I thought I would share some info about my new tailwheel install. In searching around the net and on the Kitfox forum I was not able to find much concise information about how to do the finer points of setup etc. So here’s what I learned…
First up, I needed to replace my tailwheel spring as the one I had did not have enough angle bent in it. My old one was about 35 degrees, and it needed to be 45. Thanks to John M for pointing it out while sitting in his booth at Arlington this year. Of course not having enough bend was the cause of my castering shimmy…
The new spring from Kitfox comes as 3 bent steel springs. I have had great service from a product called [URL=”http://www.por15.com”]POR15[/URL] which really binds to the steel and keeps it rust free over the years.
Kitfox supplies a great kit with the new spring, the Alaska Bushwheel tailwheel and ALL the parts and pieces needed to get it all setup. Highly recommended to save having to scrounge around for that one part you needed to finish the job.
With the new spring in place the pivot point of the tailwheel is nicely canted rearward and it’s smooth sailing at 30mph taxing down the runway.
A key point of setup is the length of the chains and springs for the steering. My old matco setup was very tight with all the tension pulled out of it. What I found is this contributed to a very stiff breakout force to swivel the tailwheel.
As you can see the chains are a bit loose here. The key is to jack up the tail so the wheel is off the ground. Turn the rudder to full deflection. Then turn the tailwheel to just the point where you can feel the breakout detent. Now adjust the chains to as little slack as you can on the opposite side that you turned the wheel. So if you turned left, then adjust the right side. Now repeat for the other side. You will end up with some slack in the chains when pointed straight ahead, but that’s ok. Now with this setup it effortlessly kicks out when the tailwheel hits the detent and works just great at all speeds.
As you can see from the pictures I used two quick links to attach the chains. One on the rudder horn, one on the tailwheel arm. Then two links of chain to attach to the Maule compression tailwheel springs.
The Alaska Bushwheel tailwheel could not be easier to maintain with grease fittings on all bearings and replaceable parts to maintain any wear points in years to come.
Overall this upgrade is highly recommended and makes for a great flying plane.
It also raised the tail by a few inches compared to my old spring and wheel setup. With the 850×6 tires on the front the stance is a bit more level and you can see over and around a bit better. 3 point landings are fine as well.