Wendell Folks RV-8 Project - Page 83.

February 2, 2008:  When I got to the LaFayette ramp and the fuel pumps, Wendell was out of the airplane and talking to a friend of his (shadows) as the lineman was filling the tanks with 100-octane low-lead AVGAS.
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As I walked up with the camera, Wendell assumed the pose and the RV-grin after the first flight that lasted about 50 minutes.
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Here is another view and this time it is double thumbs-up!
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At this point, Wendell had told me when his radio quit, the Dynon unit, transponder, etc.  No circuit breakers were tripped.  Then when he turned the key to start the engine, we knew what was wrong as the battery was almost dead.  The alternator had not been charging.
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With a few borrowed tools, Wendell pulled out the back seat, climbed inside and removed the metal cover over the battery.  The guys brought out a battery charger to get things ready for the short flight back to Folks Field.  I put his back seat and battery cover into my baggage area for the flight back home.
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One of his Lafayette airport friends suggested I get this shot of Wendell to capture the humor of the moment.
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After a short break inside, we came out to see how the battery charger was doing.
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I snapped this photo right before Wendell got in the pilot seat and I got in position and ready to remove the charger when the engine started.  I handed the charger to the guy on the ramp and pushed the canopy up where Wendell could grab it and latch it closed.  He was off the ramp and heading for the runway before I could get in my airplane.  I had suggested that he leave the flaps down for the short ride home just in case the battery should go down again.  He did not turn on any avionics for the short flight.  He has made this run many times in his Aeronca Champ which has NO electrical system at all.  It was an easy flight for Wendell this time, but faster than with the 90-horsepower Champ.
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By the time I got back to Folks Field, Wendell was touching down from the north end of the field.  It was another good landing.  I made one circuit over the field above the wind sock and watched him taxi back to the ramp as I started my downwind pattern.  I came over the wires at the north end and managed to get stopped by the wind sock as Wendell had done.

When we got the airplanes into the hangar, Wendell took off the cowl and we examined the wiring to the alternator.  We pulled out the wiring diagram that came with the alternator and everything seemed to be wired correctly.  The alternator seemed hotter to the touch than I thought it should be.  I recommended that he speak with Van's Aircraft tech support on Monday morning to ask about the color of the wires and which one is the alternator field connection.  That green and silver label represents the wiring of the plug on the back of the unit.  The large terminal with the rubber boot on it is the DC output that runs back to the battery through a 60-ampere circuit breaker.  The breaker had not been tripped when we examined it on the ramp at LaFayette.  When I got out my voltmeter to check things here, the battery voltage appeared on the output terminal when the master switch was turned on.  That proved the 60-amp breaker was not tripped.  I then had Wendell turn on the 5-amp switched-breaker to apply 12 volts DC to the small white wire with the masking tape on it for the alternator field current.  That worked just fine as well.  At this point, it seemed that the alternator might have some bad diodes in it, or the wrong color wire is connected.  That will have to wait until Monday to discover.
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At the end of the day, Wendell had that feeling of it being a good airplane since it flew straight with no "heavy wing" condition, and it flew FAST!   The rest of it is just a minor thing to be repaired with some help from Van's and a local alternator shop if needed.

My total Hobbs meter time for the day was 1.2 hours.  It felt good to be in the air again.  I turned down my radio volume for half of the flight, had my video camera not running, and somehow failed to snap some photos that I thought I had taken on the ramp before the takeoff.  The main thing is, Wendell's first flight was safe, and the Lasar ignition system did what it was supposed to do - - act as plain old MAGS when the electrical system is malfunctioning.  The weather was severe clear, and the winds were steady and down the runway at both locations.  It was a GOOD DAY!

February 4, 2008: Here is a late-night update on the happenings since Saturday.  I was over at the hangar Sunday evening and showed Wendell what to look for on his radar transponder when we get his electrical system up and running.   I used my GTX 327 since the front panels are identical and the LCD readouts are the same as well.  The lack of Mode C altitude reporting to Chattanooga Approach could have been due to low voltage at the time of the test, but that is unconfirmed.

Wendell called me during the afternoon today (Monday) to tell me that the alternator was indeed bad.  He took it to a local alternator shop where they put it on the bench and tested it.  The output was only 11 amperes instead of the rated 60 amperes.  He also spoke with Gus at Van's Tech Support and relayed the problem found on the first flight.  The unit will be exhanged at no charge. 

The painter was scheduled to come over this evening to begin the layout of the remaining blue trim on the fuselage.  The next sunny weather is forecast for this coming Thursday, February 7th.  On that day, the Aeronca Champ and my RV-9A will probably be parked outside, and the blue paint will be applied to the RV-8 in the temporary paint booth inside the hangar.  The weather is also forecast to be good on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I would not put it past Wendell that he might want to take a flight in my airplane again to see how the engine monitor is used to set the throttle, propeller, and mixture controls.  We had a discussion about them after the flight of his RV-8.

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