Using The Tools You Have

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Using The Tools You Have

The landing gear on the Stearman is big. Big oleo struts and tires with big springs and lots of hydraulic fluid. Every once in a while though these struts can stick and though I’ve seen some creative ways to measure if they work or not when you go flying it’s complicated and honestly, there’s an easier way – GoPro camera!

My left strut was sticking, I knew it. Couple ways to tell. Number one, when you do a steep turn or pull into a loop you hear a thunk as the tension lets go and the strut comes out against the stop. Another way is if you aren’t out pulling G’s that when you land you’re all crooked as one strut is extended in preparation for you arrival and the other is not. So when you touch down the airplane is banked to the side of the lower, sticking strut. Can get exciting in a crosswind. The cure for this is simple, loosen the nut.

At the bottom of the strut is a giant gland nut, like really big, that holds in all the guts. Hydraulic fluid, springs, everything. Too loose and it will leak all your fluid all over the hangar floor, too tight and it sticks like mine. Luckily I have upgraded seals in my landing gear so loosening the gland nut one safety hole shouldn’t cause any leaks. But how do I know if it’s fixed and working normally? I can make a smooth landing but not that smooth. Enter the GoPro camera. I clamped it to the mooring handle on the aft fuselage so I could see the gear clearly and on my test flight ended up with a pretty neat video. Win-win! Take a close look at the left strut, you’ll see it working normally just like the right one. Problem solved!

Volume up, cell phones off. Enjoy the film!

-Nate Perlman

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