Riveting/Sealing Fuel drain, caps and Ribs

April 11th, 14th, 18th, 20th, 21th, 22nd, 27th and 28th, May 2nd 47h

Riveting the fuel tank ended up taking a lot of time.  The procedure of the riveting is very similar to the one of the stiffeners.

On April 11th, I riveted the fuel drain and caps with back riveting, for both tanks.This took about 6h.

On April 14th, we did two ribs. This took about 4h.

On April 18th, we did one rib. This took about 2h.

On April 20th, we did two ribs.  This completed the left tank inner ribs. This took about 3h.

On April 21th, we did five ribs.  All of the right tank inner ribs at once.  We definitely improved and speeded up our process.  We learned that it is more efficient to do multiple ribs in the same time, so we tackled 2 together, then we tackled 3 ribs at a time. This took about 6h.








On April 22nd, I prepared the 2 outboard rib.  I had to custom cut a 6D rivet to fill the holes in the rib, then rivet it with sealant.  Then, I prepared the reinforcement plates, drilled then and riveted then with the sealant to the outboard ribs for both tanks.  Then, I roughed all the surfaces for all inboard and outboard ribs and the rest of the parts that mount to the inboard ribs. This took about 5h.


Then, I did couple little side tasks, which took about 3h.:

  • Testing the fitting of the 2 tanks with the baffle and the z bars, now that the ribs are riveted.



  • Priming the z bars, so that they are ready to rivet to the tank once the fuel tank is complete.


On April 27th, I riveted the outboard and inboard rib for one of the tanks.  The riveting was easier since it can be done with the pneumatic squeezer, so it can be done with all one person. This took about 6h.

On April 28th, we riveted the outboard and inboard rib for the other tanks. Then we riveted the horn and reinforcement plate for both inboard ribs.  This took about 3h.

Then we moved on to the vent line, fuel pick up tube and fuel sander.  We started preparing the vent line, but then we realized that we need to flare the pipe, and I did not have a flaring device.  So, we decided to move on until I get one.  Then we look at the fuel pick up tube, we went though the instruction of creating the custom one, but then I decided that getting an upgrade from Vans with the mesh is a better option, so we decided to move until I purchase that one.  Then we move on to the fuel sander, for which we riveted with sealant the plate nuts, for both tanks.  This took about 3h.


On May 2nd, I took on the task of examining the flushness of the rivets and cleaning all the outside fuel tank sealant around the rivets.  The left tank, which was the first one we did had way more tank sealant around the rivets and it took about three hours to clean. The right had way less fuel tank sealant and took only about an hour to clean.  Then I went through both tanks marking any rivets that were not smoothly flush with the surfaces and sanded those rivets to get a nice flush finish.  A couple of rivets were a little too high for sanding according to the MIL specs, so I removed those rivets in order to reset them.  Afterwards, I added protective tape to keep the metal protected against corrosion until it gets painted. This took about 6.5h

Riveting/Sealing Stiffeners

April 6th, 7th, 8th 2019, 11h

Riveting using the fuel tank sealant is a missy time consuming job.  We decided to tackle half of the stiffeners at a time so that we can be done in one hour while the sealant is still good. The method we used is as follow:

  • Clean very well all surfaces, rivets and clekos with Acetone.
  • Add type to all inside surface we did not want any sealant in.
  • Add a good layer of sealant to the stiffeners.
  • Put the rivets in and add backing type.
  • Rivet
  • Add more sealant to the edges of the stiffeners and the head of the rivets.
  • Remove all type and clean with Acetone.
  • We had a couple rivets that did not go very well, so we replaced them.


Right Fuel Tank Prep

April 5th, 6th, 7th, 2019, 15h

After getting the new z bars for the right wing tank, I went ahead with preparing this tank to catchup to the left one:

  • Drilled the z bars middle holes.
  • Checked the fitting of the fuel skin with the drilled z bar and the baffle,  I had to make some very small modifications.  By the end the filling looked good.
  • Drilled the rest of the lower holes in the 6 z bars
  • Attached plate-nuts to the z bars: drilling holes for rivets, deburring, counter sinking and riveting.
  • Attached the z bars, and checked the fitting again, it looked good.


  • Attached the baffle, and drilled the lower holed for the 7th z bar.
  • Attached plate-nuts for the 7 z bar to the main spar: drilling holes for rivets, deburring, counter sinking and riveting.
  • Attached baffle and the ribs and drilled the rest of the top holes in z bars.
  • Attached the Skin to the ribs and baffle.
  • Drilled the holed in W-423 attachment plate.
  • Matched drilled all Skin holes with the ribs and baffle.
  • Counter sinks the holes in the skin for attachment with baffle.
  • Debbured all holes in the skin, and stiffeners.
  • Smoothed the edge of the skin.
  • Dimpled all holes in the skin and stiffeners.
  • Roughed the surfaced in the skin and and stiffeners for better attachment with fuel sealant.


More Fuel Tank Prep

March 28rd, 29th, 30th, April 2nd, April 4th, 2019, 20h

After further reading on inverted fuel and oil, we decided to go without, given that we are not looking to do extended inverted flight or negative g maneuvers.

So far, we had good progress with the fuel tanks.  However, open fitting the fuel tank with the leading edge, the fit was not good.  I talked with Vans technical support about this, and they mentioned that the z bars connecting the main spar to the fuel tank can bend and that I can extend the holes in the baffle.  However, I was not happy with applying these solutions.  I decided to buy new z bars and a drill press in order to get the holed drilled more accurately this time to get a good fit between the fuel tank and the leading edge.


After drilling the new z bars for the left tank and attaching the fuel tank to the wing.  The fit was perfect.  It was worth it.  Then we moved on to finishing the left fuel tank prep:

  • Drilling, deburring, countersinking and riveting plate nut to the z bars.
  • Drilling, deburring, countersinking and riveting plate nut to the attachment plate between the fuel tank and leading edge.
  • Match drilling the z bars to the baffle and the ribs.
  • Counter sinking the fuel tank sink for the baffle attachment holes.
  • Attaching the fuel tank again and re-checking the fit.  Looks great.
  • Prepping the fuel line and sander attachments


Itching the inner left fuel tank, the ribs and the stiffeners to prep so that the tank sealant adheres well.


Fuel Tank Prep

February 23rd, 2019, 6h

One of the big decision to make here is to decide whether to go with inverted fuel system. It depends on whether I will be doing extended inverted flight and negative g maneuvers.  As well, I need to look into inverted oil, since inverted fuel alone is not enough to do these maneuvers.

In the mean time, while researching these option, I did the other fuel tank prep.  So, I prepared the vent line input in the inner rib:


I added the vent line support in the fuel caps:


As well, I prepared the fuel sanders: