Late model 414A or 421C?

Home 2024 Forums Opening Section Buying a Twin Cessna Late model 414A or 421C?

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  • #83932
    aherrmann
    Participant

      Hi….I am a newbie and royally confused. I am looking to get into a late model (1981 to 1985) 414A RAM VII and have been doing a ton of research on operating costs, motors, etc.. Recently I talked to a 421 owner and he said the geared motor are great and loved the airplane. With all my research all I have heard is how expensive the geared 421 motors are and thus the 414A is the plane to have. I know I am opening up a can of worms, but what are your thoughts are experiences? Thanks much for the help. I love the plane and now it’s a matter of which one. Help!

      #96993
      quote aherrmann:

      Hi….I am a newbie and royally confused. I am looking to get into a late model (1981 to 1985) 414A RAM VII and have been doing a ton of research on operating costs, motors, etc.. Recently I talked to a 421 owner and he said the geared motor are great and loved the airplane. With all my research all I have heard is how expensive the geared 421 motors are and thus the 414A is the plane to have. I know I am opening up a can of worms, but what are your thoughts are experiences? Thanks much for the help. I love the plane and now it’s a matter of which one. Help!

      Get the 421C. The GTSIO engine is a good engine, and some people who know engines a lot better than I do have called it the best engine Continental ever made.

      I think it says a lot that the 340 & 414 have a ton of different engine upgrades available, but the 421 does not. Cessna and Continental got it right with the 421.

      The ability to cruise with the prop rpm down at 17-1800 makes the cabin relatively quiet and my passengers don’t bother wearing headsets and can converse normally.

      You’ll also have a lot more options if you are looking for 421s than if you are looking for a very specific RAM 414.

      Finally, you may want to check useful loads and payloads. The numbers I’ve seen show that the 421s have significantly more payload capability than the 414s.

      Good luck in your search!

      Robert

      #96995

      I have owned a 1978 414A RAM VII for nearly 4 years so I can tell you about my experiences. I have not owned a 421. Here are my thoughts:

      – First of all, only consider the RAM VII conversion on the 414A. This conversion will run much cooler and offer more power than previous RAM conversions. The RAM VII will also put the performance metrics and useful load on par (or better in some cases) than the 421C.

      – The 414A was made from 1978 to 1985. There were very few improvements made over those years. You will probably find a rudder gust lock on 1979 models and later and you will find trail link landing gear on the later models (1982 and later I think). Otherwise, any of these years will be nearly identical so it may not be necessary to eliminate the early year models unless you need those two items.

      – The 414A has a very high gear speed so I don’t think speed brakes are necessary. I routinely accept descents of 1500FPM without any issue. I usually don’t even pull back the power very much…just point the nose down and go. Over-speed is not an issue, and if I need to, I can drop the gear at 177KIAS. Keep in mind that cruise is about 145KIAS. Shock cooling is not an issue. One thing to keep in mind is that geared engines don’t like to be “driven” on descent so you have to keep the power up so I assume that speed brakes might be desirable on a 421C.

      – The 421C will be a bit quieter in the cabin because of the lower prop speed. However, the noise level in my plane is very low. My passengers only wear headsets when they want to listen to their own music. For conversation, they never wear them.

      – I mostly fly my plane in the high teens and low twenties (depending on winds) and I run LOP. My fuel burn is 32GPH in cruise and my hottest CHT is usually 370 degrees. Some CHT’s are below 300 degrees with the cowl flaps closed. I can plan between 195-205KTS TAS at these altitudes. If I go ROP I can get about 5-10 KTS more but my fuel burn will jump to 42GPH. Flying LOP gives me incredible flexibility for endurance and loading. I think 421C’s will also fly LOP just fine but I don’t know what their performance numbers and fuel burn are LOP.

      – I think either direct drive 414A RAM VII’s or gear driven 421C’s will make TBO if managed properly. Although you can expect at least one set of cylinder changes before TBO for either engine. My plane is 100 hours over TBO and still running strong. However, if you get to TBO, the geared engines will run about $10,000/per engine more for overhaul or rebuild. Also, you need to check on the starter adapter AD. This is an expensive part (around $7,000) and is responsible for several engine failures. I’m sure the 421C drivers can give you more information on these items. I think even the 421C drivers will tell you that the geared engines require more operating TLC than the direct drive engines but it is very manageable.

      So after owning a 414A for 400 hours, would I go to a 421C if I had to do it again? Maybe. In my view, the 414A RAM VII and the 421C are so close in almost every way, either plane would suit my purposes just fine. When the 414A was first built, there was a big difference between the two planes but I think the RAM VII conversion nearly closed that gap completely. If you include the overhaul cost of the gear engines and the cost of the starter adapter AD, the operating cost of the 421C will be modestly higher. These costs may not matter if you don’t plan to own the plane until TBO. Also, it appears that acquisition costs of a 421C seem to be slightly lower than a RAM VII 414A so that might be a good off-set. So having said all that, I think there is more differences between different planes than there is difference between models. Any plane (regardless of the model) should be well-inspected because if it needs of new boots (20K), a new heated windshield (20K), new interior, paint, avionics, etc., these are much more important considerations than the model itself. If I had to replace my plane, I would put both the 421C and the 414A RAM VII on the list and just go find the best plane that I could.

      I would be happy to share with you any information that I have on the 414A and I am sure there are plenty of 421C drivers on this forum that would be glad to do the same. Don’t hesitate to ask. Good luck!
      Pete

      #96997

      Good write up Pete!

      What’s the max gross weight of a RAM VII 414? The VG equipped 421C’s max takeoff weight is 7579 (max ramp is 7629). My 421’s base weight is 5238 which gives me 2,341lbs useful load (1,105lbs payload with the mains topped or 949lbs with all 232 gallons on board).

      I completely agree with Pete that a 414 RAM VII and a 421C are comparable and you’ll be happy with either choice. I suspect there are (many) more 421Cs on the market at any given time though.

      Robert

      #96998

      Robert,
      My max takeoff weight is 7,105 and my empty weight is 4986 so my useful load is 2,119 and my payload with full fuel is 907. With that much gas I can go nearly 6 hours and my family usually requires a break at 4 hours so I don’t need to carry full fuel very often. A 421C running LOP might have some advantage on the endurance/payload equation over my plane but I don’t think so if it is running ROP. In any event, even 900lbs is a lot of payload.

      You are correct on availability. It looks like there are at least 3 times as many 421C’s available than 414A RAM VII’s so the opportunity to negotiate a good deal favors the 421C. I just hope a replacement for 100LL can be found so both planes hold their value!
      Pete

      #97000
      aherrmann
      Participant

        Thanks much for the information! Both planes seem to be a great deal for the performance and the useful load. I am going to keep shopping with both in mind, but I am leaning towards a 1980 or newer 414A RAM VII. I plan on flying between FL 210 and FL 270 so a heated fuel manifold is essential.

        #97001

        Just curious…what is a heated fuel manifold? I have never heard of one.

        #97002
        rwelsh
        Participant
          quote :

          Just curious…what is a heated fuel manifold? I have never heard of one.

          The heated fuel manifold is an option or mod where they put a hollow collar around the fuel manifold (spyder) and heat it with engine oil. This keep the fuels from forming ice crystals when in a long flight in the FLs wher the temps can get down to minus 30C in winter.

          #97005
          aherrmann
          Participant

            Evidently the heated fuel manifold only comes on the 1980 to 1985 models. I am not sure of you can add it to older models?

            #97010
            quote RWELSH:

            quote :

            Just curious…what is a heated fuel manifold? I have never heard of one.

            The heated fuel manifold is an option or mod where they put a hollow collar around the fuel manifold (spyder) and heat it with engine oil. This keep the fuels from forming ice crystals when in a long flight in the FLs wher the temps can get down to minus 30C in winter.

            That’s a great question – who adds fuel additive to their fuel to prevent ice crystals (per the manual)? I am not aware of anyone who does, yet also does not seem to be an operational issue.

            Between the 414A, 421C or really any in the 300 or 400 series you are picking between variations on a very solid platform. If it is between a 414A or 421C only, I would look to price, features, maintenance history and flight status + proximity to your location.

            aherrmann, where are you located? Have you had a chance to fly in both? what are you flying now and what type of flying are you doing or expecting you will be able to do?

            Eric

            #97015
            aherrmann
            Participant

              I am in Southern California and fly out of KSNA. I currently own a Comanche (260b) and fly all over the west (napa, Monterey, Sonoma, San Luis Obispo, Parker Arizona, Williams AZ). We are looking at the 414A so we can take friends and family with us and be able to fly to Aspen, Salt Lake City, Truckee, Mammoth, etc. Also, I can see us flying up to Seattle and Portland as well as across the US for both business and pleasure. I have 2 kids (2.5yrs and 1yrs) and both my kids and my wife love to fly. We want the pressurization, icing, and the ability to go to FL. I have not found another plane that has what we are looking for in a reasonable price range, other than the 414.

              Alan

              #97017

              We add the alcohol per the manual as we don’t have the heated manifold, although only do it when flying north because when it is cold or going to be cold on the ground is the only time I think about it lol. 😀

              #97020
              quote aherrmann:

              I am in Southern California and fly out of KSNA. I currently own a Comanche (260b) and fly all over the west (napa, Monterey, Sonoma, San Luis Obispo, Parker Arizona, Williams AZ). We are looking at the 414A so we can take friends and family with us and be able to fly to Aspen, Salt Lake City, Truckee, Mammoth, etc. Also, I can see us flying up to Seattle and Portland as well as across the US for both business and pleasure. I have 2 kids (2.5yrs and 1yrs) and both my kids and my wife love to fly. We want the pressurization, icing, and the ability to go to FL. I have not found another plane that has what we are looking for in a reasonable price range, other than the 414.

              Alan

              Alan, my kids ( 5 and 7) love the 421C as they do not have to wear a headset, it has plenty of space to move around, and it has a potty in the back. Actually, what they usually do is sit in the back of the plane, close the curtain and declare the back of the plane off limits! You can sit 3 kids back there in the 8 seat 421C (belted potty is a legal seat).

              From what you described either the 421C or 414A would work fine. For me, I wanted known icing because otherwise it is harder to plan getting out of the Portland area – but I didn’t want to fly in icing and then you need the ability to climb. I use O2, but didn’t want to worry about the kids using O2 as well. So, above the weather, in pressurized comfort is a good way to go. Of course, the downside is you will not want to go long distance in a non-pressurized plane after owning one!

              Have you taken a ride in one yet?

              Eric

              #97022

              Hi Alan
              You will love either one. I owned a 414 for 10 years and I now own a 421. Other than the engines and props the cost to own the two are identical. The 421 is considerably quieter and may have little more useful load (which is taken up by the greater fuel needs) A 421’s geared engine will hold up very well if taken care of and with good luck. With both a 414 and 421 engine health is quite often controlled by luck. The 414 has crappy cylinders and the 421 has starter drive issues. All in all you will find that the 414 will cost less money to operate. The engines can be much less expensive to repair and overhaul than the 421s. Also, fuel burn is less on the 414. One other thing and this is my opinion, I believe engine out operation is a little easier in the 414. The 421’s props have a lot more drag than the 414’s and if you loose an engine close to the ground in the 421 you have to act very quickly.

              You noted that you are going to fly between FL210 and FL270. In reality, unless you have a giant tail wind, you will rarely fly above FL220-230. Once you hit the mid teens your climb rate slows alot. I have found that I fly in the mid teens up to FL210 and almost never go higher.
              Sandy

              #97024
              quote SGERBER:

              Hi Alan
              You noted that you are going to fly between FL210 and FL270. In reality, unless you have a giant tail wind, you will rarely fly above FL220-230. Once you hit the mid teens your climb rate slows alot. I have found that I fly in the mid teens up to FL210 and almost never go higher.
              Sandy

              Ditto. I’ve been to FL250 exactly once to top some weather. Generally I like FL200-210.

              Interesting points about the 414 vs the 421 in an engine out situation. Never thought about that, but I’d have a hard time arguing against your logic. That being said, I wouldn’t base an airplane purchase on that issue.

              Robert

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