Kowal™ 1mm oversize actuator for sanwa jlf series joysticks


Has anybody tried these.

I can see how it would work. I have used over sized thumb pads for my controllers and it makes a difference. I would like to know if these Kowal actuators are reliable though.

Side question. Has anybody used one of these in conjunction with the heavier spring option in a JLF.


I’ve used them before in both a JLF and a Hayabusa. It shortens the throw a bit and works well, but at least the pair I got I just recently swapped out (after a year or so of use) because they actually warped from rubbing against the gate.


I say save your money.

Kowal actuators aren’t shape right, they can catch on gates and they are made of ABS so they wear out quickly.

Paradise Actuators on the other hand are made from derlin so they last much, much longer and are designed with the right shape.


Kowal Actuator thread coming soon for all your actuator questions and needs .


Please no.


Keep in mind that Kowal’s original actuators, of which he sold himself in small numbers (shipped from Poland, IIRC?) were made of METAL so they didn’t have any of these issues or drawbacks. However these were very difficult to machine and make in any sort of quantity. I don’t know anything about the ABS design or whether he specified that himself or just released the specs to other places, but I do remember in one of his last posts, he claimed that PAS stole his design.


That claim of Kowal’s is absolute bull shit, PAS Actuators are nothing like Kowal actuators and stole nothing from him. If anything the PSA actuators are closer to the original Sanwa actuators in shape.
The metal actuators Kowal did a small batch (pretty much a one-time production) where he hand pick who got an actuator and then stop production.

Years later without ever seeing a the original Kowal metal actuators PAS decide to made their own , taking notes how Sanwa made their own actuators and then seeing that they can adjust to change that design for the better.
PAS did a series of anodized aluminum and later derlin actuators that held the same basic shape of the Sanwa actuators, so the flat surface its the switch and not the actuators edge.

Kowal also claimed PAS stole his idea for universal mount plates, but the claim is bull shit just like the actuator. Plenty of manufacturers made universal mount plates long before Kowal did.
Kowal did a one off production of a small batch then lost interest in it shortly afterwards. When PAS made their own plates they had no ideas Kowal also made designs.
Happ actually made plates to adapt Sanwa Joysticks in American style mountings back when Sanwa, iL and Happ actually worked together. The Happ/iL button wrench was part of the Sanwa catalog at one time.


Aftermarket actuators are cheap, try a few and see what you like best. Kowal’s is a different design than pas’ models, they’re going to provide different functions and feel. As said, it is abs (like the stock jlf actuator), so you don’t want to grind the fuck out of it like Darksakul’s client, and you will want to clean the switches every so often (depending on amount of use and how much force you use on it). I agree that derlin is a superior material choice, but I like the function and feel of the kowal nonetheless, it makes the engage/throw more seimitsu like.


Well its cheap enough to just test it out. If I like the feel of having an over sized actuator I may just machine myself one locally.
Thanks gents.


Kowal’s actuators are not difficult to machine in the slightest. Metal also has its pros and cons. For one, if for some reason the actuator hits the gate like some have reported, it’s harder to grind down the length. The other disadvantage is sliding up and down a shaft creates friction and can wear down the shaft if not lubed properly. Plastic doesn’t have this problem, a plastic actuator won’t damage a shaft and if for whatever reason the actuator isn’t within spec margins it can be ground easier. On the other hand, metal lasts longer and probably won’t wear down like a plastic actuator would, but you will still get wear regardless of the material you chose. It simply wears the lever out in different areas.


Kowal’s theft claims are also full of shit. It’s easy to tell just by looking at the two different types of actuators. Anyone falling for that bullshit needs to pull the wool from covering their eyes. Just look at them.

Kowal’s is practically a JLW actuator made for a JLF. PAS’ is practically a JLF actuator made for a JLF, but in different diameters using .5 mm steps. Neither are really original in design.


I was being sarcastic, since theres already been claims that about restrictor gates grinds the actuators and yet people keep frequently asking if the actuators are necessary. I can’t even tell anymore if the threads or kowal questions are serious.


One of the reasons for using a LS-55 or 2lb JLF spring with a Kowal actuator is precisely so you won’t grind the fuck out of it. Most of the time, you’ll be using an octagon gate with this setup anyway, so that makes sense. An octagon gate with the standard JLF actuator is just terrible, since in order for diagonals to work, the throws of the primary 4 ways are even larger than the square gate.


Yes an octagon restricor gate on a jlf with a stock actuator is a true handicap for a seasoned SF player vs a new player.


I found that Kowal actuators still get ground down with tighter springs. Its more the player (and aggressive play styles) and not the spring that effects wear and tear on the actuator.
Perhaps with the tighter spring and different gate you changed up your play style to be less rough. I do notice the more work you have to do to hit a directional the more you will grind.

Yes as the diagonals will be harder to hit with the JLF Octo gate and a stock actuator, harder than a square gate. Square Gates have the best diagonal inputs, but you can’t fell for all 8 directions.
And some people have a hard time conceptualizing their movements for quarter circle, half circle and full circle movements on a square gate.

Key to using a square gate is stop thinking in circular movements and start thinking about those quarter circles as L shape movements.
I notice People who drive stick-shift tend to do better with square gates compared to those who drive automatic transmissions.


Yes my native gameplay is with a square. Would like to try the gtc circle gates just like I bought and tried the octagon gate. Hmm
… RHD standard transmission drivers excelling in the use of joysticks… you may have something there ; )


Springs won’t stop actuators from grinding dude…


It’s just IMO, but for me, I grind a heck of a lot less on my LS-55 spring than on the stock JLF spring. I play a lot of Gauntlet II on MAME, and the heavy spring makes a -big- difference. You can slam the edges a lot harder if it takes less force to reach the edges, unless you have arms like Dwayne Johnson. Then…welp…RIP Actuator! I’ve been using the Kowal + Octo + LS55 spring for months now, playing Gauntlet II for hours a day, and the actuator is in very good shape.

it was the same on the old F16 FLCS (if you remember those) vs the F22 Pro. The FLCS had like NO resistance and you would just slam the hell out of the edges of the gate (even though no jet should be flown like this, haha). I was literally all over the place in my Spitfire in Battlefield 1942. The F22 Pro had extremely stiff springs, which gave me MUCH more control (and I even had to use gloves to fly, so my arm wouldn’t fall off). Once I got some F22’s off ebay, I never used the F16 FLCS ever again. I hate having slop in my shop!


Well I play on a square gate. And I generally try not let the shaft hit the edges of the gate. I prefer the smaller movements and i feel it gives me the control I like. This is pretty much the reason I was interested in the actuator. I imagine it will make my play still feel more accurate. I have also planned on using a heavier spring. This as well, I assume will help keep me off the gate. As far as I know, with using springs in different applications in engineering. The spring starts to pull back into position the further it is bent out. So it wont effect the small movements to much. But as the shaft gets closer to the gate it will start fighting more. If this is the case with smaller springs in the fight stick then I will definitely be using one. Again making the bigger actuator a pro for my play style.

I have the machines to fit metal rings onto shafts. After reading your post Moonchilde I feel that adding a metal ring to the standard actuator may be an option. It will save the shaft from the extra damage. And last longer than a plastic one.

But this then leads me to wonder about the damage the switches in the JLF will take with the metal ring.


Install leaf spring switches or make your own metal JLF switch plungers.