We flew up north this weekend and stopped to clear Canadian customs in Sarnia. After a brief stop, the engine of our Cessna-182 had uncharacteristic trouble starting. We got it started, and continued up the coast of Lake Huron to Tobermory.
On our return, the cold start at Tobermory airport was easy, but we had worse trouble hot starting the engine after clearing US customs. The engine simply wouldn’t turn over, and Dave tried a few times before he became concerned about running down the battery. It was mid-Sunday afternoon, sunny and beautiful, and the phone number we had for the local FBO (fixed base operator, the folks who service planes at airports) didn’t work, the airport manager wasn’t in his/her office, and the airport was quiet. Dave and Guy wandered around, looking for open hangars and helpful people.
Eventually, they found someone, and he drove up in a little tractor and charged the battery, but even with more juice, the engine wouldn’t turn over. After talking to the UM Flyers’ CCFI by phone, we decided to get the plane towed for some preliminary service (checking the spark plugs to see if they had been fouled in some way). He pulled the plane into their service hangar, he and another mechanic checked the spark plugs (which looked fine to them, not fouled or flooded), and replaced them.
We were contemplating leaving the plane and driving back to Ann Arbor, Vici and Guy called rental places, but the mechanic laughed and said there would be no cars, everything was closed. The mechanic was right. I called ZipCar, but it only has cars in Ann Arbor. We needed the engine to turn over, otherwise we were wondering who owed us or cared for us enough to retrieve us.
By the time the mechanics had checked the spark plugs and replaced the engine cover, we had been there two hours, and the engine had cooled enough that we were able to start it and get on home. Dave asked to settle up with the mechanic, who said “I don’t work on Sundays” and wouldn’t accept payment. Quote of the day.