Chapter 9 — Main Landing Gear, Axles, Wheels & Brake Assemblies
30 June 2012 — With my consoles mocked up and my seatback cut, I’m done with my temporary diversion and am ready to start back in order with the plans. The next task up on the order of battle is the Main Landing Gear. I had been reading up on the landing gear build steps in Chapter 9, so I was ready to get moving on the first step, which was cutting glass for the gear legs. And I don’t mean SOME glass, I mean A LOT of glass. 16 pieces all told at 30-40°across the whole width of the UNI roll.
The final tally is 4 sets of 4 each UNI strips, 9″ wide at 30-40°.
1 July 2012 — Today I pulled out the Main Landing Gear Bow that I received from Mike & Larry at Feather Lite (who apparently thought they would provide me an old-world European spelling of my name: “Wayde” vs the clearly Americanized version: “Wade” since I was on my way to Germany when they shipped it). I inspected the bow for any major dings or damage, and I cleared it with a clean bill of health. Since it looks so much like a regular bow (read: Robin Hood), I had to take a pic of it being used as such…. I know! I’m quite the card! Yuk-yuk…..
I took the bow out to the front of the house, threw it on my handy foldout table and commenced to sand it with my 32-grit sanding block. It doesn’t seem like this is much of a notable event, but this was not really a “small” or “lesser” task per se. One line in the plans to the effect of, “Oh, yeah, just sand it a little until dull” ends up costing you almost nearly an hour and a half of your life… sanding away! With itchy S-glass no less! And on an unusually warm German day, and of course wearing a respirator. No worries now though because this step is done!
I vacuumed the gear after sanding and ensured it was fiberglass dust free. I then went to my downstairs shop and prepped it for glassing the main gear bow. I used 3″ drywall screws & 5-min epoxy to mount the gear onto the table.
I laid up the first half of the gear layup, which has 4 alternating plies of UNI wrapped around the trailing edge of the gear and meeting close together (but not overlapping!) at the leading edge. After this first layup is complete there will be 4 plies on each side with 2 plies in one 30-40°diagonal orientation and the other 2 plies going in the opposite 30-40° orientation, so it merely creates a cross-hatch that grips the gear and provides it support when it flexes (kind of like sticking your fingers into those old style mesh curlers and then trying to remove your finger). I tackled the Right side first and then the Left, using a pre-preg method of course to ensure all the excess epoxy was squeegeed out.
Later that evening, after the initial main gear layups cured, I pulled the peel ply and razor cut any offending glass around the leading edge.
I removed the gear from its 3-screw perch and cleaned up all the peel ply boogers.
8 July 2012 — I prepped the plastic and peel ply for the second and final round pre-preg kits for glassing the main gear.
12 July 2012 — I spent about 2-1/2 hours at the wood shop on Ramstein today. Not nearly as bad as last time… I cut 4 each Main Landing Gear Mount jigs with 5/8″ holes and tapered edges. These will be used to temporarily “mount” the gear to the fuselage gear mounts with bondo and then also serve as the form to create the gear tabs that will eventually hold the gear to the fuselage.
After I finished messing about with the landing brake & wing jigs for a good portion of the day, I turned my attention back to the main landing gear. I spent over an hour and half sanding and prepping it for it’s final glassing.
15 July 2012 — I finished sanding the main landing gear bow in preparation for glassing the last of UNI layups on the gear legs.
I then laid up the final sets of UNI.
When all was finished, I had laid up 4 alternating layers on both the left and right sides of the gear bow, wrapping around the leading edge and coming together on the trailing edge. Remember, each of the 4 layers of UNI alternate 30-40°, with two layers going in one direction and the other two layers going in the other direction to create a cross-hatch.
15 July 2012 — I took the gear off of the jig and removed all the peel ply from the gear. I then tore the jig down.
Well, with the main glassing done on the gear I had to see how the gear looked mounted. So I took the gear out to the shop and spent a fair amount of time messing about and mocking it up.
20 July 2012 — Today I turned my focus back to the main gear. I situated the fuselage back inverted and placed it on red stands. I leveled the fuselage longitudinally & laterally using weights to hold it in place. I then ensured the firewall was leveled vertically & clamped a 2×4 to it. (I had previously marked the 5/8″ OD steel gear mounting tubes (LMGAT) 0.65″ from each edge, put wood jig tabs in place, and remounted them onto the fuselage-side main gear extrusions). I put the gear in place and used an adjustable string setup to keep it upright and at the right distance from the firewall. I taped a 6′ long carpenters level to the bottom of the each gear leg, centered front-to-back so as to minimize any error. I set the gear with a 3/16″ gap between the top of the gear arch and the bottom of the fuselage longerons.
I then set the axles’ centerline at F.S. 111.1 (stock plans is F.S. 110.5, but because I’ll be mounting a heavier IO-320 engine and some discrepancies I see in the plans, I’ll be moving the axle positions back about 1/2″ . . . [Ed. See my buddy Marco’s in-depth discussion on this at longezproject.blogspot.com… he explains it all nicely])
After spending an hour or so ensuring that everything was lined up, straight, square… and that the measurements were as spot-on as possible, I bondo’d the wood jigs (that were pre-installed on the fuselage) to the main gear bow.
After the bondo cured for a bit, I trimmed the excess off & cleaned it up, and then left it alone to dry overnight.
21 July 2012 — Now that the bondo–between the wood main gear jigs and the main gear–is completely cured, I final sanded it along with the glass on the gear in between the tabs.
I removed the gear bolts and removed the gear bow from the fuselage.
Upon returning from a successful buying venture, I marked the center of the steel gear tubes on top of the main gear & glued on two (2) small marker tabs (and marked the CL on the gear bow with a Sharpie… just in case).
I prepped the workbench in the downstairs shop with spare wing foam pieces that I secured to the table, and then got the epoxy and glass ready (the glass that Gina had spent about 2-1/2 hours cutting…Hoo-ah! It’s awesome having help!). I took the main gear bow down to the prepped workbench and secured it to the foam/table.
I then glassed 2-1/2″ x 12″ 18-ply UNI strips onto the bottom of the gear on each side. These long UNI strips start & cover the tab on one side, then get laid across the gear strut and end by covering the other tab. Analogous to a UNI “band” or “strap” across the bottom of the gear bow both on the left and right side. Once the 18-plies of UNI are in place, then on each tab, placed over the now pre-existing UNI band, an 18 plies of 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ BID squares are glassed onto each tab (only covering where the gray duct tape was applied). So, total glass each side: 18-plies of UNI (side-to-side strap) + 18 + 18 = 36 plies BID (tabs only). I then clamped 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ wood pieces covered in saran wrap (so they wouldn’t stick to the layup) over the outside plies of BID with just enough pressure to squeeze out any excess epoxy and to form a nice smooth/straight outer surface.
After a break, I glassed the Right front and Left rear console with 1-ply of BID and peel plied.
I also went back to the gear–with the layups being a little gummy but starting to harden–and knife trimmed the gross excess of glass (it looked crazy but it’s structurally correct… promise!)
22 July 2012 — After I finished for the day with the consoles, I removed the clamped wood blocks and removed the main landing gear out of its mount.
I then took the main gear outside & put in on the folding table (my portable workbench). At first, I started to trim the excess cured glass by using a coping saw, but that didn’t last very long. I quickly switched to something a bit more electro-mechanical, pulling out the Bosch saber saw! It worked great (read: “fast”) and I trimmed the excess glass on the tabs down to within a respectable 0.1″ of the wood templates.
I Dremelled the gear-tab to gear-leg junctions to get a smooth, round, flowing edge for all the tabs. With the Dremel I was also able to clean up & smooth out the saber saw marks around the outer edge of the tabs.
I marked the center of the holes & drilled a 1/8″ pilot hole to check that I was centered in the hole (the 5/8″ hole of the wood jig).
Once I was centered, I drilled 3/8″ pilot holes & then used the 5/8″ arbor bit to drill the main landing gear holes… it worked very well!
I tried to insert the steel LMGA tubes into the holes, but they wouldn’t go in. I used my round Perma-Grit tools to bore out the holes a little wider, going very slowly and removing just a very little bit at a time. It was a fair amount of work & took about an hour to do, but I definitely wanted to ensure the fit was tight and the holes weren’t bored out too wide. Also, while boring out the holes I realized that the final fit should be without the wood jigs attached. So I popped the wood jigs off, finished boring the holes and then spent about another hour digging, sanding, grinding, clawing and scratching out the dried (or should I say cemented!) bondo.
Well, I think I’ve shared my personal philosophy on building an airplane. I’ve said over & over again that building any airplane is simply having the perseverance during the build to repeatedly fix the things you royally screw up. And this my friends, was one of those times. As I was sanding the tabs, I noticed a dark line near the inside of the tab. I sanded it down a little and messed around with it, but it was still there. I then realized it was probably plastic from the peel ply layers. I confirmed this by sticking in a razor blade and digging out some plastic! That’s when I deftly thought: if it was on this side…?! Yep, there it was on the tab opposite the one I was working on. I realized that with it being on both sides it wasn’t simply an anomaly, it was something serious & bad . . . I took the gear out to the garage and marked the edges of the tab glass and put a couple of X’s on each side for alignment purposes. I then put some towels down on the floor, grabbed a rubber mallet and hit it a few times. At first it didn’t seemed to do anything and all appeared solid, but I wasn’t overly convinced so I gave it a couple more good whacks and off it popped. Smooth and shiny on the inside.
Well, I made a few phone calls & talked it through. After a bit of discussion, I finally decided to sand each side down and flox it back on. Besides bouncing it off some other bubbas, a few key things helped me in that decision. First, flox is some tough stuff & it’s structural. Second, the effort that it took me to knock the tab glass off with only a layer of plastic between the plies was significant, serving as a testament to just how much grip strength epoxy has in general–that a layer of plastic would hold so well. And third, the configuration of the landing gear tabs has the steel LMGA tube floxed across and through each side of the tab holes, then into all of the plies on the piece that was knocked off–with the remaining plies still left on the gear–and the soon-to-be inner plies that I would glass in. Thus, I decided I would proceed with the flox repair.
Unfortunately, the only pictures I have were after all that took place, since I was in emergency response mode and not concerned about documenting anything until afterwards. You can see in the pics below that the flox has just been applied and the gear is back in the workbench mount with a plethora of clamps holding it tightly back into place.
I checked it out before I went to bed. The clamps had held it in exactly the same spot, with no slipping or movement, so I called it a night.
23 July 2012 — I removed the clamps from the flox gear repair & did a mock install on the fuselage… Success!
24 July 2012 — I laid up the inside glass on both the main gear tabs. I also glassed a 3-ply BID layup on the outside of one of the tabs that seemed a bit thin (the ply-count was good, but the compression from the clamp appeared to have pushed the glass a little down towards the base of the tab, leaving the top a little thinner as compared to the other 3 tabs).
After a couple of hours had passed I knife trimmed the glass & cleaned up the edges… the layups looked good!
25 July 2012 — I removed the blocks and the clamps from the gear tabs. Layups looked good. I cut & sanded the inside gear tab layups to match the outside gear tabs.
I then redrilled the 5/8″ holes for the final time.
26 July 2012 — I hand sanded the landing gear tabs & used the Perma-Grit tools to create a beveled edge at the tab-to-gear bow junction.
I used the small round Perma-Grit to again re-bore & open the land gear tube holes.
I once again had a friendly visitor stop by… he hung around for a little while and then went on his way (with some assistance!).
I mounted the steel landing gear tubes into place with flox, then immediately floxed & glassed large AN washers onto the outside of the tabs with 2-ply BID layups.
I then carved foam wedges as “ramps” for the landing gear tubes & micro’d them into place. I then covered the micro’d ramps with 2-ply BID layups. These ramps allow for glass to hold the steel tubes in place, but still have a smooth transition to the base of the landing gear bow.
In between the drying stages above, I knife edged all the new tab edges.
27 July 2012 — I final knife cut & sanded out the main landing gear tabs. Then I took the gear outside & mounted it to the fuselage… it fit! (Whew!)
I then measured the respective gear legs to the “nose” centerline mark. One side was 0.2″ closer to the CL mark than the other … oh well, I’ll mitigate that when I mount the axles.
I tightened up the gear bolts & flipped the fuselage over so it was sitting on the gear. It looked good!
And finally, before I put the fuselage away in storage, I played around with some urethane foam & cut/shaped a hellhole cover… kind of a pain. But good experience.
16 May 2012 — I researched & ordered my AN brake line fittings.
3 November 2014 — Today I received my Main Landing Gear Fairings from Steve at Eureka CNC. Although I got a delivery confirmation from FedEX an hour before I got home, the box was nowhere to be found. Apparently FedEx delivered them to the wrong house, requiring me to go on a 45-minute goose chase for my box. My neighbors let me know that was a common occurrence so I eventually found them at the house at the end of the street!
These gear fairings are often called “Wortmann” gear fairings, and as I’m sure most of you know they solve a big drag problem on the Long-EZ by streamlining the main gear in two ways: First, it takes the oval shape of the main gear and converts it into an airfoil shape, which is exponentially more aerodynamic than virtually any other shape. Second, it twists the gear’s angle of incidence so that it meets the oncoming air straight on and fixes the stock gear’s offset profile (read “dirty”) which creates a lot of drag.
After the delivery drama was over I opened the box to find some very precisely (of course!) hot-wired gear fairings!
I can’t wait to get these babies glassed onto the main gear. Thanks Steve!
4 December 2015 — While making up a bunch of K1000-3 nutplate assemblies for some nose components, I also made up a double K1000-3 nutplate assembly for the Matco parking brake.
Here’s a side shot of the parking brake nutplate assembly with AN3-11A bolts installed.
6 December 2015 — Today I started off by doing some research as I watched some football. The first thing I had on my list to figure out was the exact configuration of my brake line components. I did some poking around on the Matco website to figure out what components go where for my brake system. I found the information I was looking for and was able to tailor it to the brake system components I have on hand.
Again, being a true Neanderthal and PowerPoint Ranger, I jimmied up a quick PowerPoint slide to display what was going on with the brake system. One reason I was checking out my brake system is because I wanted to confirm what goes where in the nose so I can plan better as I build the NG30 aft cover and the nose side walls.
15 December 2015 — I mocked up my parking brake to get an idea of how my brake components will be mounted in the nose area. As an aside, I’ve nailed down my brake line configuration so that I now know every item from A-to-Z on my brake system, including every piece, type & thickness of tubing down to every fitting. I’ll go more into that later in another post.
NOTE – Here’s the updated brake line system diagram:
21 December 2015 — I received my 3/16″ Statoflex 124 brake line hose assemblies today and they’re exactly what I wanted!
Here are a couple more shots.
If Bob Nuckolls is the King of Electrons, then I’d say Tony Bingelis was the King of Engines, and almost all things mechanically related to aircraft. Now, just as I have on occasion angered the gods, mainly Burt, (as if he actually knows what I’m doing… ha!) by violating his edicts with a few mods here & there, so too did I violate one of Tony’s. Tony states to always go with new hoses and not NOS (New Old Stock), but given the history of these hoses, the care in which they were stored (detailed), the price compared to new, and the fact that they were EXACTLY what I was looking for dimensions & fittings wise, I just couldn’t pass them up.
Below is a shot confirming that the new hoses work with the AN3 fittings I have on hand. Sweet!
Continuing on with the brake theme, I spent the latter part of the evening working on my brake lines in the forward NG30 nose area. I cleaned up the inevitable flox globs that formed on the edge of my threads just over the blue tape to offer me a really good challenge of removing 1/2″ pieces of blue painting tape. (Maybe this is how the angered airplane guru gods get me back, by making even the smallest tasks a total PITA . . . haha!)
I know that my brake line system may seem a bit robust, or entailed, for what it’s actually accomplishing, but I didn’t want to just go the EZ way out and throw in a couple of runs of Nylaflow and call it a day (I’ll do that for the rest of the nose brake lines!). Remember, the components making up these lines are literally the smallest you can get in every category: 1/8″ aluminum tubing, -2 fittings and -2 Adel clamps. We’re talking mere ounces, including the diminutive mini-bulkheads, in weight penalty… I’d seriously guesstimate maybe 2 ounces over using Nylaflow/Nylon brake tubings from the main brake line to the Parking Brake Valve (PBV).
Plus it was fun, I learned a lot, and the tubing reminds me of a German brewery . . . Ah, beer!
Here’s a shot from the other side. The half loops in the line are simply that, a service “loop” in case I need to rework the brake line. Since the majority of it is embedded, I wanted to leave enough exposed that I could whittle down in making new flares, etc, if need be. The aluminum tubing is softer, and bends quite readily, so there was no torquing or strain on the line in making those seemingly tight bends.
As I’m sure you’ve noted, I placed the Parking Brake Valve near it’s final mounting location to check how it fit into the schema. So far so good.
6 January 2016 — Today I drilled the holes for the left brake reservoir mounting bracket. I couldn’t drill the holes for the right reservoir bracket yet since I had to wait for the BID to cure on the nutplate assembly that I glassed in for the panel power & ground cables that traverse Napster through the grommet just to the right of the nutplate assembly.
I finally made a decision to buy a right angle drill! Normally I’m fairly handy with a drill, but tonight the need to drill into a very tough piece of phenolic at a slight angle ended up in 3 of my 4 reservoir bracket mounting holes being distinctly off. I had to grab a round rasp and work on the holes for nearly 30 minutes total throughout the evening. Of course, since the holes are now oversized I’ll have to backfill them with flox when I do the final install of the brake reservoirs.
Below is simply a shot of the brake reservoirs from the left side.
And a shot from the right side showing the brake reservoirs in relation to the NG30 covers & general inner nose area.
7 January 2016 — Below is the new 90° Nylaseal elbow fitting installed on the the aft end of the brake master cylinder. Also, I cut the Matco 1/4″ nylon brake line tubing with my new plastic tubing cutter from SteinAir… spiffy!
As you can see, the 90° Nylaseal fitting on the master cylinder works great, and the brake tubing flows easily from the brake reservoir to the master cylinder, which affirmed my decision to mount the reservoirs where I did. As for the left side, I still have to remove the rudder/brake pedal to remove the brake reservoir.
Here’s another shot of the right master cylinder to brake reservoir connection.
23 January 2016 — Today I didn’t make it to the shop to do any actual physical work.
I did however spend a good 7 hours planning & sequencing out the remainder of my Long-EZ build. Specifically, I spent the majority of time creating my build plan & task list for installing the main gear, axles, wheel & brake assemblies, tubes & tires, dealing with toe-in, glassing the gear fairing, identifying required tools, hardware & materials, and the eventual install of the wheel pants, as well as well as a myriad of other associated main gear related tasks.
To finalize this plan I reviewed the plans Chapter 9. Canard Pusher plans changes, Matco wheel/brake install manual, Eureka CNC gear fairing install instructions, CSA articles, Sam James’ wheel pants install manual, builders’ websites, forums, and my compilation of main gear related build notes over the years.
Since I now have the lion’s share (about 90%) of the specific main gear install plan in hand, I can go back to finishing up nose & elevator stuff as I start transitioning into focusing on the main gear final install.
28 January 2016 — Today was all about getting the shop reorganized for the main gear install.
I started by clearing off the top of the canard building table.
And then removed the canard supports. I also thoroughly cleaned the work bench top by removing all the epoxy puddles, flox & micro residue, etc.
I then dismantled the canard work bench.
But not before cutting off the last third to make a smaller work bench top. This should help my back when I’m working with my portable workbench tables that are just a tad too low to be working over them for hours & hours on end.
I then spent a few hours cleaning and organizing the shop to get to my final result: getting the fuselage flipped around in order to work on the aft end. I have to say that I was really pleased with my fuselage dolly here in that it made it really EZ to get the fuselage flipped around. Even though the 4 wheels aren’t the highest grade and are probably just a little overtaxed, they do ok on making the fuselage dolly a really useful mobile work platform.
Today I also made the decision to move forward with swapping out the small AN960-416 washers on the landing gear extrusion mounts with the much larger AN970-4 washers as recommended in the CSA newsletter to help spread compression loads better. So I spent over an hour researching details on the washer swap as well as other gear install subjects. I also updated my main gear installation task list, as well as spent some time on resequencing my build steps on the master project plan.
As for the gear mount washers, I do remember that I was frustrated while installing the landing gear mounts with the amount of torque required to get the bolts tight, but the amount of wood & glass crushing to get to a decently tight bolt installation. I also remember using the recommended torque value for 1/4″ bolts on the first bolt or two before realizing it was simply way too much and that I was really crushing the glass & wood, so I started using less torque to keep the bolts in place, which I wasn’t happy with. So I’m hoping that these larger washers will resolve this issue and correct any adverse damage that I may have caused in the original process of simply installing the landing gear mount extrusions.
Unfortunately, unlike some of my other building buddies, I learned about this too late to accomplish the washer swap before I had glassed the outside of the fuselage (I guess it’s the price one pays for just building “too” fast . . . ha!) I’ll have to cut into the fuselage side glass to get these suckers swapped, which was my biggest hesitation in doing this swap. Well, that and the fact that clearly there are a lot of older birds out there that never did this large washer swap/install that are still working fine. Still, I’d rather be safe & proactive now than have to upgrade these washers once the plane is finished & flying.
30 January 2016 — I started off today by spending about an hour finishing up cleaning & organizing the shop to enable the main gear installation.
Before discussing the main gear washers swap-out I wanted to show the hell hole area with the long runs of aluminum brake lines, which will get cut much shorter to be connected to stainless steel brake lines that will run down the gear legs.
Here’s a shot of the left side of the aft fuselage showing the main gear mounts from the outboard side. You can see the filled foam & micro bolt head channels. In the second pic you can see where I marked the middle of each bolt head. In the third pic I marked the areas where the skin, foam & micro will be removed to gain access to each bolt head.
Here are the same 3 pics for the right side.
I then started cutting with the Fein tool on the lower aft left-side bolts.
I popped the skin glass off.
I then dug out the foam & micro from the channel. Also, to ensure I knew what piece of glass was covering what set of bolts, I labeled the removed glass piece and the bolt set that it was associated with, as you can see with the “A” below.
Below you can see the difference between the bottom bolt, tightened to what would normally be used for a 1/4″ bolt & thus crushing the base glass & wood, and the upper bolt, tightened so that visually no glass or wood is crushed, but not tightened to standard torque specs.
[Note: Below is also a good shot of my widening the top & bottom longerons since I widened the fuselage. My goal was to bring the interior edge of the longeron back to plans’ dimensions by widening the longerons. However, to utilize the carbon fiber engine cowlings that I ordered very early on in the build from Feather Light, I had to revert the firewall back to stock dimensions and thus just ended up with 0.4″ wider longerons top & bottom.]
Here’s a shot of the forward bolts on the left side.
To get the bolts out I started with the basic method using wrenches. That worked, but it was tough & time consuming.
After getting about a third of the way of getting the nut off of the first bolt, I decided to ratchet it up a bit (pun intended!) by using an air ratchet.
WARNING!: This is not a standard scenario where a pneumatic tool would normally be used. There are many variables to account for and any misstep could result in serious injury! I’m conveying how I achieved my results, so use this method only if YOU know what you’re doing & YOU accept the risks involved!
One problem area that is conveyed in just about every builder’s account of swapping out these washers is getting the bolts removed from the mount & the Spruce longerons. Well, using the air ratchet I serendipitously stumbled upon the fact that these bolts are mounted so tightly, that when an air ratchet is used they simply thread themselves out of the hole. About a third of them came out with no help, while the others I simple pushed the bolt from the inboard side with a drift pin & it would easily extricate itself as it was being turned by the air ratchet. Thus, I’d say it took a full 10 seconds on average to remove these bolts!
In prepping for the task of swapping out these washers, I of course looked at my buddy Marco’s blog to get some tips & ensure I wasn’t missing something or about to make a big mistake. Marco noted that he had used AN960-416L washers vs the AN960-416 washers called out for in the plans. The “L” stands for “Light” resulting in the AN960-416L washers being about half the thickness of the AN960-416 washers. Perhaps it’s something with new builders, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t do the same exact thing! Both on the inboard and outboard side of the fuselage wall. This of course makes this washer swap even more pertinent than ever.
A few pics up I included a shot of the bolts installed in these holes below to show the difference in depth that a “properly torqued” bolt looked compared to non-crushing torqued bolt. Below you can see the depressions made by the bolt head & washer into the glass & wood.
Here’s a wide angle shot below of the bolt removal shown above.
I then started work on clearing around the bolts on the left forward gear mount extrusion.
Getting there…. left side.
My goal for the evening was to get all the bolt heads exposed and the surrounding foam & micro cleared, and the glass around each bolt head clean as well within each newly made pocket. In addition, I wanted to get the lower bolts remounted and then get to work on the upper bolts. In this fashion, I’m following my buddy Dave Berenholtz’s method of swapping out one set on an extrusion at a time, thus not having to remove the floxed-in gear mount extrusions unless absolutely necessary.
Here is the left forward gear mount extrusion with the bolts removed.
I then drew a reference line between the two bolt mounting holes to use to grind the larger AN970-4 washers to fit adjacent to each other within the foam pockets that I had just cut to expose the bolt heads.
I also used the lower longeron as a guide to mark the backside of the washers.
I then ground down the bottom and interior edge of each washer, as well labeled all the washers numerically and their associated hole.
I then grabbed my Fein saw and started work on the right side. I cut the outline into the fuselage skin around each set of bolts.
I then removed the cut skin patch covering each set of gear mount bolts.
And then cleaned them all up.
I removed the lower set of bolts (pic not shown) which went fine with the exception of the aft bolt in the lower forward extrusion. I didn’t have a good grip on the nut on the inboard side when I fired up the air ratchet. Almost instantaneously it stripped the nut (see air ratchet warning above!) so that turned that bolt removal task into about a half hour long endeavor, resulting in me using the Dremel tool to simply cut the nut off, after a number of rounds of unsuccessful attempts to get the nut removed with vice grips, etc. I eventually got it out & all was fine.
Since I needed to re-level the bolt hole divots at the start of each hole resulting from previously torquing down the bolts, flox would be added to backfill the holes & then get covered with 1-ply of BID. Thus, I filled each bolt hole with Saran wrap to keep as much flox out of each hole as possible.
I then whipped up some flox using epoxy mixed with fast hardener. I back-filled each depressed entrance to each bolt hole on the lower sets of bolt holes both left & right side.
I had already pre-measured each lower bolt hole pocket & annotated the dimensions on my white board. I then used those measurements to prepreg 1-ply of BID for each bolt hole set.
I then laid up the prepregged BID into the lower bolt hole sets. Below is a shot of the bolt hole BID laid up with the top prepreg plastic still in place, left side (I did the same on the right side).
After laying up the BID in all the lower bolt holes, I then peel plied the layups. First on the left…
… and then on the right.
31 January 2016 — Besides getting a late start today, I had a bunch of minor tasks, phone calls & visiting friends that derailed me some what in getting to the main gear bolt hole drilling & bolt install.
I started by pulling the peel ply and sanding the edges of the 1-ply BID layups over the floxed lower bolt holes. I then used the Dremel tool with a fresh cutting disk to shape the last set of washers for the right lower aft gear mount (no pic).
I then clamped a block over each hole & re-drilled all the lower bolt mounting holes.
Here are the re-drilled holes in the lower gear mounts on the right side.
I then remounted the lower main landing gear extrusion mounting bolts with the new AN970-4 washers, after applying some wet flox on the inner face of the washers.
I tightened all the bolts snuggly, but allowed some room for torquing them to approximately 66 in/lbs after the flox cures, which will allow the flox to fill any minor irregularities that weren’t eliminated with the first round of flox & ply of BID.
By the time I finished re-mounting the lower bolts with new washers, it was too late to make some real noise, which the air ratchet excels at producing…. lots of noise. I managed to get the left aft upper set of nuts off the bolts, and then loosen the left forward set as well, but I then figured I would wait until tomorrow to use the air ratchet and use my time more efficiently.
Here’s a pic of the lower bolts & new washers installed (upper in the pic below) to show how with the embedded flox & new washers that only a couple of threads are showing after the install. I’m expecting that after I torque the bolts to specs, that only another thread or two more will show. Conversely, the old installed bolts at the bottom of the pic have quite a bit of thread showing, although I’m sure that replacing the inner thin washers with standard washers also helped cover another thread or two.
Since it wasn’t too late I still wanted to be productive, so I pulled out the Matco W50LT wheel & brake assemblies and Lamb tires to inventory all the parts and check them to ensure they were in good working order. Some of the water soluble packing peanuts had adhered themselves to some of the wheel & brake assembly surfaces, so I spent about 15 minutes cleaning the residue off.
I then spent a good 15 minutes assessing the spacing of the engine mount on the firewall to see how it aligned with the longerons (not shown).
1 February 2016 — I started out today by making some noise! I was able to quickly get the 1/4″ mounting bolts out of the left side of the aft fuselage, leaving some rather securely embedded washers in the process. I tried to quickly remove the washers but they weren’t budging, so I left them for a bit while I removed the right-side bolts.
All was going well until I got to literally the last bolt to remove. I have to say I’ve always been impressed with the size & strength of the aircraft grade MS21042-4 nuts, but one huge disadvantage is that if you make one good slip up with the wrench on a very tightly installed bolt, and POW! . . . It’s stripped! And that’s exactly what happened with this last nut/bolt that is one of two –including the other side– that are pretty difficult to reach.
Well, I messed around with this *!&$#@ nut for almost half an hour to no avail. I pulled out the whole armada of tools that I have in the shop … again, with no avail. Thus, in my overwhelming need & desire to win out over an inanimate object (and believe you me, this sucker was INANIMATE!) I figured since I had loosened it up even by the slightest degree, that it had to come out. But, just about as far down on the inboard side in a “V” channel as you can get, there was just no way to forcibly remove the nut & pound the bolt out. I was going to have to attack it from the accessible outboard side.
I taped up the inside of the upper bolt trough with aluminum foil tape (I took a pic but it turned out really blurry) to protect the foam from the sparks. As you can see below, I missed a spot. Nothing like the smell of burnt foam in the morning to wake you up! I spent a good 5 minutes with the Dremel grinding off the bolt head, and then another 15 minutes getting the remainder of the bolt, with nut attached, removed.
As I was using a center punch from the outboard side to dislodge the jacked-up bolt, I quickly realized that it wasn’t going without a fight. If it was departing the airframe, then it was going to bring the lower forward landing gear mount extrusion with it. I don’t know why, but this bolt was seemingly fused to the gear mount extrusion bracket. I eventually let it have its way by unbolting the 2 top bolts to get the whole extrusion bracket out of there. Now, this was after creating about a 1″ gap between the interior side wall (15-ply BID pad mounting base) and the outboard mounting surface side of the extrusion. With this gap, I snuck in my small German hack saw and cut the bolt in half… another solid 5 minutes down the drain! Once the bolt was cut in two, I drove the whole assembly back towards the side wall to get enough clearance to free up the bolt that at this point was gouged & stuck into the aft side of the GIB setback (you can see the divot in the pic below).
I then removed the gear mounting bracket with the remainder of the Bastard Bolt from Hell! still stuck in the bolt hole. Even after all this, it still took some really sharp blows with the center punch to get this damned bolt removed from the bracket!
Here’s the skeletal remains of the Bastard Bolt from Hell! after I dismembered it!
Thankfully, it took only about a minute to remove all the scorched foam & clean up the bolt trough.
And here are some more casualties of war. I’m still not sure why I mixed up the AN960-416L washers for the standard ones, but again, that completely solidifies my decision to spend a few days swapping out these main landing gear mount attachment washers.
Back to the “peaceful” side of the fuselage, I spent a few minutes (I should add the words “longer than needed” here!) removing the embedded washers. To keep with the slog of a day that I was apparently mired in (ha!) I bent the tip of scribe trying to get these damn embedded washers out! I finally resorted to using a 1/4″ diameter cylindrical punch pin to insert into each washer just enough where I could then push the pin to one side and pry out the washers.
I employed my new found trick on the right fuselage side and removed the washers handily. I then embedded Saran wrap in the aft holes in prep for flox, but in the forward holes I wrapped the Saran wrap with electrical tape to have a dark identifying marker for the bolt hole since I would have to drill the forward bolt holes from the outboard side with no mounting bracket holes as a guide.
This wasn’t just on the right side where I had the issue with the stuck bolt, it was simply a matter of access to drill the holes on the inboard side of the fuselage. The upper mounting bolt holes on the forward main gear mount extrusion simply are located higher than the aft lines of the GIB seat back. Unless I was using a flexible drill bit attachment, it was physically impossible to get access to the inboard side bolt holes to drill them. Thus the dark protective plastic in the forward upper bolt holes.
I then grabbed a couple of strips of the scrap BID that were left over from the nose layup I did a couple of weeks ago. From the BID I made up 2-ply BID pads to prepreg & layup in the upper bolt access troughs cut into the side of the fuselage. I also added a 1-ply piece of BID to repair the punctured seat back from when I removed the Bastard Bolt from Hell!
Below are the left & right shots of the laid up 2-ply BID pads over flox to reset the “floor” of each bolt trough back to level after the damage of the original bolt heads & washers getting embedded too deep in the surface. As I’ve stated before, this damage was part & parcel to having the bolts installed with enough clamping pressure to keep the landing gear mount extrusions mounted securely. Yet another reason I’m really pleased to be performing this washer swap.
While the flox & glass was curing I went to work to knock out some ancillary tasks.
First, I grabbed some spare 3/4″ thick Divinycell PVC foam & cut them into blocks to match the dimensions I had measured earlier for each of the upper mounting bolt troughs cut into the side of the fuselage. As you can see, they’re identified with the letter designator that I labeled each bolt trough with.
I’m not exactly sure how I’ll deal with the lower gear mounting bolt troughs that I opened to expose the bolt heads along the very bottom longeron edge of the fuselage. I’m not really that concerned about the aesthetics of these lower bolt-access troughs because they will reside directly under the newly mounted fuselage sidewall lower extension foam that I will be adding to fill in the aft fuselage to account for a 4″ lower firewall. Again, this is to match my Carbon Fiber engine cowlings that were designed by Mike Melvill & fabricated by Feather Light.
With the upper bolt hole foam inserts cut to size, I then started on installing the tires & tubes to the Matco main gear wheels.
And here’s the end result. One wheel with the tire & tube installed, and yet another casualty! On try #1 I followed Matco’s directions by adding about 10 PSI of air into the tube when it was installed in the wheel before bolting both halves of the wheel assembly back together. This made the process nearly impossible, even with clamping both halves together.
So, round #2 I followed the sage advice of Frank Sinatra and, “Did it my way!” by not adding any air, clamping the tire down to ensure that none of the tube would get pinched, then bolted it together and filled ‘er up to about 50 PSI (70 PSI is max on this tire/tube combo). Voila! It worked!
Note that each time I did use talcum/baby powder to reduce the friction of tube going into tire.
Also, I will order a couple more tubes from ACS later this evening.
After messing around with tube & tires, I spent a couple of hours making a few phone calls before returning back down to the shop. The flox & BID in the bolt troughs were nearly completely cured, so I pulled the peel ply . . .
. . . and then re-drilled the bolt mounting holes. I have to say that I’m glad I used the dark plastic material for the inserts since I could see where to drill the holes on the forward bolt holes.
After trimming the upper aft AN970-4 washers to fit, I then vacuumed out the troughs & then mixed up some wet flox using fast hardener. I spread a good bead of wet flox on the forward gear mount extrusion and installed it.
I then started on the forward extrusion after mounting the bracket back into place, and mounted all the remaining bolts & washers after applying wet flox to inside face of the AN970-4 washers.
Here’s a shot of the bolts & new large washers installed with wet flox on the left side of the fuselage.
After I ensured ALL the main landing gear mount extrusion bolts were torqued to 70 in./lbs I notched the inside of the trough foam inserts to fit over the bolt heads, whipped up some thick micro, and micro’d them into place in the troughs. After determining the fit was good, I clamped the foam inserts into place on each side of the fuselage.
Here’s a shot of the aft end of the fuselage (Hell hole area) showing the foam insert clamps in place.
I have to say that after mounting the bolts I was even more convinced that I had made the right decision to swap out the washers simply by the fact that the remaining threads on each installed bolt went from about 8-10 remaining previously, to around 2-4 threads visible after the washer swap.
2 February 2016 — I started off today by removing the clamps from the upper gear mount bolt foam covers that I micro’d & clamped into place last night.
Here’s a shot of the right side upper gear bolt foam inserts micro’d in place.
I then used the Stanley Surform “cheese grater” to knock down the excess foam.
Again, right side after “cheese grating.”
I then did something that I rarely do on this build: I grabbed some of the ton of excess urethane foam I have on hand and cut blocks to fill in the lower bolt holes. Honestly, with as little foam as there is at the lower edge of the bottom longerons, I could have probably just as easily floxed the existing corners & called it a day. But since this edge will have more foam added to it to fill in the space for the aft fuselage fill-in/lowering to match the 4″ lower firewall & cowling, I went ahead & filled these bolt troughs with foam.
Right side lower bolt troughs filled with urethane foam.
I then micro’d the urethane foam filler pieces into place in the lower gear bolt troughs along the lower aft fuselage edge.
I then used 2 tape-covered pieces of wood to cover the freshly micro’d in place urethane foam inserts and clamped those across the aft fuselage (hellhole). Here’s the left side fuselage.
Since I had one extra small piece of foam all by itself on the lower right side I needed to give it a little extra attention, so it got its own clamp (bottom of pic).
And a wide angle shot of the clamped urethane foam inserts.
While the micro cured I went to work on cutting the firewall extension piece.
I pulled out the box containing my 6mm (1/4″) Finnish Birtch plywood. The plywood box being easily spotted… recognize it? It’s the box that I primed all the 2024 aluminum extrusions for the wings & CS spar. Ah, memories!
Anyway, I pulled out the second uncut 24″ x 48″ sheet that I still have left over from my original order of 2 sheets, but then found the remaining piece left over from when I cut the original firewall. This piece was plenty big enough from which to cut the 4″ firewall extension.
I marked 4″ up from the bottom edge of the scrap Birch plywood sheet, and then placed my existing firewall in place with the vertical edge aligned flush with new plywood edge & the firewall bottom edge aligned with the 4″ line on the plywood.
I then traced the bottom of the firewall in relation to the marked 4″ line across the plywood piece, and then again along the very bottom edge of the plywood piece. The latter will be the new bottom edge of the firewall. I then made 3 puzzle piece styled locking tabs to help lock the new 4″ firewall extension in place when it is attached to the bottom of the existing firewall.
Here’s a closeup of the “puzzle piece” tabs. I grabbed a 27/64″ (.421″) drill bit and traced the bottom edge of it to the side of each puzzle piece tab to mark the drill points that will make up the compound curve of each locking tab side.
I then drilled a smaller pilot hole for each circle I just marked.
Loaded up the mojamma 27/64″ bit . . .
. . . and drilled the holes to make up the compound curved edges of the puzzle piece locking tabs.
I then used my jig saw to cut out the rest of the 4″ lower firewall extension piece. I would have preferred to have a finer jig saw bit, but since it will all get covered with glass anyway, I wasn’t too concerned about a slightly rougher edge.
Here’s the new firewall extension piece mocked up along the lower edge of the existing firewall.
In the pic below you can see the paper template that I will finish tweaking in order to cut out the 0.09″ thick 6061 aluminum heat shields for the lower gear legs (as per CPs). I’m using 6061 vs 2024 since it is more corrosion resistant, and that will be a definite benefit in the lower gear & wheel well environment.
Here’s the lower gear heat shield test fitted onto the wheel brake assembly.
After all my ancillary shenanigans above, the micro on the lower urethane foam inserts was at least 80-90% cured, so I proceeded with the final glassing of all the foam plugs covering the main gear mount extrusion bolt heads.
I sanded down the urethane foam inserts to match the contour of the lower fuselage edge. I have to say that I haven’t worked with urethane much, and it is definitely SOFT, so it requires a much more delicate touch than I admittedly used in sanding the inserts to shape.
After locating & cutting my scrap BID pieces to cover the foam inserts, I then micro’d all the foam pieces.
I prepregged 6 pieces of 1-ply BID, laid them up over the foam inserts & then peel plied all the freshly laid up glass.
This completes the main landing gear mount extrusion bolt washer swap! Although it essentially added 3 days to the build, the piece of mind it provides is well worth it. I’m very happy that I did the swap and also very pleased with how it turned out.
3 February 2016 — I got a late start today so I didn’t get nearly as much done as I wanted to tonight.
I started out today by removing the peel ply from the main landing gear bolt swap foam insert layups.
I figured at some point I should add a selfie for the FAA, so here it is!
After cleaning up the aft fuselage landing gear bolt layups I then marked up the lower firewall to cut for adding the extension.
I then marked the lower firewall to cut the matching “puzzle piece” interfaces with the wood extension piece.
After cutting the “puzzle piece” notches in the lower firewall, I then test fitted the firewall extension.
I then floxed the firewall extension piece to the lower firewall & glassed with 1 ply of BID.
And peel plied the lower firewall extension addition.
After glassing the firewall extension I then traced the gear leg brake disk heat shield template onto the 0.09″ thick 6061 Aluminum plate for cutting. Again, I’m using 6061 Aluminum as a heat shield since it’s much more corrosive resistant than 2024 aluminum, and in this application, strength is not really required.
I then cut out the heat shields using my jig saw.
I then test fitted the axle mounting flanges on the heat shields. So far, so good!
I pulled the gear out tonight to clean it up & then mount it, but then I realized that I needed to sand the entire gear bow in preparation for attaching & glassing the gear fairing to it. It was too late to undertake a big sanding job, so I’ll do it later.
5 February 2016 — Due to prepping for a Superbowl Party that I’ll be having at the house on Sunday, I didn’t get any work done on the plane yesterday.
Today I mounted the extended firewall to the aft fuselage early on in the day.
Here’s a shot showing approximately what the new profile of the aft fuselage will be when the plane is finished. Of course this is upside down, but clearly the width & bulk of the fuselage will be extended aft to create more of a “boat” shape vs. the traditional swoop of the old P-51 style inlet. In short, my Long-EZ will have the same profile as one that has a NACA scoop intake.
That being said, I will have a 3″ round air scoop, somewhat like James Redmon has on his Berkut 13, that will run from aft of the landing brake and slowly meld into the bottom hell hole area so that it should (still in design phase) dive aft into the firewall and flow into the lower cowling skin. Thus, I guess my EZ will look a tad different than all the NACA-scooped EZs.
I had pulled the main landing gear bow out a few days ago, but just this evening –with the help of my buddy Greg– I sanded down the gear legs for the eventual adding of the gear fairings, and then (re)mounted the main landing gear bow back onto the fuselage.
Although there was the usual fight to get the bolts in, I was pleased that in the end, after a few years of the gear being off & redoing the washers on the mount extrusions, that the gear fit back into the mounts with only a little bit of banging with the hammer required.
Here’s a vertical shot of the main gear legs.
6 February 2016 — Today I got the tire & tube mounted on the other wheel. Since I was trying to get at least this one thing completed for the build before I headed out to dinner, I didn’t balance the yellow stripe on the wheels, so I guess that will somehow either make the plane fly crooked or the wheels not in synch! Although I try not to sweat the small stuff or be too anal as to add unneeded time to the build, had I noted the position of the yellow stripe, I would have mounted the tires symmetrically.
Just like the previous wheel I inflated the newly mounted tire to 50 PSI. I’ll watch the tire pressures for about a week and make sure they sustain 50 PSI, and when I’m sure that they’re are no leaks, I’ll inflate both tires to 70 PSI.
Here they are, my officially mounted tires! Again, I’m running Lamb 11 x 4.00-5 tires on Matco W50LT wheels.
I then added the brake assemblies to the wheels for these pics. I’ll still have to torque the bolts to the appropriate specs as I do final mounts on each of the wheel components, so the only actual torque job on my immediate list is the main wheel halves.
Finally, here’s a couple shots showing the width & depth of the brake assembly mounted to the inboard of each wheel.
10 February 2016 — I started off today doing some final research on the threaded axle caps (p/n VA-106) from VANs Aircraft that makes installing Sam James’ wheel pants to Matco wheel assemblies doable without having to drill & tap the end of the Matco axles. After speaking with the guys at VANs & confirming that I had the correct part, I ordered a set.
Down in the shop I started by torquing the main gear mounting bolts (AN6-80A) to 275 in/lb as outlined in CP 46. For added strength I also added a couple drops of red Locktite to each bolt.
I then spent over an hour leveling the fuselage and ensuring it was square & plumb. As I started this process, the fuselage was really off as I tried to level it from side to side. I finally did some investigating and looked inside the overturned fuselage. It was then that I realized that the fuselage had slipped off on one side of the 2×6 sized board that I had it resting upon. Once I corrected that little SNAFU, it made the process of leveling the fuselage much easier.
In addition to shimmying the fuselage to get it level, I also used the threaded rod leveling feet that I had mounted in each corner of the fuselage dolly for the first time. They’re a bit narrow in diameter, but they definitely help.
Here’s another shot.
Once I ensured that the fuselage was level, I measured the distance between the main gear legs and points on the forward gear strut & the forward nose centerline.
I took 3 measurements from each gear leg, then shot 6 measurements to each leg from 2 different forward points on the nose & nose gear leg, respectively. In the end, I had 9 measurements for each leg, 3 for each specific point. I averaged each set of 3 numbers, determined the delta between the left & right gear for each set of numbers, then averaged those final deltas to get a final averaged aggregate delta.
When I originally mounted the gear I had determined that one side of the main gear was a 1/4″ farther aft than the other. However, I was using a standard measuring tape when I originally mounted the gear. When I used the laser measuring device this time, my delta between the left & right side gear legs came out to only 0.087″, which is fantastic as far as I’m concerned.
After I determined that the gear legs were a close match in both elevation (I checked when I leveled the fuselage by placing a long level across the gear leg bottom edges) and forward & aft, I then determined the WL of the center of the axles.
Since the longerons sit at WL 23.0, and the axle centers are at WL -22.0, then it stands to reason that by simply measuring 45 inches from the top of the longerons to the lower gear legs that I could determine the axle mounting location. Now, there does need to be an adjustment as Marco points out on his blog since LPC#45 moves the 3/8″ bolt holes on the main landing gear mount extrusions up 0.4″, which isn’t accounted for in the WL -22.0 dimension. Thus, this moving the bolt holes up 0.4″ makes the new height of the gear at WL -21.6.
So when I measured the height of the center of the gear axle, I subtracted the 0.4″ to make the dimension 44.6″ up from the longeron (when the fuselage is upside down) to the center of the gear axle location.
Here’s a shot of the approximate center point of the axle at 44.6″ below the longeron (at WL -21.6).
When I marked the left side gear leg, the 44.6″ mark was 1.3″ away from the end of the center of the gear leg. I really wanted another 0.2″ inches, and then lo & behold I realized that the other side of the level pressed against the longerons had slipped a bit. Once I wedged the level back tight against the longerons, I remeasured the left side and was able to reclaim my 0.2″ so that the 44.6″ mark was at 1.5″ above the bottom of the gear leg (below with the gear upside down).
I wanted the 1.5″ gap between the bottom of the gear leg and the center point of the axle since the axle bases, as shown below, are 2″ square. Since a half inch provides room to remove some of the lower gear leg for clearance for the Matco brake calipers.
Here’s the 1/2″ mark on the left gear leg.
Below are the Matco axles clamped into place to test the fit, both on the left & right gear leg.
In preparation for mounting the axles to the gear legs, I made a run to Home Depot today and picked up some aluminum squares and a plumb bob, as you can see in the pic below.
I then went back to work on the main gear wheels. The first thing I needed to do was torque all the bolts to ~99 in/lbs (8.5 ft/lbs).
I then disassembled the brake assemblies in order to isolate the brake disk mounting flange that I will need to mount the wheel assemblies onto the axles.
I first removed the 2 longer bolts from the outside edges of the calipers.
I then removed the 4 large diameter bolts in the center of the caliper assembly, and laid out all the parts as a sort of inventory & acquaintance of the parts, but specifically to ensure the brake pads looked ok & weren’t cracked (which happened to my buddy Marco).
11 February 2016 — I started today by doing some more research and analysis on the steps to install the axles to the main gear legs. It’s interesting because just about every builder I know installed the axles and determined the toe-in angle close to the method described in the original plans, but to a builder they all did something significantly different than the way the plans detail the process.
Although I’m not casting doubt on the plans method entirely, I do want to optimize the process for installing the axles to the main gear & also in dialing in the toe-in angle, so some non-plans steps are most likely in order. Admittedly, since I haven’t finalized the final flow of how the axle install process, I’ll knock out all the prerequisite steps and let the process reveal itself (said while sitting in meditation position . . . ha!).
In the shop I started by spending about 45 minutes filing the edges of the heat shields to finalize their shape and remove any heinous, finger-shredding burrs (see heat shields below).
I then determined the position of the left axle on the gear strut that allowed for the optimized placement of the brake caliper to minimize the removal of the bottom gear strut material.
After setting the angle & position of the axle on the left side, I made up a template using tracing paper. I then transferred the mirrored image of the left side axle placement onto the right lower gear leg. Once I finalized and confirmed the placement of the axle on the right gear leg, I then made up a template for the right side as well.
These will be used IF I decide to follow the plans method which says to sand down the lower outboard gear leg to dial in the toe-in angle before trimming the gear leg or mounting the axle. Clearly if I sand the lower gear leg, all my markings that I just finalized will be wiped out. Thus, with my templates I can reapply my markings after shaping the gear legs for the toe-in.
Here’s the right side lower gear with both the axle placement and lower gear removal markings shown.
Once I finalized the positioning of the axle, I used the wheel mounting flange as a template to drill the 1/4″ mounting holes in the left heat shield.
Here’s the left heat shield mounting bolt holes drilled with the test fitting AN4 bolts installed.
And here’s the right heat shield mounting holes drilled.
A shot of both heat shields with the holes deburred & the sides filed smooth.
After finishing with the heat shields, I started work to attach the aluminum squares to the axles to determine wheel toe-in. I wrapped the axles with tape to protect them from any out of control glue gunk. I also used a zip tie to keep the square tight against the axle.
I then used the free square to ensure that the first square I was gluing to the axle was …. yep, square.
I then glued the second square to the other axle.
12 February 2016 — I started out today by applying orange Torque Seal to all the gear mounting bolts in the hell hole.
I then mounted a 1×2 vertically on the firewall, offset 3/8″ so that I could then mount a horizontal 3/4″ wide board down the CL of the fuselage. I originally was going to use my German aluminum long boards for the alignment board, but it wasn’t as straight as the 1×4 pine board I had on hand.
Here’s a shot of the 1×4 CL alignment board. As you can see, completing Chapter 13, the nose gear, allowed me to set the nose gear at just the right height & use it as a mount. Pretty darn handy!
I set & verified the CL alignment board with a plumb bob at a few spots along the length of the board.
Here’s a shot of the installed CL alignment board.
I then clamped my own version of the “Straight Tower of Pisa,” somewhat like my buddy Marco did.
A shot of the left axle clamped in place, with a square attached.to it.
Another selfie for the FAA, right before I started in on all the major sanding of the gear bow.
I sanded the left gear leg down to set the toe-in.
Then, when I started checking the toe-in on the right gear, my measurement at the gear strut came out right about 0.12″ farther outboard than the left side. I strung up my plumb bob over the center mark on the gear bow & confirmed that the gear was set about 0.12″ off center to the right. Not sure how this happened since I had it dialed in while in Germany, but it was definitely an issue that I felt I should deal with.
After some thought, I decided to simply add 6 plies of BID on the exterior side of the left gear to move the wheel out about 0.1″. Really, I don’t think being an 1/8″ off would cause any noticeable issues, but I want to keep the wheels difference from CL under 0.07″ or smaller.
After getting the initial toe-in set for the axles, I sanded down the entire gear legs for both the axle mounting BID gear pads, and the eventual installing of the gear fairing.
Here’s a shot of the right gear leg after final sanding.
I then double-checked the lower gear leg markings . . .
. . . and then initially trimmed the end of the gear legs.
Here’s another shot of the trimmed gear legs.
Here’s the specialized gear trimming tool . . . ok, it’s a jig saw!
I then test fitted the wheel assembly onto the end of the gear leg.
Another shot of the wheel assembly test fit. I still have some lower gear glass to trim, but this is a good start.
Here’s a wide angle shot of the whole axle install effort.
I cut the 3″x 3″ square BID plies for mounting the axles. I cut 2 sets of 3 plies of BID for the right side, and then 1 set of 3 plies and another set of 9 plies for the left side.
I then prepregged the BID pads in sets of 3 plies,
and wetted them out.
I then laid up the BID onto the lower gear legs.
Lower gear legs 3-plies BID (outboard right side)
Lower gear legs 3-plies BID (inboard right side)
Lower gear legs 9-plies BID (outboard left side)
Ok, I then let the epoxy cure for over an hour to set up to just tacky before mounting the axles to minimize the slipperiness & sloppiness of the wet BID. Well, it didn’t make any difference really.
To be honest, I’ve never been more pissed off during this build than this step right here. If ever I should have followed my buddy Marco’s lead & taken a page out of his book and pre-drilled the axle bolt mounting holes it was here. Trying to mount multiple components to a surface with multiple curves on BOTH sides with clamps is, to put it politely, stupid at best. Hats off to other builders that have done it, but as I said it was truly the most infuriating thing I’ve tried to do on this build. It also may be that the Matco axle base is narrower than the other brands, not sure, but it was about impossible (at least for me) to keep so many variables in check.
With the nearly cured glassed getting tweaked by the constant re-clamping of the axles, I eventually chucked them and simply used the face of the heat shields to determine toe-in. For any builders reading this, I would highly recommend this route. That combined with just laying up the BID one side of the gear leg at a time to minimize variables and slop.
I say this because after the sheer ass-pain with the left gear, then of course I spent well under 10 minutes on the right gear side mounting the heat shield and back axle plate.
As for the toe-in figures, my goal was to keep the difference between the 0″ measurement and the 24″ measurement between 0.1″ and 0.15″ to ensure that there is some toe-in, but not too much. I hate to say it, but this is one of those layups that I’m crossing my fingers and hoping on, since it looked good after I was done clamping it all together, and 10-15 minutes later… but it’s late, I’m turning it and who knows what will greet me in the morning.
13 February 2016 — I thought I’d start off this post with a couple of pics showing my toe-in efforts from the top side looking down. In the top pic you’ll note the 2 blue aluminum squares, which, of course, I didn’t even end up using.
With the BID pads cured on each side of both lower gear legs, it was time to assess the damage. I popped the heat shield off each side, and the first item of note was that I was going to have to remove the epoxy nubs that resulted from some of the epoxy squeezing through some of the heat shield bolt holes. This wouldn’t have been an issue if my heat shields had stayed put and weren’t off from the marked bolt hole locations, since I would have simply drilled right through the nubs.
I decided to organize the pics in progression (vs. true chronological steps), at least initially, for each item. Thus, below you can see the transformation of the left side outboard lower gear leg as I sanded & shaped the 9-plies of BID. [NOTE: What appears to be bolt holes drilled into the face are not holes, just areas where I removed the “nubs” I mentioned above.]
Here’s the back axle plate on the inside left lower gear leg. The left side held decently, even though it was the side that gave me the most fits.
But the right lower gear leg was jacked up on both sides, although I didn’t realize the outboard side had any real issues until I went to mount the axle & heat shield later (more below). Basically, you can see the flat spot in the middle which looks like the pupil of a cat’s eye, with the unpressed BID to either side.
In addition, the back axle plate had slid way aft on me during the night. The way the axle mounting bolts would align, there would be no other option than to knock the plate off & start over again.
Which is what I did. Note that to the left is the flox base, which decided that it liked the grey primer better than the back axle plate. Thankfully, since the surface of the plate was fairly smooth, it took one really sharp rap with a hammer & chisel to send the plate flying across the shop… but it was off!
I then set my sights on mounting the left axle. Using my previous marks as hole guides, I clamped the axle firmly in place with 3 C-clamps. Then used the long 1/4″ bit to drill the holes.
And here’s the results on the outboard side.
And the 4 AN4-22A axle bolt threads showing on the back side. As per usual, I think AN4-20A bolts would be a better fit, maybe even just a tad shorter.
With the axle bolts drilled, I could determine just how much material needed to come off the lower gear leg to allow clearance for the brake caliper. The plans throw around 1/16″ and 0.1″ as a number, but by using the Matco mounting & mocking up the brake assembly, I determined that the clearance between the Matco wheel/brake/axle mount and the brake caliper assembly is about 3/32″ (0.93″), so that’s what I used.
As you can see, I used a blue Sharpie to mark the areas that needed to be removed for brake caliper clearance.
And for the job, I took my ol’ mojamma belt sander out of retirement and threw a new 32 grit belt on it. I say out of retirement because it took a good bit to dig it off the top storage shelf in the garage.
The belt sander worked like a champ! Here’s the end result:
I then bolted on the axle along with the heat shield and the brake assembly. The bolt fit was tight, and needed some persuasion, but it all went together fine.
I removed the blue painter’s tape off the axle in preparation for mounting the wheel, but before I stuck the wheel on I wanted to use the heat shield to check the toe-in angle quickly before proceeding. The toe-in was still right at 0.1″ difference between the zero measurement & the 24″ measurement. With that bit of info, I was ready to mount the wheel & brake rotor.
Here’s a side shot of the axle, brake assembly, and heat shield just prior to mounting the brake rotor. The 6 bolts you see in a half moon shape encircling the top part of the axle had to be removed in order to remove the brake caliper assembly, which is a prerequisite step to allow the rotor assembly to be installed.
With the brake caliper assembly removed, I then mounted the rotor. If you look at the outer circumference of the brake rotor you’ll note 3 screw holes. These holes are what attach the brake rotor physically to the actual wheel.
You can also see the 1/2″ overhang of the heat shield beyond the outer edge of the rotor to protect the gear leg from the incredible amount of heat the rotor generates during braking ops.
I took the shot below showing how close the brake rotor is to the heat shield. It’s actually a little misleading though since when the brake rotor is bolted to the wheel, the space between it and the heat shield allows for plenty of clearance.
Of course having never mounted one of these wheels before, I wasn’t sure what the rotor- to-heat-shield clearance would be, so I clamped the heat shield tightly against the gear leg to coax it to reside a little closer to the gear strut. Also, in the pic below you can see that I remounted the brake caliper assembly around the rotor. I torqued each end bolt of the 6 caliper bolts to 50 in/lb. and the 4 center bolts to 120 in/lb. as per Matco specs.
I then mounted the wheel, which in and of itself is an odd endeavor since the sealed axle bearing inside the center hub of the wheel is not allowed to rotate with the wheel, but has to be bolted in tightly so that it is secured to the axle –not spinning– and the wheel rotates around it. As noted by Matco, this makes for a very tight install & the wheel bearings will break themselves in as they seat. What this all means is that initially the wheel is pretty darn stiff in trying to get it to rotate. Kinda weird, but hey, I figure Matco knows what they’re doing & I’m not going against their instructions.
With the left wheel mounted, it was time to start on the right side. The first order of business was to clamp the axle in place & drill the 4 bolt holes (not shown).
After I got the bolt holes drilled & the confirmed the axle mounted fine, I then took the axle off & mounted just the wheel/brake mounting flange on the outboard side with 2 short AN4 bolts as guides. I then clamped the popped-off back axle plate back into the correct position on the inboard side of the gear leg.
Here’s a shot of the clamped back axle plate… and me!
I then drilled the bolt mounting holes in the back axle plate using the 4 axle mounting holes in the gear leg as a guide. As I drilled each hole, I installed an AN4-22A bolt to ensure it fit.
And here’s the back side axle mount plate with the AN4 bolts coming through. Yeah, they aren’t perfectly straight, but I’m confident they’ll do their job.
I marked the profile of the lower gear strut onto the 1/16″ thick back axle plate and then trimmed it down on 3 corners with a cutoff disk on the Dremel tool. I then reattached it with flox since the forward edge of the gear leg underneath dipped down a fair amount since it wasn’t a part of the flox bed that was created when I originally mounted the back plate. I used shorter AN4 bolts to clamp down the aft side of the plate, and used C-clamps to keep the front side of the back plate securely against the gear leg.
After mounting the left wheel, I discovered two important steps that I should have completed before installing the wheel: 1) Attach Fiberfrax to the gear leg since I can’t do it with the heat shield installed, and 2) Install the right angle brake line fitting, which I can’t do … you guessed it! … with the heat shield installed.
To remedy #1 on the right gear, I broke out the Fiberfrax roll.
I cut off a piece of Fiberfrax that measured 4″ x 10″, and then rounded up my RTV silicone tube & aluminum foil tape.
I test fitted the Fiberfrax & then marked the upper & lower edges, leaving about a half inch spacing on the top (technically bottom) for the foil tape to attach to the gear leg. I actually did this after setting the wheel pant up next to the wheel & gear leg to get a generally idea of the amount of gear leg requiring cover. I want enough Fiberfrax & foil tape to just exit out the top of the wheel pant and have it secured by the wheel pant mounting flange/fairing that will be part of the gear leg.
After marking it, I spread a film of RTV silicone onto the gear leg in-between the upper & lower marks.
I then attached the Fiberfrax to the gear leg. Since this is 1/8″ thick Fiberfrax, I basically made a tri-fold application, with 1 layer outboard under the heat shield & 2 layers inboard on the backside of the gear.
As you can see, I’m very serious about taking measures to protect the lower gear strut from heat damage from the brakes. In my opinion (ok, and RAF’s too) based on my research, not only should you use the heat shield to protect from the direct heat from the brake rotor, but if using big brakes especially (which I am) and tight fitting wheel pants (sounds like a country song, but I am doing that as well) then the Fiberfrax & foil tape helps protect the gear leg from the heat buildup in the wheel pant long after you’ve parked the bird and started drinking beer & telling war stories, even WITH venting of the wheel pants!
Here’s a shot of the outboard single Fiberfrax layer.
I then wrapped the Fiberfrax with aluminum foil tape, which reading the package I was pleasantly surprised to see it rated for 250° F, which for the tape itself is pretty decent.
With task #1 out of the way, now it was time to proactively accomplish task #2 on the right wheel. I pulled an AN822-3 90° elbow out my tube fitting storage box and located my Permatex thread sealant equivalent of Locktite 567.
As per instructions, I left the first couple of threads dry & only applied the thread sealant 3/4 of the way around the pipe threaded side of the fitting.
(Oops…. apparently I forgot to get a pic of the fitting installed into the brake caliper assembly, but I’m sure I’ll get a shot of it tomorrow.)
I was planning on installing the second wheel/tire tonight, but when I double checked the toe-in angle I had wobble on the outboard axle mount surface since apparently I didn’t get enough clamp pressure when I was clamping the BID plies down during the toe-in setting. It’s late & I would have to make a real ruckus to sand this down before adding a good bit of flox under the heat shield & then resetting the final toe-in, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.
I did however take a minute to add blue torque seal to the left side wheel bolts.
14 February 2016 — I’m taking a slight detour after I evaluated the gear fairing install requirements (see below).
I started out today by sanding down the sides of the axle mounting face on the lower right leg.
I then floxed the edges of the right lower gear leg axle mounting face and then mounted the right heat shield onto the gear leg. Before mounting the heat shield I waxed the back side of it to make it more easily removable once the flox cures.
After I mounted the heat shield, I clamped on a straight piece of wood & dialed in the toe-in for a final time to let the flox edges cure to create a nice solid base across the entire axle mounting pad.
As I was contemplating installing the right side axle, brake assembly, and wheel, I figured I would check out the foam gear fairing I have on hand from Eureka CNC. On the Eureka CNC website there’s an example of the gear fairing kit install, but it’s for a Cozy. Well, the Cozy gear fairing foam pieces come in halves, whereas the Long-EZ gear fairings come as a single piece with a single slit across the thin underside of each piece. If there’s a way to get the gear fairing pieces on or off without cutting them, I honestly don’t see it. What this means is that I need to install the gear fairings before doing the final install on the axles, brakes, wheels & heat shields.
Here’s another shot of the right side toe-in setting. As for the gear fairing shown below, there’s one more piece that I wasn’t able set in place due to the thickness of the Fiberfrax. When I do install that last fairing piece I’ll have to reshape the foam on the inside of the fairing piece for it to fit.
Once I finished my initial assessment on the gear fairing, I removed all of the left wheel & brake assembly off the left gear strut and then installed the 90° brake line fitting into the left brake caliper.
I then mounted the -3 Stratoflex stainless steel brake lines to check how they fit.
Then, probably more for my curiosity, I set up the brake calipers in the configuration that they would be in when installed on the gear legs as they are now on the inverted fuselage.
With the brake line fittings installed on both brake calipers, I then cut another piece of 1/8″ thick Fiberfrax 4″ x 10″. I then test fitted the Fiberfrax piece on the left side gear leg. I marked the area and then covered it with a good coat of RTV Silicone adhesive before putting the Fiberfrax in place.
The pics below show the Fiberfrax set in place on the left gear leg.
I then covered the Fiberfrax with foil tape.
Although I don’t have the wheels installed, since I’m moving into a new phase on the main landing gear, I figured I would take a shot with the mini-“Straight Tower of Pisa” taken down.
15 February 2016 — I started out today finalizing my research on relief tube installs. I was checking out other builders’ sites to ensure I didn’t miss any good tips for installing the relief tube.
Although my class was canceled tonight due to the storm (as you can see in the pic below!), I then spent a few hours working on my course work. I then spent another good hour+ shoveling snow.
After I got the snow cleared off my truck, I ran to the Aviation Department at Home Depot to pick up some 1/4″ OD for the relief tube and some 7/16″ OD tubing to embed in the gear fairing channel. I found the 1/4″ OD tubing but they didn’t have any thin-walled 7/16″ OD tubing, so I ended up buying 1/2″ OD and I’ll see if I can make it work.
After getting back home, I mocked up the 1/4″ tubing on the left gear leg. For the record, I did check out using Nylaflow for the relief tube but I didn’t like it since it’s just so darn stiff & unwieldy. I’m glad I picked up the 1/4″ polyethylene tubing at Home Depot since it’s much more flexible than Nylaflow.
After a few more tweaks of the tubing on the left side gear TE, I then micro’d & glassed the relief tube in place using 1 ply of BID. I then peel plied the layup. Since this layup will be covered with micro and the gear fairing foam pieces, I went ahead and use some old MGS 335 epoxy & hardener that I had on hand.
Here’s a shot of the top side of the gear showing the relief tube glassed in place.
After a few hours under the heat lamp, the layup to attach the relief tube to the main gear TE was pretty much cured. Here’s a couple pics of the cured layup.
17 February 2016 — As you can see, and as I predicted, I didn’t get anything done on the plane yesterday since my fellow Long-EZ builder & great friend Marco (prolific writer of the awesome blog “What have I gotten myself into!”) stopped by late yesterday afternoon. I showed him around the shop and gave him the tour & update on my project, which he hasn’t seen in person since he helped me layup glass on the F22 bulkhead back in 2011!
We talked all things Long-EZ, flying & otherwise until the wee hours of the morning before finally hitting the rack, then continued our discussion this morning. After a late lunch he took off back home & I got back into the shop. It’s great to be able to visit with good friends for more than just a couple of hours, and since Marco & I started our respective Long-EZ build journeys at the same time, after having met at the EAA composites workshop, we know each other’s projects just about as well as our own. And as I mentioned to Marco over lunch, having a building buddy –even more & above just being linked into the canard community– has really made my build much easier and faster in almost every aspect.
So late this afternoon I started on the gear by knocking out the first half of Long-EZ Plans Change (LPC) #128 that’s listed in CP-48. It basically says that a few pilots had knocked their gear loose off the LGMAT tube and had to recenter the gear with a crowbar. Then they ensured it stayed centered by placing flox in-between the gear tab and the 2024 aluminum gear mounting tab thus creating a thick flox washer between the two to keep the gear tabs in place both on the front & aft side of the gear.
Instead of trying to do this after the fact, if it ever came to it, and since I have no delusions of being the best pilot in the world or the fact that I won’t have a few hard landings, I thought it best to get this flox into these channels now while I still have good access. For the record, I spent a good 10 minutes going over my build schedule and thought hard to see if I could come up with any scenarios where I would need to remove the gear for the rest of the build, and couldn’t come up with one. So, in goes the flox!
I started by using my Perma-Grit tools to sand the glass gear tab opposite the landing gear mount extrusion so that the flox had something textured to bite into.
To better keep the flox in place, I then cut up 4 plastic strips 1/2″ wide off an old package & wrapped them around the bottom of the gear tab (technically top since it’s all upside down) and butted up against the inside edge of each aluminum extrusion. I then taped the plastic strips in place to essentially create a “U” shaped channel.
I then whipped up some epoxy with fast hardener and made some wet flox and poured it into each U-shaped trough I created around each of the 4 gear tabs. Obviously, this will only cover about half of the area, but by starting out with wet flox I know I’ll get good coverage in the hard to reach areas. The “top” half will get a little bit thicker flox since the lower base half will be in place with the cured wet flox.
As the LPC #128 flox cured, I went to work on widening the 7/16″ diameter channel in the gear fairing foam pieces to 1/2″ in diameter. I started with the 1/4″ round screwdriver looking Perma-Grit tool to widen the beginning of the channel out to about a 1/2″, then I switched to the 1/2″ round abrasive tool that you see in the pic below.
This is to allow for the emplacement of the 1/2″ diameter thinner walled plastic tubing that I picked up at Home Depot.
After sanding out the channel, I tested the 1/2″ diameter tubing and it fit great.
Just for fun & to see it’s “natural” shape, as I finished enlarging each gear fairing piece channel to 1/2″, I stacked them up on top of the fuselage. Since the edges are very close to matching you can see a bit of a washout in the second pic. BTW, I couldn’t get the very last fairing piece to balance without the whole tower crashing down.
Of course then I had to take a pic of the other tower I had created as I removed each foam fairing piece from its original block.
I then mocked up the first left gear fairing piece and once I figured out the starting point & marked it, I whipped up some old MGS 335 epoxy (to use it up) and made a bunch of micro with it. Below I had just painted the inboard half of the gear leg with pure epoxy before I started applying the micro.
Jumping ahead, to keep the foam pieces tight on the gear leg I used duct tape to keep the two “halves” together. However, since the tape I was using wasn’t sticking well, I carefully wrapped the duct tape around the TE and secured the tape back onto itself, on all but one fairing piece. This method secured the foam to the gear leg just tight enough.
A couple other notes on the install. First off, I would like to remind everyone that there are NO instructions that come with these gear fairings! However, that being said, I will give HUGE props to Stephen James from Eureka CNC in that once I secured these fairing pieces tightly to the gear leg, they fit so spot on that the TE of the fairing pieces aligned so well that I had no need to use the clothesline pins that I spent a good 10 minutes looking for. Very impressive.
In addition, I mentioned previously that I needed to install these now since, unlike the Cozy version, these Long-EZ gear fairing foam pieces are cut in a single piece with a slit on the inner gear side. However, on piece #5 I accidentally snapped it in half while sliding it into place. It was then that I serendipitously realized that it was actually much better to mount these in 2 pieces since you can get more micro slathered on to all the surfaces. This makes sense since instead of applying micro to the gear leg, then pushing it out of the way by sliding these pieces into place, if you simply install the front half in from the front, it captures the existing surface micro in place and keeps it in-between the gear leg and the foam fairing piece. However, while there is a bit more room to get more micro in play on the aft side, by sliding the piece into place with the tube in the channel, the aft side is still a bit tricky to get all the micro in there for a really uniform application. Thus, on the right side I will be cutting all the foam fairing pieces into 2 pieces before mounting them to the gear leg.
Here’s a wider angle shot of the gear legs showing the left gear fairing micro’d in place.
The shots below are a couple of hours later after I just carefully removed the duct tape securing the left gear leg foam fairing pieces in place. You can see that I cut the ends of the 1/2″ channel tubing and ran another narrower black tube down the middle to test clearance and accessibility. The tube works like a champ and I’m very happy with it. BTW, the fast hardener on the MGS 335 kicks off much more quickly than the fast hardener on the MGS 285, so the micro in these pics was completely cured.
I then whipped up another batch of flox using MGS 285 with fast hardener and finished my flox gear washer mod IAW LPC #128 as described in CP-48. I used slightly thicker flox this time since I didn’t have any dams to stem the flow of flox from running off the “top” half of each gear tab-extrusion gap. You can also see that I had just spent a few minutes removing all the tape, plastic & errant flox from the “bottom” half flox application.
Here’s the new aft side flox “donuts.”
And the forward side flox gap fillers.
I won’t be glassing the top sides of the gear fairings until after I flip the fuselage right side up.
18 February 2016 — I started out by prepping the right gear leg for attaching the gear fairing foam pieces.
I figured I would snap a couple of shots of the gear fairing foam pieces ready to install.
I then slathered up the right gear leg with micro as I did the left site and attached all the foam fairing pieces to the gear leg.
Here’s another shot of the right side gear fairing.
I then cut 2 pieces of UNI at a 30° bias for each side, for a total of 4 pieces of UNI each measuring 11″ wide x 32″ long.
After getting all the UNI cut I mixed up some micro using MGS 335 and applied it to the bottom surface of the left gear fairing.
I then laid up 2 plies of UNI, with the 30° bias going in opposite directions.
I then micro’d the surface & laid up 2-plies of UNI on the bottom side of the right gear fairing.
Here are a couple of shots of the glassed bottom side of the gear fairings. Again, I’ll layup the top side of each gear fairing after I flip the fuselage over back upright.
I’ve also been meaning to take a pic of these. They’re end caps for the Matco axles from VANs aircraft that have a nutplate in the end to allow for mounting the outboard side of the wheel pants. This eliminates the requirement to drill & tap the end of the axle, which with Matco axels can be a little problematic.
19 February 2016 — I didn’t get a lot done today on the plane build, but I did spend a couple of hours cleaning up the gear fairing layups from last night.
I started by pulling the 2″ wide peel ply off the LE of both sides of the fairings. I cleaned up the peel ply boogers and then cleaned up the top & bottom fairing edges by trimming away the excess glass with the Fein saw. I then cut the glass on the LE with the Fein saw using the protective duct tape edge as a guide. I didn’t take any pics of this until after I finished taping the cut line along the fairing TE with blue painters tape. I then cut both TE edges and cleaned up the LEs & TEs with my sanding board.
Here’s a shot of left side gear fairing LE. You can see all the other edges have been trimmed & cleaned up as well.
A shot of the gear fairings after getting trimmed & cleaned up.
I then started planning the belly scoop for my RAM air, much along the line as what James Redmon has on his Berkut 13.
21 February 2016 — I started today by continuing the design on the belly air scoop for the ram air intake. I spent a good amount of time researching the intake nozzle shape & checking my options for what bell mouth-shaped aluminum intakes are available for sale online. So far I haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for, so I’ll keep looking as I continue to dial in the shape, design & configuration of the air intake scoop.
My main focus today was to get down to brass tax to answer my #1 burning question at the moment concerning my final brake line connections: stainless steel or Nylaflow? (both of which I have on hand). What I don’t have on hand is a flaring tool for the 3/16″ stainless steel tubing I have on hand ($$) or the fittings I would need to connect up the Nylaflow into my current configuration ($).
The first thing I needed to find out is if the stainless steel tubing would even fit into the channel tubing I emplaced on the aft side of the main gear fairings. Well, the stainless steel tubing, being a small diameter, was easily bent by hand and with just a little bit of effort & cajoling I got it to slide into the fairing channel.
Below is a closer view of the inboard side.
Knowing that the stainless steel brake line can be fit into place easily enough, I then pulled the trigger and ordered yet another tube flaring tool that can handle flaring 3/16″ stainless steel tubing. I don’t have the model or specs in front of me but when I get it in hand & use it I’ll give you a report on how it works.
Below is a shot of the outboard side gear with the stainless steel brake line sticking out. As you can see, there’s plenty of tubing to work with which will allow me to most likely create a service & anti-stress spring loop at the hell hole side of the tubing.
24 February 2016 — As I mentioned in my project update, I decided that I needed to flip the fuselage right side up to glass the top sides of the gear fairing. I hadn’t planned on flipping the fuselage for quite a while, but plans change when one (read: ME) fails to account for issues such as the heat shields blocking access to the lower outboard gear leg thus preventing glassing the topside gear fairing if the wheels are mounted. Sequencing is key in my opinion for optimizing the build schedule, but in this case there was no way around it: the fuselage was going to have to get flipped back upright.
No big deal of course. I did re-wicker my build steps though to account for the fuselage being right side up. The plan now is to glass the top of the gear fairings, then do a final check & possible tweak of the toe-in, and then mount the wheels/tires/axles/brakes/heat shield. With the wheels in place, and the fuselage upright, I can then mount the wheel pants and be finished with all things gear related except for finalizing the brake line install. As for the stainless steel brake line install, the new timeline works out fine since my stainless steel capable flaring tool won’t be here for another couple weeks.
So I started off today by trimming the TE of both the right & left gear fairings.
Once I got the gear fairing TE squared away, I needed to flip the fuselage. I did about 10 minutes of head scratching before I finally remembered that I had designed the fuselage dolly so that it could match up height-wise with my portable fold out table. I set the table as you can see below and it matched up great after I set a couple 2x4s with cardboard protectors in place to get the heights equal & matched.
I then very carefully & slowly tipped over the fuselage onto the foldout table using the gear legs as a lever.
Here’s a shot from the inside cockpit side… something I haven’t seen in while.
I then slid the fuselage sideways back onto the fuselage dolly.
And then flipped the fuselage right side up back onto the fold out table, and then once again slide it over onto the fuselage dolly. Once I had it blocked correctly underneath, I then reattached the securing straps.
Another shot of the flipped fuselage from the aft end.
Clearly the bottom side of the gear is close to the ground, someplace that I don’t want to spend a lot of time messing around trying to layup glass. Luckily my fuselage dolly elevates!
Interestingly, with the amount of weight that my fuselage is packing on, my drill couldn’t handle the torque of getting the dolly platform to raise. Actually, I should say that my hand couldn’t handle the torque of the drill wanting to rip out of my hand. So I grabbed a ratchet speed handle and raised the platform its first few inches manually before switching to the drill. [I guess this demonstrates the torque required on the nose gear that Jack discusses in his instructions: to have the gear up at least a foot before climbing in & having it raise passengers from the flat deck position.]
As you can see, I raised the platform its full height giving me (and thus my back!) a much better working height for glassing the top side of the gear fairings.
With the gear height at an acceptable working height, I then marked the right gear fairing a half inch (0.5″) forward of the TE. This will allow for a good top fairing glass to lower fairing glass bond.
I used a razor knife to remove the foam, and then the Dremel Tool to remove the micro that had oozed out the aft end of the foam piece junctions. I also cleaned the dead foam & micro off the freshly exposed TE lip.
Then came the not so fun step. For some weird reason the “2-piece clamping method” that I used on the right side fairing didn’t work so well. I could run my hand up & down the outer surface of the right fairing and depress the foam inwards towards the original gear. Clearly there were a fair number of air gaps between the applied micro layer and the foam fairing pieces on the right side fairing.
With the size of the air pockets the practical solution was far beyond injecting epoxy or anything else under the foam pieces, I was going to have do a sort of rebuild on this fairing.
Enter X-30 Expanding Foam. I know a lot of builders have used this foam for a variety of things, but I personally haven’t used it before.
After reading the directions I decided that I would heed the warning of so many builders before me that this stuff really does expand 30 times its initial volume. With this in mind I marked equal pencil lines in 2 small cups less than an inch up for parts A & B of the X-30 foam.
I poured the part A & the part B X-30 foam in the separate small cups, and then as per instructions mixed them in the larger cup.
For those not familiar with the X-30 Expanding Foam, it has a 15-20 second mix time before its immediately poured and/or applied to the surface. I didn’t set up any dams or anything since I applied it straight to the surface of the right gear fairing.
Here’s a wide angle shot of the right gear faring with the expanding pour foam applied to it.
While I let the expanding foam cure some I went to work on the TE of the left gear fairing. As with the right gear fairing I trimmed the foam 0.5″ from the TE.
After finishing trimming the TE on the left side, I turned my sights back onto the right side gear fairing. I started out using the Stanley Surfoam grater to trim the foam down (left pic) and then used my sanding board to finalize the foam sanding (right pic).
I then cut another 4 pieces of UNI off the roll. This time around I added a half inch to make the width 11-1/2″ wide vs the underside 11″ wide. I cut the UNI at a 30° angle across the entire roll.
I then mixed up some flox and applied it to the left top gear fairing foam & glass junctions at both the LE & TE. I then micro’d the surface of foam gear fairing before laying up 2 plies of UNI oriented in opposite 30° angles. I overlapped the 2 plies of UNI onto the bottom fairing glass by about 1.5″ the entire length of the LE.
A front shot of the glassed topside left gear fairing.
With the right gear fairing glassed I then sanded down the blue foam & cleaned up the micro on the left fairing with the Dremel tool. Once the fairing surface was prepped, I micro’d the top left gear fairing.
I then laid up 2 plies of UNI at opposite 30° bias just as I did on the right side gear fairing.
After laying up the UNI on the fairing I ensured that it was trimmed on both sides. I also peel plied the UNI overlap onto the lower fairing glass on each side.
Since I used MGS 335 with slow hardener, I have a few hours before I’ll razor cut the overhanging glass. When the layup gets to that green point I’ll also apply dry micro to the depression along the TE.
25 February 2016 — I started out this morning by whipping up some thick micro and applied it to the trough along the TE on both gear fairings. I then peel plied the micro with 1″ wide peel ply tape.
Later on in the afternoon I razor trimmed the TE on each side. Then in evening I pulled all the peel ply both off the cured TE micro and the off the topside UNI overlap onto the lower UNI skin. I then sanded the aft fairing TE on each side.
After I finished up with the gear fairing, I rounded up all the wheel pant components to have them on hand as I start moving towards installing them.
27 February 2016 — I started off today by test fitting the right heat shield onto the gear leg. The foam of the lower gear fairing extended out enough to make it impossible to mount the heat shield in its correct position.
I marked the perimeter of the heat shield onto the lower gear leg in preparation to cut the glass & foam away from the lower gear leg.
I then used the Fein saw to cut away the glass & foam away from the lower gear leg to allow the heat shield to fit correctly in place.
Here’s a shot of the trimmed lower right gear leg.
I then remounted the right gear heat shield, which fit fine. I held the AN4-22A bolts in place with spring clamps.
I then repeated this process on the left side to clear the lower gear leg glass & foam (and micro) to allow the left heat shield to fit correctly.
I ran a line down the fuselage CL to double check the toe-in, and even sanded the gear axle mount pads, but after dialing them in as best I could I realized that I was about as close as I was going to get at this point. I’ll do some final checks with the fuselage actually sitting on the ground.
After messing about with the toe-in and dialing it in as best possible, I then mounted the axle, brake mount assembly and the heat shield onto the right gear leg.
I then mounted the right brake rotor and brake caliper assembly.
Here’s an inside view of the right brake caliper assembly.
I then installed the wheel & tire onto the right side gear leg.
Here’s another shot of the right wheel installed.
After installed the right wheel, I installed the left axle, heat shield and brake mount assembly. Unfortunately, after tightening up all the nuts on the AN4-22A bolts and then attempting to mount the rotor & brake caliper assembly I realized that I had mounted the brake mount assembly upside down… doh!
This is how it should look!
I then mounted the left brake rotor & brake caliper assembly.
Here is a shot that I’ve been wanting to take for a long time: both wheels mounted!
I then mounted the 9.5″ braided stainless steel Stratoflex brake lines that will connect the brake caliper to the stainless steel brake line tubing.
Here’s an inside view of the right (top) and left (bottom) braided stainless steel Stratoflex brake lines.
I then mounted the wheel axle nut sleeves to both Matco axles. These are sold by Van’s Aircraft for mounting the outboard side of the wheel pants.
With the gear fairings finished and the wheels now mounted, I will start the process of installing the wheel pants. After I get the wheel pants installed, I’ll then flip the fuselage back over, finalize installing the brake lines. Finally, I’ll then work on the RAM air scoop and aft fuselage extension over the hell hole area.
2 March 2016 — Tonight was a milestone in that it was the first time the fuselage has rested on the main wheels … ever!
I lowered the fuselage dolly platform to get the fuselage as low as possible to slide it aft on the fuselage dolly and thus get the main gear wheels on the floor.
Forgive the camera angles, but I was backed up all the way in the corner and trying to get as wide angle of a shot as I could!
After I got the fuselage set so I could access the CL on the belly, I started attaching straight edges, running strings and plumb bobs, etc. to double check the toe-in on each side. As I suspected, I jacked up the toe-in pretty good after I had set them correctly from the first go around with the gear in the air.
When I flipped the fuselage over I had double-checked the toe-in and it seemed to be either negative (wheels pointing out) or not enough. So when I mounted the wheels I sanded down the mounting pads to reset the toe-ins correctly. Of course, as often is the case, I should have left well enough alone!
With access to the CL mark on the belly this evening, I could actually determine the CL to double check my toe-in measurements. After it was all said & done this evening, I confirmed that my left wheel assembly is mounted approximately .08″ farther outboard than my right, which is not enough for me to worry about any further.
However, my toe-in is much more than it technically should be with each side a hair over 0.3″. I figure that per plans the max you want to be at is 0.45″ combined, and I’m sitting just under 0.65″ combined. However, since my plane will have a bigger engine and weigh a couple hundred pounds more than what Burt was originally planning these birds to weigh in at, I’m not going to make something not-so-great even worse by mucking about with it. At least not right now. I’ll wait until I do my high speed taxi tests to see how my tire wear is progressing & then adjust fire from there.
8 March 2016 — First off, UPS delivered my Ridgid 37° flaring tool yesterday morning. This tool will enable me to flare my 3/16″ stainless steel brake tubing, thus allowing the final pieces to placed into the brake line system. Now, this tool’s specs does not specifically state that it’s rated for stainless steel, but many of the reviewers on Amazon did clearly state that they used it with very good results on stainless steel. So I figured I would give it a try. I will tell you that it is much bigger than it looks in the pics, and this thing is a heavy, robust beast.
Secondly, I’ve been doing a fair amount of research on my toe-in dilemma and I’ve decided to pull the wheels, configure the fuselage upright without the fuselage dolly in the way and do one final toe-in setting to get them to specs. After reviewing both the plans, what other canardians have done, and even the standard on other types of aircraft, I’m concerned my toe-in is too much, even for a heavier than plans bird. I would probably not mess around with it if it were, say, 0.5″ total vs. the 0.45″ total called out for in the plans, but I’m significantly over at 0.6+”.
Finally, I’ve been updating my to-do task list and one thing I forgot to add came up today when I took a couple of pics to send to Marco earlier. I was pointing out how the aft tab of my right heat shield was just barely kissing the brake caliper… as I’m pointing to in the pics below. I’ll trim about 0.1″ off that area when I remove the wheels (AGAIN!) to set the final toe-in.
As you can see, the left side heat shield clearance is fine.
9 March 2016 — Today was quite the beautiful day here in Northern Virginia, so after messing around with my school work for a couple of hours, getting my motorcycle battery charged up enough to get it started and out for a quick scoot, and then spending just over an hour on the phone with my building nemesis Marco (ha!)…. I finally got into the shop!
My main goal for this afternoon was to get the fuselage off the dolly and into its grazing stance, which I did as you can see below. Before I actually offloaded the fuselage from the fuselage dolly, I did a bit of Spring cleaning in the shop and attached the rollbar and headrest to the fuselage.
My next task was to install the battery in the nose and connect up the wiring leads to get the nose gear to extend and finally get this bird on all 3 wheels!
First, I wanted to get a couple of shots of my grazing fuselage from the aft end.
Especially this shot, where the nose is fully resting on the nose bumper, which of course is the aerodynamically clean shaped nose bumper that my buddy Marco CNC’d out of a hockey puck. He did a fantastic job on it!
I shot a video that covers the majority of work I’ve completed over the last few months. Then, at the end of the video, I raise the nose by extending the nose gear for the first time during this build. Note that I merely strapped in the battery, attached the leads, and then shot the video. There was no previous testing to ensure it worked and the initial nose raising in the video is just that, the initial nose raising in real time. I’m just glad it worked! Whew!
I took one final pic of the fuselage on all 3 wheels before closing up shop for the evening. This of course is another huge milestone for this build!
24 August 2016 — I started out today by updating my Master Project Build Schedule which I call my “Order of Battle.” I figured I need to start with the master schedule to better detail what tasks that I am specifically going to do on my Chapter 9 To-Do sheet. In doing so, I broke out the hell hole cover and RAM air scoop steps for a later date after other prerequisite tasks are completed.
I then set about to figure out this pesky toe-in issue that needs finalized. I put the fuselage up on a fold out table vs. fuselage dolly so that I could get a clear shot of the CL & the front gear leg.
I started by leveling the longerons side-to-side. I also clamped a board onto the table legs perpendicular to the fuselage and then positioned the fuselage so that the axles were set back from this board 24″.
I then removed the wheels/tires, brake disks and pads off of each axle.
At this point I needed to find the aircraft CL, so I shot a laser line which allowed me to check the toe-in of each wheel not just in comparison to each other, but to the CL as well. I took the pic below a little off center, that’s why the line seems a bit askew.
I then clamped a 24″ square to each side and checked the toe-in. The plans say that the max toe in delta between the “B” measurement (at the axles, or 0 inches) and the “A” measurement (at 24″ forward of the axles) should be between 0.2 and 0.45 inches. Right now, I’m sitting at 0.62 inches, with my right wheel toed-in 0.08″ more than my left. If I can get the right wheel toe-in the same as the left, then at 0.54″ I’ll be happy and call it a day. This may be a bit more than Burt called for in the plans, but then again, my aircraft weight is a bit more than what Burt advised as well. One other thought is that I’m not going to jump through a lot of hoops now until I start doing some high speed taxi tests & a few landings, at which point I’ll tweak what needs tweaking! (I made note of these points back in March as well).
Now, a few more figures. Before I took the wheels off I measured from the front center of each tire near the ground to the large nut on the nose wheel fork. Each side came out very close to 110″. Then, after I removed the wheels I also measured from the bottom of each axle to the 6-foot level I had across the longerons, with each side measuring close to exactly 48.5 inches. I then measured from the aft side of each of the inside, top-forward axle mounting bolt to the fuselage CL at the back edge of the fuselage bottom: Right side 34.32″ and left side 34.25″. I also checked the dip angle of each axle hanging free, both came out to 12.4°. Finally, with the longerons level I laid the long level across the squares as close to the gear legs as possible: perfectly level as well!
So . . .
Interestingly, when I checked the distance between the end of each axle, straight out perpendicular to the fuselage, I kept coming up with the left side axle end being 0.7″ closer to the fuselage than the right side! I did this a number of times, in a number of different fashions, and each time it told the same story. Very odd! The only correlating data that helps support this –that I didn’t mention above– is that through my “A” & “B” measurements for the toe-in, I again measured that my left AXLE is 0.33″ closer to the centerline than is my right. This actually makes some sense, because I mistakenly added nearly 0.2″ more BID to the right side gear leg due to my misID’ing the CL when the fuselage was upside down and I read the wrong mark on the freshly extended firewall.
My conclusion is that I MAY add a spacer to help clean some of this up. I talked to my buddy Marco and he advised to leave it and press on (good advice), but a big factor in this decision will be the affect it has on the asymmetry between the wheel pants. I’ll being doing a fair number of measurements tomorrow on those in prep of installing the wheel pants. In short, more to follow on this.
In other news, I was able to trim the offending right heat shield on the aft side where it was barely touching the brake caliper (actually visible in last pic above). I also topped off the tire pressure raising it to the recommended 70 PSI from the 50 PSI I had filled them up to (actually, after 6 months, both tires were down to 30 PSI each).
25 August 2016 — In pondering how to fix the Right side toe-in that points inboard just a tad too far, I considered using AN960-416L washers as shims on the forward axle bolts to kick the toe-in back out.
But that turned out to be a no-go, since these washers are a 0.030″ thick. That would equate to over 0.3″ back outboard at the 24″ forward (of the axle) mark, in effect creating a toe-out vs. toe-in! So I did the math and concluded that I actually need a 0.007″ shim, which would result in the right wheel’s toe-in very closely matching the left.
I removed the Right side axle bolts in prep for eventually installing shims on the forward 2 bolts. In addition, I’m going to swap out the longer axle bolts for slightly shorter ones.
7 September 2016 — Today I received my Wheel Bearing Packer from Amazon, which I used later in the evening to facilitate putting the main gear wheels back together. I’m still shooting to the wings mounted prior to this year’s Rough River. If I can get my plan into motion I’ll need to be able roll the fuselage around on all 3 wheels, which means the main gear wheels need to be remounted… properly!
I grabbed the packet of 0.007″ stainless steel washer shims that I got from McMaster-Carr and pulled out a couple. I then removed the axle & brake caliper mount assembly and swapped out the longer bolts with shorter AN4-21 bolts. I then put a thin 0.007″ shim on each of the forward axle bolts. Although these washers are very thin, the affect at 24″ inches forward of the wheel is that they should kick the toe-in out enough to match the left side toe-in and distance from centerline.
I remounted the axle, brake caliper mount and heat shield. Since I wanted to get to packing the wheel bearings with grease, I left the torquing of the brake assembly bolts until tomorrow.
Here’s my freshly delivered wheel bearing grease packer:
I grabbed my tube of aviation grade grease . . .
and put a good amount of it in the bearing packer cup.
Here’s a close-up shot of the Mobilegrease 28.
I then reset the inner base with its integral o-ring back into the cup.
And grabbed the first wheel bearing off the right wheel to test out my new toy.
Here it is, all set to go. Just need a good bit of pressure to get the grease to squeeze into the bearing cups.
Here’s a couple shots after with the upper plunger body removed.
I then removed the bearings from the cup, cleaned off the excess grease, and reset them back into the wheel. Before actually seating the bearings, I cleaned the race with a very light coat of grease.
Here’s bearing #2 after getting packed with grease. I have to say, this wheel bearing packer works pretty darn good!
After I finished packing all 4 bearings (2 per wheel) I set the red cover into place to keep the grease fresh & clean, and cleaned up the grease on the tube & recapped it.
8 September 2016 — My first task of the day was swapping out the longer AN4-22A axle bolts on the left gear for the shorter AN4-21A axle bolts like I did on the right side gear leg. This didn’t really take long, but eventually I did have to remove the brake assembly to get to the axle bolts (remember this key point!).
Actually, I was able to swap out 3 of the 4 axle bolts, but I just couldn’t get a wrench on bolt head of the aft bottom axle bolt (it sits right next to the axle… too close for a socket).
Here’s a shot of the axle bolts: new AN4-21A on the left and old (longer) AN4-22A on the right.
You can see the last holdout below, the whole reason why I had to remove the entire brake assembly (again, remember this point!).
Here’s a shot with the brake caliper assembly removed and all the new shorter axle bolts in place.
I then reassembled the left side brake assembly. I torqued all the bolts to the proper specs as outlined by Matco. I also torqued the right-side brake assembly bolts as well, but something wasn’t right and I ended up dismantling & remounting the entire right side brake assembly again. The second time was a charm and the brake disc aligned correctly between the pads & I was able to get the bolts torqued to the correct values.
Although I didn’t get a shot of the wheels, I then remounted the wheel/tire assemblies with their freshly packed bearings. I then went upstairs to review my notes on the wheel pants, only to find a discussion from Bernie Siu on how each time he modified the inboard wheel pant mount assembly, he had to totally dismantle the wheel assemblies TO GET TO THE AXLE BOLT HEADS TO REMOVE THE INBOARD NUTS to swap the inboard wheel pant mount…. Doh! I guess this won’t be the last time I mount those wheels, eh?!