At the time of writing I’ve missed my planned window for flying the Xair over to France from England so I’m just having to make the best of things as it now looks unlikely that I’ll get another opportunity before the end of this week or the middle (Tuesday/Wednesday) of next. However, I’m making good use of the time available by doing work on the aircraft that I’d originally intended to do when I got to France as I’ll show later and I’m pleased about that because I’d rather fly with an engine that’s as near perfect as it can be rather than with a question mark hanging over it.
But first some shots that I’ve taken since I’ve been here at Clipgate Farm airfield near Canterbury. The first two show the Xair after I’d uncovered it and was getting ready to load its outdoor covers in the wings.
The complete set of covers rolled up and stowed secured by elastic bungees in the gap between the wings.
The central cover refitted with the outdoor covers stowed beneath it.
Although not necessary in France, I thought that I’d avoid any confusion while the old UK ‘G’ registration is still partially visible by mounting the Xair’s French reg on its vertical tail surfaces. It’s only a cheap-and-cheerful job done with sticky black tape but it’ll do the job and I think that it’ll be a good thing to have obscured the old reg while I’m in transit.
Now up to the current day. Regular readers may know from past posts involving my old Xair that elderly Rotax 582 engines seem to have a reputation for going through stator coils. These are responsible for creating the sparks via the magnetos that make the engine fire and when a stator starts to go it has two immediate effects.
Firstly, there’s a differential mag drop when you do your pre-flight engine checks. You usually look for a mag drop that’s about the same on both mags of about 2 – 500 rpm. However, when a stator is on its way out, you see maybe 100 rpm on one side and around 1000 rpm on the other. You also get anomalous rpm readings with the rev counter typically reading a lower figure than is actually being delivered.
Therefore at take off you think that the engine is under-delivering and abort and when flying you find yourself flying faster than normal at lower than expected revs. The downside of this is that you can then be using considerably more fuel than usual and I think that this was a contributory factor to my running out the other day.
Although a stator in this state is unlikely to cause an engine to fail it’s clearly an undesirable state of affairs, especially when on a long flight as I will be with fuel planning critical. I therefore decided that rather than wait until I got to France, I’d deal with the problem now and replace the Xair’s stator.
I ordered a new one yesterday and it arrived today, so having been kindly loaned a flywheel puller by the now-retired local BMAA inspector and bitten the bullet and bought yet more new tools, I got cracking on the job this morning.
I’m not sure that I’ll be finished today as the new stator didn’t arrive until lunch time and I’ve also had various unavoidable delays involving shifting the Xair out of the hangar temporarily into the pouring rain and back in again. However, I should be finished tomorrow and I’ll then be much more confident in both the aircraft and its engine, especially when making the Channel crossing.