RCU Review: How to: Repair Landing Gear

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    Contributed by: David Dunn | Published: March 2004 | Views: 25077 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    How to Repair Landing Gear

    Dave Dunn (AKA Flyboy Dave)

    “How to Repair Landing Gear”

    It looks like that landing gear is going to need some work. I guess everyone has busted out some gear at one time or another. But, how to fix it ? It looks pretty bad….the side of the fuselage is broken as well.

    It's not as bad as it looks. We can not only repair the damage, but we can make the repair much stronger than it was without adding too much weight.

    There's no instruction manual on this type of thing, and no two repairs will ever be the same. Let's see how this repair was done, and get some ideas for fixing your plane. The plan is not too complicated. First we'll cut out and replace all the damaged wood. While we're at it, we'll modify and strengthen the area so this won't happen again. To finish up, we'll dress up the repaired area and recover it. The tools and materials we need include a razor saw, some clamps, some wood, and some epoxy.

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    The damage looks pretty rough, but it's not as bad as it looks. That crack on the top runs back quite a ways, and it's all flimsy balsa.
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    I removed the wood all the way to the end of the crack. Now we can have a good look inside, and we can replace this weak balsa with some stronger material. The cabin floor/landing gear mount, the firewall, and the wing mounts need to be the strongest areas of the plane for obvious reasons.
    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--
    Let's cut out all the damaged wood, and square things up for replacement. Notice the sides of the cabin are plywood, covered with balsa, and the bottom of the fuselage is only balsa. It's too weak, no wonder there was so much damage. We'll beef this thing up once and for all.
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    This is looking up the side of the fuselage from the bottom. I've cut the wood out in a staggered manner. When we replace the wood, this joint will be much stronger.
    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--
    This small damaged area is on the other side, where the gear block broke out. Lets cut the bad wood out of here too. All the glue and debris have been ground off.
    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--
    Lets repair this small area first. Keeping everything squared-up makes cutting and replacing the wood easy. A small amount of 5 minute epoxy does the job.
    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--

    Now we'll cut a piece of plywood for the inner cabin piece.

    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--
    I've cut the ply piece roughly like the other side, and will epoxy it into place. See how that overlap cut will give us a stronger joint ?
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    Now the balsa side piece is fashioned, and glued into place.
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    I'm using a piece of spruce to remount this balsa skin, and give us a solid rear mount for the new "Super Bottom". I have marked the wood down the center so I can install it evenly on both sides, and I have it tilted down a bit to show the center mark. Epoxy this brace in.
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    This is the "beef" of our new cabin bottom, and gear mount. It's ¼" plywood. It won't need any bracing or triangle stock to help hold it in. It is one big brace by it's self. When it is epoxied into position, it will be fastened to hardwood all the way around.
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    These are the rest of the parts we will need….the plywood skin/bottom, and another ¼" ply block which serves as the actual landing gear block. As you can see, our new bottom will be many times stronger than the original balsa construction.
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    Let's epoxy in the main block. The block fits perfectly, and holds itself in position. We will use a moderate amount of epoxy on both the inside edge of the cabin floor, and the ply block for a 100% contact. Don't get too sloppy here with the epoxy, it adds weight like crazy. Notice the edge all around the block. When we epoxy on the ply skin, that will serve as our gusset.
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    Now we fasten the ply skin on with a liberal amount of epoxy on the cabin bottom, and the skin. I used the clamps to hold the skin down tight, as well as squeeze out the excess epoxy. The epoxy will flow into any cracks and crevices, and the whole bottom will be solid as a rock. This is why I said not to get carried away gluing in the big block.
    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--
    Now glue in the inner ply mount piece. This again, is glued to hardwood on three sides and is it's own gusset.
    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--
    A little bit of sanding, and a piece of covering….good as new. Even better than new !
    --> CLICK TO ENLARGE  <--
    Reinstall the gear, and we're back in business. You can through bolt the gear back on, or reuse the original blind nuts. I drilled and tapped the wood, and used nylon bolts to save some weight. We removed about an oz. of damaged wood, and put about three ozs. back on, so the weight gain was minimal.

    If you have damaged your plane, it may not be exactly like this one....
    but you get the general idea.



    Comments on RCU Review: How to: Repair Landing Gear

    Posted by: cat5752 on 07/21/2014
    Great article, and ironically the plane you used for the demo is the plane I've seen most often with this issue. I wish I would have kept mine; this article would have fixed it completely.
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