Europa XS – The story of recovering a poor abandoned Europa part 2

We left the story with our elevators and rudder sadly in the Europa factory shut due to Covid19. Since then the factor has partially reopened and our parts repaired and collected. Refitting them was straight forward (unlike the wings!). Although the engine started and ran well, as it had been stood for such a long time we decided to have a 200hr service and a check done, although we could have done this ourselves we decided to have a professional in. We use Gary Masters of Airmasters for our C42 Rotax so it made sense to have him look over the Europa’s 912ULS engine, even though his travel costs significantly added to the overall costs. Prior to his arrival we drained the fuel and replaced with fresh mogas (ordinary unleaded fuel to you and me).

Gary arrived on a sunny day in May and remarked on the fact that the Europa was one of the better examples he had seen. He advised having the pipes changed, but added that they looked OK, but were of unknown age, we declined this at this time, but will do it ourselves in the near future. He also said that the mechanical fuel pump should be changed as it was over 5 years old, this we agreed with and he duly changed it. The oil was very clean as was the filter, cylinder compression was near perfect, next he checked the gascolators these too were in good order. service completed time to start the engine!

Gascolator

The engine started first time and ran smoothly, the oil temperature didn’t increase, this was put down to the cold day and no cowlings, however we later found the oil sender lead off!

Engine serviced we tried to refit the wings but could not line them up with just two of us as neither had done this before, we decided to leave the refitting until the LAA inspector and Europa expert Andy Draper visits to do the permit inspection and to teach us a bit about the Europa. Andy used to work at Europa and is seen to be one the experts on them, we would be in safe hands.

On the day of the inspection, a number of minor things were found and we were able to fix these as they were pointed out. All was progressing well until we got to the point of refitting the wings! we were missing a rigging aid, but this was not essential.  With both wings on we could not get the port wing retention pip pin in, no matter how we tried and how we tried! The wings were removed and the problem examined. The rigging cup on the port wing had fallen off previously and we glued this back in place using Araldite 420 as advised. The rigging cup could only fit in one place as it sat in a fibreglass seat. Unbeknown to us the cup was about 0.5mm out of alignment and with both wings aligned this was enough to stop the pin going through.

This was adjusted the following day and the wing refitted, after a period of jiggling the wings the pin went in, it was still tight but we got it in!

The wings were finally back on and our Europa looks like an aeroplane once more.

Andy is due back to complete the inspection and to test fly her for the permit in the near future, I will update you all on how it goes.

to be continued…

Europa XS – The story of recovering a poor abandoned Europa part 1

Europa S
The drive home

A while ago myself and some friends decided to buy a GA aircraft, the criteria we set was a low wing, affordable (subjective, I know), Rotax powered aircraft. This effectively inferred a 2 seater, kit build, LAA registered aircraft. After we looked through the normal sites afors.co.uk, PlaneCheck.com, etc we concluded that a Europa fitted our requirement and we focused on trying to find an affordable Europa, it helps that the Europa Aircraft company is also only a short drive from where we live.

As luck would have it a hangar became available central to where we all live so we put our names down for the hangar and started the search for a Europa. This was somewhat frustrating as we had seen a few for sale before actively looking, but not many since. There was a Europa that had been listed for a while, but had not sold, so two of us made the 4 hour drive to view it. We quickly realised why she was still for sale as we looked around her. The current owner had made several modifications and not had them signed off, and although he seemed a nice guy, he was less than sold on the need to do so. The aircraft was on its third different engine type and bore the scars of the frequent changes in the form of holes in the bulkhead; fibreglass had been mounded high in placed to “add strength” the owner told us, It was a clear no from both of us.

I was sat at home the following evening feeling dejected at not being the proud owner of a Europa tri gear (we had ruled out the monowheel nicked named “the widow maker” enough said as to why!), when I decided to try and locate a Europa XS tri gear near us so we could go and look at one, talk to the owner and maybe, just maybe, cadge a flight in it! The only source of such information is Ginfo, I manage to identify 2 in the first page or so of results and then on the next page was one that caught my eye, it was listed as owned by Mr xxxxx for the estate of zzzzz. This sounded like and aircraft in probate! I Googled the owner, he was indeed dead, I Googled the other name and he was a solicitor, was this a tri gear? it was a tri gear, it was an XS and it had the wide and high mods too. First thing in the morning I call the solicitor, who was on holiday and referred me to another member of his practice. I called her and arranged to view the aircraft which at the time was at Popham airfield, within 2 days three of the group were on site looking at the Europa.

First impressions of the Europa XS

Europa S

We arrived at Popham airfield and waited in the clubhouse for the airfield manage to show us the aircraft. As he walked us over we were given a brief history. There looking somewhat sad in the corner of a field was the Europa XS that we had come to view. No keys were available, but the cockpit was unlocked on one side, so we climbed in and had a good look, one of the first things that struck us was how much more room there was compared to the Europa Classic we had viewed. The aircraft has not been flown or started in around 18 months, there was some mould on the stick gator, the rudder had been damaged assumably from a gust of wind causing it to hit the elevator, one elevator had delaminated on its trailing edge due to having been hit down on to a pole and both elevators had a mound of fibreglass near the release pins. overall she looked like a nice aircraft, the paintwork was bright, where there was no mould the interior was watertight and clean, still it would be a big gamble as we could not start the engine! We took the cowling off and burped the engine successfully the oil looked clean and free from water. On the drive home, there was much debate about the risk of buying an out of permit aircraft, especially one that had not even been started in 18 months, but we decided we would put an offer in that reflected this. We waited to see if we were successful or not, as we knew there were at least 2 other bids! After around a week we heard from the solicitor that our bid had been successful. 

The recovery  

Stripped
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Still towing the Europa

We pick the first day that snowed in 2020 to go and bring her home, just our luck. Two set off for Popham and two set off to pick up the trailer. Simon and I arrived at Popham and started to remove the wings and the elevators ready for transportation. The guys with the trailed turned up, after taking a slight detour en route, and we loaded the Europa up and then started the long journey home. Our new home airfield was closed by the time we arrived, I think its fair to say we got some odd looks from the drives of the few cars that came around the corner to find a man waving a red flashing light and an aeroplane parked in the middle of the road!  We finally got the gates opened and pulled in and unloaded our Europa, she was safely stored out of the wind at the back in a dry hanger behind a Cessna 172 and a Piper Super Cub.

A few days later our faith in our purchases was validated by the engine starting first time after being stood for so long, the avionics sprung to life too, we had not wasted our money, a great feeling of relief was felt as she sprung into life!

Currently, we are all in lockdown and this has delayed the repairs to the rudder and elevators which sit in an empty Europa factory awaiting repair and the wings sadly remain detached too.

To be continued…