I have a fixed pitch, 150HP 9A, and if I had to do it again, still on a budget, I would probably try to do as Mahlon suggested, and find a used (I)O-360 and a fixed pitch prop. If it tells you anything, I bought my engine from a VAFer upgrading his 9A to 180HP. I'd probably want a composite Catto prop to help compensate for the added weight up front, but that's just because I am big on keeping weight off the nosewheel. None of this is to say I am unsatisfied with my performance, just that a 360 seems a fairly cost-neutral way to add some performance, and easier to do it from the outset than later on.
True that it's hard to beat a brand new engine, however if you're like me, that's an unrealistic amount of money to spend. Finding a quality used engine takes legwork (I spent 6 months looking), but they are out there, and can save you a LOT of money that can be spent on other important things. I would also argue that the reliability of a well-maintained engine with a few hundred hours is, at least initially, better than a brand new engine. Look for an engine that has flown frequently and recently, with some recent oil analysis. Engines from dry climates would be a plus. There is no guarantee of course, but my 700-hour O-320 hasn't missed a beat in the 2 years I've been flying. I did rebuild the mags and carb.
The idea that you have 2000 hours ahead of you in a new engine sounds nice, but at the rate most people (not Vlad) fly (50-100 hours/year), that's 20-40 years of flying, and I highly doubt most people will own or fly their planes that long, and it is well past the recommended years between overhaul, anyways.
As a counterpoint to a previous post, I would feel more confident behind a frequently flown and well maintained, 500 hour engine, with the extra $10k spent on a nice redundant IFR panel and autopilot, than I would with a brand new engine and a six pack VFR panel.
RV-9A - Done(ish) 4/5/16! Flying 4/7/16
Last edited by YellowJacket RV9 : 11-14-2017 at 01:29 PM.