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.
- 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 :
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.
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.