Recommenced fuel tank assembly

Jared came by again today to help out. Thanks, man. You’re the best!

We got the fuel drains, fuel filer and stiffeners re-installed.

 

 

Installed the ribs in the right tank.

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Made up installed the vent line for the right tank. Added installed the right tank attach bracket and aft inboard rib and filleted everything with sealer. Both tanks are now ready to be closed out with the rear baffle.

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I cannot over state what a sticky, smelly, messy process this is. My shop looks like a sealant bomb went off.  Every tool I own has some sealant on it now.

 

Today’s Time (hours): 10.0
Wing Time (hours): 222.0
Total Time (hours): 374.0

 

Cleaned up all the partially cured sealant

Started the day with a nice flight down to Aircraft Spruce at FFC with Jared to pick up some PolyGone. Great excuse to go flying!

PolyGone polysulfide stripper is the shizzle! This stuff really removes fuel tank sealant as advertised. I had a real mess on my hands and this stuff saved the day.

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I slathered the PolyGone onto the partially cured sealant and let it sit for 30 minutes or so then used a plastic bondo scraper and rags to remove it. It took about four hours (not counting wait time) to get all the sealant off of the skins and all the stiffeners and other parts. It was tedious and messy but it worked and I got it done. Went through a lot of gloves and rags.

Back to fuel tank assembly tomorrow. I am so ready to be done with the fuel tanks.

Today’s Time (hours): 4.0
Wing Time (hours): 212.0
Total Time (hours): 364.0

 

Fuel Tanks: the struggle is real.

Fuel tanks are absolutely kicking my ass. I got back from Toronto last night and checked to see if the sealant had cured. The stuff I had applied Monday had hardened up nicely. The first batch from from Sunday was still gooey. Not cool. They came from the same can. So I must have made a mistake in mixing that batch.

I talked to Jared and Van’s. Consensus was that it may cure eventually but Van’s recommended that I re-seal these parts with properly mixed sealant. Unfortunately this meant removing 22 stiffeners, 2 fuel fillers, and 2 fuel drains. I had to drill out a couple hundred rivets and was left with a sticky mess. Thankfully the sealant on all of the ribs we had just riveted into the left skin was fine.

When the sealant is first applied, it wipes off easily with some lacquer thinner. Once it has started to cure, not so much. I’m headed to Aircraft Spruce tomorrow to pick up some PolyGone. It is specifically designed to remove polysulfide fuel tank sealant.

 

It was essential to my sanity that I make at least some modicum of forward progress today. So I bent up the rods for the fuel sender floats per the plans. Since the ribs were installed in the left tank, I was even able to fine tune the left sender to the proper clearances.

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Today’s Time (hours): 3.0
Wing Time (hours): 208.0
Total Time (hours): 360.0

 

Continued building left tank

Sealed and riveted the J channel stiffener to the tank skin.

 

Installed the tank attach bracket assembly and added a fillet of sealant to the seam with the forward rib. I used an inspection mirror to ensure I got good coverage.

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Made up the fuel vent line and installed into the tank.

 

Sealed and riveted the aft inboard tank rib in place. I installed the bulkhead fitting for the vent line and connected the vent line to it.

 

I didn’t have enough sealant left to fillet the aft rib. So I’ll do that in the next session.

 

Today’s Time (hours): 3.0
Wing Time (hours): 205.0
Total Time (hours): 357.0

 

Made great progress on tanks

Jared cam over and helped with tanks today. I’m very grateful to have a friend that has done this before and is so generous with his time. I would never have made as much progress on my own. Learned a ton today.

Everything we did today involved fuel tank sealant.  We used FlameMaster Chem Seal that I bought from Van’s. This stuff was invented by satan to torture builders. It smells like ass. It is incredibly sticky and gets on everything. Every part, every tool, every cleco, your hands, you arms, the work bench, the floor, EVERYTHING! I went through an entire box of nitrile gloves today. It is a two-part concoction that you mix ten to one by weight.

We sealed and riveted the flanges to the rear inboard ribs. Then we riveted the drain flange to the skins (after undimpling the holes that I accidentally dimpled in the skins). We riveted the fuel filler flanges to the skins. We riveted the stiffeners to the skins. We set up the left skin in the cradles, applied the sealant to the skins and then riveted the ribs in place.

 

 

 

Today’s Time (hours): 9.0
Wing Time (hours): 202.0
Total Time (hours): 354.0

 

Final drilled and dimpled tank skins

Final drilled and deburred all the #19 holes. Dimpled the #19 holes with the squeezer. Dimpled the #40 holes with a combination of squeezer, DRDT-2, and close quarters dimple dies.

 

Ready to start assembling and sealing.

Today’s Time (hours): 3.0
Wing Time (hours): 193.0
Total Time (hours): 345.0

 

Back to work on the tanks

Got back from Toronto yesterday and my replacement tank skins had arrived. I cut the splice strips from the skins with the snips and filed/sanded the edges smooth. I clecoed the baffles into the skins and machine countersunk all the associated rivet holes.

I’ll get the dimpling done tomorrow and start assembly on Sunday.

In other news… Van’s charged my credit card for the balance due on the fuselage kit. Hopefully that means the kit is being crated and will ship in the next week or so. Now the pressure is on to finish the wings!

Today’s Time (hours): 1.0
Wing Time (hours): 190.0
Total Time (hours): 342.0