Miniplane harness strap modification and repair
by Had Robinson
An annoying problem with the Miniplane harness is that the strap assembly used to adjust the height of the frame on the pilot's back (when launching/landing) often will break right at the buckle if the pilot is thin/small. This is because the harness is designed for average/big pilots who bear more weight on the main harness straps. For the thin/small pilot, the height adjustment straps carry much more weight than normal – and tend to break more often.
Merely replacing the buckle with a new one is not the best
solution as it will just break the next time the pilot has a harder than
usual landing, has a collapse, or does an advanced maneuver in the air where
high G's are created.
A temporary fix can be had by using (2) nylon zip ties to hold the parts of the buckle together. This can work for quite a while until the buckle breaks where the webbing enters it.
A permanent fix is easy to do and costs $4 or less. At any time, the fix can be reversed and the old or replacement buckle used.
1. Remove the broken buckle assembly from the strap and the frame.
You will have to drill out the rivet in order to remove the male section of
the buckle from the frame. Use a drill bit the same size as the center
hole in the rivet.
2. Purchase a 3" x 75 lb working load limit, non-locking carabiner from a hardware store.
3. Tie a bowline knot in the end of the strap with the correct length, clip the large end of the carabiner around the horizontal bar below the original buckle attachment point, and clip the loop into the carabiner. If you want to protect the paint on the bar, wrap black electrical tape around the point of contact. If you want to have it look a little better, a buckle identical to the buckle above it can be used to adjust the strap rather than a simple knot.
It is that simple. In case there is a severe load on the carabiner (very hard landing or severe maneuver), it will break before damaging the frame.
Always fly safely.