|Building a Wire Landing Gear
| One of the more taxing operations for the low time builder is soldering wire assemblies together. When building
any model, having a nice straight, strong landing gear is a real plus, not only for building the model, but also for
good durability and ground handling later.
There are only 3 basic steps involved in building the Landing Gear assembly;
1- Bend the wire components to shape using the patterns provided on the plans.
2- Jig the components so that they can be soldered together with both hands free.
3- Solder the joints together.
The tools required to make the Landing Gear are simple and few;
You'll need a pair of pliers for bending the wire components. Needle Nose Pliers work well, especially where the
wire is bent past 90 degrees.
Wire cutters or a Dremmel rotary tool with a cut-off wheel work well for trimming the parts once the bends are
made. A file or bench grinder will do nicely for cleaning up the ends of the components after the cuts have been
And finally, a good soldering iron is a must. I've owned a El-Cheapo's, and never got good service from any of
them. The best bet if you plan to do some building is to invest in a good quality soldering station with adjustable
heat. In the end the soldering station cost less then all the cheap irons I bought trying to avoid the cost of one
A Word About Solder To solder your Landing Gear assembly together you'll want to use a good quality lead
free solder. My personal favorite is Stay-Brite (available from better hobby shops, hardware stores or jewelry
supply houses). It's 10% silver, and comes with Stay-Clean liquid flux to etch the metal for good strength and
adhesion, and to aid the solder into flowing smoothly into the joint. Don't use plumbing or electrical solder, it
doesn't flow well, and it's just not strong enough in this application.
|Begin by bending all of the wire components to shape
using the patterns provided on the plans. Take your time to
insure that all the components fit together properly
|Lay the components on a soldering pad and secure them
in position with tape or lead weights.. Any good fireproof
surface will work, even a ceramic floor tile is a good choice.
|Put a small drop of soldering flux on each point to be
soldered. Then "tin" the tip of the soldering iron with a
small amount of solder and touch the tip to the joint to be
soldered. Allow just enough solder to flow into the joint to
give a complete fill. Excess gobs of solder won't add any
strength at all, they'll just make the joint look bad.
|This is what a good joint will look like, and on smaller
models, say under 30 oz. the joint is plenty strong enough
even without a copper wrap. For heavier models, a fine
copper wire wrap can be added and the joint re-soldered.
|To add the rear strut section, tape the landing gear
components onto the fuselage (see the photos at the
bottom of the page) and re-shape the strut joints as
needed to make a good straight fit. Solder can be used to
fill a sloppy fitting joint, but will not be nearly as strong as a
good fit using less solder.
|This is what a nice fitting joint will look like. Use your
needle nose pliers to tweak things into final position, it'll be
worth the extra time in the end.
|And this is what the completed cluster should look like.
Believe it or not, when the heat is right on your iron,
soldering the second joint will not effect the first one next
to it. The trick is to apply the tinned tip to the joint where
the flux has been applied just long enough to get the
solder to flow into the joint.
|And here's the fruits of your labors. The landing gear was
assembled on the fuselage, so it will fit perfectly when the
time comes to install it permanently on the model. And now
that your L. G. is finished, remove it from the model and
wash it down with soap and water. The flux is very
corrosive, and if you don't wash off the residue soon after
the solder work is finished, it'll rust like mad!