Thoughts on Toe Brakes

General discussion of the plane, flying, or anything else.
drrgt
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Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by drrgt »

Hi Everybody,

I have been flying my new Liberty XL2, N568XL, and find she is great. I am doing my CFII
training in Florida and she is a great IFR platform. The only problem I have is with the finger
brakes. Supposedly I will get used to them. However, I am concerned that in Europe the fields
are rather short and I am not comfortable with short field takeoffs and landings with the finger
brakes. Any thoughts on the toe brake modification? How much will this cost and does it help?
drrgt
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by frfly172 »

I have toe brakes and find them great in the left seat but difficult to use in the right seat ,due to the brake being close to the bulkhead.the left toe brake on the left side is much to close to the wall.Just my thoughts Thanks Ron
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by N645XL »

I also have toe brakes and am pleased with them. I had several hundred hours in Pipers and was accustomed to their brakes when I bought the Liberty. It took some adjusting to get comfortable with the different feel of the Liberty's toe brakes but it was a minor adjustment. The brake pedals in the Pipers are much larger. As far as the finger to toe brake modification cost, I seem to recall Liberty had the conversion price on their website a couple years ago but don't see it now with only a quick scan. Sounds like a call to Liberty. Chances are they may have a kit you can have your own mechanic install, but that's another question you may ask. Something else to consider is the recent cabin air flow modification, CSB-10-002-A. If your aircraft had it done with finger brakes, you'll have to find a replacement plate specific to the toe brake system if you do the brake mod. The CSB kit came with both plates. Hopefully you can get the correct plate to complete the brake mod and comply with the CSB. Good luck. Bob
Last edited by N645XL on Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by zspitzer »

I've flown Liberties with and without toe breaks. I like toe breaks better because when I'm taxiing I have my right hand free for radio/gps programming. However, it's not difficult to hold the finger breaks with your third and fourth fingers while advancing the throttle to wide open throttle with the palm of your hand. As for landing, its almost quicker to grab the breaks that are right next to the throttle, as opposed to needing to move your feet up the rudder pedals.
drrgt
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by drrgt »

thanks everybody. I will contact Liberty and fly over to Melbourne this next week and pick up the
kit. The problem is that where I normally fly (Europe), there are lots of short fields and I would feel
better with toe brakes both for SF take offs and landings. Thanks also for the heads up on the
ventilation issue. By the way, I have done about 20 hours in the last 5 days in Libby for my CFII
training and I think she is a great platform for IFR.

Robert
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by nigelhb »

The finger brake versus toe brake discussion is most interesting, and is often discussed. I have one Liberty with toe brakes and two with finger brakes. I also fly a couple of others regularly with finger brakes. At the end of the day I prefer finger brakes, and I will come to the reason why in a moment. But first a little history may be useful.

The finger brake design followed on from the Europa aircraft - now over 1000 kits delivered with finger brakes. Ivan Shaw, the designer of both the Europa and Liberty favoured finger brakes to keep to the original design criteria of simplicity and low cost of maintenance. I happened to be present in October 2000 at Montrose CO when Dave Ruhmel, the FAA DER first flew in the pre-production prototype. I heard his comment, that 'FAA will not like finger brakes'. Then he was taken for his first flight, and after engine start he was shown how simple it is to steer the aircraft on the ground - very like steering a twin with differential power. When he returned from the flight he had to agree that the finger brakes were not all that bad. Ivan Shaw did most of the test flying in the period from 2002 to certification, and I had the privelege of flying with him on one test flight in December 2002. Ivan told me later that the FAA became very favourable towards finger brakes, and specifically mentioned that it prevented pilots from doing other things like setting radios, nav and gps while taxiing, (which is often the cause of many ground collisions with aircraft bumping into other aircraft or GSE because the pilot has his head in the cockpit instead of looking out).

I have demo'ed the Liberty to dozens of low time PPLs, and none have had any trouble in quickly getting the grasp of the finger brakes. I also find the toe brakes on my present Liberty demo plane just great too. So the reason for the preference? Having owned a flight school for 15 years, I cant tell you how many perfectly good tires I have thrown out because a nervous student had his feet on the brakes for landing and wore a flat spot in those early solo hours. I love the simplicity of the finger brake system with easy to get at brake cylinders, and very low maintenance cost and better tire wear. And for those who have not flown both types, the toe brake mechanism actually takes up more space fore and aft, and you loose about an inch of leg room, and you notice it.

But having said all that, the industry generally prefers toe brakes and want consistency across their fleets, so even flight schools prefer toe brakes even though they know they will cost more. I am thinking of converting my other two Libertys to toe brakes, but I am not aware if anyone has done this 'in the field' away from the factory. If anyone has done so, I would like to know what your experience was like.
Cheers. Nigel HB
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by jwm »

Programming the gps while taxiing is as bad as texing while driving!! Not good operating practice !!
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by drrgt »

Dear Nigel,

I was able to buy the toe brake kit from Liberty and then took it to my mechanic. He installed it
without a problem. At this point, I am in Germany and the airplane is in Florida waiting for some
avionics upgrades before it is shipped over. So at that point, I will try out the new toe brakes.

Robert Tompkins
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by APinspector12 »

Robert,
Glad the toe brake install went well. Let me know if you need and help with crating & shipping. I've done that a few times, LOL! You can get the plane into a 30' container with room to spare.
Joe
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Re: Thoughts on Toe Brakes

Post by KD8COO »

APinspector12 wrote:Robert,
Glad the toe brake install went well. Let me know if you need and help with crating & shipping. I've done that a few times, LOL! You can get the plane into a 30' container with room to spare.
The XL2 also fits nicely in the larger U-Haul box trucks according to our guy that retrieved ours from that dirt road a state away. :-)
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