As Promised - here's the thread.
Hope to keep it as objective as possible.
At 47 hours on a 103F day the #2 piston melted down. Temps from the EFIS showed engine running warm at 116 Celsius. Rotax documentation states 130C is red line and 120C caution should be used. This engine has only seen 91 UL 10% ethanol fuel and I flew it often during phase one in triple digit F temps - up to 107F I recall.
Contacted Vans and all they could tell me was to contact Lockwood. They didn't know of any other Rotax dealers.
Contacted Lockwood and guy on phone suggested filling out a word doc in instead of the Rotax web form - big mistake - don't make it if you have warenty issues. Never heard from Lockwood again. Repeated emails and calls went unanswered.
Contacted CPS while out on the road as the filing of the Rotax form is time sensitive. I did my training with Bryan and Ronnie Smith. Bryan was sympathetic and I forwarded him the form. He was getting ready for OSH but said he would take care of it. To this date (6 months later) I have no idea if Rotax actually knows of this form or my experience.
Met with Ronnie and Bryan at OSH and was literally laughed out of the Rotax tent for using bad fuel - Sad. Vans could only offer that perhaps I write to the forums - even sadder.
Vans doesn't make the engine - Rotax does. Rotax doesn't sell you the engine - Vans does. Imagine buying a Samsung television from Best Buy and having it fail under warranty only to be told to contact Samsung and then being told you plugged it in to the wrong voltage without ever having seen the failed product... I digress..
Reached out to Phillips 66 (parent of Union 76) and they were very concerned that their fuel may have damaged my engine. They responded within two days and once they found out it was an aircraft engine they escalated their investigation. The next day I was on the phone with the head of Quality for the west coast aviation fuel supply. Once he found out I was using MoGas he became very concerned. They sent out a test crew and pulled a sample from the tank. The sample came back as advertised - 91 UL.
I expect Phillips spent a few thousand on helping me. They ran the incident through legal and I was told they are 100% defensible. They absolutely DO NOT advocate the use of their MoGas for aviation - under any circumstances. They felt that if someone would have been hurt Rotax would be accountable.
So back to Rotax - good fuel - now what.
Scratch their shade tree mechanic ars and settle on the cooling shroud Vans has you put on.
It's plausible - the design is such that #2 is starved until the plenum is fully charged. Interesting that Vans eliminated this from the kit. My personal opinion is that they were pressured by Rotax because they were asking non certified builders to dissembled a new engine. This in itself would violate the warenty.
So here we stand, 6 months later.... crickets.
I've replace the engine and now that the rose colored glasses have come off this will be my last Rotax. There's no doubt it's experimental. Nylocs firewall forward, no safety nubs for safety wire. Oil filter safety non-existant. Throttle linkage - I could go on and on.
A close friend was a Rotax distributor for many years overseas and phoned the factory. They asked him a series of questions and at the end of the call they said they would replace the engine. No one in the US ever asked me those questions (did I do the 100 hour at 25 hours - can we see the EFIS data?) That call was of no use since you have to work through you local distribution and they've settled on "it's my fault".
My conclusion is that the engine is "marketed" to operate on 91UL to 130C but I have a box of parts and EFIS data that says it won't. The cooling shroud most certainly contributed to the problem and I suspect there's something to Rotax pressuring Vans to remove that from the kit. I sincerely doubt that Vans simply forgot to put the shroud back on while checking the engine mount and just flew it for a year. There's also the fact that the engine post failure would not pass ignition check. I cannot reason that a dead cylinder would cause a drop on one ignition. Rotax completely blew this off. I may never know unless I get around to swapping out ignitions.
I do love this little plane but you should understand I'm $47000.00 into my firewall forward at less than 60 hours and not happy about that. I'm still struggling to get all the vibration out of the new engine and have no faith in Rotax or their support. I've heard everything from this has never happened to you should get a new engine.
The Cessna is nearly sold and I may begin on a 7 and get back to Lycons and Mags that I can trust.
Lots of pictures
- Attaching them here screws up the page format. The story will evolve perhaps with your input.