Wheel Pants

Time: 6 Hours

I sanded a few spots on the windshield fairing that I put Super-Fill on yesterday. After that I decided to jump right in with the wheel pants. First up was to square up the edges at the two halves meet up and attempt to get the seem tight. It wasn’t an exact science and I took a little off at a time and got both pretty close. They will need some filling later after the pants get all set into their positions. After I was fairly happy with the fit I measured and marked per the plans to drill the 7 holes for the screws that hold the two halves together. 

Now that the sets were matched up marked I drilled them. 

The outboard side of the pants get a bracket riveted to them that gets bolted to the axel nut.  To get the location of the rivets you start with the bracket bolted to the axel and square to the floor with the fuselage level. 

Before you can put the aft section of the pants in place you need to tape a 1″ spacer to the top of the tires to give the correct spacing between the top of the tire and the inside of the pants. 

The aft portion of the wheel pants needs a notch cut out to allow the gear leg to protrude through. I started with a small notch and worked my way up as needed to get the right fit.  Now the tricky part getting the pants to be aligned with each other, the center line of the fuselage and all the prescribe measurements per the plans. To start I dropped plum bobs at the forward and aft center lines of the fuselage. I then snapped a chalk line on the floor between the two plum bobs. Now I had a reference mark on the floor. I have two laser devices and decided that I would utilize them in this process. First I shot one from the front and one from the back of the tire dead center, using the new tires lip on the center,  at the top of my small wheel chocks. This gave me a uniform point at the front and the back from which to measure a distance from the center line chalk mark. 35 5/8″ at both of them. With that number I slid my laser to the aft end of the fuselage and aligned the beam on the floor and tire to hit the 35 5/8″ mark and the center of the tire. Now the tires are cambered in at the bottom and out at the top a little. My laser came with a leveling pad that has three set screws to get it level. I used it in reverse and used it to match the vertical line with the center of the tire tread from top to bottom. This allowed me to match the wheel pant angle to the tire angle. 

My second laser I used facing the side of the pant to get the aft end height requirement of 8 5/8″ and matched it with a center mark I did on the aft end of the pants. 

The view from aft looking forward shows the angle matched by the laser. 

Now that I had this established I matched drilled from inside out the outboard bracket and clecko’ed it in place and added the forward half of the pant. I had to play around and remove material as it was interfering around the tire and gear leg. 

Once I had a good fit and the aft alignment was matched I removed the parts to establish my inboard drill marks. I used my laser to match the hole with the pants off. 

With that hole aligned I returned all the parts in place and verified the alignments. Once I was happy I used the cross to identify my drill spot. 

I repeated this step for all four inboard holes. This was a time consuming process as I put the parts on marked and return the parts to drill.  

I repeated this entire process on the other gear like with the exact same results. I did a few measurements from the center chalk line to the aft and of the wheel pants to confirm the measurements were identical.

This was a big step today getting the wheel pants in proper orientation and installed! There is still much work to do on these to get them to a perfect condition but just having them on really gives the airplane an awesome look!

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