Chapter 9 – Wheel Pants

Chapter 9 – Wheel Pants

[Note:  There is not a Chapter or specific place that covers wheel pants in the Long-EZ plans, so I’m putting them under the closest subject by function: the Main Gear]

6 January 2013 — I was told by a few of the Old Guard that Sam James makes some great wheel pants.  So I caught up with him at an EAA breakfast in Ft. Meyers a few weeks after I ordered them and picked them up.  The wheel pants are sized for a 500×4 Lamb tire.  Again, trying to keep things light!

Chap 24 - Wheel PantsChap 24 - Wheel PantsChap 24 - Wheel Pants


18 February 2016 — Today I finally got a pic that I’ve been meaning to take for a bit.  They’re the 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.

VAN's Matco wheel pant mount axle caps


25 February 2016 — 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.

Wheel pants "inventory"


25 August 2016 — I started off today doing hours of research on the wheel pants installation.  I’m not sure what happened, but I compiled a bunch of info on wheel pants in a PowerPoint slide deck earlier this year and couldn’t find the darn thing!  I did go back and review Wayne Hick’s sage advice on his phenomenal web page: Chapter 9: Wheelpants and also Bernie Siu’s, Nate Mullins’, and Joe Coraggio’s sites for wheel pants install info.  I compiled a bunch of it into a doc and printed it off as my “Everything you needed to know about installing wheel pants” guide!

In fact, while reviewing Nate & Joe’s adventures on their recent (respective) finished flying Long-EZs it was then that I made the decision NOT to move forward with a full-on install of the wheel pants.  Why? Well, after a fair number of high-speed taxi tests and numerous landings both Nate & Joe have had significant tire wear issues.  Keeping Nate & Joe’s experiences in mind, I figure at some point I may very well need to modify the wheels’ camber in addition to possibly having to modify the toe-in.  If those issues do play out, then having hard mounted wheel pants would require a significant rework of the wheel pants.  Taking all this into account, I simply don’t feel that it’s prudent to move forward with the actual full-on wheel pants install.  However, I do want to lean far forward and be as prepared as possible when I do go to install the wheel pants so that the installation will be optimized, smooth and quick.

As I’ve stated before, I’ll be using the Vans axle nut that has a K1000-4 nutplate installed in the end of it specifically for mounting wheel pants.

Marco's original axle nut

As you can see in the pic above, the Matco axle nut has essentially a built-in washer at its base.  Thus, I cannot simply use the Vans axle nut as a replacement for the Matco axle nut (which it was designed to do).  If you look at Bernie Siu’s website you’ll see that the Matco wheels that he and Wayne use incorporate a separate washer underneath the axle nut, unlike my wheels.  The separate parts enabled Bernie to machine a lip on the Vans axle nut to keep the washer centered. Again,as you can see above, my version of the Matco wheel does not have a separate axle washer and nut, so doing what Bernie did is simply not an option.  However, cutting the Vans axle nut shorter to only 1″ in length (pic below), will allow me to mount the Vans axle nut over the Matco axle nut in the same manner that Wayne Hicks did.

Van's Matco axle nut extensionWhile I had all the parts in front of me, I measured the tire valve stem distance from axle center line to locate a good mounting position for the spring-loaded valve stem hatch.

Measuring valve stem from wheel CL


31 August 2016 — I started off today by heading to breakfast and writing out today’s task list on a 3×5 card for the initial steps on the Wheel Pants.  To reiterate, I’ll be prepping the wheel pants just up to the point of installing them, which I will then do after the plane has been flying for a while.  Not my idea of an optimized install, but as I said before, there’s just too high a chance of having to rework some of the wheel & axle geometry.  Thus, Wheel Pants install will wait!

Wheel pants

My goal today was to get the gear pants sanded, split, widened with spare foam and then glassed.  As you’ll see, I met that goal on the front halves of the wheel pants, but alas, I will have to finish the aft side pants tomorrow.  If you missed why I’m making all this effort to widen what appears to be a perfectly good set of wheel pants, check out Wayne Hick’s explanation on his Cozy build site . . . none better.

I started out by getting a good idea of the center lines for both the vertical and horizontal planes.  After trimming the outside of the opening for any offending glass or epoxy goobers, I then set one side of the pant in between 2 squares.  I then pushed the squares in as far as they would go, ensuring that they too were in fact square to each other.  I then measured and marked the center on all 4 sides.  I then flipped the wheel pant half 180° around and did it again.

Checking dimensions Left

On the next forward wheel pant half I turned the center line finder assembly 90° so that I could more easily check the top and bottom center lines vs the sides.  Since I’ll be splitting this sucker down the middle, at this point probably better that I am more zeroed in on the top and bottom marks.

Checking dimensions Right

I proceeded to check the center lines on all 4 wheel pant halves, doing each one twice as described above to ensure that I had the correct marks.

Checking dimensions

Here are the bottom of the wheel pants.  The centerline mark is pretty much aligned with the mold seam of each wheel pant half.

All sides' CL marked

However, the top sides tell a different story.  These are all off by about 0.15-0.2″ from mold seam, which intuitively one might call the center line.  Hmmmmm . . . .

All sides' CL marked

In prepping the wheel pant halves for sanding, I didn’t want to lose my centerline mark on the nose, so I took my German saw and made a nick-mark into the nose of each wheel pant.

Notching front CL's

I then measured just a hair over an inch from the centerline all the way around the forward wheel pants to identify a 2″ swath for sanding.

2" wide sanding marks

I then took the wheel pants outside and sanded the 2″ band around the centerline.

Wheel pant front halves sanded

And then did the same for the aft wheel pant pieces.

Wheel pant rear halves sanded

I then brought all the wheel pants back into the shop, cleaned them up & wiped them down quickly to get all the sanding dust off of them.  I then ran some tape down the centerlines and marked the center cut line with a Sharpie.

Marking cut line

Here are both aft wheel pant assemblies marked for cutting.

Cut lines marked

This is the “after” pic with the aft wheel pants cut down the centerline.  I left just the aft vertical spline in place just to make it easier (hopefully!) to glass in the widening wedge.

Splitting pants!

After a decent amount of sanding and using my Fein saw, I finally got these guys all split in two.

Wheel pants sanded & split

I then dug out some 1″ thick crap urethane foam I have and used that for the widening blocks.

Wheel pant filler foam

And simply aligned the straight edge of the wheel pant along a straight side of the foam, then marked the foam about 1/4″ bigger than the wheel pant piece.

Marking foam to cut

I then cut out the urethane foam widening pieces.

1" foam spacers cut

Here’s the first widening piece I cut for one of the aft wheel pants.

Aft wheel pant spacer cut

I then used a hot glue gun to attach the 1″ thick urethane foam widening piece into place onto the inboard side of the forward wheel pant.

Hot gluing spacer in place

Here’s the best close up shot I could get of the hot glue between the foam and wheel pant.

Hot gluing spacer in place

Here’s both forward wheel pants with their new 1″ thick widening piece mounted using hot glue.  I have to say that although the glues seemed slow in setting up, it worked like a champ!

Spacers hot glued in place

Here’s another shot of the forward wheel pants with the 1″ thick widening piece in place.

Widening spacers installed

I then took the halves outside and used a sanding block to shape the 1″ middle foam and contour it in.

1" widening spacers sanded flush

I then cut out two pieces of BID off the cutting table measuring 32.5″ x 6.5″ for the 2-ply 3″ BID tapes that will go all the way around the front of these forward wheel pants.

Ready to glass!

In the pic below, I’ve already micro’d the urethane foam, but more importantly I was after the minor gaps between the foam and the wheel pants’ interior edge.  You can also see that I pre-pregged the BID and cut it to width & length.  I took this pic immediately before laying up the first BID tape.

Pre-pregged BID tapes

Before I pulled off one side of the plastic on the 3″ wide BID tape, I marked the top plastic at 1-inch intervals across it so that I could line it up correctly over the 1″ wide widening foam.

First wheel pant glassed

Here are both front wheel pant parts with the 3″ wide 2-ply BID layup in place.

Both forward wheel pants glassed

I had planned on peel plying all of it, but it really was a pain, and late, so I just did the tops sides and a little bit of the outer edges on the bottom side of one of the pants.

Forward wheel pants peel plied

And here’s another shot of the front wheel pants with the 2-ply exterior widening layup in place!

Fwd pants glassed & tops peel plied


1 September 2016 — I started out today by using the Fein saw to cut off the overhanging glass from last night’s layups on the front side wheel pant pieces.  I then cleaned up the aft edges where I had just removed the glass.  I pulled the peel ply and cleaned up some of the peel ply strings and goobers, then I went to work on cutting the glass for the wheel pant aft side pieces (sorry, no pics of the front side pieces).

Kind of a fun point of note (at least I think so…) is that after all these years of estimating cutting BID at a 45° bias, I thought I’d do a quick check to see how I was doing.  Not too shabby.

45 deg estimate!

Back to work!  Probably the part I was dreading the most –because it’s challenging, and I’m lazy!– is cutting and shaping the wedges to widen the wheel pant aft side pieces.  It is a straight taper from 1″ at the front side to as near a razor’s edge as one can get it at the aft end.  Here’s the first piece I did.  Not horrible, but I did nick the front edge enough that it was just over 0.9″ vs a full 1″ thick.  So I notched the front and put in pieces of unblemished urethane foam to ensure the front edge was at 1″ thick.

Widening wedge ready to insert

Below are pics of the widening wedges.  The left pic is the first one I made.  The right pic shows the 1″ thick urethane foam edge marked up for cutting of the major material to be removed with a hack saw blade, then the rest “fine” sanded with a 17″ sanding block with 32 grit sandpaper (note that you can see the cured layups on the wheel pant front side pieces).

Widening wedgeWidening wedge

Here’s the first aft side wheel pant piece widened with the urethane foam.

Widening wedge glued in place

After I worked on the other wheel pant aft side piece a bit to let the glue harden, I then trimmed up the foam widening insert with a sanding block to match the existing sides.

Widening insert sanded

I then did the same with the other wheel pant aft side piece.

Widening insert sanded

Here’s a shot of both wheel pant aft side pieces trimmed and ready for glass.

Ready to glass!

I wet out 2-plies of BID measuring 26″ x 6″ in a pre-preg setup.  I then marked the cut lines on the plastic.  Note that on the wheel pant aft side pieces the glass tapers into a wedge from 3″ at the front side down to 2″ at the aft vertical fin.

Glassing aft wheel pant sides

Here you can see the BID tapes’ taper more distinctly.  The small rectangular pieces are glassed onto the front lip first, then just barely covered on the aft edge by the BID being laid up down the spine of the wheel pant aft side piece.

Glassing aft wheel pant sides

As I was marking up the pre-pregged BID tapes, I made sure to use a CL mark in order to have a reference when laying up the BID onto the wheel pant aft side piece.  Below you can see that I’m just about to remove the top pre-preg plastic strip.

Aft wheel pant piece glassed

I then peel plied the BID layup on the wheel pant aft side piece.  Once I was done with glassing the first side of the first wheel pant aft side piece, I then set it aside under a heat lamp and started working on the other wheel pant aft side piece.  This allowed the first side to get just a little curing under its belt before laying up the opposite side of the wheel pant.

Aft wheel pant piece peel plied

Here’s the last external widening layup on the first wheel pant aft side piece.

Aft piece glassed - final side

And here are the 2 wheel pant aft side pieces all laid up with 2-ply BID tapes for widening. This is one task I’m glad to have behind me!  From here on out these widening steps should get exponentially EZ-er!

Aft wheel pant pieces glassed!


2 September 2016 — Today I completed the majority of the heavy lifting on the widening of these wheel pants!  I started by pulling the peel ply and cleaning up the 2-ply layups on the outside of the wheel pant aft pieces.  I then used the Fein saw to trim the overhanging glass.

Pulling peel ply - aft side pant

Again, the hardest part of widening these wheel pants is in the rear view mirror and now all that’s left to do is to remove the 1″ urethane foam spacer & the hot glue, and then layup a 3″ wide single ply of BID on the inside of each pant.

Widened wheel pants!

Here’s a shot of all the sides of the wheel pants with the 1″ urethane foam spacers in place.

1" foam widening spacers

I grabbed the forward wheel pant assemblies and began removing the foam spacers by first simply removing the majority of foam.

Removing 1" foam spacerRemoving 1" foam spacer

I then used a hack saw blade to cut as near as possible to the inboard surface of the pant.

Removing 1" foam spacer

Using the same hack saw blade, I then ran it down the channel created by the edge of the 1″ foam spacer.  Besides popping out chunks of foam, the cutting edge on the hack saw blade came in real handy to remove the stubborn foam along the hot glue joints.

Removing 1" foam spacer

Yep, the hack saw blade made quick work of removing the remaining urethane foam!

Removing 1" foam spacer

Technically this pic is out of order since this is the second wheel pant, but I threw it here to show the foam spacer removal.

Removing 1" foam spacer

When I took the pic of one of the pants sans spacer vs. the other one, I noticed that it looks as if the one without the spacer is MUCH bigger than the other pant piece.

Removing front spacers

So I put the pant ‘halves’ together to check and they are very close in size & shape. In fact, since the camera is at a slight angle, it shows the “corner” but doesn’t capture that the height of these pants are very close to identical.

Removing 1" foam spacer

Here are the front halves of the wheel pants with the 1″ urethane foam spacers removed and ready to be prepped for glass.  After I took this shot, I took these outside and Dremelled the edges of the channels to give the ply of BID a better transition between the old & new surfaces.  I also lightly Dremelled out 1″ along the edge of the spacer strip to ensure all the hot glue was removed and that the glass was textured for new glass.  The final step was to work over all the areas to be glassed with some 32 grit sandpaper.

1" foam spacer & hot glue removed

I then pre-pregged 1-ply of BID, 3″ wide x 29″ long.  Since I wasn’t overly concerned about any irregular surface on the interior of the wheel pant, I used 3 pieces of BID in each pre-preg setup and simply overlapped them by an inch.  As I did on the exterior sides, I marked the top plastic of pre-preg with 1″ hash marks in a few spots to give me good reference points for laying in the glass.

For strength I used flox as a transition within about the first 3/4″ of each pant opening edge in the channel that was created by the 1″ foam spacer.  For the rest of the interior channel I used micro as a transition.

When the BID was in place inside the wheel pant I had about a 3″ overhang on one side, which I merely cut off and used as an extra ply at the very front of the wheel pant in the nose.  With the layup complete, I then peel plied the aft edges (closest to the pant opening) of the layups to keep the prickly’s at bay.  Plus, there will need to be some reinforcement glass laid up around the edges, so I want the glass as ready to go as possible.

Fwd side wheel pant #1 glassed

I can say that I’m officially finished widening the wheel pant nose pieces!  I’ll let these cure as I head into DC for a well deserved dinner!

1-ply internal BID strip laid up

I will make a final note that in seeing how much time it is taking to get these wheel pants prepped, I really am glad I am doing it now rather than later, after the plane is flying and I’ll be in the fly (vs. build) mode!


3 September 2016 — Today I started off by pulling the peel ply and trimming the overhanging glass on the front wheel pant pieces.  So, as far as widening, these are done!

Trimmed & finished front-side wheel pants

I then removed the 1″ urethane foam spacers from the aft wheel pant sides in the same fashion as I did the front pieces.

Removing foam spacer from aft side wheel pantsRemoving foam spacer from aft side wheel pants

I cleaned off the hot glue and scraped off any extra foam remnants from the interior junctions.

Removing foam spacer from aft side wheel pants

Below are both rear wheel pant sides ready to be prepped for the interior 1-ply BID layup that will finalize the widening of the wheel pants.

Foam spacers removed, ready for glass prep

And here’s a shot of the wheel pants after I took them outside and Dremelled the edges of the “old” existing wheel pants to provide a bevel to allow the BID a better grip.  As with the front wheel pant sides, I also gave all the surface areas that will be glassed a good sanding with 32 grit sandpaper.

Aft wheel pant pieces ready for glass

Finally,  here’s a shot of the interior 1-ply BID layups on the aft side wheel pants pieces. Again, as with the front wheel pant pieces, I peel plied the opening areas.

Aft side wheel pants interior glass


5 September 2016 — I’m starting off this post with a shot of the pre-widened wheel pants along with a shot of the widened wheel pants.


Wheel pants


Widened wheel pants

Back to following Wayne Hick’s steps for mounting the wheel pants, I squared up the receivers on the front wheel pant assemblies and the flanges on the aft side wheel pant assemblies.  After I squared up the wheel pant mating areas, I sanded down the internal edges of the front wheel pant sides and the flanges on the aft wheel pant sides to prep them for mounting.

Cleaned/sanded mating surfaces

Now, Sam James –who makes these wheel pants– will tell you that you have to cut the wheel slots before the aft flanges will fully fit into the front wheel pant sides’ receivers.  In fact, both before & after I widened the wheel pants, the best I could get in assembling the wheel pants was 3 corners in with one corner prominently hanging out.  Well, I guess these are still exactly the same after I widened the wheel pants!!

Nonetheless, I set the wheel pants up as closely as possible to being a mated pair and shot a couple of pics below:

Angle viewWidened wheel pants side view

And here’s a head on shot with the wheel pants almost mated together….

Widened wheel pants head-on view

I then rechecked the centerlines and waterlines as compared to the ones I had measured “pre-widening.”  I have to tell you that although I was double-checking center mass/center lines, it was nice that everything looked spot on after the wheel pant widening.

Re-checking center lines

Here’s another shot after all the CL’s and Water Lines were marked.

Post final centerline markings

I then checked the front wheel pant parts to find both the Centers & the Waterline.

Finding center waterline

Here’s another shot of the forward side wheel pant getting measured for actual width and actual centerline.

Finding centerline

Here’s the final result of finding the wheel pants’ nose CL.

Wheel pant nose center points marked


6 September 2016 — Today I started out by refining my wheel pants prep plan and then went down to the shop to get some work in on the wheel pants.  My current issue is one that many builders seem to be confronted with, but oddly enough I’m starting to see a possible nascent trend that only 400×5 tire users seem to be afflicted by ? . . . and that is that until some type of slots are cut into the bottom of the wheel pants for the tires, the front and back half of the wheel pants can’t be mated together.  Nate Mullins certainly had this issue.

As it goes during many a times during this build it was time to take yet another leap of faith and cut into the bottom of the wheel pants.  Of course I don’t know exactly where the wheel will reside in each wheel pant, which prompted me to look at a myriad of pics from other builders’ installs.  I decided to shoot for center mass: 4″ forward on the front side of the wheel pants and 3.3″ aft from the front edge of the aft side wheel pants.

Since I would destroy the bottom CL mark by removing the glass on which it resides, I decided to move the CL marks out of the lines of fire on all the wheel pant parts.  I grabbed my tape and a plumb bob line and ran the line down the CL of the wheel pant… Uh, except maybe I should aim for the correct side of the wheel pant! (I started on the top of the wheel pant in the pic below, but luckily I caught my error!)

Marking top (wrong side!) centerline

Ok, the BOTTOM of the wheel pants… this is much better!

Marking bottom (right side!) centerline

I then marked the aft edge of the front side of the wheel pants for certain destruction and mayhem!  Hoo-ah!

Bottom front wheel pants marked for cutting

I then extended the centerline mark rearward on the aft wheel pant pieces as well.

Finding aft bottom centerline

And marked out the areas of certain destruction on these as well!

Aft wheel pants marked for cutting

After cutting out the notches in each side of the wheel pants, I still couldn’t get the aft flanges into the front side receivers!  I ended having to extend the notches another 1/2″ forward and aft, respectively, into the wheel pant assemblies.

Voila! It finally worked [BARELY] and after a fair bit of wrangling –and 3-1/2 years!– I finally was able to mount the back part of the wheel pants into the forward assemblies for the first time ever!  And I bought these suckers from Sam James back in January 2013.

Wheel pants wheel starter holes

Here’s the first shot of my wheel pants assembled into one single unit per side! However, the fit is still really tight so the first order of business tomorrow is to give the flanges and receiver mating surfaces another intense round of sanding.

1st time wheel pants assembled!

Excited to see actual, assembled wheel pants, I set them next to the gear strut for a quick mockup just to get a feel for the general size and shape.

Quick wheel pant mockup

Another shot of my quick wheel pant mockup.

Quick wheel pant mockup

Now that I know the wheel pants actually mate together (and that none of the vertical or horizontal centerline marks are off by more than 0.1″), I’m really happy and confident that the wheel pants should mount & fit nicely over the wheels and onto the gear struts!


8 September 2016 — Today I pressed forward with rigging the fuselage in a 1.5° nose up attitude to facilitate making the cardboard silhouettes called out for in the wheel pant installation instructions to mount the wheel pants.

Rigging nose 1.5 deg high for wheel pantsRigging nose 1.5 deg high for wheel pants

Then tonight I got to work sanding the mating surfaces of the wheel pants.  I worked on both sides of one wheel pant for nearly an hour, and it did go back together easier . . . somewhat.

I then started on the aft end of the second wheel pant.  The flange on the aft side pant isn’t too terrible difficult to sand, but the inside edge of the front side wheel pant is a bit more challenging.  After nearly 1-1/2 hours of straight sanding, I decided to punt and use the Dremel Tool tomorrow on the front side.

Sanding, sanding, sanding

On the wheel pant that I did fully sand, I followed Bernie Siu’s method of verifying the front midpoint meets the aft midpoint meets the side midpoint.  In other words, I set out to ensure that the midpoint waterline was straight horizontally all the way across my wheel pant… which it wasn’t.  The nose was about 0.5″ high, so I had to work the wheel pant back and forth to get the nose down so that all the lines matched up with less than a 0.1″ discrepancy (these are naturally odd shaped wheel pants that are not symmetrical…I’ll take less than 0.1″ any day!).

Ensuring front & aft half WLs align

To reiterate, I plan on working on the wheel pants as far as I can in the plans without actually installing them.  Again, I want to have as much wheel pant “money” in the “bank” for later on so that I’m not spending a lot of time on these after I have the bird flying.


27 September 2016 — An important point to note from RR 2016.  I had a good discussion with Mike Toomey on wheel pants.  He gave me a number of tips on how I could continue with my install now, but by minimizing the actual tire cutouts on the bottom of the wheel pants I could then do a final configure on the pants after my 40 hours are flown off and simply widen the pant holes for the wheels in relation to the wheels after I do any mods.  With the advice I got from Mike in my back pocket (I’m convinced!), I’ll be moving forward with a near-total install of the wheel pants after I get the low-hanging fruit task list knocked out and the canard & elevator install finished.


19 October 2016 — So, there I was . . . it was late afternoon, and the days are getting shorter.  Also, this warm weather spell is supposed to end tomorrow so I figured I had better get outside and do some saw work . . . er, uh, I mean some milling work!  Ok, milling work on a poor man’s milling machine, aka “a table saw.”

I bought a 2.5″ wide x 0.5″ thick bar of 2024 from ACS specifically to make my inboard mounts for the wheel pants.  I did a quick measurement of one of the inboard axle bolts & plate, then marked off the 2024 bar stock for cutting.

2024 bar stock for inboard wheel pant mounts

I stole the idea for these from Bernie Siu, who ended up with this style after 2 prior iterations of inboard wheel pant mounts, including the original style called out by Gary Hertlzer in the instructions.  These are bit more “elegant” in style, and if all plays out the way I intend, the horizontal “bar” will be able to be used to jack up the gear leg to change tires, etc.

I want to point out that these are in the ROUGH stage, since, as I mentioned before, I had to use the poor man’s milling machine to get these ginned up.

ROUGH 2024 inboard wheel pant mounts

Here’s a profile shot of the wheel pant inboard mounting brackets.  I thinned the top and bottom plate material down to 1/8″ by cutting into the 1/2″ bar 3 times, an 1/8″ at a time (for a total of a 3/8″ deep cut).

ROUGH 2024 inboard wheel pant mounts

Another shot of the wheel pant inboard mounting brackets.

GIB upper seatbelt x-bar 2024 reinforcement plug


14 November 2016 — Today the weather was nice so I got to work outside to complete quite a number of cuts that were required with aluminum pieces & stock.

The first task was something that I’ve needed to do for a while now.  Since I finally got the correct sized Adel clamp in my latest ACS order, I was able to clamp down the Matco wheel axle nuts (from VANs Aircraft) that are used to mount the outboard sides of the wheel pants.  Since I won’t be using them as per their original design, I need to shorten them to 1″ in width from outboard to inboard.  Specifically, I won’t be using the cotter pin holes, so those are going away.

Just as I did my LWA9s & CNLs, I clamped the axle nut extensions into the Adel clamp & secured it with a screw.  I then took my time to ensure that the axle nut was 90° to the mounting board.

Outboard wheel pant axle nut

I then used my saw to slowly cut the axle nut down to 1″ width.

Outboard wheel pant axle nut trimmed to 1"Outboard wheel pant axle nut trimmed to 1"

The actual width came out to be more like 1.05″, which works fine.

Outboard wheel pant axle nut trimmed to 1"

Here’s a shot showing both axle nut extensions cut to 1″ in width.

Outboard wheel pant axle nuts trimmed to 1"

And a closer view . . .

Outboard wheel pant axle nuts trimmed to 1"


23 February 2017 — When I spoke with Rich at Aircraft Extras about adding new AG6 warning screens (shown below) to a couple of new chips for me, I added a bottle of canopy cleaner and a tire air nozzle extension to the order to optimize shipping costs.  This nozzle should fit through the small spring door hatch on each wheel pant to allow for an easier time of reinflating the tires with air.

Aircraft Extras order


2 April 2018 — I started out today researching and reacquainting myself with the wheel pant install tasks that I had undertaken about 2 years ago.  I then wrote out my wheel pants install task list.

Early evening I was finally able to initiate operation 3-DAY BLITZ on the wheel pants.  I got the wheel pants out and put the halves together on wheel pant #2.

I then rechecked the alignment using a laser crosshair on wheel pant #1.

After I got all the axes aligned, I then taped up wheel pant #1 to secure the sides from moving (the sides are so tight fitting that they aren’t going anywhere anyway).  After spending a good bit of time finalizing where I wanted the screw mounting holes situated, I drilled some 1/8″ holes where the screws/CAMLOCs will go and then Clecoed the holes.

Here’s a shot of the aft side of the left wheel pant.

I then aligned, drilled and Clecoed the second (aircraft right side) wheel pant and then snapped these shots:

I then drilled a small hole in the CL front and aft of the wheel pants and placed 16 penny nails in the holes.  To ensure the nails stay aligned, I hit them with some hot glue.

I then finished making the mounting jigs for the wheel pants.  For the jigs I’m going with the Wayne Hicks’ style and have screwed-on adjustable elevation tabs both fore and aft on each installation jig.

After ensuring the main gear tires were full of air (70 PSI) I then taped up a 3/8″ foam piece on the top of each of the wheels to serve as a spacer to keep the wheel pant from rubbing on the tire after the pants are installed!

I also set the fuselage at a 1.4° nose up angle as you can tell by the right longeron (left)  and the left longeron (right).


3 April 2018 — Today my goal was to implement my “no smiles allowed” policy . . . which I am of course referring to the “smiles” that wheel pants that are too narrow often end up with. A common occurrence in the canard world since wheel pants made primarily for RVs end up looking a bit different on our birds with gear bows.

The cure for this, at least according to Wayne Hicks (and after today, I’m a TRUE believer) is to simply widen the wheel pants… which I did.  Of course we discussed this, it’s just been quite some time since I’ve done or posted anything on wheel pants.

I started off today doing the thing that for some reason I dreaded the most for the wheel pants installation process: making the cardboard cutout templates of the wheel & gear.  Of course, just about like anything else once you actually get going on it then it’s not that bad… such was the case here.

I started at the front of the wheel and moved aft, incrementally removing any piece of poster board that prevented me from moving it aft.  Here a shot of round 2 or 3 of poster board removal.

After about half an hour of slowing cutting and hacking away parts of the poster board, I was finally finished with my first poster board gear cutout template.

Here’s a shot from the front . . . and as you can see, my template wouldn’t win any contests!

Of course the one from the side was infinitely more easy and I had it knocked out in 10 min at the most.

These cutout templates are used to determine the front/aft edges of the tire hole, the right/left edges of the tire hole and the location of the cutout for the gear strut.  They pretty much give you everything you need for the tire cutout, but for the gear strut cutout, what it doesn’t provide is the angle.

I started with with the side silhouette cutout and marked both the vertical axle line (in blue) and the 3/8″ minimum clearance gap (in green) between the top of the tire and the underside/inside top of the gear pant [which is why we ensure the tires are at max PSI].

I started with the right wheel pant and marked the front/aft tire cutout lines and the location and width of the gear strut.

Here’s a more direct down view, showing that the top of the wheel pant is aligned with the 3/8″ line to ensure inside top clearance with the tire.  Once this is done, it automatically dictates how much of the tire will show through on the bottom. To get the wheel pant aligned properly nose/tail up or down (waterline), I made pencil hash marks at 6″ in the front and aft sides on the table, and aligned the nails with those marks.

I then broke the wheel pants into its 2 pieces and used the front piece to determine left/right edges of the tire cutout (the one shown below is the left side wheel pant).  As you can see, with our gear struts and wheel assemblies taking up so much room inside the wheel pants, it really pushes the tire wheel pant exit far outboard.

Before making the final tire exit marks on the wheel pant, I verified clearances and dimensions by drawing the outline of the wheel pant onto the cutout template. This really does help figure out all the wheel pant mounting, since in my case I had planned on using a 1/4″ wood spacer on the inboard side of the wheel pant as called out for in the installation instructions. However, even though I widened my wheel pants I still felt the outboard wheel pant side was too close to the wheel/tire. Thus, I changed the plan and went with a 1/8″ inboard spacer to drive the entire wheel pant outboard 1/8″.  Not a lot, but every bit helps in ensuring NO SMILES on the side of the wheel pant!

I then marked the location for the gear strut width-wise.

Here are the initial markings for the tire cutouts on the bottom of the wheel pants.  If you want to know what side is what, just imagine the plane flying upside down.

And here are the initial markings for the landing gear strut holes.

Since my inboard wheel pant mount is 1/2″ thick, and the new thickness for my inboard wheel pant spacer is 1/8″, I added a hair for flox and glass and made a foam spacer for each inboard side (R/L) at 0.65″ thick and taped them in place.

After determining and setting wheel pant jigs to match the CL of the aircraft, I then spent the next 4+ hours doing the iterative, trial-and-error: test fit-mark-cut-test fit-mark-cut loop.  But I eventually got both wheel pants dialed in and set in place.  It is truly amazing how much these wheel pants change the entire character of the airplane when mounted in place.

It was getting towards the end of the evening and I had a fair amount of noise to make, so I got to work setting some standard grade 1/4-28 bolts into a drill and then using the drill on the grinder to make some “whack-a-bolts”!  These little babies are threaded into the inboard and outboard wheel pant mounts, then when the time is right… BAM! You whack from the outside of the wheel pant and it makes a nice mark and/or indent (depending on how hard you whack it!) so you know right where your mounting screw hole needs to be drilled.

Here are my inboard mounting brackets that I made up a long time ago, using tried and true Neanderthal machining methods! . . . ha!  They need some TLC in the surface smoothing department, but I’ll wait until I have them cut to the specific size and shape for each wheel before I make them look all nice.

I then transferred the bolt hole pattern of the 4 right axle bolts and drilled those out on the right-side inboard wheel pant mounting bracket.  I then drilled and tapped a 1/4-28 hole in the center for the inboard wheel pant mounting screw.

I then threaded in the shorter of the two “whack-a-bolts” into the right wheel pant inboard mounting bracket.

I then transferred the bolt pattern and drilled the four 1/4″ axle bolt mounting holes into the left side wheel pant inboard mounting bracket.  I then drilled and tapped the center 1/4-28 inboard mounting screw hole, just as I did on the right side mounting bracket.

So you get an idea of just what I’m on about with these wheel pant inboard mounting brackets, I mocked them up quickly (just set over top of the axle bolts) to grab some pics of them “in action.”

The one on the right wheel still has the “whack-a-bolt” in it, and the one on the left side has a 1/4-28 mounting screw threaded into it.  Again, I’ll do a lot of cutting, shaping and cleaning on these inboard mounting brackets before their final installs.


4 April 2018 — Today I started on the right gear leg axle bolts. The top 2 gear bolts were tight enough that I could get the temp thin-line nuts off the bolts.  However, the bottom two just spun freely, so I had to Dremel a slot in the end of each one to enable using a slotted screwdriver to remove each nut.

As an aside, when I chose the lengths of the axle bolts I had in mind a wheel pant bracket of 0.050-0.060″ thick, not about twice that which I have on these brackets.  So, the wheel axle bolts will need to be swapped out for longer bolts, but LATER since I’m only concerned about getting the wheel pants on at this point and time.

Once I got all the securing hardware off the axle bolts, I was then able to test fit the right inboard wheel pant mounting bracket.  I will say that looking at the pic below, for some odd reason the upper right bolt hole came out a good 1/16″ out of position, so I widened the hole into an oval shape to get the bracket to fit into place.

I then marked up the bracket for cutting and shaping.  I used my power miter saw, Dremel, hand files and sandpaper to get the bracket that started out looking like this . . .

To this state.  I think a fair bit easier on the eyes, eh?!  I still need a good half hour on each bracket to do a final clean and prep, perhaps even Alodine, which I’ll do when I replace the axle bolts with the final set for the final time.

I then started in on the left side.  This time it was the upper pair of bolts that required me to Dremel a slot into them in order to remove the temp thin-line nuts I had in place.  And I’ll be darned if I didn’t have the top right (as pictured below) bolt hole about 1/16″ off!  Not sure what is going on there (maybe I lose interest on bolt hole placement after the third hole and my mind starts wondering . . . haha!)

Here’s the left side inboard wheel pant mounting bracket after I cleaned ‘er up a bit. Again, not bad, but it will need just a bit more to reach its final clean state.

I then spent a good hour dialing in the final position of the right wheel pant.  My initial swag of the outboard vertical alignment of the mounting screw position –which is supposed to be 1.5″ forward of the pant seam (get it?! … ) — was off a bit and I needed to remove about another 0.5″ of material in the U-shaped gear leg cutout on the forward half wheel pant.  This enabled to move the entire wheel pant aft, as I noted after having to move my jig assembly aft a couple times when the tail of the wheel paint was being physically restrained from free movement by the aft jig upright.

Well, removing material from the top gear strut area alone wasn’t the only requirement of course for getting the entire pant moved aft, since there’s quite a large protrusion called a TIRE at the bottom that had its say as well.  So this whole machination of course called for some tire hole lengthening and just a hair of widening to allow the front pant half to move aft, keeping the vertical split line perpendicular to the ground.  Of course I eventually got it, was able to get the Clecos in AND align the wheel pant in both pitch and yaw.

Here’s an aft shot of the right wheel pant in its aligned positioned.

I then got to play “whack-a-bolt” for the first time on the inboard side of the right wheel pant.  With the short “whack-a-bolt” pointy thingy installed in the right inboard mounting bracket (which I threaded into place before I aligned the wheel pant above), I then gave it a sharp rap with a rubber mallet.  As you can see, it does leave a very nice visible mark to let your know where to drill.

With my first inboard mounting screw position known, I then needed some 1/8″ thick inboard support doublers (I call them spacers, but I want to keep my verbiage understandable….!).  BTW, these wheel pants work great with 1/4″ doublers on each side… little did I know what can of worms I was opening by placing all my widths on 1/8″ increments.

Thus, since I didn’t have any viable 1/8″ material on hand, I then decided I need to make some 1/8″ thick support doublers.  I cut out a 1″ circle by using a socket with a diameter just a very scant over 1″, then used my Saber saw to cut out the disk.  I cleaned it up with my hard sanding block before using my nifty German saw to cut them right down the middle.

With the resulting interior surfaces looking like this (anyone thinking thick flox . . . cuz’ I am!!)

But the thickness were right in the ballpark I needed, so clearly these little dogs can hunt!

I radiused the edge of the 1″ diameter support doubler disk and sanded the inside edge of the wheel pant A LOT.

I then floxed the 1″ round ~1/8″ thick support doubler in place and covered it with 2-plies of BID.

I then set my sights on the left wheel pant and worked on it for a good hour or so as the layup on the support doubler cured.  I then drilled out the hole in the center of the doubler to 1/4″ and Voila!  She works!

I then set the “Whack-a-bolt” in the VANs outboard wheel pant bracket and reassembled the right side wheel pant with the 1/4″ inboard mounting screw in place.  I ensured the alignment looked good and left the right wheel pant alone for a bit while I focused on the left side.

Getting the left side wheel pant to its final alignment state took about 20 minutes of course since I knew I had a bunch of material to remove on the front wheel pant half and wasn’t as gingerly in my initial removal of the wheel pant fiberglass.

I then did “Whack-a-bolt” round 2 on the inboard side of the left wheel pant, floxed and glassed the 1/8″ support doubler in place, drilled out the center hole to 1/4″, then tested the 1/4″ mounting screw and doubler placement by reassembling the wheel pant and aligning it (after it cured of course).

By this point I had already played “Whack-a-bolt” round 3 on the outboard side of the right wheel pant.  Here’s the 0.4″ thick support doubler I made up for the right side wheel pant. To get the correct thickness I cut out a 1.3″ diameter disk of 0.375″ (3/8″) thick plywood (dense), removed the top ply of the plywood layers for a resulting thickness of ~0.34″. I then simply 5-min glued a 1″ diameter disk of 0.063″ (1/16″) thick phenolic to the top of it. I then continued the taper of the lower wood disk onto the phenolic to come up with my ~0.4″ thick support doubler.

I then drilled out the 1/4″ mounting hole on the right outboard wheel pant, installed a greased up bolt through the support doubler that I had floxed to the inside of the forward wheel pant.  I then reassembled the entire wheel pant, with Clecos holding in place and the inboard 1/4″ mounting screw installed.  I then aligned the right side wheel pant as the outboard support doubler flox cured.

I then repeated the process for the outboard support doubler on the left side, although it required a 0.5″ thick doubler [this makes sense since I could tell while determining and marking the wheel openings that the left wheel pant was slightly larger than the right]. I first played the final round of “Whack-a-bolt” (as shown below), disassembled the wheel pant and drilled out the 1/4″ hole where the point thingy left its mark.

[Some points of note on my wheel pants: I followed a combined set of instructions, primarily based on Gary Hertzler’s original instructions as interpreted by Wayne Hicks… with some smattering of Bernie Siu’s processes here and there.  Although I don’t see an issue since the 3/8″ gap on the top is the determinant measurement and I kept the wheel pant sides parallel to the wheel side…. however, on both side wheel pants my outboard mounting bolt hole is 1.2″ lower than the center waterline.  This actually appears to be in line with what is shown –but not stated– in Gary Hertzler’s installation instructions.  One final point on this is that my outboard mounting bolts are 0.8″ lower than my inboard mounting holes on both wheel pants.  Thus, the outboard side is canted up a bit if looking at the wheel pants from the head on view…..technically, since I don’t see anything that looks off.]

Then, just as on the right side, I floxed the outboard doubler in place and used a greased bolt to hold it in place tightly against the VANs outboard wheel pant bracket (taped up to protect against nasties).  I then reassembled the wheel pant with Clecos and the inboard 1/4″ mounting screw while assuring it was aligned both in pitch and yaw.

Here’s a final overhead shot of my left wheel pant with the outboard support doubler floxed in place and clamped down with a bolt into the outboard mounting bracket.

I let the flox cure (I used fast hardener) for about 1.5 hours before I removed the wheel pant and laid up a ply of BID over the outboard support doubler.  With all my support doublers then glassed, I called it a night.


5 April 2018 — I started off today checking the alignment on the right wheel pant with both the inboard and outboard doublers’ glass cured.  I need to reglass the top of each outboard doubler for some minor air pocket/delam issues I had on each with such sharp bends of the glass (even though I weighed them down during cure).  Regardless, the doublers are solidly in and the re-glassing a minor issue.

With the Clecos, outboard and inboard mounting screws in place the right wheel pant was dead on parallel with the A/C centerline marks.  However, what is a slight ailment to the left wheel pant (below) in windage, my right wheel pant suffers from a very slight 0.1″ difference in elevation between aft/tail wheel pant height off the jig and the nose.  So, while the nose nail comfortably rests on the jig, the tail nail hovers –again– about 0.1″ above it. Of course, this is all imperceptible if no jig is present.

Here’s a shot the right wheel pant with the outboard mounting screw installed.

As well as the inboard mounting screw installed.

The left was not bad at all, however it was about 0.1″ off wheel pant nose vs. tail as compared to parallel to the A/C centerline marks.  Not a big deal, and really took some work to find it against my marks (Instead of moving the entire wheel pant jig left or right, I simple went off how far from my A/C centerline mark the nail on each end was.  Say, if both were 0.3″ from the mark it’s the same as being right over the mark on each end…).

I tried to capture this with pics, but the cell phone’s camera is off to one side, so by looking at the angled sides of each jig upright you can see if I’m straight overhead (the two angled edges should be equal).  I took a number of pics but never got exactly overhead… the bottom line is I’m about 1 nail widths off between front and back on the left wheel pant.

Of course 0.1″ is not at all noticeable on just looking at the pant, and I doubt has very minimal –if any– impact on aerodynamic performance.  With the wheel pant locked in position with Clecos, inboard and outboard screws in place, I’ll take the 0.1″ off and press on.

Here’s a shot of the outboard mounting screw installed on the left wheel pant.

And the inboard screw as well.

Two things had to happen before I would get to the point that I was ready to glass the bonnet onto each wheel pant.  The first was a WANT and was related to making the second REQUIRED task a little easier . . . attaching the 3/16″ SS brake line to the 9.25″ SS braided brake line coming from the brake caliper.

I started by removing the lower part of the gear leg fairing that was situated inside the wheel pant.  With both wheel pants in place I marked the gear leg opening of the wheel pants to depict the no-kidding line where each wheel pant intersected the gear leg.  Just to ensure that I had no clearance issues pop up on me, I dropped the line down approximately another 1/4″ as my cut line.

I then removed the extraneous portion of the gear leg fairing that would have been inside the wheel pant whenever the wheel pant was mounted.  Not only does this give me more maneuvering room and space inside the wheel pant and saves a tiny bit of weight, but the main thing is that it allowed me access to the brake line that runs inside a plastic tube inside the gear leg (visible just aft of the gear fairing mid-point in the pic below).

I then eyeballed how the brake line tube plastic conduit traveled up through the gear leg fairing.  Now, hindsight being 20/20, if I had known then what I do now, I would have simply ordered a 6″ long -3 braided SS brake line . . . but I didn’t, and these things are expensive as all get out.  I don’t normally like burying things that are a probably a good idea to have access to when there’s a potential spot for leaks (aka “fittings”).  So if required, I’m making this so I can simply cut out a rectangular piece of glass and have the fitting right at my disposal… it won’t be pretty, but it will be accessible, in a PITA sort of way.

Optimal? No.  Am I doing it? Yes.  I figure unless there’s a leak, it will most likely serve as any other brake line does in these birds and become a distant memory of the oddball installation.

I cut out a channel a few inches high to gain access to a good portion of the 3/16″ SS brake line that I had just ran last week into the hell hole.

I then managed to get the plastic tubing conduit cut away.  What I was after here was enough length of brake line to bend it out, flare it with a fitting end attached, and then stow it away (bend it) back into the gear leg fairing.

With the length of the -3 hose, I needed access to a bit more tubing to cut and flare the end, so I cut a narrower channel going up the gear leg fairing.  This allowed me to pull enough of the brake line out to cut it, then flare it.

Which is exactly what I did, with just the barest amount of space enough to get the crimping tool on the end of the 3/16″ SS brake line.

But I prevailed in the end, with a pretty decent flare if I say so myself (smile).

I then shoved it all back into the ugly gaping channel that I had just made on the inside of the left gear leg fairing.

I then did the same thing with the right brake line on the right gear leg fairing.

Then, just as I did on the left gear leg, I connected the 9.25″ -3 braided SS hose to both the brake caliper fitting and the (now) in gear leg fairing 3/16″ SS brake line fitting.  This finishes the brake line run from wheels all the way to master cylinders.

I forgot to snap any pics, but my next task was to whip up some thick 30/70 flocro paste (heavy on the micro) and embed just the 3/16″ SS brake line in the gear leg fairing.  This was after I wrapped the fitting in protective plastic wrap and covered it with a piece of electrical tape.  To be clear, the fitting did not get any flocro covering it, just the brake line tubing.

While the flocro cured, I developed my layup schedule for the wheel pants bonnet layups, and then got busy cutting a bunch of BID.

After having craft hour with Play-doh making the fillet at the intersection of the main gear leg to wheel pants (this was after re-reviewing Terry Schubert’s very informative presentation on drag) I then proceeded —for the next 5 hours!— to layup the wheel pant bonnet on the right wheel pant . . .

And the left.

I then peel plied the bonnet layups.


7 April 2018 — My buddy LG taught me some trivia last night when he kept using the term “wheel spats” for my wheel pants.  We looked it up online and sure enough, wheel spats is another term used for wheel pants . . . apparently a bit more in Britain.  I actually like the term better so I will begin using it as a part of my lexicon! ha!

First off, I’d like to note that on the profile shot that there is clearly no smile.  To be fair, I widened these wheel pants 1″ at the widest point, and with the benefit of hindsight –again– I think that 3/4″ would have most likely been plenty enough to do the trick.

Now, of course it’s my biased opinion, but since the 400×5 wheels/tires –thus the subsequent wheel pants (or wheel spats)– are significantly smaller than the 500×5 wheels, then my widening the wheel pants hasn’t seemed to make them overtly fat in appearance. Again, IMHO.

I started out my short work evening by marking the wheel pants’ bonnets for trimming.  I originally had planned on making the flange of the bonnet 1.6″ wide, but that was a bit too narrow so I settled on 1.8″.

I also switched around the screw locations on the front side from 2 each side forward of the wheel pant split to only 1 each side with a lone screw at the front center position (the bold dot on the front flange “corner” <pic below> is a screw position that I had originally planned for, but that I eliminated from the lineup).  Going with 3 screws up front vs. 4 provided me with more equidistant spacing for the next 2 fasteners (CAMLOCs) aft of the split.

Now, the fact that I have 2 CAMLOCs aft of the split on each side is change #2.  Sitting upstairs on my couch as I planned out all these fasteners, I just didn’t really realize how long the side of the bonnet flange was until I was actually downstairs in the shop looking at it…. this means I’ll be short 2 CAMLOC receptacles in the order I submitted today.  Oh well, that’s why I like to build stuff like the wheel pants as early as possible to flush out all these minor hardware issues, etc.

As a point of note, the total hardware for each wheel pant is 5 screws and 9 CAMLOCs…. of which 4 screws and all 9 CAMLOCs will need to be unfastened to remove the aft side pant for checking/filling tire pressure, maintenance, etc.

After I got my screw/CAMLOC locations dialed in, I carefully drilled a hole at each location… adding Clecos as I went.

Here’s the inboard side of the left wheel pant bonnet, marked for trimming and holes drilled at the fastener locations.

I then spent a good 10 minutes extracting the wheel pant halves from the iron grip of the bonnet.

Here we have the inboard view of the untrimmed bonnet.

And the same view, only with the bonnet trimmed with the Fein saw.

And a couple more shots of the trimmed wheel pant bonnet on the left gear.

Since it was later in the evening, I wanted to get my loud Fein saw cutting shenanigans out of the way as early as possible, so I immediately headed over to finish up the right wheel pant bonnet.  I started off by measuring and marking it in the best emulation of the left wheel pant bonnet as possible.

Then I drilled the screw/CAMLOC holes and Clecoed those.

Here’s an inboard view of the marked, drilled and Clecoed right wheel pant bonnet.

I then trimmed the right side wheel pant bonnet with the Fein saw.

Here’s the outboard view of the trimmed right wheel pant bonnet (again, sorry for the pic).

After I had made my loud noise for the evening, I excitedly got to work reassembling the wheel pants onto the trimmed bonnets.  Hoo-ah!  I’ve been waiting for this point for a LONG time!

I first reassembled the left wheel pant, installing both side mounting screws and all the Clecos.

And then did the same thing for the right side wheel pant.

I would like to point out that these bonnets are in their rough cut state and there are obvious minor differences between the right and left sides.  And while I’m realistic in accepting that both sides won’t match perfectly, I will shape them as close as possible to minimize any differences between the two…. and I honestly think the resulting differences in shape will be so minimal that it will be hardly noticeably out on a flight line.

The bottom line is that I LOVE these wheel spats and man do they make this bird look sexy!


8 April 2018 — I started out the day by updating my wheel pants (or “spats”) task list before heading down to the shop. My plan was to get to the point I could knock out a few layups on the wheel pants then roll into finalizing the shop reorganization… with the wings inside and the fuselage having done an about face.  But that didn’t happen.

What did happen was a whole lot of mini-tasks getting completed on the wheel pants, which of course has moved the completion bar to I’d say the mid-90% area (excluding finishing of course).

My first task of the day was to trim down the Gear leg to wheel pant bonnet fairing on the aft side of the bonnet.  I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a swoosh-style fairing here because when I see canard aircraft with wheel pants without this swoosh fairing  . . . well, something is just missing mentally for me.  So in they went.

Obviously here is the before-trimmed shot.

And then after I trimmed down the jagged swoosh fairing edge.

Here we have the right side swoosh fairing after I trimmed it down.  I would like to point out that these are initial trimmings, and I’ll dial them in most likely when I finish the wheel pants to paint.

I then set my sights on drilling out the left side bonnet’s front 3 mounting holes for #10 screws.  After drilling the front hole I set a #10 screw in place with a narrow Tinnermam-style washer.

I then did the same after drilling the outboard mounting hole.

With the front side screw holes drilled out (remember, the aft end gets CAMLOCs) on both the left and right wheel pants and bonnets, I then pulled the wheel pants off.  I then sanded down the interior edge of the tire openings for the upcoming 2-ply reinforcement BID those will get.

I then laid up 2 plies of BID on “top”  (the inboard sides) of the outboard support doublers. Again, this was due to delams caused by the extreme angles from the sides of the doublers to the “top” surface, and something I had a good notion might happen.  No worries, small EZ layups and a little flox and they’ll be right as rain.

[Although I forgot to take any pics, I also laid up a ply of BID over each line of flocro that I used to hold the stainless steel brake lines into the gear fairing after bending them out to flare and terminate the ends.  The bonnet layups covered the bottom 2/3rds of the channels, but the tops were just bare flocro on the inboard side of the gear legs].

Since my plane has the wide main gear fairing and thus a longer bonnet, I then added a ply of BID on the insides of both aft wheel pants where the CAMLOCs will get mounted. The area where I added the BID is much lighter glassed than the more robust areas of the wheel pants.

As the glass cured I then got to work sanding and shaping the edges of the wheel pant bonnets that are now permanent fixtures on the gear legs.  In addition, I spent about 10-15 minutes per side digging out the transition-fillet-creating Play-doh from under the bonnet.

Here’s the right side bonnet cleaned up and sanded.

A few hours later here are the cured and trimmed support doublers.

And here’s a shot of the K1000-3 nutplates I riveted into place as the glass layups were drying.

After all the layups had cured and I pulled peel ply and cleaned them all up, I then mocked up the left wheel pant using only screws… no Clecos.

Here you can see the top front 3 screws in place.  In actuality I need to get some more screws since only the outboard centerline screw is the right size #10 screw, and doing the lion’s share of the work.  The front and inboard are #8 screws that I used to show visually how it all would look.  BTW, if you’re wondering why I ended up going with #10 screws, it was simply a matter of visual balance with the CAMLOCs, whose studs have the same size head as the #10 screws.  With 5 screws total for each wheel pant, the weight increase is minuscule going with #10 screws vs #8’s.

I did what I could to countersink the 1/4-28 side mounting screws, but I will need to pick up an actual 1/4″ 100° countersink from ACS to finish the job.  Although the Tinnerman washer sits just a hair proud, this shot of the outboard mounting screw still gives you an idea of how it looks.

Here’s a shot of the screws from the inboard side.

And here’s a shot of the inboard 1/4-28 mounting screw with Tinnerman washer.


9 April 2018 — My goal today was to finish the last bit of scheduled layups on the wheel pants.

I started by assessing the tire clearance with the left wheel pant.  I needed to do some judicious trimming in the front and along both sides, but the back side was a completely different story.  Since I had originally miscalculated the forward positioning of the front wheel pant, the result was that I ended up cutting the aft side of the wheel opening way too big, with over an inch extra gap for the tire.

Thus, as far glassing was concerned, my goal was to reinforce all the side and front edges with 2 plies of BID, as Gary Hertzler calls out for in the install instructions.  What Gary doesn’t specify is the width of the reinforcement glass, so I planned for 2 plies of BID at 3/4″ wide.  As I said, the aft edge was a different story and needed a fair bit of glass to fill it back in. So I prepregged all the glass and got started.

I then laid up the interior reinforcement BID for the left side wheel pant (shown farther below).  As the left side glass layups cured, I then assembled the right side wheel pant onto the gear and mounted it using nothing but screws (no Clecos).

I then assessed and determined the wheel opening spacing requirements with the tire.  I cut and prepregged the BID for the right side just as I did on the left side, and then laid up the reinforcement BID around the wheel opening in the right wheel pant.

Here’s a shot of the left and right front wheel pant halves’ tire opening reinforcement BID.

And the same thing on the aft side, only with some filler glass on the aft end of both rear wheel pant halves.  As you can see, the aft side wheel pant tire opening on the left required a lot more filler glass than the one on the right side.  Once the filler glass cures, I’ll cut it in an oval-type/rounded-corner rectangle fashion for wheel clearance.


12 April 2018 — Today I took about half an hour to clean up all the rough edges on the wheel pants’ tire hole reinforcement layups that I did the other day, and then cut, shaped and sanded the bigger layups I did on the back of each wheel pant tire opening.


22 April 2018 — Today, although I didn’t get a pic, I mounted the right wheel pant.  I noted some trimming I’ll have to do on the wheel opening, but it’s seriously on the order of about a 1/16th of an inch.  That will get it in line with the opening dimensions spelled out by Gary Hertzler.

In addition, I took some measurements on the right wheel pant that I had already taken on the left.  The conclusion was that the wheel pants match perfectly from the gear leg forward to the front pant tip.  However, from the TE of the gear leg to the back tip of the wheel pant the right one is about 3/16″ farther aft, or maybe I should say 3/16″ longer.  No big deal and it was more of a curiosity thing than anything… It can of course get tweaked a bit when I finish the wheel pants.


12 August 2020 — Today I remounted the wheel pants using clecos in the alignment/hardware holes.

Thankfully everything went back together fairly smoothly. I would say that the skirt (wheel pant flange) on the gear seems to be pulling the aft end of each pant up about 1/8″, but beyond some minor requirements for trimming the interfaces, all looks pretty good!

Although not exact or scientific, after a bit of fanagaling I ran a string from the front center point to the aft center point… I could manipulate the string up or down, but it did naturally rest on the midpoint centerline when I initially pulled the string tight. Close enough for me . . .

I then spent a good bit of time re-spacing and re-drilling the screw/CAMLOC positions. The net result is the addition of one screw/CAMLOC on each side.

Note the X’s on the outboard (2x above) and inboard (1x below) where the old attach points were located.

There are some minor fit and finish issues that I need to deal with [note gap at junction] and I’ll dial those in as I finalize the wheel pants install.

Here’s a shot of the fuselage –with the wheel pants installed– in its current state. Albeit its current state is a bit of mess, with quite a bit of duct tape pieces and residue adhered semi-permanently to the surfaces.

I’ll note I’ve been closing out each evening this week with a good 45-minute or so cleaning session to get all the tape residue removed. In addition, each night I’ve been working 1-2 bondo spots still remaining on the bottom aft corner of the CS spar from when I mounted the wings to the spar and drilled out the wing mounting bolts…. yes, the sins of the past! The good news is I’m close to having a clean slate (pun intended) on the external fuselage. Next will come some much needed internal fuselage cleanup.


16 August 2020 — Today I got back to working on the right wheel pant. I’ve been slowing averaging a couple of hardware (screws or CAMLOCs) installs per day over the past few days.

My method has been to install the hardware points in pairs, with one high on one side and one low on the opposite side, then switch the next time around. Shooting for around 180º as if tightening bolts in a radial pattern.

Here you can see I only have 2 positions remaining to complete on the outboard side.

And 2 positions remaining on the inboard side.


17 August 2020 — Today I finished mounting the CAMLOC hardware on the right wheel pant. It really is a time-consuming process, but I’m really happy with the results.

Here’s a shot showing some of the interior hardware on the back half of the wheel pant, and the through holes in the front of the pant.

And same here on the inboard side.

Here’s the right wheel pant in all its mounted and finished glory!

A closer-up shot of the hardware. Again, all told to take off the aft pant section to gain access to the wheel requires removing 4 screws and 8 CAMLOCs.

The outboard side of the right wheel pant showing 3 CAMLOCs.

And a closer-up shot of the inboard side, with 2 screws (top/apron & bottom centerline) and 3 CAMLOCs (one midpoint centerline, and 2 on the aft apron).

Entire inboard pant view.

I then relocated and re-drilled the screw/CAMLOC attach points on the left wheel pant, following the same pattern I implemented on the right wheel pant. Again, this adds one more securing point on each side of the pant.

To close out the evening, I drilled and riveted 2 nutplates in place to add the last screws that will be installed on these wheel pants {blue arrows}. The remaining installs will all be CAMLOCs from here on out.


18 August 2020 — Today I finished the installation of the wheel pants… at least the major heavy lifting as far as the hardware installation is concerned. I still have one more CAMLOC assembly to install (maybe 2 even) and some minor tweaks with pant-to-tire clearance at the bottom wheel openings.

Here is my finishing up the left side wheel pant mid-hardware install.

And a shot of the finished left wheel pant, replete with installed screw and CAMLOC attach points.

And an inboard look at the left wheel pant.

Can’t let an event like this go to waste, so a couple shots of both wheel pants together.

With this task out of the way, I can obviously focus my time on other parts of the build.

I have to say I’m extremely pleased with how the wheel pants turned out.


24 August 2020 — Midday the UPS guy delivered a box from Aircraft Spruce. In that order was the lightweight stainless steel CAMLOC receptacle for the last “official” CAMLOC needing installed… which I did so here.

I say official since I’m heavily leaning on adding a CAMLOC on the wider inboard section of the wheel pant bottom side to keep it secure and vibration free. The left wheel pant is better aligned than the right, and since the right really needs it I figure I’ll go symmetrical with my pant attach hardware.

While the aft wheel pant was off I took the opportunity with some spare BID and West epoxy to layup what will be 2-3 relief tube interior retaining tabs for the left aft wheel pant half.

Here’s a closer view.

I’m going to use the tabs to route the relief tube so that it mounts quickly in a semi-circular configuration to exit the wheel pant 90º to bottom edge, a little aft of the wheel opening.

NOTE:  I didn’t end up using these tabs for the relief tube, but I will use these to flox in place and tie secure electrical wires.


25 August 2020 — Today I located and installed the relief tube exit out of the left wheel pant.

Case in point: the wheel pants. Speaking of which, I installed the last “required” CAMLOC on the lower outboard side of the left wheel pant. Again, I’m most likely going to install one more CAMLOC on each pant on the inboard bottom side… got a tad bit of separation going on there, especially on the right pant.

Also note my hardware cards for the CAMLOC and screw storage when the wheel pants are disassembled… I stole this great idea from Marco!


27 August 2020 — Today I got back to work on the right wheel pant. This gap at the inboard bottom edge might as well have been the wheel pant shrieking: “I’m not done yet!!” . . . so I decided to knock out the right side tonight.

Here’s an idea of about how off the front and aft sections of the wheel pant are at this point. Not sure why since the rest of the pant seems in good shape, but the gap is considerable.

About 0.162″ inches… pretty decent-sized anyway, I’d say.

I took the right wheel pant off the gear leg, with hardware going onto the card… which worked a treat!

I drilled and then mounted the bottom CAMLOC assembly to tighten up the gap. Much better!

I then retraced my tire clearance marks to provide a minimum of 1/4″ on the sides.

I then trimmed the wheel cutout with the Fein saw and cleaned up the edge.

Here’s how it all looked when I mounted the pant back in place. It took a bit of finagling to align the bottom inboard edge of the wheel pant while getting the CAMLOC installed under there. After a few times I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.

Here’s another shot of the inboard lower junction on the right wheel pant. There’s still a bit of an offset, but not nearly as much as before. Now that the bottom edge is secure I feel good about filling and forming this lower area with micro to clean it up before paint.

The bottom line is that besides finishing with micro and painting, there is nothing left to do on the right wheel pant.


31 August 2020 — After a bit of thinking I decided to go lopsided on the wheel pants and NOT install the CAMLOC on the inboard underside of the wheel pant. You can see I even marked and hand drilled a small starter point.


The left wheel pant simply doesn’t have the gap issue that the right one has. I can always add a CAMLOC and install one later, but I can’t uninstall one (easily anyway). And with the tightness of the junction at this point, I just really don’t think it’s worth the time or money to put one in.

I proceeded with transferring the wheel/tire perimeter gap lines from the inside to the outside of the pant. Again, this provides the necessary tire clearance all the way around.

I then trimmed the tire opening and cleaned up the edge.

The final task I needed to perform –besides finishing and painting– on the wheel pants is to lay up a 4-ply BID pad on the inboard main screw spacer nub. You see, if I cinch up the big axle screw tightly then there’s not enough of a gap to slide the back half of the wheel pant in place without hanging up on the front half. Specifically, the inboard CAMLOC receptacle will snag the front half unless I back off the big screw just a hair.

I think around 0.050″ added thickness should do the trick, and if I need another ply or two I can simply add that onto the inboard main screw spacer nub.

For the most part, once I clean up this layup and re-drill the hole, I’m calling the wheel pants install complete.


2 September 2020 — I started off today with a quick kill on (re)drilling out the ~1/4″ center hole in the 4-ply BID pad I added to the left wheel pant’s inboard mounting spacer.

I started off by marking the hole…

Then used progressively larger drill bits to keep the hole as clean as possible. I test fit the bolt (not shown) and it fit fine. Unless any added spacer plies of glass are needed, I’m placing the wheel pants in the completed column (to be finished and painted later).


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Project Update

Hey Guys,

The perimeter baffle seals are pretty much complete at this point, minus 2 small respective segments near the exhaust pipes.  That being said, I’m moving forward with constructing the Melvill-style exhaust pipe brackets, which the final two segments of baffle seals will attach to (immediately below the exhaust pipes)… then I can declare official victory over the baffle seals!

James rewelded the left outboard exhaust pipe today, so I’m pressing forward in getting the exhaust pipe brackets made and installed before trimming all the exhaust pipes to final length.

  1. Chapter 23 – Exhaust bracket mockups Leave a reply
  2. Chapter 23 – Exhaust pipe re-welded Leave a reply
  3. Chapter 23 – Exhaust pipe bracket start Leave a reply
  4. Chapter 23 – Aft bottom baffle seals in Leave a reply
  5. Chapter 23 – Right baffle seals installed Leave a reply
  6. Chapter 23 – Right exhaust pipe tab Leave a reply
  7. Chapter 23 – Left baffle seals installed Leave a reply
  8. Chapter 23 – Left aft baffle seals Leave a reply
  9. Chapter 23 – Left exhaust pipe tab Leave a reply