Ales and Spirits
rogue.com/meeting-halls

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
blm.gov/learn/interpretive-centers/yaquina

Read more...
Engine Mounts Explained

Engine Mounts Explained

The engine mount represents a crucial link between your engine and airframe, and should be treated as a mission-critical accessory. STEVE ELLS visited Loree Air, an FAA-certified repair station, for insight into the engine mount repair process.

 

I've found no evidence that my engine mount—that web of steel tubes that supports the engine and nosegear on my 1960 airframe—had ever been overhauled or recertified.

It seems a bit hard to believe. After all, it’s been bolted onto my airplane for 57 years. You’d think one mechanic or owner along the way would question whether the mount had suffered the ravages of time or had any issues. But like I said, when I started digging in the logs, I found no maintenance record entry that showed it had ever received specific attention.

I recently discovered a cracked tube, and when I scrubbed it with a wire brush, I found a gaping hole—the tube had rusted through from the inside. I removed the welded steel mount in order to send it in for repair and recertification. 

As it turned out, the tube with the rusted spot was only one of seven tubes that had to be replaced. I had no idea the mount was in such bad shape!

Dents are repaired during the Loree Air rework. According to Steve Loree, the circular slot around the bolt hole is how moisture—a cornerstone of the rust process—enters the tubing in the mount. Loree seals this slot during rework.
What engine mounts are made of

SAE grade 4130 steel, also known as chrome-moly, is a through-hardened chromium-molybdenum steel alloy that is used in the light airplane industry where light, strong tubing is needed. It’s strong for its weight, easy to work, easy to weld and provides a good cost-to-strength ratio. 

Chrome-moly steel is available from aviation parts suppliers such as CFA supporters Acorn Welding, Aircraft Spruce and Airparts Inc. Wicks Aircraft also supplies this tubing. (Another CFA supporter, Wilco, Inc., carries SAE 4130 in sheets. —Ed.)

The seven tubes that were replaced on my engine mount consisted of one 1/2-inch diameter tube, two 5/8-inch diameter tubes and four 3/4-inch diameter tubes. 

Chrome-moly tubing is purchased by specifying the outside diameter (OD) in 1/16-inch steps, and the wall thickness. The wall thickness of the 5/8-inch OD tubes in my engine mount is 0.035 inch. 0.035 inch is close to the thickness of a credit card. The wall thickness of the 1/2-inch OD tubes is 0.049 inch. 0.049 inch is approximately the thickness of a CD. 

The 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch tubes sell for $4.35 per foot at Aircraft Spruce; the 3/4-inch tube is $3.35 per foot. 

I needed 4 feet of 5/8-inch tube and 68 inches of 3/4-inch tube to repair my mount, before it could be recertified as airworthy. The materials cost was less than $50 at retail prices. 

A chrome-moly steel mount is a sweet piece of engineering. My refurbished engine mount (as delivered to me) weighs 15 pounds, 11 ounces; yet it is strong enough to support the aircraft’s Lycoming O-360 engine (258 pounds), a Hartzell two-bladed propeller (51 pounds) and support and endure the shocks suffered by my retractable nosegear. 

Rust was clearly present in all of the seven tubes replaced by Loree Air.
Removing and sending the mount out for repairs

After I found the hole in the lower right tube, I removed the engine and nose landing gear assembly. Removing parts, like the demolition phase of a room remodel, always goes quickly. In this case, I knew I needed to label and sort the parts and engine accessories because it was going to be almost two months before I was going to be reinstalling the engine and nosegear. 

One trick I’ve used for years when removing an engine or other assembly is to take photos of everything before picking up the wrenches. When I first heard of this photo trick, shops were using Polaroid cameras. Today, a cell phone and/or tablet is more than sufficient. 

One of the decisions that I pored over was where to send the mount for repair and recertification. I wanted an FAA-certified repair station that had the capabilities to repair and recertify my mount. My favorite internet search engine turned up four options. They were, in alphabetical order: Acorn Welding Ltd., Aero Fabricators (a division of Wag-Aero), Aerospace Welding Minneapolis and Loree Air, Inc. and I have no doubt that there are others. 

I also searched for a used, serviceable mount. I found one on the East Coast and negotiated what I thought was a good price—but after learning that it would take more than $500 to ship it to me on the West Coast, the deal fell through.

Obviously, the cost of shipping a mount, as well as how to ship a mount, must be considered. Companies told me that the most common method is to bolt the mount to a piece of stout plywood, then either build a wooden or cardboard box around it for shipping by UPS or FedEx; or to bolt the mount to a pallet and ship it as truck freight. Since the repair facility has no control over handling after it leaves their possession, it’s critical to create a shipping container that protects the mount during shipping. 

CFA supporter Aero Fabricators quoted me $1,400, which included changing up to 10 tubes, and told me the turnaround time was two to three weeks. Aerospace Welding quoted a price of more than $2,500. 

Another CFA supporter, Acorn Welding, was unable to estimate their cost over the phone, but Paul Gyrko, head of sales, took the time to answer my questions and explain the full process when I called for information. (Acorn Welding also sells new engine mounts for certain Cessna 180/185 and 182 models. —Ed.)

Steve Loree, Jr. at Loree Air told me that the cost to inspect, repair, normalize, paint and certify my mount would be $1,700, with any additional work costing more, up to a maximum of $2,100. Loree also warned me the company had a five-week backlog. 

Given that Loree Air was only 278 road miles away from my home base—while the other three were all over 1,800 road miles away—and that I had good reports from friends that had used them, I decided to use the five-week window for other tasks and took my mount to Loree.

After a friend offered to fly me up to Placerville to drop off the mount, I packed my sad old mount in the back of my buddy’s aircraft and flew it up to the Placerville, California airport (KPVF) where I left it with Nicole, who runs the office. 


Ready for pickup

Steve Jr. called on a Tuesday in late June to tell me that, after cleaning and sandblasting all the paint off my mount, a thorough inspection revealed some surface damage to the exterior of a couple of tubes; bends in two tubes; and more tubes that showed evidence of internal rust. 

I asked him if it was OK if I drove to the shop once my mount was finished; I wanted to hang around and ask a lot of questions about mount damage and repairs. I figured this was an opportunity to pick up some hints and tips that a mechanic in the field could use to determine if a welded steel tube engine mount or landing gear support structure was airworthy. He said that would be fine.

Five weeks later I got the call; the repaired mount was ready. 

I arrived at Loree Air at 10:30 Monday morning. I met the entire staff: Steve Sr., Steve Jr. and Nicole (who is married to Steve Jr.). I was also sniffed up and down by Layla, the small four-legged office assistant and guard dog.

Steve Sr. attained his welding certification at the San Diego shipyards and went to Sacramento City College for his A&P education at the suggestion of his flight instructor. He gained a wide range of reciprocating engine skills at the Sacramento Sky Ranch before spending 15 years working at the Sacramento Citation Center and at Aircraft Conversion Technology in Lincoln, California, with owner Bill Piper. 

Seeing the need for a certified aircraft welding shop in California and wishing to steer his own path, Steve Sr. opened Loree Air in 1992 in a small shop in the Swansboro Country neighborhood in the foothills east of Sacramento, near Placerville.

In 2011, Steve Jr. joined his father in the business. They decided that since the shop needed to grow in order to support two families, it was time to expand. To do so, Steve Jr. said, “I think we need a website,” but Steve Sr. wondered if it was necessary. Word-of-mouth advertising had been effective and the company had all the work it could handle. But Steve Sr. yielded, and today you can visit Loree Air online at LoreeAir.com. 

After consistent growth—thanks to the website—the Steves decided to move the company to a small warehouse and shop in Diamond Springs, another community near Placerville. 

With the help of many friends and family members, they planned and built a shop to fit the company’s needs. 

There had to be a large sandblast booth to clean mounts. There had to be a paint booth. There had to be an area for grinding and smoothing metal. The shop needed an area where mounts were put into jigs for alignment and buildup. A screened area was required for welding. A separate office and customer reception area were part of the plan as well.

There are also two lofts for storing parts and ready-to-ship mounts and nose strut welded tube support structures. 

While I had opted to take my mount to Loree Air for repair, the company does stock repaired and certified mounts for some popular aircraft. 


Problem areas

The Steves spent some time describing why my engine mount rusted out and passed on tips for determining if a welded steel engine mount is airworthy.

Loree told me that the most common problem they see on Cessna welded steel mounts is corrosion on Cessna 180 and 182 mounts due to the proximity to the left and right exhaust manifolds. Loree has developed a FAA-approved heat shield designed to prevent extreme exhaust heat from affecting the forward section of the main support tubes and the diagonal tubes. 

I was also told that it’s common to see cracking in the 172 engine mount’s cross tube. 


Inspection tips and tricks

I asked the Steves for tips to help field mechanics determine if the welded steel mounts they inspect are airworthy. They said one test is to use an automatic center punch to put a small dent in the end of a tube that is believed to be unaffected by internal corrosion and compare that to the dent when the punch is used on the part of the tube that is suspected to be corroded. Usually this means comparing the dent at the highest part of the tube near a weld cluster to a dent in the lowest part of the tube. 

Any difference in the depths of the two dents is clear evidence the lower end of the tube has been weakened by internal corrosion.

While at the Loree shop, I also saw tubes that were dented during installation and removal by sloppy tool handling; and tubes that had been scratched or scored by abrasion.

Since these tubes are so thin, what may at first appear to be negligible damage usually needs attention. “Our standard for repair is 10 percent of the tube thickness,” said Loree.

One thing Loree was adamant about is avoiding the use of plastic tie-wraps (i.e., zip ties) to secure anything to a welded steel mount. He has seen it again and again: plastic tie-wraps will wear a welded steel mount tube faster than a pilot heads to a restroom after a cross-country flight. It takes longer to install properly-sized Adel clamps, but they are the only clamping device Loree wants used on an engine mount. 


You and your mount

I was surprised to hear Steve Sr. say that in all his years repairing mounts he had seen very few engine mounts pass through his shop that needed no repairs. 

I was also surprised when my mount needed seven tubes replaced. 

Then I saw pictures of the inside of those tubes. They were all rusted to one degree or another. I believe good fortune was smiling on me when I found the crack that lead me to remove my mount to send it for repair. 

Based on what I learned and saw, I recommend that owners send their engine mounts to a certified mount repair shop to get inspected, repaired-as-necessary and recertified whenever their engine is removed for overhaul.
 

 
Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Steve Sr.; Steve Jr.; Nicole; Layla (the hairy one).

Steve Ells has been an A&P/IA for 44 years and is a commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings. Ells also loves utility and bush-style airplanes and operations. He’s a former tech rep and editor for Cessna Pilots Association and served as associate editor for AOPA Pilot until 2008. Ells is the owner of Ells Aviation (EllsAviation.com) and lives in Templeton, California, with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to . 

Resources

SAE 4130 STEEL TUBING
– CFA SUPPORTERS
Acorn Welding

Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co.
aircraftspruce.com/catalog/mepages/4130tubing_un1.php 

Airparts Inc.

airpartsinc.com 

SAE 4130 STEEL TUBING
– OTHER SUPPLIERS

Wicks Aircraft and Motorsports
wicksaircraft.com/tubing.html 

SAE 4130 STEEL SHEETS
– CFA SUPPORTER

Wilco, Inc.

ENGINE MOUNT REPAIR 

– CFA SUPPORTER
Acorn Welding Ltd.
acornwelding.com/products/engine-mounts.html

Aero Fabricators
(a division of Wag-Aero)
wagaero.com/repair-station/engine-mount-repair.html

OTHER ENGINE MOUNT
REPAIR FACILITIES
Aerospace Welding Minneapolis
awi-ami.com

Loree Air, Inc.
loreeair.com

NEW ENGINE MOUNTS (SOME CESSNA 180/185 AND 182 MODELS)
– CFA supporter

Acorn Welding Ltd.
acornwelding.com 

ANTI-CORROSION SPRAY
ITW Pro Brands
lpslabs.com

Read more...