Tailwheel to tricycle

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Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby kenandkatie2 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:56 pm

I'm a new sonex owner. Having a hard time learning to control my waiex taildragger. Is it possible to convert it to trigear?
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby Direct C51 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:06 pm

Ken, what exactly are you having trouble with? The Sonex/Waiex is about the easiest taildragger there is to fly. Perhaps you have a gear alignment issue?
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby Bryan Cotton » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:24 pm

I think​ at least one person has done that before. But many here have mentioned how easy the Sonex is for a tailwheel airplane.
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Poplar Grove, IL C77
Waiex 191 N191YX reserved
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby MichaelFarley56 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:44 pm

Sonexes have been converted both ways after flying (tailwheel to nosewheel and vice versa). It doesn’t appear to be a monumental task but it will take time and parts to complete. For example, in your case, you will need a new engine mount, associated main wheel leg weldments (that will need to be installed), all nose gear hardware, etc. It’s been done but it can be a job.

As others have asked, what issue are you running into? This is just my opinion, but other than limited crosswind capability, I find my Waiex to be a very docile taildragger.
Mike Farley
Waiex #0056 - N569KM
AeroVee #0631
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby kenandkatie2 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:35 pm

Direct C51 wrote:Ken, what exactly are you having trouble with? The Sonex/Waiex is about the easiest taildragger there is to fly. Perhaps you have a gear alignment issue?


The right main does seem to be out of alignment and the right tire is more worn than the left. I have a real problem with fisthtailing on both takeoff and landing.
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby gammaxy » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:27 pm

Do you live near other Sonex builders/owners? Checking the alignment isn't very difficult. Sonex provides some cylindrical spacers that go over the axles and are aligned using a straight edge across both axles to set the alignment. It would be an hour or so job to check it for someone who has done it before (due to removing the wheels and brakes). I'd expect an alignment problem to also cause shimmy.

I'd lift the wheels off the ground and twist the wheels and legs to see if there's any slop that has developed and determine whether that is causing the misalignment. My bolt holes on one leg elongated after a couple years, so I ended up removing the axles, welding the holes closed, and redrilling. Then I added shims to the leg/axle socket to remove any play.

I built a simple fuselage jack from two scissor jacks to make this type of work easy:
http://chrismadsen.org/2016/03/fuselage-jack/

Does yours have the stock direct tailwheel linkage? When it fishtails, does it feel like the tailwheel is losing traction? When I did transition training, I was over-controlling the tailwheel due to not being used to the direct control (and probably out of practice).
Chris Madsen
Aerovee Sonex N256CM
Flying since September 2014
Build log: http://chrismadsen.org
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby kenandkatie2 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:39 pm

gammaxy wrote:Do you live near other Sonex builders/owners? Checking the alignment isn't very difficult. Sonex provides some cylindrical spacers that go over the axles and are aligned using a straight edge across both axles to set the alignment. It would be an hour or so job to check it for someone who has done it before (due to removing the wheels and brakes). I'd expect an alignment problem to also cause shimmy.

I'd lift the wheels off the ground and twist the wheels and legs to see if there's any slop that has developed and determine whether that is causing the misalignment. My bolt holes on one leg elongated after a couple years, so I ended up removing the axles, welding the holes closed, and redrilling. Then I added shims to the leg/axle socket to remove any play.

I built a simple fuselage jack from two scissor jacks to make this type of work easy:
http://chrismadsen.org/2016/03/fuselage-jack/

Does yours have the stock direct tailwheel linkage? When it fishtails, does it feel like the tailwheel is losing traction? When I did transition training, I was over-controlling the tailwheel due to not being used to the direct control (and probably out of practice).


Thanks for the info. Yes, it does feel like it's losing traction on both takeoff and landing. I chalked it up to how small the tailwheel is. I've had about 3-4 hours of tailwheel training but am about ready to give up.
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby daleandee » Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:59 pm

kenandkatie2 wrote:Yes, it does feel like it's losing traction on both takeoff and landing. I chalked it up to how small the tail wheel is. I've had about 3-4 hours of tail wheel training but am about ready to give up.


Please don't do that just yet. I would ask that you consider the advice of others and check that alignment. It must be incorrect if the tires are wearing unevenly. I've got nearly 170 hours on mine and I'm still on the original tires that came with the kit. I do have a larger tail wheel. With the alignment correct the airplane will track absolutely straight. On takeoff (depending on how much power you have available) it will tend to go to one side but that is easily corrected with rudder input.

I lock the stick all the way back and add power in a steady and smooth application over a few seconds of the initial takeoff roll. As the pressure builds on the elevator I gradually bring the stick forward and when done correctly a beautiful three point takeoff happens.

It was nine months after my tail wheel endorsement when I did my first flight. My first few hours of landings were not pretty at all. I never ground looped the airplane but had a moment or two of grand excitement. One time, after a tough morning, I came home and told my wife I was thinking about selling the airplane as I couldn't land the thing. She told me that I knew it was gonna be something I would have to learn and to get out there with my big boy pants on and figure it out. I did as the boss said and I'm glad I did. Stay with it as it gets easier quickly.

I'm pretty comfortable in the airplane now but I don't want to ever get complacent. Tail wheel airplanes do require more attention on takeoffs and landings. If you have a gear alignment problem it needs to be addressed. Once you are certain it's not the airplane then you can work on your skills as a tail wheel pilot.

All that to say ... don't give up! Someday soon you'll be wearing on of these: https://tinyurl.com/yd7yj4pz OK ... not really as i wouldn't want to be wearing something like that when my nose roller airplane friends have to come get me out of the weeds after a ground loop!

Dale Williams
N319WF @ 6J2
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120 HP - 3.0 Corvair
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby jerryhain » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:06 am

Where are you located? If you’re near Tucson I’ll be happy to fly with you.
Jerry Hain, Tucson AZ
Building OneX Quickbuild Tailwheel ONX0167
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Re: Tailwheel to tricycle

Postby Friesen5 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:45 am

I’d like to offer an alternate view regarding the Sonex taildragger being the easiest tail dragger to operate. In my view, this is an opinion of some which is declared as fact. Everyone’s experience is different, and what holds true for one doesn’t necessarily hold true for another. This statement can be misleading and lead to disappointment and discouragement for transitioning pilots.

My taildragger Sonex has flown since 2007 and I now have 330 hours on it. Each takeoff and landing requires the utmost of vigilance to keep it straight down the runway. It is a short coupled airplane that is prone to wander from the centre line of the runway. P factor and winds require constant correction. The sensitive rudder and small tailwheel lead to over correction. I had an experienced tailwheel (ag) pilot do the flight testing on my Sonex, and he is of the opinion that it is not the easiest taildragger that he’s flown.

I agree that taxiing from the hanger to the runway seems easy. But once you add power for takeoff, the Sonex requires your full attention for a smooth takeoff and landing. I add power gradually and begin to counteract the p factor with rudder. As speed increases, I become sensitive to what the wind adds and counteract that with rudder. After liftoff, I use the rudder to keep the ball centered as I climb out. For landing, I find that keeping a bit of power on helps smooth out the round out and flare, and makes the touchdown smoother. Once the wheels touch, I add a “thought” of forward stick to keep the airplane on the ground. My feet are active counteracting any deviation from the centreline. I’m only looking forward, and am ultra body sensitive to any side to side feel during roll out. Again, this is corrected with rudder.

With practice and training we learn to manage landings and takeoffs better, and eventually they seem easier.
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