Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let the engine installation begin!

I'm going to try to document as best I can a step-by-step guide to installing my IO-360 engine from Mattituck. It's fuel injected, for fixed pitch, one Lightspeed and one mag. At some point in the future, maybe someone else will install an identical engine and this category will pop up in Google. We'll see.

I've found this old article on Van's Air Force very helpful -- The Illustrated Guide to Engine Hanging. It was written by five members of the Tampa RV Builders Group. I especially like the step-by-step of what bolt in the mount goes in when. We'll see how that works. We're tentatively planning on starting that part of the process on Friday.

But I'm an idiot when it comes to engines. I'm learning from scratch. I've got bags of bolts and fittings and I have no idea where they go or what they do. I haven't bought an alternator yet, or an oil cooler, or many other elements of this installation. If I want to stay alive, I have no choice but to become an expert.

Now, if you haven't drilled your engine mount to the firewall yet, you'll find some information on how to do that here.

I've followed the pre-hanging checklist and tonight I made the first adjustments to the engine (photo above). I've inserted VA-128 (oil pressure restrictor fitting) into the rear port, next to where the right magneto would normally be mounted.

This has to be installed now because there's no room to work on it, apparently, once it's mounted on the engine mount. As Tom Berge explained a few weeks ago, you have a choice. there's a port on the side of the engine, or on the rear. It's your choice which one you want to use as long as you choose the rear port.

Thanks to advice from Van's Air Force members, I was able to torque the fitting to 80 inch pounds and got it to be oriented exactly where it needs to be -- pointing out -- basically -- the right wheel.

You use Fuel Lube on this fitting and you insert it, tighten it kind of tight (it won't tighten to its correct orientation, probably. So you remove it, wipe the Fuel Lube off, put more on, repeat. As it gets to about the 11 o'clock position, you'll be able to torque it to its correct amount.

The two tabs that hold on the cover where the magneto would be installed (remember, I'm using a Lightspeed electronic ignition on that side so I don't need a second mangneto), needs to come off so you can get a wrench on the fitting. Just unscrew the bolt and give the square things a tap with a rubber mallet, remove. When you're done, reassemble and torque to about 120 inch pounds.

So what does this fitting do? It attaches a hose up to the manifold transducer so that an oil pressure transducer can send information back to your engine monitor telling you -- hopefully -- that you've got oil pressure. If you just used a regular fitting, and something happened to a hose, all of the oil would come flying out of the fitting, your engine would seize up, and you'd be taking the long way home, if you survive the emergency landing. With the restrictor, the oil will not pour out.

There's another location where a restrictor is required. I haven't taken a picture of it yet, but there's a T-fitting on the side of the engine-driven fuel pump (which comes installed on the Mattituck setup). One hose attaches to the fitting and goes to the throttle. A pressure restrictor goes on the other hole on that fitting and that will attach a hole that goes up -- again -- the transducer manifold to connect to the fuel pressure transducer which will send information to your panel to tell you -- hopefully -- that you've got fuel pressure.

This is really going to be fun. Mattituck, stand by those phones! I'll be calling.


  1. Great. I am excited for you.

    Thanks for documenting the process, as this is a ways out for me, but one of the areas where I will be drinking from a firehouse to try to learn it.

  2. Bob...

    There's nothing quite like the sound of the last biscuit snapping into place. It's quite a milestone - congratulations.