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Thread: Colt - no leg solutions?

  1. #1
    wa9als's Avatar
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    Default Colt - no leg solutions?

    I looked at a beautifully restored Colt today but, at 6'3", my knees were right at the yoke. You could barely turn it a little bit. The only way to get my knees out of the way was to cross my legs at the ankle, but then of course my feet were not on the rudder pedals. This colt had been modified with toe brakes, and I think that moved the foot position aft, raising the knees. I didn't even get a ride in the plane! Is there any solution for this in the Colt, or is it only for shorter people? THANKS - John

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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    Hey

    I am 6 ft even and logged 4 hours of Colt time in October. Did you put the seat all the way back? Maybe it is the toe brakes.

    My Pacer has plenty of leg room for me.

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    pistoncan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    Quote Originally Posted by wa9als
    I looked at a beautifully restored Colt today but, at 6'3", my knees were right at the yoke. You could barely turn it a little bit. The only way to get my knees out of the way was to cross my legs at the ankle, but then of course my feet were not on the rudder pedals. This colt had been modified with toe brakes, and I think that moved the foot position aft, raising the knees. I didn't even get a ride in the plane! Is there any solution for this in the Colt, or is it only for shorter people? THANKS - John
    John, Yes its the toe brakes. you have to move the rudder bar aft 2+inches to make room for the master cylinders. The PA22 didn't have alot of leg room to start with. I would think you could fold yourself into a colt without toe brakes barely.
    On the Short Wing clubs home page there is a link to a article on extending the pilots seat back aft 1 1/2 inches which helps some but its still a problem. I am 6-4 and I can sit in the middle of the front seat with my feet on the two outboard pedals and I am comfortable. That is the primary reason I redesigned my experimental wagabond as a tandem. I hope this helps Gary

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    Administrator Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    Going back to the standard brakes will give you 2" like Gary said. I have the parts if you decide on that route.

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    Stephen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    What style of yoke does the Colt have? My originial T-Pacer had a rams horn yoke that would hit my knees sometimes. I'm 6'4" and have reconfigured to a Pacer and removed the rams horn yokes to get more leg room.
    "You can only tie the record for flying low."

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    deandayton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    Quote Originally Posted by pistoncan
    On the Short Wing clubs home page there is a link to a article on extending the pilots seat back aft 1 1/2 inches which helps some but its still a problem.
    I don't think this will work on a Colt. The Colt has structural tube from side to side right behind the seats. When my seats are fully aft they are almost touching this tube. I'm sure Piper had a reason for putting this tube in, but it sure gets in the way when loading baggage or climbing in and out for during maintenance.

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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    I have often wondered why Piper added this tube. I had a Colt fuselage in here years ago and should have paid closer attention. JW, any ideas?

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    wa9als's Avatar
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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    Thanks, everyone. This plane is incredible, but I'm painfully coming to the conclusion that it's not the right one for me. Next best thing a Tri-Pacer?
    -John

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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    I'm not sure if the TriPacer would give you much more legroom - sounds like the toe brakes are the biggest problem. I just bought a Colt over the weekend, and used to own a Tripacer. I've got the opposite problem (short and usually run my seat up to the first stop). Maybe I need toe-brakes?

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    Default Re: Colt - no leg solutions?

    This subject slays me. I am 74 1/4" in bare feet, and while the top of my David Clark has a tendency to lightly scrub the headliner when I get "hunkered up" for a landing, I really don't have any difficulty with legroom whatsoever in a ShortWing. That being said, there are "airplanes that have been altered", and there are "airplanes that have been altered POORLY". Please allow me a few words about this...

    First, A stock Piper-built PA-22-108 Colt has EXACTLY the same interior dimensions as a stock PA-22, a PA-22-135 and a PA-22-150 or -160, but no "second row seating". I need to qualify this statement, because several things were done over the full production that "widened" the shoulder "beam" (speaking only of the measurement between "contact points" -or- "usable room") but the basic airframe structure is the same. As far as "legroom", the front seat mount structure is located in exactly the same place ("station") on all the -20s and -22s (the Vagabond is roughly eight inches shorter nose-to-tail and the detail measurements are pretty much "straight line" rather than "logarithmic" in their differences) from the datum (either one you want to use). One thing has to be realized...the "swing" of the rudder pedals HAS TO be enough that neither the rudder pedals themselves or the brake operating "stuff" can contact the firewall, thus restricting their movement. This is CAST IN STONE. More clearance is NOT "required", and therein lies the problem (I believe). When the Clipper was built, the rudderbar was located [approximately] and inch and a half behind the firewall, and this was perfectly adequate for the master cylinders that were popular at the time and the geometry of the nifty way Piper put toe brakes on their rudder pedals. Piper kept this location all the way through the PA-22 Series and right up through the PA-22-108 airplanes (no TriPacers were built after 1960, the Colts were 1961 through '63. Some airplanes were "completed paperwork-wise" in the first couple months of 1964 and were registered as 1964 models, but there WAS NO 1964 Production Year for Colts! Only 1964 registrations). To enhance crashworthiness (and put a stop once and for all to the accusation that Piper seats could "fall over backward in flight" if improperly "installed", and they could) they added the cross tube behind the front seats. This had a little to do with the baggage compartment location being where the rear passengers "used to be", as well. It stiffened the compartment when the streamlined tube that held up the rear seat was removed.

    Okay, back to "legroom"! When Light Plane Components came out with their taildragger STC using Cessna cast brake pedals they originally just ADDED NEW TOPS to the existing rudder pedals ("off with their heads!" and on with the new). When they THEN went (I believe Univair did this afeter purchasing the STC, but MAY BE wrong on my "time line") to the Cessna type cast rudder pedal/brake one-piece pedals and Cleveland master cylinders, they found that there was a potential interference issue with contacting the firewall when full travel on either pedal AND full brake on that side was applied. The solution was ridiculously simple: Move the rudderbar aft so that the REAR bolthole of the original was the FORWARD bolthole or the new installation, and you gained about one more inch and a half of "basic swing room", and you SEEMINGLY lost that same amount to "legroom". Now, if the rudder cables were "sized" so that the same "adequate clearance to the firewall" was obtained, then as far as the geometry of the pilot's seating position is concerned, the was NO NET CHANGE in effective legroom with feet on the pedals! Yes, the rudderbar is aft back [slightly LESS than] the aforementioned two inches, but the change in legroom is unnoticeable IF the pedals slant forward a corresponding amount, as in: when correctly installed. Blah blah blah on what happens historically up until the William's Toe Brake mod came along, but that STC "drops in" a toe brake pre-assembled unit into the front of the footwell (the floor actually gets trimmed away and the mounting base replaces it) and guess where the rudderbar pivots in comparison to the original Pacer? Just about the exact same location as the LPC/Univair mod puts it! Now, it is quite possible that when initially installed, the legroom can be DRASTICALLY reduced! There is enough "travel" in the William's type setup that the rudder cables can be incorrectly "sized" that the pedals are WAY too much "straight up", or "tilted back", and there is still enough REARWARD swing for the rudder to travel stop-to-stop. Thing is, when "I" sit down at one of these "incorrectly installed" setups, my feet just "DO NO DO IT". I cannot position my feet in that way, at that angle, for more than about three seconds before I have to get out of the airplane and say "that is NOT RIGHT and I cannot fly it that way." Actually, with the pedals "straight up like that", they are "so far back" that I cannot even RIDE in it without my knees blocking the yoke, and THAT is because I have to slide my feet back and that raises my knees to where they block the yoke swing. I have the exact same problem (and one more as well) when I ride with a friend in his 1951 Pacer. He has the original "bench seat" and he is somewhere around 5'4" and uses cushions under his butt and behind his lower back. He runs the seat all the way forward, and this binds me up in the right side SO BAD that as I get older, I cannot stay "out of the way anymore" on landing, and I cramp up wickedly. With his (the WHOLE) seat back, this is no issue whatsoever for me except that he cannot reach to operate the rudder pedals or brakes. Oh, the "other problem" under these conditions is that it is all but physically impossible for me to GET OUT OF THE AIRPLANE when seated on the right side and the seat forward. There is just NO PLACE to get room to fold myself "upward" to get my right foot out of the airplane first. (Wah!). I have to just about lay across his chest to get out! Unnerving for BOTH of us, lemme say!

    I have seen one ShortWing where the owner decided he need more padding under his tookas, so he had foam added. The same issues as the seat being too far forward make that unusable for me at 6'2". He's about 5'7" and so is his Wife (ahhh! "Standard FAA people"!!!) and they wouldn't change it if you paid them. Still, I wish I would stop hearing that "these airplanes are no good for a tall guy with "aftermarket toe brakes installed". I have done all of the above mods, and can get in and out of any of those airplanes with no noticeable "adjustment required due to legroom" issues. I can fly 'em for hours with no leg problems, no sore ankles and no cramping from having to hold my feet in some uncomfortable angle. But I HAVE seen "these airplanes" that have indeed felt this way. Once again, there is a BIG DIFFERENCE in "doing something" and "doing something RIGHT". A friend of mine is 6'5" (and "naturally built"- except for his shoe size ) and he says the legroom in my taildraggin' Colt is just about "at his comfort threshold and not beyond", but he feels he has to "Stoop some, and could use a little more headroom but he can do it for a couple hours before he has to get out and walk around." If you have a "somewhat unusual" physique with "a shorter torso" and yet you still top 6 feet, you MIGHT be beginning to get to the "need more" stage of a PROPERLY INSTALLED "two inches back" rudderbar. My tailored pants have 35 1/2" inseams and there is room enough to spare for me, with the seat back, sitting upright and comfortably. But look, let's please all just stop saying you "lose the legroom" when you do these mods. Unless you are built like Wilt -the Stilt- Chamberlain (who advertised for Volvo once that they were the only car with enough headroom for him and he wouldn't buy anything else) you SHOULDN'T have any complaints from "stock"... unless something is "not right". And...of course, there ARE people of "more average height" with "longer than standard issue" legs that may have issues, but you can't blame an airplane designed to be used by the Standard Person of 5'7" height and weighing 170 pounds (and reasonable variances) if it doesn't fit. And... the centerline of the rudderbar IS moved aft, but the clearance to firewall SHOULD BE THE SAME when fully deflected and your heel can never reach the rudderbar that is mounted on the floor, anyways. Personally I can not fully understand the need for an extra couple inches of seat "back", if everything is according to Hoyle (but that is just me!). If you are really "size challenged", then maybe a ShortWing just wouldn't be "right" for you. Try on a Piper PA-38 (TraumaHawk). With the seat "back" I'm about two feet short of reaching the rudder pedals! But not in a TriPacer or Colt.

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