Canard Aircraft and Custom Composites | 3:23 Composites

An all new Billet Aluminum Nose Wheel Fork

Since the 1970’s, Burt Rutan’s canard designs, and their derivatives, have been flying almost exclusively using cast aluminum nose wheel hardware. This hardware has slowly evolved over time, yet still, a number of failures continue to happen. Both the inferior strength of cast aluminum, and  very rudimentary way of assembling these parts, the community has had to deal with a poor nose wheel system as a whole. With a history of broken forks over the last 4 decades, 323 Composites decided it was time to bring a solution to the market.

Problem #1: Inadequate strength

Cast aluminum is an “affordable” way to make parts, but lacks the consistency and strength of genuine aircraft grade 2124-T4 billet aluminum. Up until now, canard owners have had to stray away from anything but smooth runways, for fear of damaging the nose wheel hardware on landing. During destructive testing of my personal cast nose wheel fork, it was shown to fail at a mere 500lbs of static loading.

Problem #2: Improper bearing pre-loading

The vast majority of flying nose wheels use tapered roller bearings. While these bearings are an excellent application, they require a precise pre-loading force to ensure they operate correctly. Today, the most common method of installing these bearings incorporates the use of nose wheel bushings. The problem is that each nose fork, wheel, and bushing are not matched sets, so they all must be sent to a machine shop to ensure they assemble together properly. This is both a hassle and unnecessary expense.

In 2017, 323 Composites teamed up with Alteg Systems, and Pretoria Engineering to bring a refined solution to these problems. Over the course of several months and multiple prototype testing, we were able to engineer an all new 2124-T4 aluminum nose wheel fork that is over 3 times stronger than the current cast fork we tested. The new nose fork not only wins in the strength category, but also solves the wheel bearing pre-loading issue by utilizing the already available Matco Axle, part #WHLAXE27. This Matco Axle works with both the Gerdes, and Matco wheels currently on the market. For a serious upgrade, Order Now.

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