Tanks mounted!

April 18, 2011 – After a little finesse on the outboard end of each tank, I installed them. I’m sure they’ll have to come off again at some point, but now things look pretty aircrafty.

You’ll recall that I had some pillowing of the skin between the screws where the tak joins the fixed leading edge:

After a little lovin’ here’s roughly the same spot now:

I’m pretty satisfied with this unless I see something a whole lot better on other airplanes.

Here’s the left wing with the top skins clecoed on:

Riveting the top skins will be the next big project. In the absence of help, I want to do things like paint and install the landing light brackets; things like that.

Time: 2:10

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Fuel tanks done!

April 18, 2011 – Last Thursday I found one more rivet for the left tank baffle that was leaking. I removed the rivet and did the shop-vac thing again. I went to Minneapolis over the weekend with my son to check out a school, and got back last night. This morning was the leak check, and I’m happy. I have a couple things to do around the house, and I’m going to try to check the fit of the tank later today. I hand-worked the skin between the screw holes on the outboard end. We’ll see how that goes. If it works out, I’ll remove the right tank and do the same thing.

Time: :45

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Right tank complete!

April 13, 2011 – My right tank is complete and (maybe permanently) in place!

I went back to Addison and leak checked the leaks that I repaired last night. Here’s something: the trick with the shop-vac worked! That was in the right tank and it all checked out. The left tank, however, had another leak. It was the one in the previous post with the leak in the corner at the baffle/rib/skin joint. That one checked out, but I found another at about the center of that same end at the attach for the end z-angle. It may have been that the one leak yesterday was so big that other leaks didn’t show up.

So I brought everything home, including the regulator setup. I did the shop-vac thing again. The sealant hasn’t set up yet, and I’ll be out of pocket for the next few days, so things should be nice and dry by the time I get back.

I installed the wiring for the fuel float sender in the right tank. I had to do this now because the float is attached to the baffle and will be inaccessible when the tank is installed.

Then I mounted the right tank. Screws and bolts line up and go right in, and everything looks aircrafty.

One issue I see, and this appears to be very common, is that I have slight pillowing between the screws at the tank/leading edge junction.

I’ll research and address this later. It does go all the way around the tank edge.

I also clecoed the top skins to the left wing in preparation for their installation.

Time: 2:40

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Fuel tank leak check

April 12, 2011 – Today I leak-checked the tanks. I took the tanks to Addison where my friend Kato had some of the equipment to do the job.

We hooked up the regulator and gauge to the vent fitting.

We put 2 PSI to the tanks and sprayed soapy water.

We found three leaks. Two were rivets, one of which is for the baffle (no sweat there). The other is a rib fastener just forward of the baffle.

The other leak was in the other tank, and was a bit bigger. Turns out I left a hole in the corner between the outboard rib, the baffle and the skin.

That was easy to fix because luckily, it is in the same bay as the fuel filler point. I put sealant on the outside, and I taped a long q-yip to a long screwdriver, put some sealant on the end, and reached in and applied it in the corner on the inside.

I brought the tanks home, and attempted a poor man’s fix on the internal rivet. I placed the hose of my shop-vac in the filler hole, and it fit perfectly. I held the hose there tightly while I applied some thinned sealant to the outside of the rivet. We’ll see if it did the job. The rivet leaks were both very small.

Time: 2:15

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Right fuel tank closed!

April 5, 2011 – In preparation for closing of the right tank, I had to install the flop tube. I had to clean up the 9/16″ hole where the fitting passes through the inboard rib and the T-405 and T-410. I ran a reamer through there by hand.

I then put sealant on the fitting where it goes through the rib, and tightened the jam nut on the outside, making sure the tube rested in the anti-rotation bracket.

I placed the tank in the cradle and cleaned the mating surfaces with acetone.

Shown below are the tank, and then the baffle with the float sender installed.

I did adjust my countersink a few thousandths deeper and ran over all the baffle holes through the skin, because my left tank rivets sat a little proud of the skin. These are much better.

Time: 2:30

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Left tank rivets

April 3, 2011 – After cleaning the sealant from the rivets for the baffle on the left tank, I found that many of them were sitting a bit proud of the surface. Since I never change the depth of my countersink, I can only assume that the difference is the sealant.

I went down both rows and gave the rivets some love with the gun and a light bar. They’re better. Not baby-bottom smooth, but better. To fix the problem for the right tank, I did adjust my countersink.

Time: :25

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Installed left tank baffle

March 29, 2011 – After a little bit of clean-up work on both tanks, I decided to bite the bullet and close the left tank. I mixed up the sealant and put a bead along the rivet lines and the aft edges of the ribs, then I put the baffle in place and clecoed it to death.

I installed the upper and lower pop rivets in each rib, then I sealed and clecoed the z-angles in place, making sure they were oriented correctly. The pop rivets were installed wet, by dipping them in the sealant.

To install these I had to modify my trusty pop riveter that I bought when I started my airline career 23 years ago. Kinda hated to do it.

Just for good measure, I cap-sealed the pop-rivets.

Then I used a squeezer to install all the upper and lower skin rivets and the -4 button-head rivets on the upper and lower ends of the inboard and outboard ribs. I still need to install the z-angles on those ribs.

Time: 4:20

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Right tank work

March 22, 2011 – I finally got all the center ribs installed in the right fuel tank. I’m getting a little tired of mixing a batch of sealant every time I need to do something, but the end is near.

I also did some of the smaller items that will lead to being able to close the right tank. I installed the fuel float sender in the baffle for the right tank, because of the flop tube. Luckily, the float cleared the stiffener right below it.

I safetied the flop tube to the fitting that will feed fuel out of the tank…

I installed the anti-hangup strap to the second rib. This strap will deflect the flop tube in case it gets close to this corner.

Then I installed the anti-rotation bracket for the flop tube. I used a bracket that Van’s includes in the kit. These brackets are for the fixed fuel pickup tube that I have installed in the left tank. I just cut the top off so the flop tube fitting would lie in the bracket.

Then my friend Joe stopped by, so we riveted the splice straps in the leading edges. This is where the fuel tank attaches at the outboard end. Just for giggles, we test-fitted a tank on the wing. No pictures on that yet until it’s time to install…

Time: 8:00

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Left tank fuel pickup tube

March 18, 2011 – I took a few minutes to address the problem with the fuel pickup tube I discussed in the previous post.

After discussing the problem with someone else, I decided to use a finger screen; a solution I always preferred over the sawed inlet holes per the plans. I cut the tube off at the last inlet hole that I had made. I then cut the fitting off of a finger screen that was donated to the cause.

I located the screen with the access panel installed, then made a mark through the screen onto the tube. I drilled a hole laterally for .020 safety wire, and slid the wire through the screen and the tube.

I took the access panel out, and wrapped the safety wire in opposite directions, as tightly as I could.

I coated the joined area between the tube and the screen with sealant.

With the extra sealant, I installed the float in the panel, and put it all in place.

Time: :40

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More left tank stuff

March 16, 2011 – Today I installed the left tank fuel sender and the T-405 attach angle.

The sender float wire gets bent to reach its full up and down travel within the tank. I used the measurements provided by Van’s on the added sheet that came with the kit. I bent the center angle at 3 1/4″, and then the short 3/4″ section that goes into the sender. That bend was also 3 1/4″ from the center bend. I slid it into the sender and checked travel. I had to adjust the bend just a hair because the float didn’t quite reach the bottom of the tank. Then it was time to measure resistance through the sender. My old faithful meter decided to give it up, so I borrowed one from a friend. The readings were just about what they needed to be.

I also installed the T-405 attach angle and the T-410 doubler on the inside of the inboard rib leading edge. Kinda messy, but not too bad.

I do have to slightly rework the left tank fuel pickup tube. I made it too long, so it will not allow the baffle plate to be installed. I cut it to shorten it, but I’m not sure it will withstand recrimping the end. I may have to make a new one.

Time: 2:40

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Left tank miscellaneous

March 15, 2011 – Since the center ribs for the left tank got done in the last post, I installed some of the necessary items to eventually prepare for closing.

I installed the T-410 doublers on the outboard ribs for both tanks.

I installed the outboard rib in the left tank.

I then installed the snap bushings, the fuel vent line and the fitting in the inboard rib.

I then installed the inboard rib for the left tank. I still have to install the T-410 doubler and the T-405 mount bracket at the leading edge.

Time: 4:25

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Continued fuel tank rib installation

March 13, 2011 – Today I also continued installing fuel tank ribs. I made an off-hand remark to my wife Lenora (LJ) about needing help with some riveting, and she said OK!! After a quick lesson on handling the rivet gun, we got started. Shot the last two ribs in the left tank, and I said we could stop if she wanted. She said “It’s kinda fun, let’s keep going”. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, we put the right tank on the table and got two of those ribs done. Once she got the hang of it, she was a machine. She did a great job.

Time: 5:40

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Started fuel tank ribs!

March 7. 2011 – Today I started riveting the fuel tank ribs.

But last night I spent a couple of hours clecoing the ribs to the skins per the instructions. There were a few man-words said in the man-cave last night. These things are really a pain in the butt to get clecoed in place. I did figure out, though, that it goes easier if you start at the aft end of the lower side of the ribs. Work your way forward  about halfway, then cleco starting  at the front of the upper side. The skin pulls into place a lot better that way.

Today, my friend Joe was coming by to help me with the ribs. While I waited for him, I cut and sawed the left tank fuel pickup tube per the plans. I also sealed the elbow into the access panel.

When Joe got here, we started on the ribs. We got three done. I mixed a small amount of sealant for each rib, so if a rib took too long, we wouldn’t waste any.

Time: 8:55

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Fuel cap and drain flanges

March 2, 2011 – Today I riveted the fuel tank filler cap and drain flanges.

The fuel cap flanges were attached along with the clips for the vent line. Note the note to myself in the second picture below. I would otherwise forget…

I taped off channels for the fuel to travel on its way to the drain.

The exterior of a tank drain:

There are small machined fairings available for the drains. I think I’m going to get them, because the drain just sticks out into the airstream.

I also plugged the aft tooling holes in the outboard tank ribs. I made small plates and riveted them in. I tried -6 rivets, but I was deforming the rib with the effort it took to shoot the rivet.

Time: 2:00

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Fuel tank riveting

March 1. 2011 – Over the last few days I’ve gotten a few things done.

Because I am installing the right tank fuel float sender on the aft baffle instead of in the inboard rib, I had to figure out how to run the wiring for the sender, because the sender won’t be accessible later without removing the tank. I decided to install small grommets in the two inboard z-angles to run the wire through. I used MS35489-1 grommets. I located the holes at the upper end of the z-angles between the bolt holes. I piloted the holes, then eventually used a reamer to bring them to .245″ The grommets fit like a glove.

I then installed the nutplates for the fuel senders in their appropriate locations. I also installed the safety bracket for the fuel pick-up tube on the left access panel.

Today I installed the stiffeners on the left tank skin.

Time: 3:05

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Riveted inboard rib fuel tank access panel rings

February 21, 2011 – Since I didn’t have quite the time I needed today to commit to doing the left tank stiffeners, I decided to attach the nutplate rings for the access panels.

I am going with dome nuts (NAS1473-A08) instead of the regular nutplates called for in the plans. I also had to attach the upper portion of my modified anti-hangup bracket for the right tank.

Ran out of sealant as I was cap-sealing the dome nuts, so when I do the left tank stiffeners, I’ll mix a little extra to finish those.

Time: 1:40

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