All things ballooning
Justin got me thinking. Preflight, do you test your burners?
I have always done it. I dont see many people do it these days. Its always been in my preflight checklist.
I do the same as Jeff. Inflate and test them while bringing the balloon temp up to bouyancy. This is using fuel efficiently in my book.
Those who run through all the burner checks prior to inflation may someday find themselves at the end of a flight, wishing they had that fuel for one last burn to clear an obstacle.
I always test my burners before I even get the envelope out of the bag.
I was taught this way and it seems logical to me.
I must admit I don't do a lot of what other people do if I don't see worth in it, but I will do something if I see worth in it.
Reasons why I do it.
I pull my frame and burner down after each and every flight and I disconnect the fuel lines as well.
Every time you break a fuel system you risk introducing a leak. Every time the burner is packed in the bottom of the basket you can risk damaging a control valve or the fuel hose connections to the burner.
Setting up the entire envelope and then having a internal combustion engine running a fan beside a basket with a gas leak doesn't do anything for me. I'm also to lazy to set up an envelope only to find I have a fuel leak and have to pack it away.
So I set the basket up, with uprights and burner frame and pressurise both systems.
I can now listen an hear if I have a gas leak without a fan running beside the basket.
As the basket is standing up I can also easily see the entire fuel system and check my vertical tanks for leaks and the bleed valve to ensure it is full. It's just easier to see for me when it's standing up, but I'm tall and don't like crawling around on the grass.
Sure of no leaks I can ignite and listen to my pilot light and hear if it's changed it's settings through vibration during transit. I will then test both sides of the burner system and check pressure before and during burn. While I'm at it I'll test the liquid fire.
Three burns of 2 seconds each a total 6 seconds of lpg up in impressive preflight photo oppoturnuity.
I find if it's cold I'll also score some extra crew with cold hands. ;-)
If I need that 6 seconds at the end of the flight I've seriously screwed up my fuel management.
So with a fuel system that works with no leaks, I'll shut down one side completely and start the lay out.
Once laid out I will inflate off the one system knowing if I have a gas leak during hot inflation I only have to reach to the one tank to stop a fire.
Once upright and carrying out my final preflight checks I will again pressurise the remaining fuel system side and then do another test before launch. I also test the spare system roughly every 5-10minutes throughout the flight. Done it so often it's just a habit and something I no longer think about.
Only had one pilot light failure (thank god I always have my striker in the same spot), with no identifiable cause as it worked perfectly after the flight.
Had one fuel leak on preflight test which turned out to be the pilot light vapor take off so just switched to another master before inflating.
Never had a main line leak and don't wish it on any one.
Agreed. I run my 'FBI' check before dragging out the envelope.
Fuel: Quantity, pressure, tanks secure, tank inspection, leaks.
Burners: Pilot lights, main blast valve, liquid fire, cross feeds.
Instruments: Set Up, checked, set (QNH etc), Radio check done.
So then I can inflate and launch as quickly as possible if the wind gets up. Also it means I'm able to pay attention to the balloon, field, traffic etc rather than the paraphanalia of getting ready.
As for wasted fuel, I'm always going to use my inflation tank regardless, so I always launch with 100% fuel.
"I had an expierience that I found 2 fittings leaking propane in the bottom of my can.. but it had been taken apart and worked on only 4hrs prior to leaking.."
I'd check to if that happened to me! WOW!