C340 Purchase Questions

Home 2024 Forums Opening Section Buying a Twin Cessna C340 Purchase Questions

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  • #83677

    Many thanks to members for the outstanding information on the various forums.

    I have been researching the advertised 340’s for a few months now and hope to be ready to make a purchase in the next few months. At this point, I am trying to prepare a list of must have’s for getting started. My plan is to use the aircraft weekly on 800nmi trips. Any comments on the following subjects will be appreciated:

    1. Engine fire extinguishers: I have found few 340’s with extinguishers installed however have read numerous comments which suggest they are a good idea.

    2. Spoilers: Any suggestions?

    3. Autopilot: Ideally I would like a good quality Autopilot and flight director. If the aircraft is not currently equipped, my plan would be to upgrade to Garmin avionics and EFIS when time and finances permit.

    4. Fresh annual with purchase: Numerous aircraft are offered for sale with run out annuals. Given that a pre buy will be accomplished at a repair station with appropriate expertise, would you suggest including the annual in the purchase price or does it matter?

    Thank you for any suggestions.

    #95472

    Hi
    A 340 is a great plane. I can only base my opinion on my ownership of a 414 for the last 10 years. If its just you or a couple of people the 340 is great. If you want much more room and comfort I would suggest a 414, but a 414 is a little slower. Now to your issues. If you are planning on going 800nm you are going to need more fuel than a standard 340. Your looking at 4.5-5 hours flying time. For IFR, I would want 200 gal, but I’m very conservative. Engine fire extinguishers are nice but If you have a good well maintained exhaust system fires are rare. They, also, add weight on a plane with a marginal useful load. Obviously, if you buy a Ram modified plane that may not be an issue. Spoilers are also an item that I believe are nice but not needed. I always plan my descents an hour out. If you have a Garmin you can program your descent. Every once in a while you’ll get a controller that wants you to dive bomb the airport, I just complain when I need to start my descent. Again, spoilers add weight. A good autopilot is a life saver and I believe it is a mandatory piece of equipment. Most 340’s have a 400B autopilot. It happens to be a very good autopilot that is easy to use. A lot of people complain about them but once you have it working correctly it usually works well. S-tec’s are great but they have their issues too. Places like Autopilots Central in Tulsa are very helpful with the Cessna autopilots. Having a flight director would not be mandatory for me. They are nice but very expensive to repair. I highly recommend Garmin avionics. Personally, I love the 530W. It does everything that I need. I also want Nexrad on board and a working radar. In this day and age if you are on a budget, I would use a Garmin hand-held with nexrad and XM radio and put in a Gizmo (I hate wires all around). A 696 or the new 796 gives you a lot benefits and charts too. If you don’t have the panel room a Garmin GDL-69A works great, but costs a lot. As far as an efis, I personally like old HSI’s, but when my HSI craps out I’ll probably put an Aspen in before I spend 2 grand to a repair a 30 year old instrument.
    If money is no object, there are many toys that would be very nice, like the new Garmins and a G600, but frankly, I have found that my 530 with Nexrad and a good autopilot is all I ever need to feel comfortable and safe.
    If you don’t personally know the ownership and maintenance of the plane I would have my pre-buy inspection done as annual. AND HAVE IT DONE BY A TWIN CESSNA EXPERT ONLY. A bad inspection can cost you a 100K. You can have it started as a smaller pre-buy to determine if there is something major worth walking away from and if it passes to that point have them finish with an annual. DON”T TRUST A RECENT ANNUAL, especially when the plane has not been flown very much. There are many sellers that can no longer afford the plane and get a mechanic to “pencil” in the annual. I just did a pre-buy that just had a fresh annual. The plane had 3 cracked cylinders and the fuel tanks leaked badly. We even found a tire inner-tube used as a duct on the pressurization system. Also, bring it up to altitude and see how everything works. Check Flight Aware for recent flight history. Good Luck, You will love your twin Cessna.
    Sandy

    #95473
    quote JKENNEY:

    Many thanks to members for the outstanding information on the various forums.

    I have been researching the advertised 340’s for a few months now and hope to be ready to make a purchase in the next few months. At this point, I am trying to prepare a list of must have’s for getting started. My plan is to use the aircraft weekly on 800nmi trips. Any comments on the following subjects will be appreciated:

    1. Engine fire extinguishers: I have found few 340’s with extinguishers installed however have read numerous comments which suggest they are a good idea.

    2. Spoilers: Any suggestions?

    3. Autopilot: Ideally I would like a good quality Autopilot and flight director. If the aircraft is not currently equipped, my plan would be to upgrade to Garmin avionics and EFIS when time and finances permit.

    4. Fresh annual with purchase: Numerous aircraft are offered for sale with run out annuals. Given that a pre buy will be accomplished at a repair station with appropriate expertise, would you suggest including the annual in the purchase price or does it matter?

    Thank you for any suggestions.

    What airports will you be flying between? How much flexibility will you have on timing? What are you flying now and what is the maint like at your field and destination airports?

    1) I don’t have them, but I think they are a good idea. The Cessna twin design has oil, fuel and exhaust all close together on the firewall. I can’t recall reading about anyone using one for an actual fire. The Cessna Exhaust AD has been great in addressing exhaust system reliability. You will want to look closely at this in the log books
    2) Spoilers are nice to have but not essential. The 421C gear speed + first flaps is over 170kts. Not sure about the 340. You could always add them later
    3) The most typical autopilot is the 800B and 400B Cessna/ARC/(Sperry?) systems. They were high end in their day and at the pinnacle of discrete analog design – but that was in the late 70’s/early 80’s. The KFC200 is also an excellent AP, but expensive to retrofit. Both are expensive to maintain but work well when adjusted correctly. The Stec series offers isolation from the attitude indicator but perhaps not as precise relying on the turn coordinator for roll and altimeter for pitch. Some day a modern AP will make it to the Cessna series. I am hoping for the Avidyne DFC90 but I suspect they are years away.
    4) They probably let them run out of annual to avoid thousands to 10’s of thousands in annual cost. If this is your first Cessna twin I would proceed with caution here. Check flightaware and see when it has last flown. Check over the logs for hrs per year.

    Here is a decent candidate for an out of annual purchase. http://www.controller.com/listingsdetail/aircraft-for-sale/CESSNA-340A-RAM/1979-CESSNA-340A-RAM/1218473.htm? It’s over TBO, just out of annual, just off 135, last flew about 7 weeks ago, and consistently flew back and forth between two airports. 135 would drive replacing the engines, probably didn’t pencil out for them and they put it up for sale. I bet you could talk them down on it, fly it for a year or more, and then put in engines (assuming part 91). First year insurance would be less with the hull value low. You probably will need to do a cash transaction because it is out of annual and over TBO (I have no connection to this plane)

    Here is one that is 40,000 cheaper. http://www.controller.com/listingsdetail/aircraft-for-sale/CESSNA-340A-RAM/1977-CESSNA-340A-RAM/1226825.htm? But it is a repo, both engines are near TBO, one is reported “bad” and the last IFR flight was 3 years ago – and it’s out of annual. Oh, and the boat dealer reports it needs some avionics :). This one might be the perfect plane for the right buyer at 1/3 the listing price – but it is going to be an endless money pit for the average buyer. By the way, check out the panel pics… It has been stripped of avionics! Probably at least 20,000 to 30,000 to get the panel updated – and that would be to a fairly basic config. RUN!

    Other things to look for are engine records (temps, etc), compressions, oil analysis, boroscope, lifter/cam inspection, storage conditions, FIKI status, boot condition, prop times, window cracking/crazing, avionics status, corrosion, etc.

    There are lot’s of planes for sale, so if you have the time and the money you can find the perfect plane for you.

    Happy hunting!

    #95475

    Excellent advice by both Sandy and Eric!

    The only thing I would add is that you should do the pre-buy or annual by your mechanic who will be working on the plane long term.

    Using an unaffiliated third party (ie not associated with you or the seller) is an OK solution and may be the way you have to go, but if you can get your guy to the airplane that is a much better way to do it.

    Robert

    #95477

    Good advice given so far. I have owned my 340 for 8 years and fly it 150 – 200 hours per year. From what I looked at on Eric’s samples, the prices listed make this a good time to buy. But, as others have said, there are some expensive items to watch out for, but the purchase prices leave room for that.

    When I bought my plane, we did actually continued the pre-buy (after I was confident it was a the right 340) into an annual inspection. We closed the deal but we had the plane pretty much opened up at this point. I still recall taking a deep breath when I saw it opened up – there is a lot going on under the covers. So that was my “fresh annual”, I would not trust someone else’s “fresh annual” unless I knew the shop well.

    I had a Seneca V before buying the 340, I bought the 340 because I had wanted one since I was in my 20’s and saw one on the ramp and the owner let me get in and look around. I bought the Seneca to learn ME flying and get some ME time. The Seneca is a fine plane, simple to operate but slow and not much range – and a whole bunch less complex.

    I typically fly my 340 alone or with one or two passengers. The only downside of the 340 is the useful load – no problem for 2 on board, you can carry enough fuel to fly long legs with flexibility to deal with WX. If you need to fly long legs with the cabin loaded, the 340 is not the right plane.

    I love the 340. I have owned an Arrow, Super Viking, Bonanza, Saratoga and Seneca – the 340 is my favorite. I will probably buy one more plane, but it will be pressurized.

    My cost to operate matches what was reported in the magazine. It does cost to keep it 100% but worth it. One thing that will save anyone operating costs is to learn as much as you can about the airframe and systems – trouble shooting issues is half the battle usually. And, you are talking to the right folks here on this Forum, I thought I knew a lot till I started hanging out here.

    Here are some things I would be looking at:

    1. I have the fire extinguishers built in and they will be worth a lot should I ever need them. Not sure how well they work, I have never talked to anyone who has used them. They do need to be serviced (the bottles) every 5 years, I just had that done. Not very common equipment on the 340’s I have seen. Never had any issues, not much to check other than the test lights, I assume they will fire off it I push the button. If I did not have them, I don’t think it would bother me, I really pay attention to the exhaust system.

    2. Air conditioning is a must have. My plane has an electric powered AC in the nose. It has the overhead duct all the way to the back of my neck, it is great. It quit on my last spring in Florida and it was awful. I have replaced the blower fan in the rear and the repairs for the issues last spring cost ~$2,000 to fix. Otherwise it has work great for 8 years.

    3. Good working AP is a must have. I won’t fly my plane without the AP working 100%. I can hand fly it just fine, but I took a long trip one time with it not working well and it was more than I should expect to handle outside of an emergency flying in marginal WX in a busy terminal area. The plane is a joy to fly, but it can get away from you in the clouds when digging for charts, looking for your pencil, dialing in freqs etc. I have a 400B and it has not caused a problem. (When it quit, it was a loose pin on a cannon plug)

    4. Yaw damper. My wife would probably be unconscious from Dramamine if I did not have one. She always rides in the back and would hate it without one that works.

    5. At least one nacelle tank. Due to the useful load limits, you don’t need more baggage space. I have one but wish I had 2. The only reason I would want two is occasionally WX creates a need for more options but the main reason it is easier to manage instead of working out the cross feed to keep transfer 10 gallons to the other side. I use my nacelle tank anytime I am doing long legs, otherwise it has maybe 2 gallons in it to keep it wet.

    6. Known Ice – not that I fly into ice intentionally, but it is the legal issues with PIREPS and forecasts. I live in ND and ice is in just about every forecast if there is a cloud. The plane can get you out of ice, but I would never trust the equipment to intentionally continue flying in icing conditions.

    7. I have 310HP rated motors, I specifically looked for this when I bought my plane (for reasons I do not recall other than it seemed too confusing at the time). I just bought RAM OH engines and elected to stay with 310HP again after some consultation with others on this forum. I do have AA Intercoolers already or I may have considered the increased HP. My typical trips are around 200 miles so I don’t regularly get into the FL’s.

    On my wish list –

    1. A new paint job. I am going over to the TCF seminar in the spring, and a shiny paint job would be good for my ego.
    2. Spoilers – would be nice when I misjudge things.
    3. One of those electronic engine gauge retrofits.
    4. 1 or 2 additional Aspen units.

    #95479

    I just presumed that any plane that you look at would have a/c and some de-ice. A/C is an absolute must, so is de-ice. If you live in the warmer parts of the country a plane with full boots, heated props and alcohol windshield will get you out of the ice as well as known ice. Even a known ice plane should be used carefully around ice. I mean Get Out of it! I would also look for a plane that has the a/c that has vents up to the pilot. Some a/c units are just boxes in the very back. That won’t help you as the pilot.

    #95482

    I had a 1980 C340A with original engines (310 HP) and now I have a 1978 with RAM VII engines (335 HP). I was very happy with my 1980 340 it had a total time of just 900 hours (both, airframe and engines). I had a panel refurbished with all the new avionics thing (Garmin 530 and 430, Avidyne 500, two Garmin transponders…) and an interior redone. I bought it for $250,000 and sold it for personal reasons at $430,000. I spend around $480,000 on it. All this about 2.5 years ago.
    I wanted a 1978 or newer because I do not like the control wheels 1977 and before. But they are almost the same airplane.
    When I sold my first 340, I started looking for a Mirage but after seeing the cabin again, I went and bought another 340, the one I own and love now.
    You will not find an airplane like a 340. It is an amazing airplane for me that have a small family, my wife and two sons.
    If you want to fly 800 NM you will need at least 200 gallons on your 340, which is easy to have.
    An autopilot is a must. I have the original Cessna 400B and it works perfectly with the Garmin 530 and my Aspen 1000 PFD.
    I used to have a 2004 Saratoga with the Stec 55X and hated it. It was slow. The 400B knows what it is doing.
    My payload with 183 gallons is 704 LBS. which is more than enough for me and my family.

    Here are the notes I take sometimes at flight for my actual 1978 C340A RAM VII (N6219C) and my other 1980 C340A (N4656A):


    Attachments:

    #95483

    One more thing. If you are not in the aircraft business, go contact a broker. He will save you headaches.
    I can recomend Jerry Temple http://www.jtatwins.com

    Rodolfo
    1978 C340A RAM VII

    #95486

    Thanks to all for the comments and suggestions.

    With regard to the pre buy and annual, I appreciate the suggestions. My plan will be to find a twin cessna expert in Virginia or central Florida as this is where I plan to operate primarily. The suggestions for combining the pre buy with an annual (provided the inspection is satisfactory) makes good sense.

    The engine fire extinguishers would make me feel better, however I understand that most aircraft do not have them installed. Has anyone heard of a STC to install this system?

    We are all in agreement about a good autopilot and air conditioning.

    It will certainly be interesting to compare the various 340’s available.

    Thanks again for the feedback.

    Jim

    #95487

    Jim
    I highly recommend Jimmy Garland at S & S Aviation. They are located at KCNI, which is 40 miles north of Atlanta. He is a twin Cessna expert. Not only does he maintain a lot of twin Cessnas, he provides a great recurrent training course.
    Sandy

    #95488

    Several years ago I went through the same buying process. What I learned was, RAM is the why to go. Increased gross weight(300 to 400 lbs), vg’s, improved exhaust system, Prea. mags, 7th stud on the engine, and digital FF. In my case the plane had the RAM IV conversion with an AA Intercooler which produces more than 325 hp and provides cylinder head temps in the 390 degree range at FL 230.

    I also discovered that the original factory AC units don’t cool that well and if they break parts can be an issue. The advise I got was to get the electric unit and if you could, a recent manufacture. As it turned out I ended up with neither, my plane has no AC, never did, I therefore purchased an Artic Air unit which has worked well for me. We usually depart no later than 0800, before things get hot, and when it is hot the Artic unit provides cool air while we’re climbing to altitude. It is an inconvenience to buy ice prior to departure.

    I have owned various aircraft since 1962 and I am here to say that the RAM 340A is the best aircraft I have ever owned. The Cessna 320 I owned prior to the 340 was 10 kts faster, the Twin Comanche I owned for 21 years was less expensive to operate, but when all things are considered the 340 wins. I did look at the 414 and 421 but they are larger aircraft than what I needed.

    Good luck on your search and welcome aboard
    .

    #95509
    rwelsh
    Participant
      quote :

      The engine fire extinguishers would make me feel better, however I understand that most aircraft do not have them installed. Has anyone heard of a STC to install this system?

      Because Cessna offered the fire extinguisher as an option, I would think you could find one in the salvage yards and install all the pieces. The hardest part is running the wires up to the cockpit and finding a place for the instrument. The extinguisher bottle mounts to the firewall right of the turbo and there are two hoses to two places in the engine compartment- one at the nose case and a smaller one next to the scavange pump. There is a wire that has to be threaded up to the cockpit. I would suggest getting the squib replaced and charging the bottle(s).

      The factory AC unit is a little small for the large cubic feet of space in the cabin, but it is adequate if the system performs like it is supposed to. The big problem is the system is 35 year old and the aluminum tubes throughout the plane can develop tiny corrosion holes. Some of these tubes are very hard to access and find the leaks. The compressor is a standard Sanko 508 which was used in millions of cars in the 1970s and 80s. We use Freeze 12 instead of Freon.

      The STec 55X autopilot is very good if it was installed correctly but probably over half were not done right, but they can be made to work if a proper AP person does the work. Cable tensions and tray installations are some of the bugaboos. Doing GPS WAAS approaches with a 55X is a dream come true. Mine will fly the plane right down to the deck on centerline; better then the CAT II approaches I used to do in a 727.

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