'FCF' is an acronym (ok, you probably recognized that part on your own) for Functional Check Flight. It's exactly what it sounds like: you perform some maintenance on the airplane, then you go flying to make sure all of the parts stay attached.
Yesterday's FCF was intended to test two things. First, I replace the broken tach cable. If I was keeping a list of "Things That Are Easier to Remove Than They Are to Replace," tach cables would now be added. It took a few minutes to wrestle it into place, a few more minutes to wrestle it out of place, and yet more minutes to wrestle it into the correct place. There's some routing to be done to correctly wind the cable through some of the other stuff hanging around at the back of the engine. Once the cable is correctly positioned, there's nothing left to do but screw the ferrule caps (Warning: non-technical, just-made-up part description) into place. That would be easy of not for the aforementioned other engine bits being in the way. Seriously, I don't know why I don't just yank out the vacuum pump and gyros - I don't use them.
Once the tach cable was done, I removed the temporary cigarette lighter power cord that I had been using to deliver pure 12 VDC to the Garmin 396 and replaced it with a cord that I could wire directly to ship's power. That was a very simple task. In fact, both of these jobs were very easy and very low risk, but I would not have been able to do either of them myself if I didn't have an Experimental certificate for the plane. Total cost was $26.50 for the tach cable, and an unconscionable $28.95 for the Garmin power cord. Had I required an A&P to do the work, the price of the cables would have had a mark-up and labor costs would have added at least $150.
Airnav.com indicated that the lowest price fuel within a reasonable distance was at Urbana. I was able to convince the snooty, high-fallutin' new GPS to point me in that general direction after a few minutes of fumbling around with the slightly different button/menu stuff on the 396. Once we had been in the air for a few minutes, the GPS started displaying METAR and TAF weather information. Without even being asked! And without prolonged messing around with recalcitrant equipment. I am VERY happy with the Garmin 396!
I was also very happy with both of my landings. They were both CAG (made up acronym alert!) landings: Calm Air Greasers. That was a bit of a relief after my last flight where everything just felt wrong. Confidence now restored in both aircraft and pilot, I'm looking forward to some good flying this weekend.