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Thread: Sealed Struts for J3

  1. #1
    irishfield's Avatar
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    Sealed Struts for J3

    Just want to confirm that I have the correct lift struts... to avoid the repetitive AD.... on this '46 J3C-65 I just picked up.

    The struts were installed fall of '94 (and look like brand new). They have the larger fork ends. Univar Part #'s are U85547-002 Front and U85548-002 Rear. There are no lift struts currently shown (that I could find) on Univar's website for the J3... so hope that someone here has the answer (that I want to hear!). The AD paperwork that I have references a Piper SB528D and 910(A) from 1990....so I am assuming struts mfg/sold in '94 comply!

    THANKS,
    Wayne

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    T.J.'s Avatar
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    Irishfield,

    Look at the top of the struts, near the attach bolt. If they are Univair sealed struts, there will be a stamp that is a circle with a "U" in it. I don't know how to tell if they are Wag Aero sealed struts.

    John Scott

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    R. JOHNSON's Avatar
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    If you have the large barrels they're more than likley a sealed strut. Also I think in 94' Univair and Wag would have been the only ones making J-3 struts and I don't think Wag has the heavy barrels. I would assume you've got Univair struts because of the heavy fork. We've got non sealed Univair struts on our J-3 and they've got the part # with the "u" at the end like longwinglover said.
    Ryan

  5. #5
    irishfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. JOHNSON
    If you have the large barrels they're more than likley a sealed strut. Also I think in 94' Univair and Wag would have been the only ones making J-3 struts and I don't think Wag has the heavy barrels. I would assume you've got Univair struts because of the heavy fork. We've got non sealed Univair struts on our J-3 and they've got the part # with the "u" at the end like longwinglover said.
    I got the part #'s from the packing slip that is stapled in the logs... from Univar '94 (Univar Part #'s are U85547-002 Front and U85548-002 Rear). Reading through the tech logs and AD section of the logs the entries state "Sealed struts installed to put an end to repetative AD, per Piper SB528D". That's the one that came out in '93. The bill from Univar says nothing about being sealed struts...just the part #'s and serial #'s. My concern is that since the AD came out again in the last couple of years for strut inspections / replacement.... do these struts still terminate the repetative inspections.

    THANKS for all the responses so far and to come I'm sure!

    Went for a 0.6hr boot in her late this afternoon... for my very first flight in a J3 cub...and ALMOST as fun as something generally done in the horizontal position! Sure can't see anything over the nose though...almost like flying one of my UTVA's!.....but sitting in the back seat of a "greenhouse" the view is otherwise unbelievable!
    Wayne

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    irishfield's Avatar
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    Poked around some more on the Univar site and found the J3 lift struts. Still shows these same part #'s at $429us each. Can't see them selling something that doesn't meet the current AD...so think I'm good to go!

    Cheers,
    Wayne

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    Rob's Avatar
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    Irish,

    Looking in the Univair catalog right now....pg. 45 , big box ad says...

    " End repetitive AD inspections of your struts and forks with Univair's New Oiled Wing Struts with 5/8" Fork ( comply with A.D. 99-01-05) "

    J-3 Front Strut...............U85547-002
    J-3 Rear Strut...............U85548-002

    93-10-06 was the earlier AD

    you are...good to go

  8. #8
    irishfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob
    Irish,

    Looking in the Univair catalog right now....pg. 45 , big box ad says...

    " End repetitive AD inspections of your struts and forks with Univair's New Oiled Wing Struts with 5/8" Fork ( comply with A.D. 99-01-05) "

    J-3 Front Strut...............U85547-002
    J-3 Rear Strut...............U85548-002

    93-10-06 was the earlier AD

    you are...good to go
    THANKS!!!! Just what I wanted to hear!
    Wayne

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    Little_Cub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob View Post
    Irish,
    Looking in the Univair catalog right now....pg. 45 , big box ad says...

    " End repetitive AD inspections of your struts and forks with Univair's New Oiled Wing Struts with 5/8" Fork ( comply with A.D. 99-01-05) "
    J-3 Front Strut...............U85547-002
    J-3 Rear Strut...............U85548-002

    93-10-06 was the earlier AD
    you are...good to go
    Anyone know the weight of the original J-3 (non-sealed) struts?

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    Ruffair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Cub View Post
    Anyone know the weight of the original J-3 (non-sealed) struts?
    If I had a way to weigh them. I have an old set in the hangar.
    If I find some reliable scales I'll let you know.

    Sorry about your hangar and loss.

    Kem
    Last edited by Ruffair; 01-04-2014 at 02:44 PM. Reason: spelling

  11. #11
    Little_Cub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruffair View Post
    If I had a way to weigh them. I have an old set in the hangar.
    If I find some reliable scales I'll let you know.

    Sorry about your hangar and loss.

    Kem
    Thanks Kem! yes, life has a way of keepin' you humble.

  12. #12

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    I think the Univair data shows negligible weight increase.

    Bill, at Univair, told me the front is 8.15 lbs, rear is 6.15.

    I am trying to get a field approval to use PA-11 struts, for a total weight gain - all four - of 6.6 lbs. Bill said the rear is the same as the PA-18, and is PMA for the J-3. All I need is approval for the front, and just before Christmas it looked like they were going to sign it.

  13. #13
    cubunltd's Avatar
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    The part numbers you have are definitely Univair HD sealed struts. They are listed in their catalog.

    John

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    WWeldon's Avatar
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    Just purchased/attempted to install new Univair sealed struts on my 1946 J3C65. They are the worst welded joint I have ever seen, I can't believe the FAA gave them PMA for this CRAP! The welds look like a DRUNKEN MONKEY did them on a SOBER night !! unreal the weld line looks like a zig zag and can only clear the aft strut if it is overlapped on install. Even a strut from a MUCH wider, although properly seam welded PA-18 will clear !!! And the PA-18 forward strut is much and I mean MUCH wider, just accurately beveled and smoothly welded, unlike the Univair struts that look like they were cut with a dull jig saw and welded blind folded !!It is just un-comprehenadble that such un-airworthy crap was schleped out as acceptable !!

  15. #15
    WWeldon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    I think the Univair data shows negligible weight increase.

    Bill, at Univair, told me the front is 8.15 lbs, rear is 6.15.

    I am trying to get a field approval to use PA-11 struts, for a total weight gain - all four - of 6.6 lbs. Bill said the rear is the same as the PA-18, and is PMA for the J-3. All I need is approval for the front, and just before Christmas it looked like they were going to sign it.
    The rear struts are PMA for the J3 for sure, BUT, and I MEAN, butt, they are a different shape/Diamension. you will deifinatley see the difference when you set them next to each other, I have the supposed , approved Pa-11 Univair on the rear and tried to set the sealed Univair J3 on the front but the welds are so crappy that they touch even on the original J3 rear and have to overlap the approved PA-11 rear struts. I would not pay for ANY UNIVAIR, part unless I made sure it fit my aircraft first. Last week I purchased the J3 parts list and as of yet NOT ONE BOLT listed in the strut diagram has been accurate per figure #3, Aluminum Spar, believe me I just wasted over 100.00 on hardware that was completely wrong on the J3 Univar parts list book re-printed of course with disclaimer. One of the struts I am going to have to eat the cost of since it was painted, even though they told me to check the length of and that was accurate, just the indescribably disgusting weld profile that did not show up until install. I have pics on my iPhone for anyone that is interested, I would look for an alternative for Univair struts. Maybe hickory sticks would be safer and at least fit better! By the way Bob i took you advice and changed out my Master to hex screws without the bottom one, and the homebrew bladders , your my J3 Hero !

  16. #16
    Cub junkie's Avatar
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    How about a pic of the "bad" Univair strut?

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    I got approval for the PA-11 struts, ordered them, painted them, and tried to install them. The Univair PA-11 jig is different from the J-3 or PA-18, and is not as precisely lined up. You cannot pin the PA-11 struts in place and expect to get the wing bolts inserted. You must un-pin the lower end and move the rear strut forward, front strut aft at the fuselage, or the bolt will not go in at the wing. Then when you move the fork into position, you lock in some stresses on wing attach and strut.

    I assumed this was a flaw in the Univair jig, and pressed on. But then we did a J-3 with J-3 struts, and the bolts all just slipped right in like they were supposed to. So it is only the PA-11 jig.

    Yes, the welds are not as nice as Super Cub or J-3 struts. Univair offered to exchange the front struts, but did not promise that the welds would be better. They are aware of the jig problem, but I do not know if they plan to fix it or offer me a set of struts aligned like the J-3 struts. My PA-11 front struts have minor distortion where the trailing edge attachments are, and that seam is indeed zig-zag, and touches the rear strut. I can live with the cosmetics.

    We tried these struts on two different sets of wings. The first set was a newly assembled set of wood spar wings, so I assumed the lift strut attach brackets were mis-aligned, and we cut fabric to check all the bolts on the spars. What a PITA.

  18. #18
    soyAnarchisto's Avatar
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    I bought Univair struts for my J3 just this past fall - and the welds looked fantastic. My IA thought they were very nice too. Why don't you post pictures of your welds, and i can do the same for comparison?

  19. #19
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    ... You cannot pin the PA-11 struts in place and expect to get the wing bolts inserted. You must un-pin the lower end and move the rear strut forward, front strut aft at the fuselage, or the bolt will not go in at the wing. Then when you move the fork into position, you lock in some stresses on wing attach and strut.

    I assumed this was a flaw in the Univair jig, and pressed on. But then we did a J-3 with J-3 struts, and the bolts all just slipped right in like they were supposed to. So it is only the PA-11 jig......
    This is a scary thought. The holes in the struts do not match the holes in the fitting which holds the wing on the airplane. This means that there are constant stresses on the fitting. Stresses cause cracks. Cracks cause breaks. Breaks only hurt temporarily when you hit the ground hard. After that it is all peace and quiet.

    Come on Univair your reputation is better than this. You should be ashamed of yourself and be jumping all over this bad situation.
    N1PA

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    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	J3 struts.jpg 
Views:	311 
Size:	944.1 KB 
ID:	19612


    Here is a picture of some of our “DRUNKEN MONKEY” welded struts. I grabbed these at random from the rack. No attempt to make to pick and choose. I grabbed a front and rear. I’ll let you be the judge.


    Now if the poster complaining about our struts has an issue with the welds, we will offer to do with what we have for Mr. Turner and exchange them.
    Since the introduction of the sealed struts, with the 5/8” forks, they have presented a bit more of a manufacturing challenge because the barrel going in the bottom of the strut is bigger than the original. Each strut, and I mean each strut is inspected. If there is an issue to compromise airworthiness, the part will not be accepted. Another thing to consider is that welding two pieces of .035” thick steel does present it challenges. Since every one of our struts are welded by hand, it may not be as if it were machine welded. Might there is a drop of bead that might stick out? Perhaps. Is it un- airworthy? No.


    Our computer tracks sales back to March of 2006. Since then we have sold 838 front PA-11 struts. We have sold 860 rear PA-11 struts. Getting that bottom trailing edge weld on the front strut is critical and there isn’t much room allowable if you run too fat a bead. Our “monkeys” might run a bit of a wider bead, because after all, we can’t expect too much from them. However, when we do, we try to make right by the customer and exchange them.


    In the 37 years that I’ve been here, if there is a fit problem, 99.9% of the time, the question is brought up that Univair has a HUGE manufacturing issue. Generally, on airplanes that of nearly 70 years on them, there is a possibility of some damage history. My experience is that unless the airplane was really busted up, most possible damage will be unreported. With about 1700 struts sold since 2006, if a major manufacturing issue existed, we probably would have come upon this. Now we’ve been making these PA-11 struts since ’93 – ’94. We sold far more of them from 1994 to 2006 than since then. So, I can’t tell you how many are out in service. When Mr. Turner called, his concerns were not dismissed. We did look to see if something like a fork lift hit the tooling and we also asked around if there were other customers with recent concerns. There was nothing to report. Now the expectation is we do a part redesign and tooling change immediately. We have had to do that on rare occasions, particularly with a new item. However, there is a lot of work that is done to preclude that in the first place.

    We have a pretty good idea of what it is we have made. We don’t always know the situation on the airplane on which it is installed.
    Last edited by UNIVAIR; 04-03-2015 at 04:28 PM.
    Regards,

    Mike Sellers
    Univair Aircraft Corp.

  21. #21
    fly_cubs's Avatar
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    I agree, let's see a picture of that strut.

    I've bought a lot of J3 stuff over the last 10 years, and it has always been top notch- and well supported if I had an issue or question.

  22. #22
    irishfield's Avatar
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    I'm just sorry WW picked a thread that I started, ELEVEN years ago, to point out his issue on his struts.

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    There are no rules on which thread one can post to.

    Yes, locked-in stresses are worrisome. My aircraft has had its struts removed and replaced at two year intervals since the AD was modified, and before that I had them off twice for recover. The other aircraft we tried them on showed identical mis-alignment. We are only talking about a few thousandths of mismatch, but you cannot safely drive the lift strut to wing bolt through the strut attach brackets with the bottom pinned with nails. You will break something.

    The J-3 struts exhibit no such problem - they go on beautifully. I am sure Univair will fix this problem with the -11 struts. All they need to do to check is to slip a set of PA-11 struts into the PA-18 jig, and see if the bolts will slide. Or, just walk out to a local J-3 - it only takes a couple hours if you do not have all the tools right in front of you.

  24. #24
    ColoZKS6's Avatar
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    Let's see some pictures of those struts WWeldon...What part number did you buy?

  25. #25

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    I bought my Univair sealed struts in 2012....they are beautiful. Good job standing your ground Univair!

  26. #26
    Cub junkie's Avatar
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    The pictures posted up by Univair show a nice heavy fillet with no undercut. That's just what you need on a part that your life hangs on. I've never had any welded parts from Univair that were not welded correctly. Sure would like to see a pic of the drunk monkey's work.

  27. #27
    Richgj3's Avatar
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    Another vote for Univair from me. My Legend Cub was the first delivered. Back then (almost 10 years ago!) many parts came from Univair. No issues here.

    Rich

  28. #28
    Chicken Hawk's Avatar
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    I'm begining to wonder who the drunken monkey was.

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    I dunno. The welds on the barrell are nice and I would hang my life on them, but the fit of the trailing edges behind te barrell where they are cut, narrowed, and welded are a bit rough/crooked and I'm looking at a picture. I can understand Bob complaining unless he got them at a substantial discount. Honestly at first I thought " those are W-A parts". If I had bought them, because of the expense and hassle of sending them back, I would use them if I could make them fit but I would be disappointed. jrh
    You can't get there from here. You have to go over yonder and start from there.

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    I took the camera, but got busy - maybe tomorrow.

    Look, Univair offered to make the cosmetics problem go away. They cannot do better than that for the cosmetics. They did say that the PA-11 struts were harder to make, and subject to more distortion.

    I am the only guy who has presented the idea that the bolt holes at the wing are at the wrong angle. Their answer, understandably, is that the two airplanes I tried them on have bent spars.

    One set of wings is metal spar, and connecting the front and back pair of lift strut attach fittings is an "N" strut. My engineering degree is a BA, and I cannot be expected to know that an "N" strut might not hold the attach fittings parallel.

    The other pair of wings is wood spar, with spar holes drilled on a very flat jig table by a guy with a BS in engineering. I promise you he knows what he is doing. The wood spar wing does not have an "N" strut, but when we set a wing up, we use a string, as well as a trammel, and our wings are accurate.

    All eight spar attach bolt holes are bent in exactly the same direction - with bolts inserted and the bottom end of the PA-11 strut relaxed, the forks are crossed. That is, the rear strut fork is actually ahead of the forward strut's fuselage mount hole, and the front strut fork is behind the rear mount hole. I will get some measurements and compute the angle for you - it is a trivial computation.

    It is possible that I got four bad struts, and that all the rest that Univair has made are perfect. It is also possible that there are four wings here with spars bent inward at exactly the same angle.

    When I installed these struts, I assumed that all struts are made in the same jig, and what you see is what you get. Not true - the J-3 struts are made in a different jig, and they fit perfectly. Perfectly!

    I did not offer, in my initial contact with Univair, but I can easily take a brand new J-3 rear strut and install it on my airplane, installing the PA-11 rear strut on the one we did in January, and take a photo of where the fork will go with the bolt in the wing. The entire operation, not counting photos, is about an hour and a half. Maybe I shall do that.

  31. #31

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    Just curious. Why install PA11 struts on a J3? I remember you were seeking approval....just don't remember why. It seems strange that they are different....I would have guessed they would be interchangeable

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    It was a personal preference thing. I thought they looked better. Cost me six pounds in useful load. If I had it to do over, they would be J-3 struts from Univair - a very good product.

    I have owned my Cub for 52 years - it has a red stripe and a red interior. Its bear is 150% of the original. I am not one of those guys who has to have everything original. I fly it almost every single day!

  33. #33
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Bob,
    Is there any possibility that the struts have a slight bow in them? It would not take much over that length for the result that you describe.
    N1PA

  34. #34
    cruiser's Avatar
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    I have purchased 3 sets of struts from Univair. PA-12 in the early 90's, PA-11 for a J-3 conversion in 2007 or so and PA-18 in 2012. All of the welds looked perfect to my untrained eye and the struts fit fine. No complaints with anything I have ever purchased at Univair. Jim

  35. #35
    soyAnarchisto's Avatar
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    Not perfect but definitely airworthy and decidedly sober monkey.


  36. #36
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WWeldon View Post
    ........ unreal the weld line looks like a zig zag and can only clear the aft strut if it is overlapped on install.
    WWeldon,
    As you can see your post has generated a considerable amount of discussion. First, did you buy these struts from Univair or did you get them from Stoddards? If the latter, I'm sure that Bill will see that you are satisfied. If the former and you are concerned with the costs of shipping back to Colorado I can think of a relatively easy fix which would be very airworthy. However, it would not be appropriate for me to type it here. I would not be surprised that if you went to see mike mcs that he would be able to tell you what I am thinking.
    N1PA

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    Soy: those are J-3 struts. The Univair J-3 struts are simply perfect in all respects. Nobody - nobody - has complained about them. It has been a while since I installed a pair of PA-18 struts, but as I recall, they fit perfectly too.

    Yes, it is possible that the PA-11 struts have a slight bow. It is that fact that leads me to believe that the stress on the wing attach area is not unsafe. The mis- alignment can be absorbed over the entire length of the strut.

  38. #38
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    Yes, it is possible that the PA-11 struts have a slight bow. It is that fact that leads me to believe that the stress on the wing attach area is not unsafe. The mis- alignment can be absorbed over the entire length of the strut.
    With a little care they could be bowed in the opposite direction just enough to be perfect. I'll let you think of the procedure.
    N1PA

  39. #39
    soyAnarchisto's Avatar
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    Bob, WWeldon was complaining about J3 struts. You are the only one who is talking about PA-11 struts on a J3 - which nobody understands. Here's his post again for clarity:

    Quote Originally Posted by WWeldon View Post
    Just purchased/attempted to install new Univair sealed struts on my 1946 J3C65. They are the worst welded joint I have ever seen, I can't believe the FAA gave them PMA for this CRAP! The welds look like a DRUNKEN MONKEY did them on a SOBER night !! unreal the weld line looks like a zig zag and can only clear the aft strut if it is overlapped on install. Even a strut from a MUCH wider, although properly seam welded PA-18 will clear !!! And the PA-18 forward strut is much and I mean MUCH wider, just accurately beveled and smoothly welded, unlike the Univair struts that look like they were cut with a dull jig saw and welded blind folded !!It is just un-comprehenadble that such un-airworthy crap was schleped out as acceptable !!
    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    Soy: those are J-3 struts. The Univair J-3 struts are simply perfect in all respects. Nobody - nobody - has complained about them. It has been a while since I installed a pair of PA-18 struts, but as I recall, they fit perfectly too.

    Yes, it is possible that the PA-11 struts have a slight bow. It is that fact that leads me to believe that the stress on the wing attach area is not unsafe. The mis- alignment can be absorbed over the entire length of the strut.

  40. #40

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    By golly, you are correct. I was spring- loaded to PA-11, since those are the only ones that actually touch each other at the fork end. The new set of J-3 struts came in in January, and they fit perfectly, with straight welds. I have photos in the digital camera, and tomorrow or Tuesday I will remove a rear strut and take some more photos.

    It is entirely possible that the struts I got simply bowed when sand blasted. Hard to believe it happened on all four, and has not happened to anybody else. Univair has not treated me badly, and they are well within their rights to think that my two aircraft are crooked, since nobody else has had this problem.

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