Did a previous owner fail to replace the old brass Imperial Fuel Selctor Valve, when it was an affordable option? You don’t get do-over chances like this very often….In a cooperative effort between BAC and AECI, AECI has introduced P/N 169-380086-1AEC. This is an FAA-PMA approved replacement aluminum Fuel Selector Valve, for the Beech models 19/23/24, all variants, all serial numbers. Model names for these aircraft include Musketeer, Musketeer Super, Musketeer Custom, Sport, Sundowner, Super R, and Sierra. The AEC valve mimics the later 169-380086-1 valve, originally made by Gerdes (for which no parts are available, other than O-rings).
For perspective, a new Gerdes valve from Beech is List-priced at $4,884, and only a single valve is available in the parts market. A certified overhauled valve, at my last pricing check, went for $800 plus a $350 core charge. Also note that the Beech valve does not come with a handle; and there is no way to order a new handle. Beech never assigned a unique P/N to the special handle; if you order the handle shown in the IPC, what you’ll receive (if you find one) is the Imperial valve handle (which won’t work). The new AECI valve includes the needed handle.
AECI is temporarily offering their new certified valve for $695, in hopes that planes that still contain the old valve will get them changed immediately. This low introductory price is very temporary, in an effort to get close to the original kit price when the Beech SB first came out, many years ago. The price of the new AECI valve will soon be increased to match or exceed the price of an overhauled valve (but with no core required). Words to the wise. Some of the original owners of these planes ignored the original Service Bulletin, because it was not rolled into an AD. Just as they ignored the replacement fuel rings and fuel filler caps, forward spar bracket replacement, nosewheel steering kit, etc.. Most regretted the lack of compliance; or more likely, subsequent owners have regretted it. This is a rare opportunity to play catch-up on the FSV, at close to the pricing of twenty years ago.
The AECI valve can be used to replace leaking Gerdes fuel selector valves, as it is temporarily much less expensive than buying a certified overhauled unit. It can also be used to immediately replace the original brass Imperial fuel selector valve, which has been known to jam (and break shafts); and which requires frequent silicone lubrication to remain safe (every Annual Inspection or 100 hours, which seldom gets done). You can remove the handle to identify your valve model. If the top of the shaft is square, with a small protruding pin, it is the Imperial valve. Be sure to properly orient the handle on the pin, during reinstallation. If the top of the shaft is round, with a single flat area, you already have the aluminum valve. Check for a fuel leak stain at the shaft exit, while the handle is off. The MS29513-010 shaft O-ring usually starts to leak, at about the 20 year point. Which sure beats valve disassembly and silicone lubrication, every 100 hours/Annual Inspection.
Beech ‘Mandatory’ Class I Service Instruction 0838-289 called for the replacement of all the brass FSVs with the aluminum FSV. Replacing the brass FSV requires some minor alterations to the attaching fuel lines, easily accomplished by most aviation technicians. As this was never made an AD, some number of the older 19/23/24 airframes still contain the original Imperial brass valve. Conversions all but halted about ten years ago, due to the high cost of the overhauled FSVs. That already-high cost was amplified further by the high core value charged, when no used aluminum valve was available for core return. I used to occasionally come upon a used valve that could be inspected, re-sealed, and offered as a repaired serviceable valve; I seldom find them anymore. With the introduction of the new FAA-PMA AEC FSV, owners of the older (unconverted) airframes finally have an affordable option to make the conversion (as described in the Beech Service Instruction). There is no required service interval on the aluminum valve. They generally go 20 years (or more) without attention, until they eventually require new O-rings due to rubber aging.
If you still have the old Imperial brass valve, and elect not to make the recommended upgrade (despite the drastically lowered introductory price on the new AEC valve), please don’t continue to operate an old Imperial valve when the shaft begins to stiffen up. Have the valve serviced and lubricated, as outlined in Beech ‘Mandatory’ Class I Service Instruction 0364-289. This SI requires compliance every 100 hours or Annual Inspection, whichever comes first. As with many other non-AD related Service Instructions, this has been overlooked during many (or most) Annual Inspections.
THIS IS A SAFETY OF FLIGHT ISSUE! The Imperial valve brass shafts have been known to break with the valve midway between the two ports, shutting fuel flow off completely. Either install the aluminum valve, or take good care of the brass valve!