Bob Pastusek is vice-president and a board member of the Lancair Owners & Builders Organization – LOBO – and is their go-to maintenance guy. A few years ago, the LOBO Board became concerned that people were not tuning up their airplanes properly; they were not following all the recommended engine and airplane manufacturer’s guidelines in doing their condition inspections. “Experimental owners are not obliged to follow them,” said Pastusek. “Nonetheless, like putting air in your tires or oil in your engine, some recommendations are more significant than others. We came to the conclusion that some people were not doing some of the important ones, based on accidents and probable cause findings that indicated maintenance wasn’t as good on these airplanes as it could be.”
In December 2014, LOBO put together a kit of materials for testing and inspecting the engines, specifically Continental aircraft engines. “This worked out really well for us,” Pastusek continued. “So at the fall LOBO fly-in, we asked what people (members) thought about it, and the feedback expressed a desire to include some additional equipment in the kit. One of the principal requested pieces of equipment was a prop balancer.”
Pastusek first learned about the DynaVibe propeller balancing system at Oshkosh four or five years ago. He bought one for his local EAA chapter and has used it several times to help chapter members balance their props. “Having personal experience with DynaVibe, knowing that it works and that it is a reasonably priced piece of gear that our average homebuilder could figure out how to use, we bought new DynaVibe systems to include in our three engine inspection and tune-up kits.”
Pastusek recognizes the importance of keeping the prop in balance. “It makes the airplane engine run smoother, with less wear-and-tear on the engine. The aircraft is much more pleasant to fly.” In general, Lancairs use factory-balanced, high-end adjustable pitch props. “They come pretty well balanced; we generally don’t have an issue with props significantly out-of-balance. However, there are a couple of things that homebuilders can do, particularly in mounting the spinners and things like that, that can cause them to be out of balance. It’s a very easy thing to check and improve. If you find the prop out of balance and fix it, it really makes the airplane run a lot smoother. These are very large engines in relatively small and lightweight aircraft, so a prop imbalance will shake the airplane around pretty well.”
The LOBO engine test kit with the DynaVibe prop balancing system is expected to be available to members in April 2016. “We think the DynaVibe is a relatively sophisticated but easy tool to use in the field,” Pastusek concluded. “It works like a champ.”
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