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Author Topic: Stuck in the Cold  (Read 4395 times)

ghancock

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Stuck in the Cold
« on: December 19, 2016, 05:27:46 pm »
Well, I read all about it but never put much concern into it.  I live in Georgia, so why worry about getting stuck in the cold.  And anyway, does it ever really get cold enough for the engine to not start?

Hmm, I'll never have that thought again.  I've been in Maine since last Tuesday and am still here trying to figure out what to do.  This post is going to list my different processes for trying to get unstuck.

1) Here is a funny video on the first experience of realizing that I wasn't going home.  It was from last Friday afternoon in the 7 degree weather.

[url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBi_yuhvNAU[\url]

2) I then decided to try to wait out the cold so we went to the ski resort and had an awesome day of skiing.  Well, that didn't last long so back to the airport for another look.

3) There has to be some way to heat the airplane but there are no empty hangers at the port and evidently no one here flies much during the winter as there are no heaters here either.  So off to Home Depot with a few ideas to see how it works out.

4) First set of purchases were for a propane salamander heater, no idea why they call it that.  I also purchased some ducting and a few joints to put it all together.  The ducting ended up being so ill conceived that it literally pulled apart and the clamps I got for the joints wouldn't tighten enough to hold two paper bags together.  After being extremely frustrated I figured I'd at least try the heater.  It literally blew flames out the front and had a roaring fire inside it.   Figuring that was only an accident waiting to happen I packed it all back up and returned them.

5) Next I started researching every preheater I could find.  It came down to something everyone called the Northern Companion and a Red Dragon.  The northern companion had a lot of information on it so I figured out which stove they were using and decided that I'd build my own.  After all, what do I have to do today?











So, how did it go you ask?  Well, despite all the comments about people using this thing in sub zero temps, it wouldn't light worth a crap.  So I honestly couldn't tell you if it would work or not.  However, after seeing its size, the distance up the tube into the engine compartment and the complete lack of any force other than heat to make it move around, I could make a prediction that it wouldn't work worth a shit.

There honestly is no way this heater could possibly heat up much more than a cub and even then I doubt that it would work if the temps were much below 20.  It was 14 here today and with the wind blowing a bit it just couldn't get itself going.  I tried for 45 minutes to get this thing to light up and start getting hot and it never burned long enough for me to even warm a few fingers.  So I'm going to give the Northern Companion heater 2 stars while I didn't test their exact heater I think you can see I was pretty close.

But take it with a grain of salt because like I said, the heater never really got going. 

I came back to the hotel frustrated and depressed with the situation as it is starting to get old.  I ordered a Red Dragon from Spruce with a 6' hose that should be here tomorrow AM.  They claim 20,000 BTU's on the Northern Companion with no fan.  I also think they got their BTU number purely from the fuel btu ratings so doubt the stove itself is putting out nearly that much.  The Red Dragon clams to be putting out 49,000 BTU's and has a 320 cu/ft/min fan on it.  It also claims 15 minutes to heat the engine in zero degree weather.  So I'll test it next.

If it gets me out of here it will find a place in the plane full time during the winter months as I will NOT suffer this again.  :-)

Will post again tomorrow, hopefully from home.

Glenn
--glenn
You can't win an argument with an ignorant person,  they'll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

Steve binnette

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Re: Stuck in the Cold
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2016, 10:28:42 pm »
Sorry to hear about this, sucks!

I have used the tanis electrics heating with good luck.  You can heat the oil, cylinders and the battery.   

Sorry the light bulbs did not work, they only put out so much heat and it sounds like you are in the deep freeze.

In my 421 I called ahead and found out where there was an outlet I could plug into then traveled with extension cords and moving blankets.

http://www.avweb.com/news/maint/182846-1.html

Here an article on the topic.

ghancock

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Re: Stuck in the Cold
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2016, 09:31:41 pm »
Excellent article.  I have read a lot of others but he went into more detail than the others in a way that makes more sense.  It also makes me wonder if the attached heating elements are getting the crankshaft and other elements warm enough to not have the bearing problems he discusses.  It would almost seem forced air heat would be better as it would get everything inside nice and toasty by heating the air instead of heating single points.

We ended up using a rented heater from home depot and a rented hose from some local shop to get the heat done.  The guys helping me out had just wired the hose fittings to the front of the heater so that it was seperated by an inch or so and offset just a bit so he could adjust the heat.  The hose was 12-15' long but wow what heat got through.  I was actually quite shocked at how hot the inside of the cowling got.  It was also shocking that even after getting that hot it still took quite a while to get the oil warm.  After over an hour of running the oil still looked like mud coming off the stick.

We did manage to get it warm enough to drain it out and replace it with multi-grade oil that was pre heated itself.

Here are a few pics



It also helps to have airport people bring puppies in to entertain your 5 year old son while heating the engines.



After all, it is cool to fly but having him wait hours on you. To warm up things is... what was the word....  oh, boring.

Glenn
--glenn
You can't win an argument with an ignorant person,  they'll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

Steve binnette

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Re: Stuck in the Cold
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2016, 12:50:42 am »
Cold starts are tough  on engines even when preheated.

They have covers for the prop blades which help keep the crank warm once the oil is warm.  I always figured if you get the oil warm it will warm the rest of the internal parts.

I only had the pan heaters on my 421. One time in mammoth I showed up with the family to take off.  The day before I had the line guys plug me in so the heaters had overnight to work. OAT was only 25f.

When I got out to the airport and pulled the cowl plugs only one engine was warm the other was cold.  The pan heater had failed and left me with a cold engine.

I tried staring the cold engine. Absolutely no way it was starting, high altitude and cold temps.  The warm engine started normally.

I ended up shutting down the one engine and paying for a preheat. Took about 20 minutes to get it up to a good temp.

The pads work if you give them enough time and insulate the cowl,and perhaps the props.

SKYFLYER

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Re: Stuck in the Cold
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2016, 07:09:51 am »
Once the engine is as cold soaked as yours, you have to think of a frozen chicken from your freezer in a sink filled with hot water and consider how long it takes to thaw the chicken to the core. Outside super hot... inside still super cold. Pretty much the same for a Commander piston engine. Still very glad to read your out of the deep freeze and heading home.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2016, 09:52:12 am by SKYFLYER »

Badger

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Re: Stuck in the Cold
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2016, 10:07:54 am »
Glad you were able to finally get warm and get going again, Glenn. 

Merry Christmas!

Ed
Ed

donv

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Re: Stuck in the Cold
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2016, 12:03:42 pm »
Glad you made it out of there!