So I am plans building a CH650B and love the looks of the tail draggers that I have seen.  Andrew Elliot, I have a picture of yours over my desk as inspiration.  Yes, I like thousands of  others learned on a tricycle Cessna (I owned a 1976 150M).  I don't have any qualms about this, but some day I may sell this and build, lets say, a CH750.  I have been told that it is much harder to sell a tail dragger.

Since I am building, why not build so that I can have both configurations available. I keep thinking floats and skis may be a nice addition as well...  Any thoughts?  Andy, are you out there???

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If you really want a plane that is designed for that kind of flexability in configurations, build a Glastar or the 2 plus 2 growth version of the same plane. Here is the website for the builders/owners group.  It is a great plane. It will cost you more than a Zenith product but you will get the ability to go tailwheel, nosewheel, floats, skis at any time. To build that kind of flexibility into a Zenith plane would add a lot of weight and complication and corrupt the design, in my not so humble opinion...........



I'd recommend picking a landing gear configuration and building to that. If you started with a TD, it is almost impossible to change to the tri gear since there is so much that is different where the nose gear attaches in the firewall area. It would be a bit easier to go from tri gear to TD, but then you'd be carrying around extra weight. It would be possible to build to both, but not very practical.

One of the things that I love about the CH7xx and CH801 designs is that they sit on the ground as a tricycle, but within a second or two of adding power you have the nose up, and enjoy the skills test of the taildragger pilot.  Often, as we come into land in our 912iS powered 701 we are sitting in a 'tail dragger like' position over the ground, and then, as we roll out, we gently drop the nose to return to the safety of the tricycle gear.  

These aircraft already give the best of both worlds through their practical and efficient designs.  We love them!

This strikes me as a challenging project. Somehow, the main gear must be installed so you can move it, and get the center of gravity in front of it (tricycle gear) or behind it (tail dragger). Then, there's the issue of either making the nose gear removable, or carrying around the extra weight (in an LSA) when in the tail dragger configuration.

Why not just build two airplanes, one a taildragger, and one tricycle? (Except, or course, for the minor issue of money.)

The length (height) of the main gear is different whether TD or ND. You'd need both and change as needed, or add extensions to the ND main gear for TD use. Brake lines different, etc. Build two fuselages.

Okay, I want to thank all that have responded.  Even those that think I might be better off building another aircraft.  It's always good to keep an open mind.  Right now, I am starting my build of a plans built CH650.  Next time, (if i live that long) I will consider a different airframe.

As a plans (scratch) builder, I have a fair amount of flexibility over those of you that are building from a pre-manufactured kits or quickbuilds.  It goes without saying that a dual landing gear configuration aircraft will need two main gear struts (forward mounting for TD & rear mount for Tri-Gear), an entire tailwheel system, an entire nose gear system, a mount on the empennage for the tailwheel components (including cables if steerable), a place to mount the nosegear components on the firewall and cables for steering.  No, I would not carry these items on board to switch out.  This is a major job that would require log book entries, new W&B sheets, including many control systems and brakes to switch lines & bleed….

I have seen pictures of several 601’s on floats.  They also require a different gear mounting system.  I would imagine that those aircraft can not only be used on floats, but reconfigured for a wheeled undercarriage as well. 

This discussion was probably better suited for Zenith directly,  By posting this question, I was hoped that someone had crossed this bridge before.  If there is truly only one safe way to build, so be it.  I can live with it.  Beyond that, I was really looking for a evaluation of whether this idea is possible, beyond the issues of practicality.   I don't expect many to share my acceptance of the labor to build this option into a Zodiac, as well as someday, possibly investing in a duplicate set of gear.

If anyone has built a dual configured fuselage or seriously looked into this, my question remains, was it possible and if not, what were the structural conflicts.  Maybe it’s just a matter of building the main gear pocket and in two locations with structural support to cover both…  I have heard from Grove that it is a completely different main gear strut.  The information that Gail sent is below:

Stock 601XL (same for 650B?)

Overall width 77.5

Height to bottom of the gear 18.7

Top flat area 46.85


Gear that we built for AMD


Overall width 73.13

Height to bottom of the gear 20.7

Top flat area 46.85


601 TD


Overall width 70

Height to bottom of the gear 23

Top flat area 40

I am building a 601XLB Tailwheel version. I plan to use a Grove main gear set. My stock kit taildragger main gear leg set is available at a fair price if want it as one of your gearsets.


Thanks for the offer.  But I will say no for now.  It's likely that I don't need it for 2 years as I haven't cut my first part yet...

I am curious, does it match the dimensions given from Grove? 

601 TD


Overall width 70

Height to bottom of the gear 23

Top flat area 40


I believe some Kitfox airplanes can also go either way but can't believe it would be to simple.  it sure wouldn't be in a 650 since the gear structure is different.

One thing you haven't said is whether you have any taildragger experience.  They require a little more attention on takeoff and landing and some folks who've learned on tri-gear never get comfortable with them.  If you can handle it and like the capabilities of the taildragger then go for it.  True, if you decide to sell the plane later you have a smaller pool of potential buyers but I suspect that wouldn't be a big obstacle.

Me, I own a 1946 Aeronca Champ and enjoy tailwheel flying.  That said, I'm building my XL as a tricycle gear as I'll probably want to give my son-in-law and daughter some flight instruction in it. If they get licensed and later want to borrow the plane I'll feel a lot more comfortable sending them off in a tri-gear.

I know a guy who fearing he might lose his medical, sold his 182 and bought a Cub without discussing his plans with anyone. Despite the best efforts of a couple of instructors (including myself) he was never able to solo the aircraft and ended up selling it after two years.  Another fellow at our airport did the same thing with a Tomahawk, only he bought an experimental.   This second guy scared himself so bad that after two flights he was done.......Neither one of them made the transition successfully and neither one is flying now.



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