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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Start Me Up

"If you start me up, If you start me up I'll never stop"  - The Rolling Stones

After a cross country  flight in the Rocket, my latest instructor (I'll call her Anne) and I landed at East Texas Regional, or Longview airport.  I specifically wanted some instruction on how to do "hot starts".  That's when the engine has been turned off, but is still very hot.  The problem for fuel injected engines like this one, is that the hot soak causes the fuel in the feeder lines and injectors to vaporize, resulting in "vapor lock".  The fuel doesn't flow, and the engine doesn't start.

"You make a grown man cry, Spread out the oil, the gasoline. I walk smooth, ride in a mean, mean machine; Start it up"

I followed the procedure from the Pilot's Operating Handbook ("POH") with no success.  We tried various combinations of fuel mixture, throttle and fuel pump, and could get the thing to cough and chug, but it always stopped again.   Finally, concerned about the battery, we resorted to the old standby, "Call A Friend".  Instructor Anne called her friend who owns a simialr aircarft, a Bonanza with a slightly smaller engine, and a similar fuel system.

The friend read out the instructions from the American Bonanza Societies web page, and we opened the engine cowlings to let the cylinders cool off a bit.  Once I could touch the cylinders without burning my fingers, I buttoned everything back up, and settled in to try again.  The first time failed, but the second attempt got the engine running roughly.  The magic procedure was:

1. Set the fuel mixture to idle cut off, and throttle to full.
2. Run the fuel pump for a full 30 seconds
3. Set the mixture to full rich, and the throttle to about 1/2 way
4. Crank the engine, with a little "goose" from the fuel pump (needing 3 hands to achieve)
5.  Keep it going by rapidly changing the throttle and mixture.

"My hands are greasy, She's a mean, mean machine.  Start it up, If start me up Give it all you got"

Airborne once again, and heading back to McKinney well behind schedule, I set up for a fast cruise.  With no winds, the Rocket was doing nearly 170 knots True Air Speed, or 195 mph.  It's a Mean Machine alright;

"Ride like the wind at double speed, I'll take you places that you've never, never seen".

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