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Old 04-25-2021, 06:20 PM
WingnutWick's Avatar
WingnutWick WingnutWick is offline
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Lemoore
Posts: 259
Default Tailwheel arm play - normal?

Hello all, I've noticed that my tailwheel arm has some play as seen in the video link below. No issues with controlling the plane but I am wondering if this is normal or not? If not, it looks like the only fix is to put another large washer between the nut and the other washer?
F-18E/F, Mk.58, CF-5
RV-8 O-360
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Old 04-25-2021, 10:24 PM
skylor's Avatar
skylor skylor is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,015
Default Radius

The threaded post on the tailwheel fork often has a fairly large radius where it transitions to the larger diameter steering shaft. This prevents the washer from seating flat against the surface at the top of the steering shaft. If you cut a chamfer on the ID of the bottom side of the washer, you will get rid of most of that play.

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Old 04-25-2021, 11:17 PM
PCHunt PCHunt is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,807

Even easier than chamfering the large washer is to buy a few shims that are made for the purpose:

Great website, great service. They'll get you sorted!
Pete Hunt, [San Diego] VAF #1069
RV-6, RV-6A, T-6G

2021 Donation+, Gladly Sent
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Old 04-26-2021, 03:33 PM
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BlakeFrazier BlakeFrazier is offline
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 63
Default Hard to say what's normal

It's hard to say what's normal here... the amount of play you're seeing will probably never cause any real problems. If you want it to go away, get a feeler gauge and get an idea of how much space there is between the top of the control arm and the washer that's capturing it, then add an appropriate shim washer on top of the control arm or under the mounting socket.

Be careful not to over-do it though... if you shim too much, the top nut will tighten down to the control arm and the assembly will bind up.

For more tailwheel troubleshooting discussion, you can find our troubleshooting document here:

Blake Frazier
Co-owner of Flyboy Accessories
VAF Advertiser

2021 Dues Paid 1/7/21
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Old 04-26-2021, 04:01 PM
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bjdecker bjdecker is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Georgetown, TX
Posts: 876

Or fashion a Belleville washer...
Brian Decker
RV-7 (Flying)
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Old 04-26-2021, 04:20 PM
wnplt wnplt is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Idaho
Posts: 224

Originally Posted by bjdecker View Post
Or fashion a Belleville washer...
Jdair tailwheel uses this type of washer.
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Old 04-26-2021, 04:24 PM
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bjdecker bjdecker is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Georgetown, TX
Posts: 876

Originally Posted by wnplt View Post
Jdair tailwheel uses this type of washer.
Yup...sure does...
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Brian Decker
RV-7 (Flying)
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Old 04-27-2021, 07:29 AM
gear1 gear1 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Pagosa Springs CO
Posts: 256
Default Steering Arm play


To eliminate the play, and to provide a better bearing surface for the steering arm, I bought a 1/2" ID by 1.5" OD bronze washer from McMaster-Carr. I then counter-bored the washer to a diameter matching the shaft diameter of the tailwheel fork to the depth matching the vertical play (less .005" for clearance) of the steering arm as measured with a feeler gauge. The counter bore allows the washer to drop down over the tailwheel fork shaft taking up the play. I will be heading to the hanger later this morning and I will take the assembly apart to photograph it for you.

Former VA-25 A7 pilot from long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away....

By the way, when is your next deployment?
Craig Taylor
RV8 flying
2021 VAF dues paid with thanks
Navy A7E Vietnam era
Ret. Corporate Pilot: Gulfstream, IA Jet, Jetstar, Falcon 10, 20, 50, HS125
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Old 04-27-2021, 07:53 AM
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vfrazier vfrazier is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Mount Vernon, IN
Posts: 1,392

Allow me to add a few thoughts here:

1) Don't make moving assemblies exposed to dirt, so tight that a grain of sand causes a failure. Think AK-47, not M-16

2) Don't let your answer go in search of a problem. Obviously, there is some limit to looseness and wear, but if the system is working, don't cause a maintenance induced failure. Trust us. We've seen all manner of "improvements" and mis-assembly cause problems, usually because the owner simply doesn't take time to understand how these things work.

3) KISS - keep it simple stupid. These things are built to relatively loose tolerances so that various vendor's parts will play nicely together. Clean and grease it once or twice a year, specifically the locking pin, and go fly.

4) There is no way to clean, inspect, re-profile (if necessary), and grease the locking pin than to disassemble it periodically... regardless of who made the tailwheel.

5) The control arm is a wear item that WILL need to be replaced occasionally, regardless of manufacturer. When it doesn't lock properly, inspect the locking pin and related notch in the control arm. If the control arm shows wear on the square edges of the notch, replace it. They're dirt cheap!

6) Go fly.
Vince Frazier
F1 Rocket and F4 Raider components
1-888-F1AIRCRAFT (1-888-312-4727)
RV and Rocket Accessories, Tailwheels, Tools, & More
1-888-8FLYBOY (1-888-835-9269)

F4 Raider - under construction
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Old 04-27-2021, 08:23 AM
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RV7Guy RV7Guy is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Chandler, AZ
Posts: 2,989
Default Agree with Vince

The tailwheel parts take a beating but are probably the most overlooked assemblies on our planes. Seems even more neglected by those who buy used RV's than those that build. The tailwheel assembly MUST be serviced several times a year. I always recommend servicing during oil changes. I live my tail onto a small saw horse and completely disassemble the tailwheel, clean, check for burrs in the pin and arm and reassemble while the oil is draining. 20 minutes max.

I'm often asked what grease to use. It really doesn't matter as long as you clean and replace often.

One of the real keys to the tailwheel assembly is finding that sweet spot between too tight and too loose on the top bolt. Once you have it, file a small notch in the top shaft and the nut. Then take a picture of the exposed threads. Now you have the same tension as before.

Finally, post flight your plane and check the tail wheel assembly. I keep a microfiber cloth in my cleaning supplies that has light oil on it. I wipe down the tail wheel assembly and check for any problems. Doing these simple things will give your tailwheel assembly a long and dependable life.

As Vince said, things wear out. Check them and replace as necessary!!!
[FONT]Darwin N. Barrie
Chandler AZ
RV-7 N717EE-Flying (Sold)
RV-7 N717AZ Painted and Complete
2021 Gold Lindy Grand Champion Kit Plane
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