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boleropilot

Drifter Tailwheels

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G'day alla youse Drifter Aficionados...got a question about Drifter tailwheels. Did some BFR work yesterday on a SB582 with a small solid rubber tailwheel and found the rudder pedal pressures so heavy I had to stop for a break after an hour - admittedly it was cold and I was wearing sketchers without socks (yeah, I know) and my ankles are about 2/10 from a paraglider mishap back in 2001, but - fair dinkum.....my Drifter (0455 - the same one used for Ant's Airplanes flight simulation development) has the big pneumatic tyre and is a delight on the ground, nice light pedal pressure, turns on a dollar (inflation)...

 

I am aware that there are some (g'day Kiwi) who prefer the small solid rubber wheels because it gives a more traditional taildragger look/performance. I don't get it. I've been told the small wheel version flies off easier because of the higher angle of attack of the wing, but that doesn't work for me because (a) I don't take off that way - I was taught to get the tailwheel up, build up speed, ease the stick back to get a few feet off, then rotate, and (b) if I had a tailwheel running along the ground at the back of my aircraft for a 'fly it off' takeoff I would want a softer one, for the reasons of a better ride and less mechanical vibration through the frame of the aircraft.

 

I even heard about a red Drifter bought from a rural property recently that had a tail SKID - holy cow and W T F - I am aware that the buyer replaced the skid with a pneumatic (same one as mine - he had a couple in his spares locker) asap. Anyway, I'm not sure the heaviness on the one I flew yesterday was just the tailwheel - I flew that aircraft 2 years ago for my previous BFR and I don't recall it being a problem then - maybe my ankles reduced their fitness from 6/10 to 2/10 over that two years? Socks would have helped a bit later in the flight but in reality I had problems from the moment we started to taxi...

 

I'm all ears......

 

BP

 

 

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I've never flown a Drifter, though I'd love to: they look a lot of fun.

 

I do fly a MiniMax, with a tailwheel. And I have a few hours on a couple of other tailwheel types. Now it may be that the Drifter behaves a bit differently than other planes with the little wheel in the proper place, but FWIW, here's my 2 cents' worth of opinion on why some may prefer the small tailwheel or even the skid.

 

I don't know if you fly off a grass strip or an asphalt runway. But if you normally fly from grass, then use an asphalt runway, you will probably notice a big difference in directional stability. On grass, there is much more drag on a small, narrow tailwheel than a big pneumatic one, & even more drag on a skid (a true 'taildragger' as opposed to a tailwheel aircraft). This drag makes it much easier to point in the direction you want to go, meaning less of the tailwheel tapdance we all know & love. My Max is certainly a lot more squirrelly on hard runways - I much prefer grass. So I'm guessing that would likely be the reason some would prefer not to have a large diameter, wider tailwheel.

 

But I reserve the right to completely wrong!

 

Bruce

 

 

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g'day Bruce, thanks for the input - I have always flown on/off grass and the first time I used bitumen (during training) I instantly hated the stuff. Having said that, the pedal pressure on the subject aircraft was incredibly hard, both on bitumen (taxying) and grass (take-offs and landing).

 

I just don't get it - I might ask them to jack the tailwheel up off the ground and check for stiffness in rudder and tailwheel - it may be that as it stiffened up over time they didn't notice it due to incremental increases...

 

btw, if you're ever anywhere near Boonah, you will get the chance to fly a Drifter - that's a promise. Be warned though - Drifters are addictive...

 

BP

 

 

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Thanks for the offer, BP. Might just make me decide to revisit Queensland! Daintree from the air?

 

Cheers

 

Bruce

 

 

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Is there a difference in castor between the two tail wheel setups?

 

 

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hey Bruce, good idea - my planned 2018 trip to Cooktown was postponed because of the slower than expected Drifter refurb process - maybe 2019? I'll join ya as you pass through Boonah!

 

BP

 

 

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