Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Oshkosh: Postscript

For those that are forced to deal with the Chicago bottleneck during their trek to Oshkosh I have three words of advice:




To assist those that don't speak military time, allow me to translate:




That's right. 5:00 AM. That is the time when you want to be driving through/around/near/in-the-same-state-as Chicago. At least on a Saturday morning, anyway.

I woke Egg at 0230 local and we were on the road and heading south by 0300. We passed through the horrid construction on I-94 like grass through a goose, but I could tell that the choking down to a single lane near Kenosha would have created a horrible ordeal had we gone later in the day. Downtown Chicago was also eerily easy; as they say in the movies, maybe too easy. Any time something is too easy, I cringe while waiting for the inevitable offsetting pain in the arse.

In the case of Chicago, it came in the form of a ditzy looking blond that found herself in the wrong lane of a toll booth and attempted to force her Jeep Cherokee into a piece of real estate currently inhabited by Yours Truly and his sole offspring. Not in the mood for a fight (and bowing to the inevitable - she made no sign of caring one way or the other what my opinion was on the issue) I theatrically gestured for her to just go on ahead.

She blew me a kiss.

At my age, that kind of thing does not sway me in the least; I just gave her a dismissive wave in return.

In the epitome of no-good-deed-going-unpunished (even if said good deed was done reluctantly) she then proceeded to have a prolonged argument over the necessity of a $3.00 toll with the bored, tired, and completely disinterested booth attendant.

I can only imagine how I would have reacted had this happened after a interminable wait to even get to the toll plaza. As it was, I just shrugged it off. Well, there were words, too. But relatively tame ones.

Remember this: 5:00 AM. It's the secret to many, many things.

We made it back to Columbus in just seven hours. As a point of comparison, it took eight and a half to get there.

"Sure," you're thinking, "just look at the map. It's uphill the whole way! No wonder it's faster coming back." No, that's only one reason. The benefit of being one of the first to arrive to battle the Chicago gauntlet is another.

The remainder of Saturday was spent unloading the car, dumping a week's worth of very smelly laundry into the hamper, resting my aching feet, and napping off the effects of the early start.

Sunday was the day I had been waiting for: the installation of the Garmin 396. Perhaps I should have waited longer. Still tired, I did crazy things like detaching some wires that I ended up just having to re-attach because it turned out that I still needed them. That wouldn't be such a big deal if it wasn't for that fact that any and all wiring work is performed by reaching down (or up, in some cases) behind the panel and working in a very tight and crowded space which is prone to causing inconvenient things like dropping screws.

Still, it was an easier job than I had expected, and the folks at XM were a breeze to work with when I reactivated by Aviator Lite account, even though the only part of my account information I knew was my phone number. I was afraid they were going to want to charge me another $75 activation fee since it had been almost two years since I had suspended my account, and that account had been associated with a different GPS. No problems, though, and within ten minutes I was seeing radar returns over in Pennsylvania. Just a few minutes after that, METARs showed up.

I should have just quit right there, what with me being fully cognizant of the fact that something that went that easily was bound to have consequences, but I threw caution to the wind and suggested to the Co-pilot that we perform a test flight.

The takeoff was horrible! The tail was all over the place. Rick charitably agreed that it must have been due to the odd winds that had Bolton's two windsocks pointing in different directions, but I'm not so sure. As we climbed out and I realized that I was more interested in piddling with the GPS than avoiding traffic, I had Rick take over the reins. I'm here to tell you, the Garmin 396 is awesome! It's amazingly capable when compared to my old Garmin 295, which by the way, is now for sale.

Things came a little unglued when Rick noticed that we had a pretty decent ground speed considering that the tach was reading 0 RPM. Yep, zero is kinda low for anything but being parked in the hangar, so I made a 180 and we headed back to Bolton. A terrible landing ensued. In front of a witness: a Piper Super Cub was sitting in the infield getting ready for a banner tow.

Once we were back at the hangar I started diagnosing the tach problem. I figured it was either the tach cable or the tach itself causing the problem; the engine seemed to be making a little more than zero RPM so I was willing to stipulate that there was unlikely to be a problem from that end. I'm intuitive that way.

I disconnected the cable from the back of the tach (Great. Here I am piddling around behind the panel again!!), ensured that the mags were grounded and the mixture at full cut-off,l and had Rick slowly pull the prop through. The idea was that I'd be able to see the cable rotate if it wasn't broken. I was hoping that it was broken because a tach cable is far less expensive than the tach itself! That step turned out to be moot - I was able to pull the inner cable completely out of the cable conduit. It was broken right where the engine side part of the cable goes into the little port on the back of the engine.

It's $26.50 for a new cable. What a relief! I sure didn't want to have to buy a new tach.


  1. Thanks for a great series of Oshkosh posts, thoroughly enjoyed reading them every day. Hopefully I'll make it to Osh10.

    Paul (@tendancer)

  2. Great wrap-up and series of posts throughout the show.

  3. Just found your blog while looking for some info. on a flight to Put-In-Bay. You've got some awesome photos and looks like more great posts than I'll ever catch up on reading... but I'll try.

    Anyway, just wanted to say keep up the good work and continued safe flying!