Question: I want to evaluate the performance and improvement with a Power Flow exhaust as compared to the Standard exhaust. How do you lean for best power on my fixed pitch aircraft?
Answer: With the throttle at full (wide open), and the mixture initially at full rich, you should start to lean the mixture after passing through 3500 to 5000 feet MSL (reference your POH for specific recommendations).
Leaning gradually you are looking and listening for an increase in RPM. Generally, you should see an increase of at least 20 RPM during a climb from the full rich to peak RPM points. You know you are at the peak when further leaning reduces the RPM from its highest point. Move the mixture back in to achieve that Peak RPM. I recommend releaning every 2500 feet of additional altitude. If workload permits, you could be moving the mixture more often, but then you aren’t looking outside for traffic and that isn’t as safe as flying first, leaning second.
Question: I used the same EGT value for leaning for both the standard exhaust and the Power Flow. Is this ok?
Answer: Leaning of the engine done during the climb to a constant EGT is not as valid as leaning to peak RPM. Peak EGT changes with altitude and atmospherics as well as with the kind of Exhaust system used. It is typical to see a 50-75 degree higher “peak” with a PFS than the stock exhaust. If the stock peak was 1425 at 3500 feet, and you lean 75 rich of that (1350), you may likely be at or very near best power/peak RPM. However, the PFS peak may be 1475 or 1500 degrees at 3500 feet, so leaning to 1350 is actually a great deal cooler/richer – resulting in less than best power and therefore lower performance. This is the problem with the constant EGT method – it doesn’t reliably produce best power. You should lean to achieve the highest RPM, if you are looking for best power.
*Please note, the above pertains to fixed pitch.