By Elizabeth Gibbs
In his May 2022 webinar, Paul New discussed many topics regarding corrosion in older Cessnas, including landing gear, which are more vulnerable than owners realize.
New said, “Whether you had the flat gear legs or the round spring steel gear legs, they have shot-peened surfaces. Corrosion will eat through the shot peen and is a source for cracks to develop. And there have been instances of the gear legs actually breaking. It’s kind of hard to imagine this massive piece of steel breaking, but they will fracture because they have a corrosion pit.”
Shot peening involves bombarding a surface with small, spherical shot to compress it. This effectively strengthens the metal and prevents corrosion, but like many corrosion-preventative processes, it can fail over time.
New stresses the importance of caring for gear legs. “It is an airworthiness issue, at least when we see this in our shop. If we have rust showing on the gear legs, we write that up. It needs to be removed and it needs to be painted over. You want to keep these gear legs painted and clean.”
He also offers some advice on how to clean them up. “You’re going to sand it. We are not going to use chemicals. Chemicals are an actual problem. Cessna has determined that some of the strong chemicals used in the past actually attack the shot peening. So no chemicals for paint stripping. We’re going to sand it off by hand and then we’re going to immediately cover it with something.”
New explained that it is most important that something is applied immediately, even if it is a simple rattle can of paint from your local automotive shop.
Something else that can induce corrosion is the clamps that hold the brake line to the landing gear. “The brake line usually
attaches on this trailing edge. It won’t be abrasive, but it’s definitely holding some moisture. So you can remove that, clean it, and be sure to do some mitigation there.”
Often overlooked, it is important to make sure that the surface of your landing gear remains as rust- and corrosion-free as the rest of your aircraft.
Elizabeth Gibbs (writer) and Lyle Jansma (photographer) are private pilots and co-owners of a Cessna 172. When they’re not flying above the beautiful Pacific Northwest, they are working hard designing instrument panels for other Cessna owners. To learn more about upgrading your instrument panel, visit sixpackaero.com.