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Thread: Buying a Super Cruiser

  1. #1

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    Buying a Super Cruiser

    So...

    I sold my 7EC Champ Monday in order to buy another plane. The owner of the plane I was buying has ghosted me (I get it, I had instant regret selling mine).

    I started looking for a GCBC or KCAB as an upgrade for my Champ and ran across a fairly local PA-12.

    Being a Champ/Citabria guy (an hour in a J3) I know *nothing* about Pipers but I'm really liking what I've found in my research so far.

    It's a 1946 PA-12, 50 hours on a O-290-D2.

    My mission is weekend flying with the kids or friends. I'm not a back country guy but there are some grass/dirt ag strips around that I use occasionally. normally I fly off paved runways.

    I've read through a good many old threads here. If anyone has any further insight in to Pa-12s I'd love to hear personal experience and advice.

    Thank you!
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  2. #2
    WWhunter's Avatar
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    There's a beautiful PA-12 near me for sale that was a total rebuild. Unfortunately it has the O-235 which might not be a powerhouse, but still a nice plane.
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  3. #3
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    You're not alone in dealing with flaky sellers. I had at least half a dozen purchase agreements, some of them written contracts, before I finally brought a plane home.

    Not much experience with PA-12s, but the J-5s I've flown have been a pleasure. Few people will complain about having a bit more room to stretch out compared to a J-3/PA-18.
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  4. #4

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    Between a Cub, Citabria, and Cruiser, I would rank them exactly like that. I would put the Pacer ahead of the 12. Just me; I have only about ten hours in J5/PA12.

  5. #5
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    For just out flying and having fun like you describe, condition of the actual plane would be my primary concern. Any of the Champ, Citabria and Pa-11 to PA-18 birds will be fun to fly. If not working heavy loads and short strips, who cares if you don't have all the horse power?
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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  6. #6

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    I have an upgraded J-5 which is now effectively a 12 with an O-320 and 12 wings. I also have a J-3 and used to have PA-18-150. I like the J-5/PA-12 most of all of them because of the space inside and quite high cruise speed. The 5 had the O-235 when I started flying it and the cruise was just as good (115 mph) as with the 320, just longer roll and slower climb.


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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandsman View Post
    I have an upgraded J-5 which is now effectively a 12 with an O-320 and 12 wings. I also have a J-3 and used to have PA-18-150. I like the J-5/PA-12 most of all of them because of the space inside and quite high cruise speed. The 5 had the O-235 when I started flying it and the cruise was just as good (115 mph) as with the 320, just longer roll and slower climb.


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    Sounds great! What was the altitude, RPM and prop type/pitch and diameter at 115mph cruise?

    Cheers


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    Citabrias, -18's, Pacers, and -12's---I've either owned or instructed in them all. They're all great airplanes depending on your mission. I sold my Citabria 35 years ago because my 2 kids were getting older and both wanted to go...so I bought at PA-12 and never looked back (more room, better short/rough field performance, and I like the lines better). Of the four, the -12 is most forgiving and my son managed it easily by age 12. If backcountry performance is not a prime consideration, I consider the Pacer the "best bang for the buck" and allows at least one kid to sit next to dad in the driver's seat.
    Yup, they're all good---the -12 is just better!
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin S View Post
    Citabrias, -18's, Pacers, and -12's---I've either owned or instructed in them all. They're all great airplanes depending on your mission. I sold my Citabria 35 years ago because my 2 kids were getting older and both wanted to go...so I bought at PA-12 and never looked back (more room, better short/rough field performance, and I like the lines better). Of the four, the -12 is most forgiving and my son managed it easily by age 12. If backcountry performance is not a prime consideration, I consider the Pacer the "best bang for the buck" and allows at least one kid to sit next to dad in the driver's seat.
    Yup, they're all good---the -12 is just better!
    This is pretty much where my mind is. I don't need to get in or out of anything less than 1800' and our home field is 5000'. I'm not convinced of the O-290-D2 but it comes with an entire pallet of spare parts plus a core.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobetter View Post
    This is pretty much where my mind is. I don't need to get in or out of anything less than 1800' and our home field is 5000'. I'm not convinced of the O-290-D2 but it comes with an entire pallet of spare parts plus a core.
    Sounds good youíre getting plenty of O290 spares, I understand spares availability is the main problem with keeping those engines going. Youíll love the PA-12, Iíve got plenty of hours in the PA-18 as a workhorse and itís a great machine, but the 12 has the extra gear to make going distances easier and more attractive somehow


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  11. #11
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    This was written for Super Cubs but applies to pretty much any airplane.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...t?usp=drivesdk
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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  12. #12

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    That's the PA-12 that I got when I first purchased the bird. Quite a few more hours, but a more or less stock -12 with the 0-290.

    Pro's:

    - if it's running strong, the 0290 is a good combo of weight / power
    - A -12 is roomier than an -18 and, based on limited experience, roomier than the tandem citabria's.
    - A -12 is sort of a bush-plan wannabe...this means that even in stock form, when flown right, it can get you into some pretty short spots...if flown right and light, it can even get you back out.
    - Unless you're flying into gnarly stuff, the -12 will hold up quite well on dirt/gravel, etc. Mine lived through my learning cycle, which is a testament to any aircraft.
    - As older a/c go, I found the -12 with the 0290 relatively fuel efficient
    - There's some STC's out there that allow all sorts of bigger tires to be put on a -12. For dirt, gravel, that's a good thing in my view
    - Relatively light and easy to push around on the ground if needed
    - Very docile aircraft

    Cons
    - it will be old
    - Moreso than many similar aircraft, the -12 could very well be a collection of custom parts
    - Several mods that many folks desire (flaps, -18 tailfeathers, etc) often require an 0-320 swap as well
    - Easy to spend more money than one thinks for any given fix / modification
    - Limited STC's (at least compared to -18's) if one decides to make mods


    FWIW, I flew my -12 with original wing, big-ish tires, no flaps, -12 tailfeathers, and the 0-290 into my cabin strip for several years: circa 1100 feet long dirt strip or circa 1500' ice on lake at 1200 feet elevation. Never a problem landing. If I was heavy going out, a little breeze was nice, but not really needed. One had to be dialed in for a ski landing as the lake was usually windswept and if one was going to fast, the brush at the far end would loom large.

    My -12 has gone through several iterations since I had it: 0-290 mostly stock; 0-320 with 18 tailfeathers; and full on rebuild as 0-320 with flaps, big wings etc. If you get a good deal with a good 0-290, I'd jump on it; then when you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, put on -18 tailfeathers and an 0-320. For your use, would not suggest anything else, although there's no particular change that I now have that I strongly dislike.

    All opinion of course and your mileage may vary.
    Back In Alaska
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    PerryB's Avatar
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    Buying a 12 is like a box of chocolates. ...
    After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF !
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  14. #14

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    Love my -12, I have owned two. First one had a 320/150hp and it was fantastic. I then bought one with the 235/100hp and ended up converting it to the 320/150hp.
    It leaps off the ground and is a total blast to fly. The extra room and more economical price makes it a great option to the -18 in my opinion.
    If you like Iíd be happy to share more info just message me and we can chat.


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    Quote Originally Posted by pa12drvr View Post
    That's the PA-12 that I got when I first purchased the bird. Quite a few more hours, but a more or less stock -12 with the 0-290.

    Pro's:

    - if it's running strong, the 0290 is a good combo of weight / power
    - A -12 is roomier than an -18 and, based on limited experience, roomier than the tandem citabria's.
    - A -12 is sort of a bush-plan wannabe...this means that even in stock form, when flown right, it can get you into some pretty short spots...if flown right and light, it can even get you back out.
    - Unless you're flying into gnarly stuff, the -12 will hold up quite well on dirt/gravel, etc. Mine lived through my learning cycle, which is a testament to any aircraft.
    - As older a/c go, I found the -12 with the 0290 relatively fuel efficient
    - There's some STC's out there that allow all sorts of bigger tires to be put on a -12. For dirt, gravel, that's a good thing in my view
    - Relatively light and easy to push around on the ground if needed
    - Very docile aircraft

    Cons
    - it will be old
    - Moreso than many similar aircraft, the -12 could very well be a collection of custom parts
    - Several mods that many folks desire (flaps, -18 tailfeathers, etc) often require an 0-320 swap as well
    - Easy to spend more money than one thinks for any given fix / modification
    - Limited STC's (at least compared to -18's) if one decides to make mods


    FWIW, I flew my -12 with original wing, big-ish tires, no flaps, -12 tailfeathers, and the 0-290 into my cabin strip for several years: circa 1100 feet long dirt strip or circa 1500' ice on lake at 1200 feet elevation. Never a problem landing. If I was heavy going out, a little breeze was nice, but not really needed. One had to be dialed in for a ski landing as the lake was usually windswept and if one was going to fast, the brush at the far end would loom large.

    My -12 has gone through several iterations since I had it: 0-290 mostly stock; 0-320 with 18 tailfeathers; and full on rebuild as 0-320 with flaps, big wings etc. If you get a good deal with a good 0-290, I'd jump on it; then when you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, put on -18 tailfeathers and an 0-320. For your use, would not suggest anything else, although there's no particular change that I now have that I strongly dislike.

    All opinion of course and your mileage may vary.

    Strong info.

    The 0-290-D2 has 50 hours on a 2018 overhaul, so it *should* be pretty strong running.

    It has the PA-18 tail feathers already.

    I'm flying over to see it on Thursday. Hopefully it's what I'm looking for.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobetter View Post
    Strong info.

    The 0-290-D2 has 50 hours on a 2018 overhaul, so it *should* be pretty strong running.

    It has the PA-18 tail feathers already.

    I'm flying over to see it on Thursday. Hopefully it's what I'm looking for.

    Hope it works out. As others have stated or hinted, because of the age and/or repair history of -12's, opening them up could be really enlightening and surprising. At a minimum, I'd make sure that all the "spares" for the 0-290 are properly tagged / airworthy and I'd suggest looking closely at the tail end of the fuselage, the tailwheel, and the gear.
    Back In Alaska

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    “Spares” doesn’t always mean spare parts that you will ever actually need.
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  18. #18
    Charlie Longley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobetter View Post
    Strong info.

    The 0-290-D2 has 50 hours on a 2018 overhaul, so it *should* be pretty strong running.

    It has the PA-18 tail feathers already.

    I'm flying over to see it on Thursday. Hopefully it's what I'm looking for.
    The O290-D2 is an excellent engine! Mostly itís top end parts that are hard to find. Take a close look at the tubes near the bottom of the door, the lower longerons and where the gear attaches. Also check the window frames.

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    I loved my PA-12 great airplane, but mine had 150hp though, just be careful on the pre purchase and know what you want to spend on "Upgrades" !! You can upgrade the hell out of that airplane but as many will tell you, its will not be as valuable as an PA-18 with the same upgrades.

    I really liked it because it had so much more room than a SC did and the performance (post mods) was in my opinion dam close to a PA-18, I'm sure some pro's on the board will disagree but that's the way I see it from here
    I spent most of my dough on booze, broads and boats and the rest just wasted ! - Elmore Leonard
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Utah 12 Driver View Post
    I loved my PA-12 great airplane, but mine had 150hp though, just be careful on the pre purchase and know what you want to spend on "Upgrades" !! You can upgrade the hell out of that airplane but as many will tell you, its will not be as valuable as an PA-18 with the same upgrades.

    I really liked it because it had so much more room than a SC did and the performance (post mods) was in my opinion dam close to a PA-18, I'm sure some pro's on the board will disagree but that's the way I see it from here
    That's awesome!

    Any tips on flying?

    I feel like I've gotten spoiled with the Champ. Landing consisted of coming abeam the numbers, carb heat, power to idle, trim all the way back and hold 60mph to the round out.

    I don't figure the -12 will be too different, but I ain't never flown one... So I might be in for a surprise.

  21. #21

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    There is a fresh PA12 exp. for sale here in the classified section. It has everything I would want in a 12. Wink and a nod.
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  22. #22
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobetter View Post
    That's awesome!

    Any tips on flying?

    I feel like I've gotten spoiled with the Champ. Landing consisted of coming abeam the numbers, carb heat, power to idle, trim all the way back and hold 60mph to the round out.

    I don't figure the -12 will be too different, but I ain't never flown one... So I might be in for a surprise.
    You will know when you are on the ground with a Piper equipped with bungees.
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  23. #23
    akavidflyer's Avatar
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    I started my training in an old beat up duct taped 150 HP straight wing 12 that flew awesome. After the owner put that one on its back I went to a local flight school that has a 12 with flaps and a few other mods. It flew nice but was not as light as the original 12 I flew. The flight school had another 180 HP 12 with all the mods, leading edge cuff etc and I could not wait to fly that one. What a pig. Heavy and would fall out of the sky when you pulled the power.
    A light 12 with an 0320, flaps and 18 tail feathers is a joy to fly and a very honest plane. I have a lot of hours in a straight wing 12 on edo 200s as well and while it is no cub, I have lots of time hauling 3 people off the water in some pretty tight areas. Pilotage will get you off the water pretty quick. The owner of the plane just drops the hammer and waits for it to fly off. I can roll a float and give it the cub pop and get it off the water quicker at gross than he can flying solo.

    A 12 is still one of my favorite planes just for the joy of flying it, but I might be a bit nostalgic and biased on that one as it was my first plane to solo in.
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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    I owed a modded 12-180 like akavidflyer describes. Quick off the water in 500' loaded then flew like a wandering brick with a loan payment soon due. Later I flew a 12-150 but otherwise stock. Very different experience and quite a fun flyer on floats. Choices once passed are hard to revisit.

    Gary
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  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Pierce View Post
    You will know when you are on the ground with a Piper equipped with bungees.

    So you're saying I may miss the No-Bounce gear?
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  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobetter View Post
    So you're saying I may miss the No-Bounce gear?
    The critical path to greased landings runs through the hand on the stick, not through equipment...

    ...that being said, the bungees on an original-ish -12 tend to open the opportunities for multiple touchdowns per landing.

    The increased authority of balanced -18 tailfeathers vs. -12 tailfeathers tends to (albeit via different physics) create the same opportunity
    Back In Alaska
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  27. #27
    PerryB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akavidflyer View Post
    A light 12 with an 0320, flaps and 18 tail feathers is a joy to fly and a very honest plane.
    Truer words were never spoken. I put a lot of effort and money into building mine light and keeping the CG back where it belongs. Once they get over 1200 lbs and under 12" cg, they become sleds. I ended up at 1095 lbs and around 14" (don't remember the exact number right now) but it flies GREAT. I'm not going to say how much I spent getting it there because my wife might walk in... but it's a sweetheart.
    O-320/150
    Flaps
    18 tail (w/gap seals) and 3" extended 18 gear
    Lightweight starter/ alt / oil cooler
    Catto 82-39
    -- Oops, did I say Catto prop, I meant McCauley Borer 82-42.....
    After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF !
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  28. #28
    akavidflyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerryB View Post
    Truer words were never spoken. I put a lot of effort and money into building mine light and keeping the CG back where it belongs. Once they get over 1200 lbs and under 12" cg, they become sleds. I ended up at 1095 lbs and around 14" (don't remember the exact number right now) but it flies GREAT. I'm not going to say how much I spent getting it there because my wife might walk in... but it's a sweetheart.
    O-320/150
    Flaps
    18 tail (w/gap seals) and 3" extended 18 gear
    Lightweight starter/ alt / oil cooler
    Catto 82-39
    -- Oops, did I say Catto prop, I meant McCauley Borer 82-42.....

    Have you tried the Sensenich ground adjust STOL prop? It is impressive on how it pulls and what you gain in on both ends of the spectrum over the 82-42 or 82-44.
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  29. #29

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    There are many people on this board with a great history of flying a PA-12 but I can only share what I experienced during my 12 years of owning mine. When i first purchased N3359M she wasn't a hangar queen by any means. I was taught by a great cub pilot and friend Steve Guenard who's background ran from J-3, Stearmans, Supercub. F 105 to finally 767 but his heart was alway in the cub. The son of a crop duster and while he attended and graduated from the Air force Academy he was always most proud of the gift his father gave him that day and that was an old J-3 that he flew and rebuild a couple times and finally it was that Old J-3 that hung from the rafters of our local museum that Steve helped to found. You see the heritage from these planes are longer and deeper than some are willing to share, they are generational and timeless in the same breath.

    The old PA-12 without any flaps was a joy to truly learn the basics of aviation and how to use a good forward slip in a tight situation is priceless. A PA-12 is a great and honest airplane and won't let you down no matter the situation. As always keep your airspeed under control, approach was 55-60 and you can work it down from there. Unaltered these airplanes may be the best value when you think about flying the Backcountry. While there is nothing wrong with many of the newer and more advanced aircraft we see today in the backcountry. However the $$$ spent / by miles flow has increased substantially since I started. I must admit the quality of the people along the way has always stayed the same.... wonderful! ... (other than a few and Steve, Brandt and Mike you know who you are )

    Go find a good PA-12 and fly it hard, those are dollars spent you won't regret in this lifetime, the places you will see and the people you will meet will only add to the life you live!

    Now we all wait for your report! is life REALLY MOBETTER in a PA-12 (everyone knows chicks dig them)

    Now its your turn my friend to go and do what so many here have done before.

    Happy Trails!
    I spent most of my dough on booze, broads and boats and the rest just wasted ! - Elmore Leonard
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  30. #30
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Here's some goofy kid in June 1948 trying to decide which Piper to fly...the J-3 or PA-12. I think it was the PA-12 that day.

    Gary
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    I owed a modded 12-180 like akavidflyer describes. Quick off the water in 500' loaded then flew like a wandering brick with a loan payment soon due. ....

    Gary
    Was the required ventral fin installed or not?
    N1PA

  32. #32
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    Here's some goofy kid in June 1948 trying to decide which Piper to fly...the J-3 or PA-12. I think it was the PA-12 that day.

    Gary
    J3 on 25" BWs

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

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by akavidflyer View Post
    Have you tried the Sensenich ground adjust STOL prop? It is impressive on how it pulls and what you gain in on both ends of the spectrum over the 82-42 or 82-44.
    No, but I'd like to.
    After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF !
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  34. #34
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    Was the required ventral fin installed or not?
    No. The previous owner used the added STC rudder spring mod which was inadequate.

    Gary

  35. #35
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    J3 on 25" BWs

    Glenn
    We often flew the PA-12 in the background when dad and mother went along for the ride.

    Gary

  36. #36
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    No. The previous owner used the added STC rudder spring mod which was inadequate.

    Gary
    That's why it flew like a wandering brick. Those springs are just to BS the FAA to think it will pass the stability tests. Springs are not adequate substitution for tail area, regardless of what those who use them to pass the certification tests say.
    N1PA
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  37. #37
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Feb 2016
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    Fairbanks, AK.
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    Yes I agree on the springs. Just no fin around then. Today I have one in my shed for a Taylorcraft that would have worked on the -12. The stock w/O-320 and factory tail I later flew did very well with a lower fin. Extended wings on the 12-180 and cuff might have made it worse. Either way today I'd prefer a PA-12 with larger than factory engine kept light and simple.

    Gary

  38. #38

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    May 2012
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    SE Montana
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    Did you get a chance to go look at the -12 you were interested in?
    Thanks RVBottomly thanked for this post

  39. #39

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    Apr 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1934A View Post
    Did you get a chance to go look at the -12 you were interested in?
    Not yet. I was supposed to fly down Thursday and see it but 300ft ceilings most of the morning ended that. Going to try again next week.

  40. #40

    Join Date
    May 2012
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    SE Montana
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    Let us know how it goes once you do get eyes on it! If it's not what you're expecting, I may know of one for sale.

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