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1/9th Halifax U/C

Designing & making main U/C with springs, dampers and brakes

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cymaz03/04/2020 12:37:39
9603 forum posts
1267 photos

As a side note

Ken, this chap is a craftsman and a real lathe master....could watch him for hours, and do!

Ben Arthurs 103/04/2020 23:11:59
6 forum posts

Great progress Ken ,

How do you get a long,straight, neat bend / fold in the sheet ? Is the reverse side scored ?

kenking-King Design05/04/2020 14:52:27
301 forum posts
868 photos

Hi Ben (Ben is the chap I'm making this for), some time ago I invested in a bench mounting bender, I think it cost £30 -£40, and was produced in limited quantities by a blacksmith or small engineering company when they had nothing else to do. It's very simple, so one has to juggle things to get the needed setup, but works pretty well. I'll include a photo of it soon. Scoring is normally to be avoided as it will act as a 'stress raiser' liable to initiate fracture. Speaking of which, on the first side fold I felt the aluminium crack as it reached 90 degrees, and soldering that crack has been a nuisance. For all the other folds I ran the small gas torch up and down the bend line (in the flat) a few times, and that slight degree of annealing was sufficient to avoid cracking. Another lesson learned.

Glad you're pleased with progress, more later.


kenking-King Design05/04/2020 22:50:42
301 forum posts
868 photos


The final bend in each shroud was made in the vice, rigid laminate cut to fit neatly inside, and a bigger piece outside, much juggling to get things square and on the line, then tighten using a knee as is common practice. Another laminate block and a lump hammer persuaded the lid to close, the internal joint areas were cleaned up prior to soldering, then external sanding finished off the shaping. I'm showing the best of two, naturally ...


With smooth surfaces it was easy to flip them over on the bandsaw table, and follow the premarked line for removal of the arch, rocking over onto the other plane as the cut progressed ....


Then came careful filing and finger adjustment of bends to make a good fit on the mother assembly, which now begins to look much more like a Messier casting, in my eyes anyway ....


Repeating with the second lot has presented me with two assemblies, representing considerable investment in time and minor burns, which now require final soldering along that crucial joint line ...


and frankly, I'm dreading it. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the solder bead already in place but, sadly, unwanted movement caused that attempt to be abandoned, parted, and surface prep repeated. Tomorrow will be a better day for it, perhaps ....


cymaz05/04/2020 22:56:51
9603 forum posts
1267 photos

May your solder flow where it needs to go.

Best of luckthumbs up

kenking-King Design09/04/2020 23:24:31
301 forum posts
868 photos


As a little light relief from soldering I took offcuts of the two steel tubing sizes to be used for the legs, set one into the other, then polished the smaller diameter, being the oleo leg which will protrude from the Messier casting .....


then positioned it in the sliding tube to see how it looked with the retainers and nuts ......


I thought that looked good, but decided I'd bored out the retainer plates too big, and there wasn't as much land left as I'd like to act as the downstop for the leg, catching the larger diameter tube. A second set of retainer plates was therefore made, corrected accordingly.

If any of you are thinking I was just mucking about, looking for ways to avoid the final soldering job, all I can say is 'How very perceptive of you'.

Having thought about it a bit more in the interim though, I realised I was needlessly making life very difficult by trying to solder on the INSIDE of the assembly, hence putting all previously made joints at risk. The idea had been to avoid much external cleanup, but soldering round the OUTSIDE avoided the dangers, so that's what I did. Trying to leave a proud bead resulted in some less than pretty seams ....


and I can't pretend it was all plain sailing, but eventually the job was done. The trusty belt sander was used to VERY carefully reduce the beads back to the desired surface, bearing in mind the sheet components are only 1.5mm. The first one is sanded as far as I'm willing to go ......



and there remain small surface defects and sunken areas which I intend to fill screed over using Lilliput epoxy putty, before a final sand.

Huge sigh of relief from me, and perhaps I detect some from readers who have been flogging their way through this saga, and are now look forward to more interesting aspects?

To finish the 'castings' the arches and shrouds will have balsa infills and be skinned with lining paper to give a smooth continuous surface through the tunnel, and rear clevises added for attachment of actuating arms. I'll show them when finished; I reckon we've all seen enough of these for a while. you can all have a gold star for endurance,

Cheers, Ken

alan p10/04/2020 10:00:55
355 forum posts
28 photos

Well done Ken excellent work.thumbs upthumbs up

Noting your trepidation re the final soldering it is hellish difficult to keep existing joints whilst completing subsequent one's.

In admiration


kenking-King Design16/04/2020 01:05:55
301 forum posts
868 photos


I know I said I'd not mention them again until finished, but couldn't resist a picture of the head sculpted to show the shallow ribs over the top pivots. The radiused edges help make it more casting-like and add a little more realism ...


Just one more hot process to go through before filling in the arches, and that is making and attaching the leg clevis brackets for connecting the retraction arms.

I scaled bracket dimensions from the Messier service manual cutaway, and have started machining them ....


I'll get two out of this block, then repeat for the second casting .......


Once they're on, the arches filled in, and the brass liners with stud plates are bonded in, I plan to give a spray coat of silver/grey which I hope will complete the casting illusion. Can't wait for that. Then when Ben paints them black he can simulate wear and chipping in strategic places to reveal the casting colour beneath - a standard 'weathering' practice I've admired in the work of you real scale artists.

In the meantime I've also started planning the dampers construction. I have four spring-loaded ball type non-return valves, salvaged from some hand soap dispensers, and hopefully they will play a part in changing resistance with direction. Silicon oil struck me as being a promising fluid to use, and I will initially run some simple tests, pushing and pulling a plunger in a tubeful, to get a feel for how resistance alters with different plunger clearances, using knowledge gained to fix the design. More on that later,


kenking-King Design25/04/2020 00:48:31
301 forum posts
868 photos


Having finished the clevis brackets, thanking my lucky stars I'd remembered to make L.H and R.H. versions ....

clevises - 98% dsc04185.jpg

I soldered them on in what I hope is the scale position. I'm going to fit a tiny brass bush in each eye, flange facing inward, to prevent undue wear, and house a 3mm stainless dowel pivot pin for the retraction links.

That was the end of hot processing, meaning I could give my attention to block balsa infill of the arches, and a 1.5mm sheet on the rear faces. Balsa was shaped to fit the spaces, but left oversize, and was epoxied in place, a task which took a lot longer than I had anticipated. When all was hardened, the bandsaw was used to cut and nibble off most of the excess, but wanting the arches to be smooth and true prompted me to make a sanding drum of sorts, actually a bit of old fencepost .......

Arch sanding rollerdsc04190.jpg

but it did the job, whilst adding more layers of wood debris to the lathe ....

sanded arch infilldsc04192.jpg

Please overlook the yawning gaps between blocks if you will.You should have seen the amount of rubbish epoxied to my fingers after the exercise of trying to slide each into place without dislodging the previous ones.

After sanding, the arches were lined with - well - lining paper, what else ? and would have looked quite tidy but for this new adhesive also getting all over my fingers, then transferring the grime to the paper with faultless adhesion.

arch paper coverdsc04194.jpg

I really CAN'T wait for the spray primer to arrive.

A new day dawned, and a start was made on the spring/damper cartridges, the first elements of which are the soldered assemblies of 5/8" brass tubes, bottom plates and studs. I used lead-free silver bearing solder for this as it's stronger and harder than tin/lead.

For neatness I wanted the studs to protrude only enough to carry a nut, and show just the tip of the stud, and of course the bottom plates needed to sit square to the tubes, so a soldering jig was made from scrap aluminium bar and rod. It held the tube and plate square, whilst a turned recess allowed bolts to be threaded through the correct amount ...

stud soldering jigdsc04200.jpg

jig in usedsc04203.jpg

After soldering the bolts were cut off behind the plate. They are steel 6BA, and the only load they carry is that of the remaining spring force when legs reach full extension i.e. aircraft aloft, or on a supporting stand. Nuts are 7BA hexagon size.

soldered studsdsc04205.jpg

The four finished tube assemblies will be permanently bonded into the 'castings' once I've received a 5/8" reamer to dress inside the square legs. These brass tubes will push in at the moment, but are quite tight, so I reason there must be slight deformation of their thin walls and that could affect the fit of the next tubes in the sequence, removable elements which should be an easy in/out when required. The reamer will just scrape off a thou or two in strategic places. It's on its way, same as the spray primer .....


SR 7125/04/2020 13:09:45
466 forum posts
140 photos

Super work, but it all looks so heavy, be interesting to see the finished weight

kenking-King Design26/04/2020 12:27:05
301 forum posts
868 photos

Hello SR71 (fantastic looking model btw), I understand what you are saying, and frankly I share some of your concern, but I'm also mindful of the forces involved when a model weighing as much as 45 kgs smacks down at speed onto hard, bumpy terrain, and I'm intent on the undercarriage not being a weak link in the chain of force transmission into the aircraft structure. It may turn out that I've overemphasised the strength required and that too severe a weight penalty has been incurred, we shall see. Redesign is not a dirty word, and I'm always happy to receive informed opinion, and I respect the valued experience of others, so don't hold back.

I agree that the last photo looks like something from a boilermakers' convention, but in reality those brass tubes are only .015" wall thickness, the plate is about 1mm and there's not a lot of it. When you see the next photos, of the steel tube legs, then you may justifiably have conniptions.

When working out how to build something, such as these U/C units, one faces a series of compromises between material desired and what is actually available, further hampered by lack of time, facilities and funds to carry out destructive testing of alternatives, so conservative gut-feeling holds sway.

Certainly, by the time the hollow legs have been filled with springs, and damping cylinders of oil, and the hubs carry braking equipment, then these WILL be heavy units, but on the other hand fragility will not be a concern, and I hope even severe descent rates into terrain might be survived by the model as a result.

Thanks for your interest, and how about emailing me some info on that model (rather than in this blog)?

SR 7126/04/2020 13:45:51
466 forum posts
140 photos

Which model ? , thanks for the reply, yes the pictures can be deceptive,

alan p26/04/2020 16:47:41
355 forum posts
28 photos

Liked your soldering jig solution, simple and accuratethumbs up Landing something the weight of 2 sacks of suds will need some thing substantial to support it. Proof of the pudding will come later but as you say gut feelings generally prevail. Projects like this show us what can be achieved with access to minimum tooling.

Ben Arthurs 127/04/2020 11:16:41
6 forum posts

Really looking good Ken . The sculpted edges around the top pivot really bring it to life.

Weight is a concern , But do not forget this is a big model, Nearly 14 feet span.. Think about the amount of metal and meat that goes into for example a 1/4 scale Seafury retract unit and leg and wheels ... I would rather robust over fragile.



kenking-King Design29/04/2020 00:55:46
301 forum posts
868 photos


Thanks Ben. A little more done over the past couple of days with the legs themselves. Each leg comprises two steel tubes, a larger one internal to the casting, and a smaller external one .......

leg sectionsdsc04206.jpg

By reaming the large bore and slightly reducing the smaller O.D. they can be persuaded to nest together, and they will be bonded with a loctite product ....

leg sections dry assembleddsc04207.jpg

. You may remember that earlier in the blog I made up a short section to see how a polished tube would look emerging from the leg, and those pieces were bonded. I've tried knocking them apart and can't, so I'm confident in the bonding. At the end of the leg is a two-piece axle clamp, a brass upper plate, and a L.A. lower, with a 6mm transverse hole on the joint line to take the axle.The upper is brass for reasons of joining, firstly to the steel leg, and secondly to accept a torque arm from the brake drum.

Here you can see the uppers, with shallow sockets for the legs, and in the background the L.A. lower plates, yet to be seperated. Finally remembered the philately term for this (but stamps, obviously) - se tenant, holding hands I guess.

lower legs and axle clampsdsc04210.jpg

Gravity provides a most reliable clamping method.

silver soldered groupdsc04211.jpg

good jointdsc04212.jpg

In the lathe the plates were turned, forming a collar whilst shedding some weight ....

turned collardsc04213.jpg

Those black tubes are the bits I said I would polish ! Me and my big mouth.

On another front, the grey primer arrived. It was all of five minutes before the lid came off the can, and now spraying and rubbing down is in progress. Still waiting for the reamer though, so can't fit the lining tubes yet. More soon,


Nigel R29/04/2020 06:59:43
4424 forum posts
717 photos

Lovely work ken. yes

stu knowles29/04/2020 09:47:40
620 forum posts
53 photos

Proper works of art!

I wouldn't worry about the weight. It's a large model so wil be able to carry some and nothing will hasten its damage more than an unreliable undercarriage.

I'm looking forward to watching it develop.

kenking-King Design07/05/2020 01:12:47
301 forum posts
868 photos


Another week of lockdown, and some more done, though not as much as I'd hoped. Still waiting for the reamer which I need before I can assemble the liner tubes into the 'castings'; ten days in transit, 2nd class post from down South, and still no sign, most frustrating, In the meantime the castings just hang there in their grey primer, waiting, waiting ..

in primer awaiting reamerdsc04217.jpg

Transferring my attentions to the legs, I bonded upper and lower segments using a lathe setup to ensure alignment, then gave thought to axle location. You may recall the planned arrangement of a split foot for axle clamping between a brass upper plate and LA lower, with half diameter troughs - actually .005" less in each, giving .010" clamp gap. I want the axles to play an active part in maintaining rigid leg parallelism and uniform movement, in other words to hold the leg spacing at the design centre distance at all times in a foolproof manner. A groove machined into 6mm (simulated axle) rod was supposed to locate on a ridge left in the half-bore of the brass part, but achieving a satisfactory ridge proved too difficult, so the half-bores went straight through, using a slot drill. Ridges was added later by parting off rings from a brass tube, and soldering them into the bores at the outer end. The rings are .070" wide for no reason other than to match the groove width from my parting tool. Holding them in location whilst soldering required lateral thinking in the jig department, but a solution was found - two down, two to go .....

axle ends & locating ringsdsc04215.jpg

Two rings are visible on the left, adjacent to an axle groove. The first one done was fiddly and did not behave itself at all well, the reworking reintroduced heat stain to the lower leg, so that's got to be cleaned up, again, and water spray urgently needed further along to prevent the bonded joint from degrading. Steep learning curve, and the second was much simpler.

It was pleasing to assemble the first clamp and feel the rigidity achieved. That little brass collar will carry no real load, it just positively locates each axle end in legs at the correct centres, until the four clamp bolts are tightened ...

first completed enddsc04214.jpg

Perhaps my reamer will arrive tomorrow??

If not, its hydraulic damper time, and I've had an idea for a very simple valve to change damping rate according to direction, much better than my original vague notion of spring loaded ball valves from soap bottles. The aim is to have but slight hydraulic resistance as the U/C compresses on a hard landing, but significantly more resistance to the U/C expanding again, making it slower to recover full length and hopefully limiting or even eliminating bouncing. Of course, I have no control over how the tyre reacts, but springs I hope to control with a firm hand. Anyone care to comment on this approach ? I'd love to hear of your experiences with damping mechanisms,


SR 7107/05/2020 05:23:48
466 forum posts
140 photos

Dont think we can comment, your way above us mere mortals

Ace07/05/2020 08:18:18
384 forum posts
23 photos

Like SR71 way, way above my skill level : "Comment" - brilliant, more please thumbs up

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