Been away from the shop a bit. Christmas with the family, shopping, work etc. There are important things in life besides airplanes I suppose :) That doesn't stop me from doing reasearch. Okay, you can call it browsing if you like.
I wanted to share a website I found called experimentalavionics.com
One of the biggest decisions to be made with my build is what avionics I want in my panel. This of course is guided by the three points of mission, cost and simplicity in that order, although they aren't mutually exclusive either. Simplicity generally leads to lower cost. Mission needs vs wants can also directly influence cost up or down. With a bit of work, the following items can be built very inexpensively, with off the shelf parts and instructions found online.
My aircraft mission is simple enough. I don't need to go fast or high (the Zenair 750 isn't pressurized nor is it a speed demon) and I won't be flying IFR (instrument flight rules). I do want good communications (it's actually what I do for a living!) and the ability to navigate outside the normal ATC coverage areas to some of those good fishing/camping spots.
I'm using a converted Corvair automobile engine. Instrumentation for this is simple too.
The idea of building my own EMS (Engine Monitoring System) from open source electronics/software fits both my budget and interests in learning. I have learned enough electronics skills over the years to build it (thanks to Mom and Dad for starting my learning in basic electronics by buying me this when I was a kid). Whether this becomes my primary engine instrumentation or a back up to the traditional analog engine guages will be decided later after I do some more research. It might look something like this:
A nice, easy to read display suitable for the 6 cylinder Corvair engine. The bonus is how much panel space I'd save and the ability to datalog the information for testing mods or diagnosing trends. Alarm annunciators (flashing warning lights or audio) can easily be added for any parameter that goes out of range. Cool!
The other panel items such as primary flight instruments (altimeter, VSI, etc) require more thought. I like traditional instruments for their familiar simplicity. For the same reasons as the EMS, a EFIS (Electronic Flight Information System) has an intriguing draw, but I'll likely have something like this as my backup instruments:
Again, easy to read, simple and space saving. 6 instruments and a clock all in one place.
A couple of cons that I'll need to consider are temperature operating range and failure modes. It gets real cold where I'll be keeping the plane when it's built (unless I win the lottery, then it's heated floor hanger all the way!)
As for failure modes, how comfortable am I putting all indicators in one place, where a single failure may result in losing everything at once.
The website that I linked above also includes preliminary discussions on intercoms for pilot/passenger communication and a WiFi based AHRS (Attitude Heading Reference System) that could link wirelessly to a tablet for navigation. Perhaps someone will adapt the AHRS to be an inexpensive ADS-B out module!
Lots to think about...
Happy New Year everyone :)
So, I got my block/case back from the machine shop. It was worth every penny to have a professional with a CNC milling machine do the work of drilling out the two broken studs. His work was incredible and he went as far as to countersink the holes slightly for the TimeSert barrel inserts. Nice, clean and straight holes, important details:
With that done, it was time today to tackle installing the TimeSert barrel inserts that will make up the replacement threads for the head studs on these two holes. I've spent more hours than I should have pondering this critcal step, but it wasn't nearly as difficult as I allowed my imagination to believe it could be.
TimeSerts are an elegant solution for replacing damaged in-hole threads in a variety of materials. They are in my opinion much better than Helicoil wound wire inserts. I ordered the TimeSert install kit from Clark's Corvairs and the recommended length (0.75 inch) TimeSerts from a local industrial supply shop. The kit contains all the tools you need to install these:
First step, drill out the hole to the correct size. The importance of having this hole straight can not be understated. Although drilling aluminum is easy, best to use a drill press:
The brand new bit that came with the kit was very sharp and made short clean work of the holes.
Next up, the shoulder countersink bit. The countersink the machinist put in was quite deep enough. The bit has a cutter which creates a countersink shoulder for the top end of the TimeSert allowing it to sit flush on the surface. Again, the drill press is the only smart way to do this:
Careful application of preasure on the very sharp cutter results in a nicely formed shoulder.
Next up, threading this aluminum hole with the tap provided in the kit. This tap (also brand new) has four cutting flutes and a flat nose to ensure the hole is completely threaded to the bottom. This is delicate work that is only done by hand, so it was important to make it perpendicular to the case, ensuring straight threads in the hole. I used lots of 3-in-1 oil to ease the tap through and keep the threads clean from debris. The secret is to cut 1/2 a turn, back out 1/2 a turn and repeat:
Once both holes are tapped, it's important to ensure they are cleaned out of any cutting debris. A blow gun and compressor is perfect.
At this point everything looks good. Next up is the insert mandrel.
What makes TimeSerts so effective, is their engineering. The bottom couple of rows of the insert are formed in a way that allows the insert mandrel to cold-roll the threads, pushing them outwards and into the surrounding material, locking the insert in place:
First, a couple drops of oil on the mandrel to ease the insert forming the new threads, then thread the insert partly onto the mandrel:
Once placed in the newly cut holes, the insert threads in easy, up to the shoulder stop. Continue moving the mandrel forward (in) until it bottoms out:
Back the mandrel out and the TimeSert stays in place, now permanently attached to the aluminum walls of the hole. Looks perfect!
Was it really that easy? YES!
After cutting the matching threads on the two upper (long) studs that will be used with these inserts, I test fitted one. A good clean fit that will be made real strong with LocTite 620 as per the conversion manual.
I can't explain how relieved I am to be past this part of the head stud saga. Next steps will be fastening all the studs in permanently with LocTite 620. Before that, I need to clean the block completely as there are still areas that can use some detail attention. The suggestions are to either hot tank the block at a tranmission shop, use varsol with stiff brushes and 3M pads or maybe media blast it. Ron has a sandblasting machine, maybe that would be easiest. More food for thought.
The other task I completed was the removal of the oil pick-up assembly. It is press fit into the aluminum:
A little gentle tapping from the oil passage end of the block witha pirce of dowel, and it came right out:
Overall, a very productive 3 hours. I'm tagging this blog entry as a milestone because it has been bugging me for months to get past it. Barring any further surprises, this will be my airplane engine.
Now back to making other airplane parts :)
Looking back I can't believe it's been almost a month and half since I posted to the blog. I've been busy waiting on some stuff I ordered to take the next steps on the motor rebuild and some travel to visit family in Ann Arbor Michigan took up a bunch of time as well. Well worth it though, we needed a quick family get-away to recharge.
Since my last post, I took my engine block into the machine shop to fix the snapped stud issue. They have a highly accurate CNC milling machine which will make short work of the snapped stud. The process will remove the remnants of the broken stud but this will also mean sacraficing the hole threads. I've now got the TimeSert install kit that I ordered which will repair the damage and create a new set of threads to insert the studs into.
Until I get the block back from the machinist early next week, I got some of the prep work needed for the studs done. The original short (lower) head studs from my core engines are in decent shape, but typically very dirty with some light surface rust. The push rod tubes are similar. Here is the before pic:
The perfect tool to clean these is the bench grinder. This one is a beautiful old school one. I prefer old tools that are made to last:
The wire wheel makes short work of cleaning of the decades of old grime and rust and is excellent for cleaning up the stud threads:
The push rod tubes from the core are really dirty. Under the grime, the tube was manufactured with two coatings on top of the bare metal, as shown in this picture from Google:
I had a go with the wire wheel on one of my tubes and this was the result:
I'm happy with how they cleaned up, particularly around the o-ring area. However, after seeing the picture from Google that I found for tonight's blog entry, I'm not sure if I've just removed the grime, or removed the zinc coating as well. Removing the zinc coating and getting down to the bare steel is what I want to do as this will allow me to paint (or maybe powdercoat) them white as described in the conversion manual. I'll have another look next time I'm in the shop. These may require a bit more work. The one in the picture I copied was sandlasted, perhaps that's what I'll end up doing.
Overall, the first twelve studs all came out really nice and clean - they should paint up real nice. There are some minor tool marks on each. I have a bunch more in the inventory, so I'll clean those up too and choose the best ones for the build:
The other task I've been pondering is cutting new threads on the end of those studs being inserted into the TimeSert holes of the block.
The studs on Corvair engines are made from a very high tensile steel alloy. The original threads at the block end are a proprietary GM thread called 38-16 NC5. These will not fit the TimeSert which are the more common 3/8-16 NC. So, for those holes that I'm installing TimeSerts, I'll have to use a die cutter and rework the threads to be 3/8-16 NC. The head end doesn't need to be altered.
I had a bit of time today, so I took one of the old long (upper) studs that are being replaced with new ones due to corrosion and experimented cutting new threads on it. Best case, I see how easy or difficult it is, worst case I ruin an old stud that I won't be using anyhow.
I clamped the stud tightly in the vise. When I do the good ones, I'll have to remember to put something in the jaws of the vise to prevent clamping damage marks. Here is a picture of the tools I used. I couldn't find where ron keeps his cutting oil (if there even is any), so I substituted a little 3-in-1.
There ins't a huge difference in the GM thread and the 3/8-16 I need to use with the TimeSerts. Carefully starting the die on the threads and using a fair amount of oil, I managed to cut or reshape the threads about under half way down. This involved the time proven method of turning the die down a little bit at a time, and backing off numerous times but it went marvelously well. Here's a close up:
When I got home, I test fitted this stud in a TimeSert and it threaded in real nice. I bit of LocTite 620 should make the repair as good or better than the factory fit. I've been worried about this process for a long time, but I think with a little attention and time, it's going to work out fine.
Next up, prepping the block for stud install.
Time until takeoff
Husband, father and 911 dispatcher. Long time pilot with a licence that burns a hole in my pocket where my student loan money used to be. First time aircraft builder. Looking to fly my own airplane.