Q: I have a ’69 Skyhawk with 2,500 hours on the engine. Good compression, no metal, one quart oil burn every eight hours. Should I get a top overhaul or a complete engine overhaul or just keep flying until an indication of a problem?
TED HALL, Upperco, Md.
A: Well, I must tell you that with 2,500 hours of operation since 1969, this engine certainly doesn’t owe you anything! If this is the original engine in this aircraft and after providing you reliable service for 45 years, I’d say you got your money’s worth.
You stated the engine has over 2,500 hours, but you didn’t specifically say it was the original engine in the aircraft. Because of that, my response will be based on both scenarios — that this is the original engine or a replacement engine that has accumulated 2,500 hours on it. This way, we’ll have all the bases covered.
There are a couple of ways to look at your situation, but the final decision must rest in your lap. From what you mentioned, the important items we normally look closely at in order to determine an engine’s health all appear to be fine. Since no specifics were provided other than the oil consumption, which is excellent, I believe I’d continue to fly the aircraft.
However, that being said, I’d feel much better knowing exactly what the entire maintenance history has been on this engine. If you have maintained this engine over the years with frequent oil and filter changes, hot differential compression checks, etc., and have no indications of anything that would alert you to impending problems, it would appear this engine still has some good life remaining. Please remember that I’m only making the above comments based on the very simple information you provided.
Getting back to your main question, I’d certainly not recommend doing a top overhaul if the information you mentioned is correct. If the oil consumption, differential compression checks, and nothing shows up in the oil filter or oil pressure screen, then I’d feel confident in continuing the engine in service.
I would recommend that you keep a close tab on its operation, especially if the oil consumption begins to increase or compression checks begin to decline. Be certain to closely inspect the oil pressure screen or the oil filter element, whichever you have, for any indications of foreign materials.
Again, I only based my response on the information you provided, and this in no way applies to the many other Lycoming engines out there with operating times well beyond the Lycoming recommended TBO time.