Comanche Idea Factory
Installing the K2U Luggage Door Strut
by Ryan Ferguson, PA-30B owner: http://www.fergworld.com
After a late night arrival into Rutherfordton, North Carolina, I was chocking the nosewheel when I heard an odd "banging" noise. I looked up to see my wife pulling furiously on the baggage door in an attempt to close it after removing our bags. "STOP!", I cried, "This airplane is 36 years old! You have to treat it GENTLY!" She just scowled at me and slammed the door shut. It was not the first time… her nemeses in the TwinCo are twofold, and they're both doors. The other is the cabin door but fixing it would be a big project so to start with, making life easier on me (and her), I decided to replace the tired old luggage door strut with a new pneumatic number manufactured by K2U.
The "luggage door strut" from K2U is for six-window model PA-30s, and it will, according to the documentation, also work on the PA-24 260 baggage doors. Knots2U sells the strut for $139. Web URL: http://knots2u.com/2430lug.htm
Before I go any further, a confession: I faithfully read the ICS Owner's Forum with a combination of respect and dismay. So many owners, it seems, have an innate mechanical ability with which I am simply not blessed. I have even been stymied just decowling my airplane! While I have made a little progress since those days, opening my cowls for a simple oil change still fills me with dread for fear of stripping or crossthreading a screw, trying to fit the wrong part into the wrong spot, or much more likely, finishing the job and having leftover parts! So usually I employ the help of an A&P friend of mine to guide me through such mechanical challenges.
However, when I received the package from Knots2U, I thought to myself, "Maybe… just maybe… I could do this myself." The package included the strut, rod guide, two screws, a warning placard, STC, and instructions. It really did seem simple.
So with wife in tow, I took my screwdriver to the hangar and got to work. First, have a look at the "before" photos.
Twin Comanche 8259Y, ready for the upgrade, with door strut kit in foreground.
The old rod and rod guide setup. Tends to fall on your head and is difficult to open and close, according to my wife.
The parts included with the kit.
Step one, according to the instructions, is to use duct tape to hold the door open while installing the strut. Great, I showed up at the airport with everything I need EXCEPT duct tape. I hunted some down, taped the door in the open position, and continued. Start by removing the rod from the rod guide and unthreading it from the clevis. You can do this part with fingers alone, no tools necessary.
Step two is to remove the rod guide by unscrewing the two screws attaching it to the airframe.
Step three is to bolt the new door bracket (which replaces the rod guide) into place with the two 10x32 x ˝" screws that are included with the kit (so far, I haven't even worked up a sweat!).
Step four is to screw the threaded end of the pneumatic strut finger tight. Wow, this is hard, about time to take a break… nah, we're almost home.
Step five calls for popping the socket on the strut into the ball joint on the door bracket. Guess we're done with the screwdriver already.
Finally, stick the "Emergency Strut Release" placard into place on the strut. Make sure it faces into the cabin.
Have a look at the finished product. There were no door clearance problems; the door opens and closes smoothly. A very nice improvement indeed over the original! Warning: brief your significant other on the new luggage door operation. It's advisable not to "force" the door to rise any faster than the strut will drive it. And last but not least, include the STC and maintenance manual in your aircraft logs; and be sure to talk with your A&P about the required 337 paperwork. It should be a breeze.
Strikingly beautiful, isn't it?
The finished product. The wife will be so pleased.