Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Tin Goose

As hard as it is to believe, the annual condition inspection on the airplane is due in January. What?? A year has flown by (heh!) already?? There's no way around it, though. The calendar doesn't lie.  Note that this did not catch me by surprise, but to some degree it caught me unprepared. Here I am with the longest stretch of free time in the entire year, time that's just begging to be spent working on something like that, and I still haven't started on it. It's not a matter of inertia per se, but more of a hope for a better situation. The thing is, the fuel tank has to come out of the plane and it has been somewhat unfortunately encumbered with roughly twelve gallons of fuel. The idea of draining that much fuel into 5 gallon jugs, storing it until it was time to go back in the tank, and the very idea of lifting those heavy jugs and carefully pouring the fuel is, in a word, abhorrent. And really, the solution to that problem is oh so easy: fly the daggone thing.

So I did.

So, where to go?  Lucky for me, I have had the perfect trip on my to-do for ages: I wanted to fly up north to the airport near Port Clinton, OH and have brunch at their new diner, The Tin Goose. Are you wondering how they came up with that name? You are? Good! I was hoping that you would be.

Tin Goose was the endearing moniker applied to one of, if not 'the', commercially viable airliners, the Ford Trimotor. You may remember that name from just a few months ago when I scored a ride in one.  I'm going to just assume that some of you din't bother to chase that link and provide a quick explanation here:
The Ford Trimotor (also called the "Tri-Motor", and nicknamed "The Tin Goose") was an American three-engined transport aircraft that was first produced in 1925 by the companies of Henry Ford and that continued to be produced until June 7, 1933. 
Throughout its time in production, a total of 199 Ford Trimotors were produced. It was designed for the civil aviation market, and was also used by military units and sold all over the world. As of 2012, there are 18 Ford Trimotors in existence, eight of which have current FAA Airworthy Certificates.
So there it is. They named their diner after a venerable antique airplane. Note the corrugation of the panel the sign is attached to: it's significant. Extra credit to non-pilots that can tell me why in the comments section.

Are you wondering why?  Good!

Port Clinton airport is, and always has been, the home base for Island Airlines, a very old micro-regional airline that served Port Clinton, Sandusky, and the collection of Bass islands just offshore in Lake Erie.
Island Airlines, founded in 1930 as Island Airways, used Tri-Motors from 1936 until 1986 and owned several of the planes at a time.
The Tri-Motor, built from 1926 to 1933, was nicknamed the "Tin Goose" for its then-innovative all-metal design.
Tri-Motors became a staple of early airlines because the planes had enclosed cabins, which shielded passengers from the wind, and because their sturdy construction eased fears about the reliability of airplanes. Island Airways used the planes during the summer to carry vacationers to the islands. During the winter, when island residents were hemmed in by frozen Lake Erie, the airline served as a lifeline to the mainland.
Island Airlines flights typically started at the airport in Port Clinton and landed at Kelleys, South Bass, Middle Bass, and North Bass islands. It was dubbed the "World's Shortest Airline" because the round-trip flight was 17 miles and took just 45 minutes.
By the late 1930s, most airlines abandoned the Tri-Motor for faster and larger models. 
Ah, history!  Nothing better than living a small smidgen of history with your brunch.

The timing worked out for my most senior (in flight time, not years, although....) co-pilot to go along, so 10:30 found Co-pilot Rick and I meeting at the hangar under crystal blue skies, moderate temps in the mid-40s, and what I would categorize as "manageable" winds.  Rick and I have an extensive history of flying together which has led to a number of standard practices, chief amongst them being that I fly the outbound leg and he flies us back. Or, as is often the case, I get to fly in the smooth air while he gets to struggle with the bumpy afternoon air. I can't remember if that was a deliberate factor in my planning or not, but it no longer matters: Stare decisis et non quieta movere and all that.  It's tradition, in other words.

The flight up north was indeed quite smooth. I let the autopilot do it.

I have never landed at Port Clinton and really didn't know where the restaurant was located on the field, but it wasn't hard to find. While we were monitoring the Unicom while still a few miles away, a guy in a yellow RV-7 was coordinating with the FBO to have a fuel truck meet him at the restaurant parking lot. I keyed in to tell the fuel guy that I would be parking next to the RV and would need some gas too.  Yes, I would be buying gas - my goal was to land back at Bolton with three or four gallons in the tank, not to glide down to a corn field somewhere. Doing the math, it appeared that five gallons would suffice.

The yellow RV was easy to see from our lofty perch on a left downwind to runway 27, so we ended up with a pretty good idea where to go once on the ground. That said, it is a strange taxiway layout and I was fortunate to not end up nose-to-nose with a departing airplane as we taxied to the restaurant parking area where, true to my word, I parked next to the yellow RV. Unfortunately, it was not a "legal" parking spot and I would have to move as soon as I had finished getting my gas. The fuel guy pointed over to the edge of the ramp and told me not to worry, there was one spot left.

As the fuel guy was just about finished pumping the gas, a Cessna arrived and made every indication of taking the last remaining spot, which by this point I felt a modicum of ownership over. I quickly handed a pair of chocks to the co-pilot and had him scurry over to the spot to make it apparent to the Cessna driver that the spot was taken. I didn't see just how Rick conveyed the message to the pilot, but I did hear the roar of the engine as he turned around and bolted out of there in a bit of a snit. Or so it seemed.  I probably ought not ascribe petulance without more evidence. In any event, we were parked and ready to eat!

It would be awhile. The place was packed. With the most desirable seat already taken... 

... I went on a walkabout in the lobby. It is very nicely done!

Oddly enough, this chair held no appeal. I kept walking.

Rick caught sight of the 'Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant' and told me that his Dad had worked there building B-24s, I think.

Naturally, this left me curious:
The Willow Run manufacturing complex, located between Ypsilanti and Belleville, Michigan, was constructed in the early years of World War II by Ford Motor Company for the mass production of the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. 
The plant was originally meant to produce components for the Liberator, with final assembly by the plane's designer Consolidated Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft, and it began production in summer 1941; the dedication plaque is dated June 16. Remote assembly proved problematic and by October of that year, Ford had received permission to produce complete Liberators. The Liberator production line at Willow Run would run through May 1945 and produce almost half of all the Liberators built.
There is also a little gift shop, but I was able to overcome the desire to go on a buying spree.

I like this picture:

The mural over the service desk depicted the routes the Lilliputian airline flew back in the day:

We were eventually seated at a table positioned right next to a collection of drawings of the very diner we were sitting in, albeit while it was still doing business in Pennsylvania:

Which I only knew because it was printed on the menu:

Yes, I actually did look up the Jerry O'Mahony Diner Company Was there ever any doubt?

The Jerry O'Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, whose motto was "In our line, We lead the world", was said to have produced 2,000 diners from 1917 to 1941, and became the largest manufacturer of its period.  The roadside diners referred to are long, narrow, primarily metal buildings, prefabricated in a factory, and trucked to the location. They resemble and are often confused with actual railroad rolling stock removed from their wheels but these buildings were never railroad cars. 

You can find more about these diners at a site called 'Diner Hunter'.

While we were waiting to place our orders, I took a still life picture of the very diner-esque condiments:

The menu is exemplary for two reasons. First, there are quite a few tasty and filling selections to choose from. Second, it completely avoids my current pet peeve with menu writers: it seems these days that you simply cannot find a menu that doesn't describe at least one thing as being prepared "to perfection." Seriously, it's an epidemic. I live for the day when some clever fellow describes soemthing as "grilled to adequacy."

Ah, too bad. Perfection in the menu writing was not to be had today. There it is, my second biggest menu peeve: "hand breaded."  Because, well... so what? Does hand breading enhance flavor in some (kind of stomach curdling) way?  I see this with "hand sliced" too. That's a benefit? Really?

All it means to me is "inconsistent and potentially unsanitary."

So guess what I chose from the menu.

Ha! Trick question. I ordered something that was not on the menu at all, comfortable with my decision to forgo both perfection and hand breading.  I order the special: SOS. 
Chipped beef on toast (or creamed chipped beef on toast) is a culinary dish comprising a white sauce and rehydrated slivers of dried beef, served on toasted bread. Hormel recommends flavoring the dish with Worcestershire sauce and dried parsley.
In military slang it is commonly referred to by the dysphemism "Shit On a Shingle" (SOS)—or, "Stew On a Shingle", "Same Old Stuff", "Something On a Shingle", or occasionally "Save Our Stomachs".
I don't know about this 'Worcestershire sauce and dried parsley' business. My mom always made it with a can of Cream of Celery soup, and the Diner seems to do the same. It was tasty!

Rick had the Philly Cheese Steak.  He was server first and I wasted to no time snagging one of those fries.

I should have waited, as it turns out.

As it turns out, the waitress had brought the wrong order. She picked up the plates and took them to the next table over, where she explained to them that I owed them one french fry.  Given my luck, I just know those people flew arrived in a Cessna that got shooed out of a parking spot.

If I ever go again, I'm sitting at the counter, where I won't be tempted to steal food.

How about that metal tray? Isn't that just the coolest thing!!

It was hard to not watch every plane taxi by.

When we got back to the parking lot, it appeared to be an impromptu RV fly-in. The closest plane is an RV-10, then the yellow RV-7, then my 12, which is parked next to another RV-10.

We would see those RV-10s again later.

As long as we were all the way up on the northern coast, I thought it would be nice to fly around the islands. There is still quite a bit of ice on the lake.

All of the boats have, of course, been put away for the winter.

There's Put-in-Bay, one of the premier flying destinations in Ohio. We took a lap around it.

The ice looks almost like surf, doesn't it?

As we flew back over the Port Clinton airport, traffic had really become an issue. As it was, we had spent a good deal of time at the end of the runway waiting for a gap in arriving traffic so we could depart. Sure enough, a couple of planes ended up node-to-nose. I was able to watch as they very slowly passed each other. I can't be certain, but it sure looked like their wings overlapped as they passed.

A little while later, we heard "CESSNA! STOP!!" come over the frequency. There's a story there, I imagine.

Rick looks right at home flying the plane. It doesn't take long with the RV-12. It's a simple, honest airplane and easy to get to know.

The common frequencies were jammed with pilots out enjoying a rare nice day at the tail end of the year. I had tuned the common frequency used at Marion (KMNN) because they fly gliders out of there, and we would be going right over the top of the airport. That's normally a very safe place to be over an airport, unless they are dropping parachutists, flying gliders, or launching rockets. All three of those tend to happen right over the airport. The radio chatter was so horrible that I told Rick we were unlikely to learn anything of value.  Because I excel at being almost theatrically wrong on a fairly consistent basis, the very next thing came through loud and clear: so-and-so was towing a glider over the airport.

We started looking.

Rick was the one to finally see it:

My job while he was flying was to monitor the traffic scope. It wasn't long after passing Marion that I saw something I had never seen on the scope before. There were three lines absolutely parallel to each other. Just as I took the picture, one broke off to the right and descended. The others kept going.

We eventually figured out that it was the two RV-10s we had seen at Port Clinton returning home to Delaware County (KDLZ).  I'm not sure why the trailing plane isn't showing an altitude.

We know we're getting close to home when we see the Olentangy River.

As we were abeam downtown Columbus, the girl that lives in the Skyview chirped up with a low fuel warning. It looks like my math was off by a gallon, probably because of the sightseeing trip around the islands.

The flashing red '2' sure got our attention. We were only a few miles out and if I was to trust the maths we would be just fine, but... there's just something about a flashing red '2' to get your blood up.

Just to be prudent, I had Rick keep us at our cruising altitude of 3,500' feet and I throttled back to about half throttle, figuring that if the math let me down, at least I'd be able to glide in.

All turned out fine. Visual inspection of the tank showed just shy of four gallons. That Dynon gal is a bit of an alarmist. Oh, and the math was validated, too.  Good things to know.

Friday, December 27, 2013

What a miserable month

Well, as Co-pilot Egg says, "At least Christmas is over until next October."  This sentiment is not a reflection of the title of this post, however. The misery of this December has been the weather.  Not much by way of flyable.  Pretty nasty.

I have struggled to fill the time productively. How I miss the days of having something to build!

I did fix that pesky light switch, though. The culprit made one fatal mistake - it threw a spark.  I pulled the face plate and couldn't help but notice that part of the plastic housing of the switch was melted.  If only every forensic investigation could be so easy!

The weather finally gave us a break and I was able to fly a little bit this morning, albeit only as far as Urbana-Grimes (I74) for a quick breakfast. Alone.  Which has the effect of making the quality of the food more important, as opposed to the normal quality of the company. This is, alas, not their strong suit.  The coffee tastes like mud (obligatory: "Of course it does; it was just ground this morning") and the sausage gravy proves that the chef has never attended a country cooking class or picked up a recipe. I know this because the flour had not been "cooked." With sausage gravy, if you don't brown the flour a little bit before mixing in the milk, it ends up tasting like milk-flavored paste. Minus the salt.

None of that mattered, though, because it was just so rejuvenating to be 1) out of the house, and 2) in the air! I was in no hurry at all, so I decided to test out my new geo-synchronized approach plates. I loaded up the GPS LNAV approach to runway 2, even though I would be landing in the opposite direction. on the plus side, it was amazingly easy to fly the approach what with the little airplane crawling across the chart.

Because I wasn't really flying the approach, I didn't head out to PENOE, which is an IAF, or Initial Approach Fix.  Instead, I saved 6.1 miles and headed straight towards RIKOE, which is the Final Approach Fix.

Had I been flying the real approach, I would have flown to PENOE at or above 4,000'. At the next fix (SEBUE), I would turn right to follow the black line to RIKOE. Once established on that line, I could descend to an altitude no lower then 3,000' until I reached RIKOE. After RIJOE, I could descend to 1,860'.

Once crossing WANIS, I could go as low as the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) of 1,500' which would be only 500' above the cold, hard ground*.  From there I would either see the runway or not. At WANIS, I would be only 2.4 miles from the end of the runway which, from the perch of an airplane cockpit, looks like almost nothing. I would be allowed to stay in the kludge, should there be any, until only one mile from the end of the runway. If I still couldn't see it from a mile away, I would have to climb and continue on, following the dashed line. At that point I could either come back and try again, or elect to go somewhere else with better weather.

It's scary stuff.

As it was, I flew at 2,000' to WANIS and just turned a little to the right to run parallel to the runway in my right downwind to the opposite end of the runway.

It was ever so easy. I just flew the little purple plane down the line, just like a simple video game.

It was simple, but that is only because it wasn't a real instrument approach. Dynon still has a bit of work to do before this will work well on a single screen installation like mine. Every time I wanted to look up a frequency or select a different waypoint, I lost the chart screen and would have to reload it again, which took a number of button presses. That would add to the already heavy workload of flying a small airplane in bad weather - I'm not sure I would be up to it.

The avionics also played a role in the return flight. As I was climbing out of Urbana and turning back towards Bolton, a Cessna called in saying he was ten miles south west, inbound. I recognized the tail number as one of the Bolton rentals, so I figured we were going to be nose-to-nose. This is one of the problems with GPS: we're all within yards of each other if we're on the same direct-to flight plan, with the positions reversed. Luckily, he popped up on my traffic display - he was at 2,900' and descending, while I was climbing to 3,500'.  I gave him a call to tell him that we were going to be passing each other, but that I had his data on my display and would stay well above him.

That kind of knowledge is very welcome to a renter. The planes they fly don't have anywhere near the electronic capabilities that many Experimentals and very expensive modern store-boughts have.

I arrived back at Bolton to find the Columbus Police Dept. helicopter practicing emergency landings. To sequence me in, the tower had him do a 360 degree turn out of his downwind leg. Lucky for him, I'm pretty comfortable in the RV-12 now and was able to make an expedient approach that had me rolling on the runway before he managed to finish his 360.

All in all, it was less than an hour in the air, but it felt oh so good!

* Airplane altitudes are flown at what is called the MSL (Mean Sea Level) altitude. The ground is at AGL, or Above Ground Level. Because Urbana is roughly 1,000' above sea level, 1,500' MSL (the altitude shown on my altimeter) is only 500' AGL.  And 500' is not a lot!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

On the subject of "satisficing"

Turning to Wiki to get a feel for that wacky word:
Satisficing is a decision-making strategy or cognitive heuristic that entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met. This is contrasted with optimal decision making, an approach that specifically attempts to find the best alternative available. The term satisficing, a portmanteau of satisfy and suffice, was introduced by Herbert A. Simon in 1956, although the concept "was first posited in Administrative Behavior, published in 1947." Simon used satisficing to explain the behavior of decision makers under circumstances in which an optimal solution cannot be determined. He pointed out that human beings lack the cognitive resources to optimize: We can rarely evaluate all outcomes with sufficient precision, usually do not know the relevant probabilities of outcomes, and possess only limited memory. Simon formulated the concept within a novel approach to rationality, which takes into account these limitations. He referred to this approach as bounded rationality. Notice furthermore that some consequentialist theories in moral philosophy use the concept of satisficing in the same sense, though most call for optimization instead.
Well, that's good enough for me! (See what I did there? Didja??)

I brought up satisficing in a previous post in which I described my goal when building the airplane as attaining "safe and airworthy" as my standard, rather than "award-winning" or "better than store-bought." Allow me to rush to add that I see nothing at all wrong with the opposite end of the spectrum; I have nothing but respect and awe for people that can craft award-winning, as-close-to-perfect-as-possible things. I wish I had the native ability, patience, and time to be one of them myself. I grant that patience is probably my biggest weakness in this area, but laziness gives it a run for its money.

Case in point: The Curious Case of the Basement Lights.

Here's the background: the basement lights inexplicably stopped working one recent day. There are three switches: one at the top of the stairs, one at the bottom of the stairs, and one by the cellar door. Realistically, only one of those switches ever needs to be used; the one at the top of the stairs is the only one that makes sense to routinely use.

After all, why would you ever turn off the light way down there?? Or wait until you got down there to turn them on???

I tried all of the switches and reset the circuit breaker a dozen times. No help. A general contractor looked at it and postulated "maybe a bad switch." He also noted that it all worked fine if the switch at the bottom of the stairs was left in the 'off' position.

I took two of the three face plates off of the switches and inspected the wires. None were broken or hanging loose. There were only two possible approaches: go buy and replace all three switches, potentially making the problem worse, or I could........

As long as no one messes with that switch, all is well.

So, does that count as "fixed?"

The satisficer says yes. Yes it does.

On the other hand...

One of the new features that came with the Version 7 firmware update to the Dynon Skyview was georeferenced instrument approach charts.
To georeference something means to define its existence in physical space. That is, establishing its location in terms of map projections or coordinate systems. The term is used both when establishing the relation between raster or vector images and coordinates, and when determining the spatial location of other geographical features.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever you say, egg head. Wiki often leads to more questions that answers.

A picture (or series of pictures displayed at a high rate of speed) is worth a thousand Wiki articles:

If you were patient enough, you would have noticed the little airplane icon creeping along on the chart.

And that he was using an iPad rather than a purpose-designed unit like the Skyview.  The Skyview works just as well, if not better, assuming you don't want to play Solitaire while you're droning through the approach.

That behavior of the little plane icon moving on top of the chart is enabled by someone taking the time to add precise latitude and longitude information to the image file that contains the visual representation of the chart. "Chart" is actually incorrect usage in this case; that chart is actually called an approach plate, but the distinction isn't important for this conversation.

The point is, the Skyview software update added that capability to my system for free, but it didn't include the electronic approach plates. There is effort involved in georeferencing a chart, one presumes, and the people that put forth that effort like to be paid for it. In this case, the subscription cost is $99 per year. Compared to more mainstream vendors like Garmin, that price is a steal, but even so I decided that I didn't need it. I no longer fly instrument approaches.

Two recent events changed my mind. I was no longer satisficed.

The first event was actually two separate events, but they were of the same nature. On two separate flights, I found myself in legal VFR weather, but struggling to find the airport through the haze. In one case, I basically tripped over it and had to make a steeper than normal approach to land. In the other, the weather was better, but we were flying into the setting sun and the haze yet again made it hard to find the airport.

That was enough to get me thinking that IFR or not, these charts would be good to have from a safety aspect.  I decided to look into it again.

And that's when I found the 'two years for the price of one' Black Friday deal.


I paid the money and downloaded the data files, which took quite a long time. There are a lot of them! So many, in fact, that I had to go buy a new memory card to hold them all. The Skyview's on-board memory isn't sufficiently large to hold them - nothing bu a 16GB memory stick can hold them all. The memory stick has to remain in the airplane for that to work, but the slot for the stick is under the avionics shelf, right where it is at risk of being hit with a knee.

Luckily, these things have gotten incredibly tiny - I added the little piece of wire to delay the eventual loss of the thing:

That little gadget could hold more than 50,000 books.

It could also save my life someday.

Taking a Brake

The RV-12 hose/line replacement kits are flying (heh!) out of the collaborative effort between Steve from AircraftSpecialty and Tom from TS Flightlines - you probably still remember the replacement fuel lines I installed just a week or two ago, and here they are back again with a kit to replace the aluminum brake lines that run from a fitting up in the belly of the plane down to the brake calipers on the wheels.

The standard aluminum tube lines don't suffer from the onerous five year life limit that the fuel lines did. In fact, chances are that these lines would last the life of the airplane.  That said, there is a chance that they won't - through vibration and wear against the tie wraps that hold them, or from metal fatigue/work hardening near the fittings, they could eventually become brittle. That alone may or may not be a compelling enough reason to replace them, but for builders that want to install the optional wheel pants, not having to work around the loop in the aluminum line that gets added at fabrication time to provide a little "slack" in the line to move the caliper out of the way when working on a wheel (this loop itself could also get brittle or damaged with time) is a boon.

The replacement lines are far more robust and easy to work with because they are made of the same type of strong, flexible hose as the fuel lines, although these lines have an outer abrasion-resistant cover rather than the fire sleeve that encases the fuel lines. They also have the same high quality fittings as the fuel lines, and as with the fuel lines, they have been pressure tested to ensure their integrity.

You will note that one hose is longer than the other. The kit components that I received were, just as with the fuel lines, intended to test lines sized based on anecdotal measurements. Sometime back in the early days of the RV-12, conventional wisdom stated that the left side hose needed to be 34" long, while the right side should be an inch shorter. That seemed as good a place as any to start testing, although no one could definitively state the reasoning behind the need for differing lengths on what to all intents and purposes is a symmetrical airplane.

I decided to test two methods for replacing the lines.  While it seemed that it would theoretically be possible to do the replacement using only the access provided by the inspection ports located under each of the pass-through blocks up in the belly of the plane, it seemed that access to the fittings up in there would be much easier if I drilled out the rivets that hold in the panels that close the gap around the landing gear legs as they exit the sides of the fuselage.

I laid out the tools that I thought I would need.

  - Drill with #30 bit (Method #1 only)
  - LP4-3 rivets (Method #1 only)
  - Modified center punch (Method #1 only)
  - Phillips head screwdriver
  - 9/16" stubby open end wrench. Stubby wrenches are essential, and are thankfully dirt cheap at Harbor Freight, Home of Approximately Sized Wrenches. This one is approximately 9/16".
  - Side cutters.
  - Two AN caps sized to fit the fittings currently installed on the plane.  I think they're AN-3, but as with the gender of cats, I have no idea how to tell for sure.
  - Eight 12 - 14" long tie wraps (not shown)

For Method #1, which is the removal of the panel, the first step is patently obvious: drill out the rivets.

During the build, I found that the easiest way to drill out a blind rivet is to punch the mandrel out with a modified center punch. Harbor Freight has a $5 punch that is perfect for modification, primarily due to its most important quality: five bucks.

The grinding wheel meets yet another Harbor Freight tool.

Grinding the tip down allows it to fit into the hole of the rivet and make direct contact with the mandrel.

In many cases, a couple of "pops" with the center punch will push out the mandrel. Sometimes it won't.  It doesn't matter - the next step is to drill the head off of the rivet with a #30 bit. This is much, much easier than drilling out a solid rivet because the hole in the rivet will hold the bit where it needs to be. After just a few seconds of light drilling, the "cap" of the rivet will typically come right off, leaving either an open hole, or the remains of the mandrel if the first attempts with the punch didn't remove it.  With the cap gone, another punch at the remaining mandrel should pop it loose.

These are rivets with the caps gone but mandrels that resisted the punch still in place:

A couple more tries with the punch popped them loose.

Step Two of Method #1 is the same as Step One of Method #2: remove the inspection plate.

The fitting on the left is the one that will be removed, but DON'T DO IT YET.

There are a couple of things to do first that will serve to keep brake fluid from dripping all over your hands, paint, and hangar floor.

You're going to want to be able to move the brake line fitting away from the pass-through once you loosen the fitting in order to cap the fitting on the mount. This will keep brake fluid from draining out.

To allow the line to move enough to get the fitting out of the way, you have to first use the side cutters to cut away the tie wraps that hold it in place.

Now the fitting can be removed and the cap put in place.  This is far, far easier with the side panel removed, but it can be done even with the panel in place. With the panel in the way, it required quite a bit of digital dexterity (which I lack) to get the cap on, resulting in a lot more brake fluid coursing its way down my arm.  This also made the cap very slippery and visibility of the operation nearly nil.

So, it's your choice, but if I were doing it over again, I think I would opt to remove the panels on both sides.

The fitting at the caliper can also be removed.  Brake fluid will drain out of the line, so it is advisable to have a towel ready.

The line will be easy to remove from the airplane, although the loop might have to be opened a little to get it past the gear leg.

Remove and retain the plastic tubes used to protect the line from wear induced by the tie wraps.

Attach the new line to the caliper.

Slide the plastic tubes onto the new line.

This next step is an area where I stray from the by-the-book approach. Rather than introduce a line full of air into the system, which would then require a full purging of the brake system (which seems to invariably introduce a little air into the system), I pre-fill the new line with brake fluid before attaching the fitting at the pass-through block.

Do this at your own risk!! It has worked flawlessly for me, but it is a non-standard practice.

Just as the brake fluid starts coming out of the hose at the top fitting, I screw in finger tight onto the fitting. Again, this was far more difficult on the side that I was working exclusively through the inspection port.

With the fitting finger tight, I pumped just a little more brake fluid in, then tightened the fitting.

Repeat on the other side.

Tie wrap the brake line to the landing gear leg. I used four tie wraps rather than the two that were on there originally to better control the path of the line.

This is the right side, which was the shorter hose. This length looks just about right, although it would still create a potential problem for fitting wheel pants. I discussed that with Steve - he had heard the same from another builder. He is working on a solution that will provide a differently angled fitting that will remove the need for the semi-loop in the line.

He is also going to shorten the left side hose. The extra inch was clearly not needed or desired.

Here you can see how a different fitting would help keep the line right up against the gear leg, allowing it to exit the smallish opening in the side of a wheel fairing.

Because of the non-standard process of keeping the lines full of fluid while installing them, I pay particular attention to testing the brakes for firmness - they were perfectly fine.  I have flown the plane for roughly three hours since the installation of the lines and tested the relatively hard braking used in a short field landing with no symptoms of sponginess at all.


  - Products described were provided from the vendor at a substantial discount. 
  - Methods and processes described in this posting are experimental in nature and are not to be taken or construed as technical direction. Use your own judgment.