Author Topic: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550  (Read 13283 times)

Matt Brown

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A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« on: February 12, 2012, 02:20:13 PM »
I'm actively looking to buy an A36 and am struggling to understand the key differences between the 520 and the 550 equipped models.  My budget much more suits the later model 285hp aircraft, but I don't want to regret my decision.  Can anyone share their experience or recommendations?  Any performance info is helpful and appreciated.

Robert Ripley

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 09:02:00 AM »
The main difference is a slightly better climb rate and a little bit better top speed. This all comes at a price of a little bit moore fuel though. In addition the aircraft has a 50 pound increase in gross weight from 3600 to 3650 if it has not be modified with any STC's that increase gross weight.
Overall they are both great aircraft and fly the same.

Bob Ripley
ABS Technical Advisor

Dana Perez

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2012, 01:54:27 PM »
I'm actively looking to buy an A36 and am struggling to understand the key differences between the 520 and the 550 equipped models.  My budget much more suits the later model 285hp aircraft, but I don't want to regret my decision.  Can anyone share their experience or recommendations?  Any performance info is helpful and appreciated.


I concur with Bob.  We just put a new engine in our A36 and when we did they asked if we wanted to Upgrade to the 550... we ask all the why questions, and decided it was really not worth the extra money. We love our 520 Engine, and it has plenty of power and speed! 

J. Robert Corbett

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2012, 07:23:27 PM »
I went with the 520 when we did firewall forward, but also installed turbo normalize, Unless you plan on doing much flying in the teens or heavy loads, the 520 will serve you well. Living here in the West, I spend a lot of time in the teens with some heavy loads.
Hence the Turbo.

Dennis Turner

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2012, 12:48:05 PM »
I'm actively looking to buy an A36 and am struggling to understand the key differences between the 520 and the 550 equipped models.  My budget much more suits the later model 285hp aircraft, but I don't want to regret my decision.  Can anyone share their experience or recommendations?  Any performance info is helpful and appreciated.

We operate (2) A-36 aircraft. The 1979 model had an IO-520 that performed well for a high time engine. The other (1982) has an IO-550 which was much lower time and did show better climb performance. We recently replaced the IO-520 with a RAM IO-550 conversion (D'Shannon baffling) and a new Scimitar prop. A major consideration for the upgrade was that we operate out of smaller airports with heavy loads and the increase in usefull load. I think you will be very pleased with either model. Happy flying.

Robert Siegfried

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2012, 12:50:07 PM »
The main difference is a slightly better climb rate and a little bit better top speed. This all comes at a price of a little bit moore fuel though. In addition the aircraft has a 50 pound increase in gross weight from 3600 to 3650 if it has not be modified with any STC's that increase gross weight.
Overall they are both great aircraft and fly the same.

Bob Ripley
ABS Technical Advisor

Hi Bob!  While I do not disagree with your statement, I feel it does not present the whole answer.

It is my very strong feeling that the 550 has tremendous advantages over the 520.

It weighs the same and it does NOT burn more fuel if you develop the same horsepower.

What then is the advantage? The rate of climb is enough better that we tend to cruise a couple of thousand feet higher. That will give a higher airspeed at the same burn.

I have had the experience of adding a 550 in place of a 520 on two airplanes and replacing a 470 with a 550 on another. In all three cases, we found that, on our typical trips, we burned a little less fuel and got there a little bit faster.

When it comes time for an overhaul, the costs are the same. After all, almost all parts are the same for both engines.  I think it is a mistake to ever overhaul a 520. It should always be replaced with a 550. The 550 is a win-win situation.  For the 470, it is not quite such a good deal as the 470 powered airplane will still be an older airplane and will not bring as much at sale time.

Nevertheless. of the three Bonanzas we have in our family, the J35 with the 550 is far and away the one we like to fly just for fun!

Happy Skies,

Old Bob

Robert Weinstein

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2012, 05:13:13 PM »
In addition the the very good previous answers is a shorter takeoff distance.
Doesn't matter a real lot until you are heavy, hot and high.
In the 10 years since I put a 550 in a 76  a36 I have felt t was worth the extra money.

Henry Lackey

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2012, 08:37:45 AM »
I HAVE ENJOYED THE COMMENTS ABOUT THE 520 V. 550....I HAVE OWNED A 1958 J MODEL FOR OVER 33 YEARS (N995FM, A SET OF NUMBERS AND LETTERS FROM AN OLD RADIO STATION--995FM!!  I WENT FROM A IO-470 TO THE 550, SO I DON'T HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE WITH THE 520...I DID THE UPGRADE IN 1999 WITH THE HELP OF BYRL-DSHANNON...I ALSO INSTALLED IN 2005 THE SUPER SCIMETAR PROP...BY MYSELF ON A 0 CELSIUS DEGREE DAY, I CAN CLIMB 2,000 FEET PER MINUTE UP TO ABOUT 7,500...AT CRUISE ON THAT SAME COOL DAY I CAN CRUISE AT 7,500 AT 187 KNOTS AIR SPEED..I HAVE PUT OTHER SPEED CONVERSION ITEMS ON THE PLANE TO HELP MAKE THIS SPEED POSSIBLE...EVEN THOUGH I BURN 17 TO 18 GALLONS PER HOUR, I WOULD NOT DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY...MY BIGGEST CONCERN IS TRYING TO SLOW IT DOWN WITHOUT SPEED BRAKES...I HAVE TO DO A LOT OF CALCULATING ON COMING DOWN E.G. TAIL WIND, ALTITUDE, TURBULANCE E.T.C....VERY HAPPY WITH THE 550!!!

HENRY G. LACKEY
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF AVIATION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
FRANKFORT, KY

Randy Smith

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2012, 01:37:11 PM »
A very interesting discussion although my experience leads me to agree wholeheartedly with Old Bob.  Let me start with some info of my personal experience;

I traded up from a IO520 which TBO'd at 1700 hrs.  After much research settled on a rebuilt IO550 with the Scimitar 82" prop.  This combo gives the plane a 100lb additional gross weight increase.  But only if it includes the above prop combo.

I had all work done at the TCM facility at Fairhope AL.  Work was all very professional and meticulous.  The process included 2 hrs of break-in flight by factory expert CFI.

These folks will NOT install this engine without the new de Shannon baffle kit.  This is a key point as the new baffles reduce overall heating to levels even below those seen with the 520 and factory baffles.

I also strongly agree it will not burn more fuel as speed gain offsets any increase in FF.  The performance is greatly increased for short field take offs and cruise.  I used to climb out at about 120 knots now 135-140 knots with the same 500 fpm gain.  I cruise at 2400 rpm WOT and lean of peak.  Usual TAS is 170 plus versus the old 160 knots, sipping 13.5gph. (a one gallon increase)
When I brought the plane back home from the factory (a 10 hr flight) I was told to keep everything firewalled to complete the break in process. Believe it or not, my TAS was a hair shy of 190 knots at 6,500ft.  The plane has Osborne tips.

Overall am very happy with my IO550, the great folks at TCM Fairhope and the Scimitar prop.  Wish I'd done it sooner!
Randy

PS- The ONLY complaint are the so called balanced injectors from TCM.  I would recommend going with GAMI's

Ernie Ganas

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2012, 04:17:28 PM »
Matt,

I am in a 1969 Model 36 seven person partnership, when it came time for overhaul in Dec 2001 we went to a Millennium IO-550 from Western Skyways and every partner then and new partner since has commented that is was the best money we ever spent on the airplane. A couple of the partners go up to Lake Tahoe with their families and they report coming out of 6300ft KTVL with a full airplane used to require one or two standard rate 360's before they turned west. Now they climb out and turn west knowing that they will clear the mountains without a problem.

From my personal performance tests I can tell you we increased the rate of climb by approximately 25% from sea level to 5000'. As far as in-flight cruise performance goes, my record show when my Grandson and I went OSH in 2009 the plane weight at takeoff was just under 3400 pounds and we averaged 170 KTAS on 12.9GPH at 9500 from KDVO to KYKN with a stop in KBMC. When I went solo to the ABS convention in Oct I was getting 172KTAS burning 13.8GPH at 7500' and 183KTAS on the same fuel burn on the way back at 8500
 
I have never met a person who has made the conversion from a 520 to 550 who hasn't felt the 7K to 10K conversion wasn't worth every penny they spent.  Conversely it seems like the only ones who say it isn't worth it are those who didn't do it.

From the experience of the Beech listers who have bought and sold the 550 converted pre84 A36's seem to sell faster and for more money than the equivalent 520 powered planes and the same goes with the S35 and V35's.

If you have a choice buy one with a 550 and you will not regret it! Having said that if you can find one of TAT's late model TN converted 520's without too much of an upchange you would be happy with it if you need to cruise in the 9-13K range like out here in the west  

Ernie
BE36(E-160)
KDVO Novato, CA
http://tinyurl.com/Bonanza-N32MB
  

Isaac Shalom

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 05:14:03 PM »
I just replaced a Victor Black 520 with a Victor Limited Edition II 550 and added the tuned exhaust and baffles from D'Shannon. I get a speed increase of 20 knots, climb of 1000 fpm up to 8000", and very low CHT's. It does burn considerable more fuel, but at higher altitude, the performance is amazing; similar to the turbochared engines at 10,000'.

Thomas Pelz

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 10:48:08 PM »
Matt,

I have a 550 in my 1959 K35.   I do not regret going to the 550.  My airplane originally had a IO470C.  I upgraded to a 520 about 20 years ago.  About 5 or six years ago, I found a used 550 and upgraded to that engine. 

I do not fly my airplane faster with the 550 than I flew it with the 520.  Although it really will go faster, IF I WANTED to.  The main advantage of the 550 is:

1.  Shorter take off.   Really nice when departing high altitude airports.

2.  Better rate of climb.  With the 470, it was a long slow climb to 9 or 10 thousand feet altitude.  With the 520, the climb was quicker to 10 K.  With the 550, I have no reluctance to cruise climb to 12000.  This is nice when dealing with my trips to the west coast.

3.  Speed.  The Bonanza is a fast airplane.  However, I usually cruise at 21 inches/ 2300 RPM.  Or FT (full throttle).   I usually cruise at 11.5 - 12.5 GPH.  My TAS is usually 155 - 160.   I have tip tanks.  So I have at least 7.5 - 8.0  hours of fuel at my cruise power.  This means that I can fly 1000 Nautical miles non stop, if I want to, AND still have 1.5 hours reserve.   I rarely fly more than six hour legs.   

IF I were to fly at high cruise speed, I would have to stop every four hours.    At 155 KTAS (180 MPH), I can get 15 MPG.   

If you don't need to fly high, then the 520 is an excellent engine.  However, the 550 is a much nicer engine.   In my humble opinion.

Economic wise, it is a difficult choice.   Please note that I sold my 520 for 2000 less than I paid for my 550.  I already had the STC for the 550 when I upgraded to the 520, so that was not a cost issue.   You need the 3 blade prop with the 550 (not an option).   Still, the three blade prop is nice on a Vtail as it moved my CG forward 1/2 inch and improved my ground clearance.   

So, the choice is up to you.  You pays your money.  Just don't expect to have your airframe increase in a value equal to the upgrade.   

Again, I do not regret my decision.

Tom



Tom

James Bates

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2012, 05:18:11 PM »
You are obviously buying a used plane. The 550 A-36 might cost you 5 to 7k more than a 520 used A-36, .....all other factors being equal......]maybe less in today's market. At that cost difference, I'd opt for the IO-550. You're getting shorter takeoff. better rate of climb, better cooling (because you'll have better baffling), and a really cool 3-blade prop. You may even get as much as 5 more knots cruise than a 520, again, everything being equal (weight, altitude, temp, prop efficiency, etc.); do not expect 20 knots increase. So the 550 may well be the best bet for you, but there are an awful lot of other factors that must be considered, as I'm sure you know; the engine is just one of them. But a 36 or an A-36 is a grand airplane, with either engine!

Robert Martin

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Re: A36 IO-520 vs. IO-550
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2012, 12:38:51 PM »
I upgraded my F33A to the IO550 with a super simitar prop. Great performer, but then I had the momey to spend. The cost atvantage is not there. Stay with the IO520 if cost is a priority.