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The Rebuild Rescue TB20 is flying

For those who don‘t follow:

For those of you who have absolutely nothing to do next week, I‘ll put the five previous related episodes here, in chronological order:

Just shows how much effort one has to put into such a restoration/resurrection, without even getting it pretty and without even making any improvements at all (plus without even getting the door struts fixed)…

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

Two weeks of work to get it home (168 hrs labor is about that for two guys) is then followed by 10 years of fiddling with it to remove most of the little flaws and make it what’s wanted

Last Edited by Silvaire at 31 Jul 17:59

This would interest me, being a TB20 owner and having written a lot on the topic e.g. here but I don’t have the time to sit through about 5hrs of videos, and frankly I admire anybody who has.

Can anyone write up some key points?

I don’t know how old this one was but for many years an early TB20, i.e. ~1984, would be a right old dog which would sell for about 40k, and then you would spend 50-100k on it to clean it up. Today these old wrecks sell for about 200k, like every other old wreck

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Well, with thse produced videos one obviously never knows the full and real story, but in short:

  • they bought this 1989 TB20 which hadn‘t been flown for 15 years
  • supposedly they worked 168 man-hours on it to get it back in annual, working at a rented hangar at the airport where he bought it
  • most of the work was cleaning birds‘ nests out of everywhere and cleaning the outside to some degree, plus changing tyres, brakes, servicing the gear struts, regreasing the landing gear and wheels, changing spark plugs, the battery, possibly the mags and likely doing whatever the service manual mandates for an annual inspection (ELT battery, etc.). As I said, they didn‘t even fix the duff door struts (btw, isn’t it an airworthiness item if they are completely shot?).
  • supposedly, a lot of the avionics and electrics did work ok and needed no work

As Silvaire said, most of the work and trouble is of course yet to come in the future, including repaint, an avionics job and possibly engine work.

I also wonder how an IA can sign off a prop that still has all the bird poop on it, making it impossible to spot any defects….

Last Edited by boscomantico at 31 Jul 19:36
Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

My thought was that the TB20 appears to be in basically OK condition but will inevitably need a lot of fussing with, It doesn’t appear to be an “old wreck” to me, it’s certainly savable, and given that these planes aren’t used in fleets very much in the US, and that it’s not so old, maybe it’s a low time plane. TBs aren’t mainstream here so I suppose there’s always the possibility that the guy ‘stole it’, which would be my kind of project: unusual planes that the market doesn’t really appreciate, in a condition that scares away 90% of buyers.

My biggest concern would be the long term prospects for the engine, which looks to have a lot of external corrosion. But it’s fixable.

I posted a couple of years ago about a low time Debonair that was the subject of a similar project. It seems to have gone well but I bet they’re still working on it!

Last Edited by Silvaire at 31 Jul 19:59

A TB20 is a simple plane. My A&P works on all kinds and says it is the easiest to work on. The pre-GT doesn’t even have the composite roof, so it is old tech, same “bent tin” (English expression) like a PA28 but better build quality. Especially the spar Firewall forward it is all American except for the Socata exhaust (how you deal with that depends on your resources and connections; Socata want 15k for a new one) and the hoses (Socata metric/ISO, and again a good hose shop can copy them for a fraction of the cost; I did all mine in 2017). The rest of the plane is mostly American avionics, with some Socata bits like the fuel gauges (like most French GA stuff, made by the proverbial “old man in a shed in provincial France, with WW2 machinery”, and not trivial to fix unless you know electronics, and Socata don’t supply circuits although I have some which escaped into the wild, in unathorised correspondence. The rest is metal, some good engineering, various bushes which you can turn up on a lathe or mill on a milling machine.

I would consider the engine buggered and just OH it without even trying to fly the plane. Same with the prop.

The main no-go would be heavy airframe corrosion.

A long term lack of lubrication so all the control linkages are shagged, is an issue if you are forced to buy from Socata, but in the US GA landscape you can fix all that.

Not doing the door struts may be of dubious legality but it points to a totally perverted project priority because they are cheap to fix. They could have been done in 1% of the time it took to shoot those videos.

In a dry climate, no salt, you could get lucky with avionics, but to be honest I don’t think these guys would notice if half the stuff was dead

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Most planes are simple, basically. What can ‘get you’ is the odds and ends you don’t think of, ever, until you have to fix them. Usually there’s a way to get it done regardless, but it can take some effort. For example, here what I was looking at yesterday – European stuff, the aft pitch trim mechanism on my plane. Let me know where I can source that big phenolic washer with the punched hexagonal hole in it that stops the special ground metric bolt that forms the little post from turning when you tighten the aircraft approved (orange) metric castellated nut Actually that phenolic washer was fine but I had to fiddle with some of the other stuff shown to remove play from the stabilator anti-servo tab linkage. The TB series will have something similar although with luck Socata didn’t design a cantilevered screw into something that likely needs to have very limited flexibility and ‘play’ in order to avoid flutter.

I think if you’re worried about the door struts of all things, you haven’t seen some of the planes I’ve seen ferried home for rebuild. The objective is to get it home to your hangar for further work, quickly, not to wait for parts and rebuild it in place.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 31 Jul 21:57

Interesting that the Reims Cessna are known for very high quality build compared to their American brethren (zinc chromate corrosion primer at point of manufacture), the national manufacturer SOCATA didn’t use zinc chromate in the process.

Arguably a Reims 182Q is possibly the premier cru of the type.

Last Edited by RobertL18C at 01 Aug 07:43
Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

I don’t know how old this one was but for many years an early TB20, i.e. ~1984, would be a right old dog which would sell for about 40k, and then you would spend 50-100k on it to clean it up. Today these old wrecks sell for about 200k, like every other old wreck

He paid $65k for it…

EDL*, Germany

Yes; I was joking. Not too bad I suppose.

But think about it. Why do this? Who is it for (apart from getting loads of followers on YT)? A novice owner would be strongly recommended to avoid such a project. Is he going to spend another 50-100k to bring it to a good standard (which will work only in the current inflated-prices epoch)?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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