Scroungin’ Around

By James Braley, EAA 1452900

Two Paths
I have found that scratchbuilding a Double Eagle presents the builder with a lot of latitude on design applications. For example, while Leonard Milholland’s plans call out using Workman tricycle wheels for the main landing gear, the majority of builders seem to favor more traditional wheel and tire options. Personally, I was neutral toward both options with a preference to whichever was a good combination of price and ease of build.

The Find
While pondering which option of wheels to integrate into the build, I found myself at AirVenture 2023 in Oshkosh at one my favorite places: the Aeromart. I would stop by at least once a day and look at the several hundred-dollar wheels that were for sale. I would mentally try to understand what a full up tire/wheel/brake system would cost, each time thinking this is overkill for my “near-ultralight” airframe. On Thursday my patience paid off, and I saw a set of tires and wheels that were not previously there. A 500×4 set of Hayes wheels with Goodyear aircraft tires already on them. They were tagged for $29 each. I could not pass that up.

What Did I Just Buy?
When I got back from Oshkosh, I started my research on what these wheels were and how to fit brakes on them. I noticed on the price tag that these wheels were “set up for expanding brakes.” Doing some research, it seems like these are a set of old J-3 Cub wheels. When I looked up how much it was going to cost to buy the expander set-up, I found out I might as well just buy another set of wheels new. I had to find another way to install brakes.

R&D and the Result
I started looking at the drums that were riveted to these wheels. They had some interesting features; there was a curved-up lip on the edge of the drum, with the drum somewhat sloping away from the tire. As I looked at these, I figured this would be a fantastic application for go-kart style band brakes. I disassembled the tires and removed the paint off the exterior drum and started to mock up the mounting system for a set of 5-inch band brakes. I found that I had to shorten the band mounting stud to make sure that as the tire experiences side load that the side wall would not impact the stud. I also had to design a holder for the brake cable. Once everything was connected, I was very pleased with the braking result. I was able to spin the wheels quickly and then engage the bands with an almost immediate stop. Success! The entire setup cost me less than $150 for wheels, tires, cables, and brakes. While I believe that I will have to replace two of the four bearings before the project is ready for inspection, this currently allows me to move the fuselage around as I work on other sub-assemblies.

Follow along the rest of James’ build on EAA’s Builders Log.


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