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Thread: Building EAB vs. Restoring Certificated?

  1. #1

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    Building EAB vs. Restoring Certificated?

    Like many EAA members, I have a desire to one day fly a plane that I have brought to life. By default, I always assumed that this would come to fruition in the form a kit-built aircraft like an RV, Whitman Tailwind or a Kitfox.

    But browsing Barnstormers yesterday, I came across a Mooney airframe without engine or avionics for $8500. I have no intention of buying that plane (I want to focus on flying for now), but it did get me thinking about restoring a plane rather than starting from scratch. The appeal of EAB is not needing to work with an A&P to do the repairs needed, but talking to some more experienced EAA members suggested that finding an A&P to supervise may not be difficult.

    I feel like the value of the end result is also something worth comparing. With the EAB you get a repairman certificate and never need to have someone else touch your plane unless you want them to, but the end result is worth less than the cost of the parts (often before you even add in labor). With a certificated plane, there seems a clear appreciation from project to finish that seems to at least parallel the cost of the inputs, but you will still need to hire out annuals and perform repairs under an A&P's supervision, even after being so involved in the restoration.

    What are your thoughts? What are the advantages and disadvantages of building vs restoring?

  2. #2
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Most older Mooney airframes without engine and avionics aren't worth reassembling. By the time you get an engine and radios, you could have bought an equivalent plane put together.

    What you need to get a handle on (and that means spending sometime researching the type, the type clubs are often useful sources) about what you will have to do to get some old basket case put back in the air. There are often good reason these things are derelicts.

  3. #3
    Dana's Avatar
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    It's not just about the building vs. restoration. Down the line when it's flying, you still need an A&P to sign off any repairs, and you're limited on what changes you can make, to a standard certificated plane.

    OTOH, if you restore an experimental, even if you aren't the original builder and so don't have the repairman certificate, you're free to make any repairs or modifications you want at any time, you only need an A&P for the annual condition inspection.

  4. #4

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    Depends on what kind of Mooney.

    If you restore an airplane be sure it's something you want to fly for a long time cause if it's a generic GA airplane, it's hard to get you money back out of it.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    My experience (with a Champ) is that restoring an airplane is (in many ways) harder than building one. First, in restoration, you're trying to get new or repaired parts to fit into an existing assembly. Second, you'll find that many of the legacy parts are no longer available or the remanufactured ones really don't fit like the old ones did. On the Champ, for instance, the original wing ribs were stamped from a variety of very thin (0.016-0.025) aluminum and didn't have holes in the flanges. For about $100 each, I can buy new ribs from thicker (heavier) material that have 1/8" holes punched in their flanges for rivets like Citabrias use to secure fabric. So my first move with the new ribs is to find a way to patch them to accept the PK screws specified for Champs (unless I want to buy 20 something new ribs and convert the whole thing to pop rivet fabric attachment).

    With homebuilding, you avoid much of that... Everything is nice and new, and things generally fit fairly well out of the box. Even better, if you mess up a part, the manufacturer can supply you a replacement at a relatively small cost compared to certified parts.

  6. #6

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    Nothing wrong with restoring a certified airplane if you have a local A&P-IA to supervise and sign off.
    I would never buy another airplane that is missing parts.
    You might want to work at a repair shop part time to see how things are done first.

  7. #7
    I would say build. I would never decide what to keep and what to scrap. Corrosion concerns kept me up at night. Do I keep a wing attach fitting with pits in it or fab a new one. When are the pits too numerous or too deep to be airworthy. Ask a A&P and you'll often get a shoulder shrug. Too much pressure for me. I like new structure.
    Gerry

  8. #8
    Just remember that your A&P-IA can disappear at any time. The fellow I used for my work on my certified airplane died in a plane crash in October. Now I need to find another mechanic who will work with me. Usually this means that he (or she) must learn to trust my work. It's not easy. I would recommend that the project be signed off as the work progressed, not at the end. If you wait till the end, you could be in big trouble!

  9. #9

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    Aug 2011
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    Fort Vermilion Alberta
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    BLOWING MY HORN,,,,,again.

    Move to Canada where we have the OM category. A friend of mine just acquired a derelict Aeronca Sedan. He is deciding weather to rebuild it as an OM or sell it to some fellas in Alaska.

    Maybe if the increase the weight of of EAB this will loosen up the regs a bit.

  10. #10
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    There's no weight limit in EAB. Perhaps you mean Light SPort?

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