Avstar Aircraft of Washington, Inc.

10415 172nd St. E., Hangar A1
Puyallup, WA  98374
office (253)770-9964
or (253)770-0120
email:  avstarair@att.net

04-09-2010 Ask Mike! Archive Page
Bonanza Shopping, With A Few Questions

Hi, Mike,

I read that you are not only extremely good at what you do, but that you also tolerate a newbie pretty well, so...

I'm a serious cash buyer searching for an old "35" Bo.  My resources are limited, so I'm trying to get the most bang for the buck, of course.   I have two or three on my short list, and have made an offer on what seems to be a very nice 1953 D in so. Cal.  If they take my offer, I would like for you to do the pre-buy for me if possible.  

Here are my questions:

1. What will it cost for you to go over the logbooks/annuals to look for potential problems prior to doing pre-buy?(This seems prudent to me; I wonder if you agree?)

2. What should I expect to pay for a full pre-buy?  Just a ball park would be fine.

3. If I were to consider a bird with a high-time engine, then save up for replacement, is it foolhardy to think I could get by okay with a rebuilt engine in the $10K range rather than an expensive reman? 

4. If I were to buy a plane with, let's say, a high-time IO-470-C, can I replace it with a IO-470-J or K?  ...or even a E-225?

Thanks very much for your time, Mike.  I appreciate it.

Houston, Texas

Hi John;

Everyone has a learning curve, and they all start with the first questions.  Hey, I was a newbie several decades ago!

Answering your questions in order…

1.  A logbook / paperwork review is an excellent place to start; typically this is done before an offer is made, but there’s that learning curve thing.  If they are available electronically or by photo-copy, I can spend a couple of hours for review (logs, 337s, weight and balance data, and cursory look at ADs.)  This review will indicate frequency of use, as well as the loving that current and previous owners have given the bird.  It will also generate questions of things to look at during the actual pre-purchase.

2.  On a complex aircraft such as this, I recommend an annual inspection (for a D35, about 24 hours) but with the knowledge of where the normal neglect and / or high wear areas, a pre-purchase can be accomplished in a long day.  Naturally, my preference is do it here, but have travelled to Tulsa, Houston, and many other points for this type of activity.  You pay my travel and lodging expenses (expect two-nights), plus the time I spend with the aircraft and compiling notes.  (I do not charge for travel time unless you pick an airline via NYC.)  Optimally, you will be there at this inspection to not only turn a few screws, but also to ask questions and learn.  So, guessing that air-fare would be $400, $200 for motel, $720 for my time, adds to $1320.  Additions to this would include rental (or gratuity) to shop where we camp for this project.

3.  There is no such thing as a $10K overhaul, at best that would cover a top-overhaul (considered to be a repair, no real value added, or time extended).  Plan on spending the money to keep your investment saleable, should the need occur.  Look at either factory reman prices or big-name shop overhaul (Eagle Engines in Redding, CA, for example) that offer as good or better warranty than the factory.  In your cost analysis, don’t forget to add in propeller, governor, air pump, exhaust and engine baffle allowances, as well as removal & replacement labor.  A typical engine change will cost 1.5 times the cost of the engine alone.

4.  If this aircraft has been converted to a IO-470-C, engine choice would be pretty much limited to that, or other options as listed on the STC paperwork that allows that engine in that aircraft.  For example, if it is the Hammock conversion, they also allow the 470-N (260 HP).  To go to a J or K would be a step backward.  The E will no longer work as the engine mounting would have been upgraded – completely different.  (The ‘newer’ engines – 470 J / K / C / N, as well as the 520 & 550 all use the same footprint).  Of course, you can use a different STC, but that requires additional purchase.

Don’t hesitate to fire any other questions you have this way.  A prepared aircraft shopper is the best armed.



Thanks so much for all this great info!