Mags – cleaning

The really useful course at Skycraft covered some sensible – regular- checks I could do around mags ..

Turns out this is especially good in moist environments.. so on an island of 9 miles by 5 miles surrounded by sea probably constitutes as ‘moist’ … add to that if course salt air … and you have good properties for corrosion ..

Checking the magnets on the flywheel is really simple with the cowling off and sure enough.. rotating the prop to reveal the magnets showed a fair build up of rust …

As Dave noted .. this could be a cause of radio noise.. and I’ve been having that creep in in last few months… probably proportionally ‘noisy’ as time passes… and surface rust builds …

Long long overdue wash

Every time I’ve gone up to the hanger .. with good intentions to wash the ‘plane … then you get reasonable weather to fly… you fly .. of course … so that means I haven’t washed her since before Christmas !!

So so dirty after all the dust in the hanger….

Also… after 3 years of flying .. it’s good to double check for any little lifting of the small pinked edges… and iron them flat

Engineering Day – Skycraft Jabiru Course 1

What a fantastic day with a great bunch of people ….

Flew out from misty foggy Jersey yesterday to even mistier and foggier Gatwick and then long drive up to Holbeach to stay in a small pup overnight ahead of today’s starter course for those who want to know a bit more about the Jabiru 2200 engine.

Started with lubrication … a very good place to start …

Next … electrics … not everyone’s favourite …

Next … mechanical bits … valves and tappers and compressions ….

Other useful bits to write up from my little notebook.

  • Oil breather pipe should rise initially before dropping away to catch bottle …
  • Oil excess overflow should not have a drain pipe that could end up pressurising the crankcase
  • Carb balance air pipe should come from filtered side of carb and into filtered side of air filter …should intrude by 20mm for good fit
  • Check the carb is earthed to engine
  • Flywheel bolts now have special new nordloc washers and new bolts ..old bolts need changing at 100 hours .. new ones won’t … the old ones could well be difficult to get out…remove spider … heat can be used to break the loctite .. but .. make sure you protect the magnets .. once heated .. let it cool right down first before trying to break the seal
  • When setting tappets ALWAYS do it cold .. so good plan .. drain oil hot from a run .. leave overnight to fully drain … then take a plug out to reduce turn pressure on prop and get piston to TDC then adjust as above
  • Good idea to make a mark on stator for where TDC is per cylinder
  • Check the small bung grub screws inside the tapper cover head .. these can come loose and cause oil to spill down thetappet pushrod guide tubes .. think I may well have this on mine !
  • Push rod tubes are rubber o ringed at bottom and circlipped at top
  • When replacing the inlet manifold rubbers .. prob best to cut the old ones off .. remove jubilee clips … then a bit of grease and turn the outer manifold pipe through 45’ .. it’s only on a rubber o ring to turning it makes new pipe slip on really easy
  • Note .. when checking torque on ALL cylinder head bolts .. start at 23 ft lbs and remove the bung acts which allows long drive access to 5th head bolt for torquing
  • All electrical parts should be Bosch .. distributor cap, rotor arms etc
  • Remember the ‘hidden’ filter in the pump
  • Oil pump return valve spring and fitting … push check … to make sure it’s free moving
  • Jabiru carb needle jet options … AUS vs U.K. … N2 for U.K. with fully tapered jet needle vs single bar straight sided needle for AUS market and weather conditions

Approvals ….

Got an email from the busy LAA this morning … working on a Saturday … so good to get feedback.

Having never submitted an aircraft modification before I am still learning the sequence and paperwork that is required.

The 12 pages of what is called a MOD3 went through quite a lot of iterations but, even though we have now reached a high degree of acceptance I have omitted to provide some other elements:

  • A completed worksheet – basically setting out the key elements
  • An updated section for inserting in the Pilot Operating Handbook POH
  • A PMR – Permit Maintenance Release

Spent this evening completing these so just need to meet up with my local LAA engineer for counter signature ..

Update to POH

POH Addendum Smoke System
Smoke System – Principle of Operation
The oil smoke tank uses a kit supplied by American supplier Smokin Airplanes and comprises the following elements:
– Smoke oil tank with associated pump
– Feed pipes and delivery pipes
– Spray bar fittings for exhaust pipes
– Electrical switches and fuses

The tank accepts a paraffin based oil (Baby oil) and the electrical switch , momentary switch provides power to the pump which draws oil from the tank into aircraft grade aeroquip rubber hosing.
The hosing routes to the rear of the stainless bulkhead and passes into a T bar aeroquip fitting that splits the single feed into a steel braided double feed that connects to spray bar atomiser injectors fitted into each exhaust outlet.

Fitting Of Oil Tank
The oil tank is fitted into the front seat (P2) location. The seat base and seat back are removed prior to installing. This leaves the Sherwood standard plywood seat base which has had 2 holes drilled in to accept 2 alloy pins on the underside of a tailor made ally mounting tray.
The mounting tray has lips on all sides to ensure the oil tank does not move in any direction.
Underneath the plywood seat base 2 alloy brackets have been riveted in position on the outer edge of the 2 longitudinal seat rails. These brackets accept a 1” wide ratchet strap.

Weight and Balance Consideration
As the oil tank is located in the P2 position, and this location is dead centre on the C of G , mainspar there is no change to weight and balance whether the oil tank is empty or full.

Filling the Tank
The tank is generally filled outside the aircraft but it can be filled in situ with a suitable long stemmed filler flex pipe. Filling is through a large hole in the top of the tank which has a securing screw cap. Do not overfill the tank .. 3/4 is sufficient for approx 4 mins of continuous smoke.

There is an overflow pipe if excess washes over in any steep turns. This pipe routes to the underside of the aircraft behind the u/c.
A quick release break valve is fitted to prevent spillage. The tank can be removed , even if oil remains in the tank.

Smoke Operation
The smoke can be operated once the engine reaches suitable temperature. Usually 150’ and above EGT.

There are 3 ways of operating the smoke:
– The main switch panel has a 3 position switch, continuous on, Off and Armed for intermittent
– A remote Push button allows momentary operation of smoke .. IF the primary switch is in the UP (Momentry) position
– If the primary switch is set to ON, the. The pump operates until it is turned off.

Note .. a red light is illuminated all the time the pump is in operation
Note .. the pump will continue to operate even if no oil is in the tank amd the switch is in the ON position.

Smoke – 2nd test

A bit if blue sky and yes… blxxdy freezing .. but hey lets try second attempt ..

Tried 1.4 instead of 1.5 on the mixture and smoke was a little less ‘full’

Smoke on …… go

Last Sunday we finally had a slight lull in the weather and .. having fuelled up … loaded about 30% of smoke oil into the oil tank.

Having started up and warmed the engine whilst waiting for the fueller to arrive I had a nice warm engine so was ready to taxi out pretty much straightaway.

I made a quick mobile call to Jersey ATC to request circuits and also advise that it would be a second test of the smoke system. There was a short delay whilst the clearance chap checked out with the tower and all ok.

Duly taxied out and lined up on runway 26 at Jersey .. with a nice warm engine … I had said I would probably do a full normal circuit before doing a long runway pass at say 700’ and try the smoke on and off serveral times.

Just after take off .. I banked out left towards Corbiere lighthouse and quick glance in my new small rear view mirror … thought .. let’s just flick the smoke switch for say 2 seconds and off…


Lots of lovely white billowing smoke and stoped the instant you turned off. A few more on,off combinations and works a treat.

Clearly my previous setting of 2 full open valves on the mixture was way too rich .. Smoking Airplanes had suggested trying something between 1.3 and 1.6 .. I tried 1.5

Awesome smoke trail ..and BEST thing … if you waited for say 2-3 seconds and then looked back .. you could see the biplane wing wash and prop wash swirl beautifully symmetrically in the trailing smoke.

Will try a rear facing go pro on the next flight ….

2 min 53 second bad weather circuit Jersey

Bad weather circuit at Jersey .. try to always squeeze one in depending on traffic volumes

It’s really good practice to see if you can get one of these tighter circuits in or you get used to very large semi cross country circuits … the tighter ones keep you on your toes as everything happens much quicker and .. just as you turn crosswind .. you bank over to turn downwind … then it’s ready for base

The last landing is a little too fast … you can see the starboard wing just lift a little as the tail comes down …. but you can also see how quickly the speed falls away .. combination of super sticky international runway … grooves cut at right angles across the runway to encourage water to dissipate … and also low pressure larger tyres .. running at around 11psi

Slightly fast approach….

Here is a slightly fast approach around August 2019 …

It was slightly choppy conditions but I planned a touch and go and … as you can see … the touch was ok but the starboard wing lifted a little as the approach speed was too fast .. 😊

Smoke – First

The other day was a very cold but at least clear day so I half filled the smoke oil tank with baby oil and ratcheted the securing strap up for its first proper air test.

I’ll need to source a better power plug connector .. these ones with crimped spades that push into plastic connector blocks are very weak … but should be ok for initial test.

Having run an initial 1 second ground test to make sure the pump operated from the rear cockpit switch I set off to get in and warm the engine

Getting in was its usual squeeze in the winter.. with around 5 layers on .. its cosy though and you soon dont feel the cold as everything gets going

I’d pre briefed I think it was Russell in ATC that I’d like to do a circuit just to make sure all fittings were stable and my feet remained clear of all fittings in terms of rudder access and pump … and then advised I’d like to do a straight pass over the runway at around 800′ to try the smoke …the idea being that if anything was to happen .. I could dead stick down ..

All went fine and setup the approach for the first 800′ overly… slight thing to factor was an ATR had just take off as I was on short final so I was advised to turn before I flew through his prop wash at the end of the runway .. not a problem as I usually turn just before the end to clear the centre line

Anyway … my little wing mirror I fitted a few weeks ago revealed zip coming out of the back .. tried the switch several times and nothing…

Did 4 more circuits and finished with a usual very tight 1 min circuit to land … the ATC controller was awesome as I called close downwind she cleared another FlyBe ATR to take off and he was pretty slow to move so I held a few more seconds until I saw him roll then wing over on a nice tight right base and touch down just a few seconds after his wheels left the ground…

Thanked ATC and wished a Happy New Year and taxed in to check why the oil wasnt working …

Checked all fittings and switches and fine …the realised.. doh … to prevent any spillage I’d turned the flow valve fully off … this means loading the tank is a nice dry affair ….

Anyway .. valve duly turned on and a hop back in and clear prop .. restart …and hey presto .. smoke … not as billowy as I’d like.. but smoke

Stopped the engine hopped out and found a very wet undercarriage…so it’s too rich

Turned mixture , flow down from 2 full turns to 1

Hopped on again …and restart… not much smoke.. but less liquid …

So need to check what flow valve setting is optimal and also emailed Smokin Airplanes in US to see what is best burn rate for oil on this type of.engjne … prob better at revs around 2700 vs on hard standing around 1800

Watch this space ….. 😊

Blog at

Up ↑