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Old 04-09-2021, 07:11 PM
Dreaming about an RV Dreaming about an RV is offline
Join Date: Apr 2021
Location: MD
Posts: 3
Default Let's Discuss Budget Building

I'd love to build a decked out RV-10, alas, well, the bank nor my wife will entertain that.

Move to an RV-12, easiest entry would clearly be build it to plans, awesome plane and arguably wise choice especially for a new builder. But again, sadly money talks. These glass cockpits are amazing indeed. Even more amazing is they cost more than the airframe. I'm not ready to strike out to build a fabric wing NORAD Cub, but simple vacuum gauges we learned on have served us well for years. Let's consider that.

So, here is where I'd like to hear creative options to get a flying aircraft. Call it cheap, thrifty, budget, whatever. Is the RV-12 the way to go, or move to a RV-9, or, or?

I've seen the video of an alternative Firewall Forward option claiming to half the price. Clearly would introduce some less smooth roads for the newcomer, but if the road has a map, well, we can follow maps.

So, any ideas? How cheaply has an RV been built? Can we do it again?
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:15 PM
Jerrygemma Jerrygemma is offline
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Delray beach,fl
Posts: 19

If you think of them as $$ dollars itís scary. Think of them as ďAirplane UnitsĒ it is less scary. 😂😳
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:19 PM
mburch's Avatar
mburch mburch is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1,269

Building is fun, but if you're not dead set on the building process and you just want a flying RV, I'd suggest looking for a good used RV-4 or RV-6/6A.
Matt Burch
RV-7 (last 90%)

Any opinions expressed in this message are my own and not those of my employer.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:29 PM
Dreaming about an RV Dreaming about an RV is offline
Join Date: Apr 2021
Location: MD
Posts: 3

No, I am definitely stoked about building and flying something I built myself. As cool as taking off is every time, taking off in something you built, I can hardly imagine.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:30 PM
Kyle Boatright Kyle Boatright is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 4,459

Building an airplane, even an RV-12, is a huge project. I think you'd kick yourself if you invested all the time and money into building an airplane that wasn't really the airplane you wanted. So, save money until you can afford to get into the airplane you want.

The -4-6-7-8-9 can all be built for sort of the same money. A used O-320 for $10K, a second hand kit at a discount (probably a big discount if you find an RV-6 kit), a bare bones panel. It can be done.

For most people, an alternative engine is not on the path to success, with success being defined as a completed, reliable airplane.
Kyle Boatright
Marietta, GA
2001 RV-6 N46KB
2019(?) RV-10
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:49 PM
Mike S's Avatar
Mike S Mike S is offline
Senior Curmudgeon
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Dayton Airpark, NV A34
Posts: 15,845

Consider picking up a kit someone else has given up on.

Good way to save $$ and time.
Mike Starkey
VAF 909

Rv-10, N210LM.

Flying as of 12/4/2010

Phase 1 done, 2/4/2011

Sold after 240+ wonderful hours of flight.

"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it."
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Old 04-09-2021, 08:13 PM
FinnFlyer FinnFlyer is offline
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Bell, FL
Posts: 496
Default $20,000 RV-4

Haven't added up all the items but major items (from memory):
RV-4 "kit"/project $8,500
Mazda 13-B Renesis factory-new engine $1,000
Radiators, oil cooler, throttle body, hoses, fittings, engine mount materials, engine controller, etc: Maybe $1,000
PSRU (2.85:1 gearbox): $3,000
Prop: $850
Status 1090ESG: $1,700
Dynon D-100: $1,500 (paid too much)
Dynon Servos: $1,000
Trim servos: $200
MicroAir M760Q: $400
Altimeter: $100
AirSpeed: $90
ELT: $90
DAR: $650
Hardware and other various items: ?
Time spent: priceless!

OK, so I busted my $20,000 budget, but have autopilot as a luxury. Was kind of a game trying to keep it below $20,000.

This was over a 15 year period (hauled the RV-4 "project" home in 2006 but didn't start on it until April 2017) and been really fortunate on a number of major items like kit, engine and prop.

At some point I might try adding up all the smaller items and expenses, but then again maybe not

I guess the point is if you take your time and wait for good deals, don't mind spending a lot of time doing your own alternative engine installation (added 1 to 2 years to the project -- I'm slow) and love tinkering with stuff it may still be possible to build a fantastic airplane for less than midsize car.

But if in a hurry to get an airplane to fly, this is not for you.
I may have a Mazda 13-B rotary powered 2003 RV-3B for sale for $32,000...

When it comes time to overhaul the engine (probably 2,000 hours which I'm unlikely to reach before I get too old to fly) it can be done for less than $500 in parts. And I burn regular 87 MoGas (try adding up savings there).

(on the fringe)
N214FL RV-4 Mazda 13B Renesis First flight 20 Feb 2021
N46AZ RV3-B Mazda 13B EFI -- Bought -- Flying
N993FL RV-3A Mazda 13B NA 575 hours
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Old 04-09-2021, 08:40 PM
gyoung's Avatar
gyoung gyoung is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Spring, TX
Posts: 282

I think some ways to build cheap(er) are:
- think used/pre-owned/experienced/orphan/upgraded. It used to be called scrounging.
- inject sweat equity (labor) The older non-matched hole kits are much cheaper because of the extra man power needed. Slow build vs quick build saves money too.
- pick a less popular engine. The cool kids all want higher power options that come at a price. O-320's are cheaper than O-360's. I think the -9 supports something like an O-235. Less popular means less competition for good deals.
- hold off on the panel until the last then pick up equipment that someone is upgrading. You'll get stuff that is state-of-the-art now but will be much cheaper when it's one generation old.

1950 Navion - flying
RV-6 - first flight 5/6/2021
1940 Rearwin Cloudster project next
4 L-2 projects on deck
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Old 04-09-2021, 08:56 PM
No_0ne No_0ne is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Martin, Tn
Posts: 77

I'm not sure words like cheap, thrifty, budget, etc. belong in the same sentences with "airplane". It's an expensive hobby however you do it. Having said that, the others are right in that if you aren't fixated on having everything latest, greatest and shiniest you can build one for less than is often quoted. Utilizing used parts and kits can help, as well as being willing (and able) to do much of the work yourself, including some of the more expensive tasks like panel building/wiring and paint. Look around and be patient, after 2 or 3 years of serious looking I managed to pick up all 4 RV-10 kits (slowbuild) NIB for slightly over half what they cost new shipped from Vans ...
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Old 04-09-2021, 09:15 PM
flytoday's Avatar
flytoday flytoday is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 433
Default Building schedule?

Originally Posted by Dreaming about an RV View Post
No, I am definitely stoked about building and flying something I built myself. As cool as taking off is every time, taking off in something you built, I can hardly imagine.
How soon do you want to fly? If youíre working 40 hrs/wk to eat, it may take 5-10 years to build an RV besides the -12. Look closely at required tools, workspace, your skills, and the trade-off of building time vs time with other activities like family time. You may save money by building, or may not...

IMHO... Full disclosure, Iím a satisfied buyer of two finished RV planes. Flying now has been my priority.


RV7A - purchased flying 05/2020
RV6A - sold 4/2021
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