Interview with David McGee





Ed Note: As mentioned in the pilot report on the M20E in this issue, starting the IO-360-A1D in our evaluation airplane humbled me. I could start it cold. But hot starts were another matter. I could never get it right. Using procedures I learned for the J model and procedures straight from the E model ownerís manual, I would crank and crank without so much as a feeble misfire from the engine. For a while, this inability to start the engine made me not like the airplane. But David McGee from All American Aircraft came to my rescue. He probably started more E models than anyone in the country and has developed his own starting procedures for the airplane that worked perfectly for me. I thought this information would be interesting to everyone who owns or flys an E model regularly. Here is what David had to say concerning his starting procedures for the IO-360-A1D fuel injected engine in the M20E.


MAPA: David, I made a fool of myself trying to start the engine in the E model. I never could get it to fire, especially when hot. I went by the procedures in the ownerís manual, but they didnít work. I used procedures that have never failed me in the J model-again no luck. You then gave me your personal procedures for engine starts in the E model and I started the engine every time. I thought our members might like to know how it is you get such good starts in the E model.

DAVID: Glad I could help. We saw you out there on the ramp cranking away. Itís a good thing the battery in that airplane was fully charged. You used enough electricity to power a small city.


MAPA: Okay, I stand humbled. So tell us how you start an M20E.


DAVID: After starting too many different E models to count, I have developed a set of start procedures for a cold engine, a hot engine and a flooded engine. First, letís talk about a cold start, or the first start of the day. Hereís how I do it:


Cold starting the IO-360-A1D in the M20E

         Master switch on

         Throttle, prop and mixture controls full forward

         Boost pump on 5 seconds

         Mixture to idle cutoff

         Throttle reduced to the approximate position for a 1000-1100 idle speed

         Engage starter

         When the engine fires, release starter key and firmly (but not rapidly) move mixture control to full rich

         After engine is running, lean mixture control out for smooth idle


MAPA: This procedure sure worked well for me. But cold starts are pretty easy. The real test and the area I had the most trouble with were hot starts.


DAVID: You must remember that one of the secrets to hot starting the IO-360-A1D in the M20E begins with the engine shutdown made just prior to the hot start you are about to make. If youíll remember to use the following engine shutdown procedure in the E model, you sure will make it easier on yourself for the next start, especially if that next start is done with the engine still hot.


Recommended Engine Shutdown Procedure in the M20E

         Idle the engine at 1000-1100 RPM

         Pull the mixture control to idle /cutoff from this idle speed

         DONĒT TOUCH THE THROTTLE. Leave it at the setting it was at for the 1000-1100 RPM idle speed used to shut down

         Ignition switch off after the engine spools down

         Master switch off


MAPA: Okay, so we come back out to the airplane in a few minutes with the engine still hot to fly again. Now give us your hot start procedure.


DAVID: Here is my hot start procedure for the M20E that hasnít failed me yet:


Hot Start procedure for the IO-360-A1D in the M20E


         Master switch on

         DONíT TOUCH THE THROTTLE, PROP OR MIXTURE CONTROLS. The throttle should be in the 1000-1100 RPM Position from the previous shutdown, the mixture should be in idle/cutoff and the prop should be full forward

         Engage the starter

         Expect about 15-20 blades before the engine fires

         When the engine fires, smooth (not rapidly) move the mixture control to full rich

         After idling, lean the mixture for smooth operation on the ground and during taxi


MAPA: Tell us about a flooded start. The IO-360-A1D in the M20E seems easy to flood. What if I mess up and have somehow flooded the engine during my hot start attempt or the above hot start procedure has no results.


DAVID: Then go to my flooded engine start procedure. If you suspect a flooded engine (and itís easy to do in the E model), hereís what you do:


Flood engine start procedure for the IO-360-A1D in the M20E

         Master switch on

         Throttle, prop and mixture full forward

         Boost pump on 3 seconds, then off

         Mixture to idle/cutoff

         Throttle full open

         Engage the starter

         Slowly pull the throttle back towards idle as the engine is turning over with the starter engaged

         When the throttled is reduced to about Ĺ to ĺ towards the idle position, the engine should fire after the throttle hits the position for the perfect fuel/air mixture for starting

         When the engine fires, smoothly increase the mixture to full rich

         Bring the throttle back to the normal idle speed (1000-1100RPM)

         After idling awhile, lean the mixture for smooth operation on the ground and during taxi


MAPA: Thanks for the good advise. I can affirm that your procedures worked for me. Any other words of advise for our M20E owners concerning engine starts.


DAVID: Absolutely. One of the best investments an M20E owner can make is the purchase and installation of a high speed, lightweight starter for his or her airplane. The primary advantage of either a SkyTec or Prestolite lightweight starter is much higher turning speeds for engine starts. These starters really get with the program and will spin the engine almost twice as fast as the standard starter they replace. These higher spin speeds make the M20E much easier to start, hot, cold or flooded. On top of that, they are 10 pounds lighter than the standard starters they replace. We highly recommend both of these starters to our customers as a big help in curing any engine starting problems they might be experiencing with their E models. But with or without a lightweight, high speed starter installed, using the procedures I have outlined above will give you the best chance of getting a quick and easy engine start in the M20E.


MAPA: Thanks for the advise, David. I think more of our M20E owners have a problem hot starting their engine than we think. Itís probably due to the tightly cowled engine or the design of the induction system, but for whatever reason the IO-360-A1D engine in the M20E is very difficult to start when hot. I hope our M20E members will give your procedures a try. I know I will use them from now on. Maybe in the future I wonít embarrass myself as much as I did during my first attempts at starting the M20E.