Late February of 2013. I took the
KR out for a nice warm up flight and was once again so pleased with the
way this plane flies, and the way this engine runs. I have a
number of updates I'd like to do to the plane, but just can't stand to
ground a plane that flies so nice. By afternoon, that tune had
I pulled the plane in to start on what should have been a quick and
easy annual inspection. First thing was to do a quick compression
differential check. Nearly perfect, 79/80, 78/80, 79/80, and
58/80. What? That can't be right! I checked a little
closer and the news was not good. It was leaking past the rings.
That does explain why the engine has been pushing a bit
more oil than expected. One of these tired old +.015
cylinders has finally given up. Surely it must be a broken ring.
I pulled the cylinder and saw nothing obviously wrong. But
measuring the cylinder, it has gone well beyond service limits and was
showing some cylinder wall distortion. It's time for new
So, I got in contact with my friends at Aircraft Specialties and
ordered a new set of Superior cylinders and a set of O-200-D
pistons (8.5:1 compression rather than the 7.0:1 compression in the
O-200-A). Wow! That was a surprise. I didn't think
Continental was going to make those pistons available. I got into
snag with the rings as Continental changed the top ring in the D
pistons, then made them pretty much unavailable. Finally resolved
it by having my friend Doug machine the top ring groove to fit the ring
set from the C-75 through O-200-A ring set.
Now that the plane is already down for major maintenance, it's time to
do all those little things I've been thinking about ever since the last
major refit in 2005.
March 30 - Empty out the instrument panel to get access to the
wiring to make numerous modifications and
to add some additional instrumentation, breakers and switches.
OK, let's just start from scratch with a new panel.
April 3 - Cut out the new panel and lay out the instruments from the
cad drawing above.
April 4 - Used 2 1/4" and 3 1/8" GreenLee Punches to punch out the
April 5 and 6 - Continued to punch and drill holes. This is
tedious work. Primed new panel with light gray
polyester primer. The two slots cut into the panel are for a pair
of cables that mount into the panel that would
require major surgery to the plane in order to remove so I can insert
them through the panel. The left slot is
for the starter cable while the right slot is for the cabin heat
control. I cut a slot to the cable hole, then will
clamp down onto a couple of hardened area washers that are also slotted
to fit over the cables.
April 7 - Panel painted battleship gray for background.
April 10 - Mounted the new panel into the plane.
April 11 - Time to start populating the new panel with breakers and
switches. The first thing is to get the
electric system and wiring back together again.
April 13 - Populated the instrument panel and finished the electrical.
The ALT and VSI are both still out to give
me access to do some wiring to install a new WigWag unit. I sent
yet another WigWag up in smoke as the
LED in the toggle switch apparently creamed the FETs in the WigWag.
I ordered a more robust Whelan unit.
The two red buttons above and to the right of the mixture control are
to open and close the cowl flap.
April 20 - Instrument panel is finally complete and the canopy is back
on. I replaced the previous WigWag
module with a Whelen UHF2150Q High Beam Flasher. This has
lots of bells and whistles and is intended
for police cruisers. You can cut about half of the wiring off and
use it as a simple WigWag unit. Much more
robust than the ones from Parahelion that I keep sending up in smoke.
At issue was the LED lights on the toggle
switches. When the WigWag was on the LEDS in the two landing
light switches would bias on and provide a
ground path that smoked the previous
unit and caused this one to trip the 20A breaker. The final
to use 3 100 ohm resisters with one on the
ground lead for the LED in the individual left and right landing light
switches, then Y the two ground leads together and
put another resister in the ground lead after the Y. The LEDs
still light properly when the switch is on,
but the resisters prevent cross feeding power back through the
the grounds, which is what caused the
previous unit to go up in smoke and this unit to trip the breaker.
recommend the Whelan unit as it is
simply more robust when it comes to having something weird like the
providing a ground path. I was
able to find it on the web for $50, including shipping. It is
also much heavier than
the Parahelion unit, but doesn't go up in flames when something goes
Update: I used the same resister set up on the LED switches in my
other plane that still has the Parahelion WigWag unit. This
just great to keep the LEDs from providing a quick ground path and sending the WigWag to the great smoke collector in the sky.
The final version of the instrument panel.
July 14, 2014 Update
July 14, 2014 - A new switch
has been added to the panel. ADS-B.
I installed a 5 Amp circuit breaker and switch. At the
other end is a
SkyGuard Vision-Pro ADS-B unit. All I had to do was supply power
and ground. With a wood and glass aircraft, all the antennas
be mounted under the turtle deck and it talks to my iFly 720 GPS via
Installation was pretty straight forward. Just supply power and
ground. Plug the WAAS GPS puck into the unit. Plug in
the 978 MHZ and
1090 MHZ antennas. Mount and plug in the ADS-B Out antenna.
Install the WiFi antenna (tiny nub on the front of the unit).
Turn on the power.
The control panel for the unit automatically showed up under Menu on my
iFly unit, so I plugged in my ICAO number, N number, and squawk
code (1200), then took it out for a ride. Naturally, there was no
traffic in the area, but I noted that the FIS-B (weather) came up
Note: The transponder antenna in the picture is a passive antenna used
by my old PCAS unit and is not an active transponder antenna. The
other metal whip in the photo is for my ELT. The transponder
antenna is mounted much farther aft. The ADS-B out antenna is
the near side of the wooden airframe, so does not appear in the photo.
July 20, 2014 - Took the iFly
and SkyGuard Vision Pro for another flight today. Nice Sunday mid
morning with lots of traffic out and about.
At first, I saw nothing. Not unusual since there isn't a lot of
traffic around our airport, and no ADS-B tower within range.
However, once I was
at altitude and 30 miles out from the Albuquerque area, I was seeing
the various airliners coming and going from ABQ as well as some traffic
around Double Eagle Airport. I flew back up over Santa Fe at
11,500'. From that altitude, I was still displaying traffic over
was also picking up some traffic in the Santa Fe area. Since
radar is new to Santa Fe, it's not tied into the ADS-B system, so the
only traffic I
was picking up was either 1090ES, UAT, or was high enough they were
still being painted by Albuquerque Center. Traffic was painted
directional arrows and altitude. The traffic is also color coded
with aqua blue
for traffic, blue
for potential conflict traffic, and red as a traffic
I also noted that traffic appeared and disappeared quite regularly, so
I wouldn't want to hang my hat on this unit as a replacement for the MK
eyeballs. However, when it started painting a potential conflict,
know the altitude and direction of the other aircraft made spotting it
Feel free to email me with comments or questions at
Stay tuned. More to come...