February 17, 2008

Started Assembling the tank - 6.0 hrs.

The time has come to start putting this right tank together! This was a good session today. I took the skin outside in the fresh air and cleaned it thoroughy with MEK. I also cleaned up the stiffeners, fuel cap flange, drain valve, and soaked some rivets in MEK. Then I started putting this tank together for good.

The first thing I did was to cleco the stiffeners in place, as you see above. You start with those. Then I laid down electrical tape as a masking tape so I don't get messy sealant everywhere, particularly where the ribs will lie. Have to keep those areas clean for now. I wore latex gloves this whole time, to keep everything clean and not get any oily fingerprints anywhere inside the tank. Then I took the stiffeners back off, mixed up some sealant, and began buttering each one up and clecoing it in place.

A couple of hours later, here is the result. Each stiffener has a nice coat of sealant underneath it between it and the skin, and it is 100% clecoed in place. I'm doing things a bit different with this tank. I'm using a method called "fay sealing" where you apply the sealant, put a cleco in every single hole (they're there... trust me. They're on the outside of the skin, poking up from underneath) and then leave it overnight, or for a day or two. THEN you come along and rivet it together, once the sealant has started to stiffen up a bit. It's supposed to work better, be a lot less messy, and take a lot less time. Not to mention less cleanup time. This time of year, with the temps in the 40's and 50's in the shop, this stuff can take several days or a week to finally cure. So there's no hurry to set the rivets right now. This method should work much better than the messy situation I had with the left tank. We'll see. Anyway, in the photo above, if you look close you can see the sealant oozing out around each stiffener onto the black tape. After they were clecoed in place, I used a syringe (minus the needle) as a mini caulking gun to apply a bead of sealant all around each one and a popsicle stick sanded to a narrow rounded tip to filet it out nice and smooth. That works so much better than just smearing it on! I'll peel the tape up tomorrow or the next day, right before riveting these stiffeners in place for good. Next, I sealed and clecoed the fuel cap flange in place, seen on the top right in the picture. This tank is almost ready for some ribs!

Next, I sealed and clecoed the drain flange into place. Here are some close-ups showing the inside and outside of the tank. Same thing here - I'll pull the clecos and rivet it together for good tomorrow or the next day.

I had a little sealant left when I was finished, so I decided to rivet this stiffener in place on the outboard end rib. I went ahead and squeezed these rivets in place, then put a dollop of sealant over each one. Then, on the right side, there is a small tooling hole left from the factory that needs to be sealed up. So I cut a #6 rivet to the right length and riveted it in place, then sealed it up on both sides.

Here are some close-ups of the end rib, showing the T-410 stiffener riveted and sealed in place, and the tooling hole sealed with a rivet and goo.

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