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Thread: 185 performance mods

  1. #1
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    Default 185 performance mods

    Have a new to me 1973 cessna 185. Aircraft came with flint tanks. Interested in the following mods. 1) sportsman leading edge. Is this a great mod and what can I expect from it? Does it slow down cruise? Do u have to fly at high AOA to use lower approach speeds? 2) VG's. What do others think of them. Had them on a super cub for 2500 hrs and liked them. Was able to fly at a lower AOA with weight and or less power. Also made the plane more stable. 3) MT 2 or 3 blade prop. Plane has standard old 2 blade Mac now. With the cub saw good performance gain from 74-52 to 82-42 prop. Also good performance gain from 150p to 160hp. Planning on float operation summer and skis in winter. Thanks for any insight,
    words of wisdom and help.

  2. #2
    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
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    Let me start off by saying I am not an expert...I have only owned my own plane (77 180K, same airframe as 185 with smaller motor) for almost 3 years...As funds have become available have made a lot of mods...Of the things I did i think the Micro vortex generators have been the biggest bang for the dollar...My airplane has horton stol kit, p ponk gear, 29 inch bush wheels, bubble windows, gross weight increase, and a few others for performance...Power off stall is about 40kias, and power on does not indicate anything before a mild break...

    I can't help you with the prop...I have the standard Mac also and when I go to floats will upgrade the oil cooler and the prop to an 88...I don't have anything but second hand info on the MT prop, have heard both sides of the argument...Best of luck on the new ride...

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    My buddy did the sportsman on his 170 and it made a remarkable change. Most of the metal guys I know don't have VG'S so no input on that. I would do the sportsman first and see if you need the VG'S ALL Mt prop reports are smooth and good power just a little more money. Check with Don Lee and get his input anyone with that many pacers will know what works!!! I am a fabric piper guy that only flys metal planes cause my friends make me so take my input with a grain of salt or a shaker full as needed.
    DENNY

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    Most Cessna guys add WingX rather than cuffs. Some do both but cuffs have lost ground to WingX. I don't need either. I've thought about it and came close to doing both but in the end my plane does what I need it to and does it well with stock wings. VGs are great if you operate slowly enough to appreciate them. Critically slow gust control was what I was after. I haven't noticed a great deal of improvement in aileron, rudder, or elevator effectiveness. There is some but it isn't dramatic. They do allow a flatter approach at equal speeds when slow. I like that more than anything. I'm leery of MT props because I take lots of rock dings to the prop. I'd like the weight loss on the nose but until MT improves durability I'll stick with a C401-86 3 blade Mac.

    I guess a guy needs to figure out what he needs for his mission and modify his plane to suit. Seat time is the best mod out there. A stock 185 is a great plane. Take some time and learn it before you spend a wad to change it.

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    Thanks for the input. I like the flat approach and aileron improvement idea. With the Flint tanks and just before touchdown in gusty conditions a sudden low wing seemed a little slow coming back up. Of course this could be me as I was so used to the cub. It fit like a glove. I have purchased Horton aileron gap seal tape. Will have to wait for next sunny day to install. This may help a bit. The 185 does feel better and better with each flight. Have read the sportsman helps a lot for the pre 1973 standard wing but not so much with the cessna high lift cuff wing. Also not sure want to add 25 lbs forward CG and not a notice a first flight this is it magic mod. Am I right wrong or misinformed?

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    You can spend a small fortune trying to make your Skywagon into a Cub. It isn't a Cub. Enjoy your 1500# useful load and accept the limitations. For most of us the biggest limitation is the guy in the left seat. I've got 18 years in mine and I'm still learning. Familiarity with the airplane and lots of current seat time will make that plane perform better than any wing mod out there. And in my opinion wing mods are not an acceptable substitute for familiarity and currency. My plane does not limit me, I limit my plane. Sometimes more than others (like in spring after a winter of little activity). I doubt that'll ever change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    Seat time is the best mod out there. A stock 185 is a great plane.
    This was the basic answer I got when I asked "your" question to a pretty experienced 185 guy a few years back. Some would say best wagon pilot around, and I don't mean flying empty at Valdez. As in working them, with a load, off airport, etc. His only comment was that he has stock late model 185s and he has no intention to change. That said enough for me since he arguably runs more hours in a 185 in a year than anyone and its off the pavement.

    Anyway after a few years putting all that "mod money" in avgas, I wouldn't change a thing. Fly the hell out of it.

    The aileron issue with flints is noteworthy. Heard similar with wing-x. Just an observation: The 80s/90s everyone was extending cub wings as fast as they could and now there are ALOT in my neighborhood going back to standard for this issue and others. Maybe the 180/185 world is 20 years to follow? You add that extra NON-moveable surface on the wingtip at the maximum "arm" of the airfoil surface, it just doesn't add to controllability. Generally speaking.

    There is no substitute for horsepower (in anything). I'm told the 550 185 is a monster.

    Saw an MT prop that lasted 50 ish hours. One rock ding. I have to stay with the mac. I get rock dings. Love to get the weight off the nose but that's no option. Guess that's about 10k worth of avgas I saved. Should be a good summer!

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    Thanks for the sound response. Early in my cub days the ol'timers said to leave the cub wing stock as there was nothing to improve. What good was it if the wing flew early but u couldn't control in strong gusty winds. Thought long and hard about a 180 vs 185. Was told to get the 185 more hp and useful load. I am a firm believer in hp 2. Soloed in a cessna 120 next plane was a 85 hp champ. flew it 500 hrs before the cub. Between those times was the 172 for the instrument and commercial tickets. Another ol'timer Cliff Hudson said never lose site of the ground and u will do just fine. Took that one to heart.

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    Thank you Mr. Pid. I have enjoyed reading many of your posts over the last several months and find them to be just good plane advice. Now to save and save some more that small fortune for a set of floats...

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    I absolutely agree with stick time, practice and more practice...however I also believe that improving your performance margins is worth the investment...Wether Beefing up the gear with P_ponk, or VG's for slow speed control or that more horsepower, they all marginally improve your ability to apply what you practice to what we do and gives you a little better margin of error...As Pid said, still learning after 17 years, and improving that fine line that we all tip toe on with a few mods is worth it...Just my humble opinion...

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    I too have been debating on the Wing X and VG's. I have a 74 model with the Horton which was already on the ship when I bought her. Most of the guys I have talked to tell me that the MT really gets you out of the hole with a lot of thrust however I competed for 15 years in a one off Pitts that had the wide cord 3 bladed MT, I could get it inspected locally but overhauls had to go to the MT facility in Florida or Germany ran about $2500 plus shipping. The stainless leading edge was still suspect to dings so with that in mind I wouldn't consider one for off field or seaplane ops. Everytime I would get mine back from the shop it slung more grease than before overhaul. I'm running the 88 inch McCauley and happy. The prop has plenty of thrust but it does piss off people nearby with the noise ( I love it). Rumor is that it can be cut down to a 86" when the tips get chewed up with gravel. I have flown both the IO520 and the 550 and don't really see the difference other than changing the cylinders on the 550 every 4 to 500 hours. Whip has a mod for the 182 where he is installing the Lycoming 580, now I could get excited about that for the 185. The plane is addictive-enjoy

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    installed the horton gap seal aileron tape today. Noticed big improvement. Low wing on landing lifts right up right now with the flint tanks. As for the MT prop talked with Jeff at seaplanes north. They have a few MT 3 blades on cessna's over there. One was a 206 with the MT on Aeroset anfibs. Said before with the big 3 blade McCauley it suffered a lot of water damage. Now with the MT none. Interesting. Not planning on gravel rock ops. Did a lot of that with the cub. I would just get in trouble if I tried that with the skywagon. Sure do like the 185.

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