JL-40W mod version 1 (difficult version)
This version of the mod is destructive, meaning irreversible, once you modify the parts, there is no going back!
WARNING: DESTRUCTIVE MOD! TRY AT YOUR OWN RISK!!
In the first post I discussed a little about the JLW with low force switches, in particular 20 gram Zippy switches. While the stick feels good, there are a few problems I discovered. I tested out the mod on two different JLW levers and both responded with the same issues, so I’m under the impression there are some minor defects to the JLW design.
On the base of the JLW you will notice below the switches extrusions used to raise the height of the switches. The unfortunate part about this design is that they are not wide, so the switches do not sit level and have slight wiggle room. I believe this causes uneven mounting once the gate is tightened on, causing the problems described below.
With the 20 gram Zippy switches mounted, I find the JLW to only hit 2 out of 4 directions. Usually a combination of up and right, or left and down. Something similar to that. It is possible to try to correct this using flat washers below the switches to try to evenly distribute the leverage of the switches but this doesn’t seem consistent. Also of note, when using Omron 200 gram switches, there aren’t engagement issues such as switches not engaging, but rather engaging at different distances. 2 of the switches tend to engage deep, and 2 tend to engage early. This makes for inconsistent play.
This issue can be slightly corrected by taking the pin-plungers from the stock Matsushita switches that come with the LS-40 and swap them in the Sanwa re-branded Zippy switches that come with the JLW. This makes for an extremely sensitive stick, a bit too sensitive IMO.
This is where the LS-40 comes into play. I have not had this issue on the LS-40 as I believe it has a simpler mounting design, that being flat against the body and a gate that evenly distributes itself above the switches.
The two levers are very different, yet also very similar. What do we do? We fuckn’ mod it of course!!
Drill bit of same (or close) diameter as JLW shaft
Flat Dremel bit for grinding
Small flat head screwdriver
Dowel with smaller diameter than JLW shaft
80 grit sandpaper
400 grit sandpaper
Straight edge with mm markings
Spacers about 1 mm in height
Fiber washers modded to fit shaft (See tension mod)
Disassemble both the LS-40 and JLW. Should look something like below.
For reference: Below is the LS-40 and JLW actuators, both sitting on top of LS-40 springs. As you can see, the JLW actuator sits higher than the LS-40 actuator. This is because the bell isn’t as deep on the JLW. I will illustrate later why this is a problem on this particular version of the mod.
Ignore that this actuator is already modified. Pretend it’s stock. If you don’t have an imagination and can’t fathom well…
So, now you see how the actuators function different based on their designs. What we need to do now is modify the LS-40 actuator. This means cutting the height down and widening the hole so it can slide over the JLW shaft. Oh good fucking lord, don’t be that way, get your mind out of the gutter!!
Use the drill bit to cut the hole wider. If you don’t have one, then wrap the 80 grit sandpaper around the dowel and twist, not slide, the actuator around the sandpaper. This will evenly grind the hole wider. If you slide in a sawing motion, you risk having an uneven hole. If you are adventurous, you can try to use a Dremel, but you risk an inaccurate cutting. If you don’t have a dowel, use the shaft of your screw driver. If you don’t have that, then you won’t be modding so get lost!
IF you decide to Dremel, use a low speed, and move the Dremel in a circular motion to evenly cut the hole wider.
The easiest way is to use a drill bit as wide or almost as wide as the JLW shaft. Then finish it off with 80 grit wrapped around a dowel and twisting the actuator for a loose, but close fit.
Once you get that done, cut a strip of vinyl tape and place it on the cutting mat. You have 4 options. Cut a strip 10 mm wide, another at 9 mm, and a final strip at 8 mm. IMO, it’s best to use 8 mm because you can easily tweak the tension of the mod using the optional fiber washers. See tension mod in post 2. See the below image.
This was originally cut at 9 mm but I wanted to drop to 8.
*Note: I can’t remember if 8 was too short though, as it could cause issues getting caught on the gate if it’s too short. Start with 10, and if you want, work your way to 8. 10 will be pretty tense though, but if you like stiff levers then by all means. It’s actually pretty good feeling. Worst case, 8 is too short and you use a fiber washer to space it back up to 9 mm. No big deal. You can also combine washers below the gate if you like the tension of 8 mm, just in case… Ahem.
After getting the strip(s) cut, wrap them evenly around the actuator. You will use this as a marker for when to stop grinding down the top of the actuator. Use the Dremel and the flat grinding bit to start cutting. Once you meet the tape, check that it is even and there is no actuator poking above the tape. If there is, gently grind away until the whole circumference is even with the tape. You should now have a fairly accurately modified actuator.
The next step is optional, but you can also grind away at the inside of the bell to fit the JLW spring a bit more loose. You can fit the JLW spring in a stock LS-40 actuator, but it is a tight fit and may cause a little grinding as the spring compresses when you move the lever. You can do this on slow Dremel speed and carefully moving the actuator around the bit in a circular motion, cutting evenly.
After all your cutting is made, place a piece of 400 grit on a flat surface and sand the top of the actuator smooth. Remove the vinyl tape. Wrap the 400 grit around the dowel or screwdriver shaft and sand the hole for the shaft so that it is smooth. We don’t like no rough holes here! Wash any dust off and dry.
If you widen the hole a little too much, don’t worry. As long as there isn’t too much play, the actuator is still ok. The spring will do a lot of work keeping it in place. However, if you really do make it too wide, then you done fucked up. I warned you!!
It should look like this when you are done. Left is the new actuator, right is stock.
For reference, this is the LS-40 and JLW spring flanges next to each other. What? That’s not stock you say? Oh, what’s that? A failed LS-40 experiment to the left? No! Okay, I fucked up, but I did it for science, bitches!!
You can see they’re roughly the same. You can use the stock JLW spring flange for this mod. Saves you some grinding and hole widening eh? Eh??
For reference, a LS-40 spring on a JLW spring flange. Eventually, once @armi0024 gets those LS-40 springs (which will be compatible with LS-32, JLW, and LS-40) this mod will most likely be deprecated. Tension mod is still useful since you can tweak.
Below you will see the LS-40 shaft vs the JLW shaft, with a modified LS-40 pivot. As you can see, below the pivot they are about the same length, however you should notice that the JLW shaft leaves little room for the e-clip to move, so you end up with less space for the parts below the pivot, about 2 mm. This is why the actuator mod was important.
For the pivot, grind the hole exactly as you did before. You want it wide enough to fit over the shaft. You don’t need it to be particularly loose, you can get away with it being snug. Snug is fine, you don’t want any play while the shaft is in the pivot. That shit needs to be tight, like a virgin. Like, what every man wants in life you know? If it gets too loose, then you end up with a floppy shaft, and everyone hates floppy shaft action. Ask any women, they don’t, and guys with floppy shaft action wait wtf are we discussing again? Oh right. Well, if you fuck up here, this isn’t like the actuator. You can cut a piece of paper the same height as the pivot or some of the tape you have and use it as a spacer between the shaft and the pivot. Remember, it can be snug, and the pivot shouldn’t slide up or down the shaft, so this is still salvageable should you fuck up.
Now, if you done fucked up so bad that even that can’t fix it, well, I can’t help you there. I WARNED YOU!!
Interesting note for people who are LS-40 virgins: A Seimitsu shaft is integral to the LS-40!! There is a spacer built into it that space the pivot from the shaft, it’s about 2 mm. If you want to use your shaft bare (ohforfuckssake) you can get a 2 mm spacer that does the job the same. If you do not use a shaft or spacer, then your LS-40 will mount 2 mm too short! Also worth noting, the LS-40 can’t be used without it, because the actuator will get caught in the gate. However, the LS-40-01 can, because the gate is slightly raised because of the PCB. It tends to be floppy, and no one likes a floppy… well you get the idea. An alternative for the LS-40 is to use spacers between the gate and the switches around the screws. About 1 mm will do it. You’ll still have a floppy LS-40 though…
The below image shows what happens when you use the JLW actuator. As you can see, it sits too high above the levers, and without proper gate spacing between the switches and the gate, will also get caught in the gate. Note the spacers use in the upper left. Each one is about 1 mm so that’s why there is 2.
There she be, LS-40 actuator fit to the JLW shaft.
As you can see, because of the deeper bell, we don’t have the issues of the JLW actuator. It will clearly hit the levers and not get stuck in the gate. Also worth noting: Rather than using the smaller nylon spacers between the gate and the switches where the screws go, I used neoprene washers under the switches. This gets everything to the right height as well, and makes it easier for the bell to hit the levers on most common switches you could drop in. Matushita has wider levers, unlike common switches, so that’s another reason the bell distance and height are important. Version 2 goes more into this…
Shaft deep in that pivot action shot… dirty.
And, the shaft cover placed on the shaft. Actually, with it below the mounting plate, no way for dust to get in there, the LS-40 is the only stick I know of that can do this. Shaft cover, and bat top, and we’re all done!!
So, how does it feel?
Well, it feels pretty damn good. The LS-40 has a great pivot and is nice and smooth. The extra length of the JLW shaft helps a lot in mounting, especially in a wood panel. The base keeps the switches accurate with no room for movement, unlike the JLW. Good tension on it from the JLW spring, and easily tweaked using the tension mods.
Is it accurate? Yeah, pretty accurate, depending on how well you modify your parts. As I suspected about the JLW, the issues do not exist when using the LS-40 and to top it off, all directions engage the same as each other. Performance is awesome. I would definitely recommend if you have some spare parts lying around.
On the other hand, the -01 mod does not have the engagement issues that loose switches has. I think it’s partly because of how snug it is, and the fact the PCB is keeping it “floating” to a degree. Whichever mod you choose is up to you, but the -01 mod is far simpler and easier to do. However, if you do the optional mod for the -01 mod, then you will be back to the loose switch problem, and will have to find some way to compensate.
Do I need to buy a JLW to do this mod? Yes and no. You can get the shafts from PAS and mod your LS-40 to fit it, however, you won’t get the spring. Once the springs come out, then all you’ll need to buy is the spring and shaft and do some destructive modding.
So what if the LS-40 had a longer shaft and a tighter spring? Would you still love the JLW? Hmm, good question. I think if those came out, the JLW could be retired, which is looking very likely considering JLW is no longer in Sanwa’s catalogs and production seems to be done. They’ve moved on the JLF.
Well, what if the LS-40 gets retired? Seimitsu seems to be focusing on LS-58 and LS-60! Another good question. In this case, I will write up a quick JLW conversion based off a knock off PAS sells. It won’t be as nice as a real JLW (99% cosmetic differences) but it will be fairly close. I’m also guessing that whatever issues the JLW has, the knock offs will have as well. On the other hand, Zippyy sticks, while not as high quality as LS-32, can be used as a base as well… and the pivots on them are more like LS-40 even though the rest of the stick is more like LS-32. All this and more will be written about in an upcoming knock off article.
There is a version 2 to this, one I tossed around and wasn’t too sure of. Because I done fucked up on some my “tweaking” I ended up with a floppy shaft so uh… version 2 is actually what I’m using. I actually like version 2 better, it’s far easier and non-destructive. I will detail that sometime later. Until then, I’m out!