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Thread: This close to buying a 7AC... some questions post pre-buy

  1. #1

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    This close to buying a 7AC... some questions post pre-buy

    Hello all!

    I hope this is all right. I tried posting on the various Aeronca forums but they don't seem to have much activity. I have been looking at a 1946 7AC near me. The basics: 1586 Airframe Total Time. Continental A-65-8F with Millennium cylinders. Overhauled in 2002 by Pine Mountain. TTE: 2049. SMOH: 545. Sensenich Prop, Slick mags, and a Reiff preheater. So far so good! The plane has a wag-aero toe brake STC. I own and fly a 172 so have club's for feet I will be keeping the 172, and like having toe brakes in both planes.

    I had my mechanic come and do a pre-buy of the plane. Most things are good, some things are a little ehh. I come to the experts in search of clarity!

    1. The plane has a 9 gallon wing tank, only in the left wing. Have you all ever heard of something like this? The owner states it's from the factory. All my research has pulled up no information. It is placarded 5.5 on the wing, but is apparently 9. Any information on this would be appreciated... pictures from the tank during the 2002 rebuild are shown below.






    2. Both wings have what appear to be thin aluminum angle cross bracing. I wish I had a picture, but for some reason do not. You could see it through the inspection holes. It is maybe 1 wide thick piece of thin aluminum. It looks like the wing lacing above. On the RH wing, the aluminum is intact. On the LH wing, the aluminum is cut. It looks maybe as if to clear some rigging? Or maybe due to wing tank? If this makes any sense to anyone, please do let me know.

    3. The rigging appears somewhat slack. I flew the plane (but have 0 other hrs in a Champ, and only 4hrs in a J3) and it flew fine to my untrained eye. When looking through the inspection covers, the rigging overhead seemed to touch each other, and one of the wings had what looked like electrical tape to prevent chaffing.

    4. The RH oleo strut sits two fingers high, the LH strut three or four fingers high.

    5. Lowest compression 61. It has been sitting for three months so I believe these will come back up with use.

    Other than the above, I like the plane. It is priced at $22k. It's going through annual now and will have the mags freshly redone, they are at 500hrs. With no other 7AC experience, I don't have anything to base this on. Should I walk away? Run away? Go for it and have fun? It has very complete logs, including the first test flight back in February of '46. Any advice appreciated -- thank you!










  2. #2
    cruiser's Avatar
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    After you buy it, if you give me a ride I will give you this book😀

    Dunno if Charlie Lasher’s son is still running the newsletters or not, would be worth a search. Everything you and your mechanic need to know about Aeronca’s is in there.
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    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Most Champs I have seen had either a 5.5 gl or 13 gl wing tanks?

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by cruiser View Post
    After you buy it, if you give me a ride I will give you this book

    Dunno if Charlie Lasher’s son is still running the newsletters or not, would be worth a search. Everything you and your mechanic need to know about Aeronca’s is in there.
    You got it Cruiser!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    Most Champs I have seen had either a 5.5 gl or 13 gl wing tanks?

    Glenn
    From the information I've been able to dig up, that is also all I could find. I am now on the "fearless aeronca aviators" [faa ] and they have been of great help. One said it looked like a 13 gal aeronca tank -- maybe it is, with only 9 or so usable?

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    Aluminum bracing in the wing sounds non standard. Should be rob lacing. What do the records say about it.

    For the fuel tank, there are several that were STCd, but the only original optional tank is a 5.5 gallon tank. It can be either per drawing 7-565A, or 7-1001 or 7-796. If it has a 9 gallon tank, that would have to be a non Aeronca tank and need an STC.

    Sounds like both oleo case frames will need overhaul.

    What is the actual empty weight of the airplane? With only 1220 gross weight, knowing the real empty weight is important.

    What do the rest of the records look like. With three things suspect already, sounds like you are looking at more of a project airplane than a flyer.


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    Quote Originally Posted by dgapilot View Post
    Aluminum bracing in the wing sounds non standard. Should be rob lacing. What do the records say about it.

    For the fuel tank, there are several that were STCd, but the only original optional tank is a 5.5 gallon tank. It can be either per drawing 7-565A, or 7-1001 or 7-796. If it has a 9 gallon tank, that would have to be a non Aeronca tank and need an STC.

    Sounds like both oleo case frames will need overhaul.

    What is the actual empty weight of the airplane? With only 1220 gross weight, knowing the real empty weight is important.

    What do the rest of the records look like. With three things suspect already, sounds like you are looking at more of a project airplane than a flyer.


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    DGA thanks for the in-depth post. A member on the Fearless Aeronca Aviators suggested it may be a 13 gal aeronca tank. I will pursue that line of thought.... as for documentation, it says "wing tank: factory". Everything else leaves less to be desired, but that statement is vague at best. All other STC's and paperwork check out.

    As for the empty weight, as of 2002 it was in the low 700's, 714lbs I believe, or 741.

    The oleos actuate nicely, I am just not sure how much travel they are supposed to have.



    I am pursuing a line of thought that the above highlighted in red is what I saw cut on the wing with the wing tank. A look at the 7AC wing drawing does not show this sort of aluminum bracing. I am assuming it is not factory. My best guess is it was cut to make an allowance for the rigging on the LH side, though if this is the case I am not sure why it wouldn't have been cut on the RH side. I wish I knew more....

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    A word of warning on the oleos, there is an old AD on them, and some “new old stock” parts that were the subject to the AD have shown up in recent years. Likewise, some friends of mine recently purchased a Champ with a “fresh rebuild”. One oleo case frame was cracked, and the other was filled with grease instead of oil, and all the parts were worn out. Plan on pulling both apart, and replacing a lot of parts.
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    Looks like a great fun plane!

    Be careful, you will get spoiled with all that room in the front seat

    It has been a while since I had my champ, but it is sounding like, with the cut aluminum around the tank, that there has been a modification made. It might be fine, might not. I would be most concerned with structural elements possibly being compromised then work from there.

    Oleos are a bane of existence. Add fluid, maybe that is all it needs. Otherwise you send them to get rebuilt. welcome to plane ownership.

    Bottom line, there will always be something that is not perfect on a plane, and something that needs repair. Find one safe and sound for a reasonable price and deal with the small stuff as you can.

    Good Luck!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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    The oleo gear on almost all champs is usually a mess, to discribe it mildly......... So simply yet almost never correct.
    It is an ok airport gear but hopeless on skis as dozens have found out the hard way. The later style with taxi springs have 4 instead of just 2 so that doubles the problems. The travel with worn springs is almost nothing
    You will wind up needing to replace the spring on the limp
    Side and you should change out the "seals" on top n bottom or you can be sure they will leak! They need to have an exact amount of hydro oil in each oleo to function
    Correctly (8.5 oz) on "no bounce" not sure on original????
    Once you rebuild them the old service manual calls for them to be inspected for proper oil level, every 50hrs from
    Memory............this is almost NEVER done anymore. So folks are always wondering why the Champ isnt level and bottoms out soooo easy when you strike anything. Seals gone.........oil leaked out......... Ruins springs..... Now you have basically NO suspension at all......
    Your pretty optimistic about a 61lb clyinder???
    Hope this all works out.
    May want to deduct cost to compleatly rebuild oleos and the clyinder from the $22k.??
    Good luck
    E
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    Quote Originally Posted by aktango58 View Post
    Looks like a great fun plane!

    Be careful, you will get spoiled with all that room in the front seat

    It has been a while since I had my champ, but it is sounding like, with the cut aluminum around the tank, that there has been a modification made. It might be fine, might not. I would be most concerned with structural elements possibly being compromised then work from there.

    Oleos are a bane of existence. Add fluid, maybe that is all it needs. Otherwise you send them to get rebuilt. welcome to plane ownership.

    Bottom line, there will always be something that is not perfect on a plane, and something that needs repair. Find one safe and sound for a reasonable price and deal with the small stuff as you can.

    Good Luck!
    Thank you aktango58!! My first flight up front was like heaven -- what a view! I too am most concerned about safety. If everything was done right and is sound, I'm happy to work on the little doodads as they come... it seems you're frustration with the oleo's is not uncommon

    Quote Originally Posted by TurboBeaver View Post
    The oleo gear on almost all champs is usually a mess, to discribe it mildly......... So simply yet almost never correct.
    It is an ok airport gear but hopeless on skis as dozens have found out the hard way. The later style with taxi springs have 4 instead of just 2 so that doubles the problems. The travel with worn springs is almost nothing
    You will wind up needing to replace the spring on the limp
    Side and you should change out the "seals" on top n bottom or you can be sure they will leak! They need to have an exact amount of hydro oil in each oleo to function
    Correctly (8.5 oz) on "no bounce" not sure on original????
    Once you rebuild them the old service manual calls for them to be inspected for proper oil level, every 50hrs from
    Memory............this is almost NEVER done anymore. So folks are always wondering why the Champ isnt level and bottoms out soooo easy when you strike anything. Seals gone.........oil leaked out......... Ruins springs..... Now you have basically NO suspension at all......
    Your pretty optimistic about a 61lb clyinder???
    Hope this all works out.
    May want to deduct cost to compleatly rebuild oleos and the clyinder from the $22k.??
    Good luck
    E
    Hi E! Thanks for all the intel on the oleos. As far as the cylinder, it was in the 70's when check 3 months ago (according to the owners listing...) He offered to toss in a cylinder rebuild if it needed to be done. Maybe confident is the wrong word, but I am HOPEFUL with use it would come back up! These checks were all done cold.

    I appreciate all the feedback thus far, boy was that quick! I'm in search of an Aeronca expert by me (upstate ny, south of Albany) or by the plane (CT) to get some eyes on some of these things bothering me. If anyone has a lead, let me know!

  11. #11
    RaisedByWolves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    Most Champs I have seen had either a 5.5 gl or 13 gl wing tanks?

    Glenn

    Same here, they went to the 13's when champion was building them in the 50's and got rid of the 13g nose tank. Our champ had 5.5 gal in each wing. I think the tanks had the corners cut off and weren't square

    https://www.wagaero.com/model-specif...m-7dc-7ec.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by iiAtlas View Post
    Thank you aktango58!! My first flight up front was like heaven -- what a view! I too am most concerned about safety. If everything was done right and is sound, I'm happy to work on the little doodads as they come... it seems you're frustration with the oleo's is not uncommon



    Hi E! Thanks for all the intel on the oleos. As far as the cylinder, it was in the 70's when check 3 months ago (according to the owners listing...) He offered to toss in a cylinder rebuild if it needed to be done. Maybe confident is the wrong word, but I am HOPEFUL with use it would come back up! These checks were all done cold.

    I appreciate all the feedback thus far, boy was that quick! I'm in search of an Aeronca expert by me (upstate ny, south of Albany) or by the plane (CT) to get some eyes on some of these things bothering me. If anyone has a lead, let me know!

    I maintain a few champs and chiefs in New Hampshire

    Tom
    Last edited by RaisedByWolves; 11-09-2018 at 12:54 PM.
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    My impression: you cannot get a flying Champ for under $19K. If you want no issues, find a better one for around $28K. I picked up an almost perfect 0-200 Champ with two legal wing tanks for $28K a couple years ago. It even had a starter!

  14. #14
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    My impression: you cannot get a flying Champ for under $19K. If you want no issues, find a better one for around $28K. I picked up an almost perfect 0-200 Champ with two legal wing tanks for $28K a couple years ago. It even had a starter!
    One just sold at Cooperstown last month. Rebuilt 16 years ago, A65 and flown regularly. In annual and a solid Champ. 14k

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by RaisedByWolves View Post
    I maintain a few champs and chiefs in New Hampshire

    Tom
    Tom, I believe I saw a listing for a Champ which may have been yours a few months back.



    I kick myself for not jumping on it. I was just a hair early and didn't have a hanger lined up to store it. I don't want to let another good bird pass from under me! If you are interested in taking a look I would appreciate it. I am happy to pay for your time and can pick you up in my skyhawk if you'd like. Another man on the Aeronca forums said he may be able to swing by so I am playing that out as well. Soon enough I will have spent the price of the plane in pre-buy inspections!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    My impression: you cannot get a flying Champ for under $19K. If you want no issues, find a better one for around $28K. I picked up an almost perfect 0-200 Champ with two legal wing tanks for $28K a couple years ago. It even had a starter!
    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    One just sold at Cooperstown last month. Rebuilt 16 years ago, A65 and flown regularly. In annual and a solid Champ. 14k

    Glenn
    It seems the market is all over the place with these! I am not seeing many nice ones under 25k. I like the toe brakes and Clevelands (a $5k STC from wag aero!) I like the pseudo-electrical system (roof mounted antannea, intercom, yoke wired push to talk), I like the reiff preheater. I don't mind fixing little things here and there, maybe one "big" thing a year but don't want to be dressing up an ugly duck, if that makes sense!

    Thanks for all of your input, I wasn't expecting such a huge turnout on a super cub forum!

  16. #16
    RaisedByWolves's Avatar
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    Yeah, that was ours, sold it with 4 new cont cyl and a marvel carb, and newly overhauled skis. C90 starter and generator.

    Shoot me an email one of these days, backed up with annuals right now, but I'll see what i can do
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaisedByWolves View Post
    Yeah, that was ours, sold it with 4 new cont cyl and a marvel carb, and newly overhauled skis. C90 starter and generator.

    Shoot me an email one of these days, backed up with annuals right now, but I'll see what i can do
    Thats the one... don't remind me....

    I will send an email your way -- Thank you Tom!

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    From what Ive heard is a guy named Bill Pancake, is an expert on the Champs.

    Quick question, a buddy of mine has a Champ 7EC, has both wing tanks, however the Left tank does not have provisions for a fuel gauge, nor is there an electric fuel gauge for that tank. Is ther supposed to be one??

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKjurnees View Post
    From what Ive heard is a guy named Bill Pancake, is an expert on the Champs.

    Quick question, a buddy of mine has a Champ 7EC, has both wing tanks, however the Left tank does not have provisions for a fuel gauge, nor is there an electric fuel gauge for that tank. Is ther supposed to be one??
    I have heard of this Bill Pancake but yet to get a hold of him! RE your friends tanks, I just got off the phone with a man who has the same setup. He said only one side has the gauge as they crossfeed somewhere behind the rear seat and balance each other out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iiAtlas View Post
    I have heard of this Bill Pancake but yet to get a hold of him! RE your friends tanks, I just got off the phone with a man who has the same setup. He said only one side has the gauge as they crossfeed somewhere behind the rear seat and balance each other out.
    If you need Bill’s number, pm me.


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    I pulled the trigger on this one! I think the price is right for the modifications done (ones I would do myself!) and the overall condition of the plane. I'm looking forward to learning more about these old birds and fixing things here and there making it "my own"

    Thanks for all the comments, I sure appreciate them! Looking forward to flying with some of you all soon. Cruiser -- you're first on the list so I can pick up that book





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    Hardtailjohn's Avatar
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    Congrats!!! That's a nice clean looking Champ! You're gonna have a blast in that one. I'm just starting to paint one here, he'll hopefully have it back together and flying late this winter or early spring.
    John
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  23. #23

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    You did good. Have fun! Try to fly it before you get all carried away fixing stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruiser View Post
    After you buy it, if you give me a ride I will give you this book

    Dunno if Charlie Lasher’s son is still running the newsletters or not, would be worth a search. Everything you and your mechanic need to know about Aeronca’s is in there.
    Great book.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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    Thank you all!!! Can't wait to get this thing over here & flying around!! Hangers will be done Nov 20th, so the plane will be up here not long after that. I'm with you Bob, plan is to fly, fly, fly, then fix what bothers after a few hours in the thing. Thanks for all the kind words.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by iiAtlas View Post
    Thank you all!!! Can't wait to get this thing over here & flying around!! Hangers will be done Nov 20th, so the plane will be up here not long after that. I'm with you Bob, plan is to fly, fly, fly, then fix what bothers after a few hours in the thing. Thanks for all the kind words.

    Just be careful of the "while I am taking care of this........." Once that thought goes through your head you need to stop, put it back together and go flying.

    Tim
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    Yeah. One of my buddies has a Cub in annual. You should see the stuff they are doing - two weeks for a J-3.

    Tailwheel is a little loose - no shimmy; steers good. Rebuilding it. Lots of little stuff like that - at shop rates it goes right on up. I personally repack my airplane wheel bearings as often as my car - they are under far less load, and are actually bigger. I watched a guy repack a set of brand new Grove wheels with ten landings on them - broke my heart.

    These are very simple airplanes. Things that can hurt you need to be fixed. And someday send those gear legs to that guy in South Carolina - it will feel better on landing. But first, fly the socks off it, and pay more attention to fuel systems and quantity, and control cables. Those are the things that can cause grief.
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  28. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    Yeah. One of my buddies has a Cub in annual. You should see the stuff they are doing - two weeks for a J-3.
    .
    After the third day during annual, unless they are waiting on parts or something I’d politely request the Discrepancy List and take the Cub to another shop. 2 weeks is ridiculous, just short of being scammed.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    Just be careful of the "while I am taking care of this........." Once that thought goes through your head you need to stop, put it back together and go flying.
    Repairs morph into upgrades....it's a slippery slope.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKjurnees View Post
    After the third day during annual, unless they are waiting on parts or something I’d politely request the Discrepancy List and take the Cub to another shop. 2 weeks is ridiculous, just short of being scammed.
    A lot of people don’t maintain through the year and use the annual to do so. The inspection is quick, everything else not so much


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    But the new philosophy, understandable of course, is to fix everything. I am often called to fix a dime size fabric hole, which, on my airplane, would be covered with a piece of plastic tape. It is getting more difficult, since paint matching is no longer easy. And everybody gets a cylinder pulled at annual now. If one could just do another compression check after four more flights, that piece of dirt might dislodge itself.

    That is the modern world. Learn as much as you can about your airplane. Repack the wheels yourself - and learn about that often skipped wheel AD. Have the name of that oleo guy in your Rolodex. Learn simple fabric repair. Have the experts look at control cables, carb, and mags. And practice in crosswinds, every week.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    ….. And everybody gets a cylinder pulled at annual now. If one could just do another compression check after four more flights, that piece of dirt might dislodge itself......
    Unfortunately, a lot of people (including some mechanics) don't seem to be aware of the new standard for Continental compression tests.
    Here's a link to a good article by Mike Busch--
    everyone who runs a Continental should read it, as well as the referenced TCM SB03-3.
    As Busch points out,
    a lot of cylinder R&R's could be avoided by following that SB's guidelines.

    https://www.airframesalaska.com/v/vs...ompression.pdf
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!
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    Thank you. I had not read the Busch article, and was unaware of some of his nuances, as well as the new technique for compression tests.

    I might have mentioned this too many times: my engines get compression tests daily, or in the case of the Decathlon, weekly. I pull the prop through four blades, and expect even feel. When one goes soft, I watch it for a few weeks before pulling it. Others only get one test per year. Per year!

    One memorable geared engine had a lousy set of readings out of a certified shop. Potential customer was standing next to me, and the owner asked me to re-do the test. Mind, my equipment has not been calibrated lately, but it is quality stuff.

    I hooked it up and set the prop for each cylinder, and let the customer hold the valve and gauges. I did not inerfere. He got all above 70/80. All of them!

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaisedByWolves View Post
    A lot of people don’t maintain through the year and use the annual to do so. The inspection is quick, everything else not so much


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    Yeah...what could possibly be wrong? The last 10 annuals were only $500 and took a couple days...
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  35. #35
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    Mike Busch seems to think you can tell more about a cylinder by sticking a boroscope into it than by doing a compression test and I’m here to tell you that if you can see any visible indication of valve trouble with a boroscope your compression is gonna be ZERO. The old leak down test is far more valuable as a diagnostic tool than anything you might imagine you’ll see with a fancy scope.
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  36. #36

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    Folks -- the day has finally come. The weather good, the plane paid for, and the hanger ready. My 1946 Aeronca Champ 7AC N82354 was delivered safe and sound!

    With my first 100hrs in a 152, and my last 300 in my 172.. I have a lot to learn. This feels like starting from scratch and learning the right way!! I am nervous, but excited

    Thanks for following along and your encouragement along the way. It is great to be a part of the "club" in some way or another..











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  37. #37
    SJ's Avatar
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    Congrats! Great looking airplane and WHAT A CLEAN HANGAR!

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------
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  38. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    Congrats! Great looking airplane and WHAT A CLEAN HANGAR!

    sj
    Thanks SJ!!! It helps that they were just gutted and re-done... won't look like that for much longer!!
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  39. #39

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    And the classic "mustard and ketchup" paint scheme to boot! I know you're going to enjoy it. Keep us informed about your adventures.

    Thanks. cubscout
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  40. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by cubscout View Post
    And the classic "mustard and ketchup" paint scheme to boot! I know you're going to enjoy it. Keep us informed about your adventures.

    Thanks. cubscout
    Hah!! I think it looks like a banana from behind... what a treat

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