Pre-buy inspection. Is it reasonable?

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by Gino Shtirlits, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. Gino Shtirlits

    Gino Shtirlits Pre-Flight

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    I am looking to buy Cessna 150 or 152. Just recently found two fine planes in good condition. But while I was working on logbooks and pre-buy inspection the planes gone. I didn't pool the time such like months. Two planes were sold out in a days like sunflower seeds in good market day. So my question is - could I expedite buying procedure avoiding pre buy inspection and inspect a plane my self? Is any simple tests what I can make myself? I have to say, I am pretty qualified in mechanical Engineering, have good experience in mechanical electrical electronic works. So I believe simple testing will be available for me. For example, if I ask seller to level the plane in the air and set the RPM on 2620 as required by POH C150. The engine in good condition with good compression has to demonstrate stable flight with speed 98 knots (like POH says, I am not sure in amounts). Will it work? What could I ask the seller to do else for demonstration the plane's condition?
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  2. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Nope. RPM vs speed is a function of the prop and other draggy stuff. An engine that is down 25% on power will manage this but at a higher manifold pressure.
    Things I would want:
    Compression test
    Borescope
    Corrosion inspection
    AD status
    Inspection of typical trouble spots
    Everything that would be inspected during an annual
    etc.
     
  3. Gino Shtirlits

    Gino Shtirlits Pre-Flight

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    If a plane has valid annual? Can I trust to it and avoid pre-buy inspection?
     
  4. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    You are going at it the wrong way. If you like a plane, make an offer, put a deposit on escrow, THEN inspect. If you like it after the inspection, close the deal; If you don’t, get your refund and walk. Middle ground, negotiate the price and fixes. At worst, you’re out the cost of inspection and your time. No different in deal-making when you buy a house. You need a decent sale contract to do this.
     
  5. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    No! @Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe hit the high points. Along with a test flight to determine it flies true. Join the Cessna FB group and ask about common problem areas. Earlier 150's had issues with the gear saddles corroding so pull the interior and get a good flashlight and inspection mirror. Flap tracks are known to wear so look at them for grooves in the rollers. You can bring an angle gauge and check all the control travels as they are listed in the TCDS. Pull all the wing inspection covers and look for corrosion and frayed control cables. Do a static runup to ensure it reaches the correct rpm, has good oil pressure, and idles correctly. Check the carb heat box for wear and cracks. There is a 25 hour AD on the early models. Look up inside the mufflers to make sure the baffles aren't blown out. There is an issue with cracks in the rear bulkhead where the rudder attaches on some models. Check the seat tracks for corrosion, look for red fluid leaking from the master cylinders or brake calipers. ELT battery date, elt remote switch battery date, test the elt for opperation. This is a good start as well as a general walk around for damage.
     
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  6. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Being qualified in mechanical engineering more than likely isn’t going to provide you with the knowledge to try and perform a pre-buy inspection on your own, unless you’re highly familiar with the make and model. If you’re going to be getting into aircraft ownership, there’s no reason to skimp on what could be a very valuable inspection prior to purchasing. Hire a qualified mechanic and let them look over it.
     
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  7. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Make an offer, get signed contract, pay deposit, pre buy results contingent.
     
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  8. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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  9. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    Long story short, even if you do everything right, it’s a gamble
     
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  10. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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    you need an A&P that knows the type of aircraft you are looking at. in a 150/152 a lot of airplanes can be eliminated fairly quickly by pulling the side carpet away and looking at the lower strut attach. any corrosion or cracks there and I run away and I have seen a bunch with corrosion or cracks in the fitting attach area.
     
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  11. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This will be unpopular, but I had a great experience buying a C-150 last year without a prebuy. I just got through my first annual with my awesome (and thorough) mechanic with no squawks outside of a magneto inspection (which was no surprise, I asked him to send it in based on hours).

    The key is this: I know 150's REALLY well. Not only had I previously owned one, but I spent many hours reading and learning about them. So when I read a set of logbooks, I actually get a sense for whether or not it was going to be a money pit down the line. I found a great bird for $18k, and it had multiple full price offers the same day. I had to act if I wanted it.

    These are simple airplanes, but if you are going to skip the prebuy you better have some really good knowledge of where people get caught spending a lot of money unexpectedly.
     
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  12. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    For my planes, I arranged to meet the owner and go over the log books, test-fly the plane to make sure it performs close to book and all the avionics work, and if no red flags surface, make an offer contingent on my mechanic doing a pre-buy inspection to ensure there are no deal killer ADs, corrosion, or other showstopper anomalies. My two buying experiences were quite good. No red flags, and few anomalies. The planes were pretty much as advertised, and were maintained by mechanics that knew the type and were known by my type club to do proper work. My selling experience was not as much fun. Many potential buyers wanted to grossly underpay, and were shopping for paint more so that an aircraft to fly. One thing I learned as a buyer for myself and also for a fellow pilot who I schlepped all over the NE looking for a decent C-172 for him was that "paint don't fly." I'd rather have a solid engine and avionics than a pretty paint job.
     
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  13. Ravioli

    Ravioli Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    All these are +1's from me

    This one is, YMMV. I did that when I bought Candy and have had zero issues (6 years hence). But, I say again, YMMV.
     
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  14. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    I bought mine eight unseen (until I went there with a ferry pilot to pick her up) and no prebuy as well. I guess I got lucky.
     
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  15. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Perhaps unpopular with the PoA crowd, but quite common. And it usually works out about the same way that the airplanes with an extensive PPI work out.

    The value of a cessna 150 is low enough I wouldn't bother with a PPI. With something considerably more complex and more expensive I'd probably try to get it in to a specialist.

    That said, I know guys who have bought numerous six and seven figure airplanes sight unseen with no PPI and had minimal trouble. The key is finding and buying a premium example of the model you're after.
     
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  16. Ravioli

    Ravioli Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    They are ALL premium examples. Just ask the seller. heeheehee
     
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  17. Jumpmaster

    Jumpmaster Line Up and Wait

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    The pre-buy debate is about as heated as is the high wing/low wing, tail wheel pilots are the “only skilled pilots” and the only right answer is always “a Bo” discussions here on POA. There are pluses and minuses to performing a pre-purchase inspection conducted by an A&P/IA just as there are for foregoing such an inspection. At the end of the day, it’s your tolerance for risk. You can perform the most exhaustive pre-buy the seller will permit by the most qualified A&P and still end up with a lemon and your first annual may still be the annual from hell. Pre-buys don’t prevent that outcome, although arguably they mitigate the probability of that occurring. But then again, there are lots of crappy pre-buys that are performed and every now and again someone comes into POA asking about suing the A&P for not catching something that in the judgment of the buyer should have been caught. In my situation I had a pre-buy performed by a very competent A&P but there was no way to know I would have a new cylinder with less than 150 hrs and showing 77/80 at the pre-buy (complete with the Lycoming wobble test) fail in the 50 hrs I flew after I bought the plane but it damn sure did. And, many sellers aren’t going to permit a really intrusive inspection, particularly where lots of parts are pulled off. That said, a thorough log book review may reveal missing mandatory inspections, STC’s, and non compliance with various AD’s associated with the engine or airframe. Alternatively, you can skip a pre-buy if you are knowledgable enough to do an assessment of the log books, the aircraft and take it for a sort flight to make sure everything works. Many on POA take that approach. Bottom line, it’s your choice; no right or wrong answer.
     
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  18. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    Pre-buy by an expert in the make and model -- minimal risk
    Pre-buy by someone not familiar with the make and model -- moderate risk
    No pre-buy -- risk commensurate with the complexity of the aircraft -- high to really high risk

    The pre-buy is most valuable not when you buy the plane, but the ones you walk away from because of severe corrosion, high probability of engine corrosion, etc.

    Worst case I have seen: Comanche 250, purchase price $50K --- first annual $40K.
     
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  19. Jdm

    Jdm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not exactly sure what a “Lycoming wobble test is, but a lot of good points have been mentioned so far.

    I tend to view an annual as an inspection that determines if the aircraft meets the “minimum” airworthiness requirements for continued operation. As a buyer, I don’t necessarily want a plane that just meets minimum requirements. I really want to know where I stand on things. A good prebuy also helps to decide if the condition actually matches the price. When I do a prebuy, I spend a LOT of time in the books researching hidden red flags, repetitive discrepancies, vague and unusual repairs, hose dates, ADs, etc. Of course I do all the common checks, like compression checks, and any other check the buyer and seller both agree on. I try to evaluate every item as an assessment to help the buyer make the right decision. For instance, I’ll look at even the simple stuff, like the battery. When’s the last time it was replaced? How long have the last 3 or 4 batteries lasted? How long before we should expect the current battery to last based on the historical data. Mags are always a hot topic, all the components are evaluated with the same detail considering time, hours, and condition. I’ve called prop shops, engine shop, and other specialty shops to help bridge the gaps between poor log entries and the actual work orders in an attempt to form a solid picture of everything. I try to build a timeline, including location of ownership, to help determine corrosive environments, hard flight training, and or other demanding situations the aircraft has been involved in. I usually conduct a full flight check to include flight characteristics, a functional assessment of all avionics, approaches, every switch, button, latch, knob, light, and all the other nit-picky stuff.
    Ultimately, I’d say it’s more of a detailed conditional report of the current state of the airplane as it compares to the average, or the advertised description. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I’ve found on prebuys that were never caught on the annual, not required to be checked on annual, or were caught, but never properly corrected. Many times the uncorrected item meets the “minimum” requirement, and therefore the customer/owner never knows about about it, or the owner simply didn’t want to spend anymore money than absolutely necessary.
    Yes, as mentioned, purchasing is a bit of a gamble regardless. Sometimes it works out completely fine. Other times a good prebuy can save massive amounts of money. I’ve found that a quality prebuy almost always identifies more than enough to cover the cost of the prebuy by a couple times over.
     
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  20. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My suggestion is you involve the person that will do your First

    Annual ( home field ) in the process

    Have them review ADs etc before purchase.

    Sending pix of technical concern can avoid surprises later.
     
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  21. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    Also, in addition to the pre-buy/contract contingency, have a thorough checklist ready for the pre-buy, based on the specific model.
    I'd also include borescope of valves, pistons, cylinders, and (if possible) cam/lifters.
    It's a lot of work yes, but with the current soaring prices, I'm willing to bet there are a lot of turds out there getting dumped into the market just hoping for a quick buy.
     
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  22. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I bought a C-150 on eBay with 476 SMOH for around $10k. It was the third time he listed it on eBay due to non-payers. I showed up, did a cursory inspection, paid him cash, and flew it home. First annual was uneventful. I did get a title check and "blue ribbon" report from the FAA. In the words of the FAA maintenance inspector that I spoke with at OKC when I was ordering the report, "the Cessna 150 and 154 are the Ford Pinto's of airplanes. They've all been damaged and repaired. Solid aircraft. Have fun with it!".
    I found out after receiving the blue ribbon report that my plane had been involved in a couple serious accidents. In fact the wing had to be completely rebuilt twenty years prior. The fuselage was quite "impacted" and my A&P/IA made several commented on the unauthorized and undocumented repairs and patches all over it but in his own words, "its not going to kill you but there is a right way and wrong way of doing things..."
     
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  23. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So now you know, did you disclose when you sold it?
     
  24. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Paul great question! No, I didn't disclose anything but my situation is quite unique. Severe carb ice on takeoff nearly stole my life after I had to put it down...hard... The aircraft, with an open repair estimate that began at $22,000, was purchased from the insurance company for only a few grand and then resold again for double that. Two men showed up, one an alleged A&P/IA, who did an "alaskan repair" on the aircraft and it apparently flew South where it was rebuilt. I am not BS'ing you.
    Regardless, I did meet with the new final owner and gave him the logbooks. He could care less about the history as he is quite a daredevil himself. Regardless, there is no requirement to disclose anything. Caveat emptor.
     
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  25. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    This assumes that said IA has any clue about how to do a pre-buy. IMX, mechanics that don't fly and haven't owned a plane, have no real idea about what the buyer needs to know to determine if the plane is a good deal or not. And if the airplane is question is fairly complex, like Bo's, 210's, Comanches, and most any twin, it assumes that said mechanic knows what to look for in the particular make and model. In a perfect world, all that would come together with a mechanic on your home field whom you trust. Real world, not often!
     
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  26. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    Bears repeating! +1
     
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  27. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    K.

    The ref to home field is not necessarily where you will base but where future

    maintenance will be done.

    My point is to avoid surprises at your first Annual.

    They don’t need to know the Deal.

    If they say a concern is fine today but is an issue down the road is despicable.

    If the Home Guy does not know that type of aircraft then why in the hell is this

    Buyer planning on him for mx?


    My viewpoint is it’s up to the Buyer to determine whether to close the sale.

    The Pre- buy should be to alert the Buyer of current condition and future

    maintenance needs.
     
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  28. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    Having the same mechanic who does the pre-buy, do the first annual, is certainly likely to avoid surprises at the annual. The mechanic is likely to be equally as ignorant about the aircraft during the annual, as he/she was during the pre-buy.

    They don't need to know the deal, they need to know what the buyer needs to know, and may not even know what they need to know.

    I am not sure what you are saying, or even know what you are saying. I find things all the time that is airworthy today and are still probably on the end of their service life. An example would be fuel bladder tanks. It is not uncommon that the tanks are not leaking, but they have been installed for 30 years. It does the buyer no good for me to tell them that the tanks are airworthy, even though that is true. The rest of the story is to say that the buyer they are likely to have to replace the tanks in the next few years. They need to factor in such information in determining whether the aircraft is a good deal for them.

    You tell me! This was your point, not mine. You are assuming some sort of utopia that every mechanic has numerous options for mechanics and they all know all there is to know about any airplane that the buyer might be buying. If talking about a C-172, that is at least somewhat more realistic. When talking complex or vintage aircraft, it is a fantasy. However, many first time buyers don't realize some of these realities and end up with a mechanic who the first time they work on a particular airplane, is the pre-buy or first annual. Bad things sometimes happen in this all too common scenario.

    Of course. Who said otherwise? I am wondering about what you think you are reading.

    Exactly! Where did I say otherwise?
     
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  29. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Don’t know where you got your experience from on this topic, but in my years of performing prebuy inspections I have never found this to be the case. I’ve owned a number of aircraft and know how to fly, but none of that ever played into how I performed a prebuy or developed its results. If anything it’s the opposite where the buyer is clueless on what it takes to be an aircraft owner.

    Most failed prebuys are primarily due to the buyer not actually understanding what a “prebuy” is or even have a basic understanding of what it takes to maintain an aircraft. Some buyers even think a “prebuy” is an official FAA inspection.

    If you want to point to the single problem that causes the most the issues between a “passed” prebuy and a “failed” 1st annual after purchase, is not using the same APIA that will maintain the aircraft after purchase to perform or be involved with the prebuy prior to purchase. Anytime two different people are used in this scenario the buyer sets themselves up for issues. What is airworthy is highly subjective to the person determining the condition of the part. ;)
     
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  30. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    We are not talking complex here.

    OP is referring to a C-150.

    I recently did a PB on one with a polished Prop.

    Your take?

    My opinion is not important on this as I’m not signing anything off.

    Contacting the IA that will do Annuals on this aircraft with this concern

    is important.

    How would you handle this?
     
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  31. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    Perhaps it depends on what your scope of pre-buy consists of. I try to help first time buyers understand the process and guide them through it. I guess if I considered the time I spent actually reading logs and inspecting the aircraft, excepting any test flights of course, then I would agree with you.

    I don't have that experience, but then, like I said, I get somewhat more involved. Most of the ones that I do that go south is because the aircraft has been left to sit and rot but the seller thinks that the Lycoming should be worth more because it hasn't flown in five years.

    Some determinations of airworthiness is subjective for sure. But then there is the AD's that haven't been complied with, even though it has passed 20 annual inspections since it came out. AD's not done is a bit less subjective. Then there are the issues that might be subjective if the mechanic knew where to look in the first place. I am not morally opposed to having the same mechanic do the first annual that did the pre-buy. It would be a bit hypocritical of me as I am doing an annual currently on a plane I did the pre-buy work up. But when it comes to a complex airplane, the most important is finding someone who knows the plane. I limit my practice to airplanes that I do know well.
     
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  32. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    I didn't feel that this conversation was limited to C-150.

    When I find an issue that is improper based on documentation, then I find the documentation to show that what I found is in fact a problem. Then the buyer can decide what they want to do about it in light of the pending purchase. If something is my opinion, then I explain the basis of my opinion. I have on occasion suggested they discuss it with their mechanic/IA and make the decision. I know when something my opinion and I know why I have that opinion. I recognize that others might have a different opinion about something.
     
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  33. Gino Shtirlits

    Gino Shtirlits Pre-Flight

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    It is about some Cessna 150 with total time 2900 and never overhauled engine. I was told by owner about the engine major over hauling the following... "MOH is not reqiered by law. It's legal to keep flying as long as the compressions are okay, and as long as the engine doesn't use too much oil. I've read about people who had over 4000 hours on their engines, and they were still flying. A lot of it depends on how well the engine is maintained, how often the oil is changed, etc." Is it correct?
     
  34. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    My engine ran fine from 1965 until 2018. It ran for 2860 hours with no bottom overhaul. It burned about a quart every 5 hours. I finally overhauled it because it concerned me that there were several SBs/ADs that came out decades ago that had never been done because they weren’t mandatory until overhaul. After opening it up, I’d say the engine probably would have kept running for hundreds more hours, but it certainly had issues that were reducing its capabilities. Most notably a worn cam.
     
  35. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    My engine ran fine from 1965 until 2018. It ran for 2860 hours with no bottom overhaul. It burned about a quart every 5 hours. I finally overhauled it because it concerned me that there were several SBs/ADs that came out decades ago that had never been done because they weren’t mandatory until overhaul. After opening it up, I’d say the engine probably would have kept running for hundreds more hours, but it certainly had issues that were reducing its capabilities. Most notably a worn cam.
     
  36. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I'd never trust an annual not done by my own mechanic (or at least one I trusted very highly).
     
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  37. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Nail down the plane by agreeing to buy it pending an acceptable prebuy.
     
  38. NordicDave

    NordicDave Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    NordicDave
    :yeahthat: How many posts have we seen on POA recently “I was reviewing the logs and the plane sold” or “The plane sold before I could make travel arrangements”, etc.

    Item I’d add to 4RNB’s post is use an escrow company in based in OK.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
  39. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    chemgeek
    An annual inspection doesn't mean anything. Especially if it was done by the seller. It just means someone (hopefully honestly) determined the airplane was airworthy enough to be released for service. There could be scads of deferred maintenance and critical SBs, and the aircraft could be in marginal if airworthy condition. Worst-case scenario is that the "annual" was not too clever, and there are outstanding ADs or other issues that could be very expensive to rectify. Even when you get a good deal, there may be a 1-3 year period where a new owner does extra maintenance to rectify all the deferred maintenance of the prior owner. It is not unusual for a seller to not be able to afford to do more than the minimum maintenance--the cost of ownership may be a factor in why their are selling.

    Before buying an aircraft, you want to know more than whether or not it is currently deemed airworthy. You want to know its usage and maintenance history to know if you are going to get a reasonable useful life out of the aircraft and engine, and whether or not there are any hidden showstopper repairs required. Sellers may not look too hard for expensive problems that need fixing. Part of doing a pre-buy is knowing how to read the log books and find those hidden clues to prior damage. You know, things like the propeller being removed for overhaul at 600 hours and the crank being dialed for runout (prop strike?), wing panels or tips being replaced (ground loop?), etc., etc. It's amazing the stuff you find when you comb through the logs.

    There is no guarantee you will ferret out every problem and be guaranteed a trouble-free aircraft, but you can stack the deck if you pore over the maintenance history, get an independent brief inspection and analysis of the basics, and even better if you know the reputation of the shop that maintained the aircraft the last few years. Going in blind could work, but entails a large amount of risk.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
    Kristin likes this.
  40. Captain Larry

    Captain Larry Filing Flight Plan

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    Larry Nelson
    A lot of these narratives are from the perspective of the buyer, which is because the OP was "the buyer". I have been both buyer and seller, many times over. I just sold my PA30. I priced it right. It cost me insurance (May) and an annual (October) if I was to keep it. I could have sold that plane 6 times the first week, including two buyers who wanted to wire me the total amount with hours of me agreeing to sell to them. One of those was for MORE than my asking price. But I already made a deal with a nice guy who flew in to look the second or third day I had it listed. It was bad WX so no flying, and it was almost impossible to pull it out of the hangar as we were iced in. He said "no problem, I am taking it at asking price" but he wanted to bring a mech who was also a CFI, and do a pre-buy. I had no issues as I was not impatient, but other sellers in my shoes might take one of those wire transfers, and I would not blame them. It is a weird market. I hate to say it, but throw a lot of conditions at a seller might mess up that deal. He might just say "my other line is ringing.....stand by". I also wanted the buyer to be comfortable buying my plane and to know as much about it as can be known.