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Aircraft Oil Change

by Jason Schappert

I’m a big fan of learning all you can about your airplane. Aircraft systems are one of those things that will continue to come up over and over not just in flight training but in your real aviation endeavors. Get out there with your flight school mechanic or your personal A&P and get your hands dirty! There really is no better way to learn about you aircraft.

What’s your experience with aircraft maintenance? Let me hear it below!

Text Transcript

Hey everyone! Jason Schappert of MzeroA.com doing an oil change on 12 Romeo. I wanna show you guys a little bit about the process we go through as we do an oil change on a 150. Let’s go ahead and get started.

One of the first things you really want is the oil to be hot, the engine be hot. That way it’s gonna flow out a lot easier than the cold one. So we got to start with draining it. Normally I’d use a garden hose but in this case it’s a funnel. You could see the oil is gonna come out right here.
We’re gonna push this straight up until it locks like that and you got your oil. Next, we’re gonna take off our actual probe and filters. This right here is our actual probe. Cessna calls this an irreplaceable part. It is our oil temperature probe. It’s gonna come out dirty with a little bit of oil as well. That’s why I have that cup positioned down there so we’re not leaking oil on the pure white airplane and getting oil all over the engine. So we’re tucking this probe away, we’re locking that drain out and we’ll go ahead and remove the filter itself.

So, next, we’re actually gonna take out the oil filter itself. If you notice down here, it’s safety-wired so I gotta sneak in here and cut with
all my strength that safety wire. We’re gonna talk more about safety wire a little bit more in a second. I’m sneaking in here with my crescent wrench now. They didn’t make this for people with big hands to be airplane mechanics.

So it’s a tight space and when things start to get greasy, things start to get really messy. A lot of oil is gonna come out of this filter as well. You can’t be too careful. We’re in tight quarters here. You gotta worry about other stuff as well, especially getting oil in the place or dropping a wrench like that. It’s certainly not cool to the touch. So keep spinning this up the best we can, here comes a big chunk of oil and you want to get it all down into your little cup.

Here we have our actual oil filter. This is the crush gasket right here, and you gotta this each and every time. What will be doing for is to look for any metal or junk that’s maybe in there. So let’s go and clean it off and take a look. Alright so now we’re cleaning it out using mineral spirits, actually cleaning out, making a mess, cleaning out the filter looking out for metal or junk.

So we just finished cleaning the oil filter and everything looks good. No metal or anything like that. Metal is a sign that the engine is really breaking down and it’s something you want to be aware of. Your first sign that you’re coming up close to an overhaul. Basically it’s the engine eating itself and being caught in the filter. Thankfully, we got away good with this one. Another thing you can do is send a little bit of that oil sample for an oil analysis to different companies, and they can take a look at it and see if there are any fine or fat fragments that we couldn’t see just by the naked eyes.

We’re gonna finish by taking off the last little bit of the old safety wire. There it goes. Actually I’m gonna put that in a little cup since you can’t be leaving stuff around in a hangar. We’re gonna put our new crush gasket on and we’re gonna go ahead and put this oil filter back to where she came from. Make sure not to cross-thread it; I’m just putting on our hand tight and we’re really gonna crank it on. We’re gonna go ahead and fast forward to this part and once we get all this done, I’ll show you guys a quick little tip you shouldn’t miss and we’re gonna start with the spark plugs.

Okay, if you don’t learn anything today, the one thing I really want you to remember is this: before you start putting fresh oil into the engine, make sure you close the valve. This takes a little bit of effort and you get that down. Cleaning oil and draining it all on the nose path, doesn’t look very good so remember to close that.

We’re gonna go ahead and add our five quarts. I use 100W, some of it’s the 100W plus from Aeroshell and I love it on the 150. Check on your POH and see what it says to run in there. I really recommend it to have some on stock. I put 5 quarts in, again, we’re gonna fill it up and fast forward through this, and I’ll show you guys what I do exactly with the spark plugs.

So next, we’re going to clean and get the spark plugs. The first thing you can do with a spark plug is to take off the P-lead, this is actually running through the back to the magneto. So, you’ll have to work this off, loosen it up a little bit. Now it’s important to.. you don’t want to twist the P-Lead. This is independent of it. So you don’t wanna be cranking this and twisting the P-Lead around. That’s an expensive problem. So this will come out just like this. We’re gonna take our deep socket and use a little bit of muscle, a bit more muscle, a lot more muscle.. get a little more leverage.

What we’re gonna do is clean and test the plugs. The white piece, I don’t know if you can see it in there, that is actually… I’m sorry I’m moving this too much. The porcelain part is burning, you want to be real careful when you’re cleaning in there. It might be best to just use air. So we’re gonna go ahead, take them all off and clean them all out. So what we’re doing next is to actually clean out the plug. You can see in here that there’s a whole lot of junk. Again, you’ve got to be careful with this porcelain piece here. You can see it’s all built up and I’m just gonna break it off. What is this exactly? All this is carbon, fuel and junk that just didn’t burn off. This is why you get your bad magneto drops when you’re doing your run up.. This is what you’re actually burning off when you try to do the run-up and you see you’re gonna burn off a bad mag.

So we’re gonna continue and pick all this out, get all the garbage out of them and you’re gonna notice it next time when you do a run up.
Few things I want you guys to really remember and consider about: change your oil first always with an A&P. It’s best to learn hands on rather than watch this video, so go ahead and give it a try. I recommend doing it with your mechanic first.

Make sure everything is tight and safety wired. Make sure you learn how to safety wire as well. Also, be sure to conduct a thorough run-up before even considering flying.

Sit on the ground with the cowling off and really run it up. Start off slow and work up to a higher RPM so you can get that oil going through and make sure that the plugs and everything else are working fine.

That’s all I have for you guys today. I really recommend you get out there, get your hands dirty. Do it with a mechanic first and learn all you can about your airplane.

Hey, remember, a good pilot is always learning. Catch you guys later.

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  • http://twitter.com/astrochase Matthew Lockwood

    Just out of interest, how hot is hot? I imagine you could burn yourself really badly on hot oil!

  • http://twitter.com/bradc314 Brad Cleghorn

    The only part of my 172 trainer I’ve seen has been viewed through the tiny little door while checking the oil. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to help a friend with some owner assisted annuals, which has really taught me a LOT about aircraft systems. I HIGHLY recommend this type of exposure to other students. If I were a CFI, I think touring under the cowl would be even more beneficial than touring a control tower.

    Also, it’s important to get the oil hot before you drain it not only to ease the draining, but more importantly, any sludge/particulate/whatever settles out of solution and does not drain well that way. Warming and circulating the oil ensures you get all that junk into solution just prior to draining so you can get it out.

  • Mike

    I didn’t see how to safety wire the oil filter

  • http://twitter.com/110knots Mike Bennett

    Is that an oil filter or a oil strainer? What is the difference? Our oil filter looks like an automotive filter.

  • Anonymous

    Mike!

    So Sorry! I realized we never captured that footage.

    But couldn’t safety wire be a video all in itself? :) I still screw it up!!!

    Jason

  • Anonymous

    Brad!

    Wonderful Insights!

    Man don’t owner assisted annuals teach you so much? I love doing them. I hate when my airplane is on the ground (especially my business/flight training aircraft) but nothing is more fun then working on something you own or fly. My students really love it and learn so much.

    Jason

  • Anonymous

    Matt,

    Well… I’ve got a few good burn scars to show you! Mostly from mufflers and such. Actually funny story….

    Just drained the oil and left the bucket under the strainer in case any extra dripped out while pulling the plugs one dropped and made 10 point Gold Medal dive into the oil.

    Digging for a spark plug in 5 quarts of boiling oil was not fun

    But it did save the plug :) if it would have hit the hanger floor she could have been done.

    So yes it’s Hot. Like fresh off a good 1 hour training flight hot

    Jason

  • Anonymous

    Mike,

    It’s still and oil filter however what you’re thinking of is a “spin-on” oil filter which almost every aircraft has now.

    There is an STC for the 150 to have a spin on and it actually increases my oil change time to every 50 hours instead of every 25.

    The proper term for it I believe is “oil screen” as it’s just cleaned and put back in there. Although I call it an oil filter in the video.

    Jason

  • Pfalz2

    Please learn how to safety wire correctly. I have been an A&P for over thirty years, and a Maintenance inspector for an airline. Please LEARN to bend the pig tail! I don’t know how many times I have reached into a tight space, only to be jabbed by a unbent or slightly bent pig tail on a poor safety wiring job. There is nothing like the feeling the jab of safety wire going into into your arm or hand, and know the only thing to do is pull you hand/arm back and hope it does rip to much. Besides making it painless for the next time, bending and tucking the back against itself, safeties the end of the twist and prevents it from unraveling

  • Robert
  • Wmarshall61

    Jason,

    First of all I would like to say GOOD video. Too bad you didn’t incoporate some safety into it.

    1. You should always insure the aircraft is safe to work on. Keys out and maybe the battery disconnected.

    2. Always wear safety goggles when working around oil. Especially hot oil and cutting safety wire.

    3. Use the proper tools for the job. You metioned the 5/8′s wrench and used an adjustable wrench. A torque wrench for installing the oil strainer? Consult the manual for correct torque.

    4. Never wear rings or any jewlery when working around aircraft. If the battery is not disconnected, you may short on any wires that may be close and in need of repair.

    And cleaning the sparkplugs? This could have been another video on its own.

    It is great that you share these vidoes with everyone. Now everyone can be as unsafe as you.

    You do an excellent job with your fight training videos. I’m not sure if you are a qualified A&P. Alot of young pilots watch these videos and this one sends the wrong message.

    Thanks for reading.
    WALLYG8R

  • Anonymous

    Ohhh Where to start…

    First off I appreciate your comment what I don’t appreciate is your cynical undertones…Quote (It is great that you share these videos with everyone. Now everyone can be as unsafe as you. )

    Your input and information is correct and valuable. You don’t have to be rude about it.

    But let’s look at the big picture you’re missing…

    This video is titled “Aircraft oil change” not “The comprehensive guide to changing your oil in a 1975 150M”

    Let me explain… After talking with several DPE’s last week they were going on and on about how they had a handful of students that didn’t know what preventive maintenance was and didn’t even have a clue that someone other than a mechanic could work on the airplane.

    This video was done to say “hey, you can do this kind of stuff, get out there and work on your aircraft with you mechanic, learn the ins and outs of the airplane you’re flying.”

    Brad left a great comment below saying the only look he ever got in his flight school of the engine was through the oil door!

    I’m simply educating flight students not teaching them to be A&P’s

    I really agree with you that some safety should have been worked in there. All your points were very valid.

    Again I really appreciate your comment. But let’s leaving snide comments behind.

    Jason

  • Anonymous

    Robert,

    Thanks for the link above and great comment. You’re so correct. Not only are you preventing puncture wounds but also making it safer.

    Proper tools such as safety wire pliers are also a must to really get the job done

    Jason

  • Robert

    Safety wire pliers are good, but you should learn to safety wire by hand also. A lttle technique to safety wiring. Hold the pliers after making the last twist, pull wire tight,then make a circular motion with your hand. This cinches the first twist up tight against the nut, bolt, etc. Due the same on the pigtail. One warning do it no more then twice, you work harden the wire and it may then break.

  • Robert

    I agree with Jason, and too some extent Wmarshall61. Ok, an adjustable wrench may not be the preferred tool, but is acceptable, if used correctly. Cynical comments are not justified. Two tools that should NEVER be used on aircraft, channel locks and ordinary pliers. They mar what you are grabbing with them. Jason in his videos has always stressed to have a mechanic show and help the first time. A big part of learning to be a pilot or an A&P is on the job training, a certificate is a certificate learn. If you are to be good and excel at what you do, your are ALWAYS LEARNING.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Robert!

    Couldn’t have said it better.

    Jason

  • Triggerz_29

    Who is allowed to sign off on the logbook entry for the oil change?

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