On October 1, 2009, friends Jon & Lynn Rising purchased a beautiful T-6 from a neighbor, Gerry Walburn. The T-6 had undergone a tedious restoration back in the 90’s and was a good, sound ship. As with most new toys, Jon was flying the wings off the T-6. One of the trips Jon and I flew was returning the 6 back to Bartow, Florida, where it spent some of its military career. For nostalgia buffs like us this was really cool.
Right out of the chute, Jon gave rides at Cocopalooza 3. Jon quickly racked up 15 hours on the 6, taking owner/wife Lynn to work in Orlando, lunches, fly-ins etc. In March of 2010 we performed a thorough annual, finding very few discrepancies along the way.
The Problem Piston
While returning from a fly-in in Jacksonville with neighbor Jeff Smith, the chip detector light came on. Jon, having flown B-17s & 24s for the Collings foundation, was very familiar with chip detectors and their tendency to give erroneous indications. All indications were normal and Jon returned home safely. I personally think that Jeff, being a former Navy Pilot and now working for Southwest, had something to do with it. On the ground, Jon called and informed me of his situation and was in the process of pulling the oil sump plug. I just happened to have a round-engine guru helping me on another project and we showed up on the scene to see Jon standing with oil all over his hands, holding large chunks of metal.
For those of you that are mechanically challenged, metal in the oil means bad Ju Ju going on in the engine. Now for those of you that don’t know Jon, he can be a prankster. I would not have put it past him to grab a hand full of junk and say, “Hey look what was in here.” The look on his face said he was not joking. Engine guru Bob Hitchcock identified the material as piston and ring parts. Again, bad Ju Ju. Jon & I jumped in, pulled a cylinder and found the culprit. The number 5 cylinder piston came apart and basically destroyed the inside of the engine.
Much discussion took place and fortunately for Jon & Lynn, Gerry Walburn had a freshly overhauled R-1340 just waiting for a T-6 in need. Hmmm, I’m wondering if Gerry had something to do with this. Anyway, the engine was procured, and so the process began. I agreed to perform the work with the agreement that we would do things my way. Not a bad thing, frustrating for most, including myself, but it usually works out. Bottom line? “Hey while we are doing this, let’s do a firewall forward restoration.”
So ten months later… a fresh overhauled engine, prop, all new fuel, oil and hydraulic lines, all overhauled engine accessories, a freshly painted engine mount, oil cooler, oil tank and metal lines, air box, clamps, lots of swearing, bruised knuckles and miles of lacing cord.
Memo to self: don’t start something you may like in the end!
I laced two lines vs adel clamps and liked the lacing better. Very “old school.” I spent at least 5 days total lacing lines. Jeeeez! But I liked the final result. Anyway, we were ready to run and test the installation. We found one line that needed to be secured. “Even I was surprised with this undertaking”. Jon ran the mighty 6 and it sounded great. No leaks and everything appeared to be working properly. To see more pictures of the restoration, check out our website.
Time to Fly!
Paperwork completed. “I hate paperwork!” Nothing left to do now but fly it. Parachutes on (like we would really jump out) and off we went. Takeoff, climb out, cruise all were flawless. As the sun was setting, hanging out at 11,000 feet, I marveled at our accomplishment. While I was deep in thoughts Jon keyed up the mike and say, “Hey”, I responded with “Yep”, he continued with, “You did this, thanks”. That alone made all the cussing and busted knuckles and all the rest worth every minute. Back to the airport for a fly by and a perfect landing. Once shut down, still no leaks, and now time for some Champagne with Lynn and my fiancée, Paige Much to everyone’s surprise, Jon and I completed the project and still remain friends. Thanks to Jon & Lynn for putting their trust in me and my work.
Hmmmm, what’s next for Coconut Flyers?