Disastrous First (and Last) Annual - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by obw, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    I am a new plane owner (but not for long more it seems), and would really value your input. I purchased a plane five months ago doing everything I thought I should do to minimize the risk of buying a lemon. This was the plane:

    1962 Piper Cherokee 160, Low-time airframe (~2700 hrs), low time engine (220 SMOH) with overhaul done in 2017, recently painted and new interior, both done in 2017. The plane had been owned by an A&P (who did the painting & interior) and was then sold, after an extensive pre-buy inspection, to a pilot who was training to go into the airlines. After he bought it, he had one extensive annual done on the plane and listed it for sale about 6 months later. Sounds pretty good, right? So, I went ahead with the purchase.

    Having been burned by buying a plane without a pre-buy (another story for another day), I insisted on a pre-buy with an independent mechanic at another airport. A few squawks were found, necessitating the replacement of the stabilator (mechanic said it looked like something had hit it) and an eddy current inspection since the wing spars had a couple of nuts missing from the bolts. Otherwise, nothing too major.

    I bought the plane in August and flew it for about 30 hours, and brought it in for my first annual just before the holidays. Keep in mind that at least four A&Ps had either signed off on an annual or done a pre-buy on the plane in the previous two and a half years.

    I just got a call yesterday from my mechanic, and essentially the plane will never fly again, at least at a cost I'm willing to spend. During the annual, he noticed corrosion in the tail section (it was obvious to even me when he pointed it out with his flashlight) and then removed the vertical stabilizer to inspect it further. The inside of the fin was completely corroded, as was the fuselage where it was attached. He then became suspicious of some fairly light corrosion he spotted in the baggage area, and decided to remove part of the headliner to inspect it further.

    The fuselage has vast corrosion, some of it so significant that my A&P was worried it would flake apart and disintegrate if he poked it with his finger. It looked like someone previously had try to paint over the corrosion with zinc chromate paint, and then covered it up with a new headliner. My mechanic said the damage is so significant that it would likely cost 2 to 3 times the value of the plane to fix it up.

    I now have a disassembled Cherokee sitting in my A&P's hangar and would value your advice on what to do next.

    A few questions -
    - What recourse (if any) do I have against the previous A&Ps/owners, especially the guy who did my pre-buy? Would you advise contacting a lawyer?
    - How do I deal with the plane now (I don't have a hangar and I'm sure I'll need to shift it sooner than later)?
    - The plane still has a low-time engine that ran great (compressions in upper 70s), both wings look good with no obvious issues, stabilator is good, engine mount is almost new, prop is fine, avionics OK, etc. I assume there is reasonable value in these parts, but how do I deal with them given I don't have any place to store the plane and parts?
    - Would you recommend listing it 'as is' on eBay and letting the buyer remove everything and deal with it?
    - Any other thoughts or suggestions?​

    Given the damage, things could have been so much worse and I'm grateful for that.

    But I'm at a loss about where to start dealing with it, and would welcome any input. I'm based in Massachusetts if that matters.
     
  2. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Something doesn't sound right. Take some high res pics of all the damage, write down all the details, find a good Piper mechanic who knows model, and discuss with him first. Then see what you have.
     
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  3. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    Don't go the lawyer route. Unless your prebuy contract was explicitly violated you can't win. Cancel your insurance. Cancel the registration with the FAA. If you feel vindictive, contact the FAA about the failure of the previous mechanics. There is value still in the plane. Contact Texas AIrparts and get an estimate of value of the parts. Take the wings off and have find a storage unit to await parts sale.
     
  4. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    Thanks. I agree. My focus is much more on trying to recover some of the value than spending more money chasing previous owners or mechanics.
     
  5. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    Here's one example. Looks pretty bad to me... Corrosion.jpg
     
  6. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    I don't know Pipers so couldn't tell you if is bad or not or something common. Hence the reason to find someone who does just like I would have. Four APIAs have signed off previously yet you're ready to junk the aircraft on the word of the 5th. So without input from the previous 4 mechanics and/or a Piper mechanic it's hard to make call either way. But definitely get 2nd opinion would be my recommendation.
     
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  7. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Is your "my mechanic" one of the guys that did the pre-buy?

    I owned a pa-28-140 for 18 years. One time I had an IA perform the annual inspection of the airplane (the only time it wasn't owner-assisted). Unfortunately I didn't check out the IA...I later learned that the IA is known locally as "Dr Death". Some of the squawks were valid, but pages of them were nonsense and were intended to generate revenue for him.

    I hope you are able to get this resolved fairly.
     
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  8. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies En-Route

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    It would be a project, but could you buy a good fuselage from a junk yard? Then swap your wings, empennage, engine and avionics (and paint the plane)
     
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  9. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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  10. Bob Roberts

    Bob Roberts Pre-Flight

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    I think your right in saying you need another opinion if you can get one. Also, I would reach out to the A&P that did the pre-buy inspection and review with him and get from him why he missed it if it truly is as big a deal as the annual A&P is saying. Lawsuits rarely work in my opinion, but if you had any recourse, I would argue it's with the pre-buy inspection A&P and their incompetence leading you to buy a bad product. Sorry your going through this! Best of luck...
     
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  11. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    Take pictures of the problem areas, put them together in a powerpoint. Careful look at the wing spars, landing gear mounts, spar carry thru area, battery box area, etc.

    Corrosion damage like that in the picture is cut out and repaired every day.
     
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  12. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Sadly used aircraft sales makes used car sales look like the sainthood. :sigh:
     
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  13. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    The engine is the only thing worth value to be honest. Pulling the wings on a low wing Piper is no small feat, then you have to build a jig to hold the fuselage up. Without a place to work on it and store all the parts, it will probably cost more to take it apart than it’s worth.
    If I was in your position I would have the mechanic put it back in the tie down. List the engine and propeller and anything else you think is easy to remove for sale. Once those are gone either offer the rest for a very small fee so that someone else can worry with the hassle of taking it apart.
     
  14. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    Pickle the engine. Remove all of the flight instruments and radios. Build an RV-9 or 7 and transfer the engine and panel to the RV. Then offer the carcass to Texas Air Salvage. Yes it is more money but you will be ahead in the long run.
     
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  15. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    That's not a terrible idea if the airplane is as bad as the imagination says it is.

    But -- If a guy is going spend all that time building an airplane, repairing the one he has could be faster.
     
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  16. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    Yes, but what next for the 60 yr. old airframe that goes 105 knots. How are steel wing attachment plates.
     
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  17. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Line Up and Wait

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    Yeah, get another opinion before you make a (guessing) $40,000 decision. The range of opinions you will get from various A&Ps on the same situation can be mind-blowing. There’s moral hazard built into their recommendations by definition, and it does happen that some will expand the severity of a problem way beyond what is reasonable. The trick is to find an A&P who is thorough and ethical, and also believes in keeping you in the air.

    It does look bad to my untrained eye, but don’t throw in the towel yet.
     
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  18. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Events like this happen. I’ve got one in the shop right now with a similar story - same owner for the last 12 years and several IAs annualing it that missed some serious corrosion. It obviously didn’t happen overnight and it is obvious that the previous owner and their mechanic tried to mitigate the problem. It will be fixed but it will take a while to get done.

    If I were in your shoes I’d find another mechanic who is familiar with this kind of work to come in and provide a second opinion. If they say it needs attention too then you can determine how bad the problem is and roughly what it will cost to fix. Then a decision can be made on what to do with it.

    A lot of the GA fleet is getting pretty old. At some point each airplane will fly for the last time. Nobody wants to be the owner when that happens, but it does. I scrapped one airplane I owned due to corrosion concerns. I likely could have sold it and burned the next guy but it wasn’t the right thing to do.
     
  19. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You seem to have gotten the message about no lawyers. That's just throwing away more money, That's my only serious advice.

    Now then:
    That will buff right out.
    Call @Tom-D
    Call @Checkout_my_Six

    :popcorn:
     
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  20. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    I'm astonished that something like this could be missed when replacing the stabilizer. Someone would have been working all around this.

    If this were me, I'd go the scrap / experimental route. With some work, you can wind up with a much nicer airplane. probably valued in the 90k range.
     
  21. Kevin Eggert

    Kevin Eggert Pre-Flight

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    Out of curiosity, how much do you have invested in the plane as it sits right now? I love the RV build idea and knowing the amount invested would help to make the decision in this area.
     
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  22. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I would add, get an opinion from a good airframe repair shop as well, like Beegles in CO. If you do just sell as is, also consider Arizona Air Salvage along with Texas Air Salvage. Arizona Air Salvage has been pretty aggressive lately.
     
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  23. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    About $40K (not including what I'll need to pay my mechanic for tearing it apart in order to let me know it would never fly again!)
     
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  24. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    Thanks. Will phone both of them
     
  25. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    Yikes. Looks as if someone used gallium to paint it.
     
  26. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    Call Henning. He knows what to do.
     
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  27. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Sorry this happened to you. This is about the worst story of its kind I've heard, apocryphal in nature. I think the second opinion idea is a good one. I'd sent the mother of all nastygrams to the former owner. Scratch that, I'd pay my lawyer to send the mother of all nastygram, make the bastard sweat. He's the one who pulled this over on you. Might get him for fraud, but all you'd get out of that would be vengeance, the payout just wouldn't be there. But making him sweat some would at least be some cheap vengeance.
     
  28. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Don’t give up. 2nd opinion needed to confirm your options. If the 2nd A&P disagrees with 1st, you’re going to have to do more inquiry/research. It might not be as dire and expensive as you think...or it might be. Use POA to get some opinions, but a live human A&P putting hands and eyes on your flying machine trumps us. Please do that and let us know. Best to you.
     
  29. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    I would get a second opinion as well. One way to look at it is...you are into it for 40K and let's assume that is what it is worth in airworthy flying condition. If you sell the engine, avionics and salvage the rest let's say maybe you optimistically get 20K out of it you are out 20K. Well that sucks. What can you repair it for? 10K? 20K?

    Seems to me one option you are out 20K and have no plane. The other you are out 20K and have a plane.

    Tough choice part of me says cut your losses the other part says roll the dice.
     
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  30. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Pattern Altitude

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    At least the engine & firewall forward stuff is worth around $20k, so you've got that to blunt the edge a bit.
     
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  31. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Pattern Altitude

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    Why was there nuts missing from bolts on the wing spars? Sounds like someone was looking for corrosion, found it, and didn't put things back together correctly.
    Very odd no one saw anything worth noting when replacing half the tail, especially considering that that's where a lot of the corrosion is. Who did this work? The mechanic of the seller? Yeah I'd report that to the FAA.
     
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  32. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    I'm ready to cut my losses. Here are a few more photos. I don't think repairs are a $20K job

    Corrosion 1.jpg Corrosion 2.jpg Corrosion 3.jpg
     
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  33. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    The previous owner told me he was worried that the wing-spar AD would be applicable to the plane, so he got the eddy current inspection done as a part of his pre-buy. He reckons the shop never put back all the bolts after the eddy current
     
  34. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    Yea she is toast. If what you can see is that bad imagine how bad things are you can’t see.
     
  35. Cloudhound

    Cloudhound Pre-Flight

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    4 'professionals' missed this?

    Was one of them the guy with his feet up in the top left photo?
     
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  36. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Holy crap! :eek2:

    Sorry this happened to you but I hope you can salvage enough parts to make the sting more bearable.


    I'm gonna go hug my airplane now.
     
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  37. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies En-Route

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  38. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    I'd be interested to know where that airplane spent its life. On the ramp at an airport adjacent to salt water? Did someone set off a fire extinguisher inside it (some can cause nasty corrosion). Was it in a flood during a hurricane? That level of corrosion isn't normal unless something really bad happened in the airplane's history.
     
  39. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies En-Route

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  40. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Line Up and Wait

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    Me too... that thing looks like it was conveniently hangared at the bottom of the ocean.

    Sorry, this sucks. Worst nightmare status.
     
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