Avstar Aircraft of Washington, Inc.

10415 172nd St. E., Hangar A1
Puyallup, WA  98374
office (253)770-9964
or (253)770-0120
email:  avstarair@att.net

03-14-1999 Ask Mike! Archive
What do I do if my bird has sat in the hangar too long?

Dear Mike:

The weather has been downright crappy for the last 3 months and I haven't gotten a chance to even start the engine on my bird. What should I do (other than cycle the prop 20 times) to ensure I won't get into trouble sometime after I take off because the plane sat too long. What about my own skills. I'm confident that I can handle flying the plane after 3 months, but what are your feelings on that matter? 



As I believe I've stated in previous articles, When you don't fly at least weekly, you should pull the prop through in direction of rotation (Being careful of a potential hot mag, i.e. mixture lean, throttle closed, etc.  - get your local A&P to show you if you are unfamiliar with a safe procedure) an odd number of compression strokes.  For a four cylinder engine, this will equate to an odd number of blades.  The reason for an odd number is so you not only move oil through the engine, but you are assured to be leaving different valves open; that way you're not picking on the same surfaces for corrosion, the same lifters for being deflated, etc. 

It is never a good idea to only ground run an engine.  You cannot create sustained high enough oil temperature to "burn off" the moisture that an engine draws on shutdown (condensation up the breather) unless you melt down the cylinder heads.  It must be flown to do this, generally at least 1/2 hour.

If the aircraft has sat for more than a month without flying, it might be prudent to get your local A&P to pre-oil the engine for you.  Also, especially if it's stored outside, check for corrosion build up on the brakes, battery, etc; and walk around the aircraft and lubricate all exposed hinges and rod-ends.  (Do this monthly, even if you don't fly.  An aircraft exposed to the elements wears out just sitting there!)

As far as YOU, I trust you can employ some common sense.  You know what your skill level is.  Remember, even airline pilots are required to take a check ride every six months.  There is no shame in hiring an instructor for an hour.

Gear Green,