Pondering Buying a Long-Neglected Cherokee 140

Hi, Phil here, just joined minutes ago and am going to jump right in for some advice. I am looking at buying a long neglected PA-28-140. See the following:

What would you offer, if anything, for a 1966 PA-28-140 in the following condition: TTAF 2883.0, TSMOH 553.0, Lyco 150 hp

Last flown in 2008, sitting outside since then on an airfield 3 miles from the ocean (canopy cover installed).

Last annual 2009 Started regularly per owner after 2009 until about 2 years ago.

Interior is original and in decent shape, exterior badly in need of paint job. All non-aluminum surfaces show signs of corrosion, mostly surface.

Pulled cylinder, crankshaft looks good. #3 and #4 cylinders replaced in 2005. Compressions 77-78-77-77. Airplane actually started last weekend, though right mag is dead.

Wing spar AD completed, spar looks good. SB 1244B, rear spar metal plate completed, looks good.

Avionics: Basic IFR, no ADSB out, No autopilot.

Still need to investigate bird's nest in tail that we noticed today.

Is this a diamond in the rough, or a pig in a poke? I keep expecting to find show-stoppers with my A&P, but so far looks liked it could be saved. What say the group?


  • HI Phil,

    I hope it was the camshaft you guys were looking at. As far as airframe, my concern if i were looking for one, would be corrosion in the wings. Due to lack of inspection holes, you have to be very creative in looking. A good borescope would come in handy. Specifically I would be looking at the spar cap strips,,,IF you see ANY white between the doublers and or skins,,, walk away. You do need to keep in mind, there really are NO good deals out there. SOMEONE has to pay to get it in shape. YOu mention mag... thats just a start. Of course i dont have the logs in front of me but given the neglect over time,,, your core motor may be ok,, but everything else may need lots of love. Not to mention radios, adsb and lots of incidentals. Just keep in mind. I looked at 26 172's only to find one in my own state. Took 2.5 years. LOTS of lower class planes and owners asking market values. Could you have a good plane?? Possible. Even at a sub 10k price, I could see ending up putting 15-20 k into to get it up to snuff. If you pursue, make sure you have some financial reserves. If you need tires and tube, figure a easy grand there.... just a benchmark.

    48 yrs A/P IA DAL aircraft inspector. 172N

  • Planewrench,

    Thanks, and yes, meant camshaft, lobes still shiny and solid. We pulled wing tanks out and looked hard at wing spar with good borescope, did not see any of the telltale white. Am prepared to pay if I can get the right price, thinking 5-10K just to get in air: prop overhaul, mag overhaul, new plugs, oil, filter, hoses, push-pull cables, maybe a leaky left strut - have been looking at it really hard with my A&P. Avionics power up, but you are right, who knows if they work right, and I would likely upgrade to some extent regardless. Needs paint - 20K there. I know it's a big risk, but sitting on the ramp, now that we have worked it over a bit, she looks like she wants to fly!

  • If you have a good base to start with, all the rest can be fixed. It is a chance to pretty much build a rescue plane the way you want it. Fun and rewarding. Sounds like you may have a good core plane to work with!

    48 yrs A/P IA DAL aircraft inspector. 172N

  • I am trying to get it sub-10K, but present owner who lost medical around 2007 and has been out of game seems to think it's worth 15-20K - "It just needs a paint job!" Offered him 5K and have not heard back. Worried about bird's nest in tail, took off tail cone today and only found dirt and surface corrosion.

    You're right, think it would be fun to rescue a plane and make it a personal flyer, but still scared about what could bite hard that I am not seeing.

  • Phil, you did not say whether this is your first airplane and you intend to keep it, or are looking for a project perhaps for resale? The reason I ask is that depending on your experience and the type of flying you do, the Cherokee 140 may not suit your needs in the long term. You may go through the arduous physical and financial task of a near total restoration and discover you may need something different in the very near future.

    Consider that the money you plan on investing to purchase, repair, restore, and upgrade this neglected Cherokee 140 might get you close to a Cherokee 180, a much more capable airplane from the perspective of useful load, climb performance, a bit faster cruise, and higher resale value.

    I have flown all the Cherokees and settled on a 1966 Cherokee 180 which has perfectly met my needs for more than 35 years.

    If you have flown the 140 and know the aircraft and its limitations and feel it is still a good fit and worth the investment and restoration “surprises,” then you might have found a good candidate. Buckle up and keep one hand on your wallet at all times 😬.

    Ultimately it’s your call. Wishing you good sound choices in finding the right aircraft that matches both your mission and your budget.



  • Thanks, Mike! I am retired Navy and commercial pilot. This will be my fourth airplane. Started out with a Gen 1 Cirrus, made some mistakes as was first airplane and expensive in some ways to maintain. Next was 1976 Cardinal II. Never should have sold that one; had engine overhauled, new prop, great avionics. Sweet machine, but wife not that much into light airplane flying, and seemed selfish for me to keep it. Still had itch to fly, so now have an Ercoupe in really great shape that I have put up for sale. Ercoupe is a blast to fly, but not much for x-country trips, which I realized when I bought it. Got checked out in a 1969 140 and loved it. Everything is so simple: flaps, trim, etc all manual. Seems like a comfortable cruiser, and not too expensive to maintain. Not looking to flip it. Will see what comes of this rescue airplane idea. 5-10K to get it flying safely, maybe 10K for avionics upgrades, 20K for paint. I know there are some things that may bite me badly, but still may roll the dice on it. It has been sitting at my home base looking forlorn and hate to see it just parted out. Going to have another A&P who has experience buying risky airplanes and flipping them look at this one after Oshkosh, and see what he thinks. Take care and fly safely.

  • edited July 2022

    I love fixer-uppers. Most of my planes have been just that. However, while everything you've mentioned indicates that you could get a nice low-time plane for $10k or so, do a thorough check for corrosion. To to that, you'll need to remove the side panels and look in the wings and tail. I bought a Seneca that sat by the ocean and it took about $20k to replace parts that were corroded. Good luck!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Hi Phil,

    I like the idea of this project, and it sounds like you’ve found at least one good A&P to partner with.

    Im not sure if it’s possible to make back your $ investment, should you decide to resell. But most of us here on the forum are mechanical junkies, so the real ROI is how much you’ll learn about airplanes in the process of refurbishment. Assuming you’re not already an expert, you’ll probably have enough hours to sit for the A&P exam when you’re done.

    I hope Scott has signed you up to write an article, so we can all follow your progress!


  • Roger that, Bob! ;)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • edited July 2022


    Others have covered the major points very well, and I'll add a few. As has already been mentioned, corrosion is your biggest concern in an aircraft that has been inactive.

    Along with a thorough check inside the wings, pull up the rear carpet and seats, and check the wing attach plates. They are steel, so they can rust. On older planes, it's very common for the windows to leak, and the water facilitates the rusting process. Scott mentioned it, and I had experience with this problem as well. Fortunately, mine was caught early, and did not have to go through the extensive repairs on the wing attach areas that Scott's previous plane required.

    After sitting dormant for 14 years, I'd advise having the avionics and radios checked thoroughly. If you're going to upgrade the stack, then it doesn't matter.

    As far as budgeting, you have options:

    1. Repair/replace as necessary and pay as you go. Pros: you will probably be flying much sooner. Spreads out the payments over time vs a lump sum. Cons: you find problems as you go, and some may take a while to surface. This can lead to "can I trust it on a long trip?" anxiety. Lots of short down times to make repairs.
    2. Repair/replace all at once. Cons: your plane will be down for an indeterminate amount of time (read: long time) while you dismantle, inspect, repair and reassemble the aircraft. The bill will be a large lump sum. What you choose to repair/upgrade, will determine the size of the lump. Pros: while the airplane is apart, you have full access to everything. Upgrades are much simpler because the plane is already apart. You only need to disassemble the plane once. Knowing everything has been inspected and/or repaired/replaced will give you peace of mind while flying. << to me, this was worth every penny.

    When I did the rebuild on my plane, I went with option 2 above. The plane was down for 18 mos. I worked on it nearly every day, and fired the money cannon at it on regular intervals. I uncovered sins of previous owners that had to be addressed, as well as regular wear and tear you'd expect on a 30+ year old plane. But when it was done, I virtually had a brand new airplane.

    Overall, it sounds to me like you have found yourself a very good project plane. The 150 hp upgrade is a very nice perk, and the airframe is low hours, especially for its age. The PA28 series of aircraft are solid planes, simple to work on, and parts are available everywhere (current supply chain problems notwithstanding).

    Please keep us updated on what you decide, and your progress!

    Jim "Doc Griff" Griffin
    PA28 - 161
    Chicago area

  • I own a 69' 140 that I'm restoring. Check out my posts on tbe saga so far. Remove the stabilator and vertical stab.! They are never looked at! Also look at the firewall! When the airplane is stripped you'll probably find a lot of corrosion.

  • I bought a 1972 PA28-140E with 5600 hr TT and 2400 hrs TT engine. Sitting abandoned in a dry hangar 13 years. I paid salvage price for the airframe after a very careful spar inspection. I went into the purchase / rebuild knowing it needed a new zero time 160 hp engine & prop. Lots of TLC and AME time has it back flying for lower than market resale. Engine was $35,000 (CDN). alone. New 406 ELT, Whelan LED lights / strobes, new Horner wing tips, Art Mattson VG, lots of misc. pulleys and bushings. Having built 3 airplane kits I knew where the big money goes in aircraft. Radios are old but work great, transponder mode C works.... no ADS-B needed yet here in Canada but its coming soon. New complete Airtex interior installation will be completed by weeks end. Happy with my purchase / project. But it has to be purchased at the right price to be restored.

  • Looks terrific! Great job :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • edited August 2022

    The obvious statement is that the plane is worth whatever you are comfortable with paying.

    Second observation (based on commentary) is that the wife needs to be on-board with the decision as I get the sense that life will get difficult if there is a lack of consensus. At a minimum, if getting this 140 is the final decision, might prove best to NOT show the plane until after the rehab is complete, but make sure to give solid updates along the way.

    When I went through the most recent purchase decision, I did some good faith estimates of rehab costs and compared those to aircraft ready to fly without needing updates. The cost differences of each path were nominal where the real difference was downtime.

    Toward the 140 in question.

    Looks like everybody agrees this is a project. Plan on a good 2 years downtime to completely go through the bird, refirb as necessary and rehab to personal tastes. Maybe it will take less time, maybe more. Comment about close proximity to the ocean and sitting in the elements puts me in the perspective of a complete tear-down even with the noted mitigation efforts. As Griff points-out, bonus to this path is ease of fixing and improving.

    Price to me as it sits: $0.00. Correct, zilch. Just sign the title over. Despite noted mitigation efforts with the A&P and that the engine stared, risks remain along with the known repairs / upgrades.

    While somebody might come along and pay the owner the 'asking' price, is seems like the line of people looking to buy this plane is one deep. Time is not on the sellers side as the medical was lost some time ago and the clock is ticking. So while the seller apparently still has sentimental attachment, the personal valuation may prove unrealistic. Point in case is that the seller completely walked away from the plane a couple years ago for whatever the reason. Besides, the sale might go to someone else in the family in the near future whom simply wants out of it. While this may seem harsh, it is what it is.

    So with all that, I would not rule-out looking at Cherokee 160's, 180's, and Archers. Might just fall in love with one that is ready to fly today. Bonus to this path is that it is easier to show the wife a picture before the purchase 😉

  • Having the items you mentioned; prop and all the engine accessories overhauled etc already likely exceeds your 10k estimate… and you haven’t gotten thru the annual. Prepare for 15-25k+ and hope it’s on the lower end.

    Unless you have your A&P, it will likely cost you less in the end to purchase an airworthy aircraft.

  • I’m coming up on 5 years of ownership of a forgotten Cherokee. When I purchased it, it was Over 3 years out of annual, 15 years and only 200hrs since major overhaul.

    I was fortunate that it had been hangered at least since ‘82, inland, but in the mid Atlantic.

    We meticulously went over the entire aircraft and got it flying 5 months after purchase.

    To date, we have flown it 250 hrs. Oil is sampled religiously every 25 hrs, no oil leaks, mid 70’s compressions, no problems so far.

    CamGuard possibly saved this engine, it was used prior to our ownership and we have continued this practice.

    The low initial purchase price(10k) has allowed us over time, to slowly add upgrades, Powerflow,

    Surefly Mag, starter, alternator, avionics, etc.

    Needless to say, we have been happy with the airplane. It can be done-putting life into an old bird. Just go into it with your eyes wide open.

  • Thanks for the update. You now have an excellent machine. More pilots should do what you did...

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Thanks for all the input, and should have gotten back to you all a bit sooner, but the problem kind of fixed itself, and I found some other options. Bottom line: present owner is adamant that "all it needs is a good annual!" and while he won't give me his price (after I offered him $5K) I am guessing he thinks it's worth 15 or 20K, or more. So it continues to sit outside, 3 miles from the ocean. Owner can't fly it, and does not seem to know what to do now. Glad I walked away.

    Have found another 140 that is airworthy, same owner for last 30 years, good paint, so-so interior, very old avionics (but they work!) and ADSB installed. Looks like a better project - fly while upgrade!

  • edited October 2022


    You made a very wise decision.

    When you want an airplane, it's difficult to walk away (had to do it myself), but you need to think a minimum of a year in advance, and you must do the math. You did both.

    There are plenty of nice planes for sale that need minimal work or are fully functional and just need updating. Finding an airworthy plane puts you years and $$$ ahead of a repair-from-the-ground-up project. Sounds to me like you found one. Bonus: you can begin flying right away!

    Post some pics of your new bird!

    Jim "Doc Griff" Griffin
    PA28 - 161
    Chicago area

  • Good choice Work, not a uncommon scene, " all it needs is good annual, flys fine! " I had to look at 25 Cessna 172's before #26 was worth buying.


    48 yrs A/P IA DAL aircraft inspector. 172N

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