Please excuse this long thread!
Today I started my Raptor 30v2 (O.S. 32 SX-H installed) up and the rotor system engaged as it should when I gave it a little collective. Did some flying with it--no problems.
Later on, I started up the heli and the clutch would engage as soon as the engine started up with collective at full down stick. It would engage at the lowest possible throttle setting before the engine died. I couldn't keep the rotor from engaging until I was ready no matter what I did. The only way to disengage it was to turn down the throttle trim and then, of course, the engine died. I started it up again and took it over to the grass and gave it some throttle in hopes of seeing if there were any further problems. It spun up but I heard some clicking/snapping noises coming from the little bird and I could not identify them so I didn't take off. My best guess was the clutch lining fell apart and this, to me, made sense as to why the clutch would engage at such an early time.
Anyways, jump back in time a month when I first built the Raptor--about the middle of February. I had an accomplished pilot, Josh "3D" Moen out of Denver here, go over my heli and when he first started it up for the first time EVER the clutch made this horrible noise and had ALOT of tension in it. Josh dropped the engine and noticed the shoe was worn unevenly but the surface appeared smooth and straight. It seemed to be wear on the finish of the new clutch shoe. Inside the clutch bell it had dug grooves into the ceiling. Not huge gouges, but fine grooves that you couldn't even feel. This happened because I didn't use a piston lock when I tightened the cooling fan nut. It came loose and the clutch must have been wobbling around. Since it just happened that one time before it was quickly identified and repaired, Josh put it back together and the heli performed flawlessly from that point on.
So today, when I removed the clutch, I noticed some fine filings inside the clutch bell and this indicated to me it was still eating away at that sucker, but the clutch lining was perfectly intact and not damaged. So I am wondering--is this what's causing the premature clutch engagement? Perhaps the shoe got worn to the point it's not making perfect contact with the liner, or there is some sort of unevenness that has been introduced?
I have only run ONE gallon through this heli to date so it's not like I've done a TON of flying with it to where one might expect to see some sort of wear in the clutch assembly. Should I replace the clutch and/or clutch bell just for good measure? If anyone has some ideas on what I can check, I would be grateful!