July 2008 Issue
Boutique Engines: Ego or Performance?
Parts balancing and matching will boost power and smoothness, but we’re not convinced the benefits merit the cost for those rebuilding on a budget.
There is no shortage of aircraft engine overhaul purveyors out there appealing to a number of aircraft owners who are interested in engines with something special—something that says, "My engine is better than the run-of-the-mill overhaul." Extras may mean outside flash, special parts, alleged attention to detail or tighter measurement tolerances. Plain, factory engines regularly make TBO, and problems en route to TBO are not often those that a custom engine build would address. Those are long times between overhauls and low utilization that cause corrosion, a cracked cylinder from a metal defect, or improper leaning technique leading to burned valves. Custom overhauls come with claims for more horsepower, greater reliability, smoothness or all three. In our view, the validity of these claims depends on the integrity of the shop, the size of your pocketbook and the seat-of-your-pants feel.
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