Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oil and Geekery

It's another bad weather day, but we have some busy work to do, and one of the mission specialists has the time to drive us around. We need oil and some photographs.

We were running W100 oil all summer, but switched to W80 at the last oil change. We would have switched on the one before, but neither I nor the airplane knew we were going north into winter already. While he was doing the maintenance the AME bought two cases (12 L each) of oil, and put 20 L in the engines leaving four over for us to use. The engines aren't burning much, maybe a quart each in ten hours, but we want to have some spare, so we need to buy some more. The FBO is all out of W80, but there is a store across the river where we can get some.

They have automotive products displayed on shelves in the reception area, but the woman at the counter knows what Aeroshell W80 is and cheerfully agrees to supply us with a case. "How much is in a case?" asks my coworker, I guess double-checking that we're not asking for some gargantuan amount.

"It's twelve bottles of point nine four six litres each," she says. right off the top of her head. This is may be the nerdiest description of a case of oil I've ever heard. You can buy a 1 litre bottle in the UK. I guess distribution is easier if they have the same size bottles and the same size cardboard boxes all over North America, so what we call one litre of oil is always 0.946 L, because that's one US quart. (The Canadian product doesn't look quite like that: the label is different and the carton is just uncoloured cardboard with the product specifications stamped on it). Maybe next time I add oil to the engine I'll write in the journey log that I added 0.946 L. Or maybe not.

Ultraprecise lady sends someone to the warehouse for a case of oil and then opens the case to assure us that we are buying what we want, even though it's stencilled on the outside of the box. I'm always impressed when suppliers understand and cater to the aviation level of paranoia. We pay for the oil and take it to the hangar where we carry out mission #2.

My colleague loads the oil into the airplane as I take photos of the front cowls. Boss is ordering new cowl plugs (to keep warmth in and birds out while parked) and needs photos so the supplier can see which sort of cowls we have. We grab a ruler off a table and take a couple of pictures with it in the shot, just in case they need the measurements, although he didn't ask for that.

While we are there, I ask the hanger's regular denizens if there has been any sign of the overnight delivery wing covers. Nope. It's only been a week and we're sitting on the 60th parallel, so why would I expect them to have arrived yet?


A Squared said...

Are your dipsticks graduated in quarts or liters?

Aviatrix said...


Unknown said...

"Quarts.".....Ah, yes! -But is that Imperial or US Quarts.
Back in tha day, I used to sell petrol(gasoline) from old-fashioned clock-face pumps which went up to 20 gallons...Astounding the number of customers who couldn't comprehend that each gallon marker was 0.05 if a gallon by the "minute-hand"...and yes, I had to explain that 4.546 litres was an imperial gallon,so you were buying 1/2 -pint more when buying a metric gallon.
Doesn't it inspire confidence when a store-assistant has a grasp of the technicalities of the products they're selling?

Hope you checked the parcel did actually contain wing-covers and they were not only purporting to be the correct item, but do actually fit!

Yup, got the t-shirt. :-)

Verification= aerbuta....pilot who presses on into serious headwinds ?

Anonymous said...

Well colour me astonished!

Sure, the answer sounded a bit weird, since, way back when we switched, milk just changed directly liters and they upped the price on us. (Though there was a surprising amount of other stuff available in 946 ml. quantities. Maybe oil never changed.)

Anyway, if you can manage to get ETOPS certification for your aircraft and visit a few metric countries that didn't grow up on the imperial system, you'll be as surprised as I was to discover that the nice round 355 ml size we use for cans of pop doesn't exist elsewhere. Those strange people use an odd 350 ml size, which is closer to 11.8 than 12 oz.

Verification word: cernos: the three-headed dog of imperial, US, and metric pints.

Aviatrix said...

Steve, it's US quarts on the dipstick.

Curt, when Canada went metric the milk cartons switched to litres, but litres are slightly smaller than Imperial quarts, so I remember that the new 2L milk cartons didn't fit snugly in the "thing" anymore. (The thing was a two quart sized plastic box with a handle on it, to make it easier to pour the milk).

The metric-Imperial issue that makes me giggle is that in Europe they have 30 cm subs. It hadn't really occurred to me that footlong was an actual measurement rather than just a product-specific size designation, like "tall." Why is the smallest size called tall?

rw2 said...

"Maybe next time I add oil to the engine I'll write in the journey log that I added 0.946 L."

Loved that.

At my club most of the guys just write "filled to tabs" or "topped off" in the log book. I always write the fuel amount "10.01" was the amount yesterday, which I liked because it was both binary and a palindrome...

Anonymous said...

Oh, you're right; I'd completely forgotten that we were imperial rather than U.S. quarts. I do remember "the thing."

So evidently I'm confused. I do seem to recall seeing 365 ml cans somewhere, actually, but I'd "corrected" that after working out that 12 fluid ounces is very close to 355 ml using a (*sigh*) US program.

So what size are cans of pop (or, horrors, beer) in Canada these days anyway?

Aviatrix said...

I think ours are 355 mL cans. I don't have one handy. There's only one size you're going to get when you ask for a can of pop, so it's not a number I ever need.