Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
Today I taxied out with the intent to fly to Petaluma where I was scheduled to present pictures from my recent OSH trip to the Petaluma EAA chapter.
I performed my run-up, got clearance to take off, pulled out onto the runway, pushed in the throttle and started the takeoff roll. Fifty feet down the runway the engine quit and would not start again. I rolled off at bravo contacted ground and told them I was going to jump out of the plane and hand-pull it back to my hanger which was .54 miles, nice and level, thank goodness. I put the plane back in the hanger and drove to the EAA meeting. A few hours later I got back to my plane and dug into the problem.
Turns out the Gascolator and the carburetor float bowl were both full of water and there was still water in both tanks to boot; that’s a lot of water!
One tank had 100 LL in it and the other had Chevron supreme (with ethanol). There was just as much water in the 100 LL as there was in the Chevron tank so the problem had nothing to do with ethanol. Anyway, the Chevron fuel was only a week old – too soon to go stale and separate as it is rumored to do (but never has in my airplane).
As best I can determine the water got in when I washed the airplane last weekend. Turns out both gas caps were loose.
Over the short life of the plane I have adjusted the tension on the gas caps many times. The battle is to get them tight enough to seal but loose enough to turn into position to latch. If they are too tight they will not turn. Today I took the time to think about that problem and it is stupid simple to fix. Just grind off a bit of the plastic that rotates so it has a sloped leading edge so it does not run into the metal filler neck. Now my caps are tight and don’t hang up. Why the heck didn't I do that years ago???
P.S. Yes I do occasionally check for water in the fuel just for the heck of it. I never find any worth worrying about or enough to justify checking religiously. I last checked it midway across country on the way back form OSH and as usual found nothing of interest.