I have a recent experience to report that I believe will be of interest.
I own 952DS (the 100th SR20). During its first sixteen hours of operation the engine ran flawlessly. Between hours sixteen and twenty, I experienced periodic vibration. I surmised that this was a fouled plug (after all, a lot of oil blew through the engine before the rings seated) so was not overly concerned.
When the periodic vibration became more frequent, I started to trouble shoot. I eliminated airframe causes, as with the engine at flight idle and a high airspeed (in a dive) the vibration was not there. Likewise, my instincts told me it was not the prop.
By twenty hours the vibration was constant in flight, but absent on the ground. I had the plugs and injectors checked, as well as a compression test. Two plugs were somewhat fouled, but compression was excellent. The aircraft ran great on the ground, but at altitude the vibration persisted. I grounded the airplane, and waited for a visit from the Continental rep.
Here’s what it was: the fuel pump lost some of its initial efficiency as it broke in. Although this loss of pressure was very slight, when combined with the altitude-compensating aneroid there was inadequate fuel flow in flight. The vibration was pre-detonation. Yikes! Even with the engine peaked, and then enriched, not enough fuel was getting to the engine. The fix took about thirty minutes, and consisted of checking metered and non-metered flows, and increasing fuel pressures slightly. Incidentally, the pressure readings prior to adjustment were within the tolerances specified by Continental–Cirrus had set the engine up correctly, this is simply a combination of post-delivery fine tuning, and a finicky system. Wish that damn aneroid didn’t exist.
One final comment–I’ve owned a bunch of airplanes in the past twenty years, and the suggestion that the SR20 should be flown lean of peak just plain bugs me. It is counterintuitive to everything I thought I knew about engines. While it makes for impressive economy numbers, and enhances the range statistics, I’m not doing it.
While I’m sure it works, I personally don’t think this type of operation is consistent with making TBO. Every mechanic I’ve talked to, including those with intimate knowledge about Continental engines, shares this opinion. So as for me, I’m going to run the engine 50-75 degree rich of peak.