PA-22 Tri-Pacer Tailwheel Conversion Kit

Transforming a Great Airplane into a Great Bush Plane

Flying Milk Stool. Slow-Pacer. Flying Brick.

These are just some of the nicknames that have been attached to the Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer during its seven decades of service. If you’re a Tri-Pacer owner, you might be just a little bit sensitive about those less-than-flattering nicknames, and justifiably so. Because you know what many may not know about the Tri-Pacer: it ranks as one of the most capable and enduring of light airplanes ever manufactured.

The Tri-Pacer more than holds its own compared to its four-seat, single-engine competitors. When matched up against its arch-competitor, the Cessna 172 of similar vintage, the Tri-Pacer outperforms in nearly every category, including short-field performance, climb rate, and cruise speed. The rugged tube-and-fabric construction of the Tri-Pacer makes it far better able to survive and thrive in a backcountry environment.

None of this is news to you, a Tri-Pacer owner. But what you might not know is how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to make a great little bush plane even more durable, better-performing, and back-country capable.

Advantages of a PA-22 Tailwheel Conversion

Yes, the Tri-Pacer began life as a derivative of the PA-20 Pacer taildragger. But no, a Tri-Pacer converted into a taildragger is not simply a PA-22 converted into a PA-20. That’s because the Tri-Pacer is a refined version of the Pacer, and not just simply a Pacer with a nosewheel. Initially, and during its ten-year manufacturing run, the Tri-Pacer benefitted from numerous innovations, upgrades, and refinements that simply weren’t available on the Pacer.

So, if you convert your PA-22 into a tailwheel aircraft you won’t just have a Pacer, you’ll have a better Tri-Pacer. A Tri-Pacer better suited to the rigors and challenges of backcountry flying — and without 50 pounds of hardware dangling from its chin.

And though there are multiple Tri-Pacer conversion kits on the market, this is the one you want. Featuring the ability to couple PA-18 heavy-duty three-inch extended landing gear with Maule oleo struts, the result of the Trimmer conversion kit is a very rugged, backcountry-capable bush plane that thrives in off-airport environments.

Over the years, Airframes Alaska has earned a reputation for making the toughest heavy-duty, 3-inch extended landing gear on the market — gear that has been specifically designed for rough backcountry operations.

Trimmer Conversion Kit Details

Developed by Alaskan Eddie Trimmer, the Trimmer PA-22 Tri-Pacer Tailwheel Conversion Kit combines Trimmer’s STC with Airframes Alaska PMA parts. The foundation of the kit is a 1.5" Axle 3" extended PA-18 landing gear, along with Maule oleo shock struts (No more PITA — and sometimes terrifying — shock bungee replacements!). 

Once the Trimmer Conversion STC SA02345AK is implemented and your PA-18 heavy-duty, 3-inch extended landing gear is installed your converted PA-22 Tri-Pacer has a lot of flexibility in the final configuration of your conversion, particularly with wheel, brake, and tire selection.

ABI Wheels and Brakes

Two options are available. Your choice will depend on whether you value weight savings more, or prefer the greater strength made possible with extra bolts reinforcing the wheels. Both of these kits utilize the ABI 30-52N brake assemblies, and use Airframes Alaska’s STC SA02576AK for installation.

  • ABI-199-62 kit: Features a 3-bolt wheel assembly which makes this choice the lightest option.
  • ABI-199-62A kit: Features a 6-bolt wheel assembly which makes this choice the strongest option.

 Alaskan Bushwheels

These are the Tundra Tire of choice in Alaska and are available in a range of configurations, varying in size and thickness of tread. The best tire choice for you will depend upon the surfaces from which you’ll be flying your conversion.

If you are occasionally operating on pavement, the Airstreak 26” or 29” tires will both be great choices. But if you operate exclusively on grass strips or off-airport, either the classic or heavy tread are likely your best choice. (The heavy tread offers a longer lifespan but comes with a slight increase in tire weight.)

ABI 3200 Tailwheel Assemblies 

The PMA'd direct replacement Scott 3200 Series Tailwheels utilizes an 8 inch wheel and are built for 1.75” width leaf springs but offer the flexibility to be used with a 1.25” or 1.5” with a leaf spring adapter. The Baby Bushwheel provides the ultimate in backcountry performance, offering superior flotation and control in soft, rough, off-airport environments.

Tailwheel assembly options for your conversion include: 

If You Want a Great Backcountry Airplane for Minimal Cost…

Whether you already own a Tri-Pacer or are in the market for one (thousands are still flying), you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the combo of performance and utility vs. cost that an Airframes Alaska Trimmer-converted Tri-Pacer offers.

While you’re at it, you might want to consider further modernizing and strengthening your Tri-Pacer conversion by replacing the original corrosion-and-crack-prone steel lift struts with our PA-22 Aluminum lift struts. Our aluminum struts are stronger, weigh less, are completely corrosion resistant, and eliminate concerns about complying with Airworthiness Directive 99-01-05. 

And don’t forget: If you wish, you can recoup a portion of the conversion cost by selling your no-longer-needed nose gear. (At the time of this writing, a quick internet search shows used Tri-Pacer nose gears listed for roughly $1,000 to $1,500.)

Everyone knows that there’s no such thing as ‘cheap’ in aviation. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good deals to be had. And an Airframes Alaska Trimmer-converted Piper Tri-Pacer is as good a bargain as you’re likely to find if want a great performing, off-airport airplane for a modest investment.

Related Products

PA-22 Trimmer Tri-Pacer Conversion Kit

$1,735.00 CAD

PA-18 HD Landing Gear Set

$3,180.00 CAD

Maule Oleo Struts with Internal Spring Packs

$5,154.00 CAD

ABI-199-62 Wheel & Brake Kit

$4,432.00 CAD

ABI-199-62A Wheel & Brake Kit

$5,263.00 CAD

PA-20/22 Aluminum Lift Struts

$4,537.00 CAD

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