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Why not a Continental IO-360?

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Richard Roller

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I have been looking for a used IO360 engine and there are not many Lyc's out there, but it seems there are more Continentals of the same displacement and for less money too. Is this a bad idea? Why would this not be a good idea?

I am planning to IRAN the engine before flight anyway. This is not a kit, so I need to build my engine mount and cowling and cooling baffles and all that anyway. Are there reasons I really should avoid the Continental, and what are they?

Thanks in advance,

Billski
Work with and on them for years on mixmasters and seneca 2's. I liked them.
 

Victor Bravo

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That six cyl Continental was used on the Air Force T-41 (basically a Cessna 175 without the geared engine), and on the Piper Turbo Arrow IV. I have a small amount of time in the T-Arrow, the engine worked fine, but it was a near new rental airplane at a flight school, and I have no experience working on them at all. They are widely reported to be NOT as "bullet-proof" as the Lycoming 360, more complicated, etc. etc.

I believe the TIO-360 has nothing whatsoever to do with the six cylinder O-300, and no comparisons or parallels should be made at all. The O-300 is indeed bullet proof because it is the same as the Cessna 150 engine with another pair of cylinders on it. The O-300 is a lower tech, lower output, and much more antique engine than the TIO-360.
 

Wayne

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Bill - If you determine an O360 Lycoming will work let me know - we have one in the shop from a Mooney that we did a top end rebuild on - brand new cylinders etc. I need to get back to selling that thing - been too busy these last few months.
 

BJC

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I have been looking for a used IO360 engine and there are not many Lyc's out there, but it seems there are more Continentals of the same displacement and for less money too. Is this a bad idea? Why would this not be a good idea?
If you have room for either the -A or -C, then you probably can fit in an IO-390. With Ross’s system added, and a prop set up for 2750 or 2800 RPM, you would have lots of HP to play with. What else were you planning to use all that money for?


BJC
 

wsimpso1

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If you have room for either the -A or -C, then you probably can fit in an IO-390. With Ross’s system added, and a prop set up for 2750 or 2800 RPM, you would have lots of HP to play with. What else were you planning to use all that money for?BJC
I am still learning fast on engines, but it looks like I have lots of room. Firewall is 44" wide and 28" high, it looks like I will not be squeezed longitudinally to get my static margin, and I have not built anything for a cowling yet... But a new IO-390 gives me sticker shock just thinking about it. I am actually looking more at an O-360 with Ross' goodies instead.

Billski
 

Twodeaddogs

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What I found from either brand of engine is that they both leaked from the pushrod covers (very poor quality seals), rocker covers (bad gaskets) ,crankcase halves (believe it or not, crankcase halves shifting and leaking) and accessory housing leaks from cheap gaskets. I have encountered Lycomings that rotted their crankcases and sumps from within and in both brands, had to condemn as scrap, crankcases that corroded on their top surfaces. They should have had electronic ignition years ago, as well as electronic fuel injection. The market shouldn't have to be designing and selling better gaskets, better ignition,better injection,better and lighter accessories for engines that costs five times the equivalent of a car engine. If these were car engines, they'd have been rejected as unfit for purpose years ago and the CEOs would be answering questions in Congress. The cost of certifying an aero engine's modifications cannot be so expensive that it reduces development to a crawl.
 

Victor Bravo

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But automotive engines are produced not five times more in numbers, but five thousand times more. So an airplane engine that also carries 100x more chance of a lawsuit, and 5000x smaller market... selling at only 5x the cost might be a bargain.
 

Dan Thomas

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But automotive engines are produced not five times more in numbers, but five thousand times more. So an airplane engine that also carries 100x more chance of a lawsuit, and 5000x smaller market... selling at only 5x the cost might be a bargain.
Over 36,000 times more. In 2019 there are about 2650 new airplanes sold, including bizjets. In 2018 there were 97 million cars built. Take out the jets, and the ratio would be even worse.
 
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Dan Thomas

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What I found from either brand of engine is that they both leaked from the pushrod covers (very poor quality seals), rocker covers (bad gaskets) ,crankcase halves (believe it or not, crankcase halves shifting and leaking) and accessory housing leaks from cheap gaskets. I have encountered Lycomings that rotted their crankcases and sumps from within and in both brands, had to condemn as scrap, crankcases that corroded on their top surfaces. They should have had electronic ignition years ago, as well as electronic fuel injection. The market shouldn't have to be designing and selling better gaskets, better ignition,better injection,better and lighter accessories for engines that costs five times the equivalent of a car engine. If these were car engines, they'd have been rejected as unfit for purpose years ago and the CEOs would be answering questions in Congress. The cost of certifying an aero engine's modifications cannot be so expensive that it reduces development to a crawl.
I bought more than a dozen factory overhauled engines from Lycoming and had no leak issues until the cork rocker cover gaskets started leaking at around 300 hours. I replaced them with the Superior red silicone gaskets and they leaked no more. Depending on hours and age, the oil return line rubber connectors would seep a little, but tightening the clamps usualy stopped it. I'm sure they could now find a better rubber than Buna for that. It's a hot job and the Buna suffers.

Until the certification costs and liability problems come down it's not going to get any better. Nobody is going to get any new certifications cheap enough to allow recouping of the costs. Ten years ago I did some work on one of the SMA diesels in a 182, and we had to talk to the factory about certain cracks and leaks and other problems. They told us that they had sunk a billion dollars (billion with a B) into that engine and they had 50 flying worldwide at the time. You think they'll ever get that R&D back? Their amortization at that point was $20 million per engine. Maybe in 500 years they'll have it back. Other developers look at that and go put their money and expertise somewhere other than aviation.

It ain't as simple as it looks.
 

BJC

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I am actually looking more at an O-360 with Ross' goodies instead.
I’m partial to the -B, which has parallel valves and a horizontal induction. No experience with the -M, but they seem to be popular with the Recreational Vehicle crowd.


BJC
 

TFF

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I think what can be missed is quality of an overhaul is widely varied for the exact same “product.” A field overhaul and one from a manufacturer is equal in sign off but not equal. Let’s have an extreme case.

Let’s say two engines with 7500 hrs total time. One field OH it’s whole life and the other was from Lycoming. The case that has been field overhauled it’s whole life has about the same as 600,000 miles of a car. That is a lot of cycles. There is no limit for cycles on a piston engine only dimensions. That case is a wet noodle. It probably does fret at the case halves. The Lycoming overhauled engine has had the case halves replaced at least once. From Lycoming itself I bet a case never gets reused after 4000 hours.

My little O-290G has a D crank in it. The guy who rebuilt it was probably super proud he could say he had a standard crank in it that was certified. When I got it it was gummed up that it had to come apart. That standard crank couldn’t have been closer to the max tolerance if it was ground to it. It was literally .0005 more and .003 bearings would be in spec. If it was certified I could have called it overhauled by just throwing some new standard bearings in or polishing the crank and using .003 bearings. I ended up turning mine to .006 because the surface was not to my liking added to the dimensions.

Realistically you are only buying a data plate. Most times parts are good. Most times you are going to use it maybe even it is just past close. Most of the time nothing is going to happen. They are tough engines. Lycoming has the luxury of throwing,anything close to being an issue, in the can. There is a reason they put the data tags on the oil pan for the most part, and then it’s just a couple of rivets if they do want to change it. It does show in the cost. Lycoming is not going to stick their neck out where a field overhaul has a bit of neck.

My boss always made my life easy buying factory OH engines. Only twice did I have to change cylinders. His cores being last OH at Lycoming we’re probably better than most peoples field, except for bore wear and valves.
 

Twodeaddogs

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Well, aftermarket companies have improved the breed immensely, like they have for VW based aero engines, which is essentially doing Lycoming's development work for them. The car racing industry has passed it's technology along to ordinary cars and recoups the huge development costs that way. As for certification, the FAA and EASA have effectively ceded certification to the big manufacturers,as we all know from Boeing's current miseries. EASA started off by charging crazy money to manufacturers for even the simplest of tests and /or modifications until it was realised that such costs were stifling development and manufacturers were taking their new aircraft or subsytems or OEM parts to the FAA for original certification. EASA at least had the grace to admit that they over-regulated from the early days and have rowed back a lot and now leave more to the manufacturer than before. as for aero engine numbers versus automotive engine numbers, well, obviously auto numbers will always win but when you see the many thousands of Rotax, Robin and Jabiru aero engines out there, and more new types coming down the pipeline,clearly designers are willing to take the plunge and bring out decent engines with modern technology as standard. Forget 1930s magnetos, heavy alternators, heavy starter motors. People want their aero engines to be as reliable and forgettable as their car engines are.
 

blane.c

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Any engine gets a prop strike it is susceptible to crankshaft cracks, other thing not mentioned are sometimes the gears get cracked too. Anything in the chain is going to be stressed. All aircraft engines leak oil from somewhere at sometime the difference is the owner's, some feel it is better to fix the leaks than live with the mess some prefer to just add oil. The cylinders of the Continental's need to be "babied" more than the Lycoming's regards thermal shock but any air cooled engine needs the pilot to be attentive to cowl flap position when adjusting power so as to maintain steady temps to the degree possible, also after stopping in cool weather getting an engine cover on literally as soon as possible (hustle) will prevent that "tinckle-ing" noise that used to make me shivver when I heard it after other pilots left their planes to rapidly cool down in the cold.

I like both. Also you may consider a Franklin, they are fine engines too.
 

Dan Thomas

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Any engine gets a prop strike it is susceptible to crankshaft cracks, other thing not mentioned are sometimes the gears get cracked too. Anything in the chain is going to be stressed.
Continental, at least, has a service bulletin outlining the work that needs to be done after a propstrike. They want the mags and vacuum pump replaced as well. That shock travels through the entire engine. It can not only crack cranks but gears, as you say, con rods, pistons, just about anything. It's something that no automobile engine has to face.

I worked on an airplane (with an IO-520) that had had a really severe prop strike at full power. Tore big chunks off the propeller blades. I was sure it would have a cracked crank. It didn't. Wasn't even bent. One can never assume anything. We had a couple of O-200 cranks crack after relatively minor, low-power propstrikes.

Lycoming takes it seriously. They have an AD that covers a wide range of propstrikes:
https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAD.nsf/0/9fa5e5f8683a0a4686256e9b004bc295/$FILE/041014.pdf

An excerpt:

Definition of Propeller Strike (i) For the purposes of this AD, a propeller strike is defined as follows: (1) Any incident, whether or not the engine is operating, that requires repair to the propeller other than minor dressing of the blades. (2) Any incident during engine operation in which the propeller impacts a solid object that causes a drop in revolutions per minute (RPM) and also requires structural repair of the propeller (incidents requiring only paint touch-up are not included). This is not restricted to propeller strikes against the ground. (3) A sudden RPM drop while impacting water, tall grass, or similar yielding medium, where propeller damage is not normally incurred. (j) The preceding definitions include situations where an aircraft is stationary and the landing gear collapses causing one or more blades to be substantially bent, or where a hanger door (or other object) strikes the propeller blade. These cases should be handled as sudden stoppages because of potentially severe side loading on the crankshaft flange, front bearing, and seal.
 
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TFF

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The plus side of Continental is compression checks. They only want the cylinder off if it’s bad bad. If you use a Continental spec compression tester, bigger orifice letting more air in so harder to fail. If you think it’s low, they say go fly it X hours and check again. Not an immediate fail unless it’s zero. Makes power, keep going.
 

proppastie

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I have been told the non-counter-weighted crankshafts are better as regards prop strikes. Some models of the IO-360 have counter weights and some do not. I bought my Mooney after a prop strike, did the AD and got about 300 hr before I noticed a crack in the "old style case" ....as to weather this was because of the prop strike or not I do not know. I do remember it was not much different than the O-320 inside, the rods had squirt fittings to squirt oil to the opposite cylinder, that the O-320 did not have. The press-fit through bolts were a pain as regard splitting the case in the IO-360 (I jacked them in and out with nuts and a stackup of washers) ....I do not remember that problem with the 67 Cherokee engine. I liked the stretch rod bolts for very accurate torque (measure with a mikecrometer ) on the IO-360. I was lucky as the local flight school let me trade them different size push rods to get the dry-lash right in the middle of the tolerance. Careful of the nut and bolt inside the top of the case when splitting the case.
 

Twodeaddogs

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Any engine gets a prop strike it is susceptible to crankshaft cracks, other thing not mentioned are sometimes the gears get cracked too. Anything in the chain is going to be stressed. All aircraft engines leak oil from somewhere at sometime the difference is the owner's, some feel it is better to fix the leaks than live with the mess some prefer to just add oil. The cylinders of the Continental's need to be "babied" more than the Lycoming's regards thermal shock but any air cooled engine needs the pilot to be attentive to cowl flap position when adjusting power so as to maintain steady temps to the degree possible, also after stopping in cool weather getting an engine cover on literally as soon as possible (hustle) will prevent that "tinckle-ing" noise that used to make me shivver when I heard it after other pilots left their planes to rapidly cool down in the cold.

I like both. Also you may consider a Franklin, they are fine engines too.
I flew behind both Cont. IO-360s and Lyco IO-540s as a parachute pilot and both were just fine as long as you took care with Man P/RPM/EGT-CHT/leaning on the way up and down.
 
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