Virpil Ace Rudder Pedal Hydraulic Damper Mod

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.

Parts used:
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!

Best Regards,
Steven Williamson

1 Like

Wow, thank you very much for your manual!
Actually I have a custom control unit for helicopters (ApacheV2) but my >20 years old pedals for fixed wing (ch-pedals) are leaving this world and I plan to get new pedals.
This modding possibility makes me think of going with the virpil.

Thanks again

Hi Stephan,

You’re welcome! Sergio just posted an article about a new add-on for the Virpil pedals which will be able to be ordered which is an even cheaper and simpler friction - based stabilizer.

I don’t think you would regret going for Virpil Ace pedals, every Virpil product I have added to my setup has just made simming easier. The quality of the pedals is so good, all pivot points are ball-bearing, no potentiometers - instead contactless sensors, I think these are the last pedals I will ever need to buy.

I was having trouble with tail control in the DCS Huey coming back to hover at landing pads, it was hard to predict how much pedal to use with my old Saitek Combat pedals, yawing back and forth, but after getting the Virpil Ace pedals, it just seems like I don’t have to think about it, yaw control is almost automatic.

I really know what you mean about not thinking about needed interactions and regarding a good hardware which support that. I need pedals for fixed wing flights as for helicopters I have the ApacheV2, which I can highly recommend. Against all other solutions on the market they are the cheapest but really solid and with a very good friction system for all axis.
But what works perfect for helicopters won’t work for planes. The missing toebrakes and centersprings makes me go for yoke and pedals. My old CH Products are out of order…
I’ve got the honeycomb yoke already (unfortunately the elevator axis is much too strong for my likings - have to change that).

That’s a very smart installation, I have the damper mod on my Crosswinds & I’m not that impressed with it as it’s caused a mechanical deadzone in the centre. As well as the damper blowing the oil out this morning after only a month of in-frequent use.