It’s annual time again and this is the first annual on our Cessna 210. The plane had been stored for 12 years and flown infrequently for the last 3 years by a person with, let’s say, a creative approach to maintenance. It sat because the previous owners had burned out two engines and were bickering over who was to blame—I know who I’d vote for. We’ve been addressing things as we go, so the obvious things have been fixed in the last 9 months. Now we’re finding things that should have been addressed in annuals but weren’t. Just as an FYI, Cessna didn’t use duct tape on its airplanes. If you see it that means that someone is using it because they are lazy or because they installed a part incorrectly and the duct tape prevents vibration or chaffing. Duct tape is extremely flammable, so its use is never approved on an aircraft.
Pulleys for control surfaces were frozen, but a few shots of LPS2 got them moving again. I thought I got all of the pulleys but I missed a few for the ailerons inside the door post. We’re finding a few parts missing: gear saddle pads, nose gear stop pins, and a piece of engine baffle come to mind. Lots of unapproved hoses on the landing gear. We did a fairly comprehensive lookup of ADs when we purchased the plane so we caught most of the ADs that apply. Unfortunately, some of them were signed off but not completed. The only really expensive one is for the turbine stop valves.
The rigging was way off. The flaps were at 13° when the indicator showed 10°. This airplane allows 10° of flaps at 160 MPH but we were actually putting in 13° and stressing the wings. An inspection of the wings where stress should occur showed no damage. The engine timing was way off so fixing it should help with fuel burn. The gear door seals had been replaced with what looks like door seals from the hardware store. We removed them and put aircraft parts on. Fixing these items and adding a Knisley exhaust should add a few knots to cruise speed.
There were lots of places where things were loose. The bracket holding the turbine wasn’t tight in the back so the exhaust system developed a crack at the turbine inlet. Fortunately, the turbine itself is fine. One bolt on the engine baffle was not tightened and the baffle wore a groove in the air intake. One advantage of being near a nuclear power plant is that there are lots of good welders who can weld aluminum, so it won’t be an expensive repair. Brakes weren’t installed properly so the brake pads were loose in the shoes.
Brake fluid is bright red when new and orangish when old. We noticed that the brake lines and gear lines had old fluid in them so as things were fixed the brakes and gear lines were bled.
When we opened the inspection ports inside the aircraft we noticed that some of them were very difficult to remove. Since many of them were very difficult to open they probably hadn’t been removed in a while. The accumulation of grease and dirt in the belly lends support to that theory. Grease and dirt attract water and for our ocean climate are not something that you want to let slide. I spent 4 hours cleaning the fuel and dirt out of the belly and lubricating the chains and pulleys. If you rotate the pulleys 1/4 turn every year they will not wear as much. With all of the fuel stains out of the aircraft we can check whether the fuel selector is leaking again. Update: It looks like it is leaking just a bit so we’ll have to put in new O-rings.
The good news is that the airplane has no corrosion, the airframe is straight, and has good compression in a very low time engine. After a very expensive annual we’ll have a like-new aircraft.
I’ve also added a bunch of things to my pre-flight checklist.
- 1. Open the gear doors.
- 2. Check all the hoses.
- 3. Look for red fluid anywhere but especially at the hose ends.
- 4. Look for bent actuators or stops.
- 5. Check for fluid on the bolts holding the landing gear in place.
- 6. Check for fluid near the brakes.
- 7. Make sure that the gear legs are resting on pads.
- 8. Check the drain holes below the fuel selector for fuel stains.
- 9. Look carefully for smoking rivets. They indicate stress on the skin.
This is my fourth owner-assisted annual and I’ve learned the most from this A&P. I have other posts on the regulations and what to look for that I’ll be posting shortly.
Update on T210 restoration.
We got the plane for $95,000 and it had around 1,500 hours on the airframe. We got it with a 50 hour engine and prop. We spent around $36,000 on new radios and autopilot, $6,000 for new windows. We spent around $5,000 fixing miscellaneous things in the first year. The first annual was around $15,000 and another $5,000 for a new exhaust. Last year we spent $25,000 on paint and interior. We’ve had the usual things go wrong on a 40 year old plane. The gear door cracked last year, a gear valve ($1,200!!) started leaking this year, fuel line leak the year before last. Mostly minor things, but they add up. All told, we spent around $200,000 and have a very nice flying machine. My personal time invested was around 250 hours of mostly grunt work.