Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby Tralika » Mon Dec 08, 2014 12:25 pm

Did anyone contact Atlas Suspension http://www.atlassuspension.com/ about making a replacement Highlander tail wheel spring?
John Nealon
Wasilla, Alaska
Highlander Extreme #191
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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby alan » Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:35 pm

OK, here is the final update. We got a certified welder to add the plates and gussets I made. That worked out really well, as you can see from the pictures. He used MIG and welding inside and out. Very nice work. After all the painting and recovering I thought it was all done. There were several wait periods because of hardware issues but Aircraft Spruce helped us out there. Then, when all was ready, the tailwheel wouldn't unlock. It is a Maule tailwheel and works really well. It seems that during the "incident", when the tailwheel was being ripped off, the unlock pin was damaged. That was another 4 days of waiting. Today, after 7-1/12 weeks of working and waiting, N1010Z aced her taxi test and flight. Yeehaa! Back in the air again. Check out the photos.

A&P (4)a3a.jpg


Apparently I'm not very good with attaching pictures as the order is kind of strange, but it's all done. Thanks for all the advice.

Alan
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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby Gil T » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:28 am

Alan

That looks like a lot of iron added to the back. Do you have any drawings of the pieces? It looks like it should be in a kit readily available labeled "For Those Who Land In Interesting Places Or Have Twitchy Tail Wheels". This seems to happen often enough with the Highlander that we shouldn't have to reinvent the process every time it happens. How much weight did it add? It does look like a nice installation.

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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby alan » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:28 pm

Thank you Gil. The pieces are .090 for the two bottom ones and .050 for the sides. Not including the weld wire these parts are almost 2#. There is no kit because no one could afford my labor rate. :-)
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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby taildrgfun » Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:50 pm

I land in some very rocky rough places often and if I did normal three point landings I would probably be breaking my tail wheel off on a regular basis, so therefore I don't do regular three-point landings in my Highlander. I do my approach as if I am going to do a slow as possible three-point landing but at the very last second I make it into a short wheel landing. I'm usually hanging it on the prop a little and at the last moment I drop the flaps and cut the power and set it on the mains. It does take a little practice but it sure does work well for saving your tail wheel and also for seeing over the nose when I'm landing in weird places.

I nearly always three-point my Superstol, in fact the tail will almost always hit first before the mains. Because of the shock absorber system on the SuperSTOL it is not abusive to the tail a like three-point landing a Highlander is when landing in very rough terrain. Probably the biggest thing for taking care of the tail end of a Highlander for pilots landing in more ordinary places is making sure you never have tail wheel shimmy.
Steve Henry, Wild West Aircraft
(the Dead Stick Take-off Guy)
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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby alan » Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:52 pm

Hi Steve.

That's a good tip about the short wheel landing. My tailwheel had shimmied maybe 4 times before that. I should have investigated it better but for some reason I thought the shimmy was the tailwheel being out of alignment with the rudder because my homefield always has a crosswind. In hindsight this was not a good thought. I always have to make a memorable mistake or two before I really learn something.

As an addendum to my last "last update" post, here is another update.

When I was about to do the test taxi/flight I found the Maule tailwheel wouldn't unlock. To make a long story quite short, the lockpin had lost its' actuator pin. See the attacked pics. After another 4 day wait for 2nd day air from AC Spruce, all is now well.

Alan
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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby av8rps » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:36 am

I'm really surprised that no one has made a fibreglass tail spring for our Highlanders yet? Or maybe some sort of a metal rod like they use on a Cessna 180/185. The single metal spring is just asking for trouble in my opinion. And all that flex and vibration from that single spring moving so much is bound to put a lot of stress on the fuselage where the spring attaches.

I seem to recall the iron design tailwheel used a nice round rod for a spring. Not sure how that worked out overall, but I like that concept best.
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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby SheepdogRD » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:52 am

All the spring-type systems concentrate the stresses in a small area right at the end of the fuselage. After reading about incidents of broken tailsprings and shimmying and the resulting damage, I decided to convert our Highlander to the shock absorber tailwheel system used on the SuperSTOL. It damps the vibrations and spreads the loads over a much longer and wider area.

Using the shock absorber system does require that additional mounts are welded in place, but the welding required isn't as extensive as Alan's solution. Here are pictures of Highlander and SuperSTOL tail sections showing the differences:

Fuselage-Highlander 2.jpg
Highlander

Fuselage-SS 2.jpg
SuperSTOL

On the cluster in the lower left, the curved tubes and pivot mounts are welded in. On the cluster in the upper right, pivot mounts and some supporting plates are added.

Our conversion was made just before covering the fuselage, using a "kit" developed at the factory when they were converting Highlanders to SuperSTOLs. The factory uses a fixture for the installation, but field installations can be done using the system components for alignment.

If I were ordering a Highlander now, I'd request that those shock mounts be installed when the fuselage is built.

Here's a picture of the airshock tailwheel kit components that may help clarify how the system works.

Airshock Tailwheel Components 2.jpg

The arm on the left pivots at the front mount. The top of the shock is bolted to the upper mount in the fuselage, and the bottom is bolted between the eyeplates welded to the arm.

The aluminum "stinger" bolts into the end of the arm.

Builders can choose to complete the system with a standard tailwheel by using the adapter seen next to the arm, or they can use a stinger-mount tailwheel that eliminates the adapter.
Richard Holtz
Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby danerazz » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:45 pm

I have an iron-design TW and stinger rod spring. I obviously have not flown with it, but have heard good reports. There are several on here that can report better than me, but at least it looks good!
Dane

Paralysis by analysis
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Re: Broke my tailwheel spring :-{

Postby HS-JAT » Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:52 pm

Iron Design stinger tailwheel is junk.

I don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that a stainless steel rod bolted to a piece of steel offers you ZERO flex, and metal fatigue at the attaching point.

It might be good if you never land on anything but paved runway, but it rode like crap elsewhere. The design offers no built in shock absorption.

150% improvement putting on an Outcast tailwheel. That huge cushy tire on the back might solve some peoples tailwheel spring issues.
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