How to learn to do owner allowed maintenance?

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by Artimas, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Artimas

    Artimas Pre-Flight

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    I am completely ignorant when it comes to mechanical stuff. I own some basic tools, and have done very minimal mechanical maintenance on my cars and around the house.

    I am interested in learning how to properly do some minor mechanical stuff on the plane, maybe spark plugs, oil changes and the like. I can ask my mechanic to show me, but he's pretty busy and I don't want to be a PIA. Plus I'd like to have some idea what I'm doing so I don't completely embarrass myself.

    What are some good ways to start learning about basic mechanical stuff for a complete neophyte?

    Thanks.
     
  2. John221us

    John221us En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Youtube
     
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  3. Greenhead

    Greenhead Pre-Flight

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    Owner assisted annual if your IA/AP doesn't mind. A few of those and you'll know the routine and learn the basic maintenance. I learn something each annual.

    Just by removing inspection plates and other basic things helps save time for your AP. Also removing tires, repacking bearings, lubricating pulleys, etc. As stated above, watch a few on YouTube to get the jest of it all. Fun Stuff!

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
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  4. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Get a good mechanic,and do owner assisted annuals. And you can save some money.
     
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  5. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    First, look up what you're allowed to do. Next, whatever it is you want to do, try it on a car first. The engines all operate on the same principles. And by all means take some time off work and assist with your annuals. You might save some coin, you'll learn a bunch, and you'll know how to do everything.

    When I let others do my annuals they cost twice as much as when I did them myself.
     
  6. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    So you want to work on your airplane but you write "I am completely ignorant when it comes to mechanical stuff". Wow. I'd recommend starting elsewhere when it comes to gaining some mechanical knowledge before beginning to work on airplanes.
     
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  7. Joey4420

    Joey4420 Pre-Flight

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    I would also recommend joining your local EAA chapter, help others and they will help you as well.
     
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  8. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    Do it wrong and pay a pro to fix your mistakes. That'll teach you.
     
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  9. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    read the regs
    read the manuals
    find instructional videos
    when doing something the first time, have supervision (hangarmates with experience on the task, friendly A+P)
    ask ask ask; here and other forums
     
  10. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Actually, I think learning on an airplane is easier than just about anything else. The technology is old, mostly stone simple, and easily accessible in most aircraft.
     
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  11. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Build an RV. You'll know quite a bit when finished.


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  12. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Line Up and Wait

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    There are several books on the topic. There one that specifically talks to owner maintenance. Owner Assisted Aircraft Maintenance by Daniel Macdonald on Amazon for $29.99 is the book that you want.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  13. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Please tell me that was a joke.

    Youtube is great for many things, but not for someone who describes himself as "completely ignorant when it comes to mechanical stuff" who is putting his life in his own hands. Perhaps it's good as a preview before actually doing the work with someone knowledgeable. I've used youtube to fix appliances, wire a stereo, and program a smart hub, but I wouldn't rely on a random video to complete a maintenance task, thast if done incorrectly, could result in a fatal accident.

    My advice is to find an independent A&P who can show you how to do certain basic tasks, and walk you through it.

    Also be sure to get a copy of the parts and maintenance manual for your specific aircraft. Every task should be described in the manual.

    Read up on part 43 appendix A, paragraph 'c', "Preventive Maintenance" to see what you can do. If it's not listed, you can't do it without someone else signing it off.

    Joining an EAA chapter and getting assistance there is also a good recommendation.
     
  14. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    No denying light airplane's are comparatively crude and simple devices. But developing some mechanical aptitude and experience, as well as learning to use hand tools on an airplane seems a potentially expensive proposition. Even accidentally dropping one spark plug will cost about what a whole set is worth for an automobile.

    To the OP, It can be done but you will need to buy a few specialty tools (such as safety wire pliers) and find a mechanic or experienced homebuilder/local EAA Chapter able to guide you to start.
     
  15. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    Don't worry....when you break it you'll learn not to do that again. :D
     
  16. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    It is very easy to damage airplanes, even with the proper tools. That risk can skyrocket with improvized tools.

    Like prying a tire off with the biggest flat blade screw driver you can find. Wheels are only about $600 per half. No money saved by DIY at that point.


    I once sprayed isopropyl to clean up a hydraulic mess of skydrol, just enough made it into the vent of a pressure gage on an emergency landing gear blowdown bottle to ruin the paperish looking dial in the gauge. That was $600ish.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  17. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    I've had a few "pros" do some bonehead stuff too. One recent example:

    Had one of my props overhauled. Mechanic installed it on the plane and went to charge the feathering system with N2. Instead of 70 psi he had the wrong gauge on the tank and set the regulator for 70 bar. There was nothing salvageable.
     
  18. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup, owner assist annuals.

    I scratch my head whenever I hear of a owner who DOESN'T do owner assist.
     
  19. John221us

    John221us En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I know a lot of people here sing the praises of owner / owner assisted maintenance. Personally, I have a guy/shop that I trust and I really like the idea of having a pro look under the cowl on a regular basis (like for oil changes). Spending an extra $100 every few months did not bother me at all for that piece of mind. A pro is going to catch things that I would not even think to look for. Of course, I opened the cowl and looked pretty closely on every pre-flight and I am pretty mechanical. I have changed light bulbs and waxed the plane and that type of stuff, but I generally don't turn a wrench on a plane. My shop does not do owner assisted annuals.

    As far as YouTube being a joke; I guess it was sort of tongue in cheek, but you can learn a lot from YouTube. Changing oil shouldn't be too tough, unless the OP is really mechanically challenged. I can't imagine doing his own spark plugs would be a good idea.
     
  20. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    :yikes::yikes::yikes::yikes::yikes:

    That must have been an exciting event...
     
  21. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    As others stated, owner assisted annual really gives you a good look at your aircraft. You may start out with limited wrenching but as you learn you will take on more. Your shop A&P will always check your work and it's ok to ask them questions.

    I fly my plane out for all work because the shop on the field does not allow the owner in the shop let alone assist.
     
  22. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some of us have these little things called jobs.
     
  23. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Some shops are more set up for this than others.

    There's an A&P I know who does Saturday annuals... You show up 7:00am, you strip the plane of everything, he does the inspection, if there are no squawks that require immediate attention you close everything up after he's done. It really takes 2-3 people to do the prep and follow up. He reviews the logs, does the inspection, his son changes the oil, cuts open the filter, services the plugs, etc. it's all very efficient and the whole process can be done in one (very long) day. It worked well for our flying club because we could get several members to do the work. The club saved a fair amount of money and the members learned a lot about the plane.

    But it's not for everyone, that's for sure.
     
  24. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 En-Route

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    It's commendable that you want to learn. As it's been pointed out, learning can be expensive, and aircraft maintenance can be dangerous. Take it slow
     
  25. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    The biggest problem I seem to have is running out of hardware. How often is an owner going to have correct panel hardware on hand, or even know if the proper hardware was used to begin with. Assembling an airplane is when a guy runs into issues like stripped threads, broken tinnerman/nutplates, incorrect fasteners etc. Its a PITA for me, who has a masive parts warehouse just down the ramp and about any tool I would need in my hangar. I've done roadtrip annuals, hate them.

    Shot hardware, shot wiring, shot adel clamps, incorrect __________.

    Owner doing the grunt work under supervision is fine, as long as they aren't dropping all the screws into a bucket and throwing panels in a box...
     
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  26. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Cleared for Takeoff

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    ^Yes. Go to their website to watch a ton of informative videos, with lessons taught by sage homebuilders who really know what they're doing. An excellent resource.

    It's the little things that can get you, like the guy who mistakenly used RTV (and far too much of it) on a fitting leading into a Red Cube fuel flow meter. A blob of RTV broke off and blocked the meter, resulting in fuel starvation and a fatal crash. Gotta use the right stuff (I'm partial to Loctite 567), use a small amount and never on the first two threads.
     
  27. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 En-Route

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    Nobody needs safety wire pliers, everybody should learn to safety wire by hand.
     
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  28. nrpetersen

    nrpetersen Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'll bet that was exciting! Did anybody get hurt? Do you have pictures?
     
  29. GlennAB1

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    There have been mechanics killed by servicing with improper regulators, like tires, with a high pressure regulator. Don't ever do it.
     
  30. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    wow.....that's a life saver. o_O

    so...I guess using air from the oxygen tank isn't such a great idea?
     
  31. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 En-Route

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    Several people would still be alive if they had not used a high pressure regulator when inflating tires.
     
  32. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    No flying shrapnel or anything exciting like that. Just a loud bang as it sheared the mechanical stops and some other unspecified, unrepairable damage. Everything stayed contained inside the hub of the prop. I was under the plane at the time looking at something on the main gear, and recall my comment was "That didn't sound good".

    I wish I had pictures, but I helped the mechanic take it off the plane right away and put it in his truck so he could get it over to the prop shop that had just overhauled it for me. I got a call from the owner of that shop the next day with the bad news. I was ****ed enough I dumped the whole mess on the mechanic to rectify.

    What really frosted me is I do a lot of my own maintenance under the supervision of a really good, and very demanding mechanic with whom I have a very high trust relationship (both ways). He was out of town and so I hired another person to do just this one thing.
     
  33. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    That's how I felt with my Maule. I am mechanically inclined and did substantial work on sailplanes but that's a very different type of aircraft. The Maule was my first plane and I felt most comfortable finding a shop I could trust and managing things as an owner who tried to be as informed as possible short of hands on work.

    Then I did an RV kitplane. Great education there. I'm comfortable doing all my own maintenance on it including decisions about what to farm out.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  34. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    My hands are too big to fit into some places where I need to safety wire. Frankly, this is the first time I have ever heard someone object to the use of safety pliers. I am curious what you believe is the problem with using them?
     
  35. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 En-Route

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    Where did you get that I have a problem with using them? My point was that there is really no need for them which I will revise to say, for most people. I learned to safety by hand first. But, there are people out there that insist that pliers damage the safety wire and shouldn't be used. I'm not one of those people.
     
  36. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer Pattern Altitude

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    I agree completely. Even a complete novice should be able to do the basic owner maintenance with very minimal training.
     
  37. mkosmo

    mkosmo Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    And people wonder why many tire shops now have cages for the fill.
     
  38. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    Thanks for the clarification. I read too much into your original post on the subject and was concerned maybe there was something about using (or mis-using) safety wire pliers I should know and didn't. Hence my query.
     
  39. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 En-Route

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  40. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Not too long after I bought the Navion, I called the mechanic and told her I needed an oil change and she told me to bring it by. I watched her as she did it. The second time I called and she said to bring it by, she handed me a screwdriver and a bucket and told me to have at it.