Central Hobbies first began offering titanium
struts, a lot of pattern pilots were curious as to why they might want to use them, and
whether or not the extra cost is justified. And we get still the same
question from pilots who are looking for ways to improve performance and
The answer depends on your aircraft
and your style.
sell CH3 Retracts and can special order Robart Retracts. Both kits are dependable and
widely used on pattern planes. With sturdy molded base, a locking
mechanism that is very secure and low installation profile, these are
excellent retracts. They come with 5/32" steel struts. For virtually all 60
and 90 size planes and the smaller 1.20/1.40 planes they are a good choice.
there are times when the 5/32" steel struts are not enough. As pattern
planes have evolved, several factors have contributed to the need for more
substantial struts. Those factors include:
As a rule of thumb, titanium has
only three fifths the weight of the steel used in steel struts. So if
your steel struts weigh in at 60 grams a pair (roughly 2.12 ounces), you can
cut 24 grams off the gross weight of your plane by simply switching to
titanium struts of the same diameter and length. Yet, while saving
weight, you also add a lot of durability and strength to the landing gear.
Obviously the higher weights put more load on the struts. But
even more significant are wing location and prop diameter: both are factors that require LONGER struts. As you extend the
standard 5/32" wire struts beyond a length of 7-8 inches, they become too
spindly and bend too easily.
You could simply modify the standard
Great Planes units to accept 3/16" music wire struts.
However, the added weight of longer and larger struts is significant. Also, 3/16" music
wire may actually be too stiff, increasing the chance of inadvertent gear plate removal.
So, enter the
titanium strut. Made from Titanium alloy, at full length the struts are lighter than the
much shorter standard struts, and offer better rigidity. They also tend to bend further
WITHOUT taking a permanent "set" requiring re-bending. For the larger planes and props, these struts offer the support and
clearance needed with lower weight than the shorter standard struts.
may also want to consider building your aircraft to accept the larger --
2-3/4" to 3" -- wheels to further enhance the ground handling of your
aircraft and allow slightly shorter struts.
Are there any negative aspects
to the titanium struts?
In a word, yes.
Titanium is expensive material and is also more demanding to work and
machine. These factors make titanium struts more expensive than music wire.
Also, if there are defects in a strut, or with a very hard impact, the
struts may still break. We've had a total of three strut failures
reported to us in the entire time we've been selling titanium struts (to
hundreds of pilots all around the world).