Preparing for the Cold Season

added 11/1/2016

With the summer now behind us and cold rolling in, it was time to wrap up a couple of fall projects.

First, I installed my Reiff TurboXP preheater in my RV-14.  I don't have any install photos right now but if you use that link it's pretty easy to see.  I have one in my RV-10 that's been going strong since 2006 now, so it was an easy choice to make.  My previous Sundowner had a Tanis heater which while it worked, took up my CHT probe holes, and forced me to use spark plug gasket CHT probes.  I didn't like that.  The cylinder bands actually heat very well, and as you can tell by my over 10 years of time on my RV-10, they've proven very durable.  I have the Standard system in the RV-10, with only 1 sump pad heater and 50W band heaters around the cylinders.  I do leave mine pluggeed in all winter from the time that the nights are consistently below 40F, thru the spring when it gets warmer than that again.  The standard system on my RV-10 keeps the oil and cylinder temps at about 90F all the time.  In fact, my winter warm-up time is quicker than my summer warm-up, because of this heat. There are people that argue against constant heating but the fact is, the worst thing you can do is have highly fluctuating heat.  If the cylinder constantly gets cold and warm, it will have a much greater variation of internal humidity than if you just keep it warm.  I am of the belief that your two best methods of heating are to either 1) leave it heated all winter, or 2) not heat it at all unless you are for sure soon to fly.  The problem is, what if you *think* you're going to fly, so you preheat the engine, which requires at least a couple hours, if not more, depending on the system you have, but you decide not to go flying?  Now youv'e heated the engine and it will build up condensation again later.  Also, I want to be able to go flying at the spur of the moment any time I wish, and heaters will require some time to work. So for me the best bet is to just keep the engine ready all winter.  The Turbo XP, by the way, may even be overkill for the RV-14, but I decided to go for one that would heat quickly and keep it toasty.  With my cowl blanket in place, I'm finding Oil and CHT's around 165F in the fall weather!
That was one of my fall projects...cowl covers.  I would definitely not do it exactly the same if I did it over again...primarily because the Harbor Freight packing blankets I used are total crap.  They are not very durable.  What I did was to buy a packing blanket, lay it over the cowl, and then pin it up to do a semi form-fit.  I have not sewed in buckles or straps, but I may some day in case I use them while traveling on short hops.  To the inside of the packing blanket I sewed your normal fleece blanket, to keep the cowl only touching nice soft material.  I used scraps and some bias tape and quilt edging to trim the edges, and create a velcro'd down flap for the oil door.  This will help prevent all that nice heat from escaping.  The fleece section around the oil door on the one cover is due to the crappy harbor freight packing blanket being peeled apart just by having duct tape on it to mark the oil door area.  If I did this all over again I would either use a better quality packing blanket, or would use a cheaper but nice sleeping bag.

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Another good thing to have done is that I took a day a while back to go to the MSP FSDO and get my Repairman's certificate application turned in.
Nice to do that before you actually need it, 1 year from first flight.

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This summer and fall has been a pretty wonderful time to be a pilot father.  One of my girls is still creeping up on sweet 16, which is a milestone she's waiting for, because it opens a few doors for her.  In her particular situation, she will be unable to get her drivers license on her birthday like many (most?) people do, because her birthday is on a weekend in 2017.  But, she will be able to solo an airplane on her 16th, as long as her instructor gives her a solo endorsement on her birthday.
To prepare her, now that the RV-14 has plenty of time on it, I've been flying from the right seat as much as possible, to keep her comfortable and familiar with the Left seat feel of the RV-10 and RV-14.  She flies excellently right now, so if she can solo in the RV-14 she'll be in great shape.  But that brings me to a new motivation...
I've been interested in being a CFI eventually, for a long time.  Because often it can be hard to learn from a family member, I had given up the idea of teaching my own kids, but as it turns out, my daughter and I work and mesh very well together in that environment.  She is attentive, listens well, and follows directions perfectly, which has allowed her to really progress in our time flying together.  The first couple pics below are her, doing a bunch of touch and go's with me, followed by a bunch of photos from a recent trip we took.  We had a wedding to attend in Kalamazoo, so we piled into the RV-10 for the trip.  Andrea flew the leg down to Kalamazoo, flying the spectacular Chicago shoreline at 2500msl.  It is an incredible experience flying under that class Bravo airspace, while mingling with the big jets. We were so close to so many, you almost feel "guilty" of something, but we were strictly adhering to the airspace rules.  The problem is, they don't much enjoy talking to pilots who are transiting under their airspace while VFR, and if you request flight following or IFR they're going to route you either well out over the water or well South and West of their airspace.  No big deal...I'm happy enough not talking to them and flying down the shoreline. It's a phenomenal flight in itself.

But on the way home it was my daughter's turn up front, and we got to discuss the charts, our route, and how we were going to work our way around the airpspace. She did an excellent job and I didn't have to touch a thing from taxi to shutdown.  It's times like these that make a man very proud.

That has all given me a big boost of motivation.  I have finally decided to just go forward and get my Commercial rating and then my CFI rating, and become her CFI.
It isn't that time consuming or expensive, but it is pretty intensive.  All in all it will be a good heavy-duty refresher for me while preparing and it will give me a better ability to help her along her process in understanding the non-flying part of the private pilot course.  For her, the flying will be easy, but for anyone, the knowledge portion is significant.  What a great time to be had for us both, going through this fun together!  Sadly for her but luckily for me, she's still well over a year away from being legally able to take her checkride, so we have a lot of time ahead to sharpen her up.  But by the time she's a certified pilot she will be well ahead of where I was at that point.

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