Watch That Temperature
One basic tool that should be in every flier’s flight box
or shop is an inexpensive laser infrared thermometer.
If a component seems to be running hot, it’s a lot
better to be able to quantify the actual temperature
rather than just saying, “It seems hot.” An infrared
thermometer is also a good tool for preventive
maintenance. A few years back, Clint Akins of Castle
Creations explained how he uses an infrared ther
mometer to keep an eye on critical bearings on his
helicopters. With a new build, he’ll go over the heli
after a test flight, checking the temperature of
key components, like the motor, servos, and shaft
bearings. This becomes the baseline “fingerprint” for
this particular helicopter. If he suspects a bearing is
going bad (either because of an increase in current
or motor temps in the speed control’s data log or
because the main rotor doesn’t freewheel quite as
long), he’ll do a test flight and then go over the heli
with the thermometer, checking for a hot bearing.
There are no hard and fast rules, but if a motor
bearing is topping 150ºF or a main shaft bearing is
getting over 100ºF, alarm bells should be sounding in
your head. So many impending mechanical failures
can be headed off in advance if you just pay attention.
Bearings are inexpensive and easily replaced, so it’s
always better to head off a failure before it occurs.
An inexpensive laser infrared thermometer is an important diagnostic and preventive maintenance
tool for any serious helicopter flier. By checking key components, like shaft bearings, you can
detect an impending failure before it occurs.
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