Service Notes

Service Notes

As the population of in-service units grows, our perspective relative to performance and service life issues improves.  With these observations we periodically offer supplemental operating notes and service bulletins.  This web page will serve as a library for such communications (beginning in 2007), with the most recent entries shown at the top.

V41:  9/19/17  Current production (and service to units with board versions 17 and 18) will get firmware V41.   V41 does not alter operating instructions in any way.  It simply smooths internal transition between internal and external power states.

Case Bolts:  We’ve learned that a small percentage of units handled by our shop in the last couple of years (during select periods) may have suffered a process defect during assembly.   In certain instances the four internal bolts that secure the case (square section) to the nose (round section) were installed without thread-lock.   We estimate this may have occurred in 12 so units – out of 359 handled in the review window (see listing below).   To date, we have seen two instances of nose/case loosening, both occurred in the first 30 hours of operation.

The purpose of this notice is to alert customers (in the review window – see below) of the condition, and steps that can be taken to inspect and/or mediate the risk.

Inspection.

  1. External non-invasive hand inspection (in place) is straight forward.   Simply twist back and forth firmly on the box/coil section of the ignition body.  Any movement between the case and nose sections is evidence of loosening.
    1. If loosening has occurred, return to E-MAG for further inspection and repair (this work will be done at no charge).  Do not attempt field repair.
    2. If loosening has not occurred, there may or may not be a continued risk.   If you have 60 or more hours in operation, it may be reasonable to assume there is no issue.  You might continue with periodic External inspections (1 above) or send to E-MAG for direct inspection (2 below).
  2. Direct inspection (disassemble, check or add thread lock, reassemble) is the only affirmative inspection option.   E-MAG will be happy to inspect units in the target window at no charge (other than the cost of return shipping).   We’d very much prefer to perform direct inspections ourselves, but if you choose to do it, please contact us for instructions.

Units in the review window:

  1. Serviced equipment – 47  units (26 customers) serviced between 05/01/16  and 9/9/16.   Records for this group are well documented, and we are contacting these owners directly (to the email address on file).
  2. New equipment – purchased direct or thru intermediaries.
    1. Serial numbers 3599 to 3876 manufactured 2/17/15 to 08/27/15.
    2. Serial numbers 4295 to 4330 manufactured 08/25/16 to 09/15/16.

We regret any inconvenience, but safety is our primary concern.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call.

Operating Notes: Cotter Pin Inspection/Size:  We recently increased the size of the cotter pin that secures the drive gear castle nut to the ignition shaft.  New pins are 5/64″, and as a reminder, the ends of the pins need to be secure to help prevent movement.  Earlier pins have been in service for years, but we’ve have occasional reports of pins coming loose and/or breaking.   So we recommend replacing pins at your earliest convenience, but not later than your next annual inspection.

Operating Notes: FW V40 (and higher) starting 9/26/14 We’ve had occasional reports of units loosing their timing set point during startup.  Firmware V40 adds safeguards to the stored timing index value.  With normal/recommended starting procedures, previous firmware versions perform perfectly well.  As such, V40 is not a mandatory upgrade. V40 adds protection against inadvertent (or intentional) departures from the recommended starting procedures, which is when anomalies have occurred.  We encourage customers to review their hardware and/or start procedures as follows:

Avoid starting your engine with your ignition in setup mode (when the LED is lit). Ignitions should be in run mode (un-ground the p-lead) before starting.  Aircraft key switch controls follow proper sequencing automatically. Manual (toggle) switch systems, however, can be left in the OFF position (i.e. unit is in setup mode) during engine start – which is the condition you want to avoid.

In Detail

V40 adds a function that will shut down the timing-set routine if the prop moves. You can still move the prop to acquire a GREEN LED and confirm the current timing set point. But if you want to re-set ignition timing, you’ll need to pre-position the flywheel (TDC or other target) before turning ignition power ON. Then you can power ON, and (without moving the prop) use the normal blow-in-the-tube timing routine.  If the prop is moved (you violate the rule) the LED will go dark after your first blow – which is how the ignition signals a movement violation. Don’t move the prop after power up, and the blow-in-the-tube timing routine will be exactly as before. 

Other Changes

V40 changes the start up firing angle to four degrees after the flywheel timing target (typically TDC). This will eliminate the need for low-mass props to use a shifted timing target (2-4 degrees ATDC).

Note: Some installations use an ATDC timing target to reduce the operating advance range (auto fuels, high-compression, etc). V40 does NOT change the operating advance range.  If you previously needed to reduce the operating range, you will still need to do so with V40.  As before (no change) you can reduce the operating advance range by:

  1. Time at TDC, but add a jumper between terminals #2 and #3 of the control plug. Assuming you have the factory default (Advance Shift) setting, this will reduce the operating range by 4.2 degrees.  For most people, this is the simplest and easiest method.
  2. Time at TDC, but change (lower) the stored Advance Shift value (via EICAD or EICommander). The factory ADVANCE SHIFT default value of 4.2 degrees can be moved down in 1.4 degree increments.
  3. Continue using an ATDC timing target. Startup firing ATDC will then be the total of 4 degrees plus the amount you shift the target. Your operating range will be retarded by the amount you shifted the timing target (only).

V40 is not a mandatory update, but it can be installed:

  1. At no cost (other than return shipping) if your unit has been serviced in the six months (since April 2013).
  2. As part of our Flat-Fee Checkup* ($135 covers all needed parts/labor – excluding PCB), including V41.
  3. If requesting a V41 update only, the charge will be $35/unit (waived if we find any recorded history of timing storage issues on your unit), plus shipping.  PLEASE NOTE: Any additional maintenance that may be needed will be billed at standard rates (no flat-fee bundle).  Many individual parts cost $75 to $175 each and shop labor is $65/hr, so we encourage the flat-fee route.  Make sure you include a note with the equipment clearly stating you want the “Flat Fee Checkup” or “V40 ONLY”.

* Pricing for our Flat Fee Checkup will increase sometime next year, so winter 2014-15 may be a great time to take advantage of this offer.

Version Log (informational):  114 series manufacturing labels carry a six character Version Log – a “VL” number. The middle two characters signify the firmware version originally installed in the unit.  Ignitions that have been in for service should also have a Service Tag added with a hand written “FW:” number.  The FW number is the firmware version that was installed after original manufacture.

Operating Notes: Coil plug to PCB Connection:  We’ve seen instance where the small (green) coil connector plug on the side of the ignition has failed either internally, or where it attaches to the PCB.  We’ve used this connector system for many years and with good results.  That said, it’s easy to minimize the risk of over straining this attachment by folding this short black wire into a gentle S shape (assuming there is sufficient wire to do so).  This will keep the wire closer to the side of the ignition body where it’s less likely to encounter loads during shipping/handling/installing/etc.  Remember to support the plug itself while re-shaping the (short/stiff) coil wire as the maneuver can put a substantial force on the very connection we are trying to protect.

Operating Notes: Excessive Shaft Play: We’ve seen a number of units experience excessive/premature shaft and bearing wear. The occurrences are not universal, but are frequent enough that we want to remind all customers to stay current with the annual Inspection/Prevention checklist – see below.  Such wear is a progressive condition, so periodic inspections should alert operators of needed attention.   That said, there is some evidence the condition is disproportionate with regard to some (but not all) canard installations.  Accordingly, we recommend more frequent shaft inspections on these platforms (see “Annual Inspections” below) until the pattern is better understood.  Assembly and component refinements have already been made.

Operating Notes: Plug wire terminal connections.  Both the spark plug end and the coil end terminals are secured by a spring steel band with a detent that should snap sharply when installed/seated properly.  One single “click” (for spark plugs), and two or three “clicks” (for coils) should be felt or heard as the detent snaps onto the terminal posts.  If a connection is not secure, the cable may not be properly restrained and can result in 1) arching, 2) radio noise, 3) sooting or deposit accumulation on the terminal, 4) plug wire detaching altogether.  We can provide replacement terminals if needed.  Note:  If an ignition is operated (fires) without a complete coil/wire/plug connection to ground, the coil can be damaged.  Such damage may or may not be immediately evident.

18MM Thread Auto Plugs:  NOT RECOMMENDED.  We hear of customers occasionally using auto plugs that are manufactured with 18mm thread (avoiding the need for spark plug adapters), we have at least two reports from customers who tried 18mm thread plugs – with very poor (near disastrous) results.  We recognize there may be a great many plugs that will perform perfectly well in this environment, but we also recognize that some do not.  We recommend that most customers stay with plugs that have a known service record.  IF you choose to experiment with other plugs (not recommended), do so with caution.

Blow-In-The Tube Timing:  At high altitude.  If attempting to time your ignition at high altitude (7000′ or above) you may find the LED response to blowing in the MAP tube is not as expected.  If so, timing can be set by the manual method. Before installing the ignition, connect all wires and turn buss power ON (with p-lead switch OFF/grounded).  Rotate the ignition shaft with your fingers until you see a GREEN LED.  Install the ignition and secure clamps lightly, rotate the ignition as needed to re-acquire the GREEN LED, tighten clamps.

Operating Notes: YELLOW LED.  Prior to implementing revised assembly and test procedures a couple of years ago, the factory set position of the sensor magnet (located on the back of the shaft) was not tightly constrained.  As a result, after break-in, even slight changes in shaft position can result in a Range Check flag (see description below). Range Check adjustments are a courtesy service (no charge) by our shop, should you encounter the condition.

Excerpt from Tips and Tricks page:

“(Applies to all 114 series and most 113 series programs)

Beyond the RED and GREEN LED signals described in the manual for setting timing, other LED signals are as follows:

  1. Sensor Magnet Range Check – Every time the ignition powers up, the ignition first performs a self-test to verify the sensor magnet is within an acceptable range.  If the Range Check passes, the ignition proceeds with initialization (no LED signal).  If the Range Check fails, it will proceed no further and will signal an alert with a pulsing (approx 1 every quarter sec) YELLOW LED.  From the operators perspective it will appear as a non-operative ignition.  The flashing YELLOW will continue until the infraction clears or the unit is powered OFF.  No record of the alert remains after power OFF.”

[2-4 not included here – go to Tips and Tricks for the complete list].  Should this occur, a possible temporary remedy is described in our “Troubleshooting Guide, LED SIGNALS”.  Download the .pdf from our Downloads page.

Operating Notes:  Connector Plug Screw-Cage Torque (Coil Plug and Control Plug on 113 and 114 series): Wire screw-cage torque should be 4-5 inch pounds.  We’ve seen recent examples where cage torque was insufficient.  Suggest checking all connections on new as well as in-service units.

Operating Notes:  Service option – Flat Fee Check-Up – We’ve added an attractive service/maintenance option for out-of-warranty series 113 and 114 ignitions. After seven years and over 2500 units our fleet is getting larger and a older.  We want our repair and maintenance services to reflect our values and commitment to customer support.  see Flat Fee Check-Up

OPERATING NOTES:  ALTERNATOR SHAFT MAGNETS – We’ve seen some older units where alternator magnets have oxidized and/or failed. These  magnets are bonded into machined pockets arranged around the mid section of the ignition shaft.  In normal operation, the magnets do not touch the stationary stator winding, which is ideal from a wear standpoint.  However, if  a magnet oxidizes, magnetic dust or flakes will be drawn back to the magnet cluster and, with sufficient accumulation, create an interference between the stator and the magnets.  This can compromise the magnet coating and increase the likelihood of deterioration.  In extreme cases, magnet deterioration can degrade or disable the internal alternator. This may initially go unnoticed by the operator as the ignition typically operates as normal, only now under aircraft power.  However, the condition will be revealed at the next pre-flight alternator test.

Affected units:  In the fall of 2008 (starting with serial numbers in the 1300 to 1400 range) we changed the magnet sealing technique, and we haven’t seen the same issue with the newer style.  We can also report seeing many of the earlier style shafts that are performing perfectly well (i.e. older shaft does not automatically mean there is an alternator magnet problem).  At roughly the same time, we released “Service Bulletin 9/12/08” which drew a large percentage of the fleet in for service.  Many (but not all) of those units were equipped with the newer style shaft.

Inspection/Prevention

  1. [Standard practice applicable to all ignitions.]   Make sure to include the regular ignition Alternator Check as part of your engine run-up routine.  [Excerpt from Manual] “P-Model (self-powering) Alternator Check:  You can check the internal alternator operation on the P model during a ground run-up (900+ rpm) by switching to the P model ignition and cutting aircraft power (not the p-lead switch) at the breaker. If the built-in alternator is working, the engine will continue to run. If it is not working, the engine will quit……”
  2. [Emphasis for ignitions serial no. prior to1400] Periodically run the Minimum Operating Speed test.  An increase in the minimum (self-powered) cut-out speed may be an early indication of degraded alternator magnets. [Excerpt from Manual] “…… Do the test during a ground run-up, by simply switching to your P-model ignition (or if running dual Ps switch to them one at a time) with the engine at roughly 1300 rpm. Then cut the aircraft power (not your p-lead switch) to the ignition and slowly lower the engine rpm until it quits…..”  Download current manual Installation and Operating Guide for complete instructions.
  3. [Standard practice applicable to all ignitions] Perform the annual mechanical inspection described in the “Maintenance” section of the manual (check #4):  [Excerpt from Manual]    “4.  Remove ignition and examine shaft condition. Look for excessive play (lateral and axial). Shaft rotation should be free, with no catching, flat spots, or grinding. The shaft on “P” models (with internal alternator) will have a rippling effect as the shaft turns and the permanent magnets pass the rotor poles. This is normal and expected. If a P model ignition does not have this magnetic ripple, the unit requires additional (shop) service.”
  4. Send to E-MAG for inspection and/or service.  Related – see “ Check-Up“.

OPERATING NOTES:  Annual Inspection (updated 7/10/14)– The Installation and Operating Guide has a list of items that can be incorporated into your annual condition inspection.  [Excerpt from Manual]:

  1. [Instruction to check with this web page to look for more recent updates]
  2. Ignitions come with a (one-time trigger) thermal sticker that will trip (turn from light ash color to gray or gray/black) if case temperatures exceed 200 degrees (F). If tripped, review blast cooling and/or other ventilation issues that affect ignition cooling.  Keep ignition temperatures below 200 degrees.
  3. Ohm check plug wires (see “Ohm Check” above), and examine spark plugs for signs of unusual wear or build-up. Gap plugs per instructions above. Replace auto style plugs with new ones after 100 to 125 hours. When re-installing auto style plugs with auto plug adapters, review plug/adapter installation guidelines above.
  4. Remove ignition and examine shaft and drive gear condition. Note: Ignition disassembly is not necessary (and if done may void your warranty). Look for excessive play (lateral and axial).  Shaft rotation should be free, with no catching, flat spots, or grinding.  The shaft on “P” models (with internal alternator) will have a push-pull rippling effect as the shaft turns and the permanent magnets pass the rotor poles.  This is normal and expected.  If a P model ignition does not have this magnetic ripple, the unit requires additional (shop) service.
  5. Inspect/Replace cotter pin with larger 5/64” cotter pin.  As a reminder, the ends of the pins need to be secure to help prevent movement.  Earlier pins have been in service for years, but we’ve have occasional reports of pins coming loose and/or breaking.
  6. Examine control plug and coil plug connections. Tighten to 4-5 inch pounds. Verify there are no stray wire strands.  Verify all control wires use the Adel clamp strain relief.
  7. Reinstall the ignition, and verify proper operation. Review Setting Ignition Timing instructions above.  For P models, re-verify minimum operating speeds when running on internal power (see Minimum Operating Speed test above.)

OPERATING NOTES:  Battery Chargers:  Some styles of ground (110 volt) chargers will hammer the battery with charge pulses as part of their normal cycle.  Such hammering is not a typical buss state and can cause problems for the ignition if it is powered ON during such a charge.  So as a normal guideline, KEEP IGNITIONS POWERED OFF WHILE (GROUND) CHARGING.

Service Bulletin 9/12/2008 [click to load Service Bulletin .pdf]     In our 113 and 114 series ignitions, engine position is transmitted to the ignition by way of a small sensor magnet mounted on the back end of the ignition shaft.  Beginning Aug. 07, the system for mounting the magnet was revised.  The magnet is first soldered into a cup that is then double set screwed to the shaft.  Initially, this system performed well (for a year).  However, after a period of operation, we are starting to see instances where the sensor mount has worked loose, causing the ignition to lose its timing reference.  The correction involves 1) replacing the sensor mount with a lighter one (now only 4 grams), 2) adding a key way to the shaft and the sensor mount, and 3) drilling and roll-pinning the assembly in place.  Arguably, either step 2 or step 3 would adequately resolve the problem, but in this case our intention is to “overdo”.  As with all such updates, we offer the sensor update free of charge.  We only ask that customers pay the cost of return shipping ($25 flat fee for US customers).

Details on the sensor mount can be accessed thru the following link [SBDet].

We submitted the sensor mount to an (AE) engineer for review.  He said the procedure we outlined is more than adequate, and that the smaller mount with roll-pin (alone) would be sufficient.  The engineer has many years of experience in the aircraft piston engine design business.

Update 10/6/08:  Ongoing analysis has verified the roll-pin (alone) is more than adequate for the job and the keyway does not meaningfully improve margins.  Accordingly, the Service Bulletin protocol was revised on 10/4/08 to eliminate the keyway shaft (step 2 above).

Service Bulletin 6/18/2007

Service Bulletin 2/12/2007