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New Paint and Oil

This is my first post in a very long time, and there are a few things to report.  First, after the autopilot installation in August 2020, the plane flew more than before, with people getting familiar with the autopilot.  Then, a longer than expected annual inspection in January/February 2021 replaced both Comm antennas, all engine intake gaskets, all oil return couplings and two lines, repaired an exhaust muffler, and broken pilot seat frame, along with numerous other adjustments to a 43 year-old airframe.  Some control surface corrosion was also found that required cleaning and painting of several affected areas to make the plane airworthy.

The plane really needed new paint, as the previous repainting in 2008 had not aged well, so a search began for a good place to get new paint.  Most of the paint shops in California were booked out six weeks to two months.  AeromechaniX recommended a shop in New Mexico that had done a good job on several other planes, and had openings in early March, so on the 5th we flew to an airfield between Las Cruces and El Paso for what was supposed to be a six-week job.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 was peaking and the paint shop employees couldn’t, or perhaps wouldn’t work, and the six week project became a fourteen+ week one.  84R was back on the ramp on June 26th with new rudder and horizontal stabilizer tips and wing strut fairings in its new blue and white colors.  The long annual inspection, new paint, plus flap roller replacement in October kept the plane out of service for more than 24 weeks in 2021.

New paint

New paint ready to go home

In addition to the new exterior look, I’ve been working on replacing some of the cracked and broken interior plastic trim.  Both interior door window frames have been replaced, along with wing root vent escutcheons and a new hand-held mic bracket.  Other less visible plastic pieces will be replaced will be replaced in the future.

Oil Issues

There has been a number of recent occasions where pilots have added oil when it wasn’t needed, or added more than was necessary.  There are a couple of things to be aware of when checking the oil:

  • First, don’t remove the dipstick to wipe it clean, then reinsert it to check the oil level.  The reinsertion of the dipstick can actually pressurize the tube slightly, pushing some oil out of the tube and producing a less than correct reading.
  • Second, the oil can take some time to drain from other parts of the engine back into the crankcase.  As a consequence, checking the oil with the engine still warm from a recent previous flight may show a lower than correct level.  For example, on the first flight after an oil change, the oil level was slightly greater than 8 quarts (the number 8 was not even visible), and after a 1.7hr flight, the oil level showed barely 5 quarts.  But, after sitting overnight, the oil level returned to above 8.

The engine will run just fine with less than 8 quarts of oil, and putting in too much just creates a messy oil slick on the belly aft of the crankcase breather.  So, if the engine is cold and the reading is less than six, you could add one quart for short, local flights, and maybe two quarts if you’re going on a long cross-country flight more than three hours.

Autopilot Installation

As I write this at the beginning of August, 84R is finally getting a new autopilot, a Garmin GFC500.  Garmin certified its autopilot for the 182RG in early Fall 2019, but due to the number of owners rushing to get their planes compliant with the FAA’s January 1, 2020, ADS-B mandate, there wasn’t an avionics shop in sight with the time to schedule anything but ADS-B work.  The backlog of work continued into 2020.

The autopilot installation should be done about mid-August, barring any unforeseen complications, and after a brief check-out period will be available for general club pilot use.  The GFC500 installation for 84R will include all the normal autopilot features minus the yaw damper (YD), plus yoke-mounted electric trim, AP Disconnect and GA (Go-Around) controls.

Pilots not familiar with the operation of the GFC500 autopilot should review two Garmin manuals in the Useful Documents section of this site, Garmin GFC500 Autopilot Flight Manual Supplement and Garmin G5 Electronic Flight Instrument Pilot’s Guide.  Garmin has tightly integrated operation of the autopilot with the G5 flight instrument displays, so much of the autopilot operation can be controlled on the G5.  Those functions are described in the G5 manual.  The flight manual supplement includes more detailed descriptions of the autopilot operation as well as information on the autopilot specific to the 182RG.

Miscellaneous Notes, Aircraft Type-ID and ATC Clearances

84R has been flying a lot since coming back on-line with new fuel bladders at the end of June, partly due to the misfortunes of 756RA six months ago that made 84R until just this week the only flyable 182RG in the fleet.  Thank you to all the pilots who’ve flown 84R this summer and who’ve also been patient with the inevitable maintenance issues that arrive when a 43 year-old plane is actively flown.  For just a few examples: Replaced a sticking pilot’s PTT switch; fixed a loose passenger window latch; overhauled a leaky primer pump; replaced a failed main battery (at AVX!); replaced the old window covers; replaced the cracked right exhaust manifold.

Many Plus One pilots will know that I’ve been working to get 84R upgraded as much as possible, and as my budget could absorb.  The plane now has a nice complement of newer avionics: Two Garmin G5 AI and HSI displays, a GTX-345 ADS-B In/Out transponder, a new Garmin GTC-255a Com2/Nav2 with glide slope CDI, a GNS-430W GPS, a JPI EDM830 engine monitor, and a Flightstream 210 to connect via Bluetooth to Foreflight on iPads or iPhones.  The key item missing has been a good autopilot.  I had settled on Garmin’s GFC-500, but it was not certified for the 182RG until late this summer.  I still want to install the GFC-500, but with airplane owners pushing to get ADS-B equipment installed before January 2020, no avionics shop has any time available for anything else before next year.  Stay tuned…..

I recently attended a presentation by the MYF tower manager, and picked up a few useful bits of information and advice:

  • ATC would like pilots to use the correct ICAO aircraft types in flight plans or when asking for flight following.  For example, PA28 hasn’t been in use for over 10 years. Instead use P28A, P28R, etc.  The correct type for 84R is C82R, not C182 or 182R.  This gives ATC clear information about a plane’s performance in their airspace.
  • Pilots who want an IFR clearance to depart MYF but also want to avoid a long wait for IFR release can request the SOLEDAD DEPARTURE.  This procedure allows the flight to depart MYF VFR and fly heading 270 at or below 2,500′ until given a climb clearance by ATC, which activates the IFR clearance.  The ceiling-visibility minimums for the procedure are 3000′ – 3NM.  See FAA NOTAMS for more information.
  • VFR On Top Clearances:  Pilots who just want to get above the clouds and then cancel IFR, should request clearance to OCN for westbound departures or RYAHH for eastbound departures.  For an IFR flight to a destination, file OTP with departure clearance.
  • VFR Arrivals from the west:  ATC requests pilots flying south down the coast to wait until passing Mt. Soledad before turning east to join the downwind pattern.  This avoids potential traffic alerts by putting arriving planes more than a mile south of those departing MYF to the west.