Aerotrek-tips


Please Note: The information below is being provided only for our aircraft owners and/or their aircraft mechanics. This information does not necessarily apply to other light aircraft. And, some of the maintenance procedures described below can only be legally performed by the aircraft mechanic and the owner is not authorized to do this work. We will attempt to make notes of these things, but do not assume the owner is authorized to do all of the maintenance and other procedures described below.

 

AIRCRAFT INSPECTION CHECKLIST
       As described in the Aeropro Maintenance Manual, we provide an Inspection Checklist that provides considerable details regarding the aircraft and Rotax engine items needing inspected the first time at 25 hours, every 100 hours (or Annual Inspection -- whichever comes first), along with some additional longer-term inspection intervals for the aircraft and the Rotax engine. Also included with the Inspection Checklist are a good number of notations and recommendations. The Inspection Checklist is updated periodically with additional notes and information, so before every aircraft/engine inspection it would be worthwhile to download and print a copy of the latest-version Inspection Checklist. To download the latest version of our aircraft Inspection Checklist... click here
       The Inspection Checklist provides Rotax engine inspection information and we attempt to include the latest information -- however, it is the responsibility of the aircraft/Rotax mechanic to check the latest-version of the Rotax Maintenance Manual to assure that they are complying completely with Rotax engine inspection requirements.


ROTAX ENGINE REGISTRATION
       The purchasers of our new aircraft should register their new Rotax engine on the web site at... http://www.rotaxflyingclub.com/registration/engine. Contact us if you have need any information or have any questions about completing the Rotax registration form.


LIST OF ETHANOL-FREE GAS STATIONS and AIRPORTS OFFERING AUTO FUEL
The Rotax 912-series engines run best on premium auto fuel, and it is preferable when possible to avoid ethanol. A list of gas stations offering ethanol-free auto fuel (though not necessarily offering premium) is on a web site at... http://pure-gas.org/ A list of airports that are offering auto fuel (with or without ethanol) is on a web site at... http://www.navzilla.com/mogas.php Note: The airports offering auto fuel may or may not be offering premium auto fuel, and may or may not have ethanol in the gasoline (just have to check with them to get current information).


OIL FOR THE ROTAX 912ULS AIRCRAFT ENGINES
The only oil recommended and approved by Rotax for use in the 912-series engines is the Aeroshell Sport Plus 4 oil. However, this oil can be quite expensive. We have found this oil is available at a very good price from a company in Pennsylvania, per their web site at... www.oil-store.com

Additional Note: It is essential that only the actual Rotax oil filters be used with our engines. There are aftermarket oil filters that will "fit" -- but they are not the same and must not be used.


WEATHER:   A great "weekly weather planner" web page is at... www.roanokevalleyweather.com/weeklyplanner.htm


  click for larger image

MAINTAINING YOUR BATTERY
It is essential to maintain a good charge in your battery, to protect the battery health and life. Details about the batteries used in our planes and details regarding charging and maintaining is on a separate web page at... Aerotrek battery maintenance


   

ENZYME GASOLINE STABILIZER-TREATMENT
Auto fuel goes bad sort of quickly -- losing octane steadily and causing carbs to gum-up and "varnish" and cause other damage. To prevent this, it is very good to fly often and keep reasonably fresh fuel in your tanks. But if/when you are going to have to leave auto fuel in your tanks (and in your carbs -- this is the real worry) for a lengthy time (such as during Winter when you might not be able to fly for a couple of months or longer), you should use a good "fuel treatment" to "stabilize" the gasoline. The old standby was "Sta-Bil" and was supposed to be pretty good stuff. But, there are credible reports that the product "ENZYME" is actually much better and was designed to work with gasoline with ethanol. We strongly recommend avoiding carburetor problems and damage by using a fuel treatment such as ENZYME as needed. To do the job right, you need to first shut-off your wing tank fuel valves. Drain the gallon of fuel from the header tank (using the quick-drain valve on the bottom of the fuselage). Treat the fuel in each wing by adding the appropriate amount of ENZYME (per directions on the bottle). Mix the ENZYME with the gasoline by rocking the wings a good bit. Then, open the wing tank fuel valves (which allows ENZYME-treated fuel into the header tank. Then, start and run the engine for a good while, so that you can be sure that all of the gasoline in the carburetors is run through the engine and fresh ENZYME-treated gasoline is in the carburetors. ENZYME is available at WalMart and just about all auto parts stores.


 

RUBBER COVER (for cigarette lighter power socket)
This is a neat rubber plug/cover for the 12v power socket on the right-side of our instrument pants. This is available from NAPA stores and this is NAPA part# 782-7683. These cost about $5.50. These rubber plugs have a printed "NO SMOKING" emblem on them.


                      SKYLIGHT SUNSCREEN
Our skylights are tinted polycarbonate, but in some conditions it can be better to install the Pilot Armor skylight sunscreen that we have made for our planes. These fit very neatly and are held in place with some small silicone suction cups that work very well. The skylight sunscreen is usually only needed when the instrument panel has an iPad installation (because the glass iPad screen is subject to more glare problems that most aviation GPS units). The Pilot Armor sunscreen costs $80.00.


          INSTRUMENT PANEL HANGERS
It is much easier to work on the instrument panel if the instrument panel can be pulled out and suspended from the overhead tubes as shown in the photos. We make these "instrument panel hangars" using 3/16" thick nylon rope (available at Walmart and elsewhere) cut into 33" lengths, then tied in a knot to form a loop, and then we add a small S-hook (available at most hardware stores) and crimp the S-hook over the rope so it can't come loose. See the photos to see how we loop the ropes over the overhead steel tubes and where they are placed. Of course, the person working on the instrument panel needs to take great care when putting the instrument panel back in place to assure that everything fits properly and that no wires or hoses get pulled or tangled or pinched.


SILICONE SPRAY TO REDUCE CORROSION ON ENGINE AND CARBURETORS
The Rotax engine and carburetors are most made of aluminum. Aluminum doesn't rust, but bare aluminum does tend to get some light white corrosion (aluminum oxide) over time. This doesn't hurt anything, but it doesn't look good. To reduce this tendency to corrode, it is worthwhile to occasionally spray "silicone spray" on the aluminum surfaces of the engine and the carburetors. Silicone spray is low-cost and available at auto parts stores and Walmart. After spraying on the engine, the silicone spray dries and leaves a light dry silicone coating. Spray on a cool (not hot) engine. Repeat as often as you want.


 

VASELINE FOR THE FUEL CAP RUBBER GASKET
It is very helpful to keep a thin coating of Vaseline on the fuel cap rubber gasket. Without the grease (Vaseline is what we recommend) on the rubber gasket, the fuel cap is very hard to open and close (even sometimes requiring a small wrench to fit onto the fuel cap to be able to turn the fuel cap and remove it), and the rubber gasket wears and may need replaced in a year or less. We suggest keeping a very small squeeze-tube of Vaseline in your plane so that you can apply a thin coating of Vaseline to the fuel cap rubber gaskets whenever they start to get "dry" and a little difficult turn. Some people lubricate the gasket by rubbing a little gasoline on the rubber gasket after refueling the plane -- and this does nicely lube the gasket for putting the fuel cap back on, but the gasoline dries-out and the fuel cap is very hard to remove the next time you fuel-up your plane. A little Vaseline works much better and avoids getting gasoline on your skin (and even though most people don't worry much about this, it generally is better to avoid getting gasoline on the skin).


     

ADJUSTING FUEL CAP SPRING TENSION
The Aeropro fuel caps are held in place snuggly to prevent fuel from leaking in normal operations as well as when the wings are folded. This is accomplished with a spring-loaded flange on the inside of the fuel cap. The Aeropro factory normally adjusts the "tension" by each of the two bolts being 3 turns loosened (from the spring being fully compressed). This works fine, but it can make the fuel cap a bit excessively tight for installing or removing, and excessive tightness contributes to rubber gasket wear. The fuel cap usually can have this tension reduced by loosening the two bolts 1 or even 2 turns. However, care needs to be used to avoid the fuel cap being excessively loose and allowing fuel to leak or the fuel cap come off while flying.


                 

REPLACING FUEL LEVEL SIGHT TUBES
Our aircraft have "fuel level sight tubes" that allow the pilot to see the actual fuel level (without relying on a gauge of some sort that can be inaccurate or fail). The sight tubes are clear plastic tubing. However, the plastic tubing that has been available tended to rather quickly discolor and then the fuel level was not as easy to see. Recently, the Tygon company (in Ohio) began production of the LP1500 which is a clear plastic tubing specifically designed for use with gasoline. This is a much better plastic tubing than previously available and it is now standard for our Aeropro aircraft fuel sight tubes. At every Annual Inspection, per our Inspection Checklist, the fuel sight tubes should be inspected for clarity and if they are discolored they should be replaced with the Tygon LP1500 tubing. The LP1500 tubing is 1/4" ID and is a little stiffer than most other plastic tubing and needs to be installed using an easy "tubing expander" technique as shown in the photos above. The LP1500 tubing is low-cost ($3.00 for 2' of the tubing, which is more than enough to replace both sight tubes and with some extra tubing to spare) and is installed using four Oetiker 12.3 mm clamps ($1.00 each). Additional installation details are on our Inspection Checklist.
      please note: replacing the fuel level sight tubes should normally be done as needed during an Annual Inspection and this work is not "owner maintenance" and only should be done by a qualified aircraft mechanic


 

SUPPORTING MAIN WHEEL OFF THE GROUND
When needing to remove a main wheel to change a tire or inner tube or to work on the brakes, a relatively easy way to support a main wheel off the ground is to insert a long 5/16" (or 8mm) bolt or steel rod into the hollow end of the axle on the back side, and then support the main wheel off the ground using a jack or up on some blocks.


   

MICROFIBER TOWELS FOR EASY CLEANING
Microfiber towels of medium size (about the size of a washcloth) are available in economical packages (at Walmart or most auto parts stores) and are great for most aircraft cleaning purposes. Use the microfiber towels with plain clean water -- soap or other cleaning products are normally not needed. Most aircraft cleaning can be done by rinsing well with plain water, and then wiping down with a damp microfiber towel. For windshields, it is especially important to rinse thoroughly with clear water to allow most dust and dirt to rinse away and to soften bugs -- then, wipe with a wet microfiber towel to gently remove bugs and dirt. Then, wipe with a slightly-damp microfiber towel to complete the cleaning. If your hangar doesn't have water readily available, it can be very helpful to keep on hand a small (3 or 5 gallon) water sprayer tank to use for rinsing the windshield and other areas of the plane as needed. We wet (soaking wet) microfiber towel is excellent for cleaning the prop blades. When a microfiber towel is a little dirt, don't use it -- instead, wash it in your washing machine back at home. When it is necessary to give your whole aircraft a good general washing, we recommend using Woolite (yes, the laundry detergent used for washing delicate fabrics) because it is not a harsh (alkaline) soap so it doesn't damage aluminum or discolor metal coatings and it rinses clean in cold water.


          RUDDER GUST LOCK
One of our aircraft owners sent photos of a neat, low-cost "rudder gust lock" that he built. He explained that he built the gust lock out of 1/2" PVC pipe. He cut two pieces that were each 3'7" long (cutting them from one 10' PVC pipe that cost less than $2.00 at Home Depot). He drilled a hole near one end of each piece, a couple of inches from the end. He inserted a 1/4" diameter machine screw (a little over 3" long) through the pipes, using a short piece of rubber hose as a spacer/bumper between the two pieces of pipe and secured it with a nylock nut. (after everything is installed and the nut is adjusted to provide the proper spacing and tension, excess screw length can be cut-off and trimmed to reduce chances of damaging the paint and fabric when installing and removing the gust lock). He then slid onto the pipes two 3'4" pieces of pipe insulation that is made for 3/4" copper or 1/2" iron pipe. He then slid the gust lock over the vertical stabilizer and rudder and secured the open end with a short bungee holder (adding a red ribbon to increase visibility and help be sure it is removed before flight). He reported that his total cost was about $4.00. (idea provided by aircraft owner Jack McClellan, in Michigan)


        SEALING THE TURTLEDECK HINGE
Our aircraft have a removable turtledeck (to allow the wings to fold back). The turtledeck has a hinge, so that it can be folded-up to be more compact for storage in the cockpit or elsewhere. However, the hinge tends to allow rain to leak into the luggage compartment, and the hinge also allows cold air to flow through. It is easy to "seal" the hinge using some vinyl (electrical) tape on the bottom side (interior side) of the hinge, as shown in these photos.


    INNER TUBE VALVE STEM EXTENSIONS
Our front tire is 12x400 with an inner tube with a 90-degree valve stem. The original Aeropro inner tube has a fairly long valve stem (as shown in the photos) -- however, it still is "barely long enough" to be able to conveniently and reliably get an air pressure gauge or chuck onto. Domestically-available 12x400 inner tubes usually have an even shorter valve stem. So, it is helpful or even necessary to use a "valve stem extension" as shown in the photos. The "Victor M8838 3/4" Metal Valve Extension" is what we recommend (though a shorter inner tube valve stem might require the 1-1/4" extension). We try to keep both of these in stock and they are also readily available through Amazon.com However, when adding a valve stem extension it is necessary to rotate the front tire and make sure the valve stem extension does not hit the wheel pant.


FUEL FILTER TYPE AND LOCATION

    tricycle gear           taildragger

      removing old fuel filter         and replacing with single length of fuel line


As indicated on our Inspection Checklist, the fuel filter now used on our aircraft and authorized (and required) as a replacement fuel filter is the Wix 33031 metal case fuel filter (available from a number of sources including NAPA as their part #3031). We also strongly recommend that the fuel filter be placed under the pilot seat as shown in the photos above (and this is the original fuel filter location for our newer planes). This means removing the plastic fuel filter near the main fuel valve and replacing it and the two short lengths of fuel line (between the main fuel valve and the electric fuel pump) with a single length of fuel line, also as shown in photos above. The fuel filter needs replaced at the 100hr/Annual inspection and it is actually easier to do this with the fuel filter under the seat (with slightly different placement depending on taildragger or tricycle gear plane). The NAPA #3031 fuel filter includes some very good "spring clamps" that can be used to provide much easier subsequent fuel filter replacements.
      please note: relocating the fuel filter in older planes, as well as the regular maintenance of installing a new fuel filter, should normally be done as needed during an Annual Inspection and this work is not "owner maintenance" and only should be done by a qualified aircraft mechanic


    EZ-Pour spout kit   EZ-Pour spout   PLASTIC GAS CAN INFORMATION
    Most of our aircraft owners will often or even always take auto fuel to their aircraft in plastic gas cans. The problem is that most plastic gas cans a person can find nowadays have spouts that are short, unwieldy, and provide very slow fuel flow. This really makes filling-up the wing tanks much more of a strain and with a greater risk of an accident of some sort.
    We recommend the "EZ-Flow" spouts (shown in photos on the left) that will work with almost all older as well as most newer plastic gas cans. The EZ-Flow spout comes with a pop-in vent for the fuel can, and this is necessary (with any fuel can) to provide good fuel flow. The EZ-Flow "extended spout" works quite well and is recommended. However, we do NOT recommend the "Hi-Flow" spout because it is too large and prevents us from being able to readily see the rising fuel level in our fuel tanks. The standard-size EZ-Flow spout is what should be used. (also, the Hi-Flow spout is too large to fit into car gas tank openings and that's bad because most of us want our plastic fuel cans to be multi-purpose as needed).
    The EZ-Pour company offers some aftermarket spouts that will fit many (but not all) plastic gas cans on the market. These can greatly improve the fuel flow rate and make the job much easier. The EZ-Pour web site is at http://ezpourspout.com. I've found these EZ-Pour spouts will fit some older Blitz gas cans but will NOT fit a lot of newer ones. I've found they will fit the Scepter plastic gas cans available at some hardware and other stores. (the best thing to do is buy the EZ-Pour spout first, and then take it with you when you go shopping for plastic gas cans, to be sure you buy something that it will fit)
    We tried the "No-Spill" plastic gas cans and had very high hopes that they would be the best answer for our purposes, The "No-Spill" web site is at... www.nospill.com. The No-Spill 5 gallon gas can costs about $30.00 and even though it is overall a fine design and good for some purposes, I do not recommend it for our aircraft. With the spout in our fuel filler port, you can't see the rising fuel level and overflowing is easy. (and always remember -- if you get any gasoline on your skylight or clear doors the polycarbonate will instantly be damaged and require replacement) And... the fuel flow is quite slow and the button has a heavy spring so it's a bit of a strain to use the No-Spill gas can. Finally, we can see that when trying to "rest" the No-Spill gas can on the wing, it would be very easy to put the can down on the wing where a heavy corner might press down in the wrong place -- and damage the wing paint, fabric or even some of the structure. Overall, for several reasons, the No-Spill gas can is not recommended.
    Another recommendation... The plastic gas cans usually have 5- or 6-gallon capacity. That's fine, but 6 gallons of gasoline weighs about 36 lbs and even 5 gallons weighs about 30 lbs. This is a lot of weight to carry up a ladder and then lean over the wing and tip the spout into the wing tank opening. I strongly recommend only putting 4 gallons of gasoline in these cans, so that the weight is about 24 lb (plus the slight weight of the plastic gas can itself, of course). Only putting 4 gallons (or even 3 gallons, or whatever works best for each individual) of gasoline in the plastic gas can also means you can tip it over further before gasoline starts coming out of the spout -- making it easier to get the spout into the wing tank opening without spilling gasoline. Also, dealing with a lighter gas can makes it less likely that you might drop it and bang it down onto the wing and damage it. Obviously, if you only put 4 gallons in the gas can you need more cans to do the same job -- but it is well worth it.
    Finally, even with great care it is possible to spill some gasoline. Because of this, we always put a clean dry bath towel between the wing tank opening and the skylight -- to help block/absorb gasoline if there is a spill. Also, we keep some paper towels up there on the wing so we can immediately wipe-up any drops of gasoline that spill. It is essential to prevent gasoline from ever touching any polycarbonate material, and this means our skylights and doors and the little windows to the rear of the doors. Also, be sure both doors are shut before refueling, to further reduce chances of even a tiny droplet of gasoline getting onto the clear doors -- even the tiniest bit of gasoline will damage the polycarbonate and cause staining and cracking around the rivets. The polycarbonate panels can be replaced with some low-cost 1/16" thick polycarbonate and some aluminum rivets, but it is several hours of meticulous work and it is best to completely prevent this damage.


         
TOWBAR 
One of our aircraft owners reported that a towbar for a Beech aircraft works with our (trigear) planes. This is a Beechcraft tow bar part #13-01900 from Aircraft Spruce (costs about $46.75). To use this towbar, it needs stretched open a little further. Also, to better hold in the hollow ends of our front axle, we added some nylon spacers as can be seen in the photos above (easy to do, and just hardware store items). To use the towbar, you sort of slide it under the wheel pant and then carefully lifting one side and then the other up into position in the ends of the axles -- taking care to not scratch the wheel pant (though adding the nylon spacers as shown above reduces this potential problem). This Beech towbar breaks-down into two halves and can easily be carried in our luggage compartment. Now, very few of our trigear owners use a towbar and it's not that hard to maneuver the plane around without it, but a towbar might be helpful for some pilots and some situations.




REDUCING COCKPIT AIRFLOW
Because our aircraft have folding wings, there are a number of "openings" in our cockpit and luggage compartment area that allows airflow in the cockpit. This is OK in warm conditions but not good when it is cold outside. To reduce this problem, one area where this airflow can be blocked is where the flaperon control arms go through the turtledeck (left and right sides). Shown on the left are two different designs that both work well. They can be cut with scissors out of very thin milk jug (or similar very thin) plastic. They can then be slipped in place and it will block the airflow in this area very effectively.

The upper-left design works very well and can't slip out of position, but is more complex and takes a little more time to make. It must be cut out of thin plastic (like a 1-gallon milk jug) to go in place easily.

The lower-left drawing is the original, simpler design made by Andy Hayden and it is easier to insert or remove and generally does just fine. It can be cut out of slightly thicker plastic, such as a quart oil bottle or something similar. (and it's fairly easy to find a plastic of this sort of a color to match the aircraft)


       

STORING AND DISPLAYING REQUIRED AIRCRAFT DOCUMENTS
These documents must be on display in the aircraft where an FAA inspector can see them from outside the aircraft: Airworthiness Certificate, Aircraft Registration, and also with these documents must be the Aircraft Operating Limitations and the Weight & Balance sheet. We have generally been storing these documents in a sealed plastic bag inside the mapbox, but this does not really comply with the FAA requirement that the Airworthiness Certificate and Aircraft Registration card be "visible" from outside the plane. We have just found a good way to do (while still properly protecting the documents from water and dirt) by using a "document sleeve" as shown in the photos above. These clear sleeves are open on one end but easy enough to seal reasonably well, and they can be secured onto the cockpit forward sidewall carpet by putting sticky-back Velcro tape on the back of the clear sleeve, as shown in the photos above. We have these sleeves on hand and they cost just $1.00 each, or $3.00 each with the necessary velcro already attached (idea provided by aircraft owner Reed Usrey, in Indiana)     further note... We also now also recommend laminating the Airworthiness Certificate, for long-term protection of this essential document. We have written confirmation from the FAA that it is approved and legal to do this.


   

ROTAX 912 MAINTENANCE ARTICLE
Conrad Beale is a highly-experienced Rotax technician in the UK and he has written an article with a lot of details about Rotax maintenance, service and operation. Most of the information is for the Rotax technician and not for use by the aircraft owner -- but there still is a lot of very interesting and worthwhile information for the aircraft owner (and in any event, the more the aircraft owner knows and understands his engine, the more likely he will be sure to get proper maintenance). This article is at... Conrad Beale 912 article.

 

                 

MAPBOX RAM-MOUNT -- FOR iPAD MINI OR OTHER DEVICE
Many of our aircraft owners have a large-screen aviation GPS or full-size iPad mounted in the center of their panel, and this works very well. However, more and more pilots are using the iPad's and the smaller iPad Mini has a lot to offer. If the pilot wants a very handy removable mount for the iPad Mini, this can be done by installing a RAM-Mount "ball" inside the right-side of the mapbox, as shown in the photos above. With this mount, the iPad Mini is on the far-right side of the panel and sort of blocking the mapbox and blocking access to the circuit breakers, but this still may be worthwhile for some aircraft owners. The RAM-Mount ball can be installed as shown where it will not interfere with the POH being kept in the mapbox. However, it is necessary to take great care if installing a RAM-Mount ball in this location, because the screws and nuts will be very close to the circuit breakers and they must be kept clear (though this will vary depending on different models/years of our aircraft). Further note: this "mapbox RAM-Mount" could also be used for many other devices -- smaller aviation GPS units (such as the Garmin aera) or even an iPhone could be mounted using this "Mapbox RAM-Mount."


       

COCKPIT/PANEL DIMMABLE LED LIGHT
We do not certify our planes for night flying, but some pilots still might want to have a cockpit light that would illuminate the instrument panel if ever needed. The photos above show one very neat installation of a red LED cockpit light that works very effectively, and a dimming switch is also installed adjacent to the light. The LED light is available from Aircraft Spruce and is part #11-05519. The dimmer/switch was made at low-cost by one of our aircraft owners and more details will be provided when available, but otherwise there should be ready-to-install dimming switches available at reasonable cost.

     

TRAILERING TIPS
Our planes have quick-folding wings and a number of our aircraft owners occasionally transport their planes in enclosed trailers (and a few occasionally transport their planes on open trailers). It is important to properly secure the plane in or on a trailer, and so we have created a "Aerotrek Trailer Tips" web page at... trailer-tips.htm

                 

IMPROVED FUEL LEVEL VISIBILIY
With our white aircraft, you can usually see the fuel level in the fuel sight tubes as long as they are in good condition and still reasonably clear (see "REPLACING FUEL LEVEL SIGHT TUBES" up above) but with our yellow and all other color aircraft it can be difficult to see the fuel level. To greatly improve the visibility of the fuel level (even in our white planes), we recommend installing a piece of very thin white plastic behind the fuel level sight tube. This is shown in the photos above. You need a piece of thin white plastic (we cut-up a thin white plastic document binder that we can find at a Staples or Office Max or similar office supply store) and cut a piece of plastic 5.25" x 2". Then, drill or otherwise cut a pair of holes (1/2" spaced apart) near the top and bottom of the plastic piece. Then, install using two small plastic cables ties as shown in the photos above.

           

FLYDAT RESETTING
      Our aircraft were equipped with the Rotax "FlyDat" engine monitor until January 2010 (when starting with aircraft s/n 29809 we began using the "EIS" engine monitor manufactured in the U.S. by Grand Rapids Technologies). The FlyDat is actually a good and generally durable engine monitor but it does have what can be an annoying problem. When one of the engine parameters is exceeded (such as too-high or too-low oil pressure, etc.) this number will "flash" as a warning. That's fine, but then the next time you start the engine (and the FlyDat comes back on) it flashes a "SERVICE" warning. To get rid of the SERVICE warning, you need to be pushing in on the silver button (on the front of the FlyDat) while turning-on the unit. This "resets" it. That's fine, but after doing this about 10 times the FlyDat will no longer "reset." Then, you are stuck with the annoying SERVICE warning every time you start the engine. Until now, the only way to "clear" the non-resettable SERVICE warning was to take or send the FlyDat to Lockwood Aviation in Florida and they could connect it to a special computer program and then reset it. (but even after this, once the owner has pushed the silver button and "reset" the FlyDat more than 10 times you again have the annoying SERVICE warning).
      One of our aircraft owners, Russ Miley, has found that is the FlyDat can be reset by making a connection between pin 22 and pin 20 on the back of the FlyDat (please see the photos above) and then turning-on the FlyDat. This should reset the FlyDat (and then allow the silver button on the front of the FlyDat to again work as intended). Then... if/when you have used the silver button to "reset" the FlyDat more than 10 times (and it will no longer "reset"), just make the connection between pin 22 and pin 20 again, turn the FlyDat on, and this should reset the FlyDat.
      We have tried "resetting" one Flydat with this method and found that it works just fine. A temporary connection between pins 20 and 22 can be made with a length of wire, of course, or perhaps even more conveniently with a bent paper clip or a bent cotter pin or something like that. Now, if an aircraft owner is concerned that he may need to "reset" the FlyDat perhaps again in the future, he could installed two wires and connect to a small switch (perhaps tucked up behind the instrument panel in a place where it would not interfere with anything but be accessible as needed) to be able to reset the FlyDat without having to pull the instrument panel out.
      please note: removing and reinstalling the instrument panel and working on the FlyDat is not "owner maintenance" and only should be done by a qualified aircraft mechanic

      ROTAX EXHAUST SPRINGS
 
The Rotax exhaust springs should last for many years, but it seems that there is a fairly high percentage of Rotax exhaust springs that fail (break) perhaps very soon (or within the first year). This is why it is important to frequently look to see if you have any broken exhaust springs, and replace as needed. Another worthwhile thing is to put a thick bead of high-temperature silicone sealer on the exhaust springs. This probably dampens vibrations a little and make them a little less likely to break. On our Inspection Checklist, in the Rotax engine inspection section, we specify that this should be done at the 25-hour inspection (or at the Annual Inspection if it has not already been done).

          COWL PLUGS
    If the aircraft owner has his aircraft parked or hangared where he has any concerns about birds or insects and wants to plug the front cowling openings, a pair of "cowl plugs" can be made from some high-density foam, as shown in the photos above. Note: The lower-rear engine cowling openings are large and cannot readily be "plugged", so if there are concerns about birds or insects (or mice or whatever) the upper cowling should be removed and the engine compartment inspected very carefully as appropriate.


         WINTER FLYING -- BLOCKING-OFF SOME OF THE COOLANT RADIATOR AREA
    Our aircraft have an inflight-adjustable oil cooler flap (standard since late-2010, and an option for most earlier planes), which can completely block airflow through the oil cooler and this allows for quicker warm-ups and allows for higher oil temperatures during cold/Winter conditions. However, even with the oil cooler flap, the twin coolant radiators provide a great deal of engine cooling and the engine can still run cooler than we want (generally we want to see engine oil temperature at 190F to 200F). To block-off some of the cold air going through the coolant radiators, Karen Smith up in Canada put some small strips of aluminum tape on her coolant radiators as can be seen in the photos above. It is very important to note that typical duct tape or other tapes must not be used, because they will harden and be almost impossible to remove cleanly. Karen reports that pure aluminum tape (available at most hardware stores) works just fine and even after a Winter of use the aluminum tape will come off nicely without damaging the radiator paint (but remove the tape when it is nice and warm, because then the adhesive will release more readily). When putting some tape on the radiators to increase operating temperatures, the pilot must be very careful to monitor temperatures (especially during climb) and make sure that temperatures do not go too high. Also, when weather gets warmer, don't forget to remove the radiator tape.


           

   ELECTRIC ENGINE PREHEATER
    This is an external engine preheater constructed by David Hoover to use with his A240 at the GPE Flight School in Wilmington, Ohio. Dave says that the electric heater is a Stanley model 675919, 120V, 1500W, and cost $50.00. It uses a universal boot 4" x 10" x 6", cut down to fit the heater. Duct tape was used to hold and seal the edges (but it could be sealed using pop rivets). A dryer exhaust hose is connected to the boot and two bungee cords are used to help support the whole system on the heater. Total cost about $70. David says that he runs the heater about 2 hours before a flight and it really works really well.


 
    Information and photos showing how to removal and reinstall our main wheel pants is on a web page at... wheel-pants.htm
    Also on this web page is a photo showing the special air nozzle we use to make putting air in the nose wheel inner tube much easier.
 


                             

   REPLACING THE HEADER TANK VENT LINE
      In our earlier planes, the original header tank vent line was a clear plastic line that U.S. auto fuel (especially with ethanol) would rather quickly discolor and make quite stiff and even brittle. Beginning sometime in 2012, we began using the Tygon F4040A yellow plastic tubing for the header tank vent line. This Tygon tubing is approved for U.S. auto fuel and will remain plyable for a long time. During every Annual Inspection, as listed on our Inspection Checklist, the header tank vent line should be inspected and if it is not already the Tygon F4040A yellow tubing, or if otherwise it is discolored, stiff, or worn in any way, this low-cost line should be replaced. It is also very important to make sure the header tank vent line is properly routed so it is not "pinched" or strained/pulled when the wings are folded.
      And, since the Tygon F4040A tubing is quite soft and flexible, we suggest installing it as shown in the photos above. As photo 1 shows, this tubing can readily pinch shut when bent. This can easily happen where the header tank vent line is connected to the fitting on the root of the left wing. (NOTE: Our oldest planes do not have a "fitting" on the wing root and just have a continuous plastic tube going into the wing -- contact us for information about the replacement procedure.)
      So, as shown in photo 2, photo 3, photo 4 and photo 5, we insert four 1/4" length pieces of 1/4" OD (1/8" ID) Tygon LP1500 tubing into the yellow tubing, and as shown in photo 6 this allows the yellow tubing to bend fairly tightly and without any problem of the tubing pinching shut.
      These 1/4" pieces of LP1500 tubing should be inserted with a tiny bit of WD40 on them so they will slide in place easily. The short lengths of LP1500 tubing should have about 1/8" space between them, and slid in far enough so there is about 1" of the yellow tubing that can then be slid in place over the fitting on the root of the left wing. The Tygon F4040A yellow header tank vent line must be secured in place with the appropriate Oetiker 12.3mm clamps on both ends.
      As shown in photo 7, photo 8 and photo 9, the header tank vent line should be protected with some plastic spiral wrap where it is routed past the left wing tank fuel valve, and where it goes through the small opening behind the seat, as shown in the photos.
      The clear tube on the right side of the cockpit is part of the pitot line, and only air pressure moves in this clear plastic line and it should last a very long time. Still, at Annual Inspection when the wings are folded, this clear line should be checked to be sure it is still pliable and not pinched (including when the wings are folded) -- and check to be sure it is routed properly as shown in photo 10. Also, if there is any abrasion or wear on the clear pitot line, it should be replaced or protected using some plastic spiral wrap as shown in the photo 10
      Additional Note: Plastic spiral wrap needs to be used over the yellow Tygon tubing anywhere that a cable tie is holding tubing in place, because the yellow tubing is so soft a cable tie could pinch it shut. This is mostly needed where the yellow Tygon tubing is next to the left wing tank shut-off valve and fittings (which could otherwise eventually wear a hole in the yellow tubing).
      please note: replacing the header tank vent line is not "owner maintenance" and only should be done by a qualified aircraft mechanic


 
    If any of our aircraft owners have questions or suggestions, please contact us!
 

   for more information, please contact . . .
  Aerotrek   Aerotrek™ Aircraft 
  Rollison Light Sport Aircraft, Inc.
  Bloomfield, Indiana
  phone: 812-384-4972   email: info@aerotrek.aero
additional sales/service centers:
 
  western-USA sales/service center:  San Francisco, California
  Alaska sales center:  Palmer, Alaska
  eastern-Canada sales center:  Bancroft, Ontario, Canada
please also visit us at... www.airplanegear.com
 
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