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How To: Vintage Landing Gear

How To: Vintage Landing Gear

There are several ways to make landing gear for WW I aircraft, and making them look authentic is always the goal. For my Nieuport 24 project, I wanted to use “easy to do” techniques while making is equally as easy to end up with scale looking results.

For the basic structure, I used 1/8 inch music wire and bent the front and aft struts to shape using the mount rails in the fuselage as a guide. Once they were bent to shape, I decided to use steel sheet material to form the axle guide that the struts would be attached to.

I started by drawing out the guide plates and then using spray adhesive to stick the drawing to some 0.032 in. sheet steel. The steel is available from Amazon, and is very inexpensive. I used my Dremel rotary tool and some cutoff discs to cut the parts to shape.

Once the plates are rough cut to shape, I used an old tap, to center punch the holes that will be drilled. Some of the smaller holes will allow the solder to flow through and bond the wire to the plates.

I dressed up the edges with a bench grinder.

I then clamped the plates to a piece of wood and then drilled the holes using my drill press.

To form the guide slot for the axle, I used the cutoff wheels again to join the two holes at either end of the slot.

Here are the two guide plates all cleaned up and sanded smooth, ready for soldering.

here you see the guide plate soldered to the two wire struts. Also, the spreader bars are soldered into place. I used automotive steel brake lines for the spreaders. It solders easily and is stiff and ridge but lighter than solid music wire.

Here strips of bass wood are being epoxied over the music wire struts. Slots are routed into the bass strips so they slip easily onto the wire.

Once the bass wood has been glued into place, I carved, and sanded them to an airfoil shape. Then I sealed the wood grain with Feather Coat Filler, sanded smooth and then applied three or four coats of primer. After sanding the primer, I used spot putty to fill in any defects, and sanded smooth again.

Here’s the landing gear is hanging as the final coat of primer dries. No need for sanding, but I do give it a light buff using a green Scotch Brite pad.

Here the landing gear has been painted silver and is being fitted and attached to the fuselage. I will use Du-Bro Steel Lading Gear Straps.

Here’s the Nieuport 24 up on its landing gear. it is a lot easier to work on now, while finishing the tail attachment and rigging.

Stay tuned!


Updated: February 3, 2020 — 3:44 PM

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