Winter testing schedule … Challenges

Well .. The plan was to wrap up and do loads of flying over the winter period … But .. So many London trips with work meant that weekends were always squeezed and then ….

When I got up to pull the Sherwood out and get her all ready the battery appeared to have died ! What a pain … Charged it that evening and tried again the next day only to see it go flat almost immediately and not manage to turn the prop over more than a few painfully slow turns

My good mate Mike (Fleming) kindly bought me a mini trickle charg – the sort that can be left plugged in. Did this but then found same turn problems …

Suspected I had a dead cell so cut back open again and removed the battery … Then tried to sort it whilst I had full access to everything at the rear

Graham (from CIAS) kindly loaned me the jump trolley so that I could discount the battery  or point to the cabling.

The jump didn’t work … Later found out to be a faulty live jump cable I had !

Mike and I then set about running nose to tail checks with Mikes superb incredibly powerful ‘jump pack’ NOCO GB40 Genuis Boost .. WHAT a piece of kit .. Weighs nothing but could launch a moon rocket !


Mike connected at the sharp end and proved that a direct connect at the front solenoid would spin the prop faster than it had ever spun, so we went further rearwards to the second solenoid … This proved quite tricky to reach but again spun really well.

This moved us to the cable between the cockpit and the tail.


We moved to the rear and sure we were getting intermittent good and bad turning. Mike started to break down each element and we certainly felt that the isolator switch might be causing a problem.

In any event we felt that the rear mounted battery and its 4-5m of power cable running to the front wasn’t probably a great way of getting a fat bit of power to the engine from a relatively small puny motorbike battery way back in the tail.

We tried connecting the GB40 booster in series to the existing battery and pow .. Loads of turn power …

Next plan .. Decide the best way to resolve low battery force and get airborne again

There are up days and there are not so up days ….

Having had a longish (5-6 weeks) layoff with loads of work and lots of bad weather .. I was actually in Jersey AND it was CAVOK ! and calm !

Duly pulled the ‘plane out and got the engine warmed up with a plan to of the powered climb test for the LAA sign off …

As we got up to temps .. All looked well and taxied up to the far end of the runway 08

Just after lift off the oil temp started to climb rapidly … This problem HAD been fixed by opening up the intake and exit holes and had flown a number of times since … What could be wrong ?

Changed my plan for a large clearing circuit to a close bad weather and then elected for a very tight right hander … The training at Little Snoring really came into its own as we turned a nice tight very short base and back for a soft landing …

The tower had already pressed the alarm button and I had talked to them on the tight right downwind to inform them that it was oil temps rising and couldn’t maintain height.

The full crash tender and blues followed me all the way back to the taxiway and parking at the club after I had run some more engine bursts on the grass to see if it was still ,is behaving in the ground .. Which it was …

Suspect a blocked or seized TOCA oil thermostat valve and chatting with PHS from TLAC suspects the same … Will remove it at the weekend and see if I can test it offline before another ground pre test.

(sent an email to the Jersey SATCO as I think it’s important that they are thanked for their calm support – and fire crew – but also know that I will do something about it before we try again 😉

Removed and stripped down the TOCA which is a simple piece if equipment with a bi metallic type unit that, on heating operates an plunger which presses against the small cover plate and pushes the copper looking barrel down the shaft (against the spring) and this then effectively opens up the flow of oil through the now open hole – the hole aligning with the oil feed hole in the engine block.


Unit out and placed in a pan of boiling water and sure enough .. The plunger pushed out about 1.5cm


Decided I will try it without this spring and plunger unit in … Simple enough test to fully eliminate it as a problem on extended ground runs BEFORE I try to fly her again.



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