Still more to do
So I’d completed the shoulder harness installation. I only had one more item I wanted to complete and then my airplane would be ready to fly! I wanted to put in a new baggage compartment.
The baggage compartment in the original Ercoupe is a canvas bag with a snap cover and a zipper in the bottom to allow access to the battery box. Mine was so old it was fragile and ripped. I thought about doing the expanded baggage compartment modification that many Ercoupe owners have done. This basically modifies the older Ercoupe to have a baggage compartment similar to the larger one introduced in later planes. There is a legal modification you can purchase an STC for to let you make that modification. You could also probably engineer and file your own 337 (through an A&P of course!). Here is what a larger baggage compartment looks like.
Basically you remove the rear shelf (remember, I had just bought a new one of those!). Put in a few aluminum brackets to support a new wooden floor, then create some side panels to finish the enclosure. When you are done you have a much larger volume for sure! The downsides are however:
- STC/kit costs $700
- You have to fabricate most of the parts
- Now you can put enough in the compartment to have to worry about your CG (center of gravity)
- Its not original
I also learned that the company that was supplying the STC was in the process of changing hands and while the STC was being sold to another company it could not be purchased at the time I would have needed it. So I have learned a number of Ercoupes have all sorts of upgraded baggage compartments and many of them were probably not strictly done in a “legal” fashion. I am not sure there is even a legal reason you have to have any sort of baggage compartment so I expect in theory you could just take out the shelf and existing sack and leave it open. That would be a terrible idea as you don’t want something looks and flopping around the tail cone or jamming in the control mixer. Here is mechanical control mixer that connects thee rudders to the ailerons.
Also I just don’t think I am going to need to carry much. Even when I do I expect I will still be flying by myself so there is room in the cockpit beside me. In the end replacing the rotten sack seemed like the way to go. Here is what that back looks like out of the plane.
You can see the zipper and the snap tabs that attach the bottom of the bag to lower side of the plane. When you order a new one here is what it looks like when you get it.
So seems pretty simple, right? Remember, before you answer this is an airplane! So the cloth bag is suspended between 4 flat aluminum strips. There are small sewn channels along the top of the sack. The strips pass through the channels and then the whole thing is attached to the plane with crews. First challenge, there are no holes in the bag so you need to figure out how to make them. I tried a couple of different things but ended up using a small “excacto” knife to slit the bag in place in the back of the plane. I took me a while to understand how it all went together as there are some holes in the bag that are also shared by the rear seat back. So I ended up putting it partly together, seeing I was getting it wrong and starting over. Here are some of the parts.
So now I had the baggage sack back in and the snap top installed.
All I needed to do was lace up the back of the seat and the interior was complete! Here is what the seat lacing looks like. There are fixed tabs on the airplane and matching tabs on the seat back.
A word about my interior. When I first got Woodstock I thought the interior was one of the first things I needed to change out. But the more I look at it I am not changing it. The material is very much what Woodstock must have had new. And it is in good shape. Some folks have complained that the seat is uncomfortable but I don’t mind it. So some money and time I don’t have to spend!
There was really only one small job. Finish up the trim system. As I previously mentioned I had replaced the inner cable and ordered new end fittings. So I needed to finish putting it all back together and cut the excess cable off. Here is what the inner trim handle looks like.
So I fitted the new cable clamps and replaced the cover panel.
So the front of the trim system was back together. All I needed was to hook up the trim tab in the rear of the plane using the new cable clamps. Did I mention the new clamps retail for $100 ea! Yikes!
So here is the rear of the cable.
So I was done! Woodstock was ready to fly! The summary of the experience.
- $600- Fee for the annual inspection
- $800 – Shoulder Harness kit
- $125 – New baggage sack
- $75 – New rear shelf
- $125 – New trim cable parts and cable
- $50 – Misc. screws and fasteners
- $125 – Unused original air filter element
- $65 – Brackett air filter kit
- $50 – Paint and strippers for battery box and new rear shelf
- $25 – CorrosionX Spray
- $100 – Aircraft quality multi conductor wire fore strobe light repair (attempt)
- $20 – Molex connectors for wing tip light repair attempt
- $Bazzillion + one Kidney – To Olan for all the help!
So what did this first round of maintenance end up costing? $2,160. To be fair only $850 or so was actually the cost of the annual inspection and I now know Woodstock in excellent shape! I got an excellent plane when I bought him. So I wish I could say I started flying my Ercoupe the minute I finished all the work. Sadly that has not been the case. As I write this (8/8/2017) I have not yet flown Woodstock. I have had several months of trying to schedule time with the CFI chose to test fly my plane and then check me out in it. Crossing my fingers that this weekend will get me finally flying my plane.
So what have I done in the mean time? Well there is only one thing to do! Polish the plane! I expect the next blog entry will be about what it takes but here are a few pictures of the early process of shining up Woodstock!
Getting shiny but still a long ways to go!
So hopefully the next installment will be about actually flying my plane!
In the mean time BLUE SKIES!!