Do wheel pants make a difference?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Chrisgoesflying, Sep 22, 2022 at 1:11 AM.

  1. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2018
    Messages:
    343
    Location:
    Too far north

    Display name:
    Chrisgoesflying
    I currently have wheel pants on my Cherokee 140/160 on all three wheels. Obviously, the plane looks a lot nicer with them. BUT, at the same time, they seem to be a bit of an inconvenience as inflating the tires is more difficult and winter is coming, hence there is a chance for slush and other crap to accumulate inside. Therefore, I am contemplating to just take them off during the next annual and fly without them. Performance wise, do they make much of a difference? If so, what is it? Like 1 mph? Other than aesthetics, what is the purpose of wheel pants?
     
  2. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    180

    Display name:
    drummer4468
    A couple of knots in cruise. The cherokee doesn't fly near fast enough for them to make any appreciable difference in drag. They're just there for cosmetics and the illusion of aero-slickness. Taking them off for winter isn't a bad idea at all.

    I can't stand them personally, I think they look goofy on the trainer-type planes.
     
  3. nrm2430

    nrm2430 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2019
    Messages:
    93
    Location:
    SoCal

    Display name:
    nrm2430
    The difference is maybe 2-3kts if that. Nothing that’s really THAT noticeable or worth leaving them on if you’re concerned about stuff getting jammed inside. I’d say take them off, it would make things easier.
     
    Chrisgoesflying likes this.
  4. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    Messages:
    8,172
    Location:
    A Rubber Room

    Display name:
    Cli4ord
    You really want to fly any slower?
     
  5. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2017
    Messages:
    6,147

    Display name:
    Bell206
    Per the manufacturers, wheel fairings and other similar fairings are designed to streamline the airflow and give you more airspeed. Some OEMs even call them speed fairings. In my experience, it depends on the aircraft type and configuration how much more speed you actually get. However, in some cases you can get a 5-10 mph increase. That said, unless you regularly fly long legs you really wont see an overall difference in the end. But from a maintenance standpoint I'm a big fan of removing them and keep them in a safe place till you sell aircraft.;)
     
  6. Gary Ward

    Gary Ward Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2020
    Messages:
    1,106
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Display name:
    Challenger1
    Now that you make me think about it I don't recall seeing a Cherokee without wheel pants. Not sure what it would look like?
    Like Clip4 said do you want to go even slower?
    I bought my "trainer" from a friend for a song in 2018 before the prices went nuts and he did not have the wheel pants on. I found them buried in his hangar made sure they came with the plane when I bought it.

    I put them on back then and like the way it looks with them on. It helps maybe set it apart from a trainer plane?
    I flew 3 winters with them on in some snowy icy conditions and never had a problem with ice or snow.
    The last 2 years I have done a lot of grass/turf landings with no problems.
    This past summer I put new tires on the mains and left the wheel pants off until I needed new brake pads so I could inspect them easier. And I wanted a change of pace/look for a while.
    I found out they keep my plane much cleaner. I have mud spray on the bottom of the wings, grass stuck in my mains and the front fork is all green and nasty now without wheel pants. I plan to put them back on soon just in time for winter on my 172.
    [​IMG]
    I have flown my buddy's Cherokee quite a bit on my signature picture.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2022 at 6:27 AM
    Ed Haywood likes this.
  7. Joe_B1

    Joe_B1 Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2020
    Messages:
    774
    Location:
    Near KCON

    Display name:
    Joe_B
    My archer came with them and I had them removed at my first annual. I didn't like that I could not inspect things easily during preflight and it made it a pain to check / inflate the tires. So did it make a difference? Well, not much maybe 2 kts in cruise, hardly noticeable. My plane flies around 123 in smooth, straight and level flight at 75% power.
     
  8. William Pete Hodges

    William Pete Hodges Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2020
    Messages:
    344
    Location:
    Virginia

    Display name:
    Petehdgs
    When I had my Cherokee it had no wheel pants. I bought knots pants and had them fitted. It took awhile and I had occasion to fly it without the leg cowlings once. It took a lot more power and fuel during a 100kt cruise, but it would cruise there. After the wheel pants were fitted I could cruise as high as 115 kts TAS while burning more fuel, or I could cruise slightly faster than normal at the same fuel burn. The airplane looked good and flew well but the k2u pants are relatively heavy and I gave up some performance in the climb, but I gained some performance in cruise. I could never cruise at 115kts TAS before they were added. I didn't have any trouble on the grass airstips I used, I don't fly alot in snow so I can't speak to that.

    I made a special air chuck to fill the tires by bending a short piece of ridgid brake line into an S shape and adding a screw on Chuck and air hose fittings. Later I put a check valve, a Tee, and a pressure gauge on the air hose side and it worked pretty well. Without it adding air and checking the tires was a challenge. Hope this helps.

    I bought all the parts at Bumper-to-Bumper auto parts.
    Wheel Pants air chuck:
    500-4 air chuck head
    408ST tube as 8in
    121400 tube nut
    125420 1/4L 45 X 1/8 NPTm
    124520 1/4L str X 1/8 NPTm
    124420 1/4L str X 1/4 NPTm
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2022 at 8:18 PM
    3393RP, Kevin Holbrook and TomF like this.
  9. Gary Ward

    Gary Ward Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2020
    Messages:
    1,106
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Display name:
    Challenger1
    2 nights ago this picture was taken. 4 days before this I landed at this strip and the grass was 2 feet high in places, it was only halfway cut. I left with a ton of grass stuck in my mains. Would not have had that problem with wheel pants.
    I love landing anywhere without asphalt. Give me low and slow.
    My buddy sold his cheerokee and bought an arrow. He is afraid of grass now, his loss IMO. lol
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2022 at 1:00 PM
    Zeldman likes this.
  10. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Messages:
    3,478
    Location:
    CMI

    Display name:
    Insert cool name here
    Like this:
    IMG_20211014_124456094_HDR.jpg

    Flying club always runs pantsless on the trainer planes... hard landings tend to destroy them anyway. Nice for grass ops too. Book said they were worth 5 knots. The later ones after about 1975 or so are more efficient than the earlier ones. Taking them off for winter is probably a good idea. I like the look of wheel pants personally, but there's no denying they're a pain for maintaining tires & struts.
     
    Tom Wells and Gary Ward like this.
  11. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2018
    Messages:
    2,490
    Location:
    Bryan, Texas

    Display name:
    Mark
    3 nots is a lot on a hunnerd not aeroplane!

    B10F07C0-E42A-40E7-9CB2-B548D235C34E.jpeg
     
  12. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    19,627

    Display name:
    Bob Noel
    I had a Cherokee 140/160 for 18 years. The main reason (no pun) I took off the wheel pants was to save weight. The 140 simply doesn't have a lot of usual load, and mine was a bit heavier than most.

    I also save a few pounds by removing the rear seats.
     
    William Pete Hodges likes this.
  13. dbahn

    dbahn Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Messages:
    406
    Location:
    Vermont

    Display name:
    Dave Bahnson
    I hate them on my C206 and they're always in storage. The speed difference is tiny, particularly compared to the extra time it takes to manage correct tire pressure. The fuel savings is also relatively small, but can add up with full time usage.
     
  14. Pinecone

    Pinecone Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    May 24, 2022
    Messages:
    770
    Location:
    MD

    Display name:
    Pinecone
    There used to be a set of speed fairing for Cherokees that were supposed to be good for a good bit more speed. They were MASSIVE and covered the gear legs also.

    At the local FBO, they have a 7GCBC Citabria to fly. It is store in a hangar, unlike all the other rentals. The back wall of the hangar is covered with shelves, covered with wheel pants. WAY more than the rental fleet. :D
     
  15. Domenick

    Domenick Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Messages:
    1,117

    Display name:
    Domenick
    If you decide to run your mains pantless, then ensure your brake lines are well secured.
     
    Maxnr likes this.
  16. LesGawlik

    LesGawlik Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    May 6, 2006
    Messages:
    844

    Display name:
    Les
    From what I've read, pants on the mains do little or nothing for speed. Pant on the nose potentially makes a difference because of the higher velocity of propwash. Carefully designed nose pants made to minimize drag from the interference of the strut with the cowl can make a difference. But mostly they look cool.
     
  17. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    11,640
    Location:
    Maryland

    Display name:
    Check_my_Six
    I was always told to keep my pants on....:confused:
     
  18. Gary Ward

    Gary Ward Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2020
    Messages:
    1,106
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Display name:
    Challenger1
    That is no fun!!
     
  19. Shepherd

    Shepherd Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2012
    Messages:
    5,037
    Location:
    Hopewell Jct, NY

    Display name:
    Shepherd
    The best I was able to see was 2(ish) knots.
    Did the plane look better with them on? Yes it did.
    I land in the grass. A lot.
    Life is much easier since I took them off and put hub caps on.
    IMG_20210907_114556534_HDR.jpg IMG_20220524_104023532.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2022 at 9:44 AM
    Jim K, texasclouds and Gary Ward like this.
  20. Gary Ward

    Gary Ward Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2020
    Messages:
    1,106
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Display name:
    Challenger1
    Thought about that, but I was only able to come up with one that I found in my friends hangar.
    [​IMG]
    I think this is the type cap used with wheel pants? Then I would need a different nut also, right?

    [​IMG]
     
    Jim K likes this.
  21. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    19,627

    Display name:
    Bob Noel
    fwiw - I think the plane looks better without the wheelpants. A nose-wheel plane can look better with the pants, but the tail-dragger looks better without them.
     
    3393RP likes this.
  22. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2015
    Messages:
    8,753
    Location:
    Vail, Arizona

    Display name:
    Timbeck2
    I'm not a fan of the 1957ish styling of the Piper Cherokee wheel pants, especially the nose gear with the fin. And yes, it is a PITA to check tire pressure, but I still think it looks better with them on than off.
     
  23. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Messages:
    8,146

    Display name:
    asicer
    I wonder how it'd look with tundra tires.
     
  24. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2020
    Messages:
    1,373
    Location:
    Tampa FL

    Display name:
    Big Ed
    Pants keep your wing bottoms and belly clean by deflecting spray from the wheels. Like fenders on a bike. They are good for soggy grass strips and slushy runways. I generally keep mine off for local flying and install for longer XC trips. I have a taildragger so only have two fairings, but I can remove and reinstall both in less than 15 minutes.
     
    Maxnr likes this.
  25. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    4,088

    Display name:
    mondtster
    Your mechanic might thank you if you removed them, and perhaps the maintenance will cost less. Plus, I don’t think there’s a wheel pant design that I like the looks of aside from a few on newer airplanes.

    On a Cherokee, the speed difference with them off vs. on will be negligible. I took mine off almost immediately after getting the plane home.
     
    Maxnr likes this.
  26. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,101
    Location:
    79 Wistful Vista

    Display name:
    Pilawt
    The bigger wheel and brake fairings that Cessna and Piper introduced in the mid-late 1970s do make a significant difference in speed -- maybe 5-6 knots on a typical C-172 or PA-28, compared to 2-3 knots for the older styles. But they make it even more difficult to inspect and service landing gear components. The question about wheel fairings (and retractable landing gear, for that matter) becomes, will they ever save you as much time in the air as you spend fussing with them on the ground?

    Wheel fairings were not even available on Cherokees until the Cherokee B of late 1962, and even then they were only standard on the 180 hp model. The bigger factory fairings, introduced in 1978, were never available for the Cherokee 140, which was discontinued in 1977.

    It depends on the mission and operating conditions, too. I'd leave 'em off for operations on unimproved surfaces, snow, mud, ice, etc., where the fairings can get gunked up.

    N2800W_01.jpg

    pa-28-180_1963.jpg

    pa-28-161_1979_1204.jpg

    My C-172N had the big wheel/brake fairings, as does my current PA-32. On both, you have to access the tire valves through little knuckle-busting trap doors, and push/pull the airplane fore/aft on the ramp to line up the valve with the trap doors. :mad:
     
    MajorTurbulence and mondtster like this.
  27. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2020
    Messages:
    3,731

    Display name:
    Dale Andee
    That depends on the plane. Mine definitely looks better with the wheel pants on!
     
    Pugs likes this.
  28. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2015
    Messages:
    8,753
    Location:
    Vail, Arizona

    Display name:
    Timbeck2
    Oh look, is that eight zero zero "willy" as seen in the little movie about the husband and wife that take flight lessons unbeknownst to each other?
     
    Half Fast likes this.
  29. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,101
    Location:
    79 Wistful Vista

    Display name:
    Pilawt
    N2800W was s/n 28-03, the pre-production prototype PA-28-160 that first flew in 1960. The same airframe was later the certification-testing prototype for the Cherokee 180 and Cherokee 235 -- the only 235 ever built without tip tanks.

    pa-28-235_1964_1709.jpg
     
  30. William Pete Hodges

    William Pete Hodges Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2020
    Messages:
    344
    Location:
    Virginia

    Display name:
    Petehdgs
    Here is my old Cherokee with the Knots2U wheel pants installed.
    IMG_0702.JPG IMG_0700.JPG

    Here is a takeoff video.
     
    francisco collazos, Rgbeard and Jim K like this.
  31. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Messages:
    3,478
    Location:
    CMI

    Display name:
    Insert cool name here
    I kind of prefer them off
     
  32. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,101
    Location:
    79 Wistful Vista

    Display name:
    Pilawt
    Go big or go home! :p

    s-l640-1914286233.jpg
     
  33. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    8,659

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    Agree. Tail draggers should not have wheel pants, it befits the more utilitarian or classic look

    Everything else, yes. There are quite a few Cherokee series planes in our club and about 2/3 of them are missing the pants. I find the planes look ridiculous without the pants, they either look like an RG with the wheel stuck down, or look like an unfinished neglected mess

    My favorite 182 :eek:-yes I have one- has a set of wheel pants that look really sharp and complete the look of the airplane.
     
    Rgbeard likes this.
  34. islandboy

    islandboy Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2014
    Messages:
    279

    Display name:
    islandboy
  35. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,250

    Display name:
    BLW2
    I think about those old racers....like the Gee Bee and many others from those days.... wouldn't look right without the pants
     
  36. nauga

    nauga Administrator Management Council Member PoA Technical Administrator

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    Messages:
    3,426
    Location:
    The city of Townsville

    Display name:
    Mantis Toboggan, MD
    Some of us are more concerned with performance than appearance.

    [​IMG]

    Nauga,
    slick
     
    iamtheari, texasclouds and islandboy like this.
  37. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2020
    Messages:
    3,731

    Display name:
    Dale Andee
  38. Pinecone

    Pinecone Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    May 24, 2022
    Messages:
    770
    Location:
    MD

    Display name:
    Pinecone
    Disagree.

    MANY tailwheel aircraft look unfinished without them. Pitts, Eagle, Cap-10, Extra.

    Yes, mostly aerobatic aircraft.

    Utility aircraft, I pretty much agree no pants for them.
     
  39. WDD

    WDD En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Messages:
    3,780
    Location:
    Atlanta / KRYY

    Display name:
    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    I've always wondered why they didn't design pants to have an easy way to pop off a panel to check the air pressure and brakes. I'm guessing not wanting to take chances in the pant dropping off in the air, etc. I do prefer pant less main gear for the pre flight inspection.

    NOTE: Idea for new business venture. "Clinton Pants". Uncannily quick dropping pants for any airplane, anytime, anywhere.
     
    3393RP, NHWannabe, Zeldman and 4 others like this.
  40. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    8,659

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    ..you guys are all correct. When I think "tail wheel plane" instantly what comes to mind is something like a Cessna 180. But Extra, Sonex, RV, you're absolutely correct. They need the wheel pants.
     
    islandboy and Daleandee like this.