Europa #435 G-RODO Build Journal - making a start
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By now it was well into 1999 and we'd been in Cheltenham nearly 2 years without getting any actual aeroplane-construction work done. The factory was about to increase prices, so although I felt there were still many other things around the house needing attention, I placed the order for a complete kit (less engine).
I arranged to pick up the tail kit while attending a factory Weekend Workshop in October. Wilma came too, and was delighted to find a birthday card from Europa among the documents in the welcome pack.
I'd read a lot about composite work, including:
- but there is no substitute for hands-on practice with experienced advice available. Using the resin pump at the Weekend Workshop convinced me of its usefulness - up until then I thought the simplicity of the weighing method was preferable. I learnt a lot in that weekend, and of course enjoyed the included demo flight too, this time with Andy Draper in G-GBXS, the monowheel demonstrator. After building the Euro-chock, it was time to pack the tail kit parts into the car. We managed to get everything inside our Citroen Xantia hatchback with no room to spare.
I had registered the build project with PFA* Engineering shortly after placing the order, and once I had a PFA* project number, was also able to reserve my chosen registration (G-ROWI, a conflation of the first parts of our names) with the CAA. Among the documents sent to builders by PFA* Engineering is a list of Inspectors - these are the people who keep an eye on your work as it progresses and make sure everything is up to standard. I chose Martin Carolan, a professional glider builder and repairer, of
Severn Valley Sailplanes.
Martin cannot always take on every project that comes his way, but I am glad that he was able to fit me in. His advice and help has given me great confidence in the new skills I am developing with glass and resin.
[* The Popular Flying Association (PFA) became the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) on 2008-01-01.]
Having now taken the decision to park the trailer outside, I started to look at covered trailers. This would provide proper weather protection for the finished aircraft, and prevent stone-chip damage to the finish during transport, as could happen to aircraft carried on the open trailers. I chose a fibreglass-clad trailer built by Roger Huttlestone of Northwick Manufacturing. This incorporated one-person rigging arrangements, including a fuselage dolly built like a battleship, that would also be useful during the building process. (Roger is no longer building trailers for the Europa, but can supply a fuselage dolly and one-person rigging gear for the aluminium-clad Europa trailers built by David Schofield, and for the factory trailer.) The trailer was a very tight fit between the house and the garden shed, so the shed had to move.
The following pages relating my Europa building experiences are HTML exports from a journal I keep in a FileMaker Pro file, arranged a month to a page. Some of the information may be a bit cryptic as it was mainly intended for my own reference. I hope that publishing it more widely may be of interest or even help to other potential Europa builders.
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