EGTrends…The Story of Us.

There is a depressing movie with Bruce Willis & Michelle Pfeiffer called “The Story of Us”. Many depressing events led to the formation of EGTrends …and the title seems appropriate. But, I’ve been known to digress.

In the winter of 2000, Dave Garing and I both suffered from the virus known to most pilots; the dream of owning our own airplane. Unbeknownst to each other, we both purchased Millennium Edition Cessna T206H’s. I took ownership of mine (N246ME) 4 months before Dave (N376ME), and we both stored them at Seattle’s Boeing Field. 

No one ever told us that we lived 2 blocks from each other, in the same neighborhood. (In all fairness to Dave, he called me before he purchased his plane and asked for a demo ride/partnership discussion. I was a loser and never called him back! He will never let me live that down. He didn’t know I lived 2 blocks from him when he called me.)

The general consensus is that we had a mostly-plugged fuel injector. We ended up changing a spark plug; bore scoping the cylinder and then flying home after everything seemed ok. We never touched the injector, but it flew fine after this.

This flight really signifies the beginning of EGTrends. We started looking at the EDM-800 data a lot and we noticed a few things:

  1. Without the engine monitor, our delay in AST would have been much, much longer.
  2. We could have prevented the problem, and the two hour delay in AST, if we had noticed data in the flight from two days prior to the incident. The earlier data clearly shows the partially plugged injector but because getting and viewing the data was so difficult we didn’t take the time to look at it.
  3. There were no good tools for looking and analyzing the data. JPI had the EZView Excel macro available at the time, but it was very limited. Other than this, Excel was our only method of viewing the data and this was more frustrating than not looking at the data at all.

At this point, Dave and I decided to build our own data viewer. It would support all engine monitors and it would store and organize the flights such that we could get to them by Date (Year, Month, Day, Flight). We also wanted to be able to add our own descriptions to the flights and view this description before we decide to open the flight. So, from the beginning, EGView was a database application and it was a generic engine monitor data viewer.

The general consensus is that we had a mostly-plugged fuel injector. We ended up changing a spark plug; bore scoping the cylinder and then flying home after everything seemed ok. We never touched the injector, but it flew fine after this.

Dave and I figured that if we were going to do this right, we had better learn from the best, so we attended an Advanced Pilot Seminar in Ada, OK in July 2003. We flew N376ME to OK and enjoyed a truly enlightening weekend. The APS guys provide comfortable facilities and fantastic information.

On the trip to Ada, our #3 cylinder would not stay cool. Whenever it got over 380, it would start to climb. The mechanics at GAMI & Tornado Alley Turbo scoped the cylinder and noticed some scoring, but nothing beyond that. With only 25 hours on the engine, we decided that it was safe to fly it home.

Flying home became a task of keeping the engine cool. If for any reason #3 CHT got hotter than 385 it started to run away. As we approached Boise, it started to run away when it got near 380. Still…everything else was doing well.

At one point, we were over Pendleton, OR when we noticed that our oil pressure had dropped. We weren’t sure how long it had been low, or how low it really was. It was just lower than it had been. Oil temperature was still good, so we elected to continue home. (we were so close! Only 45 more minutes!)

Over the Cascades, at 10,500 feet the oil temperature finally started rising. Of course, we had gotten rid of most of our landing options by then, and we had to nurse the plane into Boeing field. Upon landing at KBFI the oil pressure needle clunked to the bottom of the gauge and since we were on the ground, we finally stopped sweating. This is a Never Again story if I ever heard one!

The oil filter was FULL of metal. Lycoming inspected it and after hearing the bad news (cam shaft metal, lifter metal, piston ring metal, etc.) we shipped the engine back to Lycoming for a new one. When they opened the engine, they told us that the piston rings were ‘packed full of metal’ and that the oil pump failed because there was so much metal floating around our engine.

Before the Tachometer of either plane reached 180 hours, the 1st Lycoming crankshaft recall grounded both Cessna's. Four months later, the birds once again had wings (or engines), and we were happy. Of course…we all know the Lycoming story, and two months after being released into the sky, both aircraft were again grounded for the 2nd Lycoming Crankshaft recall.

By this time Dave and I had opened our eyes and discovered that we were neighbors, had similar interests and were pretty well adept at commiserating with each other about NOT flying. After several beers, too little time flying and too many aircraft expenses, we agreed to sell one plane and partner in the other.

8 ½ months later, we had a buyer for N376ME and we had planned to keep N246ME. However, some unresolved oil pressure issues with the new engine, combined with the seller’s schedule forced us to put N246ME on the blocks.  Not to be out done, a last minute compression check on N246ME showed one of my new cylinders had 0/80 compression. That was almost the end of the whole thing, but since there was still a lot of warranty left on the engine, the cylinder was replaced and N246ME changed hands. It is still at KBFI, and now sports a beautiful set of amphibious floats.

So, how does all of this get us into the engine monitor charting and analysis business? We both had engine monitors in our planes and were really attempting to dig into the data to figure out what was going on in the engine. We started reading John Deakin’s columns and– even hallucinated about LOP operations. Finally, in May, 2003 we had an incident while departing Astoria, OR where the plane made a big, shuddering noise. The JPI EDM-800 showed that the #3 cylinder was very hot. We pulled back the power and everything ran fine. So, we pushed it up again to see if we could continue, and #3 EGT took off running. We aborted and returned to AST to get a mechanic to look at it.

So, here we were in the summer of 2003 with a model year 2000 airplane that was about to get its 4th engine! The only good thing about this latest situation is that we were able to concentrate on developing EGView and we weren’t bothered by flying our own airplane!

EGView was developed out of necessity. We didn’t really want to build a software application to view our engine data; we just wanted to fly our plane. Since we couldn’t fly our plane, we were forced to understand a lot more about the engine, engine monitors, and data than we ever wanted to. We were frustrated at the lack of quality tools to assist airplane owners in the organization, charting and analysis of their engine monitor data – we developed EGView. In February (2004) we made the program available to the public - Seems that we aren’t alone.

N376ME began flying again in November, 2003. We have 35 hours on the latest engine and so far…it looks good.

Michael Mahoney & Dave Garing
EGTrends Inc.

EGTrends Inc.

A lot has happened since 2003. We traded our troublesome single-engine Turbo-206H for a Seneca V figuring that 2 engines is better than 1. We found out that the TIO-360s were less trouble, but they cost a lot more to run overall! The 2008 economy required us to go back to work and make real money and continue EGTrends as more of a hobby. Sorry for all the features we haven't been able to build.

Be safe! Keep flying!