Thingy's Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 19:10

You know all those small thingy's you need to add that last touch? And all those other thingamabobs you need to get the real look? Here is some of them - and how to make them look like "the works".


Boeing style knobs


For the 737 overhead, you need 14 Boeing style knobs, where 3 have just a white stripe. The rest have a white stripe with a black border.

On this image, the knobs have just got the last brush-stroke. To the left are four knobs without the black border. I did not paint the black stripe in case I will need a spare, and if that spare is one of the "just white stripe" ones...

As for the rest, you'll see that I have 14 knobs WITH black borders. Well - it is a large cockpit, and those thingy's are scattered all over the place... The two to the back and right I bought finished from Cockpitsonic. The others are manufactured by They originally looked like this:

Replica to the left / center, real thing to the right.

Since I got them, I:

  • Spray-painted every knob twice (two layers) with "pearl grey". Use what ever light grey color you want, but try to match the color on the light grey lightplates on your overhead. However, the colors in a real cockpit do vary, so don't be too concerned with the "Real Boeing Color" - because it is a waste of time and money you could've invested in other parts. TIP: Take a piece of wood, whack a couple of nails in it (make sure that there is enough room around them) and put the knobs on top. That makes it much easier to spray-paint on every side.
  • Drilled two holes where the fastening screws should be (see the real thing above), and tapped/threaded the holes with a standard M4 size tapping tool.
  • Painted the white stripe
  • Painted the black border (except the ones that should only have a white stripe)

I will consider to spray-paint the knobs with a clear lacquer (dull, not gloss), but I'm not sure if that will be a good idea - and I am not sure if I need to do it, because the paint won't be worn off that soon anyway. And of course I need to insert the fastening screws.

Here are some detail pictures:

5 angles shown. In the middle, you can see the special knob without the black frame. This knob is used on various locations (see this image at The base of the knob is 27mm in diameter. The aft part of the knob extend 3mm, measured from the middle. The hole is ~6mm wide and 9mm deep (may vary).
The front of the knob. The holes for fastening screws (standard M4 unbrako) is tapped after drilling.

PS: most manufacturers do supply the knobs plug-and-play, but so far I haven't seen anyone selling the knobs with both screws. I choose two screws for two reasons. Number one: It looks real, and the alternative (painting the replicated "screw" black) won't. Number two: The knob will be fastened much firmer than with just one screw; you do not want to use too much force on one screw, because it is just plastic resin - not metal. The threads could easily be damaged if you tighten too much. With two screws, you won't need to.

On the aft overhead, there are two knobs located just below the IRS panel that look like the above ones - but they are a bit shorter. In simbuilding terms, you could use switches from Airbus parts (the ones that looks like Boeing knobs, but are somewhat shorter). Flightdecksolutions make them. Under "Hardware", look for "A2 Style Knobs", and they look like this:

IRS panel knobs.

You might also have noticed that in some planes, there are 2 knobs located at the electric panel (the one with the large green window in the aft portion of the FWD overhead) that have a rounded-off back:

This is the real deal. Here's two knobs during work.

I sanded a normal knob down to the rounded-off shape, spraypainted it and painted the white stripe. I need to fix the right one - got a bit messy. All that is left is to drill holes for the fastening screws, tap the holes (making threads) and yet another detail is in place. Looks, man. Looks!

Well - that's it. I now have a whole lot of Boeing style knobs. :)

Update 01. june 2008: A relatively new company has evolved quickly in the past year or so: Simknobs. They deliver backlightable knobs of very high quality. If you are about to buy knobs for your simulator, Simknobs are the company for you! Here's two images of their boeing style knob, which I use on my MIP:

Here's an image of the knob being backlighted. The white stripe glows beautifully! On the image below, you can study the details from several angles. This is top quality!

The knobs are an exact replica of the real knobs, even on the back. The hole in the middle of the knobs are D-shaped. This may be an issue in a setup, but you can solve that by simply sanding off the shaft of your rotary switches. The flat side of the shaft shall be on the opposite direction of the white index mark. Position your rotary all the way to one side (I'.ll use left as an example), and sand the shaft flat on the opposite side of the marking on the left side. If you are about to mount the knob on the autobrake selector on the MIP, turn the rotary all the way to the left then sand off the shaft opposite of the "RTO" mark. Done!

I also got this puppy, which I will upload better images of later:

That is the fuel crossfeed knob, which are backlightable. The color matches my FlyEngravity overhead near perfectly!

Dzus replicas, one of my favvy parts pushers, makes small gizmo's that when you mount them on a M4 bolt looks like real Dzus (very expensive aircraft parts which a simbuilder counts in kilos, not numbers). They are small washer-like thingy's made from aluminium:

To the right is a replica mounted on a bolt and painted.

The fit on standard size M4 bolts. The advantage by using such bolts is that you can use nuts and washers underneath the panels to fasten them. That way, you can simulate the real deal to a better degree: In a real airplane, all bolt heads line up. By using long bolts, you can mount electronics easily (or you can cut off the length you don't need - or even use shorter bolts).

How to paint? Place the replicas on a big sheet of paper (I suggest that you place each one on a M4 nut, to lift them off the paper). Let there be at least 10mm (0.4 inches) spacing between them to ensure good access to all sides. Drill a lot of holes in a wooden board of some sort, then put the M4 bolts into the holes. Place the board onto something so the bolts' heads are lifted ever so slightly from the surface of the board. That way, you can spray-paint without getting any paint on the threads. And since the heads and Dzus replicas are a bit elevated from the surface, they won't stick to it! Spray one layer of primer, then two layers with RAL 7011 (I suggest that you order the paint with 30% matting paste). Let dry completely between each layer!

The color code RAL 7011 "Eisblau" is a very good "Boeing grey" candidate, and are used by a lot of builders. Don't be hung-up in the "excact Boeing color", as there allways will be differences. Even in a real airplane - I have seen pictures of a 737 cockpit with brown stuff in between (from the larger series, like the 747).

PS: All aluminium parts that are milled, is contaminated with oil from the milling. Use a degreaser to get rid of it prior to further use.

Should the bolts be a bit too wide to fit into the replica after you paint them, use fine sanding paper and sand off the sides carefully. Do not remove the paint on the top of the screw!

At the end, your panel should look like this:

PS: On this image, the replicas are hand painted with gloss paint. Do not do that...

You can see some shots of how the end result will be here.


The standard switch doesn't look too real, does it? No, you'll going to need the babies to the left to get the sweeties to the right:

This is wrong! There should be a headphone
jack here, not a switch. Relax, I am aware...

These parts are sold by and Simparts. I have bought mine from 737cockpit because they are aluminium.
On the image to the left, you can see some parts laid out:

  • Left: A standard miniature toggle switch.
  • Top, middle: A large switch cap mounted on a small switch cap
  • Top, right: A large switch cap
  • Bottom, middle: An aluminium switch cover
  • Bottom, right: A small switch cap (inside there is an even smaller cap, needed for miniature switches)

On the overhead, there are about 28 switches with a large head (rightmost picture). There are about 22 switches with small heads (middle picture). To get the "real look", you want these babies in your cockpit!

Let's take an overview on how to "create zhe proper effect, Mr. Bond" (Dr. Kaufman in Tomorrow never dies). First, you'll need to mount a miniature switch in the appropriate spot (I recommend miniature switches because they are dirt cheap and comes in several versions - including the "off-on-momentary on" for the APU switch).

For the small toggle heads (such as most of the light switches), you'll need the bottom right cap. Just slide it on the switch, and you're done. You may use some sort of glue to fix it in place, and you might consider trimming the length a bit. For added realism, put a BB bullet (or something else that is small, spherical and not suited for small children) in the tip.

For the large toggle heads (such as the fuel pump switches), you will need an aluminium switch cover, a large switch cap and some hot glue. First, trim the switch caps to appropriate length (trial and error, my friend...). Add a small amount of hot glue in the hole in the bottom of the aluminium piece and press it on the switch (TIP: if you use a hot glue gun, be sure to let the gun be warmed WELL up first!). Then add a small amount of glue (not hot glue) inside the switch cap and press it on the aluminium thingy. Remove any excess glue.

PS: All aluminium parts that are milled, is contaminated with oil from the milling. Use a degreaser to get rid of it prior to further use.

Landing light switch covers

Well, I had just about given up on these items. I did consider buying real ones or making my own replicas. But real ones are very expensive, and I didn't have any measurements. Then I visited Simparts...


I spraypainted with silver color and
handpainted the "dots" gloss pearl white.

These landing light switch replicas are made out of resin, and are of very high quality. They are unfinished (although I think Simparts do sell finished versions if you want), but they don't need anything but some paint (high gloss silver paint, and white or yellow inside the round dots in the front). One thing, though: My switchcovers was very rough, and had a few nasty marks from the manufacturing process. Therefore I suggest that customers check the items well, and fix all errors prior to the painting. I guess it's hard to make good replicas - but small errors are not a problem as long as you correct them. I forgot that...

You will need special kind of switches for these. The common type miniature switch, the same type I use, has a shaft that rotates. Simparts sells switches with shafts that don't turn - if you study the switch in the above picture, you'll notice a small dent in the threads.

The switch covers should be mounted using a strong glue to fix them in place (be aware that you won't be able to remove them after that).

This was some of the hardest items to find. The characteristic landing light switch covers is very essential to an overhead because they are in the line of sight. And they add that "little extra":

Click here to visit the FWD overhead section.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 19:25
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