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Tips & Tricks
For those who don’t know me, I am new to PPG (started a little less than a year ago) and was taught by the one and only, Don Jordan. Recently, I was having some very frustrating motor issues and as usual, Don was always there to help every step of the way. I was able to fix it, and after reporting the good news to him, he suggested I send out a message with the run down so that others may benefit from my valued learning experience. I think he suggested that I send a smoke signal or a Morse code message, like they used to do when he learned how to fly, but we then decided email was the best. ;)
First of all, I am not a gear head, I just have a few basic rules that I always follow when I am trouble shooting simple motors like this one. Here is the list in respective order of investigation:
1. Is it getting gas?
2. Is it getting air?
3. Is it getting spark?
I knew it was getting spark b/c I put a new plug, properly gapped and saw the spark, I knew it was getting air because I didn’t let any birds build a nest in my airbox, so it must be fuel!
My motors symptoms were as follows: trouble running at lower idle, missing while in flight, but not shutting off. I tried the usual, “just keep flying and hope it gets better” method that we use at the airlines, but it did not fix the problem. As a rule, I try not to fly farther than I am willing to walk or swim in a day and this sketchy motor was really starting to cramp my style, so I knew I needed to do something about it. First, I added a couple more bottles of water and bug spray to my survival pack and tried a quick and simple carb flush. The extra bottles of water made me feel better, but the carb clean didn’t fix the problem. Then I was frustrated and I figured that I could just bring the whole rig in my boat and use it as an anchor, or maybe spray it with gas and solve the problem with a match, but alas, I didn’t do that. I had to put on my big-boy pants and break into that tiny little carb and do some surgery.
Here is the go to move for fixing mystery problems with a carb when you are SURE that you have spark and air.
Buy a carb bath from autozone, or just borrow mine. They are $30 and it will at least make sure that your carb is not the problem. This liquid is NOT the same as carb cleaner, it is basically a magic liquid that dissolves anything in the carb that isn’t supposed to be there, I’m sure it is also extremely good for the environment. This is the fourth time this bucket of liquid magic has saved me and I always think I should have done this sooner. Here is how to use it.
Take your carb completely apart remembering how you did it in case you want to put it back together some day. I recommend taking pictures (take about 5x more than you think you need)
Remove ALL, and I mean ALL plastic or rubber unless you feel like rendering those things into a nice jelly. Then take your metal pieces and place them in the basket and let them sit in the liquid. The instructions say, 20 mins. That worked for my Miniplane, but I redid a carb on a Honda CT70 that same night and found it needed about 45 and some brushing to get it clean. Other things that really help move things along are steaks, beer, and a cute girl telling you how manly it is that you’re working on that motor, not really in that order.
Also, I cannot emphasize enough to people flying to make sure you have adequate fluids, and protective gear for the conditions you are flying. I have seen more than a few folks flying around much farther than they want to walk back from, keep that in mind. In my kit, I have matches and lighters, thermal blankets, several bottles of water, compass, bug spray, a knife, zip ties, tape, wire, signal mirror and some food. It all weighs about 5lbs and I plan on marking the spot where I leave my gear with a GPS so I can get it later. If I am flying up north over high trees, I also carry rope and harness to rappel down. Even 4 bottles of water, a compass and bug spray makes the difference between a nice hike home and a very serious issue. If you doubt this, instead of flying one morning, get dropped off at the far end of the compound with no water and walk it back to your car.
And as always, I just want to say, “Good luck, we’re all counting on you.”
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
"Ian Ritter" <email@example.com>