This is a mod to the Virpil Ace Rudder Pedals adding a hydraulic damper. It gives the pedals a heavier hydraulic feel and allows them to stay off center when the return spring is removed for use as helicopter anti-torque pedals. However it also give a great feel to the pedals WITH the centering spring for fixed-wing rudder pedal use.
A disclaimer: this mod was not my original idea, it was posted on the Virpil “DIY” forum by user “arturojgt”, and this is my version of the mod based on his post.
The damper is a motorcycle steering damper, chinese manufactured based on the “Hyperpro” brand steering dampers. The Hyperpro dampers cost at least $350 USD or more, but the chinese copies are only around $35, and can be found on ebay and amazon. The size is 255 mm long total length. They have a 24 position knob for adjusting hydraulic resistance.
I used the damper kit from Milan Flight Gear intended for the MFG Crosswind pedals - it did come with some hardware, but I only used a couple spacers from the kit, so I don’t recommend that route, as it cost double what the damper could be purchased for on ebay or amazon.
The mod does involve drilling one hole in the left rear arms(top and bottom) of the pedal base, and the metal is pretty hard, so you need a drill bit that can handle harder steel. I used an M42 Cobalt drill bit, 7/32", as I drilled for a 5 mm bolt at that location. A 6 mm bolt would be fine there, also.
I set the drill hole location to make the damper parallel with the longitudinal dimension of the pedals, so the hydraulic force is even moving left and right. That’s pretty far back for the total travel of the damper, some have drilled that hole closer to the front of the pedals. I still have a few mm of travel left at both ends of damper travel.
The bolt at the front has to be a 6mm bolt to thread into the existing threaded spacer on the left arm of the pedals. The rear bolt can be 5 or 6 mm, I used a 5 mm bolt I had. The unthreaded spacers are not too critical for length, but the spacers I used keep the damper parallel to the ground.
1 each 255mm steering damper
1 each 6 x 60 mm bolt
1 each 6 mm flat washer
1 each 6 mm nut
2 each 16.5 mm x M8 unthreaded spacers
1 each 5 x 60 mm bolt
6 each 5 mm flat washers
1 each 5 mm nut
1 each 30 mm M5 unthreaded spacer
The damper I received makes a crackling noise when moving due to some air inside - they should not have that - if filled fully, they should be silent. Any air present can create a “dead zone” in the damping at high settings on the adjuster. At the 12th setting or higher, mine has this dead zone. But I have only needed to use the lowest setting on the damper, and I do not notice any dead zone at low settings. To get rid of the air you need to remove one end of the damper and fill it completely full with motorcycle fork oil (weight?), and then, over a container to catch the overflow, screw the end back on as the excess overflows. I know mine is not optimal with air, so I will probably try it at some point. There’s videos on youtube showing this procedure.
The Virpil Ace Interceptor pedals are my first “quality” pedals after all the “plastic fantastic” pedals I’ve had that we’ve all used starting out. The springs being out in the open right on top make spring changing very easy, no tools required. I was struggling with some DCS Huey missions over Guam when I switched to these, and instantly my pedal control in and out of tight LZs was no longer any problem!