Friday, June 18, 2010

10,000 KM report

In November of 2008, due to numberious gifts and the support of my home Church (Park CRC) in Holland, Michgan, I was able to purchase a vehicle. Just yesterday I turned over 10'000 kilometers, roughly 6,250 miles, so I thought would give a report about my impressions and maintenance history over the past year and a half of my 2003 Kia Sorento ownership.
The diesel engine does not have the immediate response of a gas engine, however for a 2.5 liter engine, is has really good low end torque. Gas mileage is about 18-20 MPG which is about half highway (50 mph) and half city driving. Gas continues to hover around $3.50 for diesel. Interior comfort is pretty high and I find that all 5 seats are usually full when I offer to drive to Orlando's (restaurant) for a weekly dose of the best grilled chicken this side of the equator.

I installed a 2 inch lift kit from Daystar, that helped a bit more with some of the pot holes and gives a little more aggresive stance. Also put on All Terrain tires which I purchased in Lima and had "shipped" on a bus to Pucallpa. The tires are GREAT in the mud and in 4 wheel drive I have never been stuck yet!
For as few miles as I put on the car, I have fixed a number of things. Parking brake, rear differential, air conditioning system (twice), power steering line, brake pads all around, ground 2 rotors, fixed leaky radiator (twice), and induction air box. Although I try to do most everything myself, but I did have to punt when it came to the air conditioning system. The rear differential was actually kind of fun to fix, I replaced two very large bearings what were starting to fail (loud humming coming from the rear of the vehicle).

I have done all the routine maintenance such as oil and air filter changes. It takes 8 quarts to fill the engine up! Most cars take just 4. Also have been changing the fuel filter on a yearly basis, important to do on a diesel. Some ongoing items that still need to be addressed are a slow leak from the real main seal. I am loosing about a quart every 4 months... so its not serious but I just have not had the desire to drop the transmission to get at the seal. I do have the parts though along with a new clutch to go in at the same time. One of those "while your in there you may as well..." type deals.

Overall, the Sorento has been a little bit heavy on the maintenance side, but the comfortable interior, Air Conditioning, and 4 wheel drive have made up for that. Thanks again to those who gave towards the vehicle, it has been a blessing to me... if not an occasional trial helping along the process of sanctification!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fuel Tanker

The average leg length for our flights here in Peru is 1 hour. That means we average one takeoff and one landing per hour, however the average flight is longer than 1 hour as all of our flights are round trip, and roughly 30% of the time they are multiple stop as well. Since here are no airports in the whole Peruvian jungle that sell aviation fuel, we have two options. Carry round trip fuel for our flights (plus 1 hour of reserve) or store fuel in strategic locations for refueling. We take advantage of both these options as dictated by the total flight time and needs of our users. Carrying more fuel on board equates to less weight available for people and cargo. For example, 3 hours of fuel (48 gallons) in the wheel plane gives you 500 kilos or 1100 pounds or useful load. Full fuel (116 gallons) only leaves 315 kilos or 700 pounds of useful load. In the float plane, it is even less because the floats weight almost 300 pounds!

When we do flights over 4 hours in the float plane, we are almost always refueling, some times twice during the same trip. At the remote fuel storage areas, we syphon fuel from 55 gallons drums into 5 gallon plastic containers. These are then carried to the plane and poured through a filter. The 55 gallon drums are usually transported to various locations by boat or by road. The cost to transport fuel like this and stock it in remote locations adds roughly $2-3 dollars more to the price per gallon. When we have the opportunity, we transport the 55 gallons drums inside the airplane. However this is never done when there are passengers onboard. We also have the option of carrying extra fuel in the wings and shyphoning fuel out when we land at the remote location for use at a later time. I have done this a couple of times now, but it is not very common.

For syphoning, we usually use a 1 1/2 inch hose as the flow rate is very quick. Getting the flow started is the hard part, this done by sucking on the hose to get the flow of gas going. It works pretty good most of the time, but once and a while not so much. The worst is getting gas in your mouth. I have had this happen twice, and let me tell you, that was two times to many! We have found some little rattle syphons that use a 1/2 inch hose, they work great and don't require any sucking at all! The only down side is that it takes 3 times as long to fill up the tanks with the smaller hose.

Photo courtesy of Aircraft Spruce.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


When I was in high school, I had a job washing corporate cars for a large auto design business in Holland, Michigan. We used to reposition cars between the local airport and many industrial plants. Occasionally we would reposition a REALLY NICE car that belonged to a company executive or vice president. One particular time I remember driving a green BMW M3 convertible. With the top down, the roar of the straight 6 engine, and wind in my (very short) hair, I thought I had the world by the tail!

Just a few weeks ago, I turned the trusty SAMAIR float plane in a convertible as well! Some of our passengers wanted to do a short 15 minute flight taking pictures and shooting video. Since the 206 is approved for flight with the rear cargo doors off, it was a simple matter of pulling 4 pins and installing the "deflector". The deflector attached to the front door hinges and deflects the wind from the propeller and slip stream so that it does not enter the cabin area.

The video shots turned out great and nobody fell out of the airplane so it was a success all the way around. For a brief moment, I was back in high school... only this time the doors were off, the roar was from a flat 6 cylinder engine, and I could feel the wind through my still very short hair.