Sunday, June 28, 2009

No heavy lifting !

Sometime back I posted about a fuel transfer pump that my daughter Linda, gave me for Christmas. Well, my daughter knows how to make her mom happy.

I didn't have an opportunity to use the fuel pump for a variety of reasons until day before yesterday. I have been busy trying to make a dump of a hangar into a decent place to keep my gyro and with the help of Linda, it has become a decent and clean place to house my gyro and also a good place to go hang out if I need to get away from the sometimes hectic life at home.

On my gyro there is a 1/4 inch diameter plastic tubing that runs on the outside of the fuel tank from the bottom to the top of the tank. It is easy to see the level of fuel in the tank through the clear plastic. That tubing is the " instrument" by which I know how much gas is in the tank . Imagine my surprise when one day I saw the plastic tubing had shrunk and pulled off the top fitting and was short of reaching it by a good inch or more. Good thing I noticed it on the ground !

The tubing had to be replaced but the tank had to be drained first and wouldn't you know , the tank was full ! So the tank was drained and a new and better kind of tubing was installed, then finally, I had the first opportunity to use the fuel transfer pump .

The advertisment says it will transfer the fuel in one took me more than one minute because I would turn the pump handle and watch with joy and fascination as the av gas rushed from the container up through the clear tubing of the pump and into the fuel tank then I would turn the crank a few more turns and stop and watch again. No heavy lifting ! Thank you Linda for your wonderful gift.

Till next time
Marion Springer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Progress Report on the McCulloch starter

Dave Bacon has been working on adapting a starter to the McCulloch engine on my gyro ( see post of June 16).
It has turned out to be a real challenge. First of all , try as he might, there was no way that he could make the starter work with my Wunderlich Prerotator. There just wasn't room. That meant swapping the drive wheel and it's support bracket of my prerotator for a different one which allowed a smidgen more room between the wheel's cable and the fly wheel of the starter. It was cut and fit, cut and fit and finally it was all done except for finding the right length bolts to secure it. That probably means another trip to Aircraft Spruce and Specialty for the bolts .
We did turn the prop over with the starter today just because we needed to see if it was going to work and also just to hear it run if only briefly. There are folks who will say the Mac is noisy but those of us in the hangar today thought it was beautiful music when the prop turned over! It's a toss up who had the biggest smile, Dave or me or maybe even, Eber, Dave's dad .
Next weekend, Dave will do the final buttoning up of it all, then do the all important hang test to see if the center of gravity has changed because of the weight of the starter and when he gets that all done, I will have the pleasure of sitting in the seat of the gyro, pushing the starter button and having the engine come to life. Then I'll just have to go fly it ! I can't wait! Wish me a cool day with a nice breeze.
The photo above is Dave . Looks like he is about to attack the prop bolts with a torque wrench. After he quit for the day on the starter Dave just couldn't let the nice wind go to waste so he rolled his KB2 out and flew for an hour and a half or so and had a great time up there hanging on the wind. You should have seen the pride on his dad's face as he watched his son taming the breeze.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I set them free but it didn't take

Whenever I find an injured baby pigeon I take it in and take care of it until it is well enough to be set free. At any time I have a number of young birds in cages getting over injuries. Last week I set free two young birds that I had taken in some months ago when they were tiny little things. Both had been picked on and bloodied by older birds.

In time their injuries healed and they were eating on their own and ready to be set free so one morning I put them out in the pigeon house in the back yard. One of them flew out immediately so I thought he would adjust quickly to his new freedom. The white one just stayed where I put her in the pigeon house.

In the evening after the birds have all gone into the pigeon house and into the large cages I close the doors to keep them safe from predators of the night. So that evening I went out to close up the pigeon house. The white pigeon was still in the same spot where I had left her that morning . She never took her eyes off me. The other young bird was hanging on the door of the pigeon house. I picked him off the door and set him inside on the floor. He immediately went to cling on the door again. Once more I took him off the door and this time I put him on the floor next to the white one. He hopped onto my arm. Meanwhile the white bird is watching me and her eyes are saying, " Take me home. How could you leave me here ?"

Softie that I am, I picked the two young birds up and took them back into the house and put them back into their recently vacated cage. They immediately settled down and looked oh, so contented . I'll try again in a couple of weeks to set them free...hopefully freedom will take next time. My cats, dogs, and birds have no trouble training me !
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adapting a starter to the McCulloch engine

The McCulloch engine was never meant to carry man or woman in flight. It was designed during world war 2 for the military. It was used to power small drone airplanes which towed a long banner for the military pilots to practice shooting at. The engine was meant to make one flight, period.
Along came gyro pilots looking for a small
light-weight powerful engine to use on their gyrocopters. I was one of them.
After first trying heavy Volkswagen engines and various motorcycle engines on their gyros, the pilots generally discarded them and began to use the surplus McCulloch engine. The Mac, as it was called , was readily available, lightweight, inexpensive and unbelieably unreliable .
The gyro pilots didn't give up easily , so they set about learning ways to make the Mac reliable. There were a number of modifications necessary , such as cam grinding the skirts of the pistons, using new and different bearings, proper oil and av gas mixture, and a host of other mods. Finally the Mac was fairly reliable. The weight to power ratio of the engine couldn't be beat for it weighed only 72 lbs. and came in a 72 or 90 hp. version. The weight was the same for each version.
Down through the years more modern engines became available for gyros but some of the gyro pilots stayed loyal to the McCulloch engine. I am one of them. To use a different engine would mean changing many things on my Bensen gyro and I didn't want to change the configuration of the gyro for I love it the way it is. I don't mess with perfection!
The Mac doesn't come with a starter...that wasn't a problem as long as I had my husband who was always right there whenever I flew the gyro. Docko would pull the prop through to start the engine for me. Propping the engine is not something you ask just anyone to do. The person handlling the prop has to know exactly what he is doing for it is a dangerous procedure . Carelessness in proping could result in losing a hand, fingers or an arm.
So, that gave me a problem when I returned to gyro flying some years after the passing of Docko. My gyro pilot friends who were knowledgable about starting the engine would prop the Mac for me but they were not always available when I wanted to fly.
Then one day, someone on the rotary wing forum on the internet posted something about making a starter for the McCulloch engine...that got my attention big time. I ordered one, it arrived soon afterwards , then the frustration began. Some modifications were going to be necessary if the starter was going to work on the Mac engine.
My gyro has a prerotator which is a device that spins the rotors and shortens the take off run. I am convinced I can't live without the prerotator!!! The problem is that the prerotator drive drum and drive wheel are located right where the starter has to go.
I contacted Dave Bacon, a friend who is a gyro pilot and who also flies a McCulloch engine. He is in the process of adapting the starter to my engine. He is having to make several modifications to the prerotator and I don't know what else but I am confident he will get the starter up and running soon.
In the photo above, Dave is the one in the white shirt kneeling . The gyro pilot on the left in the colorful shirt is Teddy Udala . Dave's dad, Eber Bacon, an old time gyro pilot from the 60's , is in back of Dave and farther back is Ron Klock, who flies a powered parachute.
We expect to be able to fire the engine up with the starter ( I'll just push a button for that !!!) in a couple of weeks. I'll keep you posted.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Golf Cart

I had often thought how handy a golf cart would be, even priced them some time back...well, I thought after pricing them, four thousand dollars is way too much for me to spend on a golf cart, a used one at that.

Then one day, I saw it, a cute little golf cart for sale in someone's yard. When I say cute, I mean cute the way the Flintstones vehicle was cute in the old TV program my children liked to watch.

The little golf cart in the yard was what people mean when they say of someone , "he has a face only a mother could love". But I wanted that golf cart...I began thinking of it as mine when I first saw it. So it needed painting, so it needed new seat covers, so it needed new batteries ( 6 of them at roughly $ 100 per battery), for it is battery powered.

I'm handy, I thought, I can paint it and I can make new seat covers, maybe even raid the piggy bank and come up with the ransom for 6 new batteries. I gotta have that golf cart! So after some negotiation with the owner, the ragged little cart was mine. Mine and my dog Buddy's, that is. He took to it instantly when we got it home.

Where I really expect the golf cart to be useful is at the annual gyro fly-in we have on the El Mirage dry lake the last weekend of September. I like to walk the line, gyro line that is, and check out what's new and who is flying what , etc. Sometimes the gyro line-up is long and being that my legs are old , being able to ride the line and have a seat to rest the back is very appealing.

The fly-in is the reason for the bright " look at me, don't run over me ", new paint job on the cart. The colors are highly visible.

And you can see from the photo that Buddy doesn't mind the ' stop your heart' paint job. He spends hours sitting in the cart so he will be ready to go when the cart moves.

While waiting for the fly-in to put the cart to work, it has proved to be very useful around home. I carry the trash bags down to the dumpster in it, and yesterday Linda and I used it to haul some plywood and a work table to the bead shop she is building on her place next door. Of course Buddy rode along on top of the building materials every trip. We also made a trip to the mail box and back in it and the mail box is a mile away from home. So far so good. and besides, the golf cart is cute!

It has already proven itself, so come on fly-in time , hurry up and get here. Me, my gyro, and the golf cart are ready and waiting...Buddy will have to miss the
fly-in for that's not a safe place for a dog to be.

One last note for today, I'm having a starter put on my McCulloch engine, Oh Happy Day ! More about that as it progresses.

Actually, two last notes,
To the person who commented on my post re the 80th. birthday celebration flight, Thank you for your comments and if I can be of help to you in getting your Bensen in the air, steer you to parts sources, CFI's , etc. I would be happy to do so. I can be reached by email at I'm happy that you are going to be a Bensen gyro pilot!

Till next time.
Marion Springer