Building, testing and operating an experimental aircraft

Gooping up the Fuel Tanks

22 Jul 2011

I finally made it home for the big Oshkosh airshow next week, but in the meantime, Dad and I got down to business on the fuel tanks.

Measuring Tank Sealant Measuring Tank Sealant

First order of business was riveting the stiffeners to the lower tank skins. We used the Cleaveland C-frame backriveting attachment for all of these, with great success as usual for that tool.

Backriveting Stiffeners Backriveting Stiffeners

There’s no doubt that the Proseal (or whatever sealant product Van’s is selling these days) is messy stuff, and if you’re a perfectionist like we are, you sort of have to get over the fact that this stuff is going to get everywhere. We kept telling ourselves that no one was going to be inspecting the insides of our tanks, and we just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t have any leaks.

Gooping it Up Gooping it Up

We applied sealant to both the stiffeners and the tank skin, ensuring that the rivet holes were saturated as well.

Dad Gooping Tank Stiffeners Dad Gooping Tank Stiffeners

After the stiffeners were in both the left and right tank skins, we moved on the the fuel drains. For these, we used the standard backriveting plate and backriveting set in the rivet gun.

Fuel Tank Drain Valve Fuel Tank Drain Valve

We followed the advice of other builders and make a “star” pattern out of electrical tape on the inside of the skin around the drains, so that the fuel, water and particulates at the low point of the tank have an easy path to the drain, and don’t get caught up on a big ring of sealant.

Masking the Drain Valve Masking the Drain Valve

We finished up by riveting the sexy Van’s Deluxe Fuel Cap flanges onto the tank skins. Here we used the mushroom set and the bucking bar, and held the skin steady in its jig while we riveted.

Deluxe Fuel Cap Riveting Deluxe Fuel Cap Riveting

Finally we clecoed the ribs into the left tank skin and set it up in the jig, ready for more goopy riveting tomorrow!

Left Tank in the Jig Left Tank in the Jig

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