Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Oil Change

I'd been putting it off, but the weather this week is a bit yucky, and I had put 25 hours on the plane in one month, so I thought I had better get busy on the oil change.

I had been putting it off because I remembered what a struggle it was to get the cowls off during the annual condition inspection in March. The cowls on the RV are held onto the plane very differently than they are on the Tampico. Taking the top cowl off of the Tampico is a simple matter of releasing 12 airlock fasteners and lifting it off. The bottom cowl can stay on during an oil change because the quick drain valve can be reached through a cooling outlet in the cowl. The RV cowls are held on with 10 pieces of piano wire. Each piece threads through an interlocked series of 'tubes' on the edges of the pieces to be joined.

I remembered it being very difficult to get the wires out, and even more difficult to get them back in. As it turned out, though, it was very easy to get them out. The difference may come down to the 25 hours of recent flight. The vibration probably keeps them loose; the previous owner hardly flew the plane, so the wires were pretty set in place.

Once the cowls were off, I took a look to see how things were holding up. Other than a broken exhaust hanger, easily fixed, everything looks great. I'm taking the opportunity to replace the oil drain plug with a quick drain valve like the one I had on the Tampico. It won't relieve the burden of having to remove the bottom cowl, but it should remove the hassle of trying to get the drain plug loose. That bugger was really, really tight! Round the edges trying to get it off and you're screwed. Cross thread it when putting it back in and you're royally screwed. So, install the quick drain.

I dread trying to get the cowls back on, but maybe that too will turn out to be a lot easier than last time.

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