Aftermarket parts for Cessna Cardinals

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All of the products on this web site required a significant up front investment but, for this product, I'd like to get a sense of the state of the market before I move into production. Please review the design of this handle and let me know if you would be interested in buying a handle or two.

It has been pointed out that aftermarket door handles from 1962 Mercury Comets will work on the Cardinal.  While it is true that they will fit, I recommend skipping that particular shortcut because the versions commonly available on the internet (~$26) have a cheap pot metal spline which will strip in about 5 uses.  This is not a part that you want to fail in the event of the necessity of a rapid egress from a burning airplane.  A replacement certified handle is available from Air Power Inc.  It has a different material in the spline location which should be more robust.  The price from them as of 28 April 2013, including shipping, was $189.65.  I bought one of these and it's working fine.

My design consists of 1) Insert, 2) Handle, 3) Tab, and 4) Set screws.

The handle, tab, and set screws are made of stainless steel.  The tab is attached to the handle with aluminum "binding post" screws.

There are several advantages to this design including:

A.) It's easier to install and remove. The stock handle has a very tricky little clip shown here.

The set screws are accessible from the front of the assembly using a simple allen wrench.  The set screws thread into the handle and snug it up to the insert.

B.) It gives you more leg space in the cabin.

C.) It provides more leverage.  Because the tab is a full six inches from the point of rotation, it can be closed with two finger tips.

D.) It's lighter (I was shocked too when I put them on the scale).

E.) It's owner-configurable.  As you can see from the pictures above and below, there are several ways to finish this handle.  The white ones have been powder coated after assembly.  This makes a nice, smooth, durable finish but I'll need to ensure that there is a "channel" of bare metal on the handle where it fits into the insert because the powder coating makes the fit a little too tight. The red and blue are just dipped in PlastiDip (I also have black and yellow).  Bare stainless steel looks good too.  Or, you can build your own tab - the holes in the handle are drilled on one inch centers so common hardware will likely fit.  You can even leave the tab off altogether for even less weight and less cabin intrusion.  If you choose this path, I recommend covering it with something though to avoid damaging your interior.

So here's where I need your help.  The inserts shown on this page were 3-D printed using Direct Metal Laser Sintering which, while cool, is not cost-effective (> $300 each).  In order to get them cast (in stainless steel), I need to commit about $8,000 (100 pieces).  This would make the end product about $175 each (including shipping) to allow for a small profit.  If you would be willing to pay that much, please contact me.  If you have knowlege of, or access to, a cheaper casting solution, please let me know that too.  I will be investigating other methods of producing the insert but I think casting will end up being the cheapest route.  By the way, that casting quote is for a local source - I really don't want to send this project to China.

P.S. You'll note that the handle, in the closed position, is not parallel.  That problem has been fixed in the drawing and future production runs will be more aesthetically pleasing.