The KLS landing gear
subkit includes main gear, nose gear, actuators, hydraulic pump, and wheel wells
as you'd expect. Some time ago, I opted to purchase the main gear set from
Infinity Aerospace, which left me without a nose gear. KLS Composites was
kind enough to send me a nose gear, wheel, tire, actuator, and nose wheel well
free of charge. They even offered to send me a hydraulic pump, but since
that is included in my main gear package, I declined that component.
||The process begins with assembly
of the nose strut. The aluminum parts are bolted and/or bonded to
the solid fiberglass gear leg using fine Huntsman
||With the nose gear and wheel
attached to the airframe, I cut a hole in the bottom of the fuselage to
match the wheel well opening.
||The wheel well was bonded to the
inside of the fuselage, then a fiberglass layup completes the outside
joint. The blue SuperFil fairing will make the joint invisible.
The fuselage is upside-down here, of course.
||Next was to make a nose gear
door. No instructions in the builder's manual here, I just had to
"wing it." I opted to create a "nose strut" door
(i.e. the door is fixed to the gear leg) in lieu of one or two hinged gear
doors for a couple of reasons:
(1) I feel that the fewer joints, hinges and attach rods, the better.
(2) A strut door doubles as a speed brake, increasing drag when I drop the
gear. Since this airplane has no other speed brake, seemed like a
good way to slow down during approach.
||The completed nose gear
assembly. Note the small titanium "striker plate" midway
down the gear leg. This was another add-on that seemed like a good
idea... keeps the upstop bolt from wearing the fiberglass gear leg.
||Probably overkill here, but I
faired out the edges of the strut door. Mostly for looks... I don't
expect much of a drag improvement here. Then again, who's going to
see how nicely the door fairs when it's closed? Oh well, I
like to make things nice, and it only took about 200 additional
hours. Kidding, of course. (sort of).
||Here is the completed nose gear
installation. You might also notice that I took the time to prime
the bottom of the airplane with UV Smoothprime while it was upside-down.
As you can see, I opted to leave the wheel well open, as well as the top
of the strut near the hinge point. Once again, I felt that the extra
hinges, doors and mechanisms required to close out these area didn't
outweigh the benefits. If I find this causes excessive noise during
flight test, I will have to revisit this design decision.
||The retract mechanism went
together easy enough, but the actuator was 1.3" too short for my
needs. Seems that there was some history of changing actuators
between Glassic Composites and KLS Composites, and the last batch they
bought was for the previous (shorter) configuration. I could have
reworked my NG Plates to accommodate the shorter actuator... easy on the
bench, but not so easy now that they were installed. Instead I
Actuator Products and had them modify the actuator for me.
Worked great and only cost $75.
Back in the days of
Glassic Composites, the main landing gear was designed and built by Infinity
Aerospace of San Diego, California. When Glassic went bankrupt, the
parting was not sweet. When the company was reformed as KLS Composites,
Infinity wanted nothing to do with them, which left us builders with 2 options
for retractable gear: buy directly from Infinity, or wait for KLS to design and
build their own gear. After taking a trip to San Diego, I opted for the
former. The only catch was that J.D. Newman, the owner of Infinity
Aerospace, insisted that I pay for the gear in advance... so I did. That
was in 1999. Here it is February 2004 and I still haven't received my
shipment (although I did get 2 wheel wells and a hydraulic pump so far).
J.D. promises that shipment will be soon, but it's definitely been an exercise
(Jan 2005 update): The
gear is in-house and bolted to the spar... more to come.