My first real mistake as an owner was the management of the airplanes first overhaul (though cynics might point, instead, to the decision to purchase an airplane in the first place). It was the unplanned result of finding significant metal in the oil filter during a routine annual and naturally it happened in the middle of the prime flying season. I had limited time to personally oversee the repair and my overriding concern was to make the airplane operational again as soon as possible; setting the stage for another painful lesson in ownership.
The diagnosis was failed crankshaft bearings, necessitating a level of intrusion commensurate with an overhaul, but since I had only specified a repair, the additional work that would have satisfied an overhaul and the associated reset of the engine run time was not done. It was a short-sighted, rookie mistake. Worst still, I was unaware that the cylinders that had been replaced as part of the last overhaul, had a known history of experiences failures some five hundred hours short of TBO – and therefore would soon requirement replacement. It would prove to the be the first, but sadly not the last time I learned that trying to avoid a more significant expense in the short term would end up costing more in the long run. By attempting to minimize down time and overlooking a more complete consideration of the big picture, I inadvertently set myself up for future head and heart ache to come.
When a few years later, once again in the middle of the prime flying season, one cylinder failed and a crack was found in a second, I seized the opportunity to compound my mistake. More money was thrown at two replacement cylinders to keep the plane flying in the months it would take to now schedule a proper overhaul. But perhaps my expensive education was beginning to take root, for as I pondered the choice between a $33K overhaul and a $43K factory new engine, the difference seemed trivial compared with the potential for mitigating future trouble. Pain had accelerated my learning with respect to aircraft engines, but in time I would come to appreciate how many other, lower profile systems, were lying in wait.