Grounded

Grounded

Estelle Crying Oil11 large screws, 3 short bolts and 10 Dzus fasteners is what holds in place the 3 piece cowling and 3 piece accessory cover of the Cessna 195. I know this because I have removed and replaced it twice in the last two days.
When you are sitting at home daydreaming about your upcoming adventures, you inevitably get to the realization that while flying a 60 year old airplane you might have to fix a few things along the way. Loose screws, fowled plugs, expired light bulbs and such. While preparing for this you put together a list of tools you might need to tackle such problems. I brought 25 pounds of tools with me on this adventure and the first thing I did this morning was spend $40 at Home Depot picking up some tools I actually needed.
The Cessna 195 has a brilliant engine mount. The engine mount is designed to swing out, away from the firewall, when you remove two of the bolts. This is a great design, it gives you room to work, where otherwise you would have to pull the entire motor. The problem with this design is when you think you have fixed the problem, you swing the motor back into place, replace the two bolts and test run the engine. The issue is replacing the two bolts. To remove and replace the bolts takes two people, a ladder, two 9/16th wrenches, a hammer, a punch and an alignment punch thing. This is not an easy process and is incredibly rough on the bolts as well. So after two hours of looking, prodding, scrubbing, staring and guessing, I put everything back together. I really thought I had it, I found two nuts that were extremely loose and I decided this had to be where the oil leak was coming from. I took Estelle on a 20 minutes warm up flight and came back to the airport. I was so confident I had it fixed, I pulled her up to the gas pump, in preparation for my next flight. Well, I fueled up and then parked and tied her down, I am destined to stay in Baraboo Wisconsin another day.
With all of the oil that has leaked out of Estelle you would think the source would be staring me in the face. I have now spent over 4 hours inspecting and deciphering exactly where the oil is coming from. I have narrowed down the possibility to less than a 10% area at the back of the motor. I have put a wrench on every nut and bolt that has oil near it. Still, I am sitting in another hotel, staring out the window at a gas station, wondering if this is going to be my home again tomorrow night.
On the plus side, I am getting really good at removing and replacing the cowling without scratching it. I now know exactly in what order to install the six cowling pieces for a smooth installation. Hopefully tomorrow I learn how to stop an oil river. If anyone has the number to the company that installed the cap on the BP oil spill please forward it to me.


Pilot Michael
Pilot Michael

Comments

  1. All I ask is that it is perfect before you fly home!! Good luck brother.