Jump to content

Engine Problem (Long Post)


Recommended Posts

Most of this novel is a cross post from the CA list. (Glad I found this board.)


Original Post OCT 18th 2002


Ok, here's my story and I have no clue. I have a limited knowledge

about piston engines and the nuances that make them go...


Friday was a great day, the Condition Inspection was completed, the

A&P give the bird a clean bill of health and it was time to test fly

prior to the SBY Flyin. I took it very slow and ran through every

system twice and then ran through them again. A few hours later, it

was time to take her for a test flight. All went well and after a

few minor tweaks here and there, I flew again. Ok, the good news is

everything was ready for Saturday morning which brings me to the



Saturday morning I was to fly from AIY (Atlantic City Bader) to

Millville in order to link up with my wing man Jay Blum and his Long

Ez. That flight also went perfectly. Nothing out of the ordinary.


The plan was for me to take on fuel, and for us to take on coffee and

a light breakfast. So, I gassed up with 13.5G 100LL at MIV. So far

that's the only thing that has changed since the past two flights.


After taking fuel, (just me, not Jay) we started up and taxied over

to the restaurant on the field, had breakfast... about 45 minutes

later, and after our formation safety briefing, a walk around, a

fuel sump, and oil check etc... We started up, and made a standard

departure to SBY.


We took the long way over Cape May then across the Delaware Bay by

Cap Henlopen. We had a head wind and we were powered back so we took

about 45 minutes to get down there. We made a two ship arrival into

the overhead break for separation. So, again all was normal in the

flight. Nothing out of the ordinary.


Now I'm really getting to the point - I swear... After the great

experience that was the SBY Flyin I started up to head for home. I

felt a very slight vibration but it wasn't anything so as to worry

me. I made a normal departure and climbed out like a BANSHEE! In

fact the performance was fantastic all the way home. I was seeing

220 MPH over the ground and was climbing at 2k per minute. (A good

day for a stock Varieze with a C90 and Superior Cylinders)


As I crossed the Delaware bay @5500 MSL I felt the vibrations

intensify a little. Starting to get annoyed and concerned. I

thought I might be picking up some carb ice over the bay but it

wasn't that. Amazingly enough, Jay had a similar experience recently

where he we feeling some heavy vibrations which turned out to be his

electronic ignition. Thinking about his problem, I shut down the

Electronic Ignition. (Rose ElectoAir) - No change. Ok, let's try it

the other way around. I enabled the ElectroAir and shut down the

mag - No Change. Ok, more carb heat - No Change.


Note that the vibration was quite noticeable, and it felt more like

when your prop is out of track. I retrack the prop every 15 hours

and it has cooled down a lot since even the preceding week so I

thought it could surely be that. The vibrations are directly related

to the RPM.


Ok, so I landed safely despite the gusty 25 knot winds but now that I

was on the ground, I could REALLY FEEL IT... The vibration is



This afternoon, I went back to the hangar, pulled out the plane,

grabbed Jim (the A&P) and we started working on figuring this out.


First, I pulled the prop to look for some kind of wood crush, cracks,

fat bugs etc. Nothing there.

Next, installed the prop, torqued the bolts, checked the track.

Standard pre starting stuff, cranked the engine - felt pretty good.

No real vibration (but I was looking for anything). After the engine

warmed up, the vibration became more and more noticeable. Played

around with the same things that I did on the prior flight home.


After a few minutes we shut down and decided to see if any of the

plugs were fouled. Pulled the cowlings, check the plugs... all look



Started up again to see if it was the plugs (even though they looked

fine) and pretty much the same problem. (slight vibration but

increasing with engine warmth)


Added some Marvel Mystery Oil for some top end lube - No change.


Now, the #4 CHT reads between 50 and as much as 70 degrees cooler

than the other three. This is with the cowlings off so it is not

standard. I didn't see this departure during any recent runs with

the cowlings on or in the previous flights. No CHT sep warnings

(Grand Rapids EIS 4000)


We tried a few more runs at different power settings to see if we

could make it better/worse, tried leaning the mag, man, we tried

every imaginable combination we could think of. The #4 CHT was

consistently cooler.


The next "quick" step is to switch out some of the CHT probes to see

if in fact that cylinder is running cooler.

Following that, I will drain the gas and try a different batch (since

the fuel was the only thing that changed)


After that, I don't have a clue!


So, any thoughts and I would prefer the "You must need an overhaul"

camp keep out of this one. For more background info - engine has

about 220 SMOH and all the compressions were in the high 70s.


Well, thanks for reading this long post, and thank you for your help!





28 Oct 2002


Well, it was a shot in the dark but it wasn't the fuel. I pulled the fuel screens again just to be sure. They were clean.


We have since re checked the compression and all is well in the high 70s. All the plugs are burning clean but the trouble seems to come up as the engine gets warmer.


We are 'certain' that neither the Electronic Ignition nor the Mag are causing the problem since we can and have isolated one or the other to see if we could clear it up.


We are leaning towards an exaust valve since the trouble is accute once the engine gets warm.


Been a hell of a learning experience for me and depending on what we find, I'll be happy for the learning experience.


-Frank Pullano Jr

Mondary Varieze N500EZ

Atlantic City, NJ (AIY)

Frank Pullano Jr


BerkEz N97JD

- IO 360 - A1A

- Infinity Gear

- Waiter Controller System

Orlando FL (Based KSFB)

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I read your post here after already responding to the C-A thread.


I feel you have given a bad rap to another useful tool we have available and quite frankly, I am taken back by your post to C-A members


I think it says something about the people on this (Canard Community Forum) forum who will not just jump in and tell us all how things work from there very limited experience. I was further dismayed at Scott Derrick's comments about this forum as well. And I'll tell you where I'm coming from. Some of us are professionals in two or more area's. One is usually the money maker and others are hobbies or strong interests that we have. There is nothing more frustrating for me then to give someone the answer (hopefully the correct one) and my time for them to "poo-poo" it away. It makes me feel like, "why in the hell should I waste my time." I could have spent 5 or 10 minutes more with my children.


To the point...... I explained in a post directly to you that were most likely having valve problems or specifically - one valve problem - not ignition problems. I see no report on the problem being fixed written in the Canard Community Forum.


A&P educations are fine for working on certified engine's with absolutely no deviation because once it has been altered things start to change quickly where the normal everyday A&P will not be able to figure it out. Someone in your neck of the woods, namely, Ken Miller, would be an excellent source of information. He is local and could have the hands-on approach.


Something else that sticks in my craw is Scott's comment about buyers verses builders. You darn right it is much harder to deal with the buyer/pilots then builder/pilots..... The builder has learned something the buyer will never learn unless of course he has built something similar. I parted company with a buyer/pilot just because every time there was something to be done on his airplane in was an involved discussion because he wanted it explained a certain way. After doing over $4,000 of free work to his "piss-poorly" built canard airplane he still had the never to insult my intelligence over and over. He bought another canard airplane and continued on with his "Know-It-All" attitude and many months I asked him to leave. He continues to demonstrate and operate his new airplane in a hap hazard way - but you couldn't tell him that.


There are those of us that know because we have "been there & done that," and others who want act as if they do know what there talking about. Sorry if offends some of the folks out there but, then quit bitching about high insurance premiums. So, next time you want some free advice fly out to my airport and we will talk eye to eye and fix the problem otherwise I'll just assume your not really serious. Just remember I had to pay to learn what I know, it wasn't free.



People who operate like my ex hanger-mate will eventually "buy-the-farm" and I rather not be associated with those who could care less of how they hurt the others around them. I have great respect for the intelligence of many people on the canard type forums and hope I will always have the courtesy to respond to those that offer help and not insult someones intelligence or act as if there time is not valuable.


The bone has been picked....... Lets move on.....




Lewiston, ID


Dale Martin, 509-780-7320


Lewiston, ID

EAA Technical Counselor

Owl Eagle Aerial Composites


Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those joining the thread, I've spoken to Dale about what he said above. The thing is, you can never really be sure how a person is speaking when you're reading the text. Well, that's true most of the time anyway.


The point is, and I told this to the forum admin and Dale - my intention was not to offend anyone with my public comments on the CA list serv. If you don't know what I'm talking about - so much the better. :)

Frank Pullano Jr


BerkEz N97JD

- IO 360 - A1A

- Infinity Gear

- Waiter Controller System

Orlando FL (Based KSFB)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all I'm new to this forum and am currently in the planning and setup stage of building.

I just read this post and I didn't understand the reply by NICEEZ, "A&P educations are fine for working on certified engine's with absolutely no deviation because once it has been altered things start to change quickly where the normal everyday A&P will not be able to figure it out"

What kind of alterations or deviations would make an aircraft engine become so mystical that "I" couldn't figure it out? LOL I'm not offended by this so it was not taken that way. Great forum.


In response to the original post on the engine problem, You said you "checked" the plugs and they "look" fine, In my humble "certified engine" 11year A&P experience LOL :D I would bench check the plugs firing under pressure and take a real close look at the ceramic on both end. I've seen a fine crack in the ceramic insulator cause this same problem. Works good cold but when warms up missfires. Just my opinion.

Again great forum take care all

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since you ask let us prove a point.... Either your above average or you the

normal A&P..... (This will come back to manuals you watch)


Explain to this designer all the ramifications of using a non

certified electronic ignition system on a 4 opposed normally aspirated

certified aircraft engine as it pertains to trouble shooting.


First thing we discover is there is no manual discussing steps to trouble

shoot. There is no "Plug-in" code reader to indicate which part of the

system has failed.


So now then.... I have a what feels like a "miss" in the normal smooth

operation of my engine.


So Troubleshoot!


Want to know what he normal everyday A&P will say the problem is?

Yes of course, its that blank-ity blank nonstandard ignition system. And even if it was he most likely couldn't prove it.


If your above the cut and really like engines and if you accept things of

this nature a challenge, your our kind of guy. But if your working for

yourself and it is a matter of income to make a living then why in the hell

mess with something that will produce very little income for the time spent and set you behind on someone else's certified airplane.


Let's remember, the A&P certificate comes with limitations and regulations. One of which is not to alter a certified engine without taking the time to follow the red tape involved and required by the FAA. This also goes for experimental aircraft using certified engines.

You know full well of Lycoming's point of view if you tell them "I'm working on O-320 with a modified -fill in the blank here- system an want to know///," --That's about as far as you will get and they will cut you off and explain that any modification not authorized by Lycoming makes the engine un-airworthy and should not be used in any airplane until it has been torn down and inspected to bring it into compliance using only certified parts..


It is the question, "what happens when I do this," that you can't answer...... Unless your an experimenter like I think you are. In which case your a cut above and I am wasting my time trying to make a point.


You should hear some of the horror stories I have heard when the so called everyday A&P is asked to assist so homebuilders. You would think we just molested his dog! The normal everyday A&P has a large responsibility to the certified fleet. And every bit of it has to be documented and to work on such it requires manuals of the named system. So where are your manuals for the E.I. system? So what regulation are you breaking working on an aircraft system without the appropriate manuals..... No need to answer, I know you know.


What fails me in the so called "condition inspect" for the troops that require this of an A&P because they didn't build their airplane. Where are the required manuals for the condition inspection? Before you can inspect something you would need to know that it exists wouldn't you? So tell me the tolerance is allowed on the phenolic bearings of the control system in a experimental Long-EZ before they need replacing. If that can't be answered you see my point. You can be the best A&P in the world but without manuals to go by we are all lost. Many things about my own engine any A&P could work on but then there are those few items that they will never have a clue about unless they are privileged to the - manuals of course.


I hope your not insulted as this wasn't the intention. Merely to point out that experimental aircraft for the most part are "one-off's" and are a night-mare to the average A&P. Sometimes this also includes modifications to the engine as well.



- Dale


Dale Martin, 509-780-7320


Lewiston, ID

EAA Technical Counselor

Owl Eagle Aerial Composites


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bravo, very well said. And no I took no insult by it as I to know there are alot of so called "mechanics" out there that don't have the wherewithal to be open minded to different concepts. After all an A&P licence is just a licence to learn. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose I'll go ahead and post what I've come across today. (with respects to the original post of course.)


We pulled all four rocker box covers off the jugs, pulled all the valve springs and allowed the valves to float freely in the guides.


What was found so far really isn't what I expected. First, I was leaning toward the #2 or #4 jugs since #2 was running rather cooler with respects to the other three (cowl off - ground).


The #4 however showed some sooting on the plugs again with respects to the other three jugs.


So, after pulling everything apart around the baffles (sigh) both the #2 and #4 intake valves were sticking! I would have expected the exhaust valves based on the many replies that I've received.


Ok, the "sticking" was not severe but rather very slight as the valve came off the seat. Once clear of the seat it guided cleanly on it's motion into the jug.


I'd have to imagine that as the jug heats up, the clearance of the intake valve would become - well - less clear.


Since the engine would run rough as it warmed up, I was thinking exhaust valves if it were the valves at all. Hell, I'm learning.


So, the plan (at the moment) is to clean the valve guides with some wood dowel wrapped with 600wet paper. Dave, a local EZ guy has used this method in the past on his O200 c150 and showed positive results.


That's were we are at the moment.....

Frank Pullano Jr


BerkEz N97JD

- IO 360 - A1A

- Infinity Gear

- Waiter Controller System

Orlando FL (Based KSFB)

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Now use this time to keep learning. Ask yourself which material is expanding faster. Valves, seats guides, or heads. Once you do a little research you will never forget it...... Well hopefully. It can be gleaned from Lycomings website and most likely Continental has a similar site. I have read some in one fellows books from www.sacskyranch.com....... and most of all you can gain the required knowledge from engine rebuild manuals and just talking to people who really know what their talking about.


One thing you will find different about aircraft engine valves is the clearances. Your problem can become worse if the seat and valve are not matched properly and without the proper tools you could cause the valve to crack or break. It might not show up for 200 hours but I guess you'll have to ask yourself if having a "tick-tick-tick" behind the firewall is worth it. While the idea your friend has is rudimentary at best, I would think at the cost of have to buy new engine parts verses fixing up what is there would win out. Of course they're ramifications if not done properly. If you let the engine mechanic understand from the get go money is a big concern right now he will usually be understanding enough to break it down for you so you know where your at $$$ wise before things add up a lot.


I would recommend removal of the cylinder and have an engine mechanic or engine shop check the valves and put them in good working order. Your engine will most likely run the best it ever has if you bite the bullet and have this done now rather then take a chance and find out if it what you are doing was good enough or only temporary. Just ask yourself when you have time for an in-flight emergency and go from there.


If I were in the aircraft engine mechanic business I don't think my customer would be to happy using - the method you just stated - then reassemble the engine all the while charging him $45 to $55 an hour.


The valve has to set squarely on the valve seat so there is no side loading to the valve. What your proposing is to just open up the clearance all the way around even where it is not needed.... See I already know what is going to happen next. I am hoping this will cause you to re-think your plan of attack.


Hopefully others with experience will chime in.


Lastly, many will tell you must change the piston rings if you remove the cylinders and that is utter horse-sh*t. You will realign them the proper way during assembly and they rotate during there life cycle anyway.


Just be careful with everything especially the rods dropping against the case cylinder bores.




Dale Martin, 509-780-7320


Lewiston, ID

EAA Technical Counselor

Owl Eagle Aerial Composites


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

Whoof, it's been quite some time since this thread was going on but since I just happened across it today, I figured I should post the final deal on what happened a few years back.


We ended up trying the least destructive thing we could think of and also what would seem the most simple.


Having heard for years of people using MMOL in Contenental engines, we figured we'd just removed the valves and clean the hell out of the guides with a simple low lint cloth soaked with good old marvel.


So, we just scrubbed away and let the rag do the work and well... it friggen worked like a champ! As soon as we put the motor back together and (ever since by the way) the engine has not had that repeat problem.


Of course I do use MMOL on EVERY fueling to avoid what ever crud gums up my valves and guides.


LOL, two years later...



Frank Pullano Jr


BerkEz N97JD

- IO 360 - A1A

- Infinity Gear

- Waiter Controller System

Orlando FL (Based KSFB)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...


I just happened to run across this thread. Glad to see your engine problem is solved. Gosh , I wish we were all as intelligent as Dale. life would be so simple. Changing the subject, we met at Dayton at the cup race. I had the race in my pocket and could not find my pocket. I have the E Racer, you know, the one with all the problems. I sure hope they still have the race planned for next year, I will be ready. I made it to RR this year for the first time and had a great time. The canardians are great people. Drop me a line if you get a chance to hear the rest of story at the last cup race.


Jack Morrison

E Racer 113

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information