ULMs with nosewheel steering are all fairly difficult to manoeuvre on the ground, with any real precision anyway, and towbars that clamp to the nosewheels and that allow you to steer them while pushing or pulling are very handy things to have. I designed and had one made locally for my Savannah and it makes handling of the aircraft on the ground exceptionally easy, especially when doing it by myself.
In fact, with a towbar it’s best to do it by yourself because although they have the best of intentions, helpers tend to push and/or pull at just the wrong moment and there’s more chance of bashing into things then than if you’re doing it alone. I’ve got the marks on my Savannah’s main wheel spat to prove it 😉
When pushing or pulling both the Weedhopper and the Xair, because their nosewheels tend to castor very freely, it’s difficult to aim them exactly where you want them to go so they could also benefit from towbars. However, I’ve now readvertised the Weedhopper for sale and hope to be selling it soon, so that’s not now a priority as I can live with the problem for a few more weeks. But when I eventually get the Xair down to Malbec, it will be very handy to have a towbar for it, just because of it’s size alone.
Here’s the design of my Savannah towbar that I had fabricated locally.
Here’s how it looks when in use.
It has worked beautifully and I’m very pleased with it. I particularly like that when it’s attached to the Savannah’s nosewheel, there’s no chance that it can slip off, whether it’s being used to push or pull or the aircraft. This means that there’s no possibilty of causing any kind of damage. I also like how because it’s attached using horizontal pins, the bar can be raised and lowered or rested on the ground if necessary as in the above picture without needing to detach it.
I’ve therefore decided to make a towbar of similar design for the Xair, this time doing it myself as I now have a small arc welder rather than putting it out to a local fabricator. I’ve already purchased the materials (that’s what the DPD driver delivered the other day) and have worked out the basis of the design, although I can’t go ahead and start work on it yet as I don’t know what the exact dimensions are.
Here’s a picture I’ve mocked up showing what I have in mind.
It basically employs exactly the same principle as my Savannah towbar, except with the Savannah there were two bolts that I could use (by using longer ones) to attach the tow point that the towbar attaches to on the nosewheel assembly. There are no such bolts on the Xair, so what I’ve decided to do is make up two small triangular pieces of stainless steel with holes in to take the pins on the towbar, that I will bolt to each side of the Xair’s nosewheel forks after drilling them.
I think it’ll work fine and won’t in any way compromise the forks for normal use (take offs and landings) but if anyone can think of a better way, I’ll be grateful of course, to hear of any other suggestions before I get cracking on the construction.