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I'm asking the same engine questions you (and I'm sure others) are
about what to stick on my 173FGE and I tend to agree with Dave Black.
Although I hate to spend $10-15k for a used, mid-time to low time
IO-360, it is the proven choice for those who don't want to spend the
first 100 hrs playing Chuck Yeager with their airplane and families.
The 540 option is tempting and Alan Shaw at Dynamic Wings is a good
source to talk to about this option. He has done the conversion and
does a pretty good marketing pitch. I believe he even did one for a
Colorado pilot also concerned about high altitude scenarios. The
downside is its a bigger engine, sucks more gas, probably needs a
variable pitch prop, places slightly more load on your airframe and
you'll have to make a major mod to the rear cowlings. The good side is
the engines appears plentiful and provides 40+ extra horsepower if you
The Franklin engine appears to be a work in progress. Like most of the
east coast builders, I have had the privilege of meeting Pat Goodman and
came away less than impressed. I wish the new distributor luck and
hope he will improve the situation. Everything I've read says the
engine itself is good--now if someone can solve the accesory problems,
the installation problems and provide some assurance of long term
support this may be a super engine. I'm probably giving the franklin a
bum rap, but I haven't heard too many complaints the past year against
the IO-360 compared to the monthly Franklin soap opera.
I've checked out the auto conversions and find them to be the least
costly with the most risk. Mark Machado at Velocity and one of his
builders (John) are looking at two different engines. They appear to
be on track and should provide valuable information to the rest of
us. I hope to be in Sacramento next week and plan on visiting to see
how they are coming on this project. One of our fellow velocitites is
flying a Chevy V-6 or V-8 (?) --- I was wondering if we could get some
feedback on the performance, installation, problems, etc?
As Dave Black wisely stated, your choice really comes down to how much
risk you intend to take both financially and with your neck and those of
your passengers. If your are a top-notch mechanic, understand engines
and their accesories, and really enjoy constantly tinkering with the
plane--go for the non-lycoming options--just don't carry passengers
until you get it working right. If you are more risk adverse, go for
the IO-360. After a few hundred hours of fixing all the other problems,
you can always sell it (probably for what you paid) and try something a
little newer that by then has more of a track record.
- From: NMFlyer1 <NMFlyer1@aol.com>