Day 754 – Christmas Eve in Ashland
One of the most important features on an airplane is the brakes. This is especially true of tail-draggers like the Husky. Given the stall speed of the Husky is something like 40 knots it’s not so much a matter of stopping as one of steering. Without the brakes, called toe-brakes because you actuate them with the rudder pedals by tipping the pedals forward with your toes, steering a tail-dragger is next to impossible.
The brakes on most planes are the same as the brakes on most cars and motorcycles, they’re hydraulic disc brakes. On small planes the brakes are like those on motorcycles, you control the left and the right (as opposed to the front and rear on bikes) independently. This is key for steering and for safety… lose a seal on the left toe brake and the right continues to function. This is essentially what happened a while back with my rudder pedals for the simulator…. all of a sudden the left toe brake stopped working. This happened at an inauspicious moment whilst landing the Husky… i think at Crescent City.
At first i thought it was an equipment failure thrown by the sim. X-Plane monitors dozens (over 100 on some planes) of aircraft systems and can throw failures at any time. But after managing to stop and clear the active runway with just the right brake i checked the systems and they were all working. Hardware failure!
So, i’ve been planning to buy a new set of pedals for months now, but they’re not cheap. So today i finally decided to open up the pedals and see what the problem was. Sure enough… after getting the thing apart, it was just a busted wire. Just like a failed hydraulic line, the hair-thin wire leading from the left brake potentiometer had failed. A bit of soldering and a bunch of cursing (it was hard to get the unit back together with only two hands) later my brakes are back in service. There’s $150 saved for now.
So, for this Christmas i got myself the gift of a left toe brake. Now it’s time to take Annette to brunch!