Chapter 13: the nose and nose gear

Chapter 13 is a big one. You start off by assembling a box which houses the nose wheel strut and retract system. After this assembly is installed onto the fuselage, the nose floor and side foam pieces are installed and glassed. The pitot-static plumbing and rudder pedals are also installed - followed by the installation of the top foam piece. Finally, the outside nose is carved to shape and glassed. 

While the main gear of the Long-EZ is fixed (non-retractable), the nose gear does retract. If you've ever seen a Long-EZ parked at an airport, your first thought might be "Oh oh! That airplane's nose gear has collapsed!" Truth is, the Long-EZ has to be parked with the nose gear retracted. Without anybody on board, the CG is so close to the main gear that the Long-EZ could potentially tip back - causing a lot of damage to the structure and prop. To prevent this from happening, the nose wheel is retracted and the aircraft is allowed to rest on its nose.

There are a lot of mods on this one - so let's discuss:

Extended round nose:

The original Long-EZ nose is pretty short and stubby - it makes the plane look like a bath tub with wings (in my opinion). And apparently, I'm not the only one to think so - there are a few plans floating around explaining how to extend the nose and make it more round - thus giving it a more 'fighter jet' look - and let's be honest - who doesn't want a more fighter-jet look?!

Here is the original nose...

Here is the extended round nose...

Here is a side view showing the extended round nose (and the original nose outline superimposed in orange).

For more information about the extended round nose, click here.

Electrically actuated retract system:

Besides the round extension mod, one of the biggest 'improvements' is the retract system. The original Long-EZ plans has a hand-crank mechanism to extend and retract the nose gear. Technology has come a long way since the 80's, and just like the speed brake, it too has been upgraded with an electric actuator system.

I purchased my system through Jack Wilhelmson -

NG30 strength:

There have been a few incidents of Long-EZ owners who have experienced cracks on their NG30 panels (these are the panels that make up the sidewalls of the nose gear box - where the strut attaches to the fuselage). Because of this, some builders have suggested making the NG30's out of plywood instead of the high density foam for added strength. At first, I was tempted to go along with this suggestion; however, many other builders say they have been flying their Long-EZ for decades without seeing any cracks.

This led me to believe that the cracks were caused by either: 1) poor craftsmanship, or 2) a crazy hard landing - after all, no matter how great one designs a structure, if you apply enough force, it will eventually break.

On that note, I decided to stick with the high density foam, but to add two plies of BID to each surface. The original plans calls for 4 plies of BID (orientation optional) to each wall surface - so I will be making my NG30's out of 6 plies (12 plies per NG30 panel so 24 plies for both NG30's). 

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