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Fuel Fill Frustration

posted Jun 12, 2011, 6:22 PM by Christopher Hubbell
I knew I would need to remove the original fuel fill from the cockpit sole as it was leaking.  This was largely due to the loose screws rather than the sealant or the fill itself, but either way I had resigned myself to its removal.  When it came out I was not pleased with what I saw; It was a plastic fitting inserted into a metal fitting.  Probably original, but I'm not a big fan of those plastic fittings, especially knowing they have been in place for 34 years.  Cracking means either admitting water to the fuel tank (ruins engine) or admitting fuel vapors to the cabin (ruins the ambiance).

With this in mind, I picked up a new deck fill, thinking they would be similar in dimensions since both took a 1-1/2" hose.  Wrong again.  The diameter was approximately 1/4" smaller on the new fitting, although the mushroom head diameter was close enough.

My solution was to pug the under-side of the cockpit sole with masking tape and fill the entire hole with colloidal silica thickened epoxy, then re-drill the narrower hole.  This would also properly pot the hole and seal off the cockpit sole core.

Unfortunately, not only was it a warm day, but I also had only fast hardener with me.  I managed to cook off two attempts at filling the hole before getting it right.  This not only wasted expensive epoxy, but also precious time.  I left that night with the hole filled, but just barely.

The next day I returned to sand the repair flush, and re-drill the hole.  This was fairly uneventful, luckily.  In the end, I decided that the old screw holes which had been filled looked pretty bad, and so I gel-coated the entire repair area.  This is good in that I'm doing quality work which will protect the fiberglass.  This is also bad in that it means I had to wait for the gel coat to dry, which exceeded my work window for this evening.  When I left, the gelcoat was still a bit tacky.  I should be able to get it sanded tomorrow and ready for the deck fill installation.

The tricky thing that comes next is trying to figure out how long the deck fill barb can be without colliding with the tank's barb.  The fill hose is only about 3" long, so I'm pretty sure I'll need to use my Dremel wheel to trim the deck fill down to size.  That won't be hard, but it will take time.  I don't think I'll be able to get the tank in tomorrow, but I'll be close.

I'd hoped to wrap up the tank this weekend, but now it looks like middle of next week instead.  As always, my optimism is rarely in alignment with reality.