Letters: November 1998

Cheap Shade
While it may give some a feeling of satisfaction to pay $150 to $300 per set for sun shields, my solution has been more economical and very effective.

For the windshield on my Cessna 182, I use two reflective-surfaced cloth shields (automotive windshield screens), the type with the wire ring around the periphery. These can be easily folded into a circle about a foot across and stuffed into the seat-back pocket.

I install them with the bottom edge against the glareshield, the top edge against the aircraft sun visors, behind the windshield. The sides fit against the sideposts. I have noticed no adverse effects on the windshield in 12 years of use.

I always ensure that the compass is on the cabin side of the screens. In a previously owned Cessna 210 years ago, I found that if you put the compass between the sunscreen and windshield, it will shorten the life of the diaphragm and some hot summer afternoon you will find compass fluid all over your glareshield.

For the back window, I use a single piece of aluminum-foil-covered plastic, attached with Velcro. This does not touch the rear window, as it is suspended top and bottom from the trim around the baggage compartment.

I use double-contact trim adhesive to attach the Velcro and find it no problem to clean up residue when the time comes to install new Velcro buttons about every five years.

Side windows on most high-wing airplanes, at least in temperate climates, do not require covers unless you feel the need to conceal the airplanes interior from prying eyes.

The cost of all this is about $12 to $15, max. You can often find these shields on sale at the end of summer for $2 or $3. My first set lasted about 10 years. When the cloth shields became rotten and started tearing, I stopped by an automotive store that fall and got another set, front and back, for about $10.

My sun shields may not look as neat as the custom-fitted, high-dollar sets. But they work fine and the price fits my budget quite nicely.

D. D. Koppler
via e-mail

Sandel HSI
I enjoyed the article on the Sandel LCD-projector Electronic Flight Information System in your September issue.

On CompuServes Avsig forum, I questioned the author, Joe Godfrey, about his assertion that $5000 worth of heading info is required to tell the Sandel where youre going. He passed my remarks along to Steve Bennett at Sandel.

Bennett agreed with me that an under-$2000 Sigma Tek bootstrapped DG would be just fine to feed heading info to the Sandel. The Sigma Tek DG could either be mounted in the copilots panel or, lacking room for that, blind mounted.

Since the Sigma Tek isn’t slaved to a fluxgate, it either will have to be kept aligned with magnetic north by periodic adjustments or a separate magnetic reference provided. I asked Bennett if hed considered using the low-cost, solid state magnetic heading indicators now available, such as Rocky Mountain Instruments $230 compass module that outputs an RS232 stream of heading.

Bennett indicated an interest in incorporating this technology into the Sandel unit. So, there’s hope for keeping the cost of the infrastructure down. Thanks for the interesting article.

Paul Millner
Berkeley, California

Thanks for the additional heading input ideas. Contact Sigma Tek at 316-775-6373 or www.sigmatek.com. Contact Rocky Mountain Instruments at 307-864-9300 or www.rkymtn.com.

Degreasing Ideas
When I got home from the airport this afternoon, your latest issue was waiting for my perusal. What had I been doing at the airport? Changing the oil on the belly of my A36 Bonanza!

First of all, my belly never sees 12 months of accumulation. The longest period Ive ever left all the stuff on the belly is 30 days and 20 hours of flying. My threshold of tolerance for dirty aircraft bellies is obviously far less than most and certainly far less than Mr. Brignolo, author of A Stinkin Greasy Mess, in your October issue.

For at least eight years, I have owned a gallon of Castrol Super Clean, but have never used it on an airplane due to the cautions on the label about damage to painted surfaces or aluminum. I did use it on the engine of my Ford Explorer and that experience reinforced my opinion to not use it on the airplane.

It did a fine job of loosening all the dirt and grime which disappeared with the application of a garden hose to the area. The next day, all the bare aluminum (intake manifold, alternator housing, brake master cylinder) were covered with white corrosion. I sprayed all these parts with WD-40 and closed the hood. The white corrosion was gone the next time I looked, but the etching is there to this day.

For 30 years, I have used mineral spirits or paint thinner (not to be confused with lacquer thinner). Mineral spirits is petroleum-based and available in bulk (in your container) or gallon jugs at paint stores or building supply stores such as Home Depot.

Applied with a spray bottle and wiped off with one cloth, the area is then polished with a clean soft cloth.

This product can be used to clean the engine as we’ll when sprayed on with a direct stream to knock off the gunk where a brush cant reach to help remove it. One caveat is that starters, generators, alternators and vacuum pumps should be covered, as they can be damaged by mineral spirits and other petroleum-based degreasing products.

Only within the last year have I been introduced to Simple Green. Its now my degreaser of choice for both the engine area and the belly. Full strength in the engine room (I still cover the electrical components and vacuum pump as a precaution) or diluted, depending on how dirty the belly area is.

As the article advises, spray it on with a spray bottle. My choice is to then wipe it off with one cloth and polish with another.

For heavy accumulations (heavy for me at least) I use a wheel brush to lightly scrub the area and then follow it with water sprayed from a garden pressure sprayer. Afterward, I dry it with a chamois, just as I do with the rest of the airplane when Im washing it.

For cleaning up bigger engine oil spills that occur during filter changing, I still prefer mineral spirits followed by Simple Green and water, which is allowed to air dry.

I feel the main advantage of Simple Green is that it leaves no oily residue for dust and grime to attach to as the petroleum based solvents tend to do.

Bill Pappy
Gainesville, Georgia

As a follow-up to Joe Brignolos article on belly degreasing products, I would like to add my favorite to the mix: plain old hand goop. Buy a big can for next to nothing and a bag of shop rags and youre in business. I smear it on the belly with my hand and then let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Blast it off with a hose and all but the worst build-ups are gone.

Hit those spots again and start to finish, youre talking an hour or so of your time twice a year to keep the belly clean. Best of all, you don’t have to dress like a hazmat person to get the job done.

Mike Scaduto
via e-mail

Pump Failures
I read with interest your recent Used Aircraft Guide on the Piper PA-46 Malibu and Mirage. On the second page of this article, it states that vacuum pumps were mentioned by your survey respondents as maintenance headaches.

Is it possible to discern from your data if these vacuum pump problems were unique to either the Malibu or the Malibu Mirage? I am interested due to the fact that the vacuum pump installations in these aircraft are different. Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Name withheld

Unfortunately, there’s no objective means of determining whether or not the vacuum pump problems our survey respondents report are unique or endemic in any way. We don’t receive enough responses to create a statistically significant sample. All we can do is report that many of those who responded had vacuum pump problems.

In general, accessories appear in many trouble reports from our readers. In turbocharged airplanes, vacuum pumps are a common failure item, probably because of heat-related wear. Owners who have installed aftermarket pump cooling kits report better longevity on pumps.

Cessna Clarifications
I was recently reviewing your Used Aircraft Guide book and noted a section on the Cessna 206.

It states having introduced the 205 (a stretched version of the Skylane) in 1963…

As the original designer of the rear window installation utlized in the 1962 through 1966 model 210, 1963 and 1964 model 205 and all years of the model 206, including the 1998 model, I must tell you that the 205 and 206 are not stretched Skylanes.

In simplest terms, the 205 is a six- place, fixed gear version of the 1962 210B and the 206 is a six-place, fixed-gear cargo version of the 1964 210D Centurion.

Although Cessna applied the Super Skylane name to the 206, the lineage is the 210, not the 182.

Also, in your July 1998 Skylane guide, you meant to say the swept tail degraded spin recovery and reduced rudder power… not the reverse.

I trust that this information will clarify the matter.

Alden D. Van Winkle
Florissant, Misouri