I often ponder this one when I get a little aeroplane in, what would give it a bit of a boost from the aesthetics/comfort/functionality point of view without going nuts. As I’m rarely planning to keep it long term, you can’t go bananas doing anything fancy as it’s usually a poor ROI. Things that would seem to be a worthy use of resources, as I brainstorm this topic:
LED Landing/Taxi Light
Dynamic Prop Balance
USB Power Plug Hardwired
Ram mounting balls for Ipads etc
Sound Proofing (if Interior is out)
Fresh Wing Walk
Any other idea’s of thing you like (these are only things I’m thinking of from my own project) that are less than €1k individually?
I bought a dynon D1 quite some time ago. Which is quite nice as a backup to vacuum systems.
Although I did have some issues with it, it’s quite useful as a backup at around the 1amu mark.
Also owner’s forums can be a good source of very useful cheap mods / improvements.
JPI FS450 fuel scan, helps with fuel management.
Update: Done during owner assist annual, cost of unit and bits £700, + labour(mine!)
Without the slightest question I would install a fuel totaliser.
Whether you can do it for 1k, especially on EASA reg, I am not sure. On N you could buy a used instrument, no need for 8130-3, and a new sensor is about 400$.
I installed an EI FP-5L fuel totalizer for somewhere between $500 and $1000. The totalizer and transducer were $500 total from US Aircraft Spruce, the rest was fuel lines etc. There is an STC for my airframe which made the paperwork simple, but it was not really relevant to the physical installation. My mechanic friend and I worked that out and it’s been working reliably now for a number of years. I recommend it.
LED landing and taxi lights. Done it on all my aircraft and it really helps. Not always more brightness, but the amp draw significantly reduces. On the old Twin Commander each of the big Par46’s drew 250W each! That’s 500W you’re pulling when engines are low rpm on a night landing, which isn’t ideal for battery longevity. Once I replaced with LED’s, the draw reduced by a factor of 4!
I agree about the Fuel totaliser and EGT monitor. I did half the labour installing mine in an owner assisted Annual. I watch my CHT’s like a hawk in the climb. That was the first improvement I did. The fuel totaliser is correct to better than 2%. In a single engine plane you need to look after that engine!
A second £ 500 idea is a spare set of spark plugs, a quick drain fitting on your sump and a decent Bosescope that can look back at itself. Then it’s easy to change the oil every 25 hours and at the same time Borecope the valves and the bottom plugs. You only need to remove the top plugs/cowling to do it and it is all done in minutes. When finished you can pop newly cleaned plugs in the top as it would be rude not to.
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FS450 incl. installation was 2,5+kEUR last time I asked. Of course, main part of prize was installation. But I agree on the fuel totaliser and have always done – so far the others in the syndicate said no. But things are changing – maybe I’ll ask for advice on the best 50kEUR upgrade for a Piper Dakota soon…
Flying frequently IMC in a carburetted 6-cyl airplane and having had my share of interesting carb icing occurrences, I wonder about a carb temp indicator. It tells whether carb heat is necessary at all temp wise, it warns if carb heat just brings carb temp up into the icing range, and it allows using partial carb heat without risk, reducing power loss and reportedly giving a more even mixture distribution among cylinders in some engines.
This article describes a Shadin fuel totaliser installation. It isn’t difficult; it’s nothing like an EDM700 or similar which has a large labour components to run all the wires through and attach the probes.
€2.5k (possibly plus VAT) is quite a lot. The wiring is really minimal, with the main part being probably the circuit breaker installation.