Choice and Consequences


It’s all about the choices we make—and the consequences of those choices. In this case, our choice was to build an RV-3 – an airplane that we have thoroughly enjoyed for just about 600 hours of flying now. The consequence – an RV-3 has very little room between the back of the engine and the firewall. Space is at a premium, and when you add a constant speed prop and an oil filter to an IO-320, you start working back there like a surgeon through a microscope.

With 600 hours on the engine, I felt it appropriate that this inspection cycle would be a good time to send the P-Mags back to Emagair for a look-see and firmware tune-up. They haven’t missed a beat in those 600 hours, and I’d like to keep it that way. So that means they need to be removed and packaged up for shipment.

Well, if I recall correctly, we installed the engine with the P-Mags in place, and then built up all the rest of the wiring, plumbing, and accessories around them. I spent about a half hour this afternoon removing the right unit, and that leaves the left one to go. Take a look at that picture. See that gold and black jewel buried under all that wiring and plumbing? Yup – that’s what has to come out. Disconnecting and removing it from the engine is easy.

But finding a hole to extract it?  A consequence of the choices we made. – and a tough nut to crack. No regrets – but the oil filter, oil cooler line, and crankcase breather hose will have to come off for sure. Might have to move that prop governor control too. Oh well – so long as its only once every 600 hours…

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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