7.1.4 Saddle Construction 

The factory supplies premade saddles; however, they aren’t strong enough by themselves to do the job. The factory mold can’t handle the thickness so the first step for the builder is to thicken them up. Here I’m adding eight layers of triax to the original saddles for the first thickening step. I’ve covered the layups with peel ply to help soak up the extra epoxy and provide a nice, smooth finish (not that it matter since you’ll never see these again!)

Fuselage - Main Gear Saddles

Strengthening the main gear saddles with a lot of triax and epoxy!

Once cleaned up, here is the final result for that first step. I’d say they came out pretty nice, even though it was a real pain to get the layups to stick to the original surface. That’s why I’m using clamps in the photo above. The process for doing this looks easy, but it really wasn’t.

Fuselage - Main Gear Saddles Complete

They actually came out nice once I cleaned up the rough edges!

And here's another view of the finished layup on top of the factory-supplied main gear saddles.

Now, after all of that nice trimming, I need to go a bugger them all up to get them to fit properly in the gear wells. I know, this looks pretty ugly, but it’s necessary, and is spelled out in the manual, in order to get the saddles to fit properly in the wells as well as to snugly fit against the bottom of the gear leg. I messed around for the better part of a day or longer trimming and adjusting and cutting and grinding to get them to fit. What a pain! But in the end, they did fit!

Fuselage - Main Gear Saddle Trimming

My really nice looking main gear saddles need to be trimmed in order to fit properly in the gear well. It looks totally wrong but this is what has to be done!

Before locking them into place, the main gear needs to be aligned with the nose reference point. If I don’t get this right the gear may not track on the ground properly. Here I am doing the initial measurements. You can see an i-beam going down the center and underneath my carriage with another i-bean perpendicular to that. The measuring tape is then used to check that the sweep for each leg is equal.

Fuselage - Main Gear Alignment

The sweep from both the left and right side must be equal when measured to the reference point on the nose.

Fuselage - Main Gear Alignment (1)

The manual calls for an offset distance of 144 7/8th inches!

The offset is measured from the nose back to the perpendicular i-beam that helps to locate the main geat leg position at the rear. The sweep length is obviously longer than the offset distance since we’re measuring that at an angle. In my case, the sweep length came out to 12’ 6”. The plumb bob is hanging from the nose reference point.

The next step is to install the gear saddles. That process includes epoxying them into place on the gear legs, then adding more triax layups for strength. Once that’s finished, the final step is to bolt everything into place.

Fuselage - Installing Gear Saddles Step 1

After they are trimmed to fit, the first step is to epoxy the saddles into place with a thick mixture of EZ-Poxy and Micro Balloons.

Fuselage - Installing Gear Saddles Step 2

And here's the saddle epoxied into place on the other side.

Once the epoxy cures, and after a bit of sanding to smooth things out, it’s time to add more strength to the saddles and gear leg. In fact, I need to add 10 more layers of triax to the top of each saddle/leg combination. In the photo below, the layups are finished and everything is trimmed and cleaned up. You can see just how thick that layer of triax is!

Fuselage - Installing Gear Saddles Step 3

Ten layers of triax are laid up on top of the saddles to help lock it into place on the gear leg.

The next step is to lock the alignment of the gear legs into place and to install the bolts and related hardware to permanently attach the gear leg to the bulkhead. That process starts here.

ui© John Trautschold 2018