Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dead Motor Boogie

Every once in a while you come across something that sends you off on yet another trip down memory lane.

I was paying homage to the muse the other day and the book the photo is in was on the tank. Something about the picture reminded me of the other picture-which shows yours truly with a Garrett TPE331-3U-303G with a nice big hole in the gearcase. I believe it came from the airplane in the picture-anyway, it was an early round window Swearingen Metroliner and there were very few of these made.

Anyway, here's the story. It had belonged to Scheduled Skyways and it had a landing gear leg collapse as Metroliners were wont to do on the slightest provocation, or if someone looked at them crosseyed. The right hand gear collapsed, the number 2 prop struck the runway, a blade broke off, it lanced through the fuselage and out the other side, through the cowling of the number 1 engine, and broke the gearbox housing.

Dave Corwin at National Flight Service had landed the repair job for both engines, but the insurance company pulled them out when they heard that National Flight Service was not a factory approved TPE331 repair center, and Kal Aero was. That's one of the benefits of having a boss who was known in the wreck recovery business. A shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana had gotten the sheet metal repair job, and Roger Jenkins and I spent a bit of cab time in the company pickup truck going back and forth to Fort Wayne to get it right.

Most of the engine was salvageable, and the insurance company just happened to have a runout TPE331 for parts that was provided. The engine ran fine after a complete teardown and build by yours truly, and I decided I was going to see just how strong magnesium was. It is mighty stout stuff, and no matter how many times I hit the old gearcase with a big stout ball pein hammer it was impossible to break a hole in it.


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