Cross country flight to Forest Field

Did my first “little cross country” flight.
Duncan, member of our club, lives at Forest Field (NZFF) organized a brunch.

I wanted to take this opportunity to fly only 20 minutes or so from NZRT where I am getting my lessons to this local airstrip, 4km away from our home. I am hoping to move my Bleriot into a hangar here sometime in the future.

With Dave my instructor on holiday, I had to organize another instructor. Luckily Tony from our club wanted to go to the brunch and didn’t mind coming with me, giving me directions, and teaching me a few more things.

All week I have been keeping an eye out on the weather, didn’t look good. Definitely not a nice High pressure system around. The forecast was for Southerlies, with a Nor-west  and all sort of other bad things you don’t want….

But I wanted to take this opportunity so had to live with the turbulent air. Wasn’t to bad but still a bit to much for my liking !!!  🙂

So this morning I picked up Tony and drove to the club airstrip to hop into my club plane JOR. Below you see the full 22 min unedited version of my trip to NZFF.


Below is the edited version of my first cross country flight to the airstrip FF, not far from my home:

  • Flying over Cust with cloud rolling over the mountains, with Nor-west turbulence’s.
  • First sight of FF on the left at 1500ft AGL.
  • Turning into the circuit at 1000ft AGL.
  • Stretched circuit flying over the dairy farm just behind our house, with our house later on amongst the Manuka just to the left of the nose of the plane.
  • On finals, landing at Forest Field


Oh yes what I learned :

– With turbulent weather, when pushed out of balance, don’t use ailerons to level the wings. Use the rudder to continually correct direction and nose back into the “wind”. This is leveling the wings, so that’s good 🙂

– The other thing we did is return into the circuit from the non traffic side. This is basically the same as returning from the traffic side, but you skip the entering at 1500ft AGL bit, and enter the circuit via the cross wind leg. When you do this you can see all the traffic in the circuit really well, so a safe entering method.

Carburetor swap

Interesting day!

Got to the airport early to measure the exhaust emissions. Wayne has got an analyzer that shows you how good the combustion is really: lean – correct – rich.

A bit on this in Wikipedia :

But just one step back. Last time, last week when I had the engine running, I saw issues. Engine had problems running. It ran for a short time with the fuel that was “primed” into the carburetor. Here I was thinking something was wrong. Maybe the 91 octane that I am using now, or the last cam timing change….

It turns out that the engine wasn’t happy because it didn’t get enough fuel !!!

After the valve timing change, it’s sucking in more air during the intake cycle, which is what we wanted, but I never thought it would make such a difference. With the exhaust analyzer, we can now see that the engine is just running to lean at full throttle. In the end the only way to start it was by opening the priming valve a bit for a while, giving it extra fuel until it ran OK.

And I also noticed the oil heating up faster, plus I could feel warm air coming from the cylinders while the engine was running. All of that indicates that the engine is running lean.

So Wayne and I started talking about fixing this. checking the main metering jet, just making sure it was clean etc and maybe looking into a bigger jet.

Somehow we started talking about different carburetors. Then suddenly he mentions a SU carburetor he has in a draw somewhere. A very simple constant velocity side draft carburetor.  It’s constant velocity as the venturi size is adjusted as the air demand changes. More air bigger venturi. Resulting in a constant velocity of the air flow. As the piston moves up creating a bigger venturi, a fuel valve needle moves up with it, allowing more fuel. With the right needle shape this results in a constant fuel / air mix ratio.

Also when flying higher or with a low air pressure, no adjustments need to be made, as its adjusted automatically.

Have a read here:

And a little video explaining how the SU carburetor works (just the throttle and the fuel valve):


So yes Wayne is going to make a tube with flanges to make it fit to my engine and just see how it performs. He is adamant it is going to work well. It’s for engines up to 80 Hp so that’s the right size for me. It’s a lot simpler in operation. I like that !!

With my current carburetor, there are 3 controls, throttle, mixture and priming valve.

This one only has 2. Throttle and mixture. But the mixture is just for an adjustment during the start were you can make it a bit richer, almost like a choke, but it works different. With my old one you had to adjust the mixture to make the engine run right, depending on altitude and the conditions on the day I suppose. But this one adjusts the fuel flow by itself, by measuring the air flow and adjusting accordingly. Very clever.

Below you can see the engine side of the carb with the butterfly valve.

And here you see the piston that moves up when more air is sucked into the engine. Attached to the piston, a needle valve, so when moving up, the needle goes up and more fuel is sprayed into the venturi.

So yes after it is attached to the engine, we need to modify the control cables from 3 to 2 (one becomes redundant), and likely re position them a bit, and reconnect the fuel line.

Can’t wait!!!!  🙂

So happy with Wayne’s support !  If you need anything done related to planes, talk with him !!

1928 Monocoupe 113

I was talking with Evan, my test pilot yesterday, and what he is saying makes sense. Currently my engine is running at the required speed of 1900 rpm static and 2000 rpm in flight, so that’s good. Problem is that there isn’t enough thrust to fly. Have a look below at the propeller on the 1928 plane powered by a Velie like mine. I know the plane is very different, but the prop is like every modern prop, pointy. Mine is like the early ones, were they were initially copying the boat propellers. So maybe I do need to make changes. The problem of my propeller is that the “chord” of my prop is so big that it is “using” a lot of power, wasting power. :

1928 Monocoupe 113 – N7808

Location: Pioneers of Flight

 Don Luscombe built the first Monocoupe in 1926. Don wanted a more comfortable plane than his open cockpit “Jenny.” The Monocoupe was engineered and built by Clayton Folkerts. Together, Don and Clayton launched a type of aircraft that dominated the light plane scene for several years.

Production of the Monocoupe was sporadic until 1928 when the company became associated with W. L. Velie, a former car manufacturer. Velie brought the Monocoupe a reliable source of small engines. The 113 was manufactured by Mono Aircraft Corporation, which was a subsidiary of Allied Aviation Industries.

The Monocoupe was powered by a 65 hp Velie radial engine. The fuselage framework was built of welded steel tubing, which was faired to shape with formers and fairing strips, and then was covered with fabric. The cabin roof had a large skylight for vision overhead. The wings were built of solid spruce spars and spruce and basswood ribs which were also fabric covered.

The Monocoupe 113 was reasonably stable and quite easy to fly. By 1929, approximately ten percent of all licensed US aircraft were Monocoupes. The Monocoupe accumulated a good safety record and promoted longevity. Through the late 1930s it was not uncommon to see scores of Monocoupes flying all over the countryside.

The exceptional performance and sharp maneuverability of the 113 drew the Monocoupe to air races and other events where its pilot could show it off. During the 1929 air race season, many Monocoupes were the headliners. The 113 was also used in the primary phases of flight instruction by flying schools.

EAA’s Monocoupe was the first of the famous Monocoupe line, which was among the earliest cabin monoplanes. The airplane was meticulously restored and flown to the EAA Museum under its own power. At that time, it was one of the last flyable 113s in existence. The Monocoupe 113 is an example of the type of airplane that dominated the light plane scene for several years. In 1968, John Hatz loaned the Monocoupe to the EAA Museum. The airplane was put on permanent display in 1977.

Flight 25, just solo

Today Dave told me to get the plane ready and give him a phone call to get permission from him to go on my own. Yes the weather was perfect no wind really so yes I was allowed to go on my own.

He said that instead of doing just circuits I should leave the circuit and do a re-join after wards. Wow that will be good!!

Bellow is a video clip from a landing of one of my circuits, and then a takeoff where I depart to the west. I go up to 1500 ft AGL (Above Ground Level) then drop the engine power to keep cruising at level flight. I fly towards “river junction” and a bit further, then turn around and track back to Rangiora back to the airstrip, where I go through a re-join procedure.

Here you fly at 1500 ft AGL, that is 500 ft above the circuit height, and fly over the threshold were I am going to land, then I drop power and fly into the non traffic side of the circuit and descend down to 1000 ft AGL and turn back towards the circuit to join into the down-wind leg of the circuit followed by a normal descend down to 500 ft AGL and the finals, where I touchdown and take-off again for a few more circuits.

Very pleased to have done all of this on my own !!!!!!

Running on 91 octane

Well after my perfect lesson today, started working on the engine. All I had to do was putting the magneto’s back and run the engine, first on the avgas 100 octane that’s in the tank and then on 91 octane car petrol.

Wasn’t that straight forward, 2 things slowed me down so I finished a bit late…..

Putting the magneto’s back, means I had to put the couplings on the back of the engine that the mag’s connect to. These use a spline I think you call them, not sure. A little piece of steel going into a slot on each end. Anyway, took me a long time to get them on, but got there in the end.

Put the magneto’s on set the ignition timing to 30deg BTDC, and tested the mag that’s driven from battery. When turning the engine around, with the front spark plugs out, you can nicely hear the spark, Cylinder #1, #3, #5, #2, #4…….. So yes all good and at the right time.

Next I reset the tappet clearances to what Wayne told me: .020″ for mixture and .025″ for exhaust valves.

OK time for starting:

Put my two steel pins into the ground to hold the tail down. Nice bright yellow big chocks in front of the wheels. Priming with the throttle closed, primer valve open and ignition off. Swing the prop which makes the carburetor drip lots of fuel, until the prop is in the right position to start.

Throttle set, mixture half, priming off, both mags on, power switch on, climb out of the cockpit and swing the prop.

Started straight away, but also stopped less then a second later. Tried this a few times, half a dozen times, but no luck.

Now I had this before. That time it was the mixture control cable that wasn’t set right after taking off the carburetor. And I was just not giving it enough mixture (fuel) and that’s why it didn’t want to go, this is a few months ago. But I checked the mixture lever, and it was fully open and still not starting.

So I tried it a few more times. Wayne just came back from some flying with his plane, when he asked me if I need help. “Yes please” I said so I started explaining, and while I was, I realized that the mixture valve needle must be blocked or dirty, everything else worked just fine. I noticed that I hadn’t closed the fuel valve on the fuel tank the last time when we flew the Bleriot.

Wayne climbed under the fuselage, behind the main landing gear, and I went through my starting procedure, and at the moment the engine sprong alive, he blocked the air intake of the carburetor, causing a lot of suction, enough to clear the fuel passage !!!!!! Yes it started 🙂

Warmed up the engine and after a few minutes went to full throttle. After the tiny bit of CAM timing adjustment, there was no change in engine refs, still just under 1900 rpm.

So next I drained the 100 octane fuel from the tank, and filled it up with 91 octane. You only need high octane fuel for high compression engines, and this one is so low in compression (1 : 5.4) that it should be able to run on 91 octane car fuel, the lowest you can easily get here. There is probably lower octane stuff but not to worried right now. Lower octane fuel burns faster, so I was expecting some change in the engine rpm, but no, no change. I did notice that I had the run with a richer mixture setting, but yes still the same old just under 1900 rpm.

This time I closed the fuel valve on the fuel tank, and let the engine run the carburetor empty, which takes a few minutes, and is also sugested in the manual to make the engine nicely cool down, but maybe also to empty the carburetor so it stays clean!!!!!!

To be on the safe side, next time I am going to use Wayne’s exhaust analyser, to be sure the carburetor is set right, but that’s for next time.

Then we start working on different pistons to increase the compression. That will surely increase the power !!!!!!!!