Birds and the lower engine cowl

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greg
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Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by greg »

I've often wondered how to keep birds out of the engine bay, with the huge lower cowl opening at the back/bottom of the engine (where the exhaust and breather tubes come out. It's now no longer academic - twice in the last few months, I've had to take off the cowls and remove nests. (The most recent in 37 degree C (100F), windy conditions breathiig heavy bushfire smoke - I can't say I enjoyed the experience!)

I've considered making something out of foam cut to fill the hole, but I'm worried that it'd melt or burn on contact with the tail pipe.

Has anyone else solved this problem?

(The most annoying part of this is that the bird didn't even complete the nest in the engine. It's decided the tail is a better option. Looks like the rudder is going to have to come off again. Every time I block one hole they find another way in :scream: )
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Boatguy
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Re: Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by Boatguy »

I empathize with the fires as we've both had them the last couple of years - Australia and California. I guess the birds figured out the DA40 was safer than a tree!

I suggest something similar to the airplane cover, only "upside down" if you will, covering from just behind the nose wheel strut to the steps. Two long straps like the plane cover, but again "upside down". A canvas shop could make that pretty easily.

Best of luck!
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TwinStarScott
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Re: Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by TwinStarScott »

A complete engine cover might be another option to investigate Greg, albeit an expensive one*:

https://www.aircraftcovers.com/DA40

*item no. DA40-111 ($425 US)
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Tom-B
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Re: Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by Tom-B »

I completely agree with Scott’s suggestion of using a complete engine cover to address your bird invasion problem.

I have been very pleased with Bruce Custom Covers’, DA40 Insulated engine cover .... not only will it assist in keeping the birds out it really helps those of us in colder climates preheat the engines. I have also never had any damage from a warm exhaust on these covers.

Additionally, Bruce provides a nice storage sack that as I roll and tuck the cover in, I also throw in the flight control’s lock, as well as the pitot and stall warning covers. I then since the sack and throw it into the back of the plane, it just takes a couple of extra minutes pre and post flight.
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Re: Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by greg »

Thanks for the suggestion, Russ. I'll look into making up a template when I get her back from maintenance, hopefully mid-January.

The insulated cover, apart from being an overkill in this climate, would also necessitate replacing my current canopy cover, which would be an expensive exercise. But it is an option if I can't get something made. Tom, do you have any problems with oil and fuel dripping out the breather pipes onto your cover?
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Re: Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by Tom-B »

Greg, your question as to whether oil and fuel drip on the cover from the breather tubes is something I should have mentioned. As I take off the cover I will typically find some oily discharge that a single paper towel quickly removes, and after two winters of use is beginning to show an oil stain in the area of these tubes.
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Re: Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by gkaplan »

I have had this problem twice now - the first time, there was so much nest material that when we opened the oil flap, it nearly busted out. The plane had not been flown in three weeks - nest complete with several eggs. Had to remove the top and bottom cowl covers. On a second occasion, it had only been two days and the cowl had a large amount of nest material.

I've reached out to Bruce's Aircraft Covers to see if they might be able to make a custom cover for that area. A lightweight full cowl cover that wraps around underneath would be nice because if I have to go through the extra pain to put on a special exhaust cover, I might as well put on a lightweight cowl cover to keep more of the bird mess off.

By the way, during migration time, the birds would perch on my prop and the mess was beyond disgusting. I ended up fabricating a blade cover that has worked like a charm.
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Re: Birds and the lower engine cowl

Post by CFIDave »

FWIW, the other place I've seen bird nests on DA40s is in the tail next to the rudder hinge and cable attachment to the rudder.

A few years ago I needed to pick up and ferry a DA40 that had been in operation with a flight school at KJYO. The engine was still warm from when the last renter had flown the plane. But as I did my pre-flight walk-around, I heard a "tweeting" sound coming from the tail. There was a nest with baby chicks in it (that had obviously been along for the ride during the renter's flight an hour earlier!). We had the airport's maintenance shop remove the DA40s rudder to remove all of the chicks and straw.
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