What is this?
Why Van's?
Why the -9A?

Right Elevator
Left Elevator

Spar Prep
More Tanks
Tanks Alot
Final Assembly

F-704 Bulkhead
F-705 Bulkhead
Center Section
Forward Section
Forward Assembly

Top Skins

Cabin Stuff

More Cabin Stuff

Cabin Plumbing
Panel Install
Firewall Stuff
Misc. Cabin Stuff
Slider Frame
Electrical Part 1
Electrical Part 2
Electrical Part 3
Emp. & Gear
Avionics 1
Avionics 2
More Misc.
Finishing Up

Firewall Forward
Engine Stuff 1
Engine Stuff 2

Final Steps
Moving to the Airport
Attaching the Wings

First Flight
First 10 Hours
Gear Fairings
Test Flying
Sun-N-Fun 2006
Spring 2006
Christmas 2006

Panel Planning
Panel Layout
Misc. Notes



Engine Considerations

I've been putting off the engine stuff for a long time, but it's getting to be about time for me to get it figured out.

I have a Lycoming o-320 E2D that I plan to use on my plane, but his is not a picture of it. This is a picture of some $25,000 certified engine that Lycoming was selling at Oshkosh. My engine is a bit uglier.


This is my engine. It is a low-time (500 hours since new) engine removed from a Cessna 172 way back in the late 70s. It was pickled for storage and never run again. I have the logs for it and everything is in order except that it hasn't been run in 25 years.

Unfortunately, engines don't do well when they aren't run, and this one is going to need to be overhauled before it can go on my plane.

Overhauls are not cheap. I sent out a request for a quote to about ten different shops, and the price quoted was between $12,000 and $13,000 in all cases. Yikes!


So what will I do? At first I thought I'd just have to wait until I had enough cash to have the engine rebuilt. There's a certain appeal to having newly overhauled engine delivered to my door, ready to be bolted to the plane. But $13,000?!? That's outrageous. Isn't it?

So I started asking questions about doing it myself, just to see if it was even possible. After discovering that, yes, people do this all the time, I started to query about what was involved.


I started by purchasing the overhaul and parts manuals for my engine. These resources provide most of the information required to work on the engine. Next, I purchased and watched engine overhaul videos from GBI and Skyward Tech. The Skyward Tech video only covers the assembly process, but overall it is a better video than the GBI video, which is sort of hard to follow.

At Oshkosh this year I grabbed the Lycoming Key Reprints flyer while I was visiting the Lycoming booth. This flyer has lots of interesting articles. You can also read this information online on the Lycoming site.

I also sat in on the Superior engine build workshop and asked a lot of questions. You can purchase a Superior engine as a kit and assemble it yourself, which got me to thinking about what they are actually providing you: a box full of parts that you assemble. The catch is that you can't just throw the parts together any way you please, but that should be obvious for an RV builder. There are specific ways to install bearings and seals, specific torques to follow for the various bolts, there's even a specific order in which to tighten certain assemblies. Fortunately there's a manual for all of that (or at least most of it) so it's not really the black art that some people would make of it. Superior promotes their "build school," where you can go to their facility and actually participate in the assembly of your own engine. I'm sure they charge for that privilege.

Next, I visited the ECI booth and asked a bunch of questions about their services and their replacement parts. They gave me a catalog with cross-reference listings of all the Lycoming parts that they make replacements for. ECI sells replacement cylinder assemblies, which include the piston already installed. These "Titan" cylinders are better than the stock Lycoming cylinders in a number of ways. If you call them I'm sure they'll give you the sales pitch for free.

So I am considering the possibility turning my engine into a "kit" by disassembling it completely, sending the parts off to be tested and yellow-tagged, and replacing all of the parts defined as mandatory replacement parts by Lycoming. When all the parts come back I will organize everything and get together with a local A&P mechanic who has volunteered to assist with the rebuild.

Once the reassembly is complete I will cart the engine off to a company with a test cell or dyno where it will be run for an hour or so to verify that it is working properly.

There should be a significant cost savings doing it myself this way. As long as the crankshaft isn't damaged, I should be able to do the overhaul to new specs for around $7,500. This would include brand new ECI Titan cylinders with 8.5-1 pistons, new Slick mags, new ignition harness, new starter, and an overhauled carburetor. Compared to the $13,000 quotes I was receiving for a "factory" overhaul, combined with the fact that those overhauls did not include any of the accessories, like the carb, starter, and alternator, and I'm looking at a savings of over $7,000!

So what are the negatives to this plan? Well, for starters it is a lot of work. There are several tools that I will need to buy. It requires a lot of organization and research. It can take quite a bit of time to outsource all of the machining. Reassembly is a stressful process that must be perfect. You have to find a knowledgeable A&P who is willing to check your work. Finally, there's the psychological factor that you have to be confident enough to trust your own work.

Next: What I ended up doing with my engine

Overhaul Resources:  

Discussion of Overhaul Types

Other Builder Sites

List of ADs for an o-320e2d on a LongEZ
Bill VonDane's Engine Overhaul
Doug Reeves ECI Kit Engine
Eagle Engines Rebuild Seminar


Lycoming Service Bulletins
AVWEB: The Jug Jungle
AVWEB: Overhaul Shopping
AVWEB: Mag Timing


Purdue University Engine Videos




G&N Aircraft Photo Tour
Don George Aircraft

Engine Machine Shops

Aircraft Specialties
DIVCO - Cases
Rick Romans - Cam and Crankshafts
(918) 835-1311
Gibson Aviation - Cylinders
Sentry Aircraft Cylinders

Engine Overhaul Parts and Supplies

Aero Parts & Supply
Aircraft Supply
Chief Aircraft
Premium Aircraft Parts
Air Support
J&J Air Parts

Carburetor Overhauls

Precision Air in Miami 305-594-9662
Avstar - 866-982-7287

Magneto Overhauls

Howard Libersky 863-467-6464