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I suspect I may be more anal about my aircraft (601XLB) than others might be.
I fly a lot and I'm always expecting something to go wrong. It's why I pull my cowl every 10 hours or so and inspect the engine compartment. It's also why, even 2-1/2 years after first flight (and 300 hours), I still spend hours every week fixing, tweaking, upgrading or cleaning my plane.
So, when it comes to my condition inspection I have a 45 page checklist that has been modified from an original AMD first flight checklist. It literally covers every rivet, nut bolt and system on the aircraft.
I completed my condition inspection, last week. All in, I'm guessing it took me about 30 hours if you include researching various items that came up.
My "inspection" included adding a Challenger cleanable oil filter, new spark plugs, new fuel filters, new air filter, new brake pads, re-packing the wheel bearings and re-pitching my 3 blade warp drive prop.
Since I am constantly working on my plane I was not really expecting to find any real issues with it. By the time the inspection was done I had a new perspective on this. I was surprised just how many problems there. They included:
- Strobe lights not working
- Aileron trim tab incorrectly adjusted
- Right brake line leaking at caliper
- Left fuel gauge not reading correctly (knew about this beforehand)
- Loose safety wire on right brake
- main gear bolts needed tightening on both sides!
- ELT was not working. The communicating cable to the remote control was unplugged!
- A number of bad rivets that required replacement
- Torn rocker cover gasket
- Main gear wheel too tight
- Brake caliber bolts improperly torqued (though they were safety wired)
Since I spend so much time working on my plane I was really surprised just how many problems there were. My takeaway is that, at least for me, "looking" at the plane regularly is not he same as actually inspecting it in detail.
Before I started the inspection I had a conversation in my head about whether I really needed to spend all the time required by my 45 page checklist?
Maybe I should just do the regular mx - oil, filters, brakes and just take a over-all look at it. Wouldn't that be good enough? After all, I KNOW my plane because I'm always working on it, right?
I almost convinced myself I didn't really need to go through the whole ordeal of my very long checklist. In the end I realized, at least for me, that a thorough condition inspection is critical.
I've attached a copy of my continuously updated condition inspection checklist for those who may be curious. My engine is an O-235.
I use the same checklist and I spend about three weeks doing my inspection spread out to a few hours every few days. I have over 200 hours on my 601XL and early on i did do a lot of work and fix a lot of things to keep it right. Now I do very little as for repairs. I do check pretty much every thing on the list. It gives me peace of mind knowing i have looked at everything. I have to say I really like not having to fix/repair all the time.
Yep, mine took the better part of three weeks as well (on and off).
For the first time since my first flight I finally feel my plane is "done". Everything is running right, the engine is solid and all my icontinued improvements have me feeling confident.
Funny, but i thought i would be done working on the plane after i flew off the 40 hours. I never expected to still be working on it two and a half years later!
I'm glad i finally got here.
I did another adjustment on my prop today and was getting 123 indicated at 75% power at 6500 feet. This is the best performance i have gotten out of her. It felt great!
Thanks for sharing Gary. Impressive findings. I am almost done with the build of my 650B. Learning from these type of events is essential for all of us builder and flyers...
Will adapt your checklist to my project for sure.
Thank you for keeping us safe!