Casper the RV-6A



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Casper’s new panel


Currently we are flying an RV-6A “Casper”. We bought Casper when we moved to Texas in 2002 from the original builder, Doyle Reed. Thanks Doyle! This is where Casper was born – Derby, Kansas.

And this is me just landed after the delivery trip, outside Jay Pratt’s “RV Central”. Jay was good enough to fly me up to Kansas to look at Casper – I had initially intended to buy a Cessna Cardinal. But Jay persuaded me that an RV was the only way to go – what a star, thanks Jay!

This was the original panel – functional, but not spectacular. The first thing to go was the cassette player – not much point with a mono intercom. I’ve always meant to replace it with an ipod interface, but one of those things that I’ve never got around to. The empty space is for the transponder.

On the way home from Sun n Fun one year we managed to get a few good air to air photos, somewhere above Alabama.

On the way to Oshkosh in 2004 some of the engine gauges started to misbehave – for example the oil pressure gauge would occasionally show no pressure! Usually it happened on the ground, but when the oil pressure dropped to zero on cross-wind into Osh I was not particularly amused, I got ready to land in a field, as the engine continued to run I guessed it must be the gauge. Once I got home I removed 7 Van’s gauges and installed a Grand Rapids EIS-4000. One of my better decisions. It took a day to install, but gave far more accurate and useful engine data. This picture was taken about a year later; in the end I put a volt gauge in the empty hole – but didn’t hook it up! The turn coordinator also started sounding like a coffee grinder, so that was replaced by a TruTrak Turn and Bank – which was later replaced by a TT ADI, both a great step forward over the Turn Cord, and I now had a track indication in the panel.


At the same Oshkosh I was looking for an electronic ignition.  Although the Lightspeed ignitions are often accepted as “the best” I did not really like the number of components that had to be mounted. I had almost decided to buy the Electroair system when I bumped into Brad Dement who was selling a new ignition called an E-mag. As his factory (perhaps a slightly grand description) was only 20 minutes from work I signed up for one on the spot. Here is the E-mag, number 10 off the production line, on the old engine. Since then the E-mag (a 110 model) has been replaced by Emagair with a 113 model.

During the annual in 2004 we discovered a significant amount of metal in the oil filter. It was clear that an engine overhaul was in order. As the engine had run about 2500 hours from new I was not that dismayed – except at the prospect of spending $10,000+! However, the original purchase price had made allowance for the engine time. I determined that Aerosport Power, in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada was the best company to carry out the overhaul, and were very competitively priced, despite the freight charges. Here is the new engine on the hoist with the repainted mount attached. Following Tony Bingellis’ advice I tried to attached this assembly to the firewall – Tony was right about most things, but in the end I caved in and bolted the mount to the firewall, then the engine to the mount.


Backside of the engine. I took the opportunity to fit a remote oil filter.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the panel and interior as they were when we returned to the UK, along with me just after I finished the PFA “test” flight – don’t tell anyone, but I could have filled in the flight test schedule without ever going near the aeroplane! But I went and flew the schedule all the same – it was a nice day, any excuse to go flying. The paper work had taken so long to get to this stage that I was desperate for any chance to fly!


Above and right are a couple of good photos from Ellie Hill


After 5 years of flying Casper in England the panel was looking a little dated and in need of an upgrade. I have installed an Advanced Flight Systems AF-4500EE EFIS that we are now promoting.


 Casper’s New Panel



I have recently installed an Anti-Splat noseleg stiffener (photo to follow), and have got the LAA to agree that this can be a standard mod for the RV-6A & 7A. I think this is the best available change that can be made to prevent noseleg collapses – I still have the original nose wheel fork.

The next project is to install a wooden prop. The Sensenich is a great prop, but the 2600rpm limit is annoying. When aerobatting I am regularly throttling back to avoid overspeeding, I think I will be able to obtain (hopefully) slightly better overall performance by pitching a prop to give a higher static rpm, accepting that cruise rpm and full throttle rpm will also increase. I have ordered a prop from Hercules and am in the process of collecting performance information on the current set up so I can measure whether or not the performance increases. More to come.