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New RV Tailwheel
...by Doug Bell   (DBell 'at' ManisteeNational.com)

...from Doug Bell, Jr
Fellow builders,

My 8 has a new tail-wheel on it, designed by my father. He built and still fly’s an Acro Sport Biplane (1979) and is a true “home builder”.

A little history first to test your history knowledge: Any of you remember the story of the Avro Arrow? [ed. (google search)]

Dad, as a young man working in Canada for the Singer Company, of the sewing machine history, worked on Landing Gear for the very secretive Canadian Interceptor that flew into many record and history books. He worked on the Avro Arrow Project, specifically the landing gear…so if he was good enough for that small success story that was scraped…I figured that I would let him have a look at my tail-wheel.

This is a modification of a Maule tail-wheel with full swivel and as Dad described to me here is how it is best described in his words:

Doug Bell, Jr.

...from Doug Bell, Sr.
The new tail-wheel is fully stearable, using the Maule top casting and stearing arms, new Oilite liner bushing, a new post and fork of my own design and the same tail-wheel as Van supply’s with his kits. What I did with both tail-wheels, yours and mine, was to throw away the cheaper bearings that came with your kit tail-wheel and mine years ago, and I bored out the holes to fit sealed motor bearings and installed them instead. Since the bearings I used had 3/8" holes in them, I simply used good 3/8" aircraft bolts for axles (Castle nuts and cotter keys). 24 years later, I still do not have sand in my bearings and neither do you in yours.

When your 8 kit arrived and I saw the tail-wheel design, You and I discussed the change so that you would have better rough sod performance, especially for rough sod like we have at our field. When I took it apart and examined it, I saw where a redesign of the fork and post, installed in Van's top sleeve, and using his lock and release mechanism and his stearing arm, would maybe work a bit better. Like my own, I installed the fork at roughly a 40 degree angle on the 8 to keep the tail up out of the weeds and clumps. It works, it is simple, and you still have good steering.

Let the guys building and flying know that I may be able to make a few more of these, but it will not be overnight as they take some time to produce.”


...from Doug Bell, Jr.
My thoughts now: I flew with Van’s basic tail-wheel for months until Dad had some time and called me one day to say bring the plane back and lets install this new wheel. I do not notice a huge difference as I only flew 25 or so hours before the change. I can tell you that the tail sits about 3” higher at the aft end of the plane than before so my landing configuration is changed slightly. I am more confident that if I hit some rough sod or deep asphalt cracks, I will get through them easier without that big front fork getting caught.

Notice in picture number 3 the clearance in the front of the wheel compared to Van’s original fork.

PS. I have no idea if I go slower or faster…at least I have not noticed any changes.

Any comments can be emailed to me or my father and I will pass them on.


Doug Bell Jr. dbell@manisteenational.com

Doug Sr. belhom@flxtek.net



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