Landing Gear

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 scratch 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 UK 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



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, 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.



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