Vance Harral

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About Vance Harral

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  1. This was and remains technically legal with respect to 91.155. However, the FAA is on record as saying they consider operating in the clouds without a clearance in class G airspace to be a violation of the careless/reckless clause of 91.13. See
  2. Installation of altitude hold components varies by make and model. There are actually three "boxes": the pitch damper, the altitude hold control unit, and the altitude reference chamber. Often all three are bundled together such that they look like just one or two boxes, but they are three units. In our 1976 M20F, the pitch damper and altitude hold control unit are in the front of the airplane, just behind the firewall with the avionics; but the altitude reference chamber is in the tail. I'm not sure why ours is installed that way, might be as simple as lack of space.
  3. Brittain was still answering the phone as of a few weeks ago, but they seem to be in hibernation/recovery mode while the new owner gets up to speed. They weren't able to supply parts when we spoke to them, so we bought a salvage part from Texas Air Salvage instead. Hopefully this is a dynamic situation that improves on a weekly basis. Certainly worth giving them a call:
  4. I've been pretty happy with PIClife: Bought a 20-year term life policy 10 years ago. As Skates97 says, by the time the term is up, I won't need the life insurance any longer. No aviation exclusions on my policy. Note that PIClife is essentially a broker, they work with different underwriters to find you a policy. My underwriter is Lincoln Benefit Life.
  5. We called Brittain last week about an issue with the solenoid that seals the altitude reference chamber in our B-5 autopilot. They are in a "slow ramp up" mode with the new owner. Not much available in the way of parts (we wound up buying a salvage part), and it's unclear if they're doing any new development (e.g. integration with Garmin G5). Mostly they appear to be just keeping the lights on, answering the phones, and sending occasional support documents at this time. I'm cautiously hopeful Brittain will remain a viable concern, but I'd keep your expectations low for now.
  6. Thanks for the help, Marauder. Unfortunately, based on an educated guess about your serial number, the yoke shafts that were in your airplane before your upgrade are likely not the same part number as the ones in our airplane. I also note that the blueprint pics you posted don't include our serial number. The last of the F models are a bit of a strange flock. Mooney was in the midst of changes that would become the J, and many of the parts in our airplane appear identical to those in a 1977 J, despite having different part numbers (I suspect it's the same actual part, but renumbered). You can see this in the applicability chart for yokes and yoke shafts. S/N 22-1179 through 22-1245 and 22-1247 through 22-1305 have yokes like your old ones, and spec P/N 710005-506 for the right hand yoke shaft. S/N 22-1246 and 22-1306 and on have the newer rams-horn style yokes as in the J, and spec P/N 710005-508 for the right hand yoke shaft. I don't know the difference between a 710005-506 and 710005-508 shaft any more than I know the difference between a 710005-508 shaft and the replacement 710072-508 shaft, but one presumes there is some sort of difference. The J parts manual specs P/N 710064-502 for the early J model yoke shafts. Again, I don't know if that's really any different from the one in our airplane, or just the same part with a new P/N. I suspect this is the sort of thing where only Mooney knows the full story.
  7. This is a cautionary tale about maintenance-induced failures. AD 77-17-04 requires 500-hour inspections of yoke shafts. Our 1976 M20F actually left the factory with ram's-horn yokes and large-diameter yoke shafts of the type found in M20J and later models, so one is tempted to argue the AD "shouldn't" apply. However, the AD is technically applicable to all M20F models, and the associated SB M20-205B only permits discontinuance of the inspection if the OEM P/N 710005-508 is replaced with P/N 710072-508. I don't know what the difference is between a 710005-508 shaft and a 710072-508 shaft, but there is no record of a replacement of the former with the latter in our logbooks. Hence, we've dutifully pulled the yokes off every 500 hours for the inspection. The AD was due again at this year's annual, and when we tried to remove the set screw that takes up the slack, the head broke, leaving most of the screw embedded in the yoke, with no way to turn it. Various techniques were tried to extract the screw: drilling, screw extractors, etc. A half day's worth of labor by professional mechanics was expended trying to solve this problem. Their ultimate solution was to simply wrench the yoke off the shaft, and this has scored the shaft pretty badly. The head A&P at the shop has polished the score mark, multiple A&Ps have opined that the shaft is still airworthy with the score mark, and they're willing to sign it off as airworthy. We're "mostly" OK with this, primarily because the shaft in question is on the co-pilot's side. But we'd just as soon replace the shaft in the near future. So now we're on the hunt for a replacement. None of the salvage shops we've contacted has this item in stock. LASAR has reached out to Mooney on our behalf, but Mooney says they'd have to fabricate a new one. We're waiting on the quote, which I expect to be astronomical. Really hoping @Alan Fox, @acpartswhse, or someone else here on the boards has a line on a replacement yoke shaft. We do generally trust the shop, and believe the risk of continuing to use this yoke shaft is low. But the no-apologies fix is to replace it. Anyone have a source for this particular item?
  8. Yep. They climb up the mains into the wheel wells, enter the wing where the retract rods pass through the wing to the wells, and thence through the holes in the wing ribs to wherever they like. Ask me how I know. Some Mooneys have "rat socks" where the retract rods enter the wheel wells, presumably in part to prevent this. Our airplane doesn't. It's unclear to me whether it left the factory that way, or if some prior owner removed them.
  9. +1 on the Steelie ball. Easy to pop the iPad Mini on and off the yoke quickly, in either portrait or landscape orientation, and I can tilt it around to various angles to avoid glare.
  10. I should clarify. When I said I only had to re-do 3 of the 9 rivets, I meant that I replaced all 9, but I botched 3 of the replacements, and had to drill them out and start over. So I actually placed 12 rivets total. In addition to the rubber seal, the ram air door consists of three pieces of metal: two flat "sandwich" plates, and a third dimensional piece of metal which captures the actuator plate. RLCarter is correct that you have to drive an initial set of 3 rivets to fasten just the two the "sandwich" plates around the rubber seal, then the final 6 rivets go through all three pieces of metal.
  11. Last July, @chrixxer graciously shared a "never again" story about foreign material in the intake of his M20F here: Mooneyspace collectively identified this as a portion of the ram air door seal. I got an uneasy feeling when I read the story, because we've never replaced the ram air door seal in 15 years of ownership. In fact, there's no record of ours ever having been replaced in the logs, and I think there's a good chance it's original from 1976. Last fall, I took a close look at the seal, and it definitely showed signs of cracking. I made a note to look at replacing it during the annual this spring, and ordered a new seal from LASAR a couple of weeks ago. So... we removed the ram air door yesterday, and found this: Here's what it looks like after drilling out the rivets and removing the aluminum plate "sandwich" around the seal: New seal from LASAR was only about $60, and I got to practice my riveting skills: It's not difficult to remove the door. Just remove the air filter, pull the ram air knob to open the door, and remove the three screws that secure the actuating plate to the door itself. After doing so, the door slides right off the actuating plate, and can be pulled out the front of the cowl. Yes, you have to drill out the old rivets and install new ones, but I'm a total noob at this, and I managed to do it without damaging anything (I only had to re-do 3 of the 9 rivets. ). For those of you with the ram air door - whether you use it or not - strongly encourage you to take a look and consider replacing the seal if you haven't done so in a while. When you get to looking at how the assembly goes together, it's pretty obvious that if a piece of the seal comes loose, it just goes right into the fuel servo. At $60 for the seal and maybe 1-2 hours of labor for a professional (it took me about four with adult supervision), it's cheap insurance against a potentially catastrophic failure.
  12. That's indeed possible, and in fact likely. The purpose is to protect you, the owner of the airplane. Since the pilot flying the airplane was "qualified", the insurance company will reimburse you for your hull loss, and for any liability attributed to you, in a timely manner. They are then likely to try to recover their costs from the pilot. This is why smart pilots flying non-owned aircraft (particularly CFIs) either carry their own independent non-owned insurance, or insist on a waiver of subrogation from the insurer of the airplane they are going to fly.
  13. Yes, though the details varied in each case. In one case, all the underwriter required of the new pilot was a "checkout" from a CFI, i.e. any CFI was effectively empowered to decide when the new partner was competent to be insured. That was nice, especially since one of the partners was a CFI at the time, and therefore had a vested interest in deciding when the new partner was ready.. The two other cases involved some nominal amount of dual instruction, I think it was 10. I do recall one case where our existing underwriter wanted the new partner to accumulate something like 35 hours of make-and-model time before being insurable. We thought that was unreasonable, and simply worked with our broker to switch to an underwriter with more reasonable requirements.
  14. This is the same story we got from multiple avionics shops when we looked into it earlier this year. Everyone agrees it's possible to connect a G5 to a Brittain autopilot. But doing so legally on a certified airplane requires either a FSDO field approval, or waiting on a hopefully-resurrected Brittain to complete the process of publishing certified drawings for the connection. We're biding our time for now, hoping Brittain is alive enough to complete the drawings. If that doesn't pan out, the most straightforward option would be to finally give up on the B-5 after many years of sorta-faithful service, and install a GFC-500 along with the G5(s). While this is a lot less expensive than it used to be, it would still be a hefty chunk of change.
  15. Over the course of the last 15 years, we have on three separate occasions added new partners to our policy who had no instrument rating, no Mooney time, and essentially zero complex time. This is on a 1976 M20F with a hull value of about $60K, and the traditional $1M/$100K sublimit liability. In each case, the cost of our policy for the first year of participation by the new partners increased from the $1200-ish range to the $2700-ish range. Assuming the market hasn't changed in the last 5 years (which may be a bad assumption), I'd guess the hit would be somewhere between $1000-$1500 for the first year.