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Has anyone done a top overhaul on their Jabiru 2200 / 3300 ?

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Well-Known Member
Nov 29, 2009
Jackson, MI
My Lightning has a gen 2 Jabiru 3300. It has 700 hours on it and performs well, does not appear to be burning oil but it does have a few problems:
  1. If one fills the oil to the "full" mark on the dipstick, the engine will eject the oil out the crankcase breather within the next couple of flight hours until it reaches the "low" mark on the dipstick. Then it will stabilize. I have not needed to add any oil after running another 10 hours so it seems like it will hold at this level.
  2. CHTs are fine in my install, never critical. However the oil temp will rise to the redline and beyond in a sustained climb. One is forced to level off, allow the oil temp to drop, then climb again. Rinse and repeat until at target altitude. I have the stock oil cooler install for the lightning, fed through a naca duct on the left side of the cowling. Supposedly this works for other aircraft including the SLSA LS-1 which has the exact same configuration and engine. I also have the optional air blast cooling of the finned sump with the extra opening in the front of the cowl to feed it. I'm basically out of options for better oil cooling unless I was to deviate from the designed system for my airplane.
  3. It has been suggested that I am getting hot oil because of excessive blow by, which is caused by the rings being jammed by lead deposits. This is the word from the engine distributor, which as luck would have it also happens to be the Arion factory. It appears that even if one was to buy a new Gen 4 engine at $20k it will still require a top overhaul at 1000 hours (so they say) and a full overhaul, including another top overhaul at 2000 hours. Since I'm not going to get a gen 4 engine, my gen 2 engine appears to reach the point where the top overhaul is needed by 600 hours and not 1000.
  4. The factory charges $7500 for a top overhaul and it is on you to ship it to TN and back. I do not know the turn around time. They have also quoted me $4700 for a list of parts for the top overhaul but many of the parts seem to not be associated with the top end of the engine at all, like for instance replacing the shafts and drive gears of the magnetos as well as the the cam drive gear on the crankshaft. Sounds a little like a quiet campaign that you the user pays for to replace known defective parts on the engine.
So, the factory seems to suggest that no mere mortal is capable of doing this job successfully by themselves and to entrust the work to them. Since the engine seems to be something that sells for $16k in 2007 and $20k today and appears to have a "real" tbo of less than 700 hours, I dont want to invest 1 penny more than needed in keeping it alive for the next year while my wife and I complete our pilot training. But if any independent CFI is going to work with us, it has to operate as intended and without cooking the oil. I had a very experienced experimental test pilot and retired ATP bail on training us the moment I disclosed to him the oil temperature problem, so this is not acceptable going forward.

I understand that everyone needs to work within their limitations, but given that I am a career mechanical engineer with over 30 years of experience, I think I am capable of following instructions and doing a job like this successfully. I have only 1 A&P at my airfield and I am pretty sure he has never worked on a Jabiru. I have watched many videos of Savvy Aviation and he is pretty strong in his warning that any time a mechanic touches one of your cylinders it is an opportunity for disaster. And that such work is done on a much too casual basis at many aviation shops.

So if you have done a top overhaul on your Jabiru I would like to hear from you. Any advice would be appreciated. Within a year I am expecting to pull the engine and sell it and the market value for used Jabitu engines seems pretty low. Less than $7k is what I would expect. Thus if I had Jabiru do the work I would basically be giving away the engine in a year.