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Topic-icon Flying an Apache

  • Eric Parks
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28 Jul 2021 00:16 #3092

Finally got time with my mechanic buddy to finish the brake caliper fix. We had already changed the tire on the left main but the brake caliper was leaking over time. I could fly the plane but when I came back next time to get it out of the hangar it had a small puddle of brake fluid on the hangar floor. Not properly trained! He had already tried a fix with one set of O-rings but they didn't seem to work. So he ordered another set from Aircraft Spruce. Turns out these work (at least so far!). Cost for the O-rings: 40 cents!

Of course my buddy had to buy a new tool for bleeding the brakes. Once he got it set up (first time) he was able to bleed them in 3 pumps. He was totally thrilled with his new tool. I didn't ask him how much that cost!

After getting the brakes fixed we had to try them out, of course. First gentle taxiing with lots of brake applications. Then a rejected takeoff. Full power to 60 mph then idle and stand on the brakes. Finally we did a quick pattern. We checked the brakes after each test and all looked good.

Since you have already seen the plane on the jacks getting the tire and brake work done I took a couple pics as I "put the plane to bed". Notice the trickle charger for the battery hooked up to the GPU plug. My buddy recently fixed the GPU plug as it was INOP before. So now I can attach my battery trickle charger to it to keep the battery fully charged. It has helped to make a big difference in starting the engines. The props really spin now! We are still planning on adding the Bogert copper starter cables this winter but now the plane is starting well. The copper cables should just be a bonus.

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Last edit: 28 Jul 2021 00:47 by Eric Parks.

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13 Jul 2021 01:33 #3089

Time for the old girl to get a new shoe! Found a bubble starting on the sidewall of the left main so I bought two new tires (so I would have an extra for the right main when needed). My mechanic replaced the old tire. He is also trying to track down and kill a brake fluid leak that has been tough to end. So the tire is done but the leak chase continues. He got the caliper rebuilt but says he needs a pump to properly bleed the brakes. He'll get that done while I'm on my next trip. At least now we are being more proactive with the repairs!

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Last edit: 13 Jul 2021 01:36 by Eric Parks.

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10 Jul 2021 22:46 #3085

Since getting the Apache flying I have wanted to test the cruise speed for max cruise. The book says about 6500' with 75% is going to give the max cruise speed. However, every time I tried to test there were clouds at that level or it was just too bumpy. So yesterday I had the perfect day to check it out. I had a buddy that was a 727 pilot go with me and we went out to check the Apache for best speed. We climbed up and I was beginning to think it wasn't climbing as fast I would expect. I set up cruise power and thought maybe an engine was running a little rough but nothing seemed wrong. Checking the speed I could see it was not giving me as much as I expected. However I still couldn't figure out what was wrong. After getting back I did my figures. I had taken speeds on the 4 cardinal headings and came up with an average ground speed of 156.5 mph. While not terrible it was not what I expected and I was pretty deflated. Driving home I was trying to understand what the issue was. I thought that if I was in my Airbus I would have thought the issue was my landing lights extended as they will "rumble" a bit and take a very slight performance hit. I don't have lights that extend, not even cowl flaps.

Then I realized what the problem was, the door was causing the drag! When we taxied out I had mentioned to my buddy that the door handle should come up further. He pulled it up but it didn't go up any more. I made sure the top latch was good and we went. While climbing I saw the top latch had let go so I again pulled it closed and it stayed shut. However, I later understood he had never gotten the main latch closed, just the "click" latch. So the door had been slightly "in trail" and caused the rumble and extra drag. Just a little but that was enough.

So back out today and I did some more tests on my own. This time I made sure the door was totally shut closed! Climb felt great and with the same test parameters (6500' @ full throttle-23" & 2400 rpm) I got 162.5 mph. This was more what I had expected. Then going to 2300 rpm it only dropped to 160.25 mph. I then climbed up and tried 8500' with full throttle-21" & 2300 and got an average of 156.75.

So for now I'm happy with the speed numbers I'm getting. I'll keep track of what I get at cruise when we go somewhere but for now I will claim a "top speed" of 140 KTAS. Or maybe 160 mph since it sounds faster!

Of course I have a few things planned for the future that may add a little more speed yet. So maybe I can get to 145 KTAS ;)

BTW, the book says I should get 175 mph as the top cruise speed. I don't know if ANY 150 hp Apache (including the test plane!) ever got that speed but mine is never going to! That is why I am doing these speed runs, so I can know what to expect from my antique Apache as it is now.

Gascolator drains are now fixed and don't leak any more. Door will shut and latch but we need to fix the lock for the handle. New battery and master relay have made starting the engines a totally new experience! The props are turning twice as fast as they were before. My mechanic said he also tightened up some loose connections. It made all the difference. I still plan on installing the copper Bogert cables this winter. The "new" throttle knobs are great. They look and feel much better!

No pics of the "speed runs" since they are pretty boring but I am including one of my nosewheel (super exciting!) since I I totally nailed pushing the plane into the hangar and getting the nosewheel into the alignment box. I use a golf cart to push it in and it has been a slow process for me to learn how to control it.

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Last edit: 08 Nov 2021 03:05 by Eric Parks.

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07 Jul 2021 02:13 #3081

Along with fixing the electrical issues my mechanic was able to make a very much wanted upgrade.. Aztec throttle, prop & mixture knobs. The old original knobs were orange with pilot sweat and oil and were small and slick to hold. The new knobs are much easier to use and of course are color coded and have different shapes. A fairly easy fix but one of my favorite upgrades!

I was also able to try out my new USB ports. I had my Garmin portable GPS Aera 660 and my GDL-50 both plugged in and they stayed fully charged all day and worked great. Another small upgrade!

We averaged about 174 mph going west bound at 8500' and averaged about 158 coming back at 9500'. So with full throttle at those altitudes and 2300 rpm we averaged 166 mph (144 KTAS) both ways. Yup, had a tailwind going WEST. Not bad for a comfortable cruise setting. I burned 16.4 gallons going over to Franklin (I had them top off the mains just to give them a little business). I find that pretty reasonable for flying a twin!

I am really enjoying the S-TEC 50 autopilot with the Garmin G5 displays. They both work so well and make flying much easier. One of my purchase requirement for my plane was to have an autopilot with altitude hold and I'm so glad I got that.

I am going to have to get better headsets! These are cheaper units and just a little too big and clunky. I'm already spoiled by my David Clark Pro headset I use for work so I guess that goes on the "to buy" list. The old headsets will be ok for rear seat pax!

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Last edit: 07 Jul 2021 02:27 by Eric Parks.

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07 Jul 2021 02:02 #3080

More pics from departing Franklin, NC.

You can see the runway in one picture as I circled in my climb out of the valley. Wife took these pics!

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07 Jul 2021 01:58 #3079

I finally got my first "fun" trip done in the Apache. By fun I mean a flight with no other purpose than than to go somewhere for the fun of it.

OK, true confession time. I had another trip planned, a LONG trip from Charlotte, NC to Dallas, TX. It was 3 legs to get there with about 6.5 hours air time. I had everything planned and filed for IFR. Got out to the airport and put all my bags and stuff in the plane and pulled it out of the hangar. Did my walk around and got in to start the engines and the entire electrical system died! Bummer! Found out I had a bad Master Relay. After 65 years it packed up right then (note: I actually found out later that the relay was made in JAN 1965 so it was "only" 56 years old!). I think all the engine runups with lots of cranking finally did it in. So that was the end of that trip.

Fast forward two weeks and a new relay (and brand new battery!) later and we have fixed several other electrical gremlins as well. The engines are cranking fast and starting easy. YEAH!

So Wifey and I flew to a little North Carolina town in the Western NC mountains called Franklin. They have a nice little airport, 1A5 (Macon County). We were treated GREAT. Very nice FBO and we took their courtesy car into town for a little restaurant and shopping time. Flying time was 1.0 going over and 1.1 coming back on the Hobbs meter from Shelby (KEHO). Fun first trip for the wife. She enjoyed her seating position much better in the Apache than she did in the Bonanza we rented a couple years ago. She can see better forward and liked getting in better as well as a more solid ride. So Wifey gives it a thumbs up!

Only glitch was the outside lock for the door handle didn't work properly. So we will dive into that. But everything else was great.

Here are a few pics from the trip.

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Last edit: 13 Jul 2021 01:40 by Eric Parks.

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