Broken Starter

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On 11/23/09, after a beautiful flight down to Marana (near Tuscon) with the Flagstaff Slugs, the plan was to fly to El Tiro to catch the glider operations and then into Stellar at Chandler to visit friends. On attempting to start, all I got was a grinding noise. Not everyone had left yet and, with a little help, it was quickly determined that the starter housing had broken, allowing the spline gear to droop and mostly miss the ring gear on the engine.

The broken case

Nothing for it but to catch a ride in another airplane and come back. The rest of the day was great but with the nagging reminder that my own plane was left behind. Back in flagstaff, fellow RV builder Brad Ransom was able to loan me a compatible starter. On Wednesday, Steve Allen flew me, the starter, and my tools down in his Bonanza. It took something less than an hour to remove the old starter and install the replacement. The engine started on about the third blade and the flight back home was uneventful (except for picking up Brad departing Payson about 20NM ahead of us and chasing him back to Flagstaff).

The replacement starter

The nice upshot of the whole thing was finding out that Superior is back in operation and they were happy to take back the ring gear for inspection/repair/replacement as necessary. The starter is going back to Sky-Tec for the same thing. And, because the aircraft is due for both it's annual condition inspection and the engine's 100 hour inspection, this is the perfect opportunity to get everything done at once.

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