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More Fuel Tank Sealing


I haven’t touched my kit for a while due to various distractions, but I’m pleased to report I’ve been able to get back into the shed recently. This post covers about 3 weeks worth of work.

Work continues on sealing the fuel tanks. I am concentrating on one tank so I can get familiar with using Proseal, which is a two-part adhesive used to seal the joins and rivets in the aluminium pieces to make is water (or fuel) proof. I suspect it is the most stickiest, stringiest and self-replicating adhesive known to man. If any evil genius is missing their mutant hybrid between vegemite, super glue and melted mozzarella cheese, I have a can of it.

I first clecoed one of the tanks in the cradle in order to get everything plumb.
Tank in the cradle

I then removed the second rib and laid a layer of sealant zig-zagging around each rivet hole, so that the entire mating surface between the rib and the skin had a double bead of sealant. After replacing the rib back into position, I clecoed the rib into place. I then twirled each rivet with a dollop of sealant and inserted them into the vacant holes. To give me access, I then removed the end rib. Using my small bucking bar and mushroom head rivet gun, I carefully set the rivets working from the leading edge backwards. You need very little pressure and even then you don’t need to squeeze the trigger much. The rivets are tiny and set very easily. Once I had set the rivets top and bottom, I removed the clecoes and riveted the remaining holes. I repeated this process and riveted the end rib. I found that using the syringe to apply the sealant was very handy. The stuff still goes everywhere but it probably would be much worse trying to apply with a pop stick.

Once the ribs were done, I applied a dollop of sealant over each shop head on the rivets. I then cleaned the surface with Acetone to remove the excess sealant. Using a pop stick I then filleted the sealant around the rib to skin join. I also applied from additional sealant around the leading edge of the end rib as this was been noted by other builders as a common leak location.
Fuel tank ribs riveted

I found that making a 100g/10g batch of sealant was enough to fill a whole syringe and complete 2 ribs (with a bit to spare). Over about 2-3 weeks, I have been able to rivet 6 of the 7 ribs (three build sessions of 2 ribs each). Each session was about 2.5 hours (7.5 hours total). This is a very messy, tedious and not entirely enjoyable stage of the build but a lot of other builders have said the same thing.
Four fuel tank ribs riveted
Six fuel tank ribs riveted

About gstrack

Husband and father of 2. Control & Instrumentation Engineer. Flying nut. Gadget geek.


One thought on “More Fuel Tank Sealing

  1. Since I’m just about to attach the baffle to the right tank, sealing off easy access to the inside of the tank, I wanted to do one last check to make sure everything was installed correctly and that I had all the baffle parts ready for final assembly. I checked everything over on the plans and realized that there are two sizes of blind rivets that are used to attach the baffle…a shorter rivet is used where there is only baffle and rib, and a longer rivet is used where the z-brackets attach. Once I caught this, I found the second size of rivet and cleaned some of them in MEK. The only other problem I caught (I actually realized this earlier in the day) was that I hadn’t scuffed the areas of the baffle that will see sealant. Once I scuffed those areas, I had to re-clean the baffle. Since I had the MEK out, I also cleaned the z-brackets again and the rib flanges that will contact the baffle.

    Posted by Therese Holman | May 25, 2013, 2:01 pm

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