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Thread: Stinson 108

  1. #1

    Default Stinson 108

    My son is looking at purchasing a Stinson 108. He has been looking around for some time and I thought I would check here for opinions on this plane. We have heard of frequent ground loops with the -3, some suggest the 165 hp heavy case as the one to look for, comments on some sites saying stay away from metalized ones.

    Any one here have any good or bad experiences or opinions they would care to share?

    This will be a pleasure aircraft, mostly hard runway, but some grass strip, who knows, depending on where he gets stationed, maybe gravel bars or floats.

    The prices seem to have come down a bit and he is hoping to get something for 30k or less.

    Thanks for the input.

    Paul

  2. #2
    Member Casper50's Avatar
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    I have just bought a 108-2. I am also just starting to learn to fly. I haven't flown it as of yet. I'm in the process of recovering the wings. My A&P said it wasn't needed but I didn't like the looks of them. I bought mine because of the price vs. what you get/what I wanted to use it for, plus everything I've heard about them say they are a good plane with no bad quirks.

  3. #3

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    The -3 has a bigger vertical stabilizer. I think the intention was to give it better direction control during take off and landing, for floats this would be especially helpful. The only problem with the big tail is it's really ugly! Stinson 108's are about the easiest taildraggers to fly. Any taildragger can be ground looped but your really have to be sloppy to do it a Stinson. The Stinson airframe is also very strong. The 108, 108-1 and some 108-2's were made with 150 hp Franklin engines, the rest with 165 hp. Who would not prefer more horse power. As for the heavy case verses light case Franklin engine, I doubt you can find a light case Franklin engine. The light case engines were all replaced back in the 1940's because they were defective. It would still be a good thing to check on a prepurchase inspection but a light case Franklin is going be more rare than cheap av gas. If your seriously looking for a Stinson I would join the International Stinson Club,

    http://www.stinsonclub.org/new_site/

    You will find lots of great information, the membership dues are cheap at twice the price.
    Good luck.

  4. #4
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    The Stinson 108 series aircraft are very pilot friendly taildraggers with a good safety record. Insurance companies feel the same way and will insure a Stinson pilot with "0" taildragger time without the usual 25-50 hour flyoff time for narrow gear/short wing aircraft. Most 108-1,-2,-3, aircraft will have a 900+ useful load capability. The Stinson 108 series out-performs a Cessna 170 of equal horsepower. As stated before any taildragger can be ground looped but you will really have to work at it with the 108. The 108-1,-2 have the small fixed vertical tail which I have found to be easier to handle in a crosswind landing. The 108-3 has 6.5 sq. ft. more fixed vertical fin but the same square footage of moveable rudder as the -1 & -2. The 108-3 fuselage tubing is a bit heavier than the -1 & -2 and consequentually you can install up to a 230hp 0-470 engine in the -3 by STC. Stinson airframes are chromemoly steel that was arc welded rather than gas welded and the airframe design is very strong. The Franklin engine prefers the 87 octane lead-free auto gas over the 100 octane LL av gas (which has 4.5 times more lead than the old 87 octane av gas). An STC for auto gas use is available from Peterson Aviation.

    The Stinson 108 was considered an executive class aircraft in the late forties and aircraft will handle turbulence very well. Also, there are only 8 AD's (Airworthiness Directives) for the airframe and only 2 AD's on the Franklin engines.

    I own a 1947 Stinson 108-1 with the 150hp Franklin and find that it performs well within its' limitations.

    Have a good pre-purchase inspection done with emphasis on the soundness of the lower longerons, tail support tubing and the landing gear support tubing(especially if the aircraft records indicate a ground loop repair) and the forward wing attachment tube. These areas are subject to rusting conditions from water damage that can occur especially near saltwater/coastal areas.

    If you find a good one, you will not be dissappointed.

  5. #5

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    The O-470 STC (there are several) is available for other 108s, not just the -3 model. The -3 and -2 had half inch fuel lines which are required for the O-470. In the older models you have to replace the smaller fuel lines to install that engine. The O-470 is very difficult to install in the Stinson. Ive seen it done, lots of modification to the cowl required. However it is a real performer, I flew one on a test flight after the engine was installed, I had to pull the power way back to keep it from going through Vne. The last I heard the mechanic was trying to get the Vne increased for that plane. The other problem with the O-470 is it uses alot more fuel. I think the perfect engine for the Stinson is an O-360. The STC is available from Univair. You can put the 200 hp IO-360 in the -3 model.

    I have never heard about the frame being heavier in the -3. The -3 is certified to carry more weight (600 lbs) on the floor in the back but that was because they used a thicker plywood floor than the earlier models.

    Check out Hanger9aeroworks.com and go to the Stinson pages. Lots of good information there.

  6. #6

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    Thanks to all for your input. Jonathan is talking to a guy that has a -1 with metalized wings in '62 and a 180hp frankling installed somewhere between '69 and '87. They had the 1/2" lines added too.

    The plane supposedly needs a rejuvenating coat on the fabric. We are trying to figure out what that really means.

    Hoping to look at it in a week or so if it is still for sale.

    I guess I would feel better if it had the original engine or was a -2 with the 165hp. Am I wrong to think this? Is this a common thing to swap engines in a plane?

    Are there any bad things about Stinsons? I don't hear of too many in Alaska, but it seems to me it could be a decent bush plane or float plane.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Paul

  7. #7
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    I owned a 108-3 with a 165. A very strong comfortable cross country airplane. I loved the strength of the airplane and it was definetly a consideration if I ever had a forced landing... survivability...!

    It depends on your mission...If hauling your wife and young ones the Stinson would be a good choice. If just you or you and a buddy I would opt for a Tcraft or an Aeronca Chief because they are relatively inexpensive to operate and are good for off airport use.

    I fly floats/wheels and skis with my T-craft and some of the time with a passenger and gear.

  8. #8
    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    We used to own one of those thing's, before it crashed.

    Really though it was probably the best plane that I've flown in, and I've been in almost every kind of plane made.

    We had a 190hp with the gull wing's on it and we would fly into a 600' strip no problem.

    The reason it crashed was bad fuel,( One person , did'nt get hurt, was able to glide it into a swamp, it did flip over tho)

    If I was looking for something comparable to a cub that could haul twice as much, I would look at the plane.

    Just my 2 cents

    (I can't even fit in a T-Craft, lol,)

  9. #9

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    More than likely that engine has been modified with helicopter pistons to make it 180 hp. You can confirm this by checking the engine data plate numbers. You also want to have an experienced mechanic check the paperwork for the engine modification and the metalized wings closely to make sure it was done legally. I'm not a fan of metalized Stinsons and would not consider buying one but lots of other people like them. A mechanic can punch test the fabric and see if it is serviceable condition. If so a mechanic can use a chemical process to rejuvenate the fabric and then re-dope it. It will make it look like new and add many years to the life of the fabric. If the fabric has deteriorated it cannot be rejuvenated. You need a mechanic with lots of fabric experience to make this call. A mechanic that does not know the seller and has never worked on the plane is who your looking for. Getting the fabric rejuvenated will not be cheap. There are lots of Stinsons in Alaska, they have a good safety record, very few AD's and are easy to fly. Is a Stinson a good "Bush Plane"? With the 165 hp engine, not really. You can go lots of places in Alaska with a Stinson but it's not a Supercub or 185. If that is a modified engine your not really going to know if it is producing 180 hp or if the seller just claims it is. You might try getting a ride in a 165 hp Stinson and then fly the 180 hp plane and see if you can tell any difference. If you join the International Stinson Club you will get a list of all the members including the members in Alaska. You could make some good contacts locally and find out what you need to know before you buy a plane. Don't be in a hurry.
    Good luck.

  10. #10
    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
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    I've been lusting after a -3 for a long time, but one of the MAJOR considerations is parts availability for the Franklin engines. The engine has a great reputation, but talk to the mechanics in AK - they'll tell you if it breaks, you'll be down for a long time waiting for parts - and that's hoping you don't need a case or a crank . . . .

  11. #11
    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    I should have said it was a 190 hp lyc in ours. Not the franklin.

  12. #12

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    Rock Skipper
    Was that the O435 Lycoming you had in your Stinson and if so did you have good luck with it? I've never flown one but that engine had a poor reputation from other Stinson owners that I've spoken to. Lycoming made thousands of those engines during WWII, I think they were used for generators or something. My understanding is that it is harder to get parts for that engine than the Franklins.

    Franklin engine parts are available in the lower 48 but you can't get a new cam or crank, only used yellow tagged servicable. Also there are only a few shops doing Franklin cylinder overhauls so that can take a long time. The biggist problem with Franklins is they were not made for 100LL fuel which leads to stuck valves. If the cylinders are overhauled with bronze valve guides that minimizes the problem. Two things about running a Franklin engine, lean the mixture all the time except during engine start, full power take off and climb and when landing (in case of go around). Even during idle and taxi it's important to lean aggressively. The other thing is to run the engine at a high power setting. Never go below 75% in cruise.

  13. #13
    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    To be honest with you I could'nt tell you if it was 0435 or not, all I know is that thing had more power than that plane need'ed. I do know it was pretty depenable, and it had something to do with the filter's that caused the engine to cut out. My dad was flying by himself when he went down, and in 20-20 hindsight he said if he was thinking straight he probabaly would have got it home using the primer.

    You have to check the fuel everytime you go up, not sure why this happened with him, ( But he was kinda of an outlaw)

    The one thing he did find out was that the thing with the gull wings will float to far if the wind changes when you are readdy to put it down.

    He was gliding into a swamp and about 100 feet off the ground he got a tail wind and was pushing him further than he was supposed to go, so he pulled it back to a full stall and the tail hit causing the flip.

    And yes he did the seatbelt thing and droped on his head.

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    Sounds like you are talking about a Stinson V77 Gullwing with a 300hp lycoming R680

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    Take a look at this Stinson refuge.

    http://www.city-data.com/aircrafts/a...th-Alaska.html

    GR

  16. #16
    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    No I'm sure it was a 190, but it Was a gullwing, if I remember right it was a 48 model. ( Not sure if the engine was after market or not) 4 seats with cargo room in the back. Heck guy's that was a long time ago when I was in my teens. I used to fly that thing when dad decided to take a nap, lol, no auto on it.

    But no it was'nt a 300 hp , although that would have been awesome

  17. #17

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    Well, here's some info on the plane we hope to go look at next week:

    -1 with 180 hp franklin marine case with helicopter cyl. and manifolds installed somewhere around 1980
    has alternator not generator
    H.D. oil filter
    Metalized wings in '62 with zinc chromate on all internal surfaces
    '65 Fuselage stripped and primed with glid-plate 2part epoxy primer. Covered with ceconite with 11 base coats of silver butyrate dope, color and trim
    '91 new IFR panel w/ new intruments. all new interior and carpet
    '93 new 25 gallon tanks
    700-800hrs since major overhaul, 60-80hrs since top overhaul which included new rings, valves and pistons.

    Never had a 337 on the engine install.

    Hasn't had an annual for 4-5 years.

    Needs fuselage redoped and wings need painted.

    Would need to get a ferry permit to get it here (800 miles) and hire someone to fly it as Jonathan doesn't have his taildragger endorsement yet. Besides that, he is at the Naval Academy and wouldn't have time until June. Or else take the wings off and trailer it.

    What do you guys think? At just under 20k would it be worth it?

    Portagecreek, is that you and yours with all the stinsons? We need to talk. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,

    Paul

  18. #18
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    Default Proceed with Caution!

    I had a -1 with 165hp up in Fairbanks years ago and loved it. Worked well on skis too. One of the most docile taildraggers out there. My concern on this airplane is that fact that the engine installation has not been approved. The FAA has REALLY tightened up on field approvals, and are WAY backed up on getting them done. There is a possibility that you will not be able to get a 337 for it now. That being the case, it may even be difficult getting it annualed. I would definitely have your AP/IA go over it with a fine-toothed comb. IMHO - that airplane would be a fair deal at $20K with a fresh 337 and annual, but I wouldn't pay $10K for it in its current condition. It's a WHOLE lot easier to buy and airplane than to sell it. There are lots of current flying Stinsons out there to be had in that price range. I did a quick CL search and there's a 165hp -3 in Willow right now asking $25K. Also check Barnstormers, several on there now in the $20s Of course watch TAP and the club classifieds. Your son doesn't have time to fly it right now anyway, so be patient and find a good one. They're great planes and a nice one will almost become like a member of the family. The stock -3 has larger tanks and more payload than a stock -1, and personally, I like the looks of the big tail. Anyway good luck, and congratulations to you and your son on the Academy. They wouldn't let me in Annapolis, so went to West Point instead.

  19. #19

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    If the plane has not had an annual in 4 or 5 years that means it has been sitting that long. It also sounds like the last overhaul was 30 years ago. 700 hours in 30 years plus sitting for the last 4 or 5 years means the engine needs to be overhauled. With no paperwork on the engine your not going to get an annual, trying to find a mechanic that will sign off on the 337 for the engine is going to be a problem, then you have to try to get it through the FAA. As stated previously getting the FAA to approve the engine is also going to be problematic, you will most likely have to get engineering work done to get it approved. If the fabric is 45 years old it will not be in good enough shape to rejuvenate. Even if the fabric could be saved after 45 years the fabric needs to come off and see whats going on underneath with the frame. If the owner gave you this plane I bet you could not afford it. This plane is a rebuild project! Do not buy it!

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