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This afternoon we hooked the Lamar Test box up (TE04 I believe is the model) and ran thru all the tests, with no failures. The alternator never dropped when we were running thru the test box. The box controls the field circuit with a switch and the alternator never stopped trying to charge. Keep reading......
Then disconnected the test box, hooked everything back up, started the engine, and of course the same thing started happening.
It would discharge and then charge some and then not charge. I had all the lights on the keep a load on the alternator.
Even hooked a volt meter to the coil of the alternator relay and the voltage varied based on RPM, but the alternator would stop charging. After writing that just now it seems odd that coil voltage would vary if the alternator was not charging so I'll redo that tomorrow. However the coil voltage never dropped to a point the relay released (that I could tell). Tomorrow I'll check the voltage drop across the relay to know for sure.
To answer some questions......
About 250 hours on the alternator. The engine is a Cont IO-550N. with a 100 amp alternator.
Non of the SB's attached apply to this plane
I dont know about the field breaker tripping. The Lamar MCU has 3 circuit breakers in it and I presume they reset automagically. What I see is the positive rate charge and then sometimes a discharge. Nothing consistent about when it starts charging again although higher rpms do seem to help
I was thinking brushes also until we hooked up the the Lamar box and the thing was rock solid. You can control the fld circuit with their test box and the thing never stopped charging while we had it on the box. There is probably an answer in there somewhere.
I found no loose connections, discolored wires, burnt wires.....nothing observed
I am considering changing the alternator relay. I had to change the battery/master relay last year. Sometimes turning the master on didnt result in anything coming on. Haven't had that problem again since I replaced it.
Thank You Scott and Steve for the suggestions. I think I will look into and buy some oxygen program and get up early and try flying over the peaks... That is after I fly in the mountains with a CFII , in my plane, and learn some common sense.
Also, I like the idea about mountain passes on a nice VFR day. With the parachute, if the thing in fronts stops turning I'll look for a pick nick table by a river and float down and wait.
My nephew lives in Bend and I have seen what has come to this little town. Private jets.
Now that Texas has closed down again in 90 days I will have more time to iron out the legs.
The FBO at KRDM is owned by the same outfit as the one at KBDN, and caters to a similar clientele. Last I heard, the overnight fees were pretty steep. An advantage to KRDM would be that since it is the area's commercial hub, a rental car is easy to secure.
In addition to the Imeson book Steve mentioned (which is great), I also really enjoyed Mountain, Canyon, and Backcountry Flying by Amy Hoover. Even if you never intend on touching down on an unpaved strip, both are worth picking up.
There's a big difference between flying "around/over the mountains" (e.g. a XC leg from, say, Reno, NV, to Bend, OR) to flying "in the mountains."
"Around/over" doesn't need to be particularly complicated, but having some knowledge about mountain weather and airflow patterns is very helpful.
Along those lines, I ran into a situation last summer climbing out of Sisters, OR (6K5) where I was seeing a miserable rate of climb (100 fpm) at only 6,500 feet msl. I should've been getting 750+ fpm. All engine indications were normal. It wasn't particularly warm outside. Strange.
As it turned out, I was in a spot where I was catching the downside of a mountain wave (west wind at altitude of 25-30kts, mountains to 10k about 20 miles west of this position). I was also over forested terrain. I repositioned a few miles further east from the downflow area, found a nice big field (warms quicker, more conducive to rising air), and spiraled up to 10.5 fairly quickly.
"In" is where mountain flying instructors really earn their keep. Every year, I read reports about very capable aircraft whose very not-capable pilots tried to land at such-and-such backcountry strip without proper training.
We have a strip just up the road (McKenzie Bridge, 00S) which seems to eat a plane a year, on average. It's not particularly high, hot, or complicated, but it's in a relatively tight valley, one-way, no go-arounds possible.
I saw that used one out there. I am upgrading to LEDs and have not had an issue. Just wondering if there was an upgrade package out there.
How many hours on the bird?
I would suspect alternator going bad or a loose connection.
Is the field breaker tripping?
I saw this service bulletin:
I have a 1997 Cessna 182S. I have owned it less than a year and I am learning a bunch. We are doing the annual with some other upgrades and one area I wanted to look into was the MCU. The mysterious black power box on the firewall. I am glad I did and well maybe you will find some of this info handy.
I just replaced all the contractors in my MCU. Why would anybody do that? Well, I had a starter contractor fail. We put one in to get me back on the road. It made me think - maybe I should just replace them all. There are 4 of them in there. It was a good move. I found out that when the previous owner put the upgraded starter (skytec) - they didn't upgrade the starter contractor as per the instruction. . That is probably why it failed.
We found a couple other things.
Check out this pic of a wire shorting out. That is connected to the fuse for the MCU.
Here is the contractor.
Also, check your clearance on the bus. (assuming you have done the SB to replace the fuses with circuit breakers). You may need to install a new bus (there is a kit for that). I happen to have one that I ended up not needing because for he version of MCU.
Another thing we found was that one of the breakers as literally coming apart. When we took the bus nut loose to ensure we had enough clearance - it came apart. So, we have two new circuit breakers coming. 30A breaker part number F53-0003. $80 each.
Make sure you know which MCU you have in your bird. The part number and the IC rev. it is on the data plate. Mine was really hard to read.
Some good casual reading in these Cessna service bulletins. I learned a bunch and am very happy I did these service bulletins and inspections.
Check out these Cessna Service bulletins.
What a start to the day--trying to troubleshoot an intermittent charging problem from my desk. Just joking.
The first thing that comes to mind is a worn brush in your alternator. There is a carbon brush that wears, it bares on a polished slip ring and usually lasts the life of the alternator, but dirty air, and other factors can cause it to wear at an accelerated rate. If it's short, or the slip right is dirty, the brush can make intermittent contact, or partial contact.
I have attached two Cessna service documents that apply to the charging system. I would see if your airplane is in the applicability listing and if it is, comply with the documents.
The usual pattern of dealing with an intermittent electrical problem is to visually and by touch-turn-and-pull check all attachments. Look for loose connections, and or discolored wires adjacent to the wire end terminals. If the wire insulation is discolored that means the wire or connection has gotten hot. Connections get hot due to corrosion between the wire and the terminal, broken wires at the terminal, or loose connections.
At the alternator, and at every connection you can locate. Replace any connection or terminal that shows evidence of a problem, and make sure all connections are tight.
If that doesn't yield any obvious "suspects" then the troubleshooting gets more challenging.
Please check the "easy" stuff mentioned above and let me know what you find.
Scott's information is right on. Redmond (KRDM) is another airport near Bend-10 miles to the north.
For what it's worth, I flew a 1947 Piper PA 12 (108 hp) from Texas to Alaska and never climbed much over 5000 MSL. But I had to route the flight through low passes. Your 182 can handle mountainous terrain with out a problem.
One thing to mention, VFR sectional charts used to have mountain pass routes depicted by a series of blue diamonds. Since I haven't bought a sectional for quite a while, I don't know if that practice continues.
One book that I think is a valuable resource for mountain flyers is the "Mountain Flying Bible" by Sparky Imeson. There are others too, that's the one I have.
And if you really want to get competent at mountain flying, there are free guides: ( www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handboo..._mountain_flying.pdf )
And a number of actual fly the airplane in the mountains with a qualified instructor courses. Type: "mountain flying training" into your favorite search engine.
I have a 2002 182T and the charging system is intermittent at times. There are times that the battery will be discharging and then all of a sudden it will start charging. I have turned the alternator off and back on but it does not always start charging right away. But the good news is that sooner or later will start charging the battery. I've hooked the Lamar MCU test box up and have gone thru the tests but there were no errors. Not surprised since the issue is intermittent. Any ideas on what it could be
Sure thing- hopefully it will save some people time and money.
Eventually I will do a panel upgrade and this issue will go away.
For now, I am good with it.
Thank you for posting all these pictures.
Thank you very much.
The mountains (and density altitude) should factor in to your planning but they're nothing to be scared of if you're properly prepared. A 182S is more than enough plane.
I was based at KBDN for awhile with a Cherokee 180 and flew it all over Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. 10.5 and 11.5 will get you over and around most terrain in those states, but the higher you go, the smoother the air (usually). As Steve said, fly early to avoid the worst bounces.
Re: KBDN, unless you need to be in Bend, I'd park the plane elsewhere.
KBDN used to have two competing FBOs, but now it's just one, and they are...how to put this diplomatically...pricey and cater to a much more Gulfstream crowd.
Nearby GA-friendly options are Prineville (S39), Sunriver (S21), or Madras (S39). Sunriver does a particularly nice job of helping out visiting GA pilots (very willing to arrange rental cars, hotel, golf, etc.). Plus, it's a gorgeous setting. The guys at Prineville and Madras are also very friendly.
Right now, most of the Central Oregon tourist infrastructure is (like most places) shut down due to Coronavirus. Finding hotels, rental cars, restaurants, etc. may be a challenge. Not sure when you were planning this trip for, but do take that into consideration.
Another option instead of the piggy back it to put a spark plug CHT probe on either the upper or lower cylinder. I tried both. The top one read cold and the bottom one ran hot. I left it with the piggy back and decided enough was enough.
Lower Plug - note the orange heat protection int he background. That is the factory CHT and LIP piggy back location.
I hope it is helpful. Let me know if you have questions.
Here is a standard JPI CHT probe screwed into the cylinder behind it. (not a piggy back version like I have to use on the CHT 1 due to the factory primary required primary CHT gauge).
The cowling is off my 182S for annual and I snapped some pics to show the situation better.
This picture shows cylinder one on the bottom. Note the factory CHT probe it the bronze one screwed into the cylinder. I have the JPI piggy back CHT sensor on #1. it is the heat shrinked setup on the left.
I too hope you have found a solution.
The simple solutions are correct alignment, and correct tension. According to the service manual the tension should measurement is 3/8 inch deflection when a 12 pound push is applied to the middle of the belt span.
Counter weights are installed on 6 cylinder Continental engines to absorb power pulses.
Usually the bushings do a fine job of supporting the counterweights but certain actions by the pilot can "de tune" the counterweights.
These actions include very rapid throttle movement, operating at high engine speed and low manifold pressure, and engine roughness due to mis functioning spark plug, or ignition lead, or a plugged fuel injection nozzle.
An experienced prop balancing tech with the a balancing tool that incorporates a vibration spectrum analyzer will be able to tell if the crankshaft counter weight bushings (or bolts) are the problem.
If they are, this can be solved without removing the engine. One of two cylinders will have to be removed to gain access to the counterweight installation. A skilled and experienced engine tech will be able to install new bushings and bolts.
First step, go along the way you are and hope it's solved.
If that doesn't solve the problem, see if you balancer tech is experienced at vibrations spectrum analysis.
Analyze the vibration spectrum.
Repair as needed.
Here's a link to a pdf of the AD. I'll see if I can track down some additional analysis.