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Cmead

Main Landing Gear Fuselage Cracking

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Here I am again, thanks to all the help this board has offered over the last few months.  We get one thing solved, and another sticks its head up.  I feel like I'm playing Whack-A-Mole....

Noticed this yesterday on a preflight.  It definitely has not been there before.  We've only got about 10 hours, 20 (ish) landings.  None hard landings, probably not the best, but nothing that I think could cause this.  A little back note, the main gear has always "popped".  Sometimes while you're raising the nose, when you're pushing around, hard to hear with motor running, but I'm sure it's doing that as well when taxi.  When the plane was delivered we were told that it was normal and it would stop when everything get's broken in....

Anyway...it looks like to me like when the wheels leave the ground, the gear springs (down and in from no weight) it's cracking right below the gear bow.  I've attached a few pics.  Basically, is this cosmetic, or do I have a VERY serious/gear falling off/major major issue?  My initial thought was to cut a little more space so the gear has more room to spring, epoxy the crack shut and move on down the road.   Will need to be fixed this winter when we plan to repaint.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Cmead said:

Noticed this yesterday on a preflight.  It definitely has not been there before.  We've only got about 10 hours, 20 (ish) landings.  None hard landings, probably not the best, but nothing that I think could cause this.  A little back note, the main gear has always "popped".  Sometimes while you're raising the nose, when you're pushing around, hard to hear with motor running, but I'm sure it's doing that as well when taxi.  When the plane was delivered we were told that it was normal and it would stop when everything get's broken in....

Uggghhh. Variezes and LE's are very susceptible to main gear mounting issues.

Who did your pre-buy? Did they jack the plane off the ground (both wheels at the same time) and check for play in the gear? If there's known noise when the gear is used...

If the previous owner KNEW that they had extensive play in the landing gear and misled you about the severity of the problem (and your pre-buy expert didn't catch it), then you've been taken for a ride. Normal and stop when "everything gets broken in"????

You need to:

  1. ground the plane
  2. Jack BOTH mains off the ground at the same time
  3. Grab one main wheel and push forward and backward fairly hard, looking for how much motion you can get at the axle (you'll need VERY stiff/strong sawhorses so that the plane won't move - JUST the gear)
  4. Note how much the wheel can move forward and aft from the neutral position
  5. As you push forward and aft, watch the landing gear strut where it enters the fuselage side - there should be almost zero motion there. Anything more than 1/16" - 1/8" is a problem - anything more than 1/8" requires immediate repair
  6. Do this for the other side as well
  7. Get a second person to watch inside the hellhole (if you have a hellhole cover underneath, they can watch through there - if not, they can watch through the rear seatback) - they may need a flashlight and a large inspection mirror to see what's going on. They are looking for relative motion of the gear attach tabs to the aluminum brackets, or of the brackets to the fuselage side, or some other relative motion
  8. Once you know where the relative motion is, a fix can be planned

I've repaired numerous planes that have had issues with bracket attachment, broken LG tab bushings, wallowed out bracket holes, etc. It's a big job to fix, but it HAS to be fixed. The last thing you need is for your gear to collapse and ruin the prop and engine, not to mention the airframe repairs.

Given your pictures, I think you've got a serious gear failure on your hands, but only an in-person examination can say for sure. I will be traveling from Atlanta to Tucumcari on 8/29 - I might be able to arrange a stop in Wichita for an hour or two to take a look if you have jacks to get both of the gear off the ground at the same time. You can contact me directly at my email if you're interested in trying to arrange this.

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Marc,

Thanks for the response.  I sent an email to you and thanks for the feedback.

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