Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Time for an Annual

At the end of June, the Annual for N681EW runs out. There was a time when an Annual meant delivering the aeroplane to a maintenance organisation and bending over while simultaneously opening my wallet. When the wallet was completely empty, I only had to ask when they'd like me to come back and bend over again. Usually after two or three months the Annual would be complete, and I'd contributed a year's earnings to some engineering retirement fund, or so it seemed.

I'm very pleased to say that I've since found an engineer who not only does a great job, but who is also more than happy for me to get involved in the maintenance too, so as soon as the early morning mist had cleared I drove the few miles to the strip and flew to Henstridge which sits right on the eastern the edge of Yeovilton's MATZ. I tend to give them a call, and today made contact just as I passed Alfred's Tower. I was more than a litle surprised when they asked if I could fly 'not above 500 feet' for coordination. There was a scattering of houses, buildings, fences, hedges and walls below meaning that I could easily find myself in breach of the 500' rule. Sadly saying that 'ATC made me do it and then they ran away' would not work as a defence. So I did the only sensible, mature thing and pushed the nose over, went to full throttle and picked my way carefully at 500' or less agl while studiously avoiding any man-made object.

Shutting down at Henstridge I took the cowls off and removed the to plugs from each cylinder for the compression test. With a Continental this is best done when the engine is hot or warm (hence the full throttle earlier, and you thought I was just having fun), I'm pleased to say that the numbers were all good, for a Continental that is. I spent the rest of the day helping to take the interior out, opening up all of the inspecton panels, cleaning, gapping and testing the spark plugs, taking the spats off and changing the oil. I'm glad to say that when I cut open the filter, and took a close look at the pleated material inside, there was a pleasing absence of metalic particles, indicating that nothing catastrophic was happening internally. This year there are a few small things to attend to, but with a bit of luck it should be complete by early next week. I’ll be heading back to Henstridge on Saturday to get my hands dirty again.

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