Wed Sep 5 2007

Closing up tanks

Today was a huge day. I started around midnight (having taken a huge nap yesterday evening) by dabbing over the shop heads of the doubler plate.

Next, I spent some time giving the entire interior of the tank a thorough wipe-down. That aluminum sure shines once all the proseal residue comes off.

Then I needed to put little proseal fillets along the aft edges of both upper and lower rib flanges...

...they came out quite nice. I used a toothpick to apply the proseal here.

Next was reinstallation of the compensator probe...

...and the outboard capacitive fuel sender plate. I had to take these off earlier for application of proseal fillets.

Finally around 4:00am I installed the flop tube, the vent line fitting, the return port fitting, and the two BNC connectors. I hooked up the vent line as well and sealed over everything except the BNC connectors.

After catching some Z's, I headed back down to the shop to finish getting things ready for my friend Scott's visit. Here I'm prepping one of the wires for attachment to the BNC connector. I tinned the wire end...

Then filled the BNC connector socket with solder. That way all I needed to do was heat up the socket and shove the wire in and remove the heat.

It makes a nice solid connection. I tested these connections with my digital multimeter...

...and sealed them over with proseal.

I also gooped over the connector lugs and the wires as they wrap around the vent line.

On to more prep for Scott's visit...swirled all the rivets that we'd be needing in MEK.

Here's all the various rivets drying outside. It was hot today (mid to high 90's) so I figured I'd put that heat to work and drive off the vapors outside.

Once Scott arrived, we scarfed down some pizza and got right to work. Here I'm applying beads of sealant to the skin.

The beads go just forward of the rivet line per Van's instructions.

We were busting ass to get all the work done, so we didn't get any more progress photos, but 2 1/2 hours later, we had the right tank completed.

The process went pretty smoothly except for a couple things. First, we had problems with the small pop rivet squeezer. I had to grind the end of it somewhat, but it turned out that made the tool useless. Fortunately, I had a second pop rivet tool and we ground that one down. It worked flawlessly. In the process of discovering the problem with the first pop rivet tool, we had two of the pop rivet stems break off at the top of the stem instead of down inside the body of the rivet. we ended up cutting those stems off with pliers and grinding them down smooth to the head of the rivet. The second problem we had was on the end ribs. It seemed the shop heads wanted to smush sideways. We had to drill a couple out on each of the tanks and some are still not perfect, but they're good enough.

Here's Scott standing next to the completed right tank. :-)

After a short break, we closed up the left tank. Here I am wiping down the outside with MEK.

Man, does it feel good to have these tanks (almost) done! All that's left is to install the access hole covers, pressure test them, and prime the outsides of the ribs and baffle. I sure hope they don't leak.

I'd just like to take a minute to say thanks to everyone who helped on these tanks including Kerin, Scott, Greg, Brent, my dad (Dave), my mom (Nancy), and my brother (Chris). Hopefully I haven't missed anyone. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! :-)