Make a carbon fiber landing gear
Article and photos by Buzz Wilson

This article shows you how to make a carbon fiber landing gear. Before you begin this project, become familiar with the safety precautions for using carbon fiber and CA. You might want to have some CA release agent in case you glue yourself to the work.

I wanted a light weight gear for a half A proto. This led me to thinking about carbon fiber. I have been using it for other projects and figured I could use this to make a gear. Initially I tried to laminate a series of carbon fiber tows by building layers and saturating them with CA. This did not work out as I had planned but it gave me direction on how to proceed.

The first thing you need to do is to figure out the shape you want to mold. Since this is going to be a two piece gear the final pieces need to be identical. I would have made a one piece gear but the fuselage is not wide enough. There are a couple of ways you could make your form if you want to go that direction.

Begin with making a balsa wood shape of the gear. This needs to be wider than both sides.

Next lay up the first layer of carbon fiber tow. This one is using 50K tow. Be careful when you are applying the CA or you will glue your fingers to the work. The white you see is residue from using accelerator. Once the first layer is on, sand out any high spots and add the second lay up. This one used a 12K tow. Again, sand out any high spots. Carefully cut the form in half and set aside.

Using clothespins, position the outer carbon fiber and CA it to the tow laminate. Make sure you saturate the outer layer.

Once this is dry, turn it over and remove the balsa wood form. Check to make sure it meets your requirements for stiffness. If it does not you can add additional layers of tow. Sand out any high spots and then add the outer layer. Once this is dry, flex the gear. Do not be surprised if you feel or hear it delaminating. Add additional CA and pressure. Again test the piece for flexure. CA the edges. Use microballoons to fill gaps.

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This page was upated March 5, 2009