After fixing the main wheels, there was also some things to attend to at the back. We’ve had a replacement for the ridiculously dinky tailwheel since before I became a co-owner but never mounted it. Since we were doing wheel work anyway, we decided now was the time.

Replacing the tailwheel looked simple until we realized that it did not have a hole for the bolt that holds it to the titanium rod that makes up the tailwheel spring. Drilling this hole so that it matched the hole in the rod was not going to happen lying under the tail with the plane jacked up, so I took it off and brought it home so I could rig it up in the mill. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

This is the titanium tail wheel rod mounted up in the mill. By moving the mill until the drill went clean through the rod, I knew it was in position.

Once the drill was in position, the tail wheel was mounted on the rod. The 1-2-3 block under the tailwheel ensures that it’s orthogonal to the drill.

Then the 1/4″ spot drill was used to start the hole and ensure the drill wouldn’t walk since the hole was being drilled into a convex surface.

And finally, the hole was through drilled, passing cleanly through the existing hole in the rod.

The new tailwheel, test fitted to the rod.

So that was not a big deal. But just as we were about to do this, Sonex came out with a Service Bulletin that said that failures of the two small screws that hold the steering link, at the top in the final picture above, had occurred and that the should be replaced with AN bolts instead. This required drilling out the threads in the aluminum tailwheel mount, so the tail wheel went back on the mill.

The tailwheel back on the mill, this time to drill out the threads for the screws that held the steering link.

While we were at it, we also replaced the steering link. The steerable Sonex tail wheel is linked to the rudder, and the old tail wheel also had this steel link that used loose bolts as “bearings” and that had ground against the bracket that holds the rudder cable and steering link. Sonex builder Peter Anson makes a much better link that uses rod-ends and completely eliminates any binding and play in this link, so we ordered that.

The new tail wheel, complete with new hardware per the Service Bulletin and the new steering link.

Finally, the new tail wheel is back on the plane.

With that we now have new wheel bearings, new brakes, and new tail wheel. The wheels felt really smooth just rolling the plane back and forth, and the brakes worked to stop it, so I guess the next thing is to go for a short taxi to see how it works when you get everything rolling a bit.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *