226. Carpe Diem!
This week and next week were set aside for flying the Scout, and while Monday’s flying in the Escapade was extremely useful, it began to look as if the rest of the two weeks was going to be useless. I was walking round with a personal raincloud hanging over my head.
So when I routinely checked the forecast on waking up yesterday morning, I was amazed to find there might be a little weather window. I gulped down my breakfast and emailed the Shuttleworth Collection as I leapt into the car and headed off.
I got there at 1100, and was pleased that I’d readjusted the ailerons on Monday, but found that the oil needed topping up – a laborious business, a litre at a time, so it was after lunch before Jean Munn could gather up a couple of helpers to get me into the air.
The wind was westerly, at nearly 10kts, so we set up on the short diagonal runway heading for the college. And the modellers.
Takeoff was okay, and I turned onto the main runway as soon as the wheels were clear. The plan was to check out stalls, turning stalls and steep turns, preparatory to an initial display routine.
The climb out seemed very laborious; the tacho, having crept above 1000rpm on the ground, seemed to be anchored just below it in the climb, despite my best efforts to keep the speed up. The pitch control seemed a bit ‘lumpy’, and I found I was having to work quite hard to keep the nose where I wanted it. And the wings were rigged slightly incorrectly, and she was trying to drop the left wing all the time.
Nevertheless, I climbed up and tried the stall (very benign), and turning stalls (no problem), so swung her into some steeply banked turns (absolutely fine).
That done, I came back and landed on the short runway again.
The wind was the strongest I’d flown in and the landing was the worst I’ve done so far, and I thought I might have damaged one of the tip skids, but in fact it hadn’t made contact at all.
After a cup of coffee, Jean and I decided to check out one of this theories – that the airflow into the carburettor was being choked in some way, and so we ran the engine with the intake tubes removed. This seemed to indicate a small increase – maybe 25rpm, and so I decided to see if it made any difference in the air.
By this time it was nearly 1600, and the airfield was deserted, so I asked Jean if it would be okay to try a couple of display passes. The wind had dropped right out by now, so I took off on the main runway. Although the tacho didn’t indicate a huge difference, she certainly felt livelier, and I immediately did a couple of passes at 200ft, which felt absolutely secure.
I climbed out to get a bit more familiar with sideslips and stability generally, and since the wind on my face seemed excessive, I landed back on the main runway, which was entirely satisfactory.
I learned a huge amount from today’s exercise.
First – I MUST remember to put my goggles down before I take off! No wonder it felt so windy.
Second – we can make a small improvement to the engine power by altering the intake tubes. I still lust after a machine that will deliver full power, and see if we can replicate the original 1000fpm rate of climb, though I suspect any other changes will be more expensive…
Third – I feel a very great deal more confident about doing displays. This may be mere bravado, and it will be up to Dodge to make that decision, of course.
Fourth – we need to tweak the flying wires a little to remove the imbalance before she’s flown again.
Fifth – our changes to the cowling have had the desired effect, though there are some unintended side effects. You will remember that the original, shown on the drawing, was cylindrical with a small slot in the bottom.
This generated a pool of oil in the bottom, which was swirled up the port side by the airflow caused by the rotation of the engine and it leaked between the cowling and firewall to stain the fuselage side.
A lip seal didn’t help, nor did additional slots in the bottom of the cowling.
But many Scouts (including 1263, and possibly therefore 1264) had the bottom of the cowling cut away altogether, and so we did the same. We also fitted a felt seal between the cowling and firewall.
And the result?
No leakage down the side of the fuselage. Yesss! The wider opening means that the exhaust valve opens facing fresh air, and blows more of the oil clear. This now deposits itself in a very thick layer on the underside of the forward fuselage, but since this is aluminium, it’s easier to clean. On the other hand, the oil that sticks to the cylinder heads is also flung clear, and lands in a fine spray all over the port lower wing, both topside and underside. but this is also easier to clean – industrial wipes are favourite – and so all things considered, this seems to be a very positive step.
Coming home was something of a surreal experience – having had such wonderful weather – sunshine and calm winds, I drove home through a couple of heavy snow showers!