Flew the Coupe! – Part 9- Not much happening but the waiting

So I thought I’d share an update.  Things here in Seattle have ground to a halt when it comes the Ercoupe adventure.  Weather is not my friend this time of year.  So I am still needing some time with an instructor to get my BFR behind me and that just isn’t happening.  The FBO I have chosen never seems to have a plane available and the instructor I’ve chosen is even harder to book.  Since very few days here this time of year would be days I’d want to fly in I have settled down into a holding pattern.  I’ve looked for things I can do while I wait.  So there have been a few things I’ve either done or tried to do.

So I have named my little bird.  I’d like you all to meet “Woodstock”!


Seems to fit.  I’m still trying to decide where I’ll be putting the image on the plane.  There is certainly the traditional nose art location but I am also considering the vertical fin.  That may end up depending on how I decide to enhance my airplanes markings.  While my plane really does lend itself to the pseudo military trainer scheme many Ercoupes seem to sport I am also considering staying with a civilian scheme.  The good news is I don’t have to rush to decide.  I am slowly learning more about how the Ercoupe came from the factory.  They really weren’t particularly fancy.  Basically no paint on the fuselage, silver wings.  Some had the Erco logo painted on the cowl, some came with the brass badges.  A wonderful fellow name Andy Pomeroy gave me a pair of those badges and I have already put them on the plane.


Looks pretty nice if you ask me!

So lets talk more about what I learned about civilian paint schemes for the Ercoupe.  So at first they came with a painted on logo, then they got the badges.  Its still a bit fuzzy as to when the swap happened.  Here is the panted on logo:


There are even factory drawings that show that as part of the original paint.  So looking at old photos and posters here is what you find.


So the brass logo but no stripe.  A little red trim in this case.


So painted on logo, side stripe. paint on both the wing and vertical fin leading edges.  Silver wings?  It also has the center sun screen.


So here are two Ercoupes in front of the factory.  One definitely has the brass logo plate.  No stripes on the fuselage and no leading edge trim.  Both look to have the center sun screen.


Nose brass plate logo, no stripe but a little trim on the wingtips.  No center sun screen.  Note the wire antenna from the canopy back to the top of the fin.


So bare, no logos, no stripes.


So here is a Macy’s ad.  Hard to tell if there is a cowl badge and I really don’t see a stripe on the fuselage but there is clearly trim on the wing and vertical fin leading edges.  Here is another Macy’s promotional photo:


What a happy family picnic!  Not sure how they all got there in that plane but sure!  So painted on logo on the cowl, side fuselage stripe.  No sign of trim on the leading edges.

Here is a picture from the Smithsonian:


No cowl logo, no fuselage stripes.  This plane also has a nose gear faring.  More about that later.

How about a promotional photo with Jane Russel!


Cowl brass plate logo.  No fuselage stripes.  No sign of leading edge trim.  Cool circular period directional antenna!

So summary is there really seemed to be a lot of randomness in the way the planes were painted new.  So I think I can take some liberties if I decided to stay “civilian”.

So if I decide to keep it “civy” I have to device a coupe of things.  For example do I add a fuselage side stripe?  If I do what color?  Do I use vinyl or paint it on?  Do I add leading edge trim?  How about the “N” numbers in the vertical fins?  Do I move them somewhere else like the fuselage or maybe incorporate them into some trim on the vertical fins?  How about some other vertical fin ideas?  Here are some photos of “coupes” with a “swoop”.




So I am pondering how to make my new to me plane “my own”.  So while I wait for the weather to improve I can plan out my mods.

I’ll share at least one silly airplane related thing I did.  I made a Christmas ornament match my plane:


Another thing I’ve been actively looking into is a new interior for my plane.  I set out to just order one from Airtex and have gotten no response.  They seem to have a huge lead time so I’ll start after the holidays and try again.  In the mean time I may have changed my mind about a few things.  The Ercoupe did not come with carpet.  Just a wood floor board and I am tempted to leave mine like that.  Here is my floorboard:



Nothing special, just wood. I’ll decide what to do about that after I’ve flown the plan a bit.  Maybe OK that way but carpet is easy to do.

I am still trying to decide what to do about the instrument panel.  Mine is far from original and I think something closer to original would be nice but again, I’m putting that off for when I’ve flown the plane more.

Now one thing I can get to almost immediately.  Polishing!  I can see I have a lot of that in my future!  I bought one of these:


And I’ve talked to some folks that know more about polishing than I do so I think I need to buy at least another one.  Parts of my plane are going to require more than this polisher can manage to bring them back to where I’d like them.  Some places on my plane are going to need to need some attention it seems.  For example:


We’ll see if I run out of energy once I get into it as the plane looks pretty decent to me.  Who knows?  I do know at least at this point I would like to have a nicely polished plane!

Another thing that was pointed out to me is that my cowl could fit better.  The top piece seems to be a little too wide to fit right.  Someone said I need to possible “shrink” it.  I have no idea whats involved in that.  Maybe I’ll figure that out once I get this fixed.  My nosebowl has a crack.  I have several folks that say they can weld it but I need to take the prop off to get the nosebowl off.  Well the plane is not being flown so now if the time to do it!  Here is the crack:


I also still need to fix my wingtip strobe light.  Now I know what I have and what I need to do.  So the previous owner took standard Grimes wingtip lights and welded on a mount for a standard Whelan strobe assembly.  My strobe tube seems to be blown so I can buy a replacement from places like Aircraft Spruce Specialist. Here is a standard grimes light and mine:



And here is what I think I need to fix it:


The only complication is my light is riveted together so I have to drill the rivets and then replace them with a screw and nut of some sort.  First step is to figure out where my drill is!  Actually my entire hangar needs to be reorganized but the cold is very demotivating!

So other things I’ve found out.  I have Cleveland brakes!  This is a very good thing as I understand it.  Parts for the original brakes are hard to come by and the original brakes don’t work as well.  I do need to clean my calipers but just another project!


Another thing I’ve learned is my nose gear has something called a “snubber” cable and has had the original faring removed.  I need to fly the plane some to decide what I really want to do but I think at this time I will restore the nose gear to its original configuration. Originally it came with a small metal faring that would move to streamline the nose gear as the weight of plane came off the gear and it extended.  Some planes still have them, many do not.  I think I want to put mine back.  To do that I need to remove the “snubber” cable.  These cables were fitted to newer coupes and many owners added them to their older coupes.

Another thing related to the landing gear.  My airplane may be sitting too tail high.  There are rubber components on the main gear that can flatten over time and make the tail sit too low.  This becomes a problem because the Ercoupe needs the nose wheel on the ground to steer.  So if the tail stays low the airplane can be uncontrollable in a cross wind.  Something I need to check out.

So I can say I’ve made progress on other less interesting things that are part of buying an airplane.  I paid the state of Washington my “use tax”.  That was $1950-ish dollars I would have liked to spent on something more useful for the airplane.  Now I need to send the proof of that to the WA aviation folks to get my WA state registration.  Paying the use tax was pretty straight forward although I discovered that my FAA registration does not list the aircraft manufacturer year so I had to swear to that verbally.  Also whatever blue book they use to verify the airplane’s value seems to not include the Ercoupe!

So that’s about all I have to report as “I fly the Coupe”.  Sadly no real flying to share.  But soon I hope.  I am looking into putting a “Go Pro” in the plane to share more of my adventures with videos.  Not sure about that yet.

So if you have any ideas about how to add some paint/vinyl trim to Woodstock let me feel free to leave your ideas in the comments!  Also if you run across any interesting Ercoupe photos please let me know!  Here is one I ran across I really like!


Note, painted on cowl logo, fuselage stripes and no leading edge trim.  Very few people know that the Ercoupe was the preferred airplane for bears to fly! 🙂

Here is another, this is the Ercoupe that was the first airplane to ever fly with a JATO.


So painted on cowl logo, side fuselage stripes, red leading edge trim.

So this really it for this installment.  I’ll leave with a suggested site.  If you are familiar with the show Top Gear you certainly know Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.   They started a social sites for fans of motorsports mostly call Drive Tribe.  I add an aviation tribe there call “Oh To Fly”.  Please give it a visit and consider joining!






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2 Responses to Flew the Coupe! – Part 9- Not much happening but the waiting

  1. Pingback: Flew the Coupe! – Part 8- It’s all the little stuff! | Tangential Thoughts

  2. Jim McLeish says:

    Good post, you will have a great coupe when you are done with your upgrades. I rebuilt mine a few years back and have one comment to you. You mentioned you think your tail is too high, I feel it possibly may be too low. After many years sitting on the rubber oleo shock absorbers on the main landing gear they will compress slightly that makes your tail too low. As I remember the correct measurement from the ground to the top of the rudder is about 75 inches with the nose strut and nose tire serviced correctly. This puts the wing at 0 degrees and on landing and you will be at a zero angle of attack making it track on the ground much better. Also makes the crosswind takeoffs better with the neg angle of attack forcing the the nose down naturally for better steering control. We used Airtex and it was a great install, did the seat, large baggage compartment, carpets and side panels all in grey. There was a wait but does not keep you from flying the plane as this goes on. It is a learning process and you are on the right track of researching and asking questions. There are many Ercoupe masters out there that are full of knowledge about these super little planes, keep searching. Check out Coupe Capers on line if you haven’t yet, good info there. I also use a little Marvel Mystery Oil in our Coupe along with our Bonanza and PA-12. Done this for 25 years, never a problem .
    Good luck, Jim

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