Looking for a Classic 310

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  • #84148

    I’m a new member of TTCF, and my wife and I are looking for a 310.

    It must be in safe mechanical condition, have very good P&I and updated avionics package including a decent autopilot. Of course, it must be inexpensive as well.

    I am currently looking at a 1961 U-3B, but it doesn’t have an autopilot and needs some other improvements. Even though the selling price is very attractive, avionics and autopilots can easily exceed the value of the airplane.

    We currently have a Mooney with an STEC 30, Garmin 430 WAAS, an Aspen and a JPI 700.

    Any help or opinions would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Butch Gilbert
    Tampa, FL

    #98424

    What price range are you looking for?

    #98425

    Other questions would be do you care about hours on engines, de-ice, what do you define as updated avionics, do you care about TTAF, and are you specifically looking at a classic 310 or are you willing to come to the dark side with the slanted tails and swept tanks?

    #98427

    Budget is under $75K, WAAS and an autopilot is a must, and mid time engines or less would be nice.

    #98428

    I see we have sarcasm on the forum…….I thought I would see if the price range was realistic before I bothered with the specifics but thanks for speaking for me. In the future If you have questions perhaps you could start out the sentence with….I, or If the price range is….etc…
    I have a 310I that has new leather. The engines are 8-900hrs. Props are a year old with 60 or so hours. Garmin 530, Stec 50, 50amp Generators, 340 audio panel Most of the engine instruments and steam gauges have been overhauled within the last 12 months. It is striped right now except for the control surfaces. All the Fiberglass and Plastic has been repaired and primed. I was going to advertise it and let the new owner pick the paint or buy it as is and drop it off at their shop of choice for paint. It ran across a 340 i couldn’t pass up so I am selling my 310. it will make someone a nice plane.

    #98433

    Wwilson, I wasn’t speaking for you, and the questions I asked are relevant since that will vary the price. I’ve also got no interest in selling a plane, just wanted to get a picture so I could give a useful response based on my experience.

    #98434
    quote HGilbert1:

    Budget is under $75K, WAAS and an autopilot is a must, and mid time engines or less would be nice.

    I think given your budget what you’re looking for is probably reasonable. You didn’t give other specifics so I’m assuming that you don’t care if the AP is a Century III (like on the 67 N model I fly) or an updated S-Tec or the like. I’m not a huge fan of the C-III, but it does work. For the $15k or so that it would cost to upgrade, I’m going to stick with it. If you’re particular on your autopilots, this might be worth considering with particular examples.

    I wouldn’t discount a plane just because it lacked WAAS so long as it had a 430 or 530 in it. The upgrade to WAAS for one of those is around $3k, which you can factor in to your purchase price. Many planes don’t have WAAS yet, and what will be far more important is the overall condition of the plane and how it was maintained. Remember with these aircraft cheapest is not always best.

    Also, if you don’t need or want de-ice, probably best not to get it just to have unless it all works and the boots are in very good condition. Boots are expensive, and the system costs you a few knots in cruise. For us it’s a requirement given our operations.

    Main thing is to get a good prebuy to look at known problem areas, especially corrosion. Shiny P&I doesn’t always mean the plane was well maintained.

    Good luck in your search, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your 310 once you find it. I love flying them.

    #98438
    quote HGilbert1:

    I’m a new member of TTCF, and my wife and I are looking for a 310.

    Butch Gilbert
    Tampa, FL

    Butch,

    First, Welcome to TTCF. Nice to have you in the fold. Sounds like you have a pretty decked out Mooney.

    When it comes to our 310’s, none of them are “inexpensive”. I certainly undertand what you mean by that term relative to purchase price. And your wants versus budget are certainly possible with a classic 310. The trap is that no matter how nice a plane might be on purchase you can easily blow the budget on things you find after purchase, no matter how well you vet your plane. When I hear “inexpensive”, I think of it in relative terms. My ’56 310 is inexpensive to operate and care for compared to some of the numbers I hear for taking care of 340’s to 421’s in other TTCF forums. It’s also less expensive to purchase and own when compared to any newer plane with comparable performance and carrying ability. But compared to the numerous single engine airplanes I’ve owned over the past 39 years, [Cardinal & RG, Commander 114 and 112TC’s], and like your Mooney, the tide swings.

    My current classic 310, which I bought a year ago, is the 4th 310 I’ve owned, and the 5th I’ve operated since 1981. Buying this one, which was already nicely refurbished, was out of pure love for the early 310. Yes, I’ll use it for supporting my business. But there are many airplanes that would be less expensive that could support my travel needs for the same entry price and be less expensive to own. But I wanted the 310, and wanted a classic specifically – not because of the price of entry – but because I love that airframe as well as some of the advantages I believe come with that era of 310.

    However, as successful as I was in sifting out a nice plane for myself, I was prepared for – and in fact did experience – a considerable amount of expense over this first year in maintenance that was needed but missed by prior mechanics, as well as getting ahead of some things that I knew would eventually get me so why not do it now. It’s about to come out of an extensive annual and I’m looking forward to the results. For me it’s all about reliability. And being prepared for the expense when I purchased the plane by having the funds at the ready meant that instead of dreading every “find” of a problem, I was happy that my mechanic was so detailed and headed off some things that could have been serious – real soon. I’ll be happy to write the check for the bill. But had I gone into this with a tight budget, and expecting the plane to stay “inexpensive”, I’d be in a world of hurt right now.

    So for general advice I offer this:

    [1] It’s exciting to think that we will have another twin Cessna owner in general – and maybe a classic 310 owner specifically – in the fold. I don’t want the above to sound discouraging because finding a nice 310 that is “inexpensive” to purchase is certainly doable. But you must be prepared for the fact that the plane will need work when you get it and it will most likely be expensive – relatively speaking – to what you are probably used to with your Mooney. [Although I must say that the price of parts for the legacy single engine planes lately doesn’t seem to be much different from that of the twins in many respects.]

    [2] In my over 40 years in aircraft sales and management, I can’t recall a time when twins were less expensive to buy. Bang for the buck is at its all time high. But there are reasons for that. And because twins are so “inexpensive” to buy now, it’s nearly a guarantee that you will quickly become upside-down in market value versus investment. There’s no doubt I could easly sell my 56 for what I paid for it – and maybe a couple of thousand more. But I wouldn’t get back the additional thousands I’ve spent, which were not for improvements, but for immediately doing what should have already been done to the plane in the first place. But I’m ok with that – as well as those who truly love the ownership of their twin Cessna’s. The point being is that if you are concerned about investment versus market value when it comes to upgrades, then you might want to reconsider your intentions. The good news is you can have a good basic early 310 for the same cost as buying one new engine for it. The bad news is you can have a good basic early 310 for the same cost as buying one new engine for it. Herein lies the downside of twins being so cheap – and why value to the owner has to be in many other positive factors of owning these twins.

    [3] I believe myself to be one of the most dedicated fans of the truly classic [1954-1959] 310’s. And this is a classic 310 forum so I hope I won’t be run out on a rail when I also advise that for your budget, don’t box yourself into thinking that only the classics will work for you. There are some truly nice 310’s out there newer in model year than the classics, and definitely “ready to work”. A couple of months ago I placed a client into a 1973 310Q that was a nice all around ship with decent stats and equipment for less than your budget. After an extensive prepurchase inspection and the follow-up work needed, it still was under $75,000 total investment. So to own a classic for classic sake it definitely an understandable purpose. That’s why I own one. But to consider a classic purely for perceived “inexpensive” status robs you of many alternative and worthwhile options.

    A large part of my business is acting as a buyers agent for clients needing help in many different buying situations – and the 310 is one of my specialty aircraft. If you’d like more information we can follow-up privately, which is more appropriate considering the purpose of this forum.

    I so hope you will continue your quest for a 310. Besides being great airplanes to fly, you will be hard pressed to find any other airplane that will do as much as the 310 for the total cost to buy and run. My wife and I love the daylights out of our ’56. Hopefully some of the above – and throughout this forum – will be helpful in you reaching that goal.

    Good Luck!

    Guy

    #98439

    Thank you all for your valuable experience and opinions.

    It’s hard to address all the issues involved in buying a new airplane, but I can clarify some of our requirements.

    We do most of our flying in Florida and the Southeast US, so I actually would prefer little or no anti-ice equipment. If there is actual/forecast icing we don’t go, and we are looking for good useful load/payload.

    I also understand completely that “stuff happens” after you buy an airplane. I have been there and got the T-shirt (unexpected cracked engine case leading to a complete engine overhaul). What I am trying to do is use my past experience, along with some sage advice from this group, to avoid as many problems as possible to ease into twin engine ownership.

    I have flown a Twin Bonanza before, but I think the Cessna 310 is the airplane with the safety, comfort, speed, range, and reliability that we’re looking for. Since I am 6’4″, it also one of the only airplanes I can actually fit in. It still boggles my mind that airplane OEM’s would build airplanes where the seating is mounted on the spar cap which limits the vertical height of the pilots/owners. I sat in an Aztec today, and although I can fit comfortably, the performance is not much of an improvement over my Mooney.

    A friend of mine has a 1961 310F/U-3B in US Navy livery, although my wife and I are both USAF alumni, the cost, low time and refurbishment already accomplished makes this an attractive deal. We would need to put some upgrades to the panel to duplicate the capability we now have in the Mooney (yes, I’m spoiled).

    As a new member of TTCF, I am heartened by the response I received to my inquiry. After a 8 years of ownership in a 7AC Champ, 14 years in a Mooney, we are excited about the possibilities of a twin, especially in Florida. We intend to cut our times to the Keys and the Panhandle, and utilize a night capability to maximize our time away from home.

    Thanks again for all your responses, excellent advice which we will listen to.

    Butch Gilbert


    Attachments:

    #98440

    I’ve put about 1,000 hours in an Aztec and 500 in 310s, mostly in the 67 N model I fly. The extra 30 kts is definitely nice, but the other reality is that on our 520ish nm milk run (one way) to see the in-laws, we save about 30 minutes on block time. But when we fly on our 1400 nm dog runs, it saves us multiple hours, which is huge on a trip that long. One consideration of the 310 in the south is I find the cabin doesn’t have as much ventilation as I’d like. The Aztec, by comparison, had such a leaky cabin it was comfortable in even the hottest weather. So I would recommend considering some sort of air cooling – either the ice packs or actual AC. The former being very cheap and the latter being very expensive. We also have tinted rear windows, which helps. In the summer I normally fly with a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals listening to Jimmy Buffet.

    It does sound like you’ll want to avoid having de-ice. I’d be happy to get rid of it if we didn’t fly in icing climates, but we do. So that’s a good move.

    We have a 530/430W and Aspen, and it’s definitely the way to go. Since you’ve got similar in your Mooney I’m assuming you know what those install costs are if you buy a plane not so equipped. Also, you should expect your first trip to the avionics shop with the plane to cost more than intended. Mine did by several thousand dollars, but they removed 65 lbs worth of useless junk! So in this regard, budget high if you need to install something significant avionics wise. A 430 to 430W upgrade is not significant.

    Aside from the plane, look closely at the engines. You want to find ones with heavy cases and take a close look at cylinders. Top overhauls are expensive when you have 12 to do.

    For our N model with 520s, we’ve found our overall costs to be $300/hr wet for about 200 hrs/yr over 2.5 years and some expensive work done including Aspen, 430W, new transponder, WX-500, and a double engine overhaul. Like Guy, we believe in addressing issues we know will cause problems before they do, and have spent some money on nice-to-haves that we believe improve safety and reliability. We also knew the work we’d need to do going in and expect things will get cheaper from here, but maybe I should knock on my wood for that!

    We also do about 185-187 KTAS on 27 GPH combined or 180 on 25 running LOP. But we have 520s and a few extra drag items on board with de-ice, VGs, and also a step that isn’t retracting properly. The last I can fix and probably gain a knot or two. The first two I’m keeping. For an older one with 470s you’ll have similar speed with lower fuel burn – they got slower with age.

    #98441
    quote HGilbert1:

    Thank you all for your valuable experience and opinions.

    A friend of mine has a 1961 310F/U-3B in US Navy livery, although my wife and I are both USAF alumni, the cost, low time and refurbishment already accomplished makes this an attractive deal.

    Butch Gilbert

    Butch,

    Have any more pics you can share? Would love to see panel and interior. If you need a suggestion for a Florida prepurchase inspection, let me know.

    Guy

    #98856
    cjessen
    Participant

      What are the TT hours on the U3? It’s my understanding that the military got a lot of use out of them and many have hours exceeding 10,000. If that’s the case, be careful. It would then be requiring the wing spar fix, as I recall.
      Whatever C-310 you end up with , you’ll love flying it. After you buy it (any C-310) you’ll probably end up sinking $50,000 to $100,000 into it, but remember that a new plane with comparable performance would cost you $750,000 to $1,000,000, so you’re still getting off cheap.

      C. Jessen

      #98922

      Thanks for the reply.

      My wife and I did in fact just purchased Cessna 310F N6797X. We sold our Mooney for slightly more than the 310, but we are putting the difference into required engine maintenance that had been delayed for quite a while.

      We should get the aircraft back by mid June, it then goes to the avionics spa in mid July for an upgraded pilots panel. It will include an Aspen 1500 dual display, an STEC-50 autopilot, a JPI 860. GAMIs, air/oil seperators, and some minor interior improvements.

      The 310 only has 1,370 original hours, verified by its history and the logs. So time in service items are not really an issue right now.

      I appreciate everyone’s input and will be looking for many needed answers in the future, but right now we’re excited to be part of the Twin Cessna world, since this airplane will be our primary source if travel around Florida and the southeast US.

      Since my wife and I are prior USAF pilots we intend to keep and preserve the airplane’s military heritage (despite it being Navy), for the next owner/generation.

      I’ll post some more pictures, but realize the panel will change very soon.

      Butch Gilbert


      Attachments:

      #98923
      jgrimes
      Participant

        Aspen 1500 and STec autopilot sounds good. Add in a Garmin 530 and you’ve got it all!

        Wishing you blue skies and tail-winds.

        #98924

        Butch,

        Congratulations on your purchase! Best wishes for a long and enjoyable adventure in classic 310 ownership. Get the plane ready by this fall. I want to hold a classic 310 fly-in at my base in NC and would love to have you come and show off your plane.

        One question – I’m just curious: You are obviously not sparing any expense to complete your avionics suite. Why did you opt for the STEC-50 instead of the 60-2? The 50 is a great unit for sure. But with all you’re doing, I would have expected the 60-2. I’m really enjoying the 60-2 in my 56 310.

        Guy

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