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Thinking of selling my Skybolt

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Oct 12, 2017
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I have a Skybolt built in 1998 by Mr Ronald Reagan, it is an Oshkosh award winner 98'. Mr Reagan put an O-540 from a Pawnee on the Skybolt and added fuel injection and an inverted system. The aircraft has 296 hours on it and the engine about 400 hours. After they overhauled the engine in the late 80s it sat for a while and then it flew on a Pawnee for about 100 hours and then it went on the Skybolt. It has flown flawlessly ever since, I bought it in 2017, so I am the third owner. Fast forward to this past August. I was flying it and flew inverted for about 30 seconds. I don't do any tough Acro in it, just loops, rolls, cubans, hammerheads other than that, just cruise around enjoying the bolt... When I rolled verted I noticed the oil pressure dropping rapidly, I was 3 miles from my airport, and by the time I landed the oil pressure was at 10 psi. All the oil was vented through my breather ported through the oil separator and out the tail tube. No engine leaks noted. My first thought was the inverted system was stuck, I cleaned it, an A/P verified reassembly of inverted system. We filled it back with 10 qts and ran the engine, oil started departing at the same rate when I ran it up to 1700 rpm. Time for assessment, Oil filter full of non-ferrous material aluminum, on the oil sample taken. Long story short I pulled the engine, and all we found is scuffed cylinders. No obvious indications of reason to pressurize crankcase and send oil out the vent. I took the engine to Aerodyne in KPVG, JR Smith is a good friend and has a great reputation for overhauling engines. He opened the case and soon found the problem. The engine is rigged for a fixed pitch prop, the propeller governor access plate is there and inside are supposed to be two gears that run the governor when installed. A metal tube locks the gears and prevents them from liberating. Well guess what, the tube was not there, someone did not install it and the gears where just floating there the whole time. Through luck they never left their bushing in the crankcase, until I rolled it inverted and held it there for while, one of the gears fell off its bushing, and started banging itself against the spinning gear, when this gear fell off it exposed a hole to the oil to vacate to the crankcase and therefore pressurize the case and exhaust the oil out the vent. Amazingly enough engine ran fine, but the crankcase was damaged, we think Divco will not repair it. Crank shaft is in good shape but the accessory case needs to be modified to a more modern version, the camshaft is a two piece shaft so I need a new one piece version. Bottom line I am down to a couple options, overhaul but purchase a new crankcase, trade it in for an assembled overhauled engine or buy a used engine. The cost to overhaul or purchase is becoming prohibitive for me.

I am posting this for two reasons, one for folks to learn that if you loose oil pressure it can be something really dangerous as it was in my case, but no mechanic could have pointed out the problem, it was simply a misassembled engine thirty years ago.

And second reason, I am thinking of just selling the airframe, If anyone is interested in discussing a beautiful Skybolt that all it needs is an engine, send me a message. Whoever ends up with this machine will be able to power it the way they want.

I am thinking cutting my losses, since this is a pristine aircraft it should be a nice shortcut to someone that wants a skybolt and wants to power it the way they want it.

Here is the picture of the liberated gear in case you are curious!

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