Let's talk Comanches

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by SixPapaCharlie, Jan 18, 2021.

  1. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    The Good, Bad, and Ugly.

    As I start down my investigation of these planes, what are some of the plusses and minuses?
    I was recently informed that the entire structure is some foreign metal that is impenetrable to corrosion. I forget the actual wording but something about zinc something or other. I have heard the spar is very robust. I like robust spars and don't like corrosion.

    They seem fast, roomy, and quite capable of anything one might ask of it.

    Any models that are to be avoided? I assume the 180 is probably a dog but maybe not?

    I spoke to @EdFred about them and I understand I need to fly to Australia to get a horn for the elevator but other than that, what are some of the considerations?

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Don’t forget Sherman at ITP has a Comanche you can get some time in
     
  3. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    I have a few hundred hours split between the 180 and 250. The 250 is a dramatically better performing airplane, as you would expect with 70 more horsepower. I suspect the "miles per gallon" are pretty similar between the two - although the 250 burns more gas, it goes a lot faster too.

    They are comparatively roomy, as in width, but the headroom is not as great as other airplanes in the same category. Really, you need to go sit in one and see if it works for you.

    They are nice to fly. I can't speak to maintenance or cost of ownership-type questions though.

    There is a Comanche 400 for sale up here if you're really looking for a hot rod! (I think it's under contract though.)
     
  4. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    I looked at a 250 partnership several years ago.

    The plusses: Great useful load. Good speed. Robust airframe. Reasonably priced. Seemed to fly well. Surprisingly good climb performance.

    The minuses: Complex airplane. Getting old. The panel looked like it was lifted from Jules Vern's Nautilus. One door. Mediocre outward visibility.

    I think there's an STC to upsize the windshield to improve the visibility. Am I remembering that correctly? OTOH, an old airplane like that can be a huge money pit. A dated panel, interior, and paint can be $50K to modernize, and the engine is another $30K to rebuild.
     
  5. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 9.30.25 PM.jpg
     
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  6. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Best single piston engine, low-wing airplane Piper produced...until the PA-46. ;)

    Bit of a cult following. :eek:
    Two decades ago some crazy South Africans tried to market a composite clone of the Comanche.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravin_500

    And if you really want to turn heads on the ramp, this is the model you want to own:

    Commanche 400b.JPG

    Commanche 400a.JPG
     
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  7. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Of course around this joint none of this would dare be applied to a similar vintage Bonanza...:D

    The thing about Comanches is they are a good enough performing airframe that there's lots of them out there that have been lavished with attention and upgrades. So you really don't need to go looking for a project if you want to own one.

    What you're getting is comparable performance to a Bo, without the ridiculous price tag and parts cost. I expect @EdFred to be along shortly to confirm that. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
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  8. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    This is the key. If you can live with an older airframe that has small(ish) windows and one door, a Comanche is an excellent performer. Buy the nicest one you can so you're only paying $0.50 on the dollar for all of the modernization/upgrades.
     
  9. jbarrass

    jbarrass Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I just sold a 260c to downsize. It's a traveling airplane. Pretty fast, very roomy, a true 4 seater (there are a couple child seats in back to make it technically a 4+2 but they come out to open up the baggage area.) I loved it, but don't really go places anymore so I got an AA1A for local fun.

    Most Comanche's have been modified a lot, especially the panel. Because it's a traveling plane, most will have a pretty serious IFR panel.

    Maintenance costs were about double our PA-180. If the tail horn mod is not done it's about 2.5AMU and every 1000 hours there is a 3AMU gear event, otherwise pretty normal for a complex airplane. We spent about 10K per year on maintenance. In 8 years it had a 100% dispatch rate, never let me down.

    It's an easy plane to fly. It's an easy plan to land too if you control your speed. If you don't control your speed on landing it will embarrass you.

    You rarely see them on the market for long unless there is some drama. They sell fast so if you want one it might take a while to find one.

    The 400 is truly a beast, Impressive.
     
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  10. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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  11. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Wrong thread, wrong forum. ;)

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-Flight

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    A friend of mine owns one, and he thinks its the greatest plane ever made. I considered one, but although it looks good on paper, in person it really looks old to me. Someone above described the panel as "Nautilus" , I think the whole plane has a Nautilus look.
     
  13. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I have something around 10-15 hours in a Comanche 180 that my instructor's father had bought brand new in the early 60s. Hard to have a more Pennsylvanian airplane, having been built in Lock Haven with the engine from Williamsport. I guess the prop came from Hartzell which wasn't in PA, but we won't hold that against them.

    I personally think they're great airplanes. The 180 is slow but no worse than an Arrow. Personally I think the 250 is the best value. 260s carry a premium, a 400 is a gas guzzler (says the twin guy!) and the 8 cylinder engine was never really a great product. A parallel valve 540 is about the most bulletproof engine ever built.

    People keep on spreading rumors about parts being hard to come by, but I've never seen anyone actually be unable to find what they need to keep Comanches flying. Yes, they're older, but what airplane we fly isn't? They're built like tanks in a good way.

    When I started flying the original Hartzell prop on my instructor's plane (which I believe was the original prop that had come with it, just been overhauled) was in need of replacement and had a lot of ADs on it. They replaced it with the 3-bladed McCauley STC'd prop which I suppose was a competitive price. They were very happy with it. I flew the plane a couple times afterwards and it seemed worthwhile to me.

    Bryan, the one thing I'd consider is your mission. Compared to the Cirrus/Grumman/etc. the interior is comparable. But there is something about a retractable gear airplane that makes it feel like you're supposed to go somewhere with it. It's strictly a mental thing, of course. But while I know your family will sometimes fly places and you also like to go to your assorted fly-ins that some no-name organizations nobody's ever heard of like EAA try to take over and ride on your coattails (I still won't renew my membership over their attempt to steal the Bry-in and claim that it was their own idea with some silly name like "Air Venture"), it does seem like most of your flying is just for the fun of it. Over the years I've seen a lot of people, myself included, move up to a "go places" airplane and then lose some of the fun of just bombing around and counting cows. Just food for thought.
     
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  14. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Show up and get all the info you need without the misinformation from non-owners here.
     
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  15. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    As I understand it, the Comanche uses the same airfoil on the wing as the Mooney 201, so being on target speed when landing is important. But, the struts on the Piper should be a little more forgiving compared to the rubber biscuits on the Mooney. I've ridden in @EdFred 's plane a few times, it's very roomy and AFAICT the airplane makes an excellent platform for low level runway inspections!
     
  16. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Boo. 32>24. Fact.

    Joking aside, the Comanche is sexy and would be my choice if I didn't have too many kids.

    You know you really want a Lance, though....

    (wing spars notwithstanding....)
     
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  17. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    Being primed inside and out doesn't eliminate corrosion, but it certainly can help.

    Transport category aircraft are primed inside and out, and typically assembled wet with sealant in every fastener hole and lap joint, never seems to be any shortage of corrosion to work either.
     
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  18. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Yeah, looks like a Nautilus.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Tommar98

    Tommar98 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have a ‘62 250. I wanted to be able to carry 4 adults and get somewhere with some speed. I typically run at 155 TAS on 12-14 gph. There are some good planes that are well equipped. I bought mine with an Aspen, 430, Stec 50 a/p with alt hold. Downside is I didn’t have as detailed a prebuy with an experienced Comanche A & P so I got stuck with some extra maintenance. Every type group I’ve ever looked at ALL love their planes and swear they are greatest: See Bonanza; Bellanca Super Vikings, Commanders, Socata. In the end it’s a balance of what you can afford and what you want to do with it. They are an aging plane so some repairs can be real gottcha’s. The 1000hr gear AD can be $6k. A cracked gear strut (which is only available through a Australian company) are $7500/ea to replace. So have someone who knows what they are doing look at plane and logbooks with a fine tooth comb. It’s a great performing plane that can really be used for cross country travel. My .02


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  20. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    apparently you can carry two large dogs in the back seats, so there's that.
     
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  21. ja_user

    ja_user Pattern Altitude

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    Get the 250 or 260. The Unicorn is the 400, which although cool could possibly considered overkill for the airframe. The 180 is a dog.
     
  22. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    I have several hundred hours in the 180 and the 250 Comanches plus do instruction in them. They are one of my favorite 4 seat pistons.

    The 180 we used to have would cruise at 140kts at 9 gph all day, I flight planned for 10 gph for easy math. Good honest airplane, efficient, just climbs and cruise a little slower than the 250. If you never flew a 250 you wouldn't know the difference.

    The 250 we currently have cruises at 155-160 kts at 14 gph. Again I flight plan for 15 gph. Both aircraft have 6 hours of fuel on board, more than enough for most missions.

    One thing I have found about the Comanche is CG is never an issue. You'd have to get really creative to get the plane out of CG limits. Weight can be a issue, 4 adults and full fuel aren't happening, but if I'm taking four adults I only use the mains and leave the auxs empty and still have 4 hours on board.

    Maintenance wise there are ADs on the tail and the gear, but those really aren't a big issue if you have a Comanche-wise mechanic. The gear system isn't terribly complicated, but the bungees do need to be replaced regularly to keep the gear trouble free.
     
  23. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne Final Approach

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    I love my 250. Took me 5 years to find it. Be prepared to kiss a lot of frogs as they seem to come in two flavors, lavishly maintained or slavishly neglected.

    Kristin Winter manages an excellent Comanche forum which will answer all your mx aand ownership questions. Pretty good FB group too, if you do that.

    https://forums.delphiforums.com/Comanches
     
  24. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    So what is the cruise speed of a 260? Something like 155?
     
  25. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    almost 1300 useful if you have the tip tanks.
    2 dudes at 200 and 2 babes at 130 still leaves 100lbs of baggage with 90 gallons in the tanks.
     
  26. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-Flight

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    To each their own, but that's just (expensive) lipstick on a pig to me.
     
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  27. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne Final Approach

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    With my O-540, I flight plan 155 @ 14gph at 7k. Usually works out a bit less on the fuel. With my LoPo mods, 25/25 gets me 163 kts at 14.5, but I don't usually run it that hard. Putzing around local, I get 140 kts at 10.8. A friend with a 260B IO-540 just put in electronic ignition wwith balanced GAMI's and gets 155 at just under 13, aggressively leaned.
     
  28. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Seems like a lot of engine for such a low speed.
     
  29. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne Final Approach

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    155kts isn't bad, it ain't a Lancair airframe.
     
  30. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    For a four seat traditional metal airframe, it isn't bad. Only the Mooney can really compare, and I find the Comanche a touch roomier than a Mooney.
     
  31. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Huh? So anyone who wants some modern avionics in their FLIB is putting lipstick on a pig? That's a harsh outlook. Show us the pics of your venturi vacuum system, I'd love to see it!

    It's not bad considering the roomy cabin and the useful load. My Mooney with the same load Ed describes above will only leave me enough UL for 19 gallons of gas.
     
  32. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne Final Approach

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    The other thing you might appreciate Bryan is that the high wing loading makes it a nice stable IFR platform, and it handles turbulence very well. Very easy to fly approaches by the numbers. Maintain 80 mph on final, cross the threshold at 70 and she lands like a butterfly with sore feet. 10 kts over and you're in the next county.
     
  33. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    So it's trading speed for useful load. That is a consideration

    But won't your Mooney do it on a 360 and you can run it well under 10 gph?
     
  34. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    150-155kts at 10gph depending on load. If I want to save some gas and/or have a tailwind, I can do 140-145kts on 8.5 by dropping the cruise RPM from 2500 to 2400. Further speed/economy tradeoffs can be made at even lower RPM.
     
  35. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    It's also wider WHERE IT COUNTS than the Mooney. I wear a 48 jacket, and can put a guy wearing a 52 or 54 jacket next to me and our shoulders won't touch. We don't have to stagger seats to accomplish this.

    So a bigger engine and more fuel burn but more room, and more useful load for about the same speed

    We need a PV=nRT equation for airplanes.
     
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  36. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I have 3. Let me know which one you want. Hint: Its the puppy
     
  37. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Yeah, I am at 860 Useful currently so that is more than I should ever need.
     
  38. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Most of my flying is for fun but the Grumman is almost a dedicated fun plane. The option to take the family on a trip ceased mid summer when my 13 year old out grew me.
    Comanche "seems" to be a good fun plane but also have the option to do the longer flights more comfortably too.

    I'd like to buy the Cirrus from dad but frankly, I can't justify the cost to maintain it.

    I feel like the Comanche also has a bit of swagger to it that the other Pipers and Cessnas lack. Its kind of cool and looks like a low rider. It's Gangsta!
     
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  39. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    The Comanche is a lot of fun and sporty to fly. I agree with you on the looks and the swagger.

    Like I said, the only thing that comes to my mind is that purely mental block of having a "go places" plane and flying it just for fun. Since the Cirrus has the integrated prop/throttle lever and is fixed gear, I think it's sort of unusual and exempt from that since you don't have to mess with the prop lever and don't have to put the gear up (and remember to put it back down).

    It's a silly thing and from a technical and practical perspective, I think everything you've said is correct, and they're great airplanes. I considered buying one for some time.
     
  40. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    When I was looking to buy, I was told this-
    Find the best Comanche/Bo that you can afford and buy that one. I found more Bo's for sale than Comanches when I was looking in my price range with the options I needed. I dont know how it is now.
    The larger userbase and type forums of the Bo did help push me over to the one side.
     
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