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My VariEze - N40LC


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9 hours ago, bmckinney10 said:

The large cable starts at the battery in the nose, runs to the push-pull 40A breaker,  then to a start solenoid located behind the panel, then runs to the starter in the back

It must be working for you but I see that a Skytech can draw 80-120A so I am puzzled why a 40A breaker doesn't pop.  P. 2-5 here   https://skytec.aero/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/ES1033-Rev.-.pdf

Cozy IV N13AM-750 hrs, Long-EZ-85 hrs and sold

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I think you will find that the wires running from the panel to your headset will be a big PIA.

I suggest that you get a catalog from B & C and look through it.   I have a starter solenoid from them as well as fuses that light up if they are "blown".

Also a master solenoid from them.   When I first tried to start the engine, the voltage dropped too low to start it and that was with all 4 cylinders primed;  I

switched to B & C solenoids and took the master out of the path to the starter (Yes, I have a mechanical way to cut off the current if the starter solenoid hangs).  

Now the engine starts very quickly even when very cold.

I have almost everything that they sell.   I consider their equipment very superior to what you can get at Aircraft Spruce or Wicks.

Bruce Hughes


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You said " existing breakers for the radio, elt,

Can you confirm that?

You cannot legally (by the FAA) run an ELT except as it was EXACTLY like the original design.   My ELT has 8 batteries.   Those must be from the same manufacturer and the same model of battery.   Was your ELT designed to work on your battery by a breaker ?

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I am having no issues with the Skytec starter, nor the starter contractor setup.  The engine kicks over with the first or second blade.    I've had a Skytec on my Cherokee for 10 years with no issues.

ELT was a mis-type, I meant ADSB.  I was researching ELT's earlier and that was on my mind.

As far as headset jacks, I guess we will see.  I sat in it for several hours today while installing the radio and tried it out with my headphones on.  I am not concerned at this point, I didn't notice anything that would cause me to dislike it.  Plus, the wires only had to be 16" long, so easy install.




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Work on N40LC continues:

I found a defective wire in one of the original mag harnesses, and decided to replace both and all the plugs.  Engine now starts quick and is very smooth.

I have the B&C 12 amp PM alternator.  I was not getting the DC power from the regulator.  The alternator is putting out AC power, varying with the engine RPM.  The regulator is dead.  It is a potted metal box with 4 wires.  2 for the AC input and 2 for the DC output.  It appears to be a simple full-wave rectifier, but one of the legs must be out.  There was no external filter capacitor or O/V circuit as B&C provides now.  I will order these replacements from B&C.

I found/installed a replacement canopy keylock.  The original was missing the key and a replacement lock ($4) was cheaper than getting a locksmith to redo the tumbler to make new keys.  The original builder had a unique canopy locking mechanism that doesn't require a small door in the fuselage.  I will post a picture soon.

I am installing new canopy-latched & throttle position switches.  The landing gear position switch is still in good condition.  I pulled all the mounting parts and cleaned/painted them.  I also have a new 1/2" flashing LED warning indicator for the panel.

I am leaning towards not replacing the existing push-pull nose gear mechanism.  It is simple and has over 560+ hours of error-free operation.  As long as I keep my weight in check and my thighs from growing, it shouldn't be an issue for comfort.

I did get an oil filter adapter kit for the O-200, but have not installed yet.  I changed the oil once, maintaining just the original oil screen setup.   It is a pain to remove the sensor, screen, etc.  I am leaning towards installing it.

I need to replace the tachometer.  I can't find a part or model number that matches, but it appears to be a Westach of some type.  It was driven directly off of a mag lead.  Hoping to find a decent used replacement.






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  • 1 month later...
On 1/24/2020 at 7:53 PM, bmckinney10 said:

Some updates on N40LC...


Thought I would update my list from about 6 weeks ago.  Items with a * were completed since the last post.

Completed Work
- finished up the starter installation
- moved the breather tube to the other end of the engine
- pulled new mag wires when pulling the new starter cables
- cleaned up the wiring in the engine compartment
- removed the GNC-250XL
- installed a GTR-200B
- CNC/3D print new panel for new mag switches, starter breaker and start button, pilot headphone/mic jacks, USB charging ports (see pic below)
- rewired everything behind the panel
- changed oil/cleaned screen
- new air filter
- new quick connect on trim servo
- removed unused/old wiring
* new plugs & new mag harnesses
* new B&C regulator installed
* new canopy lock installed
* rewired canopy/throttle/gear safety switch circuits
* N-number decals installed
* Tempest oil filter adapter installed

- co-pilot headphone/mic. jack panel & mount (ran wires, just need to make a plate to hold the jacks)
- fix the skin crack/delamination below canard
- "EXPERIMENTAL" decal inside
- new canopy seal
- service wheels/brakes
- ADS-B out
- replace Lord engine bushings
- re-balance ailerons & elevator


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I removed the ailerons & hung them by the hinge to check the balance.  I didn't have a level with me, but by sight they are definitely tail heavy.  The previous owner repainted the plane, but never flew it.  I found an older post on here suggesting to a drills holes in the ends just behind the embedded leading edge rod and epoxy in lead rods.  That seems logical.  Any other suggestions?



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19 hours ago, bmckinney10 said:

...but by sight they are definitely tail heavy.  The previous owner repainted the plane, but never flew it.  I found an older post on here suggesting to a drills holes in the ends just behind the embedded leading edge rod and epoxy in lead rods.  That seems logical.  Any other suggestions?

Sand all the paint and excess fill off and repaint it so that it balances correctly. Put the minimum amount of fill, primer and paint on, particularly on the bottom which never sees UV exposure - NEVER paint control surfaces over old paint without removing it. Only then, if the elevator is not in balance, add extra weight, and then only outboard.

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Thanks Marc.  More work than I wanted to do, but better to be safe.

I need clarification on how to mark the aileron waterline to determine balance.  I attached a couple of images that were found in the manual.  The first is from the section that describes balancing, then second is from the section for installing the control hardware.  The waterline reference looks different in each.

Is the aileron waterline based on leveling the airframe, securing the trailing edges of the aileron and wing together, then marking a level line on the inboard side of the aileron?  




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8 hours ago, bmckinney10 said:

I need clarification on how to mark the aileron waterline to determine balance... Is the aileron waterline based on leveling the airframe, securing the trailing edges of the aileron and wing together, then marking a level line on the inboard side of the aileron?

The balance pic you show is from page 7 of the aileron addendum. Look at page 5 - there are two templates that show WL's and external skins. You can use these to create an external level "jig" for determining the WL. In any case, if you balance the VE ailerons so that the top skin is closer to level than the bottom skin, you're good. And that's after ALL paint.

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I attached the image you referenced.  It appears that the lower skin would be closer to level?  That seems to coincide with the "view J-J" from above when rigging the control arm to 90 deg. of the waterline.   I suppose the acceptable "or nose heavy" notation would come into play if the upper was closer to level.


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On 3/13/2020 at 5:21 PM, bmckinney10 said:

Thanks for the reference!  Their entire kit is $50 less than just the rubber bushings from AS.

I received the "Lord" engine mount kit from Fresno.  It appears these may be aftermarket copies as they do not have the markings on them as the originals do.

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Back to my ailerons.  Taking Marc's suggestion, and after several minutes of thought before I actually started sanding a perfectly painted aileron, I stripped away all of the paint layers (2) and the black primer layer from the entire bottom surface and the top surface behind the hinges.



The owner prior to me (not the original builder) had only painted the visible surfaces so the nose of the aileron was still in original paint.  My thought was to see how it would balance out, keeping some of the paint weight on the front.  Prior to sanding, the aileron weight was 3 lbs, 13.3 oz,  After the removal of the 2 paint layers and the primer, the weight dropped to 3 lbs, 8.1 oz.  

The aileron still balances slightly tail heavy.  A quick test required me to add 4oz. to the nose in this current sanded state to get it balanced.  My guess is that will increase by possible 2-3+ oz. after adding the primer and single layer of paint back on.  



There was no excess filler on the top or bottom surfaces.  The total weight was underweight compard to many even with 2 layers of final paint.  I can only assume that this VE flew 570 hours with slightly tail-heavy ailerons.  The builder was very meticulous and the overall build quality is very good.  I am going to keep sifting through the CP's to understand if there is something I am missing for the balance procedure.  I created a solid template with a level attached based on the aileron build plans (see below) showing the level waterline that I hold along the top skin.   You can see in the picture above that even with all paint and primer removed on the entire lower surface, and all the top surface behind the hinge that it is still tail heavy.




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  • 3 months later...

Follow up from my earlier post regarding the crack/delam in the side below the canard...  I have repaired this area using the "epoxy fill from the bottom" method.  I drilled two small holes, one low and one high at opposite corners of the affected area (about 6" diameter) on the inside layer.  Slowly injected epoxy in the lower hole until it came out of the upper & plugged the holes.  A day later is it all solid, no flexing or hollow sounds. 

Getting close to schedule the condition inspection and get it back in the air.

On a side note, on a driving trip to California last month, I visited Marc Zeitlin in Tehachapi.  Learned a lot in the short time we spent with him (Thanks Marc!) .  Our drive was from Minnesota to Mojave, so we stopped along the way in Spanish Fork, UT and met Mike Patey and toured his shop and projects.  Incredible enthusiasm and workmanship.  Lastly, my son is working a summer internship at Scaled Composites, so he is enjoying all the exciting things that happen there.  I'm jealous.










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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Made the trip back out to CA this past weekend to help my son move back from his Scale Composites internship.  

Was lucky to get to see Marc Zeitlin again on Friday and take a closer look at his Cozy.  Awesome aircraft, it makes my VariEze look tiny.  Another bonus was getting to meet Mike Melvill while at Marc's hangar.  We chatted for quite some time about many of his first flights in Rutan-based aircraft.  Amazing stories, I could have listened for hours.

I have attached a quick video of Marc departing in his Cozy.

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  • 1 month later...

My Trip to Covington, TN (Jet Guys & RAFE)

This will be a little long, but I think the detail will be good for new Ez owners who may want some insight on the resources available before/after you make your purchase.

Jet Guys
I connected with Robert Harris at Jet Guys last November when I had narrowed my research down to 2 VariEze's for sale.  In the first conversation, I knew that I was talking with someone VERY familiar with canard aircraft.  He gave me good advice on what to look for and offered feedback on the flying qualities of all the various canard models.

I purchased the Lynn Coltharp VariEze (N40LC) in December of 2019.  My plan was to complete all changes I desired in the remaining winter months and then get it down to Robert and his crew for a full inspection and condition inspection in the Spring.  COVID-19 altered the plans for the spring and the summer months flew by fast.  I was finally able to trailer it down to Covington last week and spend 3 days working with Robert, Mike, Steve, Bob, & Ryszard.  I received a tremendous education!

The Jet Guys are methodical in their inspection process and pointed out a few items that I needed to consider.  We added heat shields to the brakes/gear legs and swapped out my original push-bar landing system with the wormgear mechanism.  All other systems were inspected and adjusted as needed.  I assisted with all tasks to continue learning about my VariEze and absorb all knowledge I could from these guys.  They all fly Ez's and have been working on them for many, many years.  In addition, they almost guaranteed to have or be able to make ANY part you need for your aircraft.  Mike fabricated a few bushings, brackets, and linkage plates quickly when needed.

My VariEze had been painted just before I purchased, and I had added several items in the engine area (starter, remote data box, etc.).  It needed control surface rebalancing a new weight and balance.  Robert, Mike, Bob, and I went through this process.  Empty weight was 713 pounds, but needed an additional 22 pounds in the nose for balance (in the first-flight performance box).

After just 2.5 days, we had completed all tasks and the plane was ready to go for it's "new" first flight.

If you are a new Ez pilot, you need to go fly with Ryszard Zadow at RAFE.  Aside from his great restorations of donated Rutan aircraft, he is a tremendous flight instructor.

All of my 350 hours of flying time has been in a Cherkoee 140 or Cessna 172.  I decided before purchasing my V.E. that I would not attempt to fly it without proper instruction.  Ryszard uses the Gyroflug Speed Canard as the training plane.  It has dual front/back controls.

Ryszard worked with me to change my style of flying to be a safer pilot, especially in the pattern.  Ryszard, as a former military pilot and now commercial pilot, stressed the verbal announcement of the checklist items (even when solo) at all critical portions during takeoff and landing. 

I was a little rough at the landings.  With an approach speed of 80-85 knots all the way down to 1" above the touchdown zone, it was a bit different than the Cherokee.  It took me 10-12 landings before I could grasp what is needed.  I still need more training before I will fly my VariEze, and our plan is to connect in mid-to-late October to cleanup my rough spots.

My VariEze will be flown by Ryszard at that time as well on a test flight to shake out any adjustments.  He will be able to relate the differences to expect when I go for the first time (hopefully) on that visit.

It can be tempting to go at this alone without help or instruction.  Many (or most) have done this with no issue.  I had to trailer my VariEze 12+ hours from MN to TN to make this happen.  I never questioned the value of it prior to going, and now after the fact, I realize it was the most important money I spent overall for this plane.  If you go to Covington, you will see a minimum of 20-30 Ez's in various states: parts, in-construction, rebuilding, or completed flying examples.  Every hangar door that opened contained several Ez's.  For a a person who is absorbed in wanting to learn everything I can, it was an extremely valuable experience.  And as a bonus, you will work with some of the nicest guys you will ever meet.




Edited by bmckinney10
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I visited them years ago with a guy who was having his Vari repaired.  He had run off into a snowbank and tore up the nose.  Robert and his friends got out a Sawzall and had the old nose off in a few minutes.  I was amazing how quickly they fixed that airplane.

Cozy IV N13AM-750 hrs, Long-EZ-85 hrs and sold

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  • 5 weeks later...


After 10+ years, N40LC took to the skies again today piloted by RAFE founder, Ryszard Zadow.  Ryszard reported that if flew great with no major issues.  It was very exciting to see it in the air after 10 months of work getting it ready for it's "2nd" first flight.  N40LC has 570 hours on it from the original builder, Lynn Coltharp.  It's last flight was in 2009.  All systems checked out well and tomorrow I will take it up for my first solo in a canard.  I have been training with Ryszard in the Speed Canard for about 6 hours.  I will report back on the experience!


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Congratulations! It's an exciting day, and always good to see another canard (back) in the air. Doubtless you have a lot of fun flying ahead of you.

Aerocanard (modified) SN:ACPB-0226 (Chapter 8)

Canardspeed.com (my build log and more; usually lags behind actual progress)
Flight simulator (X-plane) flight model master: X-Aerodynamics


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Flew my VariEze solo today for the first time.  What a rush!  All of my 350 hours of flying experience is in Cessna 172's and Cherokee 140's.   It was a natural transition to the VariEze from the RAFE Speed Canard.  I completed 6 hours of training from RAFE founder Ryszard Zadow.    

The attached picture is Ryszard congratulating me after my landing.  I will upload a few videos in the coming days.



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