The two models in need of repair were both Aeroclassics. One was a Polynesian Airlines 727-200, which I accidentally broke the maingear on about a year ago. The other was a Pan Am DC-7C, which I recently acquired at the Manchester Aviation Fair. When I acquired it I didn't know it had broken gear and I stupidly didn't check. I assumed since the guy appeared to be a major seller he was at least doing the basics but obviously he wasn't! Lesson learnt for next time. Anyway it is a rare and beautiful Aeroclassics prop and had no other damage so, although annoyed, I was hopeful I might be able to fix it up.
To be honest model repairs are not my thing. I neither have the tools or the skill to carry them off and undercarriage repairs are notoriously challenging, especially on long-legged props like the DC-7. Even so, I didn't have a lot to lose and I fortunately happened to have a spare set of DC-7C landing gear plus some of the Aeroclassics spares sets with which to attempt a fix.
Unfortunately I don't own any specialist tools for this kind of thing and so I could only resort to a pair of nail scissors and a massive hand drill with a very small drill bit. The 727's main gear succumbed to the nail scissors. By jabbing them in and using leverage I was able to pop out the gear hubs, eventually.
The DC-7C required more force and so I had to enlist the drill pictured above. Although hardly a precision job I did manage to get the broken gear out, which was especially difficult for the nose gear. Although in close up it looks a little messy I was quite happy with it since there was no other damage to the fuselage, wings or props. You can see that the right maingear was already missing completely whereas the left maingear needed to be drilled out.
It took a bit of trial and error to get the space for the nosegear big enough to accept the new gear. The key was knowing when to stop before too much damage was done that it distorted the look of the model when the gear was fitted again. Fortunately fitting the new gear was easy with the aid of some superglue. I'm rather pleased with the end product on this one:
Without close inspection of the underside around the left maingear you can't really tell there has been any work done. Although the nosegear fit could be tighter it is no worse than on many standard AC releases:
I had expected the 727 fix to be easier but sadly I was mistaken due to the continuing stupidity of the Aeroclassics factory. Although I had 3 sets of the AC4SPARES1 set each comes only with 1 727 maingear and as the 727 maingear is not symmetrical that meant that each pack had a single right maingear leg and no left maingear leg. You'd have thought they might have thought about that!
The result therefore is that the right side fits fine and the left side does not, since I had to try and modify one of the right gear legs into a left leg (mainly by removing the gear door). Unfortunately this means also that the model doesn't sit as level as it should. Fortunately I display my models from the left so it isn't that obvious. It is certainly better than it was before.
These repairs roughly correspond with my previous attempts. Usually the results are ok but not great. It is hard not to damage the model further when trying to repair it and to do a good job you need the right tools (like a Dremel hand drill), some skill and a lot of luck. The Aeroclassics gear sets are a great idea but the execution could do with some refinement as they basically stopped me completing the 727 repair properly. Overall however I'm ok with the results. The DC-7C looks fine and the 727 is good enough to return to display.
How have your repairs gone and what tools have you used?
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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