Fiber Leaf Switches
by Bob Roberts
Fiber leaf switches have been around for many years & are much better than the molded versions of the Nylon era in MHO. I was working with them 50 years ago on electromechanical equipment that was nearly 20 years old at the time, so I guess it's safe to say they have been around nearly a century now. The blades are much stronger than those used with the nylon ones & should one break, or wear out, it can be replaced, unlike the disposable nylon type.
Since the nylon type for buttons & joysticks have been becoming extinct, we've been making up replacements in fiber. So far, 140 of y'all have agreed with me that fiber is a much better replacement by far... be it for buttons or, especially with the old Wico leaf joysticks.
The biggest problem with both fiber & nylon molded leaf switches comes from user abuse. They are gold flashed for the best contact & the gold flash blackens. This can build up over time & cause intermittent closing of the contacts. Then the user grabs a file or sandpaper & tries to clean them which in turn removes the gold flashing rendering them less than effective. The best method of cleaning for longevity is a simple business card or business card stock of any kind. On location they were often times cleaned with the card stock from a candy bar wrapper or a match book cover. It is only necessary to clean the very center where actual contact between the two blades is made... the outer parts can be left blackened without any detrimental effects.
Above are both styles of joystick leaf switches. This type used on joysticks comprises 2 of the shorter blades of the same length, whereas the button leaf switch has one short blade & one long blade which extends out to be depressed by the actual button when pushed.
I haven't had a chance to add the repair parts to the Parts Page yet, but I'll price them below in a pic. The blade thickness on these is .020 which is x-heavy. These were typically listed as follows: