Wheel pant repair blues. Wow!

Wow, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I told the A&P I would get the wheel pants on the Archer fixed up. They’re 40 years old, and probably have 11,000 hrs and God knows how many T/O and landings on them, so they’ve got spider cracking, areas where the camloc holes are wallowed, and dings, and fractures, etc, etc. I took them to a fiberglass guy and he says, “you don’t want to pay me to fix those”, “probably 40 hrs at $145 an hour?”, but he’s been generous with his advice. I’m not a rookie to fiberglass work, I did build and repair a few windsurf boards in my younger days, but these wheel pants are a real challenge. The glass is so very thin, and there’s no core or mold or anything to support the new glass. It would be one thing if there was just a single repair, but I must be working on 10-12 different spots, and of course there’s 8 different pieces that make up the pants, and strut covers, and a fella can only work with so much fiberglass resin at a time. And then there’s the painting part, which is still somewhat undecided. I’ve had a couple body shop guys tell me the spider cracking will come back unless I sand all the old paint and gel coat back to glass. One said I could try some sandable primer, then paint with auto paint, but the cracks would likely come back in time. One guy suggested using truck bed liner, since it’s durable and would resist cracking. (That idea went out the window). Then others suggested applying tinted gel coat to the whole exterior but it will dry like orange peel then have to be sanded and polished ad nauseum. I’m leaning towards the primer and paint concept at this point, and if the spider cracks reappear, c’est la vie, they’ll at least be secure. Anyone out there tackled a wheel pant overhaul like this?


  • I know this is being defeatist but at some point would new from Knots-2-U be a good idea?

    Scott may be able to get you enough of a discount to cover tax and shipping.

    Then paint them flat black and tell people it is stealth gear.

    1973 Arrow II factory AC removed

    G5’S, G275, GNX375 Still can get lost.

  • Resq5hvy, thank you for that. I didn’t actually know they had them for our airplane. And actually, the pricing isn’t really horrific. Maybe I’ll finish what I’ve got without spending every waking moment with a dual action sander, and look at new ones.

  • If I can help you be less productive I have done my job.

    1973 Arrow II factory AC removed

    G5’S, G275, GNX375 Still can get lost.

  • Oops, actually they are pretty pricey once you add everything up. I saw $483 and was impressed, but that’s just for the access panel. It will be $5K for all the parts, unpainted.

  • I went with new speed pants when I decided to get my wheel pants on again. Then, just have your A&P to install.

  • All done and installed. They’re solid and considering I painted with rattle cans, they came out OK.

  • I painted my wheel pants with rattle cans and it looked great…right until the 100LL leaked onto it from the fuel drain. That avgas ate right through the rattle can auto paint.

    I need to repaint them again. I will go with the vinyl striping instead.

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