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Source of cheaper steering springs?

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Tiger Tim

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You know the tailwheel steering compression springs typical of basically every tube and fabric taildragger? I probably need a set. I’m sure I can order them from ACS but was wondering if there was a more local, off-the-shelf supplier of the same thing. Perhaps a stock number to check out at the nearest Plane Depot?
 

TFF

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I stuck these on my plane. Not flown but almost identical to the originals that were airplane parts.

Everbilt 1-9/16 in. x 7-3/4 in. Zinc-Plated Porch Spring-15641 - The Home Depot Might be a little long
 

Tiger Tim

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I stuck these on my plane. Not flown but almost identical to the originals that were airplane parts.
That’s basically what I’m trying to replace. I believe in leaving a little slack in the tailwheel steering so if something breaks the wheel still casters straight instead of pulling to one side. Unfortunately the slack lets the open ends of a tension spring slip off every so often. I do a bit of tailwheel instruction on this plane (not required in Canada btw so a homebuilt is kosher for the job) so fewer spring pop offs are better.
 

rv7charlie

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More to the point, if you break one of those extension springs, you'll be in the weeds as soon as you input any steering request. It'll only steer one direction, and won't respond in the other. (My only excursion off a runway happened after an A&P 'half repaired' the breakaway tailwheel on an old Luscombe.)

If a compression spring breaks, steering just gets a little more 'sloppy'; you don't totally lose control. And breakage is less likely, since the spring can never be hyper-extended, fatiguing it.
Visual example here:
Spring & Chain Door Retainer, Aluminum
But you should be able to buy one at any hardware/big box store.
 

Dana

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If a compression spring breaks, steering just gets a little more 'sloppy'; you don't totally lose control. And breakage is less likely, since the spring can never be hyper-extended, fatiguing it.
My Hatz has the compression springs. A couple of weeks ago one of the retainer clips apparently broke, the plane swerved a bit but I had enough airspeed still for the rudder to catch it. The spring was still there, intact, but the clip on the rudder arm and the long U-shaped piece inside the spring were AWOL. Fortunately I was able to scrounge some steel wire of the appropriate size to make new parts to get home.
 

Tiger Tim

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Well colour me surprised, the getup currently on the plane is sold by ACS as “Aeronca Springs.” Seeing as they’re on a homebuilt Champ I guess maybe they’ll stay. I still don’t like em but perhaps I ought to look into how Aeronca secured the things before I go throwing parts at the problem.
 

rv7charlie

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Maybe there's a hint to your problem in the ACS descriptions of various spring setups. In the description of their generic compression springs here, they say,
"Original tension type springs keep rudder post under continuous tension which wears the hinges. Compression type springs keep rudder neutral - no tension on post." Perhaps the tension springs you've been using are intended to be under constant tension. Leaving the chains slightly slack would allow the link to fall off the hook.

You might be able to kludge something up similar to this on the end of the hook as a retainer (assuming you could find or make one big enough), but a compression style spring seems simpler.
 

Tiger Tim

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That’s true I could either keep them in tension, which I don’t like, or fabricobble some way to close the loops on the end.
 

rv7charlie

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Or, replace them with hardware store compression springs. :-> The compression springs have effectively closed loops on the ends; the links can't fall off unless something breaks.
 

Bill-Higdon

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My Hatz has the compression springs. A couple of weeks ago one of the retainer clips apparently broke, the plane swerved a bit but I had enough airspeed still for the rudder to catch it. The spring was still there, intact, but the clip on the rudder arm and the long U-shaped piece inside the spring were AWOL. Fortunately I was able to scrounge some steel wire of the appropriate size to make new parts to get home.
I've seen some recent installs with a loop of cable in them as a fail safe
 

Tommy222

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Mar 23, 2019
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the best I’ve found are from Maule, small Caribbeaner (?) drilled for cotter pins to keep it from loosening. Maule uses two different size springs to stop shimmying.
I’ve seen the old style clips pull out and separate. Still don’t know what they did to make it do that but seen it. Was on a Pacer with a Scott TW.
 
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