Confusion surrounds Motor octane rating

Earlier this year I gave several state IA renewal seminars. I always enjoy these because I get to greet many old friends and find out what is going on in the industry. I also get a lot of excellent information from people who are actually doing the work, along with some great questions.

One of the questions was a version of one I receive at almost every session: “Why can a Rotax with 9:1 compression ratio run knock free on 91 R+M/2 auto gas and a 8:1 compression ratio Lycoming need 100LL with an R+M/2 of around 104+?”

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Dealing with the gray areas

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a gentleman who was overhauling an antique propeller. He needed to know what lubricant to use in the prop.

The company that manufactured the prop was no longer in business, so all he had was an obsolete spec. I told him I would see what I could find and get back to him.

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What we can learn from funny looking birds


Over the holidays, we took our family on a cruise to the Galapagos Islands. It was one of the greatest trips that I have had.

On one of the islands, we were waiting to be ferried back to the ship, and I observed a bird flying a few hundred feet above the water and then just fold its wings and dive into the water.

It did this over and over, so I asked the naturalist what the bird was doing. She explained that this was a young blue-footed boobie [Read more…]

Liability vs. profits

A recent story by Michael Mooney, who is an aviation fuels supplier, states that the reason that no major oil company is supplying mogas to end users is because of liability.

When it was posted, several people commented that the liability issue is a myth and that they have been selling mogas in Europe with no liability problems. Well, it is not a myth and comparing European liability laws to the US system is like comparing basketball to football. They are both sports played with a ball, but there are significant differences, like contingency cases.

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Preparing your plane for winter

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I headed south to look at a classic car. As I was driving, I noticed a lot of pickups pulling campers heading south. Since several of the campers had stickers from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) on them, it led me to wonder what the pilots had done to preserve their aircraft before leaving?

The airframe and engine manufacturers have a list of items to do before parking an aircraft, so each pilot should check them out. I would like to address just the fuels and lubricant issues.

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Our expert’s take on the future of fuel

Every fall I help local farmers haul grain to the elevator. This year we had a very good harvest and the lines at the elevator were long. To pass the time, I brought along magazines from this summer to read and reread. I noted that every magazine had at least one article about the future of aviation gasoline. Since my byline in General Aviation News says I am an aviation fuels expert, I thought maybe I should address the subject and shed some light on it.

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Back to the basics

A few months back I wrote a column about the need for more technology in aviation engines. I received several emails saying that the industry may need more technology in the engine compartment, but that we need more skill in the cockpit. I must say that I totally agree with these comments.

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What you don’t know about zinc can hurt you

I have received a number of questions regarding the level of zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate (ZDDP) in modern automotive engine oils. It appears that people are experiencing a significant number of camshaft and lifter failures on newly overhauled engines with flat tappets. The failures appear to be caused by a lower level of ZDDP in the latest spec oils.

This does not concern normal certified aircraft engines, which are designed to run on non-ZDDP oils, but may concern some Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) engines, automotive conversions, or your ground transportation engines.

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The pain of budget cuts

Years ago I lived in southern Illinois where high school basketball was THE sport. When we moved to Texas in the mid-1970s, it was quite a culture shock. No one knew of or ever went to a high school basketball game. But football was king.

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The answer to GA’s woes: Technology

There is a story going around about a toothpaste company that was having quality problems. It seems that every once in a while an empty tube would go through the system and get to the stores. This was causing several customers to threaten to cancel their orders.

So the president of the company, who was a business type, [Read more…]