AL 4, circuits and 3 phase take-off

Last week, I had problems with the new landing gear. As Terry is away for 2 weeks I checked out with Dave, and yes agreed for a lesson tonight.

Today the wind came from all directions, and a bit to strong for my liking, but the wind dropped a lot tonight, so was meeting up with Dave at 19:00.

When I got to the airfield, there was still quite a bit of a South West, so we decided to use runway 22 (just a remainder, 22 means a heading of 220 deg which is halfway between South and South West). As it is a clear evening and the sun is getting low, we want to avoid landing straight into the sun, so runway 25 is out of the question.

I did 2 circuits on rw22, a very short one so needed all my speed control skills I can think of. Then the wind started to shift completely around as we were hoping for to the East, so I made the radio call:

Rangiora Traffic, Kilo November Zulu, Air-born on Right-hand 22, Repositioning to Left-hand 07, Rangiora.

As we were alone in the circuit, I turned straight into finals for 07 from taking off on 22, something you don’t do when there is other traffic. You always go through Downwind first !!

Any way, today’s practice was going to be a 3 phase take-off, to practice my directional control. Dave explained when he arrived, earlier. Basically use the whole runway to:

  • Get some speed, quickly, but then reduce throttle a bit to move forward but with the tail on the ground. Using all the rudder I need to move in a straight line for about 5 seconds
  • Then more throttle and stick fully forward and reduce throttle a bit to make sure I stay on the ground, but this time with the tail up. And again, use all rudder to keep straight, again for 5 seconds.
  • All that time, the end of the runway is getting closer faster and faster. So finally at full power and raise the nose slightly so we start flying !!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

This exercise makes you experience what its like to control direction for a while, with tail on the ground and off the ground.

One thing I learned, and both Dave and Terry have told me over and over, but now I experienced it properly:
You DON’T press the pedals for to long, but dance on them! 1/3 of a second one side, 1/2 a second on the other side, backwards and forward, all the time, as long as you are on the ground and moving.
DON’T stop until you have stopped moving.

One of my issues last time was probably that my feed used to touch the brakes, but that used to be OK as they weren’t to strong. The new brakes are a lot better so have to be careful not to touch them until almost stopped.

Also with the rudder, if you notice that you are veering to one side, you are already to late with your reaction. DANCE the pedals all the time ! And if you are going to one side don’t think of holding that pedal there to long, only 1/2 a second max, then back to neutral and again 1/2 a second to that side again. KEEP dancing !!!

So yes did lots of circuits, all low level to get more done in the 1.3 hrs I flew. Also 2 landings were I purposely turned into finals way to high, so lots of side slip to lose height.

And yes my air speed in “Downwind” : no need to go faster then 60.
In “Base” needs to start dropping to 55.
And turning into “Finals” start dropping it to 50. The lower the air speed the better the landing.

Nothing here is new,ย  just reminding me of all these little things that make the landing so much easier…..

MORE practice next weekend !

Leather for helmet

Today I finally started with the leather for my helmet. Quite a while ago I filled up the mould of my helmet.

Here you see that helmet shaped piece of โ€œPlaster of Parisโ€ with leather pulled around it. I soaked the leather in hand warm water first for 10 min or so, then pulled as tight as I could from one end to the other. Then a bit more stretching on the sides and fix it with the staple gun, into the plaster.

Will just let it dry till next weekend before I take it off. It should remain its shape. It is over sized at the moment, so will have to trim it, but won’t do that until I have spoken with someone who’s going to sow the bits together.

In total there are 3 main bits. This one and two side “panels”.

Looking really impressive so far. Happy with this !!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.

Got an email from a company preparing a new exhibition in theย Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

They want to use one of my photo’s. Well a photo Brian Greenwood took last Easter (2017) in Omaka. So yes got his permission, and it’s now going to be printed on a graphic panel about radial engines in this new gallery.

The gallery will not open until 2021, and itโ€™s duration is to be for about 20 years, so if anyone does visit that gallery after 2021, please have a look and send me proof ๐Ÿ™‚

At the bottom you can just see it.

It’s this photo


Old exhaust nuts and stub

After calculating the weight of the new exhaust I wanted to make, and getting the quote for making the exhaust bends, I decided to go for it.

Sorry Warren, I am going to cut the stubs with the seal and the fitting nuts of the ring exhaust. Tomorrow I am going to order the 5 bend bits of exhaust pipe.

Here you see 4 short and one longer stub. The stubs fit into the cylinder exhaust connection and are clamped into position with a nut (see previous post)

The longer one, is 1.5″ longer = the diameter of the exhaust. I have done this so the top exhaust stub that’s longer as well, can go side by side with the next one to the left. Below a sketch.

When I get the bend exhaust tubes, I will have them welded to the 5 bits in the photo above.

When it’s all welded and fitted you will see….. 😊

AL 4, circuits and new landing gear

As KNZ has a new, wider landing gear, Terry asked me to go for a fly with the two of us. Basically a new landing gear means this will change it’s behavior. Also whenever you start flying a different plane, you do that with an instructor.

So yes I knew it was going to be different. A wider landing gear reduces the change of a ground loop (the plane spinning around) usually when touching down.

But wasn’t expecting that the plane would also change direction quicker, at any change. Like touching down on one wheel first or even a little bit more resistance on one wheel because of an uneven surface of the landing strip. But it makes sense, if you over exaggerate the wheel spacing. With the wheels at the wing tips just the slightest force would make the plane change direction !

Terry tells me that he thinks it handles a lot easier, but that’s because he had a lot more experience.

To me it’s like I need to apply a lot more corrections, while landing, but also during take-offs.

This just means more practicing, going around and around (the circuit), and get this new landing gear under control.

Also still practicing my flaring.

So yes flying circuits isn’t boring it means a lot of things to do = practice 😊

1 3/4″ nuts 16TPI

Trying to find 1 – 3/4″ nuts with 16 threads per inch. This is to clamp down new exhaust stubs I want to make, replacing the ring exhaust. Had a first look around today here in town, but no luck so far. Will try a few more shops….

What ever I get, I am sure they need to be machined. So maybe I just need to have some made up in the end if I can’t find any.

Other option of course is to put the ring exhaust back on again, and see what the power output does!


You can see 5 of them here in this photo. They looks like a ring slid over the mixture and exhaust pipe, shrewd onto the cylinder…… Mine will probably look different. Will see.


A step forward

Today I made progress ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Started going through all the issues I picked up last week, and things to check on. So yes;

  • Fixed the butterfly valve in the carburetor. It’s now fully open with full throttle setting.
  • Rechecked the tapped clearance on all valve’s. Made a few little adjustments, nothing mayor, but has to be right !!
  • Checked the ignition time for both magneto’s. Yes both are 30 deg before TDC (top dead centre).
  • Checked the valve timing. All looking good with valve time overlapping; exhaust closing and mixture opening at TDC.
  • Drained the 91 octane petrol from the fuel tank, and filled it up again but this time with 95 octane petrol.

Because the carburetor butterfly valve is now a bit more open, starting the engine took a little getting used to. Needed 3 starts, but yes runs beautiful again. Pretty sure that after warming up the engine, it runs a bit better/faster now. The tacho needle is now on the 1900 and starting to touch the 2000 mark.

Some improvement, FINALLY !!!!!

At the moment I am running the engine without a exhaust. I am thinking that instead of putting the ring exhaust back, that I should try to make short stubs for all 5 cylinders. This will completely isolate the 5 exhausts. Read this post for the explanation.

The image here from the book, “Ghosts, the great war“, shows you what it will look like ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Maybe a bit hard to see… The top cylinder and the next one to the right have two stubs sticking out to the right. The cylinder to the left of the top one has an exhaust stub sticking out to the left. I can’t see the bottom two stubs but they must just point down… And one of the down going stubs will be used to create carb heat, which will stop the carburetor from freezing up.

Measured the nuts that clamp the exhaust stubs onto the cylinder. I need to source or make 1 3/4″ nuts with 16 threads per inch. If I can do that, I will organise the exhaust stubs !

AL 3, circuits

Yep back flying today, just circuits. Need to get that flare back under control.

If there is one wind direction I don’t like it’s a North Easter. This wind direction means you use RW07, and in the final stages of the landing, there are a whole lot of hangars on your left, resulting in turbulent air.

The idea I think is to keep flying a bit further until I am past the hangars. Also with all this turbulent air, you “fly” the plane down with a bit of power. The reason is that there is the NE wind up higher, but in the last few meter that wind suddenly disappears, resulting in a fast drop.

So yes with that wind, any wind I suppose that can create turbulence, you need to be on your toes !!!

And yes the other thing is keeping the wings level. A general rule is to move the stick towards the direction where the wind comes from making sure that the wing on the “wind side” doesn’t get pushed up. But during one landing I must gave given it a bit to much. The left wing touched the runway for a fraction of a second. Luckily I corrected that quickly.

But yes it shows, I need more training in “cross wind” landings !ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Beautiful spark plugs again

After finding that massive tappet clearance last week, the engine is running again.

Took a few tries, and splutters, and help of Mike Small, thanks Mike !!

But yes running again. Sounding really good. No irregularities, just nice ๐Ÿ™‚ One thing I noticed is that without the ring exhaust supplying heat to the carb, the carb is cooling down to a point where it freezes up when running now. Never seen this before with this carb. Ideally that means that its producing max power, but don’t like the freezing temperatures, so would like to introduce some heat again sometime in the future.

So now its just a matter of running in more, but after a little while running between 75% and 100% power I would have thought to have seen some improvement, but I don’t. Still hovering at the 1900 rpm mark.

The good thing is that the spark plugs all look right now. They all have a “nice brown tan”. That must mean that the mixture is sort of right again, this is with my original carb !

After talking with Mike, one of the many people trying to help, all with their own opinion, these are the few things to work on, and its all back to basics. It seems I have done all I can for now with what I have, its just rechecking a few things.

  • It seemed that the carb butterfly valve wasn’t completely open, only needs a little more, so fix that first. Not expecting miracles, but everything needs to be right to get the very last bit out of this machine !
  • Just quickly check the ignition timing again, and the valve clearance.
  • While doing the valve clearance have another look at the valve timing as well.
  • Now I am running with a higher compression, moved from 5.4 to something like 7, I could try a higher octane fuel. Don’t think 7 is high enough to really need it, but worth to try. And all this time I will be running the engine in a bit more…. Who knows ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Currently running without an exhaust, and no carb heat. I am going to try to find nuts that fit my exhaust connection on the cylinder and make up 5 exhaust stubs, about a foot long. This will involve getting 5 exhaust bends making 5 rings, making 5 nuts with a washer welded to it…. Not to hard and expensive I think. Plus modify one of them to create carb heat. With the exhaust stubs I will create back pressure again, that could improve the exhaust cycle. Plus also prove one thing that I discussed back in April at the Omaka air show. This was about exhaust gasses being sucked in by one cylinder while another one was exhausting.
  • Then the last thing, is the prop !!!!! I am more and more getting used to the idea, that I have tried everything, and the last thing is modifying the prop a LITTLE !! Making the tip 10 or 20mm shorter. That should make it go faster and hopefully produce more thrust. Making that change is NOT making the prop look any different, so I am comfortable with that. BUT will talk with a prop guy first before I do this ๐Ÿ™‚ don’t worry !

AL 2, back after 9 weeks

Yes, been on holiday to The Netherlands since I got my Advanced Local license, then a few bad weather weekends, then I had to go on holiday again, tramping in the Aspiring National Park ๐Ÿ™‚ and now, yes I can fly again !!

My instructor Terry offered to hop in the plane with me to see if my memory and instinct was still working after not having flown for 9 1/2 weeks.

All went well, after a few little comments, except for my flares, the very last thing of landing. This is also the one routine I had most problems with during my training when I switched over to this taildragger.
But yes after a few circuits it got better and better. Terry hopped out of the plane and I did a few more circuitrs, solo this time. But yes this flare is something that needs reminding/practicing all the time, also under different conditions! So next time I will be doing just circuits, low level if its nice and quiet, so I can do more of them !ย  ๐Ÿ™‚