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Old 05-21-2019, 01:49 PM
UrbanM UrbanM is offline
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Salt Lake
Posts: 6
Default RV 9 Inspection

New to the group. My background as far as homebuilts; Years ago I worked on Rans kits up to the S6 and S7. I aidded with the construction of an RV8 which I have some time in and I currently fly an RV12. Looking for something with more speed so I am shopping for an RV9 or 9A. I was looking at a 9A for sale recently and a few questions arose which I was hoping to gain some insight. First, This ship was on the second owner who had purchased it only recently. There was a complete absence of build logs or any documentation of SBs on the airframe or ADs on the engine. I figure I can do the SBs and check the ADs myself but should I be worried about the absence of build logs? Part of the reason this came up is because the build quality varied dramatically and it looked like the fuse and wings were QB but everything the builder did (Like the tail) was marginal. If I emailed the factory with a serial number could they tell me if this was a QB?
Second, this ship had 2 Lightspeed ignitions. I was told by some in the homebuilt community only one was desirable do to safety concerns (Redundancy). The ship came with a charger for the back up battery and the current owner said it only needed to be charged every 2 years or so but the charger looked like the box had never been opened and the records did not indicate it was ever recharged. Also, The Lightspeed uses car spark plugs. Do these screw into a stock Lycoming cylinder?
Lastly, The owner seemed reluctant to let me pull the cowling off. I can see waiting until a pre purchase inspection to do this but I didn't wish to make an offer (Based on everything else I saw) without doing this. Is it normal to make an offer contingent on the prepurchase or "Check under the hood" first? I don't want to waste anyones time if I have doubts or can't be serious with an offer. I did tell the owner I would look at another ship or two and I might get back to him.
Sorry for the novel. You all can probably tell I am used to buying factory ships.
Thanks in advance for any info!

Last edited by UrbanM : 05-21-2019 at 01:50 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-21-2019, 05:47 PM
SPX SPX is online now
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 68

To me, an airplane with poor records (build and maintenance) has much less value than one with excellent records.

Regarding magnetos vs light speed, I suppose thatís more of a preference than anything. With a main battery plus a backup battery, in my opinion, unless youíre truly out of reach of an airport within an hour or so, it shouldnít pose a problem. But again, thatís only my opinion. A single magneto plus one electronic ignition is far more common than a dual setup, but aviation is always slow to accept new technologies.

I donít think itís out of the ordinary, especially on a homebuilt, to ask to see the engine. The fact that youíre getting apprehension would be concerning to me.

It sounds to me like you have reservations on this airplane. Iíve learned, and find this especially true in aviation, follow your gut instincts. Itíll rarely lead you wrong.

Good luck with your decision. Iím also eager to read the feedback that you receive from others.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:00 PM
cojaken cojaken is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 32

I was very fortunate to buy an excellently constructed 9A with excellent build records. In the year I have owned it, I have referred to both the build records and the plans many times and found them to be invaluable. They have also allowed me to become much more knowledgeable about my plane and imho the quality of the records are at least an indication of the quality of the build.

I have no experience with Lightspeeds, but with battery redundancy I believe at least in theory it should be fine. I’m planning to put two Pmags on mine eventually.

If I was selling my plane I would be begging a prospective buyer to stay long enough to let me take the upper cowl off, because even though I didn’t construct it I am proud of the work of the guy that did!

I made my offer based on the seller’s description and detailed photographs and history, but made it contingent upon a pre-purchase inspection and flight by someone more knowledgeable than me.

Take your time to find a good one. You’ll be proud of yourself and the plane.
RV-9A, bought, flying
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:02 PM
9GT's Avatar
9GT 9GT is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Southern Michigan
Posts: 1,626

A seller who does not let a potential look at the engine? I wouldn't walk away from any kind of a deal,,,I would run!
David C.
Howell, MI

RV-9A: Under Construction.
RV-10: Completed 12/29/2013 SOLD 08/23/2016

"Donor Exempt" but donated through Dec. 2019
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:12 PM
philrisl philrisl is offline
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Deltona, FL
Posts: 24

Currently building a 9A with dual P mags. The auto spark plugs are typically installed in adapter in the Lycoming cylinders. As a builder of numerous (7) homebuilts, I agree with the other comments about documentation and inspections.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:45 PM
Secondwind Secondwind is offline
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 7

Sounds about like buying a car when the owner wont open the garage. Why is the second owner selling it in such a short time? Perhaps he/she knows about potential expensive and or deadly problems. Lack of any build log/photos would lead me to believe that corners were cut. Not allowing the engine inspected would lead me to believe there are serious problems. These of course are my opinions but I would run away as fast as I could.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:42 PM
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bruceh bruceh is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ramona, CA
Posts: 2,209

Taking the cowl off is a 5 minute task. Same with putting it back on.
I would really want the build documentation, especially for the wiring diagram knowledge. Also, why wouldn't the "backup" battery for the Electronic Ignitions be on the main bus and be always charging by the alternator? I have a battery charger in my hangar and it is used sparingly (only if/when I have the avionics on for longer durations for programming things and such).

Running auto plugs is fine. I've got dual P-mags and all of my plugs are auto plugs. They just screw into the adapters and the adapters fit the Lycoming cylinder heads.
Bruce Hill
RV-9A N5771H flown over 600 hours!
APRS Tracking for KJ6YRP and New Flying Blog
2019 VAF donator
EAA Tech Counselor
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:06 PM
ksouthar ksouthar is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 99
Default RV9 Inspection

As a builder and owner of an RV9A, I would echo the advice to run, not walk from this airplane.

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Old 05-22-2019, 07:56 AM
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airguy airguy is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Garden City, Tx
Posts: 4,667

Agreed, you need to pass on this one.

Most legitimate RV owners are practically begging people to look at their airplanes just for show-and-tell. If you found somebody that balked at a request, there's a reason.
Greg Niehues - PPSEL, IFR, Repairman Cert.
Garden City, TX VAF 2019 dues paid
N16GN flying 450 hrs and counting! Built an off-plan 9A with too much fuel and too much HP. Should drop dead any minute now.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:19 PM
UrbanM UrbanM is offline
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Salt Lake
Posts: 6

Thanks for all the responses! To the sellers credit he did point out the logs were sparse when I initially called about the plane. The poor guy purchased the plane recently sight unseen based on advice of friends and then ran into health issues that ended his flying career. I think he understood some of my concerns because he was asking far less than what he paid a year ago.
I've found the best way to go is buy the nicest plane of a particular type you are searching for. The initial cost might be higher but maintenance and upkeep is far cheaper and resale is piece of cake.
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