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Repainting a Yoke

Posted By:
Christopher Fahey
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#1 Posted: 2/10/2011 13:15:01

    My plane has yokes from which the paint is coming off very badly and I would like to repaint them.  I am sort of on a budget since the repairs it needs from annual are very expensive and have sapped my money supply.  Since it is in the shop I am going to have the mechanics take them off for me. 

   So the question I am wondering is, how can I get them painted so they look nice without it costing me a lot of money?  What would be involved in painting them myself?  I know that when they are refinished powder coating is generally used.  Is there any other way?  Metal paint from Lowes or HomeDepot?


Keith Tridle
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#2 Posted: 2/17/2011 19:07:50

Chris, I just refinished a set of yokes for a tcraft, I sand blasted them then epoxy primed and epoxy painted. If you have to buy epoxy primer and paint you will spend about $100.00. Cheapest route would be to sand them and use a good spray can primer and paint, or check into power coating, I had another pair powder coated for $20.00 Keith

Bent Esbensen
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
#3 Posted: 2/18/2011 03:01:02

If you are going to repaint your yokes with wet paint it will be fine to use epoxy primer, but do make sure to use a polyurethane topcoat, NOT an epoxy. Epoxy top coats are not UV resistant, so they will fade and 'chalk' fairly rapidly. Polyurethanes are UV resistant and will retain a nice surface for years.

Likewise, if you are having someone powder coat your yokes make sure they are using a polyurethane powder - not epoxy or mix powder. Also, if you are having the yokes powder coated, ask the applicator to apply a coat of zinc rich primer powder prior to the top coat.


Dennis Frett
#4 Posted: 2/18/2011 07:08:28


Here's a prodedure that is relatively inexpensive and provides beautiful results.  It was developed by Dick Russ, a member of the Piper Owners Society, not by myself.  So, all credit goes to Dick.


The Following refurbishing technique applies to either the Bow Tie or the Rams Horn style control wheels.  The significant difference is that with the Bow Tie style, the finishing process is easier in that the Bow-Tie wheel is completely plastic whereas the Rams Horn styles is aluminum coated with a plastic film that must be removed prior to applying the finish. I will say that once you have refinished your control wheels they will look better than new and last forever. And in my opinion so much better than powder coating. Plus it is so easy to do and a fraction of the cost of powder coating.

Materials:    DuPont 3812 Enamel Reducer or equivalent.
Dust Tack Rag
High quality ( non shedding) 1” paint brush
Envirotex Lite, Pour On High Gloss Finish 8oz. kit ( super clear 2 part Epoxy) or equivalent) available from Hobby Lobby or any  hobby and craft supply store.  ( Envirotex Lite, Phone Number: 707-443-9323)
320 wet or dry sand paper
¾” masking tape
Hot air gun/hair dryer/hand held propane torch
Small jars for mixing epoxy
Wood stirring sticks (Popsicle)
Krylon Brand High gloss black enamel ( or equivalent)
Cheap Lacquer thinner ( for clean up)
Paper for wrapping shafts ( news paper is OK)

In either case the control wheel assemblies ( pilot and co-pilot) must be removed from the aircraft.

1.    Remove the pilots and co-pilots seat stop screws and aluminum stops located on the inner seat rails and remove both seats from aircraft.
2.    Disconnect the ground cable at the battery and secure ( away) from the negative battery post.
3.    On the co-pilots side, remove the two No. 10 nuts and washers from the two AN-3 bolts that secure the control wheel shaft to the universal joint.  Apply pressure to the threaded end of the bolt and using a 3/8 wrench unscrew the bolts from the universal joint.  Slide the control wheel assembly away from the instrument panel and set aside.  Remove Piper name plate by prying off with a knife under edge.
4.    Repeat step (3) for the Pilots side.  Note: if you have a press to talk switch, trim switch or transponder ID switch, these will need to be disconnected prior to removing the control wheel.  I have found it easiest to cut the wires one at a time where they come out of the control shaft and wheel,.  Identify each wire individually to enable them to be reconnected properly when you are finished.
5.    Remove the switches from the control wheel and carefully pull the wires through Control wheel shaft and set aside for reinstallation.
6.    If you are working with a Rams Horn control wheel, you will need to remove all the old cracked plastic coating.  I have found this best accomplished by using an “x-acto” knife or similar and literally cut and chip the plastic away.  When you have all the plastic removed proceed as follows.
Note:  If you are working with Bow Tie style control wheels, all you will need to do is clean the control wheels with a strong soap and water solution.

The following process applies to both style control wheels.

7.    Using 320 ( wet or dry) sandpaper, lightly sand each control wheel.
8.    Wipe each control wheel completely using enamel reducer such as Dupont 3812, available at any auto paint supply company.
9.    Apply a strip of masking tape around the shaft next to the control wheel and cover the entire shaft with paper.
10.    Wipe the control wheel of all dust using a tack rag.  ( Available at Pep Boys, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or any auto paint supply company.
11.    Hold the control wheel by the end of the shaft and paint the control wheel with a light tack coat of Krylon ( or equivalent) gloss black enamel.  When the paint is tacky ( touch the over spray area on the paper), apply a heavy coat of paint over the entire control wheel and set aside to dry.  Repeat this for the other wheel.
12.    When the wheels are completely dry to touch ( I prefer at least 4 hours) you are ready for the finishing process.
13.    Mix up at least 3 ounces of the “Envirotex Lite” pour on high gloss finish exactly as called out by the manufacturer.
14.    Using a very good artist one inch camel hair brush, brush the entire control wheel with the high gloss finish ( remove any loose brush hairs) (Place the control wheel shaft in some sort of holding fixture such as a vise and allow the finish to start setting up.  Note:  You will notice the finish will be full of small air bubbles and may start to run a little. You will need to either lightly breath on the control wheel or use a hair dryer/torch/hot air gun or even a propane torch and at a distance away from the wheel lightly blow are on the control wheel to remove the bubbles.  You will also need to rotate the control wheel about every 15 minutes or so until the epoxy finally starts to cure.  I have found it takes about 4 rotations ( or an hour) until the epoxy will no longer run.  Let set overnight (minimum).
15.    Control wheels can now be reinstalled.
16.    Glue the Piper name plates back in place using clear household silicon adhesive.  Hold in place with masking tape until silicon set up.
17.    Reconnect everything previously removed and reinstall seats.  The reinstallation of the control wheels need to be performed under the supervision of an A&P mechanic and log entry made accordingly.

If you need help, I will be glad to help. Call me at 405-470-2767 (dickathome@cox.net).

VFRs, without TFRs,

Dennis Frett


Files Attachment(s):
Finished control wheel 011.jpg-1.jpg (213914 bytes)
VFRs, without TFRs,
Ed Walker
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
#5 Posted: 2/18/2011 19:48:02


  I have refinished many small metal parts and they come out looking factory new. After doing the normal prepping steps and applying the final coat of rattle can paint place the item in your kitchen oven, I'm single so it's no problem, and set the temp to 250 and time for 1 hour. Let it cool in the oven, when cooled you have a true baked on factory finish!

Ed Walker