Heat Shield’s Sealed

Time: 1 Hour

The Thermo-Tec heat shield needs to have its edges sealed to prevent any fluids from being absorbed into the matting that’s under the foil. One of the options is to use 3M aluminum foil tape. Aircraft Spruce sells it in various widths, I decided to use the 1.5”. Applying it was easy, just cut to length and press to seal. I did round the corners to match the matting corners to make it look more aesthetically pleasing.

Cowl Heat Shields

Time: 2 Hours

Once the lower cowl was sealed with the Rhino 9700 I was able to start adding the heat shielding. The fiberglass is close to the exhaust pipes and the heat they produce. Untreated and the cowl can heat up enough to to bubble the paint on the exterior. There are various products one can use to shield the cowl from heat, I used a product called Thermo-Tec which is a 12” x 24” adhesive backed liner that consists of a fireproof material covered in a foil like reflective material. I started with a couple of paper templates that I taped to the inside of the car and put it in position with the engine. I made several changes in order to make sure I had good clearance on either side of the exhaust pipes on the left and right side of the engine cowl. After I had that complete I use the templates to cut out the shapes and the actual material. Are used some denatured alcohol to clean the newly sealed cowl and applied the Thermo-tec material after removing its protective back layer. The adhesive allows for you to move it around slightly before applying pressure to make it stick permanently. It is also easily manipulated around complex curves and corners. The last thing to do is decide how I want to seal the edges of the Thermo tech material, either with aluminum tape or high temperature RTV.

Cowl Sealing

Time: 4 Hours

I found out that my measurements for the engine cowl were spot on once I was able to install the propellor. That was a huge relief as there are several moving parts that affect how the cowl sits and going by just measurements was a little scary. I was now feeling comfortable in finishing the inside of the engine cow which consist of sealing the fiberglass and installing heat shielding. I decided to use a product from Rhino linings called Rhino 9700. This product is used by composite airplane builders to line the inside of their fuel tanks. It is a two part epoxy coating that drys to a glossy light grey. The process is pretty easy, clean the cowling, mix part a with part B and apply within the 25 minute time period. You should only mix enough that you can apply in that timeframe as it starts to set up fairly fast after that. Are used a small paintbrush and a foam roller to apply, it didn’t make it perfectly smooth but it was close enough for the inside of the cowl and my needs.

It is dry to the touch in 6-8 hours and fully cured in 7 days. Now the cowl will be protected from oil, fuel and any other liquid in the engine compartment.

First Engine Start

Time: 2 Hours

I spent the morning cleaning up some little tasks for the first engine start. A good once over of the engine area to make sure all items were secure and ready to go. I spent an hour or so going over the starting procedures recommended by Superior and P-Mags. It has been a while since I had started a single engine piston aircraft and wanted to make sure I had all my steps down again. I called my pilot/A&P friends and advised them of the start to come help, watch and advise as needed. Before I knew it we had a small crowd from the neighborhood that popped out to watch the big moment. I followed the steps from AeroSport power on pre-lubing the engine with the lower spark plugs removed. That went smooth and we had oil pressure on the third starter cycle. Plugs back installed and ignitions wires put back in place and we didn’t have any more excuses for delaying. So we pulled the RV out and strapped the tailwheel to my truck. Chocked the main tires and got fire extinguishers on standby. With several iPhones recording I jumped in the RV and ran my checklists for pre start steps. My heart was pounding and I was pretty nervous as I had been waiting for this step for over seven years. Throttle full open, mixture full open, boost pump on for five seconds, boost pump off, mixture cutoff and throttle cracked open slightly. A quick look around and the standard “clear prop” I hit the starter toggle switch. The propellor turned and for 10 seconds or so with no fire. I repeat the boost pump steps and hit the starter again but this time the engine roared to life and the sound of the Vetterman exhaust was AWESOME and just what I dreamed of. Ok head back inside and check the gauges…everything looks good and pressures are stable. The RPM indications were off, a ground wire would be found later to be disconnected from the P-Mag on the left side. I ran through the Mag checks and changed the RPM a little for a few minutes and shut the engine down. You don’t want to do long ground runs on a new engine as you can damage the cylinder walls which need the first five hours or so at high power settings to set the piston rings. No leaks or issues firewall forward and everything worked as it was supposed to.

I can’t describe how nervous but excited I was for this day. It will only be surpassed by the first flight I will do in the next few months. What a day!