What are the main items to look for shopping for a T-34?
Question: What are the main items to look for when looking for a T-34 to purchase? What are the questions I should be concerned about and what should I ask the seller?
Answer: Here is a collection of responses from several T-34 owners that responded to a request for answers to this question. Does the aircraft come with the original flight log book with flight history clear back to delivery. (For the Navy "B" model that is a large, thick, brown, hard cover book that has every flight since delivery. The cover of the book says: "United States Department Of The Navy. Bureau of aeronautics. Navaer 418" and it shows when & where delivered as well as complete flight records until released by the Navy.) Is there a complete record of all ADs with compliance? Do the recorded hours in the logs truly add up?--
My B model books say they stop at 1968 because of a new method of recording (which are not passed along) until Navy Flying Clubs started new books and just carried over total time. These books also don't account for B models coming back from Navy overhaul with the same serial number wings and other parts, just that they are back in service following Navy overhaul.
My 3 B models all have different serial number wings with no matched numbers. Our understanding is that the Navy would send off the wings in for rework and would use the next finished wing on the rack.
Do you have a current set of the Registration and Airworthiness Documents information available from the FAA? Often the information is available in as little as 2 hours here by using a service such as www.planefaxreports.com
The FAA can also provide information. The Aircraft Registration Branch maintains registration records on individual aircraft and serves as a repository for airworthiness documents received from FAA field offices. You can request records by contacting them with the N-number and/or serial number. You can mail or fax your request for aircraft records or Request Copies of Aircraft Records online via this link: http://aircraft.faa.gov/e.gov/ND/
Format - You can order paper copies or electronic copies (on CD-ROM) of aircraft records. Each CD-ROM contains records for one aircraft. Fees - $10.00 per CD ROM
When I decided I wanted to get a T-34 the specific questions I had in mind were:
- Are the logbooks complete (mine only have records going back to importation as the Chilean records were lost)
- Is there adequate enough records if the originals are missing (mine went back to 1990 so I felt that was sufficient)
- Has the aircraft ever been “restored” or updated? If yes then by whom what was done?
- Are ALL of the AD’s done? (forward spar, carry through, rear spar, horizontal stabilizer, flap cable, any engine/prop AD’s, etc.)
- Are the STCs, 337s, 8130s, logbooks, airworthiness, and registration in order and match-up?
- Are times recorded in the logbooks accurate? Often through the years mechanics make errors in recording Hobbs/total times that if not caught can perpetuate and get worse. It is a good idea to spend the 4-6 hrs “auditing” the logbook times
- When were the wings last taken off the aircraft, “split”, and checked for corrosion, cracked ribs, etc. (mine had several cracked ribs and lots of corrosion)
- Has the wiring and CB’s ever been updated/replaced? (I had my aircraft totally rewired and all CB’s replaced which was not cheap or fast)
- What type of flying has the aircraft been experiencing? Was it ever used for hard acro, dogfighting, etc.? If so how many total hours in that usage?
- What is the damage history of the aircraft? (Gear-ups are common and are what usually lead to cracked ribs, etc.)
- Is the aircraft flown often? (aircraft that sit for long periods of time often have “gremlins” in the electrical system, seem more prone to leaks, and can have corrosion in the engine)
- Where is the aircraft based? (aircraft based in “wet” and/or “salty” environments tend to be more prone to corrosion) If the aircraft is based in a “wet” or “salty” region is on a kind of corrosion prevention program? (thorough inspections/ aggressive treatment)
- Who has been maintaining the aircraft? (are the annuals “pencil whipped” or is it maintained by a reputable shop)
- When was the alternator last overhauled?
- When were the magnetos last overhauled?
- When was the landing gear motor last overhauled?
- When was the propeller last overhauled? (time AND calendar)
- When was the engine last overhauled and who by? (was it a “field overhaul” or done by a reputable shop?)
- Is there a history of oil analysis on the engine?
- Have the magnesium parts been replaced and if not are they in good condition with no or minimal corrosion?
- Does the seller seem conscientious, professional, and thorough in his flying and maintaining of the aircraft?
- When was the aircraft last painted and by whom? (reputable shops will remove all flight controls, complete strip the aircraft, acid etch, and apply numerous coats which will last 20 plus years at our usage rates if hangared)
- What shops are “experts” in the T-34 and can I have a pre-purchase inspection done?
I think that if a prospective owner can answer the above questions to their satisfaction and obtain a pre-purchase survey of the aircraft and documents they should be very protected and have peace of mind in their purchase and aircraft.