Cameroon Part 2 – Fabricating Parts Cameroonian Style


Not long after N211PH moved into the starting lineup, she bent that right landing gear leg again.  So now we had to decide whether to fall back on N37JN or fix the gear leg.  We chose to at least try a repair on the gear leg.  Terry and Tom reckoned they could straighten the leg but it would be weakened from bending so it would need reinforcement.  A leaf spring from a car would do.

The three of us headed to town in search of a leaf spring and some rubber strips.  Finding a leaf spring was not difficult; there is a thriving used car parts industry in Bamenda.  Finding the rubber strips was easy; there is a tolerable market for used inner tube, tire, and other rubber strips in Bamenda.  From the rubber strip shop, we headed over to a machine shop where Tom knew of a hydraulic press.  While the technician was setting up the press, I pointed out the welding machine that had an intriguing steel grounding block instead of a clamp and promptly about it.


Notice the rod and ground.

Presently, the straightening started and I stepped back and kicked what turned out to be a live welding rod into said grounding block.  It went like this: spark, zap, silence, …hilarity. They finished by cutting the spring to the shape of the gear leg and we noted that the man cut the spring freehand but still cut it straight.  He did not wear safety glasses.

After using the rubber straps to bind the leaf spring to the gear leg, we tried a taxi test and a few landings.  Everything looked good but after each landing the leg showed an increased deviation from vertical.


Checking the gear angle

So it would need more reinforcement.  Maybe a leaf spring from a truck would do.

We headed to town yet again and by the same means collected a truck’s leaf spring and four muffler clamps.  This time we headed to a different fabrication shop:  We noted the requisite live welding machine and gave it a wide berth.  They straightened the gear leg and then cut our leaf spring to the right length and width.  This time we noted that the man made the customary mark and then cut freehand, but he put sunglasses on about half-way through the job.

Clamp fitting

Clamp fitting


Look Ma, no mask.

He cuts the truck's leaf spring.

Cutting the leaf spring.

This fellow, instead of clamping the spring, however, had his companion stand on it.

We took the parts home and Terry customized the muffler clamps to fit the wide end of the leaf spring.  We clamped the spring to the leg and ran the same sequence of test.  This time, the leg gave a little and then held.  Success!

In part 3, we shall learn some small thing about trekking.

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