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My planned flight at work fell apart today, as the ramp at the hangar was a sheet of wet ice. It would be very unsafe to start engines, as the idle thrust would push the aircraft around with the wheels locked on the ice.

After I cancelled the flight, I took comp time for the rest of the day and headed to Smiths Falls. One of the other hangar tenants and I cleared the snow off the hangar tarmac, then I attacked reinstalling the right fuel tank.

The tank is secured to the wing by three different means:

  1. three bolts in each of seven Z angles that are riveted to the back bulkhead of the tank. You can see the Z angles in the picture on this page, from way back in 1998 when I was building the fuel tanks. The bolts are inserted from the aft side of the wing main spar, and thread into nut plates on the Z brackets. There are three access panels on the bottom of the wing to allow the bolts to be reached. Nine of the 21 bolts are easily accessed, but the other 12 require sticking an arm in an access hole, then reaching either inboard or outboard through lightening holes in the wing ribs to reach the bolt head. The aileron pushrod is in the middle of those lightening holes, so there is very little room for your arm to move. The holes for these 12 bolts cannot be seen, so you have to work by feel. If you drop a bolt, it skitters aft along the lower wing skin until it hits the rear spar, and then you have the fun of flailing around with a magnet on a stick to retrieve a bolt that you cannot see. Surprisingly, I managed to get all bolts inserted without drawing any blood, or inventing any new words. I only dropped one - that one came out on the third try with the magnet.
  2. There is a single 1/4" bolt that attaches the front end of the fuel tank to the fuselage.
  3. There are many dozen flat head screws around the periphery of the fuel tank skin, securing the edge of the skin to the wing skin.

I got items 1 and 2 done today, as well as reconnecting the fuel line, fuel vent line and fuel sender wires. All I have left to do is reinstall those many dozen screws, an easy but tedious task.

A very sharp cold front came through today, so the temperature has crashed again. I won’t be doing any more work in the hangar until it warms back up again - possibly on the weekend.

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