My trip to Alaska spurred me to look for ways to increase the prop-to-ground clearance of my Sportsman. Since increasing the size of the main tires was fairly straightforward with the Sportsman’s six inch wheels, the debate was between making a new nose gear fork and installing a larger front tire versus modifying the existing fork to raise the nose of the airplane.
A big 6.00×6 nose wheel with 8.50×6 mains would have given me more clearance and looked very bush plane-like, but I ultimately decided that it was going to be too much of a project given the time remaining before the trip. Thus the decision to keep the existing nose wheel and lift the nose won the day.
I can’t really claim to be original, since a number of GlaStar owners have made similar mods, but as far as I know I am the first Sportsman driver to do this. I just had Ed Zaleski machine some side plates that we bolted onto the standard nose wheel fork. These allowed the front axle to be lowered by two inches, which raised the nose by the same amount. This worked perfectly with 8.00×6 mains to keep the plane level.
We used 2024-T3 aluminum for its strength and easy availability. The material is 5/8 inch thick overall, with one half the thickness milled away on the upper half. The mod also required a longer axle bolt, which fortunately Aircraft Spruce had in stock.
The Alaska trip provided the test for the modification. After a number of dirt strip landings all parts were sound and working well and the propeller only suffered one tiny nick. I would rate it a total success.