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The Little Wheel in Back



 
 
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  #1  
Old September 3rd 03, 08:23 AM
Veeduber
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Default The Little Wheel in Back



Real airplane, the fan is in the front. The little wheel is in the back. That
is, if it has a little wheel. Started out, we just had a skid. Nowadays,
lotsa folks frown on skids. But if you're into Flying On The Cheap there's a
lot to be said for a skid.

The main purpose of putting ANYTHING in the back is to keep the tail off the
ground. So you use whatever works. Skid works.

Most folks incorporate some form of energy absorption mechanism in whatever
works; that thing that keeps the tail from hitting the ground. Piecea wood
works. Pivot the piecea wood in the middle, wrap some shock cord forward of
the pivot, when the thing hits the ground it won't break. Kinda springy.
Sorta like a spring, which also works. Leaf spring, like one offen a car. Or
a wagon, if it's a small wagon. Fiberglas works too. Or you can use a piecea
wood. Ash works good. Hickory too. (Ask for a sledge hammer handle. In a
pinch, you can use a shovel handle. In fact, a popular homebuilt from the
1930's used the curved portion of a shovel handle for a tail skid.)

The bad thing about using a steel spring in back is the sparks. Looks kinda
neat, taxi'ing at night, little shower of sparks behind you. Not on grass, of
course but over at Palomar or Oceanside. More fun at Palomar because they got
a tower and you know how much folks love sparks when they live in towers.

Or you can use a piecea wood, put a little metal shoe on the end. Best of both
worlds: Cheap, easy to make piecea wood, with a couple wraps of shock cord.
(You can get some at Home Dee Pot.) PLUS you got this steel shoe, gives you a
nice shower of sparks when the tail comes down, causes Tower Dwellers to shine
their red light at you and say funny stuff on the radio. Almost as much fun as
landing on the taxi way. (I have a lot of trouble remembering my hull number,
usually just add five to the last one I heard. Seems to work okay.)

Have you seen them white plastic cutting boards? I've been using them for
fair-leads. Slippery stuff.

I'll bet you could put a piece of white plastic cutting board on your tail
skid, cause it to stop sparking and start sliding. Not very handy at Ranchita,
though. In fact, that's why you have a steel shoe back there, so's you can
come to a stop before you hit the windmill. No, you can't go there, it ain't a
runway, it's a road. Graded it nice & smooth after the Pines fire took care of
the brush. Seven hundred foot of road. Only folks that use it is me and a lot
of dope smugglers. That metal shoe works a treat on dirt. Not too many
sparks. But some. Guess I'd better put on a wheel.

Little wheel. Harbor Freight. It thought it was a caster until I got aholt of
it. Sez ‘88x31' molded into the rubber. Or urethane. Or whatever. Ball
bearing. Three-eights bore. Made up a tail-wheelie-thingee outta some tubing,
couple of bronze bushings. Zerk fitting. Horn bolts on. Don't weigh much but
it's heavier than a piecea wood and three feet of shock cord. Hell of a
moment, too. Seventeen feet four and three-quarters inches times four point
three seven pounds, plus the spring... means I have to move the whole gawdamned
engine forward about 1.375 inches just so's I can have a little wheel in back.
Or bolt about ten pounds of lead to the oil cooler. (Rather move the engine.)
Now I gotta find some sort of spring.

Looked around for a steel spring but couldn't find one I could afford. Checked
with the EAA experts and was told I could find leaf springs in any junk yard.
One EAA expert told me to look for a Model T, take the spring offa that. ( When
was the last time you saw a Model T in a junk yard? Where do they get those
people?) These are the same experts who think the Spruce Goose is made outta
spruce and that an AN3 is 3/16". I guess they don't get out much.

Ever heard of a camber compensator for swing-axle Volkswagens? It's a steel
spring shaped about like an archers' bow except with angles instead of curves.
Bolts to a pivot on the bottom of the tranny with the ends of the spring out
toward the wheels, pressing up on the axles. Works. Sorta. First used it on
the Porsche, way back When. Spring is about an inch and an eighth for bugs,
inch and a half for buses. New, they want the earth for the thang but used, at
the swap meet, over where all the air-cooled Volkswagen owners get together,
you pick one up for a twenty dollar bill.

One camber compensator makes two tail wheel springs. Pretty good tail wheel
spring, too, cept it's kinda soft. And at twenny bucks, expensive for someone
Flying On The Cheap. (Yes, I got a couple of them. But you don't. And the
Flying On The Cheap thingee is really for you, not me.)

Harbor Freight, that's the ticket. Go prowling around. They leave you alone
in Harbor Freight. Go to Home Dee Pot there's always some idiot asking if they
can help you. So you ask, "Double headed nails?" and they give you a silly
smirk as if you've just dropped in to practice your humor. Real hardware store
carries crockery and dynamite and knows what you mean when you ask for five
pounds of eight-penny double headed nails. Home Dee Pot only seems to have
these perky idiots offering help they can't provide.

So I go prowling around Harbor Freight and find the Perfect Tail Wheel Spring.
Looks like a pry bar but it's really a tail wheel spring. Or soon will be.

Yes, I made some drawings. They'll eventually go up with the other
‘Practice' stuff over on the Fly5kfiles archive. And I'll take some pictures
too, soon as Santa comes around (I've been saving up for a digital camera.)
Then I'll have me a regular tail wheel, like all the yuppies use.

But I'm gonna miss them sparks. And blowing the tail around. And getting the
Tower Dwellers all excited. Mebbe I'll send them over to Home Dee Pot, tell
them to ask for redwood plaster lath. Regular snipe hunt, seeing all them
yuppie-type clerks running around trying to figger out what Redwood Plaster
Lath might be and if they got some and where it might be hidden if they do.
Wasn't like that at the old hardware store. "Gimme ten stick of twenty percent
Hercules, twenty caps and five foot of fuse, please." And they write it up and
ask you was there anything else. Shoulda stocked up on wooden plaster lath
when I had the chance.

-R.S.Hoover
Ads
  #2  
Old September 5th 03, 01:54 AM
Dan Thomas
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Default

Great article! Especially the vernacular. More folks ought to write
like people speak.
I had a little airplane once that used a shopping cart caster in
the back. Ball bearings in the wheel AND the pivot. The spring
appeared to be a leaf off a small car. Lots of older cars and many
newer pickups in the junkyard have leaf springs in back. Should be
easy to find suitable spring stock.
Was always wondering what putting a chunk of flint on the skid
might look like at night. Make those tower dwellers call the fire
engines, maybe. Firemen need the practice.
And whether an airplane has a shopping cart caster or a "piecea
wood" instead of a "real" tailwheel, the pilot still has to be a real
pilot who knows how to use his feet...

Dan
  #3  
Old September 6th 03, 01:08 AM
Mike Weller
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Default


Long ago, and not too far away, I used to fly a J-3 which was owned by
our flying club.

Well, one day, one little link on the chain that connects the rudder
bell crank to the (Scott I think) tail-wheel broke. No problem, I
thought. I looked at the multi-link chain and I knew immediately why
it had failed, and how to fix it. The cable was exactly the same as
my mother used to hang plants in the green-house. Any moron could
tell you that the failure was from fatigue. The remedy was to get
about 12 inches of the chain link from mom's bag, and replace both of
the chains before they broke again. And I did, but Captain Bob U.S.
Air Force (not his real name, but anyone who flew out of the
Tullahoma, Tennessee airport in the mid-1960s will know who I'm
talking about) saw me installing the new chains on the J-3.

I was "allowed" to ferry the plane to a mechanic, who installed a set
of $25 airworthy chains. I was also allowed to keep the un-used
links of the airworthy chains. And I had the original chains that I
had replaced.

A group of us tried to find any difference between the airworthy links
and the ones my mom used. We looked at them really close, put them in
pliers and bent them back and forth. Duh? No difference!

Mike Weller

  #4  
Old September 6th 03, 02:13 AM
Ernest Christley
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Default

Mike Weller wrote:
Long ago, and not too far away, I used to fly a J-3 which was owned by
our flying club.

Well, one day, one little link on the chain that connects the rudder
bell crank to the (Scott I think) tail-wheel broke. No problem, I
thought. I looked at the multi-link chain and I knew immediately why
it had failed, and how to fix it. The cable was exactly the same as
my mother used to hang plants in the green-house. Any moron could
tell you that the failure was from fatigue. The remedy was to get
about 12 inches of the chain link from mom's bag, and replace both of
the chains before they broke again. And I did, but Captain Bob U.S.
Air Force (not his real name, but anyone who flew out of the
Tullahoma, Tennessee airport in the mid-1960s will know who I'm
talking about) saw me installing the new chains on the J-3.

I was "allowed" to ferry the plane to a mechanic, who installed a set
of $25 airworthy chains. I was also allowed to keep the un-used
links of the airworthy chains. And I had the original chains that I
had replaced.

A group of us tried to find any difference between the airworthy links
and the ones my mom used. We looked at them really close, put them in
pliers and bent them back and forth. Duh? No difference!

Mike Weller


Now I'm really curious. Saw some stainless steel cable at the tractor
supply the other day for about $1 foot. 1/8" and looked to be about 9
cords, each with 7 wires. Is there a difference between the steel cable
found at the tractor supply and what AS&S ships?

--
----Because I can----
http://www.ernest.isa-geek.org/
------------------------

  #5  
Old September 6th 03, 03:48 PM
AL
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Posts: n/a
Default


Now I'm really curious. Saw some stainless steel cable at the tractor
supply the other day for about $1 foot. 1/8" and looked to be about 9
cords, each with 7 wires. Is there a difference between the steel cable
found at the tractor supply and what AS&S ships?


The local Ace Hardware around here sells 1/8" Aircraft Cable, and it really
is.

AL


  #6  
Old September 8th 03, 04:27 AM
Corrie
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Default

Ernest Christley wrote in message m...
I was "allowed" to ferry the plane to a mechanic, who installed a set
of $25 airworthy chains. I was also allowed to keep the un-used
links of the airworthy chains. And I had the original chains that I
had replaced.

A group of us tried to find any difference between the airworthy links
and the ones my mom used. We looked at them really close, put them in
pliers and bent them back and forth. Duh? No difference!


Now I'm really curious. Saw some stainless steel cable at the tractor
supply the other day for about $1 foot. 1/8" and looked to be about 9
cords, each with 7 wires. Is there a difference between the steel cable
found at the tractor supply and what AS&S ships?



Biggest difference is probably the per-foot marking on the price tag.
 




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