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INSTALLATION OF LONG-EZ GEAR ON VariEze
Builder Report by Craig Gottschang.
Since the original VariEze main
landing gear is no longer available, those of us building or retrofitting a VariEze must
use the Long-EZ gear. Having just completed this installation on my Eze the following
comments may be helpful to those building or retrofitting the Long-EZ gear:
The Long-EZ gear is both wider and fatter than the VariEze gear and consequently the aluminum extrusion attachments are spaced wider than the Eze. Rather than having two 1/8" extrusions sandwiching each gear attachment tab, two 1/4" extrusions are used on each fuselage side with a single 5/8" steel rod extending between them, upon which the gear tabs are mounted. The gear tabs themselves are beefed up considerably with BID layers locally on both sides while the wrap cloth Is actually thinner using 18 layers of UND top and bottom.
The main gear comes from RAF with a 1/4" ridge all around, apparently from the molding process. This ridge must be sanded away flush and a power grinder is a necessity. In addition, 3" of each leg must be cut off for proper gear height on the Eze. The plans call for an 8 layer UND buildup, layered in crisscross fashion, to improve the tortional strength of the main gear. I questioned the requirement for so much beefing up for use on the lighter VariEze but RAF informed me that the basic gear has little tortional strength in itself and must have the UND wrap whether used on the Long-EZ or the VariEze.
Having already installed the 1/8" extrusions on my Eze. My initial plan was to use them on the new gear. Unfortunately, they are too close together and would not allow a smooth U" shape to the wrap around layers. I was concerned that this would cause an inherent weak spot in the attachment tabs. In addition, the old extrusions are not wide enough to accommodate the larger gear tabs. I found that the old extrusions could be removed easily by simply unbolting and popping them loose. It was not necessary to uncover the heads from the outside as they were held securely by micro. After removing the old extrusions I ground off most of the protruding bolts. The two forward most bolts on each side are common to the new extrusions and should be uncovered from the outside skin and removed. The new aft gear extrusion is aft of the old attachments requiring the insert of some .7 x 1.0 wood pieces locally and then a BID buildup to support the new 1/4" extrusion. Before installing the new extrusions. (retrofit only), determine which attachment holes may be drilled from the inside and go ahead and pre-drill these 1/4" holes in attach. Some of the holes may not be drilled from the inside due to seat back interference and are more easily located from the outside if not pre-drilled. When installing the attachments, bolt them together with the steel tube in between and position them in the airplane with clamps. Where able, drill the holes from the inside, temporarily bolt these, and then drill the rest from the outside. You may wish to remove the extrusions for final drilling through the aluminum once all holes are located and drilled, the extrusions are permanently installed with flox.
The actual mounting of the landing gear is easier then the old method and the plans are clear on this operation. The only change is to lengthen the aft gear tab (plywood jigging block) by .25". The tab needs to be longer than the Long-EZ due to the greater forward tilt of the main gear on the VariEze. The plans also call for a 5/8" diameter "spot facing tool" for use in construction of the gear tabs. This is a tool used frequently in the Long-EZ end sells for $29.95 from EZ distributors. Borrow one from a Long-EZ builder if you can.
The new gear installation requires an additional set of drawings from RAF at $7.50. The steel rods, with inserts are $9.90 each from Brock and 1/4" extrusions may also be available now. Other hardware is available from Wicks or Aircraft Spruce.
Although switching to the new gear initially seems like a lot of extra work, it is actually not that difficult and in fact easier than the old system. Above all, you end up with a landing gear that will withstand a crunch job landing now and then with complete confidence. From the looks of mine I think It could withstand a landing in a minefield! It is worth the effort.