Joined: 30 Nov 2006
Location: St. Helens, Oregon
|Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:45 pm Post subject: Buying A Starduster
|This is a question I get a lot and has been beat around from time to time on this site and The Biplane Forum and is my answer to prospective new owners and something I have posted before but thought as spring is near some one might like more details.
There are several things about these airplanes a prospective buyer needs to be aware of before you plunk your money down!
Many of these airplanes I am familiar with and have flown over 25 different ones in the last 20 yrs and currently have 2430 hrs on mine! My son also has a 540 powered Starduster Too that we built together that I have also flown!
The two major problems with the four cylinder powered Starduster Toos Were.
(1) Weight & Balance mostly caused by to short of an engine mount, especially if it has a fixed pitch wooden propeller! Most of the early mounts were either 19" or 21" in length, the conventional wisdom (Recommendation) as we speak is 26"! This can vary some if one has a C/S prop as it puts another 40 lbs on the nose, and also if the pilot weighs less than 170 lbs. If you get serious about a particular airplane have the owner send you the a copy of the Weight & Balance so that you can work several scenarios most forward most aft and with minimum fuel!
(2) The other problem was landing gear location IE: contact point of the wheels the original drawings located the C/L of the axle directly under the fire wall the results were with the tail down (Three Point) this made the tail very heavy over 200#LBS in some cases. Over the years the contact point of the wheels was moved aft 2" then 4" and for many years 7.62"
The current recommended distance is 8" this is measured with the airplane in level flight. The existing landing gear can be modified, cut apart and by reducing the angle forward one can save most of the landing gear tubing and will only have to purchase a few new pieces of tubing. One can also build and entirely new gear and if a welder and a builder can do all of your own work!.
An easy way to tell if it has the old style gear, is to try and pick up the tail, if you cannot it probably has the old style gear!
Mistakes were made on the original calculations in the design not only on the gear W&B and MAC but many also have what I call the landing gear geometry isssues. Many people that built the early airplanes continued to built them with these problems built in, and unless they had contact with the company, Starduster or subscribed to Starduster Magazine may not have been aware of the changes, and there are still a lot of these airplanes out there flying around.
Many of these airplanes were holy terrors on the ground not just because of the heavy tail, and the short motor mount, but because many have issues mostly toe in on one wheel and not the other. This was either do to the original builder during the building process. Or more often is usually caused by the airplane being ground looped and was bent twisted or broken, and the repair (Not Correctly Done) that left one gear twisted!
The results being that on landing it was trying to find the fence surrounding the airport! This is of course why they put fences around airports!
If these airplanes are flown regularly it is probably a well behaved one! However if the owner will not fly with you and the airplane is 40 yrs old and has less than 200 hrs of total flying time, buyer beware!
If the airplane you are looking at is built to the latest drawings longer mount and later style gear it should be well behaved, but I qualify that with,... it is a tail wheel airplane and one must have some tail wheel time in something other than just a few hrs in a cub or a champ, my opinion.
I think that my airplane is an easy airplane to fly until I let someone else fly it! It is though very sensitive on the rudder pedals and is easily to over control.
If any prospective buyer would like to converse more about Stardusters or would like to come to Oregon and fly one before you buy one I would be happy to fly with you and give you my view from the left coast! I do not mean to imply that my opinion is the only one, it is just one and is worth only that!
Please pvt message me with your phone number and best time to call. Dave