The picture of the Ercoupe on floats is an ERCO photo taken in 1947 while they were doing the engineering and development of what was called by some the “Seacoupe.” The same photo was chosen by Fred Weick to be on the cover of his autobiography, “From the Ground Up.” Quit a bit of information is available on the Seacoupe.
For those of you who are not owners of the book “A Touch of Class” by Frank Saletri--Quoting from page 206 and 207 of --first a newspaper or magazine article from 1947. (He didn't give the source.) “Ercoupe Gets First Tests as Floatplane “Preliminary flight tests prior to CAA type certification are currently being conducted on a 75 hp. Ercoupe equipped with Edo floats. This is the first time that floats have been installed on a two control, tricycle gear, non-spinnable airplane. Tests conducted so far indicate satisfactory performance, both on the water and in the air, according to E. E. hart, chief test pilot for Engineering & Research Corporation. An attractive feature particularly helpful in water handling is the electric starter, which eliminates bothersome hand cranking. “Standard Edo Model 1320 floats are used in the installation--the same size float employed for other light aircraft. The Ercoupe’s low wing design permits a simple arrangement with struts attached at the same points as the regular landing gear components. The main struts run almost vertically from each float to the main landing gear attachment points on each wing spar. This arrangement results in a wider float tread, 6 inches wider than for any other light airplane. The forward struts are attached to an adapter fitting that replaces the nose wheel assembly. Diagonal struts, incorporating steps for access to the cockpit, and wires complete the bracing. “The water rudder is moved by the control wheel through the steering mechanism for the nosewheel of the landplane version. Standard control cables from the rudder are attached to a bellcrank forward of the firewall. This bellcrank is actuated by the nosewheel steering pushrod. Thus the water rudder becomes an integral part of the airplane control system. “Positive directional control of the floatplane at high speeds on the water is attained through use of the water rudder. In most lightplanes the water rudder is retracted for the take-off run, or is free to retract at high speed. However, on the Ercoupe it is kept in the water by means of a stronger hold-down spring on the retraction mechanism. This in combination with the elimination of springs in the water rudder control system, provides effective steering control at all speeds on the water. “Normally, springs are used on the water ruder control system to prevent jamming of the air controls in case the water ruder or cables become fouled or frozen. Instead, a clutch mechanism is incorporated in the bell-crank to replace the springs. The pin in this clutch may be withdrawn at will merely by pulling out the parking brake lever, thereby disconnecting the water rudder from the air controls. It may be reconnected instantly by releasing the parking brake lever and turning the control wheel until the pin engages. “Performance data on the Edo-equipped Ercoupe floatplane will be available when CAA Type Certificate tests are completed.” Next, Saletri quotes Fred Weick from an article written in the International Ercoupe Association Newsletter, September-October, 1974. “...Yes, we tried the Ercoupe on floats. It worked pretty well. It made a very nice little seaplane except for one thing: you do need the rudder pedals for the seaplane. The ordinary floats tend to make the plane act like a tailwheel airplane. If you landed in just a little crab, they would skew around and dig in. Then when you attempted to correct that with aileron, it got worse. You could soon get into a situation where you might dunk it. So, it just happened we went out of business about then, so we didn’t progress further. I did fly it some and it was very nice. If you landed straight into the wind it was fine. If, however, you tried to land in say a canal, with a slight cross wind, you could quickly be in trouble...” Finally, Saletri quotes a letter from Dave Kenny to Coupe Capers, Vol. #6, Number 12, May, 1978. “THE FATE OF THE ERCOUPE ON FLOATS (THE SEACOUPE??): “Dale Westfall was the CAA test pilot assigned to fly the Seacoupe. In order to ‘get on the step’, it was necessary to remove the up-elevator restrictions. And, in doing that, the Ercoupe was no longer stall-proof or spin-proof, and it became necessary to perform spin tests (!!). “During the first spin, sever buffeting from the floats induced a flutter in the right aileron which subsequently was torn completely off, rendering a recovery from the spin impossible. “Dale then (wisely) elected to bail out, and, thinking that he could walk right through the side window, he tried to do so. He soon realized however that those windows are a lot tougher than they look, and he frantically loosened the thumb screws. He was finally able to get the windows open, and immediately hit the silk. “His chute blossomed just in time. “Dale has photos of the wreckage showing a shapeless pile of shredded aluminum that ended the career of the Seacoupe for all time.” Stan Thomas, in his book, “The Ercoupe,” on page 96, quotes Dave Kinney, saying much the same. I think Fred had a slightly different description of the final flight of the Seacoupe in his autobiography, “From the Ground Up,” but my copy is on loan to a friend, so I can’t quote it for you. Syd Cohen NC94196