New Products: Garmin Introduces GPSMAP495

Two weeks before Sun 'n Fun, Garmin has introduced a new model to its portable GPS lineup, the GPSMAP495. While rumors have been circulating for some time that a successor to the popular 496 was about to be released—with the most common belief that it would have a different form factor than the -96 series and a touch screen—the 495 is more of an addition to the middle of the line rather than an expansion upward.

Think of the 495 as a 496 without the XM WX on-board weather and music, or a souped-up GPSMAP296. As with the 496, the new model has a faster processor than the 196/296/396 models, SafeTaxi maps and AOPA airports and facilities directories. Extensive land-side mapping, including points of interest, is optional; this is a standard feature of the 496. The new 495 also shares the brighter screen of the 496 and the high-resolution terrain database.

Why a 495 now? We have heard that many pilots purchased the 496 but never activated the XM-fed weather features. The 495 gives them the major GPS and mapping features at a substantial savings. The 495 is listed at $1595—plus there will be a $100 rebate for purchases at the Sun N Fun airshow—while current street price for the 496 is $2395, not including the monthly XM subscription of $29.99 or $49.99. Moreover, the 495 is not a stepping-stone GPS. It cannot be updated to work with the GXM-30A XM antenna.

The 495 comes with the same accessory kit as the 496, including power cables, computer USB cord, yoke mount, AC adaptor and corded, low-profile GPS antenna in addition to a unit-mounted "stick" antenna.

Garmin expects the 495 to be available at the airshow, which begins on April 8.

Marc's Sportsman: The Annual, Exhausted Already

One thing I knew would happen this annual: The pesky, albeit very small, exhaust leak that I found at the last oil change would get fixed. My motto: Never ignore exhaust leaks, no matter how small. Some background first. My Glastar Sportsman has a very early prototype Aircraft Exhaust four-into-one system that was mocked up through the company's innovative PVC-pipe routine. (Look for a story in the July issue of KITPLANES for more on this process.) Considering that my Sportsman was the first to get the IO-390, and has the more challenging nosewheel configuration, the system has been extremely good. As in durable, with generally good fit and finish—far better than many certified systems I've seen—and a great throaty sound.

To accommodate the nosewheel structure under the cowling, the system has to make a near U turn. Adding this bulk to the already hefty stainless-steel system means that it's just too much to hang solely from the exhaust flanges. But in the Sportsman the easiest method is to locate the tailpipe by the belly of the airframe, which in turn means that a ball joint must be used to allow relative movement of the two segments.

And, on my installation, this is where the leak started. (See the photo at left.) Note the white staining between the two flanges. This told me that the leak was occurring during cruise flight, not just during startup, when you'd expect that the two pieces might not fit tightly. (If that were the case, I'd expect the exhaust to be darker, because I routinely run lean-of-peak EGT in cruise, but can't do so on the ground or the engine would idle too raggedly.) What's more, I could see the exhaust stains on the heat shield that protects the engine mount in this location. Obviously, something had to be done.

With the collector off the airplane, it became apparent that there was an inherent misalignment between the two halves of the ball joint. Naturally, with some wear and tear over two years and more than 300 hours, you'd expect the clearances to open up. Assuming that something could be done, I sent the bottom half of the system—just the collector and tailpipe including the ball joint—back to Aircraft Exhaust for inspection and possible repair.

I have to say that the service was superb. AE's Rich Lopez took in the old parts, had them inspected and then cleaned up. When I asked him if it would be necessary to change the ball joint angle, he said no. "The ball and bell seat real will be a solid seal. I think that the problem is the amount of torque that is applied to the bolts." To remedy that situation, Lopez said he would include new-spec bolts and stronger springs. Total cost was $60 including shipping back to California from Minnesota. I had spent about $25 to get the parts sent there originally.

When the system came back, it was gorgeous. All the pieces had been bead-blasted, and the tailpipe portion was polished. Very nice. Also, the hardware was new, with springs about half the length of the previous items and shorter bolts. Too short, in fact; I had to substitute AN3 bolts two dash sizes longer to have enough threads showing through the all-metal locking nuts and not bend the flange. It seemed prudent to give the overlaps a bit of high-temp anti-seize just in case, though the system came off without protest. In all, I have perhaps two hours' labor in this project, not including shipping to and fro.

The reinstalled system looks so clean and tidy; too bad the pipes won't stay this shiny after the engine has been run.

Oh, and I found a few more items in need of attention ahead of the firewall, but this was, I thought, the big one. Better yet, it was easily managed at the beginning of the annual so that the travel time—parts go out, get inspected, come back—would not hold the signoff hostage.

More on the annual coming up.

Upcoming in Home Machinist

The Wright brothers were first with powered flight. But who supplied the power? Without Charlie Taylor, 1903 would have been just another year of glider flying.

Taylor was hired by Orville and Wilbur as a machinist and almost immediately was put to work making their engine. He started by sketching the crankshaft onto a slab of steel, drilled along the line, and then with hammer and chisel removed the excess material. Their only other power tool, a 14-inch lathe, was used to cut the bearing surfaces and clean up the rough edges.

When "the boys," as he called them, took their airplane to Europe, Taylor was frequently referred to as "the third Wright brother."

Today, Taylor is memorialized by many nations in a variety of ways. In the U.S., the highest award the FAA can bestow upon our cadre of A&Ps; is the Charles Taylor award.

Watch for "The Home Machinist" in KITPLANES for the story of the man who built the first aluminum-block engine with only a lathe and a drill press.

Video: Lancair Evolution Makes First Flight

Lancair International sent us this video of the first flight of the turboprop Evolution, which took place on Friday, March 21. Well-known test pilot Len Fox was at the controls, who proclaimed it "a successful first flight." The 40-minute flight originated from Roberts Field in Redmond, Oregon, where Lancair is based.

Amy's RV-10: Is This Builder's Remorse?

Was he just contemplating his work, I wondered, as I walked toward my husband, who was sitting catatonic in a green plastic chair in the hangar. He was staring at the nearly, but not quite complete, RV-10 in front of him, and the look on his face was anything but awe. Exhaustion? Maybe. Not quite despair. Bewilderment?

Yes, after nearly four years, that was it. "We should have bought one, complete," he sighed and looked me straight in the eye. "We'd have been flying since last year." And ours is a quickbuild kit.

Well, it's hard to argue about the flying point. There are more than 100 RV-10s flying, and it is common knowledge, even to the FAA types, that some of them were farmed out to builder-assist programs that did most of the construction for the builders. A few were built by individuals purely for resale. That's not hearsay, that's fact. And the problem is that it is tempting for any builders who got into the process because they really want to fly.

"It probably would have cost us what?" I counter, trying to give my husband, the tired builder, something to hang on thousands of construction hours in this hangar.

"Oh, $50,000, maybe a little more," he sighs.

"Hey, that's a year of college, maybe two!" I reply. With two children due to depart the nest this autumn, that seems significant. It sure beats the usual pep talk about building for the adventure of it, or to be able to say it is all yours. He's an A&P.; Even if he had not built it, he could work on it.

He waves his arm in a big arc at the hangar, the airplane, now with all its parts attached and nearly everything hooked up. "This was four years of my spare time..." he trails off.

"And it's almost done," I tell him. "You should be extremely proud of that. Come on, let's go get a beer," I smile, and caress his shoulder.

"In a minute," he replies, pushing himself out of the chair and climbing back up onto the wing and into the still raw cockpit. "I've just got a couple little details to clean up here."

That's how I know he'll finish. Putting a date on it might be premature, but that conglomeration of fiberglass, aluminum, wire and steel will fly like the finely tuned machine it was meant to be, and sometime soon.

Marc's Sportsman: The Second “Annual” Begins

I snuck out to the hangar in late February to make a simple modification to my Glastar Sportsman and inadvertently began the annual condition inspection. (OK. I know the proper term is "condition inspection" for Experimentals, and that it is required every 12 months; but I’m going to just call it the annual.)

The modification was straightforward. Sportsman aircraft of this vintage (circa 2006) have a simple fuel system; two inboard tanks of 15 gallons each and two outboard tanks right at the end of the wing holding 10 gallons each. Vents for both tanks terminate in tubes hanging below the wingtip at about mid chord. Works great.

Except for the tip tanks, which have a nasty tendency to urinate fuel when they’re full and you’ve made any kind of turn. The turning force sends the fuel outboard, and it’s just a short jump from the vent to the tarmac; the inboards will do the same thing, but it takes a Formula 1-like turn to do it.

There are many solutions out there, including rerouting the vents from end to end: That is, have the right tank’s vent line exit the right wing tip, and vice versa. Too big a job for an already flying airplane.

So I did what Cessna has done: Install check valves in the vent line. But not just any check valves, sorry to say. (Yet another day without having to go to the McMaster-Carr website...sigh.) These valves must admit air to the tank when it’s being emptied, not allow raw fuel to go back the other way (overboard), but must also have bleed orifices so that if you fill the tank, park in the sun, the fuel has somewhere to go when it heats up. Ballooning an aluminum tank is not desirable. I had also considered a DIY version of this valve, with a one-way valve tee'd into a secondary loop with some kind of restrictor. But with a ready-made solution in hand, I decided to go store-bought instead.

Andair makes valves specifically for this purpose, so out of the annual budget came $45 each, payable in full to Aircraft Spruce. The valves arrived a day or two later, and they’re beautiful, as is everything I’ve seen from Andair. They come in a variety of configurations, but I chose the ones with -4 nipples on each end. A few minutes with the 1/4-inch tubing, cutter and bender...and Bob’s your uncle. I tried to place the valve as level as possible, with as much of a run back to the tank as there was room in the wingtip.

Testing them out: On the next flight, I filled the tip tanks and made a number of sharp turns heading back out to the runway. While the vents will still dribble a bit of fuel like this, it’s nothing like the torrent of precious fuel that used to come out. I consider this a success, and to finish the testing I ran the airplane with just one of the valves installed and timed the transfer of fuel from outboards to inboards. They took within a minute of each other, which has proven to be typical of the airplane over the last 300-plus hours.

How does this relate to the annual? Well, while I was in there, I took a few minutes to poke around the tip, look for loose items, inspect the aileron counterweight, and commit a few more annual-checklist items. With the tips back on—in fact, installation of these check valves took place over two weekends—I was one step closer to having the annual done.