Cold and Dark — Cessna Control Wheels

The new control wheels arrived swiftly and were taken upstairs to my shop for their grand unboxing.  

I like unboxing and who does not? With brand new products there's always a shock value when an object previously only seen in pictures is suddenly very real and somehow always somewhat different than imagined. 

Bigger, smaller, heavier, lighter, uglier, prettier, more substantial, a waste of good money even...

These pair of old warriors with their chipped paint and modifications were not at all as expected. They were really surprising. Cold and dark — and very heavy. They were so much heavier than expected that for a moment I thought they were made of steel. A run around with magnet denied this and confirmed the only parts made of steel were the shafts. 

Simple dimensions are 11 inches width x 6 inches height. 

These castings are heavy duty. Of aluminium, they were cast in one piece with an average wall thickness of about a quarter-inch excepting the face which is a little thinner. The pilot's wheel has a socket on top of the left hand grip for a push-to-talk switch and an exit hole at bottom for its cable. The hand grips were hollow cast, though I say this with some uncertainty because although an audible tap test with the shaft of a screwdriver seems to confirm this, there are no visible vent holes except for those on the pilot's left hand grip.  

The weight of the unmodified wheel is 2lb 13oz 8 drams, the modified one 2lb 12oz. I think that the weight of the removed rubber and aluminium alone would account for this one and a half ounce difference. If only the pilot's left grip were hollow, then the difference in weight would be greater than this. 

The first thing that I did was remove the rubber pad from the pilots wheel because it obscured the modification below and was a little loose anyhow. I could see the modification on the Ebay listing but had no clue what it was for. Turns out that it was for an instrument. The seller then confirmed that it was for a standard 2 1/2 inch clock.

The pad had been removed for the clock modification and glued back on after completion of it. The glue was very old and tired and it came away without having to wrench it off! 

I suppose that I am now in the market for an old wind up aviation clock...

The reverse view shows a 1/8 inch thick sheet aluminium plate bolted to the casting which provides a strong and secure base for the control shaft. The tapered control shaft 'mounts' (probably have a name!) are turned from aluminium and are 2 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches in length.  

I will come to the shafts themselves (or rather their truncated modified stubs) at a later date when I must fit full length shafts to them — which will certainly become a technical exercise worthy of a full blog post! For now I'll explain one more important detail noticed after unboxing and that is that the control shaft 'mounts' can be adjusted in height.

The mounts have four bolts on their reverse sides which pass through matching holes drilled through the supporting plate. There are two columns of six of these holes which means that there are four possible positions available for the control shaft centres relative to the wheels. Here they are positioned at full height but I could have them centred or up to 2 inches lower if necessary.

A clever ergonomic touch!  



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