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Interested builder in Oklahoma

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  • Interested builder in Oklahoma

    Greetings fellow Builders and aviators. My name is James Schrag. I have owned and flown a Piper J-3 Cub for the last 4 years and absolutely love it. However, I have longed for a an airplane that can fly faster, farther, and carry more load with many of the same Cub characteristics. As Super Cubs are priced over my budget, the Bear Hawk has really caught my attention. Combine all of this with the fact that I have been an A&P mechanic for 26 years, own my own hangar on a private grass strip, and have the desire and possibly the skills necessary to build my own experimental aircraft, I really like idea of building and flying an airplane that meets my needs.
    Now for The Facts of Life stuff. I have been happily married for 26 years and have two daughters, in 8th and 11th grade. A Bearhawk 4 Place airplane seems to be the perfect fit for carting my girls and their stuff to and from college campuses, while still allowing me to attend fly-ins, make more family visits at a slightly longer range from my home field base, and continue to enjoy flying at an economical rate.
    Recently, a co-worker lost his battle with cancer. He had purchased the plans and started building a Bearhawk from scratch. I am making arrangements to go see what is there and what the value might be.

  • #2
    So sorry to hear about your friend and coworker. My condolences.

    Welcome to the world of Bearhawks! Depending on how far along the project is, your 8th and 11th graders may be off to university by the time it's finished, so keep that in mind for your mission. Mine are 7th and 11th this year, so I'm in the same boat. But I continue to build anyway.

    Let us us know what you find out. Happy to have you on board!
    ​Christopher Owens, EAA #808438
    Project "Expedition"
    Bearhawk 4-Place Scratch Built, Plans #991
    Bearhawk Patrol Scratch Built, Plans #P313
    Germantown, Wisconsin, USA

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    • #3
      James,

      I will agree with Chris in the idea that the building of a Bearhawk from scratch could be a much longer time frame than you have with your two girls growing up. In my own case my two girls have both grown up during the 8+ years my building partner and I have worked on our scratch built Bearhawk. So any idea that I am going to be flying around with my family of four is pretty much done. However, for me, I am very happy to still have the 4 place anyway (and my girls will still get to ride with me someday). So for me I would not have changed my mind on 4 place vs. 2 place or plans built vs quick build.

      Just be aware that the time to build a scratch built can really extend out! Of course you have skills (and maybe tools and location) to help you get the plane built more easily either way.

      Hopefully you can make a good decision that is beneficial to everyone. Let us know!

      Eric Parks
      #1074

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      • #4
        I should add that I am really in a unique situation that is rather ideal right now. I rent hangar space to a friend who keeps his Archer II here. He once made the comment that he would like to get his tail wheel rating and suggested we work out a deal to fly each other's airplanes as his Archer wasn't getting flown as often as he would like. So, we struck a deal and he now has his tw rating and I have taken several nice cross country's in the Archer, some with my entire family, and some with just one other person along. Either way, I have the Cub for low and slow and cheap, and for just the cost of fuel I have the use of the Archer. So there is no immediate need to own my own flyable 4 place airplane for the time being. That's another reason this project seems to be a good fit for me right now.

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        • #5
          I have a similar setup with a C-140 and a C-172RG. Great times! Looking forward to hearing about your build!
          ​Christopher Owens, EAA #808438
          Project "Expedition"
          Bearhawk 4-Place Scratch Built, Plans #991
          Bearhawk Patrol Scratch Built, Plans #P313
          Germantown, Wisconsin, USA

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          • #6
            Having second thoughts. After pricing engine and avionics options, it seems much more feasible to purchase a Pacer at at 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of building a 4 place BH. The main differences would be certified vs experimental and 10-20% performance deficiency. I would also be able to more easily procure financing and insurance on the Pacer. Perhaps I lack the "gotta build it myself" gene and just enjoy flying more than building.

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            • #7
              I feel your pain and concerns. Absolutely nothing wrong with that! There's room in the sky for both! If I had the opportunity, I'd buy. But building is a better financial option for me. Note that I'm scratch building, though. Kits are a great time-versus-money trade.

              The one thing to keep in mind (there are probably many others), is a 60yo+ airplane versus a new one, and the restrictions that go with it. I fly vintage now, and love all things vintage. But there's a reality associated with that. As long as you're cool with that, then you're golden.

              Best of luck with your decision!
              Last edited by Chris In Milwaukee; 08-09-2016, 01:38 PM.
              ​Christopher Owens, EAA #808438
              Project "Expedition"
              Bearhawk 4-Place Scratch Built, Plans #991
              Bearhawk Patrol Scratch Built, Plans #P313
              Germantown, Wisconsin, USA

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jwschrag View Post
                Having second thoughts. After pricing engine and avionics options, it seems much more feasible to purchase a Pacer at at 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of building a 4 place BH. The main differences would be certified vs experimental and 10-20% performance deficiency. I would also be able to more easily procure financing and insurance on the Pacer. Perhaps I lack the "gotta build it myself" gene and just enjoy flying more than building.
                Also the Bearhawk is way more roomy inside.

                It is a big commitment for sure. I don't have the "gotta build it myself gene" either but I've always wanted to build or restore a plane. Building it myself gives me the most personally tailored aircraft possible. And as Chris said, it's brand new!

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                • #9
                  Don't feel bad about making the decision to purchase a vintage airplane versus building an EAB. Building is a MAJOR time commitment, and it just isn't for everyone... If I didn't have a vintage airplane ('65 Citabria 7ECA, in my case) to fly while I build, I would go crazy...

                  Besides, the Piper Pacer is a really cool airplane! My father-in-law had a Piper Colt (aka - "Flying Milk Stool") that was an O-235 powered version of the Tri-Pacer, and I got to fly it some. Hated the look with that weird nose wheel setup. The picture below is not the one I flew, but it looked just like this:
                  Piper_PA-22_Colt.jpg

                  It flew decently, but was pretty anemic with only 108 HP at a DA of almost 9,500 ft! Years later, I flew with him in a 135-HP Pacer (with the little wheel where it's SUPPOSED to be - in back) and there was a "night and day" difference with the extra HP. It was a LOT more fun to fly. Nowadays, I understand people have STC'ed them for 150 HP, like this one:
                  PiperPA-22-150Pacer.jpg
                  Having the wheel in the right place makes all the difference in the looks of the plane!
                  Last edited by JimParker256; 08-09-2016, 10:57 AM.
                  Jim Parker
                  Farmersville, TX (NE of Dallas)
                  Patrol Quick-Build Serial # P312

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                  • #10
                    I'm back! Long story short I am now the owner of the project my friend started before he passed as mentioned in my original post. It is the original Bearhawk 4 place. This project has barely been started so I have a long way to go.

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                    • #11
                      Welcome me to the forum

                      Sorry to hear about your friend....how far did he get into the project?

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                      • #12
                        I don't know if it would be possible for you to build the "B" version at this point. But since you are just getting going I would check into it if you haven't already. We were able to incorporate a few of the B upgrades to our ongoing scratch build. But we had our wings done already and I assume there are some fuselage changes as well. Perhaps someone else has experience with upgrading plans on a scratchbuild?

                        What engine are you planning on? Did that come with it or are you still planning on that?

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                        • #13
                          I got the plans, Builders Manuals Vol 1 and 2, a Wing Rib and Spar kit, some stock steel tubing, and a roll of aluminum. He was in the process of bending the steel for the flap and aileron support frames. I think he purchased the kit in 2006 so it's an A model and given I have the rib kit, I'll build it as an A model. No welding has been done. I finished up the steel bending and will start welding the fitments up when my Meco torch head and hose I ordered arrive.
                          Regarding engine choices, I got nothing else with the kit so that is wide open for my choosing at this point. I'm struggling with the horsepower vs economy issue. I'd love to hang an IO-540 up front but am not excited about the fuel burn rate or initial cost. An experimental O-390 would probably suit me just fine but I'll always want more power for shorter takeoff rolls. I am hoping to one day go fly the Idaho back country with this airplane so the extra power would seem like the obvious choice. Like I said, I have lots of time to decide. Definitely want a CS prop for better T.O. and cruise performance.
                          Last edited by jwschrag; 04-14-2019, 06:13 AM.

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                          • #14
                            O-540 or O-360 will burn the same amount of fuel at the same airspeed, O-540 gives you better take-off and climb and a little more airspeed if you want to burn more fuel. Injected engines and instrumentation allowing lean of peak operation will help fuel economy with either size engine.

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                            • JimParker256
                              JimParker256 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              In his post, jwschrag mentioned "experimental O-390" which I assume he meant to say "IO-390". Unless your intention is to purchase a brand-new engine, the IO-390 is not a cheap alternative. Even at Van's prices, it's pushing $34K for that engine. And I've seen plenty of low- to mid-time O-540s and IO-540s for sale for less than that. Many people (including Mike Busch) would say you're less likely to suffer an expensive engine problem with a 500-1000 hour used engine in good condition than with a brand new factory or overhauled engine.

                              I'm not building a 4-place, but if I was, I would go with a used O-540 or IO-540 over a new IO-390. Among other things, the Lycoming 540-series engines are generally considered to be right up there with the Lycoming 360 and 320 engines, in the "top tier" of reliability for aircraft engines.

                              For my Patrol, I first thought I would purchase a factory new engine, but my EAA chapter folks (tech counselors and the DAR that will likely be the one signing off my airplane) have pretty well convinced me that a mid-time engine is a much better choice, considering the huge $$ savings and incredible reliability that reduces risk to a very acceptable level.
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