Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: Temco Swift (Page 2 of 3)

Flying Again!

I apologize for taking so long to get another article posted.  It’s been a crazy month or so between working on the Swift and my day job trips.Globe Swift on takeoff. photo: Don Thompson. I had a long period off between trips in August and , in spite of temperatures in the hangar over the 100 degree (F) mark, managed to get the Swift almost back to flying condition. The last item remaining on my to-do list was a transponder/encoder check that had expired while I was accomplishing my other projects. Unfortunately a couple of trips for my employer interrupted my progress. Work gets in the way of fun yet again.

My first trip consisted of a  flight to Shanghai for a 60+ hour layover and a flight back to the U.S., not a hard trip by any measure, but it still required about 3 days to recover from the time zone changes. That left me one day until the commute for my next trip, an 8-day journey with 4 Pacific crossings.  I had barely recovered from that when I had to go sit on call for 4 days.  I wasn’t used to fill in for a sick pilot during my on-call days, so I took the time to get back on something approaching the right time zone and to catch up on emails, manual revisions and general reading.

Back home again, the work on the Swift continued. A couple of days later I had scheduled and completed the transponder/encoder check. I only have a VFR check done, since I have no inclination to fly the Swift in IFR conditions. It just isn’t a very good IFR platform unless you install an autopilot with at least a wing-leveling function. The controls are well harmonized, but very responsive.

The next day I finally got back into the air.  It was a really nice feeling. The last time I had taken the Swift up for a flight was back in February. I took off, flew around the airport area for a little while to get my ‘air legs’ back and then headed for Quincy, CA (2O1), one of my favorite breakfast destinations. It was a beautiful day for flying, clear, cool and smooth. I had a nice breakfast while reading a few articles in the latest Sport Aviation then flew back to RTS taking the time to do a little sight-seeing on the way. I stayed in the traffic pattern for a little while and regained my tailwheel landing currency. I probably would have stayed up longer but the pattern was beginning to fill up with local pilots getting their fill of flying before the airport became unusable. RTS is the site of the National Championship Air Races each September. The airport is turned over to the Reno Air Race Association and for a period of approximately a week and a half is unusable to all except race and support aircraft.

Next week I will be flying to Jackson,Westover (O70) for the 25th West Coast Swift Fly-in.

The Resident Swift

I have had a few requests for photos of the Swift that I fly on my days off, so yesterday before I went flying I took a few quick shots. As usual, the small photos click through to larger versions.Globe Swift covered and in hangar.

This is the way that the plane spends most of it’s time. My friend in the hangar across from me refers to it as the “RagWing Swift.” The plane is polished aluminum, so I keep it covered when I don’t plan to fly it for a while. It keeps most of the dust off the plane and “breathes” so no moisture collects on the aluminum skin, should it rain. The yellow box is the battery tender that is connected to the aircraft battery located behind the baggage compartment. This photo was taken in late winter, so a blanket and layer of carpet are laying over the engine compartment to keep in the heat from my home-made engine pre-heater. There are also scraps of carpet or towels at the wingtips to keep the  sheets from blowing off when the hangar doors are opened. The pre-heater I made up is just a small ceramic heater with a built-in fan. I attached a metal heating duct adapter to the front and taped some metalized dryer ducting to the adapter. The ducting is easily molded to the proper shape to fit up inside the cowl air exit. As a last step, I wrapped the dryer duct with self-adhesive insulation to help minimize the heat loss from the heater to the engine compartment. I turn it on for about an hour before I pull the plane out to go flying. It seems to work really well. You can feel the heated air coming out the front of the cowl.

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Globe Swift Brake Master Cylinder Rebuild

When I finished the rebuilding of the Swift landing gear struts, actuators and downlocks I thought I was finished with the hydraulic system for a while. Not so.

While I was in the wheelwells cleaning things up for the re-installation of my newly rebuild parts, I took out the aluminum hydraulic lines and polished them up a little just for asthetics. Little details like clean aluminum lines just give the plane a better look overall. Anyway, the lines I removed included brake lines running through the wheelwell. That required ‘bleeding the brakes’ in order to remove air in the lines between the brake master cylinders and the brake pucks on the wheels. Air is compressible, while hydraulic fluid is not and any air in the lines in place of fluid will cause a ‘spongy’ feeling when the brakes are applied. Enough air and the pedal will just ‘go to the floor’ and no braking action will be available.

My wife was nice enough to come out to the hangar and do the inside work of depressing and holding the brake pedal while I opened the bleed valve at the brake. This forces fluid and air down the line and out the valve. While the pedal is kept depressed, I would then shut the bleed valve and when the pedal is released the action of the master cylinder then draws more hydraulic fluid into the cylinder from the reservoir. Depressing the pedal then forces that fluid down the lines while the valve is reopened and the cycle is repeated. Eventually all the air will be forced out of the lines, signified by fluid without bubbles being expelled at the bleed valve and a firm feel to the brake pedal when you press it with the bleed valve closed. As long as you remember to periodically refill the hydraulic reservoir so you don’t drain it and then draw more air into the system, the process proceeds fairly quickly. And that’s how it worked with the right brake. Unfortunately, when we tried to bleed the left brake we had no fluid movement at all and the brake pedal had almost no resistance to it’s movement. That meant that the seals in the master cylinder were not doing their sealing job and fluid was just moving back and forth in the master cylinder without being forced down the lines when the pedal was depressed.

So, I pulled out my trusty seal kit SK-151 from the Swift Parts Store trying not to pull a muscle patting myself on the back for having one on hand, and started researching the process. Once again, I’ll throw up the disclaimer, just in case.


I am writing these maintenance articles to make it a little easier for individuals to rebuild the Swift hydraulic components. This is NOT intended to be comprehensive or step-by-step advice about how the rebuild of these components should be completed. In order to accomplish this work you must hold either an A&P or AI certificate or you must be supervised by an individual who does and you must have in your possession the manuals and tools necessary to accomplish the task. I do not discuss all of the steps shown in the hydraulic manual. This is not considered to be preventative maintenance.

I looked in several books I have on hand to try and find a parts breakout or cut-away drawing of the brake cylinder, but was only able to find a generic diagram in an A&P airframe maintenance text. As a result, I decided to write this post to provide a little information about the project. At the same time that I did this work, I also complied with Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-08-34 (pdf file) that deals with an inspection of the brake pedal link rod that connects the brake pedal to the brake cylinder.

Removal of the brake cylinders (one for each brake, left and right) is fairly easy, though in a cramped area under the instrument panel and above the brake pedals. The aft end of the cylinder (toward the instrument panel) is connected to a lever arm with a clevis pin and cotter pin. The forward end of the cylinder extends through the firewall and has a hydraulic (AN) fitting on the engine side of the firewall that connects to the aluminum hydraulic lines running down the firewall and to the brakes. Another AN fitting is located on the top of the brake cylinders that connects to a small manifold and then runs forward through the firewall and to the bottom of the brake fluid reservoir. The bottom of the brake cylinders has two ‘legs’ that each have a bolt, firmly attaching the cylinder to the airframe structure under the instrument panel. So, the process involves removing a clevis pin, two bolts and two hydraulic fitting to remove each brake cylinder from the plane.

Have plenty of rags and an easily-held container to catch hydraulic fluid as you disconnect the lines because the hydraulic reservoir will immediately drain down your arm without preplanning that first fitting removal. Once out of the aircraft the cylinders look like this:Globe Swift Brake Master Cylinder

The plunger actuator arm is pulled forward from the cylinder and the rubber boot disconnected to give a little better view. It is a good idea to take a photo or make a diagram of the orientation of the fittings for ease in the reassembly process. You will be removing both AN fittings and loosening the three small screws that hold the gray housing on the right end of the cylinder. The gray housing has a small arm that activates a parking brake, however that function had been disabled in this plane. I may get around to fixing that at some time in the future. Once these parts are removed, you will see a plunger inside the cylinder. The easiest way to remove it is to provide just a little air pressure to the upper fluid fitting. This will force the plunger out of the cylinder.

You will find two small rubber o-rings, a larger o-ring and a rubber cup in the rebuild kit for each cylinder. Swift Brake Master Cylinder Parts

The larger O-ring is located on the plunger that works against a spring when the brake pedal is compressed. The plunger is held in the cylinder with a metal clip, just visible between the parking brake housing and the rubber boot. Be very careful when rmoving that clip as the spring will easily shoot the clip half way across the hangar if you are not careful. I put the whole assembly vertically in a drill press and used pressure on the actuator arm to depress the plunger while I removed the clip. It’s then just a matter of cleaning up all the parts, lubricating and installing the new seals and reassembling the parts. Then you can reinstall the master cylinders in their proper locations, reconnect the hydraulic lines, service the fluid reservoir and restart the brake bleeding process (with far more air to expel this time).

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