Say No To Ugly Legs

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By Richard Zephro

Some of us have our planes all waxed up, shiny and ready to go. How would you feel, however, if you went to pick your date up, and she answered the door looking sharp with her tilted hat, tight slinky dress, nice new shoes, but ugly, ugly, really ugly, hairy, dry, flaky, corroded looking legs? Kind of ruins the whole thing, you might agree.
Same thing for the other lady in your life….your Mooney!

Is she sharp and ready to go, but has ugly legs? Let’s fix that!
You will need a way to jack the plane up. Things can be done on the ground, but the job will look a lot better if you jack her up.
Remove any inner gear doors, remove brake pad, remove axle nut and slide main wheels off. Remove front wheel.

Let the air out of the main tires by removing valve stem. Split the rims and inspect for damage or corrosion. Mark the tire on the side that has the air valve. Clean off the rims, then steel wool or sand as necessary to smooth out old paint. Spray them with several thin coats, 3-5 minutes between coats if thin, or somewhat dry to the touch. Use Krylon (not water base) spray. Usually white or gray/silver.

Clean the grease off of the axle spindles as well as the gear legs themselves. Look up in to the wheel well. If actuator rods need attention, clean them off too. You can even go so far as to clean all up in the gear well and repaint that whole area. Always mask off any hoses.

Get some coarse sandpaper and sand on the gear leg areas to be repainted. If the gear legs don’t need a lot of sanding due to being in reasonably good shape, use a lighter grit sandpaper. Get them as smooth as possible. If you had a lot of rust, you should buy some rust stop spray such as is available at Wal-Mart. This turns rust in to a paintable primer.

If you have to sand enough to reach bare metal, you should get some spray paint primer. Krylon has that also.

Mask off all areas that could be affected by over spray, and have good venting, but little wind. Mask off your shock disks. If you don’t mask well, take some dish soap on a small paint brush and coat the disks with a sticky coat of dish soap. Careful not to drip on the intended areas of paint. You can later wash off the soap once the paint becomes washable in a day or so.

Also mask the spindles.

Spray several light coats of Krylon white if you are painting them white, or try to match any spray paint with your particular color.
You may also elect to repair and repaint your inner gear doors at this time. If your hubcaps are painted, do them at this time.

Place some wheel bearing grease on to the spindle and spread all over. Repack wheel bearings if needed, and replace grease seals if damaged or leaking.

Spread some talcum powder over the inner tube. This will stop any binding to the tire due to heat and will stay free to move around inside the tire.

Place the tube inside the tire, replace the valve stems and add enough air to stop the tube from catching within the two split rim pieces, but not enough to expand the tire sides.

Replace the rim halves, but this time have the tire facing the opposite direction as when you took it off. This is why we marked the tire. Now your tire will last up to 40% longer, because Mooney’s like to wear on one side only.

Put everything back and have your mechanic check your work. Be certain to tie wire your brake pad and inner gear door bolts.

Let her down and watch that chick look really sharp!