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Looking at a 68 Mooney M20F


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New guy here!  I currently fly a 78 Piper Warrior II but with the first grandchild on the way am looking to speed things up.  Currently 69 and I already have an insurance quote.  I've found a 68 Mooney M20F (N561RK) in Hartford, CT that caught my eye.  The brother of the pilot is selling due to the unexpected death of the pilot and the plane has been in probate for some time.  It's now ready to "go".  It has been kept outside (tie down) with a Bruce's cover.  Last annual in January, and zero flight time in the last year and a half.

So, planning a prebuy and a trip to look at her.  Talked with the AI who did the last annual, but that shop did not normally handle the maintenance.  I've been told that Mooneys do two things, fly fast and leak.  Tanks a fuel bladders, but somewhat worried about it being outside, but the Bruce cover seems to protect the windows from leaks.

 

Paint looks recoverable (painted in 1991).  Anyone in the area interested in giving a first hand opinion of the plane?  Also anyone know of a good Mooney instructor for the test flight and for my required 10 hours of dual?  FYI Avemco is my insurer.

 

Other thoughts?  I've done a TON of reading and research on Mooneys, but owners are the best source of up to date suggestions.

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We have a ‘67 F model and we absolutely love it. It’s a great two place airplane, a very  good three place airplane, and an occasional four place airplane. 150 kts true, with my wife and I, half tanks, cool temps. 145 kts true, heavy, on a hot day. All on 10 GPH. It’s easy to fly and very stable. Make sure you get a pre buy with a Mooney knowledgeable A&P.  Good luck with your purchase. The F is a great airplane. 

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23 hours ago, mmcdaniel33 said:

New guy here!  I currently fly a 78 Piper Warrior II but with the first grandchild on the way am looking to speed things up.  Currently 69 and I already have an insurance quote.  I've found a 68 Mooney M20F (N561RK) in Hartford, CT that caught my eye.  The brother of the pilot is selling due to the unexpected death of the pilot and the plane has been in probate for some time.  It's now ready to "go".  It has been kept outside (tie down) with a Bruce's cover.  Last annual in January, and zero flight time in the last year and a half.

So, planning a prebuy and a trip to look at her.  Talked with the AI who did the last annual, but that shop did not normally handle the maintenance.  I've been told that Mooneys do two things, fly fast and leak.  Tanks a fuel bladders, but somewhat worried about it being outside, but the Bruce cover seems to protect the windows from leaks.

 

Paint looks recoverable (painted in 1991).  Anyone in the area interested in giving a first hand opinion of the plane?  Also anyone know of a good Mooney instructor for the test flight and for my required 10 hours of dual?  FYI Avemco is my insurer.

 

Other thoughts?  I've done a TON of reading and research on Mooneys, but owners are the best source of up to date suggestions.

I have a ‘68 F as well.  It’s great.  Had it for 10 years now.  I fly my wife and two small kids all around the northwest in it.  145kts, reasonably easy maintenance.  Nice.  There are downsides though… i worry about parts that aren’t made and are critical (intake boot & electric gear motor comes to mind).  Does the one you’re looking at have electric or manual gear?  Electric is great but it adds in several parts that are expensive or hard (maybe impossible?) to get.  Second, they are all susceptible to corrosion of the spar if left out in bad weather and not cared for.  You need to have someone look closely.  Recently, someone here bought a J and then corrosion was found and I think he needed a new wing or maybe just a $20k check, but it was unflyable for a year or so.  If it’s not corroded, you can keep it that way with a hanger and ACF treatment.  Finally, an engine that has sat that long outside owes you nothing.  Meaning, if it has 500 hours on it and it needs overhaul or the cam replaced in 50 hours, don’t be surprised. However, it may also be fine.  It’s actually pretty hard to tell until you fly it for a while.  A prebuy will help but can’t predict some things.

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The registration number listed is not for a Mooney. It goes without saying, don't take anything you are told by the non-pilot seller or whoever worked on it at face value. If you're game for an adventure keep us posted.

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I’d start with a pre-buy and go to an Annual if the IA after getting a decent look thinks it’s a good airplane, but don’t waste your Annual money until your pretty sure it’s a good airplane. Don’t worry about paint and other cosmetic things and nickel and dime stuff like worn tires or whatever. Of course use them if possible to get a good price, but don’t pass on a very good 56 yr old airplane because the fabrics worn or has faded paint

A pre-buy can be more comprehensive than an Annual, it’s not defined, all an Annual gets you is it has a min set of standards that must be followed, but crappy Annuals do exist, so it’s really important to shop the inspector pretty hard. I would want an Annual, it’s my opinion that the average IA is more careful with inspecting if their name is going in the book attesting to the aircraft airworthiness than they are telling you verbally it looks good to them.

Use Mooney’s checklist for the Annual.

If at all possible have the IA that will be taking care of the Airplane perform the Pre-buy / Annual.

Your going to spend some $$ and you may not get anything out of it except being told to walk away, don’t be too upset if that happens, if it does that person most likely saved you a whole bunch of money, so buy them a beer and tell them thank you, you might just want them for the next airplane.

Look really, really hard for corrosion, in fact make that your first inspection points, no need to go further if any significant corrosion is found.

In my opinion on older aircraft but maybe not this old that factory worn interior and factory faded paint is a plus, it has to have been well cared for for factory P&I to last that long.

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That’s a nice looking plane with some desirable mods. Looks like it’s out of annual since November. It’s weird in that it looks like it’s been well taken care of but no one bothered to replace what looks to be the original CAT tubing going to the defrost. I can tell as much from the condition of the tube as from the yellowish white zip tie that it is likely original.

It’s a travesty that was not replaced with SCAT before the 201 windshield was installed.

I’d be curious to see the back side of  the panel
 

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We looked at that plane (not in person). I spoke to the seller.  He was clueless about what he was selling and I helped him correct a few important points, notably that the engine had indeed been overhauled at some point, but there is still a lot wrong in the ad.

Our reasons are not your reasons, but we passed on the plane without traveling to see it in person. A lot of that had to do with changing directions a bit and buying more plane than before. However, I will share my reasons for passing on this plane. In my mind, the strengths of the F are its higher usable load than most and simpler systems (J-Bar, manual flaps). If (and we did go this way to be honest) we are going to take on additional features like electric gear/flaps etc we're going to buy a J/K model. This Had a lot of mods, electric gear, flaps, wing tips, bladders I think?, not to mention the silly throttle quadrant that was installed. I does have a lot of desirable mods as well, notably the 201 windscreen and the enclosed cowl. However, most of the rest of the mods I consider undesirable in an F. I didn't want bladders (heavy and less fuel). Wing tips look nice, but add little besides weight really. Electric gear/flaps are just more complicated and heavy. Worst IMO, was the throttle quadrant, just a bad decision. Almost all of this is cosmetic or personal choice. If it fits you, it fits you so don't let my personal tastes influence you if you disagree. Every F model is a unique snowflake at this point with various owners prioritizing different things and every bird being it's own thing. It's a big part of the reason we jumped up to a K model.  They are still all unique a bit, but significantly less so.

I can't speak for the condition, which is the most important part, other than to exercise care since the seller knows next to nothing about the plane. It's been sitting a bit. Not terribly long, but long enough that I would expect some issues. The first annual is likely to suck (but that's par for the course when buying a plane in my experience). 

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1 hour ago, druidjaidan said:

We looked at that plane (not in person). I spoke to the seller.  He was clueless about what he was selling and I helped him correct a few important points, notably that the engine had indeed been overhauled at some point, but there is still a lot wrong in the ad.

Our reasons are not your reasons, but we passed on the plane without traveling to see it in person. A lot of that had to do with changing directions a bit and buying more plane than before. However, I will share my reasons for passing on this plane. In my mind, the strengths of the F are its higher usable load than most and simpler systems (J-Bar, manual flaps). If (and we did go this way to be honest) we are going to take on additional features like electric gear/flaps etc we're going to buy a J/K model. This Had a lot of mods, electric gear, flaps, wing tips, bladders I think?, not to mention the silly throttle quadrant that was installed. I does have a lot of desirable mods as well, notably the 201 windscreen and the enclosed cowl. However, most of the rest of the mods I consider undesirable in an F. I didn't want bladders (heavy and less fuel). Wing tips look nice, but add little besides weight really. Electric gear/flaps are just more complicated and heavy. Worst IMO, was the throttle quadrant, just a bad decision. Almost all of this is cosmetic or personal choice. If it fits you, it fits you so don't let my personal tastes influence you if you disagree. Every F model is a unique snowflake at this point with various owners prioritizing different things and every bird being it's own thing. It's a big part of the reason we jumped up to a K model.  They are still all unique a bit, but significantly less so.

I can't speak for the condition, which is the most important part, other than to exercise care since the seller knows next to nothing about the plane. It's been sitting a bit. Not terribly long, but long enough that I would expect some issues. The first annual is likely to suck (but that's par for the course when buying a plane in my experience). 

We have similar views. F’s are versatile planes. They can be made better but not by taking away the 2 best traits they have going for them. Simple, robust, systems and good load hauling, 

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On 2/14/2024 at 2:05 PM, mmcdaniel33 said:

New guy here!  I currently fly a 78 Piper Warrior II but with the first grandchild on the way am looking to speed things up.  Currently 69 and I already have an insurance quote.  I've found a 68 Mooney M20F (N561RK) in Hartford, CT that caught my eye.  The brother of the pilot is selling due to the unexpected death of the pilot and the plane has been in probate for some time.  It's now ready to "go".  It has been kept outside (tie down) with a Bruce's cover.  Last annual in January, and zero flight time in the last year and a half.

So, planning a prebuy and a trip to look at her.  Talked with the AI who did the last annual, but that shop did not normally handle the maintenance.  I've been told that Mooneys do two things, fly fast and leak.  Tanks a fuel bladders, but somewhat worried about it being outside, but the Bruce cover seems to protect the windows from leaks.

 

Paint looks recoverable (painted in 1991).  Anyone in the area interested in giving a first hand opinion of the plane?  Also anyone know of a good Mooney instructor for the test flight and for my required 10 hours of dual?  FYI Avemco is my insurer.

 

Other thoughts?  I've done a TON of reading and research on Mooneys, but owners are the best source of up to date suggestions.

I'm a new Mooney owner myself (J) but based out of KHFD which is right next to Robertson Field where this looks to be based. I'd be happy to take a look and get eyes on but full disclosure I am no Mooney expert. Feel free to message me if I can help in any way. Good luck in your search!

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OK, thanks for all the help guys!  I'm so used to my Piper site telling me I got a reply I did not realize the robust responses!

Yes, 651RK is the correct number!  My bad.  I've spent time talking to the seller.  It was his brother's plane and he died of COVID quickly in 2021.  Jerry is not a pilot so this has been a journey for him.  I've spoken with the AI who did the last annual (1/24) so got some comfort from his hands on the plane, but prior annuals were done elsewhere.  As a Piper guy, who learned on a Beechcraft Sport, I tend to LOVE the throttle quadrant.  What you learn on....  Plenty of time in Cessna's as well so I can go either way.  At 70 I'm reluctant to go the Johnson Bar route, although I loved the Johnson Bar flaps on the Sport and my Warrior.

Definately worried about corrosion and the outside storage.  The engine does owe me nothing.  But great compressions and prebuy will look deeply into that.  I'd rather have the annual done by my shop, and its only 25 days out of an annual.....

  • Eyes wide open, have a buyer for my plane who is willing to wait for my next plane.  The paint is faded and hopefully can be remediated.  
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1 hour ago, mmcdaniel33 said:

As far as insurance goes, I'm with Avemco and they have already quoted me.  That's one reason I moved to them last year.  I was concerned, plus zero retract time too!

It’s my understanding that Avemco is more expensive but are loyal to long term customers. A hangar Neighbor and friend had Avemco for 40+ years. Avemco insured him well into his 80s when he lost his medical. 

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13 hours ago, mmcdaniel33 said:

  At 70 I'm reluctant to go the Johnson Bar route,

I have a 68 F that was a project plane, now highly modified and a great plane.

The Johnson bar, if rigged properly can be locked up using two fingers.  It should not be an issue.  I consider it an upgrade.  Low maintenance, fast and simple.

John Breda

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22 hours ago, mmcdaniel33 said:

At 70 I'm reluctant to go the Johnson Bar route, although I loved the Johnson Bar flaps on the Sport and my Warrior.

My dad had no problem with the J bar well into his 80s. I’ve not had him fly left seat in a while, but I doubt much has changed at 85. He bought his first Mooney in 1963 so he has 60 years of muscle memory going for him.

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I was a Piper guy for 15 or so years (mostly Cherokees, though for a couple of years I had a Comanche, so I did have some retract time) who moved up to a 70E about 10 months and 55 hours ago. Be prepared for a fairly steep transition from a Warrior. Take plenty of time with a CFI on board, especially with one that knows Mooneys. I am happy with my Mooney now, but it took me an awfully long time to get used to the shorter, heavier controls on landing. I can now get greasers every day, but the first month or so was rough landings all the way. (Nothing that would damage anything except the ego, thankfully...)

Also, be prepared that it may be much harder to find a mechanic to work on/annual your Mooney. Almost everyone has their hands full with Cessnas and Pipers from flight schools and private owners that they have had as customers for many years; for me it was almost impossible to find a mechanic with a good reputation who had meaningful experience with Mooneys, in my local area, who would be willing to add me on as a customer. All of them were very nice but said they are too busy to add a new plane to their list of planes they are maintaining.

What this meant in practice was that I had to take my plane for annual to a Mooney Service Center more than two hours' flight away, and that ended up being about 3 weeks that my plane was out of commission. (Combining the time of the annual, hard to find parts, and the difficulty of finding friendly Mooney owners to give me a ride to/from the place where the annual was.) Comparing this to my previous annuals for the Cherokees which were a one-day affair... not good.

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On 2/18/2024 at 6:14 AM, mmcdaniel33 said:

Right on Avemco.  Although there were only about 5% more than my existing insurance.  Glad I made the change.

I'm with Avemco, got a quote from BWI that was $2700 more than Avemco.

Another plus about Avemco is they will apply discounts from new ratings immediately, not only upon renewal like most insurers AFAIK.

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I'm booked to go to Plainville, CT next weekend to see the aircraft and hopefully do a test flight.  I'm getting ready to peruse the listings shared for local CFI's as well as prebuy shops.  Key concerns is the lack of flight time in the last 3 years after the pilot/owner died and it was tied up in probate, outside storage for quite a while.  Going in with my eyes open and my heart somewhat distant.  I have my eyes on a couple of J models as well, but if this plane works out it is an excellent deal with no money out of my pocket at all.

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On 2/24/2024 at 12:18 PM, mmcdaniel33 said:

I'm booked to go to Plainville, CT next weekend to see the aircraft and hopefully do a test flight.  I'm getting ready to peruse the listings shared for local CFI's as well as prebuy shops.  Key concerns is the lack of flight time in the last 3 years after the pilot/owner died and it was tied up in probate, outside storage for quite a while.  Going in with my eyes open and my heart somewhat distant.  I have my eyes on a couple of J models as well, but if this plane works out it is an excellent deal with no money out of my pocket at all.

Did you end up seeing this Mooney?  I'm interested to hear how it went.

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