The engine supplied with the project is a Continental W-670 radial of 220 HP. An excellent choice since the U.S. built thousands of these during WWII and parts are still plentiful (most parts, that is), as well as the knowledge base on the workings of the engine.
This particular engine was sold to Jim Friedline with the promise that it was a "low-time" engine, but upon opening the oil sump, I discovered a piece of metal about 1/8" X 3/4" which is pretty significant for a piece of metal banging around inside an airplane engine. This would explain why a low-time engine was removed from an airplane in the first place. As it turned out, the metal is from a ball bearing cage that came from the rear main engine bearing. This is not an uncommon failure on this engine, as I learned, and an STC was granted years ago for a roller bearing replacement. That's on my buy list—very expensive. Fortunately, the pieces were small and light weight, so there was almost no damage. The metal was confined to the sump and bottom half of the engine and was obviously found at an early stage.
|The Bearing Less Cage (in pieces)|
I took the cylinders to Jim's and removed the valves with the help of his handy-dandy valve spring compressor tool.
In fact, I used two because I broke the first one using a long cheater bar and way too much force. But he had another one, of course (I owe him one). Jim measured all seven cylinder bores and gave me the good news that they all checked standard (within new tolerance). Not bad...maybe this was a lower time engine than we thought. Lucky for me.
Now a word about this engine: this project was supposed to be a Travel Air E4000. In fact, Jim paid quite a sum for paper work on an E4000 to make this a standard certificate airplane. When I learned that it was originally intended to be an experimental (replica) airplane, I think Jim felt bad about it. He shouldn't have, because the price was right and the workmanship nearly perfect.
He offered me this engine that he had in storage in exchange for the two old crappy engines that came with the project when he bought it. One of them was good for nothing but a boat anchor and the other was marginal. This engine, although it had the bearing failure, is a gem. It will be an easy and (relatively) inexpensive overhaul. This is one of the joys of doing this sort of thing—dealing with good people like Jim Friedline. And make no mistake, he is one of the best there is.
As for the engine case, I dropped the three pieces off at Frank's Heads and Engine Service in Griffin, GA. This is a great automotive engine shop. He runs two type cleaning vats, one for steel parts and one for softer metals like aluminum, etc. He ran my three case sections through his high pressure/high temp vat for $97. Not bad. They came out clean as a whistle. I should have removed the engine data plate, because the chemicals messed it up. The letters are still there, but the coating is gone. Not to worry, good ol' Jim had a stack of them.
Next will be the cylinders. They'll need to be thoroughly cleaned, but I'm not sure I want to bead blast them—too many oil galleries that could be plugged. I may just get Frank to vat them, too. I'm working against the clock here trying to get any engine work done while Jim still has his shop-full-of-parts. He is selling out, lock, stock, and barrel to another engine builder. All this stuff will be gone shortly, so we are getting everything done that we can now. Building the engine up should not be a problem since I don't think he is selling all his tools, but he is the best source for any parts that I'll need, and he has graciously offered me any I require.
Now it's trip,time again. The down side of being an airline pilot and working on an airplane is that whenever you start making good progress, you have to drop everything and go off to Paris or Brussels. Darn the luck.
The real problem is remembering where I left off.
Home from Paris on Monday, Aug 26 and going to make a quick inventory of where I am and what to do next.