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Thread: New Flying Club desires wisdom on PA-12 Engine

  1. #1

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    New Flying Club desires wisdom on PA-12 Engine

    We are a newly formed flying club in northern Indiana. (3 Rivers Taildraggers) We have decided our first plane will be a Super Cruiser. We would welcome any and all wisdom re: engines in the PA-12's. We are basically seeing three different choices - the 0-320, the 0-235, and the 0-290. We would be only considering a young version (hours) of an engine. We have no desire to buy one near TBO and upgrade etc. What we buy is what we get.

    Let's assume that a prebuy inspection reveals clean logs and no obvious squawks, we are seeking information on how each of the engine choices above will translate to performance. The basic question our group is wrestling with is "Do we need a 150HP engine, because the 0-235 will offer poor performance."

    Our mission: Each member of our club has access to other cross-country airplanes, so long-range travel is not a focus. Our Super Cruiser will be used for local low and slow VFR fun, and the very occasional longer fun trips like Oshkosh, the UP of Michigan, etc. Our airport is 840MSL, and the last time I checked, Indiana has no plans for mountains in the near future. Thus, we don't have any high density altitude needs. Apart from the occasional grass strip, we don't really have much in the way of back-country terrain to explore. Each member of our club is well below 200#, so we should be fine with the useful load offered by any PA-12.

    Any and all opinions (based on experience of course) are welcome!

    Thanks and we are excited to soon be owners of one of these great airplanes!

  2. #2
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    I've had my PA-12 for more than 44 years now. It was stock when I bought it, with a 100 HP O-235 engine. It flew nice and was economical, but the performance was far less than dramatic. Since then I've made numerous changes. In my opinion, any upgrades for your purposes would start with 150 or 160 HP and flaps, in that order. I found that those two together made a much bigger difference in performance (and potentially safety, especially on those warm humid days) than anything else I did.
    Gordon

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  3. #3

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    I would not buy one with a O-290 because there is no factory support and your not upgrading.

    I have the 160 hp O-320 and when you want to start adding other mods for more missions the O-320 is very desirable.

    If the plane was just stock and used for training and putting around I think they fly better when they are kept light.
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  4. #4

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    Initial and operating costs are cheaper on a stock super cruiser.
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  5. #5

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    Thanks! I really appreciate your input.

  6. #6

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    Don’t buy one without hiring an A&P/IA with EXTENSIVE experience in PA12s and their APPROVED modifications.

    It is too easy to purchase a basket case disguised as an inexpensive, cosmetically attractive 12.
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  7. #7
    Speedo's Avatar
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    I’ve not flown a PA-12 with an O-235, but I suspect it would be rather underwhelming. But maybe it would be good for practicing energy management! Cue Jim Dulin.

    I had an O-320 160 and felt it was just about perfect. Fuel burn was 8.7/hr. There was enough power that I wasn’t constantly worried about clearing the trees at the end of a short strip. The CG was far enough forward that it was very comfortable to wheel land. Parts availability was good (e.g., starters, alternators, plugs, air filters, oil filters) and most every GA mechanic can work on them without difficulty.
    Last edited by Speedo; 08-12-2019 at 09:05 PM.
    Speedo
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  8. #8
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    It's better to have enough power and not need it, than.....

    Plus it allows for a cruise pitch prop so some headway can be made as the manufacturer intended.

    Gary
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  9. #9

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    New Flying Club desires wisdom on PA-12 Engine

    I bought a $47K 51 PA-18 with 0-290 600 hours and flew it to TBO and rebuilt a 320 (150hp) and installed ($25K)
    The cub likely increased in value with the fresh engine upgrade
    Performance increased by250 ft/ minute climb and 50’ ish less takeoff roll




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  10. #10
    JDWilliams's Avatar
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    I fly a PA12-150. Bought it that way with PA18 flaps, tail, gear, etc. All officially STC’d. Very happy with it. Any less horsepower will leave you wishing you had more. VG’s highly recommended - they make a dramatic difference in slow flight and stall handling characteristics. I prefer the carb vs. injectors only because it’s less complicated to deal with in remote locations. Although I have a cruise prop, the Borer is what most folks seem to prefer since higher cruise speeds are usually secondary to takeoff performance in Cub family upgrade options.


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  11. #11

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    Bought a -12 decades (yikes!) ago with 0-290, -12 gear, and the stock wing (best I could tell from somewhat mixed up records from 1946-7). Subsequently invested a big chunk of my retirement into a refurbishment. What's good, what's bad?

    - There's something to be said for keeping a -12 light; but the support ain't there for the 0-290, so it'd be better to get a new engine and that leads to more changes........
    - Get the 0-320-XXX. I went with 165 hp; other than not having access to the autogas STC, don't see a downside to 165 v. 150 hp at least for recreational use
    - Get flaps; the bigger and the more downward projection, the better IMO. One learns to fly the aircraft and energy management with the 0-290 and the stock wing, but it is sure nice to be able to put the brakes on in the air
    - A-12 (I guess like most similar planes) flies better light; I went overboard on the panel: works great, but this might be a place for saving pounds or ounces.
    - I went with PA-18 gear, 3" extended, and the AOSS suspension; have been very happy with this combo.
    - VG's on the wings and tail surface are a real plus
    - Can't speak to Bushwheels (exactly) but would recommend NOT getting the Baby Bushwheel tailwheel unless you're always operating in the rough stuff. The BBW, while certainly manageable, is too much of a PITA for regular asphalt use.
    - Get the GW increase STC..I think it's a required part of some of the other mods and it goes a ways towards keeping one legal.

    Have to strongly agree with the previous poster: have any inspections / work done by someone who is knowledgeable in -12's. I heard a figure once that most -12's have something like 70% custom work vs. 30% on -18's: Whether or not that's even close to accurate, each -12 is often a unique beast that needs knowledgeable hands on it.
    Back In Alaska
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  12. #12

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    I have a PA-12/J-5 which I had restored and started flying with the 115hp 235. I enjoyed it, it was pleasant to fly and quite fast in the cruise 115 mph- but no great performer getting airborne and was nose heavy (J-5 fuselage, J-3 gear, PA-12 cowling, wings and tail). After a nose over I went with an O320 160 hp, short mount, Borer prop and PA-18 tail feathers. Still cruises at 115 mph, but the take off and climb is awesome. In your shoes I would say take the best of whatever comes your way, it sounds like stock would be fine but if you really want to enjoy it get one with 150 or 160 hp


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  13. #13
    Charlie Longley's Avatar
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    I’ve owned 4 PA-12’s. None with the original O235. The O290-D2 is a great engine but hard to find top end parts for. I would try and find an airplane with an O320, PA-18 flaps, gear, trim and tail feathers. If you’re going to stay local don’t bother with extended baggage. The stock gear is OK but a little stiff due to no hydrosorbs. 8.50 tires work very well on grass. I wouldn’t fly with the stock ternplate fuel tanks. Univair makes OK aluminum tanks.

    Make sure you get a good pre-buy with an IA that knows PA-12’s. The problem areas besides fabric is the cluster at the bottom of the door, lower longerons and where the landing gear attaches. Also make sure the paperwork is in order.

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