Landing Gear and Aircraft Rigging

The creation of the landing gear, cabane struts, and interplane struts, have a large bearing on just how well the airplane will fly.
A sixteenth of an inch error at  the root of a wing, will make a huge error at the wing tip 9 feet away.  So the activities of this page are all very critical.  The times I've listed are the times I actually labored on the aircraft.  It doesn't include the time I was inside studying and getting the nerve to go out and actually drill the holes.
I've included the four titles below to whisk you to the area of your interest on this page.
Landing Gear
Flight Controls
Final assembly and weight and balance

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9/20/2000   Today I started studying the gear construction and installation.  A flat board was found, and the 12 degree shim strips were created  for the construction jig.  Planning to build them completely by the plans, but am open to options at this point for the choice of wheels.  Just don't know what to think of the wheels that came with it.  Looks suspiciously like my lawn equipment wheels.  0
    Started making metal dust today instead of saw dust.  Trying my best to accurately build to the plans, I see problems in the basic design.  Assembling the parts as provided, the arc of the aft strut member is obviously different than the forward member.  It would thus seem that there would then be a great stress applied to either the gear or where it is mounted.  I'll study on that some more tomorrow.  Otherwise, the axle assemblies were drilled and bolted together, they then were aligned, drilled,  and bolted to the front gear member.  Alignment looks good.  Tomorrow will be spent here assembling the bungee system 3
9/23/2000      After much consideration and frustration, it seems if the pivot point for the trailing arm of the gear strut is moved towards the center of the fuselage by a half inch, a great portion of the stress is removed.  Before redrilling the channel for this angle, I'll have another good long look at it.  Studying this problem prevented any further work on the gear.  Didn't know I was going to get an engineering degree with this effort!?  1
     Complete reapproach to the gear problems today.  I removed the 12 degree shims in the gear construction jig, and find that everything now falls into place!?  Makes you wonder just what Mike really planed on us doing!  Problem now exists as to if it will mount up with the fuse correctly and give the proper geometry and wheel placement.  Shock struts were also fully assembled awaiting bungee cords which will be done in the morning.  Rivets provided with the kit were initially used for securing tubing doublers.  They have all now been removed and replaced with a higher quality rivet.  Too much rattling, and they were also not snugging down properly, playing about 1/16th of an inch.  Not good.  2
     Final assembly of all gear sub parts was achieved this morning, and operation of shock struts were checked with out the bungee cords in place.  Surprising was the small amount of movement that the internal stop cords allow.  Doesn't seem we're far from a stiff gear system.  Shock struts were taken to a friends house to have help stretching the bungee cords.  Larger washers were needed and found.  With both or best efforts we did get the bungees in place.  The main gear system (front) was then taken over to the fuselage and a fit was eye balled.  Building it square as I approached yesterday, will not work.  Back to the jig with 12 degree shims!  This done, final shaping and riveting on the AG3 parts have made the assembly ready to install for fit on the fuselage.  3
     After about an hour this morning, I was able to put the fuselage down on the ground and roll it around on it's newly formed landing gear.  All looks good and square.  At present, I can't even get the gear bungees to budge, but I'm guessing, engine and all, it will in the future.  1
10/5/2000      Took the tail wheel spring and reshaped it to fit the new tail wheel I'm mounting to the aircraft.  One minor rebend, and drilling the mount holes through the spring and mounting block.  Another job for tomorrow.  1
10/9/2000      Finished up the tail wheel mounting.  Made a backup plate that has anchor nuts on it inside access will not be needed to mount or remove the tail wheel.  This plate also accepts the shoulder harness cable.  This will be mounted to the tail wheel block with epoxy and screws.  1
10/21/2000      Pulled off the axle assemblies today.  Took them to a machine shop and made new axles for them to accept the Azusa 8" wheels and brakes.  Used Grade "8" bolts cut to length.  That's a lot harder material than the axles that was supplied with the kit.  Next opportunity, I'll be fitting the brake hardware, and cables.  2
     Today's endeavors included assembling the wheel, tire, and brake assemblies.  These were then mounted to the gear legs, and two pieces per leg were fashioned and bolted to the brake assemblies to prevent their rotation.  Rigging and routing of the brake cables to follow.  Having a bit of trouble finding a way to make them work well, and have proper receptacles for the cable ends so that they will be adjustable, and keep the outer cable housing aligned with the cable.  2
11/11/2000     Tail wheel was remounted today, with bushings in place.  Will need wood screws later to assure plate will not be able to move.  Shoulder harness cable was attached to this backplate temporarily 1
3/15/2001    After base color painting on the fuselage, the Main gear and tail wheel was reattached to the airframe.  Rudder cables were fished out from behind the fabric through holes in the fabric that been cut from measurements made very carefully before fabric was applied to the fuselage.  Elevator pushrod was also extracted from the fabric, and attached to the walking beam behind the pilots seat.  Springs cables and chains are being fashioned to connect the tailwheel steering to the rudder cables.  The control stick was also trimmed to a comfortable length.  A compass will be found to mount to the top.  1
3/20/2001    Spent the available time today finishing up the Landing gear.  Checking and installing the final bolts on the hear, and cutting out aluminum that will serve to cover the landing gear legs, for both aesthetic structural reasons.  Also being considered here is the mechanical brake cables and their routing.  2
3/21/2001      Applied aluminum sheet to one side of left main gear leg.  Drilled in clecoed in place the inner skin for left mail gear leg 1
3/28/2001      Completed shaping and applying the aluminum sheet to the two gear legs.  Boy to they feel stout now.  Tailwheel assembly was checked over, lubricated, and cotter pins applied to both the wheel axle, and the castor pivot.  At least one part is now ready to fly!  2
     Today, I lined up the tailwheel, and finally clamped down the tail wheel steering cables to the rudder cables.  I'd say I'm committed there!  I then changed course completely on the mechanical brake system.  After setting up the left brake and trying ti from the cockpit, I didn't feel the mechanical advantage to power the brakes, and I also felt way too much pressure being put on the rudder.  So I then designed a very simple heel brake levers that seem to be working quite well.  Lots of lever strength, and I actually feel like I can stop the airplane heading down a hill if needed.  5
4/12/2001      Main gear axles were trimmed to final length, and a single hole drilled to accommodate the cotter pin.  The end of each axle was also drilled and tapped to 8/32nds.  This will allow the mounting of wheel pants someday.  The right wheel brake was also adjusted.  1


Flight controls
As in all areas of the Fisher kits, the basic parts are all cut to size, generally needing only a well placed hole drilled. Bringing it all together to make all the flight controls properly work, a bit more time is obviously spent

9/26/2000      Today started the inspection and piecing together of the flight control systems in the cockpit.  Finding and trimming up the parts as always can be a challenge.  To be encouraged though, I see that there just ain't much left in that big box the airplane came in!  0
     Pretty much finished all sub assemblies on the flight controls today.  Can't go much further until I get the trailing spar in place to allow mounting of the walking beam for the elevator.  2
9/28/2000      Flight control work today was mainly concentrated on installing hinges on the rudder and elevator.  To do this I created a new blade with .040 material for my biscuit joiner and set up the machine to allow the cut to be centered.  1
9/29/2000      Elevator walking beam was temporarily installed to enable further work on flight control system.  Control stick was installed with forward bearing clamped in place.  Pushrod between stick and walking beam was trimmed and installed. Aft landing gear mount channel was removed and trimmed to prevent conflict with pushrod between stick and walking beam.   Pushrod from walking beam to elevator was cut to length, and temporarily installed.  End was plugged as per plans, and will be finished tomorrow.  2
9/30/2000      Elevator push rod was finished and installed first thing this morning.  Plans call for 20 to 25 degrees of travel and I have at least 20 but just short of 25.  Nice to see! Plans told how to do the elevator end of the push rod two different ways.   (wood plug, drilled and cut to a fork, and difficult way, mounting a threaded rod with an adjustable fork)  I figured that the only thing the adjustment would do for me would be to reset stick center.  I did it the simple way, and figure if I need an adjusting fork, I could do it at a later date with out loosing any time or money.   Rudder controls next.  Will wait for final rigging of the aircraft before I do the ailerons.  1
10/10/2000      Spent the day working through the many working parts of the rudder peddle system, incorporating the mechanical brakes.  Not getting too carried away here, since I'm probably going to be buying the 8" azusa system.  I don't hear much good about the garden implement wheels that are provided with the kit.  may try to rig a adapter system to use the fisher brakes with the new wheels.  Snapped a chalk line down the side of the fuselage to represent the route of the rudder cables.  Have a few nylon fair lead assemblies that should come in nicely.  Need to permanently mount the rudder horn, to assure a good, full route alignment for the rudder cable system.  .  3
10/11/2000      Rudder cable fairleads were created for 2 stations each side.  One cable end was swaged with a shackle inside the thimble for attachment to peddle.  Other end will wait until final installation of rudder to assure peddle positioning.  1
10/14/2000      Additional work was done on the rudder system.  The remaining fairleads for the rudder cables were made and installed.  The left rudder cable was cut to size and finished on both ends.  An extra swage sleeve was slipped on the cable to attach the extra cable for the steerable tailwheel.  2
10/18/2000      The Final rudder cable was fitted and made today.  Good movement from the peddles with out restriction.  Elevator hinges were pinned with one screw, and then travel limits were checked.  Fuse ply had to be trimmed to clear for pushrod movement.  1
10/26/2000      Installed springs behind the rudder peddles today.  Must either shorten them, or deflect them so that they do not align with the back of the peddles and be caused to compress, thus locking the rudder peddle travel.  1
11/11/2000      Aileron bellcranks, and pushrods were re installed into the wing.  Holes were drilled through fuselage sides to allow passage of pushrod from bellcrank.  Slight bend in pushrod was required to align to control stick due to the dihedral of lower wing.  1
     Aileron pushrods were cut to length and threaded rod ends were attached temporarily with a single cleco.  Ailerons were checked for range and proper motion.  Rudder springs were shortened to allow full movement with out binding.  Rudder and elevator hinges were fitted and trimmed.  At this point all flight controls are fully operational.  1
11/14/2000      Can I say, again, that I'm finished with the control system?  Elevator nylon bearings were removed and plywood types supplied with the kit were installed.  Elevator now moves freely.  Aileron push pull tubes were finished with threaded rod ends installed.  Nylon bearings at first false rib were also installed.  Operation is smooth with out restriction.  2
12/22/2000      Finally got around to gluing the front control stick bearing block in place!  1
4/12/2001      Lower left wing was hung on the fuselage today.  Aileron installation was completed with the required nuts and bolts, and is in an airworthy configuration.  1


Cabane Struts, Interplane Struts, and Rigging
This is where all the critical stuff comes together.  Measure 14 times, and drill once. . . .hopefully
If you don't like the outcome, throw it out, and start over.  It is better here to accept a small setback, than to plod on and have a poor flying airplane in the least, or at worst, a dangerous flying airplane.

     Looming in the dark at the edge of the plans, was the concept of building the cabane struts.  Using scrap from the gear jig, and the 1/2" OSB from the top of the shipping crate, I quickly built the jig as called out in the plans.  The end boards had very prominent center lines drawn so that alignment would be easily checked.  The jig was placed on the fuse and alignment checked.  All ok.  Following instructions, I then started hanging pieces on them. All attach fittings were attached also to the fuselage.  They will be redrilled later for bushing stock.  I installed doubler tubing in  AS3's and 4's at the bottom ends only so The upper ends could first be cut to length, before doublers inserted.  Since the tubing is too large for the channel stock they are being fitted into, the ends are being crushed to proper dimensions using wood block jaws in the vise.  2
10/1/2000      Sunday again, and not much time available, but holding with my motto, I did something however small it was.  I spent about an hour fitting a few more cabane struts pieces.  Tomorrow ought to bring to completion the cabanes.  1
10/2/2000      Work day.  I make a bunch of aluminum dust today.  All parts, and pieces have been crafted, and drilled.  All that remains is the final drilling for 1/4" bolts on most of the fittings and installing the bushings on the fuselage.  4
10/5/2000      Took all the parts of the cabanes to a friends machine shop and shaped the ends to clear the bolts in the mount channels.  2
10/26/2000      After much pain and consideration, I have tossed the four forward cabane strut members.  Just not pleased with the work I did clearancing them for the bolt heads.  Too much material was removed in my opinion to meet the radius test.  The jig was restored to function, and placed back on the fuselage.  Upper plates were positioned, on forward jig.  I see that Gene has provided the new 1" material for replacement instead of the old 7/8ths tubing for these forward cabanes.  I should be able to make it work.  Thus far I've mounted the lower ends of the center struts.  They say that building one airplane actually builds two.  One in the scrap pile and one on the wheels!?  I'm on my way!  Hope to make great progress here tomorrow.  1
10/27/2000      All center cabane struts are now finished . . . .again.  I am happy with the work, and will now continue towards the rigging of the wings.  All work was done with hand tools, so nothing would get beyond inspection as it was being cut.  Table top, belt sander, dremel tool, with a fiber reinforced cutting blade was used exclusively.  Only thing that remains is the bushing stock spacers between the two forward plates.  May get to them in the morning.  2
     Removed the final jig part today and finished assembly of the cabanes.  Looks good and stout.  Aft plate may be a bit out of line, will have to see if a correction will be needed.  1
     Today I turned my pile of wings and parts, into a little biplane.  The eight most important holes in the airframe that hold the wings in proper incidence, and sweep, have been drilled.  I also fashioned the landing wires attaching them with their turnbuckles to the top end.  Tomorrow's task will of course be the creation of the interplane struts, and flying wires.  Well, ok, I'll probably also repair that rib I shattered when the wing fell from it's temporary brace!? 4
     Today finished the rigging of the wings!  They are as near as I can measure true in sweep, and incidence, with final drilling of the interplane struts complete.  Remaining on this stage, is the flying wires, and the addition of bushings to the lower wing carry through spars, and a few doublers in the interplane tubes.  Doesn't seem like much for a full days work, but measuring a bunch of times, before drilling the all important holes, can be quite time consuming.  Interplane doubler parts at the "V" sections, after riveted in place, were lightly hammered to conform to the shape of the tubing.  Next work period, will be to produce the flying wires, drilling out all fittings for final 1/4" bolts, and if times permits, installing bushings into the carry through spars.  I know a bit ambitious. .. ..
You don't build and airplane alone, this is Tim Moosey that helped me set the wings during the rigging process
     More checking of wing alignment today.  Airplane was stood on it's nose for a good visual check of symmetry.  It looked fine.  Only thing I could think of looking at that view was to call the NTSB!  Just didn't look right.  Flying wire routing was checked and as I hear with other youngsters, the aft wire will in fact contact the leading edge.  To remedy this, the aft and forward wires will be swapped in their position.  Will look kind of odd, but apparently most of the Youngsters flying are in fact flying this way.  Turnbuckles will be located at the interplane struts, and the lower ends will be attached to the gear channel with shackles and 1/4" bolts.  1
     6 of the 8 interplane attach points were drilled out ot 1/4 for the final bolt.  The other two will require the removal of the landing wires, so a temporary jig placement will be required.  The left Flying wire attach point at the gear was shaped and drilled.  Four new doublers had to be produced, since those provided with the kit would not pass the edge area test.  One flying wire end was swaged to a shackle to check alignment, and fit at the gear channel.  Once I get remaining turnbuckle parts in, I should be able to finish the flying wire installation.  2
11/14/2000      All interplane, and cabane wing attach points have been drilled out to 1/4" required size.  Four more bolts at this point to drill out, and they all have to do with the forward two struts of the cabane structure.  The right side flying wire attach point at main gear was drilled and doublers installed.  2
     Day for running for parts.  Having changed up the way the turnbuckles will be mounted, I retrieved four additional cable ends for my flying wires.  Left side interplane struts were slotted to receive flying wire attachment.  Flying wires were then created for the left side.  Rather awkward trying to hold the tools while maintaining the sleeve up against the thimble.  Right side interplane strut was slotted, and lower end of flying wires fitted to thimbles and shackles.  Upper ends of flying wires will be finished in the morning, and should take little time at all.  Having everything fitted may require a trip outside for a required photograph.  2
     Finalized all flying and landing wires today.  Aircraft was then moved outside to Take pictures. 

     Clicking on the picture will take you to a page of 6 pictures of the fully rigged skeleton

12/21/2000      Redrilled the forward cabane struts to accommodate the 1/4" bolts as required by the plans.  Tailwheel backup plate/ shoulder harness attach plate was permanently attached with wood screws.  1
3/24/2001      Final mounting of the Rudder hinges were made today.  The elevator was also temporarily mounted to start their hinge attachments.  Flying struts for the tail section were cut to a rough length.  1
3/25/2001      Four flying struts from fin to stabilizer structure were formed.  2
3/26/2001      Stab and fin were again checked for square.  Finding them acceptable, I made and hung the right lower flying struts.  1
     All eight flying struts for the tail section were fully assembled and checked for alignment.  All found good, two rivets were applied to each end of struts.  Tail is now very solid.  All that remains at the tail is the hanging of the tail wheel steering cables, and aluminum sheet cover to the fin/stab root area.  1
4/10/2001      Pulled my Flying wires back out and trimmed up the ends of the cables where they exit the nicopress sleeves.  Instead of wrapping them with tape, I made more of a tight wrap with some small gauge safety wire.  Looks good, and wont trap water.  A few of the joints at the rudder cable, and steering cable were also done.  1
4/11/2001      Added some small fairleads to the stabilizer struts, to prevent the tail wheel steering cables from rubbing while in flight.  This is not a problem on the ground due to the spring displacement.  1
4/13/2001      Lower right wing was rigged with final bolts and washers, aileron mounted and checked for travel.  Right brake was rerigged to give equal travel to left brake.   I'm at a stand still at this point.  Need an engine to finish. . . . 1


Final Fitting and weight and balance
All is coming to a close.  Final assembly of the aircraft, its cowling and fairings is all that's left of the construction phase.
Past that, the weight and balance is the only remaining item, which is 2/3's mathematic aerobatics.

6/5/2001      Put the wings back on the airplane today for the last time before the FAA shows to inspect the bird.  I'm preparing the airplane for the final weight and balance, and also the creation of the fairing between the upper wings.  1
6/7/2001      After assuring the wings were in rig, Spacers were fashioned to fill the angles between the wing mount tabs, and the cabane strut plates.  This will allow a degree of compression with out placing a major bending force on the structure.  The Material for the fairing between the upper wings was then bent to the leading edge contour, and carefully shaped to fit the actual taper of the gap between the wings.  2
6/10/2001      Checked inventory of final bolts, for Wing attach, interplane struts, and flying wires.  Labeled instrument panel and engine controls.  Fuel was drained. Interior was cleaned.  Study and preparation for weight and balance was also done. 2
6/11/2001      Hauled the airplane up on the scales today, for the Official weigh in.  Of course the goal is to meet the designers prototype, but I feel meeting the 380 pounds, would have compromised something in the longevity of my aircraft.   With battery and all, this bird weighs in at 401 pounds.  CG, with me in the seat is about a quarter inch forward of the ideal.  I'm satisfied.  Full gas, oil, me, my parachute, is still about 20 pounds below gross, so once again, I'm satisfied.  The aircraft is not equipped with a baggage compartment, so I have not included that in the weight and balance calculations.  At a later time, I can see how one could be added.  For now, it can wait, (weight).  2
6/12/2001      Final visit and sign off from the EAA Tech advisor today.  One more hoop jumped through.  Refocused my attention to the battery installation, the final remaining item on this bird at this point.  ( an experimental is never really finished).  The battery box was finished and mounted behind the seat. A delron bar is used to retain the battery in position, and the system is awaiting only the installation of a disconnect for the wiring. Haven't figured out just what would be best of what I've got on hand at this point.  2
6/14/2001      Placed ends on the battery cables running to the battery box today.  With the acid added, the battery was placed on the charger.  Other than placement of the final bolts in the wings, this airplane is ready to fly.  I got a call from Paul today at the FAA!  He was holding my paper work, and wanted to touch base  with me in preparation for a visit!  We may have a flight with in the next two weeks!  1
6/15/2001      Rustled around and got the final bolts today for the wing attach fittings, and placed them in their respective holes.  Battery mounted and charged, tells me that it is fully complete, and ready for inspection.  I guess there is one thing I have to do. . . . .tear it all apart so the FAA guy can get a good look in the holes!? 1
6/16/2001      Seems there's always something.  Ok, marked my instruments today, flight and engine for limitations, using red, yellow and green electrical tape.  Looks. . . . .well it will do the job.  Fuses in the panel were replaced with the proper amperage. 1
6/21/2001      FAA canceled out on me today, so minor tinkering continues.  Today's work is merely to accelerate the reassembly at the destination airport for it's initial flight.  The landing wires were saftied at the turnbuckles as per part 43 with the double wrap method.  Having these wires fixed in length will remove the need to again level the craft to set dihedral.  The forward flying wire was covered with a piece of fuel line where the flying wires cross at their gear attach fitting.  Though the wires do not contact each other on the ground, I wanted to prevent any contact due to vibration in flight.   All flying wires were marked to identify side of aircraft they belong on.  One less thing to cause confusion at the airport.   The aileron rod ends were adjusted for proper alignment, and check nuts tightened.   The gascolator was saftied this morning.  2
6/25/2001      This morning the FAA showed up!  After 30 minutes of walking around the airplane, and asking questions, they left and took my Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) with them.  Though they found nothing that would make the airplane less than safe, they found a zero in front of the serial number when compared to the registration papers sent back by OKC!  This alone brought things to a screeching halt.  This zero was, along with another character, deleted from my application for registration by OKC's many diversions of competence.  After the inspection team arrived back in Fort Worth, I was called and told to come get my C of A.  Hour drive later, I picked it up and they signed my Log books off.  I was instructed to just re apply for registration with the entirely different number of 075, instead of the 75 that was on my present paper.  Sounds like the government is involved!  Later that day, the airplane was broke down, and moved to the airport 15 miles away. Quickly reassembled with the parts that actually made it to the location, (hole in shirt pocket).  Tomorrow, if time can be found, I'll take it on it's first flight.  With other projects at hand, I don't see a lot of possibilities at this point. 
(total gear, and rigging time was aprox 101)

At this point, we have a airworthy airplane with out the skin and power systems.  Thus this page is pretty much complete.
Work at this point returned to the fuselage, to finish all the details that could not be addressed, until all the above was completed, mainly pertaining to cosmetics.
Covering and Painting, as well as the engine installation will be started soon.

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