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16 Jun 2021, 07:46 [ UTC - 5; DST ]


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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2020, 15:42 
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Twin Bonanza, there is a super nice booted Tbone for sale in peddlers talk, perfect plane for your mission. viewtopic.php?f=43&t=187626

T-Bone, that's what I would get.

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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2020, 15:49 
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https://www.beechtalk.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=187626

This would be my suggestion.

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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 07 Nov 2020, 19:44 
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Hi Travis,

I posted in another thread, but thought I would share here:

I've owned a 1981 Seneca II for 4 years now, so hopefully I can share my perspective with you. I bought a bit of a basket-case airplane that didn't fly, had a run in with a few subpar A&Ps, so my perspective might be skewed.

In terms of costs, the Seneca airframes are as simple as it gets for a twin. I've had zero airframe issues, and for what AD's are required, there is nothing too intense or expensive. From what I recall, the most expensive item on a basic annual is the heater decay test/check if you have a Janitrol heater. My aircraft is Zinc Chromate coated, and have had zero corrosion issues. I'm not sure if all Seneca's of this vintage are Zinc Chromate coated, or if it was an option. I did my last annual as an owner assist, and I felt everything was easily accessible and straight forward. We added the Bogert oil filter doors to the cowls, so now oil changes will be a breeze (you can do both engines in an hour).

The engines are another story. Since I've had the plane I've been chasing engine issues. These engines are very finicky, most A&Ps aren't familiar with them as they are oddball engines which have only been used on the Seneca II-V series, Turbo Arrow, and Mooney 231 and 252. These engines are extremely sensitive to fuel system issues, and from my experience run hot (granted I've only had the stock analog gauges). The plane is super easy to fly, but you are constantly managing the temperatures on the engines. As far as costs, the engines are without a questions the biggest expense on this plane. Maybe I got unlucky, as I've heard some folks have really good luck with these engines. There is a gentleman in Wichita with a Mooney 231 that has gone almost 800hours over TBO. As with any turbo-charged engine expect to go through cylinders more frequently if you run it hard. To give you a perspective, in 4 years of ownership I've put $70,000 into this plane with most of that expense being the engines. I know I'm an outlier as I bought a plane that sat and had some really really bad A&Ps.

Keep in mind which Autopilot the Seneca has. From what I understand is that the older Piper Altimatic IIIC autopilots are pretty reliable, have good support, and interface well with the Garmin G5 (if you ever want to go glass). My aircraft has a King KFC 200 for which there is dwindling support, and repairs can be quite expensive. The Garmin G5 currently does not integrate with the KFC 200, so if you want to go glass you'll have to go with the Garmin GI275, G500, Avidyne Aspen, or just rip out the KFC 200 and go with the Dynon system (which just recently got certified for the Seneca).

Moving away from the cost topic, the plane is a joy to fly. I have plenty of Bonanza time (no Baron time), but I don't know why the Seneca has a bad rap for handling. I will caveat that most of my experience is in larger jets, but in my opinion, the Seneca handles great. The Frise aileron and Hoerner style wingtips make handling in the longitudinal axis very responsive. I didn't notice a big difference between the Seneca and A36 I have flown in the past. The Seneca is very stable in the lateral access and trims up very nice. It is a stable airplane, and a great IFR platform in my opinion. It definitely does feel like a bigger plane than most GA planes, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. I recently added all Knots2U mods and LoPresti wingtips, and in my opinion didn't do a lot for speed, but definitely made the handling even better.

The plane is very efficient for a twin in my opinion. Yes a Twin Comanche is more efficient, but the Seneca is also a much bigger airplane with 6 seats, and much more storage. I generally fly at 55% power which typically yields 155-160 KTAS on 16gph for both engines combined. I typically see about 175 KTAS on about 24 gph for both engines combined. Not too bad for a 6 seat, twin engine, FIKI, weather radar equipped, sizeable airplane in my opinion. Try to find a Seneca with the 128gal extended tanks; by doing the math, you can see that your bladder will give out much faster than your fuel tanks.

Keep in mind the Seneca II does have a 4000 Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW) Restriction or Operating Weight Restriction if you're a military type. My Seneca is probably more optioned than most (onboard weather radar, prop sync, FIKI, Cabin Oxygen) but from what I recall is that I can only put 800lbs of people and stuff in the plane before hitting that restriction. Most folks I've spoken to hit that restriction before exceeding gross weight. The Seneca III and beyond have raised that number. MicroVG makes a Vortex Generator STC that increases the ZFW by 168 pounds for the II.

Speaking of mods, I do love that there are so many STCs and modifications for the Seneca. If you are the modifying type, there is a lot of stuff available for the Seneca.

A few things I don't like about the Seneca (other than maintenance on the TSIO-360's). The visibility is not awesome; the engines sit high and forward, so if you're the sight-seeing type, you probably won't like the Seneca. Forward visibility is good though, especially if you have the One-Piece Windshield STC. The manifold pressure gauge on the II is in the worst possible spot; it basically sits in front of your knee and is blocked by the yoke; this adds to workload on takeoff. On the III an beyond, the manifold pressure gauge is moved to a better spot. The wastegates are fixed, which means you are responsible for making sure you don't overboost the engine. This leads to higher pilot workload on takeoff. I was annoyed by this for the first few hours of ownership, but have developed some techniques to help alleviate the workload on takeoff. Throttle movements must be made very smoothly and slowly on the Seneca. I do believe that the Merlyn Upper Deck controller STC does help with this, but it still won't be the same as an automatic wastegate controller.

Things I do love about the Seneca... I love the interior room for passengers, and storage for baggage. I love how quiet and smooth the cabin is during cruise (mine has an inflatable door seal and 3 bladed McCauley's). I enjoy how easy the plane is to load with the back door. I quite enjoy how the Seneca handles and how stable it is. I also love that for the money, the Seneca in my opinion is the most capable aircraft before you go pressurized (mine is FIKI equipped, radar equipped, turbo'd, has onboard oxygen). I think the Seneca is safe for a twin because of the counter-rotating props. I typically delay rotation until about 85 knots (TORA permitting), and as soon as the gear is up, I'm accelerating well past Blue Line. VMC is very low and can be reduced even more with the MicroVG STC. Although the engines do require diligent management, the plane is dirt-easy to fly. The fuel system is about as easy as it comes, which I think enhances safety. The single engine service ceiling for a stock engine is 13,800ft, and can be increased to 18,000 feet with the Merlyn STC. My favorite thing about the Seneca is it's such a versatile airplane. It can be a short field unimproved plane, or a mini-airliner cruising in the high teens or even FL's. It's variable costs are low enough to take to a fly-in or $100 burger, or you can take it on a trans-con flight.

With that being said, if I could turn back the clock 4 years, I would have gotten an A36 Bonanza. My mission has changed, and I can no longer justify the capability (and costs) of the Seneca. I will be listing mine for sale soon. If you're ever in the Wichita area and want to go for a flight, or just chat more about Seneca ownership, send me a PM. Good luck with your decision!

- Leo


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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2020, 15:54 
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I'll add to Leo's points on the engines:

The publication of Continental SID97-3 (fuel setup) did a heck of a lot for the longevity of the TSIO360. I was lucky enough to have a mechanic who bought the expensive Porta-Test setup gauges and took the time to learn how to do fuel setups properly.

Since this engine has "fixed orifice wastegates" which are nothing more than a ground adjustable bolt through the bypass elbow, setting critical altitude is a tweaky PITA. Guess at it, fly to altitude where it stops boosting, land, let cool, adjust, and repeat until you get it right. If the bolt and elbow have been in use any amount of time, good luck loosening them up.

Once these were set properly on my engines, they actually ran at very good CHT's. I really had no engine issues. The TSIO360 has a rep for eating cylinders - but the fuel setup seems to cure that nicely. The engines are not prone to cracking or other internal issues.

The engines are a bit annoying to manage. Lacking any kind of feedback in the turbo system, the pilot has to manage the RPM, throttle and mixture, and they interact. A touch of throttle means you have to nudge the mixture, or touch the RPM and the other two need tweaks. Unlike most airplanes, you don't push the throttles all the way up for takeoff. You push them only as far as full MP. Making a habit of conservative cruise power settings is usually rewarded with long engine life.


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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 06 May 2021, 16:55 
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I’m adding to the list of possibilities a normally aspirated Aztec (likely an F model) and a normally aspirated C-310R model. Both have great cabins and both can be had for reasonable prices these days. Can both be operated at 30 gph in a normal cruise setting? I would guess the Aztec could keep up with a Seneca III if you throw a few more gallons at it?


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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 06 May 2021, 16:58 
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Username Protected wrote:
I would guess the Aztec could keep up with a Seneca III if you throw a few more gallons at it?


Only down low - very low.

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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 06 May 2021, 17:52 
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Username Protected wrote:
I’m adding to the list of possibilities a normally aspirated Aztec (likely an F model) and a normally aspirated C-310R model. Both have great cabins and both can be had for reasonable prices these days. Can both be operated at 30 gph in a normal cruise setting? I would guess the Aztec could keep up with a Seneca III if you throw a few more gallons at it?


Comparing a non-turbo to a turbo plane is difficult.

But, at 8,000 feet, a normally aspirated Aztec will equal the speed of a Seneca on a little more fuel, but it will be hauling 500 pounds more, in a much bigger cabin, and with two large baggage compartments that the Seneca does not have. You should get 174 KTAS on 28 GPH in the Aztec. You'll be using 25 GPH in the Seneca, and running the engines harder to do it. A more realistic speed for the Seneca is 167 KTAS on 22 GPH. That's where the engines will live the longest.

Above 8,000 feet, a Turbo Aztec will walk away from the same Seneca. It will of course use more fuel, because it's bigger, heavier, hauls more, is built twice as well, and is far more comfortable for everyone on board. But we're only talking 3-5 GPH more fuel on average, in return for a far superior plane. Expect 190 KTAS on 29 GPH at 12,000 feet for a Turbo Aztec, and up to 215 KTAS at FL230 on 36 GPH. Non-turbo versions can turn in 165 KTAS on 22 GPH at 12,000 feet.

And, the Seneca will be in the shop for a top overhaul at 800-1100 hours while your Aztec is still flying. And then the Seneca will be in the shop for complete overhauls while the Aztec is still flying on the same engines.

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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 06 May 2021, 19:33 
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Username Protected wrote:
I’m adding to the list of possibilities a normally aspirated Aztec (likely an F model) and a normally aspirated C-310R model. Both have great cabins and both can be had for reasonable prices these days. Can both be operated at 30 gph in a normal cruise setting? I would guess the Aztec could keep up with a Seneca III if you throw a few more gallons at it?


Comparing a non-turbo to a turbo plane is difficult.

But, at 8,000 feet, a normally aspirated Aztec will equal the speed of a Seneca on a little more fuel, but it will be hauling 500 pounds more, in a much bigger cabin, and with two large baggage compartments that the Seneca does not have. You should get 174 KTAS on 28 GPH in the Aztec. You'll be using 25 GPH in the Seneca, and running the engines harder to do it. A more realistic speed for the Seneca is 167 KTAS on 22 GPH. That's where the engines will live the longest.

Above 8,000 feet, a Turbo Aztec will walk away from the same Seneca. It will of course use more fuel, because it's bigger, heavier, hauls more, is built twice as well, and is far more comfortable for everyone on board. But we're only talking 3-5 GPH more fuel on average, in return for a far superior plane. Expect 190 KTAS on 29 GPH at 12,000 feet for a Turbo Aztec, and up to 215 KTAS at FL230 on 36 GPH. Non-turbo versions can turn in 165 KTAS on 22 GPH at 12,000 feet.

And, the Seneca will be in the shop for a top overhaul at 800-1100 hours while your Aztec is still flying. And then the Seneca will be in the shop for complete overhauls while the Aztec is still flying on the same engines.


Those are good numbers, thanks for the info. So you’re saying those Lycomings are more reliable and less maintenance? :D

Now if I could just get over how, uh, unattractive the Aztec is........

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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 06 May 2021, 21:20 
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/quote]

Those are good numbers, thanks for the info. So you’re saying those Lycomings are more reliable and less maintenance? :D

Now if I could just get over how, uh, unattractive the Aztec is........[/quote]

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all ... avy-lifter

https://flightaware.com/photos/view/137 ... ttype/PA27

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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 06 May 2021, 23:53 
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I owned a Seneca III for 4 years and it was a very reliable aircraft. it did not have intercoolers but it did have complete engine monitors. I bought it at 700 hours and sold it at about 1100 hours and the guy after me ran it to 2000 hours without one engine problem. what did we do? we put some more fuel through it and kept the tit to a max of 1550 in cruise 1450 in climb no matter what and full rich on take off etc.

the engines did take a bit of management as you climbed and descended but nothing too much.

my advice is run the engines rich and cool. put the extra fuel through them and they will treat you well.

I have had the same experience with my Aerostar, keep the hottest TIT less that 1550 in cruise and below 1450 in climb and full rich at full power and they are really happy. the only engine work I did was change one valve and they were still running strong at 2200 hours when the oil usage was getting high so I finally did the overhauls.

trying to save fuel is penny wise and pound foolish


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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 10 May 2021, 20:19 
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I think the C310R is the best all round twin made. Same engines that the Baron’s have with a bigger cabin, similar speed, good useful load,and looks great. The panel layout seems more intuitive as well. I’ve flown the Baron, Duke, King Air, & Bonanza, and I will say Beechcraft fly really nice. But, the 310 is good as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 14 May 2021, 13:09 
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Username Protected wrote:
[

Those are good numbers, thanks for the info. So you’re saying those Lycomings are more reliable and less maintenance? :D

Now if I could just get over how, uh, unattractive the Aztec is........


Unattractive???


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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 15 May 2021, 12:29 
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Username Protected wrote:
[

Those are good numbers, thanks for the info. So you’re saying those Lycomings are more reliable and less maintenance? :D

Now if I could just get over how, uh, unattractive the Aztec is........


Unattractive???

Glenn, most Aztecs aren’t that good looking. That’s a sharp looking airplane. Is it yours?

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 Post subject: Re: Seneca III vs B55 Baron
PostPosted: 15 May 2021, 16:50 
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[/quote]
Glenn, most Aztecs aren’t that good looking. That’s a sharp looking airplane. Is it yours?[/quote]
No, but this one is...


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