Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blue Stain Blues (cont'd)

Eagle Fuel Cells held up their end of the deal and got the replacement fuel cell for N631S to my friends at Three Wing Flying Services yesterday. Below left, it sits on the table, looking much prettier than the old cell that was pictured in this earlier post.

This cell is an overhauled unit originally manufactured by FFC in 2004, which Eagle has supplied with a 5 year warranty. It's my understanding that there were quite a few cells from FFC dating from the 2002-2004 time frame that have experienced early mortality. I'm having faith that Eagle has learned what the problems were with the FFC cells and that their current overhaul procedures are effective in addressing them.

The failed fuel cell was installed in February 2003 by N631S's previous owner with the work being done by Lindner Aviation at Keokuk (IA) Municipal Airport. I sent off an e-mail to Greg Gobble, the boss at Lindner, asking if his records indicated the source of the failed cell. Greg has let me know that:

"The fuel cell was p/n 3030-23, s/n CR2909 purchased 2-4-2003 from Eagle. WO# N010303004. Looks like they have a 5 year warranty but it is worth a try."

Having purchased the overhauled cell from Eagle, I shall be speaking with them about a generous repurchase of the old core, considering that it provided only about 2/3 of the expected time in service. They have, of course, no legal obligation but they may wish to share in the consequences of their vendor's quality issues. I'll let you know what happens.

Just incidentally, if you are planning a serious cross-country flight, Keokuk Muni (KEOK) on the banks of the Mississippi River is a great place to stop for an overnight. Greg and his folks are wonderfully helpful, Keokuk is a nice town with good lodging options, and Lindner Aviation is a full-service FBO that can deal with about any problem you can imagine. They were the "minders" of N631S for about three years prior to our acquisition and they took excellent care of the airplane...as they will yours. VERY highly recommended.

Meanwhile back at KBDR, Mike Gavaghan has been making N631S's left wing fuel bay ready to receive the new fuel cell. The photo at left looks down into the bay, showing the installation of the protective tape over riveted seams. Getting the bay cleaned out and all of the tape in place is one of the nastier jobs and I'm grateful for Mike's patience and thoroughness. I suspect that by tomorrow morning the new cell will be in place and closing out will be the order of the day.

And next to N631S on the hangar floor, the lovely 1993 Pitts S-2B pictured below. Now, I have no desire whatsoever to be upside-down in an airplane, but if that's your thing it's hard to conceive of a nicer machine for the purpose.

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