Checking the step for cracks

A recent article by Scott Sherer talked about checking out your step for cracks. The step on my 1968 Piper Cherokee 140 had some cracks in the paint, so we thought we should investigate it. Good news... no cracks in the actual metal. It is going to look nice once it's all painted up.

QUESTION - what is your recommendation for adding the grip to the step? Should I use the wing walk compound that comes in a can? Just mask it off and paint it on? Thanks!

Comments

  • Yes, Indeed, wing walk is perfect for the step... and I'm glad you checked it for cracks and found none. Good job!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • where did you buy the step for your aircraft?

    1967 PA28-140

  • ravpa28... that is not a new step. That is the old step after having a close encounter with a wire wheel. :-) It just looks like new now.

  • Ahhh gotcha!

    1967 PA28-140

  • Those are really fun to put back on a PA-28-181 (or 161/236)!
    My Archer was repainted about 7 years prior to my buying it. The step was removed for the repaint and not reinstalled. Allegedly because the owner wanted less drag for more speed! (hahaha, ROFLMAO)

    Two of the bolts were removed by grinding the heads off, the other four bolts are screwed into nut plates. The two that were ground off do not have nut plates installed in the aircraft but use a nut and washer... no problem! The nut and washer are next to impossible to access with normal arms and hands! I had to remove the battery box, then you can get an arm slid down between control cables and rotated toward the step where you can put on the washer and nut by feel only and try to hold the bolt on the outside of the airplane at the same time! A friend/helper would be useful here! I had none available at the time on short notice so I did it myself in about four hours... for just the two bolts! You can not see in the area at all. To see what I was dealing with I had to get my cell phone camera in the hole and take pictures and guess at the direction to point it while trying to find to button to take the picture!
    It was a satisfying project once completed because it was off the charts difficult to first figure out and then accomplish. The next one will be much easier... NOW!

  • Congrats, now pour yourself an adult-drink to celebrate your accomplishment.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • That was about a year ago but I will still take your suggestion to heart... tonight!

  • Roger that! :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • I will be sending my 13 year old son into the fuselage to hold the nuts for me! You gotta have the right tools! Hahahaha

  • Hahaha! Not even a 13 month old can fit! :D
    Did you unbolt yours or grind off a couple of heads?

  • Ray, I was actually working with a great A&P mechanic that day and we were able to simply unbolt it in about 5 minutes... luckily. I may take the front and back seat out so my son can lay down and get right up in there with a flashlight. I doubt his 100 lbs. will pull the nosegear off the ground. I'm sure he thinks it almost as much fun working on the airplane than it is flying it... haha

  • edited September 2020

    On the sidewall of the plane, the step has four bolts. The two closest to the tail are the ones that required the nuts on my aircraft. I assume that my Archer is the same as all other PA-28 Archers, Warriors, Dakodas, Arrows etc. but it is 42 years old and there is the possibility my archer had nut plates and they were removed for some reason, I just don't know! So you might want to put a bolt in all of the holes and see if yours have nut plates in all of the holes first. If you do then it should only take 5 minutes to put it back together all from the outside! If your mechanic got the bolts out that quick without going inside to hold the nuts from spinning, you may have nut plates in all of the holes!
    I could not think of any reason except, anti-theft, why Piper would not nut plate all of the holes!
    You should not have to go all the way in the tail cone. I was able to reach it from just behind the access hole. I had to remove the battery and battery box then you can stick your elbow, forearm and hand down between the control cables. Once you reach below the cables rotate your arm toward the step attach points until you feel a lateral bulkhead. The two bolts on the back of the step are behind this bulkhead and the other two bolts are forward of the bulkhead. Here is a picture, Look closely at the black triangle plate. I had pushed two bolts through the holes so I could tell where I needed to try and reach. You should see two Goldish colored bolts without nuts on them:


    Here the two forward bolt holes show up as the white spots on the left. This is the forward side of the bulkhead, accessed through an access hole in the floor of thebaggage compartment:

  • edited September 2020

    Also, when you replace the step it is recommended to use "Jointing Compound" between the step and the airframe because the two are dissimilar metals. Steel step and aluminum skin. This is a large steel plate attached to the aluminum, a great place for electrolysis to corrode your baby!
    Here is a Facebook thread where I learned a bit about this:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/PiperArrow/permalink/1523728987767533

    And NO, you can not reach the back holes through the access hole in the floor of the baggage compartment because the holes are on the other side of that bulkhead!

  • As usual, thanks Ray! :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Oh I didn't know about the Jointing Compound... thanks!

  • Hello all, I'm new here, but I'm restoring a 69' Cherokee. I would suggest that if you're doing step maintenance always look at the supporting bracket. I had to replace mine due to a crack and corrosion. I don't believe that's looked at on an annual. The junction between the aluminum and steel should always be primed (at least), and maybe use an aviation approved sealant such as PRC 870 B 1/2 ,as well (to reduce any chance of galvanic corrosion). The part number for the bracket wasn't in the IPC, either (I don't know the p/n off hand- if you need it I can find it). I'd imagine it's probably the same for most Pipers.

  • Thanks much for your comments.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

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