The plan for today was to re-mount 28AAD’s wings with Wim’s help, attach all the other bits and bobs, like ailerons and wing jury struts and then weigh it. Then I could go ahead and add some fuel to the tanks and eventually go for an engine start.
I’d uncovered the fuselage and wings and given them a wipe down because of the amount of condensation that covered them and got everything in position ready to go before Wim’s arrival. Then after a quick cup of coffee we got cracking.
Attaching a Weedhopper’s wings and inserting the retaining pins is never easy and it was especially difficult this time for some reason. The front pins remained stubbornly half-a-pin out for both wings so we decided to just carry on and investigate the problem more closely when the wings are removed again. Apart from that and having to realign the top brackets for the wing jury struts that had become slightly distorted when 28AAD’s undercarriage had collapsed and the wings had rotated slightly (probably also why we had difficulty with the wing front pins), everything went pretty smoothly and after Wim had left and I’d had a spot of lunch, it was time to go for some fuel.
Here are some shots of 28AAD with its wings back on for the first time – well, half-on anyway.
I couldn’t then just add fuel to the tanks and go for an engine start – there was bit to do first. First off, I had to check that my new hand primer bulb worked – it did, incredibly effectively! Then I had to bite the bullet and crawl into the cabin from the passenger side on my back so I could remove the fuel tubing from the fuel pressure gauge, bleed the line, reattach it and securely tighten up the retaining clip screw. It took a while but is essential and was very effective – the gauge showed good pressure when the primer bulb was pumped and retained it for quite a few seconds.
Then I removed the carburettor bowls and checked them for cleanliness – clean as a whistle and no deposits despite standing for 4 years. Then it was time to clean and check the plugs.
As I’d put oil into the engine’s cylinders, they had quite a lot on them so I took them out, cleaned them in acetone and gave them a light brushing with a wire brush. I didn’t think that it was worth gapping or doing any more to them because they had only flown a few hours down to the Dordogne from the UK – admittedly it was over 4 years ago though.
Then I connected up MYRO’s old battery. Now bear in mind that that battery was several months old when I left the UK for France and has spent the last 4 years on a trickle charger, so I really had no right to expect that it would hardly even turn the engine over, let alone give it a healthy spin. It did with the plugs out to clear the last of any loose oil and then after refitting the plugs it was time for the big test.
I gave the primer bulb a few pumps and the fuel pressure immediately shot up. Then I applied full choke, made sure the throttle was fully closed and turned the starter key. Incredible – the engine immediately burst into life! I was delighted after all this time and all that it had been through. With the choke closed it had a nice steady tick-over and at more elevated revs the mag drops on both sides seemed pretty equal. I couldn’t tell for sure because MYRO’s old rev counter wasn’t working, so I’ll have to investigate why not.
And as expected, only one side of the dual CHT gauge showed a reading, but whereas I’d originally thought that both EGT sensors weren’t working, in fact one did show a reading intermittently. So there’s probably some kind of connection problem that I’ll have to look into later.
But I regard that as a result, bearing in mind that the engine hasn’t been run since MYRO’s accident, has been stored for over 4 years and I had to fit a new stator and re-time the engine after foolishly trying the starter with the heavy earth lead not attached. I don’t think that it’ll take too much to sort out the wing retaining pins but first-off tomorrow I’d like to try and sort out the non-functioning gauges.
And not only that, I found that the hand-operated brakes didn’t hold when I tried to apply full power, so tomorrow I’ll also see what I can do about those. But tonight is for enjoying today’s successes and maybe, just maybe, I’ll treat my self to a nip or two of Armagnac a little later on. Although, what the heck, what’s the point in waiting 😉