Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cold as a witch's (insert suitable organ name here)...

Sometimes the sky beckons so strongly that a little thermal inconvenience can be accepted, and today was one of those days. Very little wind and copious sunshine, but single-digit temperatures. The cold weather was forecast a few days ago, though, so I was able to plan ahead and plug in the pre-heater. The only problem was where to go. Most of my day trips involve being outside at the destination, and that idea wan't very palatable today.

A quick check of the local RV flyers Yahoo group showed a 12:00 lunch at Urbana with at least three other RVs. Good enough for me! I managed to configure my clothing so as to offer plenty of layers that could be shed as needed, grabbed the camera, and headed for the hangar. Here's how Papa Golf winters:

The electrical cord goes to a heating pad glued to the bottom of the oil sump. It keeps the oil warm enough that it will flow more freely than it would if left at ambient temperature. I plug the cowl holes with the rags in hopes that enough heat will be retained that the battery is kept at least a little warm too, but it's an act of faith as to whether that makes any difference or not.

Having been on the pre-heater, I figured four primes would be just about right, and such was proven to be the case. When it's cold, I try to start with just enough throttle to get her going in an attempt to minimize the the number of strokes that occur before enough oil gets stirred around to provide some protection. Until the cylinders get warm enough to expand a bit, the fit between the piston and cylinder is pretty tight, and until the oil gets there, is to a large degree metal-to-metal contact. I had the prime and throttle just right, so when the engine started it was at just about the same rpm as the starter was already turning it. It doesn't get any more gentle than that!

The forecast was for clear skies, but we didn't quite have that. We had a scattered layer at 2,300' instead. That was easy to climb around, so I was in clear air at 3,500'. As cold as it was, and with the 30.50" altimter, I was climbing at 1,800 fpm at a 120mph! I grabbed a shot off the left wing as I climbed past the layer:

I got there about 10 mintutes before the rest of the guys, so I wandered around the diner a bit. This diner is on the list of those places I've only ever been to by airplane and don't know what they look like to groundlings. I'd say almost all pilots have a similar list. While I was out in the front parking lot of the diner reading the historical plaque that explains who the "Grimes" was that the airport is named after, I got to thinking that their old hangar might make a good background for a picture:

I had the same problem that I always have on these bright, sunny days. I don't know the right settings for the camera to keep them from coming out too dark, so I have to try to clean them up on the computer, and I'm afrad I'm not particularly good at it. I really ought to get a book from the library or see what I can find with another pass through the owner's manual.

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