[Editors note:   We have had many letters from prospective Seabee buyers requesting advice and information as to how to obtain a good Bee and at the right price. The following letter demonstrates that this can be an exercise fraught with many perils. It must be remembered that all Seabees have been exposed to the rigors of flying and the elements for over fifty years and it is to be expected that they will be in widely different stages of depreciation and disrepair.
     Our thanks to Guy for this informative and entertaining article of "one man's experiences" in pursuit of this marvelous old amphibian, the Republic Seabee, enjoy!  John.]


     This adventure starts with the disapproval of my wife Gina. She told me "Do not buy that airplane!" When I left, I told her that I really wasn't planning on buying it, I just needed a reference point for looking at others. The only way that I would was if it was in exceptional condition. She was quite right however, for I already owned three other airplanes and certainly didn't need another.

      My friend Dave and I flew my Cessna 402B the 750 miles up to Aurora Airport in Oregon to take a look. I only had two days to make this trip and inspect the airplane. We left late Friday evening with the idea of landing at Aurora early Saturday morning, getting a few hours of sleep, then spending Saturday looking over the plane. To be on the safe side we set down in Salem to refuel. We were astonished that the fuel service had left for the evening at such a large airport so we were stuck till 6 AM, when they returned. We went for a bite to eat and slept in the 402 until we woke at 7 AM. After refueling we flew through beautiful weather for the half hour to Aurora. We could not have planned a more perfect day.. It had been raining in Oregon for the past few months incessantly, so every thing was as green as could be. Today the sky was saphire blue with a temperature of about 85 degrees.

      When we taxied up I couldn't believe my eyes. The 1947 Republic Sea Bee was in like new condition. Painted with the predecessor of Emron paint the craft looked too good to be true. Sam Richardson took Dave and me for a test flight over to the nearby river for a demo of the craft's performance. We took her down to a smooth as glass landing on the water. Already in love with the craft I was dreaming of the incredible fun that could be had with such a beast. With full flaps and full throttle we blasted off the water again to a strong climb. Flying down the rivers of Oregon was a feeling hard to beat, freedom from gravity, freedom to land virtually anywhere we desired, freedom to become a power boat skimming across the water. For someone who loves both flying and boating it just doesn't get any better than this. 

      We spent a good two hours getting the total demo of what this craft could do and then flew back to Sam's hangar where we did the usual pre purchase inspection. Compression was good, the A.D.s for the strut ends checked out OK. There was a little flaking of the chromium oxide paint inside the hull but there was no signs of corrosion. The exterior paint checked out to be a 9.5, with the upholstery about a 7. The instrument panel was patched and very sparse and although Sam said that the nav radio worked fine it was stuck on one station only and not of any use. The engine is a Franklin 215 which is notorious for hard to get parts and a short TBO, This particular engine had spent many years in someone's basement and had only 200 hours since new when Sam bought it and then had it overhauled. Although sitting can be bad for an engine it was overhauled 100 hours ago and seemed to be in great shape, I hoped for the best. We haggled a bit on the price and ended up with what was probably not a great deal but a fair price.

      "Well Gina I bought it." ....Silence.... "I knew that you would" she said "well come on home." With the excitement of the new bird and the regret of disappointing my mate ,I had a lot to think about on the long flight back home. I joke that my wife is always right when we disagree and it seems that sooner or later I always find it to be so. I hoped however that this would eventually work out for the best. 

      We had a planned fuel stop at Santa Barbara and although the sky looked clear, when we came over the ridge what we thought was water was a marine layer with 0-0 visibility. Without enough fuel to get to LA we had to divert back to Santa Rosa and arrived just before the fuel service closed. After a quick meal we headed back to Orange county. After two long days with very little sleep and late at night Gina and I discussed the predicament that I had gotten myself into. The long and short of it was that I had too many aircraft before the Seabee so I promised to sell my Stinson 108-3 and to finish up the c150 that I was restoring and sell that. Any fool could see that again my wife was right but tell that to a boy with a new toy.

      The next step was to wait for good weather to bring the Seabee home. The perfect weekend arrived so I went to get my new baby. I spent one day with Sam getting familiar with the characteristics of the Seabee. Since I learned to fly in a tailwheel airplane, land operations were a snap. The most difficult part was getting use to no springs on the tailwheel steering. I was amazed at how easy water operations were. I received my float plane rating in a C150 on floats and comparatively the Seabee would jump on to the step and be free of the water in no time. Landing the Seabee was equally as easy, just slow her down and as soon as she touches the water she just straightened right out. As a boat she's great, keep her wings level and skim where you like. We even lowered her gear in the water and taxied up a boat loading ramp. On the other side of the coin my three main fears are hard to see wires over a river, landing with the landing gear in the wrong configuration , and that Franklin engine giving out.

      After a joyous day of flying and boating I met my friend Rick who came up to help me enjoy the flight back home. We spent the night at his sister's house, who just happened to live near by and whose husband fabricates aluminum gas tanks for classic motorcycles. We spent a good part of the evening learning about bending aluminum, This man is a real artist and his art fascinated me. The next morning we headed out to embark on our next adventure.

      When we arrived at the airport Sam was working on the ELT saying that there was a problem but he had it fixed. We got the airplane started and headed off first to the river for some touch and go's, a pass under a bridge and then we were off to California. We were almost to Salem Oregon when I noticed a funny alternating whine in the radio. The ELT was transmitting and the panel switch did nothing to correct the problem. I climbed back into the luggage compartment and turned off the ELT then radioed Salem to inform them of the false alarm. It has been some time since we made this trip so some of the airports I am guessing at, such as Roseburg where we had lunch, Fueled up and saw a beautiful Stinson V77 and a Grumman Albatross. Right about this time we noticed oil leaking from under the instrument panel and found a rag soaking up oil leaking from the tachometer. Rick said he should have known something was up when Sam told him to take this big pile of rags with us. From there we headed out to the coast and south to Rohnerville where we came close to a gear up landing saved by a gumps check and a go around while I pumped the gear down. After a strong cross wind landing we fueled up and headed off to clear lake.

      It is very easy to get disorientated when flying over mountains following rivers and a VFR chart. We only got disorientated a few times and found our way to clear lake which should have been named "merky lake". We flew around the perimeter looking for a place to spend the night but found nowhere inviting. Since we were there we decided to set her down on the lake. After a while of resting on the water we decided to head for Lake Berryessa. We started the engine and started our takeoff but we just couldn't seem to get up on the step, the engine didn't seem to be developing enough power. Now I had never been on rough water in the Seabee and when I opened the door the water seemed very high as though we were sinking. Panic set in and I decided to try something different. The prop was set for a maximum of 2200 RPM which I knew was low so I adjusted the reverse mechanism to give a lower pitch and higher RPM. I thought that it may be easier to get up on the step with a down wind takeoff and then get airborne. There was plenty of lake so I went for it. Rick leaned out the mixture and the engine came to life. We blasted into the air with 2500 RPM down wind across high chop with a sigh of relief and a surge of adrenaline. 

      Arriving at Lake Berryessa was like finding an oasis in the desert. Crystal blue water and calm winds. One turn around the lake and we found what looked to be the perfect spot to spend the night. What a joy to land on glassy water. We step taxied to the 5 MPH zone then idled up to the boat loading ramp. The crowds gathered as we lowered our gear into the water and taxied up the ramp with the power boats. This campground had a hotel so we got a room for the night and went out to work on the prop control. We spent about an hour on the water adjusting the prop control and mixture to get our settings just right for the rest of the flight home. This gave us a lot of time to get more experience with flying and boating. After another hour of just having fun, the sun was setting so we went back to the campground and tied the Seabee down in front of the campsite of some new friends who had adopted us into their classic car club. These people where wonderful and treated us just like old friends inviting us into their camps and inviting us to have dinner with them. They also took some great pictures of 6769K which they sent to me.

      We woke the next morning to a dense cloud cover. Scud running over water is no problem for there is runway everywhere below so after getting a jump start from our new friends we taxied into the water, took off from glassy water, did one pass and headed out across the lake hoping to find a hole in the clouds. At the end of the lake was a valley with clear skies at the end so we headed out. The next part of our journey is best described by an excerpt from the report that I sent to NASA.

      On July 20,1995 I was flying an airplane that I had purchased two days earlier from Lake Berryessa to Hollister Municipal. When I arrived close to my destination the cloud cover was too thick and I deviated to my alternate of Los Banos. While en route the engine RPM began to surge.

      This aircraft is a Republic Seabee which has a history of prop reversal in flight and being somewhat unfamiliar with this aircraft felt that this engine condition could have been a sign of this potential problem. Upon checking the ground for possible landing areas I sighted a dirt landing strip directly below and decided that it would be much safer to land at this strip than to continue and possibly have problems over a less desirable area.

      I landed the aircraft with no incident and checked over the engine and prop mechanism and adjusted the reverse mechanism to insure safe operation. During preflight inspection I found the fuel level at approx. 15 gallons and decided that it would be safer to add more fuel especially since takeoff is not recommended with less than 12 gallons. This aircraft is STC'd for auto gas so I walked to a nearby gas station and had them bring 15 gallons to refuel. While refueling the owner of the property came over and talked to us and did not object to me taking off from his property.

      Runup went good and I taxied to the end of the runway for takeoff. I started my takeoff roll to see a police car with lights flashing driving directly at me on the landing strip so I stopped the aircraft. The Police Officer asked for my ID and Pilot certificate and told me that the FAA had told him to sight me for landing on private property. Meanwhile the deputy sheriff who was waiting in his car came over and asked for the aircraft documentation and asked to permission search the aircraft which I granted. He thoroughly searched through our baggage to find nothing of interest to him and explained the concern of drug smuggling. He also expressed his concern of me running out of gas so I showed him the fuel dip stick to show 35 gallons and he was satisfied. Takeoff was uneventful and we continued our flight.

      This episode took over three hours and set us back quit a bit in our journey home. We flew down Interstate 5 to _______ where we refueled and had lunch that took forever to serve and we were off again. We flew over the San Gabrielle mountains to El Monte where I dropped Rick off and then to John Wayne where 6769K spent the night. The next day after again getting clearance to go through the mode C area without a transponder I left for El Monte to pick up Dave and then to Corona where 69K would spend the next year being restored.

     The following list is what I have found wrong with this aircraft so far and what has been done to correct it. To those who might be considering a Seabee, this might be a good place to start your pre-purchase inspection. Republic Seabee S/N 1059 N6769K


1. Max. RPM 2200
2. Full rich mixture way too rich
3. Two piece venture missing two of three clips loose
4. Oil hose fittings to prop control finger tight
5. Spark plug wires lose, one off plug
6. Timing mark bar too close to alternator belt
7. Fuel pressure gauge lines come from common source
8. Prop valve O-ring leaking
9. Plastic hose coming from manifold to nowhere needs to be removed and plugged
10. Some screws safety wired backwards
11. Tach drive leaking oil into tachometer
12. Oil filter Kit -- CFO 101

1. With gear down, cables become tight between pedals and tail wheel, and sloppy to the rudder
2. Left rear aileron cable frayed between fuselage and wing
3. Right front aileron cable rubbing and cutting through flap control hose
4. Rudder cables crushed from excessive tension on front pulleys
5. Wear on all cables at one point or another
6. Incorrect Aileron trim
7. Excessive wear on all 2" pulleys
8. U joint in yoke rubbing on rivet heads in yoke
9. Bushing in right aileron at push rod needs shoulder
10. Rudder pedals installed one tooth off

1. ELT transmitting as we left Portland
2. ELT switch poorly installed
2. Static in radio
3. Clock lasts only a few hours after winding
4. VOR head will not tune, toothed belt stripped
5. Fuel gauge inoperative
6. Air speed inaccurate
7. Glass on EGT gauge broken

1. Hydraulic line rubbing under luggage compartment
2. Gear down tightens rudder cables from pedals to tail wheel and loosens cables to rudder
3. Left strut leaking

1. Small patch of corrosion on wing tip next to aileron
2. Zinc Chromate flaking off on interior of flotation compartments
3. Rivets at tail seam lose
4. Fuel vapors in baggage compartment
5. Vents for baggage compartment blocked with insulation
6. Anchor light bulb missing
7. Anchor needs base pad
8. Service hydraulic reservoir


EGT probes ,harness, switches, and gauge
Com radio
Nav radio
Hobbs meter xxxxxhrs.
Complete instrument panel with all switches
All self resetting circuit breakers
Remote indication compass sending unit at wing tip
Remote indicating compass power supply
All unnecessary wiring left over from previous installations including 2nd starter cable
Wing tip position lights
Tail strobe
Manifold vacuum source (to gyros)
Timing bar

All control surface wires were replaced with new stainless steel wires
All 2" pulleys were replaced with new 2" pulleys
Flap hydraulic hose in right wing replaced with 303 hose
Rear landing gear hydraulic line from baggage compartment to tail wheel replaced with new tube
Rear landing gear hydraulic line under baggage compartment replaced with new tube
Fabricated and installed mounting clamp for tailwheel hydraulic lines to pass through baggage comp't
Installed new mounting clamps where needed along tailwheel hydraulic lines
Replaced all old phanolik fareleads with delrin fareleads for control wires
Replaced speaker
Replaced phenolick yoke bushing with new delrin bushing
Replaced flywheel bolts
Balanced flywheel-fan assy
Replaced alternator belt and installed a spare behind flywheel
Replaced one auto battery and one aircraft battery with two gill 25 aircraft batteries
Tightened hoes fittings at prop control
Reworked hinge on yoke to eliminate rivet interference
Reinstalled rudder pedals with gear teeth in proper position
Rewired fuel gauge

New airspeed indicator
New R. C. Allen horizon
New R. C. Allen directional gyro New altimeter
New V.S.I.
New Terra TX 760 D comm
New Terra TN 200 D nav
New Terra TRT 250 D Xponder
Master buss bar
Avionics buss bar
New circuit breakers
New switches

     I want to share Guy's comment, received via email, after I wrote him regarding the above article. Subject: "or it pays to look under the paint" He writes: "or it's a good thing I like to work on old classics! Working on that old Bee is almost as much fun as flying it. When she is finally in the air, it is almost twice as much fun knowing I that I made her what she is."

You just have to love a GUY like that!     JPHooper

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