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So I ended up getting a 401 86" Mac and the big 3 blade MT prop. Will be doing a real test in about a week on both. Full report to more speculation...
We went with the 401 Mac as well. At 24" sqared we were running up in the yellow line. The Mac is a great performer. It has a lot of pull to get you out of a hole.

FYI-Just to let you know, we ended up making some upgrades as well. We ended up finding a ran out TSIO-520 core with a VAR crank and overhauled it to new service limits. It was more cost effective for us to go that route than updateing our K-R engine. Wish we could have been able to get an approval to get the 8.1 pistons installed but couldn't get get a field approval. We also updated our muffler and stacks b/c our original exhaust system was beyond repair. We went with the larger, heavier walled stacks and muffler to allow the engine to breathe better. I think it was worth the investment. We fgured if we are going to overhaul it, better to do it right the first time.

One thing that we had been fighting since the first flight was that when the plane was held in a steep angle of climb(55-65mph indicated and more than 1200fpm) for about 300-500ft of climb, we would experience the engine to start to surge a little. When you nose over rapidly,it would get worse for a second then go back to operating fine. It was like the the engine was getting fuel starvation. To make a long stroy short, the older 180's seem to experience this since when they replace the old metal float with the new plastic float after PPONK overhauls our carb. Steve is aware of this and has a couple of fixes. After the carb was fixed, I took it up and was able to hold it less than 60mph (indicated) in a climb showing about 1600-1700 fpm for a full minute without any hesitation from the engine. It made a huge improvement. I am still very happy with the conversion. I'm sure you are going to love it.

I've noticed that on a 1 hour flight, we get there about 15 mins faster on the same amount of fuel (at 23 squared).
I don't have anything to compare with, but definitely enjoy my pponk and 86" black mac. Bushwheels help keep the prop from picking up nicks too.
What prop did you go with? Getting mine PPonked now. Going with the 86" mac.
What an awesome conversion! Engine run smooths and the rate of climb is extraordinary. Runs like a screaming eagle!!!!!!!!

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