Home | Bob Gresli: My Skipper has been flying great the past two weeks.

Bob Gresli: My Skipper has been flying great the past two weeks.

Bob Gresli:

My Skipper has been flying great the past two weeks.* However, I was unable to get it started this morning.* It was 29 degrees out at Hillsboro Airport. This winter has been unusually cold here in Oregon.

I’m recharging my battery.* I just got the battery, a Gill G25S (Sealed) back in November.* It sat for 8 weeks and needed recharging.* I just flew Wednesday and it started right up.* However, this morning it only cranked a few turns very weakly and then wouldn’t turn at all.* When I put the battery on the charger, it showed it was discharged quite a bit.

What do you recommend for cold starting a Skipper?* I’ve heard the O-235 Lycomings are a bit cold blooded.


Bob, here are a few thoughts, intermixed with some opinion. I don’t have direct starting experience with the Skipper, so take my input for what it is worth:
– 29 degrees is too cold to start without preheat. One cold start at that temperature can cause as much wear as several hundred hours of flying. It also makes it very difficult to get enough fuel vapor to fire off. Plenty of liquid fuel may run through, including enough out the bottom to trigger a carb fire; but not enough vapor for ignition in the cylinder. Do some searching n BAC for ‘preheat’. You can make or buy inexpensive pre-heaters, even if you are tied down outside (propane-based units). You don’t need the top-dollar ones. They are faster and more convenient, but expensive.
– The battery needs much more charging at freezing temperatures, and at a higher voltage than in warmer weather. Otherwise it won’t get a full charge. If you are tied down outside, and can’t keep a BatteryMINDer on it while you are away, it would help a lot of you could do two things. Start some pre-heat on the engine compartment. While it is warming up, hook up your car to the plane with a jumper, and let your car top off the plane battery while the plane is warming up.
– When it is this cold, the starting sequence matters much more than usual. The only time there will be fuel vapor is when you first pump the primer. Within a few seconds after priming, any vapor will have condensed out on the cold metal of the induction system. Get everything else done first, check Clear, then prime and turn the key immediately. This also slightly reduces the manifold pressure, when the engine starts to ‘suck in’, and that helps keep some vapor in the induction air. It will probably take close to twice the normal amount of prime, to get enough vapor to start.

DO NOT pump the throttle to start. Just set it to the fast idle position (barely off low idle), and use the primer only. If you get in the habit of pumping the throttle, it is just a matter of time before you trigger a carb fire. Priming fuel goes in up near the intake valve. If unburned, it has to drain all the way down through the induction system before it can leak out of anything. Accelerator pump fuel goes in right at the carburetor, where it can run out right into the engine compartment.

Thank you for adding to the resources available for your Fellow BAC Members.