What's better than the real one?
This is what I thought about the yokes, for this reason I bought one from a retired 737-300 and I restored it, to have a perfect base to mould and replicate more units.
First step was disassemble all the stuff from the unit, removing the trim switch group, the A/P disconnect button and support, the microphone button assembly, the upper cover and finally the internal wires with his support as well.
After that, I revised the yoke and as you can imagine, isn't a new item, it is completely scratched and damaged, there are some zones without paint, due the use of this control wheel, well, then it's time to sand all the yoke with an orbital sander, removing the first layer of the coat, leaving it the more perfect surface as I can.
Ok, I did it, now I need to put some putty on the little damages that this unit have, and then sand again, but this time I did by hand.
Next step was spray one thick layer of primer, the same that is used on the cars repairing, leaving a surface a bit rough, as you can see on this picture
Ok, I did again, now the next step is to sand by hand, and obtain the best finished surface to receive the "almost" last layer of coat, on the picture isn't difficult to see the zones where the original coat is starting to appear on the surface and the rest of this layer is really thin. This action, sand, must be repeated at least until the surface are completely smooth, in my case was 4 times, and every time I used a thiner sand paper (last one was grade 800 and a light final sanding with 2000)
Well, have you the control wheel completely sanded? Of course, waooo, I spent 4 days for this, ha ha ha...
Then, now is coming a really important step, paint it, why? well, this is the surface that we are going to obtain when we produce the mould itself, ok, then MUST BE perfect. After the layer of black (or green, or yellow, or the colour what you want to use...) we must be sure to apply a lacquer/varnish layer, that gave us a "mirror" finish, that should be perfect to make the negative mould and release easyly from the original yoke, so, this is as the final layer looks:
Next step? mould it, but this is another history.
See you soon.