Totally (Almost) Sealed Up Right Tank

July 17, 2011

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Oh man. Today was a big day. The other day I finally got my AN470AD6-10 rivets from van’s (along with some hole-less tank access plates, you’ll see those in a minute), so it’s time to start sealing up these tanks.

Here’s a AD6-10 rivet in the outboard rib’s aft tooling hole.

A little long, eh?

After cutting it to a more reasonable (1.5 times diameter) length, I went ahead and shot this rivet in. I think I used 70 psi. Worked well.

Not terribly exciting, but I better not forget to cover this one with proseal before closing up.

Only two things left before I can close up. The two anti-hangup brackets. Here’s one, made out of some 0.025.”

With clecos...

With some blind rivets.

This one is the access plate anti-hangup bracket. I had originally thought about making these removeable with screws and nutplates, but I don’t think I’ll ever take this out, so blind rivets it is!

Nice, right?

When I couldn’t think of anything else to do before closing, I took a final picture (then stared for a few minutes just to be positive).

Almost forgot, I wiped the whole inside of the tank down as well as I could and then vacuumed everything out.

Here goes nothing…

I cleaned every mating surface I could find with MEK then mixed up some proseal and filled a few of my 30cc syringes. I put a glob of proseal over the manufactured and shop heads of the AD6- rivet I just set, then put a bead just forward of the baffle rivet holes, and on each of the flanges of the ribs. I also left 4 big globs in each of the corners.

No turning back now.

Before dropping the baffle in, I smoothed some of the beads to a single layer.

Then, instead of letting my single bead on the skin act as my baffle seal, I also smeared some onto the baffle flange, and dropped that bad boy in place.

Pretty good bead just forward of the baffle.

Now, having read about all the trouble with proud rivets on some other build sites, I decided that instead of 100% clecoing, I’d 50% cleco, but only after I’d gotten some unset rivets into some of the holes. (The rivets fill the holes better than the clecos do, if it’s jut clecos, things can get a little misaligned).

This shot is after getting everything 50% clecoed with rivets in every other hole.

Whew. I

Before getting to the skin rivets, I threw the z-brackets in place with a layer of sealant and got them blind riveted in place. (This single sentence represents about 30 minutes of checking, rechecking, aligning, etc. with the z-brackets to ABSOLUTELY be sure they are in the right orientation. My final check was that the inner and outer brackets have their aft flange pointing inboard, all others point outboard.)

After getting the AD-41H and -42H blind rivets in place.

Solid rivets on the inboard and outboard brackets/ribs.

More solid rivets.

At this point, I set all 132 rivets on the skin to baffle joint. No pictures, though. Sorry. I have one rivet that is slightly proud, but there is NO WAY IN HECK that I am going to drill it out right now. I challenge you to come find it when my airplane is flying. (Ha. All of you reading this will have forgotten by the time I’m flying.)

Okay, time for a little clean…OMG! I’m out of MEK.

Pause for an hour…run out to Home Depot….NO MEK!?…run out to Lowe’s…stop by Target…

Little MEK, meet big MEK.

Oh. Don’t try to pour some MEK from a big can into a little can even with a funnel. It will go all over your garage floor, because it slurps out of the can and you’ve been working out in the garage for HOURS and you are a little tired, your hands are a little shaky, and even though you are wearing a respirator, you are pretty sure the proseal and MEK fumes are getting to your head.

Oh, also, don’t set a full MEK can with the cap off next to your fuel tank, then move the fuel tank so the MEK can knocks over, and spills MEK on the workbench, then drips off onto the floor where you just spilled (and cleaned up) the MEK from your earlier boo boo.


Okay, back to work, you slacker!

Nice shiny new tank access plate.

More proseal here.

Then after putting the access plate in place…

(Don’t accidentally drop the access plate a hole-width or so away from your target, because then you have to kind of move the plate around with proseal everywhere while you try to find one hole to line up, then stick a screw in, and find another one…ask me how I know.)

Anyway, I twirled the very bottom of the screws in some proseal, then threaded them partway in. Once partway in, I took my syringe of proseal and put a glob on one side of the screw (see the right side of the following picture). As you tighten the screw, it drags around the screw head and makes a nice little bead (see left side of the picture.)

Perfect little bead.


Finally, I stuck the filler cap in place and stuck that bad boy on the wing.

WUHOO! It looks like an airplane.

“So,” you ask. “Why is this ‘almost’ closed up.”

Well, I’m not sure if you saw, but I didn’t install the float sender yet. Once I get that in, I’ll head to OSH, then come back in 10 days or so and leak test. (Although why should I leak test. I already KNOW that I have NO LEAKS.) It always helps to stay positive.

11:45am to 3:45pm, then another hour between 5pm and 6pm (after the Lowe’s run). What is that? 5 hours? Oh, and 185 rivets.

SWEET. Did everyone see my new charts? How come I’m not getting any emails with inflammatory engineer jokes in them?

I need a much-deserved adult beverage.

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Sealed Right Tank’s Inboard Rib

July 4, 2011

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Well, after stopping by Lowe’s today to pick up some latex gloves (I picked up latex instead of nitrile…I like the latext better), I got to work on sealing the inboard rib in.

For this rib, things were a little different. First, I can squeeze all of the skin to rib rivets (which is nice). Second, I have to pay attention to the reinforcement plates that need to go in place, and third, I have some fittings that can be installed once the rib is in place.

After buttering up the rib and riveting the 43 inboard AN426AD3-3.5 rivets, I ended up with this.

The clever readers will see the uppermost rivet on the right side is NOT SET. I caught it when I ran back outside later to count how many rivets I had set. (I knew counting rivets was a good idea.)

After getting the rib riveted in, I can now slide the reinforcement plates into place. (Like it says in the instructions, if you install these first, you won’t have room to squeeze the skin to rib rivets in the nose.) There’s a thick angle on the outside of the rib (shown below) and a thin .032 plate on the inside.

After lathering that guy with some pro-seal, I snapped this picture and got it installed.

That fan I bought a few weeks back is worth its weight in gold. It was 95°F today.

Fast forward a few minutes and some loud noises, and I had 6 AN470AD4-8 rivets set in the nose reinforcement area.

Perfect. (Well. Not perfect, but once I cover those smileys with proseal, you will never know.)

Fast forward another few minutes, and I got the flop tube installed with the -6 fitting on the inside and the nut on the outside, then I installed the vent tube (just flared) to the -4 fitting on the outside, you can see the aluminum washer and nut on the inside here. I made sure everything had a good bead of proseal around it before torquing everything down.


All that’s left to do on the right tank is installed the anti-hangup brackets, rivet a An470AD6- rivet in the tooling hole of the outboard rib, and then close that bad boy up.

Oh, and fit the access plate with some stainless cap screws, instead of machine screws. More on that later.

2.0 hours. 43 rivets on the inboard rib. 6 rivets for the reinforcement plates. 1 drilled out (Easy as PIE!) Hope everyone had a good fourth. (It’s storming here. Boo.)

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Rivet Encapsulation on Right Tank Ribs

June 29, 2011

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Well, not much tonight. I mixed a pretty big batch (55g) of sealant and stuffed it into one of the 30 cc syringes I bought from amazon.

After an hour of painfully reaching into the tank to do some rivet encapsulation, I ended up with all rivets encapsulated. (Well, except for the inboard rib…haven’t even riveted that one in place yet.

Some of these aren’t the prettiest, roundest globs, but I made sure I didn’t have any (obvious) paths to the rivet.

Another shot. I apparently took this one to prove to you that I did more than one rib.

I normally try not to use the flash.

The 55g of sealant in the 30 cc syringe did 6 of the 7 ribs in the tank.

There was a little bit left in my cup, but I’m calling it 55g for 30cc for 6 ribs.

1.0 boring hour.

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Last of the Interior Right Tank Ribs

June 26, 2011

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Well, between a puppy run, mowing the lawn, and a run to Lowe’s to get some house-related stuff, I managed to fit in a good three hours on the right tank.

First up, I unfurled some of the -4 tubing that’s provided (the tape said the roll from Vans was 19’) and tried to bend it as straight as I could. I notice in other’s pictures, it looks perfectly straight, but I couldn’t get mine that good. When you actually see a picture of it, let me know if you think it’s straigh.

Anyway, slid it in the installed ribs (after putting in some snap bushings), and cut it about an inch too long. Right before I install the last rib for good, I’ll final cut this, and flare appropriately.

Today’s goal, though, was to get ribs #2 and #4 done.

Here is rib #4 after being lathered in proseal, clecoed in, rivets inserted and taped over.

I like this part, because it means I’m about to set some rivets.

Here’s a shot from the other side showing some fillets. On this rib, I did the fillets before I set any rivets. Hopefully, getting those done now will prevent some of the proseal from getting on my bucking bar.

Nice fillets.

After banging away for a little, here are the rivets on the top of the skin.

Oh man, I hope it’s easy to clean off that proseal later.

…and the bottom of rib #4.

Before starting in on rib #2, I need to fabricate a little trap door. Basically, it will all fuel to flow from outboard to inboard, but when I roll one way or the other, the door will close and not allow fuel back outboard. (Fuel will still trickle out through some of the smaller holes, but enough should stay in the first bay to prevent fuel starvation for the short time it will take me to roll back upright.

The anti-hangup strips can be added later, but the trap door would be hard to do later.

I’m making the door from the bottom of the picture.

So, I found some extra hinge stock laying around, and cut it to make it look like the plans.

Hinge stock.

Then, I bent the hinge pin and triangle piece (which stops the door from opening all the way).

After some drilling, deburring, and dimpling, I set some flush rivets (so the door would close) in the bottom half.

3 rivets here.

Since I didn’t want to up the rivet size just so I could use a universal head rivet, I drilled the upper half of the hinge along with the rib to #40, then deburred and dimpled both.

3 more here. Trap door closed…

…trap door open.

Then, after having a HECK of a time getting the inboard rib clecoed in place (because you want to have the rib on either side of the one you are working on installed to firm everything up while you are riveting), I realized I was trying to cleco a dimpled skin into an undimpled rib.


So, deburred, dimpled, then tried again.

Much better. Here’s a shot after getting rib #2 cleaned, lathered up, clecoed, rivets inserted, and ready to rivet.

It actually wasn’t too hot out today. Having the garage door open was nice, although I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I’m crazy with the hearing protection, respirator, and gloves.

Speaking of gloves. This is the last one.

Don’t mess up, you only get one shot at this one.

Okay, half the rivets set, insert new (cleaned) rivets, move the tape…

The grass on the other side of the driveway is nice healthy grass, I promise.

All done on the top of #2.

Bottom is done, too.

After taking a short break (to breathe fresh, instead of respirated, air), I pulled off the blue vinyl from inside the tank. This worked perfectly for me, even though some guys on VAF were skeptical and insisted everyone use electrical tape.

Baloney! (Is that how you spell that? I’m not talking about the meat “bologna,” I’m talking about the “you’re full of it” exclamation.)

Well, I didn’t pull the first bay’s vinyl off yet. I’ll wait till the inboard rib is attached.

3.0 hours. 34 rivets on each of the ribs, plus 6 rivets for the trap door. None drilled out. I am a riveting all-star. (Only one rivet drilled out in the last 8 building sessions. Nice.)

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Right Tank Outboard Rib Reinforcement Rivets

June 22, 2011

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Nothing special tonight. Just set these three rivets.

Uno. Dos. Tres.

Oh, then I started making sure I had a nice fillet of proseal on the interior side of the rib, and it just kept getting messier and messier, so I finally just buttered up the whole surface of the reinforcement plate.

The reinforcement plate is under all of that proseal.

Yikes. I came back to the exterior side and put dollaps on each of the rivet heads.

Messy. I need to stick with the syringe for rivet encapsulation.

0.5 hour. 3 Rivets.

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Two More Right Tank Ribs Sealed

June 18, 2011

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Today was a busy day! Even though I’m logging all the time today as on the fuel tanks, I did spend just a couple minutes on the leading edge.

First thing, I deburred and dimpled the inboard leading edge rib, then fit it back in place on the leading edge, this time WITH the joint plate.

Looking good.

Oh, while I was in autozone today, I grabbed a tubing bender and mini tubing cutter.

These should work.

After much reading, deliberating, gnashing of teeth, and hand wringing, I decided to bite the bullet and add a fuel return line.

Not very many fuel injection systems require it, and if I got with the ECI injection (which is supposedly very nice), they say you can just add a bulkhead fitting to the inboard bay, but I think I’m going to run a -6 line to the second bay.

As of a week ago, I had decided I was not going to add any injection system that required return lines, so we’ll see how I feel in another week.

Anyway, I was milling about the parts under my workbench when I came accross the standard rigid pickup tube that Van’s provides. Since I’m using flop tubes, this is scrap, so I held it up against the tank, and figured out it would just make it over to the second bay. Wuhoo!

I guess with the normal pickup, they crimp the end and you make saw cuts in the side of the tube as the actual pickup.

First, let’s get this thing cut in half.

Not bad. Needs deburring, though.

Then, let’s uncrimp the other side so the thing will fit into the cutter (I want a fresh cut on both ends).


Of course, I made a fresh cut on this end too, then deburred both sides, and promptly put the tubes away before taking any more pictures. Sorry.

On to some tank ribs.

After the usual cleaning and preparations, I buttered up rib #5 and clecoed it in place. Here are some undriven rivets with tape on the heads, ready to be set.

Ready for riveting.

I went light on the pictures today, sorry. Here’s rib #5 and #6.

I still don't like the proseal on the outside of the skins, but I'm trying not to have any leaks. I hope the razor blade trick works.

Then, I repeated the whole process for rib #3.

...and my trusty rivet gun.

A picture of the top side.

Nice, except for the very last rivet I shot, which is on the lower right corner. Ding city.

Starting from the (invisible) rib all the way to the left, I did ribs 2 and 5 today.

Still need some rivet encapsulation, but overall, a really good day. 34 rivets times 2, none drilled out.

Oh, and 3 hours. (It really only took me one hour per rib, but I was messing around with the leading edge and the fuel tube stuff.

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Right Tank Rib Prep

June 14, 2011

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Not much today, but here goes anyway.

I had approximately half a syringe full of proseal in the freezer from Saturday (I think), and it was going to go past its 4 days of freezer goodness, so I pulled it out and made my rivet encapsulation dollops (umm, spelling?) a little bigger.

I still have good pathways for water, but just wanted to be sure I sealed those puppies well.

Same thing on the cap flange, except these don't look as pretty.

Then, I spent some time deburring and dimpling tank ribs.

Two done.

Dinner time!!!

For extra credit, this picture has Jack and Ginger, too!

After some more rib prep, I have 6 of the 7 ribs clecoed in place.

(Still working on the inboard rib.)

My gameplan from here onwards will be to finish up the first rib, then work on the outboard rib (there’s a reinforcement plate I have to drill), then pull one (or two) ribs out at a time, clean judiciously, put sealant on the flanges, 100% cleco in place, then rivet.

Then, make fillets, do some rivet encapsulation, and celebrate with beer.

I’m planning on one rib per night, but might get in two. Just a few more nights of miscellaneous work, then I can get started.

1.0 hour.

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