Choosing the right engine: A confusing matter

I have owned N68338 for 20 years. Our Cessna 310 has taken us as far as Germany and goes often to the Caribbean. Recently it had a major makeover with an Air Mod interior, Dial paint etc., etc.

There have been lots of premature engine changes due to cracked cases and cylinder failures near enough to TBO to argue for overhaul. I have been very careful in their operation. In recent years engines have come from Mattituck. For the first time both engines will come due together. Both are over TBO and running nicely. I plan to replace in February (or sooner if necessary).

I’m intrigued by the Ram 325 hp package with new props — expensive but seductive. I’ve looked at the Colemill conversion but don’t see the benefit of losing the turbos. Also there are the premium offerings from Mattituck and others. It is a confusing matter for a layman.


John Rolls

via email

John, thanks for this interesting question. I can assure you that there are many others out there with the same question and, of course, this has been one of the most commonly asked questions over the years at events like EAA AirVenture, Sun ‘n Fun or wherever aircraft owners have a chance to talk directly to the various vendors of aircraft services. I’ll tell you right now, there is no simple answer and, lucky for me, you’ve got to be the one to make the final decision.

My best recommendation is to continue to ask the good questions. I’d also suggest you give consideration to visiting some of the facilities you mentioned in your letter to further evaluate exactly what they have to offer. It’s all well and good to talk to representatives at shows and over the phone, but there is no substitute for making a personal visit to their facilities to get the true picture. This offers you a chance to sit down and ask specific questions, tour the facility, and talk to the people actually doing the work. Note whether they take pride in what they are doing or is it just a place for them to get a paycheck each week?

One of the comments I always used at shows, when people would try to convince me that this or that company was the greatest, was: It all depends on whether you’re buying or selling how good something is — and they’re selling. This is why I recommend visiting these facilities to get the true picture.

John, I can tell from your letter that you take great pride in your aircraft from the recent work you’ve had done and what you’re planning on in the near future. Asking lots of questions now will definitely cause you less frustration in the future and may prevent you from going down the wrong path — as well as getting the best value for the money spent.

As you can see, I have not answered your question simply because it is one of those questions that has no specific answer. What I’ve attempted to do for you and the others who have the same question is to suggest things that will help you arrive at the best answer for your specific situation.

Good luck and I’m certain you’ll come to a sound decision that will give you many more great flight hours in your aircraft.

Paul McBride, recognized worldwide as an expert on engines, retired after almost 40 years with Lycoming. Send your questions to:

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