Finishing Kit

June 9, 2012

The Main Wheels - 8.0 hrs.

When I pulled out my nosewheel parts weeks ago, I brought out the mains as well. I've been anxious to dive into them, too. So here we go. I've been working on them in bits of time along with the nosewheel assembly. Here's my first assembly of one of the mains. I powdered up the inside of the tire and the tube with talcum, and put the tube inside the tire, put the two wheel halves together and bolted it up nice and tight. Here it is!

The valve stem, it seems to me, is a glaring problem. You can see how it protrudes at an angle out of the wheel above. This just doesn't seem right to me. Shouldn't it be sticking straight out? So I pulled it all apart to check things out. There's a brass nut and a washer (seen below) that goes all the way down the stem and can be tightened up right next to the wall of the tube. Vans says to remove this nut and washer. But Matco says to leave it on. It doesn't bolt to the wheel or anything, it just acts as a spacer to keep the valve stem centered in the opening in the wheel. I didn't know who to believe. I tried it both ways, assembling the whole thing twice, and the valve stem still sticks out crooked. In the end, I went with Matco. They make these wheels and if I have to choose, I'll take their word over Vans.

So I posted a question about this crooked stem on VAF in the forums, and a number of people wrote back and said this is normal, not to worry. Okay. So I'll not worry and I will proceed.

Next, I have to say that the directions for assembling the main wheels really suck. There seems to be an assumption that you know how these things go together, and there's not much documentation. There's only one drawing, and no exploded diagram, or oblique view to help you out. So I spent literally hours studying the one drawing, trying to figure out how the brake assembly goes onto the wheel, and how all these parts go together on the gear leg, what moves and what's stationary, etc. It's very confusing to a newbie. This went on over a period of days, and I kept thinking I might have to ask someone to come over and help me, or at least get to a fly-in where I could look at another RV and see how it's done. Meanwhile, I went to work on the stuff that I was sure about. You need a half-dozen of these little tubular spacers, 3 for each wheel, and they are a precise length. So I cut them all a little bit long, and then got out my disk sander to slowly bring them all down to the correct length. It took making 7 of them to get six of them right, and here they are.

Next, the U-810 brackets for the wheel pants need the usual deburring and prep work. It turns out, they also need a little bit of trimming. Apparently, from what I can gather, these were designed for the older Cleveland wheels and brakes. The new Matco ones now used by Vans require this minor modification. You can see where I have marked the part for trimming. My dremel tool made quick work out of this.

After a number of hours of work deburring, trimming, cleaning, priming, etc. and putting them together on the gear leg/brake assembly, here they are. You can also see the smaller brackets that go on the outboard sides of each wheel.

I'm stopping at this point, and putting further assembly of the mains on hold. Sorry I don't have more pictures. I'll be taking more when I come back to this. The reason is, another discussion is taking place in the forums about the tapered roller bearings used in these wheels. Turns out, they use the same Timken tapered roller bearings used in the nose wheel, and there are similar troubling issues with them. Anti-Splat Aero is now offering a modification for the main wheels, just like they are doing for the nosewheels, where they will replace the roller bearings with permanently sealed ball bearings that require no maintenance. Sounds good to me, if I can replace decades-old technology with something new and better. I'm watching the debate carefully and I'll know by the time I'm ready to proceed whether or not this makes sense for me. Here's a link to the thread of this discussion. Check it out:

Main Wheel Bearing Modification

It's funny, I had just gone out and bought a tool for packing the bearings with grease. If I had some aviation grade grease on hand, I may have already finished installing my wheels on the gear legs. But for a tube of grease, this part of the project was delayed until I found the discussion about the mod. So it's all on hold for a while. I'll watch the discussion, and make a decision sometime down the road.

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