Thursday, April 30, 2015

The little Cherokee lives!

Presented without comment...the video everyone wants to see.  After 10 years, will the little Cherokee come back to life?

The loud noise in the video is the start cart, the battery in the Cherokee is totally shot and we had to use the FBO start cart to try and get her going.

Here is a video from inside the plane.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Getting her ready to start

Lots of work since the last update, mostly just taking hoses off to inspect them for dirt dobber nests and making sure they are not blocked.   I have oiled and lubed every single cable of the plane at least twice, and so far everything has been loosening up and beginning to move freely.  

We have removed and cleaned all the plugs for the engine and replaced the washers on each plug.  They look much better than when we removed them.

This was a pretty interesting process as I'd never seen or done this before so I got to learn something new.

It was such a pretty day at the airport that she decided to take her top off and get a little sun!

This is the first time we've had the top cowling off, so we could really get in there and visually inspect the entire engine compartment.  We removed all the air vent hoses for inspection to make sure that insects had not built nests in them.  

Cody is confident we will be able to get her to start.  The last part we need to remove and inspect is the carburetor.  We want to clean that out since it's been sitting for so long. 

Fortunately this aircraft's system are relatively simple and removing the carburetor for service should be fairly simple.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The first "official" step towards restoration

The avionics tech was onsite today to certify the transponder in our C-46.  He was kind enough to also offer to certify the transponder in N2886T.  Again the little plane surprised everyone and her transponder got a clean bill of health.  

Like a proud father I smiled as I peeled off the sticker and pasted it into her logbook.  With the previous entry being the last annual in 2005.

With that action she is 'officially' on her way back to the skies!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

You spin me right round...

There are just some things you don't learn from books and today was a great example of that.  We've been messing around for 2 days on the fuel pump, trying to verify if the pump was actually pulling fuel from the tanks or if it was broken.

We were totally unable to get fuel from any of the tanks into the pump, we had assumed that the little pump wasn't strong enough to prime itself, was defective or was blocked somehow.

We had all but given up when one of the older guys walked over and said "what are you boys stuck on..."  We explained the situation and he said..."no problem go get in and get ready to turn the pump on and put it on the left tank.."  He gets under the wing and blows as hard as possible on the fuel relief vent tube and all of a sudden fuel comes pouring out of the fuel feeder tube and fills the sump.  He says "ok now turn the pump on..."  Fuel then comes shooting out the pump as fast as possible...

He stands up, dusts himself off and says "Ok there ya go all was just a little blocked and you needed to give it a little help..."

Spurred on by the success with the fuel pump we decided to press on and see if the plane would be able to spin the prop under it's own power.  After soaking all the cylinders and oiling and lubing everything in sight we decided to try and give it a 'spin'

So here we go!!!  For the first time in 10 years N2886T spins her prop under her own power.

Also I would like to say a special thank you to the FBO, who were kind enough to make room for us in hangar one so that we would not lose a days of work due to the pouring rain.  The irony is not lost on me that the little lost 'dog' of the airport is sitting in a hangar with million dollar aircraft.  She's movin' on up!

Friday, April 24, 2015

First look inside the engine

Well the first official "Fixin' Friday Night" is in the books.  Tonight we were able to take the main wheel pants off, which contained no less than 5 Black Widow spiders.  We removed all the plugs and drained all the tanks.

The left tank surprised everyone in attendance by containing NO WATER.  Lets put that into perspective.  In 10 years the left tank had never leaked...the fuel in it had been in it 10 years.

(Yes I know there is a water bubble in the cup there but it didn't come out of the tank)

We removed the cowlings to clean out all the debris that had built up over the last 10 years

Check out how clean the center fuel sump is...the fuel filter was clean as a whistle.

The right tank had a little water in it but that was quickly drained out.  I put 5 gallons of fresh fuel in each tank and did another sump and this time she was totally water free.

Now for the moment of truth...we were moved the plugs and much to everyone's surprise here is what they looked like.

As you can see they were pretty clean, considering they had been in the plane for 10 years.  This was definitely a good sign.

I know it's hard to see but you see the light in the bottom of the cylinder?  That's the light reflecting off the CHROME cylinders.  We found out that the cylinders are chromed and upon closer inspection we discovered they were totally clear of crud and rust.

That Mouse Milk really worked it's magic and for the first time in 10 years the prop was able to make one complete revolution.  We used more lube on the cylinders and let the prop turn through one more complete revolution.

We are having an issue with getting the fuel pump to pick up fuel, we're not sure if the fuel feeder lines are blocked or if the pump diaphragm is shot.  Once we can figure out how to get fuel flowing we may possibly try and start the engine.

It's supposed to rain this weekend so I'm not really sure if we will be able to work on it anymore.  But we shall see...

Work officially starts tonight

Her first tow in 10 years

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Papers Please! or How the heck do you buy an airplane?

Nothing mechanical going on today on the Cherokee, but I wanted to share with you guys the process of registering a plane in your name.  I'm assuming that many of you (like myself) have never seen this side of aircraft ownership.

At this point in my life I have bought two houses and a handful of cars, and every one of these purchases necessitated a figurative mountain of paperwork.  I am pretty sure my last two mortgage paperwork directly contributed to climate change with the amount of trees it took to print them out.

With that said, surly purchasing a machine that FLIES IN THE AIR would require an unfathomable amount of paperwork.....turns out the answer is "no not really"

In fact you only need 3 things.

1. A bill of sale (which you can print out from the FAA website)
2. An aircraft registration form (which you can acquire from your local FBO)
3. a five dollar bill

This is the bill of sale, which you can download as a pdf from the FAA website.

You fill out the top part in ink as the buyer, and the seller (registered owner) signs that bottom part.  He only signs it once and prints his name.

Technically you now own the airplane.

If you lived here in NC and you wanted to buy my 64 Buick we would have to go to a bank and find a notary and fill out a bill of sale and have it notarized.  Then you would need to goto the DMV and fill out all this paperwork and have a title issued in your name.   But here I was able to buy an airplane over some beers and wings after work...that just blows my mind.

Once you get your bill of sale filled out and signed you will need to visit your local FBO and pick up a registration form.  This form is a duplicate form with a white and pink carbon copy.

All of the instructions for filling out and sending in the form are on the first page.

This is the white copy (trust me it's white) this is the form you fill out and eventually will send into the FAA.

This is the pink carbon copy.  You will keep this copy and put it in your airplane.  This immediately functions as a temp 90 day registration for your airplane.  If your plane was airworthy you would then be good to go flying.

From here you would need to send in the bill of sale, the white copy of the registration form and a $5 dollar bill to the address on the instructions (on the reg form)

The FAA will then record your registration and the N number will then be officially registered to you.  In the event the FAA is unable to issue you a registration within 90 days, they will issue you another temp registration.

Waking up the engine

Today we are going to start the process of waking up the engine.  All three A&P mechanics on the field have looked over the plan and have all agreed it's the best course of action to try and protect the engine during this process.

Today we are going to remove all the plugs and soak all the cylinders with a product called Mouse Milk.  The plan is to let this soak for at least 3 days to fully penetrate the cylinder walls.   

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Radio Test...

So with a helper I was able to borrow a handheld radio today to test out the radios.  Again this plane surprises me as the radios were able to transmit and receive on both COM1 and COM2.

I'm feeling confident that my gamble of paying extra for the radios worked out in my favor.

I'm not sure if the GPS is working boots up just fine but it cannot pick up a signal.  More testing is required.

Don't call it an air it PIPER AIR!

So for all the people who didn't believe that air conditioners existed in GA planes before a Cirrus, I present to you straight from 1972 Piper Air!

Testing out the radio!

Ok here we go first test of the radio and seeing if she will receive on the AWOS.

I bought a plane today...or how it pays to always ask about the abandoned plane

This is a repost of my original reddit thread which is here  many of the users suggested that I setup a blog to chronicle what will surely be a long process to get this bird back in the air.

Here is the original post...

Most airports have them and we've all seen one in our travels. We've all seen that one plane at the airport that's not been touched in years..the owner never comes around and most of the line guys don't even remember the last time it was touched.
I've had my eye on "that" plane for years, it sat across the lot from our hangar so I would see it several times a week, just sitting there over in the corner...forgotten.
A few weeks ago someone posted a thread on a little abandoned 150 at their local airport and inspired by all the people telling the OP to "just call the guy" I started at looking at the possibility of looking this owner up and calling him. 
After a couple of tries and wrong phone numbers I was able to reach out to the owner. The plane had been sitting for exactly 10 years (almost to the day) and in 2005 the owner was hit hard by the recession and then in 2007 he was diagnosed with cancer. After chemo his balance was totally shot and he lost his medical. At that point he stopped going to the airport and hadn't seen his plane in almost 5 years.
I was the first person in 10 years that had ever reached out to him about his plane and I told him that over the years I had sorta watched out for it, I would always go by to make sure no one had put things on the wings or to make sure no critters were in the cowling..etc. In fact the line guys had started calling it 'my little yellow cherokee'
We talked for almost 2 hours just about planes and aviation and all the adventures he had....I asked him if he would be willing to sell the plane and he said "I'm not looking forward to no longer owning a plane but it's something I've needed to do for a long time" He asked that I give him a few days to think about it and he would call me back.
Two days later he texted me and asked if we could meet for lunch...I said sure and a few hours later he texted back and asked if we could do dinner and he would bring all the log books for me to look at. 
We met for dinner (today) and spent almost 3 hours just talking about planes and drinking beer. He said he was really glad I reached out to him and knew that I would give his plane a good home. He was remiss about not being able to fix it up, but he knew it needed A LOT of work and knew he wouldn't be able to do it. He kept incredible notes and logs (including the original sales flyer from Piper) all the way back to the planes first 1.2 hours from the piper factory in 1972 so all the logs are there and before he put her to bed he had put in new radios. He knew that the work needed on the plane would exceed the value, but he knew I wouldn't salvage her so he asked for the fair market of just the records and paperwork and just a little for the new (basically) radios.
And that was that...I had just purchased the airports' "dog" plane. A 1972 Piper Cherokee 140e 150hp
I called my A&P friend and he met me at the airport with a new battery...we wanted to see what on the panel still worked. In the time it took to get to the airport he had already informed the line guys. They were all waiting on me to arrive (well after 5pm) because they all wanted to see me unlock the doors to the plane, unopened for 5 years and see if she would come alive.
The previous owner knew he was going to be down for a long time so before his chemo he had actually taken the battery out of the plane. This meant there was zero corrosion on the leads. We put in a new battery and I tossed the master switch. Instantly everything on the panel came alive...even the old ADF popped online and started searching for a signal. 
I turned on the beacon and heard the line guy shout "the beacon is working!!!" ..I flipped the landing light on and she came on, I then flipped the nav lights and they came on as well. The GPS then booted back online and with "Destination?____" on the screen. We tried the radios but there was a ton of static even tho the mic was keying up. We think because the antennas are shit that the radio is getting static....
Anyways, that was just day one. We are going to spend the next week getting the engine ready to try and start. We are taking the plugs out tomorrow and soaking the cylinders to get them lubricated, and draining the fuel system. 
I will post updates as we go...she looks really rough right now (paint is shit) but I'm hoping we can have her back in the air in a few months.
Thank you guys for inspiring me to reach out, and helping me on my journey in aviation.