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Old 01-24-2006, 09:56 PM
N130WN's Avatar
N130WN N130WN is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: 8A7 (NC)
Posts: 336
Question Tailwheel Upgrade

In the quest more better TW clearance, I'm considering changing out my tailwheel to a homebuilder's special #6126

or the Bell Special when they are available

The Homebuilder's Special (and maybe the Bell too?) come undrilled. How would I match drill the new tw to the existing holes in the tw spring?


Larry Bowen
RV-8 Built, sold, missed.
RV-7 Built, sold, missed.
RV-8 Emp in progress ...
RV-8A Purchased, flying.
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Old 01-25-2006, 10:54 AM
ptrotter ptrotter is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Sussex, NJ
Posts: 309


That is an interesting question as I plan on doing the same thing. I expect that you could measure as close as possible and drill through one side using a small dril and slowly increase the size until the outer hole touches one side of the inner hole, then use a round file to enlarge the outer hole to match the inner hole. The you could drill through the other side. I would go from one side on one hole and the other side for the other hole, that way each side would have one hole that matched perfectly. This should get it close enough that the wheel could not rotate on the rod.

Does the ACS tailwheel fit the Van's tailwheel spring rod properly?
Paul Trotter
Sussex, NJ
RV-8 82080 Finish/FWF Kit
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Old 01-25-2006, 12:21 PM
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f1rocket f1rocket is offline
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Location: Martinsville, IN
Posts: 2,332

I recently installed one of the wheels from ACS, although I bought it from the supplier at a substantial savings. ($230 vs. $303 from AC$). The company is located in Ojai, CA and they don't have a web site. Maybe the CA guys know who I'm talking about.

The wheel is real sturdy, a little bit larger than the Van's wheel, but has sealed bearings, and better ground clearance. Since it sits a little higher than the stock wheel, I get a little bit better look over the nose.
Randy Pflanzer
Greenwood, IN
Paid through 2043!
Lund fishing Boat, 2017, GONE FISHING
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427 Shelby Cobra - Completed 2012, Sold
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Old 01-25-2006, 12:28 PM
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Bob Martin Bob Martin is offline
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Posts: 1,238
Default match drilling holes

I replaced my tailspring last year and had to redrill it into the fuselage, so I could only see one side. I used a dowel rod to extend the hole alignment down where I drew a line on two heavy boxs sitting next to and under the elevated tail. I used the lines to align the drill bit to keep it as close as possible. It turned out pretty good actually.
Another untested idea:
You could remove your tail spring and jig it in a drill press, align the bit with the existing hole and then slip the wheel assembly over the spring and, after aligning it with the perpenticular marks you put on the spring before you removed it, you drill the holes in the new wheel assembly.
Another Idea untested:
Leave the tail spring installed, mark alignment lines under the spring and beside it for alignment guides in the first scenario.
Tips: sharp bits with oil, go slow, have helper for second set of eyes for alignment.
Good luck,
I like the tailwheel design you showed to keep from hanging up on edges of things, like the ramp edges. I'm still happy about changing from the old chains and standard tailwheel to the full castoring and tail link!
Bob Martin
Louisa, VA
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Old 01-25-2006, 03:03 PM
sf3543 sf3543 is offline
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Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1,065

Here's how I match drilled a new tailwheel on my RV6.
Slide the new tailwheel onto the spring just up to the first hole, align and mark the longitudinal line on the side of the tailwheel spring housing.
Make a measurement down to where that bottom hole should be and drill it slightly undersize, on one side of the tailwheel housing only.
Put the tailwheel back on the spring and line up the new hole on the tailwheel with the hole on the spring. Drill all the way you have your first hole.
In my case, I just measured the distance to the next hole and repeated the above steps and it came out perfect. (Remember to drill the hole undersize so you get some wiggle room.)
Once you get the first hole drilled, you could use various methods to line up the second hole, including using a piece of aluminum, or something, to make a template out of, but I found that unnecessary.
Good luck.
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Old 01-25-2006, 03:08 PM
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Michael White Michael White is offline
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Location: Cartersville, Georgia KVPC
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Default Match drilling tail wheel spring

You could also try using an old R/C modeling trick: Take a strip of cardboard, about 2" wide x 12" or so long should do, and lay it along the spring rod with one end flush to the tail wheel end of the spring rod (covering the existing holes). Tape the other end of the strip securly to the spring rod, and mark where your existing holes are located on the cardboard strip (magic marker or push a nail through to make a hole). Lightly bend (do not crease) the cardboard out of the way, slip the new tailwheel assembly in place, make sure it is properly aligned, and lay the cardboard back down in place. You now know exactly where the existing holes are, and you should be able to match drill with no problem. Start with a small hole and enlarge as needed, but assuming your existing holes are true and perpendicular to the axis of the rod you should be able to get a true match without removing the spring rod from the airplane. I use this tip all the time on my R/C fiberglass cowls for locating needle valve holes and such.

Best of luck,
VAF #136
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Old 01-25-2006, 09:21 PM
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N130WN N130WN is offline
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Thumbs up

Thanks for all the good suggestions. I think I'll pursue the tw from ACS. It looks a little more stout that the Bell model, and Randy and Jay Pratt are using it successfully.

Looks like these guys produce it. Their site is here:
Larry Bowen
RV-8 Built, sold, missed.
RV-7 Built, sold, missed.
RV-8 Emp in progress ...
RV-8A Purchased, flying.

Last edited by N130WN : 01-25-2006 at 09:33 PM. Reason: Added links
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Old 01-26-2006, 03:28 AM
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rv8ch rv8ch is offline
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Location: LSGY
Posts: 3,570
Default Replacement Tailwheel

Originally Posted by N130WN
Thanks for all the good suggestions. I think I'll pursue the tw from ACS. ...
Please keep us posted. I'm very interested in this as well.
Mickey Coggins
"Hello, world!"
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Old 01-26-2006, 08:39 AM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,465
Default Light Bulb Moment!

This thread finally explained a wierd incident I had a couple of weeks ago while taxiing out across our "under-construction" airport. I was crossing an area where they had some big heavy steel trench-plates covering some holes. As the tailwheel crossed over the plate, there was this awful noise that seemed to last for about a foot of motion (of the airplane). Me and my passenger (another pilot) were concerned enough that we shut down and inspected things - couldn't see any damage, so we proceeded. But it bugged me about why it wasn't just a sharp "bang" as the tailwheel went up and over the plate.

Now I think that what happened was that the stock tailwheel's yoke probably caught the edge of the plate and dragged it a short distance before riding up and over the edge - a slow scraping sound from the plate moving, and then the yoke moving over the steel. The trench plate probably is an inch thick, and sitting on an uneven surface, it probably sticks up another inch!

Ouch! I now know why folks want more yoke/ground clearance...Larry, add me to the list of folks interested in your results!

Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
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A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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Old 01-26-2006, 09:45 AM
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Mel Mel is offline
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Location: Dallas area
Posts: 10,920

I've been using the Aviation Products tailwheel for about 11 years on my -6. I love it. One fluke is the grease fitting on the swivel bearing won't provide sufficient grease. To properly grease it you must disassemble it, clean it, grease it and reassemble it. Not a big job, but necessary at annual time.
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