Flew the Coupe! – Part 10- More Misc. in the middle of the weather standown

So I felt it was time for an update on my journey to return to flight.  No major announcements in this post but I thought I’d catch you up on the backlog of little things.

Secondary Costs of Buying a Plane

Let’s start with some details about the some of the secondary costs of buying an airplane.  So some background:

For folks that have been following the blog you may remember that n October I purchased a 1946 Ercoupe.  It was ferried up to Seattle from Compton, CA.  Yes my Coupe is “Straight out of Compton”!  So just know when you see me roll up that taxiway I will represent.  The Ercoupe is a very gangster ride! 😉  Enough of the humor.  The plane was “delivered” to Auburn, WA (S50).  It was purchased using an escrow company who completed the FAA paperwork to transfer the registration.  So I learned there seems to be two steps for folks bringing in an airplane from out of state into Washington state.

  1. Pay the WA. state use tax.

You are expected to pay a onetime use tax fee when the plane comes into Washington.   The rate is based on where the plane is “first used”.  So in my case I went to the state revenue office in downtown Seattle.  Well 4th ave anyways.  The office was mostly empty when I went and the folks were friendly.  They wanted to verify my paperwork using the FAA database.  They want to determine the age of the airplane to figure out what it was worth using some sort of “blue book” reference they use.  What I learned:

My FAA registration does not indicate the year my plane was manufactured.  Even after I told them the year my plane could not be found in their “blue book”.  So I did have paperwork from the Escrow company that showed the purchase price.  They accepted that but let me know that I would have to prove that if later on the state agency wanted to challenge the valuation.  That seemed pretty unlikely.

The next thing they needed to know was where is the plane kept.  The rate you are charged varies by where the “first use” occurs.  I know there are some folks that have got a tie down for an initial period of time somewhere is a lower rate.  I looked at that and decided I’d just go with S50.  I soon discovered they could not locate using whatever software they use the Auburn airport using the airport identifier.  So they ended up basically figuring it out using something like Google maps.  So we had a rate.  For folks wondering about what this will cost here are my numbers.  I paid $20,500 for my plane.  I ended up paying them $1945.  The do not take credit cards.  You must pay via check or cash.  Also be aware if you are a cash sort of person they will only take case for a subset of their hours.

So I got two copies of my receipt and I was told I would need to submit one of those when I went to register the airplane.  So on to the next and I believe final step.

2. Register your airplane with the State of Wa.

So I believed you needed to mail in some sort of application to do this but I saw someone I work with mentioned they had done it using the phone and then online.  That was an excellent hint!  So I called them up and they had my account set up in minutes.  They could verify that I had paid the use tax previously using whatever system they use.  So twenty minutes later I’d logged onto my new account and paid $65 via credit card.  I am told I will get some sort of registration card in the mail.  Washington no longer uses stickers.  Just some paperwork I think you keep in the plane.

So there it is.  Total cost:

$1945 + $65

As I understand it I will be billed annually to renew the state registration much like my car.

So I will also share an alternative I considered.  I also have a hangar in Mesa, AZ.  FFZ – X5.  I considered registering it in AZ as that would have reduced this to a $45 a year expense with no use tax.  But if you look at the rules I would have been “cheating” and who knows what would happen if I was caught.  So I decided it wasn’t worth it.  I am however trying to figure out a work situation that would let me spend my winters down there and my summers up here.   But all that would mean is I think my annual registration is pro-rated for however much time the plane spends in each state.

So there it is for folks that have either just bought a plane from out of state or folks considering it.  As with everything that flies all it takes is time and money!

Progress on Flying Woodstock

So I have not yet flown my plane myself.  I am still working on my BFR and the weather and other factors have not been my friends.  The FBO and instructor I’ve selected here in the Seattle area seem to require several weeks at a minimum to schedule a plane and the instructor.  There is no way to know that far ahead of time what the weather will be.  For example while I’m writing this I have things lined up for some flying this Saturday but the forecast are predicting rain.  So it is likely I won’t be flying.  So the progress I’m making is slow at best.  I am seriously looking at alternatives.  Maybe an out of state trip to someplace with better weather.  So I am still not sure.

I did learn of some local resources that might help.  There is a flying club with a couple of Ercoupes  about 90 minutes from where I live.  They have a CFI that I could not only finish up my BFR with but also get an Ercoupe check out.  Still I am at the mercy of the weather.  On the good side I have no deadline so even if its frustrating I don’t have to be flying by any certain date.

More I’ve learned about My Airplane

So there is a lot of controversy within the Ercoupe community about some aspects of the planes.  One of things folks disagree about is the nose gear.  When the plane was originally designed the nose gear was designed to fully extend and a small faring would move up in place to make the nose gear more streamline.  When the Ercoupe design was acquired by Mooney there was a change made.  Mooney wanted a simple trainer to get pilots to transition to the other Mooney planes.  So they changed the tail to a single rudder.  Added full rudder pedals and added a cable called a “snubber cable” to limit the travel of the nose gear downward.  This makes sense.  Students needed to learn to hold the nose off and use the rudder for directional control when landing.  So the nose gear needed to be held up.  So the cable held it off during the flair.

For some reason owners of the older Ercoupes thought this cable thing must be a good thing and so many added this to their older planes.  This also means they needed to remove the faring.  So this is a strange decision since the only real way an Ercoupe with no rudder pedals has directional control is to have the nose gear in contact with the ground.  That long nose gear extension is to make sure that the nose gear is on the runway when or shortly after the plane touches down.  The original designer of the Ercoupe said they should not have the cable added to the nose gear,  In fact it sort of appears that it might not even be legal to add the cable to an older plane.

Mine has the dreaded cable and does not have the proper faring.  So I’ve decided as soon as I can find someone in the general Seattle area to do the work I am having me nose gear put back to original configuration.  Here is my current nose gear, notice the cable:


Here is an original nose gear with a faring:


Here is an original nose gear in the air:


See how the nose gear extends down completely down and the faring has moved into place.  This is how the plane was designed to work.  Here is an Ercoupe in flight with a snubber cable:


See how the nose gear never really extends.  In fact it looks so short that when flaring on landing it may not be on the runway until the plane has been on the ground for a while.

So the summary is I am going to have my nose gear put back to original.

Progress on Maybe a New Instrument Panel

So my instrument panel is decidedly not original.  And I really like the original panel.  The Ercoupe came with two glove boxes!!  Here is a nice original Ercoupe panel:


I think that looks great!  So I have located and purchased a stock panel with no instruments of course but it did include the glove box doors.  So I am going to have to decide what to do but I think I may strip that panel and make some sort of closer to stock replacement for my plane.  Here is a picture of the panel I currently have.  It is pretty nice in its own way so I can’t say I’m replacing it as a high priority.  Here is my current panel:


So no firm plan for a panel upgrade yet.

Update on a New Interior

So I decided I really wanted to put a nicer interior in my plane.  I was ready to commit to an interior kit from Airtex. They make a nice interior for the Ercoupe.  I discovered it was not so simple to order.  I tried to order the interior twice with no luck.  I eventually learned there was a months long lead time to get the interior from them.  Ugh.  So I did some more research.  I wanted to know just what the original interior looked like.  I learned that the company that currently owns all the rights to the Ercoupe actually had some of the orginal material in their warehouse and I contacted them.  I was not able to get them to get me a sample or even a picure.  So I set about trying to learn more.

Here is what I found out from the fantastic Ercoupe Tech Yahoo  Group, here was an answer I got to the question about the original interior :

 “But what I have seen in my 20 years of working on Ercoupes I will attempt to describe. Looking at the reprints of the catalogs of both Skyport and Univair, and adding what I have seen/removed from Ercoupes I would describe the interior a little differently than you have indicated.
    You are correct in that the floor was made from aircraft grade plywood (5 layers glued up into a 1/4″ piece) Which was cut out to enable removal & replacement fairly easily. The kick board (where you rest your feet in front of the floor board) must be removed before you can remove the floor board. The floor board and kick plate were covered with a carpet fastened down with snaps. I have no idea of the color, but I would guess a medium gray.
    The seats were two individual cushions (most likely containing horse hair) also gray in color with maroon piping around the edge. The seat back was sewn on a piece of heavy canvas that had brass grommets placed around the edges so in it could be fastened into the seat frame with a lacing cord to boot lace hooks fastened around the edge of the seat frame. I believe there were pockets in the seat back in which some cushion material was placed, but I have not seen an original. Replacements came with various foam inserts.
    There were side panels (called soundproofing) which were made of a lightweight gray vinyl sewn to a thin cotton backing with a material that looks a little like fiberglass (but I think it is something else) in between the two. I have attached pictures of the front and back of the “soundproofing” material and you can see the wavy stitching utilized to hold the materials together. This material was glued to the firewall and fuselage sides with some sort of cement (it takes hours and hours of scrubbing with MEK to remove the cement).
    I am not certain how the material, with pockets sewn on them, was fastened to the sides of the fuselage (by the pilots knees), but it had to be removable in order to access the fuel lines  behind them. It may have been some form of fibre board with a few screws.
    The instrument panel was quite intricate with chrome strips about 3/16″ apart run vertically down the glove box doors and center of the panel, There was a maroon paint applied between the chrome strips. All the knobs were of a maroon color, and there was a maroon welting placed between the instrument panel and the glare shield. The glove boxes were made of heavy cardboard and fastened to the inside of the instrument panel with small screws.
    You are also correct that the baggage compartment was made from canvass. I had a zipper in the bottom to facilitate inspections without removal, and it also had a gray vinyl cover that snapped over the top (to the seat back) that had the same maroon piping trim as the instrument panel.
I had another person describing it as much like a Model T interior.  Here is a photo of the original interior:
So I may be rethinking some things.  I may not add carpet and settle for refinishing my existing floorboards.  I am also thinking something simple grey with red stripe for the seat material.  Not as sure now as I think I was before.  Ah the joy of owning an airplane!

More thoughts on the Paint Scheme

I wish I could say I’ve settle on how I want to improve the trim on my plane.  I have settle on a name.  From here on out I will think of my coupe as “Woodstock”.


I want to put the Woodstock image on the plane but I’m still trying decide on the nose like typical military nose art or maybe back on the vertical fins.  That will depend a lot on how I decide to embellish my plane.  If I go the military trainer look then on the nose.  If I go with an upgraded civilian look then maybe the vertical fins?  I have learned a bit more about original paint and the side logo vs. the brass side badges.  I have confirmed that my plane likely came with the side badges.  Most of the time there was no side stripe with those.  I also learned that most of the planes came with silver wings and sometimes had red trim on the leading edges of the vertical fins and on the wingtips.  This is very close to what I think mine looked like new:


Primary differences would have been the “N” numbers would have been black and my plane has the center sun shade.  Also my plane came with a wood propeller.   At some point my planes wings were painted yellow.  I don’t know if that was before the previous owner replaced the fabric.   Notice the nose gear  That is what I hope to get back to.

Here is an example of a side stripe with the nose badges:


Anyways, still pondering trim.

Shoulder Harnesses

So I want to add shoulder harnesses to my plane.  There are a lot of options but I haven’t found one yet that seems to suit my plan for my plane.  Most seem to assume you’ve removed the original hat shelf in the back and maybe done the bigger baggage compartment mod.  I’ve decided I may have to cook up a system of my own.

Other Misc. Stuff

So I did my first oil change.  I went down the rabbit hole that is Marvel Mystery Oil.  Many folks swear by it.  The either add it to their oil or put it in their gas!  It is sort of a mystery,  For example it turns out one of the ingredients is lard!  It was used extensively my the US military in large round engines during WWII where it was purchased by the barrel full.  Many owners of classic planes swear by it and even add it to their fuel today but it is technically illegal as the FAA does not approve its use.  So went with W100 aviation oil and I am adding Camguard which not only improves lubrication but really reduces corrosion.
I also bought and started fresh log books from both my planes air frame and engine.  Airplanes maintain separate log books for the engine and the air frame.  I have to admit I still have more to learn about how to log stuff for my plane.
I’ve also bought a few more things.  I have a fuel check cup for the plane.  I also bought new center tank cap and float assembly.  Mine was showing signs of wear.  Finally after talking to someone at my airport about polishing planes I bought some of the more coarse polishing compound.  I also picked up a few more Ercoupe related manuals.

For now:

Well I hope these are more regular and more interesting once I really start flying but I’ll try and share things as I encounter them.  Once it warms up a bit I will spend more time at the hangar with the plane, take some more pictures and share some other projects.  For example I still need to fix my nose bowl, my wing tip strobe light and I will be having my plane’s first annual inspection soon.
Till then happy skies!
This entry was posted in Aviation, Creativity, Entertainment, flying, Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s