Method of Brake Application With Nose Wheel Steering

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GESchwarz

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What is the best configuration for brake control on a plane with nose wheel steering?

Is steering with brakes better than nose wheel steering, if so, why?

I would guess that steering with the brakes is going to generate a lot more heat than if steering is done by the nose wheel.
 
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TFF

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Steering with brakes is easier to build than direct nose steering. The Grumman/ RV caster nose is easy to make. It does have one plus which is ground turn radius is better. Direct steering is has more control, you not “hoping” it goes straight like castering. The caster type is harder on brakes and steering is a little like a tail wheel plane without the ground loop. Direct is more like steering a car. In reality adapting to either is not a hard thing.
 

GESchwarz

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Thank you TFF.

Now, what do the controls for a braking system look like? Is it a pedal on the floor? Is it a hand lever? Is it attached to the rudder pedals but the two sides are plumbed together?
 

Vic Bottomly

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Thank you TFF.

Now, what do the controls for a braking system look like? Is it a pedal on the floor? Is it a hand lever? Is it attached to the rudder pedals but the two sides are plumbed together?
If you can, look at brake pedals in most any older designed tricycle airplane, like a Cessna or Piper. Right and left independent brakes attached to rudder pedals.
Independent brakes help a lot for steering into tight places with nose wheel steering.
 

BJC

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Steering with brakes, a castering nose wheel and a decent rudder is easy much of the time. If, however, a long taxi on pavement with a stiff crosswind is required, care must be taken to avoid overheating the brakes, and, by extension, plastic tubing attached to the brakes.

The Piper Tripacer has direct nose wheel steering and a single brake cylinder under the panel with a simple pull lever.


BJC
 

Pops

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I know of an airplane hitting a hanger because the runway surface was wet.
 

TFF

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You want conventional brakes on the pedals. There are arguments for heel brakes and one pedal like an Ercoupe, levers, but conventional is best overall. You don’t want to fight previous training. That’s how you ditch something you are unfamiliar with. Either steering, holding one brake will pivot tight. Just tighter with the castering. Crosswind can be a challenge with caster because the inside brake to the wind will be doing the work. Airplane brakes are technically one per flight use. Taxi back to takeoff is a cool down along with the pattern. You don’t drag the brakes on any plane if you don’t have too, they will build up heat faster than dissipate. My friend melted the brake caliper o ring on each of his RVs with a four mile taxis at Oshkosh at arrival. Didn’t know until departure. It is surprising hard to find the $2 O ring there.
 

Dan Thomas

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Some castering nosewheels have an anti-shimmy caster drag brake on the pivot, making precise steering a real pain. The nosewheel caster is sticky. The Cessna 400/Corvalis/ttX is this way. Some tailwheels (Scott) also have an anti-shimmy brake that also makes it a pain to steer if it isn't set exactly right.

Riding the brakes is a good way to get rid of money. I had to replace too many brake linings and discs when students got into the (very bad) habit of taxiing at 1000 RPM and using the brakes to control the speed. Metallic linings (Clevelands, McCauleys and their clones) will try to weld to that disc when they get so hot, and that raises burrs on the disc that really eats up the lining after that.

I wouldn't want a castering nosewheel for that reason. Shoot, I wouldn't want a nosewheel at all.

The worst-steering airplane I every taxiied was the Rockwell Commander 690. Turbine twin. The nosegear had a hydraulic cylinder that steered the nosewheel, and it was plumbed to the brakes. Tap one brake and the airplane would steer that direction and keep going that direction until you tapped the other brake. You end up zigzagging down the taxiway. And if you hold one brake to make a tight turn, the whole system can lock up in that position if it isn't rigged properly and now you're stuck. I think the piston gets past the opposite input port at extreme travel so that application of either brake just holds the piston hard at that end. Dumb.
 

Pops

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The craziest system that I have seen is the Nanchang CJ-6. Full castering nose wheel. Has a rudder bar. Hand brake on the stick to a 1/16" cable to an air valve. With the rudder bar straight the hand brake sends air to both main brakes. After you move the rudder bar so far either direction, the air is just sent to a brake on one side. Retractable gear is air, flaps are air and starter is air. M-14P engine.

If the little 1/16" cable from the stick breaks. You lost brakes and steering. On the neighbors Nanchang, I installed a backup handbrake for the stick hand brake. Used an Ercoupe handbrake on the panel. One time he was taxing to the ramp at an airport in OK and the 1/16" cable broke and almost ran into a hanger before he got the engine shut down.
 

Tiger Tim

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In the world of light turboprops (ie. light, simple, and very robust systems that can fly a lot) the standard seems to be rudder pedal controlled nosewheel steering and toe brakes built into the rudder pedals. In a lot of cases there’s a spring in the steering linkage that allows turning up to around 15° with pedals alone and much further with additional brake application. My beloved Rice Rocket has no such springs and the nosewheel turns in direct proportion to pedal input only; excellent for maneuvering in tight quarters but unforgiving of having the rudder perfectly centred on nosewheel touchdown.
 

Mad MAC

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Hmmm given the complications of mechanical nose wheel steering, electric steering must at least break even or better, weight & complications wise (using an airliner style tiller, maybe with limited castering)*. Anyone seen any examples?

*nose wheel steering on a twin is "easy" they don't have all that other stuff in the way like a single engine aircraft
 

TFF

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Aerostars have electric steering. I know someone trying to sell a VK30 project if you want painful complicated homebuilt. It uses a Piper Retractable nose gear. Mains are Lake. Plus or minus on this level is small on direct steering and castering. Simple gettthe job done. Direct steering is nice, but if I was designing I would be stealing from an RV so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, so they say. I would buy the gear and mount and cut what I don’t need off and modify, or just go with it if it works as is.
 
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