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  #16  
Unread 07-04-10, 08:02 AM
jchronic jchronic is offline
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Well said, Stratobee. Being somewhat tired of flying OPJ (other people's junk), I've been idly watching the Skymaster market, and it's analogous to the housing market: I'm sorry you bought at a higher price, but don't expect me to make you whole for what you thought was an 'investment.'

Likewise, as in any enthusiast market, there's always someone looking to turn a fast buck (as they have every right to do). There's a 336 (in pieces) on Barnstormers that I know went at auction for well under $10K; the guy's now trying to get out of it for $18k, down from an initial ask of $25K.

Cole does have a point: They have a right to ask whatever they want, and may have a perfectly valid reason for doing so. They likewise have a right to sit on their airplane forever - or until they get real or find a sucker willing to bite.

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  #17  
Unread 07-04-10, 08:15 AM
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Strato..

I believe this board exists for and through the civil dialouge of people who both aspire to and actualy own and operate Skymasters .

re: your comment: "Much thanks to this forum, I'm well aware of the costs of ownership. I can afford it".

What I believe some of us are saying is that given your post history it appears that money is of paramount importance in your quest for the "proper" plane. Whether that is because you don't have enough, or are just cheap, it's hard to tell. Skymasters and "cheap or budget" are never discussed in the same sentence, by people who own and operate them

The odds that someone like yourself would come onto the scene and be the one peorson on the planet earth to "beat the system" by finding a Skymaster in the price range that you seem to think is not "so 90's" and fly off into the sunset seems pretty absurd to most users.

Instead what will more than likely happen is one of two things:
1) You will find a cheap Skymaster, and to bring that aircraft to a standard that is safe and effective (i.e. runs when you want it it) the operating finances will consume your budget. or,
2) You will find the same airplane and cut corners on the expenses until it kills you.

So one really has to wonder if there is a level of civility that must be breached to keep someone from either ruining themselves financially, or killing themselves? I for one would vote for the practicallity of telling it like it is, and be dammed if someone was a touch miffed because it tweaked their ego.
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  #18  
Unread 07-04-10, 09:36 AM
edasmus edasmus is offline
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1973 C337G

2009 - $32,270.33

2008 - $34,665.76

2007 - $24,132.48

Each year was 100 hours +/- 10 hours.

Operating costs are: fuel, insurance, hanger, maintenance. No mortgage on the airplane. The airplane is paid for.

So far 2010 has been a good year. Possibly best ever in terms of cost but the year is only half over and anything expensive can break at anytime so we'll see.

Hope this helps.

Ed
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  #19  
Unread 07-05-10, 07:00 AM
jchronic jchronic is offline
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That's good info, Ed; thanks. Can you share what caused the spikes in any unplanned maintenance?

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  #20  
Unread 07-05-10, 02:34 PM
edasmus edasmus is offline
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These numbers come from my spread sheet off my computer. The spread sheet simply totals the categories for each month and I can read the totals in any category for the month or year. The "airplane" category had these numbers I posted for the past three years. My data prior to that included operating multiple airplanes under the one "airplane" category so 2006 and earlier was more than just the Skymaster so I do not have easy access to the totals for just the Skymaster prior to 2007. Since 2007, I have been operating only the Skymaster.

As for what causes the variations in operating costs from year to year is simply that some things cost more to fix or replace then others. I could go back to my files and dig out invoices to see exactly what went where but that will take too long. What I can do is recall from memory some examples of things that have either been fixed or replaced over the years since 2002 and the approximate cost for these things to hopefully give you an idea of what can all be involved financially.

Each year the "base price" annual runs about $4500 gradually increasing from year to year. That is to say if my shop takes the plane apart and puts it back together and finds no discrepancies then the annual will be $4500. Anybody who has operated an airplane knows that this never happens. Something is always broken or should be replaced simply from a preventative standpoint. If I have an annual that does not turn up any major discrepancies then I will take advantage of that and spend money on something that should probably be replaced but did not necessarily have to be replaced. I mentioned in my last post that 2010 so far has been going well. If the annual in this coming November 2010 proves to be a relatively discrepancy free annual then next on my list are all new flight control cables.

In the past several years items that have been repaired or replaced and approximate cost including labor are as follows in no particular order:

1) flap cables - $2000 to $3000
2) props resealed twice and other prop parts (2002 and again in 2009) - $1500 to $2500/prop
3) both vacuum pumps - $500/pump
4) new prop governors - $2700/governor
5) rear muffler twice - 2003 and again in 2007 - $2000 to $2500 each occurance
6) motor mounts on both engines - cannot recall price
7) starters on both engines (internal gears failed) - $3500/engine
8) throttle, prop, mixture cables on both engines - cannot recall price
9) windshield - $2500
10) several interior plastic furnishings and interior parts - $4500
11) much autopilot repair and avionics repair over the years - several thousands
12) new encoder - $500
13) replaced signal conditioner and fuel gage issues - $2000
14) new brake discs will be installed this fall 2010 - not sure yet
15) rear prop removed and repaired due to F.O.D. - 2007 - $1500
16) replaced all hydraulic lines for the landing gear - cannot recall but expensive
17) several electrical issues, rewiring, battery cables, etc. (see my post on "over-voltage") - $2000
18) new auto-pilot attitude gyro - $2000
19) over-haul second attitude gyro - $500
20) replaced ELT with used serviceable unit - $150
21) many hrs & parts to get both the original Cessna CHT/EGT system and JPI CHT and EGT systems working - $$$
22) fuel leaks, lines, and senders repaired or replaced - $2000
23) aircraft trim system was completely out of rig and need to be redone - cannot recall
24) electric trim inop and rebuilt to function proprerly - $1500
25) replaced rear cowl-flap motor (front one getting slow but still working) - $2000
26) repaired cracks two or three times and repainted rear cowl (it took awhile for the shop to get it right) - $$$
27) repaired a fairly large crack in the belly skin behind front left exhaust pipe
28) replaced fuel caps


29) had enough yet?


Anyway, hopefully readers get the idea. As I have said before, the C337 is a wonderful flying machine. They are expensive as any twin engine airplane would be. People who are considering operating these airplanes need to understand that the costs are expensive and can vary widely. No two Skymasters are the same. Turbo and P-models will only add to the costs, ALOT. If you can live with the costs, I would recommend the airplane in a heart beat.

A $15,000 annual is routine for me. A $20,000 annual is not out of the question and I probably would not start to cry until the annual exceeded $25,000. My smallest annual was about $8500 and the highest was $20,000. The big one was the first one in 2002. Last year was around $15,000.

Just remember, the easy part is the purchase. The operating costs in short order will blow through the acquisition costs.

Hope this helps! This is simply my experience. Others may be different. I enjoy my airplane and am mostly happy to have it.

Ed

Ed
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  #21  
Unread 07-06-10, 07:15 AM
billsheila billsheila is offline
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Edamus -- good post

Thanks for sharing your actual experience. Mine is similar but not quite as costly. My approach to the airplane is identical, however, ie recognize it will be expensive, be happy when an annual doesn't go completely bad and use those times to continue to pour in funds to maintain some questionable and/or wearing items. These are old airplanes, and to keep them safe and properly maintained is going to take money. I recall some posts on this site of guys getting away with $1500 annuals...I thought it was just me, but I don't find this realistic at all. I have some historical bills for my bird from prior owners and from what I can see, the worst was a $25K annual. My worst was $14K and last year was the best at $4.2K. This is just annual, doesn't include hangar, insurance, fuel etc etc.
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  #22  
Unread 07-06-10, 08:24 AM
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Very Good, Ed

I no longer own it, but I bought my Skymaster for a good price, in 2001, and immediately spent 25K on a new engine and installation. My worse annual was about 12k. Not counting the 2K for a new rear cowl flap motor, and new torque tubes for the flap controls.

After about 4 years of ownership, I spent another 30K to buy a new rear engine. And more money to get it installed, along with a new engine mount, new lord mounts, and a new exhaust.

My situation was a little different, in that I could, for several years, do owner assisted annuals. While it took quite a bit of my time, I was able to save some money by opening up and assisting on closing up the airplane. I recall one of the maintenance shops saying that Cessna had a block time of 39 (or 41) hours for the annual inspection. Just the inspection. Removing panels, inspecting, and closing it back up.

For the last few years, I kept the plane at my hangar, next to my house.

Last edited by larry bowdish : 07-06-10 at 08:29 AM.
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  #23  
Unread 07-06-10, 04:46 PM
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There You Go

There you go Stratobee.

Real world numbers from people who own Skymasters. Depending on location, you can count on higher or lower numbers for you annual. You'll still have the whole insurance thing to contend with, along with hangar or tie down, and then there's ongoing maintenance, and gas.

If you still plan on having it go across the Atlantic, add a whole bunch more for the ferry flight. Last months EAA magazine had a good article on it.
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  #24  
Unread 07-06-10, 06:34 PM
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My thoughts on annuals and cost

I (and dad) have owned 2JF for 34 years. That’s a lot of history on one Skymaster. Insurance the last 10 years has been pretty linier, $2900.00 for $85K on the hull and all the usual liabilities. As of the last three years there has been 3 pilots on the policy. Skysmith has had most of the biz but currently I am with Travers.

Maintenance has been the same policy for the last 18 years that I have made the decisions. Dad’s maintenance was a little different than my policy but we won’t go there. While located in Idaho in 1991 I took the airplane to have the first annual that I would be responsible for and it was a shock. Because one rear blade had to be replaced and this shop had not ever scene the plane before it was close to $10K for the annual. Welcome to aircraft ownership. I was wondering how long I was going to last with this hobby. I then located a FBO near my home base that I developed a long, wonderful relationship with. They loved the airplane, were very thorough and passionate with their work. They had low overhead because they were based at a smaller airport and just really fair guys. This company maintained the aircraft throughout the next 10 or 11 years. My policy like others on this board is, if it needs fixed or looks like it might need fixed just fix it. I have never been one to skimp on a maintenance item. Throughout the time that this FBO shop did the work we did some major items; rear engine, gear door removal, vacuum pumps, etc. The annuals averaged over the 11 years about $2500.00, except the engine change. Each year there was at least two or three items to do service or replacement on. Rear mufflers seem to be about every two years. I had it welded most of the time and would cost about $300 on average. After several times a rebuilt was purchased. Now with the MT props I have only had to weld the rear muffler once in 9 years. I did not do owner assist with this shop. I was too busy running 3 companies that I could not take the time to join in on the fun. One year during this time I decided to have the home base FBO shop do an annual. I had an acquaintance with one of the IA’s at this local shop and he talked me into having him do the annual. Figuring that it was probably a good idea to have another set of eyes look at the airframe I brought the aircraft to the shop just a few hangers down from mine. They found a few little things that I agreed to have repaired or replaced but nothing earth shattering. The bill was over $6K. I was again shocked. I went back to my regular guys for the next annual and again it was in the $2-2500 range.

In 2002 I brought the aircraft to Michigan and was based at GRR with a choice of two large airport FBO shops. I talked to both and chose one to start the work on 2JF for annuals and PM. The first year I bought the MT props so that was a large bill for that work. But after that routine annuals were done with an average price of $3500. There were a couple of years that I needed something special like a seat rail or tires but for the most part there really wasn’t anything huge through the 6 or 7 years that they looked over the plane. It was great to have them on staff because there was a couple times something was needed between annuals and they would jump at the opportunity to serve me as a preferred customer. I figured after paying $2.5K for many years at the small little airport that the $3.5 at the big metro airport was still a good price. And both shops were top notch at their work. It was a pleasure to do biz with them. Again at the big shop here in GRR I did not assist with the annual.

Well here goes again, somewhere in the mix while in Michigan; a guy talked me into going to a shop that had some kind of Skymaster expert. This shop was south of GRR so it was a pain to deliver and pick up. But I decided again that it is always a good idea to have another set of eyes look at the plane every so often. Well it was a horrible experience. I am not an impatient kind of guy but when the annual goes on for over twice as long as they originally say I started to feel the friction coming on. Come to find out the so-called Skymaster expert never even touched the plane. One of his A&P’s did all the work. Again nothing earth shattering had to be done, pretty much a routine inspection. How much? $6.5K, yes I got a royal screwing on that one. Live and learn they say. In fact Larry got the same treatment when he went there, only he had an engine changed and it really got expensive. So I went back to the big guys shop in GRR and again only $3.5K.

Today I do owner assist annuals. Sometimes it’s a party. I have taken my plane to Larry’s hanger and we do mine and his together. I have learned so much that I could in no way put a price on the knowledge and experience. My annuals now average $900- $1500. I end up putting in a good 40 to 50 hours of time but it’s worth it right now. I have the time to be able to do this. That makes a big difference. But to know my airplane is invaluable.

To sum it up, I think you have to seek the right shop. There are some shops that have a price to do business. Lots of overhead, employees, costs, etc and their fixed cost just require a higher initial price. $15K to $25K is way too much. You need to shop around. My current IA works on 4 different Skymasters and lots of Bonanzas, Pipers, Cessna’s, Homebuilt, vintage and the likes. He has low overhead but is very good. His base price for a owner assist 300 series Cessna is $750.00.

If you don’t have the time then his full service price is $1,100.00. This is base price and as we all know things happen and stuff needs fixed or replaced so that is extra above the base price. I just think that there are shops out there that will be much more reasonable than others and that the cover on the book doesn’t always dictate the price.

These Skymasters are complex aircraft, compared to a 172, so expect to have high maintenance costs. The more they have, like turbo, pressurization, air conditioning, the more it is going to cost to maintain them. Mine is simpler, normal aspirated and non-pressurized. I like it that way. But these are complex machines. Buying the airplane is the easy part, maintaining it will be the real challenge. Buying is fixed price, you can prepare yourself to buy but on the contrary, maintenance is an unknown, this is where the rubber meets the road. A well maintained used Skymaster with mid times that has been flown regularly will always be a better choice than the low time not flown for the last 2 years ramp queen. A pre buy by a qualified maintenance person that knows Skymasters in a must. Don’t ever attempt to do a pre buy with the seller’s maintenance shop or someone that does not know Skymasters. You will be asking for disaster.

There are a lot of Skymasters out there on the market right now and I am sure that some of them are great airplanes. But watch out because I have seen some that look really inviting that may carry a vicious bite. It’s a buyers market and I would buy a Skymaster that has the most candy that I am looking for, especially in the avionics arena. In today’s market you will spend literally as little as 25% of the value of new for some upgraded panels. I would buy all the goodies I could on the right plane.

I will be in Oshkosh from Saturday thru Tuesday. Parking with all the Cessna’s in the North 40. Look us up.
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  #25  
Unread 07-08-10, 08:51 AM
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Thanks for your responses on your maintenance. However I think the question we have here is what is the cost of "ownership" of a good Skymaster, not necessarily what is the cost of any given annual or years maintenance.

If I'm not mistaken, Herb's bird is essentially "perfect", and has been maintaned and operated in a manner that has placed it in a position to not be expensive to maintain. Conversely a Skymaster that has sat out on the ramp unused and un-maintained for the past 3 years, with close to runout engines, will be extremely expensive to bring to the condition of your plane.

Of course this is a complete guess, but I would imagine you value your plane in the $130g- range, vs a runout which would be worth in the $30g range.

If so, then the premis that one could buy a decent 337 in the $30,000 range, put a few thousand in it, and fly off into the sunset is still incorrect. You may get away with it by buying a $60,000 plane, and maintain it to a bare minimum, but it certainly wouldn't be something that many of us would be interested in flying.

The idea is that you pay one way or the other. Time (ie the year 2010 vs 1990) is only relevant as related to the condition of the plane. This because when the price of a new plastic plane is $500,000, the value of a real airplane stays relatively constant, as related to it's condition (not what year we currently find ourselves in).

So I stand by my premis that you can pay now, or you can pay later. But you are not going to get out of paying in the $80g-$100g range to own a Skymaster that is worth flying.
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  #26  
Unread 07-08-10, 12:59 PM
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My intentions of the above post was to point out the difference in maintenance shops based on feedback from Ed and others. I agree with Roger that buying a ramp queen at a low price is, as stated in my message, the easy part of ownership. Maintaining it will be the challenge. I have an advantage with my plane because I have owned it for 34 years. I know every screw and rivet. But that doesn't mean that I can get a break on a high priced shop for an annual. Some shops just have higher costs.

My plane is nowhere near perfect. Thanks for the compliment but it is still a 42 year old Cessna that has had some passionate care. The blue book says $78,000.00 is the value and before the interior and paint it was $60,000.00. I spent well in excess of $50K for all the refurbish last year and will no way see a return. But then I didn't do the refurbish to make money. I did it to enjoy a nice airplane that I know intimately. I felt I could justify the cost of the refurbish because of the sentimental value the family has in this aircraft.

I also own a Twin Commanche. I have found this to be similar to the Skymaster in operating costs. The aircraft is a simpler airframe given that Piper made only 3 models and they all were almost identical in build. The service manual for the TwinCo serves all models and the parts are almost identical for all twins and single Commanche's. I have found that I can achieve annual costs very similar to the Skymaster using the same system.

However you look at it you don't buy these aircraft for an investment. They are worse than home ownership. It is a constant maintenance program to keep these 42 year old planes safely in the air. Don't think that you can just buy one of these type aircraft for a low price and maintain like a 172. It just won't work. I owned a 172 also. Speaking from experience here, as many do from this board. It's a serious venture, not to be taken lightly.
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  #27  
Unread 07-14-10, 12:24 AM
stratobee stratobee is offline
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It seems I've found a quick way of financing that Riley Rocket now - just get a quick STC for new cowl flap motors and sell them for $200, done deal. Millionaire within the week..
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  #28  
Unread 07-17-10, 12:30 PM
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I don't disagree with some of the key points made here, that you need to start with (and pay for) a sound aircraft and that you can't skimp on maintenance, but some of the numbers posted above seem very high and I believe there are ways of flying a reliable aircraft while spending considerably less money.

Let me shock most of you with this: I have been recording the costs of the annual inspections since 2005 and they were $3,540, $2,770, $1,745, $950 and $2,025. That averages $2,200 per year -- and it includes biennial transponder tests!

More on this in a moment (including an image of my actual handwritten records and how I achieve it) but let me talk reliability. I fly mostly over water, typically Florida to the Bahamas, with my family. Several families who also own aircraft will routinely ask me to take their children and grandchildren on my flights ("Ernie, you got a seat on your Thursday flight?"), and yet will not let these same children aboard other private twins, including twins where I sometimes serve as their consultant and I know they spend $10,000 - $20,000 each annual. Why? Because these families trust the reliability of my Skymaster, which I have been flying to the islands for over a decade. In short, I may cut costs but not corners.

There is an entire thread on maintenance costs at where members were asked by the then Administrator to share their costs. The last message on the first page is mine and explains how I achieve these numbers. In part: we do most of the work on the ramp (not an FBO); I do some of the work, including all the AD compliance paperwork (I'm an aerospace engineer but not an A&P) and will be hands-on during the entire annual; I try to find apprentice A&Ps to do much of the labor intensive work (depaneling and in my case sanding and painting corrosion because the plane sits outside); I aggressively search for parts (details are in that message); but most importantly because I have an A&P who knows 337s intimitately, has been doing my annuals for 10 years, is a friend who I pamper and essentially supervises the labor and limits himself to the actual inspections (compression check, flap cables, etc.).

One way of buying a sound aircraft at lower cost is to find one without the latest avionics. If it has reliable radios and transponder, if the engines, props, landing gear and airframe have been meticulously maintained -- with the records and ADs to show it, and after a rigorous pre-purchase inspection -- and if you find the owner HAVING to sell, then that's your aircraft. This takes advantage of the marvelous hand-held avionics now on the market.

One note, however, now in the opposite direction. Most of the numbers you see in this thread, including mine, don't have engine and prop reserves. If you fly 100 hours a year like I do, I figure $2,000 per year in reserves. Also, I occasionally have maintenance between the annual inspections; I don't keep a record of this but I believe it is under $2,000 per year. So add reserves and miscellaneous maintenances and I have annual maintenance costs of about $6,000 per year.

I realize that my situation is atypical. But if you can find an A&P who works on the ramp and knows and likes to work on Skymasters, and if you start with a sound aircraft (my current 1973 337G was maintained by the Ohio State University FBO before I purchased it), and you are willing to do some of the work, then your maintenance costs should be under $10,000 annually, including reserves.

Now add other costs which should be easy to compute (hangar/tie-down, fuel, etc.) and you can get a fairly accurate picture of what's ahead.

Ernie
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  #29  
Unread 08-22-10, 07:04 PM
Paul Sharp Paul Sharp is offline
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I agree with Roger and also with Ernie. You are going to spend around $80K-100K either now or later. And if that doesn't suit your budget you should look for something else to do for fun.

My worst annual was $11K+, the next worst $8K+, and the average is around $4-5K. I've O/H'd an engine recently @ $35,000, and over the years added IFR GPS for $10K, repainted @ $10K, new boots @ $20K, new heater @ $5K, etc. I've owned the plane for over 10 years. If someone buys it there are lotsof things they won't have to do because I've kept it up, but I don't intend to give it to up for any $40K. If they find one for $30-40K, they'll be putting a bunch of money into it.

You can take your pick: pay now or later. Bad mouth the asking prices if you want, but you aren't likely to escape reality.
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  #30  
Unread 08-23-10, 02:19 AM
stratobee stratobee is offline
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With all due respect, I think some of you are still a little bit reluctant to accept just how bad the times are. For all aircraft, not just for Skymasters.

Let's look at some real world examples:



Halftime engines. $39.000. On the market for 208 days.



More than 2/3's left on engines, $49.500, on the market for 327 days.

The list goes on ad nauseum on

All I'm saying is that obviously the buyers are not finding them rightly priced, or they would not be sitting on the shelf this long. So the notion that you pay either up front or later is not entirely true. What you spend on them to keep them up is not something you'll get back in todays market.

Last edited by stratobee : 08-23-10 at 02:22 AM.
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