Opinions wanted, 7AC/L16 or 7GCAA for a club plane?

Bartman

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#1
Hi all,

Looking for opinions, have two planes in mind to get a flying club started.

First is a '56 7AC that was restored in '88 as an L16 replica. It's got an O-235 with 715 hrs, 1875TT, fabric looks great, camouflage paint with greenhouse and smoke system. Pros are it's cheaper to buy at about $30k, cheaper to operate, and will make for overall less expensive financials when attracting new members. It's also got the 115 hp O-235 so it's better power than a stock Champ which people generally like.

Next is a '75 7GCAA with about 850 total time 155 on an overhauled engine. The original fabric is still testing ok but the original dope finish has been touched up and repaired in places. The engine has been run only a few hours per year for about the last nine years but it's been well maintained and always hangared. Pros are the 150hp engine but the higher purchase price of about $45k and the higher operating costs will make it less attractive for pilots that might be looking for a really affordable flying opportunity.

Would like to hear what you have to say. I was hoping to keep the initial price to join in the area of $3500 with $500 to $750 non-refundable and with about ten members total so long as we have the one plane.

Another consideration is that my 115hp 7ECA will be done soon and if things go well I'd like to bring that into the club also. So would my 7ECA mix it up with the L16 better or the 7GCAA?

Thanks! Looking forward to your replies.
Bart
 
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Bartman

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#2
for what it's worth, the 7GCAA has the factory scallops scheme so I could use it for making sure my 7ECA's scallop scheme is perfect! same colors too so it'll be our official club scheme whether we like it or not! lol

If I had to choose which plane I'd want to keep if the club doesn't work out, I'd want my 7ECA, then the GCAA, then the 7AC/L16.
 
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Bob Turner

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#3
A 7GCAA with really old fabric and an engine that has passed Lycoming recommendations for overhaul for $45K?

Go for the Champ. It is overpriced, but nowhere near as much as the GCAA. Make sure the engine installation is approved.
 

Bartman

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#4
I made a mistake, the engine on the 7GCAA is about 155 hrs since overhaul, the first post has been edited. Not sure what year, probably ten to fifteen years ago

The biggest problem is that the Champ would allow a buy-in of about $3700. With the GCAA it would be about $5000. I'm hoping to get an initial group of ten. My gut is telling me it is going to be a lot harder to get ten people at $5000 each than ten at $3700.

Thoughts?
 
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Bob Turner

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#7
Because the Citabria is overpried by a factor of two. Ask Lycoming how they feel about engines that run 50 hours in five years.

Good fabric and recent engine overhaul - $30-35 K. Old fabric and an engine that sits for years, even inside - $20 grand. Opinion.
 

Bob Turner

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#8
My Decathlon cost 42. Superb fabric, and 1000 hours on an overhaul, meaning the engine never sat. Those camshafts hate to be parked!
 

Bartman

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#9
I get all of that Bob, the question was more of the idea of a more expensive and capable airplane vs a less expensive but also less capable plane. the part about the engine and fabric is all valid but I'm with you that the price would have to be more reasonable for what is being bought.

for what it's worth, there are stories out there of engines that sat and have been perfectly fine. it's the people that run their engines for a few minutes every few months while the plane sits that kill engines.

if i had to ballpark a mid seventies 150 hp Citabria with new fabric and a new engine it would have to be in the fifties or sixties because the engine and fabric alone could be $60k. A low time 150 hp Citabria with fabric that has always been hangared and well maintained, that still tests ok plus a low time engine that might be perfectly fine is more like $37k, plus or minues a few thousand.....In my humble opinion :) So I wouldn't agree that it's overpriced by a factor of two, at least not until I've been there to see a pre-buy done on it.

It looks like the Champ is sold already.

But the question is, to start a club, Champ or Citabria? I'm kind of leaning towards a Champ myself. There's also a 7ACA out there for sale, looks kinda interesting, a mix between the last of the Champs and the first Citabrias.
 

aftCG

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#10
Why would a 70's or even 80's Citabria be worth more than a 60's Citabria? They're the same plane, so it gets down to condition - a direct result of how it's been flown and stored.

I would take a '65 that's been hangared and babied over a '89 instruction/glider tow plane that's been outside in a heart beat.

The "L-16" would have some fun factor and probably a decent useful load.

The 7GCAA you listed was too much money.

My 150hp 7ECA might have just broke 2000TT this year and a little short of 450SMOH, fabric in 1988 and hangared for all but a year or so if it's life.
If someone offered me $30k I would look hurt and then make sure they spelled my name correctly on the check.
 

JimParker256

1965 Champion 7ECA (O-200)
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#14
So here's my take... For a club plane, you want as much useful load as you can get. The bigger-engine Citabrias often come up short in that department. But the Champs with O-200 and O-235 engines are typically in the same boat – limited useful load because you've got a much heavier engine, while as far as I know the STC does NOT allow for any increase in the max gross weight.

My personal favorite would be a Champ with the C-85 or C-90 engine, no generator or alternator ever in it's life history (no electrical system bypasses transponder and ADS-B requirements – even inside the Mode C veil – thus keeping it lighter), but with a starter powered by a "total loss" battery. (You just put it on a battery tender after every flight.)

Those C-85 and C-90 powered Champs seem to have the best combination of "enough" power and decent useful load to be practical aircraft. Plus, they are super-cheap on fuel – especially if you can run MoGas.

There is a training center near my house that has Decathlons for both aerobatics and tailwheel training. Problem is, with two 200-lb guys, you can't put enough fuel in it to fly more than about 45 minutes (and land with legal reserves). I like to have at least 60 minutes worth of fuel on board when I land, and I could not fly one of their Dekes with an instructor for more than 15 minutes (and remain at or below max gross weight). Every single O-320 powered 7xxx I looked at had the same issue as their Dekes: insufficient useful load for my needs.

That's why I picked the 7ECA... The O-200 left me plenty of useful load so I can fly with my CFI at legal weight & balance conditions, and still have plenty of fuel. I would think for a club plane that would be even MORE critical, because your club rules should be pretty tight around fuel minimums and adhering to W&B limitations.
 

Bob Turner

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#15
I agree, except we get three months out of a small Odyssey battery with daily starts. I keep track - 50-75 starts per charge.
 

Bartman

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#16
So here's my take... For a club plane, you want as much useful load as you can get. The bigger-engine Citabrias often come up short in that department. But the Champs with O-200 and O-235 engines are typically in the same boat – limited useful load because you've got a much heavier engine, while as far as I know the STC does NOT allow for any increase in the max gross weight.

My personal favorite would be a Champ with the C-85 or C-90 engine, no generator or alternator ever in it's life history (no electrical system bypasses transponder and ADS-B requirements – even inside the Mode C veil – thus keeping it lighter), but with a starter powered by a "total loss" battery. (You just put it on a battery tender after every flight.)

Those C-85 and C-90 powered Champs seem to have the best combination of "enough" power and decent useful load to be practical aircraft. Plus, they are super-cheap on fuel – especially if you can run MoGas.

There is a training center near my house that has Decathlons for both aerobatics and tailwheel training. Problem is, with two 200-lb guys, you can't put enough fuel in it to fly more than about 45 minutes (and land with legal reserves). I like to have at least 60 minutes worth of fuel on board when I land, and I could not fly one of their Dekes with an instructor for more than 15 minutes (and remain at or below max gross weight). Every single O-320 powered 7xxx I looked at had the same issue as their Dekes: insufficient useful load for my needs.

That's why I picked the 7ECA... The O-200 left me plenty of useful load so I can fly with my CFI at legal weight & balance conditions, and still have plenty of fuel. I would think for a club plane that would be even MORE critical, because your club rules should be pretty tight around fuel minimums and adhering to W&B limitations.
I agree, except we get three months out of a small Odyssey battery with daily starts. I keep track - 50-75 starts per charge.
Good information in both posts, thanks for sharing! :)
 
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#17
For what its worth, I belong to a 45 year old formerly flying club just outside Toledo Ohio. We had a fairly nice 1972 7ECA, but it had a prop strike last fall and we recently sold it (separate posts on that). I will miss the airplane, but I thought I'd tell you our experience. $2900 buy in, $49/hr wet, $50/mo dues. With that, our club has dwindled from 8 members to five,. That is largely what prompted us to sell the airplane after the strike. Too many prospects are scared off by tailwheels, or IF they want the tailwheel, they want to do aerobatics (prohibited by club rules). Maybe its just a Toledo Area thing.

So..... besides the payload benefit -- If you don't already have members lined up, I'd go the least financial risk path and use your own 7ECA. You should be able to write some contingencies into the charter to protect your interests if members don't materialize. Harder to recoup losses with a greater new outlay. I guess it depends on the types of pilots and other competing options in your area.
 
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Bartman

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#18
Well, after all of the hand wringing, it's looking like I'm going to try to make a push to get my plane done and then I'll just fly it until our daughter starts college. If money's tight I'll revisit the club idea then.

That PA-12 we were originally considering made it look like the club idea was going to get going very quickly but Joe didn't fit into the front seat and it's slowed way back down again. I still have a loan application pending so if/when that comes through, if there's something on the market that would be perfect for us then maybe I'll give it another try. Back home Saturday night then it's a week straight to see what I can get done. Maybe at least the fuselage will be done by Friday and then I can work on the tailfeathers and fairing as we start putting it back together.

Thanks for the replies!