I now have about 40 hours on the EZ, and continue to build confidence in its performance. I still have a couple minor issues, but for the most part, the plane is now in its final configuration.
This is a standard Lycoming O-320 (160hp) Lycoming running an
MT constant speed prop (electric). It had standard plans built, NACA updraft cooling. Its First flight was in 1996 and had a total of 2610 hours on the Hobbs when I took it out of service. This EZ has been a good all around airplane
I took the plane out of service in November 2004 to perform some minor retrofits, unfortunately, the "Minor" soon became "Major". 4 Ĺ years later, I returned the plane to service.
Major retrofit items fall into four areas;
1) Retractable Main and Nose gear
2) Downdraft Cooling
3) Fuel Injection
4) Instrument panel
The main gear set is manufactured by Infinity Aerospace. These were the first generation version purchased second hand (not directly from Infinity Aerospace). The nose gear is an EZNose Lift lift.
Rather than have two separate gear controllers / switches, one for the mains and one for the nose, I built my own controller and integrated the mains, nose, speed brake, and Alarms into a small industrial "PLC" computer controller.
The controller provides intelligence to prevent inadvertent main gear retraction while on the ground, or during system power up. It also provides alarms when the gear isnít down when its supposed to be, if the canopy isnít closed and locked when its supposed to be, AND, if any of the cockpit switches are not in the correct position when the system is first powered up.
The controller provides proper sequencing for gear retraction and extension (strut valve control) and continues to monitor the strut status, not just during initial retraction.
The controller also provides automatic speed brake retraction.
An "Emergency Retract" feature is built in (Toggle switch under a safety cover). This disregards all safeties and retracts the mains, nose, and speed brake.
The controller provides intelligent nose gear control for extending/retracting the nose gear while on the ground. Basically, the nose is allowed to retract by itself, only if the canopy is open and the throttle is at idle.
In the unlikely event that the controller fails, a separate "Emergency Electrical Extend" circuit is wired to provide the ability to extend the main and nose gear electrically.
NOTE - If all else fails, the mains can be "Blow Down" with a small CO2 bottle, and the nose can be cranked down with a ľ inch ratchet wrench.)
The original NACA updraft cooling system worked very well. During my original Phase I (1996), I had made two modifications to the plans cooling that made all the difference in the world. If you plan on sticking to the original updraft, you may want to do these two things;
1) Add small turning ramps under #3 and #4 cylinders, these deflect some of the incoming air up and onto these cylinders.
2) Supply exit air routing for the oil cooler. I made a small adapter that fit over the oil cooler, Connect a SCAT tube to it then dump this air to the low pressure area on top of the engine.
The Updraft looks nice, and may have made a small contribution to my performance. I have very good cylinder and oil cooling during cruise, but need to keep an eye on temperatures during long durations of high angle of attack using high power settings. In this configuration, air going into the intakes is blocked by the strakes.
I made a new cowl for the updraft system. During the course of Phase I, I cut about 3 inches off the cowl to get about a 4-5 inch clearance between the prop leading edge and the cowl aft edge. This significantly improved cooling and greatly decreased the noise level. (I had done this same thing with my original cowl back in 1996)
This is an Airflow Performance system. I LOVE IT. One of the neatest things about it is, I can lean the engine way, way, down. It doesnít stutter or cough or spit like the carb did.
It does require different starting and shut down techniques, Iím just now getting used to it.
I love the Dynon, You can pack a LOT of information into these two units. (EFIS 10A and EMS 10). Dynon offers EXCELLENT support for their products and are constantly updating their units. I want to add their autopilot servo when I get a few bucks ahead.
PHASE 1 REPORT
The FAA gave me 5 hours and 20 takeoff and landings. I had to get a new OPS limitations, mainly because my Phase I area needed to be changed.
During initial flight testing, it appeared that I LOST performance. WHAT????
Air speed indicator errors.
I found and repaired several leaks in the Pitot system (Line cut when I installed second battery in nose). I also discovered that the original mechanical airspeed indicator was reading high (compared to the Dynon).
To verify this, I connected my Manometer to the Pitot system. And "T"ed in the original mechanical Airspeed indicator. When I adjusted the manometer for a reading of 165kts on the mechanical indicator, the Dynon was reading 154kts. I increased the Manometer so the Dynon reads 165kts, the Mechanical gauge reads about 176kts.
Baseline testing was performed at 2,500 ft, 2300 rpm, Full throttle, leaned for best power. Airspeed data was collected up to an altitude of 17,000 ft.
I was able to post a speed increase of 10 kts compared to the data that I took before the modifications.
SPEED : 158kts (2300rpm, Full throttle Sea level)
WEIGHT : 1060lbs
SPEED : FUEL CAPACITY : 44 gal
SPEED : 167kts (2300rpm, Full throttle Sea level)
WEIGHT : 1150lbs
SPEED : FUEL CAPACITY : 39 gal
Regarding the "fixed-to-retractable" main gear retrofit, the big question in everyoneís mind; "Was it worth it"?
YES - I like the full retract, there is an improvement in speed, I like the looks of the plane, and I like the complexity. I like the ground handling characteristics. There seems to be a slightly better response in roll rate. Take off and climb performance is improved, once the gear gets in the well. Landing performance is good,
NO - The 10 kts was not worth the effort that went into the "Retrofit" HOWEVER, If this were a new build, I would say that its acceptable. I do most of my travel at higher altitudes, At FL180, At this altitude, I only seen a 2 kt improvement, but lost about 5 gallons of fuel and about 100 lbs of useful load.
As for the other mods, I would say an overwhelming YES, Iím totally happy with these other modifications and would do them again.
Thank you "Limo EZ" for the photos from Port Clinton.
waiter AT iflyez
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