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Thread: Putting heel brakes on a tango cub

  1. #1

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    Putting heel brakes on a tango cub

    I am looking at buying a "tango" cub that has toe brakes. I have read a number of threads speaking unfavorably about this system and many of them have made reference to "converting theirs to heel brakes." Is there an STC available to do this conversion? Is one even required for this conversion when some of them had heel brakes? Is there any change to the structure of the airframe that must be performed to make the switch, or is the structure already there because some of them had the heel brakes? What all would be needed to make the switch?

  2. #2
    CubDriver218's Avatar
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    I haven't searched, but I find it hard to believe anyone would prefer heal brakes over toe brakes. That sounds crazy to me.
    I have toe brakes front and rear in my 12 and wouldn't want it any other way.
    Hopefully someone can help you get your bird the way YOU like/want it though.
    Good luck.
    Fast or slow, always low, freedom of flight soothes the soul.

  3. #3

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    I have both toe and heel brakes. Unlike the Tango brakes, my toe brakes (Decathlon) work superbly. I much prefer heel brakes in a Cub. I don't know if the mounting brackets were left in the Tango fuselages at the factory - if not, you are in for some minor welding.

    I think you will find that most Cub folks vastly prefer heel brakes. The toe brakes in the Tango are ill-fitted, and maybe even dangerous if mis-adjusted.

    Opinion.

  4. #4

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    I have flown many Cubs with the heel brakes and went for a test taxi in the tango with the toe brakes. No question they have to go! Question is, can they go, how hard is it to make them go, and how much do I need to budget over the cost of the plane to get them out?

  5. #5
    CubDriver218's Avatar
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    What makes the toe brakes so bad? Heel brakes always seemed clumsy to me. I can't think of a downside to toe brakes. I don't mean to get off topic or highjack the thread, but how can anyone prefer heel brakes? What advantage is there?
    Fast or slow, always low, freedom of flight soothes the soul.

  6. #6
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Aaaaaaaaand we're off!!

    I am with you. Heel brakes are an unnatural act.

    Biggest bitch I have about my Cub.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  7. #7
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Where is this Tango Cub?
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lefoy84 View Post
    Aaaaaaaaand we're off!!

    I am with you. Heel brakes are an unnatural act.

    Biggest bitch I have about my Cub.
    Just fly barefoot and use your big toe on the breaks and there you go, problem solved
    Last edited by OLDCROWE; 08-22-2016 at 01:59 PM.
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

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    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Thanks, Kirby.

    So simple, like the boogaloo, it plum evaded me!
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    The problem with the Tango brakes is that they are a Rube Goldberg afterthought to satisfy the CAP. They were not well designed. Properly adjusted, they work - Robbie Grove has a set in his Super Cub. Improperly adjusted they can hit the firewall just when you need them the most, or the front pedals can sort of go "over center" and leave you with no brake at all.

    Secondarily, the Cub rudder is a very light thing, amenable to dancing. Heavy it up with all those linkages and it becomes a rather stout dance partner with combat boots on. You want to dance with her?

  11. #11
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    The problem with the Tango brakes is that they are a Rube Goldberg afterthought to satisfy the CAP. They were not well designed. Properly adjusted, they work - Robbie Grove has a set in his Super Cub. Improperly adjusted they can hit the firewall just when you need them the most, or the front pedals can sort of go "over center" and leave you with no brake at all.

    Secondarily, the Cub rudder is a very light thing, amenable to dancing. Heavy it up with all those linkages and it becomes a rather stout dance partner with combat boots on. You want to dance with her?

    How do the EXP boys do it? CC etc.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  12. #12
    mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    no welding needed for front pedals, just cut open bottom of boot cowl, put doubler plate in drill bolt holes, mark and cut holes in floor, bolt in.... but whats is there under pilot seat for master cylinders to mount to on one of those????

  13. #13
    spinner2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CubDriver218 View Post
    What makes the toe brakes so bad? Heel brakes always seemed clumsy to me. I can't think of a downside to toe brakes. I don't mean to get off topic or highjack the thread, but how can anyone prefer heel brakes? What advantage is there?
    IMO it is easier to separate rudder inputs from braking with heel brakes. Probably not as big of a deal if you just use brakes for runups and spinning around at the tiedowns. But for braking while stopping in some awkward off-airport LZ it makes a difference.

    It took me a while to get used to toe brakes when I started flying my EX. I get along with them now but still prefer heel brakes.
    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp

  14. #14
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    I think it all depends on what you are used to. I have 40+ years with toe brakes and two years with heel brakes. Makes it worse if you have long legs.

    Quote Originally Posted by spinner2 View Post
    IMO it is easier to separate rudder inputs from braking with heel brakes. Probably not as big of a deal if you just use brakes for runups and spinning around at the tiedowns. But for braking while stopping in some awkward off-airport LZ it makes a difference.

    It took me a while to get used to toe brakes when I started flying my EX. I get along with them now but still prefer heel brakes.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  15. #15

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    Bunny boots and toe brakes can be a pain. You will tend to hit he brake as you push the rudder unless you think about pulling the toe back. I tend to fly with some type of boot on year round so heel brakes are easy for me. I think it is just something you get used to. The big issue as mentioned is firewall clearance at full rudder. Lots of guys get out of the Cessna and into a cub and back all day long so can't be that big of a deal.
    DENNY

  16. #16
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Would be a big PITA to convert on a covered, flying airplane. The rudder cables run down the center from the rear brake pedal. The original Electrol master cylinders can be an issue but Grove makes a replacement. I like to set toe brakes up where you have to take your heels off the floor to reach the brakes.
    Steve Pierce

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  17. #17
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    The best setup is a pivoting rudder pedal. Not the add on thing on top.

    Keep your heels on the floor if you dont want brakes.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  18. #18

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    I have a Tango Cub. I have no problem with the toe brakes. I have had about 30 students in the front that haven't had any issues with the toe brakes. The big feet guys have to set their heels inboard to stay off the brakes but it is actually pretty natural.
    I agree that it doesn't feel as light on the rudders because you have all that extra stuff hanging off the rudder peddles, but it isn't significant. If you like the airplane don't let that be a deal breaker. Fly with the toe brakes and you'll get use to them. I actually can brake a lot more precisely than I can with heel brakes but it is because it is what I am use to using
    Sawyer

  19. #19
    JimParker256's Avatar
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    I'm a brand-new tailwheel pilot (22 hours as of today), after flying since 1976 in trikes with toe brakes for 400+ hours... Plus the 1,450 hrs in helicopters with NO brakes, but they didn't have wheels, either...

    Anyway, when I found my 1965 Citabria 7ECA, I was a LOT nervous because it had "the dreaded heel brakes" that I've heard so many old wive's tales about. I was afraid the combination of a "vicious tailwheel" and "terrible heel brakes" would make every landing a dance with the devil... Total BS on all counts. The Citabria is an absolute delight to land. Yes, you have to stay awake, and you have to stay proactive on the rudder pedals to keep it pointing where you want it to go, but after a couple of landings, I found it to be a joy to land this airplane.

    As for the dreaded heel brakes, my CFI taught me initially to just pretend they didn't exist. In the calmer winds we first flew in, I literally used them only for the initial start, run-up, and to come to a complete stop at my hangar. As we worked our way into higher winds, I intuitively began using them when necessary, and found it pretty easy to do so. Now it just feels totally natural to use the heel brakes when necessary. One good point about the heel brakes: it's not easy to "accidentally" get on the brakes by mistake... (I saw a Grumman Traveler in the shop whose pilot who got uptight about landing in a strong crosswind, and landed with his toe brakes locked... Flat-spotted the tires something awful (right down to the threads!), but that was the only real damage. Unlikely that would happen with heel brakes!)

    So now I find myself thinking about the toe brakes on the Bearhawk Patrol I'm building. But I'm sure I'll quickly adapt to them, and it will come to be just as natural as the heel brakes are in the Citabria. (By the way, had occasion to get back into a Commander 114 after about 15 hours in the Citabria, and "brake location" was not an issue at all. Never once went for the non-existent heel brakes by mistake.)

    Just my 3 cents worth. (Inflation - had to raise my rates!)

  20. #20
    Cub Builder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lefoy84 View Post
    How do the EXP boys do it? CC etc.
    This EXP Boy built his Cub Clone with heel brakes. Of the two planes I currently own, I built one with toe brakes and the other with heel brakes. Of the 10 planes I've owned over the last 40 years, 4 had heel brakes and 6 had toe brakes. With toe brakes, pilots tend to put unnecessarily heavy loads on the rudder horn during braking. Additionally, in the Cub I prefer to separate the braking function from the rudder function, which is easier to do with heel brakes. Rudder controls from the ankle, brakes control by pushing from the knees. Do I care a lot? Nope. As long as they work correctly, either is just fine. But as previously mentioned, all the linkage hardware in a tandem seat aircraft makes for heavy rudder controls when you have toe brakes.

    -Cub Builder

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