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Prowler Jaguar #1 Landing Gear

February 2009

14 February

I decided to begin work on the airplane by starting at the rear and checking everything. So, once I had the airplane up on the tail stand, I started by disassembling the tail wheel and inspecting it. The Jaguar has no shock absorption of any kind on the tail wheel. When I went to remove the main cross bolt that holds the tail wheel strut onto the retract mechanism, I found that the bolt was badly bent and wouldn't come out. I don't know if this is damage from hard landing, from the pounding it took on the road trip or what. I was able to get the bolt out by drifting it with a punch until the bend was just about to exit the body of the strut. I slipped my hacksaw in between the strut body and the retract mechanism's bracket. I sawed about 1/2 way through the bolt which allowed it to flex as the bend passed from the strut body to the bracket. I was then able to remove the bolt (bolt pict #2). The top bolt on the strut came out easily and I removed the unit from the aircraft. On initial inspection, the bushing that holds the lower bolt (the bent one) is worn badly. The paint on the strut body needs to be refreshed. With Bryan Davies' help, we disassembled the strut and inspected the swivel mechanism. Everything looked good inside (strut pict #2, #3).

With the tail wheel strut out of the retract mechanism, we can now inspect the retract mechanism. At first glance, we noticed that there is some light rust on everything. We also saw a couple of things that are scary. First, there is a bolt that is too long in the right hand side of the retract unit swing arm. There is a large gap between the head of the bolt and the pivot point. We also noticed that there are two bolts missing from the swing arm attachment at the top. There is no way to know if the airplane was flown like this or if there had been some previous work going on in this area and that is way it was left. Either way, the entire retract mechanism will have to come out, get cleaned up, painted and reinstalled with the correct hardware.

28 February:

I closed out February by finishing up a few things in the hangar such as my "Does-All Mobile Work Station" which is a workbench on wheels (with brakes). It has a drill press, grinder and bench vise mounted on it. It also has some clear workspace and a shelf underneath.

I have a couple of long-reach bottle jacks that I can use to jack the Jaguar's main wheels off the ground. Only one problem though, the ram on the jack is 1 1/2" and the socket on the jackpoint of the airplane is 7/8". Even though the jack has a long reach, the ram has to be extended quite far (a lot of stokes on the jack handle) in order to reach the bottom of the wing. I decided to fabricate from steel tubing an adapter that would be 1 1/2" ID on one end and 7/8" OD on the other end. I would also make this adapter long enough to fill the gap between the top of the jack and the bottom of the wing so the ram doesn't have to be extended so far. The finished adapter looks like this picture. The two inside tubes are fairly thick walled for strength and they are recessed about 1 1/2" up from the bottom of the outer tube forming a socket for the ram of the jack. Now that I have the prototype made and tested, I can make a second one fairly quickly and I will be able to jack both main wheels off the ground. The rain switched over to freezing rain/snow about 1330 so I headed home. We ended up with about 7 inches of snow!

to be continued...

page updated on 2 March 2009 by jrp

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