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Date:  9-5-2015
Number of Hours:  0.00
Manual Reference:  
Brief Description:  Nickasil Cylinder Damage

My plane is grounded until I replace all my cylinders (AeroVee 2.1). When I ordered the engine I opted for the Nickasil cylinders to save weight, but like other Nickasil owners they came back to bite me. I got back an oil analysis that showed extremely high levels of nickel, and abnormal levels of iron and aluminum. Those are the materials that make up the cylinders (aluminum and nickel), and the rings (iron).

So I pulled off the head on one side of the engine today, and this is what I found (photos below).

Both of the cylinders had mushroomed at the top edge, where they meet the head. I had a heck of a time getting the cylinders out of the head because the mushroomed area had jammed in there. I presume my other 2 cylinders will look similar. I know some others have had this same issue. It took 120 hours for this to show up. My heads were meticulously torqued to specs, and my CHTs usually run 290 to 340, with a temporary max of 380 (full gross, climb out, on a hot day) for a minute or so.

Sonex will sell me new steel cylinders at a discount.

Lesson learned (besides not getting Nickasil cylinders) is that OIL ANALYSIS WORKS! There were NO other indications that the engine was having issues. Compression was around 80/75 (tested cold) on all 4 cylinders. CHTs and EGTs have been nice and cool, and the engine was running well. So I would just offer that if you don't do oil analysis each time you change the oil, you are doing yourself a dis-service. It costs me $12 for the oil analysis, and I get the results just a few days after I send in the sample.
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