In Service

July 2014

EuroFOX G-CIBF has been handed over to the Club and already the majority of our tug pilots have had the opportunity to fly it and tow with it. Initial feedback has been very positive. One of the Eurofox project objectives was to provide members with significantly lower tow charges. This is already being achieved. Over time members will learn how to maximise the benefits of this new tow plane. As expected fuel consumption is noticeably lower than our existing tugs and hopefully the other benefits of operating a modern LAA aircraft will be delivered in time. These should include more controllable and lower maintenance costs.

The challenge of providing affordable gliding faces all gliding clubs. The Eurofox will not solve this problem but it should give our club members more incentive to fly and to encourage others to fly.

I would like to thank the Club Committee for supporting this project and, as with any project, it would not have been possible without the support of a great project team.

Under Robin Johnsons leadership Ken Marston Andy Bargett and myself thoroughly enjoyed the experience of building CF. There were many others who contributed and a big thank you to them too. Roger Cornwell and Adrian Lloyd from Eurofox provided enthusiastic and effective support throughout the build and commissioning process.

We all look forward to following a new chapter in the life of Borders Gliding Club

Ken Sangster. 6th July 2014

First Flights

Friday 2nd May 2014

The Permit to Test fly the Eurofox arrived on Wednesday - just in time for the weather to take a turn for the worse - but the forecast for Friday looked good so arrangements were made to go to Midlem to prepare for the first flight. 

After a thorough DI the aircraft was wheeled from the hangar and Robin prepared for take off. On running the engine up to speed Robin felt that there was some excessive vibration and so it was decided to re-check the propeller pitch. One blade was found to be slightly out and the trusty crew, having had lots of practice at setting the pitch, made the necessary adjustment. 

Back out of the hangar and this time Robin was satisfied so, after allowing the engine to warm up, he taxied to the runway. Up with the revs and away it went. We were all impressed. A very short ground run saw the Eurofox off, a slight pause to allow the speed to build and then a steady climb away from the field. 

After a fairly short flight Robin returned to the field - a slightly difficult approach with a large tree just to one side - and made a super first landing. The ground crew were all relieved but we all realised that, even though Robin has made maiden flights in several aircraft, it was a huge relief to him. 

A well deserved lunch break was followed by a further 4 flights exploring handling, stalls and 2 up performance and we finished the day with some photos to record the day. I don't think anyone there will need the photos to help them remember - it was a memorable day!

Engine Start!

Wednesday 9th April 2014

The prop pitch was increased and another engine test carried out but still too fast so back into the workshop. At least today we were able just to pull the nose of the EuroFox into the hangar which saved having to fold the wings. Another adjustment to the prop pitch and back outside again. 

This time success, everything seemed fine and the revs were correct. The engine starts almost instantly, so different from the Lycomings. The next step was to measure fuel flows from the 2 tanks with both the mechanical, engine driven, fuel pump and the electric boost pump. All of them were passed with ease leaving us the final task of replacing the engine cowling and spinner. So what next? 

Well it seemed obvious that we should try taxiing trials so, with Robin as pilot, 3 taxiing trials (George Brown, Ken Marston & Andy Bardgett) were made up and down Robin's strip. The view from the cockpit is really good and the aircraft handles very well on the ground. At the end of the day we left feeling very satisfied. The only task left to do is swinging the compass before filling in the paperwork and applying for the Permit to Test so there will be little to report for a couple of weeks. A great sense of satisfaction! See the Videos on the right.

Tuesday 8th April

The EuroFox left the hangar for the first time today. Fuel was added, Robin climbed on board, settled himself in the cockpit and then tried the starter. The engine turned over but didn't seem to want to start. A second attempt produced the same result at which point Robin wondered if the ignition switches were in upside down. He switched them off, cranked the starter again and, after a few seconds, the engine burst into life - success !! He ran the engine for several minutes to warm it up and gradually brought the revs up - impressive but then, after throttling back, he tried to switch off. 

Problems - the engine kept on running quite happily. The fuel was turned off and after a short while the engine stopped. Robin also said the tachometer was reading very low RPM. So, back into the hangar (after folding the wings) and out with the panel. The switches appeared to be correct but a check on the wiring loom revealed the crucial pin in a connector had pushed out. Ken Marston soon had that fixed. We read the tacho manual which revealed a hidden switch which allowed the setting of different engine configurations so we set it to 4 cylinder, 4 stroke. Back out of the hangar, wings unfolded, Robin back in the cab and off again. The start was much faster this time, almost instant, so we were feeling very pleased with ourselves. Again Robin ran the engine for a few minutes but this time, on switching off, the engine stopped immediately. 

The Rotax engine, with its reduction gearbox, stops much quicker than a Lycoming. Still the tacho refused to play ball so a quick phone call to the agent was made. Problem identified, the ignition system in the Rotax has 2 sparks per rev. so, with a cunning tool made from a barbeque skewer, we were able to access the tacho switch without removing the panel and set the correct mode. Robin hopped back in, fired up and, at last, a sensible tacho reading. 

A longer run was made and full throttle explored which revealed the day's final problem - the engine was capable of exceeding max ground RPM. The only cure for this was to increase the pitch of the propellor so, wings folded and back into the hangar. All the cowlings have to come off and the tail lifted to get the shaft horizontal before each of the 3 blades is, painstakingly, adjusted. We did that and called it a day but not without devising a system to allow the prop pitch to be adjusted without removing the cowlings. 

Setting the correct pitch has to be a trial and error method so, weather permitting we will try again tomorrow. Once that is sorted out there are only fuel flow measurements to make and we are ready to go - well,  after the mountains of paperwork are completed!

Ready for Roll Out

Thursday 3rd April

A major milestone, the EuroFox engine turned over for the first time ! Admittedly only on the starter but this was the start of a fairly involved procedure to prime the engine with oil. Whilst it was soon obvious that oil was circulating, part of the procedure was to crank the engine until the oil pressure gauge registered - it didn't! After several attempts, with checks on the wiring and sender, the battery was showing signs of going flat. A great pity because we had spent quite some time finishing the cockpit and fitting the seats and straps. We had to remove the seats to be able to re-charge the battery because, despite Ken Marston's sterling work in fitting a jump socket, we didn't have the cable to charge the battery externally. We finished the day feeling frustrated.

Saturday 5th April
A frustrating start to the day but, after speaking to the EuroFox agent, Ken Marston identified the oil pressure gauge problem. A most misleading wiring diagram appeared to show a connection to ground which, in fact was the oil pressure signal ! A new wire was fed through the engine compartment, everything tidied up and secured and the engine turned over. In seconds the oil pressure registered - job done !

Sunday 6th April
Another major task completed, weighing the aircraft and working out the cockpit loads. Robin was impressed with the fact that between maximum all up load (2 beefy pilots and full fuel) and minimum conceivable load the C of G stays within limits. Control deflections were checked and all the cockpit placards fitted. Effectively the aircraft is ready to fly ! We finished the day by swinging the wings back and positioning the aircraft so that we can wheel it out of the hangar, put some fuel in and then run the engine. We are hoping Tuesday will be the big day !

Flight of Fancy! (Biggles and Algy) 

Ready for Roll Out

Progress to the end of week 19

 Progress to the end of week 18

Our inspector returns from 2 weeks holiday next week so hopefully we will surprise him with the progress we have made while he has been away. In summary both doors are complete, the prop and spinner are on and the radio fault was rectified.

The wings should be on next week so we can see the end of the building phase.

Under tough supervision in the workshop!

  Starboard side door on at last after many hours of careful work!

  The first stage in building the prop.

 Something missing?

                                Prop, top cowling and spinner on ...looking great!

Progress from Week 12 up to the end of Week 16
The work continues and the list  of outstanding jobs is getting smaller!
We have bled the brakes, fitted a remote charging/jump lead point, fitted the spats and spent a lot of time working on the doors. Getting the doors right is a time consuming task. Great care is required to correctly fit the window material (polycarbonate LEXAN).
This job will require many more hours of work.


 First spat ready for drilling and test fitting

 Both spats fitted after many hours


 Hard at work on preparing the Lexan for trial fitting in the door frame

             Planing and drilling

 First of many trial fittings of the Lexan on the bottom door section

 Both top and bottom cowlings fitted...... looking good!         So does the cockpit

This period runs from early December 2103
 until the 14th of January 2014.

Coming back from holiday it was terrific to see how much progress had been made by the team over the festive period.

You will see from the photos that the main components of the aircraft are now nearing completion.

The big job was the panel which is now completed and installed. George came yesterday and fitted the tow cable.

For those of us lucky enough to be involved in this project we have been surprised at the time it takes to complete relatively simple tasks. Our inspector has devoted many many hours in getting the project to this stage and teaching us how to do the job correctly.

 The next task is the fitting of the doors. Overall progress to date is within our original estimate and hopefully weather permitting we should see our Eurofox flying at the club in early Spring.

     Panel building!

 Power on everything is working, well done.

Brakes fitted only fluid required now!
                                                                                   Engine bay completed and ready for cowlings.


       The master at work with his trusted helper!

                                                                                                                 Pull it again Ken!!

 Week 6

Good progress on applying the final touches to the engine installation. The radiators are fitted and will now accept the bottom cowling.
The headset plugs are now installed.
The rudder pedals were centralised and work has started on connecting and crimping the control cables to the rudder.
Work will now start on the panel.


The correct radio aerial fitted at last

Engine installation almost complete.
Note the 2 radiators covered in brown cardboard

The bottom cowling. Trial fit of the oil cooler to test the cooler flap works!

Can you spot the new headset plugs installed by Ken Marston?

   Rudder pedals incorrectly positioned.
Note the batons are connected to the brake pedal!!!!
Not to worry they were repositioned correctly on the rudder pedals before the cables were connected to the rudder.

 Coming to the end of week 5

Work continued at a steady pace during weeks 3 and 4 despite Robin being slowed down by an infection. A lot of work was done involving items in the cockpit including the fitting of carpets.

The engine was removed from its container and fitted to the engine mounting prior to fitting to the aircraft.  Barry Lytollis visited the workshop one afternoon after Friday gliding.

Into week 5 and the engine was fitted to the aircraft. Additional muscle in the form of Steve Rae was required for this task. Over the next few weeks the main task will be preparing the panel and wiring up the instruments.

Rotax 912 100hp engine ready on its mount prior to attaching to the aircraft. Not obvious to see but Robin has sprayed the mount white. This aids crack detection during inspections.

The rudder pedals refitted and painted white for the same reason as the engine mount.  Note the nice carpet.

Week 2   (20th to 27th October 2013)
Another good week, several more jobs completed which included fuel piping, brakes, trial fitting of the rudder pedals and gluing the heat shields to the cowlings. It is surprising how long it takes to measure up, trial fit and install each component. Fortunately Robin knows exactly what needs to be done and keeps Ken Marston and myself on track.


The fuel pump,fuel  piping and the strobe control unit all visible here.

Trial fitting of the rudder pedals. Varnished floorboards in position.The electrical box hanging loose is the Tost winch controller which is the same fitting we have in our other tugs. It will eventually be mounted in the panel

  Top engine cowling with heat shield glued in place

  Bottom cowling heat shield almost completed but we ran out of adhesive so completion will wait until next week

Our EuroFOX has landed

15th October 2013                     

The Eurofox landed in Midlem (by road!)

 It came in a mobile hanger which was en route to another Eurofox owner in Dornoch.


 There were 2 large boxes of parts including the Rotax engine which need to be fitted to the aircraft. The left hand box contained many plastic bags of parts which are now safely stored away.

 Once offloaded, the cowlings were removed and the aircraft was skillfully manoeuvred into Robins workshop where it will spend the next few months.

17th October 2013

 Ken Marston and I assisted Robin fitting components to the firewall. After 4 hours of effort not much to see but we have started!


 18th October 2013

A full day spent fitting cables eg throttle, carb heat etc. Apart from several expletives emanating from Robin at the far end of the workshop, when things were not going according to plan,the day went very well. Still not a lot to see!

August 2013 - Factory Visit
Ken and Robin have completed their visit to the factory and Ken has written this preliminary report with some photos below:

"Robin and I have visited the Aeropro plant in Nitra Slovakia where our Eurofox tug kit is being prepared for a late September early October delivery.

During our 2 days with Peter and his team we were able to meet most of his employees and to explore all the various stages of kit production. The Eurofox is the only aeroplane that they build.

It must be said that we were impressed by the friendliness of the workers and their commitment to producing a high quality aeroplane. Each component is carefully manufactured to a very high standard primarily by hand and on site.

We both had to dope, glue and iron fabric on the fuselage rudder,tail plane and wings. Hopefully we will not have to use these skills repairing our Eurofox in the future but one never knows!

The company is doing very well but running flat out and with no intention of scaling up production. Their commitment to quality and to their workforce means that they are not willing to risk a major expansion project. They currently have a full order book well into the future with customers all over Europe,the USA and Australia. The first Eurofox was built 20 years ago and ours is no 404. The Company tug has completed 7000 tows (not as many as George) has over 2500 hours on the Rotax engine and has been operating for 7 years.

Should we have any technical issues with our tug or require spare parts we should have a reliable and knowledgeable  back up.

Our Eurofox will soon be ready for painting in Ferrari red with blue lettering. The next step is delivery to Robins hangar when assembly will begin.

All going well our Eurofox should be flying early next year."

Some Pics

July 2013
Ken now has the Project registered with the LAA and also has the blue project manual.  Robin and Ken will be at the Eurofox factory on the 20th August for two days to see the aircraft and to assist in covering parts of it. 

This will enable the club to conform with the LAA's policy with respect to owner built kit aircraft as distinct from purchasing it fully built by the factory. Doing it this way will allow us to do most of the ongoing maintenance ourselves.

More details and photos after the visit.

June 2013
The project will be registered shortly with the LAA and Corporate LAA membership acquired by the club.  Three members will also be registered with the LAA, Ken Sangster, George Brown and Barry Lytollis.  

Ken will provide a draft project plan with financials in due course and both he and Robin Johnston are booked to travel to the Aeropro Aircraft factory near Bratislava in August. There is a possibility that kit may arrive in early September.

April 2013
The Club is proceeding with the EuroFOX project with Ken Sangster as Project Manager. The build will take place at Robin Johnson’s facility and there are already four volunteers to help under his supervision. The work will be inspected by Robin in accordance with LAA rules.

For more information on the EuroFox go to:  EuroFox Aviation

The EuroFox demonstrator at Milfield 

For more pictures of the recent visit see:  Sunday 28th April - EuroFox Vist to Milfield