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A/P IA says something funny at annual: Magneto bushing fell through the engine to oil sump


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1989 J Model that has been meticulously maintained it's whole life.  And, it's my first airplane and my first annual inspection.    The annual inspection came in a $16,000 at the mechanic shop in Tampa, FL. I cut what wasn't absolutely necessary, replaced placards myself, and got it down to about $10,000 estimated. After 6 weeks of an annual inspection, because I needed a McCauley Prop Hub reseal (after only 450 hours since prop overhaul) and the prop shop was backed up, I'm supposed to get the airplane back today..... when I get this email:

"When we started to change out the magneto gasket, removed the magneto slowly to verify both bushings were in place prior to removal but one was already missing. Then searched for it using a borescope, located in the engine and tried to grab it with some tools but unsuccessful. Which required to pull the oil sump to retrieve the bushing, then reassembly process. we had to remove the oil sump in order to retrieve it. Pictures attach showing you that both “rubber” like black bushings are supposed to be inside the gear drive, with the “tabs” having to pass through the slots on the backside, there wasn’t a way for it to fall out during our removal. Just wanted to let you know that this was an issue that came up and had to be addressed, there will be additional labor for all the work. Also, attached are two log entries where there was magneto work done previously. We are wrapping up the paperwork but still holding off the signoff for the work you were going to take care of yourself. Still waiting on the RH fuel tank placard and LH rear wing tip position light. Let us know when its all completed for us to do the final checks prior to signing off the annual."

I was at the shop today and before I got the science behind what is wrong, I was nicely told all the reasons why this not only wasn't, but how it physically couldn't be their responsibility and the bushing definitely did not fall off the mag and into the engine on their time. They showed me that last annual at another shop they did a mag check during annual and it must have fallen off the mag and into the engine then. I called the shop that did the last annual and they did not disassemble the mag during their check last annual, so that was impossible. The same other shop did the previous annual in January 2022 where they did disassemble the mag and installed new right side magneto points January of 2022. 

My questions to my current shop doing the annual:

1. So this rubber bushing was rattling through the magneto, throughout the whole engine with all the internal moving parts, for 2 years and 200 hours of flawless engine operation with no sounds or signs or reports of anything that might allude to a 2" rubber bushing rumbling through the engine, you noticed it today, tried to get it out of the engine with tools but couldn't, and it fell in the oil sump and you had to spend 16 hours of shop time to disassemble a lot of stuff and open the oil sump to retrieve this thing.....     and throughout all of this the engine had no problems for two years and 200 hours and the rubber bushing was in such flawless, like-new condition that you were able to reuse it and used the same exact part to install in the magneto???      seems phishy to me....

2. This is a strange and big deal, why did you not call me when you noticed this and ask how I wanted to proceed?

3. What made you think or believe that a rubber bushing that was in my HOT engine for 2 years and 200 hours would be safe enough to reinstall in my magneto as-is? 

check out the pictures, does that bushing look like it's been inside my engine for 2 years and 200 hours?

They charged me 16 hours of shop time, $2,400, to get to the oil sump and get this thing out and put it together again. 

I would love all your comments, I believe I am being bamboozled.  

 

 

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I believe you are getting shafted also.

I would make one attempt of sitting down with the owner and calmly presenting your concerns. Calmly and confidently tell him what you think is fair for both of you (maybe split the extra labor?). At this point I wouldn't go further than that or they'll hold your airplane hostage. Get it signed off and get it out of there and don't go back. (Also just a point of reference I keep my logbooks locked up and shops that work on my airplane get a .pdf of my logs, if they request them. I ask for stickers that I'll put in my logs. The shop never has possession of my logs.)

Education always carries with it tuition. Your education here is never go back. Once it's done please share the name of the shop so someone else doesn't sign up for that course also.

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It's pretty common for those to fall into the sump and just be left there.   They won't hurt anything.   If they did, thousands of airplanes would have fallen from the sky, because it's a fairly common things to happen.   The usual joke is that you drop one into the accessory case and pull the sump to get it back, and there's three or four of them in there.  ;)

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I don't know about the two magneto Lycomings, but the Continental TSIO-360 with two Bendix mags have the same rubber cushion inserts in the drive gears.  So they have twice as many as a Dual Mag IO-360 Lyc.

The real problem is if they drop the gear down in there.

 

 

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On 6/6/2024 at 8:58 PM, LANCECASPER said:

I (Also just a point of reference I keep my logbooks locked up and shops that work on my airplane get a .pdf of my logs, if they request them. I ask for stickers that I'll put in my logs. The shop never has possession of my logs.)

This is a VERY important lesson to learn here and not the hard way.

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44 minutes ago, BlueSky247 said:

Okay, you guys have got me very curious on the logs thing. @LANCECASPER do you do that to prevent (1) shifty business, (2) damage, (3) loss or (4) them being held hostage? Or what’s the reasoning?

 

OP, sorry you are getting that. 

1, 3 and 4. 

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1 hour ago, BlueSky247 said:

Okay, you guys have got me very curious on the logs thing. @LANCECASPER do you do that to prevent shifty business, damage, loss or them being held hostage? Or what’s the reasoning?

 

OP, sorry you are getting that. 

In addition to what's been mentioned, the owner/operator is legally responsible for maintaining aircraft records, not mechanics or IAs.   If you want to keep control of what goes in them, and just as important, what doesn't go in them, in order to maintain them properly, you have to maintain possession.   Some maintainers put themselves first when making logbook entries and sometimes record things are solely CYA for them and detrimental (and unnecessary) to the aircraft record/history/value.   You can always ask for a sticker or any sort of printed (or electronic) record from a maintainer, and ask for a revision if there's something unnecessary that you don't want included (like an "unairworthy" statement in an annual inspection record, or including the discrepancy list from an annual in the logbook).  If you give them the logbooks, they can put anything they want in there, which is harder to deal with if it is inappropriate or unnecessary and not what you want.  

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11 hours ago, BlueSky247 said:

Okay, you guys have got me very curious on the logs thing. @LANCECASPER do you do that to prevent shifty business, damage, loss or them being held hostage? Or what’s the reasoning?

 

OP, sorry you are getting that. 

To add to what @EricJ said regarding revisions.  The stickers are just pushed to a printer from a computer so, if there is anything you don't like on the first sticker, you can revise the language and hand it back to the mechanic and ask to have another printed.  If the mechanic balks, just use the original.

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3 hours ago, N201MKTurbo said:

I wonder what the regulators (who only bother private GA if something goes wrong) would say if you cut the signature off the sticker and stuck it under your entry?

that would be forgery. or falsifying documents 

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The issue of who dropped the bushing is not something you will be able to get a definitive answer on.  You can try to negotiate something with the shop but if they really weren’t the ones who dropped it then I could see why they wouldn’t be interested.  
 

The bigger issue is what direction you gave them as to what kind of communication and permission was required before commencing work.  When you go in for an annual the shop should understand clearly that they have authorization to do the annual inspection and whatever preventative maintenance you approve before hand and that any additional work needs to be talked about and approved before they start work.  
 

There are some people who just drop off their plane and say call me when it’s done and I’ll settle the bill-  these people have trained some shops to take liberty with peoples airplanes.   That’s unfortunate but still common.  So the question is did you communicate this process clearly?   If you did then that gives some ground to challenge the work provided.  If you didn’t then this is a good lesson to you what happens when you don’t communicate proper expectations.   If the shop was given proper expectations and took liberties with your airplane anyway then you don’t want to do business with them.  

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On 6/8/2024 at 8:04 PM, BlueSky247 said:

Okay, you guys have got me very curious on the logs thing.

Here's my thinking on me keeping the logs: We don't have a paper title on our airplanes like you would have a title to a car. The most valuable documents related to our airplanes are complete and continuous logs. They affect the value greatly. In that comparison, the logs to an airplane are more valuable than a title to an automobile since most likely you can get a duplicate title. It is impossible to completely reconstruct the logs once they are gone if you don't have a .pdf. 

If an auto repair shop insisted that I leave the title with them before they work on the car, I would never take that chance. If an airplane shop can't accept .pdf copies of my logs I would feel the same way. 

My airplane got held hostage back in 2007 at a shop where I knew the manager well, but the IA was an Independent Contractor they had recently taken on. He personally was holding my logs as some kind of a power play in his relationship with the shop. It was a six month nightmare for me and a worse nightmare for the shop. It all worked out but that was the last time I've ever brought my logs and dropped them off with the airplane.

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I’m curious, if the shops story is true, what’s the point of the bushing? It can be installed without half of the bushing with no consequence? Does it dampen vibration? Seal oil off? 
 

savvy wrote an article about this very situation, to @EricJ point. The article was a ball bearing I believe, but same concept. Nothing is going on in the oil sump except a hot tub. I would hate it being there, don’t get me wrong, but the end result of said article was- no harm leave it. 
 

I find it odd that they went through all of that trouble to go looking for something, according to their story, that they didn’t even know was there until “oh there’s something!”  No. The likeliest story is the technician did it either knowingly or unknowingly but with no way to prove one way or the other, went back to the shop manager to let him know he did nothing wrong. Without proof, the shop manager has to proceed as if it’s all true and he’s the butt clown responsible for trying to relay that message to you. All of that aside, HIS responsibility is to notify you or not and that is where there is no excuse. For someone trying to shave the bill by putting your own stickers on etc, he should’ve known you weren’t cool with the have at it approach. That makes him either very poor at his job and has no awareness or a bold faced liar. Neither is a good look. 

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On 6/8/2024 at 10:01 PM, EricJ said:

In addition to what's been mentioned, the owner/operator is legally responsible for maintaining aircraft records, not mechanics or IAs.   If you want to keep control of what goes in them, and just as important, what doesn't go in them, in order to maintain them properly, you have to maintain possession.   Some maintainers put themselves first when making logbook entries and sometimes record things are solely CYA for them and detrimental (and unnecessary) to the aircraft record/history/value.   You can always ask for a sticker or any sort of printed (or electronic) record from a maintainer, and ask for a revision if there's something unnecessary that you don't want included (like an "unairworthy" statement in an annual inspection record, or including the discrepancy list from an annual in the logbook).  If you give them the logbooks, they can put anything they want in there, which is harder to deal with if it is inappropriate or unnecessary and not what you want.  

This is the way,  I haven't let my logbooks out of my control in 5 years.   Actually have a sticky application protocol,  

i carefully wash my hands,  cut open the vacuum bags holding the logs, apply stickies to proper page,  put logs in new vacuum back and reseal, pat logbooks then put them back in their logbook cubby

I actually keep get 2 copies of the stickies,  i apply one as above and the other in the airplane log in the plane.

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54 minutes ago, McMooney said:

This is the way,  I haven't let my logbooks out of my control in 5 years.   Actually have a sticky application protocol,  

i carefully wash my hands,  cut open the vacuum bags holding the logs, apply stickies to proper page,  put logs in new vacuum back and reseal, pat logbooks then put them back in their logbook cubby

I actually keep get 2 copies of the stickies,  i apply one as above and the other in the airplane log in the plane.

Doesn't hurt to keep a copy of the logs in the cloud too.

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5 hours ago, LANCECASPER said:

Doesn't hurt to keep a copy of the logs in the cloud too.

Physical log locked up, plus one PDF version on a USB stick, one in the cloud, and two more on hard drives that are not in the same place.  Let's see, that's five copies total.  It would be awful to lose the physical logs, but the scanned PDF versions are actually easier to read.

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After an outrageously expensive annual inspection, one where I believed I got shafted on but I kept my mouth shut because I couldn't prove anything, I ultimately decided to not disclose which shop it is that did this annual.    With the events that happened today... changed my mind. 

I took delivery of the airplane yesterday afternoon. Luckily all of this was at my base airport, KTPF. I started the engine up, immediately heard a loud whistling noise that I never heard before, did a run up, all engine stuff is good, but noise is still there, something's not right. I had my CFI hop in the plane with me and she heard the noise as clear as a baby crying and I knew it just wasn't my imagination. 

The head of this shop's maintenance department happened to be there today from his different home base city/airport.     They thought it was an alternator problem, took the belt off, it wasn't the alternator. 

It was a paper gasket (which was brand new) on the bottom of the engine connecting either intake or exhaust and the (brand new) gasket was letting air out at a very fast pace. They fixed it. Good.                         

Head of maintenance, "when did you hear the sound?"

Me, "When I took delivery of the airplane yesterday."

Head of maintenance, "well it didn't happen with us yesterday morning when we finished the airplane and did a runup because we would have heard it then also."

Me, "So the gasket failed specifically early afternoon yesterday after you guys were done with it and tested it and before I took delivery and taxied/ranup the engine?"

Head of Maintenance, "Yep, guess so."                     ------Whatever.  Here's the beef:

 

Noticed a chip out of the bottom half of the cowling fiberglass, in a location where the glass was indeed repaired with bondo probably decades in the past. But It was so clear that the shop newly chipped the cowling, today, within the last two hours when I gave the plane back to them to fix the whistling noise.       The A&P who worked on the plane acknowledged that this chip was not there before. 

Me, "Fix it please. It's clear that this chip in the fiberglass happened today within the last two hours."

Head of Maintenance, "You see your airplane is very old, it's a 1989 J model. These cowlings flex every time they are taken off. It's going to be a $1,200 fix to fix this."

Me, "Okay, fix it...."

Head of Maintenance, "I'm sorry, we are not going to be responsible for each time you get a chip or a nick of paint or fiberglass when we're servicing your airplane, that's just not how aviation works.".           I looked at them, pondered, and just walked away at that point. 

I won't tell or advise anyone not to work with Sarasota Avionics. I actually like the A&Ps and Sarasota Avionics staff that is at my KTPF. But this is my experience, and I'm going to find another shop for work in the future. 

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On 6/14/2024 at 11:49 AM, TLWM-21 said:

After an outrageously expensive annual inspection, one where I believed I got shafted on but I kept my mouth shut because I couldn't prove anything, I ultimately decided to not disclose which shop it is that did this annual.    With the events that happened today... changed my mind. 

I took delivery of the airplane yesterday afternoon. Luckily all of this was at my base airport, KTPF. I started the engine up, immediately heard a loud whistling noise that I never heard before, did a run up, all engine stuff is good, but noise is still there, something's not right. I had my CFI hop in the plane with me and she heard the noise as clear as a baby crying and I knew it just wasn't my imagination. 

The head of this shop's maintenance department happened to be there today from his different home base city/airport.     They thought it was an alternator problem, took the belt off, it wasn't the alternator. 

It was a paper gasket (which was brand new) on the bottom of the engine connecting either intake or exhaust and the (brand new) gasket was letting air out at a very fast pace. They fixed it. Good.                         

Head of maintenance, "when did you hear the sound?"

Me, "When I took delivery of the airplane yesterday."

Head of maintenance, "well it didn't happen with us yesterday morning when we finished the airplane and did a runup because we would have heard it then also."

Me, "So the gasket failed specifically early afternoon yesterday after you guys were done with it and tested it and before I took delivery and taxied/ranup the engine?"

Head of Maintenance, "Yep, guess so."                     ------Whatever.  Here's the beef:

 

Noticed a chip out of the bottom half of the cowling fiberglass, in a location where the glass was indeed repaired with bondo probably decades in the past. But It was so clear that the shop newly chipped the cowling, today, within the last two hours when I gave the plane back to them to fix the whistling noise.       The A&P who worked on the plane acknowledged that this chip was not there before. 

Me, "Fix it please. It's clear that this chip in the fiberglass happened today within the last two hours."

Head of Maintenance, "You see your airplane is very old, it's a 1989 J model. These cowlings flex every time they are taken off. It's going to be a $1,200 fix to fix this."

Me, "Okay, fix it...."

Head of Maintenance, "I'm sorry, we are not going to be responsible for each time you get a chip or a nick of paint or fiberglass when we're servicing your airplane, that's just not how aviation works.".           I looked at them, pondered, and just walked away at that point. 

I won't tell or advise anyone not to work with Sarasota Avionics. I actually like the A&Ps and Sarasota Avionics staff that is at my KTPF. But this is my experience, and I'm going to find another shop for work in the future. 

I’m sorry this happened to you.  I’ve been given the same story before “it left our shop airworthy, must have happened on the ramp when you were picking it up.” Not fun. I won’t go back there either.

You can/should definitely find a better shop.  If you can afford the time, participate in the annual (pulling inspection panels, cleaning things, being gopher, etc).  It gives you an excellent education and you’ll get your airplane back much quicker and cheaper.

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