How do you find the landing gear (all three identical) in terms of
ride, maintainability and durability? Is yours one of early models
with smaller wheels or the later ones with all 6x6 wheels?
The landing gear on my airplane has the 500-5 tires and still retains the original Emigh Pat. landing gear oleo struts. My airplane was crash landed early in it's life and the axle/struts have a reinforcing patch that precludes the use of the larger tires. The struts work well but occasionally stick like most struts.( ie PA28 series) . The Emigh struts are unique in that the O ring sealing surface is the inside of the axle tube, therefore the condition of the external surface of the oleo does not effect sealing. However these steel surfaces, the inner and outer tubes do slide against each other and any dirt will cause sticking. I fashioned a simple boot from Black SCAT tubing and this made a tremendous difference in smooth operation. My airplane has been converted to Cleveland wheels and brakes(original Goodyear) and these work great. The center mounted single heel brake pedal is very awkward and takes some getting use to. The main landing gear scissors and wing mounting are all castings and if one should crack or break you will need a friend with a machine shop. They look delicate but have proven adaquate in operation. The nose gear is significantly different than the main gear and few parts are interchangable. There is no shimmy dampner installed how ever I have never experienced any shimmy. I have read pilot reports indicating some problems. The nose gear on this airplane is heavy loaded, this is the only single engine airplane I've seen that will not fall down on it's tail with the engine removed. There is no way to hold the nose off after landing for more than a short period. I inspect the nose gear castings frequently and again they look delicate (Magnesium) but have held up well for me.
I have heard that the plane can be a little daunting in a spin,
recovers well but spins fast and easily and loses a lot of altitude in
a hurry. Thoughts?
I really can not answer this question because I have never spun the airplane and have no desire to do so. I have a Pitts Special for aerobatics. A few observations, the airplane has a 0012 symetrical airfoil to make the wings interchangeable,the CG range is very narrow 82.8 to 85.2, the elevator is rigged with only 15 degrees of down travel, the fin is too small , the airplane has very low yaw stability and limited rudder travel. My airplane breaks sharply to the right with very little warning and power off the nose is very slow to drop even with full forward stick. Power on the stalls are more docile due to the airflow over the tail. Other than the lack of pre stall warning the airplane is no worse than a straight Grumman Yankee. Please note that in the airplane flight manual INTENTIONAL SPINS ARE PROHIBITED. Returning to your question, in my experience the airplane would be a lot daunting in a spin, may recover well may not?, I'm sure the rate of spin rotation would be very fast with large altitude loss.
The canopy design seems elegantly simple, but how do the sliding sections work in practice?
The canopy is simple and works well, it is different than an Ercoupe in that the sections do not slide down into the fuselage sides but up and over to the other side. Only one side can be open at a time, I always brief my passanger that if we both try to get out at the same time ,no one will get out. In the summer I fly with the sides open about 1 inch for ventilation, if I open it more than about 6 inches it causes a vibration from the tail that I don't like.
Overall, how would you compare this aircraft to other early tri-gear planes, say the Ercoupe or an early Cessna 150?
When people ask me about the Trojan I often compare it to a Cessna 150. The 90 HP Trojan airplane has almost identical cruise performance. The mistake often made is trying to make an airplane into something it will never be. The Trojan is a 30 minute evening airplane with an occasional cross country. It will not go IFR, it is not STOL, but if you don't load it up with crap(gyros, radios, lights, instruments, etc.) but keep it light (as possible) it is a wonderful, safe , reliable airplane. Its takeoff and landing performance is very similar to an Ercoupe(that will spin). My only caution is if you are not mechanically inclined or have a great mechanic that understands old airplanes, I would procede with caution. The airplane contains a number of magnesium castings , any one of which would ground the airplane if cracked or broken.There are NO spare airframe parts available.(to my knowledge) With any airplane of this vintage(people were smaller back then) you have to try one on. I'm 6:0 and it is too small for me in regards to leg room. Any more than 1+30 hrs gets painful. However for what I use it for it's just fine.