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Old October 30th, 2009, 02:40 AM   #1
Sven callmesven is offline
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Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

I am one of three partners in a fixed gear Mooney out of KSTS, Santa Rosa, CA. Les, our primary partner, originally purchased her two years ago. She sat outside in the Bay Area for 9 years without being flown. Les did a lot of work with a mutual friend, Cris, on bringing her back to life. Thankfully, the engine had been overhauled and was in great shape. I, along with the other partner, Dave, joined Les about 4 months ago. Both Dave and I let our licenses lapse decades ago thinking we'd never get back into the air again. Les talked us into joining him as partners and a mutual friend of ours, and airline instructor, got us both recertified and back up flying again.

30U flies beautifully and seems to be elated she's in the air again. So are we. A while ago Cris did some exhaustive research on how many fixed gear birds are still flying. With the information he's gathered, it's very likely there are only three left. All the others have either been converted or salvaged. We only recently discovered the third one near Baltimore currently for sale on Ebay. It's possible there might be another one out there but all indications are these three are it. Dave has developed a friendship with an engineer at Mooney and they do correspond via email. We've been trying to get more POH Manual-type information on this model, such as more detailed weight and balance, range, etc. The test flights 45 years ago were not nearly what they are today and there's a lot we don't know.

I have contacted both other fixed gear owners. We don’t know much about the one on Ebay and only received a short reply from her owner. However, the other owners are brothers from Princeton, NJ. Their bird was also found in rough shape and is currently getting a complete makeover. In an email to me they said, “It's still not flying yet but is getting a pretty complete makeover: engine overhaul, new prop, Tanis heater, new pitot tube, engine analyzer, Aspen glass unit to replace the AI/DG, new panel with a complete Garmin stack, refinished yokes, new insulation and interior, new windshield, fuel bladders, and probably more that I've forgotten about. The project didn't start off to be that ambitious but it's a slippery slope to fix up an old plane!”

Our Mooney needed corrosion work that was the most extensive in the tail. We stripped and resealed both tanks and replaced her rudder. This year we’re looking at replacing the rubber landing gear donuts. We are very resistant to making the modification to retractable gear. She flies fast enough for us even with the gear down. In fact, yesterday I came “downhill” from 5,500 ft and reached 170 without blinking. She wants to stay in the air and you really have to work to get her slowed down and back in the hanger.

To people who know what they’re looking at, she’s quite the novelty. We’ve even received comments and suggestions from controllers about forgetting to put our gear up. It’s fun telling them it’s a fixed gear Mooney and listening to their reactions. We also show her frequently at the Pacific Coast Air Museum at KSTS. General aviation buffs who know what they're looking at love her.

Mooney built 100 M20D models in 1962 (serial numbers 101-200). The factory price was $13,995. In 1964, they built 51 more (serial numbers 201-251). The last fixed-gear Mooney aircraft were produced in 1965. It was a very limited run of only 8 aircraft (serial numbers 252-259). We have #125 built in 1963. All the rest have either been converted or have been salvaged. I'm told that after a new owner became comfortable in this model, it could be returned to the factory and after 3 days and $3000 would be converted to a retractable gear.

We would love to find out if any more exist. We’ve exhausted all available avenues of research available to us and have multiple messages out on various sites. If the weather cooperates, we’ll be flying her to the Vintage Mooney fly in at Reid-Hillview in January '10. Otherwise, if you’re in the area and would love to see her in person, we have her hangered at KSTS and would be more than happy to show her off. You can see a picture of her here.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #2
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Sven:

1. Welcome to PoA! For a first post, you just hit it out of the park!

2. I had no idea that there were any unconverted M20s left- what a find. You all should definitely keep her straight-legged, as I think her novelty will make her more valuable than the benefit of the retract.

We'll forward to meeting you one fine day; hang around and have a virtual cup of virtual coffee here at Aviation's Front Porch, Pilots of America.

/s/ Spike

PS- Beautiful bird! Post more pics.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 09:09 AM   #3
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Great story! I'd love to see your plane, so I'm sorry you're a continent away. Say...have you ever heard of Gastons ?
Welcome to POA. Keep posting.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #4
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Sven,

Welcome to the group. I am a newbie as well, and must say this group is very helfpul and will treat you well.

Great find in the Mooney. I honestly didn't know such a plane existed.

I fly the Rockwell Commander, and it to has a non-retract version, the Commander 111. I don't know if any are flying though, and they really only built a handful (maybe less) of them. I think just prototypes, that never made it to production.

Anyhow - WELCOME!!!
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Old October 30th, 2009, 10:11 AM   #5
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Is this one yours?

http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/photo/012718.html
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Old October 30th, 2009, 10:19 AM
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

I had no idea there was such a thing. What a great looking plane.

Out of curiosity, what do you typically see for cruise speed and fuel burn?
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Old October 30th, 2009, 10:33 AM   #7
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Cool I had just assumed that all of the D models had been converted. That is a cool find, and I'm happy to hear that you are keeping it straight legged.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #8
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

This was the one at Hayward I assume. Did Jim throw in the retractable gear kit that he had?

Sounds like a fun project!

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Old October 30th, 2009, 12:01 PM
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean View Post
Yes (according to the picture in the link at the end of his post)
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Old October 30th, 2009, 12:26 PM
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

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Originally Posted by FlyNE View Post
Yes (according to the picture in the link at the end of his post)
Thanks, didn't see the "here"
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Old October 30th, 2009, 12:32 PM
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

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Thanks, didn't see the "here"
No problem. I missed it the first time as well.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 01:05 PM
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Les did purchase N6630U from Jim in Hayward but I don't think the conversion kit was thrown in on purpose. I think Jim made Les promise not to convert her. I'll guess he's got the kit hidden somewhere. The other fixed-gear Mooneys still around are N1916Y located in Princeton, New Jersey and N6651U in Edgewood, MD.

Our Mooney gets about 6-7 gph on a practice day and a little better in cruise. She typically cruises between 114-121 kts. But going downhill she's a screamer just like a regular Mooney. She likes to balloon and porpoise if you come in over 80 so you really have to fly her by the numbers. And she loves two pumps of flaps on takeoff. She was converted to a constant pitch prop before she was left to sit.

Jim still does the annuals on her and regularly consults with us on minor issues. He has a love/hate relationship with her. He likes to tell us how she almost "got me" twice. Once was a mid-air issue with the fuel pump. I think he knew just where to kick to get it started again. I can't recall what the other issue was.

She's due for new landing gear donuts this spring and will probably surprise is with something else. This past spring we stripped the right tank and thought that was going to be it but Jim discovered some corrosion on the rudder. It was cheaper to buy a salvaged rudder. We found one at the salvage yard in Sacramento.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #13
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

That is a cool plane. I never knew they existed. Welcome to POA Sven.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 06:34 PM   #14
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

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Originally Posted by callmesven View Post
Our Mooney gets about 6-7 gph on a practice day and a little better in cruise. She typically cruises between 114-121 kts.
Any guess on what wheel pants would get you?
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Old November 1st, 2011, 02:18 PM   #15
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Sending a PM, and welcome to POA. I may re-located to KSTS and would love to know pilots / planes there.
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Old November 1st, 2011, 04:31 PM   #16
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

That's great, Sven. Thanks for sharing the story.

M20Ds were never built with the dorsal fin on the tail -- will you restore yours to original?





Here's the one in Princeton, N1916Y. It even has a fixed-pitch prop, which was standard equipment on Masters:
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Moone...dfc23da8d446e8


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Any guess on what wheel pants would get you?
I don't think pants would be feasible on trailing-link gear like that -- same reason Beech Musketeers don't have them.
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Old November 1st, 2011, 04:43 PM   #17
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commander Dave View Post
I fly the Rockwell Commander, and it to has a non-retract version, the Commander 111. I don't know if any are flying though, and they really only built a handful (maybe less) of them. I think just prototypes, that never made it to production.
Only two prototypes of the [ahem] North American Rockwell Aero Commander 111 were built. Intended to compete head-on with the Cherokee 180, Sundowner and Cardinal, it had a 180 hp Lycoming and fixed prop.

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Old November 1st, 2011, 05:18 PM   #18
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Beautiful airplane Sven.

Wonder how many folks at the airport wonder out loud why the Mooney pilot is leaving the gear down....

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Old November 1st, 2011, 06:40 PM   #19
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Neat.

Last guy I knew when I lived in the Bay area named Sven had a Cirrus. Did you sell it? Prolly not you, just kidding....., but didja?

Neat plane! Now install the retract kit!
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Old November 1st, 2011, 08:20 PM   #20
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Whoops. Just noticed the date of the OP -- over two years ago. Wonder how the project is coming along ... ?
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 05:45 PM   #21
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

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Originally Posted by Pilawt View Post
Whoops. Just noticed the date of the OP -- over two years ago. Wonder how the project is coming along ... ?
Guess this means he won't get my PM and I may not get to see the plane. Darn. I should have paid attention to that.
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 06:02 PM   #22
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

They still have the aircraft as far as I know and it's still a fixed gear model. Sven posted on the Mooney forum a couple of times, so I know they are still active out on the West Coast.

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Old November 2nd, 2011, 06:27 PM   #23
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

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Originally Posted by flight2000 View Post
They still have the aircraft as far as I know and it's still a fixed gear model. Sven posted on the Mooney forum a couple of times, so I know they are still active out on the West Coast.

Brian
And I just saw he posted a reply to my comment in another thread this week. So he should get my PM after all.

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Old February 15th, 2012, 02:45 AM   #24
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Still here and still alive. Sorry I don't check in much. The "restoration" project is coming along. In the past couple of years we've found a couple more issues and fixed them. We discovered a corroded block inside the right flap. To replace it required that every rivet be drilled out and basically the whole flap needed to be rebuilt. That was a fun project. The flap pump also needed rebuilding. In the process our AI discovered a tiny hairline crack where the flap spring attaches to the wing spar. We bought a kit that reinforces it which meant the entire baggage floor had to come out. We worked with our AI on all of this and learned a lot (of new bad swears).

This year we decided to attack the ancient original interior. We discovered all kinds of old stuff behind the Corinthian Leather that was turning to powder. We replaced all the old air hoses since they were basically powder and rust and discovered a tiny leak in the hydraulic line previously unknown to us that has soaked the main hot air hose. It was a mess and impossible to see without taking everything apart. I think we've replaced every air hose on both sides of the firewall. It amounts to over 30 feet if you can believe that.

Once we recover financially from all our recent doings we'll attack the outside. We'll save our pennies and hopefully have a new paint job in a couple of years. We finally found a photo of an original early M20D paint job. Ours is close but there are a few minor changes we'll make to bring it back more closely to the original. We all love the retro look of the plane so none of the modern whooshes for us.

She'll probably be a hangar queen for a few more months. If you're in the neighborhood let me know. We'll be happy to show you our rare bird and our "Box of Shame" filled with nasty old parts and things we've replaced. Give me enough warning and we'll put ice in the beer cooler. The beers are on us.

-Sven
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Old February 15th, 2012, 09:08 AM   #25
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Re: Fixed Gear Mooney M20D Master

Will Jim (the old owner) give you any warranty support? Last time I saw your plane it was tied outside of the old Flightcraft at Hayward. I always liked the D model. It should make a great airplane.
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