Brown Bag Confessions

Brown Bag Confessions

The following snippets from the E-MAG help desk are intended to entertain as well as educate. For the purposes of this page, all customers are named “Sam”.

No, Sam is not “real”. He is an amalgam of many calls, but the comments and queries are based on actual conversations.

…… lest we take ourselves too seriously, and so others will learn.

Caller: “Hi there, this’s Sam, and I got a couple of your ignitions. They installed OK. I went thru the Quick-Set timing routine just fine, but I get a Green LED no matter where the prop is moved to. What’s up with that?

Help Desk: After two or three calls to check installation, check procedures, remove for bench check, etc. …. “Hey Sam, did you remember to remove the impulse spacer before you installed the ignitions?. If not, the ignition isn’t engaging the accessory gear. After you set the timing (giving you a GREEN LED), moving the engine doesn’t move the ignition, so its just sitting there at (GREEN) TDC.”

Sam: “What’s an impulse spacer?”

Caller: ” Hi. This’s Sam. I know your manual says to install the plug adapters on the auto plugs first, and then insert and tighten the assembly as a unit. But I can’t find a socket big enough to fit over the whole thing so I can grab the adapter.

Help Desk: “Sam, the whole idea behind installing (and tightening) them as an assembly unit is so you DON’T torque on the adapter. By tightening the spark plug you will tighten the plug and the adapter at the same time. This avoids overstressing the adapter “

Caller: “Hi, this is Sam again. I didn’t connect the MAP tube until after I installed the ignitions on the engine. No big deal, but I had a heck of a time getting the tube to fit over the thingy. It’s not in a visible location, so I am working in the blind. It’s on now, but I just thought you needed to know what a hassle it was. Now I can’t get the LED to change colors when I blow. No blinking, no RED/GREEN change what so ever. I tried, my mechanic tried, – nothing. I started seeing stars I was blowing so hard.”

Help Desk: “After the second or third call on this topic it hit me…. “Sam, before you installed the ignition, do you recall removing the plastic shipping cap from the MAP nipple? If not, that would make it REALLY hard to install the tube (over the shipping cap), and would prevent your “blow” pressure from reaching the ignition.”

Caller: “What shipping cap?”

Caller: “Hi fellas, I gotta problem. Just put your stuff on and my engine runs ruffer’n a bronco. Timed it four times and it ain’t gett-n any better. I followed your instructions precisely. So wassup?”

Help Desk: “After verbally reviewing all procedures…… “Well Sam, the only thing left is to check is the flywheel marks. Maybe they are not where they are supposed to be. Why don’t you pull a plug, rotate the engine to the point where #1 or #2 piston is at TDC, and see if that matches the flywheel reference mark. Check that and give me a call back.”

Call-Back (version 1): “Hey, did you know there’s TDC marks on both sides of my flywheel? I was looking at the mark on the wrong side.”

Call-Back (version 2): “Hey, I was lining up with the [case seem (vice) starter pin-hole], which is what my last engine used. This one uses the [pin-hole (versa) case seem] as the timing reference.”

Call-Back (version 3): “I’ve been timing magnetos for 40 years. In the manual you cautioned that old habits are hard to break. Shur-nuff, I was setting timing on the 25 degree mark instead of the TDC mark.”

Caller: “Hi this is Sam. I am not sure if I got a problem or not. I gotta new airplane and a new engine, so I don’t have any actual history to refer to. I only have the information that’s published, and what my friends say I should expect in terms of fuel flows-n-all. I seem to be burning about one to two gallons per hour less that what everybody says I should. My temps are good. . . . The engine starts easy and runs smooth . . . but my fuel flow is way down there. Is this normal?”

Help Desk: “……………….” – sound of the help desk smiling.

Caller: “Sam again . . . . . . I’m guessing that one of the reasons the manual recommends customers not power up the system (without all the wires connected) to watch the LED, or practice the Quick-Set (timing) routine is that they risk getting one HECK of an electrical shock. Am I right?”

Help Desk: “Yep.”

Caller: “Good advise. KnowhatImean?”

Caller: “This is you-know-who, again. I have the whole thing installed. But I can’t get anything to light up or operate. I’ve double checked wiring four times. I have confirmed 12 volts coming from the aircraft and my ground attachment to the engine block is solid and p-lead is grounded. Something is terribly wrong but for the life of me, I can’t find it.”

Help Desk: “OK, keep me on the line while you are looking at the engine and describe your wiring hookups. Lets start with the GROUND terminal which is the one closest to the MAP tube / LED.”

Call-Back (version 1): “Oh, I have my ground on the other end of the plug, so I must have them all backwards.”

Call-Back (version 2): “Oh, I knew that, but I was holding the plug one way to make the post assignments, but flipped it over when I plugged it into the ignition.”

Call-Back (version 3): “Oh, I wired my left unit just like my right side (that works fine), but it’s oriented 180 degrees opposite the other. So Ground isn’t always the terminal closest to the top of the engine.”

Caller: “Hi this is Sam again. Do you realize how difficult it is to attach wires to the connector after the ignition is installed? The screws face the engine case, which is only a couple of inches away. Thankfully, I have a 90 degree screw driver but it took me for ever to connect the first two wires. It just doesn’t seem well thought-out.”

Help Desk: “Hi Sam. Look more closely at the pictures and description in the manual. You’ll notice the connector head is removable, so you can attach your wires to the head, and THEN plug the connector head into the ignition. As a last step, secure with the head with the two (captive) anchor screws that do face outward.”

Caller: “Hi this is Sam. Today’s the big day. I’m getting ready to start my engine for the first time. I am a bit nervous, so I asked my A&P to spend the day and double check everything. He isn’t familiar with your ignition. I explained it as best I can, but he still has some questions.”

Help Desk: “That’s fine Sam. I’ve had this discussion before. Put him on the line.”

Caller’s A&P: “Hi, this is Joe with Acme Aviation [no association with “Acme” of Roadrunner/Coyote fame]. I’ve looked over Sam’s installation and it all looks good. But since I don’t know much about setting timing with your system, we went thru the procedure one more time. We set the prop, blew in the tubes, saw the red/green lights, n-all-that. Now, I just gotta ask. . . . . . Is that all there is?

Caller: “Yep, it’s Sam again.” Had a couple of instances with rough running and radio noise. Per your earlier suggestion, I’ve already checked the auto plug screw-on tips, ohm checked my plug wires, replaced spark plugs, and made sure all the wire connections are tight. What else is there to check? . . . and by the way, you need a better way of securing the plug wires to the coil posts. I noticed they come off rather easily when I was doing the plug wire ohm checks.”

Help Desk: “OK, I think I see the problem. Look closely at the plug wire terminal (coil) tips. Pull the rubber boot back just a bit and you’ll see it has a banded spring clamp with a detent on the side. Then look down the coil tower you can see the tip of the coil terminal post centered in the opening. The post has ribs (that you can’t see easily – but they are there). When properly aligned, you’ll hear (and feel) the terminal “click” as it snaps over multiple ribs on the post. This provides a positive lock for the terminal, and will require considerable pull-force to remove. If installed off-center the terminal will be shoved down along side the terminal post, and will only be held (poorly) in place by the rubber boot.

Caller: “Give-ya one guess who this is”. OK, I already know what I did wrong. My only questions is did I screw-up big or did I only screw-up a little. After my first run up I was chasing an oil leak. . . and found that I had not plumbed the ignition manifold pressure tube correctly. I connected the ignitions to the engine oil pressure line. Aw “shoot”. So how bad did I screw up? I wanna send both ignitions in so you can check them out. Do what ever you gotta do. Repair/replace as necessary (my expense). [actual suggestion] And by the way, you might want to post this on your web “Brown Bag” page. Maybe someone can learn from my mistake.

Help Desk: That’s a first for us so we’re not sure what to expect. Just send them in and we’ll take care of it – no charge.