Kit-built Ercoupe

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by fly2kads, Oct 8, 2014.

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes Forum by donating:

  1. Oct 8, 2014 #1

    fly2kads

    fly2kads

    fly2kads

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    526
    Location:
    Justin, TX
    Pops raised an interesting idea in another thread:

    Rather than hijack that thread and run it off-topic, I thought I'd start a quick discussion here. I have never had the pleasure of flying an Ercoupe, but I keep hearing great things about them from current and former owners. I would like to hear from those in the Ercoupe fan club on what kinds of things they'd like to see in a hypothetical kit-built variant. If you had a magic wand (or wallet) and get a license from Univair for a kit variant, what features would you like to retain? What would you do differently? Coupled rudder and ailerons or separate? Nose wheel steering coupled to the yoke or on rudder pedals? How much up elevator?

    Based on my own semi-informed opinion, I like the idea of something based on the -C model, but with a modern powerplant such as a Rotax 912 or ULPower 260. Thoughts?

    The Ercoupe has been produced by at least five different companies over the years. There must be something that keeps people interested!
     
  2. Oct 8, 2014 #2

    Topaz

    Topaz

    Topaz

    Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2005
    Messages:
    13,628
    Likes Received:
    5,279
    Location:
    Orange County, California
    I've never flown one, but have talked to several people that have. At one time, I was considering trying to find a used one to purchase. At least that group was pretty consistent about the things they thought about the airplane:

    Three control, not two. While a couple of guys said that the two-control system was "something you get used to", even they conceded that most pilots would be more comfortable with traditional controls. With traditional three-axis controls, the airplane is apparently a joy to fly. I only had a discussion with one guy about the elevator limits. He seemed to think it wasn't an issue, but then he was also one of the guys who'd flown the two-control version for a while, so I don't know how to judge his opinion.

    You don't buy an Ercoupe to do long trips regularly. It's not a speed machine. But for short weekend trips, it's about perfect.

    All of them praised the landing gear. Very robust, and very good at soaking up rough landings.

    Something that was very odd to me was that they were mixed about the ability to roll down the sides of the canopy in-flight, essentially making the aircraft a "convertible". That seems like it'd be a blast on a nice day, much like Cub drivers like to take off the doors. A couple of guys liked it, another couple said it was just too windy/noisy unless you were practically in slow flight.

    I've never run into anyone who said they didn't enjoy flying an Ercoupe. Ever.
     
    bmcj likes this.
  3. Oct 8, 2014 #3

    skier

    skier

    skier

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,076
    Likes Received:
    331
    Location:
    CT
    It is interesting that nobody has done this. There are tons of J-3 clones, why no Ercoupe clones. It could even be made to be an LSA with no modifications. The Ercoupe has always fascinated me and I've love a chance to fly one, but very few flight schools seem to use them for training or rentals.

    The complaints I've heard from owners are about corrosion and up elevator travel. It does seem like people tend to like the 3 control versions more, but as a kit the option could be given to the builders.
     
    Holtzy3 likes this.
  4. Oct 8, 2014 #4

    Pops

    Pops

    Pops

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2013
    Messages:
    7,023
    Likes Received:
    5,920
    Location:
    USA.
    I have owned 3 Ercoupes. If someone is bad mouthing an Ercoupe, just give him 20 hrs in one and he will love it.
    A lot of Ercoupes are faster than a C-150 while burning 5 GPH with the C-85 engine. My Ercoupe 415-CD with a C-85 would cruise beside the older Cessna 172 with the Cont-0-300 engine turning the same RPM. Lots of different Ercoupes with difference performance. The best has the flat windshield, fabric covered wings, rudder pedals, and stock (light) instrument panel. Light and simple as possible. Love the slide down windows in summer. Cost 5 MPH in cruise with the windows down.
    For a kit Ercoupe, it should have rudder pedals with the nose wheel hooked to he rudder pedals and not the ailerons. When hooked to the ailerons, you can't lower a wing in a crosswind. I don't care for the R-912 that much, but the light weigh and low fuel burn would be nice in a kit Ercoupe. With or without the limited up elevator, take your choice.
    Dan

    Added-- I have been thinking of starting this thread, but you beat me to it. :)
     
    Topaz likes this.
  5. Oct 8, 2014 #5

    Dana

    Dana

    Dana

    Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Messages:
    8,552
    Likes Received:
    2,965
    Location:
    CT, USA
    At the risk of being flamed, from somebody who admittedly has very limited experience with Ercoupes (perhaps 5 minutes of flying a 2 control one while a friend gave me a lift), I don't quite get it. Granted it's an interesting airplane, and aside from the supposed safety features of the 2 control version (which turned out to have just as high an accident rate as the 3 control versions), what is the appeal compared to other aircraft of the era? What am I missing?

    Dana
     
  6. Oct 8, 2014 #6

    Pops

    Pops

    Pops

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2013
    Messages:
    7,023
    Likes Received:
    5,920
    Location:
    USA.
    A part of the accident rate is because of the number of Ercoupes running off the end of the runway. With just 2 controls you touch down in a crosswind in a crab. The great LG was designed of it. But when you touch down the nose will turn and line up with the direction of travel. That raises a problem, the upwind wing increases in airspeed and the downwind wing decreases in airspeed, causing the upwind wing to lift and the wind getting under the wing and the airplane wheel barrowing on the nose wheel and the down wind main wheel and the aircraft turning down wind and getting blowed off the side of the runway. You can't lower the wing with aileron, if you do,(since the nose gear is hooked up to the ailerons) you will be turning the nose wheel into the wind making the wing get higher. So all you can do it add power. When you add power the wing will start to come down. But that's the problem, if you add power you may not get stopped at the end of the runway and if you decide to add power and go around maybe you are to far down the runway to clear the trees. I hope I made all of that understandable.
    This is why I said that the kit Ercoupe should have the nose gear steering hooked up to the rudders. BTW- the rudders just turn to the inside a very small amount with most of the defection to the outside, so the kit Ercoupe should have the ends of the elevator cut at an angle for the same rudder travel in both directions. The elevator could be made slightly larger to make up for the lost of area on the ends.
    Dan
     
  7. Oct 8, 2014 #7

    Topaz

    Topaz

    Topaz

    Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2005
    Messages:
    13,628
    Likes Received:
    5,279
    Location:
    Orange County, California
    Again, with the caveat that I haven't flown in one or done more than drool over them at airshows and on flightlines, I can tell you what appealed to me when I was toying with the idea of purchasing one quite a few years ago.

    The Ercoupe is (or at least it seems to be), a light, simple, fun little airplane. The performance is a notch up from the Cubs and Taylorcraft, but it sips fuel about the same as those birds, and it looks a little more "racy" - especially in a good paint job. With three-axis controls, it's supposedly quite appropriate for a low-time pilot, and the robust landing gear not only takes what a ham-fisted newbie can dish out, but also lets you get into a little rougher airport than your average freeway-smooth asphalt strip. Skylark's dirt runway would be a snap, for example. And, however impractical, I just really liked the idea of rolling down the canopy tops and sides on a cool morning or late afternoon as the sun heads down. My 914 is a targa roof car, and it's much the same thing as an Ercoupe would be.
     
  8. Oct 8, 2014 #8

    KAF

    KAF

    KAF

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Missouri
    I like that airplane, and my wish list would include an adult-sized cockpit and flaps.
     
  9. Oct 9, 2014 #9

    FritzW

    FritzW

    FritzW

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Messages:
    3,543
    Likes Received:
    3,156
    Location:
    Las Cruces, NM
    It looks like there might have been a wooden Ercoupe somewhere along the line. Maybe a prototype?

    I'd sure go for a wooden Ercoupe kit.

    Wood Ercoupe Details.jpg

    Wood Ercoupe Landing Gear.jpg Check out the wing spar

    I've got about an hour in a 2 axis Ercoupe, definitely not my cup of tea. But I think with 3 axis' it'd be a great airplane.
     
  10. Oct 9, 2014 #10

    Tiger Tim

    Tiger Tim

    Tiger Tim

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2013
    Messages:
    2,844
    Likes Received:
    1,586
    Location:
    Thunder Bay
    Is the Thorp Sky Scooter close enough to a homebuilt Ercoupe or is it missing a certain forties flair?
     
  11. Oct 9, 2014 #11

    BoKu

    BoKu

    BoKu

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,279
    Likes Received:
    2,843
    Location:
    Western US
    From http://www.pilotfriend.com/aircraft performance/ercoupe.htm:

    I sure didn't know that!
     
    Topaz likes this.
  12. Oct 9, 2014 #12

    Autodidact

    Autodidact

    Autodidact

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    4,513
    Likes Received:
    799
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Here's from the Wiki page; I wonder what the real story was? I love wooden aircraft, especially the ones with molded plywood construction, like the early Lockheeds (Lougheed), but aluminum is so durable:

     
    Pops and BoKu like this.
  13. Oct 9, 2014 #13

    BoKu

    BoKu

    BoKu

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,279
    Likes Received:
    2,843
    Location:
    Western US
  14. Oct 9, 2014 #14

    litespeed

    litespeed

    litespeed

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,414
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    Sydney
    Yes taht is a wooden coupe- made during the shortage of alloys from ww2.

    here is a blurb I found, hope it assists.
    "
    [TABLE]

    [TD="width: 1000"][/TD]
    [/TABLE]
    [TABLE]

    [TD="width: 1000"][​IMG][/TD]
    [/TABLE]

    [TABLE]

    [TD="width: 210"][​IMG] aircraft database
    [​IMG] certified aircraft database[/TD]
    [TD="width: 740"]
    [TABLE]

    [​IMG]
    Erco Ercoupe history, performance and specifications[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif, *][​IMG]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif, *]
    The Erco Ercoupe
    [/FONT]
    [/FONT]
    [​IMG]
    An aircraft “incapable of spinning” sold in the men's department of Macy's department store? That is the claim to fame of the Ercoupe—a twin-tail airplane designed by Fred Weick and named after its manufacturer, the Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO), located in Riverdale, Maryland.
    Weick, assistant chief of the aeronautics division of the National Committee on Aeronautics (NACA), predecessor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, designed and assembled an experimental airplane in 1934 with a group of his colleagues. Responding to a Bureau of Air Commerce-sponsored design competition to build an easy-to-fly, safe airplane, Weick and his friends worked on the project in their spare time and paid for it themselves.
    The test aircraft built by Weick, known as the W-1, featured tricycle landing gear, a high parasol wing, and a pusher propeller configuration (with the propeller located behind the main supporting surfaces). The single engine was used for economy of operation and the tricycle gear was intended to prevent "nose over” landing accidents where the airplane would flip over on its nose.
    Weick left NACA in 1936 and joined ERCO's fledgling aircraft team as chief designer, primarily to continue improving his airplane design. Focusing his efforts on a number of design issues, primarily simplicity and safety, Weick strove to create a reasonably priced aircraft that would not stall or spin. Retaining the tricycle gear (for ease of manoeuvring on the ground), Weick switched to a low-wing monoplane configuration in his improved model, powered by a tractor engine (the propeller located forward of the main supporting surfaces).
    [​IMG]
    The refined W-1A (originally known as the ERCO 310) made its first flight in October 1937 and was soon renamed the “Ercoupe.” The twin-tail Ercoupe became an instant sensation because of its easy-to-fly design and unique design features, including a bubble canopy for great visibility. Lacking rudder pedals, the Ercoupe was flown entirely using only a control wheel: a two-control system linked the rudder and aileron systems, which controlled yaw and roll, with the steerable nose wheel. This wheel controlled the pitch and the steering of the airplane, both on the ground and in the air, simplifying control and coordinated turning and eliminating the need for rudder pedals. A completely new category of pilot's license had to be created for Ercoupe pilots who had never used a rudder pedal. The Ercoupe was the first plane to incorporate much of the original research that Weick had performed while at the NACA, including the wholly cowled engine.
    Targeted at the non-professional pilot, the Ercoupe was also designed to be spin-proof with no dangerous stall characteristics. A placard, which was the first for any airplane, was allowed to be placed proudly on the instrument panel reading: "This aircraft characteristically incapable of spinning." An elevator that could move upward and downward only a limited amount—13 degrees—plus automatic yaw correction, enabled the airplane to actually fly itself out of a spin. Inexpensive to operate and maintain, the Ercoupe was able to fly into and out of small airfields, and its nose-wheel steering made taxiing almost like driving an automobile.
    The two-seat ERCO Ercoupe 415 went on sale in 1940 but only 112 were delivered before World War II intervened, halting all civil aircraft production. By mid-1941, aluminium supplies were being diverted to war-related production, so ERCO decided to manufacture Ercoupes for military use by using wood as the principal building material. The substitution of wood resulted in a heavier Ercoupe, but the aircraft flew much more quietly because the wood absorbed vibrations from the engine and air flow. Ercoupes were flown during the war by the Civilian Pilot Training Program for flight instruction, and the Civil Air Patrol used them to patrol for German submarines.
    The Ercoupe also was the first U.S airplane to take off assisted by a rocket. In August 1941, an Ercoupe, powered by a 65-horsepower (48-kilowatt) Continental engine, was converted into a Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO) airplane when six pressed-powder rockets were attached to the Ercoupe's wings at March Field, California. Lt. Homer A. Boushey of the U.S. Army Air Forces ignited a blend of perchlorate, asphalt, and special oils with an instrument panel switch and the JATO Ercoupe took off with a brilliant flash and billowing smoke, cutting the aircraft's normal takeoff time and distance in half.
    Production resumed after the war and initial sales were strong; ERCO manufactured more than 4,000 aircraft in 1946 alone. In February of that year, Fred Weick was recognized for his work on the Ercoupe, receiving the Fawcett Aviation Award for the greatest contribution to the scientific advancement of private flying.
    At its peak, ERCO was turning out 34 Ercoupes per day, operating three shifts per day. The airplane was aggressively marketed through non-conventional outlets such as the men's department of the Macy's department store chain. Unfortunately, however, private aircraft sales slumped after the war and the bottom dropped out of the civil aircraft market in late 1946, bursting the bubble held by many aircraft manufacturers, who had expected that post-war prosperity plus a huge number of newly trained pilots would translate into a boom market for civil aircraft sales.
    ERCO sold its remaining Ercoupe inventory to Saunders Aircraft Company in 1947, which continued to sell the airplanes until 1950. Several other companies continued to build Ercoupes and variations (some renamed as “Aircoupes”) for another 20 years until production ended in 1970.
    Fred Weick went on to become a pioneer in agricultural aircraft design, leading Piper Aircraft's efforts in that field and later helped to design the popular Piper Comanche. These notable endeavours notwithstanding, Weick will always be remembered as the “Father of the Ercoupe”—the revolutionary rudderless airplane.
    performance and specifications
    [FONT=Trebuchet MS, Arial, MS Sans Serif][TABLE]

    [TD="width: 213"]Wingspan:

    [TD="width: 723, align: center"]30 feet[/TD]

    [TD="width: 213"]Length:[/TD]
    [TD="width: 723, align: center"]20 feet 9 inches[/TD]

    [TD="width: 213"]Height:[/TD]
    [TD="width: 723, align: center"]5 feet 11 inches[/TD]

    [TD="width: 213"]Wing Area:[/TD]
    [TD="width: 723, align: center"]142.6 square feet[/TD]

    [TH="bgcolor: #ffffff, colspan: 2"]
    Weights
    [/TH]

    Empty Weight:
    [TD="align: center"]838-lbs.[/TD]

    Maximum Takeoff Weight:
    [TD="align: center"]1,400 -lbs.[/TD]

    [TH="bgcolor: #ffffff, colspan: 2"]
    Powerplants
    [/TH]

    No. Engines:
    [TD="align: center"]One[/TD]

    Engine Manufacturer:
    [TD="align: center"]Continental[/TD]

    Engine Designation:
    [TD="align: center"]C-85[/TD]

    Engine Power:
    [TD="align: center"]85-hp[/TD]

    [TH="bgcolor: #ffffff, colspan: 2"]
    Performance
    [/TH]

    Normal Maximum Speed:
    [TD="align: center"]125-mph at sea level[/TD]

    Conservative Cruising Speed:
    [TD="align: center"]110-mph at sea level[/TD]

    Climb Rate:
    [TD="align: center"]560-fpm[/TD]

    Service Ceiling:
    [TD="align: center"]11,000-feet[/TD]

    Range:
    [TD="align: center"]430 miles at 110-mph
    530 miles at 80-mph
    [/TD]
    [/TABLE]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif, *]
    [​IMG]
    The Ercoupe has climb and cruise performance very similar to the performance of a Cessna 150 - but it drops like a rock when the power goes off. The best thing about a 'Coupe is you can fly it with the sliding windows down!
    [/FONT]
    [/FONT]
    [/TD]
    [/TABLE]
    [/TD]
    [/TABLE]

    [TABLE]

    [TD="width: 218"][/TD]
    [TD="width: 711"]
    [​IMG]
    [HR][/HR]
    Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames.
    [/TD]
    [TD="width: 39"] [/TD]
    [/TABLE]
     
    Pops likes this.
  15. Oct 9, 2014 #15

    Pops

    Pops

    Pops

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2013
    Messages:
    7,023
    Likes Received:
    5,920
    Location:
    USA.
    I got to spend some time with Fred Weick at Osh in the latter 70's. When I was a student pilot I was given free lessons in a Sailplane Club's Super Cub for working in the ground crew. At the same time a friend of mine had an Ercoupe serial #13, I think it was a 1941. So my flight instructor and I used to borrow old #13 and fly the heck out of it almost every week. Latter when I owned an Ercoupe and he was building a Pitts, he would borrow my Ercoupe almost every week to be able to fly. Dan
     
  16. Oct 9, 2014 #16

    Pops

    Pops

    Pops

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2013
    Messages:
    7,023
    Likes Received:
    5,920
    Location:
    USA.
    I also like wood aircraft. So someone needs to design a wood Ercoupe. Except it would need to be hangered.

    Sometime years ago at OSH, someone had an experiential Ercoupe. The center section was shorten so the wing panels bolted into the side of the fuselage. The fuselage narrowed to single place. Engine was a Lyc, 290. I believe the owner said it cruised at 140 mph. He flew it in the fly-by several days and it looked that fast. Dan





     
  17. Oct 9, 2014 #17

    cluttonfred

    cluttonfred

    cluttonfred

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2010
    Messages:
    6,353
    Likes Received:
    2,224
    Location:
    World traveler
    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the Mini Coupe kit plane.

    1002441M.jpg

    Was there ever a two-seat variant?
     
    dcstrng likes this.
  18. Oct 9, 2014 #18

    BBerson

    BBerson

    BBerson

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Messages:
    11,871
    Likes Received:
    2,262
    Location:
    Port Townsend WA
    Was Dana talking about the Ercoupe overall accident rate or the fatal rate?
    The fatal rate is more important.

    How does it compare with a Cirrus?
     
  19. Oct 9, 2014 #19

    dcstrng

    dcstrng

    dcstrng

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    Messages:
    912
    Likes Received:
    322
    Location:
    VA or NoDak
    P1010010.jpg P1010009.jpg MCbMini_Coupe_College_Park.jpg
    Yep, I wondered the same – although the MiniCoupe was sort of knocked out of the spotlight about thirty years ago with the rise of the plastic fliers… If one wants two seats then the MiniCoupe doesn’t do the trick, but the original designer of the MiniCouype very much liked the Ercoupe – he was just trying for a single seat version – it was one of the first legitimate “kit’s" and most of the panels were sized so they could be sent through the mail… it was also one of the first to use the so-called aviation pop-rivet… Now all are plans built -- but the design is refreshingly basic, no surprises... Ron Dixon was one of the very first builders (and his MC has been from Washington state to Florida and most places in between – both he and the MC are still flying, was up chatting with him just last year). A good friend of mine had a fabric winged Ercoupe (may have the model wrong) and he loved the bird – was how e relaxed form a hard day’s work… and I think the MC was designed for just that purpose as well, although some have been long-legged travelers. Although not as popular as the Teenie Two, one or two MC’s gets started or rehabbed every year it seems – Bill Day has about got his VW powered MC ready for prime time…
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  20. Oct 9, 2014 #20

    FritzW

    FritzW

    FritzW

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Messages:
    3,543
    Likes Received:
    3,156
    Location:
    Las Cruces, NM
    I've followed the Mini Coupe yahoo group for a long time, I've never heard anyone mention a two seat version.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white