[79FT]: Building Things
... firewall forward
|On:||May 01, 2020|
|In:||[Chickenhouse Charger] Electrical Rebuild|
|Tags:||6781G, MA5 Charger, electrical, fwf, engine monitor|
This was a small project to wrap up everything I could do firewall forward before moving on to the panel and main wiring.
I wanted to clean up the engine monitor probes harness. When Glenn installed it, he used zipties everywhere (and actually everything on the plane was ziptied). Nothing wrong with that, except where zipties were used around motor mount and the like without any cushioning.
Probe wires with zipties
But last I checked, zipties weren't used in the 1930s. No, in the 1930s grass was greener, trees taller, water wetter, and Real Men used wire lacing to tie their wiring harnesses together.
And using adel clamps on round tube is just good karma.
So, I re-did one side first.
Properly laced and mounted
Much better isn't it? Those wing nuts are temporary - I will replace them all with real ones when finishing up FWF much later.
I did the other side, though didn't tie it up yet - there will be more wires joining that branch later, and I had to wait until they were done. But, I did set up all the adel clamps - about 4 pairs of them total.
Next, came the carb temp probe. I had to extend it's wire, and hook it back into the main harness. I repositioned it a long time ago because I ditched the Rotec TBI, and the old wire was just a touch too short.
I spent quite a bit of time making sure that it's a thermocouple, and that I can reliably extend it - with same material and type thermocouple wire. I did some basic tests with extending it and making sure it shows reasonable numbers. It did.
I thought a couple times about ditching it; but decided to keep it if I could, and my tests showed that I could do that.
Mounting and routing ended up looking something like this:
Carb temp probe wire
From there, it'd go straight to the motor mount (towards the firewall), and join the engine monitor harness.
When extending the thermocouple, the easiest thing to do is make sure that the joining thermocouple wires mesh together - this way, you're not introducing a section of a dissimilar metal between two segments.
To do that, I used simple Molex "barrel" butt splices that allow you to put one wire on top of another and crimp around. You then heatshrink the joint. In fact, I'm starting to like them, and am thinking about using them instead of the usual AMP butt splices with nylon insulation. They are much cleaner and compact, and heatshrink I use here (SCL) provides ample strain relief (it shrinks to hard plastic, and glues itself to the wire).
Extension being put on
I shrunk each crimp individually, and then another chunk around the whole thing. The whole thing was set up to be held by a second clamp (you'll see it in the picture a bit further down).
Back when I installed the CGR-30 on the Cheetah, I encapsulated all the probe wires into fiberglass sleeve, and here it'd fit perfect - to support the lonely wire spanning about a foot to the motor mount.
I also used CGR's "barrel connectors" to hook up to the harness end. They have the wires "mesh" together, and fix them with a grubscrew, making the whole thing removable. Not sure when I'd want to do that, but I wanted to have an option.
Barrel connectors hooking up to the main lead
Before closing it up, I tested everything. The probe had to be in the carb, so the best I could figure was to check if the ambient reading was good, and then heat it up and make sure that was reflected.
That was good enough for the test.
All closed up
Turned out pretty nice methinks - and I didn't have to lose the probe. The joint between the extension wire and the probe wire is very close to the adel clamp holding the fiberglass sleeve to the airbox, on the right side - and remember, it's in hard plastic that the heatshrink that's under the fiberglass sleeve turned into - so I'm not concerned about the joint failing there.
It is far better to arrive late in this world than early in the next.
|On:||Apr 30, 2020|
|In:||[Chickenhouse Charger] Electrical Rebuild|
|Tags:||6781G, MA5 Charger, electrical, alternator, starter, contactors, fwf|
Fat wires firewall forward. Battery leads, shunts, alternator, contactors, and the like.
I was doing them along with the fuel hoses mostly, in between waiting for shipments to arrive.
They were to take place of the old voltage regulator, onto the same mounting pads. I needed a backplate...
...and a very basic one at that. Basically, a "hole pattern adapter".
I also needed to plug the nearby hole left by the removed mechanical tach cable. That one needed a large plug, and, as before, I decided to use a pipe plug with straight threads. It's nice, light, and aluminum.
Tach cable hole plug
There, the black one. Above the grommet with a couple wires.
That washer took a couple tries to make BTW. First one was functional, but too ugly.
There were some more holes left after removing some old things. They were for #6 or #8 screws; and I could barely access the other side (fuel tank that's right behind the firewall makes it super hard).
Instead of attempting to maneuver nuts back there, I wanted to try something along a rivnut.. but a bit better. Steel.
Spruce sells these steel "nutserts", which seemed to fit the bill. Got a set, with install tooling.
A nutsert with an installation nut
I had to enlarge the holes on the firewall a bit to fit even the smallest nutserts; and used #4 screws to "plug" them.
Nutserts with screws
The contactors got mounted and torque sealed (of course I forgot to add a diode jumper to the starter contactor, will have to add later). Next, came figuring out the alternator wire and battery contactor -> shunt jumper (main buss feeder from the battery basically).
Initially, I thought I could route the alternator wire on the right side of the motor; keeping the starter on the left (remember, the firewall layout on this plane is reversed of sorts - with battery and oil cooler having their locations swapped and producing all sorts of grief due to that).
While not bad, holding the alternator wire on the firewall would've required more holes, and it'd go straight down, at 90 degrees to the main harness on the firewall (going left to right), kinda "crossing" it under. So I gave that idea up pretty quick, instead deciding to run it along that main harness - neatness and 1 less hole/clamp instead of a shorter by about a foot run.
Initial alternator and starter hookups
Alternator wire is the white one going into the ANL current limiter, and starter wire is the red one joining it after coming off of the starter contactor (black) there.
And then, I needed the battery -> starter jumper. That was the spot to hook up the buss feeder too, with other end on the shunt.
I made this fancy thing...
Contactor jumper and buss feeder
... and of course, a mandatory pile of shame...
The Pile of Shame
Clocking of terminals is critical on these fat wires. If you're doing two wires, relative position of them in the terminal is critical too. You lose concentration for one moment and clock them wrong; and you're redoing the lead.
The first one I didn't like the crimps on.
The second one I messed up the clocking on.
The third one (bottom one) is the good one.
Mr. Max made a comment that it's the music that's distracting me (he was busy building his "water system" out of the old fuel system hoses and fittings I took out at the time).
The initial setup
I did not like this. See how tight that Master <-> Starter contactor jumper is? It was very tight. The rigid alternator wire hooked into the ring on the master contactor side was too tight too (that adel clamp that I needed to hold stuff under the starter contactor had to be there - there will be other wires bundled there later). It was so tight that it bent the ring when I attempted to set it up.
No, that wasn't good at all.... hmmm..
Aha! I did a similar trick with the gascolator! Reverse the flow.
Flow reversed starter contactor
Much better! All I did was swapped the jumper from the Master contactor, and the starter lead on the starter contactor; and, while that made the fat red wire jumper much longer, it made the whole setup much, much cleaner. It made the buss feed wire a bit less pretty, arguably, with that weird "dip", but there's no avoiding it. I'll live with that.
The pile of shame grew.
Growing Pile of Shame
By the way, here's how a crimped end looks up close.
Even with heatshrink, I had these thoughts of water weeping in between the strands on the ring end, and staying there, and slowly eating up the wire. Probably a non-issue; but it didn't sit well with me. So I used that as an excuse to whip out my small soldering torch, and add "solder caps".
Much better and neater, don't you think? Solder here acts as a filler between the strands and to "tin" the bare copper wire of the welding cable I'm using for those fat red wires. Much; much cleaner and prettier this way.
This plane didn't have any. The battery was grounded to the motor (good - the biggest current demand is from the starter). The motor wasn't grounded to anything else at all, making the current flow thru probably the control cables and fuel hoses to the rest of the plane. Not good.
So, one was needed. That took more thinking and fiddling. I had a plan initially to ground the battery to the motor and the motor mount (Grummans do something similar - battery to firewall; and motor mount to motor) - but I wasn't sure about how good a connection there is between the motor mount and the firewall. So I decided to jump the motor to the firewall - a very common setup.
Simple braid will suffice.
Braid - one end
I used a super flexible Raychem SFTW tubing and heatshrunk it. Doesn't affect the flexibility, but protects the strands a bit.
Battery leads were easy to make. Had to fiddle a bit with grommets (holes in the box are much larger than wires, and I had to use a "hose section around a wire in the grommet" trick to keep the wire tight and nice.
The battery box was another matter though.
Glenn had replaced the original large ("standard") battery with a small Odyssey - and took out the space with a bunch of chunks of random foam...
The box had "dimples" for the battery to stand on, lifted off the bottom (the bottom was made into a funnel of sorts that ended in a drain - setup for an old school battery that could leak acid). Those dimples were sized for a full size battery, so Odyssey couldn't stand on them.
So, .. ahem.. the solution was?
Yyyyeah. No. Come on now.
And that chunk of whatever it was? Belongs here:
Now, the checks...
I hooked up the leads, routed them out of the box, and closed it up, only to realize that the battery was loose in the "up and down" direction. Not good at all, but the solution was simple.
I mocked up something quick out of some foam I had around, and closed the lid. Much nicer! No more bouncing. See, I didn't want the battery to hit the top and be bouncing if the airplane all of a sudden went to <0G (in turbulence, trivially possible - and it is aerobatic after all!)
Ordered some foam from McMaster, and padded the top of the box, and the battery sides.
Battery sides padded
Box top padded
Now, the battery was sitting solid. No more bouncing.
And with that, I moved on. The main layout was done - the rest of tightening, tying, and strapping has to be done when all the wires are in, close to the end of this rebuild.
Never ask a man if he is a fighter pilot. If he is, he'll let you know. If he isn't, don't embarrass him.
|On:||Apr 29, 2020|
|In:||[Chickenhouse Charger] Electrical Rebuild|
|Tags:||6781G, MA5 Charger, fuel system, fwf|
After having mounted my transducers, it was time to hook'em up.
I also needed a new engine pump -> carb hose, because the old one was too long.
The old pump -> carb hose
And since I was dealing with hoses, I figured I'd clean up this monstrosity of the electric pump -> engine pump hose.
There are a few options of course. Pre-fabbed hoses - you gotta measure carefully and they'll be made to the exact sizes you want. You can buy fittings and make your own. You can go with different styles - integrated silicone firesleeve or "crimp on", rubber or teflon, yada yada.
I decided to go with pre-fabbed. I did the math a number of times; and a pre-fabbed hose was cheaper than making my own.
TS Flightlines has a great reputation on the Biplane Forum, and are pretty much the go to guys.
So, time to measure!
I had to re-clock the fittings on the engine fuel pump, so I loosened the jam nuts...
What? .... Jam nuts backed off, and fittings won't turn easily?! They should just unscrew!
Fittings moved with a wrench - and I discovered .. my favorite, The White Schmoo of Death. The teflon dope.
For some inexplicable reason, whomever undid the plumbing last time, re-plumbed it with the sealant everywhere. Okay, NPT fittings need sealant (though, a choice of a crumbly drying type stuff is questionable - because when it's left in a female fitting, getting it out without it getting it's crumbs into the system is almost impossible). But o-ring boss? Where there's a straight thread fitting with a nut and an o-ring? No sir! The o-ring seals it just fine! Siiigh.
Here it is. That lovely sealant.
Sealant where it shouldn't be
I already had a ton of questionable fun when trying to get it out of the TBI. Frankly, I was glad I tossed the TBI altogether, hoping that that was the only place I'd find that sealant... Only to.. Oh well.
I had to take the pump out. No way I could clean out that damn stuff out of the hole w/o getting it all inside.
Slowly and steadily, with the hole pointed down, I scraped and scraped and scraped it with my dental pick, followed with a brush wetted in Goof Off that kinda softens it. It was.. hours. For two holes.
Phew. The pump went back on, and finally, I could clock the fittings how I wanted them.
I used a few old hoses I had lying around, and chunks of safety wire to mock up my new ones; measured the mockups, and made a bunch of pictures like this:
A drawing of a hose
Next morning, I called TS.
Tom, the owner, is the guy who answers the phone. A quick email with pictures, a quick conversation about various hose ends (we ended up doing a few -3's instead of -2's as I had before), etc etc - and the order was in.
And, a few days later, a box showed up at my door!
Next time at the hangar, I tried them on. The hoses were perfect! But, something I haven't considered before...
Tee to engine pump
There's a tee. Right side is connected to the gascolator. Left side - to the electrical pump. Both horizontal sides of the tee are connected with aluminum tubing. Notice the adel on the right holding onto the flare nut. The adel on the left, barely visible, is holding onto the tube - motor mount geometry isn't allowing it to grab onto the nut.
And the whole thing is aluminum, and the hose is creating a ton of leverage onto that tee.
It's not the problem with my hose. I should've realized this before I even ventured there. The old hose had the same problem, of course.
Aluminum has fatigue life. The motor shakes. The whole thing shakes, connected by the hose. How that tee didn't crack is... anyone's guess. On top of that, how the tube didn't crack is even more miraculous.
I showed it to Deene Ogden - one of our Chapter's very experienced guys. He agreed with my hunch. His suggested fix was to attempt to tie that hose end somehow into the firewall, so that it doesn't create that much leverage.
Well, easier said than done. Firewall on this thing is .035 - and not rigid at all.
I showed it to Tom (the TS Flightlines guy). He thought that even the fact that there's aluminum tubing between firewall and engine mount is a bad thing - though there the relative motion is small, it still might crack a tube or a flare.
Top that with my general dislike towards the non-firesleeved sections of aluminum tubing firewall forward (I admit, I actually attempted to figure out a nice way to sleeve them), and incorrectly plumbed fuel transducer (it was on the "suction" side - before all the pumps - and it is a restriction - and a restriction on a sucking side is a potential for vapor lock) - and I, in my usual manner, decided to, of course, rebuild the whole thing.
Well, that was easy - except for my favorite white crap everywhere. All the fittings were aluminum, and most of the fittings weren't AN.
Now, similar to a conversation of which sealant to use on NPT threads (you can start a fight amongst best friends by bringing it up!), there's a massive holy war on aluminum vs. steel FWF. I am in the steel camp.
And there's another, smaller holy war, about using "racing" fittings. Folks that do say "if it's good for NASCAR, it's good enough for us". I don't know. I don't buy that. First of, those fittings are of extremely varying quality (AN level all the way down to cheap Chinesium). Second, race cars are rebuilt all the time - and in an airplane, I bet some of those are 40 years old. Or 20. You get the idea.
So I am firmly in the "AN, steel" camp. Even though they are $20 a pop.
Transducer was the hardest to clean out, because I needed to make sure none of that white crud went into it. My friend and hangar neighbor Dick G. suggested running a tap with flutes filled with grease to pick up the crud... hmm... I didn't have the right size tap, and that sounded a bit too extreme.. but the idea..
The Schmoo Cleaner
I filed a few grooves into one of those fittings I took out.
It worked! See it picked up some grey stuff? Of course, I used it for final scrubbing after fishing out most of the crud with my dental pick.
So. Much. Of. It. On the gascolator, I didn't care about it falling inside - I could flush it.
Cleaning the gascolator
Absolutely thankless work.
So since we're redoing the whole thing; first thing I was gonna do is dump the parallel plumbing of the pumps. I guess, Remo's idea was that in case the electric pump fails in a mode where it blocks the flow of fuel thru it, the gas will still be able to go thru the "alternative" branch and still reach the mechanical pump.
Not sure about that. I am very used to Grummans, which are plumbed in series (electrical -> engine pump -> carb), and I have not heard of a single failure there. I have heard of this type failure on an RV, which used a solid state Facet pump that Facet tells you not to use on airplanes.
Okay, actually, this whole Facet pump situation is interesting, apparently. Bendix used to make these electrical pumps, but then Facet bought that part of their business. Nowadays, they explicitly tell you not to use their pumps on airplanes!
But, Dave Fletcher of Fletchair fame buys batches of particular Facet models, and runs tests on them. He sells off the ones that don't pass (apparently, flow rates vary wildly), and tags the ones that pass. He then sells them to Grumman folk.
Hey, good enough for Grumman - good enough for me! I can have my much simpler series system (less hoses, less connections, less fittings, less space), and trust the pump. And they're cheap! (Well, relatively speaking).
So, I got a pump from Fletch and bolted it on.
Transducer was the next big ticket item. It had to go between the engine driven pump, and the carb - the "last step" in the chain.
I needed something to mock things up. I needed hose ends.
... now, what's with those racing hose ends?
I called Mario - a great guy who fixes my cars when I don't want to :). His thing is drag racing.
He knew a place.
Couple hours later, and with a lighter wallet, I had a bag of fittings that were close enough in size, and a chunk of hose to cut up.
One of the first x-cer mockups
This was the first. Followed what Fletcher did on the Cheetah back when we installed the CGR-30, but on the Cheetah the hose went back towards the firewall and did a nice 180 u-turn, and came back to the carb. Here, I had to go "sideways" to do this "hanging" style if I wanted it. It produced a weird low spot in the loop that I didn't like.
Could I maybe still have the x-cer on the firewall, and reuse some of the holes?
Much better I thought. I ran those by Tom of TS Flightlines. He thought the second setup was better, and recommended using one of his fancy "u-turn" fittings to save on the hose length. He gave me dimensions. I realized that I suck at mocking things up, and asked him if he would be able to send me the fitting (I would gladly pay for it). He said, of course. He could send me whatever fittings I wanted, and just figure the cost in the end. I'd make mockups and send them to him. Heck, he'd send me the hose too - and I'd cut it to size, and make the hoses - then send them back to him, and he'll crimp and firesleeve them.
And he was a treasure trove of information. Basically, hand-held me all the way. And I took it, and am very grateful. This was my first plumbing job - so I needed the help.
One big fear I had was running bent fittings before and after the transducer, because they can induce turbulence in the flow. Tom said that they ran them in whichever configuration, and they work fine with the setup he was suggesting. That was a great relief too.
So, I made my "shopping" list, and he put the fittings in the mail.
I got them, and ran over to the nearby auto parts place to get some hose for the mockup (I decided not to fiddle with cutting braided teflon hose). The guy took me back, we found the right I.D. stuff. I asked for ten feet. "This is fuel hose, it's expensive", said the guy. I asked how much. "Two-something a foot", was the response.
I almost cracked up. I then told him that the fitting I brought in to check, that one fitting, was probably twice as much as 10 feet of that hose. We then had a very nice conversation about everything airplanes :).
My final mockup, with fittings from Tom, looked like this:
The Final Mockup
The gascolator hookup looks funny, doesn't it? It's "reversed" - because otherwise, I had no room for hoses at all.
And then, the mock hoses were sent back to Tom for final fabrication.
Somewhere in between all the mocking up and messing around, I had to figure out what to do with the gascolator. See, it had no mount. None.
It was basically "hanging" on the fittings coming into each side, and rigid aluminum tubing. Yeah. Ugh. But that's besides the point - with flexible hoses, it'll be bouncing in that "ring holder" that isn't holding it at all, apparently.
I'll admit, buying a new gascolator with mounting options crossed my mind. But then.. I thought, maybe some kind of latch..
Something that will hook to the bottom of the ring on the gascolator, and the top of that "bracket" and pull it up.
I search McMaster and other catalogues and couldn't find anything... An idea crossed my mind.. maybe..
That's a worm clamp I cut up, straightened, and bent a couple of hook ends in.
The felt prevents the worm mechanism housing from scratching the gascolator, and the heatshrink makes the hooks non-marring.
It worked! I made two more - planning to have them at 120 degrees to each other around the gascolator.
The diameter of the gascolator's top was a smidge undersized for the ring it was in - Glenn had some kind of a sticky foam in there. I replaced it with proper, aircraft grade felt :).
And then, the drain.
The quickdrain on that bowl was leaking. I found that a looong time ago, and attempted to replace it. Obviously, I had to take the old one out....
... only to discover that the threads on the bowl were all chewed up.
No problem, thought I, and ordered a new bowl from Spruce.
The threads on that one.. looked even worse.
I contacted Spruce. No problem! They sent me a new one.....
... slightly better, but still chewed up!
Here's one of the pictures I sent to Spruce back then, just for illustration.
They said, they will talk to the manufacturer, and have them direct ship one to me. Then, they got silent for a long time, and then I somehow ended up with two? I think? All with bad threads.
All and all, I ended up with five bowls. That happened almost a year ago, and frankly, I don't exactly remember how exactly the fifth happend, but I ended up with five. And Spruce didn't want them back. And they refunded me the money.
But that was then. This was now. Now, I had a tap just the right size, and was set up in the hangar.
This is a 1/8" NPT thread - so tapping it just a hair further would re-cut the bad parts and remove a bit more material, fixing the threads.
So I took one of the bowls, re-tapped the hole, and started putting in the quickdrain. Ha! Not so easy. There's nothing on the bowl to grab onto, and I had to tighten the quick drain pretty tight (1 1/2 to 2 turns past hand tight).
I kinda tried to use my vise to help me - holding onto the round thing isn't easy but I tried, using my hand too... Clack! The wrench slipped, and the bowl went bouncing on the floor.
A bit of damage surveillance showed a nick on the lip where it contacts the rubber seal on the gascolator top, and my better part decided that I need to be punished and re-do it. Heck, I had FIVE bowls!
So, I tapped the second one. The quick drain went in. It was annoying, but I managed. 1 1/2 turns.
Hmm.. Why does it look so weird... and not work? Hmm.... Did the torque and compressing the hollow quickdrain with "wedge" action of NPT thread mess it up? Evidently.
But I turned it 1 1/2 turns!!
Idiot me, of course. The 1 1/2 turns is probably too much to begin with (though Vans recommends it in their manual). And besides, they talk about AN plumbing fittings. Not special fittings like this quick drain.
I googled "Curtiss Quick Drain Torque"... Sure enough. Tiny. 40 inch pounds if I remember correctly. Way to be an idiot, dude.
But I have three more bowls to mess up!
Okay, bowl number three.... tap... attempt to hold... slip.. fall... DING! Damn.
This is stupid, I know. I had to stop and figure out a fixture to hold the bowl while torquing the fitting after the first one slipped out of the vice (try holding a round object in a vice w/o a fixture?! Idiot). This was the ... "try to get away with it" mode.
Enough. See, I was in such a weird state of mind I didn't take any pictures?
And the solution was simple and right there, of course.
A 2x4 and a hole saw.
See? Not even pretty. Not even the right diameter. But it worked, of course.
BTW, see that quickdrain all bent out on the second from the left bowl (numbered 1)? That's the overtorqued one.
But hey! I got a pile of bowls to talk about on my bench now. "How not to be an idiot and what happens when you are".
The Pile of Shame
Well, the rest of this was fairly uneventful.
The hoses showed up, and I already had the fittings arrived earlier from Spruce.
I messed with the transducer a ton. That was another hard part to hold - and I'll admit to bending it's outside box (that's non-sequitir but annoying). This transducer is weird - it has it's body and it's brains all in a very thin sheet stainless "box", making it virtually impossible to hold onto and screw the fitting in. But the bend in that body doesn't affect anything - it's like a "cover".
I'll admit to thinking I overtorqued the transducer fittings, too - and removing them to check for cracks (only to find that no, I actually didn't overtorque them - the manufacturer's spec was higher).
But in the end, it all worked out for the initial hookup. I'll have to tighten everything and clean up the angles on the fittings a bit when getting closer to the engine start; but the initial fit up worked great. Tom did a great job!
Oil perssure transducer hose
Fly with the eagles, or scratch with the chickens.
|On:||Feb 21, 2020|
|In:||[Chickenhouse Charger] Electrical Rebuild|
|Tags:||6781G, MA5 Charger, carb, throttle, mixture, cables, controls, engine, fwf|
Quite a while back I have measured the control cables and ordered them.
They took a long time to show up, and then I was working on this amongst other things. Just finished now :).
So, right to it, shall we?
First things first was to get thru the firewall. I had these fancy penetration trims for cables called 'CableSafe' from Spruce
Throttle cable with it
Hmm... problem one. Washers clearly won't fit given the old holes in the firewall (Remo had grommets there, but I wanted something a bit more substantial).
No worries - we'll make me a special washer!
Here's how this looks from the "airplane" side (ie, opposite the motor side of the firewall).
Cabin side of the firewall
And then, came fiddling. Most of it was done before ordering the cables, but I still wanted to check and re-check everything.
Hooked the clevis ends to the control cables, and the cables to the carb to verify everything.
When measuring, I figured I'd need a rod end for the mixture arm due to misalignment of the cable rod and the control arm. And the damn bushing, too - because the hole in the carb is 1/4", and the bolt is #10. I got some bushing stock from McMaster, but it was too long - had to shorten it with some creative sanding.
Mixture rod end hardware stack
Fun hardware stack, isn't it?
Bolt -> Large Washer -> Rod End -> Shim -> Bushing (inside control arm) -> Washer -> Shear Nut + Pin
Throttle's clevis looks way more dull.
Then, the airbox went on and I noticed something.
Airbox - do you see it?
See how it's tilted to the right (clockwise)?
I spent quite a bit of time there trying to figure out what's wrong. I put the cowling back on!!
I kept thinking and thinking. It's motor -> oil sump -> carb -> airbox -> filter. That's how everything's bolted together. The first three are not "home buit", so I didn't think they were off. So it must've been the airbox and / or the filter mount.
Upon closer examination, I realized that the airbox was welded together way off, and is crooked itself. And the filter is mounted even more crooked in the same clockwise direction.
To confirm, searched all the pics I could find online of the plane prior to my having it (and disassembling the front).
It was hard to tell, but.. I think it was like this from the very beginning.
Meanwhile, we had a night of a kind of weather when it rains without actually raining - you know, as if you are in a cloud with large droplets. Everything in the hangar got soaked, obviously. Including my clevis ends.
Rust on a new rod end?!
Aren't they supposed to be cad plated? Oh; and that was the first time I really noticed how cad plating sacrifices itself to prevent rust on steel - a lot of my hardware was covered in little white stains, which were cadmium having corroded and saved steel.
At any rate, I double checked the order paperwork. "Cad plated". Hmmmm. They definitely were not.
Called Spruce. She checked and doublechecked - and confirmed that indeed, their vendor stopped doing cad plated clevis forks specifically in that dimension - #10 end, #10 rod. They refunded my money, and let me keep the forks.
Called SkyGeek, asking about the clevis forks they sell. The lady goes, "yep, plated". I ask her to triple-confirm.
She takes about 10 minutes, and gets back to me - nope, not plated. She's sorry. No longer made.
John F., a local IA, confirmed. Only plain steel now, seems that cad plated forks are unobtanium. Crap! Oh well, I guess, paying attention and making sure to put oil or something similar on them from time to time is in my future.
Glenn had a carb temp probe in the Rotec TBI I am replacing, and I decided to try to keep it. Wire was cut way too short for how everything's on the carb (vs. the TBI), so I spent a bit of time pondering if:
Pouring thru (mostly AeroLectric Bob Nuckoll's) notes on thermocouples, realized that some are magnetic. Let's see.. score! Magnetic indeed.
Got some multi-strand thermocouple wire of the same kind (red/yellow - I forget which metals those are :) ), and did some "back-bench" testing.
They seemed to have been indeed matching, so I decided to attempt to keep the probe.
But, problem. It'd interfere with the airbox'es mounting bracket (and for some reason, I didn't take a picture of that :( ).
So first, let's cut a slot that will let that bracket clear the wire.
A bit of drilling, a bit of hacksawing, and a bit of filing.
Nope, still not good. The carb temp probe there is the little thing that looks like a bolt with a wire sticking out of it - and it's hex was interfering a bit. But we cleared the wire now.
So, a touch more cutting was in order.
A touch more cutting
... and it fit.
Since I was messing with the airbox, needed to finish one last thing on it.
Carb heat bowden bracket
That bracket holds the carb heat bowden cable. Notice something weird? Yep, castellated shear nuts and pins. And, no, they weren't tight either, so the whole bracket business was wobbling around.
I spent quite some time pondering why would it be set up like that. Castellated, pin, not tight, wobble - all of that adds up to "he wanted that bracket to move around". It adds up really well too! The setup makes total sense if he wanted to have this arm move around - but there is absolutely no reason for it to do that! In fact, it's not good at all - steel bracket with steel bolts moving around holes drilled thru aluminum airbox - that would elongate and tear up those holes!
I decided that no. It should not move around, in fact. So,
And then, the final hookups of everything after a long break. Routed the cables, and hooked them up with adel clamps where necessary (doing that conforms them to their final shape, which causes some changes in positions of the cable and controls and the range of motion).
Then, fine-tuned positioning of the controls, and tightened the pivot bolt on the bellcranks. Clevis pins might still need to come out - and that's why cotter pins aren't bent yet - just in case I'll need to unhook them again.
Bellcranks all done
Then, the penetrations.
Who said caulk guns have no place in aviation?
Sealed the big gaps
I wanted to stuff all the gaps with as much of this stuff as I could. I'll probably come back later with much more of the FireBarrier to put a good layer of it around this and other firewall penetrations.
And then, and then... Oh yeah! I could torque the throttle arm nut, and pin that in place!
Throttle arm nut pinned
And finally, add more light machine oil to the carb bowl, so that all the rubber stuff won't dry out - all that moving of throttle back and forth pumped most of it out by now via the accelerator pump, I bet.
The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work.
...messing around trying things
|On:||Sep 08, 2019|
|In:||[Chickenhouse Charger] Electrical Rebuild|
|Tags:||6781G, MA5 Charger, electrical, fwf, panel|
I was on the fence about making this entry as multiple separate ones versus just one giant one... After all, it covers quite a few, mostly unrelated, things that I did in the last few days, and it would've made sense to keep them separate.
However; finally decided to make just one big article with all of them. None of them are finished; but somewhat a decent chunk of work is - I think I have mostly figured out where everything will go and how it will all come together.
I guess, what I'm trying to say is, if you clicked on the "Panel Layout" entry in the Log, and are trying to figure out why are you seeing notes on Firewall Forward, just keep scrolling :).
I have updated the electrical diagram, version 2 is here.
I started trying things around firewall forward while figuring out routing and lengths for carb control cables, and continued afterwards.
It became obvious fairly quickly that I won't be able to use the nice B&C Starter Contactor because of it's mounting holes not being the same as a very common SS581 Starter Solenoid that was set up by Remo. Also, the way terminals were set up on the B&C Starter Contactor would have made them closer to the carb control cables. And, I didn't want to drill more holes in the firewall.
So I decided to go with SS581-style and ordered one from Vans. While waiting for it, I used the old one just to mock things up.
And because it doesn't have the spike catcher diode, I had to get me a couple IN5400s, and soldered an extension lead to one of them.
The other leg will get a crimp ring terminal. I had to do that 'cause the diode leads themselves weren't long enough.
Those are the thickest wires, and routing them is more complicated than the other ones. In addition, the battery + -> master contactor wire is the only wire that can't be turned off, and therefore needs to be very well thought out and as short as possible.
Here's something else, too. The Charger was set up to ground the battery to the motor. So far, so good - starter is by far the largest consumer in the electrical system. However, nothing was done to ground the motor to the rest of the airplane!
So the rest of the system was probably grounded via whatever metal to metal connections there were on the motor. Control cables and braided fuel and oil hoses? ;) Airbox bowden "carb heat" cable... I can't think of much more else.
Initially, I was planning to run a ground strap braid from the battery negative to one of the bolts holding the battery box to the firewall, but with fuel system components and control cables around, just couldn't figure out a good way to run it and support it. I had to end up settling for running it to the engine mount instead.
So the bottom line is, the negative 4GA cable is gonna go to the motor, and parallel to it a braid will go to the motor mount. I also figured out a clamp arrangement with some standoffs that will keep the wires neat and organized.
Beefy Wires - side view
Beefy Wires - top view
Negative leads and grounding
Oh hey, and I practiced my lacing on those ignition wires. One of my plans is to excise all the zipties I can get to, and replace them with lacing cord ;).
ANLs and the Ammeter Shunt will go to where no man had go... 'cuse me, to where the old Voltage Regulator was. Like this:
ANLs and Shunt placement
I will need to make a backplate for them to re-use the old voltage regulator mounts, and not have to drill new holes in the firewall. I used my Solidworks templating trick, and made me a nice template...
... and a mockup (with material, as usual, courtesy of USPS).
The shunt is offset "down" due to the top hole in the backplate (which will have one of three holddown screws to hook up to the old voltage regulator mounts), and I couldn't use buss bar stock to connect the stud terminals on the shunt and ANL bases - if I were to do that, it would not let the ANL covers to come on. So, before doing anything drastic, I decided to check to see how it would look with the wire jumpers
One side done
Second ring on the jumper
On the firewall
I liked the way jumpers came out a lot, and will probably keep them that way. They do add just a bit of weight, but not enough for me to worry about.
The Voltage Regulator and the Main Terminal/Fuse Block were to go to the Side Conduit running alongside the fuselage.
Rough component locations
I had to relocate the bowdens lower to free up some space. The Oil Cooler box on this plane is all sorts of weird, including a flapper valve controlled by one of those bowdens that closes up the airflow to it (which is not enough to begin with; being a 1.5" SCAT takeoff off of back baffle.. but don't get me started on that). That cable turned out to be too short when relocated - but I lucked out - Glenn had a bowden going to the Rotec TBI that I removed for "prime" function, and that bowden was plenty long. I'll trim it to final length when I'm done in that side conduit.
The brake tube was running inside the conduit, and I will have to relocate it to run below the conduit and be supported by adel clamps. For now, I unhooked it and used it to somewhat mock up the new run. Tube and fittings ordered, and tubing bender already here!
I was gonna use a 20-position fuse block from B&C. Well, that didn't go too well.
Tight! I basically lose the whole top row of fuses with it. Not enough room....
After poking around the Internets for a bit, came to these nice fuse blocks made by Blue Sea Systems. Longest ones they have are 8 fuses, so I will need two (if I recall correctly, I have 13 fuses in the diagram currently, and I want some spare positions for later if I need them).
Blue Sea Systems fuse block
Much better! Plus, they use ring terminals rather than tabs - and while tabs are light and simple, I don't like them. Removing them is hard, and, when removed, the terminal loses a lot of it's grip. It's almost like an "assemble once" type deal.
With how the wire harness is gonna go in that conduit, and with bowdens being where they are, the best orientation for the Voltage Regulator would've been "upside down", with terminal strip up.
Upside Down orientation
Damn you, the yellow sticker on the regulator! DAMN you! (hint: read it :) ).
Mounting it sideways, I'd have a line of rivet heads under it - which I didn't want to deal with.
And mounting it down... Down was annoying because of the clamp for bowdens and bowdens close there. That would also complicate wiring.
Upside down would've been perfect... except for that yellow sticker :). So, I decided to Hail Mary and asked nice folks at B&C about what they thought.
See, the problem is I know why they wanted the terminal strip to be pointed down. It's so that water won't get into the box in case of condensation accumulating on it. But I thought, maybe I can seal it somehow?
The answer from TJ at B&C was a resounding no. Right side up, sideways - but not upside down.
So I mocked up the right side up mounting...
Right side up mockup
Yuck. Yeah; it'd work; but it's ugly as hell.
The only other option would be sideways, but on "standoffs" of sorts to clear the rivet heads. I mentioned that to TJ, and he said that that could work, but I should check if I can access the voltage adjustment screw on the top of the box.
Damn it! I forgot about it. On the top of the box there's a plug over a hole that opens up access to a tiny screw to adjust buss voltage - basically, to fine tune how much volts the battery sees. Not something you do often, but you want to be able to do it.
But then, TJ mentioned that he saw the holes in the firewall and that might be the saving grace.
I tried it out again in vertical, now with mocked up standoffs
With just enough aggravation due to bad access (mandatory in aviation pretty much), you can undo the bolt covering the hole in the firewall (this hole was left over from the brake line relocation), pop the plug on the voltage regulator, and just have enough access to the adjustment screw.
Adjustment screw - firewall side
Adjustment screw - conduit side
We got ourselves a winner, I think!
Hobbs was on the front panel, probably because of space issues on the rear panel.
"Aux Generator", eh? :) (read what the gauge says).
Well, I had this unsightly hole left over after removing the ignition key switch...
... and I thought, maybe I could put the Hobbs back there?
My initial tests with one of the 2 1/4 gauges I have removed seemed to have been okay: there was just enough room in there to get another 2 1/4 gauge in.
So, I got me a very nice panel punch that could make a nice, round, clean hole in place.
Instrument Hole Punch
Well, next was to remove the Hobbs from the front panel. That was an hour of contortionism. The Hobbs is held by an aluminum backplate and four nylock nuts, so I had to have a wrench over them the whole time. Oh, the screws are way too long BTW, so taking all them out took about five times more turns than it should've, while I was wondering if my wrists will take this much flexing, twisting, and bending any longer.
This is a pic from the fuel quantity gauge held in the same manner, but here he's using brass flat type nuts that you can hold with your fingers. On the Hobbs, it was nylocks.
Anyway, I got it out. And then, started setting up for punching that hole. Removed VSI to give me a bit more room to work with.
I tried to reconstruct exactly what happened next in my memory to write it down here, and could not. I was basically fiddling, checking clearances, making sure I'll be able to hook up the punch and center the hole, have enough room for the mounting ring in the back and clear everything I had to clear, when I discovered that...
The Hobbs was not a standard 2 1/4 inch gauge - it was a touch bigger. So the hole that I would've made would've been too small for it. And that if I punched the hole, I would've been just left with a bigger hole and nothing to put in there.
Damn, damn, damn! Damn you, assumptions that every "small" gauge on an airplane is 2 1/4!
And I had the expensive punch that I had no use for :(.
Oh well. Thanks God I actually did not do it - only to have a larger hole to plug up. I guess, that Hobbs is (thru more contortionism) going back to the front panel.
As they say, Le Sigh.
Finally, something fun! I put in the switches to play with layout. Here's the first, and (after playing with moving things around and pretend turning them on and off), the best, layout.
On the right side, I might clump the switches together, or leave them as on the picture, to "match" the placards (those are left over placards from fuses that were there in the old electrical system). The little brass knob on the right is gonna be panel lighting control pot.
I am going to replace Pilot's whiskey compass with a vertical card one - yes, I am directionally retarded :) It's not that expensive a mod in the grand scheme of things; and is the only directional instrument available to pilot on this plane (no DG ;) ).
It's a bit taller than the whiskey compass, so I'm playing with different mount locations. I think this is what it will be; with shock isolating rubber pad under the mount where the gap is at the moment.
One of the evenings, I wanted to make sure the Fuel Gauge was still okay (I had a suspicion that it wasn't - turned out to be false).
But first, I wanted to clean up the wiring on the tank sender.
The terminals on it are "automotive" style, without insulation support.
There. No zipties, good terminals, and marked :)
"Caution wake turbulence you're following a heavy 12 o'clock, three ... no, let's make it five miles."
|On:||Sep 01, 2019|
|In:||[Chickenhouse Charger] Electrical Rebuild|
|Tags:||6781G, MA5 Charger, carb, throttle, mixture, cables, controls, engine, fwf|
Even before Oshkosh, I have decided to replace the Rotec TBI the Charger had when I got it with a good old MA4-SPA carb. In short, I do not trust the damn thing - especially with it being the sole component providing two out of three vertices of the proverbial fire triangle to the motor. That reminds me, I need to summarize my thoughts on Rotec...
Regardless, one of the things I got at Oshkosh was a rebuilt MA4-SPA from Spruce, and it was sitting in the hangar waiting it's turn. I knew I would need to order new control cables for it, so I decided to get that going, after all the alternator business was finished, because getting those cables will take me a bit.
Here's a fun aside. I knew this motor had a MA4 carb and Glenn "upgraded" it to the Rotec TBI. What I didn't know was precisely what kind of MA4-SPA it had (and there are quite a few models of that carb).
No problem. At Oshkosh, I went to nice folks from Tempest (which now owns MA Carbs) and had a very nice conversation with them. I asked if I should buy the carb from them, and they recommended Spruce instead, because it would be cheaper that way. And, they mentioned the $600 core charge (I'll spell this out - you must provide a good "core" (old carburetor) or get charged extra six hundred bucks). Ouch.
Ha! thought I. I am at Oshkosh! What could be easier than getting an old carburetor, especially since it's one of the most widespread models? No problem at all!
Laughing, I ran that by guys from Tempest. They laughed with me, and actually were very very very helpful, telling me what to look for when picking up an old carb.
No cracks in the body. Control arms should be present. Threads nice and not torn up. Venturi present. Etc etc etc.
Well, to the FlyMart we went, and sure enough, on a bench there laid a number of MA4-SPAs present, ranging from $250 to $450. Of course, I picked up the $250 one (it was yellowtagged by the way! In 1995, if I recall), dragged it over to Spruce, ordered a new carb, and handed them the old one I just picked up. So, $350 saved in about half a mile of walking. Not bad!
Here it is, in all it's glory, hooked up to my motor. You guys should admire my "economizer design" gasket. Hmm... I need to patent that and start selling them for $100/pop. Your fuel costs will go to 0! Now, you might not be going too far... but.. Fuel costs! Zero! With all the benefits, not going anywhere is such an insig.... Ahem.
Well, okay. The carb was on, and cables came next.
The Rotec had it's control cables for mixture and throttle done completely differently than the carb. Glenn reused Throttle cable for Mixture on the TBI - it worked out well. He added a new cable, routed completely differently, for the TBI's Throttle.
Since this motor was originally carbureted, all I had to do is reverse engineer a bit the way Remo did the hookups.
Well, Throttle on the carb side wasn't that bad.
With a Rod End Bearing
With a Clevis
It actually worked out a bit better with a Clevis, having the cable end centered nicely on the throttle arm. So I decided to do the clevis.
Next was confirming the "throw" - making sure that the throttle control range of motion, whatever it is, is sufficient (in fact, it must have some extra "padding" in it) to move the throttle stop to stop. Boy, was I in for a treat.
This Charger has reversing throttle quadrants, meaning that when the throttle goes forward, the actual control is pulled backward. Since forward on the control must translate into forward on the carburetor, the Charger has bellcranks to reverse the motion once again. These bellcranks are also a nice spot to tune out the range of motion.
See, the relative distance of the top and bottom holes on the bellcrank to it's pivot point "convert" whatever range of motion is on the control (throttle quadrant) side to an appropriate range of motion on the carburetor side.
And Glenn changed them.
Not a surprise. The Rotec TBI had it's controls set up very differently as compared to a carb. Notice how in the picture the color of those bellcranks is somewhat off from the rest of the fuselage? That was my first clue...
My second clue was finding one of those bellcrank plates (minus the bearing) in the box of parts that I got with the airplane.
My third clue was me not being able to get the full range on the throttle.
I am absolutely not set up to redo the bellcranks. Though they look simple, unless I want to make them from 3/16" steel, which would make them very, very, VERY heavy, I'd need a TIG welder. Or to MacGyver things with washers. And do quite a lot of trial and error.
I wanted to see if I could luck out.
Credit goes to Glenn here - he made his new bellcranks perfect for the TBI. The range of motion on them was just right... for the TBI. Because of that, they were asymmetrical - so I thought; maybe, just maybe, if I was to try them in different combinations, I would luck out...
And I did!
Now, these two paragraphs of text and one picture is me describing... about 3 or 4 hours of work - tweaking cables, turning bellcranks, checking, rinsing, and repeating. I think I did find a combination of orientation of these that gave me acceptable (but by no means perfect) ranges of motion. I think I lost about an inch on both of the controls, but that's not so bad, after all - you want extra room in your control's range of movement to make absolutely positive you can move the controlled thing stop to stop.
Okay, Mixture's next.
I hooked up the cable that Glenn used for throttle to the mixture control on the carb, to use as a "mock up", and kinda fished it thru.
Mixture cable hookup
I had to use a rod end here. The cable wouldn't line up with the control arm on the carb for me to be able to use a Clevis there.... See how angled and offset that hookup is? I think Remo had a solid bowden cable style control there...
Another problem with the Mixture control is that the carb's arm has a 1/4" hole.. the rod ends need a #10 screw; which means that the hole on the carb arm is too large. No biggie though, I'll add a bushing to reduce it.
Yet another problem is that the bolt's head is way too close to the carb bowl, and I had to have it reversed like that (bolt "upside down").
There's not a lot of room on the top either. Planning to fix this problem with using of 1/2 size shear nut, and figuring out the exact bolt length (I ordered every bolt between -4 and -10 sizes).
And now, the routing of those cables.
The throttle cable routing was a given. I did not like too tight a radius in one of it's "turns".
I wanted to try to optimize the routing..... ha. Good luck there buddy! The battery box gets in the way (the battery is in a completely wrong place on this plane... it's reversed with the oil cooler. Oil cooler should be on the left. Battery on the right. This makes controls routing a breeze. But no.....).
I wanted to make sure to keep the mixture cable to not be too close to the beefy 4 AWG cable that will go from the battery to the master relay.
I had to reverse engineer previous routing of the cable, and figure out the best points to hook it up to the firewall.
I wanted to have my ANL fuse bases close to the master and starter relay. Ha! No way, with the control cables the way they would have to be.
All this was an exercise in misery, and lots and lots of time. I wanted too much.
In the end, the routing of the throttle will stay the same; the cable will just be shortened to make one of the turn radiusii bigger. The mixture will go nearby, and curl around the battery box.
I will not be able to use any other arrangement of solenoids and will have to stick to the old one. What's worse, I will not be able to use the new solenoid I got from B&C - it's mounting holes are very different, and, frankly, it's not worth it to drill more holes in already a sieve-like firewall - I'll stick with the classic "style".
Approx. new routing
The mixture cable does look like it'll interfere with the solenoids, I know. In the final setup, it will be pulled away from the firewall and clamped to a couple of points I found.
More bad news? I long noticed a leak from the left brake bleeder valve; and decided to add a new valve to my next order from Spruce. I thought it was a basic valve problem. Well, went to look for it's dimensions, and found out the source of the damn leak, actually... Looks like someone tried to fix a leak there by making a bigger leak. The fun thing was, I didn't notice this before - the brake was too dirty...
Damn.. those cylinder housings are $300 each :(
But hey! I got good news too! I was checking to see if the ANL bases and the shunt will fit where the old voltage regulator was, and they fit perfectly, in just a perfect arrangement!
ANL bases and the ammeter shunt
I will reuse old voltage regulator rubber shock isolation mounts (I can't take them out; and they're sufficiently strong), and make a backplate to mount all this goodness to. Frankly, when I found this fit out, I liked it so much I bust out laughing.
And hey! My engine gauges showed up ;) Ain't they pretty?
Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man…. Landing is the first!
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This website only shows how I did things in my various projects. These pages are for information and personal entertainment only and not to be construed as the only way, or even the perceived correct way of doing things. You are responsible for your own safety and techniques.