Monday, May 01, 2006

Pre-annual Prep Work

Now that I have an experimental class plane, I can do a lot more of the grunt work required in preparing the plane for anunal inspection (or, more accurately, "condition inspection") and save hundreds of dollars. Of course, now that I've spent a few Sunday afternoon hours removing rounded-out screws (and questioning the sanity of whichever of the previous owners/maintainers decided no screw was too ruined to not put right back into the plane), I'm remembering why I paid someone else $50/hr. to do this.

My newly found higher standards received via A&P training will drive me to pore through the plans an order all new screws for every panel I've removed. In addition to there being roughly 5% that I couldn't re-use even if I was daft enough to try, I also noticed a bit of a grab-bag mentality used by whomever replaced them last time. Rows that should have all the same type of screw head and length instead have a random selection of different types and sizes. It doesn't make any real difference structurally, but this is my first annual and I'm looking at it as an opportunity to really clean house. The plane has been flying for 8 years now, and in the course of normal maintenance this kind of thing creeps in. Every now and then you just have to bite the bullet and start over.

I pulled a few more panels than were actually needed, using the same "this is the first annual so we should really be thorough" mentality. I pulled the floor boards in order to get a good look at the mechanics of the control sticks, for example. That required pulling off side panels and removing the aileron trim and fuel tank selector handles. It took a total of about four hours to get all the pieces/parts removed, and I anticipate it will take even longer to get it all put back together again. All in all, though, the plane looks great inside and out. There are a couple of nutplates that might need to be replaced, but for the most part we're looking at a pretty easy (and inexpensive) annual this year.

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