Hello Chris and Paul
I have it apart again and looking at it and its still clean, the key and spring looks good , the arm does show a little wear so it needs to be changed for sure. On the mounting socket the brass bushing needs to be replaced as the tail wheel fork has a tiny bit of play in there when its bolted together. As well there is a small bit of movement where it bolts onto the stinger.
I have the Vans set up on my RV4 with 600 hrs on it. It appears to be stock except for the tire that I put on a 100 hrs ago.
The wheel locks and releases as normal. But when I think about it, the wheel has not taken as much brake these days to unlock it to swing it around.
On Saturday when doing a cross wind landing with a lot of gusts to 25 knots with an average of 45 to 60 degs off the run way heading I could keep it straight until I slowed down and let my tail down. As soon as the tail touched the plane immediately weather vaned into the wind and off the run way and into the Alf alpha on the side of the runway. (no damage
) I know my cross wind component was around 20 knots or maybe even more with the gusts. But the little wheel felt to me as well as my girl friend riding shot gun in the back that it had unlocked as soon as it started taking a load. I had full rudder and then got some brake on it as well but there was no changing its course. The skids marks are still there from the braking and the tire locking and letting go on the pavement, through the gravel and into the alp alpha.
So my lesson from this is that there is more than sufficient rudder while doing the approach and side slipping in and during the touchdown.
But when the plane gets slowed down and the tail is coming down there is not enough rudder with or without the brake to keep it straight at least on my RV4 especially if the little guy comes unlocked.
So I need to restore the little wheel to like new or better.
And above all not tackle anything much over 15 knots direct cross wind component. Next time I might not be so lucky.
Do any of the aftermarket set ups offer a higher breakout force? Or is the factory one sufficient when its like new? I could possibly add a little longer spring to put a little more tension on the pin. That would be another option.