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Old 05-07-2023, 12:18 PM
Michael Burbidge Michael Burbidge is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Sammamish, WA
Posts: 733
Default IO-390 or IO-390EXP119

My RV-14A build will be a basic VFR equipped airplane. I'm trying to be frugal where I can. I figure the cost difference to go with the IO-390EXP119 is about $4000.

I've about concluded to go with the IO-390 A3B6 as part of my goal to be frugal where I can.

What think ye? Is anyone else making this same choice?

Michael Burbidge
Sammamish, WA
RV-14A Fuselage
RV-9A Flying 390 hours!
Last Donation: December 2022
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Old 05-07-2023, 01:08 PM
Bavafa Bavafa is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 4,335

Not worth it unless money is no object for you
N825SM RV7A - IO360M1B - SOLD
N825MS RV14A - IO390 - SOLD
N258SM RV14A - IO390EXP119 - Out of Paint shop & flying
Dues paid
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Old 05-07-2023, 02:24 PM
mturnerb mturnerb is offline
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 1,694

The main advantages as I understand it for the EXP 119 version are 5 more rated HP, lower weight, and pre-installed Airflow Performance fuel injection system.

The biggest / most significant disadvantage of the EXP 119 (other than price) is that there is no accessory drive (intended on older version for vacuum pump) that can be used for a backup alternator.

Disadvantage of the standard version is the need to modify the snorkel and cable routing (mixture/throttle) if you add Airflow Performance fuel injection (a pain but manageable).

So if you don't mind 5 less HP and don't mind the standard fuel injection (or don't mind modifying the snorkel if you go with Airflow) the standard version is a good option.
Turner Billingsley

RV-14A built/sold N14VB

Last edited by mturnerb : 05-08-2023 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 05-07-2023, 03:21 PM
georgemohr georgemohr is offline
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Ewing Township
Posts: 154

Just FYI you can order the EXP119 with the accessory drive if you want it.
Done pile: Emp Surfaces/Tail Cone/Both wings
In progress: Sorta stuck awaiting fuse
Donation made!
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Old 05-07-2023, 03:28 PM
DanH's Avatar
DanH DanH is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: 08A
Posts: 11,505

Originally Posted by Michael Burbidge View Post
What think ye?
On HP alone, if the difference is 5 HP, climb rate would be roughly 75 FPM better, and speed maybe 2 knots higher.

The new package (cowl etc) also adds some drag reduction.
Dan Horton
Barrett IO-390
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Old 05-07-2023, 03:48 PM
Carl Froehlich's Avatar
Carl Froehlich Carl Froehlich is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dogwood Airpark (VA42)
Posts: 4,161

Originally Posted by DanH View Post
The new package (cowl etc) also adds some drag reduction.
This is the reason for going with the EXP119.

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Old 05-07-2023, 04:48 PM
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dmattmul dmattmul is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Spring Hill, FL
Posts: 766
Default Worth it ?

There's a very good engineer/builder who wanted to explore the direct difference, so he spent a lot of time/$$$ to convert. I applaud him for the effort. He thoroughly documented the process. Perhaps someone has a link. This way it was an apples-to-apples comparison. Same prop, same airframe, etc. except he modified the engine and cowling.
RV-14A QB builds (2017), Lycoming 390 Thunderbolt arrived July 2019, Garmin avionics, Vertical Power, EFII-32 Ignition and Fuel, Whirlwind 300-72, Earth-X batteries, Beringer wheels and brakes, Parts became real airplane 8/15/2020. Started RV-10 Nov 2020. Empennage arrived (Built) Working on QB kits. Garmin avionics, Vertical Power, EFII-32 Ignition and Fuel, Whirlwind 3 blade HRT 378, Earth-X batteries, Beringer wheels and brakes, real airplane hopefully early-mid 2024. Paid subscriber
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Old 05-07-2023, 05:21 PM
Mark33's Avatar
Mark33 Mark33 is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Posts: 1,017

A lot of people say EXP-119 and Thunderbolt all in the same breath, but they’re two separate things.

With the EXP-119 you primarily get the cold-air induction, the larger 200 mm airflow performance throttle body, and the option to delete the vacuum pump accessory pad….which I think is a bad idea. It takes away the ability to add a backup alternator.

With the Thunderbolt your engine is lovingly built by a one or two man team that takes special care during assembly. The engine is ported, polished, and balanced…it’s basically blueprinted. You can also choose the compression ratio (8.9 or 10:1) You also have your choice of ignition systems. I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I think you can also opt for the larger 200 mm airflow performance fuel injection that comes on the EXP-119. You also have your choice of engine colors.

If you’re planning on the SDS or EFII injection and ignition systems, other than the cold air induction, there’s really no reason to get the EXP-119.

If you decide to go with the “standard” 390….with or without the Thunderbolt treatment, I think you can still order your kit with the EXP-119 cowling and snorkel just as if it were an actual EXP-119. Don’t take my word for it though and confirm this with Vans. I actually don’t know what the differences are in the cowling?? I could be mistaken, but I think all of the kits come with the 4 into 2 exhaust pipes now. If the standard/non EXP-119 cowling is still designed for the 4 into 1 exhaust pipe, then you should be able to opt for the EXP-119 cowling and 4 into 2 exhaust pipe. But once again, you’d need to confirm these things with Vans.

I did a “home-brew” EXP-119. I got the Thunderbolt option, but I’m installing the Superior cold-air induction rather than going with the Lycoming cold air. I also had Clint build my exhaust pipe, which is a trombone design rather than the cross over. This pipe was required with the Superior cold air unit.

When ordering, I ordered everything (the cowling and snorkel) as if I were going with the EXP-119 even though “technically” it’s not.

Saying all of that, and making a long story longer, I’m sure you’ll be perfectly happy with the standard A3B6 and your airplane will still perform well.

Hopefully this will give you a little bit food for thought and help guide you through the maze.
Mark H.
RV-7- IO-360, EFII, Whirl Wind C/S, (Built and sold)
RV-4- O-320, Catto three blade, P-Mags (Sold)
RV-8- IO-360, Hartzell C/S (Flying)
RV-7- Sold project
RV-14- Building

Last edited by Mark33 : 05-07-2023 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 05-07-2023, 06:05 PM
Don E Don E is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: West Chester, PA
Posts: 141
Default Another point of view

My kit was #140329, ordered in 2016, flying in 2018. The -119 was not an option; only standard or Thunderbolt. I went with the standard because I couldn’t justify the added cost of t-bolt on a 2,700 RPM engine. No regrets! Love my airplane, love the performance.
RV-14 Built
Can't believe I built an airplane!
First flight October 22, 2018
Kit #140329
If I had a nickel for every time I didn't know what was going on, I'd be, like, "Why am I always getting all these nickels??"
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Old 05-07-2023, 08:30 PM
RV8JD's Avatar
RV8JD RV8JD is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 892

The drag reduction efforts paid off. From Van's:

Carl N.

Last edited by RV8JD : 05-07-2023 at 08:32 PM.
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