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Thread: Engine condition choice

  1. #1

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    Engine condition choice

    I am looking for an 0-360 for a homebuilt. Is it generally better to buy a run out and overhaul it, or a running mid time engine and hope not to need to overhaul it. My desire is most bang for the $$ and to fly, not tinker. Has anyone had experiences that they would do again, or not again !
    Thanks,
    larry

  2. #2
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJM View Post
    I am looking for an 0-360 for a homebuilt. Is it generally better to buy a run out and overhaul it, or a running mid time engine and hope not to need to overhaul it. My desire is most bang for the $$ and to fly, not tinker. Has anyone had experiences that they would do again, or not again !
    Thanks,
    larry
    This is the classic $18,000 question.

    A component of this discussion that has to be settled first is how long do you want to fly this engine? Expecting the engine to be serviceable for just a few years before selling the plane is different from wanting an engine that will give you twenty years of reliable service.

    This is a prime example of applying the quote from the old Fram oil filter commercial "You can pay me now or pay me later".

    I purchased a 1200 hr O-320 with good logs from a salvage yard in 1998 for my RV-6. My plan was to roll the dice and hopefully get a few years service before overhaul. The engine ran pretty well, even flew it from Alabama to Arizona and back. But the second summer a couple of cylinders went soft and I decided to do a top overhaul. After pulling the cylinders I could see two cam lobes were completely shot. The engine received a major overhaul and I have flown it for 19 years with excellent service.

    But.....the original cost of purchase plus the cost of overhaul was close to what I could have purchased a new engine from Vans. So the question for someone who wants an engine for extended use is......do I postpone overhaul costs or just pop for the new engine up front and fly many years with only routine servicing? In the long haul, it may very well come out about the $$ame either way.

    Your choice.
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 06-12-2020 at 07:42 AM.
    Sam Buchanan
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  3. #3
    CarlOrton's Avatar
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    Sam gives good advice.

    I’ll add that for me to put a used engine on a plane w/o tearing it down, I would have to know the owner personally and know how they maintained it, how often they flew, etc. I would not take the word of anyone on how good it was.

    Carl Orton
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    http://mykitlog.com/corton

  4. #4
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    I can add that in light of my experience I have advised several builders to buy a new engine up front. Even if the thing has to be financed the peace-of-mind of starting the new-aircraft journey with a fresh engine is worth the initial pain of engine purchase. There are no free rides in aviation.

    "You can pay me now or pay me later".
    Sam Buchanan
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  5. #5

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    My plan is to install a run out but serviceable engine in the new airplane for at least the phase one period. I don't want to be breaking in a new engine and test flying a new aircraft at the same time. I'll build or buy a new engine after the aircraft is tested, trimmed, the bugs removes, etc. and sell the first engine or find another project for it.

  6. #6
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonN View Post
    My plan is to install a run out but serviceable engine in the new airplane for at least the phase one period. I don't want to be breaking in a new engine and test flying a new aircraft at the same time. I'll build or buy a new engine after the aircraft is tested, trimmed, the bugs removes, etc. and sell the first engine or find another project for it.
    You aren't going to want to take your brand-spankin' new toy out of service to change out engines.......

    Hundreds of new RVs have been successfully flown in Phase 1 with a new engine. I've heard the argument you proposed many times but never seen a new engine/aircraft combination prove to be a problem. I wouldn't want to risk my new aircraft with an engine somebody has already worn out.....

    But I'm glad we have choices and I'm confident you will do what works best for you. Best wishes for an enjoyable journey!
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 06-12-2020 at 02:03 PM.
    Sam Buchanan
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  7. #7

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    I wouldn't run a used engine without paying a reputable engine shop to tear down and inspect it.

    First, I know a fellow who bought a "low time" O-200 only to have it lose all oil pressure on his second test flight, resulting in a dead stick landing on the runway (a very successful one). And he wound up overhauling it, as the bearings to the crank (and the crank) were toast.

    Second, I work in the same hangar as Don's Dream Machines, and have seen low time engines that are pretty much write offs. Only 50 hours in 25 years! Turns out they only ever cranked it for an annual and only enough to warm the oil enough for a change. It never got truly lubricated and it looked like a three thousand hour engine inside. Then again, I've seen high time engines that were in great shape, as they were being flown and therefore ran regularly (and with good maintenance).

    Indeed, we had a fellow a couple months ago who did just that - bought an engine for his E-AB and did an "engine assist" with Lee Poe, getting a walk through on tearing the engine down, what to look for, sending the crank and case out for testing, and when it came back, putting it back together and running it on the stand. Less expensive than a turnkey "here's my engine, fix it, please," and one gets to learn things.

    I don't normally recommend businesses or perform endorsements, but here's the website:

    http://www.donsdreammachinesllc.com/

    The bonus is that if one comes to Bessemer, Alabama to work on an engine, one will get the opportunity to see me do actual work on all sorts of neat aircraft. Yeah, yeah, I'm one step up from sweeping the floors (wait, I do that, too), but it's pretty neat to work on vintage (and some modern) fabric aircraft.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  8. #8
    robert l's Avatar
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    That's in the same ball park of buying an airplane with a high time airframe and a high time engine. How long is this going to last? Can I get a few hundred hours out of it before I O/H or sell it? It's a tough question and a gamble I guess.
    Bob

  9. #9

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    In my case, it's a sacrificial engine till the airframe is sorted out, at least. Then it's time to build one like I want it. I won't have needed to run it hard to seat the rings in an unproven airfarme. I'm still looking for the replacement engine to build so when it's time, it's a matter of swapping engines, not a major period of down time. At least that's the plan now, subject to change at any time.

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