Before assembling the
Plywood formers the landing gear needs to be assembled. The gear
supplied by Vario, was... well, a bit lacking. The spring wasn't
strong enough to extend the wheel, the wheel was some plastic/vinyl
that would have developed flat spots, and the weight was supported by
a pair of plastic struts:
On the ScaleRCHelis forum, a machining
genius (or at least a master of the trade) had stunned everyone with
his post of a
built rotor head and landing gear. It turns out he has been
doing this for a long time, Keith Harlow was written up in a
magazine back in 1988, building heads from scratch back then!
Anyhow, back in early December of 2009, I contacted him, and after
much discussion (pleading and tears), he agreed to make me a scaled up
version of his landing gear for my Airwolf project.
As soon as they arrived, I
disassembled them, and my friend Bryan took them to get
anodized. Keith was going to give them a protective clear coat,
but anodizing was available here, so I had him ship them
unfinished. They just got back from the anodizer (same day
turnaround!), and they re absolutely gorgeous! I figured the
best way to see their construction is to document the
reassembly. Here, I have assembled the upper and lower arms, and
am fitting the brake assemblies for the wheels, made by BVMJets.com.
The brakes are pretty cool
in themselves. I need pneumatics on this heli for the Vario
extending machine guns. Since I already have air, these brakes
seem perfect. There are a number of fully proportional valves for
linear braking control available. They run about 50 bucks per
wheel, but having your landing gear machined to perfectly match with the
brake system.... priceless!
Next the wheels, again from
BVMJets.com, with hard rubber tires & aluminum rims. I opted for
brakes on the rear wheels, as the Dauphin had a tendency to roll forward on
spool-up, and that was annoying...
Here is the front gear
fully assembled. I had the "shock" body anodized black,
the gear are absolutely stunning! I did not have a whole lot of colors
to choose from, unless I wanted Candy Red or Blue (not very scale).
The level of engineering
Keith put into these is nothing short of astounding. The shock
assemblies have coil-over-coil springs, each spring having it's own
bevels to maintain centering, the internal assembly has a silicone
rubber damper to prevent hard bottoming-out, brass inserts in the
pivot ring with an anti-rotation screw... Sheesh! I got every
penny of my money's worth! (don't ask).
Finally, here are the
completed landing gear. I have always had problems with this style
of gear, so this time, no fooling around. To keep the rear gear
perfectly aligned, and prevent ANY slippage, I got some stainless steel
10mm shaft material with a keyway. The setscrews on the gear will
set into the keyway, and the 10mm shaft will ensure reliable operation
with no slipping! Yes it's overkill, but if one of them folded up,
it would be a disaster (especially with those nice cannons on the
belly). The anodizing gave the glass-bead finish a whitish
cast (sort of like titanium), which fits perfectly in, as Airwolf's
landing gear was actually painted white.