Considering a PPonk Upgrade? We have ZERO regrets

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5 years 9 months ago #427 by Mark Brenberger
Replied by Mark Brenberger on topic Considering a PPonk Upgrade? We have ZERO regrets
Putting it all back together:
After almost 6 agonizing weeks of not flying, the momentous day arrived and the engine and propeller were finally in the same hangar as the airplane. It was Monday, December 28, 2015. This was also the day we got to pay the balance due Aero Engines of Winchester so there was another very large check waiting for the driver when he delivered the goods. The engine was returned with a supplemental data plate affixed close to the old one. It also included a fresh coat of paint…still not quite fully cured. They were able to do the case modifications without destroying the oil-pan pre-heater, which saved us a couple of hundred dollars. Charlie, our A&P, and his mechanics set about putting the new and improved engine in place. The first two photos show the engine still on a hoist being readied for installation. The next two show the engine mounted, plumbed, and wired.
Let’s talk about a couple of surprises that we got during the reinstallation process. (In fairness, some additional research and experience on our part would have kept these items from being surprises.) First, the tachometer had to be sent out to be re-marked in accordance with the STC. Not a huge item but it took a couple of days and a little over $200 to complete. Second, the propeller governor was the vintage 1976 original that came from the factory. With the addition of the three blade propeller the governor would need an extensive rebuild, estimated cost $2000+. OUCH! A new governor was priced at just slightly over $2100 so we chose to have a new unit installed. Again, research and experience would have revealed this so, our bad.
The bulk of the work was complete by Monday, January 4, 2016, at which point Charlie set about going through the necessary paperwork to make everyone’s hard work legal in the eyes of the FAA. The first issue he discovered was that the STC paperwork for the propeller was not included in the documents from PPonk. Norma Knopp of PPonk was able to get that straightened out very quickly. Then there was the starter. The engine STC called for a light-weight starter that was less than a certain weight. Sadly, a standard weight starter had been supplied. A couple of phone calls (and a couple of starters) later and Aero Engines was able to provide the STC compliant component. After a new weight and balance sheet was done and the aircraft was buttoned up, it went back into our T-hangar…again, Whew!
After getting all of the logbooks, STCs, and legacy paperwork back in order, as well as doing a couple of flights and leak checks in the airplane, we got our final invoice on January 14, 2016. Next time: Our initial impressions and the thoughts of other pilots who have flown the airplane.







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5 years 9 months ago - 5 years 9 months ago #425 by Mark Brenberger
Replied by Mark Brenberger on topic Considering a PPonk Upgrade? We have ZERO regrets
The work gets under way:
While our strategy was essentially sound, our tactics in executing this vast undertaking were off when it came to timing. It became clear to us that having the engine in the shop over Thanksgiving practically guaranteed that it would still be in the shop over Christmas. No fault on our A&P who pulled the engine promptly, or on Aero Engines who picked it up promptly, it’s just the way things worked out. Even though we’re easily 300 driving miles from Winchester, VA, Aero Engines sent a truck and picked up and then returned the engine for free. This saved us between $500 and $750 on shipping alone. We are given to understand that many shops provide some level of “local” pickup and delivery. This was also the point where we were asked to pay a 50% deposit on the overhaul, STC, and propeller. This came as no surprise as Aero Engines had made us aware when they did the proposal. Our hands trembled just a little as we wrote that amount on to the check. With that, the engine, old propeller, log books, and tens of thousands of dollars were on their way to Virginia.
For those unfamiliar with the PPonk modification, several internal changes need to be made to the engine. First, and most obvious is to exchange the O-470 cylinders for O-520 cylinders which increases engine displacement by 50 cubic inches. O-470 models R and S require a new crankshaft. The crankshaft counterweights are reconfigured and case modifications are made. The cylinders are fitted with low compression pistons which are precision balanced to within .5 grams. The carburetor is also modified. All original external accessories are overhauled and used on the O-470-50. The end product is essentially an O-520 which is carbureted and de-rated to 265-275 hp. Recommended TBO for the O-470-50 is 2,000 hours.
It was estimated that the engine work would take approximately 4 weeks to complete. With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays it turned out to be closer to 6 weeks by the time the engine was tested, painted, and returned to North Carolina. While the engine work was going on, we got the opportunity to talk to our A&P and his mechanics about some of the work that would take place in connection with the engine removal and replacement and the annual inspection. His shop charged a fixed base-rate for an annual on a C182 as well as a fixed base-rate for engine removal and replacement. Talk these things over with your A&P. Pulling the engine obviously presents the opportunity to inspect and repair as necessary a number of things that could not normally be done during the annual. It sets you up for some “while we’re at it” work. Exhaust system, induction system, engine mounts, vibration dampeners, all of these things are exposed to the light of day. We found a few items, none of which were cost prohibitive to repair, and in one case a safety of flight issue was fixed for less than $200 dollars and without actually experiencing the engine failure that could have resulted. (Whew!) There are also many items, such as hoses, clamps, and various nuts and bolts for example, that will need to be replaced due to the engine removal and replacement. Next: Putting it all back together.

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5 years 9 months ago #424 by Ron Jones
I P-Ponked my newly purchased C180B this fall & got it back into the air last month; my O-470-K had 1200 SMOH, but had last been OH'd in 1967. My engine was STC'd by Lawson Aviation in Gobles, MI, and the overall cost was about $30K, exclusive of my labor, engine mounts, accessories and including selling a C203 and installing a field approved C58 2-blade. So far, so good - 10 hours, 143 KTAS/15 gph @ 5,000 ft. Definitely better than before and on par with my previous 260 hp O-540 Lycoming Bearhawk. Good luck!
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5 years 9 months ago - 5 years 9 months ago #423 by Mark Brenberger
Replied by Mark Brenberger on topic Considering a PPonk Upgrade? We have ZERO regrets
The research begins:
Research began in earnest in May of 2014 when we began making inquiries of various engine and propeller manufacturers and re-manufacturers. We got as much information as we could from websites and from advertisements in various GA focused magazines, including the Cessna Flyer magazine. We also talked to pilots, A&Ps, mechanics, flight schools, skydive operators, and anyone else who would sit still long enough to listen. We corresponded with a number of manufacturers and engine shops, the list of which reads like a who’s who of general aviation maintenance. Hartzell, McCauley, MT, Continental, Texas Skyways, John Jewell Aircraft, PPonk, Aero Engines of Winchester and many others. (All of whom were very helpful and professional, although McCauley never returned our calls or replied to any email inquiries.) We read every blog and forum post we could get our eyeballs on. We searched for and pored over countless articles on the various flavors of overhauls. We gathered hard numbers where we could and extrapolated a SWAG where we could not. We considered an engine overhaul to new limits; factory rebuilt; factory new; overhaul with STC upgrades; even an engine overhaul combined with a supercharger.

Proposed Engine Work: Potential Cost: Pros/Cons:
Overhaul to new limits $15,000-$20,000+ Least Expensive/1500 hour TBO, no more power
Factory rebuilt $27,000+ 1700 hour TBO/Expensive, no more power
Factory new $32,000+ 1700 hour TBO/Most expensive, still no more power
Overhaul/STC upgrade $30,000+ 2000 hour TBO, Increased power/Expensive
+ does not take into consideration the cost to remove, ship, and replace the engine, which will be discussed in further posts. Also, we have not included any details regarding the overhaul and supercharger installation from Forced Aeromotive ( www.forcedaeromotive.com ) but Rod provided a myriad of details which are too numerous to list here.

The decision:
In the end, as the title of the thread says, we decided to go with the PPonk STC overhaul/upgrade option along with the installation of a Hartzell Scimitar propeller. We considered some other overhaul/STC options but in the end the PPonk, in our opinion, met our budget and goals the best. Our engine overhaul cost was approximately $4,000 more than some others because the PPonk STC requires a somewhat hardier crankshaft which our O-470-S7 lacked. Paying a visit to the PPonk authorized reseller in our area, Aero Engines of Winchester, gave us a great deal of confidence in our decision too. Tom and Arthur could not have been nicer or more eager to answer our questions and show us around their shop at the airport and their off-side rebuild shop. We also got the chance to talk to one of their customers, a jump operator, who absolutely raved about the performance and good service. We made our decision in September of 2015 to proceed as detailed above. We combined the engine overhaul and improvements with the annual which was due in November. We flew a Pilots-n-Paws mission on November 14, 2015 and our A&P pulled the airplane into his hangar the following Monday, November 16, 2015. The adventure begins…
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5 years 9 months ago #420 by Mark Brenberger
Replied by Mark Brenberger on topic Considering a PPonk Upgrade? We have ZERO regrets
Airframe and Engine background:
1976 Cessna 182-P – 3340 hours TTAF
Continental Motors - Model O470S7 – 1610 SMOH
Other than some flap-gap seals there have been no other modifications to the airframe. We bought the airplane knowing an engine overhaul was in our future, which happily was reflected in the purchase price. We flew the airplane for almost exactly two years, winter, spring, summer, and fall through parts of the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic states. True airspeeds, power settings, and fuel consumption were all very close to the numbers quoted in the POH. We used the fuel-flow monitor and graphic engine monitor to run just a touch lean of peak. We flew it at full power and at reduced power settings. For all intents and purposes the engine was still performing as advertised in the POH. Oil consumption and plug fouling were becoming a growing problem. Our A&P suggested replacing select cylinders or considering a top overhaul if we didn’t want to invest the money in a major overhaul.

Our typical mission:
From an improved runway of 3000’ or more, 2-3 human passengers, a few pounds of stuff in the cargo area, and sometimes as many as 11 puppies with their mama dog. (We really enjoy flying Pilots-n-Paws missions.) We often fly within 100 pounds under maximum gross weight, especially if inexpensive fuel is available. We’ve flown over the Smoky Mountains a few times and have cruised as high as 9500 feet. Most flights are within a 200-250 mile radius of our home base (KJNX) but we’ve logged some multi-stop cross country flights, too.

Requirements:
We began with some loosely defined requirements for the overhaul and possible upgrade. First was to get an overhauled engine in place. Second was to get a modest performance increase if possible and affordable. Third, in the go big or stay home department, a three blade propeller was proposed for a somewhat smoother and quieter ride despite the potential for a small cruise performance penalty. Finally, to do as much as we could keeping costs from running away with the project. (To be continued – next up: The research begins)

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5 years 9 months ago #419 by CFA Staff 10
Replied by CFA Staff 10 on topic Considering a PPonk Upgrade? We have ZERO regrets
Congratulations on the upgrade. We're all looking forward to hearing more about your experience and seeing the pics to go along with it. Thanks for taking the time to post this most-relevant topic.

I look forward to more information and thanks again.

Scott Sherer
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