RG Maintenance - Which are Good, Bad?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by WDD, Feb 3, 2021.

  1. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    So we all know insurance is higher in retracts vs fixed.

    What about maintenance? For example, will a 182 RG surprise you with a huge annual/ repair bill with hard to get parts vs an Arrow?
     
  2. Non Compos Mentis

    Non Compos Mentis Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Bonanzas have very stout gear.
    Designed when most runways were grass.
    Once set up properly, very reliable


    This is POA. Once again, the proper answer is:
    "Bonanza ".
     
  3. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    A retractable landing gear will eventually cost you money at some point, assuming you own it more than a couple of years. I can’t comment from personal experience on the cost and availability cessna retract parts but I’ve heard some aren’t easy to find and are quite expensive. The Arrow seems to be more affordable and there are a lot of them that are in salvage yards.

    I know the following isn’t a Cessna or an Arrow but I can’t figure out if you’re asking a general or a specific question. Anyway, I just got done repairing a Malibu landing gear system. It needed a pressure switch which cost $2500 and was only available through Piper. Landing gear actuators for the same airplane are $8k each and the service manual calls for exchanging them, not repairing them in the field. If it requires parts on a regular basis, it will add up quickly.
     
  4. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    I ask because our club last year had to put $40k into the 182 RG to replace cracked parts - and found salvage parts in Canada.

    Owning a plane with annual costs is one thing - owning something that could incur a devastating annual / maintenance cost is another.
     
  5. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    That doesn’t sound unrealistic based on the numbers I’ve heard before.

    Welcome to aviation. If it is any consolation, exotic cars make airplanes look cheap.
     
  6. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    All retracts are not created equal, some are quite robust, some are pretty whacky. The Cessna hydraulic stuff looks ripe for big MX expense.
     
  7. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Cessna gears are nigh to impossible to get down in the event of a real mechanical or hydraulic failure, while many of the low-wing designs can be coaxed down through maneuvering by a skilled pilot.
     
  8. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    If a person owns an Arrow is he/she at risk - how likely is a catastrophic gear maintenance bill?
     
  9. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Yes. The mains have to come down against the slipstream, and you absolutely need hydraulic pressure to do it. There's a manual pump in the floor to lower the gear if the electric pump fails, but it will only get the gear down if all the seals in the system are still good. Up until '79 or '80 Cessna recommended system overhaul every five years to replace all the seals; after that they recommended on-condition. I presume they had changed the O-ring specs, but I never got around to looking up the part number changes---never did an overhaul on a later model, just the early one. With that system, since a single pressure source feeds all three actuators, and the actuators are double-acting (pistons get pushed both ways), any significant leak past any one of those piston O-rings means you won't be able to build enough pressure to get the mains down and locked.

    The older main gear actuator housings are prone to cracking, and a 500-hour removal, disassembly, cleaning and NDI is recommended. Did that several times. At the time (10-12 years ago) a new housing was $8800 Canadian. The gear trunnions are prone to cracking, too; had one fail like that, leaking brake fluid out of the actuator. That was expensive.

    As usual, it all comes down to the level of maintenance the airplane has had. If the logs show 40 years of entries like "Annual inspection carried out" with a date and signature and little other information, watch out. A good airplane with good records will have plenty of details as to what defects were found and what was done about them. It will have lots of references to service bulletins and SIDs and details about compliance. If you want a safe airplane that gets good resale value, make sure you have logs that look like that and that they tell the truth. It will stand out sharply against other airplanes a buyer considers.
     
  10. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    If the 182RG has been properly maintained, there are no surprises at annual the the gear. The pump is really good quality, the motor wears out, the actuators can crack if the attachments become loose - replacing the attachments with drilled bolts so they can be safety wired solves the issue or checking the bolt torque at annual works too, the position switches need periodic replacement, there are rigging parts on the nose gear door that corrode and need occasional replacement.

    The biggest issue is the gear cracked gear trunnions, not a real common issue on the 182RG and there is now a company that repairs them vs $15K new.
     
  11. pburger

    pburger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm a 26-year owner of a Piper Arrow II. I've had my share of gear issues over the years. None of which were ridiculously expensive. I've replaced a pump base, replaced a complete powerpak assembly (I think), rebuilt the actuators, replaced one gear down switch, replaced the pressure switch (found a serviceable used one), and just recently replaced a squat switch. These issues were spread out across many years. Not one of these issues ever kept the gear up. In an emergency, the Arrow gear will fall down and lock with no power and no hydraulic pressure - very simple and safe design.
     
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  12. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Reliability for any retract from any manufacturer seems to be highly correlated with staying on top of rigging and maintenance. Some are more tolerant of neglect. But only to a point. With age pretty well every one of them from any manufacturer is going to develop cracks somewhere. And they are all subject to corrosion, given what they are subject to.

    Some systems, including many of the Cessna twins, are sensitive to the rigging and it's recommended to check each annual. Some Cessna retracts aren't supposed to be turned while braking, and some have "side-load" kits added to the original design to help deal with that. On the 182RG isn't there an availability issue with one of the wear parts in the mechanism? I seem to remember someone posting on PoA about that.

    Some Piper systems appear simpler than some of the Cessna retracts, and Piper parts seem cheaper than what Textron charges.
    My Aztec is 100% hydraulic, simple circuitry and components, tough as hell - sort of like the hydraulics on a CAT backhoe. But the hoses don't last forever and cylinders need to occasionally be rebuilt (there's 7 of them in the system, but a Piper cylinder rebuild kit is cheap).
    My Arrow was also pretty stout. I think the PA-32 retracts follow in that same tradition.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
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  13. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Line Up and Wait

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    Gear maintenance on my Tiger consists of changing the brake pads. :)
     
  14. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    12 years and 2 gear issues in the Comanche. First was frayed cabling, which got replaced with upgraded cable and tubes. That was back in 2011? 2010? I dunno, a long while back. Was like $700 to fix and supposedly never worry about again. The other issue was the gear solenoid. Couple hundred bucks IIRC. So less than $1000 of gear issues in 12 years.
     
  15. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    Good ol’ POA. Someone asks about best spark plugs for a Piper and some rocket scientist starts telling you about changing the tire on his motorcycle. :rolleyes:
     
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  16. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Mooney landing gears are relatively low on maintenance needs.

    Sorta.

    You need a couple of Torque Wrench Adapters to check the preload at inspections.

    Shock Disc replacement is not often needed ( 15 years? ) but special tooling needed

    to replace.


    Exceeding the Tow Limits is a big issue.

    Newer trusses have Stops that help some.

    Old style?

    sorry bout dat!
     
  17. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    From what I understand the stack height is measured at each annual, when it gets too short the stack has to be replaced. We had the mains disks replaced a few annuals ago, I recall it costing ~1AMU, those disks are about $100 ea.
     
  18. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Bill

    True on measurement.

    Price seems about right.
     
  19. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    We had an old Massey Ferguson backhoe, hoe removed, for snow removal at the flight school. One day I was scraping grunge and filth off it and was dumbstruck when I saw the name on all the hydraulic valve castings: Cessna.

    upload_2021-2-4_12-58-43.jpeg
     
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  20. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Good discussion. Long term planning, maybe own a plane in 3 - 5 years

    1) Need a plane 135k min, 140 nice, 150 would be really nice - ability to carry 3 adults, or 2 children in a back seat would be nice. Something that sits somewhat upright and doesn't cause pain to be sitting in.
    2) A 182 would be great, but I doubt if I could afford one and do the necessary panel upgrades, etc.
    2) I need to avoid a $40,000 annual - hence while the 182 RG would be fantastic, I believe I'm looking at a huge risk. Who really knows what maintenance would have been done on a used 182RG that I will have bought? Same concerns with Cardinal RG.
    3) I don't have 2-3 years to sit alone and build a plane in the basement.
    4) Hence the comparison to an Arrow. They are a lot more affordable than a 182 right now.

    Just trying to sort things out. Did I mention I like to plan things out??
     
  21. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    If the Arrow fits your mission, it certainly seems to be more reasonably priced in this crazy market. $150K for a 40+ year old 182, let alone an RG? Yeah, no thanks.
     
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  22. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Beech Sierra?
     
  23. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    The johnson bar Mooney gear is about as simple of a system as you can get. About the only way for that system to fail is to somehow break your shoulder during the flight.
     
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  24. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    And the electric gear Mooneys have the same mechanicals, just an electric motor to replace the shoulder.
     
  25. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    Mooney sounds like a great plane - but I need something more sit up straight and elbow room - SUV vs Miata
     
  26. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    I owned a 1981 182-RG for 15 and put 1,500 hours on it. The only regular maintenance required in that time was two brake swivel fittings. If the actuators are properly attached, you shouldn't need to worry about replacing them. As I understand it, the problems occur when they get loose.

    Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the nose gear did collapse due to an SB on the nose gear collar that didn't get done. But to be fair, I ended up getting an engine overhaul (engine was at 1,800 SMOH) at about 1/2 price and a new prop too. All things considered, the nose gear collapsing worked out to be pretty fortunate. If it had happened at my home field, it would have been even better.

    It was a very nice plane. Could carry anything I could fit in it, endurance that is twice what my bladder is and did an honest 150kts on it's worst day (155 on it's best). If I were to buy single engine piston TC airplane today, a 182-RG would be one of the top contenders.
     
  27. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If the rigging is correct, routine maintenance on the Bo gear is not bad. Occasional gear motor overhauls and sometimes the gearbox needs to be resealed. Other than that it's greasing zerks and function testing during annual.

    If the rigging is off: God help you.
     
  28. codeeno

    codeeno Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The Commander gear is extremely well built. When I was shopping - I looked at how gear was deployed manually as part of my consideration. I have had the joy of pumping down Cessna gear - and don't really want to do that again. I have had to replace a power pack in 5 or 6 years and that has been it for major maintenance. During my annual there is a little bit of an add of time for swing tests and checks - but - that's not been impactful.

    I don't have experience with other planes maintenance so can't comment on that.

    Dean
     
  29. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Loose actuators are only one problem. But a big one. If they get loose they rock those close-tolerance 1/4" bolts and they crack in the threads and break, and the busted end is in a place that makes it look like the gear casting was the first thing that went into the jig at the factory, and the airplane was built around it. If you can't get that broken bolt end out, you'd have to dismantle half the airplane. I had one break when reinstalling the actuator, and the broken-off end was deeply recessed in the casting. I had to play dentist, using small mirrors and lights and a tiny center punch to mark the center of that stub, then use the mirror and light while carefully drilling a hole into the stub for a tiny extractor. Got it out. If someone had used Loctite on it, I'd have been sunk. After that, every time one of those bolts came out it was replaced with a brand-new bolt. Loctite would probably also dislodge the Helicoil Cessna put in there to spread the thread loads. More disaster.

    The housings crack at the roller pin holes too, where the wall is really thin and the edges were left too sharp. It's not just a loose-actuator issue. The castings were just too light, and later castings fixed the problem. https://support.cessna.com/custsupt/contacts/pubs/ourpdf.pdf?as_id=21894

    An article on the cracking problem at the bolt holes: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2017/june/14/cessna-gear-inspection-urged

    Once again, the maintenance is often shorted. Cessna's inspection checklists demand a full inspection of the gear every 100 hours, and that involves some pretty tall aircraft jacks to get the wheels at least 23" off the floor so the gear can be swung. We used to pull the rear seat and the floor access panels and feel those actuators as they swung the gear. If there was any looseness developing in those three bolts, we'd feel it. We'd also check the nosegear actuation, too, looking for looseness especially at the aft anchor bracket of the cylinder, where the big rivets to the airframe structure tend to loosen, and we'd check the downlock pins in the cylinder's front fork. Those pins are grooved to receive locking pins, and they tend to crack there and start working their way out. Bad deal, that. Nosegear failure would mean a trashed engine and prop and forward structure. There are also three pressure checks to be done every 100 hours. Lots of stuff that people don't want to pay for, but ignoring them can be very costly.
     
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  30. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Now that's interesting!
    I better check my Piper hydraulic system components and make sure there's no Cessna parts "contaminating" my low wing. :D
     
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  31. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    About the closest thing to a "carrier landing" main gear I've seen on a piston GA airplane. :thumbsup:
     
  32. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’d like to suggest that you do the Emergency Extension on jacks during initial check out and
    at Annual.

    Some are more difficult than others.
     
  33. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I do it every annual just so I stay familiar with the procedure.
     
  34. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Most new Ferraris are in the $200,000 - $350,000 range. In a new aircraft, that won't get you a Skyhawk or an Archer.
     
  35. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    I'm not talking about initial buy in. I'm talking about parts and service work. In many cases the prices for service would make an airplane owner cry.
     
  36. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    Don't knock till you tried it. Airplanes can be funny things.
     
  37. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Fair point. How does one go about finding a Mooney owner around Atlanta that would entertain "Hey, mind if I sit in your airplane for a while to see if I fit?" I'll have to nose around and see if there is a Mooney owners group that I can hook up with.
     
  38. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Next time we do a flyin lunch to LZU you can look at and sit in ours.
     
  39. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Will do and thanks ! Where do I get on the notification list for such fly ins?
     
  40. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    Seen that on an older Bobcat skid steer when we were replacing the drive chains in it, back in the mid 1990s. I think it was on the hydraulic pumps or the motors.