Monday, March 07, 2016


Proper maintenance of aircraft tools is necessary.  If tools are used daily you generally will not have any issues.  Basically, all tools need a light coat of oil to preserve them during storage.  There are many environmental elements that can make tools rust.
1.      Tools are designed to use daily.  Without daily use you need to take some special care to prepare them for storage.  Most builders of Vans aircraft need to take preventative action to protect their airplane tools from rust.
2.      Clean and wipe down your tools with a light coat of oil before putting them away.  Keep an oily rag handy for that purpose.  A light coat of oil will remove the moisture from your hands and protect the tools during storage.  WD-40 is a good preservative for tools.
3.      If possible, store your tools in a controlled environment.  Without temperature control your tools will sweat and rust.  If you heat your storage area with a propane or kerosene heater you will cause tools to rust.  Both of these heaters produce water vapor and the cold tools will collect this moisture until they reach room temperature.  The main prevention of rust on tools is to control humidity.
If your tools do rust clean them as soon as possible.  There are several methods of which any will work.
1.      Use a Scotchbrite pad to remove surface rust and wipe the tools with a light oily rag.  WD-40 would be a good oil to use.
2.      Very fine steel wool will remove the rust. 
3.      For round tools (rivet sets, die sets, etc.) you may want to place them in a drill and polish them with a polishing wheel on a grinder.  Use a light buffing compound to make them new again. 
4.      For flat surface tools (bucking bars, flush rivet sets, back rivet plates, etc.) use fine steel wool to clean the rust.
5.      In all cases, wipe and coat with oil.  Check them occasionally if not used. 
All aircraft tools need to be protected against rust.  Here are some:
1.      Rivet bucking bars, rivet squeezer yokes, rivet gun springs, rivet gun sets, back rivet sets, countersink bits, rivet squeezer sets and dimple dies need to be wiped with an oily rag.
2.      Clecos need to be continuously dry.  Keep them in a protective bucket with an air tight lid.  Each time you store them spray a little WD-40 in the bucket before closing the lid.
3.      Hand tools such as tin snips and deburring tools need to be wiped with an oily rag.
4.      Air tools need to be oiled with a few drops of oil at the end of the work shift.  Also, wipe the outside surface of unpainted tools with an oily rag before storage.
This should help keep your tools in great condition so the next time you use them they will be free from rust.

Saturday, March 05, 2016


Hopefully, this post will help others with Lycoming 0-360 engine issues that cause a rough running engine.  We have been through the mill on this one so I thought I would post a sequence of possible issues for a rough running Lycoming aircraft engine.

First, check to make sure your engine primer is closed and locked.  If the primer is not locked it can allow fuel to pull through the system.  Each time the cylinder draws on the intake stroke the primer will leak extra fuel into the cylinder.  This results in two symptoms.  One, the engine will run rough.  Two, the engine does not want to die when you pull the mixture back all of the way.  This is because the cylinder with the primer is sucking gas into the cylinder with each stroke.

Second, check for intake leaks.  Places prone to leak are the gasket between the cylinder head and the intake tube flange.  These are very inexpensive.  Also, check the short tube that runs into the engine oil pan intake.  If these tubes are loose they leak air into the intake.  A special aircraft tool is required to tighten these.  Lycoming has one that costs around $8,000 and you can rent it.  I also found rental is available at other places.  Our local engine shop loaned us their Lycoming tool.  It is very easy to use and reseals these intake tubes correctly.  As an added bit of protection we put a bead of Permatex Ultra Copper around each tube where it enters the engine just to make sure there was no leak.

Third, check for a broken spring on the cylinder.  It is difficult sometimes to see.  Our engine had a broken exhaust valve spring.  We did not find it until we pulled the cylinder and took it to an engine shop to get the valves re-seated.  The engine shop called and said the spring was broken.  According to the mechanic this is not very common, but does happen once in a while.

The above assumes you already know your mags are good and you spark plugs are good.

Hope this helps.  If it does, please post a response.

Monday, February 29, 2016


As a follow up to my prior post regarding the Lycoming O-360 rough engine symptoms, during the annual inspection we decided to replace the remaining 3 intake to cylinder head gaskets.  It was a good thing that we did.  The gaskets had about 500 hours on them.  Number 2 cylinder had about a 1/4" piece of the gasket missing.  On number 3 and 4 cylinders the gaskets were intact but crumbled when removed.  None of them would have lasted many more hours without causing major leaks on the intake.  I would recommend that you consider replacing them around 500 hours just to preclude this problem as I am sure that all of the gaskets have about the same life span.  If you do this during another scheduled maintenance function the cost should be very low.  Once the cowling is off of the airplane they are easy to access.

Hopefully this will save you some concerned flight events and a few dollars on troubleshooting.  After this post I will get back to our specialty of aircraft tools and Vans RV aircraft tool kits.  Happy flying!

If this post helps you please let us know by posting a comment.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lycoming O-360 Runs Rough

Although this is not directly related to our tool kits and tools, it is worth sharing.  I did a lot of research on the web to see if anyone else had experienced this problem.  I found a couple, but many that I found never posted a solution.  Here is one possibility.

Symptoms:  The Lycoming O-360-A4A had been running fine.  After a 1-hour cross country flight, when descending from 7,500 msl, power pulled back to about 1,700 RPM the engine felt very rough.  Leaning the engine significantly seemed to help, but remained rough.  After landing the engine felt very rough to shaking severely.  A run-up seemed normal.  Mag check good on both mags.  Above 1,750 RPM the engine seemed to be ok, but below that there was no way to make it run smooth.  Since it ran ok at high RPM the airplane was flown back to home base.  Same symptoms on descent and approach at home.  Still very rough on the ground.

Troubleshooting:  The Lycoming O-360 is relatively easy to work on and access everything.  We ran a compression check, compression in all 4 cylinders was good.  Spark plugs looked perfect, except #1 cylinder plugs were black.  Bottom plug had alot of lead deposits.  Installed 2 new plugs.  Engine was still just as rough.  Above 1,750 RPM it smoothed out.  Noticed by touch that #1 cylinder was barely warm when other cylinders were too hot to touch.

Fix:  Checked the intake tube on #1.  The gasket between the intake tube and the cylinder head was 90% missing.  Only about 10% of the gasket was around one bolt on the intake flange.  Installed a new flange gasket ($1.57).  Engine was still rough.  Pulled the spark plugs, they were soaked.  Cleaned and dried the plugs.  Engine ran perfect.  The intake gasket was the culprit.

I don't know how common this is, but I hope this blog post will help other owners trying to troubleshoot a similar problem on the Lycoming O-360 engine.

Please, share your troubleshooting experiences here too, if you have solutions others may need to know someday.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Airplane STC Modifications

A new website is being developed to connect airplane owners with STC holders. Where most STC listings are cumbersome to locate, this listing is by aircraft model which should make it easy for the owner and operator to locate the exact STC they are looking for. Another feature will allow STC holder's to place a link from the stc-mod site back to their own website and to specific sales information about their produce. This should be a great tool for all owners, operators and for modifiers.

Monday, November 05, 2007


RV Builder's often ask if all the tools they need to build their RV airplane are included in the RV Tool Kit. For sheet metal this is true. The RV Builder will also need mechanic tools. The link above provides the basic list of aircraft mechanic tools required to build and maintain an RV airplane.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

TracerMarker for Aircraft Sheet Metal Repair

If you have holes to match locate in aircraft structure you will find that the TracerMarker is the perfect tool for this application. These aircraft hole finders are easy to use. Simply stick the pilot in the existing hole, peel off the cover to expose the self-stick adhesive, and place the new part in the correct location. The TracerMarker will stick to the new part so you can easily mark a perfectly located hole before drilling.

This new aircraft tool saves time and money plus avoids errors in holes being incorrectly located. The low cost TracerMarker should be a product that every aircraft sheet metal mechanic has in their tool box.